Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Occupy livestream operators homeless after getting out of jail

TheAtlanticWire | A little after 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the six volunteers with the Occupy Wall Street live stream aggregator Globalrevolution.tv got out of jail in Brooklyn after they were arrested Tuesday for defying a city notice to vacate their building. A video of them immediately after their release showed them in good spirits, smoking cigarettes and eating cookies after about 30 or so hours in jail. After a lengthy tirade about corruption in law enforcement and a racially imbalanced jail population, Vlad Teichberg, one of the project's key organizers, said, "it's really good to be out."

Original: Some of the six people arrested on Tuesday for violating a New York City order to vacate a building where the Global Revolution live stream is produced actually live there and won't be able to return once they're released from jail, which is expected sometime Wednesday afternoon.* One of the live stream's key organizers, Vlad Teichberg, is a resident of 13 Thames St., the Bushwick, Brooklyn space that had recently served as the headquarters of Occupy Wall Street live feed aggregator Globalrevolution.tv. He and five other residents-cum-volunteers are still in police custody after they were hauled in for trespassing, obstructing governmental administration, and resisting arrest, Global Revolution organizer Nigel Parry told The Atlantic Wire on Wednesday.

The space at 13 Thames St., in Brooklyn is "kind of like a punk house, art space type thing," Parry said. "Global Rev. has only just been moved there. But everyone who was arrested there has been there for quite a while ... Vlad and some others had been living there for a year or two." Tuesday's raid wasn't the first time the cops have visited the space. In April, 2010, police stopped by, reportedly entering without a warrant, as people at 13 Thames made plans for an anarchist film festival. The cops "accused the occupants of being illegal squatters and demanded identification." Two who were at the space and showed their identifications turned out to have warrants and were arrested, The New York Times reported. In a November 2011 feature, the Greenpoint Gazette reported on the 40 or so creative types who work out of the space, recording albums, doing art, and practicing music. On Wednesday, Parry cited a rumor that the notice to vacate with which police served the space on Tuesday came from a year-old sprinkler violation. We've reached out to the New York Buildings Department to get the exact nature of the violation and will update this post when we hear back from them.

Meanwhile, Global Revolution and others on Twitter are taking issue with the charges reportedly filed against the six Global Revolution organizers that they resisted arrest. As for the live stream itself, Parry said organizers had already set up off-site mixing capabilities, and could manage the feed aggregator from anywhere. "As Vlad said the night after [Monday's notice to vacate], we can do this from laptops. I'm in Pittsburgh. In the first weeks of Occupy Wall Street, the channel was being mixed in Pittsburgh, Minnesota and New York." The channel is currently airing a feed from Greece, but Parry said it carried live feeds of Occupy actions at the Iowa Republican caucuses.

the eff punks out on bitcoin...,

themonetaryfuture | To stand up and fight to protect lawful online activity from legal threats isn’t for the faint of heart… it takes big ones.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a two decade history of taking on cases that set important precedents to protect rights in cyberspace. This is an organisation which has not been afraid to file lawsuits against the CIA, the US Department of Defence, the Department of Justice and other agencies, as well as major corporations like Apple and AT&T.

Recently, however, the EFF seems to be blowing some chilly air of its own and their source of gumption seems to have shrunk a little. They are no strangers to the pernicious effects of ‘self-censorship’; this is the ‘chilling effect’ where discussion, debate and activities are effectively destroyed before they even get started. It is the fear to speak freely or the fear to participate, because of vague legal threats or ill-defined laws. It is the uncertainty about where one’s rights begin and end, and the fear of crossing an invisible line. It is the providers closing or restricting customer accounts; not based on specific legal requests but based on some fuzzy margin even less well defined than the law itself.

Let’s see how the EFF explains its retreat from using one specific technology: Bitcoin, which is not inherently illegal and qualifies more than most as a frontier technology.

EFF and Bitcoin (June 20, 2011)

What then should we make of this statement from the EFF which reveals a primary motivator for avoiding a particular technology is legal uncertainty? At first glance this might make some sense, as ‘understanding the legal issues’ seems like a prudent first step, but you only need to step back into the EFF’s early history to see that their very birth was not just taking place in, but in a way inspired by an era of just this sort of uncertainty regarding electronic frontiers. Take this quote from ‘A Not Terribly Brief History of the EFF’.
"I realized in the course of this interview that I was seeing, in microcosm, the entire law enforcement structure of the United States.
Agent Baxter was hardly alone in his puzzlement about the legal, technical, and metaphorical nature of data crime."
This surely shows that the legal environment was not only uncertain – but positively muddy and misunderstood even by those tasked to investigate and enforce the law.

Arguably, law enforcement lags in their understanding of new technology just as much today. The ‘ambiguous nature of law in Cyberspace’ was almost a defining feature of the landscape, and back then, it didn’t stop the EFF from riding out into it; legal guns at the ready, if not blazing.

The EFF about-face regarding Bitcoin came shortly after a flurry of publicity regarding US Senators Schumer and Manchin raising their concerns about the use of bitcoins for illegal purchases on the silk road tor website. The senators mischaracterised bitcoin as “untraceable”. Senators seek crackdown on “Bitcoin” currency Fist tap Dale.

Monday, January 09, 2012

who will "they" pretend next is trying to hurt "us"?

warmaking to render babies 'incompatible with life"

aljazeera | While the US military has formally withdrawn from Iraq, doctors and residents of Fallujah are blaming weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous used during two devastating US attacks on Fallujah in 2004 for what are being described as "catastrophic" levels of birth defects and abnormalities.

Dr Samira Alani, a paediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has taken a personal interest in investigating an explosion of congenital abnormalities that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges since 2005.

"We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine," Alani told Al Jazeera at her office in the hospital, while showing countless photos of shocking birth defects.

As of December 21, Alani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997, told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009. Just eight days later when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.

"There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we've never seen them until now," she said. "So when I describe it all I can do is describe the physical defects, but I'm unable to provide a medical term."

'Incompatible with life'

Most of these babies in Fallujah die within 20 to 30 minutes after being born, but not all.

Four-year-old Abdul Jaleel Mohammed was born in October 2007. His clinical diagnosis includes dilation of two heart ventricles, and a growth on his lower back that doctors have not been able to remove.

Abdul has trouble controlling his muscles, struggles to walk, cannot control his bladder, and weakens easily. Doctors told his father, Mohamed Jaleel Abdul Rahim, that his son has severe nervous system problems, and could develop fluid build-up in his brain as he ages, which could prove fatal.

"This is the first instance of something like this in all our family," Rahim told Al Jazeera. "We lived in an area that was heavily bombed by the Americans in 2004, and a missile landed right in front of our home. What else could cause these health problems besides this?"

Dr Alani told Al Jazeera that in the vast majority of cases she has documented, the family had no prior history of congenital abnormalities.

Alani showed Al Jazeera hundreds of photos of babies born with cleft palates, elongated heads, a baby born with one eye in the centre of its face, overgrown limbs, short limbs, and malformed ears, noses and spines.

