Why shouldn’t we tolerate just a little repression?


Lest anyone have doubts that corporate-controlled media will censor speech if given the opportunity, here’s this news about mysterious ‘black-outs” in the local affiliates of national networks in Alabama:

WHNT’s Technical Glitches
The New York Times | Editorial
Wednesday 27 February 2008

In 1955, when WLBT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Miss., did not want to run a network report about racial desegregation, it famously hung up the sign: “Sorry, Cable Trouble.” Audiences in northern Alabama might have suspected the same tactics when WHNT-TV, the CBS affiliate, went dark Sunday evening during a “60 minutes” segment that strongly suggested that Don Siegelman, Alabama’s former Democratic governor, was wrongly convicted of corruption last year.

The report presented new evidence that the charges against Mr. Siegelman may have been concocted by politically motivated Republican prosecutors – and orchestrated by Karl Rove. Unfortunately, WHNT had “technical problems” that prevented it from broadcasting a segment (the problems were resolved in time for the next part of the show) that many residents of Alabama would no doubt have found quite interesting.

After initially blaming the glitch on CBS in New York, the affiliate said it learned “upon investigation,” and following a rebuke from the network, that “the problem was on our end.” It re-broadcast the segment at 10 p.m., pitting it against the Academy Awards on rival ABC, before Daniel Day-Lewis won the best actor Oscar. As public criticism grew, it ran it again at 6 p.m. on Monday.

Stan Pylant, WHNT’s president and general manager, assured viewers that “there was no intent whatsoever to keep anyone from seeing the broadcast.”

WHNT is owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity firm whose lead investor is one of the Bass brothers of Texas. The brothers are former business partners of George W. Bush and generous contributors to Republican causes.

Of course, this has been exposed, but if, as is the case in much of the country, there’s only one high speed internet provider, what’s the chance of these little corporate censorship efforts undertaken by a high speed internet provider being uncovered always? And it’s really not that rare: here’s a list of a dozen or so examples of corporations censoring political speech, by violating net neutrality.

So it has been a problem. Is there such a thing as just a small violation of freedom of speech? Why should we tolerate just a little repression? MLK said: “A threat to Freedom anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Let’s not forget those words. Net neutrality deserves to be on the agenda in 2008, and the only way it will get there is by the electorate telling those running that net neutrality is important.

Why shouldn’t we tolerate just a little repression?

The ’09 F9 effect’ strikes (another) clueless corporation…

Well, it took a whole day for wikileaks to be mirrored and redistributed, and now thousands of people are redistributing the wikileaks content. I am happy to say that I am one of them (using peer to peer technology). It would be immoral not to redistribute that content, especially since Julius Baer has tried to suppress the content. the entire site, to get their content taken down.

In any case here is a link to the wikileaks site:

There is a big stink here. There is no reason for the judge to put a lock-down on the whole site. In addition, the DNS attack that has been reported by Wired Magazine seems strange–would a bank pay for a DNS attack? And the fire…?

Continue reading “The ’09 F9 effect’ strikes (another) clueless corporation…”

The ’09 F9 effect’ strikes (another) clueless corporation…

Where is wikileaks? It will be back soon, courtesy of the ’09 F9 effect’ (updated December 4th, 2010)

As of this evening (December 4th 2010)I could still get wikileaks here: http://wikileaks.nl/

It seems Julius Baer, the venerable Swiss Bank, has managed to suppress the site wikileaks. The site was a magnet for whistle blowers of all kinds, but now has been taken off-line in USA. The site in India is still on-line, and can be found with a little googling. In any case, just as we’ve observed with the 09 F9 thing, it is nearly impossible to take some piece of information down, and the act of trying to take it down creates a will to replicate that information. Let’s call that the ’09 F9 effect.’ Notice that the Bank does not allege that the documents showing tax evasion and money laundering are forgeries, just that they are confidential. So are there protections for whistle-blowers or not? More later.

Continue reading “Where is wikileaks? It will be back soon, courtesy of the ’09 F9 effect’ (updated December 4th, 2010)”

Where is wikileaks? It will be back soon, courtesy of the ’09 F9 effect’ (updated December 4th, 2010)

Mad Cow Disease–Web 2.0 to the rescue

A story about someone secretly taking video inside a slaughterhouse, documenting the mistreatment of cattle. Those who shot the video, probably with a very small camera, seem to have been acting mainly from the perspective of reducing cruelty to animals (certainly a good thing to do) but there is also a public health perspective to this as well:

USDA extends meat ban at Calif slaughterhouse

Westland Meat Co. voluntarily suspended operations last week after the release of undercover video taken by the Humane Society of the United States was released. The video showed, among other things, ramming of cattle with forklifts, and workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing “downed” cows – considered too sick or injured to walk – to force them into the federally inspected slaughterhouse.

