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Open publishing is the same as free software


Matthew Arnison <maffew@cat.org.au>
composed March 2001
$Revision: 1.23 $ $Date: 2006/01/21 06:42:39 $
Translations: French, Portuguese

A working definition of open publishing
Open publishing means that the process of creating news is transparent to the readers. They can contribute a story and see it instantly appear in the pool of stories publicly available. Those stories are filtered as little as possible to help the readers find the stories they want. Readers can see editorial decisions being made by others. They can see how to get involved and help make editorial decisions. If they can think of a better way for the software to help shape editorial decisions, they can copy the software because it is free and change it and start their own site. If they want to redistribute the news, they can, preferably on an open publishing site.

The full rave

Open publishing is the same as free software.

They're both (r)evolutionary responses to the privatisation of information by multinational monopolies. For software it's Microsoft. For publishing it's CNN. For both software and publishing it's AOL Time Warner.

Free software is a gift to humanity. If you have a piece of free software, you can give it to someone else for free. You can charge for free software, but once someone else has a copy, they can give away as many copies as they like. So free software often comes at no charge. Let's call it free beer. But this alone is not free software. Free software is also free as in free speech, not just free beer.

It's about software freedom. A software liberation movement. The source code, the genetic blueprint, the internal mechanics are open for others to see (hence free software is also called open source). So others can take it and change it and pass on their changes to other people. The product is freely available, and the process of production is free and transparent.

If someone doesn't like it, they can take it and change it. The one thing they can't change is its freedom. The only strings attached are there to stop people from tying it down. The strings of freedom are called the GNU copyleft, a beautiful subversion of copyright law that guarantees freedom for a piece of code and all its mutations.

The means is the end. The journey is the destination.

You might think this process wouldn't produce anything truly creative, awe-inspiring, staggering, huge, complex, simple, small, pedantic, reliable, random or enjoyable.

If you thought that, you'd be drastically underestimating what humans get up to for fun. Because all of those adjectives apply to free software. Geeks like to joke about what free software needs to do next to achieve world domination.

Microsoft doesn't think this joke is very funny. Microsoft is one of the biggest corporations in the world. Microsoft spends billions of dollars to pay programmers to keep their software closed and internals secret.

Free software is overwhelmingly written by volunteers. Free software runs the internet and Microsoft does not. The number and diversity of people using free software is accelerating.

Microsoft usually responds to such threats by buying them out and assimilating them. But free software cannot be privatised. Free software is not frugal with its genetic code. Free software spreads itself like a benevolent microbe after an evolutionary leap forward.

Microsoft assumes people are stupid and holds focus groups to determine exactly in what way are they stupid. They then pay a small number of people a lot of money to engineer that stupidity into software. Sometimes this works well, because everyone is stupid sometimes. But it doesn't cater well for everyone being smart.

Free software assumes people are smart and creative and can choose for themselves to swim in the shallow or the deep end of the technology pool. Even the geekiest programmer might want to have their feet planted on the bottom sometimes, and the freshest beginner might make the biggest splash diving into the deep end.

Free software programmers still manage to eat despite giving away their code.

Software is information. So are news stories. So are opinion pieces. They can be easily copied and shared. Maybe information wants to be free?

Under the dominant multinational global news system, news is not free, news is not open. It is very expensive. It is highly secretive.

To see the news you need to pay with money or with your time spent watching ads (usually for cars) or both. To create the news you need to pay expensive public relations consultants. To write the news you need to obey corporate news values, making stories on a production line, for maximum advertising impact at minimum cost. To edit the news you need to be a global stock market newswire service or a multinational media company. To distribute the news you need to have one of 6 TV transmission towers in a city of millions.

Media corporations assume the viewers are stupid. In their eyes the total creative potential of the audience is Funniest Home Videos. Creative people do not buy more stuff, they make their own. This is a problem for media multinationals. They do not trust their audience to be creative. It might be bad for profits, bad for executive salaries.

But it's OK. The audience doesn't trust the corporate media either.

This situation has led to rampant confusion and alienation of society. We are disconnected from ourselves and our ecology. Our planet is functioning as a global ecosystem more than ever before due to the global nature of human activity, yet the humans don't have any way of communicating with each other. Systemic problems go unseen and unsolved by billions. Only the issues that are important to sell ads or grease the stock exchange have reliable global news impact.

What we have is a very complex system within which the humans have recently gained enourmous power but as yet they have no correspondingly powerful network of communication infrastructure to support it. We have no neural network to process information. Not so much a global village as a global megaphone.

Then the internet was added to the global communications pool. If you can read the internet, you can also write to it. If someone else has told a story on the internet, you can choose to hear it. Information flows between the net and other communication systems: the phone, the TV, the radio and newspapers, forming a much more balanced web of information transfer. This is a global village where you can climb out of the traffic jam and bump into people on the electronic street and have a chat.

The internet makes possible open publishing on a citywide and global scale. Citizens finally have access to the same cheap and powerful two-way global communication that colonial governments and multinationals have had access to for centuries.

What is open publishing?

Like free software, with open publishing the news is often distributed at no charge. There are no ads to eat up your time and corrupt the content. But that is not the most important thing.

Open publishing means that the process of creating news is transparent to the readers. They can contribute a story and see it instantly appear in the pool of stories publicly available. Those stories are filtered as little as possible to help the readers find the stories they want. Readers can see editorial decisions being made by others. They can see how to get involved and help make editorial decisions. If they can think of a better way for the software to help shape editorial decisions, they can copy the software because it is free and change it and start their own site. If they want to redistribute the news, they can, preferably on an open publishing site.

The working parts of journalism are exposed. Open publishing assumes the reader is smart and creative and might want to be a writer and an editor and a distributor and even a software programmer. Open publishing assumes that the reader can tell a crappy story from a good one. That the reader can find what they're after, and might help other readers looking for the same trail.

We trust the audience and it seems that the audience trusts us in return.

Open publishing is playing at the opposite end of the trust spectrum to the corporate media.

We are not working to convince people that this is a good way to do things. We are providing a space in which people might decide themselves if this is a good way to do things.

The journey is the destination.

Open publishing is not new. It is an electronic reinvention of the ancient art of story telling.

Open publishing is free software. It's freedom of information, freedom for creativity.

Open publishing is overwhelmingly done by volunteers.

Who will do the investigative journalism? How will people give a perspective from overseas? What will provide a sense of overview, connectedness and common identity? Will anyone get paid for their work? What will become of motion pictures? Of musicians? Where will be the sustained efforts by hundreds of people?

I am hoping the above questions about open publishing have already been answered by free software. And partly by indymedia, and thousands of other open publishing websites. Open publishing is merely taking an existing trend and identifying it, amplifying it, and strategically applying it to weak points in the global monopolies on power and information.

The pyramids are awe inspiring. They were also built by slave labour. We've evolved as a species. We can do a lot of amazing things without brutal Egyptian slave handling techniques. We can do without new pyramids.

We are in the middle of a mass extinction of species. We need to figure out how to live in harmony with the ecosystem of this planet before the ecosystem goes into negative feedback and kills lifeforms by the billions. We're not going to get there by sacrificing our lives for the motor car, trading our human rights for shoes, killing our people for drug companies, hiding our creativity for the multinationals.

We can do better. Forget the pyramids. Bypass world domination.

Free software is wiring the globe. Open publishing just might help us use those wires to save the planet.


Examples of open publishing: None of the above meet all the criteria above for open publishing. But they're pretty close. There'd be heaps more out there. Suggestions welcome.

Note that while slashdot.org has many open publishing features, and was an important inspiration for open publishing, I don't think it really is open publishing. Significantly, the stories (as opposed to the comments) are taken from reader contributions, but are processed behind closed doors.

By the way, none of the above four sites would exist without free software. I guess it's one more reason why open publishing is free software.


Obviously I think we can learn a lot from the free software movement. One idea we haven't developed much yet is an open publishing copyleft, similar to the free software copyleft. The copyleft defines how the information can be shared, hijacking the copyright laws to ensure that the free information may only be re-used in a free context. This encourages growth of free spaces, autonomous zones, as the process of sharing information is spread along with the information itself. This may be a key part of what we need to define open publishing to ourselves and potential collaborators. It doesn't have to be legally watertight to be useful. That can be evolved in later, The most useful thing would be to start playing with the definition. This is partly what we are doing with our work on defining the indymedia network. But I think we will also need to define how we share chunks of information smaller than that involved in total membership of the network. And the basic chunk of information is a story and the copyleft license that applies to it.

