Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Democracy Now: What Amy didn't say on Friday

On Friday's Democracy Now, Amy Goodman spent a long segment with Eli Pariser of MoveOn.org talking about threats to the Internet. The timing was particularly appropriate because an extremely serious threat to our Internet freedoms made important advances last week and an alarm needs to be sounded. Unfortunately that's not what Amy talked about. Instead of enlightenment, Amy and Eli offered diversion and confusion. I was very disappointed.

Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Protect IP Act. This legislation, if it becomes law, will make the Internet in the US like the Internet in China; both will be filtered by their governments. Like the Internet Blacklist bill [COICA] that they couldn't get passed last year, this new bill authorizes the Attorney General to create a list of websites that are to be blocked. COICA would have made legal the Federal government practice of seizing domain names without a notice or a hearing. This is a power that the AG started exercising on his own authority last year, after they failed to get their eggs hatched in the Senate. But as I pointed out last December, they have figured out that seizing domain names is pretty impotent if the search engines continue to do their job of indexing the web for us as they find it. So now they have come out with an "improved version" that forces even more draconian controls on the Internet.

Governments all over the world are much more concerned with controlling the Internet after seeing the role it played in the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. So this Internet Blacklist bill Version 2.0 [Protect IP Act] now also makes it illegal for any web services, including search engines, to refer to the banned websites or their content. In China, the government was forcing Google to filter out certain search results for say "Tiananmen Square", that's why they left China. I don't know who in the Chinese government determines what search engines are allowed to find on the Internet but if this act becomes law, it will be the Justice Department in the US.

This bill was voted out of committee about three weeks after it was introduced. It has been on a very fast track and as such has gone unnoticed by a lot of people, for example Amy has never mentioned it, not on Friday nor on any earlier show. But it hasn't gone unnoticed by Google because it's their business to know what's happening with regards to the Internet. This dairy has already reported on how Google's CEO Eric Schmidt likened Protect IP to the censorship they ultimately refused in China and he said that if it was passed into law, Google would still oppose it. He told The Guardian at a London conference on 19 May 2011:
"If there is a law that requires DNSs to do X and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President of the United States and we disagree with it then we would still fight it."
This is the bill that was passed by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Other government threats to the free Internet have also emerged in recent weeks. They include Obama's new "Cybersecurity Initiative" announced on 15 May and government proposals at last week's eG8 conference. At that conference, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the Internet organizations "You can't be exempt from minimum rules" [which help] "your companies to contribute fairly to national ecosystems." The headline The Telegraph ran about that conference was "Google's Eric Schmidt clashes with Nicolas Sarkozy at eG8."

A major fight between freedom of speech and government censorship on the Internet is brewing and Google is at the center of it, but none of this was spoken of on Democracy Now on Friday. That surprised me because the topic was "The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You." Instead of informing her viewers and listeners about the real and present danger that these government moves pose to our Internet freedoms, Amy and her guest choose to misrepresent certain Internet realities so that they could engage in a bit of fear mongering and misdirection.

Amy's co-host, Juan Gonzalez began the segment:
When you follow your friends on Facebook or run a search on Google, what information comes up, and what gets left out? That’s the subject of a new book by Eli Pariser called The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. According to Pariser, the internet is increasingly becoming an echo chamber in which websites tailor information according to the preferences they detect in each viewer.
Amy continues:
The top 50 websites collect an average of 64 bits of personal information each time we visit and then custom-designs their sites to conform to our perceived preferences. While these websites profit from tailoring their advertisements to specific visitors, users pay a big price for living in an information bubble outside of their control.
Actually virtually all websites, not just the top 50, collect more that 64 bits of "personal information" when you visit them. I will explain to you why this is ordinary and necessary and really no big deal. And far from being outside of your control, I will show you how you can block this gathering of personal information absolutely but I will also tell you why you probably won't want to. Amy could have done a great service if she had used her show to tell you this, or point you to links on how to block access to your personal information rather than telling people this information gathering is "outside of their control" but this segment was all about misdirection, making mountains out of mole hills and creating a climate of fear, not teaching knowledge and spreading solutions.

Eli Pariser is the leader of MoveOn.org. Last summer they organized the "Google Don't Be Evil" campaign. Today he was on Democracy Now to talk about his new book. After introductions, he describes what he sees as the problem:
That’s right. I was surprised. I didn’t know that that was, you know, how it was working, until I stumbled across a little blog post on Google’s blog that said "personalized search for everyone." And as it turns out, for the last several years, there is no standard Google. There’s no sort of "this is the link that is the best link." It’s the best link for you. And the definition of what the best link for you is, is the thing that you’re the most likely to click. So, it’s not necessarily what you need to know; it’s what you want to know, what you’re most likely to click.
He is wrong. There is still a "standard Google." That's the Google you will get if they know nothing about you because they don't know who you are. There are easy ways to be anonymous on the web but Eli doesn't mention them. He is into fear mongering and solutions take away your fears.

Personally, I like the fact that Google searches keep getting better at finding "what you want to know" and not their idea or somebody else's idea of "what you need to know." But in case you are worried about this sort of thing please allow me to digress and take away your fears now by explaining a little about the technology and how you can avoid the use of personal information to tailor your web experience.

When you visit most modern websites, they will write a little data file to your hard drive that they can retrieve on subsequent visits. This is a well known Internet practice and there is nothing sinister about it. These little data files are known as "cookies." These cookies can store any information that the website has about you. Most typically cookies will store or point to any preferences you set for that website and other information such as login name and last page visited but it can be anything the website knows about you including information you have entered into forms on that website. Size limitations aside, the cookie will store whatever information the web server, say Google, has access to and tells it to store. Just about everything a website knows about you before you have positively identified yourself by logging-in is information it is stored via a cookie on your hard drive.

Nobody on Democracy Now mentions cookies, but this is how it works. Perhaps neither Democracy Now nor MoveOn.org understand these things. In that case they should consult an expert before they start talking about things they don't understand. No login and no cookie and you are pretty much anonymous to Google or any other website.

And the good news is that you can control cookies through your Internet browser, typically you can delete all or selected cookies and you can block cookies from all or selected websites. Like many things, exactly how you do this varies from browser to browser and is different in Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. Here's a link with some specific instructions.

