Saturday, July 23, 2011

Double attack in Norway kills at least 87; one extreme-right extremist arrested

Norwegian authorities early Saturday dramatically increased the death toll in a gun attack at a youth camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya to at least 80, bringing the total number dead in a pair of apparently related attacks Friday to 87.

Police have arrested a Norwegian man for the deadly attack at the summer youth camp run by Norway's ruling party, and they believed the same man was responsible for a bombing at a government building in central Oslo several hours earlier that claimed at least seven lives.

TV2, Norway's largest broadcaster, was among media outlets that identified the suspect as Anders Behring Breivik, 32, describing him as a member of “right-wing extremist groups in eastern Norway.” Despiºte the reports, Norwegian police would not confirm the identity of the suspect.

The 80 dead at the youth camp was a dramatic increase over a Friday police report that at least 10 had died there. Police director Oystein Maeland told reporters early Saturday in Norway that many more victims were discovered after the first toll was announced, according to The Associated Press.

“It's taken time to search the area. What we know now is that we can say that there are at least 80 killed at Utoya,” Maeland said. “It goes without saying that this gives dimensions to this incident that are exceptional.”

Witnesses to the camp attack said the suspect, dressed as a policeman and identifying himself as such, appeared to be doing a security check related to the Oslo bombing. They said he used the ruse to lure camp goers closer before carrying out the attack.

Video showed bodies floating in the water around the island, and witnesses said victims took to the water in an attempt to flee the carnage, but were shot anyway.

One witness told the Associated Press that campers played dead, but the gunman shot bodies in the head with a shotgun to ensure they were dead. More than 500 people were attending the camp, and most campers were teenagers. Police indicated the death toll could continue to rise.
Oslo police spokesman Anders Frydenberg was asked by the BBC how one man was able to kill so many. “We are having an investigation,” he said. “We are hopeful the investigation will show how this is possible.”

With the arrest of a lone Norwegian in the twin bomb and shooting attacks, officials have all but ruled out any connection to international terrorism.

“We have one person in custody and he will be charged in connection with what has happened,” said Justice Minister Knut Storberget during a Friday evening press conference. “We know that he is Norwegian. That is what we know. I don't think it is right from my position to go into details about him.”

At the same press conference, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that it was “too early to say anything certain about the motive.” Justice Minister Storberget said he was not aware of any threats before the two attacks.

Police said that the incidents did not appear to have international connotations, but that the borders of the country were closed.

The man in custody allegedly opened fire at the summer youth camp run by the Labour Party, the political party of both Stoltenberg and Storberget, just hours after explosions ripped through a government building holding Stoltenberg's office in the capital city of Oslo. According to media reports, the suspect had been seen in Oslo earlier in the day. Oslo is 45 minutes from the island of Utoya.










ganatantrik league

Friday, July 22, 2011



নরওয়ের রাজধানী অসলো শহরের গুরুত্বপূর্ণ অঞ্চলে বোমা বিস্ফোরিত হয়েছে। বিস্ফোরণের ঘটনায় এখন পর্যন্ত ৭ জনের মৃত্যু ও অন্তত ১০ জনের আহত হওয়ার খবর পাওয়া গিয়েছে।

অসলো শহরে প্রধানমন্ত্রীর কার্যালয়, একাধিক গুরুত্বপূর্ণ মন্ত্রণালয় ও নরওয়ের রাষ্ট্রনিয়ন্ত্রিত সংবাদ মাধ্যম এনআরকে-র প্রধান কার্যালয় সংবলিত গুরুত্বপূর্ণ অঞ্চলে স্থানীয় সময় বিকাল ৩টা ২৬ মিনিট (আন্তর্জাতিক সময় দুপুর ১টা ২৬ মিনিট)-এ এই বোমা বিস্ফোরণ ঘটে।

ক্ষতিগ্রস্থ সরকারী ভবনগুলোর মধ্যে রয়েছে দেশের তেল মন্ত্রণালয়। বিস্ফোরণের পর ভবনটিতে আগুন ধরে যায়।

বিস্ফোরণের ধরণ ও উৎস প্রসঙ্গে এখনও নিশ্চিত ভাবে কিছু জানা না গেলেও প্রত্যক্ষদর্শীরা বলছেন অন্তত দুটি স্থানে গাড়ীবোমার সাহায্যে এই আঘাত হানা হয়েছে। বিস্ফোরণে আক্রান্ত সড়কের সংলগ্ন অধিকাংশ ভবন ক্ষতিগ্রস্থ হয়েছে।

দেশটির রাষ্ট্রনিয়ন্ত্রিত সংবাদ মাধ্যম এনআরকে-র প্রধান কার্যালয়ে আগুন জ্বলতে দেখা গিয়েছে। সংলগ্ন ভবনে অবস্থানকারীরা নিশ্চিত করেছেন ক্ষতিগ্রস্থ ও আগুনের কবলে থাকা ভবনগুলোতে মানুষ আটকা পড়ে আছে।

প্রধানমন্ত্রীর কার্যালয় বিস্ফোরণস্থলের কাছে হলেও প্রধানমন্ত্রী জেন্স স্টলটেনবার্গ অক্ষত আছেন বলে জানা গিয়েছে।

এই প্রতিবেদন লেখা পর্যন্ত কোন ব্যাক্তি বা গোষ্ঠী বোমা হামলার দায়িত স্বীকার করেনি।

ছবির উৎসঃ বিবিসি

Brazil: record low unemployment and more job-creation in second half anticipated

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest since January in spite of efforts by policy makers to cool growth and inflation in Latin America’s biggest economy. The jobless rate fell to 6.2% in June, from 6.4% in May and 7% a year earlier, the national statistics agency said in a report distributed in Rio de Janeiro.

“The numbers are strong, with the job market growing even at full employment,” said Gabriel Goulart, analyst at Mercatto Gestao de Recursos who helps manage 1.6 billion USD at the Rio de Janeiro-based asset management company. “It shows the economic deceleration is very soft.”

The Brazilian Central bank on Wednesday increased the benchmark interest rate to 12.50%, (for the fifth time in 2011) to cool demand and to slow the fastest inflation in six years.

Brazil will create more jobs in the second half of the year than it did in the first anticipated Labour Minister Carlos Lupi reiterating his prediction that a record 3 million formal jobs will be generated in 2011.

Recent data show that the economy continues to expand at a pace that puts pressure on inflation. Retail sales recovered in May following an unexpected decline the previous month. Industrial capacity utilization was 82.4% in May, the same level it was in December before the central bank began raising rates.

Brazil’s economy created 215,393 government-registered jobs in June, the Labour Ministry said.

Consumer prices rose 6.71% in the year through June, the fastest pace since 2005. The central bank aims to slow inflation back to the midpoint of its target in 2012. The government targets inflation of 4.5%, plus or minus two percentage points. Tombini said he expects inflation to start slowing after August.

Organizing and hosting major sports events deliver a “positive social legacy”

Wilfried Lemke, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, paid a five-day visit earlier this week to Brazil, which will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“The upcoming major sports events are a historic and unique opportunity for the people of Brazil and the UN family to harness the power of sport and the world’s attention to disseminate important messages and deliver a positive social legacy that makes a difference and lasts far beyond the events,” he said.

Mr. Lemke visited sports facilities in various cities and held meetings with Orlando Silva, Sports Minister of Brazil; representatives of the Foreign Ministry; Andrew Parsons, President of the Paralympic Committee; and Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the Organizing Committee of the 2016 Rio Games.

