Friday, January 26, 2007

Ryszard Kapuscinski: Man with a mission

Kapuscinski Is Dead?

Ryszard Kapuscinski: Man with a mission

By Shefa Siegel

January 24, 2007 Last month I was travelling Nicaragua with two Polish friends. As new friends do, we were fumbling for things to talk about, points of commonality, shared interests. "Shefa loves Kapuscinski," one told the other. An approving look. "But Kapuscinski," the friend asked, "he is dead?" I shook my head vigorously no, insisting he had a new book waiting to be published in English. Later, when I returned to Vancouver, I opened talks with the owner of a bookstore to bring the Polish travel writer for a signing once the book was published. "I must meet him," I told the storeowner.

Now the press agencies are reporting that in fact it is true, that Ryszard Kapuscinski has died at the age of 74, supposedly after a long illness. I gather there is much afoot in the world at the moment. Bombs in Baghdad, nukes in Tehran, the Democrats on the march; all the front page stories to which I have become immune in six long years of global insanity; six years in which I feel like I have been holding my breath, waiting to live. But the death of Kapuscinski makes me cry out to the walls of my empty apartment. This is news. This is sadness. This is a loss, a man I knew only from the six or seven books of his that are translated to English, and somebody who clearly never waited to live, nor for his life to begin.

For Kapuscinski was no mere travel writer, no mundane reporter. He revived the sagging, inert genre of traveloguing -- a form that had the vitality sapped from it a century ago when the British and American readership commercialized imperialism. Kapuscinski combined two rare attributes: courage and poetry. The obituaries will all record the same impressive resume: that as a reporter he witnessed 27 coups, reported from all over post-colonial Africa in the 1960s, put himself in mortal danger and later wrote books that were well received. But this will explain nothing. For any knee-twitching journalist in Addis Ababa can salivate over the prospects of an imminent war in Somalia, and work over his editor at Reuters to get him on the last flight in before the bombs drop. There is an endless reservoir of humans who derive pleasure from seeing other people cast into man's deepest darkness, and finance this need by reporting the facts from the interior of hotel rooms in war zones.

Risked all

Kapuscinski definitely had the daredevil gene. For no good reason, he would drive sacked roads in war-torn Nigeria to find out exactly who was controlling what areas, and be beaten and have gasoline poured over him before escaping with his life (a story for which his editors berated him by writing him with the curt message, "Ryszard, we must request you stop doing such things"). He definitely had stones. When he was temporarily positioned behind a desk and war broke out in Congo, he finagled a posting to Nigeria, changed the ticket to Cairo, flew to southern Sudan, bought a car, and drove to the Congo without permission, protection or pleasure. (Indeed from this experience he wound up imprisoned and hours from execution.)

For what defined Kapuscinski was not his ability to manage his heart rate, but his reflection, and the poetic attention to words, to understanding people and situations, which no longer exists in any mainstream literary medium. The proof of his genius is simply the weight of his books. For example, there are countless sources to read about Ethiopia and Haile Selassie. But look at the footnotes to Michael Ignatieff's reportage from Africa in The Warrior's Honour, and you will see that at the end of it all, he says something to the effect of nothing else claims the mantle of Kapuscinski's rendering of the fall of Selassie in The Emperor. Because in this book about majesty, Kapuscinski took the reader back through the ages, all the way to biblical stories of court intrigues chronicled by the Book of Esther or the feud between David and Saul narrated in the Book of Kings. And the technique was so simple, it is a miracle nobody did it before. He found the former courtiers of Selassie's last days (not a simple task of reporting), then recorded their monologues in their own voices. He let the places and the people he was experiencing and interviewing speak for themselves. Kapuscinski did what journalists were invented to do, which is give humanity to those who are different from ourselves. He was, in the most subtle form possible, an emissary for peace and for justice in the world.

Portrait maker

For his techniques, there are some who called Kapuscinski a liar (as a journalist from National Geographic told me colleagues of his believed). Indeed, he willingly admitted he did not take notes, that he believed any form of recording changed what people said. But, he explained, in the words that each person delivers, there is a unifying theme, a core idea, a trope to which Kapuscinski honed his attention. And it was this essence he later recorded from the relative quiet of his hotel room. But this is simply where Kapuscinski transformed reportage from a mediocre professional skill to a fine art. His goal was truth, not facts; he drew portraits rather than assessments; in many cases, his canvas was himself.

