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That this topic would show up on this blog was inevitable. As an agnostic who is able to accept the possibility of gods existing, but finds the chance to be rather slim; I’m not fond of religion. Particularly when it comes to the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). I consider them intolerant religions by default, due their claims of there being only one true god, and simply denying that any other gods even exist, declaring them as false or turning them into fiends. They have introduced the concept of holy wars, the idea that you need to kill and die for something completely intangible.

However, out of all fruits that falls from that same tree; I hold a special kind of contempt for the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. While my entries will not be merciful on Christianity as a whole, and a number of things will apply for Islam and Judaism as well, eventually I will focus upon Catholicism in particular…especially the Vatican. After all, the Vatican is effectively the heart and brain of the Catholic Church. Well…more or less. A shrivelled, deformed piece of flesh covered in tar, that is supposed to pass on as a heart sounds more accurate in this case, and the brain would seem to suffer a severe case of dementia . Just specifying, as creating the impression that the Vatican has an actual ”heart” is hysterically absurd.

What sets Catholicism apart from the rest is simple:

I: It has its own sovereign state. [1]

II: This sovereign state has been involved in a staggering amount of atrocities committed throughout history, to the extent that it is unmatched by any other religion in this regard.

III: The unparalleled hypocrisy together with certain very dubious principles. contemplate

I will go in detail about these three points below with varying levels of detail

I
The Vatican being a sovereign state is the most extreme example of the lack of separation of church and state for obvious reasons. Even Iran isn’t comparable. The church is the state. The problem with this is, that unlike institutions of other religions, the Vatican has direct political power; which is significantly amplified because the sovereign state sits at the top of the hierarchy of the Catholic church. This means that the Vatican is a world-wide threat to the separation between church and state. Although the Vatican’s pressure was a lot stronger in the past, when excommunication actually had a significant impact; it can still substantially influence modern countries. It also means that it can abuse concepts such as diplomatic immunity.

II
Then there’s the matter of how it is either directly or indirectly responsible for countless suffering, all in the name of defending and expanding Catholicism. It actually is official policy of the Catholic Church to encourage conversion. I quote: ”The Church maintains that it “has a duty to evangelize; it is also its inalienable right”. [2]

Historically, Catholicism is the religion that has been the most aggressively proselytized. While certain individual Muslim rulers might have aggressively proselytized Islam as well, I don’t think you can really claim it was standard. This isn’t very surprising, considering that they were more independent than their Christian counterparts; as there is no such thing as a Muslim version of the Vatican. This, in turn, means that due (forced) conversion not leading to some matter of rewards from a powerful entity; I’d dare say they were generally inclined to be more practical. Certainly, Islam has its ”Jihads”, but its really not comparable to an actual crusade, considering anyone can proclaim a Jihad. If anything, Jihads called by rulers merely seem like a convenient casus Belli to me. And unlike Christianity, the Muslims never had any religious military orders akin to the Knight’s Templars, Hospitallers or the Teutonic Order. The closest thing to a Muslim military order were the fabled Ḥashshāshī, [3] which is hardly comparable to any Christian military order, because of its structure, method of operations and sometimes mercenary nature …and that unlike the Christians, they had no desire to convert by the sword.

III
Christians, especially Catholics, are relatively often viewed as hypocrites and for good reason. The Bible holds more than a hundred inconsistencies and contradictions, [4] although this isn’t really that damning until you delve at some at some of the core believes of Christianity. God is considered almighty, all-knowing and considered to enshrine both justice and goodness. He is both merciful and loving. All of these claims are ultimately rubbish and can not be true if you study certain passages in the Bible…unless you have a very questionable sense of what certain principles are supposed to mean. We can start by looking at the Ten Commandments. [5]

The first commandment is ”Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. It is already a bit curious that this is apparently important enough to be the first commandment, but it only becomes more incredible as the commandment is explained somewhat.

”Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

In other words, the very grave sin of worshipping an other god carries over up to the fourth generation…unlike (mass) murder. Furthermore, it is immediately equaled with hating god and also prevents you from receiving mercy from him.

So already in the first commandment, ”God” establishes himself as an exceedingly jealous and insecure deity, that even uses a veiled threat against any would be ”heretics”. Despite the talk about brought ”out of the house bondage”, ”God” demands loyalty from the start and considers it the greatest virtue. This actually gives a great religious explanation for why the Vatican punishes ”traitors” more harshly (or actually giving them a punishment to begin with) compared to (often homosexual) paedophile rapists. I could easily dig deeper in the Bible and portray numerous other examples; but I’ll save that for my second entry.

Christianity (especially Roman-Catholicism) has given ample justification for all sorts of atrocities and backward practices. A fundamental principle is that  is no equality, be it among men and women;  the faithful and the unbelievers or the clergy and laymen.

The Divine Right of Kings was firmly embraced by Christianity, essentially almost turning the king into a religious figure that ruled by the grace of God and no other…and thus, opposing a legitimate king would be effectively the same as opposing God. [6] [7] The only limitation was obviously the Pope, who could threaten to excommunicate a king, but that’s hardly a comforting thought, considering the actions of quite a number of Popes have been questionable and very much politically motivated. Especially in the case of the suppressing of non Christians, the Pope would not intervene. For example, let’s take a look at Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. [8] [9] Also known as Vlad Dracula and especially under his title of ”the Impaler”. This man was used as inspiration for the novel Dracula, although it turns out the historical Vlad was much more vicious than the fictional vampire count.

The real life Dracula is best known for his cruelty; in particular for his frequent use of impalement as an execution method. Although simply describing it as impalement doesn’t really do the brutality justice.His preferred method involving the use of a stake that would be inserted up someone’s  …anus and forcing it up; eventually exiting through the mouth. [10] The stake was typically oiled and not very sharp, so that the victim’s suffering would be prolonged. In fact, he eventually managed to perfect it to a demented art form; as some victims would endure for hours, if not days. His brutality and his great skill at using scare tactics actually managed to ”persuade” Sultan Mehmed II (the Conqueror of Constantinople) to abort his invasion of Wallachia.  In this case, the Vatican was quite pragmatic, actively supporting Vlad when he was imprisoned by the fraudulent King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (…and no, not because of his cruelty, but because he was a convenient scapegoat for Matthias).  Pope Pius II held Vlad III in high esteem…. [11] to the extent that the impalement execution method was officially sanctioned by the Vatican . [12] Impaling people up the ass in the name of Christianity is apparently quite dandy.

