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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 67,300

Journal Archives

Robert Scheer: Privacy Is Freedom

from truthdig:

Privacy Is Freedom

Posted on Jul 5, 2015
By Robert Scheer

In an excerpt from his new book, “They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy,” Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer traces the Fourth Amendment’s enshrinement of privacy rights from English common law to Facebook and a defense by Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

What is the role of privacy in the twenty-first century? To the leaders of Internet commerce, whose basic business model involves exploiting the minutiae of their customers’ lives, the very idea of privacy has been treated as, at best, an anachronism of the pre-digital age. Meanwhile, those desiring to keep their personal data from prying eyes claim it as an unconditional constitutional right.

After making a pro-privacy pretense, in his company’s early years, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg began steadily advancing the argument that privacy is a luxury being willingly tossed aside by customers preferring convenience. “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,” he said while accepting a Crunchie award in San Francisco in January 2010. “That social norm is just something that has evolved over time. We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.”

Instead of viewing the protection of privacy as a business’s obligation to his customer base, Zuckerberg suggested that the very concept of personal privacy could be gradually disappearing. “our years ago, when Facebook was getting started, most people didn’t want to put up any information about themselves on the Internet,” he told an interviewer at the Web 2.0 Summit in 2008.

Right? So, we got people through this really big hurdle of wanting to put up their full name, or real picture, mobile phone number. . . . I would expect that, you know, next year, people will share twice as much information as they are this year. And then, the year after that, they’ll share twice as much information as they are next year . . . as long as the stream of information is just constantly increasing, and we’re doing our job, and . . . our role, and kind of like pushing that forward, then I think that, you know . . . that’s just been the best strategy for us.

In other words, let’s keep pushing customers to give up a little more privacy every day until they have none left. This has, of course, been the norm in an industry based on customers clicking an “agree” button to approve privacy terms and conditions contracts designed to be unreadable—and to go unread. (As Sun Microsystems chief executive Scott McNealy famously said way back in 1999, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”) ...............(more)


Chris Hedges: Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State

from truthdig:

Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State

Posted on Jul 5, 2015
By Chris Hedges

Our national conversation on race and crime is based on a fiction. It is the fiction that the organs of internal security, especially the judiciary and the police, can be adjusted, modernized or professionalized to make possible a post-racial America. We discuss issues of race while ignoring the economic, bureaucratic and political systems of exploitation—all of it legal and built into the ruling apparatus—that are the true engines of racism and white supremacy. No discussion of race is possible without a discussion of capitalism and class. And until that discussion takes place, despite all the proposed reforms to the criminal justice system, the state will continue to murder and imprison poor people of color with impunity.

More training, body cameras, community policing, the hiring of more minorities as police officers, a better probation service and more equitable fines will not blunt the indiscriminate use of lethal force or reduce the mass incarceration that destroys the lives of the poor. Our capitalist system callously discards surplus labor, especially poor people of color, employing lethal force and the largest prison system in the world to keep them under control. This is by design. And until this predatory system of capitalism is destroyed, the poor, especially people of color, will continue to be gunned down by police in the streets, as they have for decades, and disproportionately locked in prison cages.

“The strength of ‘The New Jim Crow’ by Michelle Alexander is that, by equating mass incarceration with Jim Crow, it makes it rhetorically impossible to defend it,” said Naomi Murakawa, author of “The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America,” when we met recently in Princeton, N.J. “But, on the other hand, there is no ‘new’ Jim Crow, there is just capitalist white supremacy in a state of constant self-preservation.”

“We should talk about what we are empowering police to do, not how they are doing it, not whether they are being nice when they carry out arrests,” she said. “Reforms are oriented to making violence appear respectable and courteous. But being arrested once can devastate someone’s life. This is the violence we are not talking about. It does not matter if you are arrested politely. Combating racism is not about combating bad ideas in the head or hateful feelings. This idea is the perfect formula to preserve material distributions in their exact configuration.” ..................(more)


Sugar is literally killing us: The stunning fatality rates behind our soda addiction

(Salon) Pop. Soda. However you call it, the beverage can mean big trouble, according to a revised estimate of a 2013 study on the negative impact of sugary drinks.

Worldwide, sugary drinks are responsible for 184,000 deaths each year, with 25,000 of those deaths in America, according to the study published in the journal Circulation. This is larger than the estimate two years ago of 180,000 deaths in the same time frame. Researchers counted deaths from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer that are linked to sweetened soda, fruit drink, sports/energy drink, and iced tea consumption. The researchers found 133,000 annual deaths happen at the hands of type 2 diabetes, 45,000 deaths are due to cardiovascular disease, and 6,450 deaths are linked to cancer.

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of the study and dean of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, told Live Science that this means people ought to consume less sugary beverages. Though not all humans have access to healthy foods, lowering one’s sugary drink intake can make a difference.