And much of the time he was so bang on it hurts as an aspiring writer to see how good somebody can be. When I was travelling parts of Africa as a UN consultant, and struggling with the feeling of having somehow been separated from reality, it was Kapuscinski who illuminated for me why I felt this way. "People from the United Nations form a club unto themselves," he commented in The Soccer War. "Many of them are pretentious: they look on everything and everyone from a global perspective, which means, simply, that they look down. They repeat the word 'global' in every sentence, which makes it difficult to settle everyday human problems with them."

Kapuscinski seemed to look down on no one, and was at his best with everyday problems, like when the truck he was being transported by broke down in the middle of Mauritania's desert. Africa was his first and only love. This is so clear from his collection of essays Shadow of the Sun, and a book of war reportage from Angola called Another Day of Life. Maybe it was the times, those early post-colonial days when a coup or revolution could break out at any moment, but Kapuscinski also clearly loved something about the contradictions of a continent at once so broken and so whole. He loved its austerity and its joy just beneath the surface. He did not care so much for Latin America, where he reported for five years, satirizing its "baroque" sensibilities. Everything in Latin America has to be the biggest, he wrote. If it has a river it is the longest, a mountain it is the tallest (he never did seem to report from Asia!), the plains the widest, a forest the biggest. He was not afraid to criticize or to love, all of which opened Kapuscinski to criticism, and even a certain kind of obscurity.

For although those who know him really know him, even my Polish friends knew him only because he had become something of a Polish celebrity by that point, coming as the special guest of an event where a statue was unveiled for a Polish traveller who cycled around Africa. This is to say, they were not terribly familiar with his books, much less his mission. And this is the key point about Kapuscinski, with whom I am obviously in love, passionate and partial: he possessed a profound sense of mission.

Towards peace through understanding

He admitted as much in an interview given to Charlie Rose some years ago, saying he had made a conscious decision to concentrate on history in the making rather than the history of the past, and that he felt a compulsive need to explain things to people with the hope that the deeper we know each other, the more peaceful humans will be.

This mission was more delicately wrapped in an essay he wrote years ago for Granta, which was later republished and used as the fulcrum for The Soccer War, called in various forms something like "High time I started writing the next book." In this essay, he highlights all the things he means to write about -- a form which serves as the file I now keep called, simply, "The Book I Mean to Write" -- if only he had time. "I would write a dictionary describing how different words take on different meanings depending on where they are spoken in the world," Kapuscinski writes. "I would write about the time I was sent to Latin America, but didn't really like it. I would write about how hard it is for a northerner to survive in the tropics, or what it feels like to hide in a hotel room when all white men are being rounded up on the streets, or the experience of being in motion so often, flying, stewardesses, passports, hotels, typewriters, loneliness. I would write about all this, if only things didn't keep coming up. If only the world would calm down for a moment. If only I could take a break from my deepest sense of mission."

A conviction so deep it becomes a mission is so rare for non-ideologues, zealots or fanatics, that Kapuscinski deserves praise, and respect, memorializing and dedications for holding so stoically to his own purpose throughout his life. His words alone will survive him. That is something. But more than his words a writer wants to be remembered for his ideas, which have a way of seeping into the world, and becoming part of the collective unconscious long after, in fact only after their bodies have passed and just their lines remain. To feel such gratitude and warmth for a person I only think I know, when in fact all I know are his words, is a testament to the righteousness of Kapuscinski's core idea, that the more the lives of others are explained to us, the less likely we are to fight. This is to say, the more likely we are to love. This is a tribute not only to Kapuscinski himself, but also to everyone who feels the inexplicable humanistic drive to put thought to order, apply meaning to language, give life to words.

"You must choose your words carefully," Kapuscinski said, "because there are so many of them in the world." It is a reassurance that the humanistic will is still alive in humanity, no matter how troubled, corrupt, or infuriating; no matter how desperately we need the world to become calmer, so that we can release our clenched teeth, and remember what it is like to breathe again.

