Friday, July 29, 2011

Local Regulations Keep You Unemployed

Local politicos and their backroom "business partners" are creating phoney licensing scams to keep you out of work. Check out your local licensing regulations and see if any of them are based in reality. Fight for your right to work!

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Proponents of such requirements justify these barriers by endlessly parroting the same worn-out phrase: public health and safety.  Yet if public health and safety were truly at risk, we would expect to see florists regulated in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., not just in Louisiana as they are now.

State legislators largely seem oblivious to the counterproductive effects of the licensure schemes they create.  This spring there was a ray of sunshine in the gloom of occupational licensure when Florida's new governor, Rick Scott, proposed a list of 20 occupations ripe for deregulation.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

EFF Campaign Increases the Number of TOR Relays

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There is an acute need for circumvention technologies in authoritarian regimes - and even activists in many would-be progressive societies may feel safer if they can avoid the electronic gaze of authorities.

Our gratitude goes out to the hundreds of individuals who set up relays and donated bandwidth to help strengthen the network. They are true defenders of online freedoms.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Stimulus that Didn't

It should also be noted that 'official' unemployment figures ignore the completely disenfranchised who do not 'qualify.'

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Myth 1: Stimulus spending can jump start the economy and fix unemployment.

  • Since the enactment of the stimulus bill in February 2009, the unemployment rate has not approached pre-American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) levels, even though $382 billion has been made available by government departments and agencies (on top of tax credits and other tax-related items).
  • In fact, unemployment recently edged up, from 9 percent in April to 9.1 percent in May.

Myth 2: Additional infrastructure spending is an effective way to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

politicians rarely include infrastructure spending in stimulus bills.
  • Instead, they spend money on items like transfers and tax cuts.
  • Only 3 percent of the last stimulus went to infrastructure.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The War on Food: are we Winning or Losing?

Federal, State and Local governments continue to pour money and manpower into the War on Food, but who's winning?

Here's a brief selection of examples from 2011 to 2008:

"Government regulation ... requires costly procedures that drive small producers out of the market without necessarily improving the quality of food."

“Mandatory menu labeling did not promote healthier food-purchasing behavior.”

"Growing too many vegetables is illegal"

The War on Lunch:

Hot Dog Wars

"Nationwide, fancy juices and venti mocha Frappuccinos remain almost completely untouched by sin surcharges, while a bodega bottle of Sprite brings down the wrath of the taxman. "

Regulation and enforcement? Failed.

Minimalist "education?" Failed.

"Sin tax?" Failed.

While waving the flag of "health concerns" Federal, State and City governments grow steadily more "obese" at the tax trough while protecting their business partners.

Small business, local producers and tax-payers are not welcome at the table.

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America continues to get fatter, according to a comprehensive new report on the nation's weight crisis. Statistics for 2008-2010 show that 16 states are experiencing steep increases in adult obesity, and none has seen a notable downturn in the last four years.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Privitized Oppression

You may think this is about Xe, or Blackwater, or top secret torture camps. It's not.

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For six months now, five major US financial institutions, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union and the Bank of America have tried to economically strangle WikiLeaks as a result of political pressure from Washington. The attack has blocked over 90% of the non-profit organization’s donations, costing some $15M in lost revenue. The attack is entirely outside of any due process or rule of law. In fact, in the only formal review to occur, the US Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy C. Geithner found, on January 12, that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a financial blockade.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

OECD Draft of Internet Policy-Making Principles Raises Questions with Civil Society Coalition

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EFF has joined with a coalition of more than 80 global civil society groups which have declined to endorse a set of Internet Policy Principles presented today in Paris by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). EFF and the other members of the OECD’s Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) were unwilling to accept the high profile OECD Communiqué on Internet Policy-making because it could encourage states to use Internet intermediaries to police online content, undermining freedom of expression, privacy and innovation across the world.


Monday, June 27, 2011

The Greek Bailout: Who Profits?

