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Sun, 05 Dec 2021
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SOPA Will Take Us Back to the Dark Ages

sopa graphic
© n/a
I had an epiphany today. The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was not written by people who fundamentally misunderstand how the web works. They understand all too well, and want to change it forever.

Behind the almost unreadable (yet truly scary) text of SOPA (and its Senate doppelganger, PIPA, or the Protect Intellectual Property Act) is a desire, likely fueled by powerful media conglomerate backers, to take us all back to the thin-pipe, content-distribution days of 1994 - right before the World Wide Web launched. From the moment the Internet and websites arrived, a veritable Pandora's box of opportunities have opened to every average Joe and Josephine in the world. Everyone became a content creator. Everyone had an audience.

The Internet also almost immediately became the transport mechanism for a steady flow of pirated content - first images, then music and, when the pipe got fat enough, movies. Major media companies, which once upon a time had sole control of the creation and distribution of popular entertainment, were appalled - and also powerless to stop it.

Laptop

Freedom of Speech, Internet Censorship and SOPA

rights graphic
© n/a
The First Amendment to the Constitution states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Whoa boy. I don't want to imply that there has been the wholesale disregard on the part of our current government when it comes to upholding hold this amendment, but, at least when it comes to the part about "freedom of speech", things are beginning to look a bit murky. And, today, with many popular websites undergoing a "blackout" in protest of the proposed Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) legislation, I thought I would offer my own thoughts on the matter.

First of all, it is a given that freedom of speech is the right of citizens of the United States. This means that our government cannot and should not be making an attempt to restrict or penalize speech because of its content or viewpoint. So, when there is talk of restricting Internet content, my eyebrows go up quizzically, wondering just what limits would be placed on those restrictions. Moreover, as electronic media becomes the norm rather than the exception, how does reading something on the Internet differ from reading a book, a magazine, or a printed newspaper?

Stop

Google Says 4.5 Million People Signed Anti-SOPA Petition Today

Google's infographic on the fight against SOPA.
© Google
Google's infographic on the fight against SOPA.
When Google speaks, the world listens.

And today, when Google asked its users to sign a petition protesting two anti-piracy laws circulating in Congress, millions responded.

A spokeswoman for Google confirmed that 4.5 million people added their names to the company's anti-SOPA petition today.

Not too shabby.

The petition, which was available via a link from Google's homepage, states that although fighting online piracy is important, the plan of attack described in the SOPA and PIPA bills would be ineffective.

"There's no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs," the petition reads. "Too much is at stake - - please vote NO on PIPA and SOPA."

Laptop

Support for Anti-Piracy Bills Wanes

Wikipedia page
© Wikipedia
Bowing to the power of the Internet, several key lawmakers withdrew support for anti-piracy legislation after a 24-hour blackout by thousands of websites Wednesday, likely quashing any chance the bills would pass in their current form.

Members of Congress faced a barrage of concerned and sometimes angry calls and e-mails from constituents made aware of the protests when they sat down at their computers.

The legislation - the Stop Online Piracy Act (a House bill commonly called SOPA) and the Protect IP Act in the Senate (called PIPA) - would allow U.S. attorneys general and copyright holders to enforce punitive actions against websites selling counterfeit goods or violating intellectual property rights.

Opponents say the bills go too far and threaten to shut down or censor legitimate websites that might inadvertently link to or display such content.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a key sponsor of PIPA, withdrew his support, as did Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Writing on his Facebook page, Cornyn urged Congress to slow down in pursuing the bills' passage and that it is "better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong."

Whistle

STOP SOPA: Piracy distributors are SOPA Promoters


More information Michael Mozart has collected can be found on his website here.

Attention

Police Want 'Drive-By' Friskings

Scan Technology
© New York Police Department
Gun-scan technology will use infrared mapping to identify hidden firearms.
If you think your privacy feels violated by TSA agents whenever you get randomly selected for a pat down or body scan, well, get ready for this: drive-by friskings by the New York Police Department.

NYPD announced this week that they are developing a new portable device to detect concealed weapons or explosives on possible perpetrators. The device uses infrared rays to scan a person's body and provide officers with a digital outline of any concealed weapons.

"If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation -- for example, a weapon -- the device will highlight that object," NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at the Police Foundation's State of the NYPD breakfast, according to the New York Times. "This technology has shown a great deal of promise as a way of detecting weapons without a physical search."

Attention

Internet Blackout Highlights Failure of American Politics

Blackout
© Top News Net, New Zealand

Our whole lives we have been told that we have "freedom", that we live in a "democracy", that "we the people" have the ability to choose the kind of society in which we want to live.

However, if you ask most Americans what kind of place they want, I guarantee you that a vast majority would disagree with almost every government action that has been put forward in their lifetime.

If we truly lived in a free society, we would not be in a half-dozen wars across the planet; we would not be subject to authoritarian policies such as the PATRIOT act and the NDAA; and the government would not have grown to become the biggest and most menacing dictatorship in the history of the world. It seems that in the past year these major events have really resonated with a great number of people, not just in this country, but throughout the world.

In the past, the oppressed would beg and plead with the very people who were responsible for their condition because they knew no other way of affecting change in society. People would ask the government to change their ways because they were under the impression that those in authority actually cared about them. After generations of failing to create change through politics, people are now shifting the direction of their message towards one another, instead of pleading with politicians and organizations that don't care about anyone but themselves.

Mail

Iran lawmaker: Obama sent secret letter to Ayatollah

Image
© Unknown
An Iranian lawmaker claimed Wednesday that President Barack Obama called for direct talks with Iran in a secret letter to the Islamic Republic's supreme leader that also warned Tehran against closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Obama administration officials denied to The Associated Press there was such a letter.

Iran has threatened to close the waterway, the route for about one-sixth of the global oil flow, because of new U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program.

Conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari revealed the content of the purported letter days after the Obama administration said it was warning Iran through public and private channels against any action that threatens the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.

"In the letter, Obama called for direct talks with Iran," the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Motahari as saying Wednesday. "The letter also said that closing the Strait of Hormuz is (Washington's) red line."

Stop

Google, Others Join SOPA Strike, House to Resume Consideration in February

Google stop SOPA graphic
© n/a
Search engine giant Google announced plans to throw its hat into the January 18 SOPA strike ring by placing a protest link on its home page.

According to Bloomberg, Google spokeswoman Samantha Smith said, "We oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet."

Online news magazine The Raw Story also announced today that it will blackout its website from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST in support of the SOPA protest.
"Going dark is a radical step for an online-only news organization, and it is one that Raw Story's management doesn't take lightly. It wasn't easy to tell our reporters and editors to take time off tomorrow and pretend that the news isn't happening. But we'd rather tell them to take tomorrow easy and come back twice as strong on Thursday than have to tell them later that the government pulled the plug on our whole organization because of SOPA/PIPA..." - Roxanne Cooper, Raw Story publisher

Star of David

When Is a Terrorist Not a Terrorist? & War With Iran or Not?

The longer and complete form of the first question in the headline is - When is a terrorist not a terrorist in the eyes of the Obama administration (not to mention all of its predecessors) and the governments of the Western world?

Answer: When he or she is an Israeli Mossad agent or asset.

In the case of the assassination of Iranian scientists, the Mossad's assets are almost certainly members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) also known as The Peoples' Mujahedin of Iran, which is committed to overthrowing the regime of the ruling mullahs. Many of its activists are based in Iraqi Kurdistan where Mossad has a substantial presence. It does the training there, selects the targets in Iran and provides the bombs and other weapons, and MKO members do the actual killing.