Shefa Siegel
is a writer, environmental consultant for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and doctoral student at the University of British Columbia. He lives in Victoria.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Canada's Disappearing Internet Freedom

Canada Sleeps Through War to 'Save the Internet'

Pitched battle in U.S. over 'net neutrality' Digital democracy at risk if telecoms get their way say opponents.

By Bryan Zandberg
Published: January 17, 2007

Net neutrality. A bland phrase capable of sparking a digital revolt.

In the United States it's the hot-button Internet issue of the day, a threat deemed so grave to free expression it gave rise to a stunning right-left coalition and galvanized celebrities and rock icons like REM with church groups, rights groups, academics, the CEOs of Google and Amazon, web pioneers Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee and the 1.5 million Americans who sent a petition to Congress. (Not to mention providing the raison d'ĂȘtre for this hip short film primer on the topic.)

In Canada, on the other hand, the latest count on Kevin McArthur's online net neutrality petition clocks in at, well, a paltry 217 signatures.

It's not that the fight over net neutrality doesn't matter in Canada. At issue here, as in the United States, is whether telecom companies can favour some Internet sites over others by charging different rates to different customers and making some sites much easier to access than others. Critics say the practice threatens the Internet's level playing field and would stifle smaller independent voices on the web.

At stake is nothing less than democratic speech in the Canadian modern era, says McArthur. "I mean this is The People vs. Larry Flint all over again, only this time it's digital."

Odd then that public debate on the issue in Canada has been a non-starter. Especially when, between the two countries, it's Canada where the World Wide Web is most poised to become the latest plaything of the rich and the powerful.

'Sounds innocuous, but isn't'

To understand what net neutrality is and why it's important, it pays to take a look at what's been happening south of the border.

In 2005, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) redefined "broadband," recasting it as an information, rather than a telecommunication, service.

"It sounds like an innocuous change, but it isn't," explains Ben Scott, a spokesperson for net neutrality for Free Press, a media democracy NGO based in Washington, D.C. With the stroke of a pen, Scott says the decision undid the entire regulatory regime attached to telecom services, thrusting them into "a category that has virtually no regulations."

The change didn't bode well for a broad spectrum of Internet users, from start-up companies to anyone who uses Google or YouTube. Whereas previously telcos were legally obliged to deliver packets of bits and bytes blindly, as an information service that restriction was no longer in force. This opened the door for what Scott calls a "CEOs-go-to-Wall-Street" scenario: almost immediately, the major carriers began to toy with the idea of creating a two-tier Internet, replete with a fast-track for content creators willing to pay for preferential service, and a slow lane for everyone else.

The idea of telcos acting as gatekeepers, combined with what that would potentially and physically do to the Internet, set off a firestorm of public protest. And in spite of the fact the telcos spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Capitol Hill, a bill that would have paved the way for a two-tiered net died along with Republican majorities in the House and the Senate.
Now, Scott says a climate of intense public and congressional scrutiny will bar the telcos from acting as gatekeepers until net neutrality can be protected by law.

But what's to stop them in Canada? Less and less, it would appear.

Canada's hands-off stance

Professor Michael Geist has been talking about net neutrality and digital rights in his Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen columns and via his blog for a while now. The Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law says that even though Canada is rapidly deregulating the telecom industry, public debate amounts to little more than a whisper.
Just like in the States, net neutrality in Canada hovers in a state of legal limbo; the threadbare language of the Telecommunications Act means that two-tier Internet is more than a distant possibility; it's already here.

"I think it's already happening now but for the most part people don't recognize it," says Geist, who is based at the University of Ottawa.

"Some of the providers are already engaged in some of these kinds of activities, with little transparency and considerable uncertainty as to whether or not the legal system prohibits it."
Geist offers the example of profs who post their lectures online via an application called BitTorrent, free software designed to send large amounts of multi-media data from point A to point B. He says lately these video clips and audio files "slow to a crawl" when students try to download them because of "package-shaping" practices by companies like Rogers.

