Shared posts

22 Apr 17:38

Natural rights and wrongs?

by esr

One of my commenters recently speculated in an accusing tone that I might be a natural-rights libertarian. He was wrong, but explaining why is a good excuse for writing an essay I’ve been tooling up to do for a long time. For those of you who aren’t libertarians, this is not a parochial internal dispute – in fact, it cuts straight to the heart of some long-standing controversies about consequentialism versus deontic ethics. And if you don’t know what those terms mean, you’ll have a pretty good idea by the time you’re done reading.

There are two philosophical camps in modern libertarianism. What distinguishes them is how they ground the central axiom of libertarianism, the so-called “Non-Aggression Principle” or NAP. One of several equivalent formulations of NAP is: “Initiation of force is always wrong.” I’m not going to attempt to explain that axiom here or discuss various disputes over the NAP’s application; for this discussion it’s enough to note that libertarians take the NAP as a given unanimously enough to make it definitional. What separates the two camps I’m going to talk about is how they justify the NAP.

“Natural Rights” libertarians ground the NAP in some a priori belief about religion or natural law from which they believe they can derive it. Often they consider the “inalienable rights” language in the U.S.’s Declaration of Independence, abstractly connected to the clockmaker-God of the Deists, a model for their thinking.

“Utilitarians” justify the NAP by its consequences, usually the prevention of avoidable harm and pain and (at the extreme) megadeaths. Their starting position is at bottom the same as Sam Harris’s in The Moral Landscape; ethics exists to guide us to places in the moral landscape where total suffering is minimized, and ethical principles are justified post facto by their success at doing so. Their claim is that NAP is the greatest minimizer.

The philosophically literate will recognize this as a modern and specialized version of the dispute between deontic ethics and consequentialism. If you know the history of that one, you’ll be expecting all the accusations that fly back and forth. The utilitarians slap at the natural-rights people for handwaving and making circular arguments that ultimately reduce to “I believe it because $AUTHORITY told me so” or “I believe it because ya gotta believe in something“. The natural-rights people slap back by acidulously pointing out that their opponents are easy prey for utility monsters, or should (according to their own principles) be willing to sacrifice a single innocent child to bring about their perfected world.

My position is that both sides of this debate are badly screwed up, in different ways. Basically, all the accusations they’re flinging at each other are correct and (within the terms of their traditional debates and assumptions) unanswerable. We can get somewhere better, though, by using their objections to repair each other. Here’s what I think each side has to give up…

The natural-rightsers have to give up their hunger for a-priori moral certainty. There’s just no bottom to to that; it’s contingency all the way down. The utilitarians are right that every act is an ethical experiment – you don’t know “right” or “wrong” until the results come in, and sometimes the experiment takes a very long time to run. The parallel with epistemology, in which all non-consequentialist theories of truth collapse into vacuity or circularity, is exact.

The utilitarians, on the other hand, have to give up on their situationalism and their rejection of immutable rules as voodoo or hokum. What they’re missing is how the effects of payoff asymmetry, forecasting uncertainty, and decision costs change the logic of utility calculations. When the bad outcomes of an ethical decision can be on the scale of genocide, or even the torturing to death of a single innocent child, it is proper and necessary to have absolute rules to prevent these consequences – rules that that we treat as if they were natural laws or immutable axioms or even (bletch!) God-given commandments.

Let’s take as an example the No Torturing Innocent Children To Death rule. (I choose this, of course in reference to a famous critique of Benthamite utilitarianism.) Suppose someone were to say to me “Let A be the event of torturing an innocent child to death today. Let B be the condition that the world will be a paradise of bliss tomorrow. I propose to violate the NTICTD rule by performing A in order to bring about B”.

My response would be “You cannot possibly have enough knowledge about the conditional probability P(B|A) to justify this choice.” In the presence of epistemic uncertainty, absolute rules to bound losses are rational strategy. A different way to express this is within a Kripke-style possible-futures model: the rationally-expected consequences of allowing violations of the NTICTD rule are so bad over so many possible worlds that the probability of landing in a possible future where the violation led to an actual gain in utility is negligible.

My position is that the NAP is a necessary loss-bounding rule, like the NTICTD rule. Perhaps this will become clearer if we perform a Kantian on it into “You shall not construct a society in which the initiation of force is normal.” I hold that, after the Holocaust and the Gulag, you cannot possibly have enough certainty about good results from violating this rule to justify any policy other than treating the NAP as absolute. The experiment has been run already, it is all of human history, and the bodies burned at Belsen-Bergen and buried in the Katyn Wood are our answer.

So I don’t fit neatly in either camp, nor want to. On a purely ontological level I’m a utilitarian, because being anything else is incoherent and doomed. But I respect and use natural-rights language, because when that camp objects that the goals of ethics are best met with absolute rules against certain kinds of harmful behavior they’re right. There are too many monsters in the world, of utility and every other kind, for it to be otherwise.

22 Apr 17:17

Boston Marathon Bombings in Perspective: Is Dzhokhar the Joker All Al-Qaeda Has Left?

by Danios


Predictably, the Boston Marathon bombings have spawned a renewed interest in “jihadist” (why is this in quotes?) terrorist activity.  We are once again reminded of the “looming threat of radical Islam.”  We are told that this is the existential struggle of our generation.  Terrific events such as these are reminders that we ought not slip into complacency about our perennial Muslim foes.  Rest assured, anti-Muslim demagogues are keen to keep us hyper-vigilant against the all-powerful Islamic menace.

Yet, if we step back and take a wider perspective, it becomes apparent that the Boston Marathon bombings actually indicate the exact opposite and display how truly weak Al-Qaeda and the “jihadist” threat is.  This may seem like a shocking statement to my fellow Americans.  After all, we’ve been trained by our government and media to think of radical Muslims as extremely threatening–the greatest threat of our time.  This is something we are taught from a very young age.  (Famously, the children’s show Sesame Street used an Arab man to explain the word “danger.”)  It is one of the reasons why Americans are fearful of Muslim Iran, which does not possess nuclear weapons and clearly just wants to be left alone, and meanwhile brush off North Korea as “a joke”, even though North Korea not only possesses nuclear weapons but routinely threatens the United States.

As horrific as the Boston Marathon bombings were, they were hardly another 9/11.  Only three people died, as compared to the almost three thousand that died on September the 11th, 2001.  Despite their efforts, Al-Qaeda and company have been “successful” in killing very few of us since that day, well over a decade ago.  In 2012, I wrote an article entitled Annual Report: Zero Civilians in U.S. Killed by Islamic Terrorism… Just Like Every Year Since 9/11.  Using official data provided in annual reports by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), I was able to show that “Islamic” terrorists killed zero civilians in the U.S. between 2005 (the earliest year that data was published) and 2011.  (The 2012 report has not yet been published.)  The RAND Corporation’s 2010 list indicates that in fact zero civilians in the U.S. have been killed by “Islamic” terrorists since 9/11.

The 2013 NCTC report will no doubt include the three innocents killed in Boston.  Again, as horrific as that is, the threat must be taken into perspective: three people in the span of well over a decade (excluding 2012 as official data has not yet been published).  More Americans die from their own furniture than that.

CNN’s Peter Bergen noted:

[I]n the years since 9/11, actual terrorist bombings in the U.S., like the ones at the Boston Marathon, have been exceedingly rare.

As Bergen’s article notes, “Islamic” extremists have not been responsible for most of these bombings:

Of the 380 individuals indicted for acts of political violence or for conspiring to carry out such attacks in the U.S. since 9/11, 77 were able to obtain explosives or the components necessary to build a bomb, according to a count by the New America Foundation.

Of those, 48 were right-wing extremists, 23 were militants inspired by al Qaeda’s ideology, five have been described as anarchists and one was an environmentalist terrorist…

The only bombing attack carried out by an extremist in the United States during the past 12 years was in 2004 when Dennis Mahon, a white supremacist, sent a homemade bomb to Don Logan, the African-American city diversity director of Scottsdale, Arizona, who was maimed when the package exploded in his arms.

Previously, I published an article entitled All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren’t: using official FBI data, I was able to show that Muslims accounted for only 6% of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 (as far as the database goes).  This point comes into even clearer focus when we look at much of the rest of the Western world: Europol Report: All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 99.6% That Aren’t.  In this follow up article, I used Europol’s official data to show that Muslims were responsible for a negligible percentage (less than half of a percent) of terrorist attacks in Europe.

It is precisely because “Islamic” terrorist attacks in the West are so rare and ineffectual that right-wingers the government and media must play up incidents like the Boston Marathon bombings for all that they are worth.  It is these isolated events that must be highlighted and focused on in order to justify the U.S.’s multiple wars in the Muslim world.

If there was a justifiable reason to go to war in 2001–to incapacitate and destroy Al-Qaeda–even that reason has seemed to vanish.  The U.S. military has pulverized Al-Qaeda’s bases in Afghanistan, such that even our own government says that there are “fewer than a hundred” Al-Qaeda operatives left in the entire country.  In fact, government officials have stated that, for all intents and purposes, Al-Qaeda has been rendered “operationally ineffective.”  The terrorist organization is debilitated, if not dead.

How truly weak the extremist group has become is apparent by the Boston Marathon bombing itself.  According to a CBS News article, Al-Qaeda wants to claim the terrorist attack as their own:

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller said. “They’re saying, ‘We think this was us. We want it to be us.’”

It is telling that Al-Qaeda is so broken that it doesn’t even know whether the bombers were on their own “payroll” or not.  That seems like amateur hour for the seasoned terrorist organization.  The bomber, Dzhokhar the Joker Tsaernev, was a nineteen year old kid who, along with his older brother, used pressure cookers as makeshift bombs.  These were amateurish bombs made by amateur bombers that Al-Qaeda is seeking to claim as their own.  Al-Qaeda is really scraping the bottom of the barrel here.

If we step back and look at the conflict between the United States and radical Islam on a global and historical scale, what we actually see is a grossly unequal match up.  On the one hand, the U.S. is considered a hyper-power, with the strongest military the world has ever seen.  In its wars in the Muslim world, the United States inflicts hundreds of thousands of deaths using high-tech weaponry, including the latest in F-16′s, bombers, missiles, and drones.  Meanwhile, all Al-Qaeda and radical Islam have are the likes of Dzhokhar the Joker.  This is truly the essence of the phrase “asymmetric warfare.”

It is this unequal power distribution which results in the far greater level of violence committed against Muslims by Americans than by Muslims against Americans.  Using what I consider to be a conservative estimate, this means well over 100 Muslim fatalities for every American lost.  We Americans kill far more Muslims than they kill of us.  There is in fact no comparison.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, some Muslims (and non-Muslims) were quick to point this out.  An interesting discussion ensued, in which Muslims discussed whether or not it was appropriate to discuss this topic.  Was it disrespecting the victims and their loved ones?  Regardless of the appropriateness or not, the fact is that it is very much true.

When one compares the overwhelming force displayed by the United States in the Muslim world to the showing by the “jihadists” on American soil–namely, Dzhokhar the Joker–it seems inappropriate to always be talking about how “Islamists”, “jihadists”, and other ridiculous terms the West coins, are the greater problem.  There is in fact another, more intuitive overarching meta-narrative.  Americans view the (so-called) Global War on Terror as the response of the West to the Muslim “jihadist” threat, whereas it is exactly the reverse: it is the response of the Muslim “jihadists” to the warring and aggression of the West.

The inversion of victimhood is not unfamiliar to American history.  The Boston Marathon bombing occurred on April 15th.  On this same date, just under 300 years ago, the Yamassee, a tribe of American Indians, tortured and killed four white traders, in what came to be known as the Pocotaligo Massacre.  In the weeks that followed, the Yamassee Indians killed scores more, including over a hundred white people–men, women, and children.  They terrorized the settlements, killing off 7% of South Carolina’s white citizenry.  If the suicide bomb is radical Islam’s choice of weaponry, scalping was the terror tool of the Yamassee.  If an angry “Allahu Akbar!” is the chant of the Muslim terrorist, then the Yamassee Indians had the “death whoop.”

Historian Pat Hendrix writes on page 23 of his book Murder And Mayhem in the Holy City:

[T]he Yamassee continued to appear on the Carolina frontier, killing and spreading terror throughout the colony. One contemporary recalled the barbarity during the second phase of the conflict:

[T]he Yamassee Indians…harboured in their breasts the most inveterate ill-will and rancour to all Carolineans, and watched every opportunity of pouring their vengeance on them…[T]hey often broke out on small scalping parties, and infested the frontiers…One party of them catched William Hooper, and killed him by degrees, by cutting off one joint of his body after another, until he expired…

The account goes into much greater and gorier details of the terror tactics used by the Yamassee. One colonial soldier described the terror of scalping, and then explained that after

[b]randishing the scalp, [the Yamassee] utter a whoop which they call the “death whoop”….[T]hey behave in an extremely cruel manner towards those they kill or the dead bodies.  They disembowel them and smear their blood all over themselves.

Such brutality was inflicted “against the defenceless frontiers” and “poor settlers.”  This is how the conflict was characterized by the white colonialists at the time.

