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News :: Media Criticism

The Web: Alito a blank slate on technology

Report shows how right wing nut Alito will turn U.S. into a virtual East Germany
CHICAGO, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Judge Samuel Alito seems destined to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the Supreme Court of the United States in the coming weeks and will likely be faced with an assortment of major technology cases as a new justice, but legal experts tell UPI's The Web that as an appeals-court judge for the last 15 years his experience with technology cases has been quite limited.

Alito has been an appeals-court judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in New Jersey and has heard one major copyright case and a number of contract cases involving technology companies like Nextel, but he has had no experience with patent cases, experts said. By Gene Koprowski

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News :: Media Criticism

Wireless World: Sensors detect icy bridges

A suspension bridge is perilously close to collapse, but secret federal agents learn about the pending disaster on their Palm Pilots and dash to the site and are able to stop the catastrophe just in time. The real hero here, though? Miniature wireless sensors. Sensors embedded on bridges are helping authorities tell when there is a problem with the infrastructure; wireless nodes on fault lines can help forecast the next earthquake; and other technology can help cell phones communicate without cell towers over a distance, experts tell United Press International's Wireless World. By Gene Koprowski

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Commentary :: Resistance & Tactics

A Strategy Primer

Social cohesion has never been more fragile than in the present. Developing an effective survival strategy in an age of bankrupt ideologies (political and other) is a challenging but not impossible task. All known political ideologies have failed or are failing (including capitalism). The lack of viable alternatives betrays a beaten and retractive population not a shortage of options.

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News :: Peace & War

A Protest, a Spy Program and a Campus in an Uproar

Published: January 14, 2006

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The protest was carefully orchestrated, planned for weeks by Students Against War during Friday evening meetings in a small classroom on the University of California campus here.
So when the military recruiters arrived for the job fair, held in an old dining hall last April 5 - a now fateful day for a scandalized university - the students had their two-way radios in position, their cyclists checking the traffic as hundreds of demonstrators marched up the hilly roads of this campus on the Central Coast and a dozen moles stationed inside the building, reporting by cellphone to the growing crowd outside.

"Racist, sexist, antigay," the demonstrators recalled shouting. "Hey, recruiters, go away!"

Things got messy. As the building filled, students storming in were blocked from entering. The recruiters left, some finding that the tires of their vehicles had been slashed. The protesters then occupied the recruiters' table and, in what witnesses described as a minor melee, an intern from the campus career center was injured.

Fast forward: The students had left campus for their winter vacation in mid-December when a report by MSNBC said the April protest had appeared on what the network said was a database from a Pentagon surveillance program. The protest was listed as a "credible threat" - to what is not clear to people around here - and was the only campus action among scores of other antimilitary demonstrations to receive the designation.

Over the winter break, Josh Sonnenfeld, 20, a member of Students Against War, or SAW, put out the alert. "Urgent: Pentagon's been spying on SAW, and thousands of other groups," said his e-mail message to the 50 or so students in the group.

Several members spent the rest of their break in a swirl of strategy sessions by telephone and e-mail, and in interviews with the news media. Since classes began on Jan. 5, they have stepped up their effort to figure out whether they are being spied on and if so, why.

Students in the group said they were not entirely surprised to learn that the federal government might be spying on them.

"On the one hand, I was surprised that we made the list because generally we don't get the recognition we deserve," Mr. Sonnenfeld said. "On the other hand, it doesn't surprise me because our own university has been spying on us since our group was founded. This nation has a history of spying on political dissenters."

The April protest, at the sunny campus long known for surfing, mountain biking and leftist political activity, drew about 300 of the university's 13,000 students, organizers said. (Students surmise that, these days, they are out-agitating their famed anti-establishment peers at the University of California, Berkeley, campus, 65 miles northwest of here.)

"This is the war at home," said Jennifer Low, 20, a member of the antiwar group. "So many of us were so discouraged and demoralized by the war, a lot of us said this is the way we can stop it."

A Department of Defense spokesman said that while the Pentagon maintained a database of potential threats to military installations, military personnel and national security, he could not confirm that the information released by MSNBC was from the database. The spokesman, who said he was not authorized to be quoted by name, said he could not answer questions about whether the government was or had been spying on Santa Cruz students.

California lawmakers have demanded an explanation from the government. Representative Sam Farr, a Democrat whose district includes Santa Cruz, was one of several who sent letters to the Bush administration. "This is a joke," Mr. Farr said in an interview. "There is a protest du jour at Santa Cruz."

"Santa Cruz is not a terrorist town," he added. "It's an activist town. It's essentially Berkeley on the coast."

The university's chancellor, Denise D. Denton, said, "We would like to know how this information was gathered and understand better what's going on here."

"Is this something that happens under the guise of the new Patriot Act?" Ms. Denton asked.

