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[liberationtech] Weekly News

Yosem Companys ycompanys at
Thu Aug 20 21:30:26 PDT 2009

Dear friends and colleagues,

I was hoping to make this a weekly news service of articles related to
Liberation Technologies.  Unfortunately, I have recently become ill, so I
will be unable to continue doing do.  I hope to pick up where I left off
when I feel better.

I've decided it's probably best for me to rest as much as possible, which
will include being off the Internet and email for a while.  So if you need
to contact me urgently, please call (650) 924-1631.

Thank you for your understanding.





 Politics: <> Open
Source Tech Used To Monitor Afghan
*Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday August 19, @08:28PM*
*from the free-as-in-voting dept.*
  media <>
 politics <>
 technology <>
chrb writes*"BBC News is reporting on how the Alive in Afghanistan
project<> is
helping to oversee the Afghan elections using open-source
The site was set up by Brian Conley, who is also responsible for 'Alive in
Baghdad', 'Alive in Mexico', and who was arrested for filming protests in
China last year. The Afghan site uses FrontlineSMS<>
 and Ushahidi <> to process and visualize SMS texts
from Afghani citizens, allowing reports from all over the country to be
rapidly collated and re-distributed globally."*


Watch here:

 Obama's Google Moderator stats Google VP explains how questions to the
president came in The White House asked to use Google's moderator program
for President Obama's town hall meeting, which garnered huge participation
numbers. Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google, explains to
Tim O'Reilly at the Web 2.0 Expo how people were able to not only ask
questions, but to vote for the ones they most wanted to hear the president


 Watch here:

 Who will benefit most from the cloud? Government and developing countries
invest in the cloud At the OpenSource World event in San Francisco, Lew
Tucker, vice president and CTO of cloud computing at Sun Microsystems,
explained that many developing countries are skipping over acquiring their
own servers and going right to the cloud. Because of the cost effectiveness,
the move may spur their economies and create jobs. This could also hold true
for the U.S. government, currently creating its own cloud as well.


Watch here:

 Open-source voting: Secure over obscure? California’s secretary of state
envisions polling’s future At the OpenSource World event in San Francisco,
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen says open-source software can help
improve security in voting systems. Even with built-in security measures,
though, potential human error among thousands of volunteers will put them at



 Twitter: No Internet Required

By Blake Snow <> | Friday, June 19, 2009
| 5:15 PM PT

[image: twitter-bird1]A lot of things make Twitter special. The
140-character restriction makes the writing more potent, because people are
forced to get to the point instead of rambling on. Anyone can search for
things that are happening “right now,” as opposed to waiting hours (if not
days) for Google to update its links. And unlike Facebook, discussions are
open to the public, which encourages greater participation.

But one feature has been grossly overlooked in terms of what helps Twitter
stand out <>: the
ability to publish headlines to the Internet using only text-enabled cell
phones. How is that special, you ask?

Imagine how confined Twitter would be if it were web-only, requiring both a
browser and Internet access, like most social media platforms (i.e. blogs,
YouTube, and to a lesser extent, Facebook). It would still work. You’d still
get an ego boost with each new follower. But it wouldn’t be as popular or
used as often as it is today.

The makers of Twitter are seemingly aware of this. “Sending updates to
Twitter while you’re away from your computer makes things much more
interesting,” reads documentation on the devices section of Twitter
profiles. “It’s all done through text messages (aka ‘SMS’), which you
probably use all the time anyway, so there’s not much to learn.”

A couple of things to note from that. First, SMS is “more interesting” when
coupled with Twitter because the publication of social media doesn’t have to
wait for a browser, access to the Internet, or portable technology like an
iPhone or BlackBerry. With Twitter, there’s no more “I’m blogging this when
I get back to my desk.” You can report from the field as a story happens —
so long as you have cell reception, which is better than the 76.2 percent of
the world <> without Internet

Secondly, since you likely use your phone “all the time anyway,” the
frequency in which you contribute to Twitter is much higher than other forms
of social media, which again, typically require more advanced technology
enabled with an Internet connection. I think it’s safe to say most people
are a lot closer to their phone than their Internet connection. And without
a smartphone and data plan, the two are mutually exclusive.

As an added bonus, Twitter “by txt” lessens the effort needed to participate
in social media, since you’re already using your phone more. If there’s one
reason that independent bloggers have begun
blogs, it’s because blogs require a lot of work. Since a Twitter account is
much easier to maintain and update than a blog, its drop-out rate might be
lower than other platforms in years to come.

Granted, other web services leverage text messaging to their advantage. I
can find nearby movie times or restaurants by texting Google. And Yahoo can
text me news feeds and sports scores. But Twitter is the only SMS service to
enable social media for the general public, not just friends in your network
(à la Facebook). No Internet required.

