Net Neutrality Is Dead. Here’s How to Get it Back

Craig Aaron, Reader Supported News, January 15, 2014– Three judges in D.C. just killed Net Neutrality.

This could be the end of the Internet as we know it. But it doesn’t have to be.

The big news: A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. This decision means that companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – which brought the lawsuit – are now free to block or slow down any website, application or service they like.

These companies will rush to change the Web and line their own pockets at our expense – creating new tolls for app makers, expensive price tiers for popular sites, and fast lanes open only to the few content providers that can afford them.

It didn’t have to be this way.

The FCC’s rules were designed to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with Web traffic. Instead of reversing a Bush-era decision that weakened the FCC’s authority over broadband, and establishing solid legal footing, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued the rules in 2010 under the complicated and shaky legal framework the court rejected today.

The rules the court struck down left much to be desired, but they were a step toward preserving Internet users’ freedom to go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV – where they pick and choose the channels for you. They’ll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else.

We could pay dearly for the previous FCC’s weak political will and wishy-washy approach. But today’s ruling leaves the door wide open to a better approach. It’s not too late for the FCC to reverse its terrible decisions and repair its doomed strategy.

That’s right. The FCC could make all this go away by simply reading the law correctly and reclaiming the authority it already has to protect Internet users for good. The agency had clear authority before the Bush administration abdicated it and the Obama administration failed to fix the mistake.

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently stated that the FCC must be able to protect broadband users and preserve the Internet’s fundamental open architecture. Now he has no other choice but to restore and reassert the FCC’s clear authority over our nation’s communications infrastructure….

Together we can fight back against these greedy Internet service providers. We can save the Internet we love. But we have to act now.

Read More: RSN

FBI warns of U.S. government breaches by Anonymous hackers

Jim Finkle & Joseph Menn, Reuters, November 15, 2013– Activist hackers linked to the collective known as Anonymous have secretly accessed U.S. government computers in multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information in a campaign that began almost a year ago, the FBI warned this week.

The hackers exploited a flaw in Adobe Systems Inc’s software to launch a rash of electronic break-ins that began last December, then left “back doors” to return to many of the machines as recently as last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a memo seen by Reuters.

The memo, distributed on Thursday, described the attacks as “a widespread problem that should be addressed.” It said the breach affected the U.S. Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and perhaps many more agencies.

Investigators are still gathering information on the scope of the cyber campaign, which the authorities believe is continuing. The FBI document tells system administrators what to look for to determine if their systems are compromised.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

According to an internal email from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’ chief of staff, Kevin Knobloch, the stolen data included personal information on at least 104,000 employees, contractors, family members and others associated with the Department of Energy, along with information on almost 2,0000 bank accounts.

The email, dated October 11, said officials were “very concerned” that loss of the banking information could lead to thieving attempts.

Officials said the hacking was linked to the case of Lauri Love, a British resident indicted on October 28 for allegedly hacking into computers at the Department of Energy, Army, Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Sentencing Commission and elsewhere.

Investigators believe the attacks began when Love and others took advantage of a security flaw in Adobe’s ColdFusion software, which is used to build websites.

Adobe spokeswoman Heather Edell said she was not familiar with the FBI report. She added that the company has found that the majority of attacks involving its software have exploited programs that were not updated with the latest security patches.

The Anonymous group is an amorphous collective that conducts multiple hacking campaigns at any time, some with a few participants and some with hundreds. In the past, its members have disrupted eBay’s Inc PayPal after it stopped processing donations to the anti-secrecy site Wikileaks. Anonymous has also launched technically more sophisticated attacks against Sony Corp and security firm HBGary Federal.

Some of the breaches and pilfered data in the latest campaign had previously been publicized by people who identify with Anonymous, as part of what the group dubbed “Operation Last Resort.”

Among other things, the campaigners said the operation was in retaliation for overzealous prosecution of hackers, including the lengthy penalties sought for Aaron Swartz, a well-known computer programmer and Internet activist who killed himself before a trial over charges that he illegally downloaded academic journal articles from a digital library known as JSTOR.

Despite the earlier disclosures, “the majority of the intrusions have not yet been made publicly known,” the FBI wrote. “It is unknown exactly how many systems have been compromised, but it is a widespread problem that should be addressed.”

Read More: Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco and Jim Finkle in Boston; Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Alina Selyukh; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Tim Dobbyn.

Noam Chomsky: NSA Surveillance Is an Attack on American Citizens

Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, June 19. 2013– The actions of the US government in spying on its and other countries’ citizens have been sharply criticised by Noam Chomsky, the prominent political thinker, as attacks on democracy and the people.

