Tuesday, February 26, 2013

why I'm quitting facebook

cnn | We Facebook users have been building a treasure lode of big data that government and corporate researchers have been mining to predict and influence what we buy and for whom we vote. We have been handing over to them vast quantities of information about ourselves and our friends, loved ones and acquaintances. With this information, Facebook and the "big data" research firms purchasing their data predict still more things about us -- from our future product purchases or sexual orientation to our likelihood for civil disobedience or even terrorism.

The true end users of Facebook are the marketers who want to reach and influence us. They are Facebook's paying customers; we are the product. And we are its workers. The countless hours that we -- and the young, particularly -- spend on our profiles are the unpaid labor on which Facebook justifies its stock valuation.

The efforts of a few thousand employees at Facebook's Menlo Park campus pale in comparison to those of the hundreds of millions of users meticulously tweaking their pages. Corporations used to have to do research to assemble our consumer profiles; now we do it for them.

The information collected about you by Facebook through my Facebook page isn't even shared with me. Thanks to my page, Facebook knows the demographics of my readership, their e-mails, what else they like, who else they know and, perhaps most significant, who they trust. And Facebook is taking pains not to share any of this, going so far as to limit the ability of third-party applications to utilize any of this data.

Given that this was the foundation for Facebook's business plan from the start, perhaps more recent developments in the company's ever-evolving user agreement shouldn't have been so disheartening. Fist tap Arnach.

the weirdest people in the world...,

psmag | again and again one group of people appeared to be particularly unusual when compared to other populations—with perceptions, behaviors, and motivations that were almost always sliding down one end of the human bell curve.

In the end they titled their paper “The Weirdest People in the World?” (pdf) By “weird” they meant both unusual and Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. It is not just our Western habits and cultural preferences that are different from the rest of the world, it appears. The very way we think about ourselves and others—and even the way we perceive reality—makes us distinct from other humans on the planet, not to mention from the vast majority of our ancestors. Among Westerners, the data showed that Americans were often the most unusual, leading the researchers to conclude that “American participants are exceptional even within the unusual population of Westerners—outliers among outliers.”

Given the data, they concluded that social scientists could not possibly have picked a worse population from which to draw broad generalizations. Researchers had been doing the equivalent of studying penguins while believing that they were learning insights applicable to all birds. Fist tap Dale.

snowed in today...,

Monday, February 25, 2013

inside job

Inside Job (2010) from THELIGHT on Vimeo.

DOCUMENTARY : 'Inside Job' provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China. Fist tap Big Don.

former federal reserve governor and columbia economist lying for $$$?

zerohedge | Some time ago we penned a post, titled"Mishkin On Iceland: "Nothing Is F*#&ed Here Dude" which discussed the former Fed director's March 2006 analysis "Financial (IN)Stability In Iceland." Those interested in our original observations of Mishkin's horrendous analysis (of what proved to be the first bankrupt European country of the new century, but certainly not last) can find them at the original link. Yet continuing with the Duderino references, today, new shit has come to light, which once again confirms that not only is the Fed populated by the most intellectually incapable and corrupt people, but that anything coming out of Columbia University (and the Ivy League in general) is not worth the paper it is printed on. Watch the attached clip to see a former Fed director go from comfortable, to fidgety, to stuttering, to thoroughly discredited, to in dire need of diaper change, in under 2 minutes. Last but not least, here is the soundbite of the year: "You have faith in the central bank." No further comment necessary. Fist tap Big Don.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

crucial crimogenic collusion...,

Bill Black: Clinton admin. thought that prosecuting big bank fraud wasn't worth the governments time and could destabilize banking system - Obama continues the policy today

the global debt-slavery confederacy requires austerity

Bill Black reports from Davos that the Global Competitiveness Report pushes countries towards even more deregulation - policies that helped trigger the crisis

the religion of austerity

Bill Black: Obama has options, including the trillion dollar coin, to refuse to negotiate under the gun but he's taken them off the table; both sides subscribe to the dogma of austerity

Saturday, February 23, 2013

underground gay network! - in the vatican?!?

slate | Pope Benedict XVI is a little more than two weeks away from beginning his retirement at the Castel Gandolfo, but his final days as head of the Catholic church don't look like they're going to be quiet ones. Unsourced reports coming out of Italy suggest that the pope decided to call it quits not because of his old age but instead to avoid the fallout that could come from a secret 300-page dossier compiled by three cardinals he tapped to look into last year's leak of confidential papers stolen from his desk.

