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KN4M 02-23-09

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com http://robalini.blogspot.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 23, 2009
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      How The Pirate Bay sailed into infamy
      By Flora Graham
      BBC News
      Monday, 16 February 2009

      The Pirate Bay was launched in 2003 and has established itself as the
      world's most high-profile file-sharing site. But its founders are now
      on trial for copyright violation and face imprisonment, if found

      The Pirate Bay team aren't shy about what they are doing - they are
      pirates, and proud of it. Their logo shows a galleon under full sail,
      with a cassette tape topping a skull and crossbones in a nod to the
      Jolly Roger.

      It is an accurate characterisation, according to Swedish prosecutors,
      who have put three of the website's creators and one of its sponsors
      on trial on charges of contributing to copyright infringement.

      But the defendants claim to be more Robin Hood than Blackbeard,
      freeing creative content from the shackles of copyright.

      "There is not a cause closer to my heart," one of the founders told
      Wired. "This is my crusade."

      The Pirate Bay website hosts BitTorrent tracker files, and claims to
      be the world's largest: in February 2009, it reported 22 million
      simultaneous users.

      BitTorrent connects people so that they can share files over the
      internet. But users need a "tracker" link to find what they're
      looking for - like the index card in a library catalogue. The Pirate
      Bay provides a directory of these trackers, essentially becoming a
      library of catalogues.

      It doesn't store the books, or files, itself, just the information on
      where to find them.

      This distinction is what Pirate Bay claims will protect them under
      Swedish law.

      "The tracker provides the user only with .torrent files which contain
      no copyrighted data. The actual copyrighted material is to be found
      on the individual machines of our users, not on our servers," says
      the site.

      The Pirate Bay's enormous success has enraged copyright protection
      groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). And the
      site's cheeky bravado rubs salt in the wounds. For example, it posts
      all of the cease-and-desist letters that it receives, including its
      sarcastic replies.

      "Please don't sue us right now, our lawyer is passed out in an
      alley," says a reply to videogame giant Electronic Arts.


      The site was founded by the Swedish file-sharing advocacy group
      Piratbyran ("The Piracy Bureau") in 2003, but has been run
      independently since 2004.

      As other file-sharing websites were felled by threats and lawsuits
      from industry heavyweights like the Recording Industry Association of
      America (RIAA), the Pirate Bay held its ground.

      Confident that Sweden's lax copyright laws meant that they were on
      the right side of the rules, the site continued to defy legal threats
      that caused other torrent sites, such as Isohunt, to remove links to
      infringing torrents upon request.

      As one of the few high-profile survivors, its piece of the file
      trading pie grew. The site's antagonistic attitude and tangles with
      copyright holders and rights organisations increased its profile, and
      the site now claims to be among the top 100 websites in the world.

      The Pirate Bay's fame became too much for Swedish authorities, and in
      March 2006 the site's offices were raided by police investigating
      allegations of copyright violations.

      Truckloads of file server computers were seized, the site was closed,
      and three people were held for questioning, including two of the
      defendants in the court case, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Fredrik

      Authorities denied that the raid was prompted by urging from the MPA,
      the international arm of the MPAA, but the Swedish media revealed
      that the MPA had met with the justice ministry in the months before
      the raid.

      The Pirate Bay offers links to TV, films and music

      The Pirate Bay's site administrators scrambled to get the site back
      up and running, and with help from volunteers around the world, it
      was restored within three days.

      Since the raid, the Pirate Bay has set up a network of servers so
      that shutting down any one site will only cause the site to go down
      for minutes. Since then, site administrators have challenged all
      comers to try to shut them down.

      "I really want the pleasure of it being down three minutes, then up
      again," Frederik Neij told Wired.

      With Sweden's waters becoming less pirate-friendly, the Pirate Bay
      looked for warmer climes. In January 2007, it reportedly tried to buy
      Sealand, a platform in the North Sea off the Suffolk coast, which
      claims national sovereignty. After that fell through, the Bay raised
      money to buy an island, but the plan was never realised.