So if you are concerned that Google is shaping search results just for you, as Amy and Eli are, there's no reason to fret about it. Just become empowered and learn how to turn off that behavior in your setup. However, once you have banned cookies from your system you may find that there are a great many advantages to using them and having the website that you are communicating with know who it is communicating with but the choice will be yours. Democracy Now could have performed a great service by pointing to this easy solution to the Internet threat that most concerned them this week but they didn't.

Apart from cookies, there is another, even more basic way websites collect your "personal information." They read your ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABLES. ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABLES are standard pieces of info that your computer makes public in order to facilitate communication. For example REMOTE_ADDR is a variable that contains your Internet address and HTTP_USER_AGENT tells everyone what type of browser you are using and often by deduction, what type of computer you are using. Eli and Amy warn about this too, although again, they never refer to the proper terminology. Eli tells Amy:
Well, it’s really striking. I mean, even if you’re not—if you’re logged in to Google, then Google obviously has access to all of your email, all of your documents that you’ve uploaded, a lot of information. But even if you’re logged out, an engineer told me that there are 57 signals that Google tracks—"signals" is sort of their word for variables that they look at—everything from your computer’s IP address—that’s basically its address on the Internet—what kind of laptop you’re using or computer you’re using, what kind of software you’re using, even things like the font size or how long you’re hovering over a particular link. And they use that to develop a profile of you, a sense of what kind of person is this. And then they use that to tailor the information that they show you.

And this is happening in a whole bunch of places, you know, not just sort of the main Google search, but also on Google News.
And I would add that this happens not only with Google News but with absolutely every website on the planet. Internet Explorer responds differently from Firefox, Macs are different from PCs, Android different from iPhone. If you don't want your screens to dissolve into madness, you had better be willing to let the website know what kind of system it is talking to. If you know what you are doing you can delete HTTP_USER_AGENT from you computer but the results won't be pretty.

Likewise, a website, even one as smart as Google, has to know what font size you are using before they can know how many characters to send you on a single line. And if they don't have your Internet address, well, they won't even know were to send them. They measure how long you hover over a link so they can pop up an information window if you linger, or maybe they just take you to the link after so many seconds. That can be a very helpful behavior for those operating with certain handicaps. So I say to Eli, get a grip, take your meds! All communications requires that you surrender a little "personal information." If you want someone to call you on the phone, you will have to give them your phone number. If you want them to mail you something, they will want an address.

I hope I have gotten across to you just how ordinary and essential these variables are and just how ridiculous these complaints against them are.They are part of the Internet Protocol, they are as old as the web, all websites and browsers without exception use them and it is disingenuous to imply that especially Google reads your computer's Internet address or what size font you are using. They all do, even democracynow.org.

This is what I call fear mongering. This is what I call making a mountain out of a mole hill. Google has my IP address, oh my! Meanwhile the government is fixing to tell Google it can no longer find thepiratesbay.org when you search for it. On that subject Amy and Eli are silent.

Juan Gonzalez asks a good question:
And what are the options, the opt-out options, if there are any, for those who use, whether it’s Google or Yahoo! or Facebook? Their ability to control and keep their personal information?
Eli doesn't have a really good answer:
Well, you know, there aren’'t perfect opt-out options, because even if you take a new laptop out of the box, already it says something about you, that you bought a Mac and not a PC. I mean, it’s very hard to get entirely out of this. There’s no way to turn it off entirely at Google. But certainly, you can open a private browsing window. That helps.
Here he could have mentioned proxy servers but he didn't. Proxy servers empower you because they give you a way to be completely anonymous to Google or any other website. An anonymous proxy server acts as an intermediary between you and the website you are ultimately talking to, so for example, you talk to Google through a proxy; Google sends the results to the proxy and the proxy send the results to you. In that case Google doesn't even know your IP address or anything about you.

Proxy servers have played a big role in providing access and insuring the anonymity of Internet activists involved in the ongoing uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. In fact Google has been one of the players hosting proxy servers for these activists. These activists found themselves involved in a life or death struggle to hide their Internet identities from governments not large Internet companies. Since Democracy Now choose to raise concerns about Google and other websites collecting your personal information; they really should have told you where to find proxy servers and how to use them. They should have empowered you rather than imply there was really nothing you could do. Here's a link that will help you stay anonymous on the web.

Now that I have explained to you how you can protect your privacy on-line, let's get back to the thrust of the Democracy Now segment because if the truth is to be told, Google's use of our IP addresses and font sizes really didn't go to the core of their concerns. They are most concerned that Google isn't giving you the search results they think you should have.
ELI PARISER: Yeah. You know, if you look at how they talked about the original Google algorithm, they actually talked about it in these explicitly democratic terms, that the web was kind of voting—each page was voting on each other page in how credible it was. And this is really a departure from that. This is moving more toward, you know, something where each person can get very different results based on what they click on. [my note: that is not true but the message being promoted here is that Google is turning bad.]

And when I did this recently with Egypt—I had two friends google "Egypt"—one person gets search results that are full of information about the protests there, about what’s going on politically; the other person, literally nothing about the protests, only sort of travel to see the Pyramids websites.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, wait, explain that again. I mean, that is astounding. So you go in. The uprising is happening in Egypt.

ELI PARISER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, today there’s a mass protest in Tahrir Square. They’re protesting the military council and other issues. So, if I look, and someone who likes to travel look, they may not even see a reference to the uprising?

ELI PARISER: That’s right. I mean, there was nothing in the top 10 links. And, you know, actually, the way that people use Google, most people use just those top three links. So, if Google isn’'t showing you sort of the information that you need to know pretty quickly, you can really miss it.
Of course if you only give Google that one word clue as to what you are looking for, it will be pretty much of a crap shoot what you get back. Ask Google to run a search on the word "Egypt" and it will bring back over 400 million results. If you just search on the one word you really aren't being helpful. It's almost like you are asking Google to read your mind. Still it will try it's damnedest to discern just what about Egypt you are interested in and put those in the first few pages of results. If it has access to your past search requests or other information, it will use them in trying to determine what you want to know about Egypt.

I would suggest that if Eli wants to have more control over what search results Google gives him them he needs to give it more information not less. Try Googling on "Egypt travel" or "Egypt uprising" and he will get more explicit results. I guarantee it. He should tell the search engine what he is looking for rather than asking it to pick the top ten of 400 million for him.

