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Your Personal Panopticom: Big Data, the Internet and the Surveillance Society

Invasion of the Data Snatchers: Big Data and the Internet of Things Means the Surveillance of Everything
by Catherine Crump and Matthew Harwood  - TomDispatch
Estimates vary, but by 2020 there could be over 30 billion devices connected to the Internet. Once dumb, they will have smartened up thanks to sensors and other technologies embedded in them and, thanks to your machines, your life will quite literally have gone online.
 
The implications are revolutionary. Your smart refrigerator will keep an inventory of food items, noting when they go bad. Your smart thermostat will learn your habits and adjust the temperature to your liking. Smart lights will illuminate dangerous parking garages, even as they keep an “eye” out for suspicious activity.
 
Techno-evangelists have a nice catchphrase for this future utopia of machines and the never-ending stream of information, known as Big Data, it produces: the Internet of Things. So abstract. So inoffensive. Ultimately, so meaningless.
 
A future Internet of Things does have the potential to offer real benefits, but the dark side of that seemingly shiny coin is this: companies will increasingly know all there is to know about you. Most people are already aware that virtually everything a typical person does on the Internet is tracked. In the not-too-distant future, however, real space will be increasingly like cyberspace, thanks to our headlong rush toward that Internet of Things. With the rise of the networked device, what people do in their homes, in their cars, in stores, and within their communities will be monitored and analyzed in ever more intrusive ways by corporations and, by extension, the government.
 
And one more thing: in cyberspace it is at least theoretically possible to log off. In your own well-wired home, there will be no “opt out.”
 
You can almost hear the ominous narrator’s voice from an old “Twilight Zone” episode saying, “Soon the net will close around all of us. There will be no escape.”
 
Except it’s no longer science fiction. It’s our barely distant present.
 

25 Years After Exxon Valdez

25 Years After Exxon Valdez, BP Was the Hidden Culprit
by Greg Palast - Truthdig
Two decades ago I was the investigator for the legal team that sold you the bullshit that a drunken captain was the principal cause of the Exxon Valdez disaster, the oil tanker crackup that poisoned over a thousand miles of Alaska’s coastline 25 years ago on March 24, 1989.

A crew cleans up oil six years after the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Photo by James McAlpine, © Palast Investigative Fund.
 
The truth is far uglier, and the real culprit—British Petroleum, now BP—got away without a scratch to its reputation or to its pocketbook.
 
And because BP’s willful negligence, prevarications and fraud in the Exxon Valdez spill cost the company nothing, its disdain for the law, for the environment and for the safety of its workers was repeated in the Gulf of Mexico with deadly consequences, resulting, two decades later, in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Australia: The Next (Stolen) Generation

Another Stolen Generation: How Australia Still Wrecks Aboriginal Families
The tape is searing. There is the voice of an infant screaming as he is wrenched from his mother, who pleads, "There is nothing wrong with my baby. Why are you doing this to us? I would've been hung years ago, wouldn't I? Because [as an Aboriginal Australian] you're guilty before you're found innocent." The child's grandmother demands to know why "the stealing of our kids is happening all over again". A welfare official says, "I'm gunna take him, mate."
 
This happened to an Aboriginal family in outback New South Wales. It is happening across Australia in a scandalous and largely unrecognised abuse of human rights that evokes the infamous stolen generation of the last century. Up to the 1970s, thousands of mixed-race children were stolen from their mothers by welfare officials. The children were given to institutions as cheap or slave labour; many were abused.
 


Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Wendy Mendez, Calvin Cook, Janine Bandcroft Mar 24, 2014

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com

che kokoThe horrors we daily see meted out by the World's most powerful against the most vulnerable may be difficult to understand without the benefit of historical context. The grim truth is: Today's death squad mercenaries, and the junta regimes they both foment and support, are the fruit of dragon's teeth sown long ago.

This was perhaps nowhere more evident than in Iraq, where the so-called "Salvador Option" was resurrected by the mastermind of the original strategy, John Negroponte.

During America's terror campaign in El Salvador in the 1970's, gangs of specially-trained soldiers were sent into the countryside to capture, torture, and kill civilians. The stated goal then was to deter communists taking hold of the tiny country and providing a beach-head for the Russian invasion of the U.S. homeland.

 

Listen. Hear.

