Archive for March 5th, 2012

Barack Obama’s sad record on secrecy

| March 5, 2012 | 1 Reply
Barack Obama’s sad record on secrecy

Josh Gerstein sums up Barack Obama’s massively disappointing record on secrecy at Politico, including this passage:

“Obama is the sixth administration that’s been in office since I’ve been doing Freedom of Information Act work. … It’s kind of shocking to me to say this, but of the six, this administration is the worst on FOIA issues. The worst. There’s just no question about it,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington lawyer who’s been filing FOIA cases since 1978. “This administration is raising one barrier after another. … It’s gotten to the point where I’m stunned — I’m really stunned.”

David Sobel, senior counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that “despite the positive rhetoric that has come from the White House and the attorney general, that guidance has not been translated into real world results in actual cases. … Basically, the reviews are terrible.”

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One way to fight patent trolls

| March 5, 2012 | Reply
One way to fight patent trolls

Farhad Manjoo gives us some good news in the wars against patent trolls:

When companies are sued for patent infringement, or when they’re proactively protecting themselves from an infringement claim, they often hire a prior art search firm to look for related inventions. But such searches tend to be expensive—you usually need to hire researchers in many different countries—and not all that effective, because even professional searchers tend to miss a lot of stuff. More than a decade ago, a young patent attorney named Cheryl Milone had a flash of insight for solving this problem: “I wondered, instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, what if you could ask each piece of hay if it’s a needle?” That might sound like some kind of riddle, but Milone’s insight has transformed patent litigation. In 2008, she founded Article One Partners, a firm that invites amateurs to look for prior art and rewards successful researchers with cash.

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Chris Hedges pulls back the curtain on AIPAC

| March 5, 2012 | 7 Replies
Chris Hedges pulls back the curtain on AIPAC

At Truthdig, Chris Hedges pulls no punches in his new article on AIPAC, “AIPAC Works for the 1 Percent.”  It’s rare for me to read an article this intense, well-crafted and alligned with what I’ve come to understand.

What is being done in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, is a pale reflection of what is slowly happening to the rest of us. It is a window into the rise of the global security state, our new governing system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” It is a reflection of a world where the powerful are not bound by law, either on Wall Street or in the shattered remains of the countries we invade and occupy, including Iraq with its hundreds of thousands of dead. And one of the greatest purveyors of this demented ideology of violence for the sake of violence, this flagrant disregard for the rule of domestic and international law, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

I spent seven years in the Middle East. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I lived for two of those seven years in Jerusalem. AIPAC does not speak for Jews or for Israel. It is a mouthpiece for right-wing ideologues, some of whom hold power in Israel and some of whom hold power in Washington, who believe that because they have the capacity to war wage they have a right to wage war, whose loyalty, in the end, is not to the citizens of Israel or Palestine or the United States but the corporate elites, the defense contractors, those who make war a business, those who have turned ordinary Palestinians, Israelis and Americans, along with hundreds of millions of the world’s poor, into commodities to exploit, repress and control.

Hedges has written a long and intense article that address many of my most pressing concerns about the dicection in which the United States has been going. Note, especially, this description of nationalism (by Danilo Kis) set forth in Hedges’ article:

“The nationalist is by definition an ignoramus,” the Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš wrote. “Nationalism is the line of least resistance, the easy way. The nationalist is untroubled, he knows or thinks he knows what his values are, his, that’s to say national, that’s to say the values of the nation he belongs to, ethical and political; he is not interested in others, they are no concern of his, hell—it’s other people (other nations, another tribe). They don’t even need investigating. The nationalist sees other people in his own images—as nationalists.”

As Chris Hedges so eloquently points out, we are a very sick society here in the U.S., and it’s time to start changing things in big ways and small ways. Here’s a small way that could become a big way if we tap into the power of crowd sourcing. We need to speak out about these injustices, even in polite company–especially in polite company. I sometimes gently remind people of the travesty of the cancerous military-industrial complex that is running America, and when I do, most people looked at me like I am being inappropriate. So what that we burn $2B/week in Afghanistan? Let’s talk about the professional sports or something happier. Hedges’ writing reminds me that I can’t think of anything happier than wresting control of the treasure from the ultra-nationalist warmongers and turning control of this country back to those who would seek sustainable health and meaningful information for the People. So that’s my take-away. It’s time to speak up more–to name the elephant in the room. This incessant spying, lying, censorship and warmongering are not consistent with a nation that supposedly treasures liberty.

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