Those papers, widely known as the "VatiLeaks," raised questions of financial impropriety and corruption at the Vatican. The investigation that followed, however, may prove even more uncomfortable for church officials.

The secret dossier allegedly details a wide range of infighting among various factions in the Vatican's governing body, known as the Curia. But the headline-ready takeaway from today's report from La Repubblica concerns the existence of one faction in particular, a network of gay church officials. Just in case that weren't enough to pique international interest, the Italian newspaper also reports that some of said officials had been blackmailed by outsiders. According to the report, the pope got his first look at the dossier—"two folders hard-bound in red" with the header "pontifical secret"—on Dec. 17, and decided that same day to retire.

oh lawd....,

freep | The Italian media is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI resigned after receiving the results of an internal investigation, delivered in a 300-page, two-volume dossier, that laid bare a sordid tale of blackmail, corruption and gay sex at the Vatican.

The respected Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported Friday that the report stamped "Pontifical Secret," contained "an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish" inside the Holy See.

The newspaper said the findings of the nine-month investigation, headed by Spanish cardinal, Julian Herranz , with the assistance of Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, former archbishop of Palermo, and Slovak cardinal Jozef Tomko, was delivered to the pope on Dec. 17, 2012.

"It was on that day, with those papers on his desk, that Benedict XVI took the decision he had mulled over for so long,'' the newspaper said.

La Repubblica said the panel drew upon "dozens and dozens" of interviews with bishops, cardinals and lay people. It said the pope was kept apprised of the investigation in weekly meetings from April until December. The final, bound in red leather, is being kept in a safe in the pope's Vatican quarters, the newspaper said.

A similar story was carried by Panorama, a conservative weekly.

"What's coming out is a very detailed X-ray of the Roman Curia that does not spare even the closest collaborators of the pope," respected Vatican expert Ignazio Ingrao writes in Panorama. "The pope was no stranger to the intrigues, but he probably did not know that under his pontificate there was such a complex network and such intricate chains of personal interests and unmentionable relationships."

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, has refused to comment on the reports.

"Neither the cardinals' commission nor I will make comments to confirm or deny the things that are said about this matter. Let each one assume his or her own responsibilities. We shall not be following up on the observations that are made about this,'' Lombardi said, according to the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

In announcing his resignation Feb. 11, Benedict said that he no longer had the "strength of mind and body" to carry on. A conclave will select a new pope next month.

Lombardi has indicated that Benedict would meet with the three cardinals before stepping down Feb. 28, in one of his final private audiences.

La Repubblica reported that the pope would personally hand the confidential files to his successor, with the hope he will be ''strong, young and holy'' enough to take the necessary action.

The investigation was triggered last May when the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged with having stolen and leaked papal correspondence that depicted the Vatican as a hotbed of intrigue.

The papers were published in a blockbuster book. The butler was convicted in October of aggravated theft, and later pardoned.

The three-man panel, according to La Repubblica, discovered an underground gay network whose members organized sexual meetings in several locations, including a villa outside Rome, a sauna in Rome's Cuarto Miligo distirct and even in a beauty salon inside the Vatican.

The gatherings, in turn, left them open to blackmail from people outside the Vatican, the report said, according to the newspaper.

Friday, February 22, 2013

why the attempt at secrecy?

ICH | Conspiracies against the public don’t get much uglier than this. As the Guardian revealed last week, two secretive organisations working for US billionaires have spent $118m to ensure that no action is taken to prevent manmade climate change(1). While inflicting untold suffering on the world’s people, their funders have used these opaque structures to ensure that their identities are never exposed.

The two organisations – the Donors’ Trust and the Donors’ Capital Fund – were set up as political funding channels for people handing over $1m or more. They have financed 102 organisations which either dismiss climate science or downplay the need to take action. The large number of recipients creates the impression that there are many independent voices challenging climate science. These groups, working through the media, mobilising gullible voters and lobbying politicians, helped to derail Obama’s cap and trade bill and the climate talks at Copenhagen. Now they’re seeking to prevent the US president from trying again(2).

This covers only part of the funding. In total, between 2002 and 2010 the two identity-laundering groups paid $311m to 480 organisations(3), most of which take positions of interest to the ultra-rich and the corporations they run: less tax, less regulation, a smaller public sector. Around a quarter of the money received by the rightwing opinion swarm comes from the two foundations(4). If this funding were not effective, it wouldn’t exist: the ultra-rich didn’t get that way by throwing their money around randomly. The organisations they support are those which advance their interests.

