The plans of American Police Force to boss the $27 million dollar detention center in Hardin Montana as well as expand their presence across the country while training foreign troops inside the U.S. could be mothballed after Montana’s Attorney General launched an investigation and demanded the organization turn over all its records.
Suspicions that the paramilitary unit, which attempted to pose as law enforcement in Hardin last week by placing decals on SUV’s that read “Hardin Police Department,” is a cut-out or a front group for a larger company, may be realized after AG Steve Bullock ordered Hardin city officials to turn over all their documents related to their dealings with APF by October 12.
“His office made a similar demand of American Police Force, including information that would back up (Michael) Hilton’s claims of multiple defense contracts with the U.S. government and other agencies,” reports the Associated Press.
As we have highlighted, APF grandstands as a major player in the world of international private security, even claiming on its own website that it runs the U.S. Training Center, a Blackwater or “Xe” owned facility. This has led many to claim that the company is a shell or a front organization for something far more sinister, rumors that have only grown with APF’s blanket refusal to name its parent company.
The investigation was prompted by the revelation yesterday that APF founder “Captain” Michael Hilton is a career criminal and a convicted fraudster who has operated under no less than 17 different aliases. Hilton, a native of Montenegro, was sentenced to 6 years in jail in 1993 for “Such schemes you cannot believe,” according to Joseph Carella, an Orange County, Calif. doctor, namely a dozen counts of grand theft. Hilton has defrauded numerous different individuals to the tune of $1.1 million dollars over the past 20 years.
APF’s plans to construct another facility in Hardin that will train international paramilitary forces also looks doomed following intense media scrutiny of the organization’s shady dealings with local authorities and their probable violation of article 2 section 33 of the Montana Constitution.
Judging by the reaction of Attorney Becky Convery, who negotiated the original deal between Hardin authorities and APF, the contract to man the detention center and build the training facility could be torpedoed.
“Convery said Two Rivers director Greg Smith had a tentative deal with Hilton’s company to provide law enforcement service, but she said it was never finalized and she was uncertain whether it would be legal,” reports the AP.
“We are not at all pleased with American Police masquerading as if they were the police for the city of Hardin,” she said.
American Police Force and Hilton are now obviously engaging in desperate damage control, trying to offset concerns that they were on the verge of transforming the town into a “privately run police state,” as the AP article puts it, before press scrutiny forced them to put the breaks on.
Hilton has now pledged to donate the SUV’s that were marked with the police decals to the city while still pushing ahead with plans to provide law enforcement for the area for $250,000 a year. The fact that APF’s training center plans to recruit foreign assets who could then be patrolling the streets of America bossing U.S. citizens is obviously a frightening prospect, completely unconstitutional, and another reason why APF needs to abandon its plans to act as a private police force completely.
(Infowars) – Hardin, Montana town officials hornswoggled by American Police Force
This is an update on the story of the American Police Force arriving in Hardin, Montana last week with three blackened out Mercedes Benz SUV’s emblazoned with “Hardin Police Department” on their side doors. Read More Here
In the event of a disaster should you bug in or bug out (shelter in place or evacuate) is a big topic in many forums, email lists and among modern survivalists in general. There are times when the question is easy to answer and times when it can be difficult. The key is your life and the lives of those you love can hang in the balance of this decision so today we discuss 12 question to ask before you have to make the decision.
Tune in today as we consider the following questions…
Which choice gives you the best chance of survival for the scenario at hand? (this is not always clear)
How well prepared are you to bug in?
What exactly are you prepared for? (a forest fire is far different from local rioting)
Today’s show is based on a great article written by Clare Wolfe of Backwoods Home Magazine called, “Preparing for Civil Unrest“. I thought this article was so timely and though provoking that I last minute preempted today’s planned show and quickly put together an outline for today based on this article. In addition to listening today make sure to read Claire’s article.
Eva Golinger, named “La Novia de Venezuela” (the Sweetheart of Venezuela) by President Hugo Chávez, is a Venezuelan-American attorney from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005
Venezuela:The announcement of the US occupation of more than 7 military bases in Colombia comes at a time when a dictatorship - supported, if tacitly by Washington - in Honduras is consolidating after almost a month and a half has passed since the violent coup d'etat forced Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from power. The increased US military presence in Latin America has been perceived by a majority of nations in this hemisphere as a threat to stability and peace in the region. How does the Obama administration justify increasing the Pentagon's budget and investing almost $1 billion in its Latin American military operations this year?