No sane person would justify the acts of terror committed by those American Indians.  But, at the same time, it is clear to most reasonable people today that in the conflict between American Indian and white settler, the aggressor was clearly the latter.  The American Indian response, extreme though it may have been at times, was a response nonetheless.  To ask why the American Indians hated the white settler–why they “harboured in their breasts the most inveterate ill-will and rancour” towards the white colonialists–would seem too obvious to even bother answering.  Today, however, Americans are absolutely confused as to “why they hate us”–is it our freedoms?  Is it our way of life?–even as we bomb, invade, and occupy their lands.

The United States has been in a constant state of war ever since it was founded, as I analyzed in my article “We’re at War!” — And We Have Been Since 1776: 214 Years of American War-Making.  The desire for war has always been to stretch American power, first West against American Indians, then South against the Mexicans and other Latin American countries, then to the Pacific, then to Asia, and then to the Middle East.  It has been the constant march of Manifest Destiny.  During each conflict, some brown victim has been portrayed as the villain–whether it be American Indians, Mexicans, other Latin American peoples, or Asians.  Arabs are simply the next darker-complexioned victim of American aggression.  The pattern is predictable: attack a people, wait for them to respond, and then use that response to justify the attack.

That Americans think that you can bomb, invade, and occupy multiple Muslim countries (fourteen Muslim countries in between the U.S. and its erstwhile ally Israel) without a response is as unbelievable as the white settlers being completely befuddled as to why the American Indians would ever want to attack them back.  A U.S. veteran of the Iraq war once said to me, describing his experience: “I couldn’t understand why the Iraqis hated us so much.”  How a soldier who was part of an occupying force could not understand why an occupied peoples would hate him is simply beyond me.

This befuddlement–why oh why do these Muslims hate us, it is a complete mystery to me!–is clearly evident in the discussion of the Boston Marathon bombing.  News reports are being released that the bombing suspects were turning more religious and that their turn toward radical Islam motivated them to carry out these attacks.  This is not an unreasonable thought, but it is an incomplete one.  The million trillion dollar question is: why do radical Muslims target the United States?

The underlying assumption of Western media outlets is that radical Islam itself instructs Muslims to wage war against the unbelievers, and that this is the reason why the “jihadists” attack us.  But, radical Muslims call this war against the United States a “defensive Jihad”–which is the only reason that lone wolves like the Tsaernev brothers could initiate attacks on their own, without the approval of the Muslim Caliph or Imam (or their parents for that matter).  When the enemy occupies Muslim lands, the “jihadists” are told, they must fight back.  Only time will tell, but it will be unsurprising when details of the Tsaernev brothers’ motivations emerge and they match up with the reasons given by the Times Square bomber and countless Muslim terrorists before him.

Of course, there seems to have been a strong psychological component at play.  The Tsaernev brothers were immigrants and had a very difficult time adjusting to life in the United States.  They didn’t fit in–they were isolated and didn’t have American friends.  In the words of their uncle, they were “losers.”  It seems this emotional isolationism found refuge in a reassuring fundamentalist religious worldview.  They didn’t fit in in the West, and therefore, it was not difficult for them to see the West as the enemy.  The appeal of an us-vs-them mindset to disenchanted, lost youths can be understood in this way.

Ultimately, the bombings of innocent civilians is unconscionable–morally repugnant.  But, so too were some of the more violent attacks launched by the American Indians almost three hundred years ago.  It is clear as day to us that the only way for the American colonialists to have avoided American Indian excesses was to stop invading their lands and stealing their resources.  Historical examples exist not to simply read about them in schools, but rather to learn from them.  The only way to bring an end to “Islamic” terrorism is to stop creating the grievances that recruit Muslim terrorists in the first place.

But, instead of recognizing the inescapable fact that a nation simply cannot invade another without experiencing serious blowback (just as the American colonialists could not invade American Indian land without facing serious and sometimes excessive reprisals)–and instead of recognizing that “Islamic” terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are actually exceedingly rare and ineffectual in the context of the large-scale wars against multiple Muslim countries–many Americans simply understand the caveman logic: Muslim attack us, we attack Muslim–simpleton logic that is not dissimilar to the “jihadist” understanding.

Many Americans wish to place the onus on Muslims: why can’t you Muslims stop the terrorists from within your own ranks?  Yet, we know from U.S. history that American Indian elders could often not stop radicals from their own ranks–especially “hotheaded” youths–from using more violent means of resistance.  Similarly, there is simply no way for the Muslim population to police every single one of its over one billion adherents.  This is not to say that radical Islam shouldn’t be intellectually challenged by other Muslims.  But, it does mean that the only way for the West to win the war on terrorism is to not participate in it.  In the words of Noam Chomsky: “Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.”

*  *  *  *  *

photo of boat

On a (somewhat) related note, Micah Daigle posted the following about the apprehension of the terror suspect, and I think it is worthy of repost here:

On Friday at 7:05pm Eastern Time, Boston Police received a report that suspected terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding in a boat in Watertown.

At 7:15pm, the low buzz of a drone was heard overheard. Seconds later, an enormous explosion engulfed the area, destroying the boat and several nearby homes. Sources say 46 Watertown residents were killed in the missile strike, including 12 children.

Of course, that’s not what happened. But if it did, wouldn’t we find it unconscionable?

If so, then why are Americans okay with our government doing this to people in other countries?

In Pakistan alone, the U.S. government has killed more than 3,000 people with drone strikes… and only 1 out of 50 were suspected terrorists. The rest were bystanders, rescue workers, and children.

Let’s stop this madness now.

It should be pointed out that the U.S. can no longer hide behind the “we only target military targets, not civilians” defense.  In drone attacks, the U.S. “presum[es] any military aged males in the vicinity of a war zone [to be] militants.” According to such twisted logic, the Watertown boat owner would be classified as a militant and thus licit to kill.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.  Due to a hectic work schedule, Danios took a “sabbatical” from LoonWatch in 2012, but he plans to write from time to time in 2013, as time allows.

22 Apr 15:59

KOL 041 | Bad Quaker Interview re (what else?) Intellectual Property

by Stephan Kinsella

Ben Stone, Bad QuakerKinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 041.

This is from Episode 367 of the Bad Quaker podcast, with Ben Stone.


22 Apr 15:55

Links 21/4/2013: GNU/Linux Desktops/Laptops at Dell, Google Glass Runs Linux

by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Away for a sunny vacation (100 degrees Fahrenheit) until May]

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux on the Mini PC

    The recent emergence of the mini PC has opened up new horizons for the Linux user.

    The form factor of the Mini PC is a square having approximately the same dimension as the long side of a DVD box and thin in profile. The mini PC is designed to be very power efficient, typically using a 65 Watt power supply. The CPU is a low-voltage power efficient type, there are no fans, and the power supply is often an external DC adaptor like that of a laptop. Because there are no fans, the computer runs silently.Fanless microserver aims Linux on Core-i7 at harsh environs

  • Desktop

    • It just works: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Linux Ultrabook review

      I’ve been terribly curious about the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition since we first covered it back in November. This is a different beast from the flippy-touchscreen-equipped XPS 12—this Ultrabook contains zero touchscreens. However, it comes preloaded with Ubuntu Linux, and Dell has spent a substantial amount of time and effort in ensuring that it works—and works well.

    • Chromebook’s Files app gets brand new UI and app status

      The Files app of Chrome OS is getting a brand new UI as well as status of a ‘full-fledged’ Chrome packages app status.

      François Beaufort has also shared the instructions if you are interested in testing out the new UI of the file manager.

  • Server

    • IBM reportedly in advanced discussions to sell part of server business to Lenovo

      Revenue dropped five percent over that period as the company missed expectations, with a 13 percent drop in hardware revenues leading a one percent drop in profits in Q1 2013. Year-over-year, System x revenues dropped nine percent compared to a seven percent increase for IBM’s System z mainframe business, which the company is not looking to sell. Lenovo told investors today in a clarification announcement that it “is in preliminary negotiations with a third party in connection with a potential acquisition,” but it has not confirmed talks with IBM specifically.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Kernel comment: Bad show, NVIDIA!

        NVIDIA’s graphics driver supports hybrid graphics now. As in other areas, NVIDIA took it easy, waiting until other people had done the dirty work building the necessary foundations.

      • The Focus Of Wayland’s Weston Compositor

        Kristian Høgsberg has clarified the scope and goals of Weston, Wayland’s reference compositor. Now that Weston has become somewhat of its own desktop environment, Kristian has clarified its intentions to benefit future patches.

        In hopes of clarifying future development work that could be potentially accepted upstream, Kristian has written on the developer’s mailing list about clarifying the scope and goals for Weston.

      • Shader Optimization Back-End Might Go In For R600g

        For many months there has been a “shader optimization” branch of Mesa/R600g that sought to rather noticeably boost the performance of the AMD R600 Gallium3D driver. While this work by Vadim Girlin didn’t look like it would be merged, after being revived and cleaned-up, it might reach mainline Mesa/Gallium3D as a new performance-boosting option.

        Vadim Girlin had been working on shader optimizations for some time to more efficiently generate shader code and the back-end has evolved quite a bit in recent months. Diminishing prospects for this code has been that it doesn’t use the R600 LLVM GPU back-end, which will eventually become the default for AMD’s Gallium3D driver as it’s needed for OpenCL/GPGPU support. With this custom back-end not using LLVM, it looked like it wouldn’t be merged, but now the story is different.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Libre Graphics Meeting 2013

        The 2013 Libre Graphics Meeting is over and everyone has returned home and gone back to the drawing board or the keyboard. Krita has been very well represented at this LGM with three artists and a coder, giving three presentations and two awesome workshops!

      • Slick New Artwork and call for testers
      • Semantic Desktop: Akonadi and Nepomuk

        Praised, cursed, often misunderstood, what are KDE’s semantic desktop tools for anyway?

        The idea of taking the myriad kinds of information stored on a computer, and trying to find the relationships between it so it’s more usable, has been around for a long time. “Semantics”, the dictionary tells us, “is the study of meaning”. The goal of a “semantic desktop” is to take all the bits and pieces of information we as users collect over time, and make it more meaningful, and ultimately more useful.

      • Recoll, a great Nepomuk alternative

        Nepomuk is becoming a great tool, but it still has it’s drawbacks.

        A hobby of mine that I’ve done for over twenty-five years now is genealogy. Over the course of that time I’ve acquired a lot of documents and scans of documents, not to mention photos, web snippets, text notes, pdf files and other such things.

        As an ardent KDE user, the natural thing to do for keeping track of all these files – and being able to find them again – is by tagging for Nepomuk. With Dolphin I give them a tag or two, add a comment, and I should have no trouble finding the file in the future. While for many users that would hold true, for my usage (and I suspect many other users) there’s still a problem with relying solely on Nepomuk. It’s tags and comments don’t transfer to the cloud, or another computer. In other words, because Nepomuk’s stores all those tags and comments in it’s database and not in the file itself, the tags and comments don’t transfer elsewhere. With me, I sync all my research files in Dropbox, but when I access them with my laptop out in the field, none of those tags or comments are there. That’s a serious handicap to my research.

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 3rd March 2013
      • KDE’s Future Will be Wayland

        KDE’s Martin Grasslin blogged today that despite what the rest of the industry/community does, KDE’s future will be on Wayland. He said he and his fellow developers decided to travel the road more annoying, if not by choice by process of elimination.

        It’s been interesting to follow the various desktop camps as they discuss the future of their software in relation to desktop graphical servers. Xorg has been the recipient of some mighty harsh words as far back as when it was still XFree. GNOME already stated their interest in developing for Wayland and Grasslin thinks even the smaller projects will move away from X as well. Basically, Grasslin thinks Wayland is the future.

      • The relationship between Plasma and KWin in Workspaces 2
      • Migrating to kmail2

        Ok, I know, migrating to kmail2 is old news now. But only today I decided to try migrating to kmail2. Gentoo is going to remove kmail1 from their repository in a few months so I did not have much of a choice.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Gentoo Family

      • Another Gentoo Hardened month has passed

        Another month has passed, so time to mention again what we have all been doing lately ;-)


        Version 4.8 of GCC is available in the tree, but currently masked. The package contains a fix needed to build hardened-sources, and a fix for the asan (address sanitizer). asan support in GCC 4.8 might be seen as an improvement security-wise, but it is yet unclear if it is an integral part of GCC or could be disabled with a configure flag. Apparently, asan “makes building gcc 4.8 crazy”. Seeing that it comes from Google, and building Google Chromium is also crazy, I start seeing a pattern here.

    • Slackware Family

      • Alternative to Slackware Store

        There are a lot of ways to support Slackware Linux Project. One of them is by subscribing to Slackware Linux CD/DVD releases or by using Slackware Store to purchase merchandises or even donate to the project.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Hortonworks, Red Hat and Mirantis to bring easy Hadoop to OpenStack

        Hortonworks, Red Hat and Mirantis have announced that they will be cooperating on Project Savanna which aims to make provisioning Hadoop clusters on OpenStack systems fast and easy. Savanna is being designed as an OpenStack component with a REST API and UI accessible through OpenStack’s Horizon Dashboard.

      • Fedora

        • Rawhide week in review, 2013-04-15 edition

          Another week of rawhide rolling along and only one really interesting bug hit:

        • Pimp Out Your Fedora 18 Xfce Desktop

          So, the other day I wrote the Fedora Got Game story and have been continuing to make my transition from Fuduntu which as you may or may not be aware announced that it would close it doors.