“The Special Adviser offered his full support to ensure that the sport events will be a success and, in particular, leave behind a sustainable social development legacy” he said in a press release.

Death Aniversery held of My T.V.'s Staff

Thursday, July 21, 2011

PM Slams Nasim For Criticism of Govt

Mohammad Nasim, former interior minister and a ruling party leader, has been slammed by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has he criticized the government on several issues.

At a joint Awami League meeting at Prime Minister's official residence at Ganabhaban, Mohammad Nasim criticized the government on shocking brutalization against the opposition chief whip Jainul Abdin Farroque.

Nasim also criticized the Presidential pardon of A.H.M. Biplab, charged and sentenced in multiple murder charges. Nasim told that the President's decision embarrassed the government as the commons are not to accept such treatment with a murder convict sentenced to death by the judiciary.

In response to all the criticism, Prime Minister suddenly cracked down on Nasim, alleging him to have been acting incompetently in his own constituency. She alleged that Nasim was obstructing the local Awami League leaders of Pabna from doing 'politics'.

On the issue of Presidential pardon of controversial Lakshmipur Awami League leader Abu Taher's son A.H.M. Biplab, Sheikh Hasina said that her government is not going to maintain politically motivated cases processed when BNP was in government.

Somalia cries for help as world boosts drought response By Ali Musa Abdi (AFP)

MOGADISHU — Somalis stranded in war-ravaged Mogadishu pleaded for drought relief on Monday, as the UN called an emergency meeting to tackle what Britain's premier described as the region's worst catastrophe in a generation.

The severe drought parching east Africa has left 10 million facing hunger and the scope of one of the world's worst unfolding humanitarian disasters conjured up memories of Ethiopia's devastating 1984 famine.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that what we are seeing today is the most catastrophic situation in that region for a generation," British Prime Minister David Cameron said during a press conference in South Africa.

"Tens of thousands may have died already, many of them children under five," he said in Pretoria, at the start of an African tour.

Britain on Saturday promised £52 million (59 million euros, $73 million) in emergency aid, and Cameron urged other nations to follow suit.

The UN food agency on Monday announced that a meeting on the crisis would be held on July 25 at its Rome headquarters.

"The meeting will be next Monday 25th here at FAO" following a request from France in its role as head of the G20 group of leading world economies, said Erwin Northoff, a spokesman for the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have fled their country to seek assistance in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia, but many could only make it to Mogadishu, often considered the world's most dangerous city.

In the overcrowded Mogadishu camp of Badbado, people say they are in dire need of food for survival.

"The aid agencies are concentrating on feeding those who fled Somalia to neighbouring countries," said Ahmed Abdullahi. "They are less helpful to those inside."

"Some of us can't reach Kenya," said Mumina Mohamed, a mother from the Lower Shabelle region. "It is too far, and difficult to come back home later."

Stories of how aid groups are providing more supplies in neighbouring countries are common amongst those seeking shelter in Mogadishu.

"I am sure there are plenty of aid agencies in Kenya with a lot of food," said Maryam Abduqadir, a mother from Bay region.

At the Badbado camp, a Qatari aid agency provides food twice a day, but supplies are rapidly running out.

"The need of the people here is too much," said aid official Duraan Ahmed Farah. "We need more help, to get more aid agencies in, including the UN."

People here were aware that a volatile security situation meant there was little hope of large-scale humanitarian intervention.

Large areas of southern Somalia are controlled by the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels, who only recently lifted a two-year-old ban on foreign relief groups.

The first UN airlift into rebel held areas landed on Wednesday in the town of Baidoa, containing five metric tonnes of food and medicine.

But as major Western donors grappled with dire debt crises and aid agencies begged for funds, Cameron argued that trade deals could be more useful to Africa in the long run than aid.

"In the past, there were marches in the West to drop the debt. There were concerts to increase aid. And it was right that the world responded," Cameron wrote in an article in South Africa's Business Daily ahead of his arrival.

"But they have never once had a march or a concert to call for what will in the long term save far more lives and do far more good -- an African free trade area."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon's adviser on the Millennium Development Goals, Jeffrey Sachs, argued at a press conference in Nairobi that the human consequences of Africa's droughts were avoidable.

"We've been warning, almost day in and day out, of the growing calamity of the dry lands of Africa, and most of this has fallen on deaf ears in Europe and the United States among people who should know better," he said.

"We can never address these problems through emergency response. We have to solve these problems through prevention," Sachs said. "Prevention means development, especially sustainable development.

Unexpected Food Price & funtion of Governemnt

খাদ্য সহ নিত্যপ্রয়োজনীয় বিভিন্ন দ্রব্যাদির অনিয়ন্ত্রিত মূল্যবৃদ্ধি অব্যাহত থাকার ব্যাপারে ঢাকা ও চট্রগ্রাম জেলা প্রশাসকের (ডিসি) কাছে বিস্তারিত জানতে চেয়ে রুল জারি করেছেন উচ্চ আদালত। বিচারপতি এ.এইচ. শামসুদ্দিন চৌধুরী ও বিচারপতি গোবিন্দ চন্দ্র ঠাকুরের সম্বন্বয়ে গঠিত ডিভিশন বেঞ্চ মঙ্গলবার এ রুল জারি করেন।

জানা যায় ভ্রাম্যমাণ আদালতের মাধ্যমে বাজার মনিটরিং নিষ্ক্রিয় কেন, এই প্রশ্ন রেখে আগামী দশদিনের মধ্যে জবাব দেয়ার জন্য খাদ্য ও বাণিজ্য মন্ত্রণালয় সচিব এবং ঢাকা ও চট্রগ্রামের দুই জেলা প্রশাসকের প্রতি নির্দেশ দেন উচ্চ আদালত। সেই সঙ্গে ভ্রাম্যমাণ আদালত পরিচালনায় কী কী ব্যবস্থা গ্রহণ করা হয়েছে তা একটি প্রতিবেদনের মাধ্যমে দশ দিনের মধ্যে জমা দিতে বলা হয়েছে।

উল্লেখ্য ঢাকা ও চট্রগ্রামের পাইকারী ব্যবসায়ীরা আসন্ন রমজান মাসকে সামনে রেখে বিভিন্ন প্রকার নিত্য প্রয়োজনীয় ও খাদ্য মজুদ রেখেছে, চলতি জুলাই মাস ধরে এই সংক্রান্ত একাধিক প্রতিবেদন বিভিন্ন গণমাধ্যমে প্রচারিত হয়। এসব প্রতিবেদনের ভিত্তিতে গত রবিবারে হিউম্যান রাইটস বাংলাদেশের পক্ষে অ্যাডভোকেট মঞ্জিল মোর্শেদ পাইকারী বাজারে দ্রব্যমূল্য নিয়ন্ত্রণে ভ্রাম্যমাণ আদালত পরিচালনার দাবিতে জনস্বার্থে একটি রিট করেন।

Bangladesh City Corporation and Paura Sava Sramik UNion


Are Republicans Committing Treason?

The Republican Party no longer has Americans' best interests at heart, and we are suffering because of it.

