Monday, October 19, 2009

Twitter and a newspaper untie a gag order

TWITTER has been credited with helping to organize political protests and shine a light on abuses around the world. At the same time, the ubiquitous service has been criticized for disrespecting the sanctity of once-private halls of deliberation — whether a criminal jury's chambers or an N.B.A. locker room.

In the rarest of cases, apparently, Twitter can do both. That is the view of the editor of The Guardian in London, Alan Rusbridger, who, after prevailing in a legal fight over the publication of secret documents, wrote that “the Twittersphere blew away conventional efforts to buy silence,” as a headline on his column put it.

Last month, a British judge ruled that material obtained by Guardian journalists about a multinational corporation had to be kept secret. Unlike other such injunctions, however, the “gag order” applied to the existence of the injunction itself. That is, The Guardian was forbidden to report that it had been gagged.

Thus, we have a Kafka-esque experience that, fittingly, has been imposed an unknown number of times by the courts, according to the British newspapers.

The documents involved in the super- injunction could not have been more serious.

In August 2006, an independent shipping company, Trafigura, paid a local operator in Ivory Coast to dispose of waste from the treatment of low-quality gasoline. The operator dumped about 400 tons of the “slops” — a mixture of petrochemical waste and caustic soda — in open landfills around a large Ivorian city, Abidjan.

In the weeks afterward, according to a New York Times account from the time, 85,000 people sought medical attention, “paralyzing the fragile health care system in a country divided and impoverished by civil war.” Eight died from exposure to the waste, the article reported.

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Interview with Dr. Ulrich Wiesner who filed a lawsuit in Germany claiming E-voting is unconstitutional AND WON

Kathleen Wynne reports for Op-Ed News:

... When did secrecy take precedence over transparency in the counting of our votes in America through the use of electronic voting systems and, more importantly, why? What the majority of Americans have NOT heard about, but most election reform advocates are already aware of,isthe German Constitutional Court's recent decision to ban electronic voting in Germany by ruling it “unconstitutional.”

Let's think about this for a minute. By using a Constitution, similar to our own, and which had to be approved of by the U.S. after World War II, Germany has, through its High Court, determined that computerized, secret vote counting does not subscribe to the democratic standards of their country! Yet, still here in America, 95% of us are using some sort of computerized voting system to cast and/or count our ballots---completely government sanctioned, corporate controlled,using software protected from public scrutiny by trade secret laws. NO ONE can guarantee even a single voter that their vote is being counted as cast. What's wrong with this picture?

It is, indeed, encouraging that support is growing for a return to public hand-counts here in the U.S. and, as a result, we may someday soon reach a “critical mass” of support largeenough to put pressure on our courts to also recognize this fundamental right and “persuade” them to rule in a similar fashion as the German Court. When that day comes, we will be forever indebted to our German counterparts. ...

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McChrystal mistakenly reveals secret CIA report

In his widely reported London speech earlier this month, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, described how people constantly offer him ideas for fixing that country's problems. One of the more unusual recommendations, he suggested, came from a paper that advocated using a "plan called 'Chaosistan.' " McChrystal said it advised letting Afghanistan become a "Somalia-like haven of chaos that we simply manage from outside," but there was no further explanation of its origins.

When journalists from NEWSWEEK and other media outlets asked McChrystal's entourage about where the paper came from, they were directed to an obscure Web posting—an October 1998 speech headlined "What is Chaostan [sic]?" delivered by investment adviser Richard Maybury at a New Orleans conference for gold enthusiasts. Maybury predicted that 24 wars in "Chaostan"—a vast region stretching from Poland to North Africa to China, Vietnam, and Indonesia—would eventually merge into World War III. From an investor's point of view, Maybury wrote, this will be "great for weapons stocks and security--equipment stocks…and non-Chaostan oil investments." Was this really what McChrystal was referring to?

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Brain waves surge moments before death

A study of seven terminally ill patients found identical surges in brain activity moments before death, providing what may be physiological evidence of "out of body" experiences reported by people who survive near-death ordeals.