The most interesting idea to me so far in this area applied to news stories is the idea that a story can be reused anywhere, but only if all readers/viewers exposed to it, can easily identify and reach the source of the news story. For example by a subtitle on the picture with the web address of the indymedia site the story came from. This means the viewer can not only verify the original version of the story, but also add their own creative juices to the flow. This would help ensure that whereever the story goes, there is a solid link back to the working parts, the raw process that made it possible and allows new people to contribute and mutate and evolve.

This does involve giving up the right to demand payment for every copy made. Free software sacrifices the same thing and it turns out there that it really works. We need to try it for news stories and documentaries, and see if it works equally well.

One key point is that yu can still charge for copies of copyleft information. You just can't stop someone else from giving away the copy they bought, including access to the source materials. And the source materials have to be available for no more than the raw cost of distribution.

And it turns out that people still do buy free software. An awful lot of it in fact.

And that in addition, the reputation of free software spreads very quickly if it is good. Which benefits the software project by providing more feedback, more volunteers to help improve it, and in some cases more money.

The analogy for a video documentary would be placing it under copyleft so that anyone could copy it as long as the copy prominently said it was copyleft and any viewer could find a link back to the source (e.g. the indymedia web address for the city it came from). But the video maker could still charge for copies to be made. They could charge especially high rates for multinational TV networks that want copies urgently for example. The TV network would have to pay if they wanted the footage quickly without chasing down someone else who had it and was willing to copy it fast. And regardless of how badly they edited the piece, because of the copyleft license, they would legally have to give over some of the attention of their viewers to a web address for the source. That viewer attention is an extremely valuable resource for the network, because it is extremely powerful. It can also be powerful for us. If they fail to give the web address, they can be sued for the value of that viewer attention. That's quite a liability.

There are ways to play the system. I'm not sure if this would work, but it might be fun and I think it's worth a try!

Update April 2003: I just discovered these great creative commons licenses, which I think could be perfect for the job.


Ideals and reality: many of the things I say above are ideals. They do not match reality exactly. But they are useful as a way of thinking about different approaches.

For example free software and open publishing are not actually free of charge, but the charge is reduced to the bare cost of distribution. This is hundreds of times less than the previous cost of purchase, which tended to include the cost of luxury cars, houses and jets for multinational executives. There is a real difference.

Another important point with free software is that programming is a skill in very high demand, which gives programmers an unusual amount of power as a group of people at this point in history. Historically I think this has lead to great social change. A flaw in this rant might be that programmers may become far less in demand and that story tellers and journalists are already in oversupply in economic thinking.

However, once we turn down various patterns of overconsumption, we can create a virtuous circle that gives us more leisure time, greater quality of life for both us and people living in other countries poorer (financially) than ours (I live in a rich country, this is written for a rich country audience). For example, getting rid of a car creates a huge amount of leisure time because you no longer need to spend all that time earning enough money to sit in traffic jams. Again, this is simplistic, there are urban planning issues to consider, but I believe a lot of it is cultural and information exchange is part of changing our culture to be more responsive to our own needs as well as the planet's.

In other words, with any luck and lots of hard work and fun, things might just start falling into place in time to grow and evolve as a species and a global ecosystem.


It seems many parts of society are being privatised. Health, water, communications, community media. Being owned by the government or a non-profit is no guarantee. Sometimes there are some benefits from privatisation. But I'm not convinced it's the only way to get such benefits, and there are heavy costs. Particularly in poorer countries, where prices for basics (such as water in Bolivia) can become suddenly way out of reach.

Free software can't be privatised.

Especially copyleft free software.

Corporations can use it, improve it, but they can't get an exclusive hold of it, they can't deny others from using it and changing it.

Can open publishing be privatised? I think the right definition will be strong protection against privatisation. But the large effects of the subtle difference in licensing between copyleft and BSD shows how important the definition can be. Let's play with a few and see which ones work best.


All the fuss about sharing music and dotbombs in the mainstream media is hiding an important trend: the most successful internet sites rely on the creativity of their users, not on professional producers as was the tradition with earlier electronic media.

  • geocities.com is a universe of web pages which anyone can add to, and last i heard it's a top-ten website (imagine a TV channel where viewers could contribute whatever they liked, and it having shows in the top-ten: it sounds unlikely, and this is an example of why the net is so different to TV)
  • amazon.com relies heavily on readers for book reviews (and they've bought imdb.com, which is a massive compilation of user data on movies)
  • egroups.com is about people getting together in groups and yakking about whatever they're passionate about
  • ebay.com is about people selling stuff to each other: a bazaar, not a mall full of franchises

These are all sites with very big audiences, and they all facilitate creativity, rather than have their staff create it directly. Of course, when anyone can contribute, you have a problem where users need to figure out what things they can trust. Most of these sites are successful because they've figured out some neat ways of helping that to happen, often using some sort of user-ratings system (user-editorial). So these sites all have some of the spirit of open publishing.

On the old one-way systems, community media was the exception. On the net, community media is very much a part of the mainstream.

Yes, there have been stories showing that AOL users spend most of their time just using AOL services, implying that people are happy to stay in AOL corporate land. However, those stories did not reveal what those users were doing. I reckon they'd be doing email, instant messaging, and just a little browsing. Since they use AOL tools to do email and messaging that counts as AOL time, so in fact a better indication of the diversity of their surfing would be found by looking just at the time spent browsing. The rest of the time they're spending communicating with other users. Every time in the past that a closed network has been tried, it's failed when faced with the internet (the biggest example was compuserve). So AOL may be closer than anyone else to creating a shopping mall version of the net, but they're still a lot further away than they'd like you to believe.

People want to communicate, they want to be creative. TV is a technology that can't handle such things very well, yet we've managed to convince ourselves after decades of TV that we need professionals to do our story telling.

Imagine if you tried to sell phones but they could only dial Pizza Hut or send messages written by Hallmark? Nobody would buy them (it's been tried: a very early marketing idea for the telephone had people using it to listen to opera). People are social animals, we want to use our communication tools to talk to other people. The only reason this didn't happen with TV, is because TV technology is one-way only.

So just because TV didn't live up to idealistic expectations, doesn't mean that the net has to follow the same path. The net is a fully two-way technology, and that makes a very big difference. The reason you mightn't hear about this trend is because a lot of the internet commentary we see is still coming from the old one-way media.

For more on this point, see my rant Is the internet elitist?.


open editing

Jan 2002

Indymedia is struggling to cross a threshold in the size of its audience and in the sheer number of indymedia collectives. Many indymedia groups are also grappling with what to do when they are not covering a major event.

As the size of the audience goes up, so does the number of people posting stories, and therefore the number of stories that are more annoying than useful to most readers. A classic example is the rising tide of american postings on sydney indymedia. The posters don't seem to realise that we are quite capable of clicking on an american indymedia site if we wish to hear american news.

Open publishing I think has been very important in helping us to find new ways of organising media, often taking advantage of what the internet makes possible. A crucial part of Seattle Indymedia's success in Nov 99 was the automated online open-publishing newswire. I think what indymedia needs to get to the next level is automated open-editing.

Just as open publishing allows any readers to also write stories, open editing allows any reader to help sub-edit other people's stories. They might help sort stories by whatever criteria they think are important, or rewrite story summaries, translate to different languages, or compile groups of stories into a feature. Changes would be tracked so that original authors do not get trampled on. Much of this is already happening, but automation would turbo-charge it.

Done well, it will clear a lot of bottlenecks and allow a lot of exta creativity to plug into the network. It will make the sites more approachable for new readers, and more useful for activist media hacks. I think it could have a similar impact to open publishing. All we need is some geeks to implement it.

It's a bit like web search engines. Altavista was much better than all the rest back in the late 90's, but then the web got too big, Altavista's approach became ineffective, and google stepped in with an enhanced method for making sense of the net without imposing entralised order or missing things out. Interestingly, google introduced the idea of weighting search results by the number of pages that link to each other. Which is a bit like the user highlights stuff that some of us have been talking about for indymedia.

Google deals usefully with the explosion of information and diversity on the web in a way that heirachical and even simple raw search methods do not. Expect a similar leap in the impact of indymedia if and when open editing starts to kick in.

For more on open editing see:


I think my rants could do with some open-editing.


What's in the open publishing and open editing toolbox?