She told Al Jazeera of cases of "thanatophoric dysplasia", an abnormality in bones and the thoracic cage that "render the newborn incompatible with life".

the art of creating enemies to go out and fight..,

Sunday, January 08, 2012

educating americans in the subtle art of imperial domination?

andrewgavinmarshall | In the 1950s, the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation facilitated the development of African studies in American universities to create an American elite well-trained and educated in being able to manage a more effective foreign policy over the region. Another key project was in developing the Foreign Area Fellowship Program, where American social scientists would have overseas research subsidized by the Ford Foundation. The fellows also became closely tied to the CIA, who saw them as important sources of information to recruit in the field. However, when this information began to surface about CIA connections with foundation-linked academics, the Ford Foundation leadership became furious, as one Ford official later explained that the President of the Foundation had gone to Washington and “raised hell,” where he had to explain to the CIA that, “it was much more in the national interest that we train a bunch of people who at later stages might want to go with the CIA… than it was for them to have one guy they could call their source of information.”[26] It is, perhaps, a truly starting and significant revelation that the president of a foundation has the ability, status, and position to be able to go to Washington and “raise hell,” and no less, lecture the CIA about how to properly conduct operations in a more covert manner.

The Carnegie Corporation, for its part, was “encouraging well-placed American individuals to undertake study tours of Africa.” In 1957, the Carnegie Corporation gave funds to the Council on Foreign Relations to undertake this task of identifying and encouraging important individuals to go to Africa. Among the individuals chosen were Paul Nitze, who became Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in 1962; Thomas Finletter, a former Secretary of the Air Force; and David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan Bank.[27]

The Rockefeller Foundation also initiated several funding programs for universities in Latin America and Asia, notably in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. By the early 1980s, the Rockefeller Foundation had awarded over 10,000 fellowships and scholarships. From the Ford Foundation’s inception in 1936 until 1977, it had allocated roughly $919.2 million to “less-developed countries.”[28] The Ford Foundation even maintained “a steady stream of scholarly exchange with the Soviet Union and other countries of Eastern Europe since 1956, and with the People’s Republic of China since 1973.” Ford and other foundations had also played significant roles in channeling intellectual dissent in developing nations into ‘safe’ areas, just as they do at the domestic level. This has required them to fund several radical (and sometimes even Marxist) scholars. The Ford Foundation had also supported the relocation of displaced scholars following the military coups in Argentina in 1965 and Chile in 1973. However, such foreign ‘assistance’ has not gone unnoticed entirely, as in 1971 there was violent resistance by radical university students and faculty at the University of Valle in Colombia, “a favored recipient of Ford and Rockefeller monies.”[29] As noted in the book, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:
The power of the foundation is not that of dictating what will be studied. Its power consists in defining professional and intellectual parameters, in determining who will receive support to study what subjects in what settings. And the foundation’s power resides in suggesting certain types of activities it favors and is willing to support. As [political theorist and economist Harold] Laski noted, “the foundations do not control, simply because, in the direct and simple sense of the word, there is no need for them to do so. They have only to indicate the immediate direction of their minds for the whole university world to discover that it always meant to gravitate to that angle of the intellectual compass.”
It is interesting to note the purposes and consequences of foundation funding for highly critical scholars in the ‘developing’ world, who are often very critical of American economic, political, and cultural domination of their countries and regions. Often, these scholars were able to collect information and go places that Western scholars were unable to, “generating alternative paradigms which are likely to provide more realistic and accurate assessments of events overseas.” One example was the funding of dependency theorists, who rose in opposition to the prevailing development theorists, suggesting that the reason for the Global South’s perceived “backwardness” was not that it was further behind the natural progression of industrial development (as development theorists postulated), but rather that they were kept subjugated to the Western powers, and were specifically maintained as ‘dependent’ upon the North, thus maintaining a neo-imperial status directly resulting from their former overt colonial status. Thus, the foundations have gained better, more accurate information about the regions they seek to dominate, simultaneously employing and cultivating talented scholars and professionals, who might otherwise be drawn to more activist areas of involvement, as opposed to academic. Thus:
[A] situation exists where information, produced by Latin Americans on situations of internal and external domination, is flowing to the alleged sources of oppression – rather than toward those who need the information to defend themselves against exploitation.
An example of this is in Brazil, where a regime tolerated the writings of radical social scientists who are supported by foundations. Many of these scholars have received international recognition for their work, which would make it unlikely that the regime itself would be unaware of it. Thus, the work itself may not be perceived as an actual threat to the regime, for two major reasons:
(1) it is not intelligible to the masses, for certainly, if the same sentiments were expressed not in academic journals but from a street corner or as part of a political movement which mobilized large numbers, the individual would be jailed or exiled; and (2) the regime itself benefits from the knowledge generated, while simultaneously enhancing its international image by permitting academic freedom.
Thus, the ultimate effect abroad is the same as that at home: prominent and talented scholars and intellectuals are drawn into safe channels whereby they can aim and hope to achieve small improvements through reform, to ‘better’ a bad situation, improve social justice, human rights, welfare, and ultimately divert these talented intellectuals “from more realistic, and perhaps revolutionary, efforts at social change.”

Again, we have an image of the major philanthropic foundations as “engines of social engineering,” and agents of social control. Not only are their efforts aimed at domestic America or the West alone, but rather, to the whole world. As such, foundations have been and in large part, remain, as some of the most subtle, yet dominant institutions in the global power structure. Their effectiveness lies in their subtle methods, in their aims at incremental change, organizing, funding, and in the power of ideas. Of all other institutions, foundations are perhaps the most effective when it comes to the process of effecting the ‘institutionalization of ideas,’ which is, as a concept in and of itself, the central facet to domination over all humanity.

how the ford foundation created multiculturalism

Frontpagemag | Editor’s Note: One of the largest and most dangerous concentrations of unchecked power in the United States is the Ford Foundation with discretionary spending power that rivals that of government. It is spending power moreover, for the political left and often the hard left. As a public service Frontpage Magazine is devoting a series of articles to the malign influence of Ford. The story posted below, which originally appeared in Heterodoxy magazine, reveals Ford’s crucial role in creating the ideological movement called “multiculturalism” in our universities. -- David Horowitz.

The Pasadena Doubletree is an unlikely site for a conspiracy. The elegant pink structure is sumptuously landscaped and fragrant breezes circulate in the spacious courtyards even on the sultry afternoons of Southern California's Indian Summer. And the dozens of scholars from campuses all over the country who met here late last month did not look like revolutionaries. But behind closed doors of the meeting rooms, the conference of "Cultural Diversity Enhancement" had the tone of one of those "by any means necessary" conventions staged by SDS in the late 60s. The subject was how to turn American higher education inside out. It was sponsored by the Ford Foundation, whose strategy for a radical transformation of the university one critic has called "the academic equivalent of an 'ethnic cleansing.'"

In an afternoon session entitled "Restructuring the University," spokespersons summarized the thinking of the workshops that had taken place earlier that morning. Robert Steele, a Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan, noted that his group was aware that coercion would be required to change the university: "People will not be quietly assimilated to multiculturalism by truth through dialogue." They will have to be bought off as well as brought along. Steele described the terms of the deal: "You get research assistants, you give mentoring." In other words, using the largesse of Ford and other philanthropic institutions, advocates of multiculturalism convince the hesitant to join up by paying for research assistants. These assistants — mentors of multiculturalism — must be women or people of color. "We will have changed the university when women and people of color can see themselves running the place," Steele concluded.