Defaults and bailouts. The dominoes are falling.
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Lost in the eye-glazing babble about maturity extensions, haircuts, and which acronymic organization is going to funnel the money into place is the real magnitude of the stakes here. It’s not just the Greeks’ opera-bouffé parody of the modern redistributionist state that is circling the structural-insolvency drain; what really terrifies our political class is the prospect that, very soon, the investors simply won’t buy government bonds anymore – and massive borrowing through bond issues is the only thing keeping the redistributionist state afloat.
Everywhere, the gap between political spending commitments and revenue has been covered by borrowing. The entire system of redistributionism, in which the political class buys the consent of the governed with ever-increasing handouts, has come to depend on the assumption that the bond markets will always be there to be tapped for cash to fund next week’s bread and circuses.

Know Your Rights: Protect Yourself from Illegal Searches

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The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects you from unreasonable government searches and seizures, and this protection extends to your computer and portable devices. In EFF's "Know Your Digital Rights" guide, we outline various common scenarios and explain when and how the police can search the data stored on your computer or portable electronic device -- or seize it for further examination somewhere else -- and give suggestions on what you can and can't do to protect your privacy.


Friday, June 17, 2011

U.S. Personal and Economic Freedom Index

The Mercatus Institute ranks the American states on public policies that affect individual economic, social and personal freedoms.

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This project develops an index of economic and personal freedom in the American states. Specifically, it examines state and local government intervention across a wide range of public policies, from income taxation to gun control, from homeschooling regulation to drug policy.

We explicitly ground our conception of freedom on an individual-rights framework. In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and properties as they see fit, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This Week in Internet Censorship

Top stories from EFF

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Canadian Filtering Tool Used in Middle East
Crackdowns on ‘Anonymous’
Tunisian Activists Speak Out Against Porn Blocking

Friday, June 10, 2011

Protecting the Economic Elite

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When the state seems to “tighten the screws” on commercial power, limiting its range of motion for (supposedly) the consumer, the outcome is to reduce the field of competitors. Only the savviest, richest and most well-connected business players will be able to afford compliance with the state’s largely arbitrary rules, so only small businesses — those without K Street suits hovering about Congress — end up losing.

It’s true that regulations cost Big Business money, but all of those added costs are more than recouped through the monopoly prices huge corporations are able to charge as a result of state intervention. At bottom, the state has never been anything but a money machine for economic elites, erecting barriers and tolls throughout our commercial interactions to make sure that the “free” part of “free enterprise” never actually reaches the people it would help most.


Friday, June 03, 2011

Intellectual Property as Licensed Monopoly

Is thought property? Without expression thought is a pretty solitary pastime.

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“Intellectual property,” like tariffs and all other monopolies, is a barrier to the free movement of labor and capital into certain legally defined areas of production, which has the effect of maintaining artificially high prices that would not exist under free market competition.  “Intellectual property,” in our corporate global economy, performs exactly the same function the tariff did in the old national industrial economies:  It regulates the conditions under which one is allowed to produce a particular good for a particular market, so that the beneficiaries are able to charge a monopoly premium.  Rather than erecting territorial barriers around particular nations like the tariff, “intellectual property” builds walls around global corporations.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

The War on Drugs has Failed

Fight drug related violence and drug abuse with the only weapon proven to be effective: education.

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A new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy argues that the decades-old worldwide "war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." The 24-page paper was released Thursday.

The commission called for drug policies based on methods empirically proven to reduce crime, lead to better health and promote economic and social development.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Fight Internet Censorship, take the Tor Challenge

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Activists worldwide use Tor to protect their anonymity online and to circumvent Internet censorship. But they all rely on a limited number of user-provided "relays" to protect themselves and communicate with others. Internet users worldwide need your help to make the Tor network stronger and faster, so take the Tor Challenge today!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spinning the Political Compass

A political indoctrination tool turns out to be inaccurate.

Who knew.

