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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 37,826

Journal Archives

Code Club cofounder resigns after being ordered not to criticize Google

One of the founding members of Code Club, a volunteer-led organization that teaches programming to kids in the UK, has resigned after being told by its board not to criticize Google or any of the group’s sponsors.

In a blog post, Linda Sandvik writes, “On Monday the 25th of August the Code Club board gave me an ultimatum, either I have to stop saying negative things about Code Club sponsors, or resign as a director. After careful consideration, I have handed in my resignation.”

In February, Google invested £120,000 (or nearly $200,000 US) to help Code Club train 20,000 primary school teachers in programming. Apparently that cash also buys Google a board of directors that will never call the company out for its practices and policies. And despite Google’s innocent “what, me evil?” attitude, there’s plenty to take the company to task over, whether it’s Google’s complicity in mass NSA surveillance, its ties to government military contractors, or its support of think tanks backed by oil and gas magnates Charles and David Koch that have taken stances against women’s and gay’s rights, among other distasteful political positions.

Shortly after Sandvik revealed her resignation, designer and social entrepreneur Aral Balkan said on Twitter that he had resigned from Code Club’s board for the same reason.

“This is institutional corruption,” he said. “This is the danger posed by the monopoly of companies like Google. And it is affecting every aspect of society, including education.” Balkan has written extensively on the corporate surveillance Google and Facebook conduct on its users, going so far as to call it “Spyware 2.0.”


I'd love to see what Trevor Timm will say about this, assuming he has any stones...

2013: Corporate America increased profits by $93b; paid $15b less taxes

In July, the American pharmaceutical giant AbbVie, maker of the world's top-selling drug – the arthritis treatment Humira – reached a blockbuster deal to acquire European rival Shire, best known for the attention-deficit medication Adderall. The merger was cheered by Wall Street, not for what the deal will do to advance pharmaceutical science, but because it will empower the bigger firm, AbbVie, to renounce its U.S. citizenship.

At $55 billion, the AbbVie deal is the largest in a cavalcade of corporate "inversions." A loophole in American tax law permits companies with just 20 percent foreign ownership to reincorporate abroad, which means that if a big U.S. firm acquires a smaller company located in a tax haven, it can then "invert" – that is, become a subsidiary of its foreign-based affiliate – and kiss a huge share of its IRS obligations goodbye.

AbbVie shareholders will continue to control 75 percent of the company, which will still be managed by executives outside Chicago. But the merged company will now file its tax returns on the island of Jersey – a speck of land in the English Channel, where Shire is incorporated. AbbVie, which racked up more than $10 billion in Humira sales last year, will slash its effective corporate tax rate from 22 percent to 13. The cost to the U.S. Treasury? Possibly as much as $1.3 billion by the year 2020...

...These tax turncoats have drawn the ire of President Obama. "I don't care if it's legal," he declared this summer. "It's wrong." These inverted companies, he said, "don't want to give up . . . all the advantages of operating in the United States. They just don't want to pay for it..."

...Last year the IRS finally collected more in tax receipts than it did before the crash in 2007. But dig a little deeper into the numbers and it is clear we haven't returned to normal: Corporations paid nearly $100 billion less in federal income taxes last year than before the Great Recession – down nearly 40 percent as a share of GDP. In fact, corporate profits and corporate tax collections are now trending in opposite directions. Profits were up $93 billion last year – to a high of $2.1 trillion, according to the Commerce Department. Yet corporate tax payments actually fell last year by more than $15 billion.

How is this possible?


Charter schools CEO earns $567k/yr, moves HQ to Wall Street

Eva Moskowitz isn't just backed by Wall Street, she moved there

Eva Moskowitz, the firebrand chief of the city’s fastest growing charter chain, isn’t just backed by Wall Street, she’s officially moved there — with Wall Street-type salaries to boot.

Last November, Moskowitz, who for years boasted of opening her Success Academy Charter Schools in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, quietly shifted her corporate headquarters from Central Harlem to 95 Pine St. (aka 120 Wall St.).

The new offices will cost her organization $31 million over 15 years, according to its most recent financial report.

The same report shows Moskowitz received an eye-popping $567,000 during the 2012-2013 school year. That’s a raise of $92,000 from the previous year, and more than double the $212,000 paid to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

That made Moskowitz the city’s highest-paid charter school executive last year. Her spokeswoman said Moskowitz’s current pay is a less lofty $305,000, with her bonus to be determined at year’s end.



Fox News again pines for Vladimir Putin to be in charge

Hey look, more wistful admiration of Russian leader Vladimir Putin from Fox News talking heads—they just cannot get enough of this guy. This time it's not for cracking down on gay citizens or for wrasslin' with a bear or whatever it is Putin's handlers have him photographed doing this week, it's just that it would be nice if he was President of America for a little while so we could finally get someone in office who could put an end to all this "civil liberties" nonsense we hear so much of these days.

Noting British plans to address citizens who leave the U.K. to become terrorists, then asked Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle about whether measures can be implemented “without so-called violating their civil liberties.” Guilfoyle responded:
“Guess what, I don’t care. And in fact, I hope we violate a lot of their civil liberties. …

“I mean, can I just make a special request in the magic lamp? Can we get like Netanyahu and like Putin in for 48 hours, you know, head of the United States? I don’t know. I just want somebody to get in here and get it done right.”
That's right, if only Vladimir Putin were the U.S. president, he could take his shirt off and solve terrorism in two days.


