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NSA "helped" MS design Windows 7... do they help Linux too?
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benali72

Joined: 09 Aug 2006
Posts: 276

PostPosted: Wed 24 Feb 2010, 13:20    Post_subject:  NSA "helped" MS design Windows 7... do they help Linux too?  

The NSA or National Security Agency had a role in helping MS design Windows 7 --
http://www.infoworld.com/d/security-central/nsa-helped-windows-7-development-035

Most of the comments I've seen in article feedback speculate that NSA got MS to put a backdoor into Windows. But I think a more likely explanation is to ensure the NSA can crack OS-supplied encryption (Bitlocker and similar features). This is based on NSA's traditional role in sigint and the US government's long-term focus on this capability. (See this article for example --http://rechten.uvt.nl/koops/cryptolaw/cls2.htm#us_2)

I know that NSA has helped develop a security enhanced version of LInux (see http://www.nsa.gov/selinux/).

Here's a question for everyone -- does the NSA "help" in design of the Linux kernel or pieces of Linux that are included in all distros?
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DMcCunney

Joined: 02 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Feb 2010, 15:16    Post_subject: Re: NSA "helped" MS design Windows 7... do they help Linux too?  

benali72 wrote:
The NSA or National Security Agency had a role in helping MS design Windows 7 --
http://www.infoworld.com/d/security-central/nsa-helped-windows-7-development-035

Most of the comments I've seen in article feedback speculate that NSA got MS to put a backdoor into Windows. But I think a more likely explanation is to ensure the NSA can crack OS-supplied encryption (Bitlocker and similar features). This is based on NSA's traditional role in sigint and the US government's long-term focus on this capability. (See this article for example --http://rechten.uvt.nl/koops/cryptolaw/cls2.htm#us_2)

I've seen some of the Tin Foil Hat crowd in the US raving that MS works with the NSA, and left backdoors in Windows so the NSA could snoop on their computers. All I could say was "You wish you were important enough that anyone would bother to snoop on your machine! There are only so many people in the US government intelligence services that do that, and they all have much better uses of their time, thank you."

I run Windows as well as Linux here, and have no worries about it. Aside from the fact that no one in the government has any reason to pay attention to me, they would have to get past the hardware firewall in my router, two software firewalls on the PC, and restrictive permissions applied to my NTFS filesystem to see anything of interest.

To get at my sensitive data, someone would have to break into my home and sit down in front of the physical machine. If that happens, theoretical back doors in Windows are the least of my problems.

Quote:
I know that NSA has helped develop a security enhanced version of LInux (see http://www.nsa.gov/selinux/).

Here's a question for everyone -- does the NSA "help" in design of the Linux kernel or pieces of Linux that are included in all distros?

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security-Enhanced_Linux for info on SELinux.

Whether SELinux is available and enabled is distro specific. (CentOS, for instance, makes it an install time option as to whether you want it enabled.

Meanwhile, so what if they do? Linux is open source. You can get the code. You can see (and change) what it does.

The NSA is involved because the US government is making increasing use of Linux, and the government want to run secure systems.

The intent is not to weaken security on Linux systems so the NSA can get in. That would be pointless. There are a lot of skilled cryptographers and security experts in the open source world, and code that was deliberately weakened by anyone is unlikely to stay that way.

The US government does attempt to restrict the spread of things like the highest security encryption methods through export restrictions, and there are countries where it's not legal for US developers to sell some products. But this is of limited value in curbing the spread. It's trivial to place code that does that stuff in an archive and put it somewhere it can be downloaded from anywhere in the world. I hope the government doesn't think export restrictions will really stop bad guys from getting it.
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Caneri

Joined: 04 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Feb 2010, 18:48    Post_subject:  

@DMcCunney ,

Quote:
I've seen some of the Tin Foil Hat crowd in the US raving that MS works with the NSA, and left backdoors in Windows so the NSA could snoop on their computers. All I could say was "You wish you were important enough that anyone would bother to snoop on your machine! There are only so many people in the US government intelligence services that do that, and they all have much better uses of their time, thank you."

