Aaron Swartz has an interesting (if somewhat rambling) piece on his "Raw Thought" blog about Life in a World of Pervasive Immorality: The Ethics of Being Alive.
There is a great article in the Economist about the ridiculously unjust treatment of so called "sex offenders" in the United States - like the man who was convicted of statutory rape two decades ago for having consensual sex with his high-school sweetheart, to whom he is now married. People like this clearly pose no threat to anybody and yet they could be stuck on register for life and treated like some kind of monster.
The US president says he is examining an alleged massacre in Afghanistan amid allegations the Bush administration resisted efforts to investigate it.
It appears that there are dozens of US active duty troops active on a neo-Nazi site.
Here is an Iran election cyberwar guide for beginners.
$134.5 BILLION worth of US bonds seized from smugglers at Swiss border.
Online Personal Narratives from Patients of Murdered Late-Term Abortion Provider.
South Africa's government has made a U-turn over its decision in March to deny the Dalai Lama a visa.
The United Nations has described the situation in northern Sri Lanka as a "bloodbath" after reports of heavy civilian casualties at the weekend.
Projectiles for the People by Andre Moncourt and J. Smith (Kersplebedeb Publishing and PM Press 2009) is the first of a two-volume documentary history of the Red Army Faction. It is described as "by far the most in-depth political history of the Red Army Faction ever made available in English".
A British Channel 4 News team has been arrested in Sri Lanka after reporting allegations of abuse in camps for displaced Tamils, the broadcaster said.
Evidence has emerged that the Texan who bankrolled English cricket may have been a US government informer.
Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the prince from the UAE who made a video of himself brutally torturing a businessman with whom he had a dispute, has been implicated in 25 further video-recordings of other assaults.
The Sri Lankan army has killed 91 people at a makeshift hospital inside a civilian safe zone in the last two days, two doctors have told the BBC.
A 25-year-old Somali pirate has told the BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan by telephone from the notorious den of Harardhere in central Somalia why he became a sea bandit. Dahir Mohamed Hayeysi says he and his big-spending accomplices are seen by many as heroes.
US President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA agents who used torture tactics is a violation of international law, a UN expert says.
Meanwhile, Washington has confirmed it will boycott a UN forum on racism in Geneva next week because of differences over Israel and the right to free speech.
A peace conference for Nobel laureates in South Africa has been postponed indefinitely after Pretoria refused the Dalai Lama a visa, organisers say.
Leftist Mauricio Funes of El Salvador's former Marxist rebel FMLN party has won the country's presidential election.
Wikileaks has released nearly a billion dollars worth of quasi-secret reports commissioned by the United States Congress.
The setting is Pennsylvania coal country, but it's a story right out of Dickens' grim 19th-century landscape: Two of Luzerne County's most senior judges on Monday were accused of sending children to jail in return for kickbacks.
Iceland has announced a new government that will be headed by the modern world's first openly gay leader.
Patrick Sean Farley sums up the Bush Years: All Circus, No Bread. Here is an extract:
But really, Bush himself wasn't the problem. Bush was a cipher, the perfect vacuum at the center of a perfect storm -- an ideological superstorm which rotated, like some slow, sick, wobbling hurricane of raw sewage over America for 8 years, like some brown, shitty version of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.
Partners in crime - Blair to receive medal from Bush.
Thousands of mourners have attended the funeral of a leading Sri Lankan newspaper editor and fierce government critic who was shot dead last week.
China is using an increasing number of paid "internet commentators" in a sophisticated attempt to control public opinion.
Jello Biafra Writes An Open Letter To Barack Obama.
If you want to learn about the politics of so-called "Intellectual Property" then you might want to take a look at The Public Domain by James Boyle. Subtitled "Enclosing the Commons of the Mind" it is fairly obvious what sort of stance it takes, and it is available either to buy as a physical object or as a free download on the website.
There is a great little film by Jason Parkinson called Global Economic Crisis: The First Wave which includes footage of an out of control police dog leaping up and snatching a camera from right in front of the face of a journalist.
In a recent entry I mentioned a scam involving an alleged video tape which supposedly indicated that Barak Obama is not a US citizen. It seems like a lot of people are still pushing this theory, despite compelling evidence to the contrary.
How did Thai protesters manage it?
I just took this online test of knowledge about US history, economics and politics. I got 29 of the 33 multiple choice questions correct - quite a bit better than average. The four questions I got wrong were 4, 8, 10 and 22.
It seems that some supporters of John McCain's presidential bid were tricked into giving money to a Nigerian scam in the hopes of getting their hands on a non-existent video tape of Michelle Obama admitting that her husband was not a US citizen.