Steele was followed by Jonathan Lee, a Philosophy Professor at Colorado College, who began by reporting that the workshop he represented had wondered if "consensus was an appropriate goal." That is, should advocates of multiculturalism act as a popular front or a vanguard? One of Lee's prescriptions for success was to "divorce courses from instructors" — that is, conceive and institute courses without regard to those who would be doing the teaching. Continuing in this vein. Lee reported that his group had considered the question, "Is the multicultural approach an adaptation or a revolutionary transformation? They had come down on the side of the more radical position: "At stake in multiculturalism is a direct challenge to privatized teaching, to privatized work and to privatized life." Even science, the one area so far immune to this radical transformation, would have to change, according to Lee: "Instead of teaching science as a doctrine divorced from its social context, we could teach science from a historical, economic perspective."

The final speaker was Eve Grossman, a Princeton dean, who said that her group had worried about tenure: "If we want to restructure the university, tenure stands in the way." She said that her group was aware that promotion and tenure were predicated on "discipline-based" research. Therefore "When we talk about changing things, we're really talking about something no less radical than changing disciplines." Grossman made it clear that her group of thinkers had kept their eyes on the prize: "If we want to change the world, we have to change the students."

As the session adjourned and the participants got ready to leave for a multicultural reception at the Asia-Pacific Center across the street from the Doubletree ("an important meeting place for the cultures of East and West"), it was hard not to feel a sense of unreality. How did the biggest foundation in the world get into the business of academic revolution? Why was Ford pushing so hard for the deconstruction of American higher education?

from black power to black studies...,

The black power movement helped redefine African Americans' identity and establish a new racial consciousness in the 1960s. As an influential political force, this movement in turn spawned the academic discipline known as Black Studies. Today there are more than a hundred Black Studies degree programs in the United States, many of them located in America's elite research institutions. In From Black Power to Black Studies, Fabio Rojas explores how this radical social movement evolved into a recognized academic discipline.

Rojas traces the evolution of Black Studies over more than three decades, beginning with its origins in black nationalist politics. His account includes the 1968 Third World Strike at San Francisco State College, the Ford Foundation's attempts to shape the field, and a description of Black Studies programs at various American universities. His statistical analyses of protest data illuminate how violent and nonviolent protests influenced the establishment of Black Studies programs. Integrating personal interviews and newly discovered archival material, Rojas documents how social activism can bring about organizational change.

Shedding light on the black power movement, Black Studies programs, and American higher education, this historical analysis reveals how radical politics are assimilated into the university system.

Wikipedia | One of the major setbacks with Black Studies/African American Studies Programs or departments is that there is a lack of financial resources available to student and faculty. Many universities and colleges around the country provided Black Studies programs with small budgets and therefore it is difficult for the department to purchase materials and staff. Because the budget allocated to Black Studies is limited some faculty are jointly appointed therefore, which causes faculty to leave their home disciplines to teach a discipline of which they may not familiar. Budgetary issues make it difficult for Black Studies Programs and departments to function, and promote themselves.

Racism perpetrated by many administrators hinders the institutionalization of Black Studies at major university. As with the case of UC Berkeley most of the Black Studies programs across the country were instituted because of the urging and demanding of black students to create the program. In many instances black students also called for the increased enrollment of black students and offer financial assistance to these students. Also seen in the case of UC Berkeley is the constant demand to have such a program, but place the power of control in the hands of black people. The idea was that black studies could not be “realistic” if it was not taught by someone who was not accustomed to the black experience. On many campuses directors of black studies have little to no autonomy—they do not have the power to hire or grant tenure to faculty. On many campuses an overall lack of respect for the discipline has caused instability for the students and for the program.

In the past thirty years there has been a steady decline of black scholars.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

the hoodwink and bamboozle of warsocialism...,

ClubOrlov | The lesson that the United States desperately needs to learn is that their trillion-dollar-a-year military is nothing more than a gigantic public money sponge that provokes outrage among friends and enemies alike and puts the country in ill repute. It is useless against its enemies, because they know better than to engage it directly. It can never be used to defeat any of the major nuclear powers, because sufficient deterrence against it can be maintained for relatively little money. It can never defuse a popular insurgency, because that takes political and diplomatic finesse, not a compulsion to bomb faraway places. Political and diplomatic finesse cannot be procured, even for a trillion dollars, even in a country that believes in extreme makeovers. As Vladimir Putin put it, “If grandmother had testicles, she’d be a grandfather.”

Reinventing Collapse, 2nd ed., p. 41 Fist tap Dale.

lehman bros. wreaked global havoc...,

WSJ | In this 23 minute documentary, Wall Street Journal editors and reporters examine the origins of Europe’s debt crisis and why it spread with such ferocity to engulf much of the continent and threaten the entire world.

why politicians ONLY represent the status quo...,

corrupt congress going through motions hearing about corrupt banksters...,

American Paradox: 18.5 Million Vacant Homes and 3.5 Million Homeless

rsn | In the last few days, the US government census figures have revealed that 1 in 2 Americans have fallen into poverty or are struggling to live on low incomes. And we know that the financial hardships faced by our neighbors, colleagues, and others in our communities will be all the more acutely felt over the holiday season.

Along with poverty and low incomes, the foreclosure rate has created its own crisis situation as the number of families removed from their homes has skyrocketed.

Since 2007, banks have foreclosed around eight million homes. It is estimated that another eight to ten million homes will be foreclosed before the financial crisis is over. This approach to resolving one part of the financial crisis means many, many families are living without adequate and secure housing. In addition, approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless, many of them veterans. It is worth noting that, at the same time, there are 18.5 million vacant homes in the country.

The stark realities that persist mean that millions of families will be facing the holidays in temporary homes, or homes under threat, and far too many children will be wishing for an end to the uncertainty and distress their family is facing rather than an Xbox or Barbie doll.

Housing is a basic human need and a fundamental human right. Yet every day in the United States, banks are foreclosing on more than 10,000 mortgages and ordering evictions of individuals and families residing in foreclosed homes. The US government's steps to address the foreclosure crisis to date have been partial at best.

The depth and severity of the foreclosure crisis is a clear illustration of the urgent need for the U.S. government to put in place a system that respects, protects and fulfills human rights, including the right to housing. This includes implementing real protections to ensure that other actors, such as financial institutions, do not undermine or abuse human rights.

Please join the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative and Amnesty International in asking the U.S. to step up its efforts to address the foreclosure crisis, including by giving serious consideration to the growing call for a foreclosure moratorium and other forms of relief for those at risk, and establishing a housing finance system that fulfills human rights obligations.