The NFL pulls its head from its ass (kinda-sorta)

NFL toughens its stance on domestic violence

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admits he was wrong on the Ray Rice decision, and Goodell is taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.

In a lengthy letter sent to every NFL owner on Thursday, Goodell announced enhanced policies and discipline under the personal conduct policy that will result in a six-game suspension for a first offense related to domestic violence or sexual assault and an indefinite suspension for a second offense committed by any NFL employee.

Goodell drew major criticism since the announcement last month that Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back, would be suspended just two games for striking his then-fiancee at a New Jersey casino and being caught on camera dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator.

"We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place," Goodell wrote in the letter to owners.

"My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."


I fear this is only going to encourage future transgressors to heavily "persuade" their significant other not to contact police or press charges after a violent incident...

Chrome Extension That Replaces "Cloud" With "Butts"

Earlier today, we asked you to tell us about all your favorite Chrome extensions. And while the ultimate winners will be revealed at a later date, Kinja user pacguy has introduced us to one sparkling diamond of an extension that, frankly, would be an injustice to keep hidden. Because friends, you need to install Cloud to Butt Plus immediately.

It's a simple little extension that turns one of the most buzzworthy and consequently obnoxious words—"the cloud"—into something beautiful. Butts, specifically. And though you'd think this would be one game that would get old fast, you would be wrong.


Miss Spain 2013 Comes Out In Instagram Post

What an incredible moment for queer visibility!

Patricia Rodríguez, the winner and title holder of Miss Spain 2013, came out of the closet this week through an Instagram post with her partner. The move makes Rodríguez the first openly lesbian national beauty queen.


Can you identify these cars from film and TV?

(Scroll over each photo to see the answer)

I had to manually tally my score -- out of 77 total, I only got 52...I did blank on 4-5 obvious ones I already knew, about 5 of them were kind of ambiguous, and the rest weren't on my pop culture radar...

So how many can YOU get??

Public Spats Over Ukraine Reflect Lack of Unity in Russian Opposition

A public clash between a dissident politician and veteran rock musician this week over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict reflects the broader lack of consensus among the opposition, pundits said.

"Whenever the opposition has to tackle fundamental problems such as what Russia is, who its friends and enemies are in the world and what we all stand for, the opposition disintegrates into little splinters," Anatoly Gorbunov, director of the Institute of Systemic Political Studies think tank told The Moscow Times.

"It is much easier to unite against President Vladimir Putin than to formulate an alternative vision and identity for Russia," he said in a telephone interview from Yekaterinburg.

In a startling but little-reported post this week, a member of longtime Kremlin critic Eduard Limonov's unregistered opposition party The Other Russia wrote on his blog that the "Russia Without Putin" slogan that over the last decade has become one of the symbols of Russia's opposition movement has turned into an "empty mantra" and lost its value.

"The president has started to make steps in the last years that deserve respect. It is difficult to deny Putin's accomplishments, such as preventing a war in Syria, victorious Olympic Games in Sochi and the reunification of Crimea with Russia," Alexei Pesotsky, a member of the St. Petersburg executive committee of the party wrote in his LiveJournal blog...


...According to Gobunov, the squabbling between government critics reflects the broader problem that the opposition in Russia can only unite against the government but not in support of an alternative path for the country's development.

"The main problem is that whenever someone suggests a positive policy, all the rivals begin to criticize it so as not to let any one of the opposition leaders become dominant," he said.

"While the Ukraine conflict is ongoing, the opposition discourse has become based on emotions, so I don't expect anything positive to happen in this respect until the Ukraine situation is settled," he added.


The Ferguson Challenge to the Libertarians

Many people are pointing to the police violence unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri as part of a “libertarian moment.” Dave Weigel of Slate writes “Liberals are up in arms about police militarization. Libertarians are saying: What took you so long?” Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner notes that the events in Ferguson bolster the claim that we are experiencing a libertarian moment because “libertarianism’s warnings today ring truer than ever.”

It will be a great thing if the horror of what is going on builds a broader coalition for putting the excess of the carceral state in check. But I also think that Ferguson presents a problem for libertarian theory about this situation in particular and the state in general. Their argument is a public choice-like story in which the federal government is the main villain. But this will only tell a partial story, and probably not even the most important one. And, as the deeper story of the town is told, the disturbing economics of the city look similar to what the right thinks is the ideal state. Let’s take these in turn.

Bottom-Up Militarization

People on the right are telling a story where the problems of the police are primarily driven by the federal government. As Rand Paul said: “Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem.” Big government here is strictly a federal phenomenon though, one where “Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts.” Paul Ryan’s comment on Ferguson is telling: "But in all of these things, local control, local government, local authorities who have the jurisdiction, who have the expertise, who are actually there are the people who should be in the lead." (h/t Digby) The culprits in these criticisms are usually programs, accelerated after the start of the War on Terror, that give military surplus to local police.

But rather than just a top-down phenomenon of centralized, federal bureaucrats, the police violence we see is just as much a bottom-up, locally-driven affair. “Militarized” police equipment didn’t shoot Michael Brown, or kill Eric Garner in a chokehold. And aggressive police reactions to protests haven’t required extensive military equipment over the past 40 years.


I'm scratching my head as well on how libertarians are trying to make this "their" movement, as if they ever gave a shit about the black community before...But then I remember how they tried to take over OWS and claim it as their own, as well...
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