Digital profits up for grabs

Packet-shaping, or prioritizing the kinds of information being sent through the pipes, is the thin edge of the wedge, says Geist. All kind of digital rights are up in the air right now.
Much of this is because Internet service providers (ISPs) like Telus and Shaw have always offered "unlimited" bandwidth to subscribers, counting on the fact that the vast majority of users only use a sliver of it.

But with today's wave of user-generated content -- video, wikis, podcasts, MP3s, open source software and Internet telephone -- the old "unlimited" paradigm is broken. Telecoms are as tired of watching the average user eat up more and more bandwidth as they are of watching 100 million video clips a day zip through their wires, via free sites like YouTube. And their shareholders aren't seeing any of that Internet cornucopia -- like Google's recent $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube -- reflected in their company's quarterly reports.

While he says he can appreciate the telcos' concerns -- something's got to be done about the shrinking amount of available bandwidth -- Geist says they're going about it the wrong way.
"If all you're doing is saying, 'This is our existing service and we just want to extract additional dollars because we think Google makes too much money'...I don't know that that's a particularly convincing argument."

McArthur goes further. He says companies are in effect creating a problem so they can charge to fix it. "[Even] if everyone paid for a tier-one service, it would be THE EXACT SAME service we have today," he wrote by e-mail. "Quality of service only works while someone else is getting screwed."

"It's an attempt to extract more rent out of your server," Geist summarizes, "even if it comes at the expense of both their users' interests and the broader interest of the Internet as a whole."
Telus declined to address the issue of net neutrality in an interview and Shaw representatives did not return calls.

COA versus CNN

Steve Anderson's situation brings the potential effect of two-tier Internet into focus. Anderson is a master's student in online media studies at Simon Fraser University. He's also the managing editor of an independent online news source called COAnews, where he and a coterie of mostly volunteer editors stream a lot of audio and video files that sometimes fly in the face of what you see on the evening news. Under a two-tiered system, he says COA's shoestring budget would almost certainly keep it off the fast track.

"Right now we can literally compete with CNN or whatever if we provide news that people want to look at," he explains. "But if that situation goes through, then we just can't afford to pay the fees that CNN can, just like we can't afford to put up a cable news television show."
With few willing to wait for clips if they download at a snail's pace, the slow lane bottle-neck would be the death of independent online media, both for COAnews and for the thousands of other grassroots efforts trying to get their message out there. The Internet, he thinks, is in danger of falling in the for-profit footsteps of its predecessors radio and television.

Telus you didn't do it

Another wrinkle with deregulation is what happens when the carriers start to peep at what it is they're carrying, and then discriminate based on what they see. The landmark example -- the one that even advocates in the U.S. cite -- actually took place here in Canada when Telus blocked a website run by striking Telus employees called "Voices for Change."

Free speech activists were furious, but the company defended itself, saying it was acting to protect the identities of the people who chose to cross the picket lines, whose photographs were purportedly posted on the site. Regardless of their rationale, Telus cut access to another 766 totally unrelated sites by pulling the plug on the Florida server that hosted Voices for Change.
Marita Moll and Leslie Shade call these and other incidents of information-tampering "good reasons for Canadians to be concerned."

The pair, who work with the Canadian Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking, recently penned a joint e-mail to The Tyee in which they criticized the conclusions of the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel (TPRC), which delivered a 400-page report last year calling for sweeping changes to Canada's telecom oversight body, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

In a nutshell, the panel determined that the CRTC should concern itself with monitoring the social and technical aspects of telecommunications, and leave economic issues up to market forces. Markets are to be regarded as competitive unless proven otherwise, said the panel, a conclusion warmly welcomed by the Conservative government.

But Moll and Shade see the sidelining of the CRTC as having negative ramifications for the industry, and moreover for the public good.

"Telecommunications are oligopolies and do not really engage in competitive behaviour," they wrote. "They own the markets together and they will co-operate in protecting those markets. As such, they have a huge incentive to collaborate to contain bandwidth use to the infrastructure channels they are prepared to provide."

The Big Four

By Geist's count, the biggest four Canadian providers (Telus, Shaw, Rogers and Bell) control 60 per cent of the country's $32 billion telecom market; the top eight control upwards of 80 to 90 per cent. Last week's Canwest-Alliance merger only highlights the how the list of players is shortening.

