Daily Archives: 18/05/2011

( New US International Cybersecurity Strategy Aims to Institute ‘Rule of Law’ on the Internet

The United States officially launched its international cyber security strategy in a White House event on Monday, May 16. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined by the following administration officials: John Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser; Howard Schmidt, White House cybersecurity coordinator; Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretaries Janet Napolitano of Homeland Security and Gary Locke of Commerce; and Defense Deputy Secretary William Lynn.

The presentation of the cyber security presented several principles, outlined the approach the US intends to take in the further development of cyber security protections, and indicated how the US might use the Internet to preserve its status as a superpower in the world.

Featured during the presentation were seven principles, which appear in the framework: economic engagement, protecting networks, law enforcement, military cooperation, multi-stakeholder Internet governance, international development and Internet freedom. Within the presentation, Clinton sought to explain that cyber crime, Internet freedom and network security could no longer be “disparate stovepipe discussions.”

At no time during the launch of the strategy was WikiLeaks mentioned. Not even Clinton bothered to mention it, despite the fact that she heads a State Department that had their department’s classified information leaked and published by media organizations and continue to have new information published each day.

Yochai Benkler, faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has detailed the following:

Four years after its first document release, in 2010, Wikileaks became the center of an international storm surrounding the role of the individual in the networked public sphere. It forces us to ask us how comfortable we are with the actual shape of democratization created by the Internet. The freedom that the Internet provides to networked individuals and cooperative associations to speak their minds and organize around their causes has been deployed over the past decade to develop new networked models of the fourth estate. These models circumvent the social and organizational frameworks of traditional media, which played a large role in framing the balance between freedom and responsibility of the press. At the same time, the Wikileaks episode forces us to confront the fact that the members of the networked fourth estate turn out to be both more susceptible to new forms of attack than those of the old, and to possess different sources of resilience in the face of these attacks. In particular, commercial owners of the critical infrastructures of the networked environment can deny service to controversial speakers, and some appear to be willing to do so at a mere whiff of public controversy. The United States government, in turn, can use this vulnerability to bring to bear new kinds of pressure on undesired disclosures in extralegal partnership with these private infrastructure providers.

This development in the world of the Internet was apparently something US officials, who developed the strategy, felt they did not need to explicitly address. (And that might have something to do with the answer to the question, “Who benefits from this strategy?”)

A document outlining the strategy can be read in its entirety.

Read more…

( The US is to impose sanctions on the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for human rights abuses in an escalation of international pressure on his regime.

The penalties announced by the US treasury mark the first time that Assad has been targeted personally by the international community for his government’s crackdown on protesters.

The move freezes any assets of Assad and six senior Syrian officials that are in the United States or otherwise fall within US jurisdiction, and generally bars US citizens and companies from dealing with them. Read more…

( On April 12, 1955, the first successful polio vaccine was administered to almost 2 million schoolchildren around the country. Its discoverer, University of Pittsburgh medical researcher Jonas Salk, was interviewed on CBS Radio that evening.

“Who owns the patent on this vaccine?” radio host Edward R. Murrow asked him.

It was a reasonable question, considering that immunity to a deadly disease that afflicted 300,000 Americans annually ought to be worth something.

“Well, the people, I would say,” Salk famously replied. “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

In a world where the cancer drug Avastin — patented by the pharmaceutical company Genentech/Roche — costs patients about $80,000 per year without having been proven to extend lives, Salk’s selflessness has made him the hero of many medical researchers today.

One of Salk’s admirers is Evangelos Michelakis, a cancer researcher at the University of Alberta who, three years ago, discovered that a common, nontoxic chemical known as DCA, short for dichloroacetate, seems to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors in mice. Michelakis’ initial findings garnered much fanfare at the time and have recirculated on the Web again this week, in large part because of a blog post (“Scientists cure cancer, but no one takes notice”) that ignited fresh debate with people wondering if it was true.

The mechanism by which DCA works in mice is remarkably simple: It killed most types of cancer cells by disrupting the way they metabolize sugar, causing them to self-destruct without adversely affecting normal tissues. Read more…

( Things haven’t been the same in Greece since December 2008, when a 15-year-old kid was killed by a cop and everyone went bonkers. Since then, the country has suffered a total economic meltdown and the austerity measures taken to counteract it have led to endless protests and rioting. As one of the first European nations to stumble into grim recession mode, Greece is demonstrating what happens when the money runs out and the authorities must fight their own people in the streets in an attempt to cling to power. The brutal beating of 31-year-old Giannis Kafkas last week shows that the political elite are willing to do whatever it takes–violence notwithstanding–to preserve their rank.

In truth, things have been a little quieter in Athens of late. The angry young men grew tired of fighting attritional battles against the state, and the older citizens seemed terrified to leave their houses due to escalating crime rates. But things took a turn for the furious again at 5am on Tuesday morning when three immigrants murdered a 44-year-old man in the city center while he was fetching the car he planned to drive his pregnant wife to the hospital in.


