EFF Co-launches Global Coalition on Net Neutrality, as the Battle for an Open Internet Heats Up

Today EFF is proud to join 35 groups from 19 countries around the world to officially launch the campaign website of a new global coalition for net neutrality, at http://www.thisisnetneutrality.org/.

Global Net Neutrality Coalition

The breadth and diversity of this coalition underlines how net neutrality has truly become a global issue. While Internet users in the United States are speaking up in favor of the reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service, across the Atlantic activists are also fighting to preserve Europe’s open Internet, which has been placed in jeopardy again this week. (Europeans can take action here.)

Although the powerful players in the net neutrality debate and the appropriate solutions to address the problem differ from country to country, the underlying objectives of open Internet advocates around the world are the same. That’s why we have decided to come together to clearly state those objectives with a unified voice. The first step in speaking together was to agree on a simple shared definition of net neutrality, translated into eleven languages:

Net neutrality requires that the Internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination.

This definition doesn’t imply that Internet providers can’t use reasonable methods to manage their networks, for example to ensure that all applications from voice calls to downloads run smoothly, or to secure their networks from malicious uses like denial-of-service attacks. Neither does it mean they can’t offer users different tiers of service at different price points, such as a residential-level service and a business-level service.

But it does mean that these measures must not be used as a pretext to police communications on their networks, to bestow unfair commercial advantages on their own or particular third-party content, or to create a walled garden where only certain applications, services or protocols are welcome.

Of course our work doesn’t end with just a definition. Right now coalition members from around the world are working to develop an information bank that will be hosted at http://www.thisisnetneutrality.org/containing details of net neutrality laws, policies and practices in their countries, which can be used as an advocacy and education resource. Using this information, we aim to prove that high speeds and low costs for users are compatible with an open, competitive Internet.

Help us spread the word about why net neutrality isn’t just an issue that affects one country, but is a fundamental building block of the Internet we want around the world. Attached to this post are images that you can use to signal your support for this new global coalition on your social network of choice.

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You Didn’t Really Think Darren Wilson Would be Indicted, Did You?

I’m inclined to agree… Anybody who really thought this would be a fair trial has been watching too much TV.


by RON JACOBS

Did you really believe Darren Wilson was going to be indicted for murdering Michael Brown? Did you think a cop was going to face a trial for gunning down a young man he thought should be arrested? Do you think the law treats all people equally-civilian and cop, rich and poor, black and white? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have been watching too much television. From the crime drama Law and Order to FoxNews and CNN the viewer is fed a constant storyline that portrays cops as heroes in a system that is ultimately fair, despite the fact that that fairness sometimes lets bad guys go.

If one listened carefully to the prosecutor McCulloch during his presentation to the media announcing the failure to indict Wilson, he seemed to be saying that there was never much likelihood that an indictment would be produced. Police officers, he said, are given much more leeway than civilians when it comes to shooting people. Recent history certainly proves this. It seems that all a cop has to do is “fear for his safety” and he can fire at will. Like James Bond in the 007 series, a police badge is a license to kill. If one adds the elements of race—an element that is part and parcel of the US system of justice and law enforcement—even greater leeway is provided to the police. Like the Supreme Court wrote over a century ago, African-Americans have “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

McCulloch mentioned at least twice that if people didn’t like the laws, they should work to get them changed. Besides the fact that any law limiting law enforcement’s ability to fire their weapons would be a dead bill before it left a legislative committee, history tells us that changing the law does not necessarily change the practice of the law. Furthermore, it seems that any law seriously addressing the racial and class inequalities in the United States is bound to be attacked by reactionary forces in the legislature and courts until the law itself is toothless.

The Black Panther Party correctly saw the police as an occupying army, made up primarily of individuals from other, mostly white and suburban, communities. Their job was to keep the poor and non-white citizens in Oakland under their control. Violations of individual’s civil rights and liberties was a common aspect of this mission. The Panthers’ understanding of the role played by the Oakland police force in Oakland applied to virtually every other non-white community in the United States in the 1960s. The tragic truth is that very little has changed. Urban police forces may have a percentage of African-American officers these days, but the role of the forces employing those officers remain the same; to enforce an economic and political system built on the subjugation of Black people.