"There is the real incentive for some of these providers to exclude or diminish the quality of some of the new content that is emerging that I think will increasingly be seen as competitive."
Case in point: the CRTC's favourable ruling for Vonage, an Internet telephone company that complained about a quality of service fee imposed by Shaw, a decision which was overturned by Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Geist is concerned about the fact that the expert panel intended to oversee Canadian telecommunications is increasingly being told to butt out.
"They've actually tried to be hands-on on some issues and got themselves slapped down pretty good by the government."

You don't have to look to Internet telephone to see how the same near-monopolies work with web services. Even if there are eight Internet service providers in Canada, Geist says consumers typically only have the option of choosing between one of two providers for an Internet connection.

"You get cable or ADSL, or nothing," he notes. "That's not a competitive environment at all."
Which means that if in the future companies anger customers the way Telus or Shaw have in the past, "there's little reason to believe that consumers will have options to move to other services if they're unhappy."

Regardless of the situation, telecom deregulation is still "quite clearly the top priority of the Industry minister [Maxime Bernier]," says Geist.

"But the [government's] focus again has been solely one-sided: it's just been on deregulating without addressing these kinds of issues. And there's a certain irony there because this represents by far the best opportunity to build in some net neutrality provisions."

Canada's backwardness in this regard is made all the more apparent given a surprising move by the FCC in the recent AT&T-BellSouth merger. As a condition of U.S. government approval for the takeover, the FCC made both companies agree to respect network neutrality for two years, when clearer-cut legislation is expected to replace the murky language that currently regulates net neutrality in that country.

That move finds no parallel in Canada, where Section 36 of the Telecommunications Act offers no clearer guidance on the topic than the following line: "a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public."
Experts like Geist, McArthur, Moll and Shade agree that guideline is as outdated as it is insufficient. In Ottawa last October, Moll and Shade took part in the Alternative Telecommunications Policy Forum, where a panel drafted the following proposal for a guideline: "network operators shall not discriminate against content, applications, or services on broadband Internet services based on their source or ownership."

That clause, meant as an appendix to the net neutrality recommendations in last year's TCRP report, has so far fallen on deaf ears on Parliament Hill.

According to Geist, Industry minister Maxime Bernier has thus far shown "little appetite" for inserting any such language into the Telecommunications Act.
Bernier did not respond to e-mails requesting an interview.

Canadians asleep on issue

For the moment, and judging by every indication, Canada limps into an uncharted electronic future in a near-total policy vacuum on the matter of net neutrality.
That vacuum, twinned with public apathy, is nothing short of a boon for telecom companies, say Moll and Shade, who go on to add that "public policy is obviously serving their needs."
And while the telecom lobbies swamp commissions like the recent TCRP with thousands of pages of testimony, "the few folks sending in submissions in the public interest are barely on the map," they say.

Given that fundamental aspects of how the Internet works are being decided by the PMO, Shade and Moll say it's up to the public to get Canadian politicians "up to speed" on net neutrality the way the American public did in the U.S. To date, there is scarce indication that any of the major parties are thinking about the issue; McArthur says a letter to his Conservative MP in Edmonton didn't even generate a standard response letter. He says only the Green party and the NDP are actively working on net neutrality.

So while many tout the digital revolution as ushering in a new wave of democracy, only 217 of them in Canada have stepped back from the glow and done something to protect it.
"There are lots of things to be really optimistic about online," says Geist, "but this isn't one of them."


Related Tyee stories:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bush Speech Terror Claim Debunked A Year Ago

Just one of many State of the Union lies, following in the tradition of the
2003 yellowcake fraud, Bush commits an impeachable offense by knowingly
lying to the American people

Prison Planet | January 24, 2007
Paul Joseph Watson

A claim made by President Bush in his State of the Union speech last night,
that an attack on an L.A. skyscraper had been averted, was universally
debunked as a hoax by Mayors, CIA, FBI and NSA personnel and counter-terror
experts nearly a year ago when it first surfaced. By regurgitating this
fraud, Bush has committed an impeachable offense by knowingly lying to the
American people.

