Sunday, October 5, 2014

U.S. Colluding with Turkey to Allow ISIS to Decimate Kurdish Democratic Stronghold of Kobane

At this very moment, the Syrian Kurdish stronghold of Kobane is being decimated by ISIS which has 40 stolen American made tanks shelling the City. Kobane is on the border of Turkey and Turkey does not want to help them because it is worried about Kurdish separatism. The U.S. is shamefully colluding with Turkey by holding off on destroying the ISIS tanks which it could easily do. The Kurds have been the strongest opponents of ISIS and they promote Democracy and gender equality in the Middle East, and the U.S. government has let them down miserably.

See, If KobanĂȘ falls, the US and Turkey will be to blame,, By Jerome Roos On October 4, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Downfall of Wikipedia

New Study Predicts the Downfall of Wikipedia, OneIndia News, August 2009

"Researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center in California have predicted the downfall of the internet encyclopedia- Wikipedia. The study shows that Wikipedia's ascendancy to the top of a large pool of online reference sites may be coming to an end because the community-created encyclopedia has become less welcoming to new contributors."

"It's easy to say that Wikipedia will always be here. This research shows that is not a given," New Scientist quoted Dr Ed Chi, a senior scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center, as saying."


Wall Street Journal, TECH: Wikipedia on the Decline, 11/22/2009

WSJ's Julia Angwin interviews Andrew Lih, author of Wikipedia Revolution, about why volunteers are increasingly quitting Wikipedia.


The Decline of Wikipedia, MIT Technology Review, By Tom Simonite on October 22, 2013

"The sixth most widely used website in the world is not run anything like the others in the top 10. It is not operated by a sophisticated corporation but by a leaderless collection of volunteers who generally work under pseudonyms and habitually bicker with each other. It rarely tries new things in the hope of luring visitors; in fact, it has changed little in a decade...

Yet Wikipedia and its stated ambition to “compile the sum of all human knowledge” are in trouble. The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own...

The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage..."

Newcomers Unwelcome...

"Without any traditional power structure, they developed sophisticated workflows and guidelines for producing and maintaining entries. Their only real nod to hierarchy was electing a small group of “administrators” who could wield special powers such as deleting articles or temporarily banning other editors. (There are now 635 active admins on the English Wikipedia.)

The project seemed laughable or shocking to many. Wikipedia inherited and embraced the cultural expectations that an encyclopedia ought to be authoritative, comprehensive, and underpinned by the rational spirit of the Enlightenment. But it threw out centuries of accepted methods for attaining that. In the established model, advisory boards, editors, and contributors selected from society’s highest intellectual echelons drew up a list of everything worth knowing, then created the necessary entries. Wikipedia eschewed central planning and didn’t solicit conventional expertise. In fact, its rules effectively discouraged experts from contributing, given that their work, like anyone else’s, could be overwritten within minutes. Wikipedia was propelled instead by the notion that articles should pile up quickly, in the hope that one Borgesian day the collection would have covered everything in the world."


The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration Community: How Wikipedia's reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline, by Aaron Halfaker, Scientist

"Open collaboration systems like Wikipedia need to maintain a pool of volunteer contributors in order to remain relevant. Wikipedia was created through a tremendous number of contributions by millions of contributors. However, recent research has shown that the number of active contributors in Wikipedia has been declining steadily for years, and suggests that a sharp decline in the retention of newcomers is the cause. This paper presents data that show that several changes the Wikipedia community made to manage quality and consistency in the face of a massive growth in participation have ironically crippled the very growth they were designed to manage. Specifically, the restrictiveness of the encyclopedia's primary quality control mechanism and the algorithmic tools used to reject contributions are implicated as key causes of decreased newcomer retention. Further, the community's formal mechanisms for norm articulation are shown to have calcified against changes – especially changes proposed by newer editors.

What's Wrong with Wikipedia, Harvard Universsity

"Nevertheless, when you're doing academic research, you should be extremely cautious about using Wikipedia. As its own disclaimer states, information on Wikipedia is contributed by anyone who wants to post material, and the expertise of the posters is not taken into consideration. Users may be reading information that is outdated or that has been posted by someone who is not an expert in the field or by someone who wishes to provide misinformation."