          Initially, I had selected the Fedora 18 KDE 64-bit spin but found that it put a bit of a strain on my Netbook. Then, I opted to simply install the Xfce Desktop group onto the KDE spin. The problem with doing that is that your menu winds up having the combined items from both KDE and Xfce and so I opted to reinstall with the Xfce spin.

        • Fedora 19 Alpha status is Go, release on April 23, 2013
    • Debian Family

      • Debian 7 is Nearly Here

        McGovern said fixes are in the works for most of them. There was no mention of the new installer, but recent reports elsewhere state it is shaping up nicely as well with some new features. Ext4 is the new default filesystem, systemd is an option, and UEFI on 64-bit system is supported. Wheezy features Linux 3.2, GCC 4.7.2, Xorg 1.12.4, KDE 4.8.4, and GNOME 3.4.2.

      • Derivatives

        • Elive 2.1.37 Sneak Peek

          It’s been ages since I last took a look at Elive. A development release has just come out so now is a good time to take a peek at it.

          Elive is a desktop distro based on Debian, and it uses the Enlightenment window manager. Elive is geared toward providing you with a high quality desktop, with minimal hardware requirements.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch betas are ready for testing

            Nicholas Skaggs, a Canonical software engineer and quality assurance community co-ordinator, wrote, “I’m happy to announce the Ubuntu touch images are now available for testing on the isotracker. And further, the images are now Raring based! [That is to say, they're based on the soon to be released Ubuntu 13.04 codebase] As such, the Ubuntu Touch team is asking for folks to try out the new images on their devices and ensure there are no regressions or other issues.”

            Specifically, there are four officially supported devices and images for each of them: Nexus 7, grouper; Galaxy Nexus, maguro; Nexus 4, mako; and Nexus 10, manta. These are all early releases and I recommend that only power Ubuntu and smartphone/tablet users try them at this point.

          • After 9 years, Canonical stops offering Ubuntu on disc

            I’ve already decided that the next PC I build won’t include an internal optical drive. I just don’t need one often enough anymore to warrant the cost or installation. I can instead rely on a USB optical drive I already own. And I think that’s the case for a lot of PC owners now. They either use hardware that has already dumped the optical drive (e.g. Ultrabooks), or won’t consider it a great loss if their next system doesn’t include one.

          • Ubuntu Touch images available for testing

            Ubuntu Touch, Canonical’s mobile aspirations, is getting ready for the market. If the developer preview was nothing more than demo-ware, with place holders, now there are images which you can test of your device with some ‘working’ and functional apps.

          • Ubuntu Community Survey 2013 (By Nathan Heafner)

            Today I got in touch with Nathan Heafner, a community member who is actively participating, and wanted me to leave you with this message:

          • Ubuntu Touch betas are ready for testing

            Ubuntu Touch, the version of the Linux operating system for smartphones and tablets, is now available.

          • 10 Best Ubuntu 13.04 Features – From Social Lens to Window Snapping

            But what can you expect to find in it? Unlike the last few releases Ubuntu 13.04 features few dramatic changes, instead bringing some much need polish and performance-boosts.

          • Ubuntu 13.04 Preview

            A few days ago, I decided to give the Ubuntu 13.04 ‘Raring Ringtail’ Beta version a test. I downloaded the Daily Build and installed it successfully. The first thing I have got to share with you all is there are many things to put in mind whenever you’re using any program/system in beta. Do not set too much expectation or you will be let down or frustrated. I was doing some work related word processing using the new LibreOffice Writer and my first experience was terrible

          • App Ecosystem for Ubuntu Mobile Growing Steadily

            Despite all the technical and commercial hurdles, Canonical is well on its way to transforming Ubuntu for mobile devices into the real deal. For proof, look no further than the rapidly maturing application stack for touch-enabled hardware that both Ubuntu engineers and independent developers are churning out.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Fuduntu 2013.2 Review: As ever – Simple, Effective, fast and now with added Steam!

              This year January, I reviewed the 2013.1 update from Fuduntu and was extremely impressed by it. Since then Fuduntu has been one of my favorite distros and I use it on my netbook, dual boot with Linux Mint 13 XFCE. Fuduntu, though the name has resemblance to Ubuntu in it, is more of Fedora with the advantage of rolling release. However, to me it is truly Fedora + Ubuntu, as it combines the simplicity and professionalism of Fedora with the fun of Ubuntu. It means that once you install it, you need not re-install it again – by just downloading the updates, your system has always the latest release.With the present release, Fuduntu also comes with a Fuduntu Lite version for advanced users and netbooks, which actually provides the basic shell without much pre-installed applications. For this review, I used the Fuduntu “heavy” version only – may be I’ll take Fuduntu Lite next time.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Fanless microserver aims Linux on Core-i7 at harsh environs

      CompuLab has introduced a rugged, fanless, microserver based on 3rd Generation Intel Core Processors, clocked up to 2.5GHz. The Linux-friendly “uSVR” runs from -20 to 60° C, accommodates up to four internal 2.5-inch drives, networks via WiFi and up to six GbE channels, and expands modularly.

    • Guest post: more high altitude ballooning from Dave Akerman

      The payload will carry a model A Raspberry Pi, plus an Arduino Mini Pro, a UBlox GPS receiver, and 2 Radiometrix NTX2 transmitters. The latter will be on nearby frequencies primarily to avoid conflict with some other flights this weekend, but also to allow those with SDR (Software Defined Radio) receivers to listen to and decode the signals from both transmitters.

    • Automotive IVI Linux meets Yocto 1.3, Genevi 3.0

      Mentor Graphics has merged the Linux-based automotive infotainment technology it acquired in February from MontaVista Software into its own in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) platform. Additionally, the new Mentor Embedded Automotive Technology Platform (ATP) complies with Yocto Project 1.3 and GENIVI 3.0 requirements, says Mentor.

      Mentor’s ATP and its Sourcery CodeBench and Sourcery Analyzer development tools are aimed at simplifying the process of tuning the Linux kernel and selecting suitable components for Linux-based IVI systems. In particular, ATP’s support for LLTng (LInux Trace Toolkit, Next Generation), helps developers “more easily visually analyze and debug complex interactions between the Linux OS and automotive application software with the Mentor Embedded Sourcery Analyzer,” states the company.

    • Real-World Raspberry Pi

      The single-circuit-board Raspberry Pi computer, only as big as a credit card, makes it easy to gain experience with embedded Linux systems. We’ll show you some hands-on examples of how to use the Raspberry Pi in an everyday environment.

    • Phones

      • Ballnux

        • Samsung to launch Galaxy S4 at end of April in 50 countries

          Samsung Electronics plans to introduce its Galaxy S4 at the end of April in 50 countries and sources from the supply chain predict shipments in the first month will be close to 10 million units. There have been no rumors regarding component shortages.

        • Quick Thoughts on Miscellaneous Smartphone Developments Awaiting Q1 Results

          Samsung’s Galaxy S4 was revealed, all signs point to another hit smartphone and big growth for the Sammy. They keep expanding the Galaxy series as was expected and the juggernaut should continue to roll on. I found it funny that the Galaxy Camera only now arrived to American shores, we’ve had it here in Asia since last year. Samsung’s Q1 financial guidance said massive growth in smartphones, driving up their profits.. yeah, this ‘surprised’ some after the Christmas season, but not our readers, we know China’s gift-giving season is in January for Q1 and as Samsung is China’s top-selling smartphone nowadays (used to be Nokia) that means big good sales for the Samster…

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Airbnb Open Sources Rendr, A Library For Running Backbone.js Apps On Both Client And Server

    Airbnb today announced that it is open sourcing Rendr, its library for running Backbone.js apps seamlessly on both the client and the server. After launching its Chronos cron replacement a few weeks ago, this marks the company’s second major contribution to the open source ecosystem this year. Airbnb originally developed Rendr for its mobile site.

  • Workshop for university students on free and open source software

    A workshop to promote the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Open Web Technology was organised successfully at S N Ghosh auditorium, of the J K Institute of Applied Physics and Technology of Allahabad University, on Saturday.

    The workshop was conducted by Mozilla foundation, an open source non-profit organisation working in open web technology.

    The workshop was inaugurated by head of the department of Electronics & Communication R R Tiwari who was also the chief guest of the workshop, aimed to benefit B Tech, MCA and BCA students of AU.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Manifesto Nears 1.0

        Mitchell Baker has blogged that since Mozilla is celebrating its 15 year anniversary, it was time to tweak their Manifesto first published in 2007. Mozilla gathered input for a year and three new proposed changes are suggested.

      • Mozilla Reconsiders, May Support WebP Image Format

        Want your website to load faster? Slim your images. According to the HTTPArchive, images account for roughly 60 percent of total page size. That means the single biggest thing most sites can do to slim down is to shrink their images.

      • Firefox Mobile OS to launch in five countries this summer

        Mozilla CEO says that the Firefox Mobile OS will be available this summer in Venezuela, Poland, Brazil, Portugal, and Spain.

      • Firefox OS Powered Keon Makes Its Way To The FCC

        We’ve already heard that another mobile operating system will soon be made available courtesy of Mozilla. This summer Firefox OS powered devices will be made available in 5 countries spread over Europe and South America.

      • Firefox OS Powered Keon Makes Its Way To The FCC

        If you’ve wanted to be one of the first people to check out the new OS then Spanish e-retailer Geeksphone has you covered as they will be releasing two Firefox OS powered devices which they say “will be available for dispatch anywhere on earth.”

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • MariaDB Foundation on course for community governance

      The MariaDB Foundation has expanded its Board of Directors and has appointed Simon Phipps as its Secretary and interim Chief Executive Officer. Rasmus Johansson has been appointed Chair of the Board, which also includes Andrew Katz, Jeremy Zawodny, and Michael “Monty” Widenius as members. Speaking to The H, Phipps said: “The key change here is the Foundation is now officially under the direction of a diverse Board rather than just one director.” With this change, it is on track to be completely member-led in the second half of the year.


    • An Open Letter to Richard Stallman

      A few days ago Guillermo Garron wrote a piece on his website after seeing you speak live. A link to that article was posted at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux, where a discussion ensued. During the course of that conversation, I thought that maybe it was about time that we started using a less bulky nomenclature for the GNU/Linux operating system. I posted a few suggestions, but I think I like GNix the best.

    • Guile-SDL 0.4.3 available
    • Free Software Foundation takes potshot at Windows 8

      The FSF contends that sometimes, proprietary software actually helps its fight for freedom but that Windows 8 is “so bad it’s almost funny” — the group claims that it is “full of spyware and security vulnerabilities” and that it is confusing for users.

      The group sets out its stall as follows:

      “As our society grows more dependent on computers, the software we run is of critical importance to securing the future of a free society. Free software is about having control over the technology we use in our homes, schools and businesses, where computers work for our individual and communal benefit, not for proprietary software companies or governments who might seek to restrict and monitor us.”

      This infographic is linked here, but not shown here in full due its arguably somewhat reactionary nature.

    • Forming a software foundation? Think again

      As an open source project gathers momentum and the possibility of corporate engagement beckons, developers can frequently be heard saying they need to start a foundation for their project.

      But do they? Ask many of the people who have gone down that path, and they’re likely to advise against it. The bureaucracy is daunting, the skills needed to run such an organization are similar to those of any other business, and there’s a very real risk the IRS will refuse to grant tax-exempt status.

  • Public Services/Government

    • FOSS in the Italian public administration: fundamental law principles

      We take a first reading of the recent modification to the fundamental law that governs the digital aspects of the Public Administration in Italy. These modifications require Public Administrations to prefer internally made solutions and FOSS solutions over proprietary ones, mandate an increased degree of interoperability and strengthen the push for open data.

    • FBI Seeks Open Architecture

      As I was skimming through a solicitation document the FBI posted surveying vendors that might provide it with new video monitor technology, one word jumped out at me: open.

      The FBI is looking for a system that will allow it to monitor video from all sorts of devices, including those it owns itself and those owned by other law enforcement agencies. It also wants to be able to plug tools into the system that help it identify faces and license plates.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Bioengineers Build Open Source Language for Programming Cells

      Endy is the co-director of the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology — BIOFAB, for short — where he’s part of a team that’s developing a language that will use genetic data to actually program biological cells. That may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the project is already underway, and the team intends to open source the language, so that other scientists can use it and modify it and perfect it.

      The effort is part of a sweeping movement to grab hold of our genetic data and directly improve the way our bodies behave — a process known as bioengineering. With the Supreme Court exploring whether genes can be patented, the bioengineering world is at crossroads, but scientists like Endy continue to push this technology forward.

    • Open Data

      • Startup strives to build a better symptom search engine using patients own words, open source data

        A patient facing search engine app MedWhat wants to achieve something its co-founder believes is lacking from similar tools — fast, comprehensive responses to patient questions no matter how simple or complex.

        In an interview with MedCity News, entrepreneur and co-founder Arturo Devesa said he believes two ingredients are essential to achieving that: open source data from respected medical institutions and natural language processing — allowing people to ask questions in their own words. He envisions a platform that can transform mobile phones into virtual primary care physicians.

    • Open Access/Content

    • Open Hardware

      • You Built What?!: A Tractor For The Apocalypse

        A modular, open-source workhorse to help rebuild civilization.

      • Open-source hardware: Are you on board?

        Welcome to our 5 Engineers section, part of this blog and our Fun Friday newsletter, where we toss out a question and invite our audience to respond with their wittiest answers.

