Archive for the ‘Identity control’ Category

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Shape of things to come

May 19, 2009


I have written on the shape of things to come before here. Disturbing trends are converging at a rapid rate which portend an entirely different future than humans have imagined (except in science-fiction).

Three articles below stand out as huge milestones in the relentless march toward a New World Order: sophisticated human implants, corporation monopolies of food production and the alliance of China and Russia politically. The vehicle of implementing surveillance through implants and DNA collection, could very well be world hunger as corporations have taken over food production.

When I first blogged on these issues, I was alarmed. But finding the ongoing progress of technology to control the masses, I am beginning to fear the road ahead for us. Not that I have a solution – but the first step in definitely being aware.

Saudi ‘Killer Chip’ Implant Would Track,
Eliminate Undesirables

05-17-2009
Source

It could be the ultimate in political control — but it won’t be patented in Germany.

German media outlets reported last week that a Saudi inventor’s application to patent a “killer chip,” as the Swiss tabloids put it, had been denied.

The basic model would consist of a tiny GPS transceiver placed in a capsule and inserted under a person’s skin, so that authorities could track him easily.

Model B would have an extra function — a dose of cyanide to remotely kill the wearer without muss or fuss if authorities deemed he’d become a public threat.

The inventor said the chip could be used to track terrorists, criminals, fugitives, illegal immigrants, political dissidents, domestic servants and foreigners overstaying their visas.

“The invention will probably be found to violate paragraph two of the German Patent Law — which does not allow inventions that transgress public order or good morals,” German Patent and Trademark Office spokeswoman Stephanie Krüger told the English-language German-news Web site The Local.
Click to enlarge pic.

The 21st century’s bleak harvest


Rising food prices increased the aid dependency of developing countries [GALLO/GETTY]

By Asif Mehdi, development practitioner
Source

As the world staggers from one economic crisis to another, it seems easy to forget the global food crisis that occupied centre stage in 2008.

World prices for essential grains more than doubled between 2006 and 2008.

Rice, the staple food of most of Asia, doubled in price in just seven months. And, despite their commitments to trade liberalisation, a few significant grain-exporting developing countries rushed to protect domestic grain stocks by banning exports.

The poor, who typically spend between 50 and 70 per cent of their meagre incomes on food, were most affected by the crisis.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the food crisis raised the number of undernourished people from 923 million to more than one billion by this year.

In late 2007 and 2008, the crisis caused food riots in at least 15 countries across the world, from Brazil to Bangladesh, and international media and forums spoke of little else.

Then, as suddenly as it struck, declining prices relegated the food crisis to collective global amnesia.

Causes not addressed

However, while prices for grains and foods have declined in 2009, they are still higher than pre-crisis levels and the fundamental causes of their volatility have not disappeared.

The international economic system has witnessed a dramatic disbanding of trade and investment barriers.

However, the international market for agricultural commodities, the nature of industrial agriculture, changing consumption patterns and international finance all threaten to make food price volatility and food insecurity a recurrent feature of the early 21st century.

Agriculture offers a textbook case of international market distortion. And in this case, the market distortion is created by precisely the developed countries that extol the virtues of free markets.

Double standards

The developed world protects its domestic agriculture with any number of subsidies and technical barriers to trade.

In 2006, for example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated that agricultural subsidies in OECD member countries were about $230bn.

In contrast to the magnitude of those subsidies, Official Development Assistance from OECD member states amounted to $120bn (the US alone had a military budget of $600bn in 2007).

The agricultural subsidies cover a host of measures – from domestic price support, to compensation to farmers for maintaining fallow land, to export price subsidies to dumping, some of which is disguised as food aid.

Paradoxically, international trade negotiations and, more importantly, International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending conditions expect developing countries to remove agricultural subsidies and liberalise domestic markets to imported foods.

While these measures allow for the increased availability of food, they have also eroded domestic agriculture and impoverished the rural economy, often in the most economically fragile states.

It was not surprising that the most impoverished countries were unable to meet the international price surge with increased domestic production, or the release of buffer stocks of staple food commodities.

In fact, those countries became ever more aid dependent as governments struggled to find the resources to pay the bills for imported food (and fuel), in the face of sharpened threats of hunger and undernourishment.

Industry domination

The opening of developing country markets does not benefit the average farmer in the developed world.

