an alarming trend

Google Bombarded with Requests to Suppress Information“Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denoun…

Google Bombarded with Requests to Suppress Information

“Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denouncing what it said was an alarming trend. In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world’s largest web search engine said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.” (Reuters)




(bbc) Google has revealed it removed about 640 videos from YouTube that allegedly promoted terrorism over the second half of 2011 after complaints from the UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers.

The news was contained in its latest Transparency Report which discloses requests by international authorities to remove or hand over material.

The firm said it terminated five accounts linked to the suspect videos.

However, the firm said it had rejected many other state’s requests for action.

Canada’s Passport Office was among the organizations rebuffed. It had asked for a video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and then flushing it down the toilet be removed.

Google also refused to delete six YouTube videos that satirized Pakistan’s army and senior politicians. The order had come from the government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology.
Free speech

But Google did act in hundreds of cases, including:

  • requests to block more than 100 YouTube videos in Thailand that allegedly insulted its monarchy – a crime in the country
  • the removal of a YouTube video that contained hate speech that had been posted in Turkey
  • the termination of four YouTube accounts responsible for videos that allegedly contained threatening and harassing content after complaints by different US law enforcement agencies.

Overall, the firm said it had received 461 court orders covering a total of 6,989 items between July and December 2011. It said it had complied with 68% of the orders.

It added that it had received a further 546 informal requests covering 4,925 items, of which it had agreed to 43% of the cases.

Google’s senior policy analyst, Dorothy Chou, said the company was concerned by the amount of requests that had been linked to political speech.

“It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – Western democracies not typically associated with censorship,” she said.

“For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors.

“In Poland, we received a request from the Agency for Enterprise Development to remove links to a site that criticized it.

“We didn’t comply with either of these requests.”

Universality in Linguistics and Human Rights

Yes, like the title indicates… Partly linguistics but also an attempt to make a link, however loose, with the notion of universality in human rights. Slightly unsynchronized sound. Bad transfer. Warning – Skip to? minute 7 to avoid the LONG introdu…

Yes, like the title indicates… Partly linguistics but also an attempt to make a link, however loose, with the notion of universality in human rights.

Slightly unsynchronized sound. Bad transfer.

Warning – Skip to? minute 7 to avoid the LONG introduction.

Speakers: Noam Chomsky & Elizabeth S. Spelke
March 15, 2005
Running Time: 1:38:20

About the Lecture:

If humans have a common, in-born capacity for language, and for such complex behaviors as morality, might the faculties be somehow linked? Noam Chomsky perceives a mere thread of a connection. At breakneck speed, Chomsky leads us through a history of language theory, concluding with the revolutionary model he championed: a universal grammar underpinning all languages that corresponds to an innate capacity of the human brain. While scientists may now have a “clearer grasp of the universals of language,” says Chomsky, notions of universality grow murky as we move “into domains of will, choice and judgment.” Chomsky cites the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one example of “broad cross-cultural consensus.” But he brandishes examples of how “our moral and intellectual culture….forcefully rejects universal moral judgments” — such as continued U.S. refusal to approve anti-torture conventions.

In contrast, Elizabeth Spelke forcefully links “universals in human nature to some of the developments in bringing about a greater balance in human rights.” Thirty years of cognitive and cross cultural research show that humans universally structure their world in terms of objects, have a universal capacity to represent numbers, and to represent other people as “intentional, goal-directed agents whose freely chosen actions are subject to moral evaluation.” Variation among humans flows from another universal capacity: to “freely combine concepts from different core systems.” Spelke speculates that “humans might be gripped by a tremendous illusion that different members of different groups really are fundamentally different” — an illusion that might drive us to conflict and rights abuses. These aspects of human nature pose a major challenge, but, Spelke concludes, a more fundamental faculty “holds the potential key to remedy”—our capacity to “articulate deeply entrenched notions, criticize and get beyond them.” (taken from MIT World)

perfectly logical but totally insane

DATE: December 12, 1991TO: DistributionFR: Lawrence H. SummersSubject: GEP’Dirty’ Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? I can think o…

DATE: December 12, 1991
TO: Distribution
FR: Lawrence H. Summers
Subject: GEP

‘Dirty’ Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? I can think of three reasons:

1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.

3) The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate[sic] cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate[sic] cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is 200 per thousand. Also, much of the concern over industrial atmosphere discharge is about visibility impairing particulates. These discharges may have very little direct health impact. Clearly trade in goods that embody aesthetic pollution concerns could be welfare enhancing. While production is mobile the consumption of pretty air is a non-tradable.

