3 Jan 2012

Afghanistan signs $7 bn oil deal with China - The Raw Story

Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent

The book: Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent, written by Laurie Penny. In the space of a year, Laurie Penny has become one of the most prominent voices of the new left. This book brings together her diverse writings, showing what it is to be young, angry, and progressive in the face of an increasingly violent and oppressive UK government.

Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent collects Penny's writings on youth politics, resistance, feminism, and culture. Her journalism is a unique blend of persuasive analysis, captivating interviews, and first-hand accounts of political direct action. She was involved in all the key protests of 2010/2011, including the anti-fees demos in 2010, and the anti-cuts protests of spring 2011, often tweeting live from the scene of kettles and baton charges. An introduction, conclusion, and extensive footnotes allow Penny to connect all the strands of her work, showing the links between political activism and wider social and cultural issues. Source

From Russian Oil with Love - Max Keiser

Eastern European special looking at Swiss franc mortgages in Hungary, bank runs in Latvia and the wisdom of austerity. In the second half of the show, Max talks to economist, Professor Constantin Gurdgiev, about the outlook for the Russian economy and banking sector in the event of a Eurozone collapse and also about what austerity has done for Ireland. Source

George Carlin - I'm divorced from it now....

Iran threatens action if US returns to Persian Gulf

Iran has warned the United States it will take action if an American warship returns to the Persian Gulf. It left the area when Iran started its 10-day naval war games, during which they successfully test-fired a number of different missiles. But Russia's defence ministry says that despite the latest military exercise, the Iranians don't have the technology to make intercontinental ballistic missiles. Meanwhile France is pushing for stricter sanctions as it says it's sure Tehran is developing nuclear weapons. It's urged EU countries to follow the U.S. in freezing Iranian central bank assets and imposing an embargo on oil exports. Tehran has been threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz - one of the world's most important oil routes - if the West stepped up sanctions. RT talks to James Corbett, editor of the Corbett Report website. Source

Israel and Palestine to discuss two-state solution "Talks to start talks about talks"

For the first time in over a year, representatives from Tel Aviv and Ramallah will sit down at the negotiating table and once again attempt to resolve the Middle East peace deadlock. The meeting is scheduled to take place in neighboring Jordan.

But even though many are excited to see Palestinian and Israeli negotiators at the same table, some, including the concerned parties themselves, say the meeting is only a discussion to figure out howand indeed whetherthe negotiations can proceed.

Palestine continues to insist on a construction freeze on settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. It also wants acceptance of Israel’s 1967 borders as the basis for the two-state solution. Israel in turn says no preconditions can be placed on the negotiations, which need to deal with all the issues in play.

Tension in the Middle East is palpable even with both sides constantly downplaying the importance of the meeting in Jordan, refusing even to call it a “negotiation”. But pressure is mounting, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of potential “new measures” against Israel if Tuesday’s meeting fails to bring about a resumption of the peace talks.

RT’s Middle Eastern Bureau chief Paula Slier says both the Israelis and the Palestinians are being cautious – which is in itself a good sign. “What most people are hoping for is that both sides come to the party and just put forward where they stand and what they are prepared to do”, Slier told RT. Source

Boredom and empty pockets boost neo-Nazi ranks

The rise of neo-Nazism across Europe has been progressing steadily, with Germany in particular seeing more and more young people being drawn to extreme-right groups. RT’s Egor Piskunov has been examining what is driving this dangerous trend.

With a population of only 6,000, Zossen is a typical small German town, remote from large industries and financial centers. Life here is calm and peaceful  or at least it used to be, before 2009.

It all started with Nazi symbols appearing around the town. Then a local social center was torched. A young man who openly identifies himself as a neo-Nazi, and who admitted encouraging a teenager to set the center on fire, is now being prosecuted and faces up to two years behind bars.

Jörg Wanke, who has spearheaded a campaign against neo-Nazis in his home town, has seen his own office vandalized.  He says the final straw came when neo-Nazis marched through Zossen’s main square.

“I used to be afraid, but it helps not to act alone, to have supporters. I became a public person with our initiative and it's sort of my protection,” 
says Wanke.

Another activist, Peter Schmidt, says the town is divided on how to respond to the neo-Nazi threat.  “Some say we're exaggerating and are only making things worse by attracting too much attention. But I think they are simply afraid,” he says.
Activists say it is easy for the neo-Nazis to recruit new members, especially among disillusioned and dejected teenagers. With poor infrastructure and high unemployment, and few social escapes on offer in the town, it is often simply boredom which drives them to extremes.
Unfortunately, the problem with neo-Nazism in Germany exists on a much wider scale. Thousands of neo-Nazis gather for annual marches in Dresden, often clashing with police and anti-fascist activists.
And in November, German police caught two suspects believed to be members of a neo-Nazi terror cell involved in killing at least 10 foreigners.   
While the scale of the problem is daunting, analysts believe the causes are more or less banal. They say it is money struggles rather than just boredom which are igniting the trouble.