Bush's address was punctuated with deception, horse hockey and
propagandistic drivel throughout, again reinforcing a characteristic that
was born in 2003 when Bush told the nation that Iraq had sought to buy
uranium from Niger , a claim the CIA had informed the administration was
based on falsified documents ten months before it was included in the

Amidst the cacophony of bullshit came this belter.

"We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest
building on the West Coast."

According to numerous public officials, terror experts and intelligence
personnel, this is simply not true.

Bush's is referring to an announcement made on February 9th last year in
which he made the claim that an Al-Qaeda plan to fly a plane into the LA
Library Tower was thwarted in 2002. The release of the news that the plot
had been prevented by means of tapping terrorist suspect's phones was
politically timed to coincide with the start of legal hearings on the Bush
administration's domestic eavesdropping program.

Fox "News," the White House's PR mouthpiece, immediately began showing
footage from the movie Independence Day, in which the famous tower is

Hours after the announcement, the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio
Villaraigosa, went public with comments of his absolute bewilderment
concerning the alleged plot.

"I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV
and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the
mayor said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't expect a call
from the president - but somebody."

The day after the announcement, twenty three separate intelligence experts,
all with either CIA, FBI, NSA or military credentials, both in and out of
service, angrily disputed Bush's remarks about the alleged L.A. plot, with
one going as far as saying that the President was "full of shit."

Another described the claims as "worthless intel that was discarded long

Get 5 months free at Prison when you sign up for our New Years
Special! TV shows, conference footage, field reports, protest clips, in
studio camera and audio interviews, books, every Alex Jones film, dozens of
other documentaries! Click here to subscribe!

A New York Times story cited "several counter-terrorism officials" as saying
that "the plot never progressed past the planning stages.... 'To take that
and make it into a disrupted plot is just ludicrous,' said one senior FBI

The New York Daily News cited another senior counterterrorism official who
said: "There was no definitive plot. It never materialized or got past the
thought stage."

The Washington Post also dismissed the alleged plot as nothing more than
talk, noting that no actual attack plan had been thwarted.

The LA attack plot arose from the same discredited informant who said that
Washington and New York financial institutions were being targeted, which
led the White House to raise the terror alert right as the 2004 election
campaign was beginning.

"The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging
us into his fantasy world," said a veteran field operative of the Central
Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited
informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions
in New York and Washington."

In June 2004 John Pistole, the FBI's counterterrorism director, said he was
"not sure what [the CIA] was referring to," after a CIA counterterrorism
official who testified under the alias "Ted Davis" said that the US had
prevented aviation attacks against the east and west coast.

Questions were raised at the White House press briefing as to the noticeably
convenient announcement of a four year old alleged foiled plot in relation
to the furore about domestic spying.

"But is it just a coincidence? You had February 6th circled on the calendar
for the hearings, the NSA hearings. Is it just a pure coincidence that this
comes out today?" asked one journalist.

"Scott, I wanted to just ask a follow-up about the LA plot. Is there
something missing from this story, a practical application, a few facts?
Because if you want to commandeer a plane and fly it into a tower, if you
used shoe bombs, wouldn't you blow off the cockpit? Or is there something
missing from this story?" asked another.

There was indeed a great deal missing from this story in that it was nothing
more than hot air manufactured by the Bush administration at the most
politically expedient time, a psychological fraud unleashed on the public in
order to silence critics of the illegal NSA surveillance spying program.

Bush has again committed the impeachable offense of knowingly lying to the
American people in regurgitating the debunked plot in last night's State of
the Union address.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Gorilla Radio for Monday, January 22, 2007

This past week, a friend of this program, currently on a book tour of the States, asked me if I was interested in coming down to one of his book events in Washington state. Not the first time I'd been invited to the land of the free, but this time I felt I needed to explore my own trepidations about crossing the 49th.

In the first half, a departure from form for a little ranting, reading, and raving.

And; the Common Energy Lectures kicked off at the University of Victoria last week. Common Energy describe themselves as: "a network of students, staff, faculty, and regional partners centered at UVic, working to create solutions to the climate crisis in Victoria."

