The Last Tyranny in Europe

The mainstream media is not really shouting loudly about the horrible tyranny in Belarus – which does not mean that we should simply sweep what is going on there under the rug.  We must stand up for human rights of all people – even far away in a forgotten corner of Europe…

Like Mr. Hannan, I think we should stand up and condemn what is going on there and lend moral – if not more – support to those who are actively working to improve civil liberties in Belarus.

First step, of course, is education.

If you live in Ottawa or its environs, you will soon have an excellent opportunity for educating yourself about the situation in Belarus.  On th 25th of April, 2012, at 7 pm,  the Freethinking Film Society is going to host an information evening about Belarus at the National Archives Library in Ottawa, where they will be screening ‘Europe’s Last Tyrant’:

For those on the other side of the pond, it will also be screened at the London Film Festival on April 15, 2012 in Shortwave (10 Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN).  For ticket info, see here. (Sorry about the late notice – just found this out myself).

For the rest:  keep your eyes open for a screening in your area. This is not something we should remain ignorant about!

CISPA: worse than SOPA

Of course, CISPA does not replace SOPA, it is a separate thing altogether.  The backroom negotiations to re-introduce SOPA are already underway…

Warrants? We don’t need no stinking warrants!!!

This is beyond the pale!

Yes, Mr. Levant is correct to raise the spectre of Pavlik Morozov:  I was certainly taught in school to live up to his example.  But that was on the other side of the iron curtain!  There is no room for twisted crap like that in our schools now!

Let you be the first to read it!

I have a gun.

I even volunteered in a school, teaching children how to use a gun, just like mine.

A glue gun, that is.

I have a whole bunch of glue sticks in an ammo box I bought at an army surplus store – partly because I like puns and partly because it is efficient.

I also own a tape gun – it makes wrapping presents more efficient.

And I have two staple guns.  (OK, one is my hubby’s, but that makes at least half of it mine, no?)

My kids own guns, too!

From the air-zooka (which ‘shoots’ air, if you are not familiar with it) through a marshmallow gun to water guns…

But if I wanted to own a firearm – an actual gun for shooting bullets – I would not feel obligated to tell ‘the state’.  Why?  Because I believe, to the core of my being, that the Magna Carta gives me the right to carry whatever arms I think I need to protect my person, family and property.  Nothing – no law  – can, in my never-humble-opinion – abrogate this natural right to protect myself.

It is precisely because I have the right to carry weapons that police has the power to carry weapons:  they derive that right from me, and you, and all the other citizens. Since the government acts as our proxy, it cannot do what each and every one of us does not have the right to do, irrespective of the government.

This equation goes both ways:  since the state is acting on our behalf, it cannot do anything we are not free to do.  Therefore, if some agents of the state do carry firearms, it therefore follows that each and every citizen has that very same right.  If we did not have that right, then the government agents would have nowhere to get that right from.

I recognize I am not expressing this eloquently – following is a video that does a much better job of it:

When all the rhetoric is washed away, at its core, this is about self-ownership.

Slashdot: Do You Like Online Privacy? You May Be a Terrorist!

Here is another example of the Western governments’ war on its citizens.

Yes, war.

It sickens me that governments are now openly saying that if you shield your screen from the view of others, this makes you a terrorism suspect!

This creates precisely the type of environment where hacker-vigilaties will be not just tolerated, but positively embraced by a population that feels increasingly under attack by the very institutions created to ensure their individual rights.

Let’s not make any mistakes about it:  it is not Twitter and Google who are increasingly censoring us, the members of online communities.  Even though they facilitate access to the virtual world of the web, they are themselves physical corporations which exist in the real world, very much subject to the whims of real-world governments.

As such, they are subject to the arbitrary rules which various governments impose on corporations operating within their physical boundaries.

It is unreasonable for us to expect that these corporations will put the freedom on the internet above their ability to physically survive…

So, you may blame them for buckling – but don’t blame them for imposing the censorship itself:  the blame lies directly with our governments, our regulating bodies, and us, the citizens, who permit this encroachment!

The solution?

We must all fight to prevent all governments from usurping jurisdiction over the internet, the way they have been doing!

How?

I don’t know.  Yes, I have been thinking about this for a long time, but there simply is no clear answer.