The European Commission is expected to scrap its controversial rules that prevent oddly-sized and shaped fruit and vegetables being sold in Europe.
Parliamentary informatics is the application of information technology to the documentation of legislative activity.
What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been - Bill Ayers looks back on a surreal campaign season.
I haven't had a television for years and I rarely see television new, so it was strange for me to stay up all night following the BBC US election coverage (on the BBC website). For the last few years I have been involved in grassroots activism with an anarchist perspective, so a Presidential election has become a very remote, almost unreal form of politics. However, as a spectacle, it made for compelling viewing.
Whether the election was "free and fair" is debatable. For many reasons I don't believe it was, for one thing, no voting system can be truly fair in all possible situations.
But Obama did genuinely seem to be both a basically good person and a good fit for the role - not that I won't disagree with much of what he actually does as President. Anyway, just as an example of things about him that have caught my eye, here is Obama's Advice to Eight Year Old Girl.
John Gray writes in The Observer:
The global financial crisis will see the US falter in the same way the Soviet Union did when the Berlin Wall came down. The era of American dominance is over.
An interesting commentary on the current "financial mess" has been posted on cryptome.
There is a good article by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone called It's a Class War, Stupid, in which he discusses the real issues that the mainstream media will be doing their best to ignore during the forthcoming US presidential election.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has voiced grave concern over what it says is Colombia's apparent "deliberate misuse" of its symbol.
The NNDB Mapper allows you to explore NNDB visually by graphing the connections between people.
Saudi women are being kept in perpetual childhood so male relatives can exercise "guardianship" over them, the Human Rights Watch group has said.
The Nato-led alliance is "getting pretty close" to losing control of Afghanistan, Lord Ashdown, the former UN envoy to Bosnia has warned.
China's human rights record is getting worse, not better, because of the Beijing Olympics, a rights group says.
Evidence is accumulating that the Chinese regime orchestrated violence in Lhasa in order to discredit the peaceful protests of Buddhist monks.
The Great African Scandal is a documentary first broadcast on Channel 4 in September 2007:
Robert Beckford visits Ghana to investigate the hidden costs of rice, chocolate and gold and why, 50 years after independence, a country so rich in natural resources is one of the poorest in the world. He discovers child labourers farming cocoa instead of attending school and asks if the activities of multinationals, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have actually made the country's problems worse.
Tibet, the 'great game' and the CIA by Richard M. Bennet in the Asia Times online.
Cryptome has lots of photos of the recent/ongoing Tibet protests.
Fires have broken out in the Tibetan city of Lhasa amid reports of rioting, as rare street protests led by Buddhist monks appeared to gather pace.
A new study of US prisons has found that numbers of people in jail are at an all-time high, with more than 1% of the adult population behind bars.
Recognition of Kosovo's independence has gained momentum with the US, France, the UK, Germany and Italy all pledging their support.
In his controversial new book, Nick Davies argues that shadowy intelligence agencies are pumping out black propaganda to manipulate public opinion - and that the media simply swallow it wholesale.
Back in August I reported my results for an online political survey hosted at Mythic Beasts. There is actually a newer survey hosted there, based on a different set of questions. I have just done that one and here again are my results.
I also just found something along the same lines called Glassbooth which is tailored towards the forthcoming US presidential election. I tried it out and found that of all the the various candidates, the views of Dennis Kucinich are most similar to my own.
A copy of the Magna Carta, sealed by King Edward I and dating from 1297, has just been sold at Sotheby's in New York for $21.3m.
I just read an interesting post by Eliezer Yudkowsky on Overcoming Bias called Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs which begins with an observation:
Early studiers of cults were surprised to discover than when cults receive a major shock - a prophecy fails to come true, a moral flaw of the founder is revealed - they often come back stronger than before, with increased belief and fanaticism.
Here is a list of eight Open Government Data Principles.
Latvia's government has resigned after a series of corruption scandals and street protests against its policies.
Voting is underway in Venezuela on changes to the constitution. I have seen an email speculating about a CIA plot to use the referendum as a pretext to overthrow the Chavez government. Checking on Google News I found a November 20th article by Stephen Lendman titled Coup D'Etat Rumblings in Venezuela.
EU foreign ministers have urged Kosovo's Albanians not to rush into any unilateral declaration of independence following Saturday's election.
The Dalai Lama has been awarded a Congressional Gold Medal - the top US civilian honour - in a move that has infuriated China.
October 10th is World Day against the death penalty.
