Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the US Policy and Politics Category

Darren Walker and the Ford Foundation threw a book party for my new book Whiplash (Thanks!) and Megan came a bit early so I got a chance to sit down with her and do a Facebook Live. Megan is the former CTO of the United States serving under President Obama. She's an MIT grad, did her thesis work at the Media Lab, is on the corporation board of MIT and the advisory council and visiting committee of the Media Lab. She's also the one who first asked me whether I wanted to be considered for the role of the Director of the Media Lab so I owe a lot to her. I've known Megan for a long time and it was great catching up.

We talked about tech, digital government, inclusion and the opportunities ahead.

The audio is available on iTunes and SoundCloud.

I recently co-taught a class that merged content, students and a TA from MIT with a course that Jonathan Zittrain has been teaching for many years called Internet and Society, the Politics and Technologies of control. In addition, there was a program that ran together with it called the Berkman Assembly. It was a really great program and I hope we can do something similar again. There's an article about it on the Harvard Law site.

Just as the Executive Order from the Trump Administration calling for a travel ban from seven Muslim countries was playing out, I was meeting with Jonathan so I asked him to do a Facebook Live with me to talk about the Internet, politics and protests.

Apologies for the audio quality and sync problems.

You can find the audio on iTunes and SoundCloud.

I first met Jamila when she and her associate Alia reached out to us after we posted a video on Civil Disobedience inspired by and citing Gene Sharp. Jamila is the executive director of the Albert Einstein Institution that Gene Sharp founded to focus on understanding and spreading his methods for non-violent action. We had a conversation about this with Tenzin Priyadarshi - the video is here (Sorry about the poor audio quality).

After talking to Jamila some more, it was clear that she inspired many of us and we could learn a lot from her. In addition, it seemed that many of our technologies could be useful for her in her works so I invited her to join the Lab initially as a research affiliate.

Recently, I asked her to give a talk and have a conversation with the Lab and myself. This is a video of the talk. Audio of the talk and conversation are available on iTunes and SoundCloud.

I recently had a Facebook Live conversation with Shaka Senghor, a Media Lab Director's Fellow and author. Shaka spent 19 years in prison for second-degree murder. In prison Shaka found a path to redemption initially through reading and then writing. I met him just after he had come out of prison. You can read more about this in the foreword to his book that I wrote.

Shaka's an amazing leader, writer, inspiration and an important voice behind the fight against the systematic mass incarceration in the US.

We talk about prison, his book, Writing My Wrongs and a bit about Whiplash.

Audio of the conversation is available on iTunes and SoundCloud.


Conversation with Christopher M. Schroeder about Whiplash The Book, entrepreneurship, the Middle East, media and many other things.

Audio available on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Over 300 400 members of the MIT faculty, including myself, have signed the statement below. (You can see all the signers on the mitvalues.org page.) My quote included in a press release issued this afternoon was:

"Academic institutions have historically been havens to protect diversity of opinions and the freedom to express those opinions when the political climate has impinged on this freedom. It appears that we are entering a period where the political climate requires us to assert our leadership to protect and foster diversity and scientific inquiry itself."

The President-elect has appointed individuals to positions of power who have endorsed racism, misogyny and religious bigotry, and denied the widespread scientific consensus on climate change. Regardless of our political views, these endorsements violate principles at the core of MIT's mission. At this time, it is important to reaffirm the values we hold in common.

We, the undersigned faculty at MIT, thus affirm the following principles:

  • We unconditionally reject every form of bigotry, discrimination, hateful rhetoric, and hateful action, whether directed towards one's race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, citizenship, political views, socioeconomic status, veteran status, or immigration status.

  • We endorse MIT's values of open, respectful discourse and exchange of ideas from the widest variety of intellectual, religious, class, cultural, and political perspectives.

  • We uphold the principles of the scientific method, of fact- and reason-based objective inquiry. Science is not a special interest; it is not optional. Science is a foundational ingredient in how we as a society analyze, understand, and solve the most difficult challenges that we face.

For any member of our community who may feel fear or oppression, our doors are open and we are ready to help. We pledge to work with all members of the community - students, faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and administrators - to defend these principles today and in the times ahead.

From Larry

This site hosts this video to explain the launch of two exploratory projects -- first, a Change Congress movement, and second, my own decision whether to run for Congress in the California 12th.

I have decided I want to give as much energy as I can to the Change Congress movement. I will decide in the next week or so whether it makes sense to advance that movement by running for Congress.

Many friends have weighed in on that decision -- both strongly in favor and strongly opposed. Many more have joined draftlessig.org and a Facebook group asking me to consider it.

Watch or listen and you will understand some of my reasoning. Feel free to send your thoughts or advice to lessig@lessig08.org (though please excuse any slowness in my response).

-- Larry Lessig, February 19, 2008

See Lessig08 for more information.

Go Larry!

UPDATE: Why Larry is not running.

I'm a Japanese citizen/resident. I use the Visa Waiver program to get into the US which is a green form that gives you a 90 day visa for entry into the US. The US DHS officer will staple the departure card half of the visa form into your passport that they collect when you leave the country.

When I was leaving LA for Toronto a few days ago, the agent looked at the visa and said, "OK. You have a visa and it is valid through your return." She didn't take the card and sent me to a 1 hour wait security screening line... anyway.

I just past through pre-sreening in Toronto on my way to the US. With Canada to US flights, they do customs and immigration when you leave Canada. A US officer frowned when he looked at my passport.

"You need to return this visa waiver when you leave the US."

"The gate agent didn't take it when I left."

"It is YOUR responsibility to return your visa card. The airlines do it out of courtesy to you, but it is YOUR responsibility."

"But... where..."

"It is YOUR responsibility. Although it visa SAYS you have 90 days, you must return the card and get a new one each time."

"But..."

"It is YOUR responsibility, not the gate agent."

(stern look from officer)

"Yes sir.. no sir.. yes sir... OK..."

I've had gate agents not take my card when I exited in the past. I don't know what the penalty is, but for anyone traveling on Air Canada to Canada from the US. If they don't take your thingie from your passport, I recommend you insist that they do.

UPDATE: Although... according to the FAQ it says that you can travel and come back when you are on the Visa Waiver Program to Canada or Mexico. So if you have to give your stub back, I wonder what you give back when you're leaving the second time. I doesn't say. Hmm...

Q: Can a VWP applicant for Admission Be Readmitted To the United States Follwing a Short Trip To an Adjacent Island, Canada, or Mexico?
A:

* Generally, VWP applicants admitted under the VWP may be readmitted to the United States after a departure to Canada or Mexico or adjacent islands for the balance of their original admission period. This is provided they are otherwise admissible and meet all the conditions of the VWP, with the exception of arrival on a signatory carrier, in which case the inspecting officers have the discretion to grant the applicants entirely new periods of admission.
* The VWP applicant is admissible and may be readmitted to the United States under the VWP after a departure to Canada or Mexico or adjacent islands provided the person:

1. Can identify an authorized period of admission that has not expired,
2. Plans to depart the United States prior to the expiration date of their period of admission,
3. Presents valid, unexpired passports which reflect admission to the United States under the VWP, and
4. Continues to meet all criteria set forth in 8 CFR 217 and section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act), with the exception of arrival on a signatory carrier.

I've seen a number of posts about AOL giving access to information about its customers to the Department of Homeland Security. The posts seem to be citing an article from October 3 by Martin McKinney in "The Financial Reporter (U.K.)". The quote refers to a Department of Commerce report. I can't find the original Martin McKinney post or the DoC report. Does anyone have the original sources? Also, is AOL giving the DHS any MORE information than other consumer Internet companies in the US of that size? It seems to me that we should ASSUME that everyone is giving "unfettered access" to DHS when/if requested.

Most of the blog posts seem to lead to this post on TBRNews.org.

via Scott via kellee's blog

BBC
US teens 'reject' key freedoms

A significant number of US high-school students regard their constitutional right to freedom of speech as excessive, according to a new survey.

Over a third of the 100,000 students questioned felt the First Amendment went "too far" in guaranteeing freedom of speech, press, worship and assembly.

Only half felt newspapers should be allowed to publish stories that did not have the government's approval.

It's a bit scary when "normal" shifts like this.

Here is an old Encyclopedia Britannica Films video clip from 1946 (I think) about despotism that they showed to children in schools. Amazing how things have changed. I wonder what kids would think now watching this clip.

Via Greg Elin

I've been reading all of the news about Katrina and feeling more and more guilty about not being able to do anything to help and not blogging about it at all. I think Xeni and others who have been tirelessly blogging about and doing something about it are doing an amazing job.

Each morning, I've been just choking up reading the front page of the newspaper, not even being able to make it past the first page. I really don't know what to say... so I haven't said anything.

However, chatting with some people and reading some of the blogs, I am beginning to wonder if the government is really doing everything possible. I wonder about the allegations of treating the underprivileged victims as more "expendable". I realize this is quite a harsh allegation, but something that I wonder about none the less. How much airplay is this opinion getting in the US and what is the public sentiment about this?

UPDATE: ("not being able to do anything to help" other than giving to the Red Cross which I have done.)

UPDATE 2: Xeni reports that "An article on the Army Times web page is referring to American citizens in New Orleans as 'the insurgency'."

Andystern-1
I recently had the opportunity to meet Andy Stern [WP] and and hear him speak. Andy is the president of the Service Employees International Union, the largest and fastest-growing union in the United States and Canada. He recently walked out from the AFL-CIO and Matt Miller in Fortune Magazine recently commented that, "Stern's move is possibly the most significant economic event of the year."

Andy's speech was passionate and compelling and made me think that he should be leading a political party. I wish we had people like him in Japan.

He fielded a number of tough questions about the failings of unions and his response was that unions have their problems and they need to be addressed, but that there were many issues that would never be resolved without unions. When presented with some examples of dysfunctional unions, he said that you had to blow up the bad unions before incrementally fixing them.

He said that "there is enough money. It is just not distributed properly." "I love philanthropy, but I want to allow people to be independent and provide for themselves." He made a solid attack at the notion of CEOs walking away with millions of dollars while cutting benefits for workers, and then turning around and setting up foundations to "give to the poor."

One person in the audience gave the example of a company which was picketed for using an un-unionized contractor. The person complained that they had a good relationship with the contractor and didn't want to switch just because these unions were picketing. Andy pointed out that the contractor would probably walk down the street and jump up and down if the company told them to. Why not tell the contractor to get unionized. It is the responsibility of the company to help the workers in the contractor and encourage them to become unionized.

I grew up in a fairly liberal environment and I heard a lot of war stories from union organizers. I've also seen union organizers abusing their power. Like Andy, I believe that their benefits outweigh their cost and that we should be thinking about how to reinvent them. They have developed a tainted image over the years and hopefully Andy can help change that. I support Andy in his efforts and believe that people like him may be able to save the Democratic party of the US by talking to the concerns of the working class instead of alienating them.

Hrosen
Hilary Rosen [WP], the former president and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is guest blogging over at Lawrence Lessig's blog.

She follows Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, on the slate of excellent guest bloggers during Larry's summer vacation.