“Governments should not have this capacity. But governments will use whatever technology is available to them to combat their primary enemy – which is their own population,” he told the Guardian.

In his first public comment on the scandal that has enveloped the US, UK and other governments, as well as internet companies such as Google and Microsoft, Chomsky said he was not overly surprised technology and corporations were being used in this way.

“This is obviously something that should not be done. But it is a little difficult to be too surprised by it,” he said. “They [governments and corporations] take whatever is available, and in no time it is being used against us, the population. Governments are not representative. They have their own power, serving segments of the population that are dominant and rich.”

Chomsky, who has strongly supported the Occupy movement and spoken out against the Obama administration‘s use of drones, warned that young people were much less shocked at being spied on and did not view it as such a problem.

“Polls in the US indicate there is generational issue here that someone ought to look into – my impression is that younger people are less offended by this than the older generation. It may have to do with the exhibitionist character of the internet culture, with Facebook and so on,” he said. “On the internet, you think everything is going to be public.”

Other technologies could also come to be used to spy more effectively on people, he added. “They don’t want people to know what they’re doing. They want to be able to use [new technology] against their own people.

“Take a look at drones, and what is developing. You will find new drone technology being used in 10 or 12 years from now. They are looking at [trying to make] tiny drones that can go in your living room, like a fly on the wall.”

He praised the Guardian’s revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency, and the whistleblower Ed Snowden, who has been taking refuge in Hong Kong. “We need this kind [of journalism],” he said. “We ought to know about it.”

Chomsky, a much-lauded academic and professor of linguistics, gained renown as a political critic when he vocally opposed the Vietnam war. Since then, he has written dozens of books on political power, capitalism and democracy and espoused a variety of activist campaigns, most recently the Occupy movement.

Read More: The Guardian

Banishing the Poor, Unemployed and Working Class from the Mainstream Media Implies That They are Worthless

Mark Karlin, Truthout, June 17, 2013–  How often do you come across an article or a television news story that presents a poor person in a positive light?  Or for that matter when do you read about or see a story on an unemployed individual or the challenges of a working class American whose salary is receding as the stock market soars?

Oh, yes every once in awhile there will be a hard luck formula piece of reporting about the plight of the economically left behind – but it’s comparatively rare and is often presented in a pitying, patronizing tone.

In short, if you are not a member of the economically made, political or corporate elite, you generally don’t appear in the news. You are voiceless, faceless. The reality is that you are not news; your existence is hardly worthy of note, with the obligatory exception of an occasional “gee it’s tough to live like this” profile of a “welfare mom” or person unemployed and looking for work for three or four years.

Otherwise, in urban areas, the only regular stories you see about the poor is the knife and gun coverage of violence, particularly on weekends, particularly on local television news.  These video accounts of weeping relatives, blood-stained crime scenes, and eyewitnesses only serve to reinforce stereotypes of the urban poor, particularly minorities. It’s voyeuristic catnip for suburbanites and the well-to-do who gain comfort in their racial views being reinforced by tawdry and sensationalistic “news delivery systems.”

Let’s face it, corporate mainstream news doesn’t – in general — adequately or appropriately recognize those with low or no incomes as having a stake in society or anything to contribute in discussions of public policy.  As far as economics is concerned, it appears that the only persons entitled to speak about financial policy options are those of the privileged class, and particularly those who have been enriched by the current system (including politicians).  Add to that at the ever present class of “journalistic punditry,” who if they are on national television (or major market local television stations) de facto belong to the entrenched wealthy.

Just look at unions.  Some union members are well into the middle class, but even labor gets short shrift by the corporate mainstream media.  Why? Many reasons, but one of the big ones is that the owners of news “machines” in America are generally not keen on unions.  They cut into their media conglomerate profits.  So why promote the union viewpoint?

But there’s another key point to remember.  News that relies on advertising for revenue and profit – which is almost all the news media (although Truthout/BuzzFlash are an exception because we accept no ads) – are shaped as conduits for advertisers to deliver to a defined market.  And guess what? Poor and low income people don’t have the money to make them a desirable advertising audience (with some exceptions) for big media. So why write articles about them in the corporate media?

They won’t deliver advertisers, after all – and the well-off don’t want to read about them for the most part.  The poor, the unemployed, the working stiffs are best left under the carpet – out of plain sight.

Read More: Truthout

Graduate Seminar: Bruno Latour and STS

Please consider enrolling (or advising enrollment) this Winter 1 term (Sept-Dec 2013) in a graduate Seminar on Bruno Latour and STS (at the University of British Columbia).  The course is listed as a Masters Seminar but I encourage all PhD students with STS interests to enroll for intellectual reasons, for taking leadership roles within the seminar, and for learning to teach and design courses on Latour and STS.