Clearly, Amy thinks that the uprisings in Egypt should be in the top ten of any search on the word Egypt no matter what they are really looking for. That's because the uprisings in Egypt are now all the rage at Democracy Now. It doesn't matter that Google was showing references to the uprisings in Egypt for weeks before it found any on the Democracy Now website. Now that Amy has become aware of how important it is, she seems to think that Google has a moral responsibility to make sure everybody knows.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, what about the responses of those who run these search engines, that they’re merely responding to the interests and needs of the people who use the system?

ELI PARISER: Well, you know, I think—they say, "We’re just giving people what we want." And I say, "Well, what do you mean by 'what we want'?" Because I think, actually, all of us want a lot of different things. And there’s a short-term sort of compulsive self that clicks on the celebrity gossip and the more trivial articles, and there’s a longer-term self that wants to be informed about the world and be a good citizen. And those things are in contention all the time. You know, we have those two forces inside us. And the best media helps us sort of—helps the long-term self get an edge a little bit. It gives us some sort of information vegetables and some information dessert, and you get a balanced information diet. This is like you’re just surrounded by empty calories, by information junk food.
So the gist of their complaint is that these "search engines" just give people what they want whereas Eli and Amy want them to take on some parental responsibilities, to force us to eat our "information vegetables" as it were, look out for our "longer-term self" and help us "be a good citizen."

So what do they propose as the solution to all these nasty fears they have raised with us? Of the problem, Eli says,
It’s a natural by product of consolidating so much of what we do online in a few big companies that really don’t have a whole lot of accountability, you know, that aren’t being pushed very hard by governments to do this right or do it responsibly.
So maybe we should be giving the government more authority to control just what search results Google and the other search engines give us? Say, doesn't the Protect IP bill just pasted by the Judiciary Committee yesterday do something like that? Oh that, we're not talking about that, not on Democracy Now!

UPDATE 31-01-11: While this bill has been voted out of committee as I said in the beginning, the good news is that Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has blocked the legislation for now. IT MUST BE DEFEATED! Opposition to the bill is growing rapidly. Yahoo, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, Consumer Electronics Association, and Net Coalition have joined Google in publicly opposing the Protect IP Act.

The main group that seems to be organizing against it now is Demand Progress. Please visit their site, add your name to the petition, check for updates and other ways to contribute to it's defeat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

e- G8 plans gov't takeover of Internet

This is just a quick diary to point out to Kossacks, in case nobody else does here, that a very important Internet governance conference is taking place in Paris on May 24-25, 2011 in connection with the G8 summit.

This high level summit is being attended by various government representatives as well as Internet heavyweights like Google's Eric Schmidt, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales. In the open day keynote French President Nicolas Sarkozy made clear the intent of the assembled governments to bring the Internet under government control. Sarkozy told the assembled Internet reps:
"You can't be exempt from minimum rules, which shouldn't damp your development though," he said. "Do not forget that it is in the commitment of your companies to contribute fairly to national ecosystems that the sincerity of your promise will be assessed."
I add the bold because that I believe that highlights the main sticking point, the thing that goes to the heart of the matter and it has to do with how governments view the Internet.

From the beginning the Internet knew no national boundaries. To be sure there were very strong language, technical and cultural biases but no tariffs or special borders. And while it still helps to be English speaking and Western educated much has been done to mitigate those requirements.

Now governments want to control the Internet, especially now that the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt show how valuable a free Internet can be in overthrowing a government and how hard it is, as matters now stand, for the various governments to lock down their people's Internet access. Governments of all stripes dislike being over thrown.

So these moves are entirely predictable and I ask the reader to view policy statements at this e-G8 conference in the same light that I discussed the renewed offensive initiated against the free Internet by the US govt last week.

Just be aware that they are moving rather quickly now to lock down the Internet so we better hurry up and use this tool to organize our opposition while we still have it to use.

According to CNET, Google cautioned against a lot of new government regulations:
"You want to tread lightly on regulation in brand new industries," Schmidt said. "There is a tendency incumbents will block new things, [but] the Internet is a remarkably resilient and creative place. Clearly you need some level of regulation for the evil stuff, but I would be careful."

Although Google often takes the anti-regulatory stance so common in industry, it did advocate Net neutrality--the idea that some regulation was appropriate to ensure the big incumbent players on the Internet can't give their own traffic priority access on the network. Google backed off its stance with a compromise proposal that argued wireless data providers, struggling with heavily overburdened networks, should be able to decide on their own which data gets priority.

The Internet belongs to neither companies nor countries. I think Googler Vic Gundotra got it right and the Google I/O conference earlier this month when he said:
"It's a platform that's owned by none of us, so it's the only platform that truly belongs to all of us."

We must make sure that does not change.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Friday 13th Unlucky for Homeless in Venice

A few days ago the Spirit of Venice sent out this:
VENICE CA --As if by some act of cruel fate, on Friday, May 13, 2011, at 3:00 am in the morning - under cover of darkness - LAPD officers rousted homeless people sleeping at Venice beach.

As if that wasn't enough, LAPD officers, accompanied by City of Los Angeles sanitation trucks proceeded to STEAL their possessions, throwing them into the waiting truck for disposal at an undeclared location, with no possibility of retrieval.

One disabled paraplegic artist of color was ordered to get up and leave the area. As he struggled to climb into his wheelchair, his lifeless legs dragging on the ground, the LAPD officer told him that if he didn't move faster he would confiscate all his possessions. The artist continued to struggle but was unable to comply with the officer's demands quickly enough. He watched in despair as the officer STOLE his bag of painting materials (his very livelihood) and threw them into the waiting sanitation truck.

I have, in an earlier diary, documented how the LAPD, at the directions of L.A. Councilman Bill Rosendahl, has been seizing the vehicles of people found living in them and forcing many to sleep on the sidewalk. Now the police are rousing the the homeless and tossing what's left of their meager Earthly possessions, including prescription medication and perhaps a clean change of clothes, into the trash.

If this is the way the government treats those being ground under by our increasingly polarized capitalism economy now, I fear what solutions they will seek in the future.