The secretive program was revealed to the American public following the slaying of Archbishop Oscar Romero in his church in 1980, and more graphically by the subsequent brutal rape and murder of three American nuns, and Jean Donovan, a lay missioner. Less known however was a similar terror campaign conducted throughout most of the 1980's in El Salvador's neighbour to the north, Guatemala.

Wendy Mendez is a Vancouver-based human rights defender and founder of H.I.J.O.S.Guatemala, or Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice Against Forgetting and Silence. H.I.J.O.S. uses public education, political art and murals, and demonstration to both articulate and strengthen Guatemala's justice movement. The organization is made of students, workers, professionals, and includes the children of Guatemala's disappeared and murdered. Mendez is herself a survivor of the Guatemalan genocide, she and her family fleeing the country following the disappearing of her mother, Luz Haydee Mendez in 1984.

Wendy Mendez will be in Victoria this Friday, presenting at the Central America Support Committee's monthly Cafe Sympatico at 1923 Fernwood Rd., in the heart of the Fernwood community.

Wendy Mendez in the first half.

And; last year, the Shawnigan Residents Association discovered plans by the local gravel quarry, South Island Aggregates to fill their sun-setted open pit mine with 5 million tonnes of "contaminated soil" on the slopes above Shawnigan Lake. They protested, beseeched, and appealed to every body involved in the process, but in the finish, the BC Ministry of the Environment approved the dump. A final appeal of the ministry's permit was heard earlier this month, and the last ditch effort commences today, scheduled to conclude April 4th.

Calvin Cook has lived along the lake for nearly thirty years, and is Vice President of the Shawnigan Residents Association.

Calvin Cook and a dump too much in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's good to do in and around the city, and beyond it too, in the coming week. But first, Wendy Mendez and Guatemala's Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice Against Forgetting and Silence.


Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/

 
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A Bitumen Pit By Any Other Name: The Titular Politics of Alberta's Ticking Carbon Bomb

Oil Sands or Tar Sands? Actually, They're Neither
by Damien Gillis - The Common Sense Canadian
As the publisher of an online journal focusing on Canada’s environment and resource economy, the issue of what to call Alberta’s oil patch is an increasingly, um, sticky subject.
 
Do we use “oil sands”, capitulating to the industry’s late but valiant rebranding effort, or keep to “tar sands”, which is how we’ve generally referred to it in the past?

Or, like the Huffington Post and other newer, online publications, float between the two, depending on the story and author – which is what we’re doing more of lately.
 

More Than Fools: America's Reckless Experiment with a New World Order

Ukraine and Yugoslavia
by Diana Johnstone - CounterPunch
 
foolsjohnstoneI sometimes get the feeling that somewhere across that huge puddle, in America, people sit in a lab and conduct experiments, as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing.”  – Vladimir Putin, 4 March 2014
 
Paris - Five years ago, I wrote a paper for a Belgrade conference commemorating the tenth anniversary of the start of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
 
In that paper I stressed that the disintegration of Yugoslavia had been used as an experimental laboratory to perfect various techniques that would subsequently be used in so-called “color revolutions” or other “regime change” operations directed against leaders considered undesirable by the United States government.
 
At that time, I specifically pointed to the similarities between the Krajina region of former Yugoslavia and Ukraine.
 
 
 
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A Televised Preview of Ukraine's Fascist Future

Ukrainian Nationalists Block RT: YouTube Video of Brutal Assault on TV Chief
by RT
A Ukrainian parliamentarian from the nationalist Svoboda party has removed RT’s YouTube video of another Svoboda deputy physically abusing the head of a national television network in Kiev – saying it violates copyright.
 
Recorded on Wednesday, the footage shows ponytailed Igor Miroshnichenko and a coterie of other nationalist MPs bursting into the office of Aleksandr Panteleymonov, the acting head of the National Television Company of Ukraine, the country’s state broadcaster.
 
Miroshnichenko starts off by accusing the beleaguered Panteleymonov, who was appointed a month ago, of putting out pro-Russian coverage of recent events in Crimea. He then violently plunges him into his chair, and forces Panteleymonov to write an impromptu resignation.
 

