Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Perdoar Aaron Swartz?

The State Should Not Pardon Aaron Swartz, por Corey Robin:

I understand the sentiment that underlies the petition. But I think it is wrong-headed and misplaced. It grants the state far too much.

It’s not simply a matter, as some have claimed to me on Twitter, that Swartz was never tried nor convicted of a crime; Ford, after all, pardoned Nixon before he was tried and convicted in the Senate. could be charged, tried or convicted in a court of law. The real issue is that in the court of public opinion, Swartz is the innocent—no, the hero—and the state is the criminal. It is the state, in other words, and not Swartz’s supporters, that should be seeking a pardon—from Swartz’s family, from his supporters, and from the public at large. Though, I hasten to add, it should never receive one.

Asking the state to pardon Swartz doubly empowers and exonerates the state. It cedes to the state the power to declare who is righteous and who is wrong (and thereby obscures the fact that it is the state that is the wrongful actor in this case).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Napoleon in Mali by Justin Raimondo --

Napoleon in Mali by Justin Raimondo --

"Before we can come to any appreciation of what is actually happening in Mali, the narrative we are being sold needs first to be debunked. News accounts refer to the rebels as "Islamists," an easy label to affix to groups very few know anything about. The reality, however, is quite different: the rebels are Tuaregs of Northwest Africa, a nomadic group whose historic homeland crosses the boundaries of Mali, Algeria, Libya, Niger, and Burkina Faso. They are herders and smugglers, whose caravans once provided the only source of commercial contact between the empires of central Africa and the Arab lands to the north. Their fight for independence precedes the existence of Al Qaeda by a hundred and fifty years.
In the Great Scramble for European colonies that began at the end of the 19thcentury, French colonialists invaded, seized the land, and subjected the locals to a program of forced "assimilation" into "French civilization." The Tuaregs have been fighting to regain their independence ever since. Today, however, that struggle has been reinterpreted as yet another example of "Islamic terrorism."
This is outright false. The Tuareg independence movement is led by the National. Movement for the Liberation of Awazad (MNLA), a secular organization that only wants autonomy for the Tuareg areas of Mali. There are active Islamists in Mali, affiliated with Ansar Dine, which has no known affiliation with Al Qaeda in the Mahgreb other than the fact that Ansar Dine’s leader, Ag Ghaly, is a cousin of AQIM commander Hamada Ag Hamada. "It is true that Ansar Dine have the black flags, but they are not Al Qaeda," said MNLA spokesman Ag Assarid. "They want stability on the streets," which the "government" of Mali is unable to provide, and "they are against Al Qaeda too." North African specialist Salma Belaala concurs: “We can’t make a systematic link between the AQIM and Tuareg. It’s completely false."
In any case, the tactical alliance between the MNLA and Ansar Dine has been an on and off affair: days after the "merger" of their forces was announced, the MNLA began to back off – and, a week later, the lash up was back on again. This link to "terrorism," never mind Al Qaeda, is tenuous indeed – but how else will the revanchist dream of a revived French empire in Africa be realized except under the rubric of the "war on terrorism"?
If the French invasion – or, rather, re-invasion – of Mali is really aimed at expunging Al Qaeda, then perhaps they ought to be attacking the Algerians: Professor Jeremy Keenan, of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, says the Algerians have longtime links not only to Ag Ghaly, but also to important Al Qaeda figures, including Abdelhamid abou Zaid. The Algerians, he says, have an interest in supporting the "specter" of Al Qaeda looming in the Sahel because it increases their value to the US – and promises to reap a bonanza in military and economic aid."

As consequências políticas dos "paywalls" académicos

The political consequences of academic paywalls, por Sarah Kendzior (Al-Jazeera):

The suicide of Aaron Swartz, the activist committed to making scholarly research accessible to everyone, has renewed debate about the ethics of academic publishing. Under the current system, academic research is housed in scholarly databases, which charge as much as $50 per article to those without a university affiliation.

The only people who profit from this system are academic publishers. Scholars receive no money from the sale of their articles, and are marginalized by a public who cannot afford to read their work. Ordinary people are denied access to information and prohibited from engaging in scholarly debate.

Academic paywalls are often presented as a moral or financial issue. How can one justify profiting off unpaid labour while denying the public access to research frequently funded through taxpayer dollars? But paywalls also have broader political consequences. Whether or not an article is accessible affects more than just the author or reader. It affects anyone who could potentially benefit from scholarly insight, information or expertise – that is, everyone.

The impact of the paywall is most significant in places where censorship and propaganda reign. When information is power, the paywall privileges the powerful. Dictatorships are the paywall’s unwitting beneficiary. (...)

