NSA Confirms It Has Been Searching US Citizens' Data Without a Warrant
"Basically, if you communicated with someone that is 'reasonably believed' to be a terrorist, you've lost constitutional protection against searches without a warrant"
Fair game. Really. And I speak here as the pacifist humanitarian that I am.
But how do you make distinction between a terrorist and a freedom figher whose people are trying to survive genonide under your friendly ("preferred") trading partners? Tibet (unique in every way; language, culture, ethnicity, script etc.)? Ukraine (unique and close to Europe)? Or perhaps just a member of some rural middle-eastern belief system from the 6th century?
What value system are you basing this "terrorist" label upon? Believing in freedom? Self-determination? Or something else? Saying unpleasant things about the militaristic occupying nation? (you'd disappear in China)
It's the 21st century so please make up your mind and finally make more than a pretend stand on this issue: who are the terrorists (who you may actually trade with) and who are the actual victims of terrorism (often state-sponsored)?
The whole democratic majority of the world (as long as it exists) has a last chance to decide what they consider acceptable, at a state level. Are your real opponents mere misguided goat herders or something state-sponsored and fundamentally game-changing?
Russia Blocks Internet Sites of Putin Critics
Sadly, Russia is turning more and more to Soviet ways. Putin was even rehabilitating Stalin.
Well the West, thanks to the upstanding duo of Nixon & Kissinger, "rehabilitated" Mao's empire already in the mid-seventies and helped the fine western industrialists relocate their ("means of") production over to the PRC while helping their own profit margins in the process, at least for a while.
Mao Zedong, despite having achieved double the body count of Stalin, doesn't even need rehabilitation as his "Communist" Party's princelings have continued to rule the empire, albeit now under new and improved nationalist-corporatist style policies. Nothing wrong with that in the 21st century, right?
Mao also successfully (re-)incorporated the vast western territories of Tibet, South Mongolia and East Turkestan (chin. "Xinjiang") to the Han Chinese empire; Tibet actually well after WWII in 1950-51. Nice grab of Lebensraum, natural resources and new geo-political/military influence over South and Central Asia... and they're still militarily claiming control of massive maritime territories extending deep into South-East Asia and of course large areas belonging to both north-western and north-eastern provinces of India.
China's national (and increasingly international) media is naturally still totally harnessed to spreading CCP's nationalist propaganda.
I have zero sympathy for Putin or his policies to rebuild the Soviet/Russian Empire through threats and military aggression, but hey, the West (USA, EU et al) have okayed and are of course currently perfectly fine with the People's Republic of China doing all these things. The key lesson learned has been that business always wins in the end over morality or international law. We often reap what we sow.
Should we be surprised if a Soviet-groomed KGB agent turned Russian authoritarian strongman feels that his regime deserves the same imperial carte blanche priviledges both domestically and over their smaller/weaker/more peaceful neighbours as China has been afforded (essentially with zero concessions)?
My old signature below may seem totally pointless to many, but the West set their tone already some forty years ago and the only reason the western democracies are now even considering diplomatic and economic sanctions seems to be that Ukraine happens to be located in eastern Europe, unlike those inconsequential (former) neighbours of China.
Multivitamin Researchers Say 'Case Is Closed' As Studies Find No Health Benefits
Vitamin supplements are generic and thus have relatively low profit margins. On the other hand the various ailments and even chronic diseases that can result from vitamin deficiencies are likely to be much more lucrative businesses. Just saying.
Employee Morale Is Suffering At the NSA
Want to quit your job? Yeah right. The job market is tough enough right now..
What else can you do other than stay quiet and hope that the people in positions of power fix things?
You're anynomous and the NSA isn't monitoring this, right?
Let's suppose you are a reasonably intelligent and resourceful individual.
How much are you making as an NSA contractor and how much would be enough to keep your family from "starving"? (Before Snowden's revelations, contractors were openly boasting about their awesome pay packages, fwiw)
And the fear of the Agency coming after you if you were to leave? For real?
Yeah it's all too damn inconvenient so why rock the boat? After all, you're just a cog in the machine and "just following orders". All of you.
All the rationalizing and self-justifying notwithstanding, you must realize that there are reasons why your employers are somewhat less than well-liked by people in your own country, not to mention by the billions of "targets" living outside your borders?