"So most people don’t consider Wikipedia to be a reputable source, since its contents come from unverified sources and are not only prone to contain mistakes, but also lack proper supervision and editing."


GIGAOM, The Decline of Wikipedia

"It’s no secret that the community behind Wikipedia is insular, methodical and bureaucratic. But the high barriers of entry that Wikipedians have established to keep the website’s millions of pages under control are now coming back to haunt them, according to an in-depth feature by MIT Technology Review. There simply aren’t enough people to regulate and edit the firehose of information — both correct and incorrect — to keep to the high standard the community sets for itself, much less be a reliable encyclopedia. That insular group is going to need to open up, or risk collapsing under the weight of its own system."

Mail Online, Is this the decline of Wikipedia?

"A third of editors have QUIT complaining site bosses have 'lowered the bar' on quality
Changes by Wikipedia to modernise the site have disenfranchised loyal 'Wikipedians', claims study
Volunteer editors believe that in making changes to its systems Wikipedia has been 'lowering the bar'


The Raw Story, MIT report: Wikipedia has entered perpetual ‘decline phase’

"According to a recent MIT study, the volunteer editorial staff at Wikipedia has withered by more than a third since 2007, and its ranks are still declining.
At the same time, volunteer editors increasingly found themselves hamstrung by rules that became too arcane to police. In his study, Halfaker wrote that Wikipedia should change its motto from “[t]he encyclopedia that anyone can edit” to “[t]he encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes him or herself, dodges the impersonal wall of semi-automated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his or her time and energy can edit.”


Economics of Information: MIT Technology Review has an article on the decline of Wikipedia.

"The article summarizes the challenges faced by the 'The Free Encyclopedia' and one of the top ten most visited websites in the world as:
When Wikipedians achieved their most impressive feat of leaderless collective organization, they unwittingly set in motion the decline in participation that troubles their project today."


"So long as an illiterate drug addict can override the work of a Harvard professor, Wikipedia will never be an authoritative reference."
Credibility for Wikipedia, by BC Burleson Consulting.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Release Date: January 15, 2014
For further information:
Martin R. Stolar

Today's announcement of the settlement of the 2004 Republican National Convention civil cases is the culmination of 10 years of work to protect the freedom to dissent from the Bush administration's war-mongering policies.
The National Lawyers Guild's Mass Defense Committee organized the criminal defense of the more than 1800 people arrested during the Convention, providing pro bono lawyers and legal support which resulted in dismissals or acquittals for over 90% of those taken into police custody.
Following the criminal cases, the Guild organized civil rights lawsuits on behalf of those wrongfully arrested and detained, providing legal counsel through its members and affiliated attorneys to vindicate those rights. The settlement agreed to by the City and the plaintiffs does exactly that.
We are pleased that a substantial portion of the attorneys fees from this settlement will be dedicated to the continued defense of the right to dissent and to express that dissent in a public forum. Speaking out about the government's infringements of fundamental human rights is an obligation of every citizen, and is a right which the Guild continues to defend and will defend in the future.
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has chapters in every state.

January 15, 2014
City Hall, New York City


            On behalf of the more than 1800 people who were unjustly arrested during the 2004 RNC, we are pleased to announce a global settlement of all but a handful of the lawsuits for false arrest and violation of first amendment rights.  The City has agreed to pay out $18 million in this settlement.  This is the largest settlement of civil rights cases arising from mass arrests of protesters in US history.  The City will pay $6,400,000 to 430 individual plaintiffs; $6,600,000 to settle a class action on behalf of approximately 1200 people; and $5,000,000 to attorneys for the individual plaintiffs.  The attorneys will be contributing 10% of their fees to a fund to protect the free speech rights of New Yorkers into the future.

The Arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention

            At the time of the 2004 Republican Convention, the invasion of Iraq had entered its second year.  New York City had been chosen for the Convention site to align the nominee with the site of the tragic attacks of 9/11.  It was widely known that the Convention would attract many Americans who opposed the war and other Bush administration policies, and intended to make their views known in a peaceful manner, just as people had protested at past political conventions.