Pius II isn’t alone when it comes to bad Popes. What about Stephen VI,  Sergius III, Clement V, Alexander VI, John XII, Leo X, and Innocent III? The first decided to have the late Pope Formosus dug up from his tomb, so that he could be tried and executed for not correctly following protocol. [13] Executed being defined as having his rotting corpse thrown in the Tiber. The second has the dubious honour of potentially being the only Pope that had another Pope murdered (and an Antipope as well) and sired a bastard (…who became Pope John XI). [14] [15] He is also alleged to have had Formosum’s corpse exhumed once more (after some other Pope had buried the corpse again), putting him on trial again, declaring him guilty, severing his head and throwing him in the Tiber the once more. Clement V [16] [17] was a coward that submitted himself to the wishes of the French King Phillip IV, resulting into the destruction of the Knights Templars, [18] since Phillip IV had borrowed vast sums of money of the Knights Templar…and the demise of the Knights Templars meant that he’d never have to pay it back. [19]

Then there’s Pope Leo X [20] [21], who was so fiscally challenged, that he somehow managed to be unable cover his expenses with the more with an income of 600 000 ducats per year as Pope. As this was the early 16th century, this would translate to a truly staggering sum in modern days. He borrowed profusely, allegedly selling (among other things) cardinal hats, membership in some knightly order and even statues of the apostles. His actions drove on the Reformation, as he was a keen supporter of granting indulgences; a concept that was significantly criticized by reformers such as Martin Luther.

Pope Julius’ [22] history is also certainly more than a blemish on the Vatican, with his involvement with an adoptive nephew; bestowing on him to title of cardinal-nephew, showering him with gifts…to the extent his income was one of the highest in Europe. The affection led to rumours about the two having a homosexual relationship, further reinforced by the Venetian ambassador’s claim that they shared bed and bedroom. This allegation would end being used quite frequently by the Protestants to fuel anti-papal sentiment.  I’m sure some of the artwork in his villa didn’t help either. [23]

What about Pope John XII? [24] The man that was granted the Papal chair when he was somewhere around 18-20 and would be accused of holding orgies in the Lateran palace and being a homosexual. He managed to be the pope on three occasions, including when he first sold his office to his godfather; only to later on regret it and take the city back by force soon after. He has been referred to as immoral man with many mistresses, and that turned the Lateran into a brothel. There is an even an allegation that the legend about Pope Joan might been have brought about by a very influential mistress named ”Joan”.

The historically reviled Alexander VI  [25] [26] was quite a nice piece of work. Large scale nepotism, making his 17 year old son an archbishop, simply ”creating” 12 new cardinals so he could dominate the college of cardinals; one seat being taken by his now 18 years son and another by the brother of one of the Pope’s mistresses. He also issued the Inter caetera; [27] a papal bull that comes with this bastion of converting by the sword.

“Among other works well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this assuredly ranks highest, that in our times especially the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself. …we (the Papacy) command you (Spain) … to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents and dwellers therein in the Catholic faith, and train them in good morals.”

So not just approving of the Spanish conquest, but even demanding they continue, merely so they can stamp out the religions of the natives. A devious politician resorting to deceit and treachery to accomplish his usually corrupt goals, the only loyalty  being to his family as switched allegiances whenever advantageous, and consolidated the power of the Papacy in the Rome. He is said to have fathered have at least eight children and had many mistresses. There are even claims that he committed incest with his (also rather infamous) daughter, Lucrezie Borgia (although these allegations are less substantial, and it should be noted that it is easy to tack on things to such an already dubious figure). And to top it off, there was his involvement with the infamous Banquet of Chestnuts,  [28] which was a very large orgy with fifty prostitutes, numerous guests and clergy members and actually held in the Papal Palace.

And last, but not certainly not least; there is Pope Innocent III .[29] The architect of the bloody Albigensian Crusade and the shameful Fourth Crusade (that is, even from a Christian perspective). The Fourth Crusade actually leading to the Crusaders attacking and sacking Constantinople; essentially backstabbing their fellow Christians. It was a vicious blow to the Byzantine Empire, one that they never really recovered from, and pretty much paved the way for the Ottomans to ultimately emerge victorious from their conflicts with the Byzantines. At first the Pope was furious, making a rather damning speech:

How, indeed, will the church of the Greeks, no matter how severely she is beset with afflictions and persecutions, return into ecclesiastical union and to a devotion for the Apostolic See, when she has seen in the Latins only an example of perdition and the works of darkness, so that she now, and with reason, detests the Latins more than dogs? As for those who were supposed to be seeking the ends of Jesus Christ, not their own ends, who made their swords, which they were supposed to use against the pagans, drip with Christian blood, they have spared neither religion, nor age, nor sex. They have committed incest, adultery, and fornication before the eyes of men. They have exposed both matrons and virgins, even those dedicated to God, to the sordid lusts of boys. Not satisfied with breaking open the imperial treasury and plundering the goods of princes and lesser men, they also laid their hands on the treasures of the churches and, what is more serious, on their very possessions. They have even ripped silver plates from the altars and have hacked them to pieces among themselves. They violated the holy places and have carried off crosses and relics.

But when he saw the riches the Crusaders brought to him, his eyes begin to glimmer with greed and his spineless holiness welcomed them back into the Church. He even accepted the establishment of the Latin Empire,  finally subverting the rule of a Roman Emperor after more than a thousand years of Roman emperors, and recognized the legitimacy of Catholic clergy in formerly Orthodox lands. Quite a heel face turn from his initial words about the Crusaders. The funny thing is, that the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans was not actually any more brutal (some would even say less…including non Muslims)…despite that the Ottomans were Muslims.

There is also the omnipresent misogyny, starting with the Fall of Man [30] caused by Eve. The Bible has numerous references  [31] [32] [33] that firmly establish women to be lesser than men. Through more than a thousand years of Christianity, women have been suppressed, all with the blessing of the church. Women were created to serve men. The witch hunts can be easily explained as a symptom of Christian misogyny.