 

The video, shot and uploaded by MP Aleksandr Aronec, immediately went viral, with hundreds of thousands of views on various websites. RT’s version, with English subtitles, accumulated more than 30 thousand views.
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Keeping the Legacy of Abu Ghraib Alive: Iraq's Women and Fruits of America's Efforts

Preserving the Abu Ghraib Culture: The Harrowing Abuse of Iraqi Women
by Ramzy Baroud - PalestineChronicle
When they first put the electricity on me, I gasped; my body went rigid and the bag came off my head,” Israa Salah, a detained Iraqi woman told Human Rights Watch (HRW) in her heartrending testimony.
 
Israa (not her real name) was arrested by US and Iraqi forces in 2010. She was tortured to the point of confessing to terrorist charges she didn’t commit. According to HRW’s “No One is Safe” - a 105-page report released on Feb 06 – there are thousands of Iraqi women in jail being subjected to similar practices, held with no charges, beaten and raped.
 
In Israa’s case, she received most degrading, but typical treatment. She was handcuffed, pushed down on her knees, and kicked in the face until her jaw broke. And when she refused to sign the confession, it was then that electric wires were attached to her handcuffs.
 
Welcome to the ‘liberated’ Iraq, a budding ‘democracy’ which American officials rarely cease celebrating. There is no denial that the brutal policies of the Iraqi government under Nouri al-Maliki is a continuation of the same policies of the US military administration, which ruled over Iraq from 2003 until the departure of US troops in Dec. 2011.
 
It is as if the torturers have read from the same handbook. In fact, they did.
 

Neocons and Ukraine's Neo-Nazi Coup: Using the Brown Shirts to Put the Boot to Putin

Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit
by Robert Parry  - ConsortiumNews
You might think that policymakers with so many bloody fiascos on their résumés as the U.S. neocons, including the catastrophic Iraq War, would admit their incompetence and return home to sell insurance or maybe work in a fast-food restaurant. Anything but directing the geopolitical decisions of the world’s leading superpower.
 
But Official Washington’s neocons are nothing if not relentless and resilient. They are also well-funded and well-connected. So they won’t do the honorable thing and disappear. They keep hatching new schemes and strategies to keep the world stirred up and to keep their vision of world domination – and particularly “regime change” in the Middle East – alive.
 
Now, the neocons have stoked a confrontation over Ukraine, involving two nuclear-armed states, the United States and Russia. But – even if nuclear weapons don’t come into play – the neocons have succeeded in estranging U.S. President Barack Obama from Russian President Vladimir Putin and sabotaging the pair’s crucial cooperation on Iran and Syria, which may have been the point all along.
 

Where the Dead Lose Their Bones: GWOT Dancing in the Rat's Alley

Rat's Alley: The Deadly Dance of the "War on Terror"
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque
The "Global War on Terror" may have been semantically erased by the propagandists of the Obama Administration, but on the ground, it is still going on -- and still spawning a multititude of malevolent consequences, as Patrick Cockburn details in a powerful series of articles.

Cockburn's look at the historical record doesn't begin with 9/11, of course; the fatal alliance between Washington and the most retrograde and repressive forms of Islam -- which gave rise to the Terror War and its present reality -- goes back several decades. [The first three parts of the series are here, here and here.]

But as Cockburn rightly points out, the ostensible enemy that America's national security state is ostensibly fighting -- violent, hidebound, Sunni extremism -- is now more powerful and deadly than ever ... and has been made so at every turn by the actions of America's national security state.

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The New Greece: Ukraine Coup Rewarded with Perennial Penury Package

EU-Ukraine trade pact paves way for brutal austerity
by Mike Head - WSWS
Amid intensifying US and European Union sanctions and military provocations against Russia, the EU and the Western-backed government in Ukraine yesterday signed a pact that paves the way for brutal austerity measures and free market “reforms.”
The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is based on the deal that former President Viktor Yanukovych’s Ukrainian government rejected, leading to the US- and EU-instigated protests and violence that ousted him last month.
 
The pact, signed in Brussels, declares that the Ukrainian government must “embark swiftly on an ambitious program of structural reforms” and submit to “an agreement with the [International Monetary Fund].” The plans being drawn up are based on the “Greek model”—the savage cuts imposed on Greece by the IMF and the EU that have produced a massive growth in unemployment and poverty.
 
For all their claims of a “democratic revolution,” the EU leaders and Ukraine’s unelected regime of former bankers, fascists and oligarchs announced that they would delay finalizing the economic clauses of the EU association pact—and hence unveiling the austerity measures—until after elections in May.