Full transcript of press conference where the press batter McClellan about the Rove/Plame link. 41 questions about one issue in 35 minutes.

via Lessig

Dennis Howlett brings up a good point. Do US visa requirements for journalists cover bloggers? Foreign journalists visiting the US, even from friendly countries, have to obtain a special "I visa". This is a rule from 1952 (according to Slate) which hadn't been enforced until the Department of Homeland Security took over INS in March 2003. According to the same Slate article, "at least 15 journalists from friendly countries have been forcibly detained, interrogated, fingerprinted, and held in cells overnight—with most denied access to phones, pens, lawyers, or their consular officials."

This is something to consider before declaring ourselves journalists or having others do so. I have a basic question for anyone who understands this policy better than me - why is the US singling out journalists for special visas? Maybe the answer to this question will help shed light on whether DHS would consider a blogger a journalist.

via Loic

UPDATE:

From the US State Department web site:

Travel.State.Gov
Overview

A citizen of a foreign country, who wishes to enter the United States, generally must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of visa you must have is defined by immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel. The "media (I)" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily who are representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States, engaging in their profession, having the home office in a foreign country. Some procedures and fees under immigration law, relate to policies of the travelers home country, and in turn, the U.S. follows a similar practice, which we call “reciprocity”. Procedures for providing media visas to foreign media representatives of a particular country, consider whether the visa applicants own government grants similar privileges or is reciprocal, to representatives of the media or press from the United States.

[...]

Under immigration law, media visas are for “representatives of the foreign media,” including members of the press, radio, film or print industries, whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations, traveling to the U.S. to engage in their profession.

[...]

Other examples include, but are not limited to, the following media related kinds of activities:

* Primary employees of foreign information media engaged in filming a news event or documentary.
* Members of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film will only qualify for a media visa if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information or news. Additionally, the primary source and distribution of funding must be outside the United States
* Journalists working under contract- Persons holding a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization, if working under contract on a product to be used abroad by an information or cultural medium to disseminate information or news not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising. Please note that a valid employment contract is required.
* Employees of independent production companies when those employees hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic association.
* Foreign journalists working for an overseas branch office or subsidiary of a U.S. network, newspaper or other media outlet if the journalist is going to the United States to report on U.S. events solely for a foreign audience.
* Accredited representatives of tourist bureaus, controlled, operated, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government, who engage primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about that country, and who are not entitled to A-2 visa classification.
* Technical industrial information- Employees in the United States offices of organizations, which distribute technical industrial information.

When I enter the US with my Japanese passport, I use a visa waiver that asks me if I am coming to the US on business or as a tourist. Even if I am a businessman, if the purpose of my trip is for tourism, I am supposed to check the tourism box. So I would assume that even if bloggers are considered journalists, if the nature of your trip is not to engage in "news gathering" then you're probably OK. On the other hand, I suppose if you're going to the US to cover the President's speech, maybe you're getting close. I also wonder if bloggers who are not professionals would be considered "news media representatives/employees". Does anyone have a more informed opinion?

UPDATE: From a friend of a friend in the US State Department

The "I" visa category for journalists is really an employment-related category - it allows professional journalists to pursue their work as "representatives" of foreign media while in the U.S. I don't know that we have yet addressed the issue of bloggers. I think the key question is whether they would be receiving pay for their work in the U.S. or not. A blogger who represented an e-journal, for instance, might fit this description. Otherwise, they would travel on regular B-1/B-2 visas.

As Wendy says... Grokster...

EFF: MGM v. Grokster

Technorati Tags:

Us-Visit Logo Sm2
I'm sure many people who have been traveling in the US have noticed the US-VISIT kiosks. The exit kiosks are scattered around various airports. When you go to an exit kiosk, it asks you to insert your passport and it takes your fingerprint. Then it spits outs a "receipt". These exit kiosks appear to be placed randomly and are not in any critical path between you and your gate. If you look carefully at the signs, it says you "must" go through exit procedures.

I was curious about why they were saying that it is mandatory, but not enforcing it so I looked in the DHS page. It appears that they are rolling the system out across the country now and that eventually, they will check your receipt when you board your flight. So it's not REALLY mandatory yet. However:

What happens if a visitor checks in at an airport where the entry procedures are operational, then tries to leave the United States from an airport where the exit processing is not yet in place?

Checking out of the country using the US-VISIT exit procedure is mandatory where an exit solution is in place at the port of departure. If visitors fail to check out through these facilities, it could affect their ability to re-enter the country.

I wonder what "affect their ability to re-enter the country" means. When I leave, they take the visa stub from my passport that confirms that I have left the country. Although US-VISIT maybe more efficient, it seems redundant with the data they are collecting from the visa forms. I suppose the US Government doesn't have to have much legal or logical requirement to explain what "affect their ability to re-enter the country" means.

When I asked a DHS officer what I should do with the receipt, he said, "Keep it. You may need it later." I'm not sure what that meant, but I didn't probe further.

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In the May 30, 2005 issue of New York Magazine there is a story that included details about Lawrence Lessig being repeatedly molested by the choir director when he was a choirboy. The article covers the history and the current lawsuit where another former choirboy, John Hardwicke is suing the school with Lessig's help. As a friend of Larry's, it was painful to read the article and it was even more painful trying to figure out what to say to him.

Larry blogged about it initially a few days ago and there were a stream of supportive comments. Today, he posted about what we should do to prevent this kind of thing in the future, and I believe this is a critical message to get out. He writes about the law in New Jersey that immunizes charitable institutions from "negligence" in the hiring of a teacher. This is what the defense is using against the claims of responsibility for the abuse. There is a bill that has been introduced to remove that immunity, but leaders from the Catholic Church have opposed the change. I often get criticized for meddling in American politics, but I think this is an important issue. There are links on Larry's post to pages about what you can do. I think the Church should be ashamed.

I realize this is a bit old, but in the context of my post yesterday on "What would Gandhi do?"... I googled around and apparently this aired on Air America and a number of other places, but I can't find an audio or video file, just references to it. (If anyone has a link to the video or audio, let me know so I can update this post.)

President Bush explaining his Social Security plan - Tampa, Florida - Feb. 4, 2005

Woman in audience: I don't really understand. How is it the new [Social Security] plan is going to fix that problem?

President Bush: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

I wonder if President Bush also feels he can't say exactly what he means when he knows that his words will end up on the Internet...

originally via Markoff

UPDATE: Transcript on Whitehouse site. Thanks Rod.

Blogger Jeremy Wright was denied entry to the United States and was strip searched by the US Department of Homeland Security. One of the reasons for the suspicion was that the officer didn't believe blogging was a profession. "Blogging ain’t a job," said the officer. (Maybe I should modify my last post about amateurs and blogging...) Jeremy has posted a followup entry which is sober and balanced. He quotes from memory part of the exchange with the DHS officer.

Him: Why would you visit someone in the states you’d never met (I mentioned I was planning to visit several people whilst down there)
Me: Well, I have met most of them, but I’ve talked to them dozens or hundreds of times online.
Him: Do you have any of their phone numbers?
Me: No, but I talk
Him: You can’t talk to someone without a phone number. Stop lying to me.
Me: No, really, I can talk from my computer to theirs
Him: Don’t be a smartass. If you don’t have their phone number, and you’ve never met them, how can you have ever talked to them.
Me: … (at this point I’ve learned that sarcasm doesn’t help, nor does answering questions he doesn’t want to hear the answer to)
Him: So, you’re trying to tell me that you’re going to visit someone who you’ve never met, never talked to and who knows nothing about you? And I’m supposed to believe this?
Good point about sarcasm. On my blog I talk tough about DHS and immigration, but in front of a DHS officer, I'm very polite and try to say "yes sir" a lot... Immigration is definitely not a good play to practice your sarcasm.

via NevOn via Politech.

It should be noted that as with fingerprinting, some countries MAY demand similar action from our citizens entering their country.

Dave

------ Forwarded Message
From: rose
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 08:49:32 -0800 (PST)
To: dave
Subject: "1984" has arrived! DHS demanding on site acccess to email accounts of selected incoming aliens

Hi Dave,

As an attorney, practicing in the areas of international business and immigration law, it has come to my attention through discussions with other attorneys, that DHS is pulling aside "selected" aliens at entry checkpoints and bringing them into a separate room which contains a DHS computer connected to the internet. The aliens are told to bring up their various email accounts on the screen and enter their passwords. DHS then reads the emails for information pertaining to possible unauthorized work or other matters and questions the aliens on these findings. Of course, no attorney can be present at these interrogations! People travelling to the U.S. should be aware that a possible search of them by DHS now also means a search of their email accounts!

Regards,

Rose Robbins, Esq.

This means that I should probably be careful not to have any suspicious looking email on my computer either. This also creates a vulnerability for aliens entering the US because someone could send them a bunch of sketchy email that would get them in trouble when they are about to enter the US...

UPDATE:

From: Kevin Murphy
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 12:38:08 -0500
To: dave
Subject: RE: [IP] comments "1984" has arrived! DHS demanding on site access to email accounts of selected incoming aliens

I find this very difficult to believe.

How many people can remember the hostname, IP address or URL used to access their email, without the benefit of bookmarks or an preconfigured mail client? How many can even remember their password? For most people, their account and client would be set up by their employer or their ISP. They boot up Outlook and it just works. I know I couldn't provide this information, particularly after a long-haul flight, nicotine withdrawal, and standing in line at passport control for an hour.

And how would DHS know what email accounts you have, anyway?

Kevin Murphy

US Bureau Chief
ComputerWire
San Francisco, CA 94103

In case you missed it - the new Jib Jab...

Barlow blogs about his day in court trying to defend his 4th Amendment rights. The judge ruled against him, but it's just the first step in a much longer process. Good luck Barlow.

EFF's staff technologist Seth David Schoen, danah boyd and Rob Kiser and also posted their accounts.

Kuro5hin
The glass is half empty: Americans and Civil Rights for Muslims

The Media and Society Research Group of Cornell University conducted a survey in November of Americans with respect to their attitudes towards Muslims. Nearly half (44%) of respondents favored restricting the civil rights of Muslims in some way. The press release, with links to the report, is available at [link]

My next question is, of the 56% of the people who didn't favor restricting the civil rights of Muslims, what percentage are going to do anything about trying to stop this trend?

U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment
Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Barlow has gone public with his fight for his 4th Amendment rights. Please read the story on his blog. I commend Barlow for discussing this in public and for fighting for his rights since you lose rights that you don't fight for, even if it's embarrassing or painful. It is generally true of all forms of fighting for privacy related rights. It's often very difficult since you get cast as someone who might "need privacy more than others." You also lose your privacy when you fight for it in public. You may not agree with Barlow's judgement if he was indeed carrying drugs, but Americans should be worried if they lose their 4th amendment rights.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION : He doesn't say that the allegations are necessarily true.

UPI via The Washington Times

Tenet calls for Internet security

[...]

The way the Internet was built might be part of the problem, he said. Its open architecture allows Web surfing, but that openness makes the system vulnerable, Mr. Tenet said.

Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he said.

If the Internet were not open, it would no longer be the Internet. it is exactly the "vulnerabilities" that Tenet refers to that allows the Internet to promote free speech, innovation and growth without asking permission, getting licenses or being controlled by governments and monopolies. Shutting down or closing the open Internet in the name of fear and terror would do more damage to global democracy and innovation than any real damage it would have on terrorists. Of course terrorists use the Internet, but so does everyone else. I think people underestimate how much damage certain types of "control" can have on the future of the Internet. Either Tenet was ignorant of the nature of the Internet or it is yet another calculated push towards turning the Internet into another version of the telephone networks or cable TV...

