Canadian Government shuts down blogs – without warrant!

All right, this is bad, no matter how you look at it.

‘Canadian Government’ did not like the content of 2 blogs/websites.

A bureaucrat from the Canadian Government wrote a letter to the ISP, demanding the blogs/websitesibe shut down.

The ISP not only shut down the blogs/websites right away – no warrant, no court order, no proper procedure – without notifying them first, it took out another 4,500 ones along with the two ‘offending’ ones!

NOT GOOD!

Who the hell do these bureaucrats think they are?

Are the elected politicians aware of this fascism?  (Collusion between big government and business which infringes the rights of everyone else is ‘fascism’ by definition.  Just ask Prime Minister Harper!)

If you read my blog every now and then – especially during November and early December 2009 – you will probably be aware that I do not support the IPCC warm-mongers, that I have worked to expose how they falsified the data and to explain what they did and what it means, that I am appalled by their perversion of the scientific method and destruction of the peer-review-process….(I could rant on and on).  And, I don’t like the fraud-inviting cap-and-trade scheme being forced on the whole world by imposing a world-government that we, in the West, would be forced to pay for and which would actively prevent the ‘developing world’ from developing….

Nor do I look kindly at ‘spoofs’ that pretend to come from a Government Department – they are not funny and, in-my-never-humble-opinion, are actively counter-productive.

This self-described ‘culture jamming activists’ protest group, ‘Yes Men’, is nothing more than a bunch of dumb-asses, taken in by obvious half-truths and more interested in the publicity which their stunts will generate them than in taking the time to learn the science which underlies the issues.  In other words, I think they are silly bunnies who turned themselves into publicity hounds.

So, while I condemn their methods, I also reject their message…

BUT!!!!

That does NOT mean that I will stand by and do nothing as their voices are silenced!

The Canadian Government did not seek an injunction against these clowns.

They were not charged with fraud.

No judge issued a warrant to suspend their website or blog or whatever other means of online communication they happened to be using.

NO!

A bureaucrat wrote a letter to a business – and together, they deprived the citizens of the legal service the citizens had paid for, which, in this case, is the platform for those citizens to exercise freedom of speech!

That is SO UNACCEPTABLE, I am having trouble finding polite words to express the depth of my anger!  …and, fear.

Because if the government can get away with shutting down the voices of idiots it disagrees with, I am likely going to be next!

We must all stand up and tell our government that they have seriously erred in trying to shut up voices it does not like.  Then, they compounded this by circumventing the proper procedures, which permit it to protect itself from fraud or other illegal acts without arbitrarily stripping people of their rights and freedoms.

We must all speak up and shout as loudly as we can – until we are heard – that a government colluding with a business to deprive people of their rights and freedoms without due process of the law is SIMPLY NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!

NOT NOW, NOT EVER!!!

Instead of posting lately….

Sorry about the lack of new posts recently…

Aside from my difficulties getting to a computer that would work with me (now thankfully solved!) and the social obligations which come with this time of year (and leave me too brain-numb to write anything useful), I have also been having conversations in the comments, especially on the last few posts.

Now, I am torn:  I wanted to write more on the connections between the corporate/commercial threats to our rights and freedoms and the international ones….until I saw Ezra Levant’s ‘Christmas Post’ about ‘putting Christ back into Christmas’.  I admit, my blood-pressure went through the roof and I was too keyed up to write coherently for hours….so, perhaps, I ought to address the threat from ‘the religious right’.

This threat is real and mutifaceted – and if I don’t phrase things just right, it will come off as religion-bashing instead of the real and legitimate concerns which many freedom-loving people have from this direction (without and within the pro-freedom movement).

Either way I go, it will take me a while to finish, as I am a slow thinker and even slower writer… please, forgive me!

May be I’ll just rant on about an upstart young religion re-naming an ancient ritual after their own God absorbing its customs and traditions into its own, and then claiming that since the holiday has their G since it’s got this name, it must be about only its deity….  But, that would not be very ‘Christmasy’, would it?