      Some media companies have apparently decided to take matters into
      their own hands rather than wait for the slow pace of the Swedish

      In September 2007, hackers leaked six months of internal e-mails from
      anti-piracy company Media Defender, which revealed that the company
      was discussing hiring hackers to attack the Pirate Bay's servers.

      It was the Pirate Bay's turn to go to the courts, and it filed
      charges against the Swedish arms of Media Defender clients such as
      Twentieth Century Fox, EMI and Paramount. The charges were not
      pursued, which also led to protests after the police investigator,
      Jim Keyzer, took a job for Warner Brothers, a member of the MPAA. Mr
      Keyzer is scheduled to be a witness in the Pirate Bay trial.

      But the Pirate Bay's Robin Hood reputation was sullied in July 2007
      when a reporter, posing as a potential advertiser on the site,
      estimated that the site was earning up to £55,000 per month that was
      being channelled into a front company in Switzerland.

      Mr Neij has denied that his team was getting rich from operating the
      Pirate Bay. "I wish I earned that," he told Vanity Fair. "Do I look
      like I have, like, $2m?"

      Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, another defendant, pointed out that they
      lost $60,000 worth of equipment in the raids. "It's not free to
      operate a website on this scale," he said.

      Strongest challenge

      With the Pirate Bay facing its strongest challenge yet, its
      administrators have not stopped rattling their cutlasses.

      Mr Warg, in a webcast on Sunday, said: "What are they going to do
      about it? They have already failed to take down the site once. Let
      them fail again.

      "It has a life without us."

      Mark Mulligan, a digital media analyst at Forrester Research, agreed
      that even if the Pirate Bay was brought down by the case, the file-
      sharing genie could not be put back in the bottle.

      "The industry knows this. But they also know that they need to go
      through the motions, particularly with the big players. If they
      don't, that essentially green lights file sharing."

      He points to previous industry victories against companies like
      Napster, which shut down the network but didn't reduce the market.

      "After every victory, file-sharing has got bigger. I see no reason
      why the same won't happen this time."



      Michael Jackson auctions belongings from his Neverland ranch

      Michael Jackson is holding a five-day public auction at the Beverly
      Hilton hotel in Los Angeles this April to sell off over 2,000 items
      ranging from personal effects and costumes through to his expansive
      art collection as well as fixtures and fittings from his Neverland



      Geronimo's Great Grandson Asks Yale Secret Society to Return
      Ancestor's Skull
      The great grandson of Geronimo says he wants to know whether Skull
      and Bones secret society at Yale University has the remains of the
      famous Apache chief and shaman.
      By Stephen Clark
      Tuesday, February 17, 2009

      It's the stuff of legends: an elite secret society that includes what
      would become some of the most powerful men of the 20th century
      allegedly invading the grave of an Apache chief to steal his skull
      for fraternal rituals. It's also the stuff of a new lawsuit filed
      Tuesday by descendents of that Apache chief.

      On the 100th anniversary of the death of Geronimo, 20 of his blood
      relatives have asked the courts to force Yale University and the
      school's secret organization, Skull and Bones, to release his remains
      for return to his native land and a proper burial.

      The lawsuit also names President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert
      Gates and Army Secretary Pete Geren as defendants because they are
      responsible for maintaining Geronimo's remains on a U.S. Army base in
      Oklahoma, the group said.

      "I believe it's a good cause because indigenous people over the
      century have been annihilated, removed from their homeland," said
      Geronimo's great grandson, Harlyn Geronimo, at a press conference in
      Washington, D.C.

      Skull and Bones has never said whether any of Geronimo's remains are
      in its possession. The descendants say they are investigating long-
      held claims that in 1918, members of Skull and Bones, including
      Prescott Bush, the father of George H.W Bush and grandfather of
      George W. Bush, invaded Geronimo's grave at Ft. Sill and stole his
      skull, some bones and other items buried with him.