That’s how ordinary citizens with rudimentary technology can impact
real-world events likeIranian
That’s how Twitter can
way we live.


 [image: Freakonomics - New York Times
[image: By Stephen J. Dubner]August 20, 2009, *10:48 AM* How Much Do
Protests Matter? A Freakonomics QuorumBy STEPHEN J.

Iran’s citizens take to the
masse after a disputed election. Gay men in Salt Lake City hold a kissing
protest <>. Members of the Westboro
Baptist Church voice their anti-just-about-everything
views<> to
military funerals and elsewhere.

Beyond the media attention they inevitably garner, what do protests actually

We rounded up a few people who have thought a lot about this topic —*Chester
Crocker*, *Bernardine Dohrn*, *Donna Lieberman*, *Juan E. Méndez*, *David S.
Meyer*, and *Howard Zinn* — and asked them how much protest matters in this
day and age, and why.

Here are their answers.

*Howard Zinn* is professor emeritus in the political science department at
Boston University, and author of the book *A People’s History of the United

“Testing is always a gamble, but one worth taking, because if you don’t take
the risk, you will be stuck with the status quo and I suppose we all agree:
the status quo is extremely undesirable.”

 Do protests work? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes very soon,
sometimes there is a long-term effect. Sometimes you can see a direct
connection between the protest and the result, and sometimes it’s difficult
to trace.

What this means is that you must not desist from protesting because you
don’t see an immediate result. What immediately looks like a failure may
turn out to be a success. Testing is always a gamble, but one worth taking,
because if you don’t take the risk, you will be stuck with the status quo
and I suppose we all agree: the status quo is extremely undesirable.

Some examples:

There was protest when the founding fathers concluded their work in drafting
the Constitution in Philadelphia because there was no Bill of Rights. With
the protests threatening the successful ratification (the vote was close in
major states: New York, Massachusetts, Virginia) the Founders agreed they
would add it, and they did in 1791.

The anti-slavery movement had to keep protesting for decades, from the
1830’s to the early 1860’s, until it had an effect on *Lincoln* and the
Congress, first with the Emancipation Proclamation, then with the 13th,
14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.

The nation-wide strikes in the 1880’s resulted in winning the eight-hour
work day in many places. The demands of the Populist movement resulted in
regulatory legislation in various states and resulted in national reforms
years later in the New Deal measures to help farmers.

The sit-down strikes of 1936 to 1937 led to recognition of the C.I.O. unions
and contracts and better wages and conditions.

The wave of protests in the early 1930’s — by the Unemployed Councils
blocking evictions; by the Tenants of organizations winning rent control in
the Bronx, for instance, but also other places — led to the New Deal
measures that helped the poor.

The various protests against racial segregation, taking various forms, are
well known — the Montgomery bus boycott, the sit-ins, the various
demonstrations in the South — and all led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and various Supreme Court decisions that
effectively ended legal racial segregation in the South.

The protests against the Vietnam War certainly helped*Lyndon Johnson* come
to his conclusion in early 1968 that he would not run for president again,
that he would begin negotiating with the North Vietnamese, and that he would
not send more troops to Vietnam as General*Westmoreland* had requested.

The protests of G.I.’s during the Vietnam War — desertions, fragging, public
disclosure of massacres — helped build public opinion against the war; and
if you study the Pentagon Papers you will see how often the officials in
Washington worried about public opinion, and why *Nixon* promised an end to
the war, though it took years.

After the Vietnam-Watergate era, the protests of disabled people certainly
led to the Disabled Persons Rights Act.

The feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970s undoubtedly led to affirmative
action for women, moving more women into better positions in the economy.

There is much more historical evidence, but I am running out of space and

*Chester Crocker* <> is the
James R. Schlesinger professor of strategic studies at Georgetown
University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and serves on the board of its
Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Previously, he served as Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs and chaired the board of the United
States Institute of Peace.

“Saying that they matter is not the same thing as saying their results are
always or principally positive.”

 History demonstrates the relevance and impact of protest actions. For some
societies, protest events punctuate their histories like milestones. The
short answer is, they matter.

The more interesting questions are why and in what circumstances. But saying
that they matter is not the same thing as saying their results are always or
principally positive.

Why do they matter? Protests have the potential to have impact on the varied
audiences toward which they are directed. They can become part of a mass
mobilization campaign, literally altering a society’s inner balance and
subverting the coherence and esprit of the authorities. They can place a
vulnerable regime on the defensive in the eyes of citizens and at the same
time weaken its bases of external support. In a word, protest when conducted
skillfully, can undercut a government’s inner sense of rectitude and its
perceived legitimacy. Protests of this nature have shaped events in India,
the Philippines, South Africa, Ukraine, Serbia, Lebanon, Bolivia, Russia,
and other places over the last 100 years.