Basically every institutionalized injustice in the history of mankind has *depended* on men like yourself to remain quiet and do nothing except complete the tasks assigned to them. Some just file papers while others have more hands-on tasks to undertake. And how is all of this funded? Well the machine also controls the taxes of course.
And here you are, the land of the free, the land of opportunity, fearful of your own government agency whom you work for and fearful of starving if you were to leave that current secure and comfortable position you've landed yourself in.
In China. In Russia. In North Korea. Under all the other control-obsessed regimes embracing the possibilities of this new era of limitless surveillance of subjects and now in the USA as well, the machine depends on a convenient status quo.
But why bother with the fears and vain rationalizing at all? Just wrap it all under the banner of heroic patriotism and all is truly well. For you and your family at least.
Extreme Microbe Brewing: the Curse of Auto-Brewery Syndrome
Just imagine if the World Congress of Mullahs somehow managed to weaponize (read: aerosolize) this beelzebubian yeast and it got loose during a demo at their Annual General Meeting...
The Stanford Prisoner Experiment - 40 Years On
I'm not sure if everyone should go though the experiment per se, but certainly societies would benefit if everyone was taught about it, and human behaviour and moral in general.
Germany in the 1930s and 1940s after the Nazional Sozialists had grabbed control of the government (and the media) is a very good case study of what happens when sections of population are labelled "enemies", "unfit" and eventually even sub-human. There the perpetrators had been brainwashed with a sense of injustice and anger over post-WWI suffering and the domestic "unfits" (based on propaganda definitions) were made scapegoats.
Yet repression and murder in even larger scale took place after the Nazi "experiment" - in the gulags and laogai under Stalin's and Mao's communist party dictatorships.
Arguably the Chinese were the most brutal in the treatment of their enemies (something to do with the traditional art of torture and the domestic imperial history there?). Under the territories invaded by Mao's red army the foreign enemies (like Tibetans, Mongolians and Uighurs) were easy to identify as they didn't share any of the sinized Han-people's charasteristics - they were also commonly treated as sub-humans for that very reason (Tibetans as devout buddhists were targeted for particularly brutal punishment), but after the initial phase of Chinese military expansion and consolidation something unique happened: Mao's "Cultural Revolution".
While the title sounds deceptively docile, the reality was anything but. Here, in mid-60s, Mao decided that "old thinking" had to go. All of it. A horde of young, maoism-indoctrinated youth were given the authority / order to challenge anything that could somehow be perceived to contradict the infamous Mao's red book. For about a decade _everyone_ was an enemy unless he or she could prove the Red Guards - often by committing acts of brutality against "other enemies" - his or her blind loyalty to the "cause" of New China. One of the saddest representations of this was the widespread turning of children against their own parents who had until then loved and cared for them! The loyalty towards one's family had to be destroyed as it threatened the absolute power of the Party.
After the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 that Party held an emergency meeting in Beijing and after coming to the conclusion that communism as a political doctrine or economic model simply wasn't effective any longer, they decided - internally - to switch de facto doctrines to Confucianism (as nationalistic philosophy) and... national socialism (adapted to globalist markets), with capitalist/corporatist carrots for the Party's inner core (the leading families of "PRC" are now fabulously wealthy!). Old communist propaganda is still being played out as a justification for the Party's "legitimacy" though, and such propaganda is still key part of everyday control in poorer inland parts of China and especially in the occupied territories annexed through military force. Foreigners are still depicted as criminals who haven't paid for their sins over the "humiliation of China", although various "domestic movements" there (not forgetting the bloody war by communists themselves against the Republic of China) account for the vast majority of human cost and every other once wholly western-ruled nation (incl. the multi-cultural India) has gotten over their past "humiliation". What does needing artificial external enemies say about China's ruling dictatorship itself?
Blind obedience, often in order to benefit oneself or to save one's own life, and the accompanying willingness to inflict suffering on others... it tends to go together with ignorance (then redefining) of morality (right vs wrong, perceived or imaginary injustice), absolute propaganda to shape the population's value models and numbing violence and abuse.