      "In this lawsuit, we're going to find out if the bones are there or
      not," said the group's lawyer, said the group's lawyer, Ramsey Clark,
      who was attorney general in President Lyndon Johnson's administration.

      Gila Reinstein, a spokeswoman for Yale University, said she is
      unaware of the lawsuit, but Yale can add nothing to the mystery of
      the Indian chief's whereabouts.

      "To the best of my knowledge, Yale University has no relics or bones
      belonging to Geronimo," she said, adding that she couldn't speak on
      behalf of Skull and Bones because it is independent of the

      Geronimo fought for decades against Mexican and American expansion
      into tribal lands. He and his small band of Apaches surrendered to
      U.S. troops in 1886 and were sent to Florida as prisoners of war
      before being transferred to Alabama.

      Five years later, he was sent to Ft. Sill, where he lived the rest of
      his life as a free-range prisoner. Geronimo became a celebrity in the
      twilight of his life, appearing at fairs and selling souvenirs and
      photographs of himself. He died of pneumonia in 1909 at Ft. Sill and
      was buried at the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery on the
      military base.

      Three members of the Skull and Bones, including Prescott Bush, served
      as Army volunteers at Fort Sill during World War I. They are accused
      of stealing the items which supposedly are used in initiation
      ceremonies. One alleged ritual includes kissing Geronimo's skull.

      Geronimo said he's bringing the lawsuit now after contemplating it
      over the past decade because he has the time to do it after retiring
      from a tribal council in 2000. Clark added that at the 100th
      anniversary of the shaman's death, "We really thought it would be a
      good time to say enough is enough."

      Geronimo said he has appealed to former President Bush for help in
      returning the remains.

      "According to our traditions the remains of this sort, especially in
      this state when the grave was desecrated, need to be reburied with
      the proper rituals to return the dignity and let his spirits rest in

      Asked why he didn't appeal to Obama first, Geronimo said he thought
      Obama may be too busy to heed his request.



      Is Israel assassinating Iran nuclear scientists?
      By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
      Tags: Iran, Nuclear, CIA

      Israel is assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists as part of a
      covert war against the Islamic Republic's illicit weapons program,
      the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday quoted Western intelligence analysts
      as saying.

      The British daily said Israel's Mossad espionage agency was rumored
      to be behind the death of Ardeshire Hassanpour, a top nuclear
      scientist at Iran's Isfahan uranium plant, who died in mysterious
      circumstances from reported "gas poisoning" in 2007.

      Other recent deaths of important figures in the procurement and
      enrichment process in Iran and Europe have been the result of
      Israeli "hits", intended to deprive Tehran of key technical skills at
      the head of the program, according to the analysts.

      The Telegraph also quoted United States intelligence sources as
      saying Israel is using sabotage, front companies and double agents to
      disrupt the regime's illicit weapons project as an alternative to
      direct military strikes.

      Nevertheless, it should be noted that Israel has been carrying out
      similar covert activities for about a decade, ever since Iran was
      first suspected of seeking nuclear weapons. The U.S. journalist James
      Risen has written recently that the CIA and the Mossad have planned
      together a number of sabotage operations against the Iranian program,
      including damaging power lines to nuclear sites in order to cause
      harm to computer systems and equipment.

      The Telegraph also quoted Israeli officials as privately
      acknowledging the new U.S. administration is unlikely to sanction an
      air attack on Iran's nuclear installations and that President Barack
      Obama's offer to extend a hand of peace to Tehran puts any direct
      military action beyond reach for now.

      As such, the reported goal of Israel's covert campaign is to delay or
      interrupt the Iranian research program, without engaging in a direct
      confrontation that could lead to a wider war.

      "Disruption is designed to slow progress on the program, done in such
      a way that they don't realize what's happening. You are never going
      to stop it," a former CIA officer on Iran was quoted as saying.

      "The goal is delay, delay, delay until you can come up with some
      other solution or approach," he added. "We certainly don't want the
      current Iranian government to have those weapons. It's a good policy,
      short of taking them out militarily, which probably carries
      unacceptable risks."