Well, maybe by trying to blame Venezuelan President Hugh Chávez of supporting, funding and arming "terrorist" leftist groups in Colombia and "facilitating drug trafficking". Both allegations have never been founded on solid evidence. In fact, yesterday, President Chávez gave a killer press conference to international media, deconstructing every accusation presented against his government by Colombia and Washington. The latest allegation involved Swedish missile launchers sold to Venezuela in the 1980s that apparently ended up in the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Uribe government in Colombia, together with Washington, was trying to blame Chávez for selling the weapons to the FARC, therefore justifying its increasing aggression and military presence in the region, to combat "terrorist threats". "You're either with us or against us..."
Chávez revealed a document - given to him previously by the Colombian government - dated 1996 after a FARC attack had taken place on Venezuelan soil against Venezuelan armed forces and a quantity of weapons had been stolen. The 1996 document detailed the named Swedish missile launchers as having been taken during that attack, more than 2 years before Chávez won office and became involved in government.
"Dirty, dirty tactics", said Chávez regarding Uribe's accusations against him. The Colombian government knows very well that those weapons were in the hands of the FARC well before Chávez became president. So why blame him now for something he has nothing to do with?
Cowardly and pathetic Colombian President Uribe is desperately trying to justify turning his country into the launching pad for Washington's war on Latin America - a war seeking to regain its domination and control over the region's vast natural and strategic resources, and to take out any seed of "socialism" remaining in the hemisphere.
But the military bases in Colombia and the coup in Honduras evidence a dangerous and clear intent of Empire to also crush the vibrant people's movements that have been surfacing all over Latin America during the past decade - revolutions seeking to build new models of social and economic justice.
Latin America is on high alert in response to this revived offensive emerging from Washington. Colombia, isolated in its efforts, is not backing down from opening its land to the vast and barbaric US military power. Where is the outcry inside the United States in response to hundreds of millions - billions - of dollars now directed towards waging war in Latin America? Don't wait until it's too late and another nation, like Panama 20 years ago, is bombed and invaded by US forces in order to secure Washington's long-term control over the region's strategic resources. Act now to resist and protest US military expansion in Latin America and US aggression against a humble people struggling for justice.
Thousands of people gathered in Pittsburgh during the recent “G-20” meetings came to dissent and express political demands. They were repeatedly denied the right to assemble over several days, and were met with a militarized police state.
We denounce the city of Pittsburgh, especially the Mayor, for combining domestic and military agencies for the purposes of surveillance of the protesters; riot squads on bicycles, and military troop transports; use of agent infiltrators into political groups, and provocateurs on the streets; revocation and denial of permits to assemble and mass arrests of protesters & bystanders alike, with crowd control weapons used on the people who only stand to exercise their freedom of speech.
Nearly 200 people were arrested, including juveniles. Some were physically abused, with use of batons and projectile devices. The charges are demonstrably political charges devoid of actual crimes committed.
Such abuses against protesters are NOT acceptable. We demand:
1) Charges against people involved in political protest at the G-20 be dropped immediately.
2) A thorough investigation of methods employed by law enforcement, and directed by Homeland Security and Chief of Police, including the crowd control methods and mass arrests; the conditions of detention of those arrested; and any ongoing surveillance and interference with the rights of those accused, arrested, or involved in the protests are contrary to the expectation of the rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Such investigations must include public hearings, and a real search for the truth in what happened.
3) A public report, dissociating your city from those methods found to suppress speech and assembly, and guarantee to the people that they will not be used again.
4) Rejection of the use of military involvement, or the use of federal agents in future protests.
Send a letter now:
SIGN this letter of outrage below, to be sent to federal and PA authorities.
People of conscience must stand together in outrage and not accept this repression from the government on the people. We cannot allow these actions to go quietly into the night and be forgotten.
We are seizing the opportunity to have our voices heard in unison, denouncing the fascist direction of this country. It is with the utmost urgency and for the sake of stopping the police state and reversing this course that WE WILL NOT BE SILENT.
By signing this statement we pledge to do everything we can to call attention to, and demand justice for those unjustly arrested and charged at the G-20 in Pittsburgh. The world can't wait!