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The Political Compass, a popular online quiz, was supposedly designed to remedy the simple-mindedness of the left-right spectrum by replacing it with two axes:  political and social libertarianism vs. authoritarianism, and economic Left vs. Right.  Basically, everything nice you say about big business puts you further to the economic Right — which the quiz equates to a preference for free markets — and everything negative you say about corporate power puts you further to the Left (i.e. collectivism).

Some of the questions have a “have you stopped beating your wife?” quality to them.  For example:  “Because corporations cannot be trusted to voluntarily protect the environment, they require regulation.”  Or “A genuine free market requires restrictions on the ability of predator multinationals to create monopolies.”

This wretched quiz  takes for granted all the worst assumptions of our dumbed-down political culture.  In so doing, like Newspeak, it reinforces all the ways in which our corporatized political culture obscures critical thought.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Encrypted currencies and darknet economies

Bitcoin ushers in the Diamond Age.

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Jason Calacanis and his colleagues at LAUNCH describe it as “The Most Dangerous Project We’ve Ever Seen” (May 15, 2011).  Not only is it “the most dangerous open-source project ever created,” but “possibly the most dangerous technological project since the Internet itself.”  It “could topple governments, destabilize economies and create uncontrollable global bazaars for contraband.”

The beauty of it is there’s no central server network to shut down. Just as with file-sharing, Bitcoin is traded from one desktop or mobile device to another via public key encryption.  So short of catching and prosecuting end-users with harsh punishments, there’s no way to stop it.  And we all know how well that’s worked out for the proprietary content companies.


Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

The CDC uses zombie madness to present emergency preparedness.

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The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”

Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for real emergencies too!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Get a Warrant Before Searching Cell Phones

Make those folks on CSI work a little harder, support SB 914.

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EFF is proud to support SB 914, a bill that requires the police to obtain a warrant before searching a recent arrestee’s cell phone.

The bill is expected to be on the Senate floor soon. All Californians should ask their state lawmakers to support SB 914 and tell law enforcement that if they want access to the personal and private data stored on cell phones, they need to come back with a warrant.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Fight Internet Censorship

Check out "Documenting Tools for Beating Internet Censorship" on the EFF blog.

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Network censorship and surveillance is a booming business. Censorship schemes continue to fragment the Internet and new censorship proposals are constantly introduced around the world, including in liberal democracies. (Lately governments have gotten fascinated by the idea of forcing ISPs to censor particular sites from the DNS, so users can't find them even though the sites are still there.) Censors usually assume that most Internet users don't know how to bypass the censorship (or, often, that many users won't even realize the censorship is going on!).

Unfortunately, the censors are often right, at least in broad strokes: many Internet users get used to censorship and rarely or never try to bypass it. And censorship doesn't always take the form of simply blocking sites and services. But there are still major efforts to beat technical censorship by technical means, and motivated users can generally take advantage of them. Millions of people are at least occasional users of censorship circumvention services, but it's a perennial challenge to broaden this pool and give people the tools to maintain uncensored access over time.


Monday, May 09, 2011

Rationalizing and Reason: Unbelievable Beliefs

Why does the mind challenge fact with fiction?

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The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call "affect"). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we're aware of it. That shouldn't be surprising: Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It's a "basic human survival skill," explains political scientist Arthur Lupia of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.

Consider a person who has heard about a scientific discovery that deeply challenges her belief in divine creation—a new hominid, say, that confirms our evolutionary origins. What happens next, explains political scientist Charles Taber of Stony Brook University, is a subconscious negative response to the new information—and that response, in turn, guides the type of memories and associations formed in the conscious mind. "They retrieve thoughts that are consistent with their previous beliefs," says Taber, "and that will lead them to build an argument and challenge what they're hearing."


Routine Maintenance: Tracking the Trackers

Rotate your GPS tracking devices every 1000 miles for even wear.