What ever you think is happening with tin foil hats...meh... I have direct contact from some users in countries that are at the VERY least concerned about MS XPP and the W7 intrusions via DRM

I would re-consider, as it's well know that MS is using the OS as a filtering tool for Gov...there is no question in my mind from reports/concerns I get form all over the world.

If you think the US Gov has it's citizens best interest at heart...think again, as a corporatocracy (US Gov) is made for the corporation and not the people. This is easily shown by the Monsanto Group, whereas the US corporates have given the Monsanto Corp a free hand in spreading the GMO technology to the world when the world doesn't want it or need it....case closed!!
All the best.
Eric

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DMcCunney

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PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb 2010, 00:25    Post_subject:  

Caneri wrote:
@DMcCunney ,
I would re-consider, as it's well know that MS is using the OS as a filtering tool for Gov...there is no question in my mind from reports/concerns I get form all over the world.

No, I won't reconsider. I have the same question for folks elsewhere in the world that I have for the ones at home: what makes them important enough that the US government (or anyone else) would bother snooping on them?

In most cases, the answer is "nothing". Yhey aren't being snooped upon because there is no reason to do so,

The Tin Foil Hat crowd over here display symptoms of paranoia. Paranoia is a defense mechanism. What the paranoid is really afraid of is that they aren't important, they don't matter, and nobody cares about them. If you can adopt a paranoid world view, it's perversely comforting. Hey! You're important! You matter! Someone cares enough about you to try to get you! Well, their deepest fears are true. They aren't important, they don't matter, and nobody does care abut them.

Personally, I'm quite aware I'm not important, I don't matter, and those in authority don't care what I think. You know what? I like that! Being low profile and anonymous gives me far greater freedom of movement and action. No one is keeping n eye on me because there is no reason they think they should.

The same holds true for the folks elsewhere worried about MS being a tool of the US government, and Windows deliberately leaving back doors open so they may be spied upon. I'm curious. What are they afraid of? Why do they think anybody would spy upon them? (And frankly, if anyone was was going to snoop on them, I'd call their own governments the more likely culprits. Mine has its own problems, and has better things to do than go hacking in some random European's machine, even if it could. There are only some many intelligence types who do that, and too many potential threats to keep track of in places that are openly hostile to the US to pay much attention to those who are merely distrustful.)

See my earlier comments about my own setup, and what would be required to get to any sensitive data on my machine. And incidentally, I've been in IT in one form or another for many years, and in recent years I've been a sysadmin. I know something about the technology and about computer security in general, and I have a fair idea of what's possible. Most of what I hear people worrying about isn't possible.

Quote:
If you think the US Gov has it's citizens best interest at heart...think again, as a corporatocracy (US Gov) is made for the corporation and not the people. This is easily shown by the Monsanto Group, whereas the US corporates have given the Monsanto Corp a free hand in spreading the GMO technology to the world when the world doesn't want it or need it....case closed!!

The US government thinks it has the best interests of its citizens in mind. The problem is that there are as many ideas of just what the citizen's "best interests" are as there are citizens. The controlling strata of the US government is comprised of elected officials. Like elected officials everywhere, they want to stay in power. They want first and foremost to be reelected. To be re-elected, they must get votes. To get votes, they must keep their constituents happy, and do what they think their constituents want. Depending upon just which elected official it is and who their constituents are, you may have completely contradictory views of what the government ought to be doing. It's part of what makes the political process in the US grimly amusing.

The US government is nowhere near as monolithic and corporate directed as you seem to think. It can't be. The underlying nature of the economy and the political processes make it impossible. I sometimes think it's a miracle that the US government accomplishes anything, since accomplishing things requires agreement on what ought to be done. You'll find precious little of that in Congress there days.

(I live here. I see it first hand in all it's rampant idiocy. I think I may have a better idea of what is going on than you do. And the old saying "Never attribute to mai9lce what can be satisfactorily explained by stupidity" is apt. I see my government do things I don't like on a daily basis. But I don't think it's evil. I think it's stupid.)