Compared to Ancient Rome, it took Europe more than 1500 years to catch up. In the early Empire, the rights of daughters were mostly equal compared to sons, and they had the right to receive the same share as their brothers. By the 2th century BC, the default form of marriage brought no change of personal status and enforced the separation of property; to the extent that gifts could (theoretically) be demanded back in case of a divorce or merely when the couple lived apart. Divorces already took place in the 2nd century BC (although some even say 600 BC) and were acceptable as long as it didn’t go against Roman social norms. In fact, during the Late Republic and first few centuries of the Empire, marriage could be ended simply because either husband or wife wanted to. [34] Classical Roman law did not allow any form of domestic abuse, nor did it ever place any blame for rape at women (unless they were part of the infamia, although this applies for male victims as well) and it was treated as a capital crime. [35]

Naturally, Christianity would turn out to be the great demolisher [36] of women’s rights. Already under Constantine the ”Great”, rape became a public offense of which the victim was very frequently an accomplish of, even if she had not consented. Christianity would turn out to erode women’s rights and be a very backward religion in this respect. On that note, Spartan women [37] also weren’t exactly off bad, nor were the Scandinavian [38] pagans. But contrary to the commonly held view in Christianity, women in the (eventually) Christian Visigothic Kingdom enjoyed a legal position that surpassed that of Christian women elsewhere by far. [39] Some of it carried over to the various successor states, which meant that even during most of Christian Europe’s history, women in Spain and Southern France had a somewhat better position compared to elsewhere. Rather interesting, for supposed ”barbarians”, according to the Romans.  Also a fascinating detail is that women actually had more rights under Islamic law [40]  for a long time, than their Christian counterparts would. Yet perhaps the most perplexing is that, despite Christianity starting out as sect of Judaism and what written is in the Bible; women have nearly equal monetary and property rights compared to men under Mosaic law. [41]

But finally, there was a different sound during the Age of Enlightenment. As the influence of the Catholic Church had begun to slowly whittle down already in the Renaissance, there was more room for philosophic debates without immediate suppression by religious authorities. It is mostly the Enlightenment that gave way for the separation between church and state.  Which, given the nature of Christianity, was a very important development for Europe. It is only logical that the progress of science accelerated from that moment on; as it was no longer held back by religion. And with the Age of Enlightenment began the very slow, gradual improvement of women’s rights…eventually surpassing Islamic and even Roman law.

Nevertheless, Christianity remains misogynistic to this day. Just take a look at whole abortion debate and the ordaining of female priests. The Catholic Church maintains the scientifically rebuked belief that life already begins at the conception. [42] The belief of abortion being evil is frighteningly absolute, as demonstrated in the case of a pre-teen girl being raped by her stepfather.  [43] Now, this was ”just” her stepfather…but what it would have been her genetic farther? I’m positive that the archbischop would have acted the exact same way, despite it also being incest, and that either one or both of the twins might be born with a significant genetic deficient. The Vatican’s justice is a mockery of true justice, supporting that the archbishop’s excommunication of the mother and doctors involved, and that the child rapist was not excommunicated.

The Catholic Church maintains that life must be protected at all costs; only offering an exception when abortion is an indirect effect of a life saving treatment. Of course, if a birth itself would threaten a woman’s life; you can’t exactly speak about the abortion being an ”indirect” effect.  It is a truly antiquated, fantastical and bizarre viewpoint that ought to have no place in a serious debate. Their unfounded, refuted belief is more important than the bodily integrity of a female .You might as well still argue in favour for spontaneous generation. Then again, this viewpoint ultimately isn’t that uprising considering that the Catholic Church has always been eager to claim more faithful; regardless of how. They are even still against contraception, acting as if there is no such thing as overpopulation.

Part two of this entry will attempt to offer an explanation why Christianity became (and still is) such a popular religion. Additionally, it will take a look at how it managed to spread through the Roman Empire as a malignant tumour.

References

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_City
2: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-Church-has-a-duty-to-evangelize;-it-is-also-its-inalienable-right-11043.html
3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashashins
4: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.html
5: http://atheism.about.com/od/tencommandments/a/analysis.htm
6: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_right_of_kings
7: http://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/367/367-04.htm
8: http://www.donlinke.com/drakula/vlad.htm
9:  http://www.exploringromania.com/vlad-tepes-punishments.html
10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENk4HgxA_Bs&t=32m30s
11: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Pius_II#Papal_Policies_and_Initiatives
12: https://www.examiner.com/article/vlad-the-impaler-aka-dracula
13:  http://www.law.uga.edu/dwilkes_more/his31_cadaver.html
14: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Sergius_III
15: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1981842_1981844_1981869,00.html
16: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_V
17: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1981842_1981844_1981606,00.html
18: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar#Arrests.2C_charges.2C_and_dissolution
19:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_IV_of_France#Suppression_of_the_Knights_Templar
20:  http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1981842_1981844_1981624,00.html
21: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Leo_X
22: http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/julius_III.html
23: http://bp0.blogger.com/_jqLm4W1Sois/RlOZIePy0qI/AAAAAAAAAuM/xsjsIv5GzjY/s400/Satirello_che_ne_masturba_un_altro.jpg
24: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_John_XII
25: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Alexander_VI
26: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1981842_1981844_1981620,00.html
27: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter_Caetera
28: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banquet_of_Chestnuts
29: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Innocent_III
30: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Man#Genesis
31: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%203:16&version=KJV
32: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2014:34-35&version=KJV
33:  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%202:11-12&version=KJV
34: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Ancient_Rome
35: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_in_ancient_Rome#Rape_and_the_law
36: http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/women.html
37: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_ancient_Sparta
38: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_rights_of_women_in_history#Scandinavia
39: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_rights_of_women_in_history#Spain_and_Aquitania
40: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_rights_of_women_in_history#Islamic_law
41:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_rights_of_women_in_history#Mosaic_law
42: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Z.HTM#-2C6
43: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2009/03/07/catholic-abortion.html

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In my last entry, I mentioned that the EU is becoming a dictatorship. Then I managed to stumble on a certain piece of EU propaganda. It is pretty spectacular from multiple fronts.  Considering that I will be analysing this insidious little advertisement, I suggest readers watch it before reading the rest of this blog post.

EU Enlargement Propaganda

…Where to start?

It reminds me of fascist propaganda. Deflecting attention away from your own country’s problems by creating an illusionary threat or blowing an existing one out of proportion. All in the name of unity.

Note how it involves three foreign males (that is, non European) threatening a white woman. These males appear to be Chinese, Indian and Brazilian judging by their respective (stereotypical) martial arts movements and the political undertones. Obviously, this refers to the increasing economic power of the BRIC countries, although it is highly suspect we don’t see a Russian as well. Perhaps Russians look too European? Even simple black-white colour contrasts can be used quite effectively for propaganda; and the amount of contrast here is significantly more than just that (1).

Some might call the ad racist and xenophobic. It definitely is xenophobic and due the exclusion of a Russian male, I’m inclined to say that it attempts to play on racist feelings. That’s assuredly not the main message here though. No, the main message is that the EU is being severely threatened by China, India and Brazil; and that can we can only resist them as part of the EU. Resist? Actually, it is more than that. It is overpowering and ”persuading” these ”uncultured barbarians” to act civilized.

It also demonstrates an absolutely hysterical amount of arrogance to act as if the EU could win an economic conflict if China, India and Brazil would team up. The EU would probably win against a single country. Maybe even against two. But three? It is madness to assume the EU could ”win” in that scenario. Sure, the EU actually has a bigger gross domestic product than all three countries combined; but GDP isn’t everything in an economic war.