Doctors at George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates recorded brain activity of people dying from critical illnesses, such as cancer or heart attacks.

Moments before death, the patients experienced a burst in brain wave activity, with the spikes occurring at the same time before death and at comparable intensity and duration.

Writing in the October issue of the Journal of Palliative Medicine, the doctors theorize that the brain surges may be tied to widely reported near-death experiences which typically involve spiritual or religious attributes.

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Reform of revolution?

William Bowles writes for Creative-i:

t's really time I started writing more about the country I live in, the country of my birth, the UK, a country that has the oldest, the most cunning, the most duplicitous (not to mention the most mendacious) of all ruling classes, after all they've been at it for five hundred years, finally being forced to come up with what they like to call parliamentary democracy over a century ago, but just how democratic is it? And can we really expect real change to come about through a system as corrupt and sclerotic as 'parliamentary democracy'?

Parliamentary democracy is a closed system, literally owned by the two main political parties who work in intimate cooperation with the state bureaucracy to maintain the status quo (for proof of this we need only look at the panic caused by the 'expenses' scandal and how the political class, fearful of any challenge to its hegemony has fought tool and nail, left and right to defend their privilege to spend our money as they please).

How they have managed to do this should be important to us and especially the confidence trick called Parliament, a system that has for around a century has played the central role in the preservation of capitalism, in reality a private game with the political class being the players, the judges and the rule makers. In other words, a fix and a fix carried out no less with the complicity of organized labour.

We, the public, play our part by voting (or not) to maintain the 'game', getting bounced back and forth between two sides of same coin. But clearly the 'game' would seem to have run its course what with all the talk of the state's 'lack of legitimacy' reflected in the falling number of those who bother to vote or take part in any kind of political activity. Even the Labour Party's own membership has dwindled to a fraction of its size since 'New' Labour came to power (before coming to power in 1997 the Labour Party had over half a million members).

The worst thing about this scenario is that aside from the Anarchists, the left has attempted to join in the 'game' for the past century and more, with predictable results. We need only look at the 'left' in Parliament to see the truth, for no matter how left they are outside of Parliament, inside they too have to play the 'game', effectively emasculating themselves in the process. If they don't the results are predictable, for example, when George Galloway spoke out about the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was very quickly ejected from the 'game' (just how seductive the 'game' is can be illustrated by Galloway's claim, via the Respect Party, that part of Respect's objective was to restore the Labour Party to its former, pre-Blairite reformist glory).

The exclusion of the real left from the political process by the Labour Party and its complicit trade unions goes back decades, illustrated by the endless disbanding and reforming of the Labour Party Young Socialists every time it moved to the real left. Or the fact that under the Labour Party's 'bans and proscriptions', all attempts by the left within the Labour Party to seek common cause (and vice versa) with real progressives meant certain expulsion from the Party. True to its Cold War legacy Red-baiting was and remains Labour's methodology.

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Celente: People should brace for 'greatest depression'

A trends forecaster says the current economic "rebound" from last winter's Wall Street collapse of banks, insurance companies and automobile manufacturers is an artificial blip created by 'phantom money printed out of thin air backed by nothing."
 
And Gerald Celente of TrendsResearch.com, says people right now should be bracing for "the greatest recession" which will hit worldwide and will mark the "decline of empire America." Crop failures could be among the minor concerns.
 
"Here we are in 2012. Food riots, tax protests, farmer rebellions, student revolts, squatter diggins, homeless uprisings, tent cities, ghost malls, general strikes, bossnappings, kidnappings, industrial saboteurs, gang warfare, mob rule, terror," he writes for a quarterly publication that is available through subscription on his website.
 
He also talked about his forecasts with Greg Corombos of Radio America/WND in an interview that has been posted online.
 
The recent surge in Wall Street indexes back to near the 10,000 level, still far below the 14,000 prior to the crash, should be no reassurance for anyone, he said.
 
"There's no recovery. This is merely a cover-up," he said. "The market crashed in March of 2009 and around the world they papered over the damage from the collapse with phantom money printed out of thin air backed by nothing," he said.

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Ali G interviews Noam Chomsky

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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