Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Article: Forcing down Evo Morales's plane was an act of air piracy

Original Article written by John Pilger for The Guardian - Thursday 4, July 2013

President Morales arrives back in La Paz, Bolivia. ‘Imagine the response from Paris if the French president's plane was forced down in Latin America.’ Photograph: Zuma/Rex Features

Denying the Bolivian president air space was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world

Imagine the aircraft of the president of France being forced down in Latin America on "suspicion" that it was carrying a political refugee to safety – and not just any refugee but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale.

Imagine the response from Paris, let alone the "international community", as the governments of the west call themselves. To a chorus of baying indignation from Whitehall to Washington, Brussels to Madrid, heroic special forces would be dispatched to rescue their leader and, as sport, smash up the source of such flagrant international gangsterism. Editorials would cheer them on, perhaps reminding readers that this kind of piracy was exhibited by the German Reich in the 1930s.

The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane – denied airspace by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to "inspect" his aircraft for the "fugitive" Edward Snowden – was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.

In Moscow, Morales had been asked about Snowden – who remains trapped in the city's airport. "If there were a request [for political asylum]," he said, "of course, we would be willing to debate and consider the idea." That was clearly enough provocation for the

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Article: We Should All Have Something To Hide

Original Article written by Moxie Marlinspike for Thought Crime - Thursday 13, June 2013

Suddenly, it feels like 2000 again. Back then, surveillance programs like CarnivoreEchelon, and Total Information Awareness helped spark a surge in electronic privacy awareness. Now a decade later, the recent discovery of programs like PRISM, Boundless Informant, and FISA orders are catalyzing renewed concern.

The programs of the past can be characterized as “proximate” surveillance, in which the government attempted to use technology to directly monitor communication themselves. The programs of this decade mark the transition to “oblique” surveillance, in which the government more often just goes to the places where information has been accumulating on its own, such as email providers, search engines, social networks, and telecoms.

Both then and now, privacy advocates have typically come into conflict with a persistent tension, in which many individuals don’t understand why they should be concerned about surveillance if they have nothing to hide. It’s even less clear in the world of “oblique” surveillance, given that apologists will always frame our use of information-gathering services like a mobile phone plan or GMail as a choice.

We’re All One Big Criminal Conspiracy

As James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and former defense attorney, notes in his excellent lecture on why it is never a good idea to talk to the police:
Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. These laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are ”nearly 10,000.”
If the federal government can’t even count how many laws there are, what chance does an individual have of being certain that they are not acting in violation of one of them?

As Supreme Court Justice Breyer elaborates:
The complexity of modern federal criminal law, codified in several thousand sections of the United States Code and the virtually infinite variety of factual circumstances that might trigger an investigation into a possible violation of the law, make it difficult for anyone to know, in advance, just when a particular set of statements might later appear (to a prosecutor) to be relevant to some such investigation.
For instance, did you know that it is a federal crime to be in possession of a lobster under a certain size? It doesn’t matter if you bought it at a grocery store, if someone else gave it to you, if it’s dead or alive, if you found it after it died of natural causes, or even if you killed it while acting in self defense. You can go to jail because of a lobster.

If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.

We Should Have Something To Hide

Over the past year, there have been a number of headline-grabbing legal changes in the US, such as the legalization of marijuana in CO and WA, as well as the legalization of same-sex marriage in a growing number of US states.

As a majority of people in these states apparently favor these changes, advocates for the US democratic process cite these legal victories as examples of how the system can provide real freedoms to those who engage with it through lawful means. And it’s true, the bills did pass.

What’s often overlooked, however, is that these legal victories would probably not have been possible without the ability to break the law.

The state of Minnesota, for instance, legalized same-sex marriage this year, but sodomy laws had effectively made homosexuality itself completely illegal in that state until 2001. Likewise, before the recent changes making marijuana legal for personal use in WA and CO, it was obviously not legal for personal use.