July 20, 2011 |
Once upon a time, in a land that now seems to have been populated by tooth fairies and unicorns, there was a political party that had a set of core beliefs to which they actually adhered.
Among them was that actually balancing the budget, as opposed to just talking about it, was sacrosanct. Slow change, while necessary, had to be balanced against the traditions of the United States, ones that had mostly served us well over two centuries.
Foreign military adventures should be limited to our national security interests. And one of the single most important components of diplomacy was protecting the economic interests not only of an elite few, but of the great many Americans who toiled in our factories and fields.
This party was known as the Republican Party, and while one might have disagreed with them on their policy prescriptions to cure any particular US ill, one could at least see some logic in their beliefs and understand that they - with some obvious exceptions from time to time (ahem, Joseph McCarthy, ahem) - were doing what they thought was right for the United States of America.
Today, this once respectable organization has turned into nothing so much as a collective id the size of a David Vitter Pampers shopping spree. When facing changes to this nation that make them uncomfortable, they choose national hate. When facing ideological worship versus the greatness of the US, the former always wins the day. When facing a choice of what is good for the US or their personal bank accounts, they inevitably go with the latter.
Every. Single. Time.
In simple terms: We, the people of the United States, are the maid. The GOP is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Any questions?
The one caveat is that it's not Republicans, so much as the forces of the anti-American, gun-toting, religious and corporate Right that have taken over the GOP who are responsible for papa's brand new bag. The Right is Darth Sidious to the GOP's Anakin Skywalker, Angelina Jolie to foreign-born children.
And yes, sadly, the Dark Lord has also sunk his hooks into quite a few in the Democratic Party, just somewhat less in number and relevance.
Charter members of this anti-American Right include the National Rifle Association, whose executive vice president-cum-Waldo impersonator, Wayne LaPierre, pushes new and more deadly weaponry into the hands of American criminals and terrorists without a first thought of the common good of his country. Giddily referring to US law enforcement agents as "jack-booted thugs", and using fear of a black president to encourage the militia mentality among his most deranged (and armed) followers, his reign at the NRA has facilitated their retreat into revolutionary rhetoric, which has included plans by associated paramilitary groups to kill police officers and government officials.
Not so good for the US, but great for selling weapons to support LaPierre's $1.27m salary, as well as NRA board members who earn a paycheck by owning companies that pay their bonuses based on firearm sales.
It also includes the "pro-business" Right's support for finishing a four-decade quest to hollow out US manufacturing and destroy what was once, as succinctly put by polymath and top-rated progressive radio host Thom Hartmann, "the American way of life". A few elite moneymen get rich, while the United States' ability to create things that don't come with fries or an apple pie, once a source of great pride to, you know, Americans, has gone off clubbing with Casey Anthony.
No political will to fix US infrastructure
Last week, China broke the record for the longest sea bridge in the world with the opening of the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge. Quite symbolically, it passed Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which had previously held the record.
You'd think that this, in and of itself, would pain those on the Republican Right and their friends among the Blue Dog Democrats, "patriots" who never hesitate to tout American greatness. But for some reason - perhaps campaign contributions make a soothing bubble bath? - their refusal to fund the slightest hint of improvement or addition to US infrastructure is allowing it to collapse quicker than John Boehner at an all-you-can-drink Margarita marathon at Bahama Mama's.
We used to make big things in the US, often with direct government investment. Whether it was the federal highway system, the Sears Tower, or the Golden Gate Bridge - these were not small undertakings. It was a proven method of creating jobs and wealth, as well as a source of national pride.
These days, it's the historical blindness and hatred of any spending contained in a philosophy that underpins simplistic calls for "austerity". Contained in budgets written by small-minded men such as Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, it has seen corporate cybernetic organisms posing as legislators do what once would have been unthinkable: pave the way for Chinese exceptionalism.
US slipping in quality-of-life indicators
Yet perhaps right-wingers' work to undermine America is nowhere as evident as it is in the everyday indicators of how we are doing as a country. Whether it is the World Health Organization's ranking the US in 37th place, our impressive 33rd place in children's ability to navigate math and science, or 39th place in our environmental quality (we're still two spots ahead of Cuba!), I simply don't understand how one can claim to love the US and blithely ignore or work to exacerbate these indicators by gutting government every day.
But then again, what should we expect from a movement whose leaders, such as that dimwitted dolt known as Texas Governor Rick Perry, openly discuss secession? Or, as I pointed out in last week's column, the blood diamond-accruing conman Pat Robertson, who has wished Sodom-like destruction on the United States, because gay couples in New York now have the right to marry?
Secession? Destruction? There used to be a term to describe people who wished these tragedies would befall their own country. Today that term is "Republican presidential candidate", whether from the recent past (Robertson in 1988) and potentially - God help us - the future (Perry in 2012).
Lest one think this list is biased, I have not even gone into the details of the outing of an undercover CIA agent (see Karl Rove) or the Right's current crusade to make the US default on its debt (and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's incentive to profit off of this, as he has shorted US treasury bonds in his personal investment portfolio).
Humorist and writer Leo Rosten once said that "a conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead". Today, however, the love for radicals and radicalism is alive and kicking on the Right, and sadly for the US, it doesn't seem ready to die anytime soon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are Mobile Phones Bridging the Digital Divide or Deepening It?

Are Mobile Phones Bridging the Digital Divide or Deepening It?

July 7, 2011 | by Brett Davidson

Mobile phones are often touted as the solution to the digital divide and the answer to a range of development problems. There is undoubtedly a huge growth in mobile phone access in the developing world, and the possibilities this presents are indeed exciting (as my colleague Mary Joyce blogged previously, innovations in mobile health are helping to transform people’s lives).

But these positive developments should not blind us to a range of problems and concerns (such as research in poor communities showing that expenditure on mobile phone use often comes at the expense of other needs, such as food). Two recent articles highlight the fact that the digital divide is very much still with us, and in fact new kinds of divides may be opening up.

In a paper published by Audience Scapes [pdf], Gayatri Murthi acknowledges the unprecedented proliferation of mobile phones in the developing world: the developing world’s share of mobile phone subscriptions increased from 53% in 2005 to 73% in 2010; mobile phone subscriptions increased by 16% in the developing world last year, as opposed to 1.6% in the developed world. But she goes on to show that gender and income disparities mean that not everyone is able to reap the benefits of the growth in mobile penetration.

In South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, men are much more likely to have access to cell phones than women. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where the “mobile divide” is slightly smaller than in the other two regions, a woman is 23% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. Unequal educational opportunities present another divide. For example, 93% of Kenyans with formal education had access to a mobile phone, as opposed to 50% of those without. Since a higher proportion of men than women have access to formal education, this reinforces the gender imbalance.

Furthermore, according to Murthi, women are less likely to receive information via mobile phone, relying more in interpersonal communication. This challenges assumptions that new technologies are in and of themselves, going to democratize the information environment.

In addition to gender, Claire Melamed, a self-proclaimed “technological optimist” highlights some other divides, in a recent blog post on Global Dashboard.

Firstly, there’s a geographical divide: while heavily populated areas have excellent signal coverage, there are vast expanses of almost every African country where there is no signal at all. Secondly, a literacy divide: even when people have mobile phones they may not be able to take advantage of access to a range of information services if they cannot read (despite the existence of projects that use mobile phones to promote literacy). And finally, there’s a financial divide: for example she says, despite the advance of cheap mobile banking, in parts of Kenya making a money transaction using the MPESA mobile banking service costs the same as a bag of maize.

These two articles reinforce the fact that as exciting as the advances in mobile technology are, they’re not a “one size fits all” solution for promoting development and democracy—and as much as they may help us solve some problems they are also creating new divides and inequities


Why Are Americans Still Giant Hypocrites About Sex?