            Despite projected fears that peaceful protests would be disrupted by “anarchists,” and the Bloomberg administration’s mistaken conflation of large peaceful protest activity with terrorism and violence, nothing of the kind materialized during the days of protest around the Convention.   Instead, hundreds of peaceful protesters were rounded up in mass arrests at numerous locations around the City during the Convention, most of them on one day, August 31, 2004.  On that day, the first large group of protesters gathered near the World Trade Center site to conduct a peaceful sidewalk march that had been called by the War Resisters League, a pacifist organization – the protest had been featured in that morning’s newspapers as a place people could go to peacefully express themselves.  The protesters discussed their plans with the police before setting off on their march with police approval, but 227 were arrested en masse before they had walked half a block on the Fulton Street sidewalk next to St. Paul’s Church, across the street from Ground Zero.  The mass arrest is depicted on police videos that we have reproduced for distribution.

NYPD RNC arrests ruled illegal, RT America, Oct. 2, 2012

            In 2012, Federal District Court Judge Richard J. Sullivan held that all 227 had been illegally arrested: “The Court therefore finds that the police lacked probable cause to arrest the Fulton Street protesters.”  A thousand more people were arrested later that same day in similar mass arrests.  The Bloomberg administration made a calculated decision to conduct preemptive arrests without probable cause, knowing that taxpayers would eventually pay for that decision.

            Everyone arrested was held at a Pier on the Hudson River that had previously been used as an MTA bus repair facility – cyclone fencing was used to create cages in a warehouse-like area still covered with grease and brake fluid.  Signs still hung from the walls warning workers to wear hazmat suits.  There was no heat, no place to lie down, and a handful of port-a-potties.  Protesters were held in these disgraceful conditions for up to 48 hours before being transported to court facilities – long enough to exhaust them and keep them off the streets until after George Bush was re-nominated.  Many left with skin rashes and respiratory problems, and some developed more serious medical conditions.  Even during the course of the RNC, a state court judge held the City in contempt for detaining arrestees longer than permissible.

            Almost everyone arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and parading without a permit had their charges dismissed, or were acquitted at trials.  We expect many of them to be available to speak directly to the media about their experiences.

The Lawsuits and the Settlement

            Hundreds of people filed individual federal civil rights lawsuits.  A class action was also filed.  The Bloomberg administration viewed the claims as a political challenge to policing policies Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly were intent on defending, just as they have defended their stop and frisk practices.  They deemed peaceful protesters, “anarchists,” and terrorists as a blended “tri-partite threat” to the City.  But no terrorists were to be found among people protesting on the sidewalks of New York during the RNC.  Instead, the City’s policies fell on people who, at worst, caused some crowded sidewalks and snarled traffic.

            Just as the NSA has justified massive collection of information on millions of citizens on the grounds that it will help catch terrorists (although there is no evidence it has done so); and just as widespread surveillance of the private lives of peaceful Muslim New Yorkers has been justified on the same grounds; the surveillance of activists and the arrests at the RNC are a disgraceful example of disregard for the right to speak freely, an infringement of civil rights for partisan political purposes.  Dissent has nothing to do with terrorism, and the RNC experience shows that widespread intelligence gathering on citizens paves the way to curtailing free expression.  The arrests of 1800 people had nothing to do with fighting terrorism, and everything to do with a political agenda to silence protest while a political party nominated its candidate.

            According to news reports, the City spent more than $16 million of taxpayer money defending these lawsuits.  The transparent objective of dragging the cases out until Bloomberg left office has now been revealed, at a cost of $18 million more.  The architects of the 2004 RNC policies are now gone – as a new Mayor takes office in New York City, this settlement stands as an emblem of the failure of those policies, from their initial inception to this settlement’s conclusion.

            While the settlement announced today covers the vast majority of RNC cases, the City has yet to resolve some of the most egregious cases. We are hopeful that the new administration will work swiftly toward a just result in these cases, so that this tainted legacy of the Bloomberg administration can finally be put to rest.

Lastly, the new administration must seek to actively protect, rather than suppress, the exercise of free speech and association in this great city.  Those who peacefully dissent from the actions of their government serve as the conscience of our community.  They must be encouraged, not preemptively arrested, caged or otherwise discouraged or abused.