Like US soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq or Vietnam, police officers in many US towns and cities are there to impose a law and order defined by the ruling elites. This law and order occasionally protects the citizens in the towns and cities under occupation, just like the US military occasionally protects the citizens of the countries it occupies. Such circumstances, however, seem to be the exception and not the rule. Whether it is cops arresting people for providing food to the hungry in city parks or cops shooting down young Black men who refuse to obey their orders to get out of the street, the essential mission of the police is enforcing a dynamic that defines the lives of the disenfranchised as criminal. Also like those US soldiers occupying foreign lands, it is very likely that many individual cops believe they are doing good in the communities they occupy. It is even possible (indeed probable) that in certain instances, the cops, like those soldiers, are making a positive difference. Despite these instances, however, the fundamental reason for their presence as occupiers is to protect and serve those who make the laws, not those who suffer from their enforcement.

The reader might wonder why my commentary is centered on race. Aren’t white people shot down by cops, too? Don’t disenfranchised whites end up in jail the same as Black and Brown folks? The answer is of course yes. However, it seems not only reasonable but necessary to state that if Michael Brown was a white youth, Darren Wilson would probably not have killed him. Indeed, one wonders if he would have even bothered to stop him for walking in the street. My experience as a person who had his share of run-ins with the police when I was younger tells me that a white Michael Brown would not be dead. Statistics seem to bear this out. According to a study published by ProPublica on October 10, 2014: “The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police….Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population.”1

Despite the attempts by Prosecutor McCulloch to create confusion about the details surrounding Michael Brown’s murder, the fact remains: Michael Brown is dead and he was killed by a policeman named Darren Wilson. Those that defend Darren Wilson and those who claim that the law was served are both correct. The murder he committed was sanctioned by this nation of laws. So are the deportations of immigrant parents resulting in the breaking up of families; so is the incarceration of thousands for smoking marijuana; so is the destruction of the environment by energy companies and their Wall Street backers; and so are the millions of deaths caused by US military interventions around the world. The Third Reich wrote laws, too. They resulted in the murder of millions. Just being a nation of laws means nothing. What matters is who those laws serve. I will leave it to you to determine who is served by the law that allowed Darren Wilson to murder an unarmed civilian.

Ron Jacobs is the author of the just released novel All the Sinners, Saints. He is also the author of  The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.  His third novel All the Sinners Saints is a companion to the previous two and is due out in April 2013.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.  He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Deadly Force, in Black and White.” ProPublica describes itself as “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.” []

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The IMF Finally Admits it was Wrong to Recommend Austerity in 2010-2011

Too bad it isn’t a sincere apology. They knew exactly what they were doing, and here’s the chart that proves it. -LW


by MIKE WHITNEY

The International Monetary Fund has finally admitted that it was wrong to recommend austerity as early as it did in 2010-2011. The IMF now agrees that it should have waited until the US and EU economies were on a sustainable growth-path before advising them to trim their budget deficits and reduce public spending.  According to a report issued by the IMF’s research division, the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO):  “IMF advocacy of fiscal consolidation proved to be premature for major advanced economies, as growth projections turned out to be optimistic…This policy mix was less than fully effective in promoting recovery and exacerbated adverse spillovers.”

Now there’s an understatement.

What’s so disingenuous about the IMF’s apology,  is that the bank knew exactly what the effects of its policy would be, but stuck with its recommendations to reward its constituents.  That’s what really happened. The only reason it’s trying to distance itself from those decisions now, is to make the public think it was all  just a big mistake.

But it wasn’t a mistake. It was deliberate and here’s the chart that proves it:

uriedems1

(Democrats Reap What They Sowed, Rob Urie, CounterPunch)

There it is, six years of policy in one lousy picture. And don’t kid yourself, the IMF played a critical role in this wealth-shifting fiasco. It’s job was to push for less public spending and deeper fiscal cuts while the Central Banks flooded the financial markets with liquidity (QE). The results are obvious, in fact, one of the Fed’s own officials, Andrew Huszar,  admitted that QE was a massive bailout for the rich.  “I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is,” said Huszar who actually worked on the program, “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.”  There it is, straight from the horse’s mouth.

So now the IMF wants to throw a little dust in everyone’s eyes by making it look like it was a big goof-up by well-meaning but misguided bankers. And the media is helping them by its omissions.

Let me explain: Of the more than 455 articles on Google News covering the IMF’s mea culpa, not one piece refers to the man who was the IMF’s Managing Director at the time in question. Doesn’t that strike you as a bit odd?

