Society's ChildS


6 Threats to Free and Open Access to the Internet

Freedom graphic
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Many of us believe the Internet to be open and free for us to explore all known information. Indeed, it is true that we currently can surf to any active website with our browser, and we can start a website or blog on any topic we wish to discuss. And it is quite a profound concept that everyone with a smart phone literally has all of the world's knowledge in the palm of their hand.

Ben Franklin knew well the importance of free access to information when he founded the first public library in America to share knowledge with those without the means to their own books. Today, he surely would consider the Internet's unprecedented access to information, and ability to communicate it instantly, as the ultimate level playing field of economic mobility and freedom.

However, this access is now under threat of authoritarian control. First, it is important to note that the gears of the Internet have always been controlled by central authorities, as Douglas Rushkoff recently wrote, "From its Domain Name Servers to its IP addresses, the Internet depends on highly centralized mechanisms to send our packets from one place to another."

Therefore, the idea that our movements on the Web are even remotely private or untraceable is false. The central "authorities" who control the gears of the machine know exactly where you have been, while Google and the CIA have even developed ways of knowing where you're going next as well. It's very creepy to know that our every move is being tracked, traced, and databased, but it has been happening from day one on the Internet, and will likely continue to happen despite the violation of basic rights to our privacy.


US: 'Cash for Kids' Judge Took $1m Kickback from Private Jail Builder to Lock Children Up

A former judge has been convicted of taking a $1million kickback from the builder of a juvenile jail in the notorious 'cash for kids' scandal.

Mark Ciavarella sent hundreds of children and teenagers to the private prison for minor crimes after being given the money by the company which ran it.
Some of the children jailed were as young as 10 and at least one killed themselves because the excessive sentences ruined their lives.

© The Associated PressCash for kids: Mark Ciavarella is confronted by Sandy Fonzo, whose son was locked up by the judge for a minor offence and subsequently killed himself
Ciavarella, 61, left the bench in disgrace two years ago after the allegations came to light and is now expected to be jailed for at least 13 years.

But instead of being caged immediately he was allowed to walk out of court - right into a barrage of abuse from the mother of an all-star wrestler who committed suicide after he sent him to jail.

Edward Kenzakoski, 17 was never the same after being jailed for a first-time minor drug offence, his mother Sandy Fonzo raged.

© The Associated PressDistraught: Mrs Fonzo said her son was never the same after he was jailed for a first-time offence of possession of drug paraphernalia. The 'cash for kids' scandal is one of the worst cases of judicial malpractice in U.S. history


US: Sub Officer Discharged Over Religious Beliefs

© Don S. Montgomery/U.S. Navy via Getty ImagesIn this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, the nuclear-powered fast attack submarine USS Hartford is moored off the U.S, Naval Academy in 1999 in Annapolis, Maryland. According to reports from U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, two U.S. Navy ships, USS Hartford and USS New Orleans, collided on March 20, 2009 in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian peninsula. One of the vessels, the USS Hartford a submarine, was nuclear-powered.
A junior officer at the Sub base in Groton has been granted an honorable discharge after suing the Navy, saying his Quaker beliefs keep him from participating in war.

In return, Michael Izbicki is dropping the federal lawsuit he filed last year, according to the ACLU. Izbicki filed the lawsuit last year after the Department of Defense twice rejected his discharge request.

A graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Izbicki grew up near Camp Pendelton Marine Corps base in California, and followed a family tradition of military service. He said he realized his Quaker beliefs conflicted with his Navy service after his graduation and began submarine training. During a psych exam, he told doctors he could not launch a nuclear missle.

"Thorough a period of intense religious study and reflection, supported by military and civilian chaplains and his own rigorous reading and prayer, Ensign Izbicki concluded that he was a conscientious objector and had no choice, because of his religious beliefs, but to give up the career for which he had aspired and trained, and to seek honorable discharge from the Navy," the ACLU said in a November news release.

Red Flag

Surprise! Rahm Emanuel Elected Mayor of Chicago

Rahm Emanuel
Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected as mayor of Chicago on Tuesday.

Emanuel, who will be succeeding the retiring Richard Daley, won over fifty percent of the vote with 86 percent of the precincts reporting.

The famously foul-mouthed Emanuel, 51, has been the clear front-runner in the race to run America's third-largest city ever since he resigned as White House chief of staff and moved back to Chicago in October.