Economic unrest causes unrest in families, conflicts in families, and if they're not solved we have a kind of rage. But now the rage was escalated by racist agitation and even neo-Nazi groupings,”
 explains Hajo Funke, an extremism expert and professor at Berlin's Free University.
Germany’s focus may currently be fixed on spending billions to pull the eurozone out of its crisis, but it ignores economic trouble at home at its peril. If left unchecked, it may not be too long before a disenfranchised youth drags Germany towards some of the biggest mistakes of its past. Source

Laurence Kaye vs Laurence Kaye: the pirate and the lawyer in conversation

Laurence Kaye (above, left), known as Loz Kaye, is the leader of the Pirate Party, which strives to reform copyright and patent laws and drive state transparency and open rights. Laurence Kaye (above, right), known as Laurie Kaye, is a lawyer specialising in digital law and intellectual property. Wired.co.uk took the opportunity to get both Laurence Kayes into a room to talk about the Digital Economy Act, copyright reform, site-blocking and the Digital Copyright Exchange.
Wired.co.uk: Are hackers being radicalised by government policy?Loz: I think it's important to recognise that with DEA, SOPA, ACTA, Hadopi and the rest of the alphabet soup, I think many people who actually care about what the internet is frankly feel under siege at the moment. There is a lot of anger out there. If you look at the UK's Cyber Security Strategy 2011hacktivism is specifically mentioned, but none of the actions say what's going to be done about it. Then if you look at the Prevent terrorism strategy, hacktivism isn't specifically mentioned, but it does have the chilling sentence "Internet filtering across the public estate is essential". It's precisely that sort of statement that's causing alarm and fear and anger.
Laurie: I still think we lack some norms that apply online [as they] apply offline. But actually netizens are often self-policing; If people don't acknowledge attribution, others will complain. There's a desire in the online world to act responsibly. There are instances online where that sense of responsibility isn't being exercised. Let's consider the Newzbin case. BT had knowledge that the site was allowing access to movie studio protected content. The court said it was right to take it down. There are instances where it is right. But then we've had other cases such as SABAM which were very broad orders to ISPs to filter everything the court said no. We are still trying to find the points of balance.
Is site blocking ever an appropriate tool?
Loz: Site-blocking from our perspective is an unacceptable tool, whatever the court ruled. It is not effective. Newzbin has already made a get-round, and we are also seeing a possibility of a legal whack-a-mole situation. This case isn't about Newzbin, it's actually about BT and what they do. For a communications company like BT, it's like Linda McCartney being forced to open an abattoir. Technically it's difficult for them but in terms of brand and business philosophy it's hugely damaging.
Earlier this year Vince Cable announced that the section of the DEA to do with site-blocking wasn't going to be enacted and everyone went "hooray". But that's now utterly superseded so we are in an extraordinary situation where Hollywood is dictating our digital policy and not our government.
Laurie: We can't escape the fact though that we are still in the early stages with the DEA, you've still got other legislation coming up to the copyright directive -- a rights owner can ask an ISP to take down a service in specific circumstances. Like it or not, the intermediary (be it ISPs, social networking sites, auction sites) can't avoid the fact that because they are in the middle of this ecosystem, they have certain responsibilities. That will always be there. We need to grow the number of digital citizens who accept we have rights and responsibility, must respect people's privacy and their own rights. When you establish those norms you get a shrinking problem.
What are your views about government intervention in social media, be it through screening or blocking? On one hand William Hague is praising the role of the internet in the Arab Spring, but at the same time the riots provoked the government to talk about blocking Twitter.Laurie: Twitter is a publishing platform and has provided an important role in freedom of expression. But that's not an untrammelled right -- there's a balance between freedom of expression and privacy. The internet first emerged in the early 1990s and we talked about cyberspace as if it was a parallel universe. That gave rise to some of the issues we are dealing with, namely information wants to be free (aka content wants to be free), freedom of expression without qualification etcetera. But as we develop we realise that internet, cyberspace, it's the world. Digital media is media. Whilst we recognise certain unique attributes online, fundamentally if we believe there has to be a balance between rights and responsibilities in certain areas then it applies online as well. How we police it is another matter.
Can we civilise the internet?
 I reject this narrative of civilising the internet. We are just dealing with media full stop. I can't see the role for governments in this in any kind of heavy handed way. Laurie's right about the self-policing role. Often the wrong people are outside the big tent events. As long as it feels like it's directed by the same stiff institutions, the very same players that need to be involved will feel alienated from it.
Laurie: I agree. This is all of us. I wouldn't use the phrase civilising the internet. But developing the norms requires everyone. There definitely is a role for regulation, whether it's at the level of the governance of the internet around issues relating to net neutrality of the domain name system, or whether it's at the level of content. But it's also about education. I would have part of the curriculum about what it means to be a digital citizen. The web gives you huge power for good, but it can also be used in the wrong way. Just because technology makes something possible doesn't mean you can have what you want. You can't have everything for free otherwise there wouldn't be any content.
It's Creative Commons' 10th anniversary. What are your views on this sort of licensing structure?
Loz: I'd like to wish Creative Commons happy birthday. I think it's quite an inevitable reaction to the idea that intellectual property is one size fits all. It's a welcome player in that area. For artists and those of us who create content it's one of the moves for gaining back control. Many of us are beginning to feel that [intellectual property] -- instead of helping us -- is becoming a method of control in the era of 360 degrees. It's really good to see the effect Creative Commons has had with art scenes like Jamendo -- it's had a really positive cultural effect.
Laurie: It's really important to clarify what it is. Sometimes there's a false dichotomy that copyright and creative commons are different. Creative Commons is a series of licenses which gives a tool to somebody that creates a work protected by copyright -- be they a musician, artists etc -- to express to people...what you can and can't do with it. Everyone in the creative industries share the desire to make it easier to find works, know what they can do with it, and pay for it. We have the biggest creative industries in Europe, it's one of the areas we can get ourselves out of a mess economically. Creative Commons is great in a sector where artists want to share and create mash ups but if you want to be a commercial author, you might think twice about it. I hope we get into a world where there are a series of different licenses, especially ones that can be read by machines. We have a long way to go until search engines can decide what you can and can't do with stuff.
It seems to be that you have Creative Commons for people who don't mind giving their content away, but if you want a license that entitles you to be paid you need to get a lawyer. There is nothing in between that is web-readable and easy-to-use that lets you get paid.Loz: I'm not sure that is the case. We are seeing a cultural shift in the way that content creators think about monetisation. Sites like BandCamp for example, is a way to create direct relationships between creators and buyers. The way we see the trend going is decorporatisation, splitting up into much smaller entities from a business and cultural perspective.
Laurie: We've also got licences from Apple and Amazon. Publishers themselves are offering platforms where you can buy direct. Creative Commons has created a tool that is good for the individual creator, academic and not-for-profit sector. I think we're going to see other licenses emerging. So we have a world where if you want to find a piece of music, photo or app you can search, click and pay and the money goes back to the artist and anyone who has added value along the way. Source

