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Monthly Archives: April 2009

Swine Flu:

White House to hold briefing; interesting to see how the new administration will handle this crises:

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE53P12U20090426

Wikipedia site is being updated frequently:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swine_Flu

And the CDC site:

http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

WHO Site:

http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html

Budget woes affecting public health programs in Washington:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2009119891_budgethealth25m.html

Why have the category Corporate Fascism? Perhaps it is because large corporations and states, acting as the lackeys of those corporations, are oppressing people. And it will get worse until: we demand it stop.

Secret police intelligence was given to E.ON before planned demo
Government officials handed confidential police intelligence about environmental activists to the energy giant E.ON before a planned peaceful demonstration, according to private emails seen by the Guardian.

Correspondence between civil servants and security officials at the company reveals how intelligence was shared about the peaceful direct action group Climate Camp in the run-up to the demonstration at Kingsnorth, the proposed site of a new coal-fired power station in north Kent.

Intelligence passed to the energy firm by officials from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) included detailed information about the movements of protesters and their meetings. E.ON was also given a secret strategy document written by environmental campaigners and information from the Police National Information and Coordination Centre (PNICC), which gathers national and international intelligence for emergency planning.

It’s interesting that the RIAA-lackeys who are vigorously prosecuting those who founded the Pirate Bay website don’t understand the concept of blowback.   They should: recall the case of Dmitry Sklyarov, or of Ed Felten, the computer scientist at Princeton who was threatened with jail by the RIAA.  I’ve noted before that the draconian enforcement of IP laws will, inevitably, lead to their repeal.   So I say to the clueless RIAA and their stoges, Go ahead, make my day.  

But the strong IP crowd apparently has some clue about how unpopular their ideas are, because they are carrying out trying to carry out the ACTA negotiations in secret.   But–opps!!–that won’t work, thanks to wikileaks and web 2.0 you can’t keep things like that secret. It is impossible to put a lid on any significant information once it is out in the web 2.0 world. For example, here’s some information re the ACTA treaty, and here’s the discusion showing how you lose certain constitutional rights against search and seizures, and here’s the confidential US-Japanese treaty mark-ups.

So, those who want to lock up deceased great grand-mothers and computer scientists know that their laws won’t be popular, and are trying to carry out their campaign in secret.  The light of day (or a tv camera) will destroy the laws they are trying to pass, now matter how many of their lawyers are placed in positions of power. 

The new mantra for those who oppose the ACTA and other strong IP laws needs to be: transparency, transparency, transparency. Transparency is all reasonable people need to defeat unreasonable laws.

Just what I needed:

US to tackle resurgent bed bugs

Bed bugs were last seen in large numbers in the US before World War II.

They have usually associated with impoverished dwellings and inexpensive hotels.

Now, experts say international travel, immigration and changes in pest control practices have contributed to a resurgence of the bug in developed countries.

Dini Miller, an entomologist and bed bug expert at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, told AP there had been a “worldwide resurgence” in bed bugs.

An interesting threat assessment from DHS, published on wikileaks. It notes economy etc. leading to growth of radical right wing organizations:

DHS/I&A assesses that a number of economic and political factors are
driving a resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity.
Despite similarities to the climate of the 1990s, the threat posed by lone wolves and small
terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years. In addition, the historical election of
an African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a
driving force for rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization.

Questions! First, why is it only radical right wing organizations? Have all the radical left wing organizations just disappeared? I mean, where’s Leon Trotsky when you need him?

And then something very real, and rather scary. Just think of all those veterans who know what a well-conceived campaign using IED’s can do:

DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and
radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from
military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the
capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out
violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist
groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from
the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

Ithaca, New York had done this earlier, but now it’s catching on more and more as communities strive to insulate themselves from a global system that is out of control, as covered at Democracy Now!:

North Carolina town prints own currency

We take a look at how one North Carolina town is trying to become more self-sufficient by moving toward being able to feed, fuel and finance itself. The town of Pittsboro houses the nation’s largest biodiesel cooperative, a food co-op, a farmers’ market and, most recently, its own currency, the Pittsboro Plenty. Pittsboro is one of a number of communities across the country printing their own money in an attempt to support local business. [includes rush transcript]

