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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Bloggers Beware – USAF issues counter-blogging response flow-chart

Posted by aonomus on January 7, 2009

So, while this blog is mostly tech/science based, I occasionally touch on a subject that I feel needs to be addressed, and in this case it impacts something I feel very strongly about. Today Wired magazine wrote an article describing the US Air Force’s counter-blogging program and response chart regarding how to handle online activities for enlisted airmen/women.

Now the chart appears to be a well designed and thought out document to prevent negative image or PR regarding the USAF, the current war or politics in general, it also creates a potential problem. For anyone that writes any non-pro war statement on their blog, this may attract the attention of their counter-blogging program, particularly if your blog attracts a good amount of traffic per day. With the chart as a general ‘marching order’ for any USAF personnel that blog or read blogs, this creates an (un?)intentional counter-intelligence program that may lead to USAF personnel explicitly attacking those online that voice opinions contrary to that of the current government.

The best propaganda, is that which you don’t believe to be propaganda; someone who leaves a nasty comment at the bottom of a blog post can’t be hired now could they? If you get enough people spouting the same view against someone elses, they become the loudest voice and can hold more influence over others.

Moral of the story: Take everything online with a grain of salt, especially since no responses are credentialed typically. Just because a certain view is the most common does not make it correct by default.

Remember, the citizens media is powerful, just look at all these examples of bad cops being filmed, and posted on Youtube so that they can’t cover up whatever they did. And don’t take my word for it, but historically government agencies have been known for counter-intelligence programs, specifically COINTELPRO. What better way to influence public view than to become it?

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Ontario day of Student Action – Protesting Tuition Fee Increases

Posted by aonomus on December 9, 2008

On November 5th, 2008 university students from across Ontario gathered in protest against increasing tuition fees at Queens Park in downtown Toronto. Why would students want lower tuition fees? Are they asking for a free ride and handouts? Are they not working part time jobs and struggling to get through their 4 years of university?

Some of the more self-absorbed public commentary (likely those whose cars were stuck in traffic due to the rally, and are right-wing Conservative) say that students don’t work, haven’t applied for bursaries or aren’t deserving of scholarships. The other common knee-jerk reaction of people whom I surveyed through the crowd was that decreasing tuition fees would raise their taxes.

My thought to this is that there is a significant amount of disinformation: firstly, the student body of Ontario protested because of continually increasing tuition fees which do not account for simple inflation rates. We protest against the corporate monopoly on education, and the improper distribution of taxpayer money. If you examine how much it costs to live as a student, even with a job many students exit their undergraduate degree with over $20,000 in debt in Ontario (some programs which have already been deregulated have $10,000 per year tuition, significantly increasing overall debt, values were averaged). Between $150 textbooks which get revised every year to prevent used-book sales, $7000 tuition, housing, utilities, food, and a frugal entertainment budget, nothing is left over from a part time job.

Another ill-conceived concept is that students do not work, two problems arise. Firstly many students do work part time jobs (any suits should recognize the minimum wage student serving you your Starbuck’s coffee every morning, or packing your groceries in the evening). Secondly, not all undergraduate degrees are the same – some social science or humanities degrees require less in-class time allowing for greater flexibility in work schedules, while science programs typically have multiple 4-hour labs, eliminating the ability to work and study for most science students (particularly in upper-years, and especially in my case).

The next topic of interest is taxes – would decreasing tuition fees increase taxes? Perhaps, however the students of Ontario were not asking for taxation to increase, they were asking for a redistribution of funds. Why spend $460 million on a war that 61% of the country does not support in the first place? A country’s first duty should be to its own people, and not necessarily due to foreign pressure; therefore Canada should focus on educating its own people in order to secure a stable skill and knowledge based economy for the future.

While a barrier to entry should exist to education, it should not be deregulated by those who do not hold the people’s best interest in mind. While American university tuition fees do range in the $15+ range per year, that is because they were deregulated long ago, students in Canada don’t wish for that to happen and keep pushing for government aid.

Another thing I find troubling is that dozens of photographers and a handful of videographers were documenting the event (myself included), however I find the lack of grassroots community media troubling. While there were dozens of people with dSLRs with photos worthy of the news (or professional video cameras), even handheld cameras could contribute to the available media available for use by the very people who organized this to document the event themselves. As a call to all students from the protest: ask your student newspaper if they want any photos of the event, or gather together any video clips and put them on Youtube, if you put the media out there people will take interest.

So in closing, to the students of all universities everywhere: raise awareness nicely, save money and get a job, but don’t let the big corporations control what you do, say, and think.

Photos: link
Note: photos are available for use under a Creative Commons non-profit license. Also, if you do use the photos, link my blog as well.

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The Khadr Situation

Posted by aonomus on July 16, 2008

Well, I’m sure this post is going to garner alot of flak. Thank goodness for the ability to deny racist comments.

For those of you that don’t know, Omar Khadr is a Canadian who was raised by his parents to fight Westerners, and several years ago when he was 15, he allegedly threw a grenade that killed one soldier and blinded another. He is now 21, in gitmo (Guantanamo bay) undergoing various forms of torture such as sleep deprivation and psychological abuse.

Now among the various troubling points I’d like to make one comment first and foremost. I would like to criticize many of the news and media companies covering the story, CBC in particular, as one of their more recent articles regarding Khadr’s mother voicing her thoughts brought hatred in the form of comments on this CBC news article.