So many Americans object to other people doing it that opposition to sex drives American politics.
July 19, 2011 |

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Understanding Americans requires becoming well-versed in many things: American sports, sitcoms, YouTube cat videos, superhero movies, and the ever-increasing complexity of ordering coffee. But to truly get Americans, you have to really delve deep into the woods of our hypocrisy. Americans tell pollsters they’re in church when they're sleeping in or watching the game. Politicians don’t dare talk about legalizing drugs, because while Americans are far likelier to use drugs than many other nations, we also reliably vote against anyone who suggests we roll back the legal repercussions. And nowhere is American hypocrisy uglier than when it comes to sex.

Americans are doing it. Yet so many Americans object to doing it, that opposition to other people doing it drives American politics, even in the face of real problems such as a floundering economy, a foreclosure crisis, and a Republican party that is willing to destroy our nation’s credit rating just to stick it to the president. Without the anti-gay and anti-choice movements riling up religious people to vote against their neighbor’s right to use birth control and abortion, or their neighbor’s right to have sex with someone of the same gender, the Republican party as we know it wouldn’t exist.

American prudery means that both our tabloid and actual news media are regularly dominated by sex scandals. These are often conducted as if the entire media infrastructure were run by 19th-century middle-aged spinsters, such as when the entire Beltway press regarded a man taking a picture of his erection as if they were witnessing the same level of perversion as a man in flagrante delicto with a barnyard animal.

You’d think with the springs going out on our fainting couch that we were a nation whose bedsprings got no wear and tear, but you’d be wrong. Americans have sex on average 2.3 times a week, and 19 out of 20 Americans have had premarital sex. Americans like to have sex for pleasure, as indicated by the universal use of contraception. Americans like to mix it up, too, as the rapid rise in Americans admitting to anal sex demonstrates. Needless to say, Americans also love porn, and conservatives who denounce other people’s sexual choices are even more avid consumers of porn than people who take a more live-and-let-live attitude.

Americans reconcile our desire for the fainting couch and our desires for the sex swing through refusing to reconcile it. Instead, we treat sex like we treat church and drug use, with old-fashioned hypocrisy. Ninety-five percent of Americans have had premarital sex, but 36 percent of us believe premarital sex is morally wrong Even if you allow that the 5 percent abstainers are all disapprovers, that still means nearly 1 in 3 Americans disapprove when others make the same sexual choices they do.

Americans don’t truck with closeted, ashamed hypocrisy, though. When it comes to looking at our own habits, we think we’re just great. Even Americans who consider themselves "traditional" yearn for sexual experimentation, as long as it's their own personal orgasms that are the result. Americans just love judging other people, even when they act exactly like the people they’re judging. Abortion clinics, especially, have an eyeful of how common this is, as pretty much every clinic worker can tell you stories of anti-abortion patients explaining how they deserve an abortion, unlike those sluts in the waiting room.

Unfortunately, the “sex for me but not for thee” attitude has profound political effects. Ninety-nine percent of American women may have used contraception, but 38 percent of women want to strip Planned Parenthood of the funding that makes contraception more widely available, and 46 percent of men want to cut contraception subsidies, even though they personally benefit from the widespread use of contraception. Married people and older people were even more enthusiastic about cutting off contraception funding, demonstrating that as long as it’s someone not like them, someone single and young, they’re first in line to throw stones.

1 Million Dead in Iraq? 6 Reasons the Media Hide the True Human Toll of War -- And Why We Let Them

Most Americans turn a blind eye to the violent acts being carried out in their name.
July 19, 2011 |

An Iraqi policeman walks past destroyed cars at the site of a blast near the Iranian embassy in Baghdad. Iraqi forces were on high alert in Baghdad on Monday after 30 people were killed in bomb attacks on foreign embassies blamed on delays in forming a new government after the general election a month ago.
Photo Credit: AFP - Ali al-Saadi

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As the U.S. war in Iraq winds down, we are entering a familiar phase, the season of forgetting—forgetting the harsh realities of the war. Mostly we forget the victims of the war, the Iraqi civilians whose lives and society have been devastated by eight years of armed conflict. The act of forgetting is a social and political act, abetted by the American news media. Throughout the war, but especially now, the minimal news we get from Iraq consistently devalues the death toll of Iraqi civilians.

Why? A number of reasons are at work in this persistent evasion of reality. But forgetting has consequences, especially as it braces the obstinate right-wing narrative of “victory” in the Iraq war. If we forget, we learn nothing.

I’ve puzzled over this habit of reaching for the lowest possible estimates of the number of Iraqis who died unnecessarily since March 2003. The habit is now deeply entrenched. Over a period of about two weeks in May, I encountered in major news media three separate references to the number of people who had died in the Iraq war. Anderson Cooper, on his CNN show, Steven Lee Myers in the New York Times Magazine and Brian MacQuarrie in the Boston Globe all pegged the number in the tens of thousands, sometimes adding “at least.” But the number that sticks is this “tens of thousands.”

Cooper, Myers and MacQuarrie—all skillful reporters—are scarcely alone. It’s very rare to hear anything approximating the likely death toll, which is well into the hundreds of thousands, possibly more than one million. It‘s a textbook case of how opinion gatekeepers reinforce each other’s caution. Because the number of civilians killed in a U.S. war is so morally fraught, the news media, academics and political leaders tend to gravitate toward the figure (if mentioned at all) that is least disturbing.

The “tens of thousands” mantra is peculiar because even the most conservative calculation—that provided by Iraq Body Count, a British NGO—is now more than 100,000, and IBC acknowledges that their number is probably about half correct. They count only civilians killed by violence who are named in English-language news and some morgue counts. Their method is incomplete for a number of reasons—news media coverage is far from comprehensive, most obviously—and many Iraqis who are killed are not labeled by authorities as civilians. The death toll from nonviolent deaths (women dying in childbirth, for example, because the health care system has been devastated by the war) is also very high and is not included in IBC’s tally.

The more accurate figures come from household surveys and other methods, and these have much higher figures. I commissioned one conducted by Johns Hopkins scientists in 2006 that yielded a figure of 650,000, which was hotly disputed, but another around the same time yielded a total of more than 400,000 dead, including all Iraqis from all causes. Both surveys followed state-of-the-art epidemiological practice. And a lot of killing was still to come after those surveys were done.

There is a lively debate among specialists about these figures, but the bottom line is that “hundreds of thousands” rather than “tens of thousands” is the incontrovertible mortality statistic.

So why the devotion to the lower number? And why does it matter?

The latter question is the easier one to answer. Make the rounds of right-wing blogs and think tanks and you’ll find a constant refrain: the war, despite its many difficulties, was worth it to get rid of Saddam Hussein. As Richard Miniter of the Hudson Institute put it last September, “The death tolls in the Saddam years were far higher than in the years following liberation; hundreds of thousands disappeared into mass graves.“

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

African news service thrives as cooperative

James Breiner

Justin Arenstein never really wanted to work for a big corporation, but that is how he started out in journalism. He was a reporter working on contract covering one of the desperately poor shantytowns of his native South Africa.

He and his colleagues ran afoul of corporate management by covering the death squads that were assassinating black activists opposed to apartheid. They quit en masse and decided to start their own news organization, which was the beginning of what is today the African Eye News Service.

African Eye functions as a cooperative, with each reporter keeping half of the revenue generated by his or her own stories and the rest going to support the enterprise. Launched 18 years ago, it has 15 full-time journalists and a network of correspondents covering six countries -- South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania and Malawi. It has gained a reputation for editorial independence and aggressive investigative journalism.

Arenstein, 40, (pictured right) is publisher and his life partner, Sharon Hammond, is editor-in-chief. They are classic entrepreneurs who taught themselves the business side of journalism so that they could remain independent.

