Stikkord: <span>United States</span>

En svensk blogger har oppdaget realiteten i amerikansk politikk:

US politics often look absurd from a European perspective, since the entire bipartisan system maps onto the conservative half of European politics. A case in point is that the US «Left» is called «the liberals», while the Liberal Party in Sweden is part of the Right wing. How could it be otherwise? Liberalism is about free-market capitalism, small government, low taxes, all Right-wing ideals. Yes, both US parties advocate low taxes. Normal taxes are 30% to a Swede. And that’s rock bottom, before adding the effect of progressive taxation. That’s how we can afford universal health care. Hint, hint.

So, believe me, US politics don’t have a Left. Looking at the presidential candidates, I am frankly appalled. None of them would be a viable politician in Sweden. They all support the death penalty, none advocates strict gun control and all make frequent mention of their religious beliefs in public. These are extremist stances. Not even the tiny Christian Democrat party mentions God publicly in Sweden, for fear of alienating the pragmatic rationalist majority.

Så sant, så sant. Selv norske Frp er tilnærmet venstreradikale i forhold til de to store amerikanske politiske fraksjonene. Skremmende land.

Blogger Politikk Samfunn og verden

En spørreundersøkelse blant irakiske husstander viser at omkring en million irakere har mistet livet som en direkte konsekvens av krigen:

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) with 2,414 adults in face-to-face interviews, found that 20 percent of people had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, rather than natural causes.

The last complete census in Iraq conducted in 1997 found 4.05 million households in the country, a figure ORB used to calculate that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war, the researchers found.

The margin of error in the survey, conducted in August and September 2007, was 1.7 percent, giving a range of deaths of 946,258 to 1.12 million.

ORB originally found that 1.2 million people had died, but decided to go back and conduct more research in rural areas to make the survey as comprehensive as possible and then came up with the revised figure.

Andre kilder og metoder gir vesentlig lavere tall, men disse har fått kritikk for å være alt for lave:

Medical journal The Lancet published a peer-reviewed report in 2004 stating that there had been 100,000 more deaths than would normally be expected since the March 2003 invasion, kicking off a storm of protest.

The widely watched Web site Iraq Body Count currently estimates that between 80,699 and 88,126 people have died in the conflict, although its methodology and figures have also been questioned by U.S. authorities and others.

Hvis sannheten er et sted midt i mellom, dvs omkring en halv million dødsfall, så må vel dette uansett være et alt for stort offer i den såkalte «kampen mot terror». Hvordan kan man forsvare så store tap, hvorav en stor del sivile, for å nå et diskutabelt høyere gode?

Diverse Media Politikk Samfunn og verden

En fin blog-artikkel fra The New York Times som i stor grad følger Bruce Schneiers tanker omkring de meningsløse sikkerhetstiltakene ved flyplasser. Noen utdrag:

The folly is much the same with respect to the liquids and gels restrictions, introduced two summers ago following the breakup of a London-based cabal that was planning to blow up jetliners using liquid explosives. Allegations surrounding the conspiracy were revealed to substantially embellished. In an August, 2006 article in the New York Times, British officials admitted that public statements made following the arrests were overcooked, inaccurate and “unfortunate.” The plot’s leaders were still in the process of recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. They lacked passports, airline tickets and, most critical of all, they had been unsuccessful in actually producing liquid explosives. Investigators later described the widely parroted report that up to ten U.S airliners had been targeted as “speculative” and “exaggerated.”

[…]

“The notion that deadly explosives can be cooked up in an airplane lavatory is pure fiction,” Greene told me during an interview. “A handy gimmick for action movies and shows like ‘24.’ The reality proves disappointing: it’s rather awkward to do chemistry in an airplane toilet. Nevertheless, our official protectors and deciders respond to such notions instinctively, because they’re familiar to us: we’ve all seen scenarios on television and in the cinema. This, incredibly, is why you can no longer carry a bottle of water onto a plane.”

