Top 25 Censored Stories for 2010

via Project Censored.

Build Your Own Nation

Island_nation countries as of 2005, based on :...

“Sick of pesky government oversight? Don’t like taxes? Pessimistic about democracy in general? Why not find your build your own island nation and declare yourself king? Modern land-moving technology makes it easier than ever, but hardly an simple undertaking. As part of our May-June cover story, engineer McKinley Conway, How to Start Your Own Country author Erwin S. Strauss, and micro-nation documentarian George Dunford explain the history of the DIY nation.” (The Futurist)

How To Communicate Securely in Repressive Environments

Several mobile phones

“It is no myth that repressive regimes are becoming increasingly more savvy in their ability to effectively employ sophisticated filtering, censoring, monitoring technologies (often courtesy of American companies like Cisco) to crack down on resistance movements. In other words, political activists need to realize that their regimes are becoming smarter and more effective, not dumber and hardly clueless.

That said, there are notable—at times surprising—loopholes. During the recent election violence in Iran, for example, was blocked but not In any case, repressive regimes will continue to block more sites impose information blockades because they tend to view new media and digital technologies as a threat.

Perhaps technologies of liberation are a force more powerful?

In order to remain on the offensive against repressive regimes, nonviolent civil resistance movements need to ensure they are up to speed on digital security, if only for defense purposes. Indeed, I am particularly struck by the number of political activists in repressive regimes who aren’t aware of the serious risks they take when they use their mobile phones or the Internet to communicate with other activists.” — Patrick Meier (iRevolution via walker)


Democracy on the Wane?

//...In country after country, democratic reforms are in retreat. The surprising culprit: the middle class. This Boston Globe article is quite shabbily argued. Beginning from the recent massive populist uprising against the government in Bangkok, the author opines:

“The events unfolding in Thailand are part of a gathering global revolt against democracy. In 2007, the number of countries with declining freedoms exceeded those with advancing freedoms by nearly four to one, according to a recent report by Freedom House, an organization that monitors global democracy trends.

And the villains, surprisingly enough, are the same people who supposedly make democracy possible: the middle class. Traditional theories of democratization, such as those of Harvard professor Samuel Huntington, predict a story of middle class heroics: As a country develops a true middle class, these urban, educated citizens insist on more rights in order to protect their economic and social interests. Eventually, as the size of the middle class grows, those demands become so overwhelming that democracy is inevitable. But now, it appears, the middle class in some nations has turned into an antidemocratic force. Young democracy, with weak institutions, often brings to power, at first, elected leaders who actually don’t care that much about upholding democracy. As these demagogues tear down the very reforms the middle classes built, those same middle classes turn against the leaders, and then against the system itself, bringing democracy to collapse.”

An alternate way to read these events is that the protests are not antidemocratic at all, but rather protests against the sort of pseudo-democracy that has been foisted off as an excuse for the real thing for a long time… at least since the West “won” the Cold War. These forces are antidemocratic in the same sense that Bush says the terrorists hate us because we are free. Our smugness about our “freedom” lulls us into a false complacency; Americans should be taking to the streets over the sham that passes for democracy here as well. It has long been evident that the US is at the pinnacle of perfection of authoritarian social control, so subtle that its victims do not even know they are being controlled. Maybe, in places like Thailand, it is just done more clumsily, so that the remaining capacity for outrage in the middle classes can be mobilized as it cannot here?