Professor Ned Djilali is a Canada Research Chair and Director of the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems on the series, and he'll join us with some of the cutting edge technology development coming out of the university and what that means for the future of Victoria and beyond in the second half.

And; Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of the good things you can get up to in and around Victoria in the coming week.

But first, the ugliness that has become America.

Bloggers Who Criticize Government May Face Prison

Bill would allow rounding up and imprisoning of non-registered political writers

Steve Watson
Thursday, January 18, 2007

You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was some new restriction on free speech in Communist China. But it isn't. The U.S. Government wants to force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress in the latest astounding attack on the internet and the First Amendment.

Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of, a website dedicated to fighting efforts to silence grassroots movements, states:

"Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to 500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220 would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history, critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself."

In other words Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats may redefine the meaning of lobbying in order that political communications to and even between citizens falls under the same legislation.

Under current law any 'lobbyist" who 'knowingly and willingly fails to file or report." quarterly to the government faces criminal charges including a possible jail term of up to one year.

The amendment is currently on hold.

This latest attack on bloggers comes hot on the heels of Republican Senator John McCain's proposal to introduce legislation that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards.

McCain's proposal is presented under the banner of saving children from sexual predators and encourages informants to shop website owners to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who then pass the information on to the relevant police authorities.

Despite a total lack of any evidence that children are being victimized en mass by bloggers or people who leave comments on blog sites, it seems likely that the proposal will become legislation in some form. It is well known that McCain has a distaste for his blogosphere critics, causing a definite conflict of interest where any proposal to restrict blogs on his part is concerned.

In recent months, a chorus of propaganda intended to demonize the Internet and further lead it down a path of strict control has spewed forth from numerous establishment organs:

During an appearance with his wife Barbara on Fox News last November, George Bush senior slammed Internet bloggers for creating an "adversarial and ugly climate."

- The White House's own recently de-classified strategy for "winning the war on terror" targets Internet conspiracy theories as a recruiting ground for terrorists and threatens to "diminish" their influence.

- The Pentagon recently announced its effort to infiltrate the Internet and propagandize for the war on terror.

- In a speech last month, Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff identified the web as a "terror training camp," through which "disaffected people living in the United States" are developing "radical ideologies and potentially violent skills." Chertoff pledged to dispatch Homeland Security agents to local police departments in order to aid in the apprehension of domestic terrorists who use the Internet as a political tool.

- A landmark legal case on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America and other global trade organizations seeks to criminalize all Internet file sharing of any kind as copyright infringement, effectively shutting down the world wide web - and their argument is supported by the U.S. government.

- A landmark legal ruling in Sydney goes further than ever before in setting the trap door for the destruction of the Internet as we know it and the end of alternative news websites and blogs by creating the precedent that simply linking to other websites is breach of copyright and piracy.

- The European Union, led by former Stalinist and potential future British Prime Minister John Reid, has also vowed to shut down "terrorists" who use the Internet to spread propaganda.

- The EU also recently proposed legislation that would prevent users from uploading any form of video without a license.

- We have also previously exposed how moves are afoot to clamp down on internet neutrality and even to designate a highly restricted new form of the internet known as Internet 2.

Want to start your own blog or website, get the word out and support Alex Jones? offers
high-quality webhosting services at very competitive prices, and most importantly, with, privacy is paramount! We don't sell the names of our customers to marketing
firms or the government. Click here for more info.

Make no mistake, the internet, one of the greatest outposts of free speech ever created is under constant attack by powerful people who cannot operate within a society where information flows freely and unhindered. All these moves mimic stories we hear every week out of State Controlled Communist China, where the internet is strictly regulated and virtually exists as its own entity away from the rest of the web.

The phrases "Chinese government" and "Mao Zedong" have even been censored on China's official Web sites because they are "Sensitive phrases". Are we to allow our supposedly Democratic governments to implement the same type of restrictive policies here?

Under section 220 of the lobbying reform bill, could be required to seek a license in order to bring this information to you. IF we were granted a license we would then have to report our activities to the government four times per year in order to bring you this information. Does that sound more like free speech or more like totalitarianism?


Take action:

As well as calling the Senate you should go to which has a petition that you can sign against Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill.

Paul Joseph Watson contributed to this report.