Winning back our liberty: the ‘international’ threat

Just like only total seclusion will provide the environment in which an individual can exercise 100% of their personal freedoms, countries/nation-states must also find ways to ‘get along’ with its neighbours and the all the other ‘countries’ out there.  Therefore, countries must develop rules:  treaties, agreements, etc. to govern their interactions.

This is kind of like the matryoshka dolls!

Families have ‘rules’ which govern how individual members interact, villages/towns/cities have by-laws that govern how people and families in that municipality behave and interact,  provinces/states have the next level of rules that govern how all the people in the municipalities that form that province/state behave and interact…. and so on, and so on…

Through this very process – through agreeing to rules how ‘communities’ at each ‘level’ interact with each other, we are necessarily building the governance framework of government at the ‘next higher level’. The treaties and agreements governments enter into become binding rules which their industries and citizens must abide by.

And THAT is where a very great danger to the ability to exercise our individual rights and freedoms is coming!

We have, to a better or worse degree, worked out rules about what rights we can exercise, and to what degree.  This we have done within our borders, all the citizens agree (or, at least, respect) in the form of constitutions and the body of our national laws.  Right?

But, our countries do not exist in seclusion.  We need to trade and interact in all kinds of ways with ‘other’ countries.

To do that in as peaceful and amicable way as possible, we enter into international agreements about ‘things’.  All kinds of things. But, the primary focus of most international treaties is ‘trade’.

When our legislators propose laws, we examine them publicly for all kinds of ‘things’ – including any infringements on the ability of us, the citizens, to exercise our freedoms.  And so it should be.  But, when countries enter into binding, international agreements with other countries, there is nowhere this level of scrutiny!

These agreements and treaties are negotiated by a limited number of representatives (all bureaucrats) from each side, usually in secret, giving in here to get an advantage there…  And the aim of these treaties is usually one form of economic interaction or another:  ‘freedoms’ are not usually even ‘on the radars’ of those doing the negotiating.

Please, do not misunderstand – I have nothing against international treaties and agreements in principle.  They are necessary.  All I am trying to do is highlight something many people do not consider very seriously:  whenever our government signs a treaty or similar international agreement, its rules are just as binding on us as the laws our government passes, but do not undergo anything like the scrutiny…

A recent example relevant to Canadians is the EU-Canada Trade Agreement

To make this work, some of our laws – and even attitudes – would have to change.

For example, our ideas about our ‘property rights’ might need a serious adjustment…

Right now, if we purchase a painting – or another other piece of art – most of us think that we own it.  That we can hang it on our wall, store it in the attic or even use it as kindling… Or, perhaps, that if we wish, we can sell it.

That might be just one of the laws and attitudes we would have to change:  according to a leaked chapter of the EU-Canada Trade Agreement now under negotiations, the EU is pushing for a royalty to be paid to the artists EVERY TIME their work is re-sold, FOR EVER!

This post is not about that particular trade agreement.

It’s about the fact that so many of the people who are valiantly and tirelessly fighting to preserve our freedoms are focusing only on ‘government policy’ and on the laws which our governments are passing.  And that is important!

But, our rights and freedoms can be lost ‘through the back door’, so to speak, when our governments enter into binding international agreements which are very large ‘packaged deals’ which our countries may be forced to enter into in order to remain a member of the international community…

And THAT is something we should be thinking and talking about!

Touching video…

Last night, I was lucky enough to see Brea Lawreson perform this song live – as well as to meet some of the people who helped make this video a reality.  It is very touching (OK – despite the fact I was actually wearing make-up, I could not help ‘tearing up’) – and, it is dedicated to ‘Military men and women everywhere’!

A little pause…

I will have to take a day or two pause, instead of catching up on my posts, like I planned.

My husband says I should not drink and blog…

Did you know that grapefruit juice is not good for computers?