The easiest solution I suspect would be to continue the efforts to create alternatives to the ‘pipelines’ that ISPs use to deliver internet connections, but the more people try to solve this, the more actual attempts there are to make the web truly uncontrollable and impossible to be regulated by anyone or anything anywhere, the better chance there is of success.

So – keep your elective representatives responsible – and keep hacking!

SOPA: uniting the internet against collusion by big business and big government

SOPA

Sounds so innocuous:  Stop Online Piracy Act.

After all, ‘Pirates’ are all ‘bad’, so anything to get them off ‘our internet’ must be ‘good’, right?

We, surely, the Orwellian language is only a part of the trick here.

The SOPA hearings are being held today and it is difficult to believe that anyone who does not directly benefit financially from this legislation would be willing to support it.  The effect of this legislation would be to chill free speech in ways to give Richard Warman and his Section 13 co-oppressors wet dreams in perpetuity!

Right now, even with the ‘moderate’, much less draconian legislation in place, the copyright infringement laws are being used to silence critics of big business – or even just independent voices (lest they become critical in the future).

In this example, a DMCA claim was used to censor a daily tech news episode which criticized a big-music corporation:  under the law, a mere DMCA claim was enough to force a takedown of the episode for a minimum of 10 days.  If you are running a daily news show, 10 days is an eternity…  At least, under the DMCA rules, the news show could appeal to a judge…

And, of course, we all know that the US government has been known to censor a blog for over a year, denying them due process of law to get their property restored and name cleared.

Just to add injury to injury:  not only are you guilty until proved innocent under SOPA, getting to court to prove your innocence will be much harder.  And even if you were victorious and the courts found you innocent of all charges, you would not have a recourse to sue for damages suffered as the result of the false SOPA accusation!

Is this type of legislation even needed?

The Swiss government certainly does not think so:  they have gone the opposite route.  After studying the data for a long time, these legislators have concluded that downloading music/videos for personal use is not just perfectly legal, they claim it actually channels money away from copyright holders and  helps the music/movie industry in the long run.

Even US judges are suggesting that if you buy a DVD, you just might be allowed to rip it under ‘fair use’ doctrine!

And what about the people who have been the most vociferous about the need for crippling the internet in the name of copyright protection?  Surely, they themselves do not indulge in the very behaviour they wish to stamp out with knee-jerk legislation like ‘three accusations and you are permanently banned from the internet’, right?

Well, not exactly.

“French President Nicholas Sarkozy is a man who has championed some of the most aggressive anti-piracy legislation in Europe. But today it’s revealed that the occupants of his very own office and home are responsible for a nice selection of pirate downloads using BitTorrent. Three strikes? Those with access to the Presidential Palace’s IP addresses have already doubled that quota. “

But, surely, those entertainment legacy industry movers and shakers who have lobbied the legislators for SOPA – the ones who claim that downloading movies and music for free would bankrupt them – surely they are not doing this themselves, are they?

Of course they are!

“With increasing lobbying efforts from the entertainment industry against BitTorrent sites and users, we wondered whether these companies hold themselves to the same standards they demand of others. After some initial skimming we’ve discovered BitTorrent pirates at nearly every major entertainment industry company in the US, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Entertainment and NBC Universal. Busted.”

And those ‘evil Pirates’ – they must be up to even more vile things…

…but only if you call building a school and bringing high-speed internet connection to a small farming village (which only had one dial-up connected computer for the whole village before) to be a bad thing…

Let’s hope the unanimous screams of protest from the citizens of the internet get heard!

Mark Lemire and Section 13: report from Federal Court hearing on 13th of December, 2011

Free Dominion has a discussion with several reports about the Tuesday hearing in Federal Court in  Richard Warman’s ongoing case against Mark Lemire, which has run into a snag:  the question whether Section 13 of the Human Rights Code (the thought-crime section) is Constitutional or not.

Connie Fournier reports that the cast was large:  from CCLA and BCLA to Doug Christie on stage, from BigCityLib to free-speech bloggers in the audience.  Here is a little quote from her report:

“During this time, the judge listened intently and didn’t interrupt. His face was inscrutable. The funniest moment of the hearing came when the lawyer for B’nai Brith said that Section 13 is “a ringing endorsement of free speech”. Everyone in the audience snorted and snickered uncontrollably. (Probably only one person in the audience was a censor and the rest were free speech supporters or media).”