On Thursday, the peaceful protest-cum-wake planned to mourn him was turned into a massacre by nationalist groups who chased immigrants at random through the streets of Athens with spray-paint and big sticks. A day earlier, in a completely separate protest, the police beat anti-cuts protester Giannis Kafkas into a coma. We spoke to Greg, one of Giannis’ friends.

VICE: Sorry to hear about your friend, Greg. What happened on Wednesday? How did the violence start?
Greg: It was an association of people who got hit, the police didn’t target any one group. There were a few anarchists throwing Molotovs around, but there’s no way you can say everyone was, and that definitely wasn’t the case with the group we were in when we got hit on Navarinou Street.

So why did the police start bashing people over the head with their batons?

It was as if they were overcome by a random sort of mania and decided they were going to start hitting everyone on the spot. Giannis was part of the bloc–he was holding an anti-authority placard, but his face wasn’t covered and he wasn’t holding any weapons. They just threw him on the floor and started beating him repeatedly.

Shit. Did he lose consciousness on the street?
No. A passerby helped him and called his brother. He was then dragged into an ambulance, and that was where he lost his senses.

An example of tactical policing in Athens. This guy isn’t Giannis.

How severe were his injuries?
According to the doctors and the coroner who saw him, this was more than a beating, it was attempted murder. The beats were repetitive, his brain’s cortex has been broken, and one third of his brain has been destroyed. According to the doctors, the damage is too extensive to have been caused by a cosh. It must have been a piece of iron or some other kind of illegal weaponry the special forces often use.

What are we talking? A pistol-butt, or something less sophisticated, like a big stick with nails wedged in it?
We can’t be sure. Another thing they’ve been using recently is gas. That’s why you see all these guys on the news who turn up for the protests in gas masks. It’s a very strange sort of gas. It’s not the standard tear gas we’ve gotten used to being bombarded with over the last few years of riots and demonstrations. This stuff actually brings you to your knees. And the moment you’re down, the police bring out the blackjacks.

The police are behaving very strangely at the moment. If you are seen holding a camera, for example, you’re a dead man.



And I thought you guys invented democracy. How’s Giannis holding up?

He is now in intensive care. He’s in a coma and still in critical condition. His case wasn’t an isolated one: on the same day, a 17-year-old girl lost her spleen, for example, and there were many other casualties. There were a few people who managed to scrabble their camera footage away from the police and get it online. We’re still looking for one that shows Giannis being beaten.

Surely the powers that be are doing all they can to stop the world from seeing that?
The authorities are trying to keep the whole thing under wraps. The District Attorney came to the hospital, along with a couple of police officers, and attacked the director of the hospital because he sent Giannis to surgery immediately without getting it approved by the board. The doctor said that if he hadn’t done that, Giannis would have died. The DA and the police’s reply was, “You couldn’t have known that.”



What about the other riots that kicked off the following night? Were you out on the streets for that?

That was total madness. Knives were getting thrown everywhere: in legs, in bottoms, in stomachs. A few people captured a few blacks and spray-painted black crosses on them. The immigrants were totally unarmed and were running everywhere. Havoc!

So what’s next for Greece? Where can your country possibly go from here?
It seems like this is going to be the hottest summer ever for Greece, but everyone needs to keep calm if they can and stop going berserk. You don’t know who’s a cop anymore, you don’t know who’s a fascist. Athens has been polarized into groups that stab and kill each other, but no one’s coming forward to talk about the attacks: not the Prime Minister, the Minister of Citizen Protection, no one. The Left, which we are so much in need of at the moment, is non-existent, as is the state’s authority. This whole thing essentially proves that we are now a police state. It’s basically a totalitarian regime.


( Spain’s people’s movement has finally awoken, la Puerta del Sol in Madrid is now the country’s Tahrir Square, and the ‘Arab Spring’ has been joined by what is now bracing to become a long ‘European Summer’. As people across the Arab world continue their popular struggle for justice, peace and democracy, Spain’s disillusioned citizens have finally caught on with full force. Slow at first, hopeful that Spain’s dire economic conditions would magically correct themselves, the Spanish street has finally understood that democratic and economic justice and peace will not come from the pulpits of the country’s corrupt political elite.

Amidst local and regional election campaigns, with the banners of the different political parties plastered across the country’s streets, people are saying ‘enough!’ Disillusioned youth, unemployed, pensioners, students, immigrants and other disenfranchised groups have emulated their brothers in the Arab world and are now demanding a voice – demanding an opportunity to live with dignity.

As the country continues to explode economically, with unemployment growing incessantly – one in two young people unemployed across many of the country’s regions. With many in the crumbling middle class on the verge of losing their homes while bankers profit from their loss and the government uses citizen taxes to expand the military industrial complex by going off to war; the people have grasped that they only have each other if they are to rise from the debris of the militarized political and economic nightmare in which they have found themselves.

Spain is finally re-embracing its radical past, its popular movements, its anarcho-syndicalist traditions and its republican dreams. Crushed by Generalissimo Francisco Franco seventy years ago, it seemed that Spanish popular culture would never recover from the void left by a rightwing dictatorship, which exterminated anyone with a dissenting voice; but the 15th of May 2011, is the reminder to those in power that Spanish direct democracy is still alive and has finally awaken.  Read More