In 2006, I wrote an article proving that the government of Uzbekistan had fabricated a terrorist group in order to justify shooting hundreds of Uzbek civilians gathered at a protest in the city of Andijon. Like all peer-reviewed academic articles, “Inventing Akromiya: The Role of Uzbek Propagandists in the Andijon Massacre” was published in a journal and sequestered from public view. In 2008, I published the article on, a website where scholars can upload their works as pdfs on individual homepages. This had consequences beyond what I had anticipated. (...)

Over the next few years, many Uzbeks linked to the “Akromiya” controversy began petitioning for political asylum. Because they had been labeled Islamic terrorists by the Uzbek government, they faced an uphill battle in the Western legal system. My academic article became a piece of evidence in many of these asylum cases, including this one from the United Nations Refugee Agency, which cites the copy available at Because I made my work open, it helped keep innocent people from being deported to a country where they would be jailed or killed. (...)

After the suicide of Aaron Swartz, many academics published their papers online and linked to them on Twitter under the hashtag #pdftribute. They did this to honour Swartz’s fight to make information available to more than the academic elite. Critics have argued that this action is essentially meaningless, as it fails to address the career incentive of the professoriate, whose ability to advance professionally rests on their willingness to publish in journals inaccessible to the public.

This is a valid point – for Western academics. For the rest of the world, it is irrelevant. When an activist needs information about the political conditions of her country, she should be able to read it. When a lawyer needs ammunition against a corrupt regime, she should be able to find it. When a journalist is struggling to cover a foreign conflict, she should have access to research on that country.

One could argue that non-academics sources suffice, but that is not necessarily the case. The specialisation that makes academic work seem obscure or boring to a general audience is also what makes it uniquely valuable. Academics cover topics in depth that few cover at all. Unfortunately, their expertise is shielded from the people who need it most.
Sobre isso, ver também este artigo de George Moonbiot, "Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist", no Comment is Free / The Guardian.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

As novas tabelas de IRS

Pelas minha contas, vou ganhar mais um euro por mês do que no ano passado.

[Atendendo a que eu sou "despesa pública", isso pode ser visto como uma derrapagem?]

Saturday, January 12, 2013

EUA não vão construir "Estrela da Morte"

Em resposta a uma petição para construir uma "Estrela da Morte", a Casa Branca responde:

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

[Via Business Insider]

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Nascida a 9 de janeiro

[Via Joana Lopes]

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Friday, January 04, 2013

E será moral acusados (seja de que crime for) não terem direito a defesa?

Pelos vistos, nenhum advogado irá aceitar a defesa dos acusados de violação e homicídio da tal rapariga na Índia, já que, segundo um deles, "seria imoral assegurar a defesa nesta caso".

Já agora, pelo que tenho lido e visto, essa decisão terá sido tomada colectivamente pelo equivalente local da Ordem dos Advogados; ora, um advogado recusar-se, individualmente, a representar um caso que vá contra a sua consciência e sensibilidade parece-me algo bastante louvável; já uma organização com tutela sobre os advogados decidir que nenhum advogado vai aceitar um determinado caso parece-me algo um pouco sinistro.

Um ponto final - isto pode parecer uma ideia um bocado estranha, mas ocorre-me que a mentalidade "uma mulher que anda na rua à noite sem a família atrás é um alvo aceitável de violação" e a mentalidade "acusados de crimes que tenham chocado a sociedade não têm direito a defesa em tribunal" talvez tenham mais pontos de contacto do que pode parecer à primeira vista.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Sobre a nova lei anti-tabaco

Pelos vistos, o ministro da Saúde considera insuficiente uma redução de 5% do número de fumadores.

Mas, mas, os objectivo da lei do tabaco não era reduzir o problema dos fumadores passivos? Desde que haja menos não-fumadores a apanhar involuntariamente com o fumo dos fumadores, o que é que interessa se há menos 5% ou menos 50% de fumadores? Até poderia ter aumentado o número de fumadores, desde que fossem fumar só em áreas para fumadores.

Claro que há o argumento que os fumadores representam mais despesa para o SNS, mas mesmo que esse argumento seja verdadeiro (e não tenho a certeza que o seja), isso, à partida, já será compensado pelos impostos adicionais que pagam.

E, já agora, porque razão é que "está para ser divulgada uma proposta de directiva europeia"? Afinal, não me parece que a legislação sobre o tabaco de um país tenha efeitos sobre os outros países (duvido que a poluição dos cigarros tenha efeitos relevantes a nível dos ecossistemas globais), logo porque é que isso há de ser decidido à escala da UE?