Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Leaked cables show U.S. tried, failed to organize against Ecuador compulsory licensing

Leaked cables show U.S. tried, failed to organize against Ecuador compulsory licensing.

Compulsory licensing:

Compulsory licensing authorizes generic competition with patented, monopoly protected drugs.  Generic competition reduces costs and enables public agencies to scale-up treatment and other services.” 

The losers are the untold millions unable to pay for the drugs they need and, what’s more, shut out of any future that promises a better world. But it’s not a surprise. So much of the idea of the nation formed and reformed over the last 150 years is about presenting a theatre of war for private corporations, not for “the people.” Indeed, the people who count, who matter, are already, in this logic, part of the moneyed interests. Yet, I’m hopeful, for the very fact that Ecuador is doing this, and that Brazil has also intervened with a not too dissimilar option, and that sites such as infojustice.org exists, and that there could even be such dramatic revolutions in northern Africa and in the Arab Gulf states, all these things, recuperations of the enthusiasm we saw prior to 9/11 and the Iraq War, all give me hope. There is a sense of social justice.

Scientists Cast Doubt on TSA Tests of Full-Body Scanners – ProPublica

Scientists Cast Doubt on TSA Tests of Full-Body Scanners – ProPublica.

Why is an open government policy and programme important? Because, as we see from the ProPublica article and from the very recent history of the Japanese nuclear reactor responses and suppressions and collusions and misdeeds, governments suppress information that affects the wellbeing of their nations’ residents. It’s not a matter of ignorance or accident. It’s a question of actual intentional suppression.

I tend to believe things are getting better, for a couple of reasons. One is that there are tools now that more people have access to and also know how to use, and there is a sufficiently large enough audience for this sort of information. (Proportionally, it may be quite a lot smaller than before, but the actual numbers, the quantity, is what counts.) Second, the *point* of government is evolving and clarifying. As we continue to emerge to a kind of post-enlightenment democratic complex, one less woven with racist and racialist threads, though these are obviously still colouring the material of our being, to one that actually allows us to claim as our identity our ambitions. Yes, that’s wildly optimistic.

On Our Radar: Nations Race to Carve Up Arctic – NYTimes.com

On Our Radar: Nations Race to Carve Up Arctic – NYTimes.com.

And why is there not a flood of science fiction works on this matter? There will be wars, visible or not, bloody or not.

Harper wins majority, CBC projects – Canada Votes 2011 – CBC News

Harper wins majority, CBC projects – Canada Votes 2011 – CBC News.

This is bleak news indeed. Only good part is that Layton is now the Opposition, not Ignatieff.

Data Privacy, Put to the Test in a Supreme Court Case – NYTimes.com

Data Privacy, Put to the Test in a Supreme Court Case – NYTimes.com.

This case is enormously important. One way of looking at it is not from the perspective of “control,” as in, “I want to control my public persona,” which puts a lot of weight on “control,” but on the similar dynamic of what it  means to be(come) a commodity. It’s not quite the same as chattel slavery; hardly. The object in question–the consumer who leaves a trail of identity constituting the soul which holds him to account–is not being asked to do things. But the loss of privacy here, which is tantamount to the commercialisation of public identity by others in despite of the will of the person (and we can further include the marketing of genetic code, blood, and other body tissues: what’s the difference?), is effectively a modern form of slavery by other means.

The point I’m trying to make is oddly not the libertarian one that we absolutely own our own selves, but rather the more complex one that we never do. And for that reason, we need to establish defensible boundaries of identity, much as in the same way we have set perimeters defining the limits of our home, our family, even “our” nation. All these are conventions, though “family” is also probably a thing that comes before and after convention. But its extent, and the degree to which we can act on and with it, is a thing of convention, a thing, that is, of social definition and negotiation.