The international agricultural industry is dominated by a few grain, seed, chemicals and oil companies.

Such is their market power that three companies control the global grain trade and one company controls 60 per cent of seed production.

The grain trading conglomerates have unchecked market power to hoard and influence world prices.

Seed companies have employed breakthroughs in biotechnology to produce seeds that are compatible only with certain brands of pesticide or supply patented terminator seeds which germinate just once, and therefore the seed from a harvest cannot be used to grow a second crop.

This last feature of the seed business ensures a seed serfdom for the farmer, who cannot set aside part of the harvest for replanting.

It is no wonder, then, that the profits of the grain traders soared to astronomical heights in 2007, in one case up by 60 per cent over the previous year.

And it is no wonder that small farmers are bankrupted by one crop failure because of their inability to afford to buy or finance the procurement of seed for a new crop.

Industrialised agriculture

The other facet of industrialised agriculture is its energy intensity and reliance on hydrocarbon resources, whether as fertiliser or as fuel.

The poorest were most seriously impacted by rising food prices [GALLO/GETTY]
During the heyday of the Green Revolution, one study noted that between 1945 and 1994 US energy input for agriculture increased four-fold while crop yields only increased three-fold.

Since then, energy input has continued to increase without a corresponding increase in crop yield.

Barring a breakthrough in seed technology, industrial agriculture has reached a point of diminishing marginal returns from energy usage.

In addition, the fact that oil resource availability has peaked suggests that oil prices will be on a long-term increase, thereby increasing the costs of food production.

Given the nature of the financial crisis in developed countries, it is highly doubtful that governments will have the fiscal resources to increase subsidies to the agricultural sector, in order to contain the increase in prices.

For the developing world, fiscal constraints on governments and the likely drying up of development assistance will have the same impact.

Food to fuel

The recent movement in the developed world to produce bio-fuels is yet another factor propelling the price of grains.

A World Bank study, prepared in April 2008, pointed out that a third of US corn production goes to produce ethanol and half the vegetable oils produced in the EU to the production of biodiesel.

This diversion from food to fuel is subsidised extensively, while imports from Brazil (which has had the longest standing and most extensive bio ethanol production) are subjected to tariff barriers that effectively prohibit imports of Brazilian ethanol into these markets.

Commodity speculators, seeing the potential from increased demand for grains in these subsidised programmes, drove up futures commodity prices which in turn raised current prices in grain markets.

The same World Bank study contends that 75 per cent of the food price increase was due to bio-fuels, a figure hotly contested by the Bush administration at the time.

An International Food Policy Research Institute study asserts that the effect was somewhat less, at 30 per cent of the food price increase.

Ideology of the rich

The financial crisis in itself was a cause for the food price hike.

While prices rose steadily through 2006 and 2007, the latter half of 2008 saw a sharp increase in prices, in a so-called price spike.

However, little had changed in the fundamental conditions of supply or demand to cause such dramatic market adjustments.

If the financial crisis reduces aid another food crisis could be devastating[GALLO/GETTY]
By now it is clearly evident that as the unregulated and complex financial sector of the US was facing the unfolding effects of the real estate bubble, trillions of dollars moved across sectors and spaces and invested in food and primary commodities, causing another price bubble, this time of an altogether more serious consequence.

The simultaneous inflation of oil and food futures caused cost increases in the production of food while inflating its trading prices at the same time.

It seems that finance had run out of opportunities for profit, so it turned to the earth as a means of generating speculative profit, whether through real estate or primary commodities and food.

As the more recent financial crisis has shown, there is no regulatory capacity to stop such profiteering from reoccurring.

These are the difficult prospects and consequences of a world run by the ideology of the rich and powerful.

Development lessons

There are development lessons to be learned here.

First, food security is an issue requiring long-term international effort and food security demands that local agriculture be able to supply domestic needs wherever possible and that reserve stocks are garnered for difficult times.

Second, the developing nations are justified in holding out in the Doha Round of trade negotiations until real and tangible concessions are made with regard to trade in agricultural products.

Third, national development efforts need to be replenished with such ‘old fashioned’ endeavours as investing in rural production, water availability and the empowerment of the small farmer.

Economic history shows us that industrialisation was preceded by agricultural transformations, with the state playing a heavy role.

And economic history is a better guide to policy than the theorising of free marketers serving powerful corporate interests.