As to the students' insistence that the university is monitoring their activities, Ms. Denton said that she had checked with campus police and other university offices and that "there is absolutely no spying going on."

The antiwar group is working closely with the California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which plans to file a public records request with the federal government on the students' behalf, A.C.L.U. officials said.

Meanwhile, members of the campus's College Republicans, strongly critical of the protesters' tactics last April, are rolling their eyes at all the hubbub.

"I think it's worth looking into, but right now I think they are overblowing it," said Chris Rauer, internal vice president of the College Republicans. "I think people are taking their anger over the war out on this."

The Defense Department has issued a statement saying that in October the Pentagon began a review of its database to ensure that the reporting system complied with federal laws and to identify information that might have been improperly entered. All department personnel involved in gathering intelligence were receiving "refresher" training on the laws and policies, the statement said.

With this happening in academia, there has been a good deal of philosophical contemplation and debate over the socioeconomic and political dynamics underlying the uproar.

"I had multiple reactions," said Faye J. Crosby, a professor of social psychology and chairwoman of the Academic Senate.

"One reaction was, 'Gosh, I wonder if we're doing something right?' " Professor Crosby said. "Another reaction was it's a waste of taxpayer money. What are we a threat to?"

"The real sadness," she added, "is the breakdown in discourse of the marketplace of ideas."

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Commentary :: Peace & War

Social Disorder

The subversion of law and ‘order’ has been effectively and completely realised, not by revolutionary, rebel, insurgent groups and associated ideologies, but by the custodians of social order themselves. The process was essentially (d)evolutionary not revolutionary. An elementary student would have little difficulty understanding the character of the ‘New World Disorder’ and the forces that created this new social nightmare. The USA stands, in plain sight, as the most criminal, murderous, terrorist state in the world today.

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News :: Environment & Food

Big Easy brews storm doc

Big Easy brews storm doc
Rue creates Katrina pic


Spike Lee isn't the only one turning his lens to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Stephen Rue, president of the Motion Picture and Television Assn. of Louisiana, is self-financing and producing a doc, "New Orleans Story," from live footage of the recovering city and interviews with hurricane victims, evacuees, public officials and historians.

Rue is working in partnership with Gabriel Dayan and will produce the pic through Intelli-Films, a Louisiana-based production shingleshingle. Pic has an anticipated summer 2006 release date, and also will be submitted to the Cannes Film Fest.

Pair have been filming with a high-definition Sony camcorder over the past four months and so far have compiled more than 135 hours of footage. Beyond New Orleans, they have traveled to Washington, D.C., Houston, New York City and Atlanta to interview evacuees, public officials, and other figures, such as the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, "Rising Tide" author John M. Barry and historian Douglas Brinkley.

"We're victims ourselves," Rue, who lives in New Orleans, told Daily Variety. "I feel a tremendous obligation to get this right. I have an obligation to the victims and to the spirit of New Orleans, the spirit of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. This has to be told right, not by a film crew that comes in and leaves and has an agenda.

"A film crew may come to New Orleans for seven days and leave. They can't get the true grasp of the depth and scope of the devastation in that short amount of time. You have to talk to the people who were living in their cars and tents, the elderly, widowed senior citizens who see their homes for the first time and see the horror in their eyes."

Rue had been producing a film in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood about a Habitat for Humanity home-building project when Katrina struck in August. Through filming, he had gotten to know individuals in that area, many of whom he sought out for "New Orleans Story."

Rue hopes the material also can be used for a series on a TV network in which each episode would focus on one area of devastation, such as animal rescue, faith-based assistance, the levy system, etc.

Rue said he has no political or other agenda, but that, "We are asking everyone what lessons have been learned from this experience. It's quite interesting -- the vast majority of people give a huge sigh and then you can see them going into themselves. Often their eyes water and they grab hold of themselves. ... Every person has a story, an event that sticks with them that they can't shake."


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News :: Media Criticism

The Web: 'Digital home' comes of age

Yeah, right like you'll ever connect your refrigerator to your Internet. Duh.

CHICAGO, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The "digital home" came of age in the last year as global revenues from sales of Internet-related products surged past the $100 billion mark for the first time, experts tell United Press International's The Web.

According to new research from the Boston-based consultancy Strategy Analytics, a survey on the connected home devices, MP3 players and portable games consoles powered retail revenues to $118 billion in the category, a growth rate of 25 percent. This year promises to be another record year, according to the study, with revenues forecast to exceed $150 billion. By Gene Koprowski

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Commentary :: Peace & War

Grandiose Visions – Nightmare Realities

The “New American Century? (PNAC) and the “Thousand Year Reich?, shared a similar preposterous vision; a crude blend of wishful thinking, fantasy and religiosity. However, the chronologically modest American ‘vision’ is no less dangerous and destructive a model; in fact, the potential for destruction on a scale never before seen is inherent is the ‘New American (graveyard) Century’.

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