Note that the course is Pass-Fail format.  This year the seminar focuses on Latour and the postsecular turn in STS:

EDCP 501 : Thursdays (1:00-4:00)

Course Description:

This seminar focuses on recent work of Bruno Latour, arguably the most creative and challenging scholar of Science & Technology Studies (STS).  Latour’s reputation and scholarship traverses an extremely wide range of disciplines in addition to STS (e.g., anthropology, art, education, environmental studies, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, sociology, theology, etc.).  Following a survey of Latour’s work and the postsecular turn in STS, we will focus on three new texts: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence (2013), Rejoicing: Or the Torments of Religious Speech (2013), and On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods (2010). The seminar is interdisciplinary and inviting, and students from any and all disciplines are encouraged to enroll.  We will work systematically through these texts to closely examine Latour’s strategies for doing STS.

Michael Moore: Here’s How We Built a Movie Theater for the People

Michael Moore, michaelmoore.com, Reader Supported News, 8 June 2013– This past week, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the main federation of Hollywood’s six major studios, posted on their web site a list of what they believe are some of the best movie theaters in the world.

And listed as #1 is the historic State Theatre of Traverse City, Michigan, an incredible movie palace which I restored and now run as a nonprofit theater – along with a few hundred great volunteers!

This month, we will sell our one-millionth admission ticket since we opened five-and-a-half years ago. What makes this statistic even more remarkable is that Traverse City’s year-round population here in remote northern Michigan is only 16,000 people. And mostly we show only “smaller” indie and foreign films that open nationwide on less than 200 screens.

Even with those limitations, in the 289 weeks we’ve been open, for 78 of those weeks, the State Theatre has been the #1 grossing theater in the country for the movie we happen to be showing. We’ve placed in the top 10 grossing cities for 171 of those weeks (the other cities on that list are usually New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, D.C., Dallas, Boston, etc.).

So how in the name of trees that are right height does this happen?

Here is our basic recipe:

  1. We only show really good movies. Nothing that aspires to the mediocre is shown at the State.
  2. We reject the need to make a profit and, by doing so, we’ve been in the black since day one.
  3. We don’t rip people off. You can see a first-run movie for $8 and $6 (kids are less). Late night on the weekend is 2 for $5. We have 25-cent kids matinees on Saturday mornings (often packed with 580 people in attendance) and 25-cent classic movie matinees on Wednesdays. As for the concessions: No $10 popcorn at our place! Popcorn is as low as $2, soda $2 and candy as low as $1. We believe everyone should be able to afford to go to the movies.
  4. This is the community’s theater. Like in a co-op, everyone pitches in as a volunteer. Volunteers pop the corn, take the tickets and run the box office. Community groups pick the shift they’d like to work each month, which means on any given night you’ll have a county judge and a single mom working the concession counter, the high school English staff working as the ushers, and the Boy Scout troop on clean-up. Everybody gets free movies tickets for this – and the knowledge that they are the true “owners” of this theater. (The paid positions, like the theater managers and our professional projectionists, are paid a good livable wage with full health benefits.)
  5. This theater has perhaps the best projection and sound in the country. We show movies the way they were meant to be seen (and on a huge 50-foot screen). We have the most comfortable theater seats that you’ll ever sit in (made in Michigan, like many things in the theater). There’s a theater organ that rises out of the stage. A red velvet curtain ascends at the beginning of every movie, and the ceiling above you has 3,000 tiny lights that make up the constellations as they actually appear in the night sky over Traverse City in the fall.
  6.  Filmmakers from Wim Wenders to Paul Mazursky to David O. Russell have shown their films in person at the State, and they will tell you that the State Theatre is one of a kind. I tell them, “If they’d let us filmmakers design the theaters, the public would be amazed at the difference in the theater-going experience.”
  7. Other than our coming attractions, we will never show a commercial before any of our films. You came here to see a movie, not watch TV.
  8. Our cell phone policy is simple: If we catch you talking on the phone, texting or checking your mail, you will be banned from the theater for life. Zero tolerance for those who are there to annoy the people who are there to watch a movie in peace.
  9. Each summer we present the Traverse City Film Festival at the State Theatre and seven other venues. We have 100,000 admissions each year and and this year’s fest will take place July 30-August 4.

There’s a lot more, but you get the picture. We’ve created a comfortable, pleasant place to disappear into the dark and be transported by an excellent movie. Shouldn’t every town – especially the small ones – have this? We’d be happy to share with anyone who’d like our help.