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How to find it? Just get under your car and look around. If you see a black box, give it a yank. If it comes free, it’s probably not factory-installed. Even if you’re not sure what a normal car underside looks like, a surveillance device is going to look out of place. While you’re at it, check the car cushions and unzip your headrests; those are

both fine places to hide a passive device.

More-recent devices not only gather your GPS location data, they send it back out to someone who may be following your movements on the internet right now. Many of them can be spliced right into your car’s electrical system. No batteries and no need for retrieval mean that your shadow can be extra-sneaky when hiding the device. The engine compartment is going to be too hot, and the trunk is basically a metal box, so you can still pretty much rule those out. Start by looking behind the console, and don’t stop until you’ve looked pretty much everywhere else.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tyranny of the Mob

Democracy: a Florida professor and a planeload of paranoiacs deciding what to have for lunch.

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A Florida professor was arrested and removed from a plane Monday after his fellow passengers alerted crew members they thought he had a suspicious package in the overhead compartment.

That “suspicious package” turned out to be keys, a bagel with cream cheese and a hat.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Public Trust in Media and Government

A survey on public trust, main-stream media and transparency in government and the effects of WikiLeaks.

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The purpose of this survey is to measure public opinion and trust in WikiLeaks, the government and the mainstream media. It is anticipated the results will be collated, analysed and published as an Honours Dissertation as a partial fulfillment of a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree at Griffith University, Nathan Campus.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reduce Oil Dependence-Open Fuel Standard

Promoting choice at the pump.

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To outmaneuver OPEC, the market needs to be able to react dynamically. That means giving purchasers of fuel the ability to choose a different fuel at the pump if it's cheaper that day than gasoline or diesel. Brazilians already have this option: During the oil price spike in 2008, with 90% of their new cars fuel flexible, they bought more alcohol fuel than gasoline.

An Open Fuel Standard would require new cars to include a $100 tweak that would allow them to run on a variety of liquid fuels in addition to gasoline. Such fuels would include methanol, which is easily made from natural gas and biomass (and, less cleanly, from coal). Enabling vehicles to use natural gas, whether directly or via liquid fuels that are made from it, allows consumers to benefit from the very large cost advantage that natural gas holds today over oil. As we move forward, vehicles like plug-in hybrids that provide 20-40 miles of electric range before shifting to a flexible liquid fuel tank can provide a highly competitive platform. By stretching gasoline with other liquid fuels and electricity, the car can use one gallon of gasoline for every 500 miles of driving.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Government Job Monopoly

The job market can be a gamble, but the house always wins. State and Federal governments continue to dominate employment with guaranteed perks and pensions paid for by ever rising taxes.

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Every state in America today except for two—Indiana and Wisconsin—has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. The not-so Golden State now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees—twice as many as people at work in manufacturing. New Jersey has just under two-and-a-half as many government employees as manufacturers. Florida's ratio is more than 3 to 1. So is New York's.


Monday, March 21, 2011

In-District Meetings: Defend Your Rights

Action speak louder than tweets.

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Senators and Representatives don't spend all their time in Washington; they also head home to visit with their families and constituents. This happens frequently -- in fact, Congress is only in D.C. about 137 days per year.  When they aren't in D.C., they're at home - and you can go visit them! You can either schedule a meeting with your elected leaders in person or engage them in a public event, like a town hall meeting or fundraising event.

Congressional representatives care about what their constituents have to say; after all, constituents are their bosses! And in-district meetings are particularly important.  Every in-person meeting has an exponentially bigger impact than a letter or email. It engages them in a way no other form of communication can.


Lawsuit Challenges NSA Surveillance

Appeals Court Revives Lawsuit Challenging NSA Surveillance of Americans

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It’s easy to forget these days, but former President George W. Bush’s illegal warrantless surveillance program was never halted by Congress, nor by the Obama administration. It was merely legalized in a 2008 law called the FISA Amendments Act. That means the surveillance of Americans’ international phone calls and internet use — complete with secret rooms in AT&T data centers around the country — is likely still ongoing.


