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With friends like these... Facebook has 59 million users - and 2 million new ones join each week. But you won't catch Tom Hodgkinson volunteering his personal information - not now that he knows the politics of the people behind the social networking site - I despise Facebook. This enormously successful American business describes itself as "a social utility that connects you with the people around you". But hang on. Why on God's earth would I need a computer to connect with the people around me? Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California? What was wrong with the pub?
And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn't it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, while chained to my desk? A friend of mine recently told me that he had spent a Saturday night at home alone on Facebook, drinking at his desk. What a gloomy image. Far from connecting us, Facebook actually isolates us at our workstations.
Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and self-importance in us, too. If I put up a flattering picture of myself with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval. ("I like Facebook," said another friend. "I got a shag out of it.") It also encourages a disturbing competitivness around friendship: it seems that with friends today, quality counts for nothing and quantity is king. The more friends you have, the better you are. You are "popular", in the sense much loved in American high schools. Witness the cover line on Dennis Publishing's new Facebook magazine: "How To Double Your Friends List." - The third board member of Facebook is Jim Breyer. He is a partner in the venture capital firm Accel Partners, who put $12.7m into Facebook in April 2005. On the board of such US giants as Wal-Mart and Marvel Entertainment, he is also a former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Now these are the people who are really making things happen in America, because they invest in the new young talent, the Zuckerbergs and the like. Facebook's most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock's senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What's In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA. After 9/11, the US intelligence community became so excited by the possibilities of new technology and the innovations being made in the private sector, that in 1999 they set up their own venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel, which "identifies and partners with companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help deliver these solutions to the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community (IC) to further their missions".
The US defence department and the CIA love technology because it makes spying easier. "We need to find new ways to deter new adversaries," defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2003. "We need to make the leap into the information age, which is the critical foundation of our transformation efforts." In-Q-Tel's first chairman was Gilman Louie, who served on the board of the NVCA with Breyer. Another key figure in the In-Q-Tel team is Anita K Jones, former director of defence research and engineering for the US department of defence, and - with Breyer - board member of BBN Technologies. When she left the US department of defence, Senator Chuck Robb paid her the following tribute: "She brought the technology and operational military communities together to design detailed plans to sustain US dominance on the battlefield into the next century." - The CIA may look at the stuff when they feel like it
"By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States ... We may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws. We do not reveal information until we have a good faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private litigants meets applicable legal standards. Additionally, we may share account or other information when we believe it is necessary to comply with law, to protect our interests or property, to prevent fraud or other illegal activity perpetrated through the Facebook service or using the Facebook name, or to prevent imminent bodily harm. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, agents or government agencies." (London Guardian)
Report reveals Vietnam War hoaxes, faked attacks North Vietnamese made hoax calls to get the US military to bomb its own units during the Vietnam War, according to declassified information that also confirmed US officials faked an incident to escalate the war.
The report was released by the National Security Agency, responsible for much of the United States' codebreaking and eavesdropping work, in response to a "mandatory declassification" request, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) said Monday. - That was a reported North Vietnamese attack on American destroyers that helped lead to president Lyndon Johnson's sharp escalation of American forces in Vietnam.
The author of the report "demonstrates that not only is it not true, as (then US) secretary of defense Robert McNamara told Congress, that the evidence of an attack was 'unimpeachable,' but that to the contrary, a review of the classified signals intelligence proves that 'no attack happened that night,'" FAS said in a statement.
"What this study demonstrated is that the available intelligence shows that there was no attack. It's a dramatic reversal of the historical record," Aftergood said.
"There were previous indications of this but this is the first time we have seen the complete study," he said. (Agence France-Presse)
U.S. Warns Iran Against 'Provocative Actions' Following Incident in Strait of Hormuz The United States issued a stern warning to Iran Monday following an incident near the Strait of Hormuz in which Iranian speedboats veered dangerously close to three U.S. Navy ships and intercepted radio signals said U.S. "ships would explode."