Why would the media scrub any mention of Dominique Strauss-Kahn from its coverage? Could it be that (according to NPR):

“The IMF’s managing director wanted to give Greece, Portugal and Ireland the time needed to put their accounts in order, and he also argued for softening the austerity measures associated with the bailouts for those countries.

Greek economists say that under Strauss-Kahn’s leadership, the IMF was a counterbalance to the strict austerity policies favored by northern European leaders. In fact, according to the daily Le Monde, Strauss-Kahn is fond of calling those who argue for tighter austerity “fous furieux,” which roughly translates as “mad men.”

Strauss-Kahn’s view is that shock-therapy measures imposed on Greece and other European countries with sovereign debt crises will lead only to economic recession and severe social unrest.

Several commentators pointed out Monday that at a time of turmoil in the eurozone and division among European leaders, it was the IMF, under Strauss-Kahn’s leadership, that kept the eurozone’s rescue strategy on track.

The Financial Times said that the IMF’s single most important influence in the resolution of the eurozone crisis was political — amid a lack of political leadership, the paper said, the IMF filled a vacuum.
(IMF Chief’s Arrest Renews Euro Debt Crisis Fears, NPR)

Ah-ha! So Strauss-Kahn wasn’t on board with the IMF’s shock doctrine prescription. In fact, he was opposed to it.  So there were voices for sanity within the IMF, they just didn’t prevail in the policy debate.

But why would that be, after all, Strauss-Kahn was the IMF’s Managing Director, his views should have carried greater weight than anyone else’s, right?

Right. Except DSK got the ax for a sexual encounter at New York’s ritzy Sofitel Hotel. So the changes he had in mind never took place, which means that the distribution of wealth continued to flow upwards just like the moneybags constituents of the IMF had hoped for.

Funny how that works, isn’t it? Funny how it’s always the Elliot Spitzers, and the Scott Ritters, and the Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s who get nailed for their dalliances, but the big Wall Street guys never get caught.
Why is that?

The fact is, Strauss-Kahn was off the reservation and no longer supported the policies that the establishment elites who run the IMF wanted to see implemented.  They felt threatened by DSK’s Keynesian approach and wanted to get rid of him. That’s it in a nutshell.

Do you know why the bigwig plutocrats hated DSK?

It had nothing to do with his sexual acrobatics at the Sofitel Hotel. Nobody cares about that shite.   What they were worried about were his plans for the IMF which he laid out in a speech he gave at the Brookings Institution in April 2011, one month before he got the boot. The speech got very little attention at the time, but– for all practical purposes– it was DSK’s swan song.  And, I think you’ll see why.

The experience must have been a real shocker for the gaggle of tycoons and hangers-on who attend these typically-tedious gatherings. Instead of praise for “market discipline”, “labor flexibility” and “fiscal consolidation”, Strauss-Kahn delivered a rousing 30 minute tribute to leftist ideals and wealth-sharing sounding more like a young Leon Trotsky addressing the Forth International than a cold-hearted bureaucrat heading the world’s most notorious loan sharking operation. By the time the speech ended, I’m sure the knives were already being sharped for the wayward Managing Director. To put it bluntly, DSK’s goose was cooked. Here’s a clip from the speech that will help to explain why:

“…The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes”…
Not everyone will agree with the entirety of this statement. But what we have learnt over time is that unemployment and inequality can undermine the very achievements of the market economy, by sowing the seeds of instability…

.. the IMF cannot be indifferent to distribution issues…

Today, we need a similar full force forward response in ensuring that we get the recovery we need. And that means not only a recovery that is sustainable and balanced among countries, but also one that brings employment and fair distribution…

But growth alone is not enough. We need direct labor market policies…

Let me talk briefly about the second lung of the social crisis—inequality…IMF research also shows that sustainable growth over time is associated with a more equal income distribution…

We need policies to reduce inequality, and to ensure a fairer distribution of opportunities and resources. Strong social safety nets combined with progressive taxation can dampen market-driven inequality. Investment in health and education is critical. Collective bargaining rights are important, especially in an environment of stagnating real wages. Social partnership is a useful framework, as it allows both the growth gains and adjustment pains to be shared fairly…

We have also supported a tax on financial activities (and) organized jointly with the ILO … to better understand the policies behind job-creating growth…

Ultimately, employment and equity are building blocks of economic stability and prosperity, of political stability and peace. This goes to the heart of the IMF’s mandate. It must be placed at the heart of the policy agenda. Thank you very much.”   (The Global Jobs Crisis— Sustaining the Recovery through Employment and Equitable Growth, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director IMF, April 13, 2011)

Can you imagine the chorus of groans that must have emerged from the crowd when Strauss-Kahn made his pitch for “progressive taxation”, “collective bargaining rights”, “protecting social safety nets”, “direct labor market policies” and  “taxes on financial activities”? And how do you think the crowd reacted when he told them he’d settled on a more enlightened way to distribute the wealth they’d accumulated over a lifetime of insider trading, crooked backroom deals and shady business transactions?