Friday, March 18, 2011

In the Shadow of Sunshine Week

Only the guilty need fear Sunshine Week.

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As Sunshine Week sets, it’s a good time to take a quick inventory of the federal government’s ongoing failures of transparency., which tracks the influence of money in politics, ran down the opacity the public confronts at every level of government — from antiquated campaign-finance reporting requirements to Freedom of Information Act shortfalls.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rushing to Regulate the Internet

Where's the fire? What is the Commerce Dept. trying to hide?

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The Commerce Department gave the many, many interested parties the worst four weeks of the year—including  Christmas, New Year’s and Martin Luther King Day—to digest and comment on an 88 page, ~31,000 tome of a report on proposed regulation of how information flows in our… well, information economy. Oh, and did I mention that those same parties had already been given a deadline of January 31, 2011 to comment on the FTC’s 122 page, ~34,000 word privacy report back on December 1 (too bad for those celebrating Hanukkah)? In fairness, the FTC did, on January 21, extend its deadline to February 18—but that hardly excuses the Commerce Department’s rush to judgment.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Subversion, sedition and sabotage

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Yes, Virginia, there are differences between the official “left” and “right”.  But those differences are “split” in such a way that one segment of the ruling class benefits no matter who you support.  I tend to prefer indirect economic tyranny to direct pseudo-religious pleasure-control tyranny myself, and I suspect most of you would as well, being the shiftless deviants I know and love.  It’s still not something to cheer about.  The other advantage to our would-be masters of creating two inconsistent, self-contradictory “wings” is that in a democracy they will tend to take turns running things, so each faction of the ruling class gets their chance to be more favored.  There’s a war in the heavens, but you’re not invited to the victory dinner.  You might even *be* the victory dinner, one way or the other.

You can’t just up and change the system. But what you can do is subvert it. If enough people subvert things long enough, the system changes de facto. In order to do this, you have to stop buying into the idea that the system as such is legitimate, that it has a claim on your behavior. Subversion, sedition and sabotage.  Direct action in pursuit of your goals.  Not only does it get results, but it allows you to live like a human being again.  You will be, if not entirely free, liberated from the wasteful trap of throwing your life away trying to convince the ruling class to go against their own interests.


Friday, March 04, 2011

The Free Market’s Regulatory Model

We've all seen how Big Government "regulates" its Big friends in Big Business. Corporate cartels that are "too big to fail" get Big money to paper over the Big mistakes. Who pays? We do.

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Big Business, we are frequently advised, is the enemy of our natural biosphere, forever seeking new ways to sidestep its responsibilities to the environment and to dirty it at will. This assumption is, in the main, difficult to contest, its evidentiary support inescapably confronting anyone paying even the least attention. This popularly-understood fact, however, is attended by another assumption regarding the relationship between power and the natural world, that the state is the great taming influence on the evil corporation.

As historian Gabriel Kolko demonstrated in his groundbreaking account of the Progressive Era, absolutely nothing in political life could be further from the truth. “[T]he federal government,” reveals Kolko’s The Triumph of Conservatism, “rather than being a source of negative opposition, always represented a source of economic gain” for Big Business. The state, in conflict with the widely-accepted story we get from “respected” outlets, allowed corporate powerhouses to “solve their economic problems by centralization.”


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Digital Jasmine: Flirting with Revolution

A real-world example of covert communications. Using available tools in unexpected ways to get the word out. May your day be filled with jasmine.

As uprisings spread across northern Africa this month, protesters lit up social networking sites with updates—even Egypt’s attempt to shut off the Internet couldn’t stop them completely. But in Libya, where the fight is getting hotter and hotter, few people use sites like Facebook or Twitter, and many would be afraid to write there openly. So protest leader Omar Shibliy Mahmoudi found a place where they could speak in code: dating sites.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Collective Bargaining isn't the Problem

This is an example of what happens when people's livelihood is tied to political posturing.