        This week, on the cusp of DESIGN West and its many open-source hardware and software (OSHS) sessions, we’re thinking specifically about open-source hardware (OSH).

  • Programming

    • Go at Google

      Rob Pike explains how Google designed Go to address major development issues they encounter while using other languages: long build times, poor dependency management, lack of robustness, etc.

    • jQuery 2.0 Released, IE 8 And Less Left to Bite the Cold

      jQuery, arguably the most popular JavaScript library, is out with their much awaited major release v2.0. It comes with a 12% reduced size footprint, API compatibility with v1.9.x, and 45 bug fixes & feature improvements. But the most notable change is dropping of support for Internet Explorer (IE) versions 8 and less.

    • Oracle Delays Java 8 To Next Year Over Security

      Oracle has decided to delay the release of Java 8 into 2014 over their engineers tackling various security-related issues with the language as of late.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • The IETF between open innovation and network load limiters

      The German Federal Ministry of Economics advocates an “unpatronising” internet, said Otto. The internet and social networks have become a powerful voice for freedom that mustn’t be jeopardised through control and regimentation, he added. However, Otto noted that citizens must also be able to defend themselves against online violations of their personal rights. The Liberal politician spoke out against giving governments more technical control over the global network through established bodies such as the IETF and the ICANN internet management authority. Otto also noted that genuine internet politics require an understanding of “how the underlying technologies work”.


  • Phone While Driving

    For years, we’ve discussed the problematic nature of “distracted driving” laws that seek to outlaw things like talking on your phone or texting while driving. It is not that we don’t think these behaviors are dangerous. It seems clear that those activities can take one’s attention away from driving and potentially increase the likelihood of an accident by a significant amount. However, the laws are often broad and inconsistent — and, worse, they can have serious unintended consequences. As we’ve noted there are lots and lots of things that can distract a driver which are still considered perfectly legal, such as changing the radio station, talking to passengers, eating, etc. Trying to ban each and every distraction one by one is a ridiculous and impossible task. In fact, studies have suggested that bad distracted drivers will often just find a different distraction to occupy their time. And, thanks to these laws, those drivers are often still texting while driving, but are simply holding their phones even lower, taking their eyes further off the road, so as to avoid detection… actually making the roads more dangerous. The real answer is to focus on stopping bad driving, not trying to call out specific activities.

  • Prenda Law: Let The Other Shoes Hit The Floor
  • Paul Hansmeier Pops Up In Prenda Law Defamation Case, Prenda Tries To Force It Back To State Ct.
  • KEI Works to Make the World a Better Place in Many Ways (Video)

    Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) director Jamie Love — formally James Packard Love — is the brain behind the “$1 a day” HIV drugs that have saved millions of lives in Africa and other poor parts of the world. Basically, he went around asking, “How much would it cost to make this HIV medication if the patent cost was removed?” At first, no one could answer. After a while, the answer came: Less than $1 a day. At that price, the Bush administration set up a massive program to deliver generic anti-HIV drugs to Africa. Jamie also works on copyright issues, boosts free software (he’s a Linux user/evangelist and had more than a little to do with the Microsoft antitrust suit), and generally tries to make the international knowledge ecology more accessible and more useful for everyone, especially those who aren’t rich. Or necessarily even prosperous. He’s a smart guy (read the Wikipedia entry linked above), but more than that he’s bullheaded. Jamie has worked on some of his initiatives for years, even decades. In many cases you can’t say, “He hasn’t succeeded,” without adding “yet” on the end. (You’ll understand that statement better after you watch the video, which we broke into two parts because it is far longer than our typical video interview.)

  • Yahoo China to end email service: media

    Yahoo’s China arm will shut down its email service later this year, state media reported Friday, illustrating the brand’s diminishing profile in the country.
    China Yahoo! announced it will close its email service by August 19, a move the China Daily said will leave it with just its web portal business.

  • Official, Authenticated, Preserved, and Accessible: The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act

    Digital technology makes documents easy to alter or copy, leading to multiple non-identical versions that can be used in unauthorized or illegitimate ways. Unfortunately, the ease of alteration has introduced doubt in users’ minds about the authenticity of many of the digital documents they encounter.

  • Science

    • Computers Are Not Darwin Machines

      Most people think computers are built by intelligent design. How on earth can you say their development follows Darwin’s mechanism of “survival of the fittest”? Yet an article at Science Daily announces, “‘Survival of the Fittest’ Now Applies to Computers: Surprising Similarities Found Between Genetic and Computer Codes.” (Emphasis added.) Certain similarities between Linux code and bacterial genomes may obtain, but one thing should be clear: they are not Darwinian.

  • Security

    • The Secret Password Is…

      Since retinal scans still mainly are used in the movies to set the scene for gruesome eyeball-stealing, for the foreseeable future (pun intended), we’re stuck with passwords. In this article, I want to take some time to discuss best practices and give some thoughts on cool software designed to help you keep your private affairs private. Before getting into the how-to section, let me openly discuss the how-not-to.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Finance

    • Microsoft Excel: The ruiner of global economies?

      A paper used to justify austerity economics appears to contain an Excel error.

    • Saving Detroit: Globalization, the Destruction of Cities and the Rights of African Americans

      Detroit is a city that has been in the national and world news once again. Since March, when Gov. Rick Snyder declared a so-called “financial emergency” in Detroit, therefore setting the stage for the appointment of an “Emergency Manager”, many press reports drew a direct connection between the recent corruption trial of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and businessman Bobby Ferguson. In fact just prior to Snyder’s declaration, Kilpatrick and Ferguson were found guilty of numerous corruption charges in the months-long federal trial.

      Of course the corporate and government-controlled media has never focused on who are the real culprits in the underdevelopment and consequent destruction of Detroit and other majority African American municipalities in Michigan. These media entities fall back on the same notions that have prevailed inside the United States since the period of Reconstruction, i.e. that African American political leadership is inherently corrupt and inefficient rendering them incapable of managing the affairs of governments locally, statewide and nationally.

    • Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) Beats Expectations

      What’s worrying investors the most appears to be the strange mixture of anemic customer trading revenue and institutional bravado when it comes to Goldman’s own money. Such high-risk/high-reward behavior was rather typical of institutions like Goldman Sachs (and indeed Goldman Sachs itself) prior to the crash, and it was largely seen as having created a toxic financial atmosphere.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Self-Censorship on Chinese TV: An American Comedian’s Experience

      Now, he describes what happened after its wildly popular debut, and what it says about “doing business” in China.

    • Small bloggers good, small newspapers bad

      The latest twist in the Leveson saga is the Government’s proposed amendments to protect ‘small scale bloggers’.

      We previously warned the drafting meant groups like Big Brother Watch could be covered, along with websites like ConHome and Mumsnet.

      The amendment makes clear if you’re a multi-author blog with a turnover below £2m, you won’t be considered a ‘relevant publisher’ for the purposes of exemplary damages and cost protections. This is an important clarification. (Although the bill does still appear to lack a definition of ‘blog’, which could prove interesting – and expensive to argue in court.)

      However, the drafting only protects either ‘incidental’ publishers of news-related material, or multi-author blogs. So someone who is not a blog, who publishes news-related material on a regular basis, remains in scope even if their turnover is £10,000.

    • Fox Censors Cory Doctorow’s “Homeland” Novel From Google

      Copyfighter, journalist, sci-fi writer and Boing-Boing editor Cory Doctorow has fallen victim to the almighty content empire of Rupert Murdoch. In an attempt to remove access to infringing copies of the TV-show Homeland, Fox has ordered Google to take down links to Doctorow’s latest novel of the same title. Adding to the controversy, Doctorow’s own publisher has also sent DMCA notices for the Creative Commons licensed book.

  • Privacy

    • House passes Cispa cybersecurity bill with support of 92 Democrats

      House intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers, left, with the committee’s ranking Democrat, CA “Dutch” Ruppersberger. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

    • Former DHS Official Says Boston Bombing Proves ACLU & EFF Are Wrong About Surveillance And CISPA
    • A call to arms for obfuscated bridges

      Facebook debuted its Android app family Facebook Home today. This means those of you with compatible devices (sorry Windows Phone and iOS users) have a snazzy new product to try out if you’re looking for a tightly-Facebook integrated mobile experience.

    • ACLU accuses the IRS of reading Americans’ private email without a search warrant

      The group believes the tax collection agency has run afoul of the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches.

    • Law professor makes a case for legally recognizing the Dangers of Surveillance

      The Dangers of Surveillance, written by Neil M. Richards, Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, was recently published on the Social Science Research Network. In it, Richards proposed “four principles that should guide the future development of surveillance law.” Yet he said we must first recognize that: “Surveillance transcends the public-private divide;” that “secret surveillance is illegitimate;” that “total surveillance is illegitimate” and that “surveillance is harmful.” The courts may understand that surveillance could be potentially harmful, but “have struggled to clearly understand why.”

    • Apple Finally Reveals How Long Siri Keeps Your Data

      All of those questions, messages, and stern commands that people have been whispering to Siri are stored on Apple servers for up to two years, Wired can now report.
      Yesterday, we raised concerns about some fuzzy disclosures in Siri’s privacy policy. After our story ran, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller called to explain Apple’s policy, something privacy advocates have asking for.
      This is the first time that Apple has said how long it’s keeping Siri data, but according to Nicole Ozer, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who first brought these Siri privacy questions to our attention, there’s still more that Apple could do.

    • Analysis: NSA Utah Data Center would be world’s biggest iPod

      Plans for a data center in San Antonio were also announced by the agency in 2007. Although the exact size of the San Antonio facility is unknown, it took the place of a 470,000 square foot former Sony microchip plant, reported DataCenterKnowledge.

      President Obama’s Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative calls for “upgraded infrastructure” and “increased bandwidth” as part of enhancing the nation’s cybersecurity capabilities. Yet, the San Antonio data center is only one part of the agency’s capacity.

    • Lawmakers Cite Boston Bombing, WikiLeaks “Hacking” as Reasons to Pass CISPA

      North Korean hackers and the Boston bombings might not appear to have much in common. But not according to some American lawmakers, who are using both to justify passing a controversial cybersecurity bill that civil liberties advocates claim “undermines the privacy of millions of Internet users.”

      Yesterday, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 288 to 127. The law was first introduced in 2011 and approved last year by the House, though it died in the Senate after an outpouring of opposition from privacy and civil liberties groups. But it has been resurrected and is heading to the Senate for the second time. Predictably, the storm of criticism has also reappeared. Rights groups have consistently raised concerns over how CISPA would allow corporations to pass unanonymized user data to federal government agencies for vaguely defined “cybersecurity” purposes—and be covered by full legal indemnity when doing so.

    • Snoopers’ laws could be used to ‘oppress us’, says David Cameron technology adviser
  • Civil Rights

    • In Which NY Times Reporter Jenna Wortham Accidentally Reveals How She Violated Both The CFAA & The DMCA

      Over the past few months and weeks there’s been much greater attention paid to both the CFAA and the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, and how both are in need of serious reform. The attention to anti-circumvention was galvanized around the fact that unlocking your mobile phone became illegal again, after the Library of Congress allowed an exemption to expire, making many people realize that the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA, also known as section 1201, meant that they often don’t really own the products they thought they owned. The attention to CFAA reform came in response to Aaron’s Swartz’s untimely death, and the light it shed on the parts of the CFAA that he was charged under. Of course, many of us have been fighting back against both laws for years, but the public attention on both has been key over the past few months.

    • Hacking the Law: Fights Over Cyber-Security and a Silicon Valley Divide

      To some, hacker Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer is a cause celebré. To others, he’s a famous douchebag. To many, he’s a polarizing figure in a debate that’s roiled Silicon Valley, pitting established tech companies against rogue innovators. When Auernheimer was sentenced to 41 months in prison for collecting and publicizing the names of 114,000 AT&T iPad users, reporters grappled over the right words to characterize him. A headline in Venture Beat reflected their ambivalence: “Terrorist, hacker, freedom fighter: Andrew Auernheimer parties tonight in expectation of jail tomorrow.”

    • Increasing CFAA Penalties Won’t Deter Foreign “Cybersecurity” Threats

      In the last three months alone, the House has released three different cybersecurity bills and has held over seven hearings on the issue. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee floated changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the draconian anti-hacking statute that came to public prominence after the death of activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz. Politicians tout this legislation as necessary to protect against foreign threats every single time they introduce a bill with “cyber” somewhere in the text. And it comes as no surprise that every hearing has opened up with a recap of computer security attacks faced by the US from China, Iran, and other foreign countries.

    • Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything is a Crime

      Though extensive due process protections apply to the investigation of crimes, and to criminal trials, perhaps the most important part of the criminal process — the decision whether to charge a defendant, and with what — is almost entirely discretionary. Given the plethora of criminal laws and regulations in today’s society, this due process gap allows prosecutors to charge almost anyone they take a deep interest in. This Essay discusses the problem in the context of recent prosecutorial controversies involving the cases of Aaron Swartz and David Gregory, and offers some suggested remedies, along with a call for further discussion.