My first thought is that the ‘prairie dwelling rednecks’ (yet another divisive hate charged term used by commenters) really should be informed before they make baseless unfounded comments. The CBC allows borderline hate speech comments on this article because its sensationalist news coverage, it might as well be FOX news. Not once have I seen any news coverage regarding the deceased soldier’s family, nor their opinion. For their narrow minded ratings driven, American style news, I have to give them a F- – (ever so blatantly taken from Futurama).

My next criticism is towards the Canadian government. Quite frankly the parties at fault here are the mother and father who either failed to do the right thing, or intentionally did the wrong thing (as in the case of the father, who influenced and raised his son to hate western society). At the age of 15, the UN would consider him a child soldier, yet he was taken to gitmo and was held there for 6 years. The Canadian inaction on something that shouldn’t be happening is likely not due to the majority of people, but likely that Canada is becoming America’s pet.

Canada has never been a major target for any terrorist acts because, suprise suprise, we don’t piss other countries off. We don’t invade under pretext of terrorism, etc etc ad nauseum, or at least we didn’t before. I’m afraid myself now that because we’re becoming more Americanized, we become more of a target.

Canada is an ally of America, and because he was/is a Canadian citizen, that makes his act of tossing a ‘nade and killing someone, treason in effect. A Canadian killing an American probably isn’t all too uncommon in the greater realm of things (think: Canadian druggie visits Vegas and gets in a fight), but because of his race, he gets treated much differently. Many of the comments are so hateful and narrowminded, yet if a white, black, asian, or purple green dinosaur Canadian murdered an American, they would not be screaming for their parents to be deported, sending an already tortured kid to places where he is likely to be killed because of the very same narrow minded view. The hypocritical view of Canadians makes me sad in the fact that we have been brainwashed by American views to hate certain races.

And last of all, my actual opinion on the entire crapstorm that this has become. First off, all of the above is an opinion, but it isn’t mine, it is the opinion of any reasonable Canadian seeing all the hate, which simply shouldn’t happen. My actual opinion is that while he should stand trial in a Canadian court of law for treason against Canada, he should not be allowed to remain if he isn’t allowed to rehabilitate here. Taking a then-15 year old (who mentally is probably the same age now due to isolation) and imprisoning him for life is worse than sending him back to his own country after the war is over.

While the Taliban are illegal combatants, I don’t think that a kid brainwashed to hate westerners should be treated as an adult combatant. It would also be stupidly hypocritical for us to take away the same rights that terrorists threaten. I remember, flipping across the movie network channels seeing a scene of a white gunman holding a head to a middle eastern young adult because he suspected him of being a terrorist. At the end of the movie he said to the gunman ‘look in the mirror, who is the terrorist’ as the gunman stood over a beaten kid tied up to a chair. I can’t remember the name of the movie, but it does sound eerily true by the end of it. While he could have done something bad, taking away his rights and torturing him is no better than what he did, and only reinforces the view that the Middle East holds of westerners.

Posted in Politics, Rant | 1 Comment »

ACTA – Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – Horribly Wrong.

Posted by aonomus on May 26, 2008

Well, if you haven’t heard of ACTA yet, its cause the participant governments don’t want you to hear about it. Its being drafted currently (and has been for several months) to ‘prevent piracy’, but it has much more significant implications overall. Under the pretext of fighting true counterfeit products and commercial piracy that causes actual significant loss to both right holders and consumers, it seems to target more specifically the everyday citizen.

As an iPod owner myself, I find this disturbing because it is difficult to determine whether or not a particular song is pirated or not. ACTA would allow border officials to randomly search any electronic device with several disturbing clauses:

  • ex officio authority to act on infringers: The ability to act on infringers without legal recourse from the IP rights holder
  • ‘Civil enforcement’ – ex parte searches: The ability to search items and possessions without a lawyer present
  • Provisions for judicial authorities to pay the right holder(s) fines: Arbitrary, trial-less punishment, ACTA would allow government officials to force you to pay fines based on already shoddy laws under the pretext of ‘terrorism’ or other bandwagons.
  • Provisions for confiscation and destruction of IP violating property. Wouldn’t this let them take, keep and suppress any evidence for you to fight their decision?

Doesn’t this make a small group judge, jury, and executioner without any oversight? I already mentioned the lack of transparency in the Canadian government by removing certain programs which allow for people to watch the government.

http://ipjustice.org/wp/2008/03/25/ipj-white-paper-acta-2008/ has a much better explanation and commentary of the leaked document regarding ACTA found here: http://ipjustice.org/wp/2008/05/22/leaked-us-govt-discussion-paper-on-proposed-anti-counterfeiting-trade-agreement-acta-from-wikileaks/
Disclaimer: IANAL, this is only an informative statement towards the public.

I felt I needed to put that disclaimer in because sooner or later, any public outcry against government policy will be illegal.

Posted in How Not to Do It, Politics, Rant | Leave a Comment »

CAIRS – Coordination of Access to Information Request System

Posted by aonomus on May 5, 2008

So for those of you that don’t follow the news too closely, the PM of Canada has shutdown a important database that was designed and implemented to allow the government to be transparent. The basis of CAIRS is that it tracks who searches for what (by department, or if it was a public request). As of April 1st departments didn’t have to update the database, and its just another drop in the bucket towards removing government accountability.

Consider signing the petitions after reading the news articles and understanding what it is at work.

Links

UPDATE: The Globe & Mail published a news article saying that the Commissioner’s Office (think independent oversight) was not notified to the government’s action of stopping monthly updates of the CAIRS database. The independent oversight provided by the Commissioner’s Office is supposed to provide an objective view on decisions like these.

Link:

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