On the intro page of this section I gave my position on The Political Compass as (-7.38, -6.46) which apparently implied that I am left wing and libertarian - this was no surprise. I can't remember when I actually took the test but it was some time ago so my views are bound to have shifted slightly. It might be interesting to take the test again but I am not going to because I have discovered a much better Political Survey hosted at Mythic Beasts. It is better in that it does not rely on any arbitrary judgements of the survey designer other than the choice of the set of questions used. People take the test and the results are analysed to obtain a pair of principle axes based only the answers given. The two principle axes which have emerged have been roughly interpreted as left/right and pragmatic/idealistic but those are just interpretations of what came out of the data. The precise meaning of the axes is well defined as a set of weights given to each answer, but to reiterate, those weights emerged from the analysis and were not influenced by the designer of the test. So how did I do on this one? Well I scored -6.0873 on what is called the left/right axis, which means I am probably fairly "left wing" according to the common definition, and +1.3930 on the other axis, which means I am probably more pragmatic than idealistic (which is interesting because although I am quite pragmatic I consider myself to be strongly idealistic).
I found it hard to answer some of the questions. For example, should services like health care, education and social services be provided by government or private enterprise? I had to answer "no opinion" because I don't think they should be provided by either - communities should provide such services for themselves with no need for either government or private enterprise! Other questions were hard to answer because there was a conflict between my pragmatic and idealistic tendencies, which it seems were fairly well balanced. I am not shy about revealing my actual answers - I answered the questions as honestly as I could. So here are my results.
Interesting article by Steve Bloomfield in the Independent - Somalis yearn for Islamic rulers to return and tame the warlords.
Gay rights protesters have marched in the Latvian capital, Riga, despite an angry reaction from conservatives.
Paul Wolfowitz is to quit as president of the World Bank following a bitter promotion row involving his girlfriend.
The GLOBAL300, an initiative of the International Co-operative Alliance, the apex body of the international co-operative movement, presents the details of the major member-owned businesses worldwide for the first time. This "provisional" ranking based on 2004 data shows that together, these businesses share a turnover of approximately $1,000 billion (USD). Just to compare, Canada, the 9th economy of the world, had a GDP of $979 billion in 2004, according to the World Bank.
In Germany in the thirties, this was called Gleichschaltung - the process of weeding out independent thinkers and replacing them with those who were ideologically engaged and committed.
This is happening in the US now, with Monica Goodling acting as a placement agent for Regent University's law school, helping Bush purge the judiciary of any moderately high level people who's loyalty is in doubt. Regent is a Christian Evangelical law school with an affiliation to Pat Robertson. Read more about it in A Portrait of Bush's Monica. But at least Bush is not getting it all his own way. Monica has been forced to resign - see Monica Bids Farewell - also from Harpers. It seems that during the election campaign she worked in the dirty tricks department under the supervision of Tim Griffin.
Western clibers camped on the Napalese border witnessed Chinese soldiers shooting Tibetan refugees trying to cross the border. One of them even captured the cold-blooded killings on video. See Tibetan Refugees Shot by Chinese Soldiers on YouTube.
Vladimir Putin has blamed Washington's "very dangerous" approach to global relations for fuelling a nuclear arms race.
The view of the US's role in the world has deteriorated both internationally and domestically, a BBC poll suggests.
Far-right members of the European Parliament are preparing to join forces and form their own political group.
In Emilia-Romagna, two out of three people belong to a co-op. Bologna alone hosts 8,000, including the one-million member left-wing Legacoop and the 250,000-strong Catholic Confcooperative. The nature of the region's economy is considered responsible for the high standard of living enjoyed by the inhabitants.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has won a third term in office, securing a clear lead over rival Manuel Rosales.
The controversial US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, is to leave his post, the White House says.
Rome-Tel Aviv-Moscow-London connection to Litvinenko's murder?
Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB colonel who fell ill five days ago has died. His illness was initially thought to be caused by thallium but it now seems that he was assasinated by administration of Pollonium 210.
The government of Nepal and Maoist guerrillas have signed a historic peace accord, declaring a formal end to a 10-year rebel insurgency.
Russian security officials are regularly subjecting detainees to beatings, rape and torture, a report by Amnesty International says.
Security has been stepped up in the Indonesian city of Bogor ahead of a brief but controversial visit by US President George W Bush.
A former Russian KGB colonel living in Britain and poisoned by the toxic chemical thallium remains in a serious condition in hospital.
Some interesting election results today. For a start, Daniel Ortega has got his old job back as President of Nicaragua. Of course he shouldn't really have lost it in the first place. In the 1990 election the FSLN (Sandanista National Liberation Front) won 39 out of the 92 National Assembly seats - more than any other single political party. When Daniel Ortega conceeded it was to the UNO (National Opposition Union), an unholy US backed alliance of fourteen political parties ranging from the right wing Conservative National Action Party to the Communist Party of Nicaragua. OK so the UNO did win 51 seats to the FSLN's 39, but that was after a prolonged US backed intervention which including mining Nicaraguan harbours etc. The US had made it quite clear that if the Nicuraguan people re-elected Ortega they would suffer yet more death and destruction - hardly what you would call a fair election.
