Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Save the Internet. Seriously.



How would the gutting of Network Neutrality affect you?

Google users
Another search engine could pay dominant Internet providers like AT&T to guarantee the competing search engine opens faster than Google on your computer.

Innovators with the "next big idea
Startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay Internet providers for dominant placing on the Web. The little guy will be left in the "slow lane" with inferior Internet service, unable to compete.

iPod listeners
A company like Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a higher-priced music service that it owned.

Political groups
Political organizing could be slowed by a handful of dominant Internet providers who ask advocacy groups to pay "protection money" for their websites and online features to work correctly.

A charity's website could open at snail-speed, and online contributions could grind to a halt, if nonprofits can't pay dominant Internet providers for access to "the fast lane" of Internet service.

Online purchasers
Companies could pay Internet providers to guarantee their online sales process faster than competitors with lower pricesdistorting your choice as a consumer.

Small businesses and tele-commuters
When Internet companies like AT&T favor their own services, you won't be able to choose more affordable providers for online video, teleconferencing, Internet phone calls, and software that connects your home computer to your office.

Parents and retirees
Your choices as a consumer could be controlled by your Internet provider, steering you to their preferred services for online banking, health care information, sending photos, planning vacations, etc.

Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clipssilencing citizen journalists and putting more power in the hands of a few corporate-owned media outlets.

Blocking Innovation
Corporate control of the Web would reduce your choices and stifle the spread of innovative and independent ideas that we've come to expect online. It would throw the digital revolution into reverse. Internet gatekeepers are already discriminating against Web sites and services they don't like:

* In 2004, North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using any rival Web-based phone service.

* In 2005, Canada's telephone giant Telus blocked customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to the Telecommunications Workers Union during a contentious labor dispute.

* Shaw, a major Canadian cable, internet, and telephone service company, intentionally downgrades the "quality and reliability" of competing Internet-phone services that their customers might choose -- driving customers to their own phone services not through better services, but by rigging the marketplace.

* In April, Time Warner's AOL blocked all emails that mentioned www.dearaol.com -- an advocacy campaign opposing the company's pay-to-send e-mail scheme.

This is just the beginning. Cable and telco giants want to eliminate the Internet's open road in favor of a tollway that protects their status quo while stifling new ideas and innovation. If they get their way, they'll shut down the free flow of information and dictate how you use the Internet.

More information via video clips

Serious, via Public Knowledge

Humorous, via Ask-A-Ninja

Visit this web site for more information and get involved! http://www.savetheinternet.com

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Buy Your Gas at Citgo

Jeff Cohen says:

Looking for an easy way to protest Bush foreign policy week after week? And an easy way to help alleviate global poverty? Buy your gasoline at Citgo stations.

Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez. Call him "the Anti-Bush."

Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela -- not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. There are 14, 000 Citgo gas stations in the US) By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans.

Instead of using government to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does, Chavez is using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help the poor in Venezuela. A country with so much oil wealth shouldn't have 60 percent of its people living in poverty, earning less than $2 per day. With a mass movement behind him, Chavez is confronting poverty in Venezuela. That's why large majorities have consistently backed him in democratic elections. And why the Bush administration supported an attempted military coup in 2002 that sought to overthrow Chavez.

So this is the opposite of a boycott. Call it a BUYcott. Spread the word.

We should all work for political changes that move our country toward a cleaner environment based on renewable energy. So get your gas at Citgo. And help fuel a democratic revolution in Venezuela.

You know, I'm sure Chavez is no saint, but overall the guy seems to be doing the best thing for his poorest citizens down there. Using gas money to provide health care and education? What a concept! Giving land stolen by previous super-rich friendly administrations down there back to citizens (with deed) to develop? Insane! It's no surprise that the elite of the country, many of which have strong ties to our elites, hate Chavez with a passion. The guy is demonized in the American press constantly, while treated as a respected head of state in other countries.

I think Hugo knows he's on "the list". He'll either be invaded at some point, which is why I believe he's arming his citizens and is telling them to fight off any invaders that want to "help" them and bring "democracy", (by bombing them and wrecking everything like was done in Iraq), or he'll be assassinated. They've already kidnapped him once in 2002 and tried to overthrow his government; documented in the amazing Revolution Will Not Be Televised documentary.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with Hugo Chavez over the next few years. The guy has balls, as evidenced by him going on TV a few months ago and calling W a donkey.

On the Web:

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
(Google Streaming Video of complete documentary)

Documentary information @ Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Special Kind of Stupid

I blame the public educational system and what some argue as the deliberate dumbing down of America in the last decade.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After more than three years of combat and nearly 2,400 U.S. military deaths in Iraq, nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 24 still cannot find Iraq on a map, a study released Tuesday showed.

The study found that less than six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, 33 percent could not point out Louisiana on a U.S. map.

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study paints a dismal picture of the geographic knowledge of the most recent graduates of the U.S. education system.

"Taken together, these results suggest that young people in the United States ... are unprepared for an increasingly global future," said the study's final report.

"Far too many lack even the most basic skills for navigating the international economy or understanding the relationships among people and places that provide critical context for world events."

The study, which surveyed 510 young Americans from December 17 to January 20, showed that 88 percent of those questioned could not find Afghanistan on a map of Asia despite widespread coverage of the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and the political rebirth of the country.

In the Middle East, 63 percent could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map, and 75 percent could not point out Iran or Israel. Forty-four percent couldn't find any one of those four countries.

Inside the United States, "half or fewer of young men and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map [50 percent and 43 percent, respectively]," the study said.

On the positive side, the study noted, seven in 10 young Americans correctly located China on a map, even though they had a number of misconceptions about that country. Forty-five percent said China's population is only twice that of the United States. It's actually four times larger than the U.S. population.

When the poll was conducted in 2002, "Americans scored second to last on overall geographic knowledge, trailing Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Sweden," the report said.

The release of the 2006 study coincides with the launch of the National Geographic-led campaign called "My Wonderful World." A statement on the program said it was designed to "inspire parents and educators to give their kids the power of global knowledge."

  • Thirty-three percent of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map.

  • Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.

  • Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.

  • Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.

  • Forty-seven percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.

  • Seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.

  • Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.

  • Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world.

  • Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.

    Source: The Associated Press