A small number of the funders have been exposed by researchers trawling through tax records. They include the billionaire Koch brothers (paying into the two groups through their Knowledge and Progress Fund) and the DeVos family (the billionaire owners of Amway)(5). More significantly, we now know a little more about the recipients. Many describe themselves as free market or conservative think tanks.

Among them are the American Enterprise Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Hudson Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Reason Foundation, Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Mont Pelerin Society and the Discovery Institute(6). All of them pose as learned societies, earnestly trying to determine the best interests of the public. The exposure of this funding reinforces the claim by David Frum, formerly a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, that such groups “increasingly function as public-relations agencies”(7).

One name in particular jumped out at me: American Friends of the IEA. The Institute of Economic Affairs is a British group which, like all the others, calls itself a free market thinktank. Scarcely a day goes by on which its staff are not interviewed in the broadcast media, promoting the dreary old billionaires’ agenda: less tax for the rich, less help for the poor, less spending by the state, less regulation for business. In the first 13 days of February, its people were on the BBC ten times(8).

Never have I heard its claim to be an independent thinktank challenged by the BBC. When, in 2007, I called the institute a business lobby group, its then director-general responded, in a letter to the Guardian, that “we are independent of all business interests”(9). Oh yes?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

why are the senate republicans out to destroy hagel?

paulcraigroberts | The answer is, first, back when Hagel was a US Senator he refused to be intimidated by the Israel Lobby and declared, “I am a US Senator, not an Israeli Senator.” In other words, Hagel did the impermissible. He said he represented US interests, not Israel’s interests. Hagel’s position implies that the interests of the two countries are not identical, which is a heresy.

The second part of the answer is that Hagel doesn’t think that it is a good idea for the US to start a war with Iran or for the US to permit Israel to do so.

But a US war with Iran is what the Israeli government and its neoconservative agents have been trying to impose on the Obama regime. Israel wants to get rid of Iran, because Iran supports Hizbollah in Southern Lebanon, thus preventing Israel from annexing that territory and its water resources, and because Iran supports Hamas, the only Palestinian organization that tries to oppose Israel’s total theft of Palestine, although Iran has never supplied Hamas with effective weapons.

The two organizations that oppose Israel’s territorial expansion, Hizbollah and Hamas, represent large numbers of Arab peoples. Nevertheless, both are declared, on Israel’s orders, to be “terrorist organizations” by the servile US Department of State, which in all reality should be called the Israeli Department of State, as it never puts US interests before Israel’s.

In other words, Hagel did not grovel. He did not say how much he loved Israel and how it would be his great honor to sacrifice all other interests to Israel’s, how he has waited his entire life for the chance to serve Israel as the US Secretary of Defense.

Hagel is not an opponent of Israel. He merely said, “First, I am an American.” His lack of craven subservience is unacceptable to the Israel Lobby, which has branded him an “anti-semite.”

Lindsay Graham, in contrast, has what it takes to be Israel’s perfect choice for US Secretary of Defense.

Graham will go out of his way to please the Israel Lobby. He will pull out all stops and behave with maximum servility to a foreign power in his effort to embarrass the President of the United States and his nominee, a war veteran and former US Senator who simply thinks that the US Congress and the executive branch should put American interests first.

Senate Majority Leader Reid has used Senate rules to keep Hagel’s nomination alive.
If Lindsay Graham succeeds in doing the Israel Lobby’s dirty work, he will have handed a defeat of the US President to the Israeli Prime Minister, who has demeaned the President of the United States for not doing Israel’s bidding and attacking Iran.

Americans are a colonized people. Their government represents the colonizing powers: Wall Street, the Israel Lobby, the Military/Security Complex, Agribusiness, Pharmaceuticals, Energy, Mining, and Timber interests.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

when the SHTF there are guys with guns and there are guys without guns...,

shtfschool | When SHTF, there are a guys with guns, and there are guys without guns. Everything else are just labels. Names like police, army, authority, government…

You can not think in the terms that we think today, it is dangerous.

If you read between lines on this website you also come to your own conclusions how you can make chances of your survival better if your group looks like official helpers. Of course do not use this for bad things.

There is nothing deep and philosophic in this story, police force are just bunch of guys with guns who are doing their job today, some of them are good people, some of them are bad people. They all just like us gonna choose what they gonna do when SHTF but when they are in big emotional stress or fight for their survival they might not be nice guys like before. Even if they try to be good they go around and anyone they see can be a Chris Dorner and in all chaos they do not know.

Guys who were hiding in the building were common law abiding folks, and they did not realize that SHTF and that rules had changed, actually rules were gone, so what was before did not matter much. Black can be white, bad can be good, or police force can be simple gang.