Writing about the "austerity measures" taken in the wake of the Great Depression, R. Palme Dutt, made a very ominous prediction in 1933 as to where things were going. He wrote:
Today they are burning wheat and grain, the means of human life. Tomorrow they will burn living human beings.
Fascism and Social Revolution, 1934
Today they are callously taking away the very means of survival from the homeless. I just hope our government doesn't keep marching down that road because I think we all know where it leads. It leads to state sponsored mass murder. We've been through that movie before.

And all we good Germans have to do is let it happen. Just look the other way and fail to speak up while our government takes measures that are just a little bit more draconian everyday against a section of the population that is so unlucky as to have the failure. of the economic system blamed on them.

So please don't be silent and please sign this petition whether you live in Venice or not.
LAPD ACCOMPANIED BY CITY DUMP TRUCKS, IN RAIDS, SEIZE VENICE HOMELESS' POSSESSIONS

IF NOT NOW? -- WHEN? >>>>> IF NOT US? -- WHO?

SIGN THIS PETITION TO STOP THESE CRUEL RAIDS NOW!

PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY - THANKS!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coming Soon: Obama versus Google

In case you haven't noticed, the Internet battle of the century has been shaping up this week. This will be, I believe - in this time and these concrete conditions, one of the most critical battles for the future of humanity and this planet in this century. That is because it concerns the future of the Internet and whether it will remain free and open. After Tunisia and Egypt I no longer have to harp on the power of the Internet as it is presently governed in making social revolution. After the uprisings in North Africa all are aware of that power.


It is against that backdrop that the Obama administration renewed it's two pronged assault on the free Internet this week. This time the measures they are seeking to implement are even more draconian that those that were thwarted in the fall.

On Monday 16/5/11, with a host of White House dignitaries present, including his Sec State & AG, the Obama Administration unveiled its "Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative." Without going into details, let me just say that they've now added some new 'features' to the plan they unveiled and I critiqued last year [Spirit of Venice sent out this:
VENICE CA --As if by some act of cruel fate, on Friday, May 13, 2011, at 3:00 am in the morning - under cover of darkness - LAPD officers rousted homeless people sleeping at Venice beach.

As if that wasn't enough, LAPD officers, accompanied by City of Los Angeles sanitation trucks proceeded to STEAL their possessions, throwing them into the waiting truck for disposal at an undeclared location, with no possibility of retrieval.

One disabled paraplegic artist of color was ordered to get up and leave the area. As he struggled to climb into his wheelchair, his lifeless legs dragging on the ground, the LAPD officer told him that if he didn't move faster he would confiscate all his possessions. The artist continued to struggle but was unable to comply with the officer's demands quickly enough. He watched in despair as the officer STOLE his bag of painting materials (his very livelihood) and threw them into the waiting sanitation truck.
I have, in an earlier diary, documented how the LAPD, at the directions of L.A. Councilman Bill Rosendahl, has been seizing the vehicles of people found living in them and forcing many to sleep on the sidewalk. Now the police are rousing the the homeless and tossing what's left of their meager Earthly possessions, including prescription medication and perhaps a clean change of clothes, into the trash.

If this is the way the government treats those being ground under by our increasingly polarized capitalism economy now, I fear what solutions they will seek in the future.

Writing about the "austerity measures" taken in the wake of the Great Depression, R. Palme Dutt, made a very ominous prediction in 1933 as to where things were going. He wrote:
Today they are burning wheat and grain, the means of human life. Tomorrow they will burn living human beings.
Fascism and Social Revolution, 1934
Today they are callously taking away the very means of survival from the homeless. I just hope our government doesn't keep marching down that road because I think we all know where it leads. It leads to state sponsored mass murder. We've been through that movie before.

And all we good Germans have to do is let it happen. Just look the other way and fail to speak up while our government takes measures that are just a little bit more draconian everyday against a section of the population that is so unlucky as to have the failure. of the economic system blamed on them.

So please don't be silent and please sign this petition whether you live in Venice or not.
LAPD ACCOMPANIED BY CITY DUMP TRUCKS, IN RAIDS, SEIZE VENICE HOMELESS' POSSESSIONS

IF NOT NOW? -- WHEN? >>>>> IF NOT US? -- WHO?

SIGN THIS PETITION TO STOP THESE CRUEL RAIDS NOW!

PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY - THANKS!


It is against that backdrop that the Obama administration renewed it's two pronged assault on the free Internet this week. This time the measures they are seeking to implement are even more draconian that those that were thwarted in the fall.

On Monday 16/5/11, with a host of White House dignitaries present, including his Sec State & AG, the Obama Administration unveiled its "Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative." Without going into details, let me just say that they've now added some new 'features' to the plan they unveiled and I critiqued last year [Obama's Internet Coup d'├ętat].

Also this week the Internet Blacklist bill that ran out of time in the last congress [The Internet Takeover: Why Google is Next, this new bill will force search engines to alter results to the government's liking! Writing about the Justice department's seizure of domain names then I said:

all of the Federal government's violation of international trust and our rights with its draconian seizure of domains and attacks on domains will come to naught if Google continues to do what it has always done, deliver us search results as it finds them, without fear or favor.

I don't for a moment consider the other major search engines. Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo all bent over for the Chinese government without even being kissed first, I don't think the Obama Administration will have any trouble out of them. Google on the other hand, just might pose somewhat of a problem. They are coming from a different place. They have their roots in the Free Software Movement and they have opposed this sort of thing before with China and the Bush Administration. And most importantly, of all the forces that may oppose the Obama Internet takeover, Google has the money and the technical clout to make it a real ball game.
Well, yesterday Google threw down the gauntlet to the Federal government. Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at a hacker conference in the UK likened the website blocking to China's restrictive Internet regime. He said that the search giant will fight against such attempts in the UK's Digital Economy Act and the US' Protect IP Act to restrict access to sites such as the Pirate Bay.

And he went even further, saying
"If there is a law that requires DNSs to do X and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President of the United States and we disagree with it then we would still fight it," he told The Guardian at a London conference on Wednesday.
IMHO Google has already shown it's true colors by fine tuning it's Arabic translation facilities as the region was heating up, by strongly backing the Google exec. Wael Ghonim, who played a leading role in the Egyptian uprising, and by setting up the "Speak-to-Tweet" lines and supporting proxy servers [for circumventing Internet censorship] first in Egypt and then in Libya. [Google Goes Rebel, Supports Egyptian Protest]

Now Google is getting a lot of flack for Schmidt's statement. "Google seems to think it’s above America’s laws" was the comment from MPAA chief lobbyist, Michael O'Leary.

