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Daily Archives: 05/07/2011

(Pressenza) Since 2008 the vast majority of the Western population dream about saying “no” to the banks, but no one has dared to do so. No one except the Icelanders, who have carried out a peaceful revolution that has managed not only to overthrow a government and draft a new constitution, but also seeks to jail those responsible for the country’s economic debacle.

Peaceful protests, pots and pans and demonstrations against the banks

Pressenza Reikjavik, 3/28/11 Last week 9 people were arrested in London and Reykjavik for their possible responsibility for Iceland’s financial collapse in 2008, a deep crisis which developed into an unprecedented public reaction that is changing the country’s direction.

It has been a revolution without weapons in Iceland, the country that hosts the world’s oldest democracy (since 930), and whose citizens have managed to effect change by going on demonstrations and banging pots and pans. Why have the rest of the Western countries not even heard about it?

Pressure from Icelandic citizens’ has managed not only to bring down a government, but also begin the drafting of a new constitution (in process) and is seeking to put in jail those bankers responsible for the financial crisis in the country. As the saying goes, if you ask for things politely it is much easier to get them.

This quiet revolutionary process has its origins in 2008 when the Icelandic government decided to nationalise the three largest banks, Landsbanki, Kaupthing and Glitnir, whose clients were mainly British, and North and South American.

After the State took over, the official currency (krona) plummeted and the stock market suspended its activity after a 76% collapse. Iceland was becoming bankrupt and to save the situation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) injected U.S. $ 2,100 million and the Nordic countries helped with another 2,500 million.

Great little victories of ordinary people

While banks and local and foreign authorities were desperately seeking economic solutions, the Icelandic people took to the streets and their persistent daily demonstrations outside parliament in Reykjavik prompted the resignation of the conservative Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde and his entire government.

Citizens demanded, in addition, to convene early elections, and they succeeded. In April a coalition government was elected, formed by the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement, headed by a new Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.

Throughout 2009 the Icelandic economy continued to be in a precarious situation (at the end of the year the GDP had dropped by 7%) but, despite this, the Parliament proposed to repay the debt to Britain and the Netherlands with a payment of 3,500 million Euros, a sum to be paid every month by Icelandic families for 15 years at 5.5% interest.

The move sparked anger again in the Icelanders, who returned to the streets demanding that, at least, that decision was put to a referendum. Another big small victory for the street protests: in March 2010 that vote was held and an overwhelming 93% of the population refused to repay the debt, at least with those conditions.

This forced the creditors to rethink the deal and improve it, offering 3% interest and payment over 37 years. Not even that was enough. The current president, on seeing that Parliament approved the agreement by a narrow margin, decided last month not to approve it and to call on the Icelandic people to vote in a referendum so that they would have the last word.

The bankers are fleeing in fear

Returning to the tense situation in 2010, while the Icelanders were refusing to pay a debt incurred by financial sharks without consultation, the coalition government had launched an investigation to determine legal responsibilities for the fatal economic crisis and had already arrested several bankers and top executives closely linked to high risk operations.

Interpol, meanwhile, had issued an international arrest warrant against Sigurdur Einarsson, former president of one of the banks. This situation led scared bankers and executives to leave the country en masse.

In this context of crisis, an assembly was elected to draft a new constitution that would reflect the lessons learned and replace the current one, inspired by the Danish constitution.

To do this, instead of calling experts and politicians, Iceland decided to appeal directly to the people, after all they have sovereign power over the law. More than 500 Icelanders presented themselves as candidates to participate in this exercise in direct democracy and write a new constitution. 25 of them, without party affiliations, including lawyers, students, journalists, farmers and trade union representatives were elected.

Among other developments, this constitution will call for the protection, like no other, of freedom of information and expression in the so-called Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, in a bill that aims to make the country a safe haven for investigative journalism and freedom of information, where sources, journalists and Internet providers that host news reporting are protected.

The people, for once, will decide the future of the country while bankers and politicians witness the transformation of a nation from the sidelines.