June 2002

Hopefully at the bottom of a news story in the near future you'll see tools like these:

  • Open publishing tools:
    • contribute a story
    • add a comment
  • Open editing tools:
    • highlight this story (add this story to your highlights page, which in turn allows you to email newsblasts of your highlights, and to collect stories into a feature for consideration for the front page)
    • choose a topic area for this story (is this story about poverty? human rights? forests? then help us make sense of the flow and pick some keywords. also, what lifespan does this story have? short-term, long term? is it a local story or an international one? does it include local perspective?)
    • check the facts (add sources for facts cited in this story)
    • major revision (make it clearer, tighten the writing, add new points; revisions appear in the sidebar; the contributor or their delegate must approve before it becomes the version displayed by default)
    • cosmetic revision (spelling, grammar, formatting; as above author or delegate approval involved)
    • translate (into another language, into another culture e.g. from english to spanish, or from academic jargon to straight journo style)
    • verify this story (I'm not sure what this really means, maybe if a story has collected enough highlights to be considered for the front page, or keywords have been proposed, or a revision or translation has been proposed and an author has delegated the audience to subedit; then random people will be asked to verify if a proposed action is a good idea; a formula based on audience size and creativity determines the threshhold for action)
    • list other stories needing verification (if the user has been given random votes I guess)
    • flag this story as wildly inappropriate (strict conditions: a verbatim duplicate, summary does not match story, story contains a software virus, spam, or shocking images with no political context - the flagger must provide a short (and optionally additional longer) comment as to why; low karma users can only flag limited numbers of stories, e.g. one per week)
    • ignore this story, show me another one (if the story is boring, then just move on to the next thing, no need to take explicit action)


  • Story status: is it a fresh contribution? is it in the bin? number of comments, highlighted N times, is it proposed for the front page? Link to full log of editorial actions for this story.
  • Highlighters: link to people's highlights pages which have picked this sstory
  • Keywords: list keywords and list recent stories with the same keywords
  • Revisions: list proposed revisions and older versions
  • Translations
  • Fact checking: list sources for information and statistics in this article
  • Comments: show a selection of comments attached to this story; show total number of comments; give tools for diving into discussion (e.g. top rated comments? recent comments?)

Now the tricky part is how to balance the creativity of the audience with the very small percentage of people who want to disrupt a creative space.

There may be different stages to go through. This is because of the ratios of audience participation (see below) change as the audience size increases. A smaller audience might have a more cosy feel, and therefore a higher percentage of creative contributors. A larger audience will tend to cross a threshhold where disruptive people are numerous enough to have a major effect.

There is also the difference between live coverage of a major event, as against ongoing coverage of a place or an issue.

So the default needs to be that people can contribute material that other audience members get to see straight away.

Then take away a small number of posts that are dangerous to the site as a whole. For example spam or viruses or items that attract lawsuits. Individual collectives will have to figure out where to draw the line.

For the rest, it's a matter of priority. For a busy site, a new article would need to go through various checks to get onto the front page. A key tension pops up during live coverage of an event, between the need to check stories and the desire to see news come through quickly. But presumably if there is a big audience for a live event (indymedia's audience usually explodes during such times) and therefore more people to help with open editing, and thus ways for important news to get to the front page more quickly. News junkines will drill down to the latest news, and we need exactly those people to help highlight stuff for wider viewing.

The main thing is that the checks on a story's priority can't involve too many built-in delays (e.g. waiting seven days for votes to come in from a fixed collective) if you want a flexible system. Ideally any ratios used are tied to some sort of rough average of the current audience and the number of stories and contributors.

Another thing to consider is that some stories have a short lifetime, maybe hours or days, and others - considered opinion pieces, deailed issue coverage - might be relevant for much longer.

But what checks do we need? Can we build some sort of rough framework that can stretch to fit these various scenarios?

Let's start by trusting most readers to be able to judge when a story is important and interesting enough to recommend other people look at it. That's when they might choose to highlight it on their personal highlights page. The cool thing about this is there's no need to verify that action, because that page is owned by that user, and any people they choose to share write access with.

Some readers might only highlight stories that many people think are useless. Well, that's still useful in a way, and it doesn't really harm anything at that point.

The next stage is how to use those highlighting choices (or other editorial choices like revisions and translations) to change the priority of a story.

This is where you need to try and weed out abuse of the system. Any such weeding of course needs to be documented in an open way (use free software, show logs of changes to an article's status, list the editorial actions a user has taken, require comments for such actions, and finally allow anyone to rummage through the bin).

A helpful characteristic of abuse is that (almost by definition) it seems to be remain a very small percentage of the audience. So a major tactic is to try and encourage as large a section of the audience as possible to get involved in open publishing and open editing, and for the collective running a site to set a good example using those tools. A healthy plant is less likely to be attacked by parasites.

Another tactic it to require independent and random confirmation. You should not be able to bump up the pirority of a story if you contributed it. You should not be able to (easily) organise a small group of people to bump up each other's stories. Tactics for doing this include handing out votes to random users, and limiting the number of votes (based on some formula tied to the audience and contributor numbers for that day or week).

Another tactic is the idea of karma. People who contribute to the site can build up a reputation within the software, so that they are trusted a bit more, or a bit less. You don't want to go too far with this or it encourages a clique and starts to leach diversity.


formulas for open publishing audience sizes and participation

1%, say, of your audience at an open publishing site will contribute stories

0.2% will help with open editing, including weeding out spam

0.1% will contribute stories with closed publishing

0.1% will contribute spam with open publishing

0.01% will help with closed editing

the figures are guessed, but they give an idea of the ratios, and are roughly based on my experience, e.g. with large mailing lists, and the statistics for www.indymedia.org in early 2002.

open publishing/editing also implies for me that it's encouraged and easy to use and well designed.

so if you only have 10 people in your audience, open editing isn't useful, and on average only 1 person is contributing stories.

if you have 1000 people in your audience (which actualyl translates to a lot of hits) then you have 100 people contributing stories, which is starting to get interesting.

if, say, it turns out you need 100 people doing open editing for it to be useful (no good if only one person is making ratings) then u need an audience of 10,000.

if anything, these percentages are actually a bit high. they probably decay a bit as the audience gets bigger. closed systems will tend to hit a hard limit, beyond which communication amongst the team becomes very tough, or increasingly heirachical, especially if the team is working long distance. lots of other factors of course too. and of course "open" and "closed" are pretty vague, in fact there's a full range between them, so a more open system will tend to push the numbers up, and a more closed one will push them down.


April 2002

The New York Times says communication is making the world less tolerant. But while they mention the internet at the beginning of the story, most of the piece is actually about global television. If anything, this makes the case for open publishing stronger. It's not just whether communications are global, but how they are global.

One of the slashdot comments on the story points out another problem: that viewers are most attracted to conflict.

Conflict is a basic element of good drama. If everyone in a story just gets along, it's a boring story. This is an issue that indymedia must deal with. So far the most popular indymedia coverage is of big conflicts with authorities during large protests. If we want to get away from that, we need to find a way to present the interesting conflict in a story that still presents positive possibilities rather than being all negative. Conflict and creativity. Co-operation and competition. We need to find a good balance between these extremes.


September 2002

Content is not king. I've been saying this for years, but nowhere near as elloquently as Andrew Odlyzko does.

What does this mean for open publishing? Why bother making the process of creating content open if the end product doesn't matter that much?

Because what does matter is communication, social interaction. And open publishing means the process of creating content is opened up for people to engage in. Automated software and the web make this accessible and possible for much greater numbers of people than ever before, despite the best, noble and admirable efforts of community media.

And that process of writing news, publishing it, commenting on it, editing it, that engagement of people in the fundamental task of telling a good story, of sifting through which stories are important, and having a good old chinwag when the storyteller finishes. That process, may turn out to be more important than the story itself. That process is what may open up new opinions, new opportunities, new action for social justice. That the process is open, that more people get in and help do it. That is what would strengthen the fabric of our society, to enable us to repair the wrongs and improve all our lives.

One thing I've been saying for a while is that the net is a communications crutch. Our cities have cut us apart and made it hard for people to come together and communicate. Shared space is all given over to cars and commerce. People don't feel safe meeting other people in public.