I believe we have enough examples of abuse of authority by now. What we need is to actually make learning about them, and morality and philosophy in general, a truly intergral part of education so that most people would recognize the warning signs early enough to stop such abuses from taking place in the first place. I don't recommend we should go about re-enacting cases of injustice and abuse, but a more thorough engagement and debate than mere voluntary reading of a boring chapter in a study book is probably required. In the presence of totalitarian propaganda it will be hard, but elsewhere ignorance should be no excuse.
Microsoft Buying Skype for $8.5B
Basically skype seems to have a *whole* lot of traction/brand recognition. MS wants to control that to prop up their struggling mobile phone play (read: screw over iOS/Android/etc users). Torpedoing Linux support will probably be just side-effect.
The "side effects" of Microsoft's wheeling and dealing seem strongly aligned with their absolute main objectives.
Remember Microsoft's recent financing (and IP/patent grab) of Attachmate's takeover of Novell (their new anti-competition modus operandi appears to be using the money and third parties to do the kneecapping)? Shortly after the completion Attachmate fired Novell's Mono team which was working on libraries that allowed .NET developers to rather easily port their apps to... iOS/Android/etc...
See what just happened there? I'm no fan of Mono always chasing the potentially IP pithole riddled MS.NET but in that instance Mono provided a way for otherwise MS-dependent developers to easily enter non-MS mobile platforms while Microsoft's own mobile platforms remain immature and severely lacking in marketshare.
Was it in Attachmate's strategic interests to kill that potentially popular porting platform? Or was killing it only in Microsoft's interests?
With both the Windows and Office platforms' strengths as the dominant technology strangle points and providers of MS-only network effects on the wane, MS suddenly find themselves in a desperate scramble for something to keep their unloved mobile platforms alive. Buying Skype and killing ex-MS porting via Mono are clearly part of their mobile strategy.
MS Removes HTTPS From Hotmail For Troubled Nations
Cryptography is banned in China and territories under their control without a permit by the "communist" party regime. They will have keys for the crypto they allow their subjects to use.
Big and compliant foreign firms may apply for an exception but obviously that doesn't mean their operations haven't been breached from within.
Wikileaks To Name Swiss Bank Tax Evaders
Wouldn't it also be interesting if the neo-McCartyists who're screaming for Wikileaks personnel to be hunted down and thrown in the "offshore" Guantanamo camp or even assassinated were found to be hiding their loot in secret offshore accounts?
Samsung Set To Introduce Android-Based iPod Touch Competitor
I only counted a few peripheral mentions of Nokia phones in the ~200 messages so far. Zero references to Nokia's then-revolutionary Internet (and media) Tablets that the company hesitantly slipped out between 2005-2008 and promptly abandoned.
Paraphrasing Brando on Nokia exec's behalf: "I don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it."
The N800 internet tablet came out four years ago, and while it wasn't absolute cutting edge even then, it was affordable to manufacture, potentially symbiotic to Nokia's phone division (as a tethered companion device) and a wonderful starting point for further development.
Except that Nokia's wise managers decided to can the project. Its sister model N810, with its slide-out keyboard and crappy GPS, did manage to escape Nokia a year later, but even a slightest charade of support was already wrapped in.
Along with the pioneering tablet mindshare and respect Nokia lost most of the community of developers and early adopters. Nokia had it and chose to throw it all away. (Google Trends)
So Nokia's now got Qt and there's this Intel joint-op Meego too, seemingly aimed at x86-based "mobile devices" of some sort. Yet Nokia has no actual cutting edge phones (the last being the bulky non-multi-touch N900 of late 2009, supported only by the unsupported Maemo OS), let alone media and/or internet-oriented non-phone tablets.
Meego may be more-or-less a proper Linux environment designed for touch, but having Nokia and Intel as sugar daddies does sound a tad ominous as neither of those wants 3rd-party ARM-based devices to become successful.
Be it "openMeego" or anything, I'd love to see affordable media/internet tablets running a secure, multi-user-capable OS (i.e Linux). Make it easily shareable between family members, friends, classmates or workmates, either using local accounts (incl. "guest") or the cloud. Support the devices with software/security updates. People will buy it.