      Reva Bhalla, a senior analyst with Stratfor, the U.S. private
      intelligence company with strong government security connections, was
      quoted by the paper as saying the strategy was to take out key

      "With co-operation from the United States, Israeli covert operations
      have focused both on eliminating key human assets involved in the
      nuclear programme and in sabotaging the Iranian nuclear supply
      chain," she was quoted as saying.

      "As US-Israeli relations are bound to come under strain over the
      Obama administration's outreach to Iran, and as the political
      atmosphere grows in complexity, an intensification of Israeli covert
      activity against Iran is likely to result."


      Barack Obama Administration Continues US Military Global Dominance
      By Peter Phillips

      The Barack Obama administration is continuing the neo-conservative
      agenda of US military domination of the world— albeit with perhaps
      with a kinder-gentler face. While overt torture is now forbidden for
      the CIA and Pentagon, and symbolic gestures like the closing of the
      Guantanamo prison are in evidence, a unilateral military dominance
      policy, expanding military budget, and wars of occupation and
      aggression will likely continue unabated.

      The military expansionists from within the Reagan, George H. W. Bush,
      Clinton, G. W. Bush administrations all put into place solid support
      for increased military spending. Clinton's model of supporting the US
      military industrial complex was hold steady defense spending and to
      increase foreign weapons sales from 16% of global orders to over 60%
      by end of his administration.

      The neo-conservatives, who dominated the most recent Bush
      administration, amplified this trend for increased military spending.
      The neo-cons laid out their agenda for military global dominance in
      the 2000 Project for a New American Century (PNAC) report Rebuilding
      America's Defenses. The report called for the protection of the
      American Homeland, the ability to wage simultaneous theater wars, to
      perform global constabulary roles, and to control space and
      cyberspace. The report claimed that in order to maintain a Pax
      Americana, potential rivals — such as China, Iran, Iraq, and North
      Korea — needed to be held in check. Their military global dominance
      agenda required forward deployment of US forces worldwide and
      increasing defense/war spending well into the 21st century. The
      result was a doubling of the US military budget to over $700 billion
      in the last eight years. The US now spends as much on war/defense as
      the rest of the world combined making American taxpayers the highest
      war tax providers in the world.

      Barack Obama's election brought a moment of hope for many. However,
      the Obama administration is not calling for deceased military
      spending, or a reversal of US military global dominance. Instead,
      Obama retained Robert Gates, thus making Obama the first president
      from an opposing party, in US history, to keep in place the outgoing
      administrations' Secretary of Defense/War. Additionally, Obama is
      calling for an expanded war in Afghanistan and only minimal long-
      range reductions in Iraq.

      The US military industrial complex is deeply embedded inside the
      Washington beltway. According to the most recent reports from
      OpenSecrets.org, 151 members of Congress in 2006 had up to $195.5
      million invested in defense companies.

      Major defense contractors were seriously involved in the 2008
      elections. Lockheed Martin gave $2,612,219 in total political
      campaign donations with 49% to Democrats ($1,285,493) and 51% to
      Republicans ($1,325,159). Boeing gave $2,225,947 in 2008 with 58% to
      Democrats and General Dynamics provided $1,682,595 to both parties.
      Northrop Grumman spent over $20 million in 2008 hiring lobbyists to
      consult to Congress, and Raytheon spent $6 million on lobbyists in
      the same period. Nancy Pelosi received more money from registered
      lobbyists than any other House candidate in the recent election cycle.

      The International Monetary Fund's prediction for global economic
      growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent—the worst since World War II. The
      United Nations' International Labor Organization estimates that some
      50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide this year. There
      are an estimated 62,000 U.S. companies expected to close this year,
      and while official unemployment is at 7 percent in the US, when you
      add people no longer looking for jobs and part-time workers, it is
      closer to 14 percent. The military-industrial-political elite are
      worried about the potential of increasing global insecurity. The
      answer inside the Obama Administration is to continue high
      defense/war spending to insure military control of both domestic and
      foreign instabilities.