Arenstein has learned some lessons the hard way. One mistake of African Eye was buying a group of magazines just before the financial crisis hit and advertising revenues plummeted.

Arenstein prefers not to talk about current revenues, but in an interview last year (in Spanish, here) he stated that the organization generated about US$2.5 million annually.

An unusual business model

The articles produced by reporters are offered to non-competing media -- newspaper, magazine, television, radio or digital. Media that want to publish a piece on their related websites have to pay a 20-25 percent premium. "That means we can sell each story a minimum of five different times and we generate more income for the journalists than they could on their own," Arenstein said. Reporters earn about US$2,500 to $3,000 after taxes, much more than they would make at a mainstream news outlet.

The cooperative, based in the rural province of Mpumalanga, South Africa, uses its half of the story revenue to cover the cost of a central editing team, administration and capital investment, mainly computers and electronic equipment.

African Eye does not publish its work on the Internet so as not to compete with its clients. The cooperative is also aggressive in defending its copyright against sites that republish the work of clients without authorization. So far, the Internet has not undermined the business model. Digital clients represent only about 15 percent of the business. The cooperative also owns a 10 percent interest in an FM radio station, MPower.

African Eye publishes in English, but its reporters bring knowledge of 11 different languages.

A career path

Arenstein is proud of the fact that many of the editors and reporters of major media in the region have been groomed as reporters at African Eye. He recruits talented people from rural areas and puts them through a rigorous process of training.

These apprentice correspondents -- there are 20 now, down from 40 before the worldwide financial crisis -- receive pay for stories but do not have access to the cooperative’s facilities and resources. After eight or nine months, if they do well, they get access to resources and receive more training. The best can become full-fledged reporters with the service.

African Eye’s reporting has brought down two provincial governments, sent senators and cabinet members to jail for extended terms and forced the government to disband its 300-year-old militia because of its use of torture, Arenstein said with pride in an interview last year.


Arenstein is experimenting with new ways of delivering news, especially to mobile telephones. So far, his clients have not been very successful selling a news service delivered to mobiles.

African Eye has begun offering its clients more data-driven reporting and interactive computer graphics. These graphics give clients and readers a deeper insight into the news, Arenstein said.

This post originally appeared on the blog News Entrepreneurs and was posted on IJNet with permission.

James Breiner is a former Knight International Journalism Fellow who launched and directed the Center for Digital Journalism at the University of Guadalajara. He is bilingual in Spanish and English and is a consultant in online journalism and leadership.

He spent the majority of his career as editor and publisher of business journals in Columbus and Baltimore for American City Business Journals. He led an investigative journalism team at the Columbus Dispatch that won seven awards from the Associated Press of Ohio. He has a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Connecticut. Visit his websites News Entrepreneurs and Periodismo Emprendedor en Iberoamérica. Follow him on Twitter.

BBC to journalists on social media: "Don't do anything stupid"

Nicole Martinelli

Recognizing that social media can be a land mine for journalists, the BBC has updated its social media policy.

While the BBC doesn't mind that journalists have personal accounts, they outline in six points how to tweet, blog and use Facebook without running into trouble. (Journalists frequently do -- check out IJNet's guide to 5 tweets that get journalists fired).

They begin the guide to personal accounts by stating " a BBC member of staff - and especially as someone who works in News - there are particular considerations to bear in mind. They can all be summarised as: 'Don't do anything stupid’".

Namely, BBC journalists can mention where they work, but they should not use BBC in personal account names. Stay away from politics and anything that might be seen as partisan and speak to management if they want to blog about issues that might be perceived as a conflict of interest.

The four-page document, updated July 12, runs about 900 words. (You can download the .PDF here).

In addition to spelling out what news staff should keep in mind while tweeting or blogging for their personal accounts, it also tells them how to treat breaking news situations and while working on the official news program accounts.

The clarification comes at a time when news organizations are trying to figure out the best way to harness social media while avoiding news leaks and controversy.

The Associated Press, which encourages its journalists to merge personal and professional social media accounts, recently issued a warning to two journalists who expressed personal opinions on social networks.

Beijing state newspaper closes its investigative team

A prominent Chinese government newspaper disbanded its investigative reporting team, which had won plaudits for its aggressive muckraking, amid a sweeping clampdown on the media and human-rights activists. Reporters at China Economic Times said the decision to eliminate the roughly two-year-old investigative team, whose hard-hitting exposes helped win legitimacy for the newspaper as a public watchdog, was announced at a meeting Monday morning. The move, which was disclosed at a meeting convened by the newspaper's Communist Party Committee, comes as Beijing has been tightening its grip amid concerns over growing internal unrest that have grown sharper following the popular uprisings in the Mideast. Led by veteran journalist Wang Keqing, the newspaper's investigative reporters have pushed political boundaries in recent years, producing in-depth articles on topics ranging from the fatal mismanagement of vaccines by provincial authorities in central China last year to the mysterious death of a village activist found crushed beneath the wheels of a truck earlier this year. China Economic Times is published by the Development Research Center, a think tank directly controlled by China's State Council.


The 13 Best Hacker Attacks Against Military Security Companies, the FBI, the Kochs ... and Arizona

Hackers have declared war on anyone or anything that threatens to censor the Internet or its citizens. Here are some of their wildest targets.
July 16, 2011 |

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"Anonymous" is a nebulous collective of hackers who, for several months, have been waging a campaign against institutions and governments that seek to censor the web and hinder free expression. Their brand of cyber activism—"hacktivism," as it were—has engaged in various types of protest and civil disobedience; they have pulled down websites, unleashed documents, and challenged the security of various sites. And, since brother group "LulzSec" launched its politically minded "AntiSec" initiative in June, their targets have been increasingly purposeful, and often executed in solidarity with real-life protesters on the ground and in the streets.

For instance, on July 12, in what Anonymous called “Military Meltdown Monday,” they released documents obtained by hacking into Booz Allen Hamilton, a company providing apparently pallid web security for major government and military agencies—a breach that resulted in its stock dropping 2.3 percent. After unleashing 90,000 logins and passwords from the Army, the Navy, the Department of Justice and NASA, Anonymous tweeted out their caveat: “We are not your enemy. Here is just a fraction of what we decided to not publish: | Silent No More. #Antisec.”

Anonymous tweets and public statements are generally rife with mischief, often ribbing their targets for failing to provide the super-tight security they promise their high-level clients. But the bigger picture is that, even though most of Anonymous’ leaks over the past month have consisted of passwords and email addresses, as they’ve run with the now-defunct LulzSec’s #AntiSec torch, their actions and public statements are increasingly conscientious and pointed. As #AntiSec was initially spurred by WikiLeaks—mirroring their hero Bradley Manning’s concept that “Information Should be Free”—so too they’ve picked up that site’s original moral mission.

Here, possibly the most explosive and/or useful hacks since Anonymous and LulzSec became "hacktivists."

1. HBGary’s WikiLeaks Target Document For Bank of America

As the Atlantic pointed out in its solid timeline of the current hacktivist generation, Anonymous’ hacking into web security group HBGary was a turning point. In their hack of nearly 70,000 emails—made in retaliation for a staff member who threatened to go public with their identities to the FBI and others—they discovered a Powerpoint file that explored various ways of countering and discrediting WikiLeaks. The document was compiled for Bank of America, which feared a large dump of potentially incriminating cables, though as of last month, Wikileaks still hadn’t loosed the information and BoA was still reportedly in the dark as to what the leaks might be.