[…]

Yet that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. The three-ounce container rule is silly enough — after all, what’s to stop somebody from carrying several small bottles each full of the same substance — but consider for a moment the hypocrisy of T.S.A.’s confiscation policy. At every concourse checkpoint you’ll see a bin or barrel brimming with contraband containers taken from passengers for having exceeded the volume limit. Now, the assumption has to be that the materials in those containers are potentially hazardous. If not, why were they seized in the first place? But if so, why are they dumped unceremoniously into the trash? They are not quarantined or handed over to the bomb squad; they are simply thrown away. The agency seems to be saying that it knows these things are harmless. But it’s going to steal them anyway, and either you accept it or you don’t fly.

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Blogger Diverse Politikk Samfunn og verden

Each year since 1997, the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and the UK-based Privacy International have undertaken what has now become the most comprehensive survey of global privacy ever published. The Privacy & Human Rights Report surveys developments in 70 countries, assessing the state of surveillance and privacy protection.

Se resultatene her. Norge kommer dessverre ikke veldig godt ut, men er betydelig bedre enn skrekknasjoner som USA, Russland, England og Kina. Hellas er eneste land som får klassifiseringen «Consistently upholds human rights standards».

Her er noen nøkkelpunkter for Norge:

* No specific constitutional protection, though Supreme Court early on decided that there is a general legal protection of ‘personality’
* Comprehensive privacy law, though some police databases are excluded
* Mobile phones must all be registered, and retention is in place
* Data Privacy Authority is within administration wing of government but is expected to be independent
* Data protection tribunal has made a number of questionable decisions, e.g. Audiotape of telephone conversation does not fall under the law
* Whistleblowing law in 2007 lets workers remain anonymous
* Mandatory disclosure of information to Child Welfare authorities
* Police certificate is required to apply for citizenship; though other safeguards were implemented
* Court order for interception, for period of 4 weeks, with a supervisory board that oversees process, after years of abuses
* Created a database of asylum seekers with fingerprint data, which is open to the police for criminal investigations
* Government merged a number of welfare databases without implementing adequate access restrictions
* Government intends to require DNA for all convicted
* Ratified Cybercrime convention

Flere detaljer om Norge finner du her.

Diverse Politikk Samfunn og verden

Skremmende interessant:

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy – but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Les de 10 punktene som Bush-regjeringen allerede har gjennomført i USA.

Blogger Politikk Samfunn og verden

Bruce Schneier er en vis mann. Les denne artikkelen om hvordan myndighetenes oppfordringer om å være årvåken og rapportere “mistenkelig aktivitet” eller “mistenkelige gjenstander” gjør mer skade enn godt.

We’ve opened up a new front on the war on terror. It’s an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it’s a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested — even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.

This isn’t the way counterterrorism is supposed to work, but it’s happening everywhere. It’s a result of our relentless campaign to convince ordinary citizens that they’re the front line of terrorism defense. “If you see something, say something” is how the ads read in the New York City subways. “If you suspect something, report it” urges another ad campaign in Manchester, UK. The Michigan State Police have a seven-minute video. Administration officials from then-attorney general John Ashcroft to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to President Bush have asked us all to report any suspicious activity.

The problem is that ordinary citizens don’t know what a real terrorist threat looks like. They can’t tell the difference between a bomb and a tape dispenser, electronic name badge, CD player, bat detector, or a trash sculpture; or the difference between terrorist plotters and imams, musicians, or architects. All they know is that something makes them uneasy, usually based on fear, media hype, or just something being different.

Nå er dette et fenomen som er ganske ukjent i Norge foreløpig, men det skal nok ikke store hendelsen til før også våre myndigheter følger i fotsporene til bl.a. USA og Storbritannia.

Blogger Diverse Politikk Samfunn og verden

Wbc Protest
De syke, syke kristne gærningene i Westboro Baptist Church har gått på en skikkelig smell:

A grieving father won a nearly $11 million verdict Wednesday against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals in the belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Albert Snyder of York, Pennsylvania, sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.

U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett noted the size of the award for compensating damages “far exceeds the net worth of the defendants,” according to financial statements filed with the court.

Diverse Religion/overtro Samfunn og verden

2007 10 23 2257B

A federal appeals court has ruled today that the 2257 record keeping laws that have beleagured the adult industry for years now are in direct violation of First Amendment rights, specifically in regard to the definition of “sexually explicit conduct”.