So this week, the stage has been set for a struggle of absolutely historic proportions, although I'm not sure many outside of the tech world have noticed.

Anyway I bring it up because it not just Google's fight. Hell, Larry & Sergey can bend over for Obama and still keep their billions, but if we lose the right to a free and open Internet, it might set back the struggle for human liberation by a hundred years. Your ass is in this too!

I wish that I was in a position to pitch-in on this struggle as I did with the one in the fall or the North African uprisings that followed. Unfortunately I am now starting to run out of money [again] so if I still want to be able to support the homeless without joining them, I am forced to turn my attention to more commercial pursuits at this time.

That brings me to he real point of this dairy, which is to encourage you to download by PDF sales flier here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Vietnam War was a holocaust

Two years later I finally have gotten around to writing a plot summary for IMDB and since I have already been accused by various Kossacks of writing this blog solely to sell DVD's, and since I like to reuse things, I thought I also publish it here to get some feedback and maybe sell a few more DVDs. Especially now that Ken Burns is copying after me by announcing his own plans for a documentary on the Vietnam War.
A Plot Summary
Vietnam: American Holocaust opens in the present day at the Veterans for Peace Arlington West Memorial to the fallen US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in Santa Monica. Here the strong connection between our current wars and the war in Vietnam is first made. The question of what makes a holocaust is also raised. Then the scene shifts to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. and while the narration continues it is revealed that the youngest US soldier to die in Vietnam was a Black Marine age 15.

A clip of Vietnam era Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in Hanoi in 1995 shows him saying that 3.4 million Vietnamese were killed during the war. Further news clips from the time reveal some of the horrors of that war and show that news commentators referred to it as a holocaust at the time.

This is followed by a brief history of the 19th century French conquest of Indochina and the Vietnamese liberation struggle from 1945 through the defeat of the French in 1954. This is done with archival footage, much of it very rare, and Martin Sheen's excellent narration and the voices of the principals on both sides of the conflict. Since the focus of the documentary is the American War in Vietnam the pace slows as more details are given about this part of the history.

The reasons for opposing the Vietnamese independence struggle are given by President Eisenhower in a clip from one of his speeches. Then the young Ho Chi Minh is introduced, with special attention to his time in Harlem, NY and his relationship with Marcus Garvey. Again very old and rare footage is used to illustrate these years while Mr. Sheen describes the crucial events.

The story of the lead up to the American war is presented with footage that also includes Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Diem, Gerald Ford, Joe McCarthy, Nixon, Senator Morse, and many others. We hear Bobby Kennedy question the NSC plans for a coup in South Vietnam only weeks before President Kennedy is assassinated. In another connection to the present conflicts, we learn of the role the Kennedy administration played in putting Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq.

Since the Tonkin Gulf incident played such a big role in promoting and justifying the war, the film goes into considerable detail about it. Through interviews with the captain of the US ship that was allegedly attacked, the chief gunner, a North Vietnamese general and the recollections of pilots that flew air cover on the fateful night, it shows that this attack never happened. Most significantly, using White House tapes released only a few years ago, it shows that McNamara and LBJ had foreknowledge of this phony attack that never took place. This material has never been used in a documentary before.

The next segment illustrates the incredible damage done to Vietnam by the massive US air war which included bombing, napalm and agent orange. With a particularly potent instrumental from the Mama's Boys blues band that provides the sound track for the film, we hear from LBJ, Curtis LeMay, a Hanoi doctor, Vietnamese victims, and American airmen among others in a way that really brings home the brutality of the air war. The agent orange section will send chills up your spine.

From there the film goes into the horrific ground war that was the real holocaust in Vietnam. This is done through the voices of American and Vietnamese soldiers and civilians that give you a real window into the tragedy of war on a human level. The Vietnam War was a My Lai every week and this point is driven home by recounting some of the many other massacres that took place. Extremely graphic images are used in this segment. You are witness to real deaths happening on the screen. You will understand why so many Vietnam vets came home with a great deal of mental anguish because of what they saw in this war.

Finally we return to Arlington West in the present and the Iraq War. Again the point is made that those that forget their history are doomed to repeat it and a plea is made both by Martin Sheen and the director, Clay Claiborne, to stop this madness.

You may purchase your very own copy on DVD from the movie website:
VietnamAmericanHolocaust.com or alternately, from Amazon. Today I also discovered that it is available for bittorrent download, which kinda makes me feel like I've arrived. [Anything worth stealing is worth something.] But you don't seriously expect me to tell you how to find that. In fact I am now seriously considering dropping my opposition to the Copyright Infringement Bill and reversing everything I have said on that subject. NOT!



Notices
It was a holocaust. Every American should see this film!
- Ron Kovic,Vietnam veteran author Born on the 4th of July
[Ron Kovic and Martin Sheen are Honorary Co-Chairs of my fundrasing committe for the sequel Vietnam: People's Victory
I do a lot of public speaking on the subject of Vietnam. As I was watching the documentary, I kept thinking, ‘Wow, I can't wait to get this into the high schools.’ Clay has done an excellent job of piecing together the historical record. He uses footage, some of which I've never seen before, and it is so good. In my talks, I will say Eisenhower said this or McNamara said that. This documentary shows them actually saying it.
-Scott Camil, 1st Marines (1965-1967), Winter Soldier (1971)
Good job with the film. Very powerful. I think [Clay] did a good job of connecting Vietnam and Iraq without beating it into the ground. White phosphorous moment isparticularly strong.
-David Zeiger, Director Sir! No Sir!
I love it .It's the best thing I've seen. I've seen Winter Solider, Hearts & Minds, you name it, I've seen it. This is the best thing I've seen.
-David Slaky, Veterans for Peace, St. Louis
This is the best political video on Vietnam and its historic relevance to our times I have ever seen. You really got to it, from the Garvey connection in Harlem of Ho Chi Min to our support of the French and the British release of the Japanese in Vietnam. It cuts deep enough to enrage me.
-Stuart M. Chandler, Rotten Tomatoes
The best documentary ever made on the Vietnam War.
- Blase Bonpane, Director of the Office of the Americas
Thank you so very much.Thank you.
- Vy Xuan Hong, Member, NA, Vietnam

Friday, May 6, 2011

Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?