Really getting this mindset is also main point of my survival course. Yes, there are my list with supplies and survival guide but with interviews I want you to see how “not natural” it was. Yes, it feels like landing on different planet when society changes like that but if you want to survive you have to be able to be almost comfortable with this.

Now do not get me wrong, I am not saying that we all need to go out and not obey the law. Nothing like that. But when SHTF it is wrong to act like law abiding citizen just because you are used to. It just doesnt make sense and you have to question everything and everyone.

I had that “advantage” or “luck” seeing all that when SHTF, also I am living in what I call “unorganized” country so I am perfectly aware that police here even in “normal” times are armed guys who also work for people who pay more.

So all of my problems I am trying to solve by myself, no real help from authorities. Maybe in your world situation is different and you should be grateful for that. I am not saying that all cops are bad, in your country most cops are probably very good. Just keep in mind people who enforce law and order are humans too and when SHTF or in major disaster that is followed by long term survival situation they are living in new world too in which old rules do not mean much.

I know it is easy for me to say this because I have been in this situation but besides all “technical” or “logistical” aspects of prepping your mind has to be ready for the day when old labels, classification and rules are not working anymore. Only then you can make critical right decisions that can make your chance to survive better.

bankers and gunmakers...,

americanbanker | Bank of America thinks it's more than just a little dangerous – it reportedly wants to discourage some gun manufacturers from even having accounts at the bank. Largely neglected by the mainstream press, two particular firearms manufacturer cases represent an emerging political climate in U.S. banking. I am not accusing anyone in the media of "bias by omission" concerning the stories of McMillan Firearms Manufacturing and American Spirit Arms, but these are fairly recent episodes with considerable consequence.

B of A justified freezing the deposits of 10-year customer American Spirit Arms for three weeks beginning Dec. 18 by saying that the deposits were held for "further review." Even though American Spirit Arms is a properly licensed firearms manufacturer which submits to regular audits by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Department of Homeland Security, Bank of America also said, "We believe you should not be selling guns and parts on the Internet." Happily, the Internet played a role in resolving the issue, as business owner Joseph Sirochman told anchorperson Megyn Kelly on Fox News' America Live.

Another disturbing episode involved McMillan Firearms Manufacturing in April 2012. In expanding a routine "account analysis" meeting to include the larger political issue of overall business purpose, Bank of America directly suggested that the firearms manufacturer take its business elsewhere. Bank of America replied to the allegations here and McMillan responded again here.

Beginning in a visible way with the 2011 full-scale banking and payments blockade against WikiLeaks, politically motivated acts by private financial institutions appear to be on the rise. Banks are beginning to use considerable discretion in deciding what constitutes an illegal act and sometimes even an immoral act. Freeze the funds first – ask questions later. After all, it's their bank, right?

Yes, private companies can choose who they elect to do business with. However, it has a chilling effect when the directives come in a soft way from regulators or from a financially-supportive government. Historically, banks exercise discretion and that discretion can escalate into subtle differences in treatment. Such as when to file a suspicious activities report or when a customer's deposits and withdrawals start to look excessively high.

Banks are increasingly in the role of enforcer and watchdog for the regulators. That is the basis of enforcement for many of the country's anti-money laundering laws and know-your-customer guidelines. The duty falls to the financial institutions and they are periodically reviewed as to their monitoring prowess. For the most part, banks do not have a choice in providing this quasi-enforcement role on behalf of the government, but it does set the stage for further encroachments into business and individual privacy. Fist tap Dale.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

360 degrees of social networking

pcmag | Social-networking sites continue to hold the attention of most Internet users, especially women between 18 and 29 years old, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

About 67 percent of Internet users take advantage of Facebook, particularly those 20-something women, Pew found in a study that examined the demographics of the most popular social networks.

Twitter tends to attract African-American, urban residents ages 18 to 29, for example, while Pinterest is more often used by white women under age 50 with some college education.

Unsurprisingly, Instagram is popular with urban residents, as well as African Americans, Latinos, and women between the ages of 18 and 29.

Pew attributed the popularity of social-networking sites to the simple fact that Internet users under age 50 are likely to use social media of any kind. Still, the majority of users fall into the 18- to 29-year-old urban female category. But while sex and age play a large part in determining the demographics of the Internet, Pew found little distinction between education and household income.

Once broken down by individual network, though, the numbers begin to look a little different. Twitter has 16 percent of the social media market, with 20 percent of its users living in urban areas and 26 percent identifying as African American.