Asif Mehdi works in international development with an international intergovernmental organisation and has worked extensively in Asia and Africa during his 29-year career as a development practitioner.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Al Jazeera.

China’s top legislator: China-Russia partnership
enjoys fast growth

05-17-2009
Source

The strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Russia is currently showing all-round momentum and rapid growth as high-level contacts remain frequent, China’s top legislator said in Moscow on Wednesday.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, made the remark during a meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

Wu, who arrived in Moscow on Wednesday for an official goodwill visit, said he appreciates the frequent contact between leaders of the two countries.

He said Medvedev’s visit to China last year helped lay the foundation for continuous growth of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Medvedev said that he and Chinese President Hu Jintao held their first meeting this year during the London G20 summit in April. He expressed the wish that they will have more meetings later this year.

The Russian president said he expects Hu to pay a state visit to Russia in June. Medvedev also expects to meet with Hu during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit and the summit of “BRIC” countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China, later this year.

China and Russia this year also are to hold a series of activities to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Wu and Medvedev stressed the importance of parliamentary exchanges between the two countries, saying they reflect the high level of development of the China-Russia partnership of strategic cooperation.

Wu said the strong China-Russia partnership is reflected in such areas as frequent contacts between top leaders of the two countries, the staging of “Russian Language Year” in China, the signing of an oil cooperation agreement between the two governments, and exchanges between the NPC and the Russian parliament.

Russia, Medvedev said, places high importance on parliamentary exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

The Russian president also said Wu’s visit reflects the momentum of fast growth in bilateral links.

Source: Xinhua

http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2009-05/14/content_252734.htm

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The world in 2035

January 19, 2009

I wish I could say the following article is the Sci-fi plot of a new novel: it is not. The future as envisioned by the Ministry of Defence below is highly probable. Much supporting evidence is listed under ‘Related’ at the end of the article for those who like research.

The question which begs to be asked is this: What sort of earth could we have created if we hadn’t spent most of our money on War technology and Wealth accumulation?

Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips.
A grim vision of the future

Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday 9 April 2007
Source

Information chips implanted in the brain. Electromagnetic pulse weapons. The middle classes becoming revolutionary, taking on the role of Marx’s proletariat. The population of countries in the Middle East increasing by 132%, while Europe’s drops as fertility falls. “Flashmobs” – groups rapidly mobilised by criminal gangs or terrorists groups.

This is the world in 30 years’ time envisaged by a Ministry of Defence team responsible for painting a picture of the “future strategic context” likely to face Britain’s armed forces. It includes an “analysis of the key risks and shocks”. Rear Admiral Chris Parry, head of the MoD’s Development, Concepts & Doctrine Centre which drew up the report, describes the assessments as “probability-based, rather than predictive”.

The 90-page report comments on widely discussed issues such as the growing economic importance of India and China, the militarisation of space, and even what it calls “declining news quality” with the rise of “internet-enabled, citizen-journalists” and pressure to release stories “at the expense of facts”. It includes other, some frightening, some reassuring, potential developments that are not so often discussed.

New weapons
An electromagnetic pulse will probably become operational by 2035 able to destroy all communications systems in a selected area or be used against a “world city” such as an international business service hub. The development of neutron weapons which destroy living organisms but not buildings “might make a weapon of choice for extreme ethnic cleansing in an increasingly populated world”. The use of unmanned weapons platforms would enable the “application of lethal force without human intervention, raising consequential legal and ethical issues”. The “explicit use” of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and devices delivered by unmanned vehicles or missiles.

Technology
By 2035, an implantable “information chip” could be wired directly to the brain. A growing pervasiveness of information communications technology will enable states, terrorists or criminals, to mobilise “flashmobs”, challenging security forces to match this potential agility coupled with an ability to concentrate forces quickly in a small area.

Marxism
“The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx,” says the report. The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: “The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest”. Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the “sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism”.

Pressures leading to social unrest
By 2010 more than 50% of the world’s population will be living in urban rather than rural environments, leading to social deprivation and “new instability risks”, and the growth of shanty towns. By 2035, that figure will rise to 60%. Migration will increase. Globalisation may lead to levels of international integration that effectively bring inter-state warfare to an end. But it may lead to “inter-communal conflict” – communities with shared interests transcending national boundaries and resorting to the use of violence.