P.S. to ‘Winning back our liberty: the ‘commercial’ threat’

In this post, I quoted John Perry Barlow, who warned us that the greatest threat to our freedom of speech in the future will come from corporations ‘protecting’ their IP, and individual’s freedoms ‘be damned’.  And, I do think he is correct.

Because we have seen ‘states/governments’ strip its citizens of rights and freedoms, we are ‘sensitive’ to the threats to our liberties which come from that direction.  OK, not ‘sensitive enough’ as a society… What I mean is, those within our society who are looking out for our rights and freedoms in order to preserve our liberties are used to watching the state/government and firmly regard it as the biggest threat.

And, that threat is very, very real – and, we discuss it a lot, oppose the encroachment on our rights – as we should!

But, the very people who are vigilant of the state/government creeping oppression seem deaf and blind when it comes to corporations using ‘commercial laws’ to forward their interests at the cost our liberties….

There were two things I should have included, but did not.

The first is Michael Geist‘s movie, ‘Why Copyright? Canadian Voices on Copyright Law’, in which this law professor explains the real-life implications of the draconian ‘digital copyright’ laws these days…

The second is this little news story which Dvorak Uncensored highlighted while I was working on my original post:

Vice President Joe Biden holds a roundtable discussion today with “all stakeholders” on enforcing copyright in a changing digital world. Invited—MPAA, RIAA, movie studios, music labels, publishers, the FBI, the Secret Service, and Homeland Security. Not invited—everyone else.

“We were extremely disappointed to learn of the White House meeting to be held later today on the issue of intellectual property and ‘piracy,” said PK’s Gigi Sohn. “It is unclear why three cabinet officers, several subcabinet officers, the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service are needed to tend to the worries of the big media companies, particularly the motion picture industry which is completing a year in which it will set box-office records.

It is difficult to explain just how serious this situation is becoming without sounding like a ‘conspiracy nut’.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I LOVE conspiracy theories! They are truly FUN!   I just don’t buy into them – not as ‘description of reality’…at least, not most of them.

But, we do need to educate ourselves about ALL the treats to our liberties.

…this is just the tip of the iceberg…

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Winning back our liberty: the ‘commercial’ threat

Commercial encroachment on the freedoms and liberties of Canadians is a very real and immediate threat to us all.  Yet, this is hardly ever seriously discussed among the ‘core’ of conservative and pro-freedom thinkers.

Why?

It seems that the ‘government’ types and ‘corporate’ types of freedom fighters (in our current, non-violent use of the expression) do not talk much – even regard each other with a significant degree of suspicion.  This could, perhaps be because they usually come from such very different backgrounds and usually do not share common educational base or many leisure-time interests.  Even their language is so different, they don’t ‘get’ each others’ message.

That is a pity, because each side is only getting a part of the picture….  and, what was that thing about ‘divide and conquer’?

John Perry Barlow, the co-founder of Electronic Frontier (and a former lyricist for ‘The Grateful Dead’) has very perceptively analyzed the corporate threats to freedom of speech in his 1994(!) article, The Economy of Ideas.

“Notions of property, value, ownership, and the nature of wealth itself are changing more fundamentally than at any time since the Sumerians first poked cuneiform into wet clay and called it stored grain. Only a very few people are aware of the enormity of this shift, and fewer of them are lawyers or public officials.”

Barlow explains how, traditionally, people protected their ‘ideas’ through physical control over the means of expressing these ideas:  a book is a tangible object which can physically be controlled, an inventor ‘owned’ the ‘idea’ in the form to holding the right to produce objects which made ‘use’ of this idea in the very particular product she/he invented, and so on.  The ‘idea’ itself, once expressed, was ‘in the public realm’ and everyone had access to ‘learn it':  that generates progress.

This has all changed:  now, ideas can spread without a physical vessel one could control, it is now ‘the ideas themselves’ which are the valuable bit.  Barlow makes the case that corporate interests will, if allowed, protect their investment in their ‘ideas’ and that could involve significant curbing of our freedom of expression.

He wrote this in 1994 – and what he warned of is already coming true.