Not all protests have such sweeping goals. Protests can be targeted
tactically in order to achieve a specific shift in policy, to create
pressure for remedies or reforms, and to achieve such goals as prisoner
releases, the recognition of the rights of aggrieved groups, or the winding
down of a war.

When do protests work? To generalize, protests are most likely to be
effective in one of three circumstances: a) in political-social systems that
already recognize civil rights and political liberties (including freedom of
the press) and those that profess adherence to such norms; b) by contrast,
in autocratic systems that have become too brittle to adapt and whose
security services may have become divided, demoralized, or unreliable agents
of repression; and c) in weak, newly democratic systems where official
legitimacy exists in the formal sense but lacks the deep social roots
necessary to stand up to “street power” demagoguery.

Protests are also more likely to work when a) led by skillful political
activists and organizers who understand how to manipulate public opinion and
b) targeted at concrete rather than abstract ideological goals. The odds of
using protest to stop the building of a dam are obviously better than
mounting protests to achieve extra-constitutional regime change. And the
prospects are not static: information technology and social networking are
literally changing the protest landscape as these words are written.

Are protests a good thing? The short answer — and it is not a cop-out — is
that it depends. Street power can get out of hand and subvert the democratic
process. Under some conditions, protests can weaken a tottering autocrat and
create a vacuum that is exploited by extremists, fascists, or other
lowlifes. But protests can also achieve miracles large and small, moving a
nation to greater things.

*Bernardine Dohrn*<>
clinical associate professor of law and director of the Children and Family
Justice Center at Northwestern Law. She was a former leader of the
anti-Vietnam War organization the Weather

“So we have to act as we can, and then doubt whether we are fully right and
effective, and then act again.”

 Imagine our world without the differing protests of *Henry David Thoreau*
 and *Harriet Tubman*,*Wounded Knee* and *Tien an Mien*, *Soweto* and *
Stonewall*. Where would we be without the persistence of *Ida B. Wells*’s
anti-lynching campaign and the quiet radical nurturing of *Ella Baker* who
taught the reciprocity of community organizing? Don’t forget the
transformative work of those who risked their lives and the safety of their
families to serve as an invisible station on the underground railroad or the
flamboyant truth-telling of Vietnam vets against the war who threw their
medals back at the warmakers four decades ago and still continue to repair
the harm. Let’s recall those in wheelchairs blanketing the steps of the
Capitol building for dignity and access for the disabled, and the
still-clandestine leakers who exposed the torture memos and the illegal
actions they legitimized.

The secret is that protest encompasses acts that are individual and
collective, literary and rousing, pathetic and transcendent — and we don’t
know until later whether it made a difference. So acting against injustice
or pointing toward solidarity has an existential quality; it must be done to
object to a mighty wrong — to not be part of the problem. Looking backward,
it seems obvious that sitting down to strike at Flint, and sitting in at
Greensboro lunch counters, and standing up to enter school in Little Rock
were obvious sparks to larger social movements. At the time, no one could

Surely speaking up when our upbringing encourages being polite can be the
most courageous form of dissent. How many men or boys interrupt the hateful
locker room banter about women and girls and queers? When do white people
reject the invisible privileges that insulate us from the pain of structural
inequality? Why is it so popular to admire dissidents in other countries but
succumb to the social pressure to go along with homelessness, mass
incarceration, and Katrina displacement at home?

And yet it is hardly obvious how to object and also be heard. Clearly comedy
and humor open doors where earnest entreaty fails. And the art of *Frida
Kahlo*, *Diego Rivera*, *Audre Lourde*, and *Tony Kushner* opens eyes and
encourages the ethical longings of others. I don’t think we know what it
takes for a walkout or teach-in or musical performance to simultaneously
expose tyranny, enlighten, give heart, educate, recruit allies, and forge
connections. So we have to act as we can, and then doubt whether we are
fully right and effective, and then act again.

Without our protesting ancestors, we’d still be burning witches at the

*David S. Meyer* <> is
Professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of
California, Irvine, and author of *The Politics of Protest: Social Movements
in America*<>

“When activists make progress, it’s always less than what they want.”

Protests can matter a great deal, but not by themselves, and often not in
ways activists intend. When King *George* learned that colonists had dressed
as Indians to throw discounted tea into the Boston Harbor, one of many acts
of resistance, he saw his empire unraveling and responded harshly.
Repression spurred further protests — and ultimately, America. Latter-day
tea partiers have yet to take similar risks or demonstrate comparable

A protest is a signal about who you are, what you want, and what else you
might do. A former White House adviser can write an op-ed against a planned
war and create a stir; less prominent citizens need to do something more
dramatic to win attention for their views, demonstrating at the Capitol or
trespassing at a military base. What you do reflects who you are and what
you want. Poor people may march on Washington, but rich people usually have
other ways of getting their messages across.