Does Tenet have any influence on policy anymore?

Susan Crawford mentioned this during her remarks at the public forum at ICANN. Are there any other news agencies reporting this story?

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.

[...]

What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.
We knew this would be true, but this comes from a US Defense Science Board under the US Secretary of Defense. The report also explains that it is not America's freedoms that they hate (as many Americans believe), but America's foreign policy.

via rojisan via The Guardian

Homeland-S
Photo by Paul Saffo
via Dvorak
Dvorak
Photo sent in by the ever-travelling Paul Saffo with this note: “I encountered these machines on a recent trip, and couldn’t help but note that their message says it all. And no, it is not retouched or photoshopped.”

I’m thinking of the Tom Hanks movie, Terminal, where Hanks is told the country is “closed.”

I watched The Terminal on the flight to Paris because I knew it was about Merhan Karimi Nasseri stuck in Charles de Gaulle Airport. I didn't realize that the movie was set in the US and the story totally "rebuilt". I enjoyed the movie, but it was definitely Hollywoodified and wasn't based on the Merhan Karimi Nasseri story, but rather just inspired by it.

Found on Craigslist by Kelly Sue -- "Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight - m4m":

I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.

via die puny humans

David Weinberger expresses his grief with some images. ;-)

John Perry Barlow has the best liberal post-election post I've read so far...

I really don't believe in IQ quizzes and I know this is really mean, but it's just too interesting/funny not to blog. IQ vs. Votes. Read and click the links in the text for more interesting comparisons.

via Jason

UPDATE: This is not true. Here is the story debunking it. Thanks Richard.

jluster.org
OK, this is so going to blow up...

Go to CNN to find this page:

http://cnn.netscape.cnn.com/news/election2004.jsp?feature=ne_election5

once there, you'll find a page like the one below. Snapshot archived for posterity after CNN wises up.

Snapshot Cnn1-1

now right-click, control-click or whatever on the Bush/Laura image. Select "Open Image" or the equivalent. And observe the image name.

Snapshot2Bush
Yes, this is not a fake. As of right now, November 3rd, 2004, 21:23 PST this is the frontpage. My world just got a little brighter. Pizza, Canadian beer, and watching "Strange Brew" contribute, too.

The name of the image file is asshole.jpg. Nice catch Jonas.

UPDATE Sean blogs that The Register ripped off the article without giving credit to Jonas. Schmucks.

UPDATE2 Now WorldNetDaily is writing as if they found it.

UPDATE3 derStandard.at has also just ripped off the images without attribution.

UPDATE4 Jonas had an attribution-ShareAlike license on his blog...

Harper's Magazine
Electing to Leave A reader’s guide to expatriating on November 3

So the wrong candidate has won, and you want to leave the country. Let us consider your options.

;-)

Saw this in a few placing including metafilter

People should start investing money in independent record labels who have bands that sing about "sticking it to the man". The only upside I see is that people get quite creative when they are oppressed. I predict a rise in counter-culture.

As Larry says, "It's over. Let it go." Jon is saying, "Don't complain - organize!" Although the previous post about the wacky voting system is interesting, it's unlikely that any sort of recount or technicality will change the fact that today, the people of the United States of America have voted for George Bush. It was close, but the Americans have chosen Bush. It's a sad day, but in a democracy, you get the politicians you deserve/vote for. This was their chance to change their leader and they have failed. For awhile, many of us thought that they had been conned into voting for Bush - that they didn't know he wanted to be a War President. Many people didn't equate the US policies with the people of America. We thought they had made a mistake. Now US policies = US Citizens. You Americans have my sympathies, but it's still your fault.

Thomas Crampton (International Herald Tribune)
Not a simple election, global vote monitors say

The global implications of the U.S. election are undeniable, but international monitors at a polling station in southern Florida said Tuesday that voting procedures being used in the extremely close contest fell short in many ways of the best global practices.

The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system.
.
"To be honest, monitoring elections in Serbia a few months ago was much simpler," said Konrad Olszewski, an election observer stationed in Miami by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

[...]


"The United States has long been a model for the world," said Richard Williams, a poll watcher officially designated by the Democratic party. "If we allow international observers, we will continue to have a leading role."

Not everyone agrees. Jeff Miller, a Republican congressman from Florida, considers the monitors an insult and has publicly urged them to leave. "Get on the next plane out of the United States to go monitor an election somewhere else, like Afghanistan," he said.

I think the past two paragraphs sum up the Democrat and Republican outlook on transparency, foreign policy and this election quite well. Sigh.

Jay Rosen
The Coming Apart of An Ordered World: Bloggers Notebook, Election Eve

"About the performance of journalists in 2004 it will be asked, post-election: How good a job did the press do? But Big Journalism was in a different situation in politics and the world during this campaign. The post-mortems should be about that. Also: will the press even have this job in 08?"

I can't vote in the US election, but I can at least say I oppose Bush on my blog. Technorati is now counting votes on blogs using Vote Links.

We now have evidence that certainly looks like altering a computerized voting system during a real election, and it happened just six weeks ago.

MONDAY Nov 1 2004: New information indicates that hackers may be targeting the central computers counting our votes tomorrow. All county elections officials who use modems to transfer votes from polling places to the central vote-counting server should disconnect the modems now.

There is no down side to removing the modems. Simply drive the vote cartridges from each polling place in to the central vote-counting location by car, instead of transmitting by modem. “Turning off” the modems may not be sufficient. Disconnect the central vote counting server from all modems, INCLUDING PHONE LINES, not just Internet.

In a very large county, this will add at most one hour to the vote-counting time, while offering significant protection from outside intrusion.

It appears that such an attack may already have taken place, in a primary election 6 weeks ago in King County, Washington -- a large jurisdiction with over one million registered voters. Documents, including internal audit logs for the central vote-counting computer, along with modem “trouble slips” consistent with hacker activity, show that the system may have been hacked on Sept. 14, 2004. Three hours is now missing from the vote-counting computer's "audit log," an automatically generated record, similar to the black box in an airplane, which registers certain kinds of events.

I wonder who would launch such an attack and what the motivation would be? Would it be, "because I can" sort of hacking or someone hired or with more purpose. In any event, this is clearly a risk. Take a look at the other stuff going on on the Black Box Voting site. I think it's quite important.

via David Weinberger

Why are they going to run WMD drills on election day? Some strong allegations on the Citizens for Legitimate Government page with links to a variety of sources.

Nasa-1
Salon reports that a NASA photo analyst believes Bush wore a device during the debate.

via Lessig

Speaking of unreachable sites... George Bush's official site used to time out when you tried to access it from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a few other places I think. I blogged this back in August. Now it tells you formally:

www.georgewbush.com
Access Denied

You don't have permission to access "http://www.georgewbush.com/" on this server.

Much more formal than just timing out on us. But it's more clear now that it is intentional. Why would the Bush campaign want to block access from Japan?

via Jim

Atmvis
Diebold ATM
Looping Windows Media Player

original image on
Midnight Spaghetti
Midnight Spaghetti & The Chocolate G-Strings
Diebold ATM Media Player

March 17, 2004

Midnight Spaghetti causing a ruckus as always.

The Scene: Carnegie Mellon University

The Event: A newly installed Diebold Opteva 520 ATM crashes, then reboots. Suprizingly, it's vanilla-style Windows XP operating system initialized without the actual ATM software.

The Result: A desktop computer with only a touch screen interface is left wide open for the amusement of the most wired university in the U.S.

Take a look at the site for details, but you can imagine how much fun they had. The picture above is Windows Media Player running on the ATM. As they point out, the scary thing is that Diebold are also making the voting machines.

via Meta-Roji

MSNBC: Columnist Coulter hit with custard pies
The Smoking Gun: "Al Pieda" Targets Ann Coulter

According to a copy of the police report from the University of Arizona Police Department on The Smoking Gun, the "Al Pieda" were involved.

UAPD report
Search incident to arrest I located on both Wolff and Smith pieces of paper (propaganda) involving Coulter's name and the explanation of "Al Pieda".

via Markoff

Idebate
This image may be copyrighted. I don't know the origin of the image. If someone knows, please let me know.

UPDATE:

Larry Angell via Email
Hi Joi,
I was the original poster of the iDebate image. I posted it on my blog
back on Wednesday, the 13th. It was an original work done by one of our
MacMinute.com readers (I'm the editor over there) who let me post it.
Thanks for any possible link :-)

http://www.happygolarry.com/2004/10/13/bulge

Cheers,

Larry Angell
Editor-in-Chief, MacMinute
http://www.macminute.com


Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing
Jon Stewart on his Crossfire appearance

Here's a clip form Jon Stewart's Daily Show monologue following on his now-legendary Crossfire appearance in which he post-mortems his performance. Very good stuff.

Link, Crossfire's response

(via Waxy!)

Jon Stewart
They said I wasn't being funny. And I said to them, "I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow."

Thanks Cory and Waxy!

The Guardian had an interesting project to try to get readers to send email to people in Clark County and influence the US vote.

The Guardian

Operation Clark County

[...]

It works like this. By typing your email address into the box on this page, you will receive the name and address of a voter in Clark County, Ohio. You may not have heard of it, but it's one of the most marginal areas in one of the most marginal states: at the last election, just 324 votes separated Democrats from Republicans. It's a place where a change of mind among just a few voters could make a real difference.

Writing to a Clark County voter is a chance to explain how US policies effect you personally, and the rest of the world more generally, and who you hope they will send to the White House. It may even persuade someone to use their vote at all.

They got some feedback from Americans.
KEEP YOUR FUCKIN' LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN'T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT'S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON'T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS ... TOUGH SHIT!
PROUD AMERICAN VOTING FOR BUSH!

via Metafilter here and here

UPDATE: They actually got the idea from a blogger. See here and here.

p2p-Politics.org is a cool new site that lists video ads supporting Kerry, Bush and Nader. Although the site was launched by known Kerry supporters and currently there are only ads from the Kerry campaign and some of MoveOn.org's Bush in 30 Seconds ads, there is a tab for Bush and Nader and are soliciting ads from them. They also ask people to submit their own ads. The idea is that the site would be a non-partisan site that allows you to view ads of the candidates and email links to the ads to friends. The ads are hosted by the Internet Archive and licensed under a Creative Commons license. The "p2p" here stands for people-to-people or peer-to-peer but is not p2p as in the file sharing protocol. This site is a volunteer effort by J Christopher Garcia and Aaron Swartz, "with some ideas by Lawrence Lessig" and support from the Internet Archive.

I was just watching the debates and Kerry was making a comment about tax cuts for "Small Business Owners". Kerry mentioned that Bush's ownership in a timber company would qualify him as a small business owner under the Republican definition. Bush said, he didn't own a timber company and made a joke about it. It looked for a moment like Kerry had gotten factchecked by Bush. The FactCheck.org page seems to be down, but from the Goggle cache:

FactCheck.org
President Bush himself would have qualified as a "small business owner" under the Republican definition, based on his 2001 federal income tax returns. He reported $84 of business income from his part ownership of a timber-growing enterprise. However, 99.99% of Bush's total income came from other sources that year. (Bush also qualified as a "small business owner" in 2000 based on $314 of "business income," but not in 2002 and 2003 when he reported his timber income as "royalties" on a different tax schedule.)
Nice try President.