Merida, October 1st 2009 (www.Venezuelanalysis.com) -- The Venezuelan Attorney General's Office formally opened an investigation into an alleged assassination plot against President Hugo Chavez, following recently publicized declarations by a former paramilitary hitman and a former Colombian intelligence official.
Attorney General Luisa Ortega announced the opening of the investigation after National Assembly Legislator Reinaldo Garcia filed a formal accusation in the Attorney General's Office on Wednesday. He cited the groundbreaking testimony of former Colombian soldier Geovanny Velasquez, who is currently serving a forty-year prison sentence for his crimes as a paramilitary hitman.
In a videotaped conversation with Colombian investigators earlier this year, Velasquez said he and other Colombian paramilitaries attended a secret meeting in Venezuela in 1999 at which Manuel Rosales, the former Venezuelan presidential candidate and president of the opposition political party UnNuevoTiempo, offered $25 million for Chavez's assassination.
In the video, which Al Jazeera released in an exclusive report last weekend, Velasquez revealed previously undisclosed names and details of the alleged plot, and also said there are 2,500 Colombian paramilitaries in Venezuela with the object of assassinating Chavez and destabilizing his government.
Garcia's accusation also cited the declarations of Rafael Garcia, the former director of information for Colombia's main intelligence agency, DAS. During an interview with Telesur last month, the former DAS official named several high level Colombian authorities who used their contacts within the Colombian paramilitary organization AUC to assist the Venezuelan opposition in acts of economic sabotage, assassinations, and plans to overthrow the Chavez government between 2002 and 2004.
The AUC (United Self-Defense of Colombia) was formed in 1997 mainly to fight against guerrilla insurgents from the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). In recent years, dozens of Colombian politicians, including allies of President Alvaro Uribe, have gone to jail for their links to the illegal group, which both the U.S. and Colombia formally consider a terrorist organization.
In an interview with Telesur on Tuesday, U.S.-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger said she obtained documents from the U.S. Southern Command, which show the U.S. has detailed knowledge of the AUC and other Colombian paramilitary groups and their operations.
"The U.S. has in its hands complete knowledge of the paramilitary groups that are coordinating the terrorist activities in Venezuela," Golinger said. "This is a small portion... who knows what else they have, this is the little that has been declassified," said Golinger, who presented some of the documents during the interview.
National Assembly Legislator Mario Isea declared earlier this week that the apparent connections among the Colombian government, paramilitary groups, the Venezuelan opposition, and the U.S. government should not be overlooked.
"Given the gravity of these indications," he said, referring to the testimonies of Velasquez, Garcia, and Golinger, "this information should be verified... we do not assume it to be completely true."
Referring to Rosales, who fled to Peru last April to avoid going to trial on charges of corruption during his term as governor of Zulia, Isea said the wealthy right-wing politician is more than a "common criminal," and in fact "a kind of paramilitary commander, for which he would be incurring treason."
The Peruvian Foreign Ministry granted asylum to Rosales on the grounds that he is being politically persecuted. This week, Guarico Governor William Lara, who is also a national leader of Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), called on Peru to repeal Rosales's asylum so that Rosales may be tried for the new charges brought against him in light of Velasquez's testimony.
The presence of Colombian paramilitaries in Venezuela is well known. Their threats against politicians, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and "social cleansing" campaigns aimed at murdering sex workers, drug dealers, and homeless people have been repeatedly denounced, especially in border states such as Zulia. Also, more than a hundred heavily armed paramilitaries were captured in a large estate outside of Caracas in 2004.
September 28, 2009 3:00 PM (Monday) Author: andrew
Whether you want to keep an eye on your pet, your aging parents, your kids, your vacation home, your boat, or whatever else you feel needs watching, the internet is now the best way to do it.
You can buy security systems of all types and prices including PC or Mac-based systems that can use just about any camera hooked up to a computer. For this roundup, we picked a handful of wireless cameras that make it easy to watch and listen to what's happening anyplace that you are not.
Panasonic BL-C131A Yes, the Panasonic BL-C131A camera costs more than most good point and shoot digital cameras, but it's a quality web camera that gets good reviews and has a lot of useful features including a microphone and thermal sensor that can detect when a human or animal enters the room. You can also make it pan and tilt remotely. Set it up to talk to your router, use their free service to create a personal web address like mycamera.viewnetcam.com and then you or anyone you give permission to, can view your camera's live images on the Internet. It costs around $250.