I imagine the European Commission’s hope was that it could help with transforming nationalism into Pan-European Nationalism. Using fear to achieve their goals certainly isn’t alien for them, in fact, they are likely quite adept at it by now. Even so, the flagrant lack of political correctness is something new for the European Commission…and shows that they are becoming anxious. I find the ”more the merrier” view taken by the commercial troublesome; so much for ”quantity over quality”,  I suppose.

And you know how I explained that the Euro couldn’t have remained stable? Well, it looks like the previous President of the European Commission actually agrees on that. Quote from euronews (3):

euronews: “Ten years after its birth the euro is experiencing its most difficult time. Do you see a future for the common currency?”

Prodi: “Well, the difficult moments were predictable. When we created the euro, my objection, as an economist (and I talked about it with Kohl and with all the heads of government) was: how can we have a common currency without shared financial, economical and political pillars? The wise answer was: for the moment we’ve made this leap forward. The rest will follow.”

In other words, economic problems are just a small price to pay if it means Europe will ultimately end up as a single state. I’d actually go so far as to say that they wanted the euro crisis to happen for this very reason (4). ”Interesting”,coming from a Club de Madrid member, which is an ”international organization of former democratic statesmen, which works to strengthen democratic governance and leadership” (5).

As for ”democracy”…Hungary’s current Prime Minister is attempting to resist EU meddling in national politics (6). Admittedly, most of the offending policies are very suspicious and I don’t support them at all. Although I don’t truly understand the fuss about a PM witnessing the meetings of his own nation’s central bank or that the constitution will actually force central bankers to be loyal to their country…and not the EU. Amusingly enough, Barroso, President of the European Commission, has said that Orban ”doesn’t  get democracy” (7).

…That’s a ”bit” rich coming from somebody that has no democratic support whatsoever from voters  and one of the main figure heads behind the ”euro-cult”. To quote mister Barroso some more:

”Governments are not always right. If governments were always right we would not have the situation that we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.” (8)

“I have asked Britain to act more from the perspective of president (of the EU) than from a merely national perspective.”

“You are a European country and you should have a European future.”

”Europe is a non imperial empire.” (9)

The fact that the Lisbon treaty (which is essentially the same as the European Constitution to begin with) was shoved down our collective throats after the Dutch, French and Irish rejected the European Constitution in a referendum; shows that the EU has no right to talk about democracy (10). It even went so far that, after the Irish rejected the Lisbon treaty in a referendum, they had ANOTHER referendum a year later (11, 12, 13). What’s the point of referendums if you keep repeating them until the desired outcome is reached? Nigel Farage, as usual, was able to quite nicely voice his displeasure (14). Or for another example of the ”democracy” within the European Parliament itself, there’s another little gem you can view (15).

The EU’s claws are everywhere, and it has no intention of strengthening democracy. I find it rather suspicious that, Lucas Papademos,the current Prime Minister of Greece, has been a Vice President of the European Central Bank (16). Likewise, Mario Monti, the current Prime Minister of Italy has been part of the European Commission twice…and also sat on the advisory board of Goldman Sachs apparently (17+18+19), only being released from his obligations after he became Italy’s PM. In other words,  both of them are euro fanatics (20).  Both are not part of a political party, nor were they on the political scene in both countries during the last elections. Instead, they were simply ”appointed”. Regardless of the technicalities, this certainly does not seem to adhere to spirit of democracy at all. While the two PM’s they replaced, Silvio Berlusconi and George Papandreo, obviously made their share of mistakes (…especially Berlusconi); it was ultimately the lack of faith of the EU’s head of states (…that is, Merkozy) that effectively forced them to resign…and made sure they would be succeeded by the ”right” individuals.

But moving on; rather curious was the EU parliament’s motion recently passed about a certain controversial website from the Dutch PVV party (21). This website essentially aims to get people to ”report” Middle and Eastern Europeans that cause trouble and ”steal” jobs.  Essentially the motion condemned the website, and called on the Dutch PM and cabinet to do the same; who so far have refused (…just too bad  our PM didn’t have the same backbone when it to the ESM), calling it a matter for the PVV and potentially the courts.  While I’m not supporting the underlying motive of the website, the European Parliament ought to mind their own business instead of telling nations what they need to do.  In addition, I’d love to point out that racket created about the website has only backfired; the PVV is doing better in the polls since such all the publicity. Incidentally, according to the motion, labour migration is only something positive without any negative aspects attached to it…which is really oversimplifying things.

Going back to a few other ”great figures” of the EU, there is the wonderful Martin Schulz; current President of the European Parliament.  Often referring to euro-sceptics as encouraging fascism, trying to compare them with Nazi’s, and calling EU parliamentarians fascists directly; he throws a hissy fit as soon as somebody gives him a taste of his own medicine (22+23+24). He cries foul and demands that the other person leaves the room or apologises; yet he has never apologised for own his antics.  This is an exceedingly low and dirty strategy; his abuse of history for his personal gain seems, quite frankly, very disrespectful to the millions of people who died and suffered during World War II.

And last, but certainty not least, we have Guy Verhofstadt. The man who wants Europe to become the United States of Europe and is the Chairperson of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (25+26). He illustrates perfectly what the problem is with the majority of today’s liberals in Europe. How can you claim, with a straight face, that you are a liberal if you want the national sovereignty of nations to be abolished? As I mentioned before, I consider myself a liberal…but I’m pretty much forced to vote for the PVV during the next European Parliament elections; as they are the only Dutch party consistently against more power being transferred to the EU . That said, I’d definitely vote for the UKIP if I could.

Also, on the subject of liberty…there is something I forgot to mention in part 1 of this article: the Data Retention Directive (27).

”According to the directive, member states will have to store citizens’ telecommunications data for six to 24 months stipulating a maximum time period. Under the directive the police and security agencies will be able to request access to details such as IP address and time of use of every email, phone call and text message sent or received. A permission to access the information will be granted only by a court.”

But that’s not all! There’s also Written declaration 29, which was adopted, making it also apply for search engines (28+29). You know, to uh… COMBAT CHILD PORNOGRAPHY! That will show those scumbag paedophiles, thinking they can’t get caught whenever they google for some steamy porn involving minors! Darknets, encryption and proxies? What are you talking about?! This is serious business, we don’t have time for your techno-babble!

…Ahem. Consider me a ”touch” sceptical about how this is supposed to help against child pornography.