Thanks to Jess' for the link

UPDATE: ABC just picked up this story from FactCheck.org too. ;-)

Warren Ellis
A peace activist who once fasted for...

A peace activist who once fasted for 63 days to protest movie violence and war toys is launching another hunger strike to persuade Ralph Nader to abandon his presidential bid.

Jerry Rubin, 60, said he plans to consume only liquids from Saturday until Nov. 2 if Nader doesn't take a meeting with him. "I know Ralph Nader and I don't think he's doing the right thing," Rubin said Saturday. He said the consumer advocate's campaign is dividing the progressive political movement.

Rubin is often confused with now-deceased "Chicago Seven" defendant Jerry Rubin. He legally changed his name to Jerry Peace Activist Rubin to avoid confusion with the 60s radical...

I wonder what Ralph Nader is going to do...

UPDATE Via Warren: "We're sending him some carrot juice," Nader said Sunday...

Lawrence Lessig
faces of frustration

This is the impression I got from the debate. Click on the video here for a wonderful remix of the debate.

Another funny video.
Andrea Harner
Terizm, Terizm, Terizm...
Hey congrats to all who have said 'terrorism', '9/11', etc ad nauseum because now it all sounds like blah, blah, blah!

I think I'm supposed to be scared into voting for Bush.

Well Mr. 'Not Such A Good Debater' Bush....BOO! I'M VOTING FOR KERRY.

Check out this short video:

KeepingAmericaScared.jpg


I mirrored the the movie in case the source above gets overloaded.

Apologies to my Republican readers, but although I already declared that I'm a partisan blogger, I'm going to start leaning into it a bit harder as you can see from my recent posts. Since I can't vote, it's the least I can do. Feel free to comment though. ;-)

Frank Boosman
"These People"

I've talked with two citizens of foreign countries about the presidential debate -- one from Australia, the other from Germany -- and interestingly, both of them found the following statement by President Bush extremely offensive:

I know how these people [world leaders] think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently.
I like to think I'm sensitive to international points of view, but honestly, I wouldn't have predicted that reaction. Apparently it's the phrase "these people". On reflection, I think I can see why someone from outside the US would find it condescending -- and misguided as well, since it seems to imply that "world leaders" all think similarly.
Interesting. I find the term "these people" annoying because it is a "us and them" sort of word and also makes "them" sound like enemies or maybe a nuisance. "Leave it up to me. I know how to deal with these people," sounds like some intermediary negotiating with Native Americans in an old Western movie to me. He should have said, "I know the other world leaders and know how they think." Or something like that... although Frank's right in that it does make it sound like that they all think in the same way which is silly, but not really insulting - just stupid.

Salon
Operation American Repression?

An Army officer in Iraq who wrote a highly critical article on the administration's conduct of the war is being investigated for disloyalty -- if charged and convicted, he could get 20 years.

Sept. 29, 2004 | An Army Reserve staff sergeant who last week wrote a critical analysis of the United States' prospects in Iraq now faces possible disciplinary action for disloyalty and insubordination. If charges are bought and the officer is found guilty, he could face 20 years in prison. It would be the first such disloyalty prosecution since the Vietnam War.

The essay that sparked the military investigation is titled "Why We Cannot Win" and was posted Sept. 20 on the conservative antiwar Web site LewRockwell.com. Written by Al Lorentz, a non-commissioned officer from Texas with nearly 20 years in the Army who is serving in Iraq, the essay offers a bleak assessment of America's chances for success in Iraq.

The Essay, Why We Cannot Win is still on the LewRockwell.com.

I don't understand. How can writing an essay like this send you to jail for 20 years?

Cory @ Boing Boing
ACLU and EFF strike down part of PATRIOT Act

EFF has helped the ACLU overturn one of the worst elements of the USA PATRIOT Act, the "National Security Letters," which were secret warrants that the Justice Department could write for itself without judicial oversight and then bind the recipients to indefinite silence. That's right: secret, no-oversight warrants with perpetual gag-orders. The ACLU brought suit against the DoJ on this one, and we filed briefs on their side, and today, a federal court struck down this part of PATRIOT as unconstitutional. BooYAH.

"Today's ruling is an important victory for the Bill of Rights, and a critical step toward reigning in the unconstitutional reach of the Patriot Act," said Kurt
Opsahl, EFF staff attorney. "The Court recognized that judicial oversight and the freedom to discuss our government's activities both online and offline are fundamental safeguards to civil liberties, and should not be thrown aside."
Link
Once again I wish we had the EFF and the ACLU in Japan. Or rather, the kind of people and government that would encourage the creation such organizations. The US government is capable of insanity like the US PATRIOT Act, but it also has corrective mechanisms which work. Anyway, good going folks!

USA Today
Fliers face tighter screening for explosives

WASHINGTON — Starting Monday, the government will intensify airport screening...

More discretion. TSA screeners will be given greater authority to refer passengers for extra scrutiny if clothing looks bulky, misshapen or otherwise suspicious. Some passengers also will receive expanded pat-downs when screeners consider it warranted. Currently, they concentrate mostly on arms and legs. Now, they'll be able to pat other areas if they look suspicious. TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark would not elaborate, citing security.

...Critics say additional pat-downs could make some people, especially young women, feel uncomfortable.

Just in time for my trip to the US next week...

via Cory @ Boing Boing

Pres04_WTA.png
Graph of Bush vs Kerry on Iowa Electronic Markets
The Iowa Electronic Markets are real-money futures markets in which contract payoffs depend on economic and political events such as elections. These markets are operated by faculty at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business as part of our research and teaching mission.
Jimbo told me about IEM when I met him in Linz. A paper (PDF) describes the past elections and how the markets have been amazingly good at predicting their outcomes. IEM has a current market quote which is updated every 15 minutes. As of this posting, it is 40.6%/59.4% Kerry/Bush.

On IRC, crw, just pointed out a blog post on The SaltwaterPizza that used Google to see how many people said they were voting for one candidate or the other. The sample size was 104,789. This gave 46.8%/53.2% Kerry/Bush.

The results are disappointing for those of us who are hoping Kerry will win, but these alternatives to traditional polls are very interesting none the less.

torrentocracy - blog
Outfoxed Torrent (torrentocracy exclusive)

In working with Lawrence Lessig, Robert Greenwald has agreed to release the interviews within Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism under a Creative Commons non-commercial license (press release). This means that among the rights now granted, interviews balancing out the fair journalism of Fox News can freely be used as anyone sees fit. To see the full movie, you can purchase the Outfoxed DVD or check it out in theaters.

Torrentocracy (along with archive.org) has exclusive initial access to distribute these interviews in their digital form due to the work undertaken to promote a TV-connected, public domain, internet based media distribution network. The torrent file to start your Outfoxed download can be found at http://www.torrentocracy.com/files/torrents/outfoxed_interviews.torrent. For more information on how to use bit torrent peer-to-peer filesharing to download this, go here. If you were a Torrentocracy user, you could already be downloading Outfoxed to your television.

Here's some serious substantial non-infringing use of P2P. I bought the DVD and watched Outfoxed. Definitely worth buying the DVD, but being able to download and use the interviews from the documentary is a great contribution to the commons. It will be interesting to see how people remix this stuff.

aproval_vs_alert_chart_NEW.gif
Interesting chart showing how terror alerts in the US seems to coincide with drops in Bush's approval ratings.

via JuliusBlog

I reported back in September 2003 that an Indian newspaper reported a local company receiving an outsourcing contract from the Republicans for fund-raising calls. The Republicans denied this at the time. Dvorak has an update.

The Telegraph - Calcutta
Indian voices in Bush pitch - Geography error blows lid off campaign outsourcing

The Texas outfit may have actually got away with its outsourcing exercise if it had not been for the poor training given to Indian telemarketers who handled the job. Sources here said the India-based operation was exposed when one American who received a fund-raising phone call on behalf of the Republican Victory Committee wanted to know where the call was coming from.

“The Washington DC of Virginia,” the caller answered. Washington, the US capital, is actually in DC, short for District of Columbia, and Virginia is its neighbouring state.

I personally have nothing against outsourcing to India, but it probably looks bad for the RNC.

The NYC police are reported to have a weapon-like acoustic device called an LRAD at the RNC protests.

lrad2.jpg
Here is a picture from Indymedia.

Earlier this month, the New York Police Department showed off a machine called the Long Range Acoustic Device, developed for the military and capable of blasting at an earsplitting 150 decibels -- as loud as a firecracker, a jet engine taking off or artillery fire at 500 feet, according to the Noise Center at the League for the Hard of Hearing. The NYPD said it would use the machine to direct crowds to safety if there's a terrorist attack or remind protesters where they're allowed to march. Police said they wouldn't use the earsplitting screeching noise feature at the convention. "It's only to communicate in large crowds," Inspector Thomas Graham of the police department's crowd control unit said.

via Xeni @ Boing Boing - more on Boing Boing

John Perry Barlow promised to organize dancemobs to disrupt the RNC and he has. He sends a quick update from the dancemob front lines.

kerryrocks.net, a video of a Kerry kigurumi performance on the guitar. Pretty neat, but not sure if this will really convince people to vote for Kerry. ;-)

George Soros responds to Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert's insinuation that Soros received funding from drug money.

via New York Daily News
You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where -- if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from," Hastert mused. An astonished Chris Wallace asked: "Excuse me?" The Speaker went on: "Well, that's what he's been for a number years -- George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there." Wallace: "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?" Hastert: "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."
George Soros
You do a discredit to yourself and to the dignity of your office by engaging in these dishonest smear tactics. You should be ashamed.

For the Speaker of the House of Representatives, even in the midst of an election season, to descend to a level of political discourse where innuendo and slander replace reason, truth and argument is unacceptable.

This past Sunday, on national television, you suggested that I might be a criminal simply because I have exercised my First Amendment rights to dissent from the policies of the Bush administration...

I must respectfully insist that you either substantiate these claims -- which you cannot do because they are false -- or publicly apologize for attempting to defame my character and damage my reputation.


PDF of Letter from Soros


via Cory @ Boing Boing

UPDATE: Video of the show on The Daily Recycler via Talking Points Memo.

Warning to conservative readers: partisan thoughts below

I don't think I'm going to have the fortitude to watch the Republican Convention. I know that makes me a small person, but I just can't take it.
I'm getting some blow-by-blow commentary from Mitch via IM right now and I can understand David's feelings.
Mitch on IM
Mitch: sorry, distracted by the glaring whiteness of the RNconvention. no people with any color while Rudy talks
Mitch: pretty wretched talk -- it is ugly in several dimensions, suggesting anyone who disagrees with Bush is an appeaser
Mitch: he literally just said "either you are with us or with the terrorists"
Mitch: and followed by comparing Bush to Churchill
Mitch: Rudy is sure he's Churchillian
Regarding David's post, Mitch says, "too many years as a reporter -- I can watch anything."

We've updated politics.technorati.com. Lots of new features and a new look. More info on Dave's site.

Xeni Jardin @ Boing Boing
RNC protests: Bikes Against Bush organizer arrested

A post on an indymedia website says activist Joshua Kinberg -- inventor of a wireless, bike-mounted, dot-matrix printer for spraying protest messages in the street -- was arrested yesterday at the RNC in NYC. At the time, he was reportedly being interviewed by Ron Reagan, covering the convention for MNSBC.