Sharx Security VIPcella-IR SCNC2607
Users say the Sharx Security VIPcella-IR SCNC2607 camera may not be the easiest to set up especially when you read comments like, “you need to configure some things in your router.” However, users also say it has a very good installation guide and once you get it working, it does a good job of sending video directly to a browser on your computer or phone without going through a service. It includes features like motion detection, a microphone, email alerts, and even infrared night vision which could come in handy when trying to see what’s going on in the dark. It’s a little on the expensive side at $399 (on sale now on Amazon for $300) but it does have all the right features. If you don’t need the night vision feature you can get the less expensive, Sharx SCNC2606 for around $225 but for $75 we say go for the night vision.
Cisco WVC210 (formerly a Linksys product) When you see the Cisco WVC210 you may want to say, “open the pod bay doors,” but seriously, for $250 this wireless web cam has some nice features including one that most other cameras don’t have which is audio out (you need an external speaker). Imagine being able to tell Spotty to get off the couch, or say "hi" to the kids. The Cisco WVC210 offers remote pan and tilt and email alerts with attached video when it detects motion. Users say it does a good job but has a few quirks like occasional lost connections, a noisy motor, and overly sensitive motion detector, not to mention the fact that the software doesn’t work with Windows Vista and you need to use an ActiveX control to listen to the audio with Internet Explorer (which actually isn’t that big of a deal).
TRENDnet Wireless Internet Camera Server (TV-IP110W) The Trendnet TV-IP110W wireless webcam doesn't get the highest ratings and there are many comments saying it's not the easiest device to get working but at a little over $100, the price is reasonable and once you do get it working users say it has pretty good image quality and useful features like motion detection and email alerts.
Linksys WVC54GCA Some reviewers rave about the Linksys (now Cisco) WVC54GCA camera while others don't have a lot of good things to say about it. If you’re in the group that makes it through the setup procedure to get it working you will have what one reviewer called an “adequate,” camera for keeping an eye on things. You can buy the Linksys WVC54GCA for under $100.
Coming Soon the D-Link DSC-1130 D-Link, the company known for routers and other quality communication gear is about to release a wireless network camera and companion “portal,” that sounds like it may make setting up and watching the remote camera real simple. You access the video from the camera on your browser via a user account on mydlink.com. The DCS-1130 will have an MSRP of $219.99 but you should be able to find it for less.
Novelty Web Cams The WowWee Rovio Wi-Fi Enabled Robotic WebCam costs about $230 but should be lots of fun to use. You move this three-wheeled little bugger around your house via an Internet connection. You can make it go to preset waypoints or self-dock in its charging station. It even has a built-in LED headlight.
Spykee Spy WiFi Robot
The Spykee Spy WiFi robot comes as a kit that you put together. Once it’s up and running, you control it remotely, watch and listen to what’s going on around it, and even speak through it. You can even use it with Skype. Spykee lists for around $250 but you can find it online for a lot less.
Point Your Wireless Webcam at Retrevo Whether you’re looking for the tools to watch your cat sleeping at your home or you need help deciding what netbook to buy, Retrevo has reviews and manuals for the latest gear and gadgets including digital cameras, GPS, laptops, HDTV, and more.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 8:00 AM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:14 PM PDT
Today, in remarks at the American Red Cross, I’m speaking about another important mission: readiness and resilience.
Our nation may be better prepared than we were before 9/11. But there is much more we can – and should – do. And to get there, we must treat our nation’s preparedness as a shared responsibility, one where everyone has a role to play.
Civilians are usually the first to arrive in a crisis, and history shows that they are critical in those important first minutes. And these citizen responders can be an even more potent force by:
The answer to almost any question is available within seconds, courtesy of the invention that has altered how we discover knowledge - the search engine. Materializing answers from the air turns out to be the easy part - the part a machine can do. The real difficulty kicks in when you click down into your search results. At that point, it's up to you to sort the accurate bits from the misinfo, disinfo, spam, scams, urban legends, and hoaxes. "Crap detection," as Hemingway called it half a century ago, is more important than ever before, now that the automation of crapcasting has generated its own word: "spamming."