But it was proof-positive that major corporations were looking into ways to discredit and take down WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. In conjunction with Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies, analytics companies with government clients and counter-terrorism pedigrees, HBGary proposed to “combat the WikiLeaks threat” and to profile journalists supportive of WikiLeaks. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, BradBlog's Brad Friedman, the New York Times’ Jenny 8. Lee, and the Guardian’s James Ball were categorized on the Powerpoint as WikiLeaks “volunteers,” and were apparently monitored, as detailed in Friedman's piece on AlterNet here.

Greenwald, in particular, was a target; on his own dedicated slide, the firms pointed out that “without the support of people like Glenn, WikiLeaks would fold.” This was, of course, the idea behind it, and the strategists seemed to believe that, given the choice of career vs. personal cause, the journalists would preserve their careers. From an internal email: “it is this level of support we need to attack.”

As for the general public, ironically, one of the HBGary strategies mirrors those of hackers: creating “doubt about their security”—the prime pressure point hacktivists use against web-censoring governments.

(And for the patient observer willing to trawl through 3,500 pages of emails, there were still plenty of cheap laffs.)

2. Koch Brothers

In late February, at the height of the tug-of-war between the people of Wisconsin vs. Scott Walker, Anonymous decided to aim for the big guns: the Koch brothers, who were not only found to have put money and love into Walker’s anti-union agenda, but who were setting up counter-camps in Madison in order to squelch the public protest. In Operation Wisconsin, they knocked down the website of Americans for Prosperity, and beseeched all followers to not only explore vulnerabilities in Koch security, but also to physically boycott all of its products.

“Anonymous hears the voice of the downtrodden American people,” said a press release, “whose rights and liberties are being systematically removed one by one, even when their own government refuses to listen or worse -- is complicit in these attacks. We are actively seeking vulnerabilities, but in the mean time we are calling for all supporters of true Democracy, and Freedom of The People, to boycott all Koch Industries' paper products. We welcome unions across the globe to join us in this boycott to show that you will not allow big business to dictate your freedom.”

As Gawker pointed out at the time, this was one of the first instances in which hackers under the Anonymous umbrella really put forth such a blatantly political agenda, and in retrospect it marked a turning point that was further ignited by LulzSec, and continues to this moment.

3. Monsanto

Agricultural giant Monsanto is well known as one of the world’s biggest providers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and has a history of stamping out small farms in order to cheaply manufacture environmentally destructive frankenfoods. Most recently, ethical seed retailer FedCo was forced to find alternative seed sources after Monsanto gobbled up one of its largest suppliers. Anonymous was on the case; in an action called #OpMonsanto, last month it hacked into Monsanto’s computer system and unleased 2,500 employee email addresses and passwords, a move acknowledged by the company last week. And #OpMonsanto was in fact part of a bigger operation: Project Tarmageddon, an action spearheaded by Anonymous subgroup Operation Green Rights, which in a release also promised to go after big oil companies like Exxon and Conoco.

4. Montana

Another branch of Project Tarmageddon: the protest of Montana governor Brian Schweitzer’s corruption of greenspace with concessions to big oil. Anonymous’ Tarmageddon press release: “This week, activists are gathering along U.S. Highway 12 in Montana to protest the transformation of a serene wilderness into an industrial shipping route, bringing "megaloads" of refinery equipment to the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada... Anonymous now joins the struggle against ‘Big Oil’ in the heartland of the US. We stand in solidarity with any citizen willing to protest corporate abuse. Anonymous will not stand by idly and let these environmental atrocities continue. This is not the clean energy of the future that we are being promised.” As Anonymous launched its own cause, Abhaxas—a high-profile hacker in the #AntiSec movement—unleashed databases from Montana’s state website,, and appeared exasperated at how easy it was, tweeting, “Coders, please stop exposing your databases it’s not even fun anymore.”

5. Florida

Abhaxas was also responsible for hacking into Florida’s voting database—twice—in an effort to show how easily votes can be compromised. The first time he posted his efforts to Paste2, writing, “So, this is a little ironic. Here is inside details of florida voting systems. Now.. who still believes voting isn't rigged? If the United States Government can't even keep their ballot systems secure, why trust them at all?”

Voting officials assured citizens they were on top of it:

“Altering ballots, changing ballots, or anything like that — right off the bat is a third-degree felony with prison time,” [Collier County Chief Department Supervisor of Elections Tim] Durham explained.

Officials say they’re now getting law enforcement involved.

Meanwhile, state and county election workers say Florida elections are now more secure than ever.

But... Abhaxas proved they’ve still got a way to go before completely securing voter info, after he hacked the "more secure" database for a second time on July 7. S/he posted a file directory of the database on Pastebin and wrote, “Glad you cleaned things up, pretty secure now guys.” Ouch.

6. Westboro Baptist Church

In February, the vile, self-proclaimed “God Hates Fags” Westboro Baptist Church claimed to have been threatened by Anonymous in what was widely regarded as a hoax the congregation crafted for PR purposes. Anonymous denied the statement, so after they refused to respond to the “threat,” the publicity-hungry WBC released a typically inflammatory statement essentially challenging Anonymous to actually hack them, saying if they didn’t, they were cowards. So you could almost hear the hackers’ collective yawn when the Westboro Baptist Church website was pulled down during a live debate, replaced with an Anonymous symbol and a statement that read, “your continued biting of the Anonymous hand has earned you a swift and emotionless bitchslap... The world (including Anonymous) disagrees with your hateful messages, but you have the right to voice them. This does not mean you can jump onto Anonymous for attention... Gods hates fags: assumption. Anonymous hates leeches: fact.” The simple hack was later attributed to a single person going by the name of th3J35t3r (The Jester). Touche.

7. Chinga La Migra (Arizona)

In late June, LulzSec launched “Chinga La Migra,” an attack on Arizona government (specifically, police) websites in retaliation for “SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona.” LulzSec released email addresses and passwords of employees of the Arizona Department of Public Safety for their first dump, and when the group disbanded after 50 days, Chinga La Migra continued under the leadership of Anonymous. In “Part Dos,” the group leaked the emails of 12 Arizona state police, which included “seductive girlfriend pictures... internal police reports, cops forwarding racist chain emails, K9 drug unit cops who use Percocets, and a convicted sex offender who was part of the FOP Maricopa Lodge Five.”

This is where the morality of the actions get a little sticky. Releasing email addresses to prove a website is vulnerable is one thing, but unleashing employees' personal emails is another... even if they're locating damning and potentially illegal activities of state employees, more of which they found in part three of Chinga La Migra, launched July 1, targeting the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police. “We found more racist email chain emails,” read the release, “including Springerville's police chief Mike Nuttal forwarding jokes about torturing 'ragheads.' FOP president Brandon L Musgrave was also forwarding anti-muslim emails while also purchasing large amounts of guns, so we're dumping his paypal and credit card information as well.”

With Anonymous’ strong stance against SB1070 and racism in Arizona (let this ”third and crushing blow against Arizona police send a strong message to the ruling class around the world”), they aren’t likely to stop there.

8. Military Meltdown Monday

The aforementioned Booz Allen hack, and the concept of military emails and passwords, may seem vaguely innocuous—there’s always the chance someone will try to falsely use a military email to gain other information or use them for nefarious means, but there’s an equal chance that that person will have changed their password by the time they’ve tried. More damning is the fact that the security company the military used was so easily breached—ironically, Booz Allen is the same company that provides online firewalls for the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the “intelligence community,” among other branches of government.