And speaking of the United States, how about those mid-terms! Rummy is already out on his ear following the Republican loss of the House of Representatives, and unconfirmed reports suggest that the Democrats will also take the Senate.
Update - Democrats take control of the Senate
Cryptome has some good photos of the Mexican federal police assault on Oaxaca.
In Lincoln Weeps Bill Moyers writes:
Once upon a time the House of Representatives was known as "the people's house." No more. It belongs to K Street now. That's the address of the lobbyists who swarm all over Capitol Hill. There are 65 lobbyists for every member of Congress. They spend $200 million per month wining, dining and seducing federal officials. Per month!
Meanwhile, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the authors of a controversial paper criticizing the role of the "Israel Lobby" in American foreign policy, are at work on a book-length version of their findings to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
I must find time to read "Charters of Liberty in Black Face and White Face: Race, Slavery and the Commons" by Peter Linebaugh, published online by Mute.
What were those 14 defining characteristics of Fascism again?
Bolivia is to hold talks with Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela on Thursday to discuss its move to extend state control over its natural gas assets.
Today is World Press Freedom Day.
On January 12, 2004, George W. Bush issued a presidential proclamation that bars corrupt foreign officials from entering the United States. So why was Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the blatantly corrupt dictator of the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea, in Washington, D.C., last week? Harpers has the answer.
From this statement by Zimbabwe Popular Resistance:
Zimbabwe has reached a point in it's young history where there is no path to follow other than popular resistance. Resistance to a brutal, corrupt, and illegitimate ZANU-PF regime that has shamed the principles of our liberation struggle and raped our country in pursuit of unlimited power and greed. Resistance to a dictator, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who has betrayed and assaulted the hopes and aspirations of the Zimbabwean masses and has lost all claim as a legitimate leader. Resistance to domestic and international elites, whatever their race or ethnicity, who like parasites, have gorged themselves by sucking Zimbabwe's resources and people dry. Resistance to political opportunists who are more interested in gaining access to power and privilege than they are in struggle and sacrifice for the Zimbabwean masses.
French President Jacques Chirac has announced that the new youth employment law that sparked weeks of sometimes violent protests will be scrapped.
Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush's conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.
The above paragraph begins today's Washington Post article by Kevin Phillips titled How the GOP Became God's Own Party.
Check out Harold Pinter's December 2005 Nobel Lecture Art, Truth & Politics.
On 2006-03-02, Sam Seder moderated a forum featuring Representative John Conyers Jr., John Dean, Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, Lewis Lapham and Michael Ratner. The forum took place in NYC and the subject was Is There a Case for Impeachment?.
French trade union leaders are threatening to call a general strike unless the government withdraws a new youth employment law by Monday.
Tens of thousands of French students are expected to take to the streets across France to protest against a controversial new labour law.
The US justice department has said it intends to pursue senior politicians suspected of taking bribes from prominent lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Bolivia's president-elect Evo Morales has said his country is uniting with Venezuela in a fight against "neoliberalism and imperialism".
Venezuela has given the world's biggest oil company, ExxonMobil, until the end of this year to enter a joint venture with the state.
From this Small Editorial about Recent Events:
As you may all be aware, the New York Times has reported, and the administration has admitted, that President of the United States apparently ordered the NSA to conduct surveillance operations against US citizens without prior permission of the secret court known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (the "FISC"). This is in clear contravention of 50 USC 1801 - 50 USC 1811, a portion of the US code that provides for clear criminal penalties for violations.
Police in Nepal have closed a radio station and arrested five staff members for trying to rebroadcast a BBC interview with the Maoist rebel leader.
Yesterday tens of thousands of people gathered in Lumpini Park in the capital of Thailand for an anti-Thaskin rally.
"Private Property may not actually be theft - but it has some pretty nasty habits!" This is from the intro to an inaugural conference From Ownership into Stewardship which will take place at the London School of Economics on Saturday.
The United States had a 666 billion dollar deficit in international transactions last year and it is widely believed by economic experts that some sort of catastrophe is looming. Harpers brought together three of the most notable economic thinkers in the US and charged them with charting a new course toward financial safety. You can read a transcript of the forum in The Iceberg Cometh.
I have just created a new section about Anarchism.
I have moved relevant links from the top level of my site into this directory.
Just created this top level directory.
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010