So the net is like a crutch, we are leaning on it heavily as we communicate and find each other, helping us to meet people with common ground, and figure out who we humans really are. But there's nothing like meeting in the flesh. So one day with any luck the crutch will fade away to a minor role, when we fix our cities and our lives, and find society in the street and buildings and open spaces of our lives.


indymedia, internet and the global middle class
December 2002
indymedia's third birthday

most of the people I have met through indymedia are white, middle class, from an english speaking background. people like myself.

most, but not all.

a lot of indymedia depends on the internet, and i think the internet is a middle class tool. that still makes a potential audience of hundreds of millions of people around the planet.

and i think many of those people are ignored in the mainstream media, dominated as it is by just 6 corporations. many of those middle class people are ignored in elections, where the president of the USA is voted in by just 1% of the planet's population.

i think when you criticise indymedia and the net, it's important to remember what we had before.

which is better? the corporate media, or indymedia? television or the net?

there are obvious limits to what can be done with a mostly middle class audience. by sheer numbers alone, it cannot be the sole basis for planetwide democracy.

the USA, for all its faults, did a lot of good things by empowering its middle class, rather than leaving all the power with the royal family.

throughout US history, people have been saying that more should have been done to respect all the people's rights. there is a very tragic history of what happened instead, what is still happening. but atleast, atleast they did as much as they did. after all, some people's battles were won. to say otherwise is to write off all the achievements, diversity, and people of the USA. i think we can acknowledge what's good, without ignoring the bad.

nowadays, with power gone global, i feel creating more power among a billion people has got to be better than leaving it in a handful of mega corps.

in fact i think one reason the US government has gotten so crazy over the last hundred years is because power went global, but democracy did not. which means even within the USA, and within other "western democracies", national democracy is meaningless and feels obsolete.

how can we do even better?

i think part of it is teaching people who have resources about the people who have not. and another part is sharing those resources.

many indymedia collectives are consciously working on this. they setup media centres and train people how to use them. they print out stories and distribute free papers. they collaborate with radio stations. there are links to resistance groups in poor countries, collaborations between north and south.

these sorts of things must be done before indymedia can really call itself a people's media. this truly democratic media would be a crucial part of achieving real democracy and human rights for all 6 billion people on the planet.

meanwhile, you can write off the global middle class if you like.

i am more optimistic.


the more i think about what the US and other middle class democracies have done to the poor people of their countries and of the world, the more i worry about global media democracy.

even middle class democracy these days can be a bit of a sham, but that doesn't make it any better to leave out the poor of the planet.

i still think indymedia has got to be a step in the right direction, but it still leaves so far to go.

but being conscious of this dilemma and caring about it is an important step to finding solutions and fixing it. let's atleast not pretend that indymedia is for "everyone" just yet. but make sure we acknowledge what we have done, and keep working to expand the circle of diversities of all kinds.


June 2003

Lots happening in blogspace.

Emergent democracy talks about how to bootstrap our global decision making to a level that can cope with global complexity. And has some details and speculations on how a blog-like communication structure may help to do that.

Key author of that piece, Joi Ito, later blogged that journalism has to change as well as it is part of democracy. That's why I'm linking it in here.


Many ideas in here are shamelessly ripped off from other places. I really should credit those places and people. Or, if you like an idea in here, please assume I ripped it off, and do a web search and find it (actually you might have to wait a few years for search engines that can actually find ideas as opposed to phrases).

The above article describes the first of three crazy ideas for webcasting. For more of my rants, see my home page

You can copy and distribute this article, as long as you include the web address of the original (http://www.cat.org.au/maffew/cat/openpub.html) in a way that the whole audience can see. Please let me know if you do reproduce it somewhere, especially if you make changes to it.

$Id: openpub.html,v 1.23 2006/01/21 06:42:39 maffew Exp $

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 16 November 2012
Robots for Foxconn report from 11.16.12
Mood:  down
Now Playing: Workers need not apply, Foxconn shits on the workers

Foxconn reportedly installing

Robots to replace workers

Following a rash of suicides and criticism of factory working conditions, the Taiwanese hardware maker announced the move last year, saying it was designed to improve efficiency and combat rising labor costs.




Chinese tech site TechWeb says the robots cost up to $25,000 a piece to manufacture.

Foxconn, the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturing giant frequently criticized for poor working conditions, has reportedly begun replacing its factory workers with robots.

After a rash of worker suicides at Foxconn factories in China, the manufacturer of hardware for Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Sony announced its intention last year to replace some of its workers with robots. Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, told employees at a dance in July 2011 that the move was designed to improve efficiency and combat rising labor costs.

The first batch of 10,000 robots -- nicknamed "Foxbots" -- have arrived in at least one Foxconn factory, with another 20,000 due by the end of the year, according to a Singularity Hub post. The robots cost between $20,000 and $25,000 apiece to produce -- about three times the average annual salary of Foxconn's factory workers, according to a report on the Chinese Web site TechWeb.

CNET has contacted Foxconn for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Foxconn, which has 1.2 million employees in China, has come under scrutiny in the past few years amid reports of employees committing suicide at company facilities. The company has also been accused of employing underage laborers, providing poor living conditions at its dormitory housing, and overworking employees.

Prior to the announcement of the the robot initiative last year, at least 16 workers reportedly committed suicide since the beginning of 2010 at Foxconn's factory in Shenzhen, China, a plant that employs hundreds of thousands of workers. Another three have attempted to suicide at the job site.

Most of the suicides have involved jumping from buildings. In response to the situation, the company promised to install "suicide nets" to discourage employees from jumping, as well as raise salaries by 25 percent.

Foxconn facilities have also been rocked by violent clashes involving factory workers. An hours-long riot involving thousands of employees forced one Foxconn factory in China to temporarily close in August. While Foxconn confirmed that incident and promised to address its causes, the company has denied reports that 3,000 to 4,000 workers staged a strike at another Foxconn factory in October.

 Article was found here:




Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:13 AM PST
Updated: Friday, 16 November 2012 11:15 AM PST
Friday, 9 November 2012
Foxconn plans on establishing manufacturing plants in the USA
Now Playing: DONT TRUST THESE GUYS ..... Just sayin it now in advance
Foxconn reportedly plans to set up plants in US
Ninelu Tu, Taipei; Joseph Tsai, DIGITIMES [Thursday 8 November 2012]
Foxconn reportedly plans to set up plants in US


Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) reportedly plans to establish manufacturing plants in the US and is currently conducting evaluations in cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles, according to market watchers. Since the manufacturing of Apple's products is rather complicated, the market watchers expect the rumored plants to focus on LCD TV production, which can be highly automated and easier.

Meanwhile, Foxconn chairman Terry Guo, at a recent public event, noted that the company is planning a training program for US-based engineers, bringing them to Taiwan or China to take part in the processes of product design and manufacturing.

The program will give the engineers an environment to learn the Chinese language, first-hand expereince in the manufacturing process, and a training that can be helpful after they return to the US, he added.

Foxconn is already in discussion with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) over such a program, Gou disclosed.

Terry Guo, Foxconn chairman

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou
Photo: Michael Lee, Digitimes, November 2012

This article was found here: http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20121108PD204.html?mod=0 


  • Foxconn conducts investigation into under-age intern problem (Oct 17)
  • Apple iPhone 5 puts labor shortage pressure on Foxconn (Sep 25)
  • Foxconn reportedly to invest in Indonesia (Jul 3)
  • Foxconn enjoys recruitment crowds (Feb 2)
  • Foxconn suspends investment in southern China (Nov 4)

  • Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:04 AM PST
    Updated: Friday, 9 November 2012 11:07 AM PST
    Sunday, 4 November 2012
    Foxconn profits - Profits have risen $1.9 billion posted on 11.5.12
    Mood:  chillin'
    Now Playing: billions in PROFITS - Foxconn spews a rise in profits

    Foxconn Surprises with Increased Profits


    No doubt, this week is turning out to be an incredibly active week in terms of supply chain related news and developments.  There are implications to the monster storm that impacted the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., a major merger announcement involving two best-of-breed supply chain technology providers, and a slew of quarterly earnings announcements that provide supply chain-related consequences.  In commentary through the remainder of this week, Supply Chain Matters will touch upon these developments.

    A significant earnings announcement involves the world’s largest contract manufacturer, Foxconn. In its first nine months, net profits have risen 24 percent to $1.9 billion, based on a 20 percent revenue increase. Gross margin were reported as an increase to 4.6 percent, vs. a 3.7 percent level a year earlier.

    Dwell on that gross margin number for a moment.  How many firms can successfully manage that level of margin when physical manufacturing services are concerned?

    The answer is obviously making every cost expenditure count and having massive scale and volume to leverage physical assets. Having the globe’s most popular consumer electronics provider, namely Apple, fuel that scale, obviously makes the formula work.  Having other large volume customers and global-scale is also essential to grow profitability over the longer term.