Since I already spoke about the lack of democracy in the EU, I’ll end with a good old jab at Europe’s inefficiency. Did you know that the European Parliament, while spending most of its time in Brussels, needs to have 12 sessions each year in Strasbourg ? Why you ask? Something about a deal with France (30+31). And how much does this joke cost the European taxpayer every year? At least 180 million euros, if not more. Impressive as always guys; well done! Then again, to be fair, this is fairly minor compared to the at least 2 billion euros the EU spent on ”information” alone in 2008; sponsoring such fine projects as the indoctrination of children and the approximately 250 million euros that will be spent on a legion of spin doctors in 2012 (32+33+34). It looks like the new budget rise will also be wasted most splendidly indeed (35)!

Information? I don’t know why, but given the context, that brings back memories of the old Iraqi Minister of Information (36)…

References:

1: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/images/heer/heer1.jpg
2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29
3: http://www.euronews.com/2012/01/02/the-flowers-that-launched-the-euro/
4: http://thedailybell.com/3629/EUs-Prodi-Admits-Euroleaders-Knew-Euro-Would-Cause-Difficult-Moments-The-Rest-Will-Follow-
5: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romano_Prodi
6: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303863404577283651701398324.html?mod=rss_europe_whats_news
7: http://www.euractiv.com/central-europe/war-words-rages-orb-barroso-news-511557
8: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100056661/the-eu-is-an-antidote-to-democratic-governments-argues-president-barroso/
9: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1557143/Barroso-hails-the-European-empire.html
10: http://euobserver.com/18/25052
11: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6QmH-7fu68
12: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8259649.stm
13: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/5579684/Ireland-to-hold-second-referendum-on-Lisbon-Treaty.html
14: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-owgAjsoNk
15: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVeMBNB0cII
16: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucas_Papademos
17: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Monti
18: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/what-price-the-new-democracy-goldman-sachs-conquers-europe-6264091.html
19: http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2011/11/15/le-monde-draghi-monti-papademos-what-do-they-have-in-common/
20: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100117998/mario-monti-we-are-witnessing-the-great-success-of-the-euro/
21: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2012/03/eu_parliament_wants_rutte_to_d.php
22: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/wilders-party-attacking-euro-parliament-within
23: http://www.libertarianpress.co.uk/artsFull.php?id=195
24: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw4Qk-xwaok
25: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3XZJ4znl00
26: http://voices.yahoo.com/guy-verhofstadt-calls-greek-crisis-10363337.html
27: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Retention_Directive
28: https://christianengstrom.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/written-declaration-29-for-data-retention-of-internet-searches/
29: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/06/eu-search-engine-snooping-mandate-sneaked-child
30: http://euobserver.com/18/25722
31: http://blogs.wsj.com/brussels/2011/02/10/meps-kill-strasbourg-eu-parliament/
32: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1101996/EU-spends-2-3bn-year-Pro-Brussels-propaganda.html
33: http://synonblog.dailymail.co.uk/2011/09/eu-propaganda-or-how-news-is-supposed-to-go-on-the-euro-payroll-but-stay-independent.html
34: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8500981/Europe-to-spend-225million-on-army-of-1000-spin-doctors-to-promote-EU.html
35: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9138465/Europe-to-demand-inflation-busting-budget-rise.html
36: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9aW1atFLMM

The European Union. The supposed caretaker of democracy, liberty and peace on the European continent. Its collapse would lead to wide-spread anarchy, martial law, wars on the European continent and could ultimately even result in World War Three. Oh, wait a moment…that’s only what would happen if the euro currency collapses (1+2+3+4).  Never mind the consequences of the European Union itself falling apart! To put it lightly, I’m having a bit of a hard time to take this sort of fearmongering seriously (5).

Welcome to Europe in the twenty-first century, I suppose. Where a majority of politicians resort to using scare tactics to stress the importance of the euro and are either too blind, corrupt, or stupid to look at the European Union with a semblance of neutrality. Everything will work out, as long as the euro continues to exist. It’s just business as usual.

The whole euro crisis could have been avoided if politicians were actually competent. And no, I’m not even talking about rejecting the euro in the first place. Rather, the EU could have opted to genuinely take measures against nations that violated the no more than 3% government budget deficit rule. Or in other words; making it a real rule instead of what turned out to be nothing more than a guideline. Sure, the rules might now finally get enforced this time…but it is a bit late for that.

Not that competence exists when it comes to the European Union. Allow me to introduce Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (6+7). Nearly everyone that has enjoyed a decent education understands the principle of supply and demand, right? Of course, not everybody agrees on how important this principle exactly is. But I think it is safe to say, that most educated individuals realise that completely ignoring the principle of supply and demand is a bad idea. Unless you are part of the European Commission or one of the six member states of the EU in 1962 apparently.  In their infinite wisdom, they deemed supply and demand to be irrelevant. Instead, farmers would get guaranteed prices regardless of how much they produced; without any sort of ceiling.

Guess how that turned out. Obviously, only farmers benefited from it. Coupled with trade barriers, food prices were kept artificially high on the European market as there was no need to compete. It caused a huge surplus of agricultural products, some of which was (and still is) exported to developing countries at costs lower than those of the local farmers; directly hurting their agriculture sector. It benefited countries that had a large agriculture sector, while member states that were more urbanised (such as Germany, but especially the Netherlands and the UK) paid the price.

There’s also how it makes animal cruelty profitable, as it encourages factory farming. Even if you consider factory farming to be necessary to produce enough meat for the world population…giving subsidies for exporting live animals really serves no purpose at all. What kind of idiot do you have to be, to think it’s a good idea to make exporting live animals more profitable than frozen meat, thanks to subsidies? ”Idiot” being the nicer accusation here. I could also say something along the lines of ”demented, sadistic freak”. Take your pick.

In a similar vein, there’s also the EU’s atrocious Common Fisheries Policy (8+9). Costly, damaging for both the environment and the livelihood of African fishers and downright bureaucratically bizarre. How do you like, that because of the CFP, fishers have apparently to throw away 23% of all fish they capture in Europe? I’m not making this up (10). The European taxpayer pays for such rubbish policies, and for mega trawlers fishing in West Africa; much to detriment of the local environment and fishermen (11).

Both the CFP and the CAP also lead to extra, more indirect costs. European citizens indirectly pay for development aid whether they want to or not, because it is part of their government’s budget . If the EU would not actually make it harder for farmers and fishers to simply survive, they could be more self-sufficient and less dependent on development aid. In fact, the consumer might, ”surprisingly” enough, profit from it as well.

While the CAP has been improved a fair amount since its creation (…after it stayed unchanged for 20 years) and the CFP is slowly getting better as well; both remain a testimony to the absolutely mind blowingly foolish decisions made both by EU’s government bodies and national governments alike.