Do you think they liked that idea or do you suppose they lunged for their blood pressure medication before scuttling pell-mell towards the exits?

Let’s face it; Strauss-Kahn was headed in a direction that wasn’t compatible with the interests of the cutthroats who run the IMF. That much is clear. Now whether these same guys concocted the goofy “honey trap” at the Sofitel Hotel, we may never know.  But what we do know is this: If you’re Managing Director of the IMF, you’d better not use your power to champion “distribution” or collective bargaining rights or you’re wind up like Strauss-Kahn, dragged off to the hoosegow in manacles wondering where the hell you went wrong.

DSK was probably done-in by the people who hated his guts. Now they want to polish-up their image by rewriting history.

And, you know, they’re rich enough to pull it off, too.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

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The story of one man who gathered a whole community to fight against Irish Water

Light Worker 29501:

People in Ireland are protesting smart water meters . . .

Originally posted on irishpositivepost:

Firstly Id like to thank James for sharing his story but much more importantly for his tireless work in gathering people to put up a fight against irish water and standing up for his whole community from the very beginning of this ordeal..
It’s easy to turn a blind eye and say “ah I can afford to pay this bill so I’m not wasting my time protesting” but in my opinion that is a very selfish thing to do. This is why I have great respect for the men, women and children out there protesting every day.. They are standing up for the young couple trying to afford a mortgage on a new house, the old man who’s trying to get by on a small pension, the family with 5 kids just barely affording food for their children and many more ordinary decent people.
We should be all grateful to…

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Coyne: Virtue may be its own reward, but it does little for election chances

Originally posted on canada.com:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A party, let’s call them the Quebec Liberals, campaigns on a promise, say, to freeze the price of subsidized daycare, adjusting only for inflation. It attacks its opponents, call them the Parti Québécois, who had proposed raising it from $7 a day to $9, as heartless and out of touch.

Sure enough it is elected, only to propose scant months later — surprise! — an increase in daycare rates, to as much as $20 a day for the wealthy, with lesser but still substantial increases for any family earning more than $55,000 a year. Wait, you say you have heard this story? Many times? Only with different party names, and different promises? Well I told you to stop me.

It is indeed a very old story, though one told with growing frequency of late. In Manitoba, it was the New Democratic government of…

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Meet the Guys Who Want to Launch a Catalogue of Canadian Police Abuses

We’ve got web-sites for everything now, whether is the Do Not Call Registry, Prank Caller site, TripAdvisor, or the Better Business Bureau. Now, Canada may soon have a site for monitoring the police. Would you contribute to this kind of Kickstarter project? -LW

Meet the Guys Who Want to Launch a Catalogue of Canadian Police Abuses

Police in riot gear.​ Photo ​via Kickstarter.

Bad cops might pop up in the media now and again, but two men are looking to create a website that would document every instance of police misconduct in Canada, which they believe has become endemic.

Darryl Davies, a professor of criminology at Carleton University, and Ottawa Lifemagazine publisher Dan Donovan, have launched a ​Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $75,000 to create and fund www.PoliceMisconductCanada.com.

The fundraiser, which began a few weeks ago and runs until January 3, comes in the aftermath of a Quebec police officer getting away with killing a five-year​-old boy in a car crash. He was travelling more than double the posted speed limit and in the midst of a high-speed surveillance operation.

Similar reporting endeavours exist elsewhere: the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank in the United States, operates the National Police​ Misc​onduct Reporting Project, which curates nasty cop news from around the U.S. and shares it online.

Davies and Donovan’s fundraiser—the product of more than a year of planning—appears to be the first project in Canada aimed solely at keeping the public abreast of complaints against police countrywide. The website would be maintained by law and sociology students, and cover all manner of misconduct, from police brutality to Charter rights violations that are raised in court. Importantly, it will track cases as they go through the courts or police disciplinary system, and keep track of punishments and consequences.