    In its reporting of Foxconn earnings, the Financial Times discloses (paid subscription or free metered view) the impact that Apple actually has.  While Foxconn does not dare disclose anything related to Apple for obvious reasons, FT quotes equity analysts as indicating that Apple represents 40 to 50 percent of Foxconn’s current revenues.  We believe that that number is probably highly conservative.

    In our Supply Chain Matters previous commentary related to Apple’s latest quarterly earnings we noted the total volume of quarterly unit output as well as the signs of constrained supply. Yet in spite of ongoing Apple supply constraints and a number of troubling workforce-related incidents, Foxconn marches on and defies classic business case thinking. The FT article is quick to also point out that with the two most recent Apple product introductions, the new iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, and the holiday buying season yet to unfold, the prospects for continued volume growth look good for Foxconn.

    Longer-term, however, Foxconn must focus on its broader strategic plan. Worker demands for higher pay and better working conditions obviously lead toward the need for increased automation of repetitive and monotonous production tasks, which imply increased capital costs.  The trick is influencing primary customers like Apple to share the bulk of that burden.  Then again, Apple needs to put some of its hoards of foreign-based cash to good use.

    Apple has also begun to exercise its own supply chain risk mitigation strategy by dual sourcing of the assembly production of the iPad Mini among two contract manufacturers, the other being Pegatron. Foxconn must therefore seek to offset continued needs for added margin with increased scale, further supply chain vertical integration while recruiting additional customers.

    In the end, however, we believe that the contract manufacturing business model will have to significantly change, since sustaining single-digit margins, while bearing the brunt of labor, capital and social responsibility burdens is not sustainable over the long-term.

    Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PDT
    Friday, 2 November 2012
    Imran Khan gets hassled by US Homeland
    Mood:  don't ask
    Now Playing: US Detention Of Imran Khan Part Of Trend To Harass Anti-Drone Advocates
    Topic: DRONES

    US Detention Of Imran Khan Part Of Trend To Harass Anti-Drone Advocates

    Change Text Size a- | A+

    Imran Khan is, according to numerous polls, the most popular politician in Pakistan and may very well be that country's next Prime Minister. He is also a vehement critic of US drone attacks on his country, vowing to order them shot down if he is Prime Minister and leading an anti-drone protest march last month.


    On Saturday, Khan boarded a flight from Canada to New York in order to appear at a fundraising lunch and other events. But before the flight could take off, US immigration officials removed him from the plane and detained him for two hours, causing him to miss the flight. On Twitter, Khan reported that he was "interrogated on [his] views on drones" and then added: "My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop." He then defiantly noted: "Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance."


    The State Department acknowledged Khan's detention and said: "The issue was resolved. Mr Khan is welcome in the United States." Customs and immigration officials refused to comment except to note that "our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people, and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband," and added that the burden is on the visitor "to demonstrate that they are admissible" and "the applicant must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility."

    There are several obvious points raised by this episode. Strictly on pragmatic grounds, it seems quite ill-advised to subject the most popular leader in Pakistan - the potential next Prime Minister - to trivial, vindictive humiliations of this sort. It is also a breach of the most basic diplomatic protocol: just imagine the outrage if a US politician were removed from a plane by Pakistani officials in order to be questioned about their publicly expressed political views. And harassing prominent critics of US policy is hardly likely to dilute anti-US animosity; the exact opposite is far more likely to occur.

    But the most important point here is that Khan's detention is part of a clear trend by the Obama administration to harass and intimidate critics of its drone attacks. As Marcy Wheeler notes, "this is at least the third time this year that the US has delayed or denied entry to the US for Pakistani drone critics."


    Last May, I wrote about the amazing case of Muhammad Danish Qasim, a Pakistani student who produced a short film entitled "The Other Side", which "revolves around the idea of assessing social, psychological and economical effects of drones on the people in tribal areas of Pakistan." As he put it, "the film takes the audience very close to the damage caused by drone attacks" by humanizing the tragedy of civilian deaths and also documenting how those deaths are exploited by actual terrorists for recruitment purposes.


    Qasim and his co-producers were chosen as the winner of the Audience Award for Best International Film at the 2012 National Film Festival For Talented Youth, held annually in Seattle, Washington. He intended to travel to the US to accept his award and discuss his film, but was twice denied a visa to enter the US, and thus was barred from making any appearances in the US.

    The month prior, Shahzad Akbar - a Pakistani lawyer who represents drone victims in lawsuits against the US and the co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization, Foundation for Fundamental Rights - was scheduled to speak at a conference on drones in Washington. He, too, was denied a visa, and the Obama administration relented only once an international outcry erupted.


    There are two clear dynamics driving this. First, the US is eager to impose a price for effectively challenging its policies and to prevent the public - the domestic public, that is - from hearing critics with first-hand knowledge of the impact of those policies. As Wheeler asks, "Why is the government so afraid of Pakistanis explaining to Americans what the drone attacks look like from a Pakistani perspective?"

    This form of intimidation is not confined to drone critics. Last April, I reported on the serial harassment of Laura Poitras, the Oscar-nominated documentarian who produced two films - one from Iraq and the other from Yemen - that showed the views and perspectives of America's adversaries in those countries. For four years, she was detained every single time she reentered the US, often having her reporters' notebook and laptop copied and even seized. Although this all stopped once that article was published - demonstrating that there was never any legitimate purpose to it - that intimidation campaign against her imposed real limits on her work.


    That is what this serial harassment of drone critics is intended to achieve. That is why a refusal to grant visas to prominent critics of US foreign policy was also a favorite tactic of the Bush administration.


    Second, and probably even more insidious, this reflects the Obama administration's view that critics of its drone policies are either terrorists or, at best, sympathetic to terrorists. Recall how the New York Times earlier this year - in an article describing a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documenting the targeting of Pakistani rescuers and funerals with US drones - granted anonymity to a "senior American counterterrorism official" to smear the Bureau's journalists and its sources as wanting to "help al-Qaida succeed".


    For years, Bush officials and their supporters equated opposition to their foreign policies with support for the terrorists and a general hatred of and desire to harm the US. During the Obama presidency, many Democratic partisans have adopted the same lowly tactic with vigor.


    That mindset is a major factor in this series of harassment of drone critics: namely, those who oppose the Obama administration's use of drones are helping the terrorists and may even be terrorist sympathizers. It is that logic which would lead US officials to view Khan as some sort of national security threat by virtue of his political beliefs and perceive a need to drag him off a plane in order to detain and interrogate him about those views before allowing him entrance to the US.

    What makes this most ironic is that the US loves to sermonize to the world about the need for open ideas and political debate. In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lectured the planet on how "those societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in our internet world they will be left behind."


    That she is part of the same government that seeks to punish and exclude filmmakers, students, lawyers, activists and politicians for the crime of opposing US policy is noticed and remarked upon everywhere in the world other than in the US. That demonstrates the success of these efforts: they are designed, above all else, to ensure that the American citizenry does not become exposed to effective critics of what the US is doing in the world.

    Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:15 AM PDT
    Tuesday, 30 October 2012
    President Elect: Where Jill Stein stands on the issues in 2012
    Mood:  suave
    Now Playing: Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala GREEN PARTY 2012 - VOTE
    Topic: POLITICS

    Where we stand on the issues





    Thank you for your interest  in learning more about what Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala will do on taking office.

    We urge you to read about Jill and Cheri's Green New Deal, the centerpiece of their campaign. The Green New Deal is an emergency four part program of specific solutions for moving America quickly out of crisis into the secure green future. You can read all about the Green New Deal by clicking here.


    • Enact the Full Employment Program which will directly provide 25 million green jobs in sustainable energy, mass transit, sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing, as well as social work, teaching, and and other service jobs.
    • Provide grants and low-interest loans to green businesses and cooperatives, with an emphasis on small, locally-based companies that keep the wealth created by local labor circulating in the community, rather than being drained off to enrich absentee investors.
    • Renegotiate NAFTA and other "free trade'' agreements that export American jobs, depress wages, and undermine the sovereign right of Americans and citizens of other countries to control their own economy.


    • Provide full protection for workplace rights, including the right to a safe workplace and the right to organize a union without fear of firing or reprisal by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.
    • Support the formation of worker-owned cooperatives to provide alternatives to exploitative business models.
    • Make the minimum wage a living wage.    
    • Oppose two-tier wage systems.  
    • Ensure equal pay for equal work, ending discrimination based on race, gender, or generation. 