    • CFAA: Internet Activists Win First-Round Victory In Fight Over Anti-Hacking Law
    • IBM executives head to Washington to press lawmakers on cybersecurity bill

      Nearly 200 senior IBM executives are flying into Washington to press for the passage of a controversial cybersecurity bill that will come up for a vote in the House this week.
      The IBM executives will pound the pavement on Capitol Hill Monday and Tuesday, holding nearly 300 meetings with lawmakers and staff. Over the course of those two days, their mission is to convince lawmakers to back a bill that’s intended to make it easier for industry and government to share information about cyber threats with each other in real time.

    • Reddit co-founder calls out Google, Twitter, Facebook over CISPA
    • 34 Civil Liberties Organizations Oppose CISPA After Amendments

      Today, thirty-four civil liberties organizations sent a joint letter to Congressional Representatives urging them to continue to oppose the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). CISPA is a misguided “cybersecurity” bill that would provide a gaping new exception to privacy law. The House of Representatives is likely to vote on it on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. This means that there’s little time remaining to speak out against this bill.

    • Hacktivists as Gadflies

      Mr. Brown came under the scrutiny of the authorities when he began poring over documents that had been released in the hack of two private security companies, HBGary Federal and Stratfor. Mr. Brown did not take part in the hacks, but he did become obsessed with the contents that emerged from them — in particular the extracted documents showed that private security contractors were being hired by the United States government to develop strategies for undermining protesters and journalists, including Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for Salon. Since the cache was enormous, Mr. Brown thought he might crowdsource the effort and copied and pasted the URL from an Anonymous chat server to a Web site called Project PM, which was under his control.

    • GRAHAM: Boston proves “homeland battlefield,” Constitution obsolete

      The always patriotic U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham says the Boston bombing “is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield.” In an interview with the Washington Post:

      “It’s a battlefield because the terrorists think it is.” Referring to Boston, he observed, “Here is what we’re up against,” and added, “It sure would be nice to have a drone up there [to track the suspect.]” He also slammed the president’s policy of “leading from behind and criminalizing war.”

    • America cannot assert moral authority while Guantánamo remains open

      In 2009, defending the promise he made to close Guantánamo Bay, President Barack Obama insisted: “The existence of Guantánamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.”

      This weekend, the case for the closure of Guantánamo Bay, promised by Obama on his second day in office, has never been more compelling. A hunger strike by the camp’s inmates, half of whom had been cleared for release, has underlined the growing desperation of those 166 still detained. Of that number, some 86 had been approved for transfer (while the rest had been earmarked for trial) but have become stuck in a political and legal limbo that has seen such transfers almost completely halted in the last two-and-a-half years. A recent report by a bipartisan panel of experts has condemned both the conditions there and the use of abusive interrogation techniques.

    • Michigan House Unanimously Passes NDAA Nullification Bill

      Local and state lawmakers opposing the tyranny of the NDAA and indefinite detention stand on very sound constitutional ground in their battle against federal overreaching. Any unconstitutional act of the federal government is prima facie void and must not be given the respect or force of law. In fact, such measures are not law at all.

    • Speakers on the National Defense Authorization Act in Belfast

      For many constitutional watchers, the Bill of Rights are in danger. That will be the message of speakers Debra Sweet and Michael Figura, who will be on a tour of Maine from April 19-21. After speaking in Bangor on April 19, Sweet and Figura will travel to Belfast to speak at the Belfast Free Library on Saturday, April 20 at 2:30 p.m. On April 21, they will wrap up their Maine tour in Portland.

    • Four Reasons Sens. Graham and McCain are Wrong about Military Detention for Dzhokar Tsarnaev
    • The Bill of Rights was written for Dzhokar Tsarnaev

      19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev is in custody. Assuming that Tsarnaev is indeed guilty of these crimes, a very real threat to public safety has been taken off the streets. That’s the good news.

      The bad news is that the Tsarnaev brothers have taken the last vestiges of a free society in America down with them.

      The Bill of Rights was already on life support before this tragedy. Before the dust settled after 9/11, the 4th Amendment had been nullified by the Patriot Act. The 5th and 6th Amendments were similarly abolished with the Military Commission Act of 2006 and the 2012 NDAA resolution, which contained a clause allowing the president to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil without due process of law.

    • America At Its Best … And Worst
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Google moves to end EU antitrust probe without fine

      Google has formally submitted a package of concessions to European Union competition regulators in a strong signal that the world’s No. 1 search engine may be able to settle a two-year antitrust investigation without a fine.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Hitachi Loses Royalty Bid on TPV High-Definition TV Sales

      Hitachi Ltd. (6501) lost a U.S. patent- infringement trial in which it sought as much as four years of royalty payments from TPV Technology Ltd. (903) on sales of high- definition televisions.
      A federal jury in Marshall, Texas, last week said TPV, the world’s fourth-largest maker of LCD televisions, didn’t infringe four Hitachi patents and that two of them were invalid.

      The dispute is over inventions related to an industrywide standard for a process to transmit digital audio and visual signals, as well as program data, over the airwaves. Hitachi claimed that televisions made by TPV and its units infringed the company’s patents.

    • Trademarks

      • USPTO retracts objections to Apple’s ‘iPad mini’ trademark application

        In an Office action filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week, the attorney examining Apple’s “iPad mini” trademark withdrew their primary objections to the application, saying only a disclaimer clarifying the mark’s use of the term “mini” is needed in order to move forward.

      • Attorney Fee Award Against Charles Carreon for Abusive Trademark Litigation

        In a brief opinion issued today, Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California awarded Christopher Recouvreur more than $46,000 in attorney fees and expenses for having had to defend himself against a series of wild and baseless threats of suit for trademark infringement by Charles Carreon. After we were finally able to get service on Carreon and moved for an award of the costs of service, Carreon served a Rule 68 judgment granting the declaratory relief for which we had sued. We then sought to have fees awarded on the grounds that Carreon had bought threatened trademark claims that had no reasonable basis, thus forcing Recouvreur to seek a declaratory judgment to protect himself against damages claims; that Carreon ducked service and then refused to pay the costs of such service but rather forced us to move to collect those costs; particularly after Carreon demanded the opportunity to conduct discovery over the fee claims, we also argued that his litigation conduct made the case exceptional.

    • Copyrights

      • Judge Won’t Allow ‘Mass-Suing’ of Movie Pirates

        Hundreds of thousands of people have been sued for copyright infringement in the past three years using a controversial litigation strategy.

      • The Empire acquires the rebel alliance: Mendeley users revolt against Elsevier takeover

        Mendeley, an open collaboration platform for scientific research, has promised that it won’t become less open after being acquired by journal publisher Elsevier, but some prominent users aren’t waiting around.

      • EFF On IsoHunt: Bad Facts Make Bad Law

        As Gary Fung is seeking a rehearing of the IsoHunt case in the 9th Circuit, two amicus briefs were filed yesterday. The first from the EFF and the second from Google. Neither brief suggests that Fung should get off as innocent, or that he did nothing wrong. Rather, both are worried about how the broad ruling by the court for the specific situation regarding Fung and IsoHunt will lead to further abuse by copyright holders and massive chilling effects on service providers. The EFF notes that while Fung/IsoHunt may have been bad actors, it appears that the court used this to go way overboard in creating new and dangerous standards for copyright

      • YouTube prevails in huge copyright suit with Viacom

        In an epic clash between old and new media, Google Inc.’s video website YouTube has scored another huge victory in the long-running skirmish over copyright infringement brought by television giant Viacom Inc.
        A federal judge in New York on Thursday ruled that YouTube had not violated Viacom’s copyright even though users of the popular online site were allowed to post unauthorized video clips from some of Viacom’s most popular shows, including Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

      • How Google Beat Viacom in the Landmark YouTube Copyright Case — Again

        Media giant Viacom just can’t win — at least when it comes to the company’s long-running, landmark copyright infringement lawsuit against Google‘s YouTube video service. A federal judge handed a major victory to YouTube on Thursday, one year after a federal appeals court breathed new life into Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit. Viacom had accused YouTube of illegally hosting videos that infringe on the company’s intellectual property, including popular content like MTV videos and TV shows like Comedy Central’s “South Park.”

22 Apr 15:50

Debunking a Paleo Diet Strawman

by Angelo Coppola
The Paleo StrawmanUpdate: If you would like to hear / watch this article instead of reading it, you can do so here.  As the Paleo diet movement has grown, it has also become increasingly difficult to talk about, at times. This is because there is no single set of guidelines for what constitutes the Paleo diet, and …

Continue reading "Debunking a Paleo Diet Strawman"

22 Apr 15:26


All music is just performances of 4'33" in studios where another band happened to be playing at the time.
17 Apr 14:49

How We Come To Own Ourselves: Spanish Translation

by Stephan Kinsella

My Mises Daily article How We Come To Own Ourselves (Sep. 7, 2006, blog discussionaudio version) has been translated into Spanish, by Josep Purroy: Cómo los niños se vuelven dueños de sí mismos.


17 Apr 14:43

Un entrepreneur? Moi?!

by Michael J. Smith

So now that I'm unemployed -- and loving every minute of it, I might add -- I get letters from the New York State Department of Labor. Here's the latest:

This is to inform you that you are eligible to apply for a program entitled Taking Care Of Business: The Self-Employment Assistance Program....

If you wish to participate, you must first attend a regional workshop to learn the risks and responsibilities associated with starting a new business. You will then be informed of the extensive program requirements.


... The program requires that you take a minimum of 20 hours of entrepreneurial training (which you find on your own), and meet at least twice a week with an approved business counselor....

Once accepted into the program, you are not entitled to any extra or extended benefits, including benefits under the current Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation Law(*).

Can't make this shit up, eh? Made me laugh and laugh, in a snide, mean-spirited way. The bureaucratization of entrepreneurship: only in Amurrica.

More to the point, who on earth would go for this deal? Joe The Plumber(tm)? You give up your extended payments, you have to attend a 'workshop' -- which the fine print tells you 'may not be close to where you live' -- and somehow 'find' twenty hours of entrepreneurship training, whatever that might be. There is not a word in this document about any actual benefit you might get from participating.

It's perfect, really: All cost, but think of the opportunity! What a country!


(*) Minatory caps, italics, and boldface faithfully reproduced from the original.

07 Apr 11:08

Jeffrey Weinhaus, gunned down by Missouri Hwy Patrol needs $2,500 by Monday for lawyer!

by Laura4liberty

Very important cause.

Contributing $25 myself and I hope you'll consider a donation and repost the following:

URGENT! Want to send a message to law enforcement that they'll be held accountable if they choose to fire on citizens? Donate a few $$ on WePay so that Jeffrey Weinhaus can get a lawyer. He only needs an additional $2500 so the lawyer can start working Monday--only 3 1/2 weeks til his trial!! New evidence makes his case stronger--it's totally clear that he was carrying, legal in Missouri, but NOT threatening-- but he MUST HAVE a lawyer, and a previous prosecuting attny has agreed to work for a reduced fee. PLEASE try to chip in a little, no matter if it's only $5.

If you want more info on how he was gunned down by an officer in the Missouri Hwy Patrol

I am concerned about the police actions in this matter. And knowing Jeff personally before he was shot by the MSHP, I have been staying abreast of the case since the beginning. There is no longer any doubt that the police were NOT justified in shooting, and most especially in the way that they did.

read more

07 Apr 11:05

TSA agent spills the cremated remains of a passenger's grandfather and laughs


These TSA thugs need to go.

06 Apr 16:41

"State Control": What the UN Firearms Treaty is All About

by William N. Grigg

Very true

"Comrades! Turn in your weapons!"

White House mouthpiece Jay Carney saysthat the Obama administration will “conduct a thorough review” of the UN’s newly enacted gun control pact “to determine whether to sign the treaty.” The suspense is hardly unbearable, given that the UN treaty would codify the proposition that national governments should have a monopoly on weapons. 

The announced objective of the treaty is to regulate the sale and transfer of small arms and light weapons, a category that includes all civilian-owned firearms. Accordingto UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the treaty“will help to keep warlords, pirates, terrorists, criminals and their like from acquiring deadly arms.”

Well, actually, it would not. Nothing in the dense and nearly unreadable text of the 15-page treaty will prevent member states from arming terrorists and criminals. Article 2, Section 3 specifies that nothing in the treaty will “apply to the international movement of conventional arms by, or on behalf of, a State Party for its use provided that the conventional arms remain under that State Party’s ownership.”

Article 11, which deals with “Diversion” of weaponry, requires that parties to the treaty work to “mitigate the risk” that weapons would fall into the hands of criminals or terrorists, and that they “share relevant information … on effective measures to address diversion.” But nothing in the language forbids such diversions from States to “non-state actors” – a point that was made, ironically, by the Communist government of North Korea when it opposed the treaty

Each government that signs the UN gun treaty agree to create “a national control system to regulate the export of ammunition [and] munitions” (Article 3), which is described in the preamble as “the primary responsibility of all States.” The document repeatedly refers to the “inherent right” of States to arm themselves and to control the weaponry within the boundaries over which they claim jurisdiction. Not a syllable can be found in the document recognizing the innate right of the individual to armed self-defense. This omission was not accidental.

UN-style civilian disarmament at Wounded Knee, 1890.
For more than fifty years, the United Nations, with the enthusiastic support of the U.S. government, has pursued a vision of “general and complete disarmament” in which the world body, or its successor, would claim a monopoly on the “legitimate” use of force. Within that global monopoly, each national government would have an exclusive territorial franchise. 