The European Parliament and the European Commission also have some immense delusions of grandeur. They like to think they are incredibly important. Can you believe that, in times of austerity, the EU wanted a 5% budget increase (12)? Or what about the expense scandal about Members of the European Parliament, that they refuse to release (13)? Nepotism, corruption, abuse of power; the EU has it all.

All that said, the euro was just a bad idea to begin with. How is a currency, that is shared by member states that do not have uniform economies, allegedly going to be stable? You already can’t really compare the economies of France and the Netherlands; let alone when it comes to comparing Germany and Greece. Just imagine if the North American Free Trade Agreement came with a common currency. Even in the hypothetical situation that Mexico would not be plagued by drug cartels, how is such a currency supposed to work out (14)?

In addition, thanks to the euro crisis, the European Union is starting to have traits of a dictatorship. While the European Union has been busy with systemically reducing the sovereignty of all member states as the years pass, the European Stability Mechanism is a particularly vicious, if not crippling blow to national sovereignty. Let’s look at some of the things the ESM says, shall we? I quote directly (15):

Capital Calls

”ESM Members hereby irrevocably and unconditionally undertake to pay on demand any capital call made on them by the Managing Director pursuant to this paragraph, such demand to be paid within seven days of receipt.”

Changes in authorised capital Stock

”The Board of Governors shall review regularly and at least every five years the maximum lending volume and the adequacy of the authorised capital stock of the ESM. It may decide to change the authorised capital stock and amend Article 8 and Annex II accordingly.”

Legal status, privileges and immunities

”The ESM, its property, funding and assets, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall enjoy immunity from every form of judicial process except to the extent that the ESM expressly waives its immunity for the purpose of any proceedings or by the terms of any contract, including the documentation of the funding instruments.

The property, funding and assets of the ESM shall, wherever located and by whomsoever held, be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation or any other form of seizure, taking or foreclosure by executive, judicial, administrative or legislative action.

The archives of the ESM and all documents belonging to the ESM or held by it, shall be inviolable.”

The sheer absurdity is a lot to digest. A member state is supposed to pay on demand any capital call within seven days of receipt. The authorised capital  stock can be amended at will. The ESM has absolute legal immunity. For more information about the ESM, I will refer to a few other sources (16+17).

This is an outrage. The ESM simply gets to ”supersede” democracy once it has been implanted, on a scale that dwarfs already existing undemocratic aspects of the euro and EU. That the treaty has made it this far, shows the practically unlimited idolatry for the euro that is not grounded in reality whatsoever. Every parliament member that votes in favour of this ”treaty” is literally committing treason. After all, they are facilitating the possibility of their country ending up broken and making it essentially powerless to ”legally” resist the aggressor. Why shouldn’t this fall under treason?  Neither ignorance or good intentions are accepted as excuses for breaking the law, so this should apply for politicians as well.

Speaking of treason, it reminds me of how certain Greece officials lied and deceived, so that their country could enter the Euro zone; regarding the reality of the Greek economy merely as ”inconvenient”. Besides that this is another fine example of the ”euro-cult” at work, I wonder….why aren’t they prosecuted? That members of the Greece parliament are immune from criminal prosecution might play a part, but I doubt that all involved are still in the parliament. At any rate, it seems fairly sensible to criminally charge them with treason and false pretenses (and/or misrepresentation in addition to / instead of false pretenses). From my point of view, it also is not unthinkable for a number of Greece citizens to sue the responsible officials. Then again, we are talking about officials that furthered the cause of the euro…

The EU should have remained a free trade zone and nothing more. Ideally as a real free trade zone that, for example, doesn’t include the previously mentioned backward farming and fishery policies. Politicians keep hammering on how ”important” the EU is, about how it has increased our welfare and such. I have my doubts about those kind of claims. Besides that we Dutch have been paying through the nose for European farming subsidies for a long time (and still are), most of the wealth as a result of the EU seems likely to be simply an effect of free trade. Why would the euro have had a substantial effect cumulative with that of free trade?

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean I’m completely in favour of abolishing the euro and reverting back to our old currency. Even though the euro was a mistake, it is questionable if withdrawing from it will turn out to be worthwhile. That said, such a decision is already quite a bit less questionable than it was two years ago. But what if we can only keep the euro if we adopt the ESM? Then I say to hell with the euro, no matter the cost.

The European Union has done enough damage. We don’t need more ”political integration”, we need less. Regardless if you are a liberal, a socialist, or a nationalist; it ought to be clear that the EU undermines democracy, forces hard austerity measures (that are primarily necessary because of the euro) and ultimately wants to make member states subservient by stripping away their national sovereignty.

The euro is not a recipe for peace. Both World Wars are often blamed on (extreme) nationalism…and thanks to the euro (and the EU itself to a lesser extent), nationalism is on the rise again. And it will only continue to grow, as the more nationalist parties (along with strong socialist parties) are often the only parties that are consistently against giving up more power to the EU.

The EU, caretaker of democracy, liberty and peace? Don’t make me laugh.

(1) http://www.cnbc.com/id/44535393/Euro_Collapse_Could_Lead_to_War_Polish_FinMin
(2) http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/europe-could-be-plunged-into-war-if-efforts-88003
(3) http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-08/euro-demise-would-mean-end-of-europe-end-of-peace-sarkozy-says.html
(4)  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8124189/Herman-Van-Rompuy-Euroscepticism-leads-to-war.html
(5) http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/without-the-euro-would-europe-have-turned-to-war/2011/09/21/gIQAxGpZrK_story_1.html
(6) http://www.civitas.org.uk/eufacts/FSPOL/AG3.htm
(7) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Agricultural_Policy
(8) http://www.civitas.org.uk/eufacts/FSPOL/AG5.htm
(9) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Fisheries_Policy
(10) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8635623/European-Commission-apologises-for-disastrous-fishing-policy.html

(11) https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/world/africa/14fishing.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
(12) http://voices.yahoo.com/european-meps-expenses-scandal-abuse-8681843.html?cat=3
(13) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15806230
(14) http://www.businessinsider.com/ubs-on-the-euro-breakup-2011-9
(15) http://www.european-council.europa.eu/media/582311/05-tesm2.en12.pdf
(16) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CZr17HLH5U
(17) http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-mainmenu-26/europe-mainmenu-35/9679-eu-creates-dictatorship-under-guise-of-financial-stability

As mentioned before, this entry will be about ACTA.  It will also feature a few snipes at USA’s foreign (trade) policy.