Denne loven, på folkemunne kalt bare 2257, men hvis fulle navn er “18 USC 2257, the Federal Record Keeping and Labeling Requirements”, har lenge vært en varm potet i USA. Loven er nesten 20 år gammel, og kom til som et resultat av President Reagans konservative kamp mot pornografi:

The adult entertainment industry has been in the sights of the federal government for years. The Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography (“Meese Commission”) was established at the request of President Ronald Reagan in 1985. The Commission was tasked to “determine the nature, extent, and impact on society of pornography in the United States, and to make specific recommendations to the Attorney General concerning more effective ways in which the spread of pornography could be contained, consistent with constitutional guarantees.” One recommendation that was made, and is the cause for concern for all in the adult entertainment industry, was Recommendation 37.

Congress should enact a statute requiring the producers, retailers or distributors of sexually explicit visual depictions to maintain records containing consent forms and proof of performers’ ages

This recommendation resulted in the enactment of 18 USC 2257 in 1988.

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Arkiv Diverse IT/Internett Kunst Media Personlig Politikk Samfunn og verden Seksualitet

I USA har det nylig lekket en rapport fra Transportation Security Administration (TSA) som viser at de nå utfører mye strengere testing av sikkerhetskontrollene på flyplasser enn før:

When covert agents test how well airport security screeners find homemade bombs, they pack a detonator, timer and battery inside a cluttered toilet kit, stuff it into a suitcase and carry it through a checkpoint.

Agents also hide fake sheet explosives in briefcase linings. They stash watch timers inside hollowed-out books. They cram detonators in back braces and smear plastic explosives on shoelaces.

The Transportation Security Administration’s special operations division devised the testing to raise the stakes for airport screeners and test whether they can spot bomb parts hidden as a terrorist might try to get them on an airplane, according to a classified TSA report obtained by USA TODAY.

The testing in the past year is far harder than it was before and shortly after the TSA took over airport security in 2002, agency spokeswoman Ellen Howe said. In earlier tests, covert agents would put a gun or a large assembled bomb in an otherwise-empty briefcase, she said.

Nå har jeg lenge ment at de strenge kontrollene på flyplasser i stor grad bare er myndighetenes forsøk på å berolige oss passasjerer, uten at det har noen betydelig reell effekt. Hvis noen vil sprenge eller kapre et fly, vil de alltid klare å få sneket inn et våpen eller eksplosiver. Det siste årets ekstra forbud mot flasker og beholdere som kan romme mer enn noen centiliter væske, er vel kanskje toppen av idioti, spesielt når eksperter strides om denne metoden for å lage eksplosiver på flyet er praktisk gjennomførbar i det hele tatt.

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Blogger Diverse Personlig Politikk Samfunn og verden

Debbie Nathan skrev i fjor sommer i sin blogg om at hun mente journalister burde ha rettslig immunitet til å oppsøke og undersøke barneporno som en del av sitt arbeide. Hun har i mine øyne svært mange gode poeng, bl.a:

I’m worried that the government has declared an entire field of law enforcement and public policy off-limits from empirical critique by academia and the fourth estate. I want a process that allows non-governmental investigators and journos to be vetted and qualified as child-porn researchers. I’m not sure who would do the vetting or what the criteria would be. Neither is Penn State’s Jenkins. Still, says Jenkins, if front-line research and reporting remains prohibited, “if there’s no garbage filter, no independent means for checking, verifying or criticizing the government, that’s very worrisome. As an analogy, just imagine if every word we knew about terrorism came from the FBI or the White House.”

Jeg tør ikke tenke på det en gang. Når vi vet hvordan Bush og co har fortiet og manipulert fakta om global oppvarming, evolusjon osv, så ser vi hvor viktig det er med en aktiv presse som kan rette et kritisk søkelys på den informasjonen folket serveres av myndighetene. Vi ser eksempler på det samme når det gjelder barneporno og pedofile overgripere også fra norske og europeiske myndigheter.

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Arkiv Media Politikk Samfunn og verden Seksualitet