“Controlling the proliferation of illicit [that is, civilian-owned] weapons is a necessary first step towards the non-proliferation of small arms,” wrote former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his official 2000 report, We the Peoples. “These weapons must be brought under the control of states, and states must be held responsible for their transfer.” (Emphasis added.) 

It was in pursuit of that formula that UN “peacekeepers” were deployed in Rwanda in 1993. The peace treaty they were sent to enforce required the collection of all civilian-owned weapons. Despite that country’s history of bloody ethnic conflict, Rwandans were assured that they had nothing to fear from a UN-approved government that claimed a monopoly on weaponry; after all, the Blue Beret-wearing emissaries of the “international community” were there to protect them, in the event their government turned feral. 
Haunted: Dallaire at Rwanda genocide exhibit.
In January 1994, Lt. Col. Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian officer commanding the UN contingent in Rwanda, learned that the Hutu-dominated regime was planning to massacre the Tutsi population. He sent an urgent fax to UN headquarters requesting permission to disarm the government-backed militias by raiding their arms caches. He wasn’t allowed to take this pre-emptive action, because the UN’s self-assigned mandate called for civilian disarmament, not the disarmament of government operatives. 

Less than three months later, the massacre began – a 100-day orgy of bloodshed in which roughly one million people were slaughtered. Most were hacked to death with machetes – but behind the machete-wielding goons were government troops, police, and militiamen armed with guns. Dallaire’s troops did nothing to protect the victims; indeed, many of them were butchered as well. 
Sucked to be them, I guess: Genocide facilitator Annan.
The UN official who was given advance warning of the massacre, and ordered Dallaire not to take any preventive action, was Kofi Annan – who at the time was undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations. In the finest tradition of Soviet career advancement, Annan was rewarded with a promotion to Secretary General, and eventually received the Nobel Peace Prize. Dallaire, who had done what he could to prevent the genocide, succumbed to near-suicidal depression and alcoholism. He was eventually rehabilitated after a reporter found him freezing to death under a park bench in Hull, Quebec. 

Rwanda is a nearly ideal case of the UN’s model of “human security,” which requires, among other things, the establishment of “norms of non-possession” of firearms by civilians. That phrase was taken from the UN-approved “Hague Appeal for Peace,” which was unveiled at the 2000 “Millennium Summit” at UN Headquarters. 

According to the Hague Appeal:

“Full-fledged demobilization programs must reclaim and destroy weaponry…. Steps toward stopping the flow of weapons include: controlling legal transfers between states; preventing illicit transfers … collecting, removing, and destroying surplus weapons from regions of conflict … [and] creating norms of non-possession.” 

Those objectives are woven into the UN’s new arms treaty – but those threads run back to the late 1950s, when the world body first became involved in the “arms control” process. 

Barack Obama is a left-leaning corporatist from an exotic background, but he is not the first U.S. president whose administration has promoted a UN-centered gun grab. That distinction belongs to Dwight Eisenhower, the conservative Republican whose State Department served as an incubator for a proposal called Freedom from War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World

That program, also known as State Department Document 7277, was introduced to the world in the fall of 1961 by Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy.

Freedom from War, and its follow-up Blueprint for the Peace Race, outlined a three-stage global program in which the UN’s machinery for “peace enforcement” – what honest people would call “warmaking” – would be built up pari passu with disarmament of national governments. In Stage III, national governments would retain only those armaments and establishments necessary to carry out UN-ordained “global obligations” and to “maintain internal order.”

“All other armaments would be destroyed or converted to peaceful purposes,” dictates the U.S.-created program. “Peaceful purposes,” in the statist lexicon, include all acts of government-sanctioned aggression and violence. “All other armaments” would, of necessity, include civilian-owned weaponry. Those points were made with plangent clarity in a 1962 State Department-commissioned study called A World Effectively Controlled by the United Nations, which was written by MIT professor Lincoln P. Bloomfield. 

Dispensing with the utopian pretenses of many world government advocates, Bloomfield observed that the pursuit of a world “effectively controlled” by the UN would be to create a “stable military environment” for the benefit of the U.S. government and allied interests. This would eventually require the creation of a nuclear-armed UN “Peace Force” – a multilateral body that itself would be effectively controlled by Washington – that would include a “disarmament policing agency.” Each constituent member of the UN would be permitted a military establishment that would be limited “to the right to maintain sufficient police forces to ensure domestic security.”

One source frequently cited by Bloomfield in his study is World Peace through World Law, a 1958 bookco-written by Wall Street attorney Grenville Clark and Professor Louis B. Sohn. That book unflinchingly endorsed the creation of “A World Police Force” that would possess “a coercive force of overwhelming power.” It would initially be equipped through “the transfer of weapons and equipment discarded by national military forces during the process of complete disarmament.” However, it would also benefit from a research and development program devoted to providing it with a prohibitive advantage against any potential adversary.

Such an entity does not exist within the United Nations, of course. But what Clark and Sohn envisioned looks a great deal like the military-industrial complex that serves the interest of the de facto world government operated out of Washington, D.C. 

“Even in a world in which all national military forces were abolished,” continued Clark and Sohn, “it is conceivable that … an aroused nation with a strong grievance could marshal quite a formidable armed force even if no on in it possessed any weapon stronger than a rifle.” This is why, they concluded, “a strong and well-armed police force is part of the indispensable price of peace and the sooner the world faces up to this conclusion the better it will be for all peoples.” 
This is what a UN-style "Peace Force" looks like.
Oh, sure, they acknowledge, the nuclear-armed world “Peace Force” they envisioned “might be perverted into a tool of world domination” – a concession they make without explaining how what they describe is something other than a plan for world domination. 

They then feinted in the direction of checks and balances, insisting that “careful limitations and safeguards” would be incorporated into the system – without providing so much as a hint of what they would be in a world where everybody but UN-approved government bodies would be disarmed. 

In his 1962 study, Bloomfield took note of one critical complication: “In the United States, the people have the constitutional right to `keep and bear arms’; the government monopoly is legally abridged to that extent.”
Once we peel the propaganda and persiflage away from the new UN arms treaty, it becomes clear that establishing that monopoly is the entire purpose of the document.

Dum spiro, pugno!
28 Mar 13:06

Resistance is Dangerous; Submission is Frequently Fatal

by William N. Grigg

Resisting arrest is not a crime. It is a common-law right, the exercise of which is treated as if it were a crime. 

The act of resistance was transmuted into a criminal offense chiefly through judicial activism, rather than legislation. Courts that seek to criminalize resistance have generally made the pragmatic argument that resistance is more dangerous than submission. We’ve long since reached the point where the reverse is often the case. 

Until 1942, when the Interstate Commission on Crime published the Uniform Arrest Act, every state recognized and protected the right to resist. Under the still-controlling U.S. Supreme Court precedent, John Bad Elk vs. US, a citizen faced with the prospect of unlawful arrest – that is, an armed abduction – has a legally protected right to use any appropriate means, including lethal force, to defend himself.

The Bad Elk ruling came in 1900. Thirteen years later, the New Mexico State Supreme Court, in Territory v. Lynch, tried out a line of sophistry that would become part of the standard refrain in judicial rulings six decades later:

 “The law … calls upon the citizen to exercise patience, if illegally arrested, because he knows he will be brought before a magistrate, and will, if improperly arrested, suffer only a temporary deprivation of his liberty.”

In other words: If a cop seeks to abduct you without legal justification, you should submit in the serene confidence that your deprivation of liberty will be temporary and trivial. I have referred to this as the "Rapist Doctrine," since rapists and police officers are the only assailants whose victims are encouraged to submit.

One hundred years after the New Mexico State Supreme Court published that ruling, the case of New Mexico resident Stephen Slevin demonstrates that this assurance is a cynical lie.

In 2005, Slevin – who was battling depression and driving a car lent to him by a friend -- was stopped for driving under the influence. He was put into a special cell reserved for people suspected of being suicidal. After three days, he was transferred to solitary confinement --- where he remained for two years.

Although some may regard the traffic stop to be considered justified, and the initial arrest to be defensible, what happened to Slevin offers a stark and compelling demonstration of what can happen to anyone who finds himself immured in one of the Regime’s penal facilities. What was done to him is indistinguishable from the kind of criminal abuse associated in the public mind with prison facilities in Cuba and North Korea. More importantly, it is entirely typical of what happens in jails and prisons here in the putative Land of the Free. 

Prolonged solitary confinement is a form of torture. In Slevin’s case, isolation was compounded with aggressive neglect as he literally rotted in his cell. 

Despite repeated pleas for medical attention, Slevin developed skin fungus and bedsores. Deprived of dental care, Slevin was eventually forced to extract a tooth by himself. His toenails grew so long that they curled under his feet, his hair and beard grew to be long and unkempt, and he lost fifty pounds. 

As his body decayed, Slevin’s mind degenerated. Already depressed at the time of his imprisonment, Slevin fell prey to hallucinations. 

“I have not slept in days,”Slevin wrote to a nurse a couple of weeks into his solitary confinement. “I’m in a deep depression.” He also mentioned a lack of appetite, and that he was being afflicted with “weird and bizarre” dreams.

“I’m afraid to close my eyes,” he wrote in a plaintive letter to the jail’s “nurse practitioner,” an official with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and no medical credentials or experience. The “nurse” responded by prescribing a dose of sedatives

The habeas corpus guarantee requires that anyone arrested by the police be quickly brought before a judge and either formally charged or released. Slevin, who was sent to solitary after failing to post $40,000 in bail, was never given a judicial hearing. If it weren’t for the intervention of his sister, who became concerned after Slevin stopped replying to her letters, Slevin would have died in jail without ever being charged with a crime. 

Slevin at his booking (l), and following two years in solitary.
Once he was released, Slevin filed a lawsuit against Dona Ana County. After a five-year legal struggle, Slevin was awarded $22 million by a federal court– one million dollars for every month he had been unlawfully incarcerated. 

The county, which refused to discipline anybody responsible for Slevin’s imprisonment and torture, and refuses to answer questions about the crime committed against that man, protested that the civil judgment was excessive, and eventually agreed to  a $15.5 million tax-funded civil settlement. This may still seem like an extravagant amount until it’s understood that the 59-year-old victim suffers from terminal lung cancer. 

“The law cannot restore an arm, an eye, or a life; it can and does restore freedom,” wrote Ralph D. Smith of the University of New Mexico School of Law in a 1967 law school journal essay. His point was that “self-help” by citizens confronted with the prospect of unlawful arrest is impermissible, because they are dealing with people – that is, police officers – who have legal sanction to kill them if they resist.

“Life and liberty, though equally precious, cannot be viewed on the same plane where self-help is concerned,” Smith continues. “Liberty can be secured by a resort to law, life cannot.” A good case can be made for the proposition that Slevin’s illegal incarceration was terminal. Furthermore, unjust deprivation of liberty for anylength of time is a grave and ineffaceable injury. 

“If one is unlawfully arrested today, his period of confinement is likely to be brief,” wrote Smith, offering a glib assurance of the kind that comes easily to those who are paid well to defend the indefensible. “In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries” – that is, the period in which British courts handed down rulingsexplicitly recognizing the common law right to resist arrest – “bail was usually unattainable. Today, it is freely granted for most offenses. 

Requirements of a prompt hearing and arraignment before a magistrate also serve to protect today’s citizen from a lengthy unjustified detention.”

None of that was true in the case of Stephen Slevin, who suffered the theft of two years that were stolen from a life that was further abbreviated by the unpunished abuse of those who illegally imprisoned him.

During the less-enlightened times in which courts recognized that citizens had the right to avoid illegal arrest and detention, Smith continues, an improperly detained individual could be confined for months, and then “re-incarcerated until he had paid certain fees demanded by the jailer, the clerk of the assize, clerks of the peace, and the like.” What he describes is exactly the same arrangement that prevails today in a probation and parole system that encourages probation and parole officers to find excuses to “violate” their charges as often as possible in order to recycle them through the mechanism.

“Seventeenth and eighteenth century prison conditions might well induce resistance to arrest, if only to keep out of jail,” observes Smith. The same was true not only in the case of Stephen Slevin, but also that of California resident Daniel Chong, who was held, handcuffed, in isolation and darkness, for five days without being charged with a crime in April of last year

Chong was deprived of food, water, and bathroom facilities. When he was finally released, Chong– who had begun to suffer from hallucinations -- asked his captors to kill him. He was hospitalized with severe dehydration and renal failure. The officials responsible for this crime have never been punished, nor have they so much as apologized to Chong.
Nick Christie, prior to police "help"....
The late Nick Christie likewise had every reason to put up resistance when he was taken into “protective” custody by Lee County, Florida sheriff’s deputies in 2009. Christie, a resident of Cleveland, had gone to visit a brother in Florida. His wife was concerned that the 62-year-old man, who had been diagnosed with psychological problems, had left his medications behind. She made the familiar and reliably fatal mistake of calling the police for “help.”

Christie, who was detained on a spurious “trespassing” change, was shackled for nearly two full days in a restraint chair. His captors hooded the victim and repeatedly attacked him with military-grade pepper spray. Christie begged for the jailers to remove the “spit mask” from his face, complaining that he couldn’t breathe. When medical personnel were finally permitted to see Christie, they were overwhelmed by the pepper spray. When they attempted to treat him, the corrosive chemical residue was so potent it ate through their latex medical gloves. 