Population and Resources
The global population is likely to grow to 8.5bn in 2035, with less developed countries accounting for 98% of that. Some 87% of people under the age of 25 live in the developing world. Demographic trends, which will exacerbate economic and social tensions, have serious implications for the environment – including the provision of clean water and other resources – and for international relations. The population of sub-Saharan Africa will increase over the period by 81%, and that of Middle Eastern countries by 132%.

The Middle East
The massive population growth will mean the Middle East, and to a lesser extent north Africa, will remain highly unstable, says the report. It singles out Saudi Arabia, the most lucrative market for British arms, with unemployment levels of 20% and a “youth bulge” in a state whose population has risen from 7 million to 27 million since 1980. “The expectations of growing numbers of young people [in the whole region] many of whom will be confronted by the prospect of endemic unemployment … are unlikely to be met,” says the report.

Islamic militancy
Resentment among young people in the face of unrepresentative regimes “will find outlets in political militancy, including radical political Islam whose concept of Umma, the global Islamic community, and resistance to capitalism may lie uneasily in an international system based on nation-states and global market forces”, the report warns. The effects of such resentment will be expressed through the migration of youth populations and global communications, encouraging contacts between diaspora communities and their countries of origin.

Tension between the Islamic world and the west will remain, and may increasingly be targeted at China “whose new-found materialism, economic vibrancy, and institutionalised atheism, will be an anathema to orthodox Islam”.

Iran
Iran will steadily grow in economic and demographic strength and its energy reserves and geographic location will give it substantial strategic leverage. However, its government could be transformed. “From the middle of the period,” says the report, “the country, especially its high proportion of younger people, will want to benefit from increased access to globalisation and diversity, and it may be that Iran progressively, but unevenly, transforms…into a vibrant democracy.”

Terrorism
Casualties and the amount of damage inflicted by terrorism will stay low compared to other forms of coercion and conflict. But acts of extreme violence, supported by elements within Islamist states, with media exploitation to maximise the impact of the “theatre of violence” will persist. A “terrorist coalition”, the report says, including a wide range of reactionary and revolutionary rejectionists such as ultra-nationalists, religious groupings and even extreme environmentalists, might conduct a global campaign of greater intensity”.

Climate change
There is “compelling evidence” to indicate that climate change is occurring and that the atmosphere will continue to warm at an unprecedented rate throughout the 21st century. It could lead to a reduction in north Atlantic salinity by increasing the freshwater runoff from the Arctic. This could affect the natural circulation of the north Atlantic by diminishing the warming effect of ocean currents on western Europe. “The drop in temperature might exceed that of the miniature ice age of the 17th and 18th centuries.”

Related

Revolution in Military Affairs: From Computer Generated Insurgents to Bioelectric Implants

Big brother

Robotics

Civil liberties

Biometrics

The Rockefeller roots of the United Nations
Video

8 years in 8 minutes
Video. How we got here (ahem).

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Things I read – Jan 18, 09 – Forgive, Forget & Shhhh

January 18, 2009

The Flight of Reason
An exceptionally well written examination of the ‘big picture’. Long but very worthwhile…nice flowing style.

Amy Goodman: Nothing to fear except no health care

Forgive Bush, Forget Gaza?

The Moral Dead Zone

Forgive and Forget?
Establishment Washington unifies against prosecutions

2010 is 1984?

NSA’s Wiretapping of Americans being outsourced to Israeli Companies?!?!

Don’t sleepwalk into Big Brother surveillance, schools warned
Let’s get the children used to a surveillance society early.

Maryland police and their weird war on ‘terror’

There are more and more of these stories cropping up.
Taken with the article above, we are going back to the future: 1984

The troopers zeroed in on Roman Catholic nuns,
human rights activists and church groups.
They monitored animal rights advocates and cyclists
pushing for more bicycle lanes. They opened a dossier on Amnesty International. (That group’s crime was listed as “human rights.”)
The troopers created files with titles like:
“Terrorism: Anti-War Protesters,” and
“Terrorism: Anti-Govern,” and
“Terrorism: Environmental Extremists,” and
“Terrorism: Pro-Life.”
To Maryland’s finest, even Quakers, the ultimate pacifists,
constituted a “security
threat group.”

For a real life forum case of surveillance click here

No smoking in most of Belmont California, not even at home
Not a joke. In Great Britain and Ireland, they were entertaining a law to prohibit smoking in a car, alone or not.