Abandon Earth Or Die, Warns Hawking
The start of the credit crisis was either 10 or 30 years ago? Not when the US and soon afterwards European industrialists chose to grant the People's republic MFN and free ticket to WTO while relocating their factories there? Wasn't that the beginning of the end of the West? Soon after the fall of the Warsaw Pact?
Stanford's New Solar Tech Harnesses Heat, Light
"Solar water heating or solar hot water is water heated by the use of solar energy. Solar water heating systems are generally composed of solar thermal collectors, a water storage tank or another point of usage, interconnecting pipes and a fluid system to move the heat from the collector to the tank. This thermodynamic approach is distinct from semiconductor photovoltaic (PV) cells that generate electricity from light; solar water heating deals with the direct heating of liquids by the sun where no electricity is directly generated."
Basic glass-covered box + copper pipes (flattened inside the black-painted floor of the box) + water collection barrel combo has long been an important alternative technology feature in the developing world.
So soon one could tack one of these new-fangled Stanford solar/heat panels at the bottom of the box and besides photon conversion also harness the high temperatures for increased electricity generation.
I truly hope that this tech doesn't become a patent pissing contest but it is made available and even manufactured around the world without licensing impediments. Maybe the world's governments could step in, enumerate the inventors appropriately and make sure these crucial technology alternatives to fossil fuels become widely available and in massive quantities.
New Russian Weapon Hides In Shipping Container
While the US and Soviet-Russia agreed not to develop ASBMs (remember MAD?), the Chinese "communist" regime has been at for over a decade and recently they've been confident enough in their long-range supersonic "carrier-killer" that it's been showcased in the regime's jingoistic TV programming as destroying an Aegis-equipped enemy.
Wired has a feature on this game-changing Chinese ASBM titled China Testing Ballistic Missile 'Carrier-Killer'. There's a link to a delightful youtube cartoon featuring these new Chinese ASBMs wiping out unsuspecting big-noses' aircraft carrier...
To those claiming that the CCP regime doesn't harbour imperialistic ambitions, just ask Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongols, the Zhuang, the countless already-assimilated peoples and pretty much all neighbours of this current "greater China" who've made acquintance with advancing PLA troops...
Massive Number of GoDaddy WordPress Blogs Hacked
China is still punishing Google huh?
If by China you're referring to the ruling Communist Party dictatorship, then sure they are.
Incidentally "GoDaddy also withdrew from China" around the same time, mainly due to the new (now more and better) draconian registration rules for individuals wishing to operate their own domains.
My hat's off for both of them for not collaborating with that regime's repressive policies.
How To Get 39 Megapixels From a 53-Year-Old Camera
Wow. That looks almost exactly like my friend's set, down to the hippy strap!
I used to have very similar setup until one trip in Chinese (this one didn't happen in Tibet) countryside when the lenses were destroyed (smashed but not stolen) by the Chinese "Public Security" (aka police). Luckily the body(ies) w/ good normal lens and short zoom were kept elsewhere at the time...
So this system is for Hasselblad and way out of my range, but I kinda hope that one day they'd start making affordable digital backends for the popular Olympus, Minolta, Nikon etc. analogue SLRs as there's a lot of fine glass out there and developing colour film (B&W is always manageable) is becoming very hard indeed (depending on location).
With inexpensive sensors and 40 megapixel range some of the ancient but well-built gear would get a new lease of practical life. One day, one day...
Dell To Leave China For India
Regarding corruption, I just recently came across a study comparing corruption in countries like China, Russia and India. It was noted that in India corruption patterns resemble a pyramid: lighter at the top but heavier at lower levels; in China where the (only nominally) Communist Party controls all aspects of power, corruption was heaviest at the more powerful levels of the machinery (also taking into account the rampant cronyism prevalent at the very top through family connections) while the less powerful lower levels weren't as corrupt (upside down pyramid).
In Russia corruption was prevalent at all levels.
Of course the less tangible moral corruption (e.g. of criminal policies of the state/government/Party) wasn't being taken into account...
What this means for foreign investors is that in India companies (dealing largely with higher levels of the government) are less likely to be exposed to the large scale corruption at business levels present in China, while Indian consumers are also more likely to purchase foreign or indian-made foreign goods than the nationalistic Chinese (thanks to systematic "anti-colonial" propaganda). While India has moved towards less protectionism (import duties) since the 1990s, there also remain tax incentives for manufacturing goods domestically in India, something that can add up considering the size of the market.