As we think back on all that Amnesty has achieved over the last year in advancing and protecting human rights, let's do one more thing. This holiday, let's join together like George Bailey's friends to advance the right to housing because, apart from all the other good reasons to do so: "Housing: It's a Wonderful Right."

more ideas...,

Friday, January 06, 2012

the ship MUST BE sinking...,

Fist tap Nomad.

the ministry of propaganda declared ron paul "unelectable"

oftwominds | Here is the second thought experiment: does anyone seriously think any of the Republicrat candidates are even remotely qualified to deal with the crises brewing on the horizon? What exactly makes them "electable"?

Let's consider them one at a time, scrubbed of spin, PR and propaganda:

Mitt Romney: the perfect player for a remake of "The Stepford Wives" entitled "The Stepford Politicos." Romney is the personification of the telegenic, wealthy empty suit, devoid of any ideas beyond retreads of Status Quo tweaks that leave the Power Elite--of which he is a member--safely in charge.

Romney's "electability" rests on the hopes that the hard drives from his time as governor stay safely erased and that zombified voters conclude that having a family and membership in a church are sufficient qualifications for President.

His handlers have carefully studied the political satire The Candidate and have not yet formulated an answer to the question, "What do we do now?" should the wealthy pawn of the Power Elite improbably win the presidency.

Michelle Bachmann: Imagine her wearing a witch's hat, it isn't hard to do; Bachman is the ideal Wicked Witch of the West, but without the charisma. She does have a host of frightful winged monkeys, though--her handlers.

Newt Gingrich: Gingrich has a number of redeeming characteristics, starting with his famously unsavory "baggage" that reveals an appealingly flawed core. He is also the only Republicrat candidate that wouldn't bore you to despair within a few minutes, i.e. he actually strays from the canned scripts approved by the Ministry of Propaganda. Third, on occasion he actually reveals glimmers of awareness that the next 10 years will not be like the previous decade, and that America is at a critical crossroads.

Unfortunately, his canned ideology-as-"solution" ideas expired a decade ago and he has no coherent vision of a future that isn't just a slightly modified version of the Power-Elite dominated one that is now hurtling toward instability.

He has shown a remarkable ability, however, to hide his horns and forked tail.

Rick Perry: Another telegenic empty suit who hoped that having a family and membership in a church qualified him for the presidency.

Rick Santorum: Rick's ruthlessness has its charm, starting with his long and painful campaign to establish a simulacrum of intellectual "seriousness." Like all the other stooges, his version of "the vision thing" is a tepid edit of the Status Quo. Like all the stooges other than the refreshingly flawed Gingrich, he hopes membership in a church qualifies him for the presidency.

What all the candidates but Ron Paul dare not acknowledge because it isn't on the approved Ministry of Propaganda script is that the Status Quo is heading off a cliff at the direct behest of the nation's Power Elite. The only candidate that has "the vision thing" and that clearly enunciates exactly how the Power Elite's policies have led the nation off a cliff of insolvency and Imperial hubris is Ron Paul.

For this sin against the Status Quo and its Power Elite, Paul has been excommunicated, and the (pardon my language) smarmy army of corporate media whores cannot declare him "unelectable" often enough.

That is proof that he is highly electable, for otherwise the Ministry of Propaganda wouldn't be running a campaign of such transparent desperation.

enemy of the state

NewYorker | For the past six months or so, the Republican-primary electorate has had a polite, patient, reliable, steadily employed suitor chatting with Mom and Dad in the parlor, while a series of more exciting but less appropriate rivals have come knocking at the back door. Mitt Romney will probably win in the end, but each of his serially surging competitors enjoys more immediate access to some essential region of the Republican soul. Herman Cain is the tough, no-bullshit businessman, Rick Santorum the devout pro-lifer, Rick Perry the hypermasculine cowboy, Michele Bachmann the evangelical populist, Newt Gingrich the swashbuckling geostrategist.

It seems fitting that the final surge should belong to Ron Paul, who speaks most directly to one of his party’s deepest emotions: hostility to government. At seventy-six, Paul has aged perfectly into his personality. He’s a white-haired, wide-eyed prophet—it’s easy to imagine him in white robes, instead of a business suit—who must rail against the outrages he has witnessed. To a pinched, stressed, war-weary, declinist nation, he offers the clearest program of any of the candidates. Five federal departments gone in Year One. Ten per cent of the federal workforce laid off. Income tax abolished, along with the I.R.S. Regulations and social programs repealed. No more foreign wars; no more foreign aid; not even very much foreign policy.

Especially to the self-selected group that comes to the Iowa Republican caucuses, Paul’s positions are pulse quickening. If you are antitax, Paul has that sentiment nailed more than any other candidate. If you are antiwar, Paul is right there with you. If you fear for your personal freedoms, Paul has you covered. And if you want a sweeping philosophy, deeply grounded in fundamental texts (Hayek, von Mises, Rothbard), Paul is your man. Nobody has a better claim to be a protest candidate. He’s the only one who has ever run for office from a third party. He’s not about passing bills; he’s about root-and-branch change. His popularity, even if it’s temporary, demonstrates that all politics isn’t necessarily local—that big ideas can exert a pull on voters, too.

ideas do have consequences...,

NYTimes | A Ron Paul stump speech offers something for almost everyone. And that may help explain why Mr. Paul, a 76-year-old Texas congressman, is polling so well here.

For college students, liberals and many veterans, his speeches attack federal drug policy, lament growing income inequality and condemn undeclared wars. By the standards of contemporary American political discourse, he can sound like a pony-tailed advocacy lawyer as he pummels a Democratic administration for carrying out extrajudicial “assassinations.”

Alluding to the drone-strike killing in Yemen last year of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric, by the Obama administration, Mr. Paul said at one of his final campaign stops: ”If you are construed by him and his executive branch as a bad person, even if you are an American citizen, than you qualify to be assassinated. And that is not the way it is supposed to be done.”

For more traditional Republican voters and economic conservatives, Mr. Paul offers dire predictions about the nation’s fiscal future if the federal budget and debt are not slashed immediately and deeply; sharp attacks on the Federal Reserve, bailouts, and the dangers of debasing the currency; and a rousing defense of the second amendment. He warns that time is growing short to correct the country’s course and save it from a fiscal calamity.

“We have met a crisis here in the last four years, which was a predictable crisis,” he said during a speech in December. “Many of the Austrian economists knew there was a bubble. We talked about it for a long time. And the bubble burst. It’s different this time, it is big-time different. It’s the biggest in the history of the world, what we are facing today.”

Evangelicals and social conservatives often find campaign literature on their seats before a speech starts that extols a proposal by Mr. Paul that “effectively repeals Roe v. Wade and would prevent activist judges from interfering with state decisions to protect life.”

Mr. Paul’s campaign talks are long, discursive, and bounce from place to place — he generally does not use a prepared text — but they tend to cover the same core areas: his commitment to following a strict interpretation of the Constitution and how he says that mandates a noninterventionist foreign policy; the need to constrain or eliminate the Federal Reserve; the elimination other parts of the federal government not called for by the Constitution; and a robust embrace of civil liberties that would mean repealing the Patriot Act.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

3D learning tools positive for pupils, says study

BBCNews | A study of the impact of 3D in the classroom has found that it improves test results by an average of 17%.

Increasingly schools are using 3D projectors and learning resources to add a new dimension to learning.