Kinberg's invention allows users to spray messages transmitted to the bike-printer by way of the 'Net or SMS. They're painted in a water-soluble chalk solution that washes away with water (not spray-paint, as misreported elsewhere). Link to indymedia post, Link to previous BB post about Bikes Against Bush, Link to August 02 Wired News story with background on Kinberg's invention, Link to yesterday's NYT piece on Bikes Against Bush, and link to a torrent identified as video coverage of the incident, via DV Guide. (Thanks, Patricia and el norm)

I think I saw this device at Ars Electronica a few years ago. I have a feeling that at the time it wasn't mounted on a bike. I remember thinking, "What a cool idea. I wonder if it will ever be used for something useful." I love it when political art projects/proposals get put into real world action. It's too bad that they confiscated the bike before it was used "in the wild." I wonder whether this bogus arrest will end up getting this project more press than if they hadn't arrested him...

AP via CNN
9/11 toy found inside candy bags

Wholesaler recalls 14,000 bags it bought from Miami import firm

MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled.

First NROjr and now this. For some reason, all of my posts today are about the US government and the last two are very weird messages to kids...

via Adam

Since I can't get onto the GW site, I guess I have to settle for the NROjr.gov site. The NRO?

National Reconnaissance Office
The NRO designs, builds and operates the nation's reconnaissance satellites. NRO products, provided to an expanding list of customers like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), can warn of potential trouble spots around the world, help plan military operations, and monitor the environment.

As part of the 14-member Intelligence Community, the NRO plays a primary role in achieving information superiority for the U. S. Government and Armed Forces.

So what is NROjr? It's a "A fun site to engage children in the wonders of science, math and space in a fun and interactive manner," brought to you by the NRO. (Make sure you have your sound turned on to enjoy the full experience. And all this time I thought Ernie actually worked for Sesame Street... although I guess he was recently heard singing Orkutworld.)

via Karl

The US Transporation Security Administration (TSA) announced that CAPPS II, the controversial passenger profiling system is back looking a bit more shy and sporting a new name, "Secure Flight." It still sounds bad and they'll start testing it within the next 30-60 days.

via Kevin @ EFF: Deep Links

I still can't see the George W Bush site from Japan. I wonder if the Japanese are blocking Bush or Bush is blocking Japan... ;-)

via Jim

CNN has invited Technorati back to provide real time analysis of bloggers blogging about the Republican National Convention. Thanks CNN! More on Sifry's Alerts.

David Weinberger blogs about George Bush denouncing 527 groups. David links to Roji pointing out that this is a serious flip-flop from his original position.

David's point is that on the one hand, the 527 groups represent a way to buy influence. On the other hand, limiting the ability for a 527 group to be formed and express a point of view is limiting free speech.

I think the reason we have this conflict is the nature of media today. It shouldn't cost millions of dollars to get your message out; the system should be transparent enough so we know who is behind those messages; and most importantly, those messages should spark dialog and lies and stupidity should be smacked down as fast as urban legends on snopes. The problem with allowing money to buy "free speech" is that the speech is asymmetrical and not deliberative. ...yet.

Donna Wentworth @ EFF Deep Links
Army Okays Computer Spying

JetBlue ignited a huge privacy scandal when the news broke that the airline secretly provided more than 5 million passenger records to Torch Concepts, a military contractor. Yet the Army Inspector General Agency concluded [PDF] that JetBlue did not violate the Privacy Act. The reason: Torch never looked up individuals by name, but instead used a computer to dig through and analyze their private information.

This is quite disturbing. I guess this means that taking massive amounts of data and crunching through them to create "profiles" is OK. I wonder how small the clusters can be? Can they, for instance, profile companies, race, occupation, address or other kind of groupings for profiling?

There was a case in Japan where the Japanese government kept a list of Freedom of Information Act requesters in a list on a network with their backgrounds and this was found to be "legal".

I don't know enough about the JetBlue case to make a judgment on just how bad I think it is, but it seems to be part of a larger trend pushing the limits of the law.

UPI via The Washington Times reports that the Weather Underground are planning some action during the RNC. UPI says:

United Press International
"These people are trained in kidnapping techniques, bombmaking and building improvised munitions," the source said. "They're very bad people..."
Someone who asked not to be named emailed me and says that they heard that, "it's planned on being a nonviolent action. Something about leaflets and random covert protesters." If this is indeed the case, there is a pretty high likelihood of some really wound up police running into some pretty innocent people. If you are at risk of looking like a risk to the police, make sure you read about your rights. (344k ZIPped PDF on cryptome.org) via Boing Boing
UPDATE: An anonymous tipster sez "this pamphlet was done by the wonderful Katya Komisaruk over at the Just Cause Law Collective. At her site, lawcollective.org, there's the pamphlet and tons of other info about how to not lose your rights when dealing with the po. (Including Komsiaruk's book, set up much like the pamphlet, 'Beat the Heat.' Komisaruk applied and was accepted to Harvard Law School while in federal prison for anti-nuke demonstrations. She went to HLS while on parole and graduated with honors. Now she's one of the most active anarchist lawyers in the U.S."

UPDATE: Anonymous old media journalist who thinks the UPI story is bunk: "my theory is that the republicans are going to have their own anarchists there a la the reichstag fire...."

Image from Gary Turner
OK He wasn't almost arrested, but he was told that he couldn't be use computer within range of the open wifi network of the public library by a policeman. The officer cites some law against it and describes all of the terrible things Reverend AKMA could be doing. When AKMA asks whether this was a state or federal law, the officer says, "It’s a federal law, sir; a Secret Service agent came and explained it to us.”

Anyway, it's worth reading his entire post. What law is this officer referring to and how can we undo damage that misinformed (if there is no such law) Secret Service agents are causing? If it were me or some other less pious person, I'm sure the policeman might not have been as nice.

meta-roji
teach your children well, at gunpoint
ap via abc news, august 20, 2004
Justice Says Guns-Drawn School Raid Legal

A guns-drawn raid at a high school last year did not violate civil rights laws and the case is closed, the U.S. Justice Department said.

...

Fifteen officers entered Stratford High School's main hallway and ordered 130 students to the floor Nov. 5 of last year. They used plastic ties to handcuff 18 students and school officials opened and searched 17 book bags using a drug dog.

Police found no drugs or weapons, but the raid frightened children, provoked marches and lawsuits and brought national media attention and the resignation of the school's longtime principal.

the original story is covered here with video. the memory hole has more, including an unidentified person in what appears to be a military uniform.

This is one incident that I can't imagine happening in Japan... at least not yet. I wonder what this sort of "police state" behavior does to children.

EFF Deeplinks
E-Voting Mistake Caught on Paper

In news at once frightening and reassuring, a Sequoia electronic voting machine suffered a very public failure last week during a live demo. The machine worked fine with an English-language ballot, but failed to record votes with the Spanish-language ballot.

I still think electronic voting is a bad idea. Here is yet another example of a failure.

Cryptome is one of my primary sources of documents that get released to the public through a variety of sources. I link to it quite often from my blog. ABC News questions the value of the public's right to know, vs the risk of "helping the enemy." I have a feeling that terrorists are pretty good at using the Internet and probably already have access to most of the stuff on Cryptome. I think that it could be argued that they are helping terrorists by making the information so easy to find, but I personally think that Cryptome and other sites like it are important in fighting against the natural tendency to hide behind secrecy.

AP @ San Jose Mercury News
Calif. Supreme Court voids gay marriages in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court on Thursday voided the nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages sanctioned in San Francisco this year and ruled unanimously that the mayor overstepped his authority by issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

In February I remember all of the happiness when the Mayor decided to allow same sex marriages in San Francisco. I had friends who were married that day and even saw the line of happy couples lined up at City Hall. At the time Dan Gillmor voiced concern that Mayor Newsom had overstepped his the bounds of his executive power when he declared a state law prohibiting same sex marriages unconstitutional. Larry Lessig chimed in and wrote that at times the executive must push those bounds if they believe something to be genuinely unconstitutional. The last paragraph in Lessig's post has an important caveat.
One critical caveat: The rule of law requires some coordination. So if a court decides that a law is constitutional, while an executive has the right to disagree, and even push to have the decision changed, it is important that the executive follow the law at least with respect to that case.
...Thus, if California courts decide the marriage law is not unconstitutional, then Newsom should then obey that law as ultimately interpreted.

Declan McCullagh
Sheriff misusing FBI computer can't be sued

A federal appeals court said this week that the sheriff of Shawnee County, Kan., could not be sued for snooping through an FBI database for dirt on political enemies.

Oh yay. The FBI's Interstate Identification Index (III) he abused has 50.5 million people. I wonder what happens when they have even better information on people. So much of the law protects the police and assumes they are "good". In Japan, when I talk about the possibility of cases like this, people laugh.

Information collected about people by the government is and will be increasingly used for political ends. We need to work on measures to investigate and punish such abuses and fundamentally reconsider the cost benefit of creating such databases prone to abuse.

via Dan Gillmor

President George W. Bush
President Signs Defense Bill REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SIGNING OF H.R. 4613, THE DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

Ooops. A Freudian slip?

via George via IP

UPDATE: mp3 file of this from Lauren Weinstein's blog.

Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has sent an open letter to Thomas Kean, the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission continuing to up the ante on allegations of a massive coverup.

August 1, 2004

[...]

Dear Chairman Kean:

[snip]
Unfortunately, I find your report seriously flawed in its failure to address serious intelligence issues that I am aware of, which have been confirmed, and which as a witness to the commission, I made you aware of. Thus, I must assume that other serious issues that I am not aware of were in the same manner omitted from your report.
[snip]

Considering what is at stake, our national security, we are entitled to demand answers to unanswered questions, and to ask for clarification of issues that were ignored and/or omitted from the report.

Thanks to Richard for the tip

Team America - World Police, from the creators of South Park. "Putting the 'F' back in freedom". Coming October 2004

via Juche

David Weinberger video blogs a reply to Charles Cooper's article at CNET.

Charles Cooper criticizes the credentialed DNC bloggers as bad journalists and David responds. If the text of his response had been in his post, I might not have watched the video, but after watching the video, I realized that it was worth it. I keep forgetting how funny David is in full motion. ;-)

I made a BitTorrent torrent of the 11MB Quicktime version of the post. The torrent is here. I'm still trying to debug my tracker so I'd appreciate comments about any success or failure you have with this torrent. Thanks!

John Perry Barlow, former Grateful Dead lyricist and Republican city council chairman has an interesting idea.

BarlowFriendz
Dancing in the Streets: Revolution with a Smile

...Maureen Dowd recently observed that the Republicans had become so obsessed with rejecting the 60's ethic of doing it if it feels good that they have taken up an ethic of doing it if it makes someone else feel bad. Moreover, the GOP strategy of basing their root-level organization on Hot Protestantism has infused their ranks with a lot of chilly Puritanism, which, as H.L. Mencken defined it, is "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time."

...So, to that end, I propose the following: I want to organize a cadre of 20 to 50 of us. I want to dress us in suits and other plain pedestrian attire and salt us among the sidewalk multitudes in Republican-rich zones. At a predetermined moment, one of us will produce a boom-box and crank it up with something danceable. Suddenly, about a third of the people on the sidewalk, miscellaneously distributed in the general throng, will start dancing like crazy and continue to do so for for about a minute. Then we will stop, melt back into the pedestrian flow, and go to another location to erupt there.