Certain people on the left think they can dismiss all the evidence that Mummar Gaddafi is guilty of using massive violence against his people by the use of the term "demonization" and by reference to the Nayirah episode where false stories about Iraqi troops in Kuwait throwing babies out of incubators was widely reported the 1990 built up to the first Gulf War.

This comment on the HPost in response to Gaddafi Forces Firing On Civilians In Misrata is typical:
“Right, and are they throwing babies out of incubators yet? How easy it is to sway public opinion with a few "news" stories.”
How easy it is to dismiss charges of atrocities today with throwaway references to the propaganda lies of the past.

In view of the fact that a number of people seem to be using this incubator comparison to deny all the reports that Gaddafi is committing war crimes and those same people are withholding support for a people's just struggle against a police state dictatorship, I think this comparison needs to be given more than a passing glance to see if it really holds water.

The "incubator allegations" were made after the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990. They played an important role in mobilizing US public support for the first Gulf War. The story was that the Iraqi's were so brutal in their looting of Kuwait that in one case 23 babies had died because Iraqi soldiers had thrown them out of incubators so that the machines could be shipped back to Iraq.

The story was told first on September 2, 1990 in a letter from Kuwait's UN rep to the UN Secretary General. Some evacuees also described looting "even infant incubators." On September 5, the Kuwaiti health minister, then in exile in Saudi Arabia told the tale at a press conference. That same day the UN rep backed up the health minister with another letter to the Secretary General. But what really sealed the deal was when "Nurse Nayirah" testified in front of the US Congress that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators, take the incubators, and leave the babies to die. "Dirty Iraqi Looters Throw Babies on the Floor!" The Media took it an ran with it. People were outraged.

Years latter it came out that it was all a Big Lie. According to wikipedia:
It is a misinformation campaign created by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for promoting the entry into the war by the western powers against Iraq.

And "Nurse Nayirah" turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwati ambassador to the US. She was lying, as were the letter writers and other operatives of the Kuwaiti government. No babies died, no babies were thrown out of incubators. This so-called "war crime" turned out to be 100% fraud.

Which is not to say that all reports of war crimes are false or can be rendered so by reference to incubators. So let's dig a little deeper and look at the supports for those allegations then and how they compare with the one's that are being made now.

In the case of the "incubator" story we have the testimony of two Kuwait government officials plus the very dramatic testimony of the an "eye witness" and maybe a few "evacuees.", so the whole story rested only on the word of a few people. There were no pictures offered. No video. Of course, this was twenty years ago and before the Internet. That would never fly now. The only video was shot by Hill & Knowlton of "Nurse Natirah" before congress and they made sure that got shown around. This one story also stood out because it wasn't just one of many similar tales being told at the time.

The thing that is so very different today is the technology, especially the Internet and the very wide distribution of cameras that can talk to it. This means that the uprising in North Africa and the Middle East have been cover in depth and in detail like no other event in human history. If one is willing to take the time and do the research you will find almost everything of significant is recorded by multiple videos from independent non-media sources. Look at the cell phone videos on many protests, shootings, struggles, etc. you will see in them other cell phones recording the same event. Many of these get posted directly to the Internet by the those that recorded them. The shear impossibility of 'faking' so much supporting material really precludes an incubator type story.

But that doesn't preclude those that refuse to believe what they are being shown with their own eyes from dismissing it with some reference to "incubators." That is how one writer handles a CBS News story:

Remember the "The Kuwaiti Incubator Baby Hoax" used against Iraq/Saddam? Here's the same spin from MSM about Libya/Gaddafi:
Libyan: Qaddafi forces shoot hospital patients

A resident of the increasingly violent Libyan capital of Tripoli told CBS Radio News Thursday that armed supporters of Muammar Qaddafi, the country's longtime leader, have stormed into hospitals to shoot wounded demonstrators and take dead bodies to an unknown location.

"They go in with guns into hospitals," said the resident, identified only as Adel to protect his safety. "They take the bodies that are dead. In some hospitals, they have shot the wounded. This is true. I know it's very strange for the States, but this is happening today in Tripoli."...


What gives it away is this stup!d bit: "take dead bodies to an unknown location". Like they have nothing better to do!


But if he had not been so quick to dismiss these serious allegations of war crimes and looked for other sources for this story, Arab sources, he would have found them, and with them many more details than in the more easily dismissed CBS version. For example, from yaLibnan Gaddafi forces execute hospital patients, bomb mosque

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi stormed hospitals in Tripoli and summarily executed injured anti-regime protestors who were being treated, a report said Thursday. Members of the Libyan Revolutionary Committee, the backbone of Gaddafi’s regime, “burst in hospitals and killed wounded people who had protested against the regime,” said Slimane Bouchuiguir, who leads the Libyan branch of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), cited by Italian news agency MISNA.
...

“They transported the corpses to make them disappear, perhaps to burn them, because they know that foreign journalists are moving closer,” he said of the incidents that took place Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Doctors who objected were threatened,” he added.

The account reached Bouchuiguir in Switzerland, where the rights group is based, because independent organizations are banned in Libya under Qaddafi’s 41-year rule.

While this UK Guardian report gives some supporting evidence:

In the Khadra hospital in Tripoli, the opposition's injured are visibly absent. The only wounded people on view are supporters of the regime, who claim to have been shot by "bearded men" – shorthand for the Islamists whom the regime blames for the country's uprising.

The journalists confront Dr Hawas. He is asked about the other casualties of recent violence in the city, from the districts of Tajoura and Fashloum, from which reports of attacks have come.

He admits that, if there are casualties from those places, they would be brought here. So where are they? He looks nervous and breaks into a visible sweat. "I don't know," he answers finally.

In the corridors of the Khadra, other staff speak, unseen by the minders. They suggest that more victims did come in, perhaps as many as 25. That leaves a deficit of injured people.

There are grim rumours – though they are no more than that – that at other hospitals in Libya the opposition wounded have been taken by police.

