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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 72,733

Journal Archives

The Corporation: "Mindset"

excerpt from the documentary "The Corporation"

Facebook Has All the Power

from the Atlantic:

Facebook Has All the Power
Media critic Jay Rosen says a controversial mood study shows how few rights and how little control Facebook users actually have.

JULIE POSETTI | JUL 10 2014, 10:49 AM ET

Amid growing calls for formal investigations into Facebook's disturbing mood manipulation research, media scholar Jay Rosen has a reminder for journalists, editors, and personal social media users alike: "Facebook has all the power. You have almost none."

The experiment, conducted without users' knowledge or consent, manipulated the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 Facebook users with the purpose of testing mood responses to content alteration.

The Federal Trade Commission is considering two formal complaints about the 2012 Facebook research, published contentiously in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal—one from US Senator Mark Warner and another from the Electronic Privacy Information Centre. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office is investigating.

I caught up with Rosen, who teaches Journalism at NYU and is also an advisor to First Look Media.


While we know that Facebook has access to our content and our rights as users are increasingly being diminished, there is something particularly creepy about the knowledge that, without our consent, in an Orwellian fashion, we can be unwitting participants in psychological experimentation. What should this reality signal to Facebook users? Is it time to pull-back?

You have (almost) no rights. You have (almost) no control. You have no idea what they're doing to you or with you. You don't even know who's getting the stuff you are posting, and you're not allowed to know. Trade secret! As the saying goes: "If you're not paying for the product, you are the product." As long as you understand and accept all that, then proceed. With caution. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/facebook-has-all-the-power-you-have-almost-none/374215/

The Corporation: The private taking of the commons

from the documentary "The Corporation"

We used to regard many areas as too essential to the public good to be commercialized; they were protected by tradition and regulation. Now, everything is
becoming fair game in the private taking of the commons -- land, oceans, air, water, education, health, energy and social assistance. Where do we draw the line?

Fly swatter in 21st century America (cartoon)


Sweet Jeezus......NRA goes off the deep end.....again.

NRA News commentator Dom Raso compares gun control to racist Jim Crow laws

NRA News commentator Dom Raso recently compared laws to regulate guns to laws that enforced segregation and outlawed interracial marriage.

Raso, a U.S. Navy SEAL veteran, said in a video uploaded to YouTube on Sunday that gun control laws were like Jim Crow laws because owning and carrying a firearm was a civil right.

“Just because someone makes a law that says you can’t buy, own, or carry a weapon doesn’t make it lawful,” he remarked. “Jim Crow laws were also passed and enforced and those were equally unconstitutional.”

“Too many Americans don’t think of the Second Amendment as a civil rights issue,” Raso continued. “And that’s dangerous, because all of those rights together define freedom. If you’re free to speak but not worship, you’re not free. If you’re free to vote, but not to speak, you aren’t not free either.

“And if you’re free to do everything but defend yourself with a firearm, you’re not going to feel very free when you’re holding the phone waiting on the cops to save you from a home invader.” ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/07/08/nra-news-commentator-dom-raso-compares-gun-control-to-racist-jim-crow-laws/

Grow It and They Will Come


The first and only recreation pot store in the Evergreen state was forced to close on Friday after running out of stock just three days after Washington became the second U.S. state to allow pot sales to adults. But Seattleites shouldn’t fret. The shop is set to re-open soon.

Reuters reports via the Guardian:

Cannabis City opened in Seattle on Tuesday with at least 4.5kg (10 pounds) of marijuana for sale, and by close of business on Thursday it was all gone. A message on the store’s phone line said it would re-open on 21 July.

There were widespread concerns that shortages of pot would afflict retailers this week after the state issued its first 25 licences to outlets, under a heavily regulated and taxed system approved by voters in November 2012.

Some business owners planned to limit the amount of marijuana early customers could buy to try to make stocks last.

Air Travel Is Getting More Aggravating and Complicated


More stratified levels of service, workers who are underpaid and overworked, and a climate that is increasingly hostile to human activity—the experience of privatized air travel worldwide is rapidly deteriorating. Journalist Scott Smith lists six ways how.

Smith writes at Quartz:

1. Climate change-driven travel breakdown

The weather was at the center of the issue, and air travel authorities took some pre-emptive action to avoid worse problems. However, the conditions that are throwing more turbulent thunderstorms, snow, early hurricanes, dust—in short stirring the atmosphere more violently due to increased surface heating, shifting weather patterns and other consequences of climate change—are going to get worse over coming decades, according to scientists. Expect bumpier flights, more diversions and delays, and the higher costs that come with them in the future, particularly in the coastal and southern regions of the US where population is growing while flight schedules are generally shrinking.