Pinterest, on the other hand, depends heavily on a very white upper-class society of women ages 18 to 49. Still in its infancy compared to its social-networking siblings, Pinterest attracts only 5 percent of men, 18 percent blacks and Hispanics, 11 percent of those with less than a high school education, and 25 percent of people bringing in $50,000 or less per year — a combined number that barely surpasses the 23 percent of those earning $50,000-$75,000 who use the service.

Even Tumblr, with only about 6 percent of the total social media interest, has an intense fanbase of young bloggers, ages 18 to 28 (13 percent). The site is split evenly between male and female use, and has little variation between education and location, though the majority of users tend to make less than $30,000 or more than $75,000.

Monday, February 18, 2013

is it really?

dollarvigilante | The beginning of the end of the war between government and the individual was 1913. That was when what would become the biggest, most powerful, most murderous, most indebted government the world has ever seen (and likely will ever see, if we're lucky) sowed the seeds of its own guaranteed collapse. That was the year the latest incarnation of a US central bank was created to do what central banks do: provide the government with limitless purchasing power stolen from the productive individuals through currency supply inflation.

The end of the end, so to speak, was in 1994. That was the year the Internet gained widespread public knowledge and use. Governments have always thrived by controlling education of the young, controlling the currency and controlling information. In other words: indoctrination, inflation, misinformation, and propaganda. The governed vastly outnumber the governors so force was never enough to keep control. Sure you could make an example out of a couple of the slaves by using violence on them. But to efficiently control a bunch of humans and use them as tax cows, you have to convince them that they are better off being tax cows. After the Internet, it became impossible for the governed not to find out the truth of their condition.

I understand if when I say that government has lost the war, you might think I'm crazy. After all, things look pretty bleak. Yes, the government is out of control in the US and in many other countries. But their actions are more like death throes. Like a big, mortally wounded beast, the state is lashing out with the strength and ferocity that comes from panic. It senses death approaching. And that may make it temporarily more dangerous. But the end is in sight. All their actions are actually reactions to the fact that they're losing. They are trying to close the doors, control the flow of information and restrict the flow of capital, but people are finding ways around everything (especially people like us and the people who read publications like this).

The blatantly obvious and rather pathetic attempts at information control keep coming. Like the latest in a long string of executive orders signed by President Obama just before the recent State of the Union address. The order will expand the power of the Department of Homeland Security to "share" information with private industry. In other words, it will be easier for the government to gather information about you from the electronic media you use. And of course, there is the much-talked about "internet kill switch" that Obama and his fellow heads of state are dying to make a reality.

Even if the various states all over the world manage to find a way to shut off the Internet, they'll find out who really won if they do shut the internet down. The entire world is online now. And they all love it. Imagine if we had no email, no Facebook, no Craigslist, and that our smartphones just became plain cell phones again... I make no exaggeration when I say that there would be far more people revolting over the loss of these things than over the loss of their right to own firearms. Plus much of the world commerce is done through the internet now. The economic loss at this point would be staggering. You wonder if governments are really and truly that willing to cripple the economies they parasitize in order to maintain their last bits of control.

life in a networked age...,

globalguerillas | Here's some idle thinking for a sunny afternoon at the end of winter. 

To access it, let's make a simple assumption that economics, politics, and warfare are all a function of the dominant technological substrate.

A technological substrate is the family of related technologies that we rely upon.  In the 20th Century, we were clearly reliant on an industrial substrate.   

The challenges posed by industrial age technologies dictated the development of two management forms:  bureaucracy and markets.   Bureaucracies and markets are both decision making systems. These management forms dominated economics, politics, and warfare for centuries. 

Neither system of management is sufficient as a solution for industrial economics, politics, or warfare.    

Democracies use market decision making to determine leadership over a nation-state bureaucracy. Capitalism uses markets to determine leadership/control over corporate bureaucries.  Education uses bureaucracy to manage its institutions and a combination of markets and bureaucracy to allocate students.  The modern age was dominated by market based warfare (think: Wallenstein) but it is now firmly bureaucratic. 

Although ideologies have been built and wars have been fought over the mix of bureaucracy and markets, neither system has proven dominant.  .

This simplification is useful when we shift the technological substrate.

In the last thirty years, we've seen a shift in the technological substrate.  This new susbstrate is increasingly a family of technologies related to information networks.

As this new substrate begins to take control, we're going to need new management forms.  Both bureaucratic and market systems are proving insuffient solutions to the challenges of a networked age. 