The research, conducted in seven schools across Europe, found that 3D-enabled learning tools helped children concentrate more.

It also led shy children to speak up in class discussions.

Only a handful of schools in the UK use the technology, which requires a 3D-enabled projector as well as 3D glasses for all pupils and a set of bespoke learning resources.
Pupils using 3D in the classroom 3D provides a wow factor in class but it has longer lasting effects, research says

The study, conducted by researchers from the International Research Agency on behalf of Texas Instruments, assessed 740 students in schools across France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, the UK and Sweden.

Students were tested before and after the lessons with a control group learning with traditional resources only.

On average, 86% of pupils in 3D classrooms improved in test results, compared to 52% of children using traditional teaching methods.

It also found that attention levels soared - with 92% of the class paying attention during 3D lessons compared to 46% in the traditional learning environment.

"It grabbed children's attention and this carried on beyond the 3D episode, it seemed to trigger an interest in learning that maintained through the rest of the lesson," said Prof Anne Bamford, who led the study.

"The level of questioning also increased and anecdotally teachers reported that the children asking questions were those that wouldn't normally engage in class," she told the BBC.

Researchers observed a series of biology lessons, in which children learned about the functions of the body.

"Children can see how things function. Instead of learning about the heart statically they can see it in a solid way, literally see blood passing through the valves, see exchange of oxygen, rotate it, tilt it and zoom in," said Prof Bamford. Fist tap Dale.

physicists seek to lose the lecture as teaching tool

NPR | The lecture is one of the oldest forms of education there is.

"Before printing someone would read the books to everybody who would copy them down," says Joe Redish, a physics professor at the University of Maryland.

But lecturing has never been an effective teaching technique and now that information is everywhere, some say it's a waste of time. Indeed, physicists have the data to prove it.

When Eric Mazur began teaching physics at Harvard, he started out teaching the same way he had been taught.

"I sort of projected my own experience, my own vision of learning and teaching — which is what my instructors had done to me. So I lectured," he says.

He loved to lecture. Mazur's students apparently loved it, too. They gave him great evaluations and his classes were full.

"For a long while, I thought I was doing a really, really good job," he says.

But then in 1990, he came across articles written by David Hestenes, a physicist at Arizona State. Hestenes got the idea for the series when a colleague came to him with a problem. The students in his introductory physics courses were not doing well: Semester after semester, the class average never got above about 40 percent.

"I noted that the reason for that was that his examination questions were mostly qualitative, requiring understanding of the concepts rather than just calculational, using formulas, which is what most of the instructors did," Hestenes says.

Hestenes had a suspicion students were just memorizing the formulas and never really getting the concepts. So he and a colleague developed a test to look at students' conceptual understanding of physics. It's a test Maryland's Redish has given his students many times.

Here's a question from the test: "Two balls are the same size but one weighs twice as much as the other. The balls are dropped from the top of a two-story building at the same instant of time. The time it takes the ball to reach the ground will be..."

The possible answers include about half as long for the heavier ball, about half as long for the lighter ball, or the same time for both. This is a fundamental concept but even some people who've taken physics get this question wrong.

To get to the answer, Redish went to the second floor of the physics building. A group of his students was on the sidewalk below. When he reached the top, he dropped two balls from the roof.

The two balls reached the ground at the same time. Sir Isaac Newton was the first person who figured out why. He came up with a law of motion to explain how two balls of different weights, dropped from the same height, hit the ground simultaneously.

While most physics students can recite Newton's second law of motion, Harvard's Mazur says, the conceptual test developed by Hestenes showed that after an entire semester they understood only about 14 percent more about the fundamental concepts of physics. When Mazur read the results, he shook his head in disbelief. The test covered such basic material.

"I gave it to my students only to discover that they didn't do much better," he says.

The test has now been given to tens of thousands of students around the world and the results are virtually the same everywhere. The traditional lecture-based physics course produces little or no change in most students' fundamental understanding of how the physical world works.

"The classes only seem to be really working for about 10 percent of the students," Arizona State's Hestenes says. "And I maintain, I think all the evidence indicates, that these 10 percent are the students that would learn it even without the instructor. They essentially learn it on their own."

He says that listening to someone talk is not an effective way to learn any subject.

"Students have to be active in developing their knowledge," he says. "They can't passively assimilate it."

This is something many people have known intuitively for a long time — the physicists just came up with the hard data. Their work, along with research by cognitive scientists, provides a compelling case against lecturing. But with budgets shrinking and enrollments booming, large classes aren't going away. You don't have to lecture in a lecture hall though.

Mazur's physics class is now different. Rather than lecturing, he makes his students do most of the talking.

At a recent class, the students — nearly 100 of them — are in small groups discussing a question. Three possible answers to the question are projected on a screen. Before the students start talking with one another, they use a mobile device to vote for their answer. Only 29 percent got it right. After talking for a few minutes, Mazur tells them to answer the question again.

This time, 62 percent of the students get the question right. Next, Mazur leads a discussion about the reasoning behind the answer. The process then begins again with a new question. This is a method Mazur calls "peer Instruction." He now teaches all of his classes this way.

"What we found over now close to 20 years of using this approach is that the learning gains at the end of the semester nearly triple," he says.

One value of this approach is that it can be done with hundreds of students. You don't need small classes to get students active and engaged. Mazur says the key is to get them to do the assigned reading — what he calls the "information-gathering" part of education — before they come to class.

"In class, we work on trying to make sense of the information," Mazur says. "Because if you stop to think about it, that second part is actually the hardest part. And the information transfer, especially now that we live in an information age, is the easiest part."

Mazur's approach is one of many developed in response to evidence that traditional lectures don't work. Among the advocates of these approaches there's an increasing sense of urgency about how to help more students do better.

"We need to educate a population to compete in this global marketplace," says Brian Lukoff, an education researcher at Harvard. "We can't do that by just sort of picking out 10 percent and saying, 'Oh you guys are going to be the successful ones,' and you know we need a much larger swath of that population to be able to think critically and problem-solve."

But ask anyone involved with efforts to lose the lecture and they'll tell you they encounter resistance. Sometimes the stiffest opposition comes from the students.

"Revamping my entire education, you know, philosophy for this one class was a bit daunting," says Ryan Duncan, a sophomore in Mazur's class.

But he adapted and says he learned more in Mazur's class than he did in his other physics course at Harvard.

Maryland's Redish says when he lays out the case against lecturing, colleagues often nod their heads, but insist their lectures work just fine. Redish tells them — lecturing isn't enough anymore.

"With modern technology, if all there is is lectures, we don't need faculty to do it," Redish says. "Get 'em to do it once, put it on the Web, and fire the faculty."

Some faculty are threatened by this, but Mazur says they don't have to be. Instead, they need to realize that their role has changed.

"It used to be just be the 'sage on the stage,' the source of knowledge and information," he says. "We now know that it's not good enough to have a source of information."