Said Anonymous’ statement on the Pirate Bay, "In this line of work, you'd expect them (to have a) state-of-the-art battleship, right? Well you may be as surprised as we were when we found their vessel being a puny wooden barge. We infiltrated a server on their network that basically had no security measures in place." It was this specific breach that lead Senator John McCain to appeal Congress for a special Committee on web security:

"As you know, cyber security legislation has been drafted by at least three committees and at least seven committees claim some jurisdiction over the issue," McCain wrote in a letter to Senate leaders. "The White House put forward a legislative proposal in May and the Department of Energy put forth requirements and responsibilities for a cyber security program that same month. Earlier this month, the Department of Commerce sought comment on its proposal to establish voluntary codes of behavior to improve cyber security and the Department of Defense issued its strategy for operating in cyberspace. "With so many agencies and the White House moving forward with cyber security proposals, we must provide congressional leadership on this pressing issue of national security." In short, there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

"I write to renew my request that the Senate create a temporary Select Committee on Cyber Security and Electronic Intelligence Leaks. I feel this Select Committee is necessary in order to develop comprehensive cyber security legislation and adequately address the continuing risk of insider threats that caused thousands of documents to be posted on the website Wikileaks," McCain wrote.

9. Infragard

The first real government hack in the #AntiSec movement occurred in early June, when now-defunct collective LulzSec brought down FBI-hired agency Infragard in protest of the Pentagon’s then-imminent decision to classify hacks as an act of war—and more specifically, to launch LulzSec’s “war” on government institutions they viewed as hostile to a free society. Infragard, “a partnership between the FBI and the private sector to share security information,” brought down its own website after the hack as a “safety precaution,” but the real damage was already done. LulzSec fired off a warning to government employees everywhere: “Stop aiding the corporations and a government which uses unethical means to corner vast amounts of wealth and proceed to flagrantly abuse their power. Together, we have the power to change this world for the better.” They followed it with an admin password and a Martin Luther King quote: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.”

10. Fuck FBI Friday

As with Booz Allen and Infragard, the Anonymous action July 8 entitled “Fuck FBI Friday” begs the question, Why is the FBI’s hired security company, IRC Federal, so easily breached? However, this dump was slightly more serious than emails and passwords. In a statement posted on Pastebin following a rather cheeky type graphic of a mushroom cloud, Anonymous wrote, “In their emails we found various contracts, development schematics, and internal documents for various government institutions including a proposal of the FBI to develop a ‘Special Identities Modernization (SIM) Project’ to ‘reduce terrorist and criminal activity by protecting all records associated with trusted individuals and revealing the identities of those individuals who may pose serious risk to the United States and its allies.’ We also found fingerprinting contracts for the DOJ, biometrics development for the military, and strategy contracts for the ‘National Nuclear Security Administration Nuclear Weapons Complex.’”

11. Oregon Tea Party

Last year, Anonymous attacked the Oregon Tea Party Facebook Page, but not necessarily for political reasons. At that time, the group was upset the Tea Party was using the slogan “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us,” which is 1) scary; and 2) a slogan Anonymous invented upon its inception. This year, though, with the surprising amount of organization among a nebulous, leaderless group, it looks like the national Tea Party might be in for some strikes. In February, a message was posted to the Tea Party Patriots site that included the following warning:

“The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man has reached its apex, and we shall now be moved to action. Thus, we give you a warning: Cease & desist your protest campaign in the year 2011, return to your homes & close your public Web sites. Should you ignore this warning, you will meet with the vicious retaliatory arm of ANONYMOUS: We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your activists will ever be able to fully recover. It is in your best interest to comply now, while the option to do so is still being offered, because we will not relent until you cease the conduction & promotion of all your bigoted operations & doctrines.”

So far no dice, but we’re curious to see what happens as we near the election.

12. Viacom and Universal Music

They might seem like soft targets in comparison to, say, the Department of Defense, but the Anonymous dump of email addresses and passwords gleaned from Viacom and Universal Music represents a crucial element to the agenda: that information should be free. Of course this includes the concept of “piracy,” but one wonders if Anonymous would have set these companies in its targets if their lawyers had not been so aggressive in prosecuting “little guys” who engage in low-level downloading. In their “Open Letter to Viacom,” they decry what they call “falsely claimed copyright infringements” and “totalitarian-like actions”:

After Viacom lost their lawsuit against YouTube, they continued to exploit YouTube for money. Viacom's justification of "creator's rights" seems only to mean making money for the sake of money. Their hypocritical action of uploading fake videos to YouTube in order to furnish their own court case is transparent...

Anonymous demands from Viacom a public press release to admit and apologize for the fraud and crimes that they have commited. Anonymous also demands that Viacom allows everyone thoughout the internet full rights to be able to express themselves. Lastly, we, the citizens of the world, demand that Viacom stops their attempts to gather personally identifying information such as IPs, which are of no relevance to them.

13. The Church of Scientology

While ostensibly Scientology hadn’t committed any major crimes in 2008 (that we know about), one of Anonymous’ earliest actions was directed toward the mysterious religious organization, in response to its “propaganda.” In late January of that year, the Church was attempting to censor YouTube videos of Tom Cruise going off about the evils of psychiatry, which prompted Anonymous to release an equally creepy, though more righteous video in protest of their “campaigns of misinformation, suppression of dissent, and litigious nature.” (It’s worth a peek, if only for the shadowy robot voice and clouds footage.)

They then proceeded to launch a series of small-scale attacks against the site, including Google bombing, spreading anti-Scientology information across the web, and pulling down their sites. Scientology classified the attacks as “hate crimes,” but the action served to solidify Anonymous as a viable coalition in the media, and was the first organized attack alluding to what would come.

As for what’s next? AnonNews, a site compiling press releases and news about the group, is calling for solidarity with Turkey, actions against Indiana to “overturn Barnes v. Indiana” (the ruling that basically overturned the Second Amendment in that state), more WikiLeaks solidarity, and a coalition with artists doing work in support of #AntiSec. We wait with bated breath. Even if you don’t agree with their actions, you can surely agree that they’re making things way more interesting in the cyberuniverse.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Move closer to Brazil politically and economically, says US Foreign Relations Council

Influential foreign policy experts at the New York based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think the United States should move closer to Brazil politically and economically and recommend the creation of a Brazilian affairs office at the National Security Council.

According to an independent task force run by CFR, it is in the interest of the United States “to understand Brazil as a complex international actor whose influence on the defining global issues of the day is only likely to increase.”
As an upside to Brazil, the CFR report recommended that Washington lobby to get Brazil a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, something the previous Brazilian president, Lula da Silva, often went on world tours trying to promote.
During the Cold War, Washington kept a close eye on Brazil, seeing it as the most influential power in the region. It politically — if not strategically — backed a military coup to overthrow left-leaning elected President João Goulart in the 1960s. Goulart’s downfall led to two decades of military rule in Brazil, a trend that occurred throughout Latin America.
The US drifted from Brazilian politics under Jimmy Carter, who grew wary of human rights abuses under the military regime. And once that regime folded and ushered in a new era of democracy, Washington then turned its focus to the financial and economic policies promoted by the big multilateral institutions like the World Bank. The hopes were to create a large Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, a NAFTA on steroids.
The so-called Washington Consensus kept Brazil on the radar until that economic policy wore thin in the late 90s and was crushed under President Lula da Silva in 2001 that started a more autonomous course in Brazilian and Latin American politics. Since then, Washington has turned its back on Latin America, and turned its focus on the Middle East and Asia.
CFR thinks Washington would be wise to look south again, not for new rivalries, but for new, and even stronger partnerships.
The report stressed the importance of regular communication between US President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
“Cooperation between the United States and Brazil holds too much promise for miscommunication or inevitable disagreements to stand in the way of potential gains,” CFR said in a press release on July 12. A mature, working relationship means that “the United States and Brazil can help each other advance mutual interests even without wholesale policy agreements between the two,” notes the report.
The Task Force also recommended:
1. U.S. Congress eliminates the ethanol tariff on Brazilian sugarcane ethanol in any bill regarding reform to the ethanol and bio-fuel tax credit regime.
2. US waive visa requirements for Brazilians by immediately reviewing Brazil’s criteria for participation in the Visa Waiver Program.
3. US State Department create an Office for Brazilian Affairs and the National Security Council (NSC) centralize its efforts under a NSC director for Brazil in order to better coordinate the current decentralized US policy.



we also expressing our heartiest shoch in the death of Late Belal Hossain of Samay Television on behalf of Muktidooth Media


The right to information

By Sana Saleem |

Today, more bloggers are in jail for reporting stories than journalists around the world – Photo by the writer.

