Category Archives: Pirate Party

I just had to read one more thing …

Of course I had to check my RSS feeds one last time before I went to bed and came across this piece from Boing Boing on the CIA torture memos:

Salon's Mark Benjamin went spelunking in the recently released CIA
torture memos and comes back with a stomach-churning account of the
waterboarding practiced at Gitmo. This fine-tuned torture process
repeatedly took its victims to the brink of death (one victim was
waterboarded 180+ times) until many of them simply gave up on breathing
and tried to allow themselves to drown, only to be revived by unethical
medical personnel who collaborated with the war criminals conducting
the torture.

documents also lay out, in chilling detail, exactly what should occur
in each two-hour waterboarding "session." Interrogators were instructed
to start pouring water right after a detainee exhaled, to ensure he
inhaled water, not air, in his next breath. They could use their hands
to "dam the runoff" and prevent water from spilling out of a detainee's
mouth. They were allowed six separate 40-second "applications" of
liquid in each two-hour session – and could dump water over a
detainee's nose and mouth for a total of 12 minutes a day. Finally, to
keep detainees alive even if they inhaled their own vomit during a
session – a not-uncommon side effect of waterboarding – the prisoners
were kept on a liquid diet. The agency recommended Ensure Plus.

"This is revolting and it is deeply disturbing," said Dr. Scott
Allen, co-director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights
at Brown University who has reviewed all of the documents for
Physicians for Human Rights. "The so-called science here is a total
departure from any ethics or any legitimate purpose. They are saying,
'This is how risky and harmful the procedure is, but we are still going
to do it.' It just sounds like lunacy," he said. "This fine-tuning of
torture is unethical, incompetent and a disgrace to medicine."

As a friend noted, waterboarding isn't simulated drowning, it is drowning.  "Enhanced interrogation techniques" are just mealy mouthed words for hiding the war crimes that our government carried out.

Of course VP Cheney was a "big supporter of waterboarding" as reported to ABC News via Andrew Sullivan & The Atlantic:

KARL: Did you more often win or lose those battles, especially as
you got to the second term?

CHENEY: Well, I suppose it depends on which battle you're talking
about. I won some; I lost some. I can't…


KARL: … waterboarding, clearly, what was your…

CHENEY: I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big
supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques that…

KARL: And you opposed the administration's actions of doing away
with waterboarding?


It is too late to impeach him, but there is no statute of limitations on trying war criminals.

Moved Spontaneous Ideas to, looking for friends to share their ideas

I decided to try out so I moved my Spontaneous Ideas blog there.  There weren't a lot of posts to move, and setup was incredibly easy.  Even moving the domain over went well, mostly.

The idea behind Spontaneous Ideas is that it is a place where I (and now others) can share the spontaneous ideas that enter our mind sand have a measure
of sense and usefulness to them, but which we are unlikely to pursue due
to time or inclination.  Anyone reading the blog is free to take an idea and run with it, free of charge beyond some form of attribution.

If you would like to be able to share your spontaneous ideas as well, and are someone I know, then please contact me.

Pirates need to go local, not fork nationally

The Pirate Party started in Sweden and their platform is to reform copyright law, abolish the patent system and promote respect for the right to privacy.  They won two seats in the European Parliament in 2009 and have scored some success in Germany as well.  Membership wise, they are the second largest party in Sweden and their youth group has the largest membership of any Swedish political party.

In the US however, Pirate Party supporters seem to be a fractious lot.  Besides the Pirate Party International approved Pirate Party of the United States, there once was a United States Pirate Party.  Now there is an American Pirate Party, a USA Pirate Party and some time ago I found a third US-based Pirate Party web site.  The Greens in the US had their own schism in the 90's, that was mostly resolved in 2000, but this situation seems a bit much.

