October 31, 2010
No Gene or DNA Patents
Looks like the Department of Justice has decided patenting of genes or DNA discoveries is invalid, as these are indeed discoveries of something that already exists in nature. I agree with this but it remains to be seen if the patent office and courts enforce this decision.
October 23, 2010
The Guardian Iraq Report
The Guardian has analyzed the over 390,000 documents leaked via Wikileaks and put together an amazing brief interactive analysis in their Iraq: The war logs report. There is a tremendous amount of information contained in those records, which document in detail the sort of activities happening in Iraq since the removal of Saddam Hussein and his government in 2003.
I strongly recommend everyone take a look through the articles and reports The Guardian has put together. Given the size and depth of the information contained in the leaked documents, only a very small portion can be covered an summarized when presented for general consumption. But I believe it is important to know and understand the situation in Iraq, the activities that are taking place there, and the level of involvement and acceptance or tolerance that the U.S. government is engaging in.
For a quick overview, you can start with their Iraq war logs: An introduction. There are a bunch of jumping off points from that page. The New York Times and SPIEGEL have also put up special sections to cover the newly revealed information.
If you missed the earlier coverage on Afghanistan, also from documents leaked via Wikileaks, check out The Guardian's Afghanistan: The war logs site.
October 12, 2010
Big Brother Privatized
As if Blackwater (now Xe Services LLC) wasn't proof enough of how private companies performing federal duties without oversight is a bad thing, an agency called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR) has been caught performing domestic surveillance on behalf of state and federal law enforcement agencies. Even worse, it appears their so-called "intelligence" is mostly complete fabrication or contain extreme conclusions based on innocent fact.
ITRR's activities were exposed in relation to surveillance over civil protest groups in Pennsylvania. The Al Jazeera article focuses on the group Peace of the Action which was founded by Cindy Sheehan. But the leaked documents also explicitly mention the recent UC tuition protests and suggest law enforcement start "coordinated responses" to control this "Anarchist movement."
ITRR states it is "an American and Israeli nonprofit corporation."
October 8, 2010
FBI Tracking in my Neighborhood
Wired is reporting on a 20-year old student in Santa Clara (where I live) that found an FBI tracking device on his car when getting auto service. Turns out the device was indeed installed by the FBI and he was probably being monitored for somewhere between three and six months.
I really do hope the ACLU does something with this case. I disagree with the recent 9th circuit ruling that states it is okay to initiate tracking of a person without a warrant, so long as the object you start tracking is publicly accessible (even if on private property). In other words, the FBI is allowed to place the tracking device on Afifi's car if it was parked outside his house, or at some other location, without a warrant. I believe in due process and the checks and balances between the executive and judicial branches of our government. A warrant should always be required for law enforcement agents and agencies to engage in surveillance.