As always, the full text of his essay is a great read, but this idea of discombobulation as protest is funny and seems appropriate as well. I wonder if we can map "I don't think it's funny" split. I wonder if this would constitute "terrorism". I guess it might depend on what they were dancing to.

Talking Points Memo
Just-in-time-production?

See CNN's Breaking News Alert: "Security forces have captured a high-level al Qaeda operative in a raid in central Pakistan, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said."

Then, after you see that, remember that we noted in May and then The New Republic reported out extensively early this month, that this White House has been telling the Pakistanis for months that they wanted to see a big-time al Qaida leader -- hopefully bin Laden -- produced during the Democratic convention.

Coincidence?

via Glenn

Lawrence Lessig
no potential for a substantial noninfringing use?

Here's a BitTorrent file that will get you, p2p, the video of the Hearings on the INDUCE Act, prepared by Tom Barger. Watch, and blog the substantial noninfringing use.

BitTorrent is one of the most efficient p2p systems and is great for distributing movies and other large files. The Induce act is trying to make illegal basic technologies such as p2p which "could induce" people to break copyright law.

With more powerful cameras and PCs, video and Flash have become important mediums for free speech. They are increasingly being used for political action. The integration of blogs and p2p technology for sharing these videos like the BitTorrent link above from Lessig are a good example. I believe this is substantial non-infringing use.

BitTorrent is very smart and allows you to download from multiple sources. Thus, the more people downloading/sharing, the faster the download becomes and the less stress it puts on any one person. Anyone who's posted a movie file to a blog knows what this is like. I'm downloading it now with 3 peers. Come on everyone, join in the BitTorrent p2p fun and help me make the download faster! (while it's still legal)

danah boyd has a good op ed on blogging and bloggers at the DNC on Salon. (Salon forces you to watch an ad to read it.)

Here is the first CNN/Technorati daily blog roundup for the DNC by our very own Dave Sifry.

Poor poor FOX.

Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO, Fox News Network
Any news organization that doesn’t support our position on copyright is crazy. Next week, we could take a month’s worth of video from CNN International and do a documentary “Why does CNN hate America?” You wouldn’t even have to do the hatchet job Outfoxed was. You damn well could run it without editing. CNN International, Al-Jazeera and BBC are the same in how they report-mostly that America is wrong and bad. Everybody should stand up and say these people don’t have the right to take our product anymore. They don’t have a right to take a year’s worth of Dan Rather or Ted Koppel and edit it any way they want. It puts journalism at risk.
If someone thinks CNN or Al-Jazeera is doing a bad job, they should say it. Using clips of news programming to criticize a network is totally game I think. Although news has become entertainment, I don't think it should be controlled in the same way that creative content should be. I think that fair use should be applied liberally. The press and the news media should encourage critical debate. I think that a network that has a monopoly on millions of eyeballs should be fair game for documentaries like Outfoxed.

Via Lessig

Lessig writes an open letter to Bill O'Reilly from the FOX News show The Factor. Lessig has been blogging a lot about OutFoxed, Richard Greenwald's film criticizing FOX News. Lessig links to a clip from the film, the original interview with Jeremy Glick and the offending anti-war ad. He takes on point by point the series of false accusations that O'Reilly has been making about Glick in an unfair smear campaign against his Glick.

Lawrence Lessig
Mr. O'Reilly, please just stop.

Mr. O'Reilly,

You have declared a "war" on the New York Times. That's good for you, good for them, and good for our democracy: Strong opinions deserve strong spokesmen. Your battle will help sharpen a debate about matters important to the Republic.

But in waging this "war," you are continuing to abuse a man whom you have wronged, and to whom you owe an apology.

On February 4, 2003, Jeremy Glick was your guest on THE FACTOR. Glick had lost his father in the attack of 9/11. He had also signed an ad criticizing the war in Iraq. You were "surprised" that one who had lost his father could oppose that war. And so you had him on your show, presumably to ask him why. (Here's a clip from Outfoxed putting this story together.)

You might not remember precisely what you said on that interview, or more importantly, what Jeremy Glick said. So here's a copy that you can watch. Nor may you remember precisely what the ad that Jeremy Glick signed said. Here's a copy that you can read. And when you've watched what was actually said, and read what was actually written, I'm sure you will see that the statements you continue to make about Jeremy Glick are just plain false. Not Bill Clinton "depends upon what is is" false, but false the way most Americans learned growing up: just not true.

Please read Lessig's entire post.

Sifry's Alerts
Technorati and CNN

A few minutes ago CNN announced that Technorati will be providing real-time analysis of the political blogosphere at next week's Democratic National Convention. I will be on-site in CNN's convention broadcast center, along with Mary Hodder, and I'll be providing regular on-air commentary on what bloggers are saying about politics and the convention. And on Sunday, July 25, we'll launch a new section of our site for political coverage: politics.technorati.com. This site will make it easy for bloggers, journalists, and anyone interested in politics to see the postings of the most linked-to political bloggers, to track the ideas with the fastest-growing buzz, and to monitor conversations in thousands of other political blogs. CNN.com will link to this site, and we'll be updating the CNN site with the latest from the blogosphere.

Great news for us at Technorati and hats-off to CNN for taking this leap. Hopefully this will help people view blogging as a more "legitimate" source of news.

It's interesting to note that it was CNN which broke the big 3 TV network monopoly on news editorial by feeding local TV the raw video feeds, allowing them to edit the news themselves. Similarly, CNN providing bloggers the ability to reach the public directly may have an impact on the way media edits their news.

Obviously, incentive to just be faster, isn't better. I think we're going to get a chance to see whether Technorati authority management and the ability for blogs to fact check and manage news will be able to provide viewers of CNN with additional insight.

UPDATE: Here's the press release from CNN.

I'm posting this because I've often been asked if I am offended by the word "Jap". The answer is, yes. I am.

'Jap Road' to Get Name Change

BEAUMONT, Texas (Reuters) - A decade-long fight over a quiet country lane called "Jap Road" ended on Monday when local officials voted to change the racially charged name.

[...]

"It's our history, it's our heritage. I can remember when it was a dirt road, now it's being portrayed as a racial divide between us and the Japanese-Americans," Earl Callahan, born and raised on Jap Road, told the commissioners.

[...]

"People believe in this country that we're a bunch of racists. There's not a soul here that would call anybody a Jap," he said.

First of all, I still hear people using the word "Jap" and can't imagine that "not a soul" in Beaumont would use the word "Jap". I for one am glad there is no longer a street in Beaumont, Texas called "Jap Road" named after a Japanese. I was often called a Jap when I was growing up in Michigan and it was usually accompanied by emotional and sometimes physical abuse. This childhood experience probably created a very negative association in my brain, and I assume that many Japanese-Americans have had a similar experience to me.

Now, even when they are referring to the "Jewish American Princess" I still wince when I hear the word Jap. It's hardwired in my brain. So that's why when I hear:

But road resident Jason Marshburn, 31, disagreed.

"It feels like we're in the middle of a George Orwell novel. It's like me suing Keebler or Nabisco because the word 'cracker' is offensive to us white people," he said.

I think he's missing the point. If the word "cracker" made him wince when he heard it, it would be a parallel, but I can't imagine anyone in the US getting flashbacks to abuse when they hear the word "cracker".

Via KS

Michael Eisner is on a panel now at Brainstorm 2004. He was asked if he regretted not distributing Fahrenheit 9/11. He said no. Disney is not partisan and the movie was clearly political. Disney is an entertainment company. He said Rupert Murdoch said no for a completely different reason. Murdoch said he hated Moore and liked Bush. That's not why Disney didn't distribute the film.

When asked whether he liked the movie, Eisner said he loved it. It was like going to a rock concert. It was entertaining, hilarious. He loved it in a non-political way.

Some good quotes from Wesley Clark...

Wesley Clark: The responsibility of Abu Ghraib does not lie in the men and women in the armed forces. It lies in with the commander and chief.

Q: Why isn't the administration being held accountable for this?

Wesley Clark: They will be held accountable in the elections.

--

Wesley Clark: You can't win the war on terror by killing terrorists. You have to cut of the recruitment. It doesn't involve killing people.

kerryapple
At least Kerry has good taste in computers.

via Markoff

Teresa Heinz Kerry: "If you leave children behind, it has been for naught." "People want America to be great again." The Republican party is totally different from the days of her late husband. Back then they used to even intermarry with Democrats. Back then they practiced the Socratic method.

Now is tutorial session: The decline in America's reputation - Keith Reinhard w/ Pattie Sellers - What imact does it have on the U.S. and American brands? Reinhard will speak about a major new study.

Here are my notes. They are rough notes and may be a bit inaccurate or unclear.

Most people associate America with American's brands. Interesting to note that Carly Fiorina said that she didn't think that she suffered from America's bad imaged in response to a question by Martin Varsavsky.

"If you must talk, can you at least lower the volume..." - advice by foreigner to American about their voice.

The presentation made it clear that people outside of America have many negative feelings towards America and that most American's didn't care. The question they are addressing is, what can businesses in America do?

Tools to help Americans behave seems to be one of the answers...

Singaporean participant : suggesting that it's not just behavior of individuals, but that financial and business decisions made in America impact people in other countries that also affects opinions about America.

It's not business that's the biggest problem, it's US policy. It's the people who can cause changes in US policy and the only way to get people to change is to get them to understand what people think of the US. Most people don't know.

Chinese participant : doing all this work to get US image back will never get the image back to the original big brother image of the US and maybe the goal should be to just become a global peer.

African participant : is there a way for cultural exchange that is less superficial than movies and brands. Maybe people are more similar than we think. How about exchange programs that allow people to live together.

Japanese participant : Q: To what extent does change of government affect how people hate America. A: Resentment has grown over a long period of time, not just during this administration. "Insensitive, arrogant and materialistic." These issues we can address without just government change. Business could address non-government issues and also influence government.

I just found this very funny clip from David Letterman on David Weinberger's blog. (You need Real Player) So David, you may be the last person in America to see this clip, but at least not the last in the world. It's very funny. It's like a new twist to Stealth Disco.

Japan Today
Moore hopes 'Fahrenheit' will bring about regime change in Japan

NEW YORK — Controversial American filmmaker Michael Moore said Tuesday he hopes the global release of his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" will usher in "regime changes" in countries like Japan and Australia.

In a press conference with foreign journalists in New York, Moore said his polemical movie should encourage people in all democratic countries that have supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq to vote their leaders out of office.

There is definitely less news and information in Japanese about the theories about why the US went to war. A lot of the stuff in the movie will be new to many Japanese. I'd be interested to see what the Japanese public reaction to the movie is. My sense is that we already have enough reasons to mistrust the government that people with probably sign numbly and not do anything. But I could be wrong.

From an aviation forum site.

John Kerry"s 757 was in hgr 4 pit tonight John Edwards vp decals were being put on engine cowlings and upper fuselage. :up:

via Metafilter

In an update on the new Induce Act that I blogged about earlier, Orlowski makes an interesting observation about why the IT lobby lost Hatch who is leading this bill and who used to be "on our side."

Orlowski - The Register
Dirty rotten inducers - the law the IT world deserves?