“Downed Cows” or “downers” are known to be possible carriers of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy aka Mad Cow Disease) and the few documented case of BSE are perhaps the tip of the iceberg. But remember that when one beef producer wanted to test all of their cows for BSE, the Bush administration sued to prevent them from doing that, on the grounds that if one producer did that they would “disparage” the quality of the rest of the beef. So much for market forces and freedom of the press!

This is just another example, as noted here and here, of the advantages that accrue to those NFP players who are seeking to further the public good under Web 2.0. (Note that those NFP’s that are seeking to further special or corporate interests don’t do so well under Web 2.0, as noted here*.) This is, of course, in addition to the other advantages the NFP sector had already been accruing during the 1990’s which I’ve written about here.

The link to the video and more below the fold:

Continue reading “Mad Cow Disease–Web 2.0 to the rescue”

Mad Cow Disease–Web 2.0 to the rescue

Library thing is really cool

As noted earlier, Librarything is a handy place to post books and an example of new media working together with, rather than competing with, old media. Which is why I am rather frustrated that wordpress is doing some kind of censoring of Librarything widgets in the borders of blogs hosted on wordpress.com. Why do they do that?


Continue reading “Library thing is really cool”

Library thing is really cool

Hate speech of the far right (Chris Castle edition)

Chris Castle has a long rant about Comcast’s blocking the Bit Torrent protocol, or to be more precise he has a long rant about the many who are criticizing Comcast; it seems he is a little upset that many have objections to Comcast’s actions, and that a consensus exists that committing fraud in the name of some secret agenda might actually be *wrong.* Corporate misbehavior is doing much to further the cause of net neutrality; one prominent commentator has changed his mind and come out in favor of some form of net neutrality, as pointed out over at Freedom to Tinker.

Chris never mentions that Comcast lied to its own customers in its FAQS and thereby committed fraud. They also interfered with their subscriber’s freedom of association. Those are minor sins, or perhaps even virtues, in Chris’s book. First, he starts out with some generalizations, and is so mad he gets his words all mixed up, which was my clue that this was really some kind of hate speech, not rational argument:

My general thesis there is that at a high level of abstraction (a) there are two essentially classes of traffic on the Internet, one legal and one illegal, and (b) if an ISP is not going to have the spine to shut off illegal file bartering on its network, the least they could do is make it very, very unpleasant for the illegal file bartering and substantially illegal social networking systems to operate.

Here we have an insatiable demand for simplicity: there can apparently be only two categories of anything, and the idea of a nuance like ‘legal file sharing’ or ‘immoral disruption of networking protocols’ can’t even begin to enter into the debate.

The use of an adverb as a adjective is unique, though: “there are two essentially classes” beats even some of W’s hilarious mis-speaks.

Then, there is the sweeping accusation that social networking systems are “substantially illegal” which he never explains. But he doesn’t have to: this is anti-net neutrality hate speech, and he gets his thoughts as right as his grammar, and his logic as twisted as his emotions.

But this speech has plenty of antecedents, particularly over at IP Central, which seems to be about the only place that actually likes Chris Castle’s writing. He goes on:

Continue reading “Hate speech of the far right (Chris Castle edition)”

Hate speech of the far right (Chris Castle edition)

Comcast, lying

Here we have Comcast’s own statement regarding Bit Torrent:


And here we have observation by Ernesto over at Torrentfreak:

Comcast Throttles BitTorrent Traffic, Seeding Impossible
Written by Ernesto on August 17, 2007
Over the past weeks more and more Comcast users started to notice that their BitTorrent transfers were cut off. Most users report a significant decrease in download speeds, and even worse, they are unable to seed their downloads. A nightmare for people who want to keep up a positive ratio at private trackers and for the speed of BitTorrent transfers in general.

Now there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth about this all over the place. Some think that what Comcast did was wrong, but don’t think that the solution is to legislate net neutrality. Others, and I would say this seems to be the majority opinion, seem to think net neutrality case has been strengthened here. (I am pretty much in that camp) Ed Felten seems to agree, to a point, but because he thinks actually enacting net neutrality into would be very difficult, he doesn’t advocate that.

There are even a few folks who think what Comcast is doing is perfectly OK, although those people don’t explain why Comcast lied about it, or try to justify their continued evasiveness on this issue. Market forces seem to me to be part of the answer, but due to the very limited choices, many can not vote with their pocket books. The market is not functioning, as there are just one or two suppliers almost everywhere. And Comcast is doing what it can to prevent markets from working: concealing information, information that it’s customers would use to make informed decisions about their purchase of internet services.

I am not a big fan of knee jerk government intervention, so I wonder if there isn’t a middle ground, between enacting net neutrality, as difficult as that is, and doing nothing, as distasteful as that is.

Continue reading “Comcast, lying”

Comcast, lying