When people protest, they tell authorities that they’re unhappy about
something, and implicitly threaten to do more than protest: vote, contribute
money, lobby, set up a picket, blockade a clinic, or try to blow up a
building. Opponents and allies in government make judgments about how strong
and widely held demonstrators’ grievances are. Demonstrators can force
leaders to explain, again and again, what they’re doing and why. Sometimes,
in crafting responses, governments change their policies. The*Reagan*
for example, offered new arms control proposals to the Soviet Union in the
wake of massive antinuclear demonstrations. *Gorbachev* seized upon them,
and history unfolded.

Demonstrators can stiffen the spine of would-be allies in government,
suggesting there might be advantages in pressing for new positions on
climate change, abortion, or gay marriage. No savvy politician will admit to
changing direction in response to demonstrations in the street, but of
course, it happens all the time.

When activists make progress, it’s always less than what they want. The
antiwar movement in the Vietnam era ultimately ended the draft, but the war
dragged on. Immigrant rights and anti-immigration demonstrators stopped
their opponents in 2005, battling to a stalemate that frustrated everyone.
People don’t generally take to the streets looking for smaller reforms, but
often it’s only by asking for more that they get anything.

Demonstrators also signal to other citizens who might share their views that
they are not alone, that things could be otherwise, and that they might be
able to do something about it. The large national event that receives
coverage in*The New York Times* reflects hundreds of smaller, less-visible
actions and meetings in church basements and living rooms around the
country, as people develop the temerity to think they can change the world.
Sometimes they can.

*Juan E. Méndez* is a visiting professor at Washington College of Law, The
American University, and an adviser on crime prevention to the prosecutor at
the International Criminal Court. He has also served as president of the
International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and was special adviser
on the Prevention of Genocide to *Kofi Annan*.

“In highly complex societies, powerful special interests have such access
to, and even control of, levers of power that against them street protest
looks — and most often is — quite futile.”

 It is easy to think that the technological advances in communications and
information have made street demonstrations useless as a means to influence
policy or obtain change. In highly complex societies, powerful special
interests have such access to, and even control of, levers of power that
against them street protest looks — and most often is — quite futile.
Celebrities embracing certain causes often seem more effective in pushing
them than anonymous protesters joining to support their common interests.

But what would you do if you were an Iranian whose vote was outrageously
stolen by *Ahmadinejad*’s and*Khamenei*’s massive fraud? A letter to the
editor, lobbying a legislator, or an interview on prime time television are
not available if you are a Zimbabwean fed up with *Mugabe*. Even at the
international decision-making level, one suspects that the “international
community” would quietly turn to more urgent matters if we thought that
Darfurians were accepting their fate and acquiescing on *Al Bashir*’s
designs for them.

For the billions of powerless in today’s world, protest is the only way to
have their voices heard. That is why international human rights law places a
very high premium on freedom of speech, association, and assembly, all of
them broadly understood. Vibrant, live democracies are those where all
citizens believe they have a stake in the outcomes and consequently feel
compelled to voice their opinions through the vehicles available to them. It
is no wonder that the politics of protest are livelier in countries that are
emerging from tyranny.

What does protest achieve? The agenda of protesters must be such that can be
achieved through genuine debate in a democratic society. At the same time,
rarely if ever is that agenda adopted in full the way protesters envision
it; and rightly so, because policy is formulated through the interaction of
many opinions and not as a result of pressure. Often, protest is a way of
preventing some policy option that is considered unfair, and frequently the
option is at least modified in view of the protest. So demonstrations may
never completely succeed in achieving the goals of the demonstrators; they
succeed in allowing them to participate in the process of policy formulation
and decision-making, and participation is the democratic ideal.

Undoubtedly, protest must abide by rules of peaceful coexistence and
reasonable regulation. Farmers in Argentina had every right to protest
against export taxes (whether the taxes were fair or unfair in the overall
context is another matter); but they had no right to block highways and
impede the access of food products to the markets. Protests should indeed
grow in frequency and intensity as necessary, even to the point of bringing
down a repressive or unrepresentative government; but they must stop short
of forcing a duly elected leader from office. Just as there is a threshold
of “legitimacy of exercise” that should be demanded of elected leaders, so
also demonstrators must exercise their freedoms of speech and assembly
within the constraints of legitimacy of both means and ends.

Ultimately, protest works if it intelligently combines speech with action
and a genuine attempt to persuade rather than simply antagonize. Under such
premises, protest will continue to be a viable, indispensable ingredient of
democracy for generations to come.

*Donna Lieberman* <> is the executive
director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“The test of our democracy is the protection we offer not to the protests we
like, but how we treat those we find offensive.”