Thrill Bill: 'US wars deliver absolute terror'

The promise to scrap his predecessor's hardliner war-on-terror policies, which helped Barack Obama win presidential election, is apparently off the table. The political reality is that the current administration is doing quite the opposite thing.

Sara Flounders, from the International Action Center, told RT that the new bill violates basic the democratic rights the US claims to fight for around the world. Source

New and Sexy Libertarian Ideas, Positive for 2012 - Catherine Austin Fitts

Alex talks about the imploding economy with Catherine Austin Fitts, the former managing director and member of the board of directors of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon, Read & Co. Inc., and Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in the first Bush Administration. Source

Iran test-fires two long-range missiles near strategic waterway

Iran has successfully test-fired two long-range missiles on the last day of major naval exercises in the international waters of the Persian Gulf. This comes amid mounting Western pressure on the country over its nuclear ambitions. Tehran says it's ready to counter any attack by enemies like Israel or the United States. Iran has also angrily reacted to new U.S. sanctions targeting its central bank and financial sector. It has been threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz - the world's most important oil export route linking the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile the EU is mulling an embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil, and a decision on that is expected before the end of the month. The Director of the Beirut-based centre for Middle East Studies, Dr Hisham Jaber, believes the West's actions are adding fuel to an already highly flammable situation. Source

Angelo: Why am I having visions of a False Flag Eleventh Hour War of Presidential convenience for Obama's re-election campaign?

Kim Jong-un's Swiss classmate unveils secrets

North Korea has vowed to improve the economic life of its impoverished people and rallied internal support for Kim Jong-un in a New Year's statement. The country is entering a new era, with the new leader firmly installed as Supreme Commander of the military and head of the ruling party following his father's death. However the 'great successor' remains an enigma so RT's Maria Finoshina looks at what we do know. Source