The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.
—Lawrence Summers

The Summers memo was a 1991 memo on trade liberalization that was written by Lant Pritchett and signed by Lawrence Summers while the latter was Chief Economist of the World Bank. It included a section that both Summers and Pritchett say was sarcastic that suggested dumping toxic waste in third-world countries for perceived economic benefits.[1]

After the material was leaked, Pritchett (who worked under Summers) stated that he had written the memo and Summers had only signed it, and that it was intended to be “sarcastic”.[2] According to Pritchett, the memo as leaked was doctored to remove context and intended irony, and was “a deliberate fraud and forgery to discredit Larry and the World Bank.”[3] This interpretation is strengthened by the final sentence of the leaked excerpt, which points out that “The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs… could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.” That is, it appears to be a Reductio ad absurdum of the arguments of orthodox free-market economists that were in vogue at the time the memo was written.

Daniel Hausman and Michael McPherson have argued that the satirical section might seem to be based in economics as a science, but in fact contains strong moral premises which cannot be removed and still leave the argument intact.[4] Brazilian Secretary of the Environment Jose Lutzenberger argued that it demonstrated “the arrogant ignorance of many conventional ‘economists’ concerning the nature of the world we live in.”

Postscript

After the memo became public in February 1992, Brazil’s then-Secretary of the Environment Jose Lutzenburger wrote back to Summers:

Your reasoning is perfectly logical but totally insane… Your thoughts [provide] a concrete example of the unbelievable alienation, reductionist thinking, social ruthlessness and the arrogant ignorance of many conventional ‘economists’ concerning the nature of the world we live in… If the World Bank keeps you as vice president it will lose all credibility. To me it would confirm what I often said… the best thing that could happen would be for the Bank to disappear.” 

Sadly, Mr. Lutzenburger was fired shortly after writing this letter.

Mr. Summers, on the other hand, was appointed the U.S. Treasury Secretary on July 2nd, 1999, and served through the remainder of the Clinton Admistration. Afterwards, he was named president of Harvard University.

Chinese censorship

China’s ban on puns may sound like just another ridiculous rule imposed by a Big Brother regime, but there’s more too it than meets the eye. Find out what on this episode of China Uncensored! Published on Nov 25, 2015 … Continue reading

China’s ban on puns may sound like just another ridiculous rule imposed by a Big Brother regime, but there’s more too it than meets the eye. Find out what on this episode of China Uncensored!



Published on Nov 25, 2015
Why is China afraid of Anastasia Lin, the “beauty with a purpose?” The answer could turn this year’s Miss World pageant on its head. Watch this episode of China Uncensored to find out how Miss World Canada has become one of the most pressing concerns for the Chinese government.


Users from all over the world have been plagued by micro-bloggging spam accounts. But, Newt Gingrich and several other high-profile users have utilized these account to boost their follower numbers.

Twitter boasts that it has 175 million “users,” 65 million of which are American. But the appropriate term is accounts, not users, as a Pew’s study makes clear: 6% of adults in the U.S. use Twitter regularly (8% of Internet users, which make up 74% of U.S. adults), which translates to about 15 million people. Minors were not included in the survey.

While some tweeters have multiple accounts, Pew’s numbers suggest that the zombie population — accounts run by bots or straightforward news feeds — is staggeringly high. So who is actually on Twitter? To use a zombie-movie favorite, is there anybody out there still alive?

Well, some, and they do have demographics. Seven percent of male and 10% of female Internet users are active tweeters. Fourteen percent of Internet users ages 18 to 29 are regular users; 7% for ages 30 to 49; 6% for 50 to 64; and 4% of those over 65. Five percent of white (non-Hispanic), 13% of black (non-Hispanic) and 18% of Hispanic Internet users are tweeters.

The Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo has launched a new set of rules in an effort to curb spamming and the growing prevalence of online rumours.

Continuar leyendo “Chinese censorship”

Bush’s legacy

Published on Dec 13, 2015 Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he … Continue reading

Published on Dec 13, 2015
Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.

Hear a rare insider’s view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.

The plans to implement martial law in America have been taking shape for decades, hidden behind “Continuity of Government” contingency planning. Now, with public outcry over the banker bailout bill at fever pitch, all of the pieces are in place for the U.S. Army to start policing American citizens.

U.S. Marine Jon Turner strips his medals at the “Winter Soldier” hearings