Opponents of the regime who live abroad alleged five days ago that forces loyal to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi stormed hospitals in Tripoli and summarily executed injured anti-regime protestors who were being treated. The claim is impossible to verify, but what is true is that they have fed a sense of fear and paranoia.

So this story may have a little more substance than the incubator story and probably shouldn't be dismissed so easily. Especially since there are many other reports of Gaddafi attacks on hospitals, like this raw video on YouTube:

[SAVE-LIBYA] Injured Babies Children's Hospital Bombed By Gaddafi in Misratah, Libya (23/03/2011) which was uploaded on Apr. 10, 2011

Which gets the comment:

I remember stories that were put out before the Gulf War of evil Iraqi soldiers killing small babies in Kuwait and all that jazz. Now we see this rubbish again.? ALthough one baby has a harelip, and both are? dusty. Is this Misratah? Could be anywhere in the Arab world...
TheSuperpig66 2 weeks ago

This time there is video, clearly there are babies in distress in the video but it is dismissed as an elaborate fake. But if one cares to spend a little time investigating rather than dismissing it's not too hard to find other supports for the above claim. This video, for example was uploaded on the same day by somebody else:

Children's Hospital Babies Bombed By Gaddafi Today In Misratah Libya 23/03/2011

and this one from yet a third source showing the injured babies being treated:

Misuratah Misrata baby infected in the hospital from of 3-23-2011 Free Libya!


If you know anything about filmmaking then you will know how difficult and expensive it would be to produce these three videos if they are not what they purport to be. And these are just three videos about one attack and there are hundreds of videos and pictures and blog accounts and recordings about many many instances of Gaddafi war crimes. This is a far cry from a few government official spinning a tale about incubators and these Gaddafi supporters should stop denying these babies their sympathies by the easy device of a comfortable people in some off-hand reference to incubators.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter

This is a continuation of an email discussion I have been having with a Gaddafi supporter that considers himself an anti-imperialist and a socialist. My first dairy in this thread was Tuesday. I am publishing it here pretty much as-is because most of the work is already done and for what it's worth the thoughts here may have a wider utility than our private discussion. As before, names have been changed to protect the politically innocent. He is angry because I compared him to a birther

On Thu, May 5, 2011 at 8:49 AM, XX wrote:
So now you are getting personal because you make allegations that cannot be proven?
No. This is not personal. This is political. I am saying that I have concluded that there is no proof that I can offer that you will accept.

I point out that the UN, the ICC, HRW as well as numerous eye witnesses and reporters say that cluster munitions have been used on the civilian population of Misrata. I even send you pictures. You don't deal with them piecemeal. You deny them en mass and tell me "you disseminate this information without proof at all."

You ask me for proof, so I send you a video. I said,

If you look at my YouTube video,

You will see what I'm talking about. That was in Feb. weeks before NATO got involved and you started paying attention. You really should watch it, although i know you won't, but you really should. It's only 2 min. long. It's a study in the contradiction between the way the MSM media was playing the story then and the facts on the ground. So you really should watch it because no matter how much you believe such carnage isn't being caused by Gaddafi, the truth is he chose the path of massive violence and I have you down as supporting the slaughter portrayed in the video.
Have you looked at it? Since you make no comment beyond "you disseminate this information without proof at all", I think not. Anyway, a little more about that video. I posted it on Feb. 28. Most of the gruesome footage is from before that but after #feb17. None of it was major media, some of it got disappeared from the web after I downloaded it. This was back when I was strongly rooting for the still mostly non-violent protesters to take up arms because I believe in shooting back when you are shot at. This was before the UN passed any resolutions or NATO got involved. It was also before IAC, PSL and pretty much anyone else on the American left had a clue about the struggle in Libya. But I did. I had already enrolled myself full-time, and I mean 24/7, for six weeks in the service of the people's uprising in North Africa as anyone familiar with my writings in this period at the first piece supporting the protest movement in Libya was published Jan. 18, 2011. What was your position on those housing protests in Libya in January? Did you support or oppose them? If you had been reading my blog, you would have at least known they were going on. I offered you as proof my entire body of writing on the people's uprisings in MENA and still I get "you disseminate this information without proof at all." So I concluded:
You are like the birthers exactly. There is no proof that you will ever believe. You believe what you believe and you won't let the facts get in the way.
This is not a personal attack, this is an astute political assessment. Like the birthers you are deciding that your view of what is politically correct will determine your acceptance of what is fact. You have stumbled into idealism. You have decided that ideas will determine the facts rather than the other way round. For example, you say:
You are saying that cluster bombs have been used in Libya and imply that Gaddafi is a monster, a boogie man like Saddam Hussein, Milosevic, etc..
No. I am saying that I have seen sufficient proof to conclude that Gaddafi is using cluster bombs. Those are the facts. You can decide for yourself what that implies. You seem to turn fact finding on it's head. Since you know Gaddafi is not " a monster, a boogie man like Saddam Hussein, Milosevic, etc.." there can be no proof of his use of cluster bombs. You whole narrative is riddled with that type of thinking. First you determine what political conclusions you think are served by a certain set of facts and then you apply that filter to the facts. Just like the birthers will never see a birth certificate they don't think a forgery, you my friend, will never be shown proof of Gaddafi's use of cluster munitions you won't think a lie and a fraud. So my statement was not personal. It was political. In Struggle, Clay Here are the links to my articles at WL Central: 2011-02-24 Arming Gaddfi 2011-02-14 Senior Egyptian army officers ordered massacre 2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman 2011-02-12 Algeria Protesters Defy Ban, Demand Change The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger 2011-02-10 Mubarak is Defiant 2011-02-10 Mubarak Expected to Step Down! 2011-02-09 The Google Search for Wael Ghonim 2011-02-08 The New Egyptian Normal: Thousands Demonstrate in Cairo, Alexandria 2011-02-06 Tunisia's Revolution Continues 2011-02-04 Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause 2011-02-04 Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak 2011-02-03 Algerians plan Feb 12 protest against 19- year-long state of emergency 2011-02-01 Jordan's King Sacks Government as Protests Grow 2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets 2011-02-01 Army Vows Not to Shoot as Protesters make Million Man Marches in Cairo, Alexandria Today [UPDATE: 2] 2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues 2011-01-29 No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt 2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government 2011-01-28 Mubarak Refuses to Step Down! 2011-01-28 Egypt is on Fire! 2011-01-27 Libya is in Revolt as Gaddafi Worries 2011-01-27 Algerians Plan Big Protest Rally for February 9th 2011-01-27 Tunisia Protests Continues as a Warrant is Issued for Ben Ali 2011-01-27 Tens of Thousands Rally in Yemen, Demand Change 2011-01-27 Mubarak Blinks as Egyptian Protests Continue for 3rd Day North African Hacker Humor Here is a recap of my other DKos diaries on the Internet, North Africa and Anonymous: Who's running Egypt? Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi Californians Support North African Revolts Google Supports Revolts | Anonymous does too! Secret U.S. Intelligence Source on Middle East Revealed ! Arming Gaddfi Algeria's 19 year long State of Emergency to end soon, President says Senior Egyptian Army Officers Ordered Massacre! Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman UPDATE: Egypt's Mubarak Has Resigned! - The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger BREAKING: Mubarak is Defiant The Google Search for Wael Ghonim Tunisia's Revolution Continues Google Goes Rebel, Supports Egyptian Protest Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More! w Petition Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More! They Should Have Helped That Street Vendor Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution Redux No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt Egypt is on Fire! North African Revolution Continues Egypt Protests Continue, Tunisia Wants Ben Ali Back BREAKING: Protesters Plan Massive "Day of Wrath" in Egypt Today Tunisians Thank Anonymous as North Africa Explodes Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution Tunisia: A Single Tweet Can Start A Prairie Fire! Anonymous plans Op Swift Assist in Tunisia Arrested Pirate Party Member Becomes Tunisian Minister Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation Tunis: This Photo was Taken 66 Minutes Ago The WikiLeaks Revolution: Anonymous Strikes Tunisia EMERGENCY: DKos Must Act Now to Protect Tunisian Bloggers!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stealth Helicopter Technology on Your Desktop