Mazur sees himself now as the "guide on the side" – a kind of coach, working to help students understand all the knowledge and information that they have at their fingertips. Mazur says this new role is a more important one.

teachers fear inevitable disintermediation...,

NYTimes | Matt Richtel writes in Wednesday’s New York Times about the conflict over Idaho’s plan to require students to take online courses and to issue them laptops or tablets. While teachers say they are in favor of using technology in the classroom, they would prefer to use it on their own terms, and they are skeptical of the educational value of online courses. They note that the state may have to shift money away from teacher salaries to pay for these programs.
State officials say teachers had been misled by their union into believing the plan was a step toward replacing them with computers. “The role of the teacher definitely does change in the 21st century. There’s no doubt,” said Tom Luna, the schools superintendent. “The teacher does become the guide and the coach and the educator in the room helping students to move at their own pace.”

Readers are weighing in on the article, with many questioning the push to stock classrooms with digital devices. “Teachers love using technology when it works and is organically the best way to convey content, assess mastery or engage students in an honest fashion,” writes Daniel Rosen of Teaneck. “But we don’t like it when it becomes its own end instead of a means.”

Cstrebel of Camden offers a different perspective on online courses: “Having a master teacher at the helm and teachers in the classroom to guide students is a fine idea. Education such as this would offer the students a wide range of subjects taught by experts that they could not get in their local schools.”

The article is part of The Times’s series on educational technology, Grading the Digital School. Teachers and others debated the merits of such technology in an accompanying dialogue on Room for Debate.

Online K-12 Schooling in the U.S.

NEPC | Over just the past decade, online learning at the K-12 level has grown from a novelty to a movement. Often using the authority and mechanism of state charters, and in league with home schoolers and other allies, private companies and some state entities are now providing full-time online schooling to a rapidly increasing number of students in the U.S. Yet little or no research is available on the outcomes of such full-time virtual schooling. The rapid growth of virtual schooling raises several immediate, critical questions for legislators regarding matters such as cost, funding, and quality. This policy brief offers recommendations in these and other areas, and the accompanying legal brief offers legislative language to implement the recommendations.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

1% dislikes this video, coincidence?

tepco and regulators pretending "mission accomplished"

TEPCO Believes Mission Accomplished & Regulators Allow Radioactive Dumping in Tokyo Bay from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

japan's nuclear exclusion zone...,

Boston | What does a sudden evacuation look like? After everyone is gone, what happens to the places they've abandoned? National Geographic Magazine sent Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder to the nuclear exclusion zone around Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant to find out. Evacuated shortly after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear radiation crisis, the area has been largely untouched, with food rotting on store shelves and children's backpacks waiting in classrooms. The area may face the same fate as the town of Pripyat, Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. This isn't the first time Guttenfelder has gotten a rare glimpse of a place few see, as The Big Picture featured his photographs of North Korea in an earlier post. Collected here are Guttenfelder's haunting images just released of a place abandoned, and of people dealing with the loss. -- Lane Turner (39 photos total)

2012 forecast: bang and whimper

Kunstler | There's a lot to be nervous about, even if you don't subscribe to the undercooked Mayan apocalypse lore moving through the gut of the Internet like a Staphylococcus-infected tamale. The casual observer might say that nothing seemed to give on the world scene in 2011 despite the Fukushima meltdown, the Arab Spring uproars, the train wreck of European finance, the disappearing act at MF Global, and the assorted injuries done to the Kardashian brand by the giant walking dildo Kris Humphries.

I demur. On close examination, the industrial world underwent complete zombification in 2011. Its member states and their institutions are now lurching across the stage of history like so many walking dead. Whole European nations are dead, their citizens squirming around the ruined bones of failed speculative condo projects, housing estates, and luxury hotels like botfly larvae. The USA lies in complete moral ruin despite the exertions of ten thousand evangelical preachers in dusty back-road tilt-up chapels from Texas to Carolina, several new museums of Creation Science, and the shining example of former Senator Rick Santorum. Just look at how we behave, from the cloakrooms of Congress to the piercing parlors of West Hollywood to the 7-Elevens of suburban Maryland: a nation of thieves, racketeers, reality TV sluts, wannabe road warriors, light-fingered gangsta-boyz, and crybabies living in an anomie-drenched decrepitating demolition derby landscape of failure. When everybody is a zombie, whose brains are left to eat? Echo answers.... On to the predictions for 2012 then.

The biggest political shock awaiting us is the massive disruption of the major party nominating conventions next summer, when thousands of angry citizens descend on Tampa and Charlotte demanding a reality test. The parties will attempt to go about their ritual business, ignoring the mischief outside the convention centers, and both parties will make the mistake of siccing the cops on the protestors. The result will be a much bigger mess than the one I personally witnessed on the streets of Chicago, 1968, when the party hacks anointed the grinning sell-out Hubert Humphrey to run against Ole Debbil Nixie. Just before getting tear-gassed on Michigan Avenue that night, I saw some kid hoisting a sign that depicted the nominee with a Hitler mustache over the epithet: Mein Humph! It made my night, despite the subsequent retching in the gutter.

The two major parties are completely bankrupt zombie organizations and this election may be their last stand - if they even survive the conventions. Neither of them can come to grips with the reality-based issues of the day: epochal financial and economic contraction, peak energy (and many other resources), climate change, the absence of the rule of law in banking, and generational grievance - or, perhaps more to the point, the manifestations of these giant trends as presented in unemployment, debt slavery, foreclosure, bankruptcy, homelessness, hunger, and X-million family tragedies. Both parties can only promise the return to a bygone status quo that is largely mythical.

President Obama, the putative "progressive" - spokesman of the Ivy League, Silicon Valley, Lower Manhattan, and all the other precincts where "folks" imagine themselves to be advanced thinkers - can't even wrap his mind around the simple fact that we will never be "energy independent" if we think that means running 260 million cars and trucks, no matter how many algae farms we pretend to invest in. Here is man who ought to know better and either doesn't, or is lying about it. He has other failures to answer for, too. Why, following the Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court, did Mr. Obama not prompt his party to sponsor federal legislation (or a constitutional amendment) that would redefine a corporation as not identical in "personhood" to a human being? Why does he still employ an Attorney General who has not started one prosecution for financial misconduct amid a panorama of arrant swindling and fraud? (Ditto: heads of the SEC, CFTC, etc.) And why did he not object loudly to the provision in the latest defense appropriations bill that allows for the capricious arrests and indefinite detention of anyone in the USA on suspicion of "terrorism?" Does this graduate of Harvard Law remember what habeas corpus means?

A lot of voters projected on Mr. Obama some notion of supernatural brilliance - our Hollywood fantasies are rife with wishes to be saved, and therefore redeemed, by our former victims - but he turned out to have a pedestrian mind. Could he possibly believe we have "a hundred years of natural gas" in the ground? Or that we're in a position to ramp up another cycle of industrial economic "growth?" Or that we can continue the web of cruel rackets that passes for medical care in this country? When the Democratic Party re-nominates Obama, it will be sealing its death warrant, and it will be on its way to the same cosmic vacuum where the memory of the Whigs lingers on.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

why black market entrepreneurs matter to the global economy

Wired | Not many people think of shantytowns, illegal street vendors, and unlicensed roadside hawkers as major economic players. But according to journalist Robert Neuwirth, that’s exactly what they’ve become. In his new book, Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy, Neuwirth points out that small, illegal, off-the-books businesses collectively account for trillions of dollars in commerce and employ fully half the world’s workers. Further, he says, these enterprises are critical sources of entrepreneurialism, innovation, and self-reliance. And the globe’s gray and black markets have grown during the international recession, adding jobs, increasing sales, and improving the lives of hundreds of millions. It’s time, Neuwirth says, for the developed world to wake up to what those who are working in the shadows of globalization have to offer. We asked him how these tiny enterprises got to be such big business.