    • Reduce the budget deficit by restoring full employment, cutting the bloated military budget, and cutting private health insurance waste. 
    • Eliminate needless tax giveaways that increase the deficit.
    • Require full disclosure of corporate subsidies in the budget and stop hiding subsidies in complicated tax code.  
    • Rewrite the entire tax code to be truly progressive with tax cuts for working families, the poor and middle class, and higher taxes for the richest Americans. 
    • Reject cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
    • Stop draining the non-profit sectors of our economy in order to give tax cuts to the for-profit sectors.
    • Relieve the debt overhang holding back the economy by reducing homeowner and student debt burdens.
    • Ensure the right to accessible and affordable utilities – heat, electricity, phone, internet, and public transportation – through democratically run, publicly owned utilities that operate at cost, not for profit.
    • Maintain and upgrade our nation's essential public infrastructure, including highways, railways, electrical grids, water systems, schools, libraries, and the Internet, resisting privatization or policy manipulation by for-profit interests.
    • Establish a 90% tax on bonuses for bailed out bankers.


    • Break up the oversized banks that are “too big to fail,” starting with Bank of America.
    • Create a Corporation for Economic Democracy, a new federal corporation (like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) to provide publicity, training, education, and direct financing for cooperative development and for democratic reforms to make government agencies, private associations, and business enterprises more participatory.
    • End bailouts for the financial elite and use the FDIC resolution process for failed banks to reopen them as public banks where possible after failed loans and underlying assets are auctioned off. 
    • Bring monetary policy under democratic control by prohibiting private banks from creating money, thus restoring government's Constitutional authority.   
    • Let pension funds be managed by boards controlled by workers, not corporate managers.  
    • Regulate all financial derivatives and require them to be traded on open exchanges.
    • Require banks to use honest bookkeeping so that toxic assets cannot be hidden or sold to unsuspecting persons.        
    • Restore the Glass-Steagall separation of depository commercial banks from speculative investment banks.         
    • Democratize monetary policy to bring about public control of the money supply and credit creation. This means nationalizing the private bank-dominated Federal Reserve Banks and placing them under a Federal Monetary Authority within the Treasury Department.
    • Establish federal, state, and municipal publicly-owned banks that function as non-profit utilities and focus on helping people, not enriching themselves.


    • Provide tuition-free education from kindergarten through college, thus eliminating the student debt crisis.         
    • Forgive existing student debt.         
    • Protect our public school systems from privatization         
    • End high-stakes testing and stop punishing students and teachers for failures of the system in which they work. 
    • Stop denying students diplomas based on tests.  
    • Stop using merit pay to punish teachers.                                                           


    • Provide complete, affordable, quality health care for every American through an improved Medicare-for-all insurance program.        
    • Allow full access to all medically justified contraceptive and reproductive care. 
    • Expand women's access to the "morning after" contraception by lifting the Obama Administration's ban.         
    • Roll back the community drivers of chronic disease, including poor nutrition, health-damaging pollution, and passive dirty transportation.     
    • Avoid chronic diseases by investing in essential community health infrastructure such as local, fresh, organic food systems, pollution-free renewable energy, phasing out toxic chemicals, and active transportation such as bike paths and safe sidewalks that dovetail with public transit.
    • End overcharging for prescription drugs by using bulk purchasing negotiations.
    • Ensure that consumers have essential information for making informed food choices by expanding product labeling requirements for country of origin, GMO content, toxic chemical ingredients, fair trade practices, etc.           


    • Impose an immediate moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.  
    • Offer capital grants to non-profit developers of affordable housing until all people can obtain decent housing at no more than 25% of their income.
    • Create a federal bank with local branches to take over homes with distressed mortgages, and either restructure the mortgages to affordable levels, or if the occupants cannot afford a mortgage, rent homes to the occupants.
    • Expand rental and home ownership assistance and create ample public housing.                                                           


    • Create a binding international treaty to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels deemed safe by scientific analysis to reduce global warming.
    • Phase out coal power plants to end their unacceptable harm to the climate, health and the economy. 
    • End mountaintop removal in Appalachia.   
    • Redirect research funds from fossil fuels and other dead-end industries toward research in renewable energy and conservation. 
    • Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, terrorist-proof energy.
    • Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies.   
    • Stop hydrofracking to prevent devastating pollution of groundwater, destruction of roads from the transport of millions of tons of toxic water, and the threats of earthquakes recently determined to be caused by drilling and disposal of fracking water in seismically unstable regions.              
    • End Federal subsidies for "clean coal" -- an expensive, carbon intensive, unproven technology promoted by the coal industry public relations campaign.
    • Halt all drilling that poses a threat to public lands or water resources.    
    • Halt the Keystone XL pipeline and bring the tar sand oils under a comprehensive climate protection treaty.


    • Issue an Executive Order prohibiting Federal agencies from conspiring with local police to infringe upon right of assembly and peaceful protest.
    • Repeal the Patriot Act that violates our constitutional right to privacy and protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
    • Repeal the unconstitutional provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that gives the president the power to indefinitely imprison and even assassinate American citizens without due process.
    • Oppose the Online Piracy Act and all other legislation that would undermine freedom and equality on the Internet.
    • Pass the Equal Rights Amendment to forever end discrimination based on gender.
    • Eliminate the doctrine of corporate personhood with a constitutional amendment to clarify that only human beings have constitutional rights.   
    • Implement marriage equality nationwide to end discrimination against same-sex couples.   
    • Expand federal support for locally-owned broadcast media and local print media.                                                                                                           


    • Enact the full Voter's Bill of Rights guaranteeing each person's right to vote, the right to have our votes counted on hand-marked paper ballots, and the right to vote within systems that give each vote meaning.
    • Abolish the electoral college and directly elect the President. 
    • Get the big money payoffs out of politics by implementing public funding of election campaigns.
    • Reverse the Citizens United ruling to revoke corporate personhood, and amend our Constitution to make clear that corporations are not persons and money is not speech.   
    • Restore the right to run for office and eliminate unopposed races by removing ballot access barriers.
    • Require the use of auditable, hand-counted paper ballots in all local, state, and federal elections.        
    • Guarantee equal access to the ballot and to the debates to all qualified candidates
    • Eliminate “winner take all” elections in which the “winner” does not have the support of most of the voters, and replace that system with instant runoff voting and proportional representation.      
    • Provide equal and free access to the airways for all candidates, not just those with big campaign warchests.         
    • Enact statehood for the District of Columbia to ensure the region has full representation in Congress, and full powers of self-rule.       
    • Restore voting rights to ex-offenders who’ve paid their debt to society.
    • Require that all votes are counted before election results are released.
    • Replace partisan oversight of elections with non-partisan election commissions.
    • Celebrate our democratic aspirations by making Election Day a national holiday.
    • Bring simplified, safe same-day voter registration to the nation so that no qualified voter is barred from the polls.
    • Protect our right to vote by supporting Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s proposed “Right to Vote Amendment,” to clarify to the Supreme Court that yes, we do have a constitutional right to vote.
    • Protect the legitimate exercise of local democracy by making clear that acts of Congress establish a floor, and not a ceiling, on laws relating to economic regulation, workers rights, human rights, and the environment.


    • Cut the bloated Pentagon budget by 50%.
    • End use of assassination as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy, including collaborative assassination through intermediaries.
    • Increase our energy security by reducing our nation's dependence on oil. 
    • Demilitarize U.S. foreign policy to emphasize human rights, international law, multinational diplomatic initiatives and support for democratic movements across the world.       
    • Restore the National Guard as the centerpiece of our defense.    
    • Create a nuclear free zone in the Middle East region and require all nations in area to join. 
    • Oppose attacks on nuclear facilities.          
    • Ban use of drone aircraft for assassination, bombing, and other offensive purposes.      
    • End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, withdrawing both troops and military contractors.
    • Make human rights and international law the basis of our policy in the Middle East.      
    • Join 159 other nations in signing the Ottawa treaty banning the use of anti-personnel land mines.        
    • Close some 140 U.S. military bases abroad. 
    • Initiate a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives.


    • Create millions of green jobs in areas such as weatherization, recycling, public transportation, worker and community owned cooperatives, and energy-efficient infrastructure.
    • Adopt the EPA's new tougher standards on ozone pollution.          
    • Promote conversion to sustainable, nontoxic materials.    
    • Promote use of closed-loop, zero waste processes.  
    • Promote organic agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.