China To Connect Its High-Speed Rail To Europe
I already mentioned this a few days ago (China's exploitation of colonized lands) in the thread about China's new plans to extract a century's worth of energy out of Tibet, but some people didn't think Tibetans (or Uighurs or Mongols) themselves and their status as disenfrancised and repressed people had anything to do with China's colonial resource grab policies...
Well, here again the fine article in Inhabitat goes for the single-minded technocrat approach, not unlike the glory-hungry regime in Beijing, but wouldn't it still be at least remotely relevant to also mention the other non-trade, non-technological aspects of Chinese Communist Party's rail expansion plans?
Namely that a scholar at a Chinese thinktank has stated that "we foresee that in the coming decades, hundreds of millions of people will migrate to the western regions, where land is empty and resources are untapped".
Why is it only a horrific never-forget issue when the 1930s German dictatorship planned for a little Lebensraum expansion?
China To Tap Combustible Ice As New Energy Source
Isn't it wonderful how the Han nationalists get to mod down (supress) free speech also outside China while the "Communist Party" strictly prevents anything but Party propaganda inside China's firewalled borders?
Forgetting your flippant one-liners dismissing China's repression in occupied Tibet, wouldn't it be high time for the Han nationalists to at least get their "historical" ownership claim over Tibet fixed to one of China's own feudal periods.
"Tibet has always been a part of China since the Qing dynasty.
I'd laugh if the matter wasn't deadly serious. Some Han fanatics (and the paranoid regime which has bet its "legitimacy" on its succesful militaristic Lebensraum expansionism) indeed sometimes claim that the totally non-Chinese Tibet has "always been part of China (since the Qing dynasty)". Always?
Sometimes both groups of extremists claim that China's colonial ownership of Tibet began during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) when the neighbouring non-Chinese Mongols invaded China and established a Mongol dynasty there. The Chinese tend to forget that the other parts of the Mongol empire (spanning from China and India to Middle East and Europe) were invaded and ruled separately in very different ways reflecting regional customs. Does the whole historical Mongol empire belong to China just because China was also invaded by them?
Then there's the "since the Qing dynasty" (1644-1912) crowd... The Qing again being China's foreign invaders, this time the Manchus (a now extinct people from Manchuria neighbouring Korea).
But when the last imperial dynasty (of Qing) was finally overthrown in 1912, didn't both the Republic and the communists act on the belief that their rule over Chinese people had been illegitimate? Yet those god-emperors' vague claims of feudal vassal ownership over neighbouring nations is somehow holiest of holy?
And considering that some of China's feudal god-emperors have also claimed ownership of Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia, and in those now sovereign countries temporarily even exerted de facto rule (unlike in Tibet until Mao's invasion in 1950), shouldn't the junta in Beijing and the Chinese ultra-nationalists also be claiming those neighbours as "China's eternal possessions"?
Of course none of these archaic claims based on some feudal Chinese despots' colonial dreams and claims over the whole wide world should have no room in the modern world where even China's communist dictatorship has (nominally) signed United Nations' treaties on the rights of indigenous peoples, peoples' right to self-determination, language, culture, religion etc.
Still the Chinese regime's propaganda machine quite successfully indoctrinates even their young to parrot these feudal (let alone non-Chinese) god-emperors as if it was justification for invading, repressing, destroying and exploiting peaceful neighbouring people and their indigenous civilization which until Mao's genocidal invasion was about as "chinese" as India.
China To Tap Combustible Ice As New Energy Source
I am sure that China's formerly communist (now nationalist/Han chauvinist) dictatorship won't be reminding anyone or allowing any debate inside the "People's Empire of China" that invading a peaceful and totally non-Chinese neighbouring nation of Tibet in 1950, resulting in over a million Tibetan deaths; brutally repressing the Tibetan people, their unique language (with Sanskrit-based script), their history, their Buddhist religion and their national identity while brainwashing Tibetans to believe that their pacifistic culture is inferior; wiping out practically all of the 6000 monasteries that served as Tibet religious and administrative centres and housed invaluable written records (burned) and precious ancient artifacts (melted for Mao's foreign reserves); exploiting Tibet's extensive and varied natural resources (precious minerals, metals, timber, various sources of energy) without native Tibetans having any say; keeping the Tibetans under constant surveillance and imposing upon them China's alien imperial language etc. amounts to genocidal colonialism.