Wired: You refer to the untaxed, unlicensed, and unregulated economies of the world as System D. What does that mean?

Robert Neuwirth:There’s a French word for someone who’s self-reliant or ingenious: débrouillard. This got sort of mutated in the postcolonial areas of Africa and the Caribbean to refer to the street economy, which is called l’économie de la débrouillardise—the self-reliance economy, or the DIY economy, if you will. I decided to use this term myself—shortening it to System D—because it’s a less pejorative way of referring to what has traditionally been called the informal economy or black market or even underground economy. I’m basically using the term to refer to all the economic activity that flies under the radar of government. So, unregistered, unregulated, untaxed, but not outright criminal—I don’t include gun-running, drugs, human trafficking, or things like that.
“There are the guys who sneak stuff out of the port. The guys who get it across the border. The truck loaders and unloaders. All working under the table.”

Wired: Certainly the people who make their living from illegal street stalls don’t see themselves as criminals.

Neuwirth: Not at all. They see themselves as supporting their family, hiring people, and putting their relatives through school—all without any help from the government or aid networks.

Wired: The sheer scale of System D is mind-blowing.

Neuwirth: Yeah. If you think of System D as having a collective GDP, it would be on the order of $10 trillion a year. That’s a very rough calculation, which is almost certainly on the low side. If System D were a country, it would have the second-largest economy on earth, after the United States.

Wired: And it’s growing?

Neuwirth: Absolutely. In most developing countries, it’s the only part of the economy that is growing. It has been growing every year for the past two decades while the legal economy has kind of stagnated.

Wired: Why?

Neuwirth: Because it’s based purely on unfettered entrepreneurialism. Law-abiding companies in the developing world often have to work through all sorts of red tape and corruption. The System D enterprises avoid all that. It’s also an economy based on providing things that the mass of people can afford—not on high prices and large profit margins. It grows simply because people have to keep consuming—they have to keep eating, they have to keep clothing themselves. And that’s unaffected by global downturns and upturns.

Wired: Why should we care?

Neuwirth: Half the workers of the world are part of System D. By 2020, that will be up to two-thirds. So, we’re talking about the majority of the people on the planet. In simple pragmatic terms, we’ve got to care about that. Fist tap Dale.

The Darknet Project: netroots activists dream of global mesh network

ArsTechnica | A group of Internet activists gathered last week in an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel to begin planning an ambitious project—they hope to overcome electronic surveillance and censorship by creating a whole new Internet. The group, which coordinates its efforts through the Reddit social networking site, calls its endeavor The Darknet Project (TDP).

The goal behind the project is to create a global darknet, a decentralized web of interconnected wireless mesh networks that operate independently of each other and the conventional internet. In a wireless mesh network, individual nodes can relay data for other nodes, ensuring that the routing of data remains robust as nodes on the network are added and removed. The idea behind TDP is that such a network would be resistant to censorship and shutdown because there would be no central point of control over the infrastructure.

"Basically, the goal of the darknet plan project is to create an alternative, more free internet through a global mesh network," explained a TDP organizer who goes by the Internet handle 'Wolfeater.' "To accomplish this, we will establish local meshes and connect them via current infrastructure until our infrastructure begins to reach other meshes."

TDP seems to have been influenced in part by an earlier unofficial effort launched by the Internet group Anonymous called Operation Mesh. The short-lived operation, which was conceived as a response to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and its potential impact on Internet infrastructure, called for supporters to create a parallel Internet of wireless mesh networks.

The idea is intriguing, but it poses major technical and logistical challenges, and it's hard to imagine that TDP will ever move beyond the conceptual stage. The group behind the effort is big on ideas but short on technical solutions for rolling out a practical implementation. During the IRC meeting, they struggled to coordinate a simple discussion about how to proceed with their agenda.

Still, despite TDP's dysfunctional organizational structure and lack of concrete strategy, their message seems to resonate with an audience on the Internet. And enthusiasm for mesh networks and decentralized Internet isn't isolated to the tinfoil hat crowd; serious government programs aim at producing similar technology. Earlier this year, the New York Times reported on a US government-funded program to create wireless mesh networks that could help dissidents circumvent political censorship in authoritarian countries.

As repressive governments continue to get better at thwarting circumvention of their censorship tools, dissidents will need more robust tools of their own to continue propagating information. The US State Department seems to view decentralized darknets as an important area of research for empowering free expression abroad.

A growing number of independent open source software projects have also emerged to fill the need for darknet technology. Many of these projects are backed by credible non-profit organizations and segments of the security research community. Such projects could find a useful ally in the TDP if they were to engage with the growing community and help mobilize its members in a constructive direction.

Unlike TDP, the original Operation Mesh coordinators had specific technologies in mind: they highlighted the I2P anonymous network layer software and the BATMAN ad-hoc wireless routing protocol as the best prospective candidates. Both projects are actively maintained and have modest communities, though the I2P website is currently down. Promising projects like Freenet develop software for building darknets on top of existing Internet infrastructure.

Another group that might benefit from broader community support is Serval, a project to create ad-hoc wireless mesh networks using regular smartphones. The group has recently developed a software prototype that runs on Android handsets. They are actively looking for volunteers to help test the software and participate in a number of other ways.

TDP members who are serious about fostering decentralized Internet infrastructure could meaningfully advance their goals by assisting any of the previously mentioned projects. The growing amount of popular grassroots support for Internet decentralization suggests that the momentum behind darknets is increasing. Fist tap Dale.

open-source online banking software

Cyclos | Cyclos is a project of the Dutch non profit organization STRO. Cyclos offers a complete on-line banking system with additional modules such as e-commerce and communication tools. Cyclos is currently available in ten languages and used worldwide by many organizations and communities. The Cyclos platform permits a de-centralization of banking services that can stimulate local trade and development. With the latest version it is possible to roll out mobile banking services using mobile channels such as SMS. Cyclos is published under the GPL (open source) license meaning that it can be downloaded for free and used at no cost.

The objective of the project is to develop open source complementary currency software that is easy to use and maintain, flexible, secure, and highly customizable. The Cyclos structure is entirely dynamic. This means that it is possible to 'build' a monetary system from scratch. Organizations that want a standard system can use the default database that comes with basic configurations and can be easily enhanced. Cyclos is used for mutual credit systems like LETS, Barter systems, administration of Micro credits, Time banks and backed currency systems such as a C3 (consumer and commerce circuit). Cyclos just started to be used as a back-end for mobile banking services in Africa, and various Universities are studying the possibility to use Cyclos as a campus payment system. Fist tap Dale.

web search by the people for the people...,

FSCONS: YaCy Demo from Michael Christen on Vimeo.