Most things that can be said about SOPA and PIPA, also apply for ACTA, at least when it comes to the motives behind it. While bad, the ”final” version of ACTA isn’t as dire as SOPA and PIPA…if you merely look at the content of the treaty(1).  However, as an international agreement that will come with its own organisation, it is significantly harder than to simply ”undo” compared to a national law.  I could repeat numerous other sources going into the details why ACTA is a terrible idea, condemn how long it was all shrouded in secrecy, rage about how absurd the original version was and so on. But this serves little purpose as there’s already Wikipedia (2) and others (3+4+5+6) for that.

Regardless of the specifics, it is another step in what’s effectively the USA’s ”War on Piracy”.  The name of the treaty is rather deceptive, considering it is also about generic medicine and copyright infringement; but that’s really just the usual dirty politics. Certainly, Japan might have been the depositary of the agreement, but it’s fairly safe to say that it would not have gotten any traction if the USA wasn’t backing it. I’m also inclined to think that Japan’s version of ACTA was primarily focused on counterfeit goods (hence the name of the treaty) and that mostly the USA is behind it covering copyright infringement and generic medicine.

The above seems logical enough, as it is clearly national policy of the USA to battle copyright infringement, going as far as using intimidation and bribery to force other countries to be more anti-piracy; directly undermining their sovereignty. Even USA’s allies in other wars are apparently not immune, as Colombia and Saudi Arabia’s copyright protection has improved in recent years. The latter is not on the Special 301 Report watchlist anymore (7+8), although I wouldn’t be surprised if its getting a preferential treatment due the War on Terror and its oil reserves; considering that the country’s human right issues often end up being swiped under the rug. Of course, there are actually a few powerful countries that can not be bullied around; China and Russia continue to flaunt copyright law and there’s amusingly little the US can and will do about it. Instead, the biggest pressure tends to be put on other Western countries. We certainly are lucky with our considerate ”ally”(9+10+11+12+13)!

I’m immensely curious about what will happen if the government of a European Union member state persists in standing up against USA pressure when it comes to trade matters (such as copyright, but also generic medicine and GMO foods). Essentially, the question will be if the USA will start a trade war or turns out to be merely bluffing. Because if they do start a large trade war, neither side would truly ”win”. In fact, I’m inclined to think that it would do more damage to the USA than to the EU. While this is an interesting subject to theorise about;  it’s a bit off topic for this entry, so I will probably explore it some other day in detail.

But back on topic: ACTA. Fortunately, European support for ACTA is starting to crumble. A majority of the Dutch House of Representatives is against ratification of ACTA, because it is unclear if it doesn’t violate the European Convention on Human Rights (hint: it does). Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Latvia and Germany(!) are also currently not planning on ratifying it any time soon. At this stage, it seems highly unlikely ACTA is going to survive in the EU, probably leading to it being killed off altogether.

As expected, some of our politicians think differently about the objections. According to Maxime Verhagen (Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation), ACTA will change nothing for the common internet user and is primarily supposed to take down websites with illegal content, such as child pornography. Wait, what; child pornography? What does child pornography have to do with ACTA? Was he seriously hoping that saying that magical term would save the day? I’m guessing he’s a rabid fan of Johan Schlüter (14).

But even as ACTA is starting to collapse, the war continues. Another threat looms on the horizon, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (15). The original agreement between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore started innocently enough, as its  basically a free trade agreement. Surprisingly, it actually looks pretty decent at a glance. The treaty tries to take a sensible approach, wanting a ” ..a balance between the rights of right holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community with regard to protected subject matter.” In addition, signees can adopt ”measures to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights by right holders” (16).

However, to everyone’s detriment, the USA now has started negotiations to join the TPP… and as part of the USA’s war on piracy, they want corrupt it into a fanatical pro-copyright and pro-patent treaty according to some alleged leaks (17+18+19); potentially turning it into something worse than SOPA, PIPA and ACTA combined. It’s a pity that even the Obama administration appears to be adamant in serving the interests of a select few, instead of serving the vast majority; something that is unfortunately mirrored in several other western countries.

On a more positive note,  it does seem that the SOPA/PIPA debacle has achieved a success that runs contrary to the hopes of the backers. Thanks to these two bills, it is my belief that a fairly significant number of people have been shook awake. We now know that we need to fight for a  ”free” internet. Governments world wide will continue to try to censor the internet, all too eager to blurt out magic words such as ”child pornography” (20) and ”terrorism”. The copyright industry will not cease its campaign of lies (21+22) and hypocrisy (23), a campaign that has shown no signs of slowing down through out the years (24).

My next entry will likely be either about the inherent tension between capitalism and copyright , or the rather astonishing cover-up that involves a certain high-ranking Dutch civil servant.

References

(1) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120130/21440417593/please-keep-acta-debate-fact-based.shtml
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACTA
(3) http://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=acta
(4) http://www.reddit.com/search?q=ACTA
(5) https://www.google.com/cse?cx=011835048811694782689%3A7zpko-isndo&ie=UTF-8&q=ACTA&sa=Search&siteurl=www.google.com%2Fcse%2Fhome%3Fcx%3D011835048811694782689%3A7zpko-isndo
(6) https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/we-have-every-right-be-furious-about-acta
(7) http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article22587.ece
(8) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_301_Report
(9) http://falkvinge.net/2011/09/05/cable-reveals-extent-of-lapdoggery-from-swedish-govt-on-copyright-monopoly/
(10) http://boingboing.net/2010/12/03/wikileaks-cables-rev.html
(11) http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/09/wikileaks-mpaa-behind-aussie-isp-lawsuit-but-dont-tell-anybody.ars
(12) http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/05/wikileaks-cables-reveal-us-pressuring-canada-on-ip-enforcement.ars
(13) http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5769/125/
(14) https://torrentfreak.com/the-copyright-lobby-absolutely-loves-child-pornography-110709/
(15) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Strategic_Economic_Partnership
(16) http://www.mfat.govt.nz/downloads/trade-agreement/transpacific/main-agreement.pdf
(17) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/11/us_tpp_proposal_leaked/
(18) http://tppdigest.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=291%3Abig-pharma-lobbying-intensifies-as-ustr-signals-ip-proposal-deadline&catid=1%3Alatest-news&Itemid=1
(19) http://keionline.org/node/1091
(20) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120213/13212017749/canadian-politician-youre-either-favor-letting-govt-spy-your-internet-usage-youre-child-pornography.shtml
(21) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120207/03160817678/politifact-trashes-lamar-smith-says-his-claims-about-economic-impact-piracy-are-flat-out-false.shtml
(22) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120217/15023417795/riaa-insists-really-that-music-industry-is-collapsing-reality-shows-its-just-riaa-thats-collapsing.shtml
(23) http://blog.tunecore.com/2011/07/how-they-legally-steal-your-money.html
(24) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120215/04241517766/how-much-is-enough-weve-passed-15-anti-piracy-laws-last-30-years.shtml

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m keeping the introduction brief by simply pointing you towards the ”about” section on my blog.