But no, the current ultra-nationalist successor regimes of the world's most murderous dictator, the marxist Mao Zedong, have made the Final Solution in China's western neighbours (Tibet, East Turkestan aka Xinjiang and Southern Mongolia) a propaganda imperative in the name of expansionist "Han China's" unity and for them colonialism is merely the often-evoked accusation against the evil foreign powers.
So now Tibet, called the "Western Treasure house" in modern Chinese, is really facing an extensive surface stripping so that the colonizing Chinese (lead by Communist Party "princelings" and their cronies) can extract the mind-boggling amount of energy stored across the Tibetan Plateau?
If that wasn't enough, just recently a professor and member of Chinese Academy of Engineering (a Chinese Communist Party thinktank) revealed that "we foresee that in the coming decades, hundreds of millions of people will migrate to the western regions, where land is empty and resources are untapped"!
One must suppose that if Hitler had provided the West cheap capitalist services under his nazional-socialist policies, he too would've gained quiet acceptance for Nazi-Germany's Lebensraum expansion and resource grab, like China does today...
China's Human Flesh Search Engine
After the March 2008 Tibetan uprising across the three provinces of Chinese-occupied Tibet during which a few Chinese (both uniformed and settlers) were killed and a dozen more died while hiding when Chinese-owned shops were set alight and over two hundred Tibetans were killed by the Chinese army and paramilitary and over two thousand Tibetans simply went missing (dead or kept in horrendous secret prison camps) there were demonstrations across the world featuring mostly freedom-supporting foreign nationals and occasionally angry Chinese Communist Party-organized "fen qing" defending Chinese imperialism and colonialism in Tibet.
During one rare demonstration at the Duke University featuring both sets of campaigners, a young Chinese student Grace Wang, who also had Tibetan and Western friends and who had mastered the art of respectful debate, tried in vain to mediate between the two groups of protesters. Here is a quote from the Washington Post article ("Caught in the Middle, Called a Traitor") on what happened next:
At the height of the protest, a group of Chinese men surrounded me, pointed at me and, referring to the young woman who led the 1989 student democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, said, "Remember Chai Ling? All Chinese want to burn her in oil, and you look like her." They said that I had mental problems and that I would go to hell. They asked me where I was from and what school I had attended. I told them. I had nothing to hide. But then it started to feel as though an angry mob was about to attack me. Finally, I left the protest with a police escort.
Back in my dorm room, I logged onto the Duke Chinese Students and Scholars Association (DCSSA) Web site and listserv to see what people were saying. Qian Fangzhou, an officer of DCSSA, was gloating, "We really showed them our colors!"
I posted a letter in response, explaining that I don't support Tibetan independence, as some accused me of, but that I do support Tibetan freedom, as well as Chinese freedom. All people should be free and have their basic rights protected, just as the Chinese constitution says. I hoped that the letter would spark some substantive discussion. But people just criticized and ridiculed me more.
The next morning, a storm was raging online. Photographs of me had been posted on the Internet with the words "Traitor to her country!" printed across my forehead. Then I saw something really alarming: Both my parents' citizen ID numbers had been posted. I was shocked, because this information could only have come from the Chinese police.
I saw detailed directions to my parents' home in China, accompanied by calls for people to go there and teach "this shameless dog" a lesson. It was then that I realized how serious this had become. My phone rang with callers making threats against my life. It was ironic: What I had tried so hard to prevent was precisely what had come to pass. And I was the target.
I talked to my mom the next morning, and she said that she and my dad were going into hiding because they were getting death threats, too. She told me that I shouldn't call them. Since then, short e-mail messages have been our only communication. The other day, I saw photos of our apartment online; a bucket of feces had been emptied on the doorstep. More recently I've heard that the windows have been smashed and obscene posters have been hung on the door. Also, I've been told that after convening an assembly to condemn me, my high school revoked my diploma and has reinforced patriotic education.