YaCy | YaCy is a free search engine that anyone can use to build a search portal for their intranet or to help search the public internet. When contributing to the world-wide peer network, the scale of YaCy is limited only by the number of users in the world and can index billions of web pages. It is fully decentralized, all users of the search engine network are equal, the network does not store user search requests and it is not possible for anyone to censor the content of the shared index. We want to achieve freedom of information through a free, distributed web search which is powered by the world's users.

Imagine if, rather than relying on the proprietary software of a large professional search engine operator, your search engine was run by many private computers which aren't under the control of any one company or individual. Well, that's what YaCy does! The resulting decentralized web search currently has about 1.4 billion documents in its index (and growing - download and install YaCy to help out!) and more than 600 peer operators contribute each month. About 130,000 search queries are performed with this network each day.

There are already several search networks based on YaCy: the two major networks are the 'freeworld' network (which is the default public network that you join when you load the standard installation of YaCy) and the Sciencenet of the Karlsruhe Institut of Technology which focuses on scientific content. Other YaCy networks exist as TOR hidden services, local intranet services and on WiFi networks too.
Installation is easy!

The installation takes only three minutes. Just download the release, decompress the package and run the start script. On linux you need OpenJDK6. You don't need to install external databases or a web server, everything is already included in YaCy. Fist tap Dale.

Monday, January 02, 2012

what is america?

because animal studies were insufficient...,

From World War II until the end of the Cold War, the U.S. government performed military tests on large populations. While in their hospital beds, patients were injected with plutonium, along with many other amoral experiments, for the likes of which Nazi officers had been convicted during the Nuremberg Trials.

Soldiers were exposed to radiation to test their performance in a nuclear war. The Army released bacteria in the environment, making hundreds of thousands of Americans unwitting guinea pigs...

WaPo | IN 2010, THE FEDERAL government funded 55,000 experiments worldwide on human subjects. Ethical and operational controls adopted over four decades have eradicated the most abominable experiments, such as those in which U.S. researchers infected unwitting Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases during the 1940s. But the sheer number of ongoing projects and the absence of a centralized record-keeping system argue for additional safeguards.

Thousands of often desperately ill individuals volunteer each year to participate in experimental, federally funded medical programs. Thousands more participate in more mundane research with significantly less risk. And yet others take part in projects fueled by federal dollars that focus on social science and education research. The Department of Health and Human Services funds the most research on human subjects, but some 18 federal agencies play a role.

According to a recently released report by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, the government does not have a centralized database to keep tabs on these experiments. Even some agencies do not have a comprehensive database of the experiments they fund. The Defense Department, for example, took roughly seven months to compile data about research it sponsors on human subjects. The commission sensibly recommends creation of an online registry of all federally funded research on humans.

Another area of uncertainty: the number of individuals injured in medical experiments. “We don’t think it’s a big problem,” commission chair Amy Gutmann said, “but it’s perceived as a big problem because we’re one of the only developed countries that does not guarantee compensation for injured subjects.”

The commission encouraged the government to establish such a system. It did not endorse a particular approach but rightly pointed to the “no fault” program developed by the University of Washington. The university will pay up to $10,000 for medical care provided outside of the university system for individuals injured as a result of participation in a university research project. The school will pick up the tab for all post-injury medical services provided by university staff. Individuals who are treated through this program maintain the right to take the university to court. But one side benefit of the university’s morally responsible behavior is that it has seen the number of court cases and its litigation costs go down.

2012 skeptics vs. believers

Sunday, January 01, 2012

snapshots of washington's essence...,

Salon | I intended to post sporadically or not at all this week, and that’s still my plan, but there is a new Washington Post article which contains three short passages that I really want to highlight because they so vividly capture the essence of so much. The article, by Greg Miller, is being promoted by the Post this way: “In 3 years, the Obama administration has built a vast drone/killing operation”; it describes the complete secrecy behind which this is all being carried out and notes: “no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.” Here is the first beautifully revealing passage:

Senior Democrats barely blink at the idea that a president from their party has assembled such a highly efficient machine for the targeted killing of suspected terrorists. It is a measure of the extent to which the drone campaign has become an awkward open secret in Washington that even those inclined to express misgivings can only allude to a program that, officially, they are not allowed to discuss.

In sum: the President can kill whomever he wants anywhere in the world (including U.S. citizens) without a shred of check or oversight, and has massively escalated these killings since taking office (at the time of Obama’s inauguration, the U.S. used drone attacks in only one country (Pakistan); under Obama, these attacks have occurred in at least six Muslim countries). Because it’s a Democrat (rather than big, bad George W. Bush) doing this, virtually no members of that Party utter a peep of objection (a few are willing to express only the most tepid, abstract “concerns” about the possibility of future abuse). And even though these systematic, covert killings are widely known and discussed in newspapers all over the world — particularly in the places where they continue to extinguish the lives of innocent people by the dozens, including children — Obama designates even the existence of the program a secret, which means our democratic representatives and all of official Washington are barred by the force of law from commenting on it or even acknowledging that a CIA drone program exists (a prohibition enforced by an administration that has prosecuted leaks it dislikes more harshly than any other prior administration). Then we have this:

Another reason for the lack of extensive debate is secrecy. The White House has refused to divulge details about the structure of the drone program or, with rare exceptions, who has been killed. White House and CIA officials declined to speak for attribution for this article.

Inside the White House, according to officials who would discuss the drone program only on the condition of anonymity, the drone is seen as a critical tool whose evolution was accelerating even before Obama was elected.

The Most Transparent Administration Ever™ not only prevents public debate by shrouding the entire program in secrecy — including who they’re killing and why, and even including their claimed legal basis for these killings (what Democratic lawyers decried during the Bush years as the tyranny of “secret law”) — but they then dispatch their own officials to defend what they’re doing solely under the cover of anonymity so there is no accountability. And, of course, the Post (in an otherwise good though imperfect article) dutifully allows them to do this. In other words: if you ask us about our systematic killing operation, we’ll refuse to answer or even acknowledge it exists and we will legally bar critics from talking about it in public; nobody in government can comment on any of this except us, which we’ll do only by issuing anonymous decrees declaring it Good and Right.

obama signed indefinite detention into law...,

GlennGreenwald | President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law today. The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course shortly before Congress voted on the final bill.

“President Obama's action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.”

Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again. The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA. In addition, the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.

“We are incredibly disappointed that President Obama signed this new law even though his administration had already claimed overly broad detention authority in court,” said Romero. “Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today. Thankfully, we have three branches of government, and the final word belongs to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the scope of detention authority. But Congress and the president also have a role to play in cleaning up the mess they have created because no American citizen or anyone else should live in fear of this or any future president misusing the NDAA’s detention authority.”

The bill also contains provisions making it difficult to transfer suspects out of military detention, which prompted FBI Director Robert Mueller to testify that it could jeopardize criminal investigations. It also restricts the transfers of cleared detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries for resettlement or repatriation, making it more difficult to close Guantanamo, as President Obama pledged to do in one of his first acts in office.