In both cases, the emergence of a global network is eroding the efficacy of bureaucracy and markets as solutions.  How?  One reason is scale. 

A global network is too large and complex for a bureaucracy to manage.  It would be too slow, expensive, and inefficient to be of value.  Further, even if one could be built, it would be impossible to apply market dyanmics (via democratic elections) to selecting the leaders of that bureaucracy.  The diversity in the views of the 7 billion of us on this planet are too vast. 

In terms of markets, a global marketplace is too unstable.   Interlinked, and tightly coupled markets are prone to frequent and disasterous failures.  Additionally, a global marketplace is easy for insiders to corrupt and rig, as we saw with the 2008 financial melt-down.   Given instability and unmitigated corruption, markets will fail as a decision making mechanism. 

So, what's going to replace bureaucracy and markets?

We don't have digestible names for them yet.  However, let's just call them platforms and P2P systems.   Platforms are run by a few people and delivered to a great many people.  P2P systems allow ad hoc interaction between indepedent individuals. 

Both have value.  Both have problems. 

Companies like Google and Facebook run as platforms.  The core business is so automated, it could be run by a handful of people.    P2P networks are systems like BitTorrent, Wikipedia and open source software/hardware projects.

There's definitely a need for both platforms and P2P management systems.  However, both currently operate badly.  We haven't learned how to use these systems to produce meaningful results for humanity yet.  We will, but the path will likely rocky, particularly as the older approaches of markets and bureaucracy deteriorate and fights between the systems break out.

Note:  In warfare, we saw battles between a bureaucracy and open source opponents in the last decade, and open source did very well.  We saw it in Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Afghanistan etc.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

the cracking foundation(s) of the american world order...,

aljazeera | Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?

The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it's not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it's been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources - the main concern of US planners - have been mostly nationalised. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.

Take the US invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it's maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You're not supposed to say this. It's considered a conspiracy theory.

The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism - mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn't deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets. Step by step, Iraq was able to dismantle the controls put in place by the occupying forces. By November 2007, it was becoming pretty clear that it was going to be very hard to reach US goals. And at that point, interestingly, those goals were explicitly stated.

So in November 2007, the Bush II administration came out with an official declaration about what any future arrangement with Iraq would have to be. It had two major requirements: one, that the United States must be free to carry out combat operations from its military bases, which it will retain; and two, "encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments". In January 2008, Bush made this clear in one of his signing statements. A couple of months later, in the face of Iraqi resistance, the United States had to give that up. Control of Iraq is now disappearing before their eyes.

Iraq was an attempt to reinstitute by force something like the old system of control, but it was beaten back. In general, I think, US policies remain constant, going back to the Second World War. But the capacity to implement them is declining. Fist tap Arnach.

common sense collides with the compulsion to conceal and cover-up...,

WaPo | Police serve the community — any concerns about their integrity must be transparently, expeditiously and judiciously resolved. Relying on cops to police cops is neither efficient nor confidence-inspiring.
The solution? Abolish internal affairs units and outsource their work to external civilian agencies.

Police have slowly started to incorporate civilian oversight in their misconduct investigations. For example, the LAPD’s office of inspector general has oversight over the department’s internal discipline. Yet, while the inspector general’s staff receives copies of every personnel complaint filed and tracks and audits selected cases, it does not have the authority to impose discipline. Nor do most civilian review boards, which are not empowered to conduct independent investigations. This leads detractors to say that such boards are ineffectual.

Police have long resisted external oversight. Some of us say that those who aren’t in uniform do not understand the intricacies of law enforcement. Won’t civilian investigators be harsher toward officers — unsympathetic to the challenges faced by beat cops battling armed bad guys?

These self-serving arguments perpetuate archaic policies. Outsourcing misconduct investigations to civilians would directly address community concerns about the “blue wall of silence.” Officers who fear retaliation for reporting misconduct would feel more comfortable working with an external agency. In this system, complaints such as Dorner’s about the vindictiveness of superiors would all but disappear.

Using sergeants and detectives as internal affairs investigators costs police departments a lot. These supervisors are paid more and have more seniority. Assigning seasoned officers to internal affairs also depletes the number of field personnel who could prevent mistakes and misconduct by patrol officers in the first place. Outsourcing misconduct investigations would be far less expensive and would let veteran supervisors do the jobs they should be doing.

