Monday, April 12, 2010

Dressing Up

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The Wellington Declaration

http://publicacta.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/header-acta.jpg
What is ACTA?

ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA) is a controversial international treaty being negotiated in a series of secret meetings.

ACTA is proposed as a plurilateral trade agreement for establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement. It is being negotiated between the US, Canada, Japan, the European Union, South Korea, Mexico, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. Unfortunately, the negotiations have extended beyond trade and physical counterfeiting to potentially cover non-commercial infringement of copyright material by ordinary citizens and issues of digital rights management.

What is PublicACTA?

PublicACTA has been organised by InternetNZ so that the public can critique the known and likely content of ACTA proposals. 

Preamble

The participants at the PublicACTA Conference of 10 April 2010 respectfully submit this, the Wellington Declaration, to the parties negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), for their consideration during the Wellington round of negotiations.

Consistent with the European Parliament's Resolution of 10 March 2010 on the Transparency and State of Play of the ACTA Negotiations (P7_TA(2010)0058), ACTA should be limited to an Agreement regarding enforcement against counterfeiting (the large scale commercial production of illicit physical goods).

The first part of the Declaration deals with general matters and principles.

The second part of the Declaration deals with some of the specific points under discussion in Wellington.

Part One: General Matters and Principles

Preserving the Internet
We recognise that the Internet has enabled creativity and innovation, the sharing of knowledge, citizen engagement and democracy, and is an engine of economic growth and opportunity. This is the result of certain attributes of the Internet: its open protocols and its generativity; the fact that anyone can connect and anyone can build new applications, and find new uses without discrimination. ACTA should preserve these attributes.

Go here to read and sign the Wellington Declaration

 

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Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again

As a retired clinical psychologist, Clark Martin was well acquainted with traditional treatments for depression, but his own case seemed untreatable as he struggled through chemotherapy and other grueling regimens for kidney cancer. Counseling seemed futile to him. So did the antidepressant pills he tried.

"It was a whole personality shift for me. I wasn't any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. I could see that the really good things in life will happen if you just show up and share your natural enthusiasms with people."

Nothing had any lasting effect until, at the age of 65, he had his first psychedelic experience. He left his home in Vancouver, Wash., to take part in an experiment at Johns Hopkins medical school involving psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient found in certain mushrooms.

Scientists are taking a new look at hallucinogens, which became taboo among regulators after enthusiasts like Timothy Leary promoted them in the 1960s with the slogan "Turn on, tune in, drop out." Now, using rigorous protocols and safeguards, scientists have won permission to study once again the drugs' potential for treating mental problems and illuminating the nature of consciousness.

After taking the hallucinogen, Dr. Martin put on an eye mask and headphones, and lay on a couch listening to classical music as he contemplated the universe.

"All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating," he recalled. "Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water's gone. And then you're gone."

Today, more than a year later, Dr. Martin credits that six-hour experience with helping him overcome his depression and profoundly transforming his relationships with his daughter and friends. He ranks it among the most meaningful events of his life, which makes him a fairly typical member of a growing club of experimental subjects.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/12/science/12psychedelics.html?src=me&ref=general

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Massey Energy

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In West Virginia, Coal Miners' Slaughter

 
BY MICHAEL WINSHIP

The high cost of energy in America was paid in human lives this week, with the deaths of more than two dozen miners in a massive explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia. It's the worst mine disaster in a quarter of a century.

Upper Big Branch is owned by Massey Energy Company, which operates 47 mines in central Appalachia. According to the Los Angeles Times, it employs nearly 6,000 and in 2009 reported revenues of $2.3 billion, with a net income of $104.4 million.

At the center of this week's catastrophe is Massey's president and CEO Don Blankenship, a man so reviled nowadays he had to be escorted away by police when he and other company officials tried to address a group of distraught family and friends outside the Upper Big Branch mine in the early morning hours after the explosion. The crowd hurled invective -- and a chair.

Blankenship hates unions (Upper Big Branch is a non-union mine), thinks global warming is a figment of our imaginations and that those who do believe in climate change are crazy; supports destructive mountaintop-removal mining; serves on the board of the conservative, free market U.S. Chamber of Commerce and now, lucky us, shares his pearls of right-wing wisdom via Twitter. "America doesn't need Green jobs," he tweeted pithily last month, "but Red, White, & Blue ones."

David Roberts of the environmental magazine Grist described him as "the scariest polluter in the U.S. ...The guy is evil and I don't use that word lightly."

http://blog.buzzflash.com//contributors/3137

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The Cover-Ups That Exploded

 
by Alexander Cockburn

The Pentagon is reeling after two lethal episodes uncovered by diligent journalism show trigger-happy U.S. Army helicopter pilots and U.S. Special Forces slaughtering civilians, then seeking to cover up their crimes.

The World Wide Web was transfixed Monday when Wikileaks put up on YouTube a 38-minute video, along with a 17-minute edited version, taken from a U.S. Army Apache helicopter, one of two firing on a group of Iraqis in Baghdad at a street corner in July 2007. Twelve civilians died, including a Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and a Reuters driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40.