‘Protection of their intellectual properties’ has permitted, for example, the entertainment industry to successfully lobby governments to legalize really, really invasive ‘digital locks’ on their ‘products’.

Here is just one such example, where the corporate world is permitted to treat its customers as criminals by default, and curb their individual rights in the name of protecting their product:

Far from being simply a mechanism to prevent copying, these ‘digital locks’ often include ‘executable code’ which, without the computer owner’s knowledge or permission, install themselves very, very deeply into the computer (at times, removing the ‘lock’ may damage the computer on which it had been installed), search all the files on the hard drive and report all this information, via an internet connection the ‘lock’ itself initiates, back to the company that put the lock on.

This, ostensibly, is to make sure that there are no other ‘stolen files’ on the computer. In reality, it permits that corporation full access to every program, every bit of data, every file, every picture on your computer – and the laws that permit the corporations to install this on your computer without your knowledge do not, even a little bit, address what this corporation may or may not do with all the stuff it found on your computer. That is, frankly, quite frightening!

But that is just the tip of the iceberg – in just one industry!

Please, don’t call ‘Godwin’s law’ one me now, but, I will mention ‘THE OLYMPICS’!

Everyone just shrugged their shoulders and blamed ‘The Chinese Government’ for the zeal with which the names of any business which did not pay protection money was not ‘an Olympic Sponsor’ were covered up:  from sticky tape over faucet brand marks to sheets covering the name of a nearby hotel.  The media treated it as some sort of a ‘cute Chinese thing’. But, it was not a ‘Chinese thing’, nor was it ‘cute’!

It was an IOC (International Olympic Committee) thing.  The IOC claims that without this draconian censorship, it could not make money.

SO!?!?!?!?!?!

Why should anyone’s desire to make money outweigh people’s rights and freedoms?

But, that was China – it could never happen here!

Well, actually…

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics are an example in how corporate interests strip people of liberty!

The IOC has demanded that Vancouver create a ‘buffer zone’ around the Olympic Venues where all speech, signage, logos, symbols and any other means of communication be strictly controlled.  And, since it’s ‘The Olympics’, the various levels of government complied.

They passed a series of bylaws which not only made it illegal to display the brand-name of a ‘non-sponsor’, but also where any sentiment which was not ‘celebrating the Olympics’ was forbidden from being expressed!  Public and private property!

Oh, and driving on some public roads would also be illegal for mere ‘citizens’ (similar ones are planned for the 2012 Olympics:  that makes it a pattern, not a ‘cute Chinese thing’)….and if you happen to own an aerial sight-seeing company – well, you’ll be forbidden from earning a living, because it ‘needs to be controlled’ during the Olympics, too.

If, for example, you were to put up curtains which were made of a fabric that said ‘Olympics Suck’ in your window, you could have ‘officials’ enter your property and remove the offensive curtains, without a warrant and without your permission:  then, you could be charged a financial fine ($10,000 per day) or tossed in jail or both!

This is Canada?

Under pressure, the Vancouver city council has attempted to soften the harshest bits of these oppressive laws:  at least, the bits that look the most oppressive.  But, I don’t know how much of an improvement the latest version of is….  Now, they have pretty much handed the right to decide what forms of expression will and will not be censored to ‘The Olympic Sponsors’ – the corporations propping up this oppressive organization!

If this is not an ‘Olympic Sponsorship Scandal’, I don’t know what you could possibly call it.

Some people say that it’s not that big a deal – that it’s only a temporary limit…  They miss the point:  nobody must ever have the right to put a limit on the freedom of speech, the most basic of our rights without which none of the others are possible.  If someone can put a ‘temporary limit’ on it, then someone else can put another ‘temporary limit’, and another, and another…and before we realize it, the ‘limit’ will be a permanent one….

Yes, these are just two ‘highly visible’ instances….but, there are too many to document is a simple blog.

John Perry Barlow maintained that the biggest threat to freedom of speech in the future will be from ‘corporate censorship’.

I think he is right.

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