U.S. ships blew whistles, issued radio warnings and took evasive maneuvers to avoid striking the Iranian boats, which motored as close as 200 yards from the American ships by one account. The naval ships armed their weapons, and the five unmarked Iranian boats — believed to belong to the Iran Revolutionary Guard — sped away.
The incident lasted less than 30 minutes, Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, commander of the the 5th fleet, told reporters Monday. (FOX)
Stonewalled by the C.I.A. The goal was to provide the American people with the fullest possible account of the “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001” - and to offer recommendations to prevent future attacks (New York Times)
Destruction of Evidence from Ground Zero at the World Trade Center The Destruction of Evidence from Ground Zero at the World Trade Center following the events of September 11, 2001, occurred, even though the criminal code requires that crime scene evidence be kept for forensic analysis. FEMA had steel recovered from the building rubble destroyed or shipped overseas before a serious investigation could take place.
However, the Associated Press reported in a February 26, 2004, update that not only did the FBI ban the removal of crime scene evidence "after 13 agents stole WTC rubble," but also stated that "'All relevant evidence connected with the WTC crime scene was properly retrieved, catalogued and maintained.'" (Source Watch)
Transponders: Save money on every trip by using a transponder! A transponder is a small electronic device that you attach to the interior of the windshield behind the rear-view mirror. Installation is easy, requires no tools and can be done in less than two minutes.
If you travel 407 ETR more than six times a year, a transponder will save you money by avoiding video toll charges. A video toll charge is added to every trip that is processed by our licence plate recognition system. (407 ETR)
Obama's views have changed with time When he ran for the Senate, Obama called the act a "shoddy and dangerous law" that should be replaced. After he took office, the Senate considered an update that Obama criticized as only a modest improvement and one that was inferior to other alternatives. Still, Obama ended up voting for that renewal and update of the Patriot Act. (USA Today)
Put carbon tax on babies: academic While carbon trading will no doubt play a key role in curbing emissions, environmental scientists say the politically sensitive issue of population growth also needs to be given more consideration in the climate change debate.
Now a radical proposal to reduce population growth has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia - a carbon tax on babies.
The parents of any baby born today in Australia will receive a Federal Government bonus of $4,187. In July next year, that'll go up to $5,000.
It's a controversial policy but the argument that it is environmentally unfriendly hasn't often been raised.
Now though writing in the Medical Journal of Australia Barry Walters, an associate professor of obstetric medicine at the University of Western Australia, is making that case.
Dr Walters says every family choosing to have more than a defined number of children should be charged a carbon tax. He goes on to argue that those purchasing condoms or undergoing sterilisation procedures should be awarded carbon credits. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Tax babies 'to save planet' COUPLES who have more than two children should be charged a lifelong tax to offset their extra offspring's carbon dioxide emissions, a medical expert says. The report in an Australian medical journal called for parents to be charged $5000 a head for every child after their second, and an annual tax of up to $800. (News.au.com)
NAFTA Superhighway Mid Continental Corridor is under way The American Presidential candidates are discussing the existence of what is contained in the Manitoba Speech from the Throne and the Albertan North American Trade Corridors map. Americans concerned about their country losing sovereignty in a North American Union are circulating YouTubes contrasting the reality of the Speech, and Map, to the words of those denying the Superhighways' existence.
Though our political system differs, Canadians will do well to watch the influence of these contributions from Canada as Americans select their next president. Will the person selected be following the denial policy of President Bush or charting a different course? (The Canadian)
What's Wrong With Fusion Centers Executive Summary - New institutions like fusion centers must be planned in a public, open manner, and their implications for privacy and other key values carefully thought out and debated. And like any powerful institution in a democracy, they must be constructed in a carefully bounded and limited manner with sufficient checks and balances to prevent abuse. Unfortunately, the new fusion centers have not conformed to these vital requirements. (American Civil Liberties Union)
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