      The military, industrial, congressional, and administrative elite
      profit from defense spending, both financially and ideologically.
      Insider profit taking from pentagon spending is widespread in
      Washington. But perhaps more important is the belief that this global
      military machine is seen as necessary for the protection of US
      corporate interests and the American upper classes in a increasingly
      destabilized world. Given that belief, the Obama administration is
      unlikely to change the established defense spending policies of the
      previous US administrations.

      Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University
      and Director of Project Censored a media research organization. His
      2006 study on the Global Dominance Group in the US is available on
      line at:




      Google Ocean: Has Atlantis been found off Africa?
      A "grid of streets" on the seabed at one of the proposed locations of
      the lost city of Atlantis has been spotted on Google Ocean.
      By Matthew Moore
      20 Feb 2009

      The network of criss-cross lines is 620 miles off the coast of north
      west Africa near the Canary Islands on the floor of the Atlantic

      The perfect rectangle – which is around the size of Wales – was
      noticed on the search giant's underwater exploration tool by an
      aeronautical engineer who claims it looks like an "aerial map" of a

      The underwater image can be found at the co-ordinates 31 15'15.53N 24

      Last night Atlantis experts said that the unexplained grid is located
      at one of the possible sites of the legendary island, which was
      described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

      According to his account, the city sank beneath the ocean after its
      residents made a failed effort to conquer Athens around 9000 BC.

      Dr Charles Orser, curator of historical archaeology at New York State
      University told The Sun that the find was fascinating and warranted
      further inspection.

      "The site is one of the most prominent places for the proposed
      location of Atlantis, as described by Plato," the Atlantis expert
      said. "Even if it turns out to be geographical, it definitely
      deserves a closer look."

      Bernie Bamford, 38, of Chester who spotted the "city", compared it to
      the plan of Milton Keynes, the Buckinghamshire town built on a grid
      design. "It must be man made," he said.

      Google Ocean, an extension of Google Earth, allows web users to
      virtually explore the ocean with thousands of images of underwater

      Launched earlier this month, it lets users swim around underwater
      volcanoes, watch videos about exotic marine life, read about nearby
      shipwrecks, contribute photos and watch unseen footage of historic
      ocean expeditions.

      The legend of Atlantis has excited the public imagination for
      centuries. In recent years "evidence" of the lost kingdom has been
      found off the coast of Cyprus and in southern Spain.

      Plato described it as an island "larger than Libya and Asia put
      together" in front of the Pillars of Hercules - the Straits of
      Gibraltar. He said Atlantis was a land of fabulous wealth, advanced
      civilisation and natural beauty destroyed by earthquakes and floods
      9,000 years earlier.



      Experts Warn of 'Terminator'-Style Military-Robot Rebellion
      Friday, February 20, 2009

      Autonomous military robots that will fight future wars must be
      programmed to live by a strict warrior code, or the world risks
      untold atrocities at their steely hands.

      The stark warning — which includes discussion of a "Terminator"-style
      scenario in which robots turn on their human masters — is part of a
      hefty report funded by and prepared for the U.S. Navy's high-tech and
      secretive Office of Naval Research.

      The report, the first serious work of its kind on military robot
      ethics, envisages a fast-approaching era where robots are smart
      enough to make battlefield decisions that are at present the preserve
      of humans.

      Eventually, it notes, robots could come to display significant
      cognitive advantages over Homo sapiens soldiers.

      "There is a common misconception that robots will do only what we
      have programmed them to do," Patrick Lin, the chief compiler of the
      report, said. "Unfortunately, such a belief is sorely outdated,
      harking back to a time when ... programs could be written and
      understood by a single person."

      The reality, Dr. Lin said, was that modern programs included millions
      of lines of code and were written by teams of programmers, none of
      whom knew the entire program.

      Accordingly, no individual could accurately predict how the various
      portions of large programs would interact without extensive testing
      in the field — an option that may either be unavailable or
      deliberately sidestepped by the designers of fighting robots.
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