    • Grant undocumented immigrants who are already residing and working in the United States a legal status which includes the chance to become U.S. citizens. 
    • Halt deportations of law-abiding undocumented immigrants.
    • Repeal the deceptively named Secure Communities Act. 
    • Improve economic conditions abroad to reduce flow of immigrants, in part by repealing NAFTA.
    • Demilitarize border crossings throughout North America.   
    • End the war on immigrants, including the cruel, so-called “secure communities” program.                                                                                                                  


    • Repair our communities rather than dump resources into the prison-industrial complex. 
    • Work to eliminate laws tying judge’s hands with mandatory sentencing requirements. 
    • Immediately legalize medical use of marijuana and move to permit general legal sales under suitable regulatory framework.
    • End the ineffective and costly War on Drugs and begin to treat drug use as a public health problem, not a criminal problem.    

    Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:37 AM PDT
    Wednesday, 26 September 2012
    RIots and Unrest at Foxconn in China September 24, 2012
    Mood:  on fire
    Now Playing: On going unrest - results of unfair labor laws and injustice

    Riot at Foxconn Factory

    By and

    Original Post is from here:



    SHANGHAI — The images and video began to appear on Chinese social networking sites early Monday: buildings with shattered windows, overturned police cars, huge crowds of young people milling about in the dark and riot police in formation.

    Enlarge This Image
    The New York Times


    The online postings were from a disturbance late Sunday that shut down a manufacturing facility in Taiyuan in north China, where 79,000 workers were employed.

    State-run news media said 5,000 police officers had to be called in to quell a riot that began as a dispute involving a group of workers and security guards at a factory dormitory.

    The unrest was noteworthy because the factory site is managed by Foxconn Technology, one of the world’s biggest electronics manufacturers and an important supplier to companies like Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

    A spokesman for Foxconn said the company was investigating the cause of the incident. But analysts say worker unrest in China has grown more common because workers are more aware of their rights, and yet have few outlets to challenge or negotiate with their employers.

    When they do, though, the results can be ugly and, because of social media and the Web, almost instantly transmitted to the world in their rawest and most unfiltered form.

    “At first it was a conflict between the security guards and some workers,” said a man who was reached by telephone after he posted images online. The man said he was a Foxconn employee. “But I think the real reason is they were frustrated with life.”

    The company said that as many as 2,000 workers were involved in the incident but that it was confined to an employee dormitory and “no production facilities or equipment have been affected.”

    Nonetheless, the plant was closed, the company said.

    Foxconn, which is based in Taiwan and employs more than 1.1 million workers in China, declined to say whether the Taiyuan plant made products for the Apple iPhone 5, which went on sale last week. A spokesman said the factory supplied goods to many consumer electronics brands. An employee at the Taiyuan plant said iPhone components were made there.

    Supply-chain experts say most Apple-related production takes place in other parts of China, particularly in the provinces of Sichuan, Guangdong and Henan.

    Apple referred questions to Foxconn.

    Labor unrest in Taiyuan, in northern China’s Shanxi Province, comes as strikes and other worker protests appear to be increasing in frequency this year compared with last year, said Geoffrey Crothall, spokesman for the China Labor Bulletin, a nonprofit advocacy group in Hong Kong seeking collective bargaining and other protections for workers in mainland China.

    Many of the protests this year appear to be related to the country’s economic slowdown, as employees demand the payment of overdue wages from financially struggling companies, or insist on compensation when money-losing factories in coastal provinces are closed and moved to lower-cost cities in the interior.

    But the level of labor unrest in China this year has not yet matched 2010, when a surge in inflation sparked a wave of worker demands for higher pay, Mr. Crothall said.

    The Taiyuan protest comes at a politically delicate time in China, with a Communist Party Congress expected in the coming weeks to anoint a new general secretary and a new slate of members for the country’s most powerful body, the Standing Committee of the Politburo.

    The government has been tightening security ahead of the conclave through measures like restricting the issuance of visas and devoting considerable resources to watching and containing disturbances like the recent anti-Japanese demonstrations.

    But the calendar may also be on Foxconn’s side. A weeklong public holiday starts this weekend to mark the country’s national day on Oct. 1. Factories across the country will close to allow workers to go home — and in the case of Foxconn’s Taiyuan factory, the dispersal of workers to hometowns could allow tempers to cool.

    Mr. Crothall said that while the cause of the latest dispute in Taiyuan remained unclear, his group had found an online video of the police there using a megaphone to address “workers from Henan” — the adjacent province to the south of Shanxi. The police officer said that the workers’ concerns would be addressed.

    Disputes involving large groups of migrant workers are common in China. In some cases, workers protest after believing that they have been promised a certain pay package and traveled a long distance to claim it, only to find on arrival that the details were different from what they expected. In other cases, workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.

    The disturbance is the latest problem to hit Foxconn.

    Foxconn, which is part of Hon Hai Group of Taiwan, has been struggling to improve labor conditions at its China factories after reports about labor abuse and work safety violations.

    Apple and Foxconn have worked together to improve conditions, raise pay and improve labor standards, particularly since March when the Fair Labor Association, a monitoring group invited by Apple to investigate conditions, found widespread problems.

    Mr. Crothall said workers in China had become emboldened.

    “They’re more willing to stand up for their rights, to stand up to injustice,” he said, adding that damage to factory buildings and equipment still appeared to be unusual, occurring in fewer than 1 in 20 protests.

    The same Taiyuan factory was the site of a brief strike during a pay dispute last March, the Hong Kong news media reported then.

    Social media postings suggested that some injuries might have occurred when people were trampled in crowds of protesters.

    David Barboza reported from Shanghai, and Keith Bradsher from Hong Kong.


    Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:38 AM PDT
    Thursday, 20 September 2012
    GM workers in Colombia and Portlands solidarity march
    Mood:  irritated
    Now Playing: Press Release








    Brothers and sisters in the struggle:It is for us an enormous blessing to count on your support. We never thought that our simple struggle would result in such a beautiful show of solidarity. It definitely unites our wish for the same cause of justice that you desire in your beautiful country.I feel truly moved and grateful for such great commitment and affection demonstrated towards us and our families. As you know, we are just Colombian workers, but with the firm conviction to fight and defend our rights. In the end, we are workers like you, and today we unite in the same world in a single call for justice and for GM to do what is right.Although we are not present in your actions of support, our hearts and our prayers are with you.

    On behalf of Asotrecol and our families, thank you very much.  Compañeros y hermanos de la lucha:Es para nosotros una enorme bendición contar con su apoyo. Jamás pensamos que nuestra lucha tan simple y transparente diera como resultado esta hermosa muestra de solidaridad. Definitivamente unió nuestro sentimiento con la misma causa de justicia que ustedes anhelan en su hermoso país.

    Me siento verdaderamente conmovido y agradecido  por tan grande compromiso y cariño demostrado para con nosotros y nuestras familias. Como saben, solo somos obreros colombianos pero con la firme convicción de luchar y defender nuestros derechos. Somos trabajadores como ustedes pero a fin de cuenta trabajadores, y hoy en el mismo mundo se unen en un solo grito de justicia para lograr que GM haga lo correcto.Aunque nosotros no estemos presentes en sus acciones de apoyo, nuestro corazón y nuestras oraciones lo están. En nombre de Asotrecol y nuestras familias, muchas gracias. 




    Posted by Joe Anybody at 8:37 AM PDT
    Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2012 3:04 PM PDT
    Monday, 9 July 2012
    Consensus Organizing - It works
    Now Playing: Understanding the Consensus process: Tom Hastings
    Consensus organizing is really a way of acting and
    thinking that you can use no matter what career path
    you choose.
     --Mary Ohmer and Karen DeMasi (Ohmer & DeMasi, 2009, p. 68).

     From Tom Hastings blog I copied the following on July 9 2012
    Seeking consensus is logically reserved for important decisions, since consensus takes much more time, usually, than does either majority rule or certainly than command and control. But consensus organizing is a way of organizing, not solely a decisionmaking process. If we are attempting to form a larger, more democratic body of decisionmakers we are attempting consensus organizing, whether locally, regionally, nationally or transnationally--whether in public policy, private sector, or associationally (e,g., religious, nonprofits, unions).

    Consensus organizing is how nonviolence becomes strategic rather than just the ideological, religious, or philosophical mandate that can often seem exclusive. Consensus organizing is almost completely inclusive, with the exceptions of violence and exploitation as behaviors but not exclusionary of the people who mistakenly use either behavior, though those people can and do often exclude themselves.