As for Monsanto, oh, dear. Too much of what I've seen of that controversy reduces to ignorance all around. I know a bit abut GMO. Bear in mind that farmers have been practicing genetic modification of plants for millenia. It's called hybridization. Plants are cross-bred to select for desirable characteristics. One good example is corn. What we grow and eat now was derived from native maize, through a centuries long process of selective breeding. Current efforts at genetically modified crops have the same goals, but use technology to speed up and refine the process.

Most of the opposition I've seen comes from fear based in ignorance, on the part of people who know nothing about genetics or agriculture, let along the particular technology being applied. The other part of the opposition tends to come from people who are afraid it's being shoved down their throats and they aren't being given a say in the matter. That's actually a more reasonable argument. We all like to feel we have some control over our lives, and an increasing number of people are coming to fear that they don't.

Meanwhile, Monsanto thinks there is a market around the world for genetically modified crops, created to produce higher yields, be more resistant to bad conditions and local pests and parasites, and be easier for local farmers to grow and harvest. They're right. There is a market. And there are plenty of places where such crops are both wanted and needed. If Monsanto is selling GMO products where you live, who is buying them? Why are they doing it? For that matter, why is your government permitting it? And what, exactly, are you afraid will happen as a consequence? You may have a good reason to be concerned, but I don't know what it is.
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Sit Heel Speak


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PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb 2010, 04:07    Post_subject:  

So educate yourself:

(1) Watch the film The Future of Food, by Deborah Koons.
(2) Read the book Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey Smith.
(3) Read the Wikipedia article on Árpád Pusztai, re his GMO potato feeding experiments in rats.
(4) Google "genetically modified peas" and read the first dozen hits.
(5) Watch The World According to Monsanto, available online.
(6) Watch Poison on the Platter, another film available online.

The government of India on February 9 imposed a moratorium on genetically engineered brinjal (a.k.a. eggplant, aubergine), after Poison on the Platter was widely shown there; on February 10, Tiruvadi Jagadisan, former Managing Director of Monsanto India, admitted that the company used to fake scientific data, including safety trials, submitted to government regulatory agencies, to get commercial approvals for its products in India.

It is either extremely ignorant or else extremely intellectually dishonest to equate the imprecise artificial gene injection techniques by which Bt cotton and Roundup-Ready soy were created, with hybridization, a practice which merely selects partners for natural sexual reproduction. One crucial difference is, expression of unexpected novel proteins is extremely rare in hybridized crops, but common in GMO ones. In peas the unexpected protein turned out to be quite lethal.

Your contention of higher yields and easier farming has been disproven by the experience of farmers in India; find the article "Monsanto, Cereal Killer GM and Agrarian Suicides in India," by Alejandro Nadal, for a brief overview.

High yields in GMO corn and soy in the U.S. are being achieved only with extravagant applications of fertilizer, resulting in the creation of a several-hundred-square-mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico off the Mississippi Delta. Productivity gains from GMO would not be sufficient to offset increased fertilizer and pesticide costs, were it not for the massive government subsidies given for corn ethanol production.

GMO farmers of corn and soy in Argentina have staged multiple mass protests, most recently on February 16. The nominal issue is too heavy taxation on corn and soy exports, but it is obvious that, underlying this opposition is the essential truth that GMO crops have brought them no such economic benefits as promised.
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Billwho?


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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb 2010, 05:47    Post_subject:  

It's an old quote but it is still relevant.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get me !!

DMcCunney wrote:
No, I won't reconsider. I have the same question for folks elsewhere in the world that I have for the ones at home: what makes them important enough that the US government (or anyone else) would bother snooping on them?

Maybe I live in an Arab state.
Maybe I have badmouthed the arrogant attitude of many Americans and their corrupt government online.
Maybe I work for a company that is involved with the transport of American politicians and the American press during state visits to my country.
Maybe I am a member of a religion or group that they don't trust. Even if that distrust is unfounded.

Two of the above "maybe's" have applied to me and one of them still does.