I’ve decided for my first entry to be about the infamous SOPA and PIPA USA bills, and the lesser known, yet potentially even more insidious plurilateral ACTA agreement. SOPA, PIPA and ACTA worry me greatly. In fact, their existence is what gave me the last push needed to start a blog. Obviously enough, this made deciding the subject of my first entry rather easy.

First off; SOPA and PIPA.

When it comes to your personal freedom, SOPA and PIPA will directly undermine it. With the excuse of fighting online ”piracy”, it is clear that both your liberty and privacy stops as soon as it potentially threatens the income of all parties with a vested interest in these bills. The enforcement of these bills would (as usual) lack transparency and hold websites accountable for what their users do. There’s also the little detail about the nominal enforcement being done by the United Status Justice Department, even though the United Status International Trade Commission would be an agency better suited to the task. In short, both proposed bills are completely draconian in nature. While it certainly isn’t difficult for me to write more about these particular aspects; I’d only be repeating others. So for that, I refer you to Wikpedia and its own references (1).

However, there are some aspects about these bills that have received less attention; specifically the hypocritical and corrupt nature of some its sponsors.

Let’s start with Hollywood and its ”knight in shining armor”, the MPAA. Hollywood was actually built by using content from the public domain and violating patents. In a nutshell : Thomas Edison attempted to control the entire film industry, which led to movie makers moving to Los Angeles. This made it harder for Edison to have his patents enforced, especially as offenders could quietly ”disappear” temporarily to Mexico. As for the public domain: Walt Disney made most of his money by using content from it (2).

Remember all the crocodile tears shed about the supposed damage to the movie industry due piracy? Never mind that file sharing is not the same as theft and piracy is really a misnomer (3). The industry has made predictions about their impending doom so many times (4), yet their profits have only increased throughout the years (5). The MPAA has admitted to publishing ”incorrect’ figures about the supposed revenue loss due piracy (6). Of course, I’m extremely interested in learning how you can claim to publish ”correct” figures about this topic in the first place.

There’s also MPAA’s leadership, particularly its chairman and CEO; Chris Dodd. The man who insisted that he’d not become a lobbyist, but then became the new boss of MPAA and even used a loophole in the law to get a lobbying job so quickly after leaving the Senate (7). His arrogant, tactless remark about how opponents of the two bills will lose funding for their campaigns give us a fine glimpse of his tactics(8). Incidentally, did you know that he is responsible for the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act (9)? In case you have never heard of it, this law means that all children born after April 2008 have a blood sample taken from them, which then becomes property of the Federal State; whether the parents like it or not.

The sort of ”funding” described earlier is one of the more rotten apples of USA politics.  Hollywood’s lobbying is why the current majority of SOPA/PIPA supporters are Democrats, despite that they are usually are thought to be more protective of individual liberty than Republicans. After all, Hollywood has traditionally embraced liberty (as long as it doesn’t hurt their own pockets) and has been a major sponsor for the Democrats.

The RIAA is simply more of the same. Such as the absurd lawsuits with their ridiculously high compensation demands (10); all operating on the fundamentally flawed basis that file sharing equals theft. Or how about Mitch Glazier’s attempt to effectively strip artists of their copyright interests and transfer the ownership to their record labels (11)? As a Congressional staff attorney, he sneaked into a change with major implications into a section of copyright legislation.  Not too long after, the RIAA hired him as Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Counsel; where he got to defend his own change when it came under fire. These days he is Senior Executive Vice President; clearly his underhanded actions impressed his superiors. The RIAA has actually engaged in piracy as well (12); does this mean they need to sue themselves?

Neither organization truly serves the best interests of the artists. They only serve themselves and their members. Their idea of ”fair competition” is to create an environment in which innovation is stifled, preventing the need for them to adapt, and intentionally making it harder to be a self publishing artist. They abuse their position to the benefit of members, exemplified by the numerous inconsistencies among film ratings (13) and their attempt to ban screener DVDs (14) . The competitive market is a threat for them; a threat that must be contained as much as possible.

A significant majority of the copyright industry is waging a war that they are determined to win, regardless of what it takes. The International Intellectual Property Alliance wants the US government to treat countries, that mandate or suggest open source, to be treated as if they don’t combat piracy (15). CreativeAmerica , a proxy company of the MPAA, literally is paying for signatures on a petition of theirs (16). Nothing is taboo, including indirectly profiting from child pornography.

”Child pornography is great”, according to Johan Schlüter, head of the Danish Anti-Piracy Group (17). Child pornography is great, because it opens the door to censorship all in the name of fighting against it. Really, it is rather questionable if censorship would solve anything about the matter, but it is clear that Mister Schlüter has no desire to truly fight child pornography; its existence only benefits him. Instead, he’s a despicable man who thinks it is great that the internet has footage of children being raped, just so he can push the agenda of his masters and collect a fat paycheck at the end of the day. It illustrates perfectly that there are no limits for the copyright industry

With that in mind, I’m going to conclude my first entry. Part 2 will likely deal with ACTA and how copyright actually goes against certain principles of capitalism.

References

1:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_IP_Act

2:  http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120119/12273017472/pirate-bay-press-release-sopa-we-are-new-hollywood.shtml

3: http://anpmech.com/gallery/var/albums/Internet/file-sharing-is-not-piracy.png?m=1253463516

4: http://www.techdirt.com/blog/innovation/articles/20111108/17562016686/history-hyperbolic-overreaction-to-copyright-issues-entertainment-industry-technology.shtml

5: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120124/03263517521/infographic-showing-just-how-frequently-hollywood-has-cried-wolf-about-piracy.shtml

6: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Association_of_America#Disputed_figures

7: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110301/13070713317/confirmed-chris-dodd-lies-takes-top-lobbying-job-promises-to-trample-consumer-rights.shtml

8: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120120/14472117492/mpaa-directly-publicly-threatens-politicians-who-arent-corrupt-enough-to-stay-bought.shtml

9: http://www.wired.com/medtech/genetics/news/2008/05/newborn_screening

10: http://brainz.org/14-most-ridiculous-lawsuits-filed-riaa-and-mpaa/

11: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA#The_.22work_made_for_hire.22_controversy

12: https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-and-homeland-security-caught-downloading-torrents-111217/

13 : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Association_of_America_film_rating_system#Criticisms

14: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20031001/0046257_F.shtml

15: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/feb/23/opensource-intellectual-property

16: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120131/23275917606/creativeamerica-literally-resorts-to-buying-signatures.shtml

17: https://torrentfreak.com/the-copyright-lobby-absolutely-loves-child-pornography-110709/