...Well, perhaps it's a combination of all these factors. Perhaps too, the brief flood of speculative capital into the technology industry in the 1980s and 1990s convinced IT people they didn't have an exalted place in society. For a time, they did, and even now many seem to think so. And underneath, there's the hunch that the market will sort everything out, or the belief that every problem can be solved with technology. Whatever the reasons, the fightback against the RIAA and the MPAA has been as effective as the proverbial one-legged man in a backsid- kicking competition. The entertainment industry should be thankful it has opponents so inept.

[...]

Opportunity knocked

We mention this only because the good Senator Hatch personifies the missed opportunity. He once shared the view of many involved in the technology sector today that the RIAA could not be trusted to clean up its act, and that alternative compensation systems that ended "piracy" could prove to be very popular. That was in 2000.

At around the same time, the EFF was campaigning for Napster to be legalized, without offering any suggestions as to how the artists might be paid - thus surrendering its moral authority on the issue. Meanwhile, the RIAA was courting and flattering Senator Hatch.

At a special gala awards dinner early in 2001 hosted by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Hatch was awarded a "Hero Award" and the diners heard Nashville star Natalie Grant perform one of his songs, "I Am Not Alone", Joe Menn reported in his book about Napster, All The Rave [Reg review]

If turning a Senator is this easy, why couldn't the techies do it?

I find Orlowski too negative sometimes and his critical view on blogs and Emergent Democracy have always bothered me, but I think he makes some good points about the weakness of the "Internet lobby" in this piece. Many of us are aware of this to varying degrees, but I think we need to keep reminding ourselves that much of the time, we're talking to ourselves. More importantly, we need to figure out how to become more effective. I think the EFF is doing great stuff, but how can we make it even better?

"On Tuesday, Cheney, serving in his role as president of the Senate, appeared in the chamber for a photo session. A chance meeting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, became an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton Co., an international energy services corporation, and President Bush's judicial nominees. The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice.

'Fuck yourself,' said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency."

...Even if the Senate were in session, the vice president, though constitutionally the president of the Senate, is an executive branch official and therefore free to use whatever language he likes."

And this is the administration that's trying to prevent you from saying "fuck" on TV.

I don't think I've ever told a business associate to "fuck yourself", but I guess I've never been accused of corruption by an associate either. On the other hand, I can't imagine ever calling my company a super-duper company...

Boing Boing via A Great Notion

UPDATE:

CHENEY: Well, I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, did you use the "F" word?

[...]

CHENEY: Yes, that's not the kind of language I ordinarily use. But...

[...]

CAVUTO: Do you have any regrets?

CHENEY: No. I said it, and I felt that...

via Meta-Roj

AlterNet
AlterNet: EnviroHealth: Condom Wars

Lethal new regulations from President Bush's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, quietly issued with no fanfare last week, complete the right-wing Republicans' goal of gutting HIV-prevention education in the United States. In place of effective, disease-preventing safe-sex education, little will soon remain except failed programs that denounce condom use, while teaching abstinence as the only way to prevent the spread of AIDS. And those abstinence-only programs, researchers say, actually increase the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Reminds me of this billboard.

via Bopuc

Dan Gillmor
Congress Goes After Peer to Peer

UPDATED

I hadn't been taking some proposed new copyright legislation very seriously, mainly because it's logically absurd on its face. But the "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004" (PDF) seems to be moving so quickly that we have to pay attention now.

It's basically a bill that can make the creation of technology that could possibly be used for "piracy" illegal. More on Dan's blog. Please take a look. It's quite absurd and dangerous. If it's moving quickly, I think we need to mobilize against it as soon as possible. Japan always gets hand-me-downs of ugly US bills so please stop it!

UPDATE - a scenario of what would be illegal:

Here's EFF's hypothetical complaint against Apple (for making the iPod) C|Net (for reviewing the iPod), and Toshiba (for supplying hard drives for iPods).

A paper by Felix Oberholzer of Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf of UNC Chapel Hill shows strong evidence that file-sharing has "statistically indistinguishable from zero" effect on CD sales and the RIAA decides to sue 482 more people for sharing copyright music on peer-to-peer networks. This brings the number of people sued by the RIAA for file-sharing to 3,429. I guess that if you can't convince everyone, you can always try to scare people into submission.

But it looks like the RIAA will have event MORE reasons to sue people. They're trying to "criminalize the act of inducing another to commit a copyright violation."

Better late then never. The State Department announced Tuesday that their report that terror has been decreasing was in fact incorrect. Terror actually ROSE in 2003. However, they are still arguing that they are "winning the war on terror." (AP/NY Times - Amended Report Shows Terror Rose in 2003)

On our home front, the Japanese diet passed the controversial pension bill (the pension that 1/3 of the cabinet members have been shown to have evaded at some point). It is shown that an inflated fertility rate was used for the bill to show rosier numbers and lower, more accurate numbers that had been finalized for more than 2 weeks by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry were withheld. Public sentiment has already been very negative about the pension system. The government had been pushing this new bill, were paying commissions to retired bureaucrats to collect such pensions from normal citizens, and the politicians themselves not paying. Now this. (Japan Times -
Inflated fertility rate used for pension bills
)

What surprises me is the stupidity of these lies. Neither of these lies were likely to remain unchallenged. Did these people believe that they could just fudge numbers to make some false short-term point. Amazing.

Andrew is trying to draft Bruce Springsteen, an outspoken critic of war, to perform at Giants Stadium (which he has reserved) September 1, the day of the Republican National Convention. Andrew wants you to sign his petition.

Bush vs Bruce live would be definitely be something worth watching.

via ejovi

Bruce Schneier has written an interesting article discussing the accusation of Ahmed Chalabi of informing Iran that the US had broken its codes and when Iran knew that the NSA was cracking their codes. He digs into the history of Crypto AG, the NSA and Iran. He links to an article about Hans Buehler, the Crypto AG salesman who was arrested by Iran in 1992 on suspicion that Crypto AG had installed back doors in its encryption machines. There is no conclusion, but this story reminds me of Crytonomicon and the interesting world of information, misinformation and spying.

Xeni @ Boing Boing
More on blocked sites for .mil websurfers

Following up on this BoingBoing post about rumors that access to TheMemoryHole is being blocked on military computers in Iraq...

[John continues:]If the request was denied due to the Content Filter configuration is a sentence fragment, but with The content category reported is Gen. News. and If you feel this site was blocked in error, please contact the Help Desk the meaning is clear enough. For whatever reason, "General News" is not fit for our troops. I've been meaning to send her a list of links and ask her if she'd be willing to try to access them (Newsweek? New York Times? Common Dreams? Freerepublic.com [a conservative site]? townhall.com [another conservative site]?) I'm also curious what other kinds of sites she can't visit (geek news? music news? yahoo? wikipedia?) and whether she's prohibited from visiting these sites at work because she's /at work/, or if she's encouraged not to pursue the news in general.

Zaku, can you or anyone in the military in Iraq corroborate this or look into this?

In the comments on an earlier post on this blog about an artist suspected by the FBI of bioterrorism, there was a great deal of speculation about the incident and the facts. (Read the link above to my previous post for the background.) I emailed the artist, Steven Kurtz, asking him for the facts, and here is his reply.

Deleted by request.

Many people talked to me about this incident and strongly support the FBI's position on this. I still don't know enough details on the FBI's handling of the matter, but I DO think biotech as art is a legitimate form of art. At Ars Electronica, we did a whole festival on Life Science as art. Artists, including Steve, publish their works, talk about the impact, and often teach. Terrorists do not.

One famous example of biotech art is the bioluminescent rabbit created by genetic engineering, adding genes from a jellyfish to a rabbit to make it glow in the dark. This created a great deal of controversy and debate. It was the intention of the artist to cause this debate with an extremely tangible project.

I believe this form of expression is important and mistaking artistic expression for something else is a great risk to society. However, I suppose it would be prudent for artists to be aware of the risks involved in handling the "supplies" they use for their art.

SpiritofAmerica
Spirit of America is a somewhat grassroots, and quickly growing project to promote humanitarian aid in Iraq. It's interesting to note that both people for and against the war have signed on with their support. Dan Gillmor says, "Marc Danziger, a.k.a. the 'Armed Liberal' Web logger, supported the war in Iraq. Britt Blaser, a Howard Dean campaign adviser, did not." Both Marc and Britt are supporting this effort.

Dan also writes, "'It seemed if you could essentially aggregate requests and syndicate those to potential donors, mainly using the Net and electronic outreach, you could respond with speed and on a scale to really make a difference,' Hake said," in an interview with the founder. Jeff Jarvis says, "I have been wanting to bring more citizens' media to Iraq -- blogging tools translated into Arabic and free blog hosting, for example. I now hope we can accomplish this via SoA," which I think is interesting.

I think this is an excellent example of the use of technology and grass roots organization to see if we can do right, something that top-down methods seem to be failing at. It's also an interesting attempt at citizen-to-citizen communications. Lets hope it works better than leader-to-leader communications.

RTMark
FBI ABDUCTS ARTIST, SEIZES ART Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body DEFENSE FUND ESTABLISHED - HELP URGENTLY NEEDED

Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911 early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest and died in her sleep.  The police arrived and, cranked up on the rhetoric of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies were actually bioterrorism weapons.

Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated his computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body.

Like the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim lawyer from Portland imprisoned for two weeks on the flimsiest of false evidence, Kurtz's case amply demonstrates the dangers posed by the USA PATRIOT Act coupled with government-nurtured terrorism hysteria.

Kurtz's case is ongoing, and, on top of everything else, Kurtz is facing a mountain of legal fees. Donations to his legal defense can be made at http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/

It reminds me a bit of when the Secret Service came after etoy.

RTMark is nortorious for social hacking, but this story appears to have at least two supporting news stories.

WKBW Local News - Local Investigation Into Ub Artist Continues
WKBW Local News - Bio Hazard Or Art?

The weird thing is that these news articles are archived on RTMark's site and I can't seem to find them on the WKBW site. Having said that, a search on Google News shows an article about this, but it has "expired" and can't be accessed.

IF this is true, it's another example of patriotic stupidity, but it's often the role of artists to help us understand this stupidity.

Anyone else heard about this? Lately I'm becoming more wary of single source news stories. ;-) Any help in veting this story before I get really excited would be greatly appreciated.

via Scott

UPDATE: Email from artist, Steven Kurtz.

News24.com
Rumsfeld bans phone cameras

London - Cellphones fitted with digital cameras have been banned in US army installations in Iraq on orders from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, The Business newspaper reported on Sunday.

Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US defence department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

"Digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones with cameras have been prohibited in military compounds in Iraq," it said, adding that a "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.

via Smartmobs

The increasing reliance of this administration on secrecy is really disturbing. When your government starts to strip the people of their privacy and civil rights and consistently marches forward with a variety of efforts to hides its own movements, you know you're in real trouble.

I've worked on whistleblower protection bills and thought a lot about the importance of the ability for people to come forward outside of the chain of command. It is an essential protection measure against coverups and corruption. I can understand arguments about why allowing random photos could be bad, but I'm sure the importance of having "eyes on the ground" outside of the "main channel" out-weigh the risks.

UPDATE: There are many media sites and blogs running this story, but they all seem to quote the same source. We still have no corroborating original sources. Please see comments on this entry for more.