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nooby

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb 2010, 06:43    Post_subject:  

My Dad was a hard line Communist put in concentration camp during WWII and that is enough for any gov to look for what the son is doing online. Such usually go from parent to child as a inherited Worker culture political affiliation and it could have with me apart from me inherited my Mom's Asperger which made me very suspiscious of any group thinking and thus me was active in Marxist groups and even know those that went over the line into Red things but me stayed out of it due to my individual bent mind did not buy the whole package.

So I do trust they are obliged by their practice to always look for what the children of hard liner Communists does. Very often they are more radical than their parents. At least that is true about Swedes.

One don't chose ones parents but one can chose to not buy into their ideologies but that is for the NSA and others to first check up or they would not do their job correctly.


I have too little insight into what would be needed to hide such on a linux OS kernel.

More likely they put it in hardware? By contacting the hw companies?

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DMcCunney

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb 2010, 19:08    Post_subject:  

Quote:
Billwho? wrote:
It's an old quote but it is still relevant.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get me !!

Unless they aren't...

DMcCunney wrote:
No, I won't reconsider. I have the same question for folks elsewhere in the world that I have for the ones at home: what makes them important enough that the US government (or anyone else) would bother snooping on them?

Maybe I live in an Arab state.
Maybe I have badmouthed the arrogant attitude of many Americans and their corrupt government online.
Maybe I work for a company that is involved with the transport of American politicians and the American press during state visits to my country.
Maybe I am a member of a religion or group that they don't trust. Even if that distrust is unfounded.

Two of the above "maybe's" have applied to me and one of them still does.

I'll accept all of the above. But I live here, and I vote in the elections that determine who will be in office, and the American government doesn't care what I think in any sense that would make them take action against me. I'm simply a constituent who my elected representatives would like to have vote for them in the next election, so they'll at least pretend to listen if I try to talk to them. They won't sic the storm troopers on me for saying I disagree or actively campaigning for their opposition.

Why do you think the American government would pay any more attention to you?

Are you in any position to have any effect whatsoever on what the US government plans or will do? Unless you are, they probably aren't even aware of you, except as one of a large number of people overseas who have reasons for disliking the US. All of the above could be true for you, and you still wouldn't be important enough to come to the attention of the folks over here that deal with such things, or be worth the bother to take action against.

Dislike them all you want. and say so all you want., and I may well agree with you. But unless you do something like toss a bomb at a US embassy and are identified as the one who did it, they are unlikely to have any idea who you are or that you even exist. There are simply too many billions of people in the world.
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DMcCunney

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb 2010, 19:46    Post_subject:  

nooby wrote:
My Dad was a hard line Communist put in concentration camp during WWII and that is enough for any gov to look for what the son is doing online. Such usually go from parent to child as a inherited Worker culture political affiliation and it could have with me apart from me inherited my Mom's Asperger which made me very suspiscious of any group thinking and thus me was active in Marxist groups and even know those that went over the line into Red things but me stayed out of it due to my individual bent mind did not buy the whole package.

I was a radical in my younger days, though I never bought the Communist line. It made assumptions about how people behaved I found untenable. These days, I'm an economic conservative and social liberal, with a dim view of pretty much all "isms", inclusdng Capitalism, Communism, and Socialism. There is no "one size fits all" solution. Different societies will evolve different solutions to problems, and unless you understand how the society works, you'll have scant success in making any changes.

Quote:
So I do trust they are obliged by their practice to always look for what the children of hard liner Communists does. Very often they are more radical than their parents. At least that is true about Swedes.

It's true here, too, but it goes the other way as well. I know folks whose parents were radicals who became thorough conservatives. How much is genuine political belief, and how much is just being as different from Mom and Dad as possible is another matter.

Quote:
One don't chose ones parents but one can chose to not buy into their ideologies but that is for the NSA and others to first check up or they would not do their job correctly.

Correct. It's the job of any national security agency to attempt to defend their country against threats. The issues are what they consider to be threats and what they decide to do about it,.

Quote:
I have too little insight into what would be needed to hide such on a linux OS kernel.