“Many countries in the world have a significant number of deaths occurring from a single dietary factor, sugar-sweetened beverages,” Dr. Mozaffarian said. “It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet. Some population dietary changes, such as increasing fruits and vegetables, can be challenging due to agriculture, costs, storage, and other complexities. This is not complicated. There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.” ...............(more)


Shipping Industry Gloomiest Since 2009 in Survey as Glut Endures

The shipping industry is the most pessimistic in six years about its prospects as a fleet surplus persists, according to a survey by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

Two thirds of respondents working in the industry said they were pessimistic about its prospects, the most negative outlook since 2009, the London-based company said in a statement. The biggest contributor to their negative view was excess fleet capacity.

While parts of the maritime industry such as the market for hauling oil are surging this year, others are slumping. Rates for delivering Saudi Arabian crude to Japan, a benchmark route, just had the highest first half of a year since at least 2009. The Baltic Dry Index, measuring coal and iron ore freight, had the worst first six months ever.

“Shipping is a notoriously speculative business,” Harry Theochari, the firm’s global head of transport, who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years, said by phone. “We have this huge overcapacity but a lot of shipowners are still going out and ordering ships.” .......................(more)


Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'

(Independent UK) The true number of young people who are homeless far exceeds government figures, according to a major new study by housing experts at Cambridge University being released on Monday.

Some 83,000 homeless young people have had to rely on councils and charities for a roof over their heads during the past year – more than three times the 26,852 young people recorded in homeless figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government. And there are about 35,000 young people in homeless accommodation at any one time across Britain.

The “worryingly high” levels of young people using homelessness services across Britain is “a minimum estimate and it is likely that in reality more homeless young people access support across the UK”, the research said. ...............(more)


My favorite picture from the Greece "No" vote celebration......


Wikileaks Exposes How TISA Will Gut Financial Regulations All Over the World

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street, who also writes at Raging Bull-Shit. Originally published at Wolf Street

It’s almost impossible to keep anything secret these days – not even the core text of a hyper-secret trade deal, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which has spent the last two years taking shape behind the hermetically sealed doors of highly secure locations around the world.

According to the agreement’s provisional text, the document is supposed to remain confidential and concealed from public view for at least five years after being signed! But now, thanks to WikiLeaks, it has seeped to the surface.

The Really, Really Good Friends of Services

TiSA is arguably the most important – yet least well-known – of the new generation of global trade agreements. According to WikiLeaks, it “is the largest component of the United States’ strategic ‘trade’ treaty triumvirate,” which also includes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP).

“Together, the three treaties form not only a new legal order shaped for transnational corporations, but a new economic ‘grand enclosure,’ which excludes China and all other BRICS countries” declared WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in a press statement. If allowed to take universal effect, this new enclosure system will impose on all our governments a rigid framework of international corporate law designed to exclusively protect the interests of corporations, relieving them of financial risk, and social and environmental responsibility.

Thanks to an innocuous-sounding provision called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, every investment they make will effectively be backstopped by our governments (and by extension, you and me); it will be too-big-to-fail writ on an unimaginable scale. ............(more)


Keiser Report: Greece! Start Fresh

Published on Jun 30, 2015
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the idea of “nothing to fear but fear itself” as Greece puts an end to sovereign asset forfeiture as capital controls and bank holidays are declared after its government called a referendum. In the second half, Max interviews American defense attorney Craig Brand about civil asset forfeiture.

Declaration of Independence (cartoon)


Angela's Ashes: How Merkel Failed Greece and Europe

(Der Spiegel) Angela Merkel was already leaving for the weekend when she received the call that would change everything. The chancellor had just had a grueling day, spending all of it in meetings with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras -- sometimes as part of a larger group, and others with only him and French President François Hollande.

They discussed debt restructuring and billions of euros in additional investments. When it comes to issues important to him, Tsipras can be exhaustingly stubborn. In the end, though, Merkel was left with the feeling the EU summit was the milestone that could quite possibly mark a turn for the better.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, had pulled Merkel aside in Brussels and whispered to her that Tsipras was seeking allies in the opposition, with whom he could push a reform program through Greek parliament even without the consent of the radical wing of Syriza, if necessary. "Can you help me?" Tsipras had asked Schulz. Schulz has good connections in the Social Democratic PASOK Party.

But when Merkel returned to Berlin, she received a call from Tsipras. He told her that he was not interested in a deal, but that he intended to hold a referendum in Greece first. A short time later, he tweeted: "With a clear 'NO,' we send a message that Greece is not going to surrender."


Instead, she did what no German chancellor had ever done before. She followed a policy of pedagogical imperialism, with the lesson plan calling for budgetary discipline, labor market reform and privatization. It worked in Spain, Portugal and Ireland, but in Greece, the conditions imposed by creditors were not seen as necessary medicine but as a poison that was destroying society. ...........(more)


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