In three years, in 2016, we’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of movies being shown on the site of the State Theatre in Traverse City, Michigan. If you love the cinema and if you are ever in our area, please stop by to experience what going to the movie palace was like many, many years ago.

We offer our deep appreciation to the Motion Picture Association of America for this honor of being named one of the best places in the world to see a movie.

Sincerely,

Michael Moore
President, State Theatre and Traverse City Film Festival

Board of Directors

Terry George (director, ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ Oscar winner)
Larry Charles (director, ‘Borat’)
Christine Lahti (actress, Oscar winner)
Rod Birleson (co-producer, ‘Roger & Me,’ ‘Sicko,’ ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’)
Sabina Guzanti (acclaimed Italian filmmaker and satirist)
John Robert Williams (photographer)

Assange, Activist Media Sue US Over Manning Trial Secrecy

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. (photo: Cordon Press)

Anne Sewell, Digital Journal, May 22, 2013— The upcoming trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning is to be held in secret. A group of journalists and activists, including Julian Assange, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the Department of Defense and the military judge, demanding access to the trial.

Along with WikiLeaks founder, Assange, co-plaintiffs will include Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald and also the Nation magazine.

Pfc. Bradley Manning is fighting to avoid a life sentence after he admitted to leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks.

While physical access to the pretrial hearings was not a problem, keeping track of, and understanding the court proceedings has been made difficult as prosecution and defense motions, court orders and transcripts are rarely released to the public. A huge number of documents have been kept totally hidden from public view.

The complaint said, “The press and public have been largely denied access to even non-classified documents filed in Manning’s court-martial.”

By filing the lawsuit on Wednesday, the plaintiffs aim to open up access to the military trial.

Assange, has previously alleged the Manning proceedings will be a “show trial.” Last month, the same group filed a similar lawsuit in military courts. However the suit was shot down in a 3-2 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The group are continuing in their legal action in a civilian federal district court in Baltimore, hoping to overrule the military.

This filing comes a day after the judge overseeing the trial had ruled that 24 prosecution witnesses could testify in secret.

Shayana Kadidal, a senior attorney at the non-profit legal group representing the coalition said, “The federal civilian courts are now our last option,”

“If this lawsuit fails, Manning’s trial will take place under conditions where journalists and the public will be unable as a practical matter to follow what is going on in the courtroom.”

The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction to force the release of many of the files currently kept hidden.

Journalist Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation, said, “The culture of extreme secrecy that has defined both the Bush and Obama presidencies does a disservice to our democratic society. By unnecessarily cloaking these proceedings from public view or scrutiny, the government is undermining the most basic principles of transparency and freedom of the press, both of which are vital components of the democratic and judicial process.”

They expect their case to be heard by Maryland U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander, a President Barack Obama appointee, shortly after Manning’s trial begins on June 3.

Read more: Digital Journal

Media Advisory – Kids game will help build Canada’s economic future

CALGARY and OTTAWA, Feb. 25, 2013 /CNW/ – An unprecedented interactive online game launching Wednesday will help attract the professional engineers who will fuel Canada’s economy for decades to come.

EnGenious is an online game and career website developed by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) in partnership with Engineers Canada. EnGenious is designed to appeal to junior high-aged students amid mounting evidence of long-term professional engineer shortages across the country.

The game challenges players to conquer ten science-based challenges, developed with professional engineers, to improve the social, health and safety, economic and environmental lot of the EnGenious world. Kids will also learn about the personal benefits of a career in professional engineering.

Resource Book on the Geography and History of Technology

A helpful Resource Book for Studying the Geography and History of Technology is downloadable at http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec/files/2012/03/Ameritech.pdf.

In addition to various brief essays, the textbook on Change and Technology in the United States includes 12 Printable Maps Showing: 700+ Inventions from 1787-1987, 279 Technological Events, 32 Graphs and Tables of Historical Trends, and 5 Timelines of Innovation and Labor with Illustrations.  The book details innovations in Agriculture, Communication, Manufacturing, Power and Energy, and Transportation between 1787 and 1987.  It’s a great resource for teachers wishing to include a unit on the history of technology.

New Youth Studies Program at Calgary

Talkin’ Bout Their Generation:
Empowered Youth in an Era of Chaos and Indecision

Keynote speaker:
Dr. Henry Giroux
Global Television Chair, McMaster University
Youth in Revolt: Coming of Age in an Era of Savage Inequality 
Wednesday April 11, 2012

Registration is free, however participants are asked to register by March 15.  See updates and schedule for this two-day event and launch of Calgary’s Youth Studies Program.

Shirley R. Steinberg
Chair and Director
Werklund Foundation Center for Youth Leadership Education
Professor of Youth Studies, University of Calgary