Unless a great many people learn the basics of online crap detection and begin applying their critical faculties en masse and very soon, I fear for the future of the Internet as a useful source of credible news, medical advice, financial information, educational resources, scholarly and scientific research. Some critics argue that a tsunami of hogwash has already rendered the Web useless. I disagree. We are indeed inundated by online noise pollution, but the problem is soluble. The good stuff is out there if you know how to find and verify it. Basic information literacy, widely distributed, is the best protection for the knowledge commons: A sufficient portion of critical consumers among the online population can become a strong defense against the noise-death of the Internet.
The first thing we all need to know about information online is how to detect crap, a technical term I use for information tainted by ignorance, inept communication, or deliberate deception. Learning to be a critical consumer of Webinfo is not rocket science. It's not even algebra. Becoming acquainted with the fundamentals of web credibility testing is easier than learning the multiplication tables. The hard part, as always, is the exercise of flabby think-for-yourself muscles.
The issue of info pollution has been on my mind since at least 1994, when I wrote "The Tragedy of the Electronic Commons" about the infamous Canter and Siegel - the first Internet spammers. A few years later, I personally confronted the importance of teaching information literacy to 14 year olds when I watched my daughter come of age at the same time online search engines became available. I sat down in front of the circa-1999 computer with my daughter and explained that most of the books she could get from the library could be counted on to be factually accurate. But when you enter words into a search engine, there is no guarantee that your search will lead you to accurate information. "You have to do some investigation before you accept anything you find online," I warned her.
"Ask a few questions and use available tools to see if you can find answers," is what I told her when she asked me how to go about investigating.
Today, just as it was back then, "Who is the author?" is the root question. If you don't find one, turn your skepticism meter to the top of the dial. And use easywhois.com to find out who owns the site if there is no author listed. If the author provides a way to ask questions, communicate, or add comments, turn up the credibility meter and dial back the skepticism. When you identify an author, search on the author's name in order to evaluate what others think of the author - and don't turn off your critical stance when you assess reputation. Who are these other people whose opinions you are trusting? Is the site a .gov or .edu? If so, turn up the credibility a notch. If it helps, envision actual meters and dials in your mind's eye - or a thermometer or speedometer. Take the website's design into account - professional design should not be seen as a certain indicator of accurate content, but visibly amateurish design is sometimes an indicator that the "Institute of Such-and-Such" might be an obsessive loner.
More good questions to use as credibility probes: Does the author provide sources for factual claims, and what happens when you search on the names of the authors of those sources? Have others linked to this page, and if so, who are they (use the search term "link: http://..." and Google shows you every link to a specified page). See if the source has been bookmarked on a social bookmarking service like Delicious or Diigo; although it shouldn't be treated as a completely trustworthy measurement, the number of people who bookmark a source can furnish clues to its credibility. All the mechanics of doing this kind of checking take only a few seconds of clicking, copying and pasting, searching, and judging for yourself. Again, the part that requires the most work is learning to do your own judging.
You aren't paranoid if you suspect that some sites might even deliberately try to deceive you. Some sites insidiously cloak their real bias, for example. I use martinlutherking.org as an example with my students today - it's not owned by admirers of the late civil rights leader, but you wouldn't know that at first glance. Another, less sinister but equally sobering teaching story: "The parody site Gatt.org once duped the Center for International Legal Studies into believing it was the Web site of the World Trade Organization. Accordingly, a few years ago, the association arranged for someone from the parody site to speak at its annual conference. The speaker - an imposter from an activist group known as the Yes Men - offended several attendees with racist remarks. A staged pie-throwing incident followed the presentation, and the fiasco later culminated in the faked death of the speaker/imposter." A good question to ask yourself, particularly when a website asks you to download something to your own computer, is "might somebody be trying to put one over on me?"
When I began teaching my daughter how to evaluate the credibility of web pages, I started collecting rules of thumb, strategies, tools - especially free and easy to use ones - for sorting the goodinfo from the badinfo. Fortunately, tools are far more powerful today than they were a decade ago; the bad news is that too many people don't know about them. In recent years, as so many more people have started to rely on the web for such vitally important forms of information as news, medical information, scholarly research, investment advice, the lack of general education in critical consumption of information found online is turning into a public danger. No, Bill Gates won't send you $5 for forwarding this chain e-mail, the medical advice you get in a chat room isn't necessarily better than what your doctor tells you, and the widow of the deceased African dictator is definitely not going to transfer millions of dollars to your bank account. That scurrilous rumor about the political candidate that never makes the mainstream media but circulates as email and blog posts probably isn't true. The data you are pasting into your memo or term paper may well be totally fabricated.