 Do protests matter? Just look at where they’ve been prohibited and why —
Tehran and Tiananmen Square, for example. That ought to offer a clue.

But for every stifled protest, there are many examples of political protest
that have changed the course of history.

>From the Boston Tea Party to the Montgomery bus boycott and the march in
Selma, American history is peppered with dramatic moments when
demonstrations have provided the catalyst for profound and enduring change.

But for every Selma there have been countless quiet protests that have
created a steady drumbeat toward change. Every poster that’s hoisted high,
every petition that’s signed, every Tweet that registers dissent contributes
to the nation’s political discourse.

And for every quiet protest, there have also been many not-so-quite protests
— like the millions who marched to prevent the Iraq war. Though it didn’t
feel like it in 2003, the throngs who took to the streets began shifting the
public debate so that later our elected leaders could finally muster the
courage to challenge the deceptions of the*Bush* administration.

Protest demonstrations don’t happen in a vacuum. And they matter most when
they are part of a movement. The march in Selma was part of a movement that
included the Montgomery bus boycott, the lunch counter sit-ins, the freedom
rides, the voter registration drives. They both complemented and fueled a
litigation campaign to challenge segregation and — no coincidence — to
protect the right to protest, and a political strategy to make equality the
law of the land.

The impact of protest is often neither obvious nor immediate. Its impact is
certainly important for the participants and their cause. But what is vital
for democracy is the freedom to protest. Only when everyone has the right to
speak out can a democracy thrive. And the test of our democracy is the
protection we offer not to the protests we like, but how we treat those we
find offensive — be they the Nazis in Skokie or the Klan. All First
Amendment exercises — those that “work” and those that don’t — have shaped
our history, made it better, and are crucial to how we come to understand
ourselves as a people.

The NYCLU produces t-shirts that say simply “dissent is patriotic.”
Peacefully gathering to speak out for change is one of the most patriotic
things we can do. It’s how each one of us can enrich the public discourse,
add to the marketplace of ideas, and help create the context where good
ideas will flourish and change might happen in another time or place.

So does protest matter? Few things matter more.


 T <>echnology:<>
 'Awful' Internet Rules
*Posted by timothy <> on Wednesday August 19,
*from the do-your-wuerst dept.*
 internet <>
 government <>
 politics <>
maximus1 writes on Slashdot:*"NetChoice, a trade group that identifies and
fights threats aimed at online communities and e-commerce, released iAWFUL,
a list of America's 10 worst legislative and regulatory
at the Internet. At the top of the list is a Maine law that would require
e-commerce sites to get parental approval before collecting minors' personal
information. According to the NetChoice site, 'lawmakers approved the
measuredespite the fact that Web sites have no means to confirm such
and would be effectively forced to stop providing valuable services like
college information, test prep services, and class rings.' Coming in second
on the iAWFUL <> list is a city ordinance that would
hit Internet users with an extra tax on hotel rooms. Scheduled to take
effect in September, the new tax is aimed at consumers who use the Internet
to bargain hunt for expensive NYC hotel rooms.*



Ruling could let model find, sue online hecklerBy Jason Kessler, CNN

*NEW YORK (CNN)* -- A model who was slammed with derogatory terms by an
anonymous blogger has the right to learn the identity of her online heckler,
a judge ruled.

In August 2008, a user of, Google's blogging service, created
"Skanks in NYC," a site that assailed Liskula Cohen, 37, a Canadian-born
onetime cover girl who has appeared in Vogue and other fashion magazines.
The blog featured photos of Cohen captioned with terms including
"psychotic," "ho," and "skank."

On Monday, New York Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden ruled that Google must
hand over to Cohen any identifying information it possesses about the blog's

Steven Wagner, Cohen's attorney, said
Google<> complied
with the ruling Tuesday evening, submitting to his legal team the creator's
IP address and e-mail address. Only a valid e-mail address is required to
register for a blog on

Wagner said that once his legal team tracks the e-mail address to a name,
the next step will be to sue Cohen's detractor for defamation. He said he
suspected the creator of the blog is an acquaintance of Cohen.

The blog has not been operational for months.

The unidentified creator of the blog was represented in court by an
attorney, Anne Salisbury, who said her client voluntarily took the blog down
when Cohen initiated legal action against it.

Salisbury suggested that Cohen is more interested in attracting publicity
than restoring her reputation. She contended her client's blog would have
languished harmlessly in obscurity had Cohen not filed suit. The site had
negligible traffic and only five posts on it, all written on a single day,
she said.

In her ruling, the judge quoted a Virginia court that ruled in a similar
case that nameless online taunters should be held accountable when their
derision crosses a line.