Source: http://www.pressenza.com/npermalink/icelandx-a-country-that-wants-to-punish-the-bankers-responsible-for-the-crisis

Image Credit: FabFi

In light of events that occured in the Middle East earlier this year, many worry that in the future, rogue governments could cut off access to the internet as a way to control political “threats.”

Douglas Rushkoff has championed the idea that the current corporate-controlled internet is far from the open commons we pretend it is.

“If we have a dream of how social media could restore peer-to-peercommerce, culture, and government, and if the current Internet is too tightly controlled to allow for it, why not build the kind of network and mechanisms to realize it?” Rushkoff asks.

Sounds daunting. And expensive, right? Wrong.

Funded primarily by the personal savings of group members and a grant from the National Science Foundation, residents of Jalalabad have built the FabFi network: an open-source system that uses common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles.

Jalalabad’s longest link is currently 2.41 miles, between the FabLab and the water tower at the public hospital in Jalalabad, transmitting with a real throughput of 11.5Mbps (compared to 22Mbps ideal-case for a standards compliant off-the-shelf 802.11g router transitting at a distance of only a few feet). The system works consistently through heavy rain, smog and a couple of good sized trees.

With FabFi, communities can build their own wireless networks to gain high-speed internet connectivity—thus enabling them to access online educational, medical, and other resources.

In FabLabs, technology brings people and ideas together. FabFi embraces this same principle. The public hospital, which houses the endpoint of FabFi Afghanistan’s longest link, has become a shared community resource, providing downlinks to a growing number of locations in the city center.

The shared infrastructure facilitates communication between FabFi users all over the city as they collaboratively grow and maintain the network. The FabFi user group is learning valuable skills that will soon allow them to generate revenue for themselves and the Lab by building, installing and maintaining FabFi links as part of a “FabFi Club” at the FabLab.

Fast Company reports that residents can build a FabFi node out of approximately $60 worth of everyday items such as boards, wires, plastic tubs, and cans that will serve a whole community at once. While it sounds like science fiction, FabFi could have important ramifications for entire swaths of the world (including rural America) that lack conventional broadband.

Although the Netherlands recently became the first country in the EU to pass a comprehensive Net Neutrality law, the United States and other Western countries are dragging their feet. But why wait?

If they create their own internet in a war torn country, what’s our excuse?

Source: http://www.shareable.net/blog/afghans-build-open-source-internet-from-trash-0

(via eagainst)

Who are Anonymous?

“A Letter from Anonymous: Our Message, Intentions, and Potential Targets

Hello World. We are Anonymous. What you do or do not know about us is irrelevant. We have decided to write to you, the media, and all citizens of the free world to inform you of our intentions, potential targets, and our ongoing, active campaign for the freedom of information exchange, freedom of expression, and free use of the Internet.

        ”True, This! —

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,

The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold

The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —

But taking sorcery from the master-hand

To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike

The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —

States can be saved without it!”

– The Cardinal

Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy by: Edward Bulwer-Lytton

        “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

~George Orwell

        “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”

–Galileo Galilei

Our message is clear:

We support the free flow of information. Anonymous is actively campaigning for this goal everywhere in all forms. This necessitates the freedom of expression for: The Internet, for journalism and journalists, and citizens of the world. Though we recognize you may disagree, we believe that Anonymous is campaigning for you so that your voice may never be silenced.

The recent news of our campaigns has been, at best, misinformed. We are not a terrorist organization as governments, demagogues, and the media would have you believe. Rather, Anonymous is a spontaneous collective of people who share the common goal of protecting the free flow of information on the Internet. Our ranks are filled with people representative of many parts of the world and all political orientations. We can be anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you are in a public place right now, take a look over your shoulder: everyone you see has all the requirements to be an Anon. But do not fret, for you too have all the requirements to stand with those who fight for free information and accountability.

Accordingly, Anonymous is not always the same group of people: Anonymous is a living idea. Anonymous is an idea that can be edited, updated, remanded–changed on a whim. We are living consciousness. At this time, Anonymous is a consciousness focused on actively campaigning for the free flow of information and accountability by our public institutions. We ask the world to support us, not for our sake, but for your own. When governments and corporations control information they control you. When governments are allowed the power of censorship, they are able to commit great atrocities and act in corrupt ways –free from the scrutiny of those from whom their power derives. When corporations are capable of using their vast amounts of wealth to manipulate or influence the free flow of information, they control you. We are taking a stand against this–we refuse to be deceived!