UPDATE2

This morning, I asked a Defense Department spokesperson whether or not the reports of a phonecam ban were true. This spokesperson said that these reports were technically inaccurate -- that the Pentagon is not issuing a new ban on camera phones per se, but that a Directive 8100.2 was issued on April 14 establishing new restrictions on wireless telecommunications equipment in general. The text of this directive is available online here in PDF format: Link. The intent of this April 14 directive, and how commanders in the field will be expected to enforce it, are matters I'll be reporting on in more detail for the NPR program "Day to Day," later this week.
Lauren Weinstein
Report: "Rumsfeld and Rice Approved; Bush Knew"

Greetings. Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker, who exposed so many aspects of the Iraqi prisoner abuse story, now reports that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice secretly approved the expansion of a clandestine program that encouraged physical coercion, sexual humiliation, and blackmail of Iraqi prisoners, setting the stage for the abuses that these same officials have recently been condemning so publicly.

According to the report, President Bush was kept informed regarding this program. The Department of Defense called the accusations in the story "outlandish, conspiratorial, and filled with error and anonymous conjecture."

How accepted is this view in the US now?

I'm sure most people have seen it, but the full Red Cross report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse is online on Cryptome.

Red Cross Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse

Kathryn Cramer
Halliburton Pulling the Plug on GI Communications

A week after a scandal broke involving photos of American troops torturing Iraqi prisoners, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, & Root is pulling the plug on private electronic communications with the folks back home, apparently at the request of the Department of Defense.

via Jim

Oh right! If it weren't for that pesky Internet...

I haven't seen this in mainstream media so I may be jumping the gun. Anyone who finds any other information about this, please let me know so I can update.

Congressional Hearing Called on Fair Use; 321 Studios President Asked to Testify

Now Is the Time for Consumers to Effect Change Through www.protectfairuse.org

WASHINGTON, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A Congressional Hearing for H.R. 107, the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA), has been set for Wednesday, May 12, at 10:00 AM Eastern. The DMCRA has been acknowledged and endorsed by major industry players like Intel Corp., Philips Consumer Electronics, Sun Microsystems, Bell South, Verizon, SBC, Qwest, Gateway, and the Consumer Electronics Association, among others, as a necessary balancing mechanism to restore consumers' fair use rights in the digital era. The hearing will take place before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The DMCRA, introduced by Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and John Doolittle (R- CA) and co-sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), would re-affirm consumer fair use rights and balance the otherwise one-sided protection afforded copyright owners under current interpretations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

321 Studios Founder and President Robert Moore has been asked to testify at this historic fair use Congressional hearing. 321 Studios is the developer of the award-winning DVDXCOPY series of DVD backup software -- a product now banned in the United States after a group of Hollywood studios sued the company, and two federal judges decided that DVDXCOPY was in violation of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

I've been a big fan of Rick Boucher ever since I first met him in Tokyo and he helped me understand how the US Congress worked on Internet issues. He's been one of the few US politicians I've met who understands the Internet and the variety of important issues including the problems with the DMCA. This bill that he and John Doolittle have introduced is a REALLY important push against the DMCA and all the might of Hollywood will be resist the new bill. If the DMCRA is successful, it will be an important blow against the insanity of the DMCA which will reverberate all the way to Japan and the EU. Americans. Contact your representatives and rally around this important issue. Please.

Via Juche

UPDATE: DMCRA EFF action center

The Register
FCC chairman hails VoIP
Michael Powell
If you're a big incumbent and you've sort of enjoyed a competitive advantage . . . you, in my opinion, ought to be terrified.

[...]

I think it's going to be the very, very best and biggest breakthrough in our ambitions and dreams about competition ever.

via Kevin Werbach

Exactly.

Reuters
Oxygen Media Inc. CEO and founder Geraldine Laybourne criticized the FCC's enforcement effort during the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.'s (NCTA) annual trade show.

"I don't think we should use the word indecency; we should call it what it is: censorship," Laybourne said Tuesday during one of the show's panel discussions.

Laybourne's comments came after a Q&A session with FCC chairman Michael Powell and NCTA chief Robert Sachs.

"I don't agree with that," Powell told reporters after his dialogue. "For 70 years, the country has had limits on broadcast television. To me censorship is prior restraint, and I don't think anybody has been involved in that limitation on content."

via Jeff Jarvis

Umm... I don't think so.

I guess 1 out of 2 isn't bad.

In case anyone missed this, there is a detailed article on the torture at Abu Ghraib in The New Yorker. Unlike the sniper rumor, this one is pretty much documented fact. I realize that this is obviously not standard behavior, but it is not a single wacko, but a group of soldiers. It's really quite appalling. How can something like this happen? What is the mood like among American soldiers in Iraq? Is there a general hatred or is it really isolated behavior? I can't imagine an occupying force being very successful without some basic respect for the local citizens.

I remember hearing that the occupying forces in post-war Japan were selected from soldiers who had not served in combat against the Japanese. Most of the stories you hear about the soldiers occupying Japan are good stories. I suppose it's easier to be nice when there is no resistance, but still... (My sister has a nice post about the story of our family's first interaction with the US occupation of Japan.)

I also heard from a Spanish friend of mine that there is very little if no hatred towards Muslims after the 3/11 attack in Madrid. People realize that it is a splinter group and are not blaming the Muslims.

I don't want to over-generalize, but trying to link Al Qaeda to Iraq and the increased racism directed at Muslims in the US really highlights the lack of racial sympathy or understanding on the US's part. I think the US really needs to figure out how to deal with this racial intolerance and ignorance if it's going to try do any kind of nation building.

Before someone else says it, I think racism in Japan is also very bad, but we're not toppling regimes and trying to rebuild them. I wouldn't trust Japan with that either.

An interesting article in The Guardian about what we should do in Iraq. She argues that the UN should not support the US in Iraq and should join the mutiny against the US and force the US out of Iraq.

Naomi Klein, Saturday May 1, 2004, The Guardian
Mutiny is the only way out of Iraq's inferno

The UN betrayed Iraq by becoming the political arm of US occupation. Now it must redeem itself

Can we please stop calling it a quagmire? The United States isn't mired in a bog in Iraq, or a marsh; it is free-falling off a cliff. The only question now is: who will follow the Bush clan off this precipice, and who will refuse to jump?

More and more are, thankfully, choosing the second option. The last month of US aggression in Iraq has inspired what can only be described as a mutiny: waves of soldiers, workers and politicians under the command of the US occupation authority suddenly refusing to follow orders and abandoning their posts. First Spain announced that it would withdraw its troops, then Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Kazakhstan. South Korean and Bulgarian troops were pulled back to their bases, while New Zealand is withdrawing its engineers. El Salvador, Norway, the Netherlands and Thailand will likely be next.

[...]

There is a way that the UN can redeem itself in Iraq: it could choose to join the mutiny, further isolating the United States. This would help to force Washington to hand over real power - ultimately to Iraqis, but first to a multilateral coalition that did not participate in the invasion and occupation and would have the credibility to oversee direct elections. This could work, but only through a process that fiercely protects Iraq's sovereignty.

via Martin Varsavsky

MATTHEWS: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you about the war in Iraq and the boldest question I could put to you here in the Pentagon. Did you ever advise the president to go to war?
[...]
RUMSFELD: You ought to get a life. You could do something besides read those books.

MATTHEWS: This is my life. Let me ask you about something a little more...

RUMSFELD: Let me answer your question.

MATTHEWS: Did you advise the president to go to war?

RUMSFELD: Yes. He did not ask me, is the question. And to my knowledge, there are a number of people he did not ask.

Woodward said he found that the administration quietly shifted money around to pay for early preparations for war in Iraq, without the approval of Congress. He said those preparations included building landing strips and addressing other military needs in Kuwait.

The money, about $700 million, was taken in July 2002 from a budget item that had been approved for the war in Afghanistan, Woodward wrote.

"Some people are going to look at that document called the Constitution, which says that no money will be drawn from the Treasury unless appropriated by Congress," Woodward says in his CBS interview.

Does this mean that the President didn't consult the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense or Congress on the decision to go to war?

It appears he did consult God.

I'm in Europe so I have no idea how much coverage this is getting in the US, but isn't this an important issue?

There's a short interview in MIT's The Tech newpaper with Jack Valenti about DMCA. I'm glad that Jack is still willing to have discussions like this. This is what I meant when I said that I think Jack should be respected. Even if you don't agree with him, he's still willing to try to discuss his position with you.

via Creative Commons weblog

When I have posted particularly anti-Bush or partisan views, many people have complained in the comments or by email. Some of the most intelligent comments on my blog have come from conservatives and some of the most stupid from liberals. In order to keep some of the more intelligent conservatives involved in the dialog, I've tried to generally steer clear taking strong stands on the war in Iraq and on the presidential election.

I thought about it and I've decided that this is stupid. I don't want Bush to be re-elected and I think going into Iraq was wrong. I will try to be thoughtful about how I make my assertions, but I'm going to stop pretending that I'm non-partisan. I hope that Republicans or people who do not agree with me will continue to read this blog and disagree openly with me. I have just decided that it's getting too close to the election and there is too much at risk for me to just sit here and act neutral.

Mercury News
E-voting panel wants to dump troubled system

SACRAMENTO - Less than seven months before the presidential election, an advisory panel Thursday unanimously recommended an unprecedented ban of touch-screen election equipment used in four California counties.

The panel also urged Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to seek a criminal or civil investigation into the conduct of Diebold Election Systems, the Ohio-based firm that manufactured the troubled voting system.

Yes! We really need to get rid of e-voting. It's such a bad idea and until now, I thought we were losing the battle. We need to make sure this doesn't end with just Diebold.

via Dan Gillmor

The New York Times
U.S. Won't Let Company Test All Its Cattle for Mad Cow

The Department of Agriculture refused yesterday to allow a Kansas beef producer to test all of its cattle for mad cow disease, saying such sweeping tests were not scientifically warranted.

The producer, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wanted to use recently approved rapid tests so it could resume selling its fat-marbled black Angus beef to Japan, which banned American beef after a cow slaughtered in Washington State last December tested positive for mad cow. The company has complained that the ban is costing it $40,000 a day and forced it to lay off 50 employees.

The department's under secretary for marketing and regulation, Bill Hawks, said in a statement yesterday that the rapid tests, which are used in Japan and Europe, were licensed for surveillance of animal health, while Creekstone's use would have "implied a consumer safety aspect that is not scientifically warranted."

I don't know whether I trust the Japanese or the Americans more on this issue. The Japanese say they're testing all of the cows, but frankly, I have my doubts. On the other hand, the Americans won't even LET them test all of the cows so obviously, they're not all being tested. On the other hand, more people are dying in Iraq than from Mad Cow in Japan or the US so we should keep this in perspective...

via Plastic

A good op-ed by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times about the situation in Iraq.

pseudorandom
Correct Me If I'm Wrong...

...but I can't remember any current high-ranking member of the Bush Administration ever saying anything like what Richard Clarke said today:

Mr. Clarke began his testimony before the bipartisan, 10-member panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, with an apology to relatives of the 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Your government failed you," he said, his voice close to breaking. "Those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you."

"We tried hard," Mr. Clarke went on, "but that doesn't matter, because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and your forgiveness."

If the President, any member of his Cabinet, or any other high-ranking political appointee of his has apologized for allowing the 9/11 attacks to take place on their watch, I'd like to know about it.