"The protection of the right to communicate anonymously must be balanced
against the need to assure that those persons who choose to abuse the
opportunities presented by this medium can be made to answer for such
transgressions," the judge said, quoting the Virginia decision.

Cohen's attorney said he was "happy that the court recognizes that the
Internet is not a place where people can freely defame people."

But the blogger's attorney strongly disputed the judge's reasoning.
Salisbury asserted that her client's invective was not unusual for the
Internet, and that hyperbolic online name-calling is so rampant -- "in
comments sections, on Twitter, on blogs" as to practically be part of the
Web's DNA.

She warned that Monday's ruling has "potentially damaging implications for
free speech on the Internet."

After the ruling, a Google spokesman expressed sympathy for targets of
Internet insult-slinging, but said the company divulges user information
only when ordered to do so by a court.

"We sympathize with anyone who may be the victim of cyberbullying. We also
take great care to respect
privacy<> concerns
and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or
other court order," Google's Andrew Pederson said.



The day the blogging stopped

by Martyn Williams

August 17, 2009 —

On Tuesday, 1,370 Japanese stopped blogging and Twittering. There's perhaps
nothing unusual about that; after all, hundreds give up social media efforts
every day. But for these people the halt to their online activities has been
brought on by the law.

No, they haven't done anything wrong. But they are candidates in Japan's
upcoming national election, and with the official 12-day campaigning window
now underway, online communication is off-limits.

It's the result of a 59-year-old election law that has failed to keep up
with the times. In an era when politicians are turning to the Internet to
interact with potential voters and mobilize a support base -- something
demonstrated so vividly by U.S. President Obama in his election campaign --
Japanese politicians are restricted to stump speeches, leaflets and posters,
and even those are regulated too.

"Today is the beginning of campaigning. I must end Twitter today, I feel
it's unreasonable," wrote Seiji Ohsaka <>, a
lawmaker from the northern island of Hokkaido, to his 6,361 followers on

The Public Offices Election Law doesn't specifically ban use of the
Internet, but it does place restrictions on the use of literature and images
in campaigning, and that has been interpreted by all to include the

The result is that during election campaigns in Japan, the airwaves are not
filled with political commercials and streets are not covered in posters.
Election billboards, with a space allotted to each candidate for an
83cm-by-58cm poster, are erected throughout cities, and candidates are
allowed to distribute only a limited number of posters. Leaflets must be
counted and numbered.

Candidates get a brief slot on public television, usually in the early or
late-night hours when few are watching, to make their pitch. The rest of the
time it's down to campaigning in neighborhoods, walking through the streets
and making speeches outside railway stations.

It's all designed, the law's defenders say, to stop the candidate with the
deepest pockets from dominating the race.

But the law has an increasing number of critics, and not just Twittering
politicians. Voter turnout among the young is poor and some believe it's
because the old-fashioned way of campaigning has failed to energize a
population that is surrounded by digital media from the day they are born.

"The Internet must be made available for election campaigns as soon as
possible," the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's second-largest newspaper, wrote in a
recent editorial<>

But the Aug. 30 election could be the law's last stand.

If you believe the opinion polls, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is on
the verge of a historic defeat. After more than 50 years of rule, broken
only once for a few months, Japanese voters look set to reject the party and
hand control of the powerful lower house to the opposition Democratic Party
of Japan. The DPJ already controls the upper house and plans some swift
changes should it win at the polls.

Among those is likely to be the election law.

IDG News Service


Monday, August 10, 2009
*How to Build Anonymity Into the Internet* Could Internet service providers
help provide basic privacy services to all users?
By Erica Naone

Most people leave a trail when surfing the Web. Information such as a
computer's IP address can be traced back to users, or used to reconstruct a
profile of browsing habits. Search engines amass large quantities of data on
individuals. Though they don't store this along with usernames, researchers
have previously shown that individuals can still be identified using this

People who want to avoid leaving this trail can turn to services such
as Tor<>,
an open-source system designed to muddy the path a user's data travels over
the Internet (see "Dissent Made
But Tor struggles with slow network
and the service might be overwhelmed if too many users adopted it without
also contributing resources.

Last week, at the 9th annual Privacy Enhancing Technologies
researchers described some more robust protections. They wondered if privacy
protection could come from the ISPs responsible for the backbone of the

One project,, presented by Matthew
who co-directs the iSec research lab at the University of Texas at
Arlington, looks ahead to next-generation deployments of the Internet
itself. In the event of a redesign of Internet architecture, Wright argues,
proxies that help preserve anonymity could be built in. He envisions working
with ISPs to determine points in the network where the proxies would be
effective both in terms of protection and performance.

