For 3 days in January, it seemed like the online community was witnessing a full-scale war with attacks coming from all sides. The first ‘strike’ occurred on January 18 as major websites in the United States, such as Wikipedia, Wired, Reddit, Wordpress, Google and others, protested the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the lesser known Protect IP Act (PIPA), by blacking out all or a portion of their sites. This unprecedented and coordinated online demonstration against what was perceived as internet censorship eventually led both the House of Representatives and the Senate to indefinitely postpone the drafting and voting of SOPA and PIPA, respectively.
On Thursday a massive internet protest produced one of the most impressive victories against an oppressive government bill. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and its little brother Protect IP Act (PIPA) both lost most of their support in the US Senate and Congress with over a dozen elected officials backing away from their support of the bill, including several cosponsors of each respective bill.
Both bills were designed to provide a strong tool for shutting down websites. They would essentially give the government the power to take down any site, foreign or domestic, for a link to illegally downloadable copyrighted material, even if said link had been placed there by a user. It was feared the law would be abused to take down any website using user generated content and generated a huge backlash from the tech industry.
On Sunday morning at the national convention of the Liberal party, over 1200 delegates voted on whether or not the Liberal party would officially endorse the legalization of marijuana. The motion passed with 77% of the participants voting for the move, and the Liberal party joins the NDP as the two major political parties pushing to legalize or decriminalize the substance.
A more cynical reading of their decision would be that this is an attempt by the Liberal party to create a minor buzz, especially among the youth vote, and make up for its embarrassing trouncing in the last federal election where it fell it lost nearly half of its seat, dropping from 77 to 34. Even considering the transparency of the decision, it nonetheless stands as a positive shift that would encourage Canada to take up the standards of countries like the Netherlands and Argentina where marijuana has been decriminalized.
Mexico’s bloody war with drug cartels will drive July’s presidential election. It has been a strenuous war but one which the next president cannot undermine.
In 2006, newly-elected Mexican President Felipe Calderon initiated a war on the drug cartels and since then violence has been horrifically rampant throughout the country. The numbers are grim with the United States’ State Department claiming that that 40,000 people have died within this 5-year period.
The armed-conflict has vividly impacted the entire country, especially in the northern region of Chihuahua and the Pacific states. Ciudad Juarez, lying on the border with the United States has become the biggest victim to organised crime. In 2010 over 3000 people were killed in Juarez alone with a population of less than a million.
The drug cartels, which have split from former allies, continue to attack each other and innocent civilians in terrifying forms of violence. The bodies of decapitated civilians have become a dismal re-occurrence in the country’s headlines.
On Wednesday December 28th, Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez wondered aloud if a number of leaders in Latin America were developing cancer as a result of U.S. interference. Although Chavez explicitly mentioned that he was making no direct accusations, he nonetheless wondered aloud that: “It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now.”
Chavez's remarks come after Christina Fernandez of Argentina was recently diagnosed with cancer in her thyroid gland. She joins Paraguay's Fernando Lugo, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, and former Brazillian leader Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva. Chavez himself underwent surgery in June to remove a tumour in his pelvis.
Of course it should be noted that Chavez had a tumor in his leg, Fernandez's cancer is in her thyroid gland, Lugo with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a blood cancer), Rousseff had a different type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and da Silva had throat cancer. Aside from an interesting similarity between Rousseff and Lugo, there doesn't seem to be any similarities between the cases of cancer that has Chavez concerned. Even the two similar ones were both treated with some success and neither leader was incapacitated from their duties due to their respective cancers.