Deal to lease African farmland to rich countries collapses after backlash against ‘colonialism’

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Things I read – Jan 12, 2009 Oh Big Brother, Where are thou?

January 12, 2009

The integration of new technology and traditional society proceeds at a mind numbing rate. The march to a One World Database, population control and genetic engineering is unstoppable bar a catastrophic natural disaster. Other references to this phenomenon can be found
here.

UK Approves Police Hacking Home Computers
Oops, there goes another civil right.
America’s demonization next step in New World Order?
An unusual twist on NWO. One wonders the cost in human lives and suffering as a means to such an end. Population control?

Anticipatory Conformity: Will the Growing Surveillance Panopticon Cause us to Self-censor?
How will our behaviour and culture change as a result of constantly being watched?

The Global Elite Speak
…Of a New World Order
Videos and Transcript. No you are not paranoid; they really are out to get you.


DNA Database Information Archive
The pace of technological innovation fare outstrips the ability of societies to put proper protections in place to retain civil rights. Part of the problem is that in the information age, few have time to keep up with the ‘new’ information available that affects the quality of life for our children. Here in one place, is a collection of articles on what we can expect from DNA mapping in government hands. Quite a shocking read. For the movie version, take a look at Gattaca.

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Net surveillance and Cyber cops – I C U

January 11, 2009


Here are two more articles the” I C U” progression on limiting internet freedom, increasing surveillance of people in general and ‘protecting us from those nasty terrorists’. In the second article, the arrest of a cyber user seems a bit dodgy but one might justify it.

My contention is that there will be little difference in the future between arrests for explicit threats on the net and those which merely express opinions contrary to the established government propaganda. And arrests could well be international with extradiction legislation now in place between the USA, the EU and other countries. I think there is real danger here for freedom of speech on the net. See HR 1955 bill passed by Congress for the amorphous definition of ‘domestic terrorist’. Are YOU a terrorist?

I have added a sexy bonus tidbit at the end….sort of a treat after all this bad news. Hope you like it.

Eagle Eye Adviser Watches Over Tech Privacy

John Scott Lewinski
January 10, 2009
Source

Eagleeye01lgWhile the paranoia-driven thrills in Eagle Eye were exaggerated for the benefit of popcorn-selling fiction, the adviser brought on to comment on the movie’s use of surveillance technology warns the world that the premise is hardly far-fetched.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, appears prominently in the featurettes packaged onto the Eagle Eye special edition DVD, which was released last month. A professor of privacy law at Georgetown University, Rotenberg insists that efforts by any government to consolidate surveillance also consolidate power.

“Camera networks are growing in most major cities,” said Rotenberg, a graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law School. “Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. While those networks are supposedly built to provide security, most of what the cameras see are people living, working, visiting. Those people aren’t criminals or terrorists.”

Eagle Eye examines the “what ifs” of such surveillance networks run amok as a mysterious villain omnisciently pushes Shia LaBeouf into criminal acts in and around our nation’s capital. The DVD’s producers invited Rotenberg to speak on the real world’s ability to monitor you via cameras, cellphone monitoring and internet taps.

“In Washington, one camera operator can have access to 5,000 cameras at any given time,” Rotenberg said. “That approaches omniscience. We need to ask, ‘Should those cameras be used? Should they be put in residential neighborhoods?’ It’s not too difficult to peer into someone’s private home in that case.”

While such antiterrorism tactics became a hot political issue in the post 9/11 era, Rotenberg made it clear that surveillance issues go beyond how you might feel about Vice President Dick Cheney. The cameras are tools, and how they’re used is key.

For example, Rotenberg explained that law enforcement agencies could well have the public’s best interest at heart when installing such cameras, but “many of the networks can be accessed in different ways. So, are they really secure? Someone inside the agency or inside the company providing the cameras might not be so ethical.”

Eagle Eye’s shadow baddie is a hell’s toss from ethical, and Rotenberg applauded the writers and filmmakers’ efforts to consider just how far the proliferation of surveillance could go.

Monitoring and debating the ethics of the growing surveillance world is the primary motivation of Rotenberg and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“We’re probably the leading privacy organization in the country right now,” he said. “We testified before the 9/11 Commission — the relationship between privacy and security. While defending against terrorism, surveillance could be used to limit freedom.”

To document the growing surveillance web around D.C., EPIC started Observing Surveillance, a collection of photos and other resources.