Other researchers are looking for solutions that could work on the Web as it
is today. Barath Raghavan <>, a visiting
assistant professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, along with
researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and the University
of Washington, suggest a protocol that could effectively hide a user's IP
address within the rest of an Internet service provider's traffic. The
researchers say that adding their system wouldn't hurt performance, and
would work in conjunction with Tor and other privacy-protection services.
They suggest that ISPs might be willing to add the protocol as a benefit to
attract customers, similar to services offered by telephone companies that
prevent users from being identified by called ID.

While ISPs are a logical place to turn for privacy help, events such as the
passage of the Patriot Act in the United States, which made it possible for
the authorities to demand information without a subpoena, make ISPs
uncertain allies. The bottom line is, they're only likely to help if there's
a large customer demand for privacy.

Most people think of online privacy as something most important for citizen
journalists in countries with oppressive regimes. However, the number of
business models that rely on the collection and sale of user data may for
some people in this country to reconsider taking steps to protect it.


*Blogger's Case Could Test the Limits of Political Speech*
New Jersey Man Was Arrested After Writing That 3 Judges 'Deserve to Be

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 16, 2009

CHICAGO -- Internet radio host Hal Turner disliked how three federal judges
rejected the National Rifle Association's attempt to overturn a pair of
handgun bans.

"Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be
killed," Turner wrote on his blog on June 2, according to the FBI. "Their
blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure
freedom for millions."

The next day, Turner posted photographs of the appellate judges and a map
showing the Chicago courthouse where they work, noting the placement of
"anti-truck bomb barriers." When an FBI agent appeared at the door of his
New Jersey home, Turner said he meant no harm.

He is now behind bars awaiting trial, accused of threatening the judges and
deemed by a U.S. magistrate as too dangerous to be free.

Turner's case is likely to test the limits of political speech at a time
when incendiary talk is proliferating on broadcast outlets and the Internet,
from the microphones of well-known commentators to the keyboards of
anonymous netizens. President Obama has been depicted as a Nazi and slain
Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller as "Tiller the killer." On guns and
abortion, war and torture, taxes and now health care, the commentary feeds
off pools of anger that ebb and flow with the zeitgeist.

Mark Potok, an editor at the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks
extremists and hate speech, says he thinks "political speech has gotten
rougher in the last six months."

While federal authorities moved swiftly to stop Turner, scholars note that
the line between free speech and criminality is a fine one.

Turner's attorney said the prosecutors overreacted.

"He gave an opinion. He did not say go out and kill," defense attorney
Michael Orozco said last week after unsuccessfully seeking bail. "This is
political hyperbole, nothing more. He's a shock jock."

That is not how U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald and his prosecutors see
the case. They charged Turner, a blogger admired by white supremacists, with
threatening the lives of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
7th Circuit: Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner and William Bauer.

Threats against federal judges are taken particularly seriously here: The
husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow were slain in
February 2005 by a disgruntled plaintiff. He hid in a closet in Lefkow's
home, waiting for the judge to return home, but her husband found him first.

Turner, 47, was first charged in June by Connecticut's Capitol Police with
inciting injury after he urged residents to "take up arms" against two state
legislators and an ethics official when the lawmakers introduced a bill to
give lay members of Roman Catholic churches more control over their
parishes' finances.

Later that month, federal authorities filed charges in the Chicago case.

Writing on his blog, which has since been taken down, Turner disputed a June
2 ruling by the three judges, who said a federal district judge had properly
dismissed the NRA's lawsuit to overturn handgun bans in Chicago and Oak
Park, Ill. It was a Supreme Court matter, the judges said.

Turner called the judges -- including Posner and Easterbrook, two of the
nation's most prominent conservative jurists -- "unpatriotic, deceitful
scum." He said the only thing standing in the way of the judges and "the
government" achieving ultimate power "is the fact that We The People have
guns. Now, that is very much in jeopardy."

Quoting Thomas Jefferson, Turner said, "The tree of liberty must be
replenished from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots." He
added his own words: "It is time to replenish the tree!"

Timothy McVeigh, who detonated the Oklahoma City bomb that killed 168 people
in 1995, was wearing a T-shirt with Jefferson's words when he was arrested.
Last week, a pistol-carrying protester outside an Obama town hall meeting in
New Hampshire carried a sign that said, "It is time to water the tree of

On his blog, Turner cited another 7th Circuit ruling against white
supremacist Matthew Hale, who once called for Lefkow's assassination. Turner
also mentioned the Lefkow murders, although they were unrelated to the Hale

"Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn't get the hint after those
killings. It appears another lesson is needed," Turner wrote. "These judges
deserve to be made such an example of as to send a message to the entire
judiciary: Obey the Constitution or die."

Turner, who authorities said had three semiautomatic handguns, a shotgun and
350 rounds of ammunition in his North Bergen, N.J., home when the FBI
arrested him, worked at times as an FBI informant. Although Fitzgerald's
office says he provided occasional information on right-wing extremists,
Orozco said he was recruited as an "agent provocateur" to get leftists to
act in public against him and reveal themselves to the FBI.