    An example of this might be what we have seen in Egypt in the struggle first to depose the regime of violence and exploitation while at the same time including those from across the entire spectrum of society, from Coptic Christians to Muslim Brotherhood, from trained nonviolent activists to the military. Was it perfect consensus organizing or perfect nonviolence? No, the ideal is just as impossible to achieve as is war without collateral damage. But it was remarkable. Even our talking heads seemed duly impressed.
    Egypt continues to try, with the latest election and now Mohamed Morsi's attempt to reinstate Parliament, so we'll see if the inclusivity expands or contracts. The movement is expansive, using a uniquely Egyptian consensus organizing approach, with countervailing trends from those who prefer violence or exploitation.

    Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:06 PM PDT
    Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2012 3:05 PM PDT
    Wednesday, 4 July 2012
    The Idea of a Police State in America - and What Happened
    Mood:  blue
    Now Playing: Police State in America - What Happened?

    The Idea of America
    By Jeffrey Tucker

    [copied from an email from WhiskeyandGundpowder.com]

    There are occasions in American life -- and they come too often these days -- when you want to scream: "what the heck has happened to this country?!" Everyone encounters events that strike a particular nerve, some egregious violations of the norms for a free country that cut very deeply and personally.

    We wonder: do we even remember what it means to be free? If not -- and I think not -- The Idea of America: What It Was and How It Was Lost (hardcover and Kindle), a collection of bracing reminders from our past, as edited by William Bonner and Pierre Lemieux, is the essential book of our time.

    I'll just mention two outrages that occur first to me. In the last six months, I came back to the country twice from international travel, once by plane and once by car. The car scene shocked me. The lines were ridiculously long and border control agents, clad in dark glasses and boots and wearing enough weaponry to fight an invading army, run up and down the lines with large dogs. Periodically, US border control would throw open doors of cars and vans and let the dogs run through, while the driver sits there poker faced and trying to stay calm and pretending not to object.

    When I finally got to the customs window, I was questioned not like a citizen of the country but like a likely terrorist. The agent wanted to know everything about me: home, work, where I had been and why, and whether I will stay somewhere before getting to my destination, family composition, and other matters that just creeped me out. I realized immediately that there was no question he could ask me that I could refuse to answer, and I had to do this politely.

    That's power.

    The second time I entered the country was by plane, and there were two full rescans of bags on the way in, in addition to the passport check, and a long round of questioning. There were no running dogs this time; the passengers were the dogs and we were all on the agents' leashes. Whatever they ordered us to do, we did, no matter how irrational. We moved here and there in locked step and total silence. One step out of line and you are guaranteed to be yelled at. At one point, an armed agent began to talk loudly and with a sense of ridicule about the clothes I was wearing, and went out of his way to make sure everyone else heard him. I could do nothing but smile as if I were being complimented by a friend.

    That's power.

    Of course these cases are nothing like the reports you hear almost daily about the abuse and outrages from domestic travel, which now routinely requires everyone to submit to digital strip searches. We have come to expect this. We can hardly escape the presence of the police in our lives. I vaguely remember when I was young that I thought of the police as servants of the people. Now their presence strikes fear in the heart, and they are everywhere, always operating under the presumption that they have total power and you and I have absolutely none.

    You hear slogans about the "land of the free" and we still sing patriotic songs at the ballpark and even at church on Sunday, and these songs are always about our blessed liberty, the battles of our ancestors against tyranny, the special love of liberty that animates our heritage and national self identity. The contrast with reality grows starker by the day.

    And it isn't just about our personal liberty and our freedom to move about with a sense that we are exercising our rights. It hits us in the economic realm, where no goods or services change hands that aren't subject to the total control of the leviathan state. No business is really safe from being bludgeoned by legislatures, regulators, and the tax police, while objecting only makes you more of a target.

    Few dare say it publicly: America has become a police state. All the signs are in place, among which is the world's largest prison population. If we are not a police state, one must ask, what are the indicators that will tell us that we've crossed the line? What are signs we haven't yet seen?

    We can debate that all day about when, precisely, the descent began but there can be no doubt when the slide into the despotic abyss became precipitous. It was after the terrorists hit on 9/11 in 2001. The terrorists wanted to deliver a blow to freedom. Our national leaders swore the terrorists would never win, and then spent the following ten years delivering relentless and massive blows to liberty as we had known it.

    The decline has been fast but not fast enough for people to be as shocked as they should be. Freedom is a state of being that is difficult to recall once it is gone. We adapt to the new reality, the way people adapt to degenerative diseases, grateful for slight respites from pain and completely despairing of ever feeling healthy and well again.

    What's more, all the time we spend obeying, complying, and pretending to be malleable in order to stay out of trouble ends up socializing us and even changing our outlook on life. As in the Orwell novel, we have adjusted to government control as the new normal. The loudspeakers blared that all of this is in the interest of our security and well being. These people who are stripping us, robbing us, humiliating us, impoverishing us are doing it all for our own good. We never fully believe it but the message still affects our outlook.

    The editors of The Idea of America are urging a serious national self assessment. They argue that freedom is the only theme that fully and truly animates the traditional American spirit. We are not united in religion, race, and creed, but we do have this wonderful history of rebellion against power in favor of human rights and freedom from tyranny. For this reason the book begins with the essential founding documents, which, if taken seriously, make a case for radical freedom not as something granted by government but as something that we possess as a matter of right.

    The love of liberty is rooted in our Colonial past, and it is thrilling to see Murray Rothbard's excellent account of the pre-revolutionary past printed here, with followups to make the point by Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine. Lord Acton makes the next appearance with a clarifying essay about the whole point of the American Revolution, which was not independence as such but liberty. He forcefully argues that the right of secession, the right to annul laws, the right to say no to the tyrant, the right to leave the system, constitute great contribution of America to political history. As you read, you wonder where these voices are today, and what would happen to them if they spoke up in modern versions of the same thoughts. These revolutionaries are pushing ideas that the modern regime seeks to bury and even criminalize.

    The voice of the new country and its voluntaristic themes is provided by Alexis de Tocqueville, along with the writings of James Madison. As Bonner and Lemieux argue in their own contributions, the idea of anarchism, that is, living without a state, has always been just beneath the surface of American ideology. Here they bring it to the surface with an essay by proto-anarchist J. Hector St. John Crevecoeur, who said of America: "we have no princes for whom we toil, starve, and bleed: we are the most perfect society now existing in the world."

    The anarchist strain continues with marvelous writings by Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, Volairine de Cleyre, plus some court decisions reinforcing gun rights. The book ends with another reminder that America is an open society that is welcoming to newcomers. The final choice of Rose Wilder Lane's "Give Me Liberty" is inspired.

    The value of this book is dramatically heightened by the additional material from Bonner, whose clear prose and incisive intellect is on display here both in the foreword and the afterword, as well as Lemieux, whose introduction made my blood boil with all his examples of government gone mad in our time. Bonner in particular offers an intriguing possibility that the future of the true America has nothing to do with geography; it exists where the free minds and free hearts exist. The digitization of the world opens up new opportunities for just this.

    The contrast is stark: what America was meant to be and what it has become. It is hard to take this kind of careful look. Truly honest appraisals of this sort are rare. Adapting, going along, pretending not to notice are all easier strategies to deal with the grim situation we face. But this is not the way America's founders dealt with their problems. This book might inspire us to think and act more like we should.

    We should prepare.

    In the words of Thomas Paine:

    O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. -- Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.


    Jeffrey Tucker

    [Editor's Note: Idea of America is considered a must read here at Agora Financial. The ideas inside are more powerful than any options, stock or bond tip we could ever pass along.

    At less than $25 per copy, the book is well worth the small fee. We're not the only ones who think that way...

    "I hope everyone will read this to see why America became a great country -- so we can keep it a great country," says Jim Rogers, best-selling author of Adventure Capitalist.

    Edward Crane, president of CATO Institute says, "The Idea of America is a gem!"

    "This is a superb book," starts reviewer R. Hall, "and gives very good and varied ideas of America in its founding days. Should be recommended reading for all ages, especially in school."

    "This book cannot be recommended too highly," says Amazon.com reviewer P. Anderson.

    But to celebrate the holiday, we're not asking you to pay $25 for Idea of America. In fact, we've worked out a special way for you to claim a free e-book copy.

    It's an offer we've never done before. And one we may never do again.

    So go ahead... before you catch the fireworks this evening, take advantage of our generosity this holiday, right here.]

    Posted by Joe Anybody at 3:11 PM PDT

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