News Digest. Week 5.
This article is a summary of some of the main pirate news that happened during the week that we did not write about.
Towards a True Democracy
After three years of turmoil, Tunisia has the Arab world’s most progressive constitution. Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) has approved a new constitution which marks a milestone in the country’s democratic transition. With 200 votes in favour out of a possible 216, and with only four votes against, the constitution represents both a reassuring consensus among the political elites and an important demonstration that they recognise the crucial importance of making political compromises in managing pluralist systems. Thanks to theconversation.com
What is really happening in Ukraine. A concise and daily updated chronological summary of the events, at slideshare. Thanks to Nazar Bartosik
Snowden Interview on 27th, January. Some excerpts:
02:29 – “The President [Obama] created a review board [to review NSA and other agencies behaviour] from officials that were personal friends, from National Security insiders, former deputy of the CIA… People who have every incentive to be soft on this programme”
02:45 – “[…] what they found [the review board] was that these programmes have no value, they’ve never stopped a terrorists attack in the US […] The only thing that section 215 [of the USA Patriot Act that increases powers of surveillance to various agencies] found […] was detecting an 8500$ wire transfer from a cab driver in California.”
03:26 – “The NSA operates under the President executive authority alone. He can end or modify or direct a change in their policies at any time”
03:41 – “Every time you pick a phone, dial a number, write an email, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe your card somewhere, you leave a trace. And the government has decided that it is a good idea to collect it all, everything! Even if you’ve never been suspect of any crime.”
06:40 – “The Five Eyes Alliance is sort of artefact of the post WWII era where the Anglophone countries [UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand] cooperate and share the costs of intelligence gathering infrastructure.”
09-55 [About XKeyscore computer system] “It is a front end search engine that allows you to look thorough all the records they collect worldwide everyday. […] You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information.”
Turkey’s Re-loaded Internet Censorship Bill Set to be Passed. Debate in the General Assembly on the law known as “Code of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by means of Such Publication ” begins. Freedom of speech is already restricted in Turkey in many ways through bans, arrests of journalists and alleged pressure by politicians. Thanks to revolution-news.com
What’s wrong with Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)? The TPP is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. Thanks to www.eff.org
Tools for democracy
Mysociety. UK initiative to use digital technologies to make people powerful. Three examples: (1) WriteToThem. Making it easy to contact your elected representatives; (2) FixMyStreet. Report, view, or discuss local problems; (3) FixMyTransport. Euston, we have a problem. Thanks to mysociety.org
Parliament Watch German initiative that enables citizens to: (1) question their members of parliament in a public environment; (2) find out about the voting record of their members of parliament; (3) follow up on promises made (all questions and answers are saved forever); (4) learn all about the extra earnings of members of parliament. Thanks to beta.abgeordnetenwatch.de
Civio (in spanish). Spanish initiative that develops tools for transparency. Thanks to www.civio.es
Lo and behold!
Nick Hanauer censored TED Talk (in English and subtitled in Spanish) on the following idea worth spreading: “In a capitalist economy the true job creators are middle class consumers and taxing the rich to make investments that make the middle class grow and thrive is the single shrewdest thing we can do for the middle class, for the poor and for the rich”. Visit this link to check that it continues to be censored.
About Pedro Gutierrez
The certainty that a World War on Democracy was going on and we, the people, were unaware of it was keeping me up at night. The fact, crystal clear now after Snowden's revelations, that the new battlefield is your mobile, your laptop, your data and so, that every citizen (i.e. you) is being considered a target was inconceivable for me. And it became worse when I realized that most people just didn't care about it: "I don't mind a bit of spying? I'm a good citizen I've nothing to hide". So when Pirate Times let me write about it in this blog I was happy to finally take action. But dear reader be warned because it may happen to you what already happened to me. Reporting week after week about the battles for democracy has changed my perception of the magnitude of this conflict. I already thought when I started that the situation was terrible and the conflict was not winding down but, no matter what, at the end of every week when I submit my post I realize again that I had underestimated it all.