“I don’t think the public is as aware as it should be or needs to be,” Rotenberg said. “I’m afraid people think all of this is going to happen no matter what.

“I would compare the construction of surveillance networks to the creation of Frankenstein’s monster. While the original technological quest seemed justified in the beginning, the 21st century may have created our biggest threat to privacy.”

Online Threat to Kill Obama Leads to Arrest

Kevin Poulsen
January 09, 2009

Wired Online

Obama_mail_500px A Southern California man was charged Thursday with threatening a presidential candidate, for posting a racist note to a Yahoo message board in October expressing displeasure over Barack Obama’s candidacy, and predicting “he will have a 50 cal in the head soon.”

Walter Edward Bagdasarian, 47, was found with an arsenal of six weapons when Secret Service agents raided his La Mesa home in November, according to court records (.pdf). He had three handguns and three rifles, including a 30.06 with a telescopic sight and a Remington .50 caliber muzzle-loading rifle.

Bagdasarian is not accused of actually plotting against Obama, and he was released last month on a $100,000 real estate bond. Bagdasarian’s attorney did not return a phone call Friday.

The post in question showed up on a Yahoo Finance board on Oct. 22, about two weeks before the election, under the handle “californiaradial.” The message was titled “Shoot the nig.”

“County fkd for another 4+ years, what nig has done ANYTHING right???? Long term???? Never in history, except sambos.”

“Fk the niggar, he will have a 50 cal in the head soon,” the message concludes.

The message thread has been deleted by Yahoo, but traces in Google’s cache show that several other users announced that they were reporting californiaradial’s comments. In subsequent posts, the author calls one critic a “crybaby,” but does offer an explanation for the apparent threat. “I was drunk.”

U.S. Secret Service agents in Los Angeles traced the post to Bagdasarian through the IP address. When they interviewed him, Bagdasarian reportedly admitted authoring the message.

Here is a bonus article for anyone who likes sex.
What do you think?

‘Sex chip’ being developed by scientists

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Shhhhh! Baby censorship napping

January 9, 2009


Of all the articles about Gaza, this is one of the scariest for me: it effectively means censorship on the net of organising activities for those who disagree with government. It also means a blogger in one country potentially could be charged by and deported to another country for violating ‘censor’ laws (this is not far fetching, the EU is currently implementing such a plan for member states.) I am afraid this is the writing on the wall for internet freedom (see yesterday’s post here).

Freedom of speech is in grave danger of disappearing in cyberspace. Our connections in this realm are very fragile. Read and weep.

Gaza war sparks torrent of fiery comment on the Internet

Pro-Palestinian commentary pushes Internet chat to become rear-guard battleground of public opinion.

Source
PARIS – European and US media and social network websites are struggling to cope with a deluge of reader comments sparked by the Gaza conflict, most fiercely partisan and some explicitly anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim, according to the sites’ administrators.

Emotions on both sides are running high as the war enters its third week, and the Internet has become a rear-guard battleground of public opinion.

The torrent of highly-charged commentary — especially when it violates in-house rules or national hate-speech laws — poses at least two serious problems, representatives of the sites said.

One is logistic. All major news media sites filter reader views, and vetting hundreds, or thousands, of submissions — not all of them coherent or concise — is labour-intensive.

“The number of comments has exploded since the start of the conflict in Gaza,” said Alberto Piccinini, an editor at the left-wing Il Manifesto in Italy.

“The debate is very lively, often virulent,” he said, adding that most comments were pro-Palestinian and that some were bordered anti-Jewish.

The influx of views was so heavy at discussion forums of some French media sites that administrators simply shut the doors.

“The moderators were overwhelmed,” said Clemence Lemaistre of 20minutes.fr.

Some published comments were seen as anti-Jewish by some readers while other remarks were viewed as anti-Muslim by other readers, prompting chat mediators to reject all contributions at the end.

The same action was taken at left-leaning Liberation, where the comments “very quickly degenerated into a spiral of hate and insults, with no end in site,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

Two online debates hosted by BBC attracted nearly 40,000 comments.

Social network sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace do not vet content before it goes online, depending on community members to signal posts that may go beyond the pale.

But all these websites confront the even thornier problem of where to draw the line between an opinion that might virulent but acceptable, and one that could be interpreted as a racist insult.

