Sunday, August 31, 2008

The GOP Misdirection Game

While the country scratches its head at the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP, the Bush Administration is up to something that has more far reaching consequences. The Raw Story has picked up on a New York Times article buried on page 8 which states that W has quietly moved to expand the reach of presidential power by ensuring that America remains in a state of permanent war.

Here are some excerpts from John Byrne's story...
Buried in a recent proposal by the Administration is a sentence that has received scant attention -- and was buried itself in the very newspaper that exposed it Saturday. It is an affirmation that the United States remains at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban and "associated organizations."

Such a re-affirmation of war carries broad legal implications that could imperil Americans' civil liberties and the rights of foreign nationals for decades to come.

It was under the guise of war that President Bush claimed a legal mandate for his warrantless wiretapping program, giving the National Security Agency power to intercept calls Americans made abroad. More of this program has emerged in recent years, and it includes the surveillance of Americans' information and exchanges online.

"War powers" have also given President Bush cover to hold Americans without habeas corpus -- detainment without explanation or charge. Jose Padilla, a Chicago resident arrested in 2002, was held without trial for five years before being convicted of conspiring to kill individuals abroad and provide support for terrorism.
Just because Bush is on his way out of the White House doesn't mean he can't leave more scars on our lives. And if you're pinning hopes to Obama getting in and reversing all of this nonsense (which seems likely, but not definite) you should ponder this... what if McCain wins? Would this be Bush's office warming present?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What the MPAA and RIAA Want Us To Believe (and FEAR)

The MPAA and the RIAA have been very busy making sure they lock up all those file sharers out there (and as a result abolish one of the most efficient file sharing platforms out there... P2P or "peer to peer").

Before we get started, we should be clear about one thing... these institutions want to change copyright law in their favor. It's not about dealing with the low level of "piracy" that exists now. It's about having an iron clad hold on everything they own so that we, as consumers, no longer buy a copy of a song or movie... we just pay them for the privilege of borrowing it.

And, just for the record, I am not a "pirate". I own over 800 store bought DVDs. But I also believe sharing is the way cultures grow and learn. Think of a world without libraries or one where a friend can't loan you a recording of last night's Lost when you missed it. Sure you could watch it on ABC's flash site, but that site isn't there for your convenience. It's there to make sure ABC makes every possible dime it can.

Anyway... Wired has been keeping tabs on the MPAA's overtures to hold on to their intellectual property claiming that "piracy costs them billions of dollars in lost revenue each year". Oddly enough, though, the public has never seen any actual proof of this. We just have their litigation happy word for it.

If there is proof that I'm unaware of, please point it out to me (Threat Level has a nice post about how these $ estimates are "turkey"). In the meantime, here's where things stand.

(excerpts from Wired's Threat Level blog by David Kravets - click HERE for full article)
The Copyright Act says a rights holder has the exclusive right "to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending."

On Tuesday, in a lengthy telephone interview with Threat Level, two of the leading lawyers for the Motion Picture Association of America defined the Copyright Act as it applies to peer-to-peer file sharing networks: No actual transfer of the work is required, they said.

"You don't have to prove actual distribution. You need to prove there's works in the share folder, and that is distribution," said Joseph Geisman, MPAA's chief intellectual property attorney, as he described the so-called "making available" concept.

A host of digital rights groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a group of professors, labeled such an assertion as attempted copyright infringement, not covered under the Copyright Act. They claim infringement occurs only when there is actual proof of distribution -- that somebody else made downloads of a defendant's share folder.

The MPAA counters, saying that was never Congress' intent.

"If the other side is right," Goeckner said, "it's kind of open season on copyrighted works on the internet."

Related stories are linked below:

MPAA Says No Proof Needed in P2P Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

Senate Introduces IP Reform Bill Bolstering Enforcement

RIAA, MPAA Converging on Political Conventions

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This Is Why The Dems May Lose

They say they're Democrats, yet they are willing to vote for McCain if they don't get their way. They believe in unsubstantiated rumors that even their own favored candidate, Hillary Clinton, won't repeat (because it's not true).

Yet, here they are at the circus that is the Democratic National Convention, spewing neo-con 'fear factoids' (an original BFO phrase - use it wisely!) to a media that loves repeating nonsense until it becomes "truth". JON STEWART IS RIGHT, btw! These women are wrong.

If you have a 17 page report proving Obama is a Muslim and you truly are xenophobic enough to believe that would be a problem, you should be shouting your source's name from the rooftops. Unless, of course, your source is a disreputable one... or it's just plain WRONG.

Say what you will about the Republican Party, but when the DNC attracts the lunatic fringe, no wonder the Democrats seem shaky.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A World Wise 2 Year Old

And to think grown Americans don't know where Iran is (I'm looking at you, John "The Iraqi/Pakistan border" McCain).

Friday, August 08, 2008

Bush's Big Brother Coming To The Internet

Just days after Larry Lessig warned us about the existence of an 'i-Patriot Act', word leaks out that Bush and Homeland Security are "secretly" working on the Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative.

Essentially this is Bush's beloved spying and surveillance program... now for the internet!!

According to Raw Story:

The Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative, established by National Security Presidential Directive 54 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 in January, is intended to improve the government's ability to defend against cybersecurity attacks.

But the Bush Boys are being secretive:

Earlier this week, the Senate Homeland Security Committee released vague details about the program, after receiving some documentation from the Administration following a hearing in March. But the Administration's response redacted information regarding the contractors involved -- despite a history of giving away massive no-bid Iraq reconstruction contractors to companies such as Halliburton, Vice President Cheney's former firm.

“The response includes information on the National Cyber Security Center, how privacy will be protected under the CNCI, how success of the initiative will be measured, and how the Department views the private sector’s role in the initiative,” wrote the committee's Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). “The Department chose to redact information relating to contracting at the National Cyber Security Division. The senators have asked DHS explain their reasons for the redactions.”

Among the redacted questions: "Why was the determination made that the contract will be for a 10-month period?" and "How will the DHS provide appropriate oversight to ensure that the contractors support efforts do not intrude on inherently governmental functions?"

According to CNET's Stephanie Condon, the Administration won't even related how the program's "mission relates to Internet surveillance."

All this done while the world's eyes were on China for the Olympics.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Enjoy A Free Internet Before It's Gone In 2018?

As many of you have suspected, the government is actively seeking ways to turn back time and get control over the internet. They say it's for security and, while that is a part of it, their motives are spurred more by the need to control the free exchange of ideas.

At Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference, Lawrence Lessig, respected Law Professor from Stanford University and champion of an open internet, told the audience that “There’s going to be an i-9/11 event” which will bring about a Internet Patriot Act that would change the web as we know it. According to Lessig:
"I had dinner once with Richard Clark at the table and I said 'is there an equivalent to the Patriot Act -- an iPatriot Act -- just sitting waiting for some substantial event just waiting for them to come have the excuse for radically changing the way the Internet works?' And he said, 'Of course there is'. "
Lessig, along with Quincy Smith, CEO of CBS Interactive, Joichi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons, and Philip Rosedale, founder and chairman of Linden Lab, (Second Life), discuss how the internet may change (not necessarily for the better) in this video.