Use the following methods and tools to protect yourself from toxic badinfo. Use them, pass them along to others. Promote the notion that more info-literacy is a practical answer to growing info-pollution.
Although the Web undermines authority, the usefulness of authority as another clue to credibility hasn't entirely disappeared. I would add credibility points if a source is a verified professor at a known institution of higher learning, an authentic M.D. or Ph.D., but I wouldn't subtract points from uncredentialed people whose expertise seems authentic. Nor would I stop at simply verifying that the claim to be a professor is valid. The next step: use the scholarly productivity index that derives a score from the scholar's publications, citations by other scholars, grants, honors, and awards. If you want to get even more serious, download a free copy of Publish or Perish software, which analyzes scientific citations from Google Scholar according to multiple criteria. Again, don't trust just one source. Triangulate.
I got good strategy advice from John McManus, author of "Detecting Bull: How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in Print, Broadcast and on the Wild Web", who told me "you have think like a detective." Think of tools like search engines, the productivity index, hoax debunking sites like Snopes.com, and others I will mention later as forensic instruments, like Sherlock Holmes' magnifying glass or the crime scene investigator's fingerprint kit. The tools are only useful as the means to sleuthing out a mystery. In the case of people who stake their health on online medical information from a virtual community, their economic well-being on online financial information, their political liberty on the news they get from Twitter, blogs, or YouTube, the stakes in this detective game are high. Triangulation is what detectives do - try to find three different ways to test a source's credibility. For example, you could Google the author's name, enter the author's name in the scholarly productivity index, and use the literacy resources at factchecked.org to triangulate a source. (Factchecked.org's sister site, Factcheck.org researches claims from all political factions.)
Know how to use online filters. As more people get their news online, and more people at the site of newsworthy events have Web-linked cameras and video cameras, we'll see more situations like the 250,000 "tweets" per hour that passed through Twitter during the Iranian political demonstrations of June, 2009. Before Twitter came on the scene, online services like Flickr and YouTube enabled users to "tag" photographs and video with key words, making it possible to search for images tagged with those key words, revealing all the still images and videos coming in from amateur chroniclers during an event. The San Diego Union-Tribune called publicly for citizen reporters to use the same tags for their images of the 2007 wildfire. Using the search facility on Flickr or YouTube enables you to see a stream of images or videos, and automatically subscribing to that search through "RSS" means you can continue to see visual reports stream in as others upload them - in real time. At the height of the Iran demonstrations, CNN was displaying videos posted to YouTube, alerted via Twitter. Quite properly, CNN introduced the images with the disclaimer that they were as-yet unverified. As Clay Shirky has noted, we're in the age of "publish, then filter."
Again, it's up to the consumer of the information to decide which images, videos, tweets are authentic. As always happens when there is a high demand for separating signal from noise, people began to put together filters for doing that - and human tools for sorting the more trustworthy information. After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai provided both noteworthy on-the-scene reports and outright rumors, some experts started talking about "crowdsourcing the filter" by growing populations of trusted editors who would collectively identify the good stuff. Although they did not start as a filter for fast-breaking news, American Public Media's Public Insight Network is moving in the direction of a crowdsourced filter.
When the Iran demonstrations happened, people in Iran and around the world used the Twitter equivalent of a Flickr or YouTube tag, a now-famous "hashtag" - #iranelection - and for a few days flooded the world with riveting images that will probably win Pulitzers, along with shocking and politically inflammatory videos, torrents of contradictory reports, bogus rumors, apparent disinformation, both informed and ignorant political arguments and, as always, spam, porn, and porn spam. As the Iran events unfolded, Marc Ambinder wrote an astute article in The Atlantic.com, "Follow the developments in Iran like a CIA analyst." Just as thinking like a detective is a strategy for trying to determine the credibility of webinfo, thinking like an intelligence analyst is a strategy for trying to gauge the credibility of online reports about breaking news events. Ambinder recommends watching for disinformation, looking for patterns in the geographic location of sources (but warns against assuming that everything that resembles a pattern really is one), examining your assumptions and looking for sources that contradict them.