As a move to recognise the indispensable power of the Internet to bring into focus a wide range of rights issues and human progress, a United Nations special report on ‘the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression’ declared Internet access as a human right. The report, written by Frank La Rue, special rapporteur to the United Nations, makes perspicuous the realisation that universal access to Internet should be a priority for all states.
In June, I joined eighteen bloggers and activists from around the world on a Foreign Press Center Tour to Washington, DC. The purpose of the tour was to invite foreign journalists to engage with key policy makers and diplomats from the State Department. Ours was the first attempt at bringing bloggers and activists from across the world in a rendezvous with USG officials.
As for anyone who has ever engaged with or attended a bloggers summit, one thing is strikingly clear that bloggers aren’t known for restraint and speak their mind far more bluntly. Accompanying me were bloggers and activists from Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Kazakhistan, Krygyztan and Palestine amongst others.
The entire week was packed with intense discussions on the use of social media and State department’s varying policy in reaction to the Arab Spring. The question of US government’s varying stance in response to the Arab uprisings in countries with ‘friendly’ dictators was asked rigorously and met with ‘diplomatic’ answers explaining a ‘unanimous stance’ regardless of political ties.
This was day one at the State Department. An early morning meeting with Alec Ross, US Department of State Senior Adviser for Innovation, turned in to a much lengthier discussion on US government’s policy in dealing with crisis in Bahrain and its response to the revolution in Egypt.
Joining us in the meetings were Internet Freedom fellows, including activists from Tunisia and Egypt, who were misquemed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarks on Mubarak’s ‘stable’ government while millions of Egyptians protested at the viliorating situation and the US response or lack thereof about the situation in Tunisia.
Ross insisted that the “State department has a strong stance on Internet Freedom”, referencing to Clinton’s widely read and quoted speech, and that “It is applicable globally, in 195 countries”.
Bahrainis journalist Lamees Dhaif shared stories of Bahrain government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters, following her reporting of the protests, “When they couldn’t find me, they took my sister, they tried to burn down my house. They told me, if I don’t stop writing they would harm my family. I had to stop. I have no other choice.” Dhaeef who eventually moved to live outside of Bahrain, protested at the US approach to the crisis in Bahrain. “Why is the State Department silent on the issue? Why has their been no outrage about the treatment of protesters under the regime?”
Ross insisted that the State Department was doing everything possible to address the issue and pressure the Bahraini regime to look in to human rights issues. “Diplomacy doesn’t always work the way people would imagine it to be. We cannot use harsh terms like people would expect, it doesn’t and can not work on the basis of ‘you don’t listen to us and we won’t work with you’.
On the question of possible sanctions on brutal regimes, he said, “We have learnt that sanctions do not work in favor of the people, it is the people that suffer the most due to these sanctions.”
Not that any of us expected government officials to not defend their policies or to demand intervention, in fact demanding interventions gives leverage to imperialistic tactics within states while raising grave questions on the credibility of activists.
Therefore, irrespective of the answers the idea was to get the message across to the concerned authorities. As Ross claimed, “I keep telling officials, you have two ears and one mouth, talk less listen more.”
The next person we met was Undersecretary Judith McHale who was interested in listening to our suggestions and feedback rather than explaining the US stance. Here was my opportunity to get my message across, in reaction to last year’s ‘Draw a Muhammad Day’ controversy, when PTA (almost) banned the Internet. Reacting to that statement, the US officials claimed that Pakistan ‘had the right to block offensive content’.
For a country that lays such great emphasis on freedom of expression and knows well the lack of clarity that prevails amongst Pakistani IT ministry and PTA especially with reference to all matters pertaining to technology, making such statements is damaging the anti-Internet censorship movement.
China is undoubtedly amongst the worse violators of Internet freedom in the world, unfortunately though our ‘friendship’ with China also means that if need be, our authorities will have no qualms in ‘importing and implementing’ a similar crackdown.
As we fear a crackdown on the Internet again this year round, my only concern was to inform and to discourage any such statements that would impact anti-Internet censorship campaigns.
Later in the day we met with Daniel Bier, Department Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, followed by meetings with bloggers that handle the State Department’s official website and twitter accounts, including USAID.
As the meeting came to an end, I was left wondering about various issues discussed. The whole concept of the world as a global village can be overwhelming at times. How will stories of Bahrain’s crackdown on netizen be of relevance to Pakistan? Are we interested in learning about ways in which activists from Kazakhstan are using the Internet? Should the Internet be a matter of concern for war torn Iraq?
The Internet or social media per say should be seen no different than a public sphere, rather it is a medium that people use to engage, to share, to explore and more often than usual to learn.
This sense of connectivity has made the struggle for human rights transnational. The idea that human rights are above and beyond territoriality has long been manifested, but the age of connectivity allows us to realise our own ways to contribute and help fight the good fight. Would I be sitting next to a Palestinian activist discussing US policy with top US diplomats if it wasn’t for the Internet? Highly unlikely!
Today, more bloggers are in jail for reporting stories than journalists around the world. Crackdowns on netizens and increasing Internet censorship substantiate the socio-political dimension of Internet control. By curbing online freedoms, governments have made it clear, now more than ever, that the virtual world is yet another public space for discussions and debate or as the authorities put it ‘anarchy’.
Yet, there is a huge spectrum of ideologies and beliefs about the use and importance of Internet between that of Jared Cohen and Malcolm Gladwell. Like everything else, the Internet has its pros and cons. Perhaps it would be easier to analyse them, if we were to manifest that the understanding that online activism is not meant to undermine on ground activism.
In fact, they should be seen as counterparts, facilitating each other when one is appears to be more possible than the other. Most apt example would be that of Google, the Internet search giant, that not only launched online tools for crisis mapping and response but also donated $1 million to charitable organisations involved with flood relief and rehabilitation.
The blogging world in Pakistan caught global attention during the media crackdown by former president General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf. Over the years we have come to embrace the flocculations, blogosphere has its share of prolific bloggers writing on culture, satire, food and art.
While some of us use the Internet to spread some delicious anarchism against the snollygosters of our times, it’s not always politics and activism on the Internet, it’s a lot more than that. It is a medium of expression and a way to connect to a global audience.
As global powers recognise the power of the Internet and use it to engage with people, even in countries they are at war with, we continue to fight issues of inaccessibility. With the United Nations report declaring Internet access as human right, would governments around the world use it for election campaigning or to just engage with a global audience? Will we use inaccessibility as an excuse to undermine the impact? Or are we ready to acknowledge the power of the Internet and pool in our resources to prioritise accessibility? Only time will tell.