And why shouldn’t every police contact with the community — every traffic stop, every interrogation — be recorded on video? If Dorner and his partner had had a cop-cam, his claim that his partner used excessive force might have been resolved the same day. There’s just no excuse for not recording police contacts with the public. Technology has made cameras effective and affordable. Some officers already record their arrests to protect themselves against false allegations of misconduct. This should be standard operating procedure.
If even one citizen thinks that Dorner may have had a point, that’s too many. The only answer to those worried about police conspiracies is transparency. Only by opening our doors can we build trust, and truly serve and protect. Fist tap Arnach.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

the execution of christopher dorner

counterpunch | If the murder of Oscar Grant on an Oakland transit platform marked the dawn of the Obama era, the cold-blooded murder of former Naval reservist and Los Angeles Police officer Christopher Dorner might just mark the end of whatever optimistic hope people can muster in his administration. Whether an innocent young man just trying to get home, shot in the back after being racially profiled and slurred, or a man driven to his breaking point after being fired from a similar police force that operates according to its own warped morality and overarching objectives, the state of the union is a powder keg whose wick has gotten shorter due to decades of looking the other way.

Just minutes before Barack Obama began his state of the union address, San Bernardino County Sheriffs, knowing full well what they were doing, burned Christopher Dorner to death. From police brutality and racism to political unaccountability, from lack of economic opportunities to the extrajudicial murder of anyone deemed an enemy of the state, Dorner’s life and death offers us a much clearer picture of the state of this union than last night’s speech or media commentary.

In the years between the murder of Oscar Grant and Dorner’s last stand, March of 2009 to be specific, we were among those observing the case of Lovelle Mixon in Oakland, a parolee who decided he was not going to return to prison, opening fire on police at a traffic stop, killing two. Police went in to execute Mixon, not expecting that he would be holding an SKS. Two more cops died as a result. The logic of Dorner’s desperation, and the chain of events that led to his ultimate death, parallels Mixon’s; proud men without hope, cornered, deciding to go out fighting.

Neither man was a self-understood revolutionary and it would be inaccurate (or perhaps too accurate a reflection of the dearth of revolutionary activity in contemporary society) to try and declare otherwise. However, the material conditions that produced Dorner, as with Mixon, are not uncommon. The meaning and the effects of their actions speak volumes about the depth of racialization, criminalization and hopelessness in Obama’s supposed “post-racial” America.

the real reason he wants your guns...,

topdocumentaryfilms | Christopher Greene examines the “real reason” President Obama wants your guns and while doing that he explicitly claims the following:

In many ways America seems to be making the same mistakes as Germany did prior to the outbreak of World War II. Since taking office in 2008, on the promise of hope and change, president Barak Obama has launched an aggressive assault on America’s liberty.

He has armed America’s enemies, violating his oath of office, by sending money and weapons of war to insurgents in Syria led by Al-Qaeda terrorists.

He has violated federal law by overseeing a cover-up surrounding attorney general Eric Holder’s operation “Fast and Furious”, in the running of guns to Mexican drug cartels.

He has lied to the American people by overseeing a cover-up of the September 11 Benghazi terror attack in Libya which led directly to the deaths of four American citizens.

He has bypassed Congress using executive order prior to the attack on Libya, insisting that congressional approval was not necessary.

He has signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act which includes provisions to permit the abduction and military detention without trial of all US citizens, violating “Habeas corpus” – the right to a fair trial.

And on January 16th 2013, surrounded by children, he has signed twenty three different executive orders for broader gun control in the United States.

the drone war in your backyard...,

lfb | Drones are wildly popular on the battlefield. Now they can claim victory elsewhere. The use of drones within U.S. borders — in car chases, to monitor wildfires, or for simple surveillance — is uniting political parties and people more often at odds.

Their concern: The widespread use of drones among civilians represents a deep and dangerous intrusion into American life.

“What we used to know as privacy is finished,” said John Whitehead, a constitutional scholar and president of Virginia-based Rutherford Institute. “Big Brother is here to stay.”

Both the progressive American Civil Liberties Union and the libertarian Rutherford Institute cheer legislative efforts to place strict limits on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. And prodded by privacy groups, state lawmakers nationwide – Republicans and Democrats alike – have launched an all-out offensive against the unmanned aerial vehicles.

In at least 13 states, lawmakers this year will examine bills to place strict limits on how government entities can deploy drones. No state has embedded such regulations into law.

Drones are already everywhere – executing search-and-rescue missions, tracking cattle rustlers, or monitoring wildfires with minimal cost and little risk of loss of life.

The Federal Aviation Administration listed 345 active drone licenses as of November 2012. Congress has directed the federal department to streamline the approval process. Starting in 2015, commercial entities – think entertainment news outlet TMZ – will have easy access to drone permits.