2. Overworked and understaffed airlines

With the boom in consolidation among US air carriers have come some inevitable staffing cuts. Skift reported last year that US DOT data showed a net decline in airline employment over the past decade, even as costs have gone up and service quality declined. American (the most recent culprit for me) has cut staff by over 8% in the past year as it pushed for its merger with USAirways. Evidence on the ground, taking the form of a boom in self-service kiosks in airports, signals an industry strategy of pushing out more human interaction in favor of technology.

Unfortunately, these fairly dumb devices aren’t equipped to deal with anything other than the basic flight reservation modification and check-in. So they can’t support hundreds of stranded or delayed travelers staring at unmanned desks, as some of American’s lines at LaGuardia were in my situation. The same goes with the rental car industry, also moving to greater use of automated agent kiosks to deal with customers, which again, fail to offer ways to deal with non-standard situations.

NSA Spying: Now It’s Personal

By Eva Galperin and Nadia Kayyali via EFF

Imagine that you watched a police officer in your neighborhood stop ten completely ordinary people every day just to take a look inside their vehicle or backpack. Now imagine that nine of those people are never even accused of a crime. They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even the most law-abiding person would eventually protest this treatment. In fact—they have.

Now replace police officers with the NSA. The scenario above is what the NSA is doing with our communications, under cover of its twisted interpretation of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. The Washington Post has revealed that “Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets.” Additionally, “nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents.”

The thousands of pages of documents that provide that basis for the article are not raw content. Rather, as Barton Gellman, one of the authors of the article states in a follow up published several days later states: “Everything in the sample we analyzed had been evaluated by NSA analysts in Hawaii, pulled from the agency’s central repositories and minimized by hand after automated efforts to screen out U.S. identities.”

What that means is that if you’re on the Internet, you’re in the NSA’s neighborhood—whether you are in the U.S. or not. And like those who protest unjust policies like stop and frisk in their cities, you should be protesting this treatment. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/spying-its-personal.html

Juan Cole: Stop Saying ‘If X Fired Rockets at U.S.’: It’s Racist, and Assumes We’re Colonial

By Juan Cole

Is anyone else disgusted by the propaganda trick of trying to get Americans to sympathize with Israel’s massive attack on the civilian habitations of Gaza by saying “if the US was subjected to rocket fire by X [usually Mexicans], what would it do?”

This hope that Americans are racists and that their racism can be incited against the Palestinians is about the lowest rhetorical trick you could imagine.

I’m old enough to remember the race riots in American cities of the late 1960s and early 1970s. I can remember a prominent pro-Israel columnist for the Washington Post, way back then, explicitly comparing Palestinians protesting their occupation by Israel to African-Americans protesting their economic marginalization. The writer’s hope was that white Americans would identify with Israelis and come to see Palestinians as “Black.” Or, let’s face it, as the N-word.

Someone recently sent to my blog such a screed, saying, what if rockets from Quebec were slamming into Maine?

The comparison is not only repulsive because the author hopes that Americans are Anglo-Saxons who don’t like French Canadians (or French anything). Notice no one says “What if the white people of Windsor, Ontario, were sending rockets across the Detroit River onto Detroit?” That would get the race dynamics that the analogy is aiming at all wrong. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/rockets-assumes-colonial.html

Fanny Pack Mixup Unravels Massive Medicare Fraud Scheme

This piece originally ran on ProPublica.

The fraud scheme began to unravel last fall, with the discovery of a misdirected stack of bogus prescriptions — and a suspicious spike in Medicare drug spending tied to a doctor in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Now it’s led to two guilty pleas, as well as an ongoing criminal case against a pharmacy owner.

Last year, ProPublica chronicled how lax oversight had led to rampant waste and fraud in Medicare’s prescription drug program, known as Part D. As part of that series, we wrote about Dr. Carmen Ortiz-Butcher, a kidney specialist whose Part D prescriptions soared from $282,000 in 2010 to $4 million the following year. The value of her prescriptions rose to nearly $5 million in 2012, the most recent year available.

But no one in Medicare bothered to ask her about the seemingly huge change in her practice, Ortiz-Butcher’s attorney said. She stumbled across a sign of trouble last September, after asking a staffer to mail a fanny pack to her brother. But instead of receiving the pack, he received a package of prescriptions purportedly signed by the doctor, lawyer Robert Mayer said last year. Ortiz-Butcher immediately alerted authorities. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/fanny_pack_mixup_unravels_massive_medicare_fraud_scheme_20140712

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