Twitter Journalism ("Where News and Tweets Converge"), published a series of steps to take to verify a tweet, including, among many other tips, checking the history of past tweets by a person to see what context you might find before the claim about a news event was tweeted, checking the bio of twitterer who makes a claim, being wary of news tweets from someone with very few previous tweets or who joined very recently, use Twitter's reply feature to engage the twitterer directly. I've been collecting links for journalism students who want to understand the journalistic requirements of good Twitter practice from the production side.
The biases of trusted sources like newspapers and television need to be examined critically, as well as those that come in from what are increasingly called "social media." Questioning Video is all about understanding the vocabulary of visual deception that can be used to distort television news. Newstrust is trying to crowdsource the filter for mainstream as well as alternative news sources by growing a bipartisan virtual community of critical news filterers who use the same set of criteria for evaluating whether a news story exhibits bias, makes factual claims that can or cannot be verified, presents more than one interpretation of events. Fairspin's community votes on stories in order for the community's aggregate judgements to identify opinion disguised as fact and reflect the degree of political bias detected in stories from both the left and right. And on the cutting edge of community-based filtering tools, Intel labs' Dispute Finder Firefox Extension "highlights disputed claims on web pages you browse and shows you evidence for alternative points of view."
The good news about the pace of medical research is also the bad news - few medical specialists can keep up with the rate of new discoveries. That means that it's possible for the collective intelligence of a committed community - and there is nothing as committed as people who are suffering from a disease - to stay ahead of all but those most dedicated individual specialists. However, along with the latest word on cutting-edge drug trials are unsubstantiated claims, rumors, outright quackery. When it comes to medical information, just as when it comes to information that affects political liberty, believing or forwarding badinfo can be unhealthy or fatal. Again, the critical consumer of online medical advice has a number of triangulation tools at hand. For scientific articles, Science Direct has guest access. The Health on the Net Foundation has been a steady source of finding reliable/credible health information online. They even have a browser plug-in that enables you to check health information on any website against HON's database. An astute medical student wrote a guide to how to check quality of medical information online. How much work is it to check three links before believing or passing along health information you find online? Simply Googling the name of the Dr. who tried to sell do-it-yourself eye surgery kits, for example, immediately raises questions for those who are considering aiming lasers at their own retinas.
To me, the issue of information literacy could be even more important than the health or education of some individuals. Fundamental aspects of democracy, economic production, the discovery and use of knowledge might be at stake. Some of the biggest problems facing the world today seem to be far beyond the ability of any individual or community, or even the whole human race, to tackle. But the noise death of the Internet is something we can take on and win. Although large forces are at work, when it comes to the shape of online media, I believe that what people know - and how many people know - matters. Digital media and networked publics are only the infrastructure for participation - the cables and chips do no good unless people know how to use them. The collision of newly participative populations with authoritarian control is taking place every day in Teheran and Beijing, Berlin and Washington, D.C. Nobody knows how this clash will play out, but the one cost-effective measure that the participative have in their contest with central control is know-how. And the lack of know-how among the population is an asset to those who seek to put the lid back on their - our - power of expression.
(Please suggest resources in comments, and I will add them below as I receive, find, and vet them)
The G20 in Pittsburgh showed us how pitifully fearful our leaders have become.
What no terrorist could do to us, our own leaders did.
Out of fear of the possibility of a terrorist attack, authorities militarized our towns, scared our people away, stopped daily life and quashed our constitutional rights.
For days, downtown Pittsburgh, home to the G20, was turned into a militarized people-free ghost town. Sirens screamed day and night. Helicopters crisscrossed the skies. Gunboats sat in the rivers. The skies were defended by Air Force jets. Streets were barricaded by huge cement blocks and fencing. Bridges were closed with National Guard across the entrances. Public transportation was stopped downtown. Amtrak train service was suspended for days.
In many areas, there were armed police every 100 feet. Businesses closed. Schools closed. Tens of thousands were unable to work.
Four thousand police were on duty plus 2500 National Guard plus Coast Guard and Air Force and dozens of other security agencies. A thousand volunteers from other police forces were sworn in to help out.
Police were dressed in battle gear, bulky black ninja turtle outfits - helmets with clear visors, strapped on body armor, shin guards, big boots, batons, and long guns.
In addition to helicopters, the police had hundreds of cars and motorcycles , armored vehicles, monster trucks, small electric go-karts. There were even passenger vans screaming through town so stuffed with heavily armed ninja turtles that the side and rear doors remained open.