The phenomena of Protest enabled by web 2.0 (which I have Posted under the tag Protest 2.0) leads to the possibility of Revolution 2.0: a political upheaval facilitated by social networking tools.  And exactly that happened in Moldova, covered by Evgeny Morozov at net.effect:

Moldova’s Twitter Revolution

Evgeny Morozov

Ever since yesterday’s announcement that Moldova’s communists have won enough votes to form a government in Sunday’s elections, Moldova’s progressive youth took to the streets in angry protests. As behooves any political protest by young people today, they also turned to Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about the planned protests and flashmobs. Led by youth NGOs like HydePark and ThinkMoldova, the protests began very peacefully – as a flashmob, where young people were simply supposed to hold lit candles in the vicinity of the square.

However, this morning things got out of hand – and, with or without Twitter’s help, the crowd got much larger, reaching as many as 10,000 people, who first picketed Election Commission headquarters, the president’s residence (windows are reported to be broken – and there are also reports that this building has been stormed), and other government buildings before storming the building of the Moldovan Parliament, which happens to be just across the road.

Technology is playing an important role in facilitating these protests. In addition to huge mobilization eforts both on Twitter and Facebook, Moldova’s angry youth – especially those who are currently abroad (roughly a quarter of Moldova’s population are working abroad due to dire economic conditions back at home) – could follow the events on this livestream provided by a Romanian TV station – directly from the square.

I’ve just spoken to a Moldovan friend who is himself a big technology fan; according to him, there is little to none cellphone coverage in the square itself (turning off cellphone coverage in protest areas is a trick that was also used by the Belarusian authorities to diffuse 2006 protests in Minsk’s central square), so protesters have to leave it to post updates to Twitter via GPRS technology on their mobiles.

The related posts on Twitter are being posted at a record-breaking rate – I’ve been watching the Twitter stream for the last 20 minutes – and I see almost 200 new Twitter messages marked with “pman” (virtually all of them in Romanian, with only one or two in English). In the last few hours there have also emerged several “smart” aggregators of posts on the subject, like this one – they have to contextualize what exactly is happening — and this one for YouTube videos. Many blog posts are also being updated in real-time – minute by minute – check this one. There are also a plenty of videos on YouTube and photos, including those uploaded to Facebook.

The interesting process that hasn’t been seen yet is the evolution of the network topology to counter tactics like turning off internet or cell phone service. That won’t work–it’s too easy to set up a mesh network when the big ones go down.   Taking down that big network also has a very major downside–it stops important flow of information to those who are trying to stop the Protest 2.0.  Remember John Boyd:

Grand strategy, according to Boyd, is a quest to isolate your enemy’s (a nation-state or a global terrorist network) thinking processes from connections to the external/reference environment. This process of isolation is essentially the imposition of insanity on a group. To wit: any organism that operates without reference to external stimuli (the real world), falls into a destructive cycle of false internal dialogues. These corrupt internal dialogues eventually cause dissolution and defeat.

The dynamic of Boyd’s grand strategy is to isolate your enemy across three essential vectors (physical, mental, and moral), while at the same time improving your connectivity across those same vectors.

Next up: How will web 2.0 technologies enable protest in Thailand? Russia? USA?

Related post: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2009/04/13/studying-twitter-and-the-moldovan-protests/

Just in case you thought the economy wasn’t so bad, here’s real weirdness:  Used cars selling for more than new cars.  How can that be?

New car prices undercut used models

By John Reed, Motor Industry Correspondent

Published: April 8 2009 21:10 | Last updated: April 8 2009 21:10

In one of the most striking signs yet of the conflicting pressures buffeting the automotive industry, some new cars are now selling more cheaply than used vehicles.

A shortage of good-quality used cars combined with aggressive discounts offered on many new ones by retailers and manufacturers now mean that some new cars can be had for as much as £1,000 less than used ones in good condition.

And here’s more, Moody’s downgrading itself(?)

Moody’s downgrades Berkshire Hathaway

By Justin Baer in New York

Published: April 9 2009 00:41 | Last updated: April 9 2009 00:41

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway lost its triple-A grade from Moody’s Investors Service, the very ratings firm in which the billionaire holds a 20 per cent stake.

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