You don't need it. There are a large number of developers who do have the insight, like everyone who is currently contributing to kernel development. There is no way the NSA could slip stuff in without them noticing, and no way for the NSA to control or coerce the majority of them into doing it even if they wanted to. Too many of them aren't even in the United States. (The number two guy in the Linux kernel development hierarchy after Linus himself is British.)

The US government wants to run secure computer systems. The NSA is it's chief security arm. The US government runs a lot of Linux, in labs that are high security locations like Lawrence Livermore. It would be more surprising if the NSA wasn't trying to help Linux developers make it more secure. It's in their own interest to do so. This is about making systems run by the US government more secure, not making systems run by others less secure.

Quote:
More likely they put it in hardware? By contacting the hw companies?

Put what in hardware? And remember, most of that hardware is actually manufactured in places like Taiwan, Singapore, and China. Those are not places I would choose to make anything I wanted kept a secret. "Intellectual property" is a major challenge for the industry in anything that that will be handled offshore or in Asia. If you want to keep it a secret, you don't do it there, because too many people over there won't see our rules on intellectual property as applying to them. If you manufacture offshore, you pretty much assume your plans will be passed around and people will be making knock off copies in short order, and you'll have scant success trying to stop it. File suit in a Chinese court against a Chinese company for violating non-disclosure clauses in a contract. How likely do you think the court will be to rule against the local company, even if you have positive proof they violated the contract?

If you think that court will find in your favor, tell me where to get the drugs you're on, because they must be really good. Razz
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Aitch


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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb 2010, 01:15    Post_subject:  

Dennis

I find myself amazed at the 'authoritative tone' of your posts

You seem quite sure of your beliefs

Yet it's funny, [!] - I find the general discomfort people feel with what is apparently going on in corporate governance, far more chilling than you appear to

Like SHS, I'm aware of the way food is being manipulated, and GMO pollution is spreading, not just across neighbour's farm boundaries but is in the wind, and insect population, & spreading across borders

I call that very sinister!

Now, considering that 'the whole package' you describe, says 'they are looking out for their citizens as they hope to get re-elected' - as if everything's OK....???
Well, there's a whole lot going on, in the way of agendas which definitely AREN'T in the citizen's interest, and 'they' would definitely prefer 'we' argue amongst ourselves to the point of fighting, as it makes it easy to 'sell wars' to people to deal with 'enemies of the state' - rarely the likes of us, as there are bigger fish, and peoples far worse off than us, who do find 'our' corporate governance something to fight against

Sadly, as the world gets smaller, through our awareness of it, we will have to learn better to filter the BS we collectively get fed by our 'elected officials' et al, and their plans to control every last vestige of individual thought we may muster, in an attempt to be free of mental slavery

Internet censorship is the beginning of a series of 'control measures' being implemented, and it won't matter how secure your box is....

It's who & what you connect it to, that matters, and even google etc are collating user stats, for a better internet experience [yeh, right! - product placement more like...]

Expect to see tiered fast-track charges for internet some time soon, and far more user information forms, for security purposes

I'm sure that using linux is preferable to Windoze, that's for sure, though some even doubt this......

Oh, and then there's the BS already implanted in each person's head to deal with......

Is this full circle? Wink

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benali72

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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb 2010, 01:35    Post_subject:  

>>>>> Why do you think the American government would pay any attention to you?

Data mining. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_mining)

>>>>> what makes them important enough that the US government (or anyone else) would bother snooping on them?

Mass surveillance. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance)

>>>>> they are unlikely to have any idea who you are or that you even exist. There are simply too many billions of people in the world.

Databases. (see "Database Nation" by SL Garfinkel)
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thane

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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb 2010, 03:36    Post_subject:  

DMcCunney is probably correct about people who don't engage in political action other than voting (and maybe blogging) not having to worry, but I suspect that if you participate in anything beyond that (especially on the left) you will draw at least cursory attention. There are some alarming reports about even utterly peaceful groups like the Quakers being targets of surveillance. Anyone who advocates radical change (economic democracy, an end to empire) should expect to be noticed.
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TheAsterisk!