An excerpt from Narrow Back’s  report:

“At 11:00 we returned to hear from the African Legal Clinic. They talked about “irradicating discrimination” for “deeper social concerns” “improvement of the condition of less fortunate people” blah blah, etc. They also talked about S13 as a “conciliatory process”. I just wrote down: “Ha!” “

And here is a part from Mark Fournier’s post:

“A couple of intervenors in favour of state censorship put in their two cents and then Richard Warman got up and complained that just because the CHRC did a terrible job of administering Section 13 his rights shouldn’t be violated. The irony was breathtaking.”

Read the whole reports – along with what people are saying about it – at Free Dominion!

When can raising charity money for orphans land you in a ‘re-education camp’?

When you live in a land ruled by Sharia!

Zilla of the Resistance has the story.

(Check it out and have a listen to the music:  I rather like the tune I suspect is the ‘swing classic’ ‘Clementine’ done in Indonesian punk – a definite improvement over the original!)

Via:  BCF

Quite apart from this story, it is important for us, Westerners, to understand that in lands ruled by Sharia, ‘charity’ does not work the same way it does in our part of the World.

This does not mean that Muslims are not charitable people:  not at all!

And it does not mean that in countries with Muslim populations, people do not perform charitable acts for the sake of helping their fellow human beings, regardless of race or creed.  They do – and we have many stories of Muslim women helping Westerners (men, women and children) who were in Japanese prison camps during WWII!

Rather, as Sharia rules every single aspect of life of those unfortunate to live under its oppression, so it has very specific and rigid rules for ‘charity’.

Let me illustrate this with an example:  following the Tsunami a few years ago, people in Bengal (I refuse to use the new colonial name for the country) were upset that many Western charities got volunteers on the ground and started providing aid.  The Bengali fear was that these aid groups were there trying to steal their children…

Many in the West were perplexed by this:  why would the people there refuse aid, willingly provided without any strings attached?

Because right now, Bengal is under Sharia.  And Sharia strictly differentiates between ‘Muslim charities’ and ‘non-Muslim charities’.

It is forbidden, under Sharia, for Muslim charities to help non-Muslims – and for non-Muslim charities to help Muslims (though, to be honest, non-Muslim charities do face a lot of regulatory interference under Sharia and are thus prevented from being as effective in providing aid as Muslim charities are).  Therefore, when non-Muslim charities attempted to aid Muslims in Bengal, the response among the population was confusion and fear – and, ultimately, rejection of much help.  The problem was finally resolved by the non-Muslim charities simply giving the money and aid materiel to Muslim charities, who then operated on the ground…

Another ‘perplexing’ example came even more recently, during the terrible flooding in Pakistan.  Even as money poured into the county through Red Cross, there were appalling stories of whole non-Muslim families starving – even in regions where food aid was plentiful.  Again, people in ‘The West’ could not make heads-or-tails of this and many wrote these stories off as propaganda.

Not so.

The primary channel for the aid funds was The International Red Cross.

In Sharia countries, the Red Cross partners with its affiliated Islamic charity, the Red Crescent, and channels all aid through it.

In Pakistan, which is for all practical purposes governed by Sharia, the Red Crescent operates as an Islamic charity under Sharia does.  That means that Mosques are used as the centres from which the aid (from food on down) is distributed.

To most of us, this does not seem particularly odd:  Mosques serve as community centres, so they are centrally located and accessible.  Plus, they have the room to store the supplies to be distributed, so this would be a logical place to distribute aid from, right?

Plus, under Sharia, the Red Crescent is only permitted to distribute aid through a Mosque.  So, it is not just the ‘logical’ course of action, it is the only permitted course of action.  And the Red Crescent did make various statements to the effect that everyone who came to them for aid, received aid!

So, what was the problem that caused the non-Muslims to starve?

Under Sharia, a non-Muslim may not enter a Mosque!

Not being permitted to enter the place from which the aid from Western countries was being distributed, non-Muslims could either starve or convert to Islam…

I suspect there is a lot more about ‘charity under Sharia’ we just don’t know…