Craig Murray (Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist): America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally
posted by Keito
2012-08-16 12:38:49'I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.
This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.
The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.
1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter
them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises
of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the
mission or impairment of its dignity.
3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of
transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.
Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.
The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.
The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.
I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.
There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.'
White House Refuses To Obey Judge's Order To Halt Indefinite Detention Law
posted by Keito
Protest and Democracy
posted by Keito
Putting An End To The Biggest Lie On The Internet
posted by Keito
2012-08-14 13:26:58'It’s long been said that “I agree to the terms of service” is the biggest lie on the internet. And even if you do read them, many TOS are so ridden with legalese that you practically need to be a lawyer to understand them. Also, as I wrote in a gloomy post last weekend, users have no choice but either agree to the terms offered by a web app or simply not use the service at all.
But a new project called TOS;DR wants to change that. The site aims to give more power to users by summarizing terms of service, flagging potential issues and rating apps on a scale from A (the best) to E (the worst).
So far the only company with an E, the worst possible rating, is TwitPic, which reserves the rights to sell users’ photos to news agency without giving the photographer a cut.
Project lead Hugo Roy tells me that he considers Wikipedia to be an exemplary service, though it hasn’t been rated by TOS;DR. He says both Wikipedia’s short, clear summary of its TOS and its practice of soliciting feedback from users before a change in terms should be widely adopted as best practices for the web.
The project hatched about a year ago at the annual Chaos Communication Camp event in Berlin as an outgrowth of the Unhosted project, which is a system for building web apps that leave users in control of their data. Roy says the team was inspired in part by Creative Commons, which provides plain English summaries of each license it offers, as an influence on TOS;DR. The sites’ goals are to highlight issues in particular TOS, educate users about the importance the agreements they enter into with web companies and, eventually, to track and influence changes to TOS.
The ratings, which Roy explains are based on German energy efficiency ratings for appliances, still feel rough to me. For example, GitHub gets a C but the seemingly much worse Delicious gets a D. Still, it’s a good start. I like the idea of projects like Unhosted, which I’ve written about elsewhere, but activist users have had more success in pressuring companies like Dropbox and Facebook to change their TOS than getting users to defect to privacy centric systems like Diaspora.
Roy says the site wasn’t actually ready for launch but it started getting media attention in Germany and has now hit Hacker News a couple times, so the team isn’t keeping it a secret anymore. The plan is to officially launch at Campus Party 2012 later this month.'
Apple co-founder Wozniak sees trouble in the cloud
posted by Keito
2012-08-14 13:18:26'Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with the late Steve Jobs, predicted "horrible problems" in the coming years as cloud-based computing takes hold.
Wozniak, 61, was the star turn at the penultimate performance in Washington of "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," monologist Mike Daisey's controversial two-hour expose of Apple's labor conditions in China.
In a post-performance dialogue with Daisey and audience members, Wozniak held forth on topics as varied as public education (he once did a stint as a school teacher) and reality TV (having appeared on "Dancing with the Stars").
But the engineering wizard behind the progenitor of today's personal computer, the Apple II, was most outspoken on the shift away from hard disks towards uploading data into remote servers, known as cloud computing.
"I really worry about everything going to the cloud," he said. "I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years."
He added: "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away" through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.
"I want to feel that I own things," Wozniak said. "A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."
Prior to Saturday at the Woolly Mammoth theater in Washington, Daisey and Wozniak had met once before, in California after a performance of "The Agony and the Ecstasy" in its original version in February 2011.
Wozniak was moved to tears, but a year later Daisey came under fire when it emerged that sections of his one-man show dealing with the Foxconn plant in China where iPhones and iPads are assembled had been fabricated.
Public radio show "This American Life," which had broadcast portions of "The Agony and the Ecstasy," went so far as to issue a retraction. Daisey meanwhile reworked his script, albeit without toning down his powerful delivery.
On the minimalist stage Saturday, seated on plain wooden chairs, Daisey and Wozniak came across as a geek version of Tweedledum and Tweedledee in their baggy black clothes and matching beer bellies.
The bearded, fast-talking Wozniak sported running shoes and a massive wrist watch. In the theater lobby, for Saturday only, one of the very first Apple I computers ever built -- assembled in Jobs' garage -- was on display.
"Everything I designed was purely out of my head, never out of a book," recalled Wozniak, who quit Apple in 1987 after 12 years, taught fifth-graders, hit the lecture circuit and gave away some of his fortune to good causes.
Many in the audience echoed Daisey's concern about Foxconn's work force, but Wozniak said he expected labor conditions in China to evolve as the nation grows richer. He also commended Apple for its oversight of its factories.
"We know we (citizens and consumers) have a voice. We can speak (about labor conditions), but we can't act like, oh, Foxconn is bad or Apple is bad," he said.
Daisey begged to differ: "I hear what you're saying about that fact that everyone goes through an evolution, but it's not as if the evolution was natural in the sense that we are the ones who brought the jobs there."
While Apple designs its products in the United States, all its manufacturing takes place in China -- a sore point in an election year in which unemployment and a long-term exodus of manufacturing jobs overseas have been campaign issues.'