First Amendment scholar Martin H. Redish said much of what Turner wrote is
protected by the Constitution, including his declarations that the judges
should be eliminated. But he said Turner probably crossed a line when he
printed information about the judges, their office locations and the

"I would give very strong odds on a thousand bucks that once he said that
stuff, it takes it out of any kind of hyperbole range," said Redish, a
professor at Northwestern University Law School. "I just don't see him being

Michael Harrison, a former talk radio host and publisher of Talkers
magazine, says examples of incitement to violence are rare. He termed them
"random." As he surveys the landscape, he said, "It's easy to take a look at
this and say, 'Is this some kind of trend?' No, it isn't.

"I remember plenty of people comparing George W. Bush to a Nazi, to a
fascist. Of course there are suggestible people and there are mentally ill
people who can react to anything. But what are you going to do -- stop
political discussion, stop criticism, stop free speech?"

James W. von Brunn, who killed a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
in June, had a history of hateful writings about religious and ethnic
minorities and a felony conviction for attacking the Federal Reserve
headquarters. But he was not the subject of a criminal investigation before
the shooting.

"Law enforcement's challenge every day is to balance the civil liberties of
the United States citizen against the need to investigate activities that
might lead to criminal conduct," Joseph Persichini Jr., chief of the FBI's
Washington field office, told reporters. "No matter how offensive to some,
we are keenly aware expressing views is not a crime and the protection
afforded under the Constitution cannot be compromised."

Yet all speech is not alike, Potok said. Just as the disruptions directed at
Democratic town hall meetings on health care are spawning a debate about the
contours of civil discourse, the sometimes bitter skirmishes on the airwaves
and the Web raise questions about where such talk can lead.

Some conservative commentators "really are provocateurs," Potok maintained.
"They have specialized for years now in pushing the First Amendment to its
limits, and they've gotten very good at it."

Surge of Nerds Rebuilds Afghanistan

   - By Nathan Hodge [image: Email Author]
   - January 30, 2009  |
   - 8:41 am

[image: Ns09_3]<>Over
this past month, a group of motivated geeks traveled to Osama bin Laden’s
old stomping grounds<>
Afghanistan to help oversee a novel project: the Jalalabad Fab

It’s an interesting experiment. A Fab
essentially a small-scale workshop and rapid prototyping facility where
local participants can learn new technology skills that can be applied to
small business. Much of the work of the Jalalabad Fab Lab has thus far
involved basic projects: printed t-shirts, small art projects, wireless
antennas. Over time, lab participants are supposed to build tools to tackle
more complex problems.

Anyone who has spent time over the past few years in Afghanistan is familiar
with the world ofDevelopment,
Afghanistan has been on the receiving end of a lot of promises:
Billions<> have
been pledged in international aid, but Afghans have become increasingly
frustrated by the molasses-slow pace of
 and official corruption<>.
So it’s interesting to read about a project that seems to be offering aid to
Afghanistan on the economic plan.

Equipment and start-up costs equipment were provided in part by an National
Science Foundation (NSF)
Volunteers took unpaid leave to travel to Afghanistan. Total cost? Around
$40,000 (not including donated time and security
Fab Lab team leader Amy Sun has posted some diary entries on the latest trip
to Jalalabad; they’re worth a read <>. The
biggest lesson, writes Sun <>:

*Never before in history has there been a significantly large population of
educated, skilled, experienced, ‘young’ talent with a semi-disposable income
willing and eager to do professional work for little or no pay and even some
that will spend their own funds. You have to provide a minimum
infrastructure for them to come, and help offset some of the costs they just
couldn’t bear. You have to rally them around an idea, spin a coherent vision
and place them and their contributions squarely in focus. They won’t accept
a mission that doesn’t make sense or isn’t technically or socially viable -
and they’re more than competent to develop rational opinions that will need
to be vetted and addressed.
They will walk away from half-baked plans so you better be ready with
supporting data for your claims; but once they buy into the vision they will
autonomously meet mission with focus and intensity. It costs much less in
dollars than you think.*

Those in the reconstruction and development business — and that includes the
military <> — are
starting to pay attention to this kind of project. Last summer, I attended
STAR-TIDES <> (Sustainable Technologies, Accelerated
Research-Transportable Infrastructures for Development and Emergency
Support), a demo sponsored by the Pentagon that focused on cheap and
sustainable solutions for aid and development. This kind of program has the
support of the Pentagon’s former geek-in-chief, Linton
It will be interesting if these ideas catch on elsewhere.

Check out the Fab Lab Web site <>; you can also
see a slide
show <> of some of the work at the Taj.
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