Joined: 10 Feb 2009
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Location: SE Wisconsin, US

PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb 2010, 09:15    Post_subject: Let me just put on my hat...  

@Caneri: Oh, please! As if the United States' federal government cares about corporations beyond how they relate to politicians' power!
Really, if there are going to be any allegations of conspiracy or collusion, paranoia fails. If, on the other hand, one were to point out mutually beneficial but unorganized relationships, like how lawyers, lazy journalists and politicians alike benefit from the generation of crises and fear, then one might have something worth discussing.

@DMcCunney: Counter-point: While I agree the average individual isn't important enough to try to control or observe, groups often are, from a large government's perspective.
And besides, having a capability, even if never used, tends to make wielders of power feel so much better.
Regarding Monsanto and GMOs in particular: Your stance is true enough, but I worry that genes will start being patented, and if they're artificially inserted or created, then such patents might actually be legitimate. When one considers that Bt corn genes (supposedly- I'm not going to bother to find sources or anything- too much effort for a forum post) have wound up in maize populations, what might happen if my speculative patented genes were to end up where they don't really belong? All safety issues aside, GMOs present an opportunity for uniquely invasive IP, given the proper circumstances.

GMOs raised for food aren't inherently more dangerous than newly discovered plants or animals, but often they're tested as if they're just another unremarkable population of existing food sources. That's what tends to make GMOs occasionally dangerous: poor testing. If and when thorough testing *does* occur, they're really not too different from selectively bred crops and livestock. (@Aitch: Exactly!)
Trouble is, a whole lot of work in medicine and biology is shoddy these days because of immense commercial and financial incentives for those most often involved in the testing, so it gets rushed and presented deceptively favorably far too often.

In the specific case of the NSA, OSs and devious back doors, though, I'm doubtful. It'd probably be easier for them to use other methods, if they really wanted to take a look, especially because, as I said, they'll be more concerned with groups' actions more often than with individuals'. (@benali72, most recent post: Yup. Group-based, if anything.)


Besides, being a little paranoid about and hostile towards the government is a Great American Tradition™, from our rebellion against the King to Shays' Rebellion to our civil war to the tin-hats of today! Why stop now?
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Caneri

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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb 2010, 09:31    Post_subject:  

For a quick exercise in attitude adjustment pls google Mahar Arar.
Mr Arar didn't think he was anyone the gov would be interested in as well.....but he spent a few years in a Syrian prison under torture because he wasn't important....go figure
Eric

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Aitch


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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb 2010, 10:37    Post_subject:  

TheAsterisk! wrote:
Regarding Monsanto and GMOs in particular: Your stance is true enough, but I worry that genes will start being patented, and if they're artificially inserted or created, then such patents might actually be legitimate


Wow! Where have you been? Patents WERE issued years ago and ARE being enforced against farmers across the world - see 2004 patent infringement paper

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/articles/mceowen/McEowJuly04.htm

Basically, they have created a non seed producing/storing contract with users of patented seedstock, forcing users to go back to monsanto year on year
The seedstock is also engineered to grow faster when fed with engineered additive, making the end product about as far removed from my notion of nourishment, as being whipped with razorwire is to pleasure

more recently google called for patent law reform,, and here's monsanto's lawyer's reply

http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/03/guest-post-monsanto-companys-view-on-patent-reform-protect-innovation.html

so time to revive your speculation, methinks?

The sinister part is the fact that it is modifying natural seedstock on farmer's land not using it, which is contamination, and being carried by insects/wind far from where applied/planted

NSA.....?

I say again, .....who needs backdoors in OSs if you get control of the web, in the same way monsanto's got hold of 'food production' [yuk!]

Just search for 'Keep the internet free' or 'No Online Censorship' & check out IPV6 clauses.......there's plenty of warnings!

@Eric
I sure hope Mahar Arar wins his compensation case against the US - they really do need to re-think all this terrorism cr*p,
and no right of defense!
There should be a global 'Not in my name' campaign, IMHO

[Oh dear, I think I may just have given cause for them to monitor me......again!.. Laughing Laughing Laughing ]

Aitch Smile
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