“It speaks to the whole issue of public confidence in policing in Canada,” Davies explained. “Police make mistakes like in any other occupation. However, when they make mistakes, the consequences can be pretty significant for people involved—like, they can be dead.”

Over the past few years, there have been a number of extremely high-profile allegations of police misconduct in Canada. The unprecedented mass arrests at the 2010 G20 in Toronto, for example, or the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, also in Toronto. But there are several others: the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski more than a half-decade ago in the Vancouver airport; police crackdowns on student protests in Montreal; and in Ottawa, the alleged sexual assault of Stacy Bonds while she was in police custody.

While these might normally just be headlines to many readers, Davies believes Canadian cops have reached something of a peak of bad behaviour that’s fostered by rotten police culture. It’s not just a few cities, either. These sorts of events, he said, are happening across the country.

A few provinces do have police oversight systems—Ontario has the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, which manages complaints about police, and the Special Investigations Unit, which can charge cops with crimes. Alberta has the similarly focused Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.

But the existence of these units doesn’t mean they’re up to snuff. Critics charge that convictions are rare, and that punishments meted out to officers aren’t nearly harsh enough.

“They are whitewashing investigations, they are not being held accountable, and the public, in many cases individual victims, are paying the price for it,” Donovan said.

Unsurprisingly, police don’t see it this way.

Matt Skof, the president of the Ottawa Police Association (who has feuded pub​licly with Davies in the past) said the project is “disingenuous.”

“We have, already, many layers of oversight in place,” said Skof. “They’re well within their rights to create another website. It just seems pretty superfluous.”

The goal of the website is to raise public awareness of the problems within policing so Canadians will force politicians to change the oversight system. Donovan, reached by phone in Toronto, said the website is adamantly not anti-cop—in fact, it’s meant to improve policing through improved oversight.

“It will ensure that bad eggs in the police, the ones that are taking advantage of the system, are held to account,” Donovan said, noting that he comes from a policing family. His dad was a cop for more than three decades.

The narrative of bad cops infecting the police system, though, isn’t one that police unions take kindly to. Skof denied there is any sort of widespread police misconduct in the country, and said the website proposal highlights specific incidents while ignoring the broader scope of policing in the country.

“That’s also in itself an incredible exaggeration; there are hundreds of thousands of interactions with the public every year in each city,” Skof said. “(They’re) glossing over the fact that there’s many, many positive interactions with the public, and yet they’ve chosen not to mention that.”

Donovan says his magazine has been covering police misconduct for a few years, and they regularly hear from readers with their own stories about interacting with police. But good interactions with police don’t necessarily negate the bad apples, he said.

“For all the cases of police malfeasance, there’s 50 or 60 or 70 or more where there’s not that problem, but what we’re saying is that in the cases—and the growing cases where there are [allegations of police misconduct]—they need to be dealt with transparently, they need to be dealt with firmly and there needs to be consequences,” Donovan said.

Within police forces across the country there is, undeniably, a certain culture that simply comes with the job, and whether or not the culture has turned is hotly debated. In Davies’s view, this culture is a toxic one, and it manifests itself not just in instances of police misconduct, but also in several other problems, such as police mental health and suicide, and domestic problems for officers.

“It’s not a healthy environment. If it’s not a healthy environment, who in their right mind would think, therefore, they would police in a healthy manner?”

Skof disagreed.

“That’s an absolutely farcical and absurd statement for him to make,” Skof told VICE. “Police culture is a professional culture, it’s been like that for many decades, and it’s going to continue to be that, due to the fact that we have oversight that we accept and we hire professional officers to do the work the public expects of us.”

Of course, the issue—if indeed there is an issue, which is plainly disputed by police—is far more complicated than bad cops and police oversight. Donovan highlighted concerns over the testosterone-charged recruitment of officers; Davies suggested police aren’t getting enough training in de-escalation and order management (after all, the vast majority of complaints are about police rudeness and brusqueness, and not about being bludgeoned by a truncheon).

All of this has, in recent years, become tangled up in a major debate in North America about policing.

Ideally, Donovan said, this website will help improve accountability and help the good cops who are stuck in the system. If the funding is secured, the website will go live around March 2015.

“If people from across the country, Joe and Jane Regular, everyday citizens, say ‘this is important, we’re going to send 5, 10 or $20 to this thing,’ it gives it serious, serious authority from the public, it gives a serious engaged representation and legitimacy that will make it worthwhile.”

​@tylerrdawson

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