His lead in the polls grew even as opponents dropped out of the once-crowded race to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley, who has governed the Windy City for more than 22 years.

And so, in a move characteristic of rough and tumble Chicago politics, opponents tried to cut him off in the courts, saying he had abandoned his Chicago residency when he moved his family to Washington to work for Obama.


How Long Will Americans Stay Apathetic To The Reality?

<'How Long Will Americans Stay Apathetic To The Reality?!'

I remember watching this episode of 'Boston Legal' and I recall thinking just how absolutely right he was in this argument. It was astonishing to hear so much truth on MSM, but I suppose it is classified as fiction. Sadly, it is true. The Bush Administration did more to dismantle Freedom and Liberty protected by our Constitution than any previous President. Worse yet, the Obama Administration has done nothing to restore the Rights lost and many Americans remain apathetic. Obama's 'hope and change' have left me still hoping for change. Obama has only worsened the situation by extending the [un]Patriot Act, appointing top corporate men in top government positions, giving DHS authority over food, net neutrality and adding another war (illegal and undeclared military action in Pakistan). Although some people have come around, the situation has only worsened so WAKE UP to the REALITY NOW!!!


Witnesses report bodies in the streets in Libya


Cairo - The bodies of protesters shot to death by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi were left on the streets of a restive district in the Libyan capital Tuesday, an opposition activist and a resident said, while the longtime leader defiantly went on state TV to show he was still in charge.

The eruption of turmoil in the capital after a week of protests and bloody clashes in Libya's eastern cities has sharply escalated the challenge to Gadhafi. His security forces have unleashed the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, which toppled leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, citing sources inside the country, said Tuesday that at least 250 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the crackdown on protesters in Libya. New York-based Human Rights Watch has put the toll at at least 233 killed. The difficulty in getting information made obtaining a precise figure impossible.


Top Sunni cleric says army should kill Kadhafi

 Muslim ,cleric ,Yusuf al-Qaradawi
© AFPInfluential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, pictured in 2007, issued a fatwa on Monday that any Libyan

Doha - Influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa on Monday that any Libyan soldier who can shoot dead embattled leader Moamer Kadhafi should do so "to rid Libya of him."

"Whoever in the Libyan army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr Kadhafi should do so," Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric who is usually based in Qatar, told Al-Jazeera television.

He also told Libyan soldiers "not to obey orders to strike at your own people," and urged Libyan ambassadors around the world to dissociate themselves from Kadhafi's regime.


Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can't Read Proficiently - Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending in Midwest

© AP/Sharon CekadaStudents from Appleton West High School protest a proposal by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that would make teachers pay a fraction of their own pension and health-insurance costs.

Two-thirds of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools cannot read proficiently according to the U.S. Department of Education, despite the fact that Wisconsin spends more per pupil in its public schools than any other state in the Midwest.

In the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009 - the latest year available - only 32 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned a "proficient" rating while another 2 percent earned an "advanced" rating. The other 66 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned ratings below "proficient," including 44 percent who earned a rating of "basic" and 22 percent who earned a rating of "below basic."

The test also showed that the reading abilities of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders had not improved at all between 1998 and 2009 despite a significant inflation-adjusted increase in the amount of money Wisconsin public schools spent per pupil each year.


Reversing Itself, US Navy Grants Ensign Conscientious Objector Status


Reversing two earlier denials, the U.S Navy has granted conscientious objector status to Michael Izbicki, a Naval Academy graduate most recently stationed at the Naval Submarine School in Groton.

Izbicki, 24, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Hartford in November, asking for an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector, contending that the Navy's hearings on his two requests were deeply flawed with legal, factual and procedural errors.

Deborah H. Karpatkin, a New York City attorney who represented Izbicki along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, said the Navy offered no explanation of why it overruled its earlier decisions.


Airline Apologizes To Jewish Customers

© shawnzam | Creative Commons License

London - UK budget airline easyJet apologized Tuesday to Jewish customers after the only food choices served on a flight from Israel were ham melts and bacon baguettes.

Passengers who follow the faith's ban on eating pork were forced to go hungry for the four-and-a-half hour journey from Tel Aviv to London.

The airline introduced the route in November, proudly promising that in-flight menus would feature kosher food that met Jewish dietary laws.