The Internet is one of the last bastions of the free flow of information in our evolving information society, and one that is capable of connecting us all. Through the Internet, all the people of the world have access to information. When we all have access to information, we are strong. When we are strong, we posses the power to do the impossible–to make a difference, to better our world. This is why the government is moving on Wikileaks. This is what they fear. They fear our power when we unite. Please, do not forget this.

Our intention is just:

The intention of Anonymous is to protect free flow of information of all types from the control of any individual, corporation, or government entity. We will do this until our proverbial, dying breath. We do this not only for our selves, but for the citizens of the world. We are people campaigning at this very moment for your freedom of information exchange, freedom of expression, and free use of the Internet. Please remember this as you watch the news, read posts on Twitter, comment on Youtube or Facebook, or send email to a friend or loved one: Anonymous is making every effort to defend free speech and free information on the Internet.

We ask for the attention of the world as the events that are unfolding are fundamentally influencing the course of history. Anonymous’ campaign will defend against any individual, organization, corporation, and/or government entity that seeks to hinder the free flow of information on the Internet and beyond. Our methods may appear to be unjustly burdening our targets, but we argue that in this moment when the Freedom of Speech is under attack by the very institutions which are supposed to support it, drastic measures must be taken. During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, access to many businesses was blocked as a peaceful protest against segregation. Today much business is conducted on the Internet. We are using the LOIC to conduct distributed denial of service attacks against businesses that have aided in the censorship of any person. Our attacks do no damage to the computer hardware. We merely take up bandwidth and system resources like the seats at the Woolworth’s lunch counter.

Please, do not despise us, as we are not the Anonymous that you may be familiar with. Anonymous’ past is not our present. May we remind you that Anonymous is a dynamic entity. Furthermore, anything attributed, credited, or tagged to Anonymous is not always based on the consensus of us as a whole. Even the document you read now was written by at least ten people simultaneously. Anonymous’ campaign does not intend to harm websites of the individual citizen, organization, or government, that supports the free flow of information. We are here for all of you; to campaign for all of you. Where others have made this promise and failed, we make this promise and aim to keep it for everyone. Anonymous wishes to defend the free flow of information on the Internet and beyond; We would like to ask that you as a citizen, organization, media organization, or government do the same. Any individual, organization, corporation,and/or government entity which supports Freedom of Speech and a free Internet is an ally of Anonymous.

Our method of choosing targets is simple:

We are against anyone who supports censorship, such as those who are responsible for the silencing of Wikileaks.

We are against any entity that work towards the defilement of free speech and/or the free flow of information.

Our request of you is simple.

We ask you to consider the value of your natural Freedoms.

We ask you to consider the value of free information for you and future generations.

We ask you to consider the implications of information censorship, be it through the Internet or physical speech.

We ask you to consider the future of your own human rights, as those who wish to take these rights from you now will not stop with this.”

(www.guardian.co.uk) From Scottish cyclists to Yorkshire farmers, thousands of Britons have turned their back on dog-eat-dog capitalism and opted to do things for themselves, according to a new report which shows the turnover of co-operatives has grown by more than 25% since the credit crunch.

Ed Mayo, the secretary general of Co-operatives UK, which represents the sector, said: “We’ve seen lots of new-start co-operatives emerge, which reflects a DIY type of culture.”

Until recently, the co-operative was regarded as an outmoded model. But since the limits of shareholder capitalism were brutally exposed in the recession, their all-in-it-together approach has won new converts.

“One of the things that comes out of the credit crunch is: how do we avoid this lemming effect of everyone doing exactly the same thing?” said Mayo.

The annual report from Co-operatives UK, to be published this week, shows that while big players such as the John Lewis Partnership and the Co-operative Group have been performing strongly, a new generation of smaller, grassroots organisations has also grown up.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jun/26/co-operative-sector-has-grown-more-than-25-per-cent