While I like their ideals and positions, they really need to concentrate on building state and local chapters instead of creating more national Pirate Parties.  sigh…

Obama, like Bush before, claims authority to assassinate US citizens

Green Change quotes a Glenn Greenwald article that states that the Obama administration has compiled a list people, including US citizens, which president Obama has authorized the military and intelligence services to kill:

Just think about this for a minute.  Barack Obama, like George Bush
before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens
murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim
that they are associated with Terrorism and pose "a continuing and
imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests."  They're entitled to no
charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations.  Amazingly,
the Bush administration's policy of merely imprisoning foreign
nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges —
based solely on the President's claim that they were Terrorists —
produced intense controversy for years.  That, one will recall, was a
grave assault on the Constitution.  Shouldn't Obama's policy of
ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or
checks of any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as
much controversy?

Obviously, if U.S. forces are
fighting on an actual battlefield, then they (like everyone else) have
the right to kill combatants actively fighting against them, including
American citizens.  That's just the essence of war.  That's why it's
permissible to kill a combatant engaged on a real battlefield in a war
zone but not, say, torture them once they're captured and helplessly
detained.  But combat is not what we're talking about here.  The people
on this "hit list" are likely to be killed while at home, sleeping in
their bed, driving in a car with friends or family, or engaged in a
whole array of other activities.  More critically still, the Obama
administration — like the Bush administration before it — defines the "battlefield" as the entire world
So the President claims the power to order U.S. citizens killed
anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign activities
carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his
say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks.  That's quite a
power for an American President to claim for himself.

Greenwald lays it out pretty well and it is worth the read.

Bad Joo Joo, No Biscuit!

The Crunch Pad is no more since, apparently, the company handling much of the technical work, Fusion Garage, broke its agreement with TechCrunch, the company handling the business side, and skipped with it.  Instead, Fusion Garage will be putting out the tablet computer and calling it the Joo Joo.  A rather unfortunate name for a product since it is far too easy to associate it with the phrase Bad JuJu, especially with the recent legal tanglings.

UPDATE: Fusion Garage's take on the split and Wired's review of the Joo Joo.

Eight years later, using nonviolence in Afghanistan still looks like a good choice

In March of 2002, while running for Treasurer of the Commonwealth, I did a one day tour of the Fall River/New Bedford area including speaking engagements, radio appearances and an interview with the Herald News in Fall River.  I was aided by David Dionne, a great and tireless activist for social justice, peace, and the environment.  David had setup the whole day and first on the itinerary was the interview with the Herald News.

Now March, 2002 was about five months after the US invasion of Afghanistan and one of the reporter's first questions was what would be the Green Party's alternative to invading Afghanistan.  I stated that invading the country was the wrong approach and the US would have been better off in the long-term by building a nonviolent resistance movement to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda that sought the development and liberation of all of its citizens.

With President Obama's announcement that he will send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to join the 68,000 US soldiers, 43,000 NATO-ISAF soldiers, and 68,000 Pentagon contractors, the long-term has arrived.  When all is said and done, we are easily on track to have been there for a decade or more propping up a corrupt government run by warlords who share the Taliban's desire to keep women down. 

According to, a National Priorities Project, the US has spent $232 Billion funding military related operations in Afghanistan since our invasion in 2001.  This figure represents over $8,000 per Afghan citizen, or about $1000 a year for each person.  With Afghanistan's per capita yearly GDP at about $450, this amount would represent a tripling of the income of the average Afghan.  This figure is even more striking when you consider that we haven't delivered on the $5 Billion in aid we pledged to help Afghanistan rebuild.

We could have devoted a fraction of what our military has spent occupying Afghanistan on promoting economic development, education and health as well as building a native Afghan nonviolent resistance movement.  Would we have overthrown the Taliban by now?  Possibly.  People who have enough to eat, a job with a decent income and the ability to read have much more ability to organize and use nonviolent tactics to undermine the support of their leaders.  We forget when we judge the success of a nonviolent resistance that, after eight years of violent resistance to the Taliban, there is very real prospect that they may yet reestablish themselves as the rulers of Afghanistan.