This innocent man, who suffered from respiratory and heart disease, was tortured to death. His death was ruled a homicide. The State Attorney’s office refused to indict the officials who kidnapped and fatally tortured Christie, insisting that there was no evidence of “criminal wrongdoing.” (That prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney Dean R. Plattner, had a long history of indifference regarding criminal violence by police officers.) 

...and Christie after police "helped" him.
Writing more than four decades ago, as efforts to repudiate the right to resist arrest were gaining momentum, Arthur Smith insisted: “Because of the evolution in criminal procedures, jail conditions, and the increased danger from resistance, an individual is less likely to be provoked at what he considers an unlawful arrest in 1967 than he would have been in 1767.” 

By 2013, it should be obvious to all honest and observant people that the only material difference between the medieval system Smith described and the one that confronts us now is the fact that British subjects had a legally recognized right to resist unlawful arrest. 

Resistance may be dangerous, but submission is frequently fatal. 


Dum spiro, pugno!
28 Mar 12:59

Big Sis Ignores Congressman's Demand For Briefing on Bullet Buys...

Big Sis Ignores Congressman's Demand For Briefing on Bullet Buys...

(Third column, 7th story, link)

28 Mar 12:59

Jobless claims rise...

28 Mar 12:57

Links 27/3/2013: Document Freedom Day!

by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces revolt as Conservative backbenchers complain of muzzlings

    Conservative MP Mark Warawa (pictured) asked the Speaker of the House to intervene Tuesday after party whip Gordon O’Connor struck him from the list of backbenchers who were scheduled to deliver a member’s statement last Thursday.

  • Google pressured Sweden to drop the word ungoogleable [Updated]
  • Security

    • Can the Lords salvage something from the Justice and Security Bill?

      Today Andrew Tyrie MP and Anthony Peto QC have published their follow-up paper on the Justice and Security Bill for the Centre for Policy Studies. It makes for harrowing reading.

      The Bill now heads back to the Lords today, where it started. The House of Lords voted for major amendments, introducing more discretion for judges and making the use of CMPs a last resort. The Government removed most of these amendments during Committee stage, in most cases by a single vote, despite repeated warnings that the Bill’s proposals constitute a radical departure from fundamental constitutional principles.

      As Andrew Tyrie MP says: “The Lords did good repair work on the Bill, but the Government has undone much of it. The Lords now have a final chance to restore their original sensible amendments and further improve the Bill. I very much hope that they will do take it.”

    • What is the Network Control Point for Security? [VIDEO]

      Martin Roesch, founder of IPS vendor SourceFIRE, discusses the need for network visibility, web application firewalls and what it should all be called.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The Media Didn’t Fail on Iraq; Iraq Just Showed We Have a Failed Media

      You know what, Paul Farhi? Skeptics are aware that it was possible to “connect the dots,” because they did so, in real time–citing the same exceptional journalists whom you now cite to prove that the media as a whole were doing their job.

      But the real job of the media is not to sprinkle 1 percent truth amidst 99 percent bullshit, so that diligent researchers can search it out like Easter eggs. The job of the media is to present information so that when when its audience consumes it in the usual manner, that audience can get some sense of what reality is like. By this basic standard, the corporate media failed.

    • Long-lost Nazi submarine U-486 found off coast of Norway

      The wreck of a long-lost Nazi submarine, the U-486, has been found off the west coast of Norway, more than 60 years after it was sunk.

      The remains were first spotted north of the port of Bergen last year but have only now been confirmed as the missing U-boat, the Bergen Maritime Museum announced today.

      The U-486 last sailed on April 12, 1945, when she came under attack from a British submarine. A torpedo broke the German vessel in two, sending her and all 48 crew onboard to the bottom of the seabed.


      In 2007, John Kiriakou was settling into a lucrative life as a former spy. His fourteen-year career as a C.I.A. officer had included thrilling, if occasionally hazardous, tours as a specialist in counterterrorism. In Athens, in 1999 and 2000, he recruited several foreign agents to spy for the United States, and at one point was nearly assassinated by leftists. In Pakistan, in 2002, he chased Al Qaeda members, and when Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda logistics leader, was wounded and captured, Kiriakou guarded his bedside. (Kiriakou recounted many of his exploits in a colorful memoir, “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the C.I.A.’s War on Terror.”) In 2004, he retired, and soon took a job with the accounting and consulting firm DeLoitte. He worked in the field of corporate intelligence and advised Hollywood filmmakers on the side.

    • CIA Chief advises you to ask: What are your rights? Who owns your data?

      The cloud is old news, it’s “so three years ago,” and Big Data “was so last year,” but according to the CIA’s Chief Technology Officer, Ira “Gus” Hunt, this year is about “how to get value” from Big Data. At the GigaOM Structure Data conference, Hunt presented, “The CIA’s ‘Grand Challenges” with Big Data” and I highly recommend that you take about 30 minutes to personally listen to it.

    • DOD Urged to Cut Ties with Russian Enabler of Syrian Atrocities

      Human Rights First today joined with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Kay Granger (R-TX) to call on the Department of Defense to uphold its legal responsibility to end its business relationship with Russian-state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, an enabler of the mass atrocities in Syria. Russia, through Rosoboronexport, has served as the chief arms supplier of weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime since the beginning of the two-year Syrian conflict that has left more than 70,000 dead.

    • Man Speaks of Escape From Nazi Rule at Holocaust Remembrance Service

      Guest speaker Josef Korngruen will tell his story of escape from Nazi rule as a child. Korngruen was born in Austria to Polish parents. It was only after his parents renounced their Polish citizenship and became stateless that they were issued papers that allowed his sisters and him to travel—one sister to Israel, one to America and Josef to England on the Kindertransport.

    • Delays in Poland’s CIA jails case “endangering evidence”

      Delays in Poland’s investigation into whether the CIA ran secret jails on its soil could have caused evidence to be lost and given security services time to cover their tracks, according to a submission to the European Court of Human Rights.

    • Obama’s drone killing program slowly emerges from the secret state shadows

      How much difference does it make for a Pentagon finger to fire a Hellfire missile, rather than the CIA’s? Some, but not enough

    • President Obama: The drones don’t work, they just make it worse

      As the Obama Administration looks to reform its drone program, it should focus on assessing its actual success rate.

    • Woman who helped run CIA torture may get major promotion
    • First female CIA director appointed
    • Obama Appoints First Female Secret Service (Not CIA) Director
    • CIA’s interrogation program deserves public airing

      Americans should assess whether Langley engaged in torture in its war against al-Qaida. The country’s honor is at stake, not just the competence of its primary intelligence service. Neither the CIA nor national security is likely to be harmed if the behemoth were released with the necessary camouflage for operatives, tradecraft and foreign intelligence services.

    • US drones kill 4 in NWA

      The number of drone strikes has decreased dramatically in recent months. The last drone strike took place on March 10. Drone strikes by the United States are deeply resented in the country and considered a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

    • Commission says no to drones

      County commissioners made it loud and clear Tuesday they want no part of drone testing at the airport.

    • The More Americans Know About Drones, the Less They Like Them

      The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza gave his most recent “Worst Week in Washington Award” to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., whose assault weapons ban got stripped from a Democratic gun control package last Tuesday for lack of support. Fair enough, but if nonhumanoids can be eligible for the award (and why discriminate?), I’d say that drones had the “worst week in Washington” last week.

    • Game of drones

      Federal regulators still have until 2015 to come up with drone rules, but some local and state governments don’t want to wait that long. In February, Charlottesville in Virginia, became the first US city to ban drones for two years.
      While these bans are mostly symbolic and would be overruled by a federal drone law, they highlight the anxiety that surrounds drones and doubts whether the FAA – an agency much more experienced in dealing with safety than privacy issues – can produce drone legislation that addresses privacy concerns.
      Those concerns are real, agrees Joanne Gabrynowicz, director of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law at the University of Mississippi. “But we can come up with a regulatory system. If we did it for satellites I am confident we can do it for drones. But it will be difficult and there a lot of interests involved.”

    • Mayor Bloomberg admits police drones may be coming to NYC

      New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s been on a roll lately. First he announced he wanted to ban super-size sodas, then it was ear-buds and cigarettes. Now the mayor has announced he may actually allow something. Look up; the Big Apple may soon be called the big brother.

      “What’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building?” Bloomberg asked when comparing aerial drones to the thousands of security cameras already placed around New York City.

    • A 50-Point Swing Against Targeted Drone Killings of U.S. Citizens

      A year ago, as the presidential race was taking shape, The Washington Post’s pollster asked voters whether they favored the use of drones to kill terrorists or terror suspects if they were “American citizens living in other countries.” The net rating at the time was positive: 65 percent for, 26 percent against.
      Today, after a month of Rand Paul-driven discussion of drone warfare, Gallup asks basically the same question: Should the U.S. “use drones to launch airstrikes in other countries against U.S. citizens living abroad who are suspected terrorists?” The new numbers: 41 percent for, 52 percent against.

  • Cablegate

    • Of Wikileaks, Wikitreats, invisibility and Jack the Giant Slayer
    • Julian Assange’s mother to speak at Murwillumbah
    • WikiLeaks reveals how West’s Iran war drive was undermined

      Former chairperson of the US National Intelligence Council, Thomas Fingar, received the 2013 Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence on January 23 for his role overseeing the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran.

      The NIE report’s finding that Iran had no active nuclear weapons program gave lie to years of US-Israeli anti-Iran rhetoric, and has been credited with preventing a pre-emptive war against Iran.

      US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show that the NIE also hampered Western efforts to pass a fourth United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution against Iran.

    • WikiLeaks trial criticized as opaque and “chilling” to freedom of speech

      New York Times media critic David Carr blasted the United States military’s “eyedropper” approach to releasing information about Pfc. Bradley Manning’s public pretrial in a column on Sunday, March 24. Chronicling the hurdles reporters have faced covering the trial, Carr observed, “A public trial over state secrets was itself becoming a state secret in plain sight.”

      According to Carr, the military has released only 84 documents out of nearly 400 requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents released were so redacted the critic wrote they were “mystifying at best and at times almost comic.” Carr also noted that the court did not provide written transcripts from the proceedings.

    • Whistle blowers guard democracy

      The late I. F. “Iffy” Stone was a talented and insightful columnist whose beat was the Washington political arena, and he operated on a premise that every investigative reporter would do well to emulate.

    • ‘Pentagon Papers’ whistleblower defends WikiLeaks ‘hero’ Manning
    • Vietnam War whistleblower defends WikiLeaks ‘hero’

      Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg waited decades for someone like Bradley Manning to follow in his footsteps.

      He hails the US Army private accused of spilling secrets to website WikiLeaks as a champion of truth and not a betrayer of his country

    • Wikileaks, free speech and Assange’s message to Australia

      Wikileaks has had a transformative effect on global politics and our attitudes to government power and responsibility.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Corporate Land Grabs Reveal a Hidden Agenda: Controlling the Water

      Reports on land grabbing reveal that investors target control of both the land and the water beneath. Today’s “water barons”- multi-billionaires, financial institutions and corporate multinationals- are increasingly investing in water resources globally. Over-extraction and large land purchases in the Ogallala Aquifer and Great Lakes region in the US are proof that water scarcity is a growing problem not just in the Global South. Furthermore, efforts to track the water footprint of companies and other water-related risks, such as the “water disclosure project,” could actually backfire by providing information to investors interested in water-grabbing. Thus, regulatory mechanisms at the national and international level are needed to control large-scale land (and water) investments threatening the lives and livelihoods of local communities dependent on these resources.

    • IT’S OFFICIAL: Banks In Europe May Now Seize Deposits To Cover Their Gambling Losses

      Although deposits under 100,000 euros will be spared, deposits over 100,000 euros will be seized and subjected to an as-yet undetermined haircut–with the confiscated money going to bail out the gambling losses of the aforementioned reckless idiots who run some of Cyprus’s banks.
      This seizure, needless to say, will dampen the enthusiasm of rich depositors for keeping money in banks that get themselves into financial trouble.
      And because many, many banks in Europe have gotten themselves into financial trouble, this will create a general state of unease among rich depositors throughout the Eurozone.
      And it should wig out some bank lenders, as well.
      After all, never before in the history of this global financial crisis has a major banking system allowed depositors to lose money, no matter how reckless and stupid and greedy their bank managers have been. And only rarely have bank lenders–those who hold bank bonds–been asked to pony up.

    • Detroit’s First Day Under an Emergency Financial Manager

      As of today, Detroit is under the control of a governor-appointed Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). The Motor City is the largest district in the nation to have its voters and elected officials sidelined by this new experiment in “crisis management.”

    • JP Morgan Gets an Award for London Whale Fiasco, Will Schneiderman Harpoon the Corruption?

      A JPMorgan Chase employee stepped onstage at a black-tie gala on Wall Street last week to accept a “best crisis management” award given by an investor relations magazine. The bank, which was recently the subject of a U.S. Senate investigative hearing and an ongoing FBI probe into $6.2 billion in trading losses known as the “London Whale” fiasco, is not the subject of ridicule — but praise – from its cronies on Wall Street.

    • Goldman Rejects Proposal That Firm Run for Elected Office

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), the investment bank nicknamed “Government Sachs” because of senior executives who have moved into public posts, won’t be entering politics itself.