At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Wikileaks said it had got the footage from whistle-blowers in the military and had been able to break the encryption code. The Pentagon has confirmed the video is genuine.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has finally admitted that Special Forces troops killed two pregnant Afghan women and a girl in a February 2010, raid, in which two Afghan government officials were also killed. Brilliant reporting by Jerome Starkey of The Times of London has blown apart the U.S. military's cover-up story that the women were killed by knife wounds administered several hours before the raid.

It now appears that the knife wounds may have been inflicted by the Special Forces troops retrieving their bullets from the dead or dying women's bodies. Starkey's story last Sunday in The Times reported that "Afghan investigators also determined that American forces not only killed the women but had also 'dug bullets out of their victims' bodies in the bloody aftermath" and then "washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened."

The 17-minute video recording the U.S. military's massacre from the air in Baghdad is utterly damning. The visual and audio record reveal the two Apache helicopter pilots and the U.S. Army intelligence personnel monitoring the real-time footage falling over themselves to make the snap judgment that the civilians roughly a thousand feet below are armed insurgents and that one of them, peeking round a corner, was carrying an RPG — that is, a rocket-propelled antitank grenade launcher.

The dialogue is particularly chilling, revealing gleeful pilots gloating over the effect of their initial machine-gun salvoes. "Look at those dead bastards," one pilot says. "Nice," answers the other. Then, as a wounded man painfully writhes toward the curb, the pilots eagerly wait for an excuse to finish him off. "All you gotta do is pick up a weapon," one pilot says yearningly.

Then suddenly, a civilian van, seeing the carnage, pulls up. A man jumps out and starts dragging the wounded man around to load him in. The pilots implore the intelligence monitors to give them the go-ahead to strafe the van, about which they have made the instant, fatally erroneous judgment that this is an insurgent rescue squad. A few moments later, the intelligence monitors, with zero visual evidence underpinning their judgment, give the go-ahead.

http://www.creators.com/liberal/alexander-cockburn/the-cover-ups-that-exploded.html

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Pope Benedict Nixon

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Ratzinger is the perfect pope

by Richard Dawkins

"Should Pope Benedict XVI be held responsible for the escalating scandals over clerical sexual abuse in Europe?"

Yes he should, and it's going to escalate a lot further, as more and more victims break through the guilt of their childhood indoctrination and come forward.

"Should he be investigated for how cases of abuse were handled under his watch as archbishop of Munich or as the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer?"

Yes, of course he should. This former head of the Inquisition should be arrested the moment he dares to set foot outside his tinpot fiefdom of the Vatican, and he should be tried in an appropriate civil - not ecclesiastical - court. That's what should happen. Sadly, we all know our faith-befuddled governments will be too craven to do it.

"Should the pope resign?"

No. As the College of Cardinals must have recognized when they elected him, he is perfectly - ideally - qualified to lead the Roman Catholic Church. A leering old villain in a frock, who spent decades conspiring behind closed doors for the position he now holds; a man who believes he is infallible and acts the part; a man whose preaching of scientific falsehood is responsible for the deaths of countless AIDS victims in Africa; a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence: in short, exactly the right man for the job. He should not resign, moreover, because he is perfectly positioned to accelerate the downfall of the evil, corrupt organization whose character he fits like a glove, and of which he is the absolute and historically appropriate monarch.

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/richard_dawkins/2010/03/ratzinger_is_the_perfect_pope.html

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Palin: America does not need ‘this snake oil science stuff’

By Stephen C. Webster

palin snow Palin: America does not need this snake oil science stuffUp yours, scientists.

That's essentially the message sent by former politician Sarah Palin during a recent speech to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, where she disparaged the work of thousands of the world's top minds to the delight of a large crowd that laughed, clapped and cheered her on the whole way.

She was addressing the increasingly urgent matter of global climate change when Palin whipped out a gem of a quote, telling the conference-goers that American does not need "this snake oil science stuff" and calling climate science "Gore-gate."

The former half-term governor was attempting to make a reference to the so-called "Climate-gate" affair that was orchestrated over a set of leaked emails from the University of East Anglia, providing the world with insight to an internal dispute between teams of scientists. The whole "scandal" is better known to MSNBC host Rachael Maddow as "total bull-pucky": fictional claims blown so out of proportion by right-wing media that the masses at least partially accept it.

In the midst of describing what she thinks America really needs, Palin belted out a truly amazing run-on sentence: "We should create a competitive climate for investment and for renewables and alternatives that are economical and doable and none of this snake oil science stuff that is based on this global warming, Gore-gate stuff that came down where there was revelation that the scientists, some of these scientists were playing political games."

"Nothing about the supposed 'bombshell' climate-gate scandal at all challenges the scientific consensus that global warming is happening, that it is induced by human activity," Maddow scoffed during an April 2 broadcast.

Maddow called the alleged scandal, like the falsified claims that ultimately brought down ACORN, the "un-mooring of politics from fact," calling out a least two dozen other Republican-created media narratives that are complete "bull."

For Palin to play off a fictional theme is expected at this point, as she once fashioned a popular campaign meme off the laughable invention that President Obama "pals around with terrorists." In spite of this, it is perhaps her insistence that the United States does not need "this snake oil science stuff" that best highlights the place from which her beliefs spring.

http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0410/palin-this-snake-oil-science-stuff/

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et tu, Barack?

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