By taking a long-term nonviolent approach, one that focused on economic development, education and improving the health of all Afghans, we would have left Afghanistan a far better place than we have so far.  Even if a nonviolent resistance movement had not succeed by now, it would have a good chance of succeeding in the future.  Obama's choice to double down on the Bush strategy doesn't look like its chance of success will be any better, but the cost in lives and debt will be immensely higher.

Patents Schmatents

TechDirt has a summary of a post by Cog at The Abstract Factory about how software patents stifle innovation.  TechDirt's summary / commentary and the post itself, which isn't long, are well worth reading.  I'll leave a few select bits from the post:

His startup recently got sued for patent infringement by a company
that independently developed a product that performs a vaguely similar
function. This other company's product is much less sophisticated, and
their user-facing site is an ugly, user-hostile pile of crap. The term
"search arbitrage" would be a kind word to apply to this other
company's product. And there is absolutely no sense in which my
friend's work builds on any of this other company's technology.

Now, my friend and his partner have consulted multiple IP lawyers
and they've said, "Yep, the law is probably on your side." They have
also said, "You're still screwed." The trial would take forever, the
legal fees would be ruinous, and in the meantime nobody will invest in
a company which has a litigation cloud hanging over it.

So, this sucks for my friend and his partner. More importantly, this sucks for you,
because, having seen the product, I am 100% convinced that you, or
someone you know, would love to have this technology acquired and
integrated into a major site that you use.

Of course the point of the patent system was so that there was an incentive for patent holders to share their ideas in the knowledge that they would be able to profit from those ideas for a limited duration.  However, as Cog points out:

At any software company with competent legal counsel, developers are instructed in the strongest possible terms never, ever
to look at a patent, because the tiniest amount of documented influence
could be used as ammunition in a lawsuit.

As product cycles shorten and the length of patents increase (now at 20 years, but up from 17 years), the advantage of sharing the ideas behind the patent goes to 0 for everyone.

The Supreme Court may rein in some patents, thankfully.  The Swedish Pirate Party has a "constructive and reasoned proposal" for an alternative to pharmaceutical patents.  For me, I think we should just kill software patents and let the software industry borrow from the fashion industry and force software companies to innovate their way ahead of the competition.

Can we impeach Bush yet?

We know from the Downing Street Memo that Bush was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq.  Here is more evidence:

Bush Ignored Intelligence on Iraqi Weapons, Says Ex-CIA Officer

By Dan Glaister
The Guardian UK

Monday 24 April 2006

A former leading CIA official said yesterday that the White House deliberately
  ignored intelligence that showed that there were no weapons of mass destruction
  in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Tyler Drumheller, who was once the highest-ranking CIA officer in Europe, told
  CBS’s 60 Minutes programme that the White House shifted its focus to regime
  change in the months before the invasion.

"The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking
  for intelligence to fit into the policy," Mr Drumheller said.

Meanwhile a leaked Pentagon document showed that Donald Rumsfeld, the defence
  secretary, is pressing ahead with plans to reshape the armed forces despite
  recent criticism of his stewardship from several retired military officers.
  Plans approved last month by Mr Rumsfeld and leaked to the Washington Post revealed
  the increasing use of special forces and an increased role for the military
  in areas that have been the domain of the CIA.

Mr Drumheller, who had a senior role in the run-up to the war, told 60 Minutes
  that the CIA provided the White House with information from Iraq’s then foreign
  minister, Naji Sabri, who had reportedly made a deal with the US.

"[The source] told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction
  programmes," Mr Drumheller said. He said that the then-CIA director, George
  Tenet, passed the information on to George Bush, Dick Cheney, the vice-president,
  and other senior officials, who were initially excited. But that changed, he

"The [White House] group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq
  war came back and said they were no longer interested. And we said ‘Well, what
  about the intel?’ And they said ‘Well, this isn’t about intel anymore. This
  is about regime change.’"

Mr Drumheller said the decision to invade Iraq would be remembered as a grave
  mistake. "It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it’s an
  intelligence failure … This was a policy failure … I think, over time, people
  will look back on this and see this is going to be one of the great, I think,
  policy mistakes of all time," he said.