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When government is the employer, employment questions become policy questions … and policy questions are intrinsically political questions. This means that all the players involved will mobilize political power to get the answers they want.

The problem isn’t the existence of a teachers’ union. The problem is on the other side of the negotiating table.

Get government out of education, and the alleged rapaciousness of teachers’ unions is limited by the ability or inability of private employers to meet their demands (or their ability to generate revenue by forming their own cooperatives and serving willing customers).


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rapid Fire Crowd Control

"Arsenal of Freedom" alert: #activists take note, prepare to defend yourself against rapid-fire weapons of suppression.

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THE US army is planning to field "rubber bullets" for machine guns. Military officials claim the ammunition will allow them to more effectively quell violent protests without loss of life, but human rights campaigners are alarmed by the new weapon.

Firing rapidly at long range is likely to be dangerously inaccurate, says Angela Wright of Amnesty International. "Such a weapon system would allow for a burst of non-accurate fire at a crowd, with high risk of hitting bystanders, ricochets and of hitting vulnerable areas of the body," she says.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guerrilla Networking: Internet Access for the Coming Apocalypse

Keeping up with your web comics when the Zombies are at your door (not really)

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These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it's organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we've seen in Egypt, that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you're trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can't rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.


Top 10 Logical Fallacies in Politics

Knowledge is power, people. Purge these maggots of sloppy thinking from you own brains and learn to identify them.

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We've all tried debating somebody with an unfalsifiable hypothesis, and we all know how futile it is. An unfalsifiable hypothesis is exactly what it sounds like, a theory that cannot be disproved. The simplest example is solipsism, the philosophical notion that the only thing that really exists is you and that everything you perceive and experience is a figment of your own imagination. There's simply no logical way to argue against this notion. Like the slippery slope, it might be true (yeah, you might be the only person in existence, and you're only reading this because you've made the whole thing up in your sick, twisted mind), but it's still a faulty argument. Note, though, that some unfalsifiable hypotheses, though they can't be disproved, can still be proved. If aliens landed on the front lawn of the White House, for instance, that would pretty definitively prove they exist, even though there is no way to disprove the existence of aliens today.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Rushed renewal for PATRIOT Act defeated

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Today in the U.S. House of Representatives, an unlikely alliance of House Democrats and Republicans stood up for civil liberties and successfully beat back a fast-track attempt to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act without the much-needed checks and balances EFF has championed.

The renewal bill voted on today would have extended three dangerous surveillance provisions in the PATRIOT Act until December 2011, provisions that are otherwise set to expire at the end of this month. In order to pass under the fast-track procedure adopted by House leadership to prevent the introduction of any reform-minded amendments, the bill would have had to garner a two/thirds majority--that is, 290 votes. The renewal effort narrowly failed on a final vote of 277 Yeahs to 148 Nays, thanks to the staunch opposition of Democratic leaders and an insurgent movement of freshman Republican Representatives and "Tea Party" conservatives who were unwilling to rubber-stamp the PATRIOT renewal.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Our Own Worst Enemies

Stop hitting yourself.

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“Government is just all of us working together.” “We are the government.” I frequently read such statements by liberals who react with alarm to the very notion that someone might fear the government.

If we are the government, we certainly do a lot of stuff to ourselves that isn’t very nice. Here, in no particular order, are some examples from the past week or two:


Friday, January 28, 2011

Data Privacy Day is Among Us

Get out there and flaunt your privacy!

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To appreciate Data Privacy Day you must first ignore the Euro-babble description of what is Data Privacy Day (“an international celebration of the dignity of the individual expressed through personal information”) and take it for what it really is: a prodding for Internet users to take a critical look at how they share and communicate information online.


Friday, January 21, 2011

A Step Toward a Decentralized Currency

Rainey Reitman on Bitcoin and the value of digital curency.

