Early adopter, entrepreneur, leader interested in software, the Internet, mobile telephony and computing, and VoIP. Founder or senior management with The Personal Bee, Orb Networks, CallTrex, Borland (BORL), The Dr. Spock Company, Neta4, WhoWhere?, CMP Media, and IT Solutions.

Today's Buzz:

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Am I terribly rude?

A reader of my blog wrote in response to my previous post regarding George Bush and his religiousity:
That comment is really below you. I have been reading you since your early days of blogging, but that was terribly rude.
As I do not intent rudeness, let me respond. First, I repeated the report in the New Republic because I was genuinely amazed at the allegation. By the way, I came across the article in The Week a terrific summary of news from the right, left, middle, and international press.

What was amazing to me is that the Bush campaign has made an enormous effort to get evangelical Christians to the voting booth in support of his presidency. Aside from Bush's own religious convictions or his commitment to a particular congregation, it would seem like a relatively easy thing to attend church every Sunday when regular church goers are a key part of your constituency. I found it remarkable that he hasn't bothered to do this.

Perhaps my ironic rhetorical question "...does Bush really believe in God after all?" was the portion of my post that this reader found rude. I could have perhaps found a better way to pose this question, but I think the question is valid and important -- and frankly applicable to both candidates. How much is the religious positioning of the candidates a genuine reflection of their own views and how much of it is just packaging for the voters? Religion has clearly been a crucial litmus test for a candidates. Will this always be the case? In past elections, service in the military might have been a test, or drug use (the lack of drug use)... will each of these fall over time? Are we becoming cynical about these pillars of our society? Especially when these pillars become merely planks in a candidate's packaging.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Bush Doesn't Go To Church

It seems unbelievable. The President who constantly speaks of his religious convictions doesn't belong to a congregation and rarely goes to church. In her article Empty Pew (subscription) Amy Sullivan of The New Republic writes:
Bush's supporters say "it's bad form" to point this out, arguing that you don't have to go to church to be religious... They also say that it's logistically difficult for a President to attend church. But that didn't stop Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, who were regular Sunday worshippers during their presidencies."
I guess the big question is, does Bush really believe in God after all? Or is this just part of the packaging that has been used to sell him to the Christian right?

How to Throw the Election

Ed Felten, of the incredibly interesting and useful blog called Freedom to Tinker provides details on how Diebold has completely screwed up the electronic voting machines that will be used both here in California and in a number of states across the country.

Want to vote more than once? Here are instructions posted on Wednesday

Want to shut down the voting booth? Here are instructions posted yesterday

In both cases, a $50 smart card programming kit will give you the power to disrupt our national elections. Don't think it will happen?

Indymedia Update

In an Indymedia press release, the alternative media outlet reports that "on Wednesday, October 13th, Indymedia's seized hardware was mysteriously returned in the same way it disappeared -- without any information provided as to who took it or why, and on whose orders."

While Indymedia itself is on the political fringe, serious mainstream jornalism organizations are questioning the seizure of Indymedia's servers. The online website journalism.co.uk reports that
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is lobbying MPs to find out why the FBI ordered the UK government to confiscate web servers belonging to independent news network Indymedia. The seizure, which happened last week, brought down 21 of the group's regional sites including the UK, Brasil and Poland.
The article goes on to repeat a number of interesting allegations that Indymedia has made about why the FBI might be trying to disrupt their operations. One issue was the previously reported photos of Swiss undercover police said to be posted on one of Indymedia's web sites. Given that the FBI has confirmed that they were acting on behalf of Switzerland, this seems to be the most likely explanation. Other issues raised were more machiavellian. From the article:
The IFJ has stated that the seizure may also be related to information published by Indymedia San Francisco that claimed to reveal problems with electronic voting systems scheduled to be used in next month's Presidential election. The manufacturers, Diebold Election Systems, applied to the Californian courts to have the documents removed but Indymedia successfully opposed the application.

Indymedia's news is produced by volunteer political activists and campaigners around the world and the network's strong anti-corporate agenda has been highly critical of the invasion of Iraq.

In August 2004, IndyMedia claimed that the FBI and US Secret Service had been trying to disrupt the relationship with its hosting provider Calyx Internet Access.

The FBI had issued a subpoena for log information and contact details that would identify anyone who had posted a list of delegates attending the Republican National Convention.
Hopefully the professional journalism associations will continue to apply pressure to the UK and US governments for an explanation of how the FBI could have used the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), (an agreement that allows countries to co-ordinate investigations into international terrorism, money laundering and kidnapping) to seize this media company's publishing and distribution apparatus.

Monday, October 11, 2004

US Government Shuts Down Independent Media?

BBC News is reporting today that a US court order has forced a UK based ISP to turn over servers owned by an "alternative media network known as Indymedia: in this article: US seizes independent media sites.

PC Pro writes
Last week, the FBI obtained a court order involving Rackspace, demanding that the company hand over two Indymedia web servers. Rackspace, which provides hosting services for more that 20 Indymedia sites at its London facility was forced to comply and hand over the requested servers, effectively removing those sites from the Internet.
The full article is available here: Feds seize Indymedia servers in London

I don't know who the heck Indymedia is, but the EFF is already involved, offering legal assistance to Indymedia. Could it be true that our government is shutting down legitimate discourse? According to the PC Pro article "In August the US government attempted to subpoena server logs from the organisation's ISP in the US and the Netherlands before the Republican convention." Perhaps the government thinks that readers of these publications are terrorists?

The Register offers one possible explanation in their article on the matter, Feds seize Indymedia servers.
While Indymedia is not exactly sure what prompted the action, the group does have one strong idea. A French Indymedia site last month posted photos of what it believed to be undercover Swiss police officers photographing protesters at a French event. Indymedia received a request from the FBI to pull those photos down, as they "revealed personal information" about the undercover police, said Indymedia press officer Hep Sano.
According to more information in this story, "Indymedia (AKA Independent Media Center) was set up in 1999 to provide grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) protests in Seattle." While these opinions may not be popular amongst the majority of US citizens, doesn't our constitution protect these people's right to free speech? Are we witnessing the beginning of a new era of censorship? Is this being done in the name of the "War on Terrorism?" So far, the American authorities have failed to comment. Hopefully tomorrow will bring clarification of the crime that Indymedia is accused of committing.

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" -- Thomas Jefferson

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