No terrorists showed up at the G20.
Since no terrorists showed up, those in charge of the heavily armed security forces chose to deploy their forces around those who were protesting.
Not everyone is delighted that 20 countries control 80% of the world's resources. Several thousand of them chose to express their displeasure by protesting.
Unfortunately, the officials in charge thought that it was more important to create a militarized people-free zone around the G20 people than to allow freedom of speech, freedom of assembly or the freedom to protest.
It took a lawsuit by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU to get any major protest permitted anywhere near downtown Pittsburgh. Even then, the police "forgot" what was permitted and turned people away from areas of town. Hundreds of police also harassed a bus of people who were giving away free food - repeatedly detaining the bus and searching it and its passengers without warrants.
Then a group of young people decided that they did not need a permit to express their human and constitutional rights to freedom. They announced they were going to hold their own gathering at a city park and go down the deserted city streets to protest the G20. Maybe 200 of these young people were self-described anarchists, dressed in black, many with bandanas across their faces. The police warned everyone these people were very scary. My cab driver said the anarchist spokesperson looked like Harry Potter in a black hoodie. The anarchists were joined in the park by hundreds of other activists of all ages, ultimately one thousand strong, all insisting on exercising their right to protest.
This drove the authorities crazy.
Battle dressed ninja turtles showed up at the park and formed a line across one entrance. Helicopters buzzed overhead. Armored vehicles gathered.
The crowd surged out of the park and up a side street yelling, chanting, drumming, and holding signs. As they exited the park, everyone passed an ice cream truck that was playing "It's a small world after all." Indeed.
Any remaining doubts about the militarization of the police were dispelled shortly after the crowd left the park. A few blocks away the police unveiled their latest high tech anti-protestor toy. It was mounted on the back of a huge black truck. The Pittsburgh-Gazette described it as Long Range Acoustic Device designed to break up crowds with piercing noise. Similar devices have been used in Fallujah, Mosul and Basra Iraq. The police backed the truck up, told people not to go any further down the street and then blasted them with piercing noise.
The crowd then moved to other streets. Now they were being tracked by helicopters. The police repeatedly tried to block them from re-grouping ultimately firing tear gas into the crowd injuring hundreds including people in the residential neighborhood where the police decided to confront the marchers. I was treated to some of the tear gas myself and I found the Pittsburgh brand to be spiced with a hint of kelbasa. Fortunately I was handed some paper towels soaked in apple cider vinegar which helped fight the tears and cough a bit. Who would have thought?
After the large group broke and ran from the tear gas, smaller groups went into commercial neighborhoods and broke glass at a bank and a couple of other businesses. The police chased and the glass breakers ran. And the police chased and the people ran. For a few hours.
By day the police were menacing, but at night they lost their cool. Around a park by the University of Pittsburgh the ninja turtles pushed and shoved and beat and arrested not just protestors but people passing by. One young woman reported she and her friend watched Grey's Anatomy and were on their way back to their dorm when they were cornered by police. One was bruised by police baton and her friend was arrested. Police shot tear gas, pepper spray, smoke canisters, and rubber bullets. They pushed with big plastic shields and struck with batons.
The biggest march was Friday. Thousands of people from Pittsburgh and other places protested the G20. Since the court had ruled on this march, the police did not confront the marchers. Ninja turtled police showed up in formation sometimes and the helicopters hovered but no confrontations occurred.
Again Friday night, riot clad police fought with students outside of the University of Pittsburgh. To what end was just as unclear as the night before.
Ultimately about 200 were arrested, mostly in clashes with the police around the University.
The G20 leaders left by helicopter and limousine.
Pittsburgh now belongs again to the people of Pittsburgh. The cement barricades were removed, the fences were taken down, the bridges and roads were opened. The gunboats packed up and left. The police packed away their ninja turtle outfits and tear gas and rubber bullets. They don't look like military commandos anymore. No more gunboats on the river. No more sirens all the time. No more armored vehicles and ear splitting machines used in Iraq. On Monday the businesses will open and kids will have to go back to school. Civil society has returned.
It is now probably even safe to exercise constitutional rights in Pittsburgh once again.
The USA really showed those terrorists didn't we? Bill is a human rights lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights.Quigley77@yahoo.com (more information on police hurting citizens on Portland Indy Media)