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To understand digital currency, one must first note that money in the digital age has moved from a largely anonymous system to one increasingly laden with tracking, control and regulatory overhead. Our cold hard cash is now shepherded through a series of regulated financial institutions like banks, credit unions and lenders. Bitcoin, created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, is a peer-to-peer digital currency system that endeavors to re-establish both privacy and autonomy by avoiding the banking and government middlemen. The goal is to allow individuals and merchants to generate and exchange modern money directly. Once the Bitcoin software has been downloaded, a user can store Bitcoins and exchange them directly with other users or merchants — without the currency being verified by a third party such as a bank or government. It uses a unique system to prevent multiple-spending of each coin, which makes it an interesting development in the movement toward digital cash systems.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Targeting our efforts

Kevin Carson points the way.

"When the wise man points at the moon, the fool looks at his finger."

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John Robb, who writes about asymmetric warfare and networked organization, is one of my favorite writers.  A central theme of his work is what he calls “systems disruption.”  To disrupt centralized, hierarchical systems, it’s not necessary to take over or destroy even a significant portion of their infrastructures.  It’s simply necessary to destroy the most vulnerable of their key nodes and render the overall system non-functional.

We can apply these lessons to our own movement to supplant the state.  Conventional politics aims at taking over the state’s policy apparatus and using it to implement one’s own goals.  But taking over the state through conventional politics is enormously costly.

We must find some weak point besides gaining control of the state.  For us, the state’s systempunkt is its enforcement capability.  By attacking the state at its weak point, its ability to enforce its laws, we can neutralize its ability to interfere with our building the kind of society we want here and now — and we can do so at a tiny fraction of the cost of gaining power through conventional politics.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Why you should always encrypt your smartphone

Ryan Radia delivers solid advice on protecting your privacy.

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Last week, California's Supreme Court reached a controversial 5-2 decision in People v. Diaz (PDF), holding that police officers may lawfully search mobile phones found on arrested individuals' persons without first obtaining a search warrant. The court reasoned that mobile phones, like cigarette packs and wallets, fall under the search incident to arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

California's opinion in Diaz is the latest of several recent court rulings upholding warrantless searches of mobile phones incident to arrest. While this precedent is troubling for civil liberties, it's not a death knell for mobile phone privacy. If you follow a few basic guidelines, you can protect your mobile device from unreasonable search and seizure, even in the event of arrest. In this article, we will discuss the rationale for allowing police to conduct warrantless searches of arrestees, your right to remain silent during police interrogation, and the state of mobile phone security.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Default comment for any police misconduct story

Brad Spangler has composed a handy response for police misconduct reports. Yes, it is as simple as that. You want reform? This is reform.

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Please feel free to save this little text blurb I composed earlier today and use it yourself as a default comment on ANY police misconduct story.

“Simple economics tells us that any monopoly will have a strong tendency toward excessively high price, poor service/product quality, poor customer service and poor service/product availability. Police are a service monopoly. If you don’t like this [INSERT STORY REFERENCE], you basically have to support opening up competition — which makes you an anarchist. It’s as simple as that.”


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Greenwashed Corporatism is Still Corporatism

Posted by Kevin Carson at C4SS

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I hear frequently from a doctoral student named Keith Taylor, who’s researching electrical power cooperatives and decentralized models for developing wind power.  He’s sent me quite a bit of material, over the past year or so, on the extent to which government “alternative energy” policy systematically privileges large-scale, conventional corporate business models and expensive proprietary technology.

The government’s refundable tax credits, for example, don’t go to rural electric co-ops because they’re tax-exempt.  Sounds only fair, right?  But the thing is the credits are refundable — which means that if a business pays any taxes at all the credits it’s eligible for don’t have to bear any relation to the amount of taxes actually paid.  It’s like a $20,000 welfare check that kicks in when you earn a single dollar in wage income, but is unavailable to the unemployed.  So the credits are, in fact, a massive subsidy to the largest corporate wind farms.