As soon as I caught glimpse of the first leaked pictures showing the tail rotor of the helicopter that seal team 6 had destroyed and left behind in Abbottabad, I knew it was a new type of stealth helicopter. It was not so much my interest in aeronautics as my experience as a computer technician that gave me the clue.

The blades of the tail rotor had a very familiar shape, one I've seen a lot of. They had been designed to optimize certain aerodynamic properties. They looked very similar to the blades of the fans routinely used for cooling in our desktop computers. And those fans are designed to be quiet.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism

I wrote this yesterday in as part of an email exchange with a Gaddafi supporter. Then I thought; that was a pretty good critique of the Boston Globe article XX sent me; what else can I do with it? So here it is:

On 05/02/2011 01:03 PM, XX wrote:

Spread the word and protest during African Liberation Month - as NATO kills the son and grandchildren of Moammar Kaddafi.

False pretense for war in Libya?

By Alan J. Kuperman
Boston Globe, April 14, 2011

EVIDENCE IS now in that President Barack Obama grossly exaggerated the humanitarian threat to justify military action in Libya. The president claimed that intervention was necessary to prevent a “bloodbath’’ in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and last rebel stronghold.

But Human Rights Watch has released data on Misurata, the next-biggest city in Libya and scene of protracted fighting, revealing that Moammar Khadafy is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government.

Misurata’s population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people — including combatants — have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women. If Khadafy were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties.


Once again XX, do you consider HRW a reliable source or not? When I quote them, they are not to be believed. Then you come back citing them as fact when you think they support you. What's up with that?

Unfortunately Alan Kuperman didn't provide his HRW source, so I went looking for it. What I found was some stuff that will cause you to claim they aren't reliable again:
Libya: Cluster Munitions Strike Misrata
Human Rights Watch Witnesses Attack Into Residential Area
(New York) - Government forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have fired cluster munitions into residential areas in the western city of Misrata, posing a grave risk to civilians, Human Rights Watch said today.

You will notice that I give my source as a convenient link, and my source is the HRW website - no middle men - generally I think that is the best way to back up you point. Now I am asking you specifically how you would square the above citation with the statement "Human Rights Watch has released data on Misurata, the next-biggest city in Libya and scene of protracted fighting, revealing that Moammar Khadafy is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government?"

I am requesting a serious response here. Not the usual. You ignore the point and move on to a new one, send me more stuff that somebody has cobbled together, which I also should not bother critiquing because you're not listening.

And while you are promoting the counter-revolutionary lie about the kindness of the Gaddafi dictatorship, you might also want to consider these reports from HRW:

Libya: Journalists Killed in Misrata
April 20, 2011

Libya: Government Attacks in Misrata Kill Civilians
Unlawful Strikes on Medical Clinic
April 10, 2011
(Benghazi) - Attacks by Libyan government forces in the western city of Misrata have endangered civilians and targeted a medical clinic in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch said today. The assessment is based on interviews with two doctors still in Misrata and 17 wounded civilians recently evacuated from the city, which is largely cut off from the outside world by Libyan government forces.

and in that article we find the statement:
According to Dr. Muhammad el-Fortia, who works at Misrata Hospital, medical facilities have recorded 257 people killed and 949 wounded and hospitalized since February 19, 2011. The wounded include 22 women and eight children, he said

Now we can see that the failure to cite was not accidental because this HRW publication is no doubt the basis for the Alan K. distortion:
Misurata’s population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people — including combatants — have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women.

But Dr. el-Fortia didn't say that only 257 people have died did he? He said that only 257 deaths had so far been recorded by the hospitals [as of some date before April 10th], which is quite another matter isn't it? Because in Misrata we hear many stories of corpses rotting in the streets because people can't get to them. Because nobody bothers to take dead people to the hospital. Because Muslims, when they can get to the bodies, bury their dead in 24 hrs. Because the hospitals themselves are under assault by Gaddafi's forces, a point that HRW makes in very first para of the article from which Alan K. no doubt is taking his numbers to create the illusion that HRW is saying "that Moammar Khadafy is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government."

And that is complete rubbish. It is shoddy and deceptive journalism. It is dishonest and as such cannot serve the people. It is propaganda worthy of Goebbels but the Boston Globe should be ashame.