      A shareholder proposal that the New York-based company run for office instead of funding political campaigns was discarded, according to a letter last month from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which agreed the firm can exclude the measure from its annual meeting.

    • Bill O’Reilly Gets Smacked By Economics Professor – Nanny States Actually Do Better (VIDEO)

      Fox News can afford to have economists to give its opinion masters factual information. It is obvious they have no interest in that. O’Reilly could not possibly believe what he is saying. Not only is there evidence from Europe as was stated by Professor Wolff, but it was true here in America.

    • Russian Leader Warns, “Get All Money Out Of Western Banks Now!”

      A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) “urgent bulletin” being sent to Embassies around the world today is advising both Russian citizens and companies to begin divesting their assets from Western banking and financial institutions “immediately” as Kremlin fears grow that both the European Union and United States are preparing for the largest theft of private wealth in modern history.
      According to this “urgent bulletin,” this warning is being made at the behest of Prime Minister Medvedev who earlier today warned against the Western banking systems actions against EU Member Cyprus by stating:

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • As Supreme Court Hears Challenge to ALEC Voting Bill, Two More States Introduce It

      Within days of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing a challenge to an Arizona voting registration law that had been adopted as a “model” by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), two more states advanced bills that appear to track the ALEC/Arizona template.

      On March 18, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA), which will decide whether Arizona’s refusal to register voters that do not provide proof of citizenship is in conflict with federal law.

    • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has political ambitions

      PEOPLE WATCHER Mark Zuckerberg has political ambitions to shake up the US immigration system.
      Zuckerberg is rallying a posse of technology politicos to help him create a lobbying group that will campaign – that is, throw money at – liberalising the US immigration and visa system.

    • Journalist claims Washington Post killed article on Iraq war media failures

      The Washington Post has been accused by a journalist of spiking a piece he was commissioned to write about the US media’s failures in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

      Greg Mitchell, a veteran journalist and author (see here), claims his assigned piece for the Post was killed and replaced by an article that defended the media’s coverage.

  • Censorship

    • Will bloggers be protected? Maybe – if your blog is “small”
    • State Investigates Complaint about Dietrich Science Teacher’s Human Reproduction Lesson

      A Dietrich science teacher is being investigated by the state’s professional standards commission after a complaint from parents over his teaching methods.

      Tim McDaniel is being investigated after a complaint was filed by a handful of parents who objected to how McDaniel taught the reproductive system, Dietrich Superintendent Neil Hollingshead said.

      “It is highly unlikely it would end with his dismissal,” Hollingshead said. “Maybe a letter of reprimand from the school board.”

      According to McDaniel, four parents were offended that he explained the biology of an orgasm and included the word “vagina” during his lesson on the human reproductive system in a tenth-grade biology course.

      “I teach straight out of the textbook, I don’t include anything that the textbook doesn’t mention,” McDaniel said. “But I give every student the option not attend this class when I teach on the reproductive system if they don’t feel comfortable with the material.”

  • Privacy

    • Microsoft discloses online data to the police

      Microsoft handed over online user account details of 2000 Australians to law enforcement agencies last year. Google and other software companies do the same thing.

    • Under CISPA, Who Can Get Your Data?

      Under CISPA, companies can collect your information in order to “protect the rights and property” of the company, and then share that information with third parties, including the government, so long as it is for “cybersecurity purposes.” Companies aren’t required to strip out personally identifiable information from the data they give to the government, and the government can then use the information for purposes wholly unrelated to cybersecurity – such as “national security,” a term the bill leaves undefined.

    • Privacy groups urge Baroness Ludford to support stronger data rights

      In response to her letter to the Financial Times, ORG and Privacy International have written to Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford urging her to support stronger privacy rights in the upcoming and crucial LIBE Committee vote.

    • NSA Facility In Utah To Help Fight Against Cyber-Attacks
    • US Government To Scan Private Firms’ Emails And Web Use

      The US government is planning to scan private firms’ web use and email communications, as part of a bid to prevent cyber-attacks which has been requested by President Obama.

      The government is proposing to extend existing powers, so it can analyse the communications of organisations such as banks, utility providers and transport companies, to prevent online attacks on the country’s infrastructure, according to US security officials.

      The move is in response to an executive order signed by President Obama in February that calls upon the owners and operators of critical US infrastructure to “improve cyber-security information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards”.

    • The Department of Homeland Security Would Like to Talk to Your Hacker Teens

      It’s hard being the Department of Homeland Security. Foreign agents are constantly trying to slip inside the D.H.S.’s computer systems. But America’s hotshot hackers either go for the private sector ($$$) or somewhere you can go on the offensive, like the N.S.A. (which, let’s face it, sounds super-badass).

      So, according to the New York Times, the agency, desperate for recruits, is now making like a college football program and hunting for recruits at high school hacking competitions

    • Calling All High School Hackers
    • To Combat China’s Hacker Army, the U.S. Is Copying Its Methods
    • Government uses video games to recruit teen hackers
28 Mar 12:27

Jazz internacional - Perrine Mansuy desde el Festival de Jazz de Montpellier en Julio de 2010 - 29/08/11

Se emite el concierto facilitado por la UER del trío de la pianista francesa Perrine Mansuy desde el Festival de Jazz de Montpellier en Julio de 2010. El resto del programa se completa con miscelánea de discos variados.

28 Mar 12:26

Alkon: Don't go quietly

by (Kathryn Muratore)
Amy Alkon has an entry on her latest violation at the hands of the TSA. After years of degradation by the TSA, there is nothing particularly remarkable about her experience: she was sexually assaulted because she bought a plane ticket.

I wholeheartedly agree with her final remarks:
I will at least make a spectacle of myself and in turn of what they are doing.

Don't go quietly, please. And name names of those who violate you -- post their name (THEDALA MAGEE!) and a picture of them if you can find or take it. (To avoid a libel suit, be absolutely sure it's the right person -- there were a number of Tiffany Applewhites, and most of them are regular people who don't appear to grope people's genitals for a living.)
If more people screamed and yelled and protested in some way, we might be able to make some change. In so many ways lately, our constitutional rights are being eroded. Keeping quiet will not end well for any of us.
If you are having trouble finding a place to publish your story, please send it to me using the contact form on this blog.
28 Mar 12:25

Log your anti-scanner comments with the feds by June 24th

by (Kathryn Muratore)
The TSA has officially complied with the Notice and Comment requirement, reinforced by the courts last summer. I am not saying that I am holding my breath that commenting on an administrative law will have any effect, I do encourage all who are concerned about scanners to submit a comment. At the very least, they can not honestly say that nobody has complaints about TSA procedures, as they do with their so-called low rate of "customer" complaints. (Can't really file a complaint if I quit flying, can I? Also, seems like a great way to get flagged if I do fly.)

Click on the link above to the Federal Register see instructions on how to comment on the naked scanners and to read the full notice. According to wikipedia:
Interested parties frequently comb through the agency’s own data to find flaws in the agency’s reasoning. Also, interested parties’ comments on the rule then become part of this record.
UPDATE: And the notice itself says:
TSA invites ... invite comments relating to the economic, environmental, energy, or federalism impacts that might result from this rulemaking action.
...The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the rulemaking, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data.
H/T to
28 Mar 12:20

What having a deposit account at a bank actually means

by Johnathan Pearce (London)

“Money, when paid into a bank, ceases altogether to be the money of the principal; it is then the money of the banker, who is bound to an equivalent by paying a similar sum to that deposited with him when he is asked for it…The money placed in the custody of a banker is, to all intents and purposes, the money of the banker, to do with it as he pleases; he is guilty of no breach of trust in employing it; he is not answerable to the principal if he puts it into jeopardy, if he engages in hazardous speculation; he is not bound to keep it or deal with it as the property of his principal; but he is, of course, answerable for the amount, because he has contracted.”

Detlev Schlichter, quoting a 19th Century ruling about the status of bank deposits in the UK. It is, in fact, a sobering thought that many members of the general public might not be fully aware of what actually happens to their deposits, and be aware that to all intents and purposes, they do not “own” their deposits.

Let’s just say that for a lot of people, the Cyprus episode has been a learning experience about the fundamental nature of what banks, today, actually are and do.

28 Mar 12:14

How to Write Six Important Papers a Year without Breaking a Sweat: The Deep Immersion Approach to Deep Work

by Study Hacks


The Productive Professor

I’m fascinated by people who produce a large volume of valuable output. Motivated by this interest, I recently setup a conversation with a hot shot young professor who rose quickly in his field.

I asked him about his work habits.

Though his answer was detailed — he had obviously put great thought into these issues — there was one strategy that caught my attention: he confines his deep work to long, uninterrupted bursts.

On small time scales, this means each day is either completely dedicated to a single deep work task, or is left open to deal with all the  e-mail and meetings and revisions that also define academic life.

If he’s going to write a paper, for example, he puts aside two days, and does nothing else, emerging from his immersion with a completed first draft.

If he’s going to instead deal with requests and logistics, he’ll spend the whole day doing so.

On longer time scales, his schedule echoes this immersion strategy. He teaches all three of his courses during the fall. He can, therefore, dedicate the entire semester to two main goals: teaching his courses and conceiving/discussing potential research ideas (the teaching often stimulates new ideas as it forces him to review the key ideas and techniques in his field).

Then, in the spring and summer that follow, he attacks his new research projects with the burst strategy mentioned above, turning out 1 – 2 papers every 2 months. (He aims for — and achieves — around 6 major papers a year.)

Notice, this immersion approach to deep work is different than the more common approach of  integrating a couple hours of deep work into most days of your schedule, which we can call the chain approach, in honor of Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” advice (which I have previously cast some doubt on in the context of writing).

There are two reasons why deep immersion might work better than chaining:

  1. It reduces overhead. When you put aside only a couple hours to go deep on a problem, you lose a fair fraction of this time to remembering where you left off and getting your mind ready to concentrate. It’s also easy, when the required time is short, to fall into the least minimal progress trap, where you do just enough thinking that you can avoid breaking your deep work chain, but end up making little real progress. When you focus on a specific deep work goal for 10 – 15 hours, on the other hand, you pay the overhead cost just once, and it’s impossible to get away with minimal progress. In other words, two days immersed in deep work might produce more results than two months of scheduling an hour a day for such efforts.
  2. It better matches our rhythms. There’s an increasing understanding that the human body works in cycles. Some parts of the week/month/year are better for certain types of work than others. This professor’s approach of spending the fall thinking and discussing ideas, and then the spring and summer actually executing, probably yields better results than trying to mix everything together throughout the whole year. During the fall, he rests the part of his mind required to tease out and write up results. During the spring and summer he rests the part of his mind responsible for having original thoughts and making new connections. (See Douglas Rushkoff’s recent writing for more on these ideas).

I’m intrigued by the deep immersion approach to deep work mainly because I don’t usually apply it, but tend to generate more results when I do. I’m also intrigued by its ancillary consequences. If immersion is optimal for deep work, for example, do weekly research meetings make sense? When you check in weekly on a long term project, it’s easy to fall into a minimal progress trap and watch whole semesters pass with little results. What if, instead, weekly meetings were replaced with occasionally taking a couple days to do nothing but try to make real progress on the problem? Even doing this just a few times a semester might produce better results than checking in every week.

I don’t know the answers here, but the implications are interesting enough to keep the immersion strategy on my productivity radar.

(Photo by moriza)

28 Mar 11:55

G-G the book - G-G on Facebook - G-G on Twitter

28 Mar 11:52

Obama Regime

by Richard Stallman

The Obama regime wants to be able to read your email without a warrant on a variety of pretexts. But this is being spun as support for increased privacy rights.

28 Mar 11:40

Artifacts shed light on social networks of the past

(University of Arizona) The advent of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have made us all more connected, but long-distance social networks existed long before the Internet. A new study led by a UA anthropologist provides new information on social networks in the pre-Hispanic Southwest in A.D. 1200-1450. Among the findings are that people were able to maintain surprisingly long distance relationships in a time when the only mode of transportation was walking.
28 Mar 11:39

Comic for March 27, 2013

27 Mar 18:18


by (The FTL Crew)
Supreme Court Narrowly Protects Homes from Warrantless Dog Sniffs :: Bitinstant Troubles? :: Turning Bitcoins to Cash :: Bears Huffing Airplane Fuel :: Cyprus Financial Disaster :: Starbucks + Square = FAIL :: DUI Experience :: Jonny Ray's Game of the Week
27 Mar 17:23

The Militarization of American Life

by Justin Raimondo
As the American Empire transforms itself from a constitutional republic into a social democratic monstrosity – where everyone is "equal," and no one is free – egalitarianism is the fuel that runs the engine of imperialism. A perfect example is the recent announcement that the US military is getting with the times and allowing women [...]
27 Mar 17:18

A todo jazz - Stan Getz Quartet live in Zurich - 1960 - 24/03/13


I am learning Spanish and I love Jazz so I listen to this program a lot. It is great!

Pasados 50 años (y, por consiguiente, caducados los derechos de producción) están saliendo a la luz grabaciones inéditas, realizadas a principios de los años 60, de actuaciones de grandes figuras del jazz moderno y que "dormían" en alguna estantería. El gran saxo tenor Stan Getz no iba a ser una excepción. Hoy estrenamos la grabación de su magnífico concierto de Abril de 1960 en Zurich, recientemente publicado.