The criteria for exclusion are not always clear, and rarely made explicit on a case-by-case basis.

Yassine Ayari, a 29-year old engineer in Paris, said that a pro-Palestinian discusssion group he created on website on December 29 was shut down on Wednesday by the website’s administrators.

“My aim was to link up as many people as possible to centralise initiatives of support for Gaza,” he said, adding that the group attracted more than 1000 members.

The space was blocked hours after Ayari receiving a boilerplate warning by email from the website, which followed up with a second email stating that “hateful, threatening, or obscene groups are not allowed.”

Neither email, however, specified what was objectionable, and Ayari said he was careful to remove potentially injurious comments.

According to Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost, “The goal is to strike a very delicate balance between giving Facebook users the freedom to express opinions and beliefs, while also insuring that individuals and groups do not feel threatened or endangered.”

That balance can shift depending on cultural norms and national laws. “There are no legal restrictions on comment in the US,” said YouTube spokesman Scott Rubin.

The video-sharing platform “gives the power to our community to control the comments of their videos,” but draws the line at “hate speech or incitement to violence.”

Digg, a site that builds discussion groups around news items, has borrowed from a popular US parenting technique to keep debate civil.

If alerted to a statement that may cross the line, “our first step is to place that commenter in a ‘time out’ which prevents them from commenting, though they are able to access their account,” said spokeswoman Jen Burton,

This technique works with people “who are otherwise good but occasionally lose their cool in an argument or just start acting out,” she said in an email.

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Newborn DNA must be given to Feds – It’s the law

January 7, 2009


Ever seen the movie Gattaca? Well if you don’t like this story, don’t watch the movie. In either case, science fiction is now the possible with exactly such laws as these. We shall be told this sort of invasion into our privacy is ‘for our own good’. That might be true if the world were filled with altruistic leaders charting a course for humans to have ever more dignity in life on earth. Since the bill is signed by George Bush, I guess we can rule that one out.

The Bill Nobody Noticed:
National DNA Databank

December 18, 2008
Patty Donovan, citizen journalist

Source

In April of 2008, President Bush signed into law S.1858 which allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. This was to be implemented within 6 months meaning that this collection is now being carried out. Congressman Ron Paul states that this bill is the first step towards the establishment of a national DNA database. S.1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is justified as a “national contingency plan” in that it represents preparation for any sort of public health emergency.

The bill states that the federal government should “continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening” and “maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening… ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the Internet and is updated at least quarterly”. Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests. Read the full bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xp… Twila Brase, president of the Citizens’ Council on Health Care warns that this new law represents the beginning of nationwide genetic testing.

Brase states that S.1858 and H.R. 3825, the House version of the bill, will:

• Establish a national list of genetic conditions for which newborns and children are to be tested.
• Establish protocols for the linking and sharing of genetic test results nationwide.

• Build surveillance systems for tracking the health status and health outcomes of individuals diagnosed at birth with a genetic defect or trait.

•Use the newborn screening program as an opportunity for government agencies to identify, list, and study “secondary conditions” of individuals and their families.

• Subject citizens to genetic research without their knowledge or consent.

Read her entire analysis of the implications of this bill here: http://www.cchconline.org/pdf/S_1858_NB… Brase states that under this bill, “The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research.”

All 50 states are now routinely providing results of genetic screenings to the Department of Homeland Security and this bill will establish the legality of that practice plus include DNA. Ron Paul has also vigorously argued against this bill making the following comments before the US House of Representatives: “I cannot support legislation…that exceeds the Constitutional limitations on federal power or in any way threatens the liberty of the American people. I must oppose it.” “S. 1858 gives the federal bureaucracy the authority to develop a model newborn screening program. Madame Speaker, the federal government lacks both the constitutional authority and the competence to develop a newborn screening program adequate for a nation as large and diverse as the United States. …”

“Those of us in the medical profession should be particularly concerned about policies allowing government officials and state-favored interests to access our medical records without our consent … My review of S. 1858 indicates the drafters of the legislation made no effort to ensure these newborn screening programs do not violate the privacy rights of parents and children, in fact, by directing federal bureaucrats to create a contingency plan for newborn screening in the event of a ‘public health’ disaster, this bill may lead to further erosions of medical privacy.

As recent history so eloquently illustrates, politicians are more than willing to take, and people are more than willing to cede, liberty during times of ’emergency.”

Cute huh?