Imagine if there were an alternate dystopian reality where law enforcement was 100% effective, such that any potential law offenders knew they would be immediately identified,

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Speech: Tony Andrews - Bad Sound is a Vexation to the Spirit (TEDxBrickLane)

Tony gives us a passionate rendition of why sound quality is important and how bad the sound of the 21st century really is. This talk is a fascinating journey into the mind (or ear drums) of a man who is dedicated to raising our sonic consciousness. He believes it is a direct way to connect with ourselves, others and could just save the world.

Find our more about the speakers by visiting

Monday, 8 July 2013

Video: What the Economic Crisis Really Means - and what we can do about it

Doing It Ourselves ( and - aims to broaden understanding of the debt crisis and peak resources and encourage action for the sake of personal preparedness, happiness and ethical living. This animation sums up the key challenges facing our global society of credit crisis and resource scarcity and describes a path we can take to a happier life, now and in the future!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Speech: Alastair Parvin - Architecture for the people by the people

Architect Alastair Parvin presents a simple but provocative idea: what if, instead of architects creating buildings for those who can afford to commission them, regular citizens could design and build their own houses? The concept is at the heart of Wikihouse, an open source construction kit that means just about anyone can build a house, anywhere.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Speech: Chris Lunch - This is not a video camera

Chris Lunch is a modern day alchemist in the field of international development. He believes in the power of combining technology with participation to shift awareness, galvanise communities and unleash hidden energy for positive individual and collective change. This is the topsy turvy world of "participatory video"; where the subjects of a film become the directors; where passive recipients of aid become active changemakers and where the social enterprise he co-founded, InsightShare, has chosen: 'Make mistakes', 'Lose control' and 'Have fun', as its core values. The title of his talk "This is not a video camera" takes inspiration from surrealist artist Rene Magritte's painting: Ceci n'est pas une pipe, as he asks us to re-look at what we think we know about this technology.

Check out his incredible work at InsightShare.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Documentary: A Class Divided (Jane Elliot's experiment)

Jane Elliot was a third-grade teacher in Riceville, Iowa when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. The day following Dr. King’s murder, in an effort to make her young, all-white class understand the issue of racism, she divided the students into “blue-eyed” and “brown-eyed” groups. On the first day, blue-eyed people were superior.  Brown-eyed students went to lunch last, were not allowed second helpings, had five fewer minutes of recess, could not use the drinking fountain (they could use paper cups), and were forced to sit at the back of the classroom. Students of different eye colors were not allowed to play with one another on the playground (brown-eyed students were not allowed on the playground equipment), and throughout the day Elliot made comments about the shortcomings and inferiority of brown-eyed students. The following day, the roles were reversed, with brown-eyed students prized as the superior group.

- The class that took part in the experiment

What she found shocked her. In group work (segregated by eye color), students’ abilities changed from day-to-day depending on their status. On the day in which they were the inferior group, it took the brown-eyed group five and a half minutes to get through a set of flash cards; the following day, as the superior group, it took them two and a half minutes. Equally, if not more, disturbing were the attitudes of the children in the “better” group. “I found what had been marvelous, cooperative, wonderful, thoughtful children turn into nasty, vicious, discriminating little third-graders in the space of 15 minutes,” she recalled.
She continued conducting the exercise for future classes. In its third year (1970), ABC News profiled the experiment for a documentary called Eye of the Storm. Fifteen years later, in 1985, the TV series Frontline made A Class Divided as a follow-up. In addition to the original footage, it includes a reunion with members of the third-grade class shown in the film, as well as Jane Elliot’s adaptation of the exercise for employees of Iowa’s Department of Corrections. In the years since A Class Divided, Elliot works primarily with adults doing the “blue-eyes/brown-eyes” experiment, albeit in a modified form, as part of workplace diversity training. In it, brown-eyed participants are recruited and encouraged by Elliot to actively participate in the discrimination of their blue-eyed colleagues (while the blue-eyed participants are in another room), and the roles are not reversed.



Video: Open-mindedness

A look at some of the flawed thinking that prompts people who believe in certain non-scientific concepts to advise others who don't want to be more open-minded.