Analysts believe as many as 30,000 drones will populate American skies by 2020.
Canyon County, Idaho, already has one, a camera-equipped Draganflyer X-6 it bought for $33,400 with federal grant money. About a year ago, Mesa County, Colorado, used $14,000 to purchase its drone, a 4-foot-long, 9-pound plane that can maintain flight for about an hour. The Seattle Police Department spent $41,000 in August for its Draganflyer X-6.

With the booming interest in the myriad uses of UAVs comes nervous anxiety about the creep of the surveillance state.

And that’s where state lawmakers and their allies come in.

a more advanced way of dealing with problems...,

lfb | The topic of drones came up on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Advertising guru and pro-drone Donny Deutsch pushed back against a skeptical Joe Scarborough saying, “What’s the big deal? There was no due process at Waco.” It’s just a difference in technology, he said. “It’s a more advanced way of dealing with problems,” Deutsch contended with a straight face.

I guess Donny figures that the government will never consider him to be a problem. Scarborough fumbled around in response, saying something to the effect that the then attorney general (Janet Reno) thought children were in imminent danger.

Scarborough, however, rightly wondered, “I’m not sure how you save the children by burning the place down.”

Many Americans didn’t care about civil rights when Janet Reno’s ATF agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound, and they don’t seem to care now.

Many Americans seem to be either blissfully ignorant, or foursquare behind this Game of Drones. All this droning on about drones came to light because of a memo of approved drone targets leaked to The New York Times and the confirmation hearings for the CIA chief position. Obama’s selection is the droneinnator himself, John Brennan.

A year ago, a poll showed that 83% of Americans are all for using unmanned drones against suspected terrorists overseas, and nearly six in 10 strongly support the practice.

Maybe that doesn’t get your blood pressure up, but in the same poll, people were asked if they supported using drones to target American citizens who are suspected terrorists. Two-thirds said they supported using drones on Americans too!

That kind of result makes me think the rest of us should sleep in shifts.

Friday, February 15, 2013

how will continuing and accelerated decentralization of public schools effect already disenfranchised communities?

A Country Divided
archdruid | In the United States, for a couple of centuries now, the provision of free public education for children has been one of the central functions of government.  Until fairly recently, in most of the country, it operated in a distinctive way.  Under legal frameworks established by each state, local school districts were organized by the local residents, who also voted to tax themselves to pay the costs of building and running schools.  Each district was managed by a school board, elected by the local residents, and had extensive authority over the school district’s operations.

In most parts of the country, school districts weren’t subsets of city, township, or county governments, or answerable to them; they were single-purpose independent governments on a very small scale, loosely supervised by the state and much more closely watched by the local voters. On the state level, a superintendent of schools or a state board of education, elected by the state’s voters, had a modest staff to carry out the very limited duties of oversight and enforcement assigned by the state legislature.  On the federal level, a bureaucracy not much larger supervised the state boards of education, and conducted the even more limited duties assigned it by Congress.

Two results of that system deserve notice. First of all, since individual school districts were allowed to set standards, chose textbooks, and manage their own affairs, there was a great deal of diversity in American education. While reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic formed the hard backbone of the school day, and such other standards as history and geography inevitably got a look in as well, what else a given school taught was as varied as local decisions could make them. What the local schools put in the curriculum was up to the school board and, ultimately, to the voters, who could always elect a reform slate to the school board if they didn’t like what was being taught.

Second, the system as a whole gave America a level of public literacy and general education that was second to none in the industrial world, and far surpassed the poor performance of the far more lavishly funded education system the United States has today.  In a previous post, I encouraged readers to compare the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 to the debates in our latest presidential contest, and to remember that most of the people who listened attentively to Lincoln and Douglas had what then counted as an eighth-grade education.  The comparison has plenty to say about the degeneration of political thinking in modern America, but it has even more to say about the extent to which the decline in public education has left voters unprepared to get past the soundbite level of thinking.

Those of my readers who want an even more cogent example are encouraged to leaf through a high school textbook from before the Second World War. You’ll find that the reading comprehension, reasoning ability, and mathematical skill expected as a matter of course from ninth-graders in 1930 is hard to find among American college graduates today.  If you have kids of high school age, spend half an hour comparing the old textbook with the one your children are using today.  You might even consider taking the time to work through a few of the assignments in the old textbook yourself.

Plenty of factors have had a role in the dumbing-down process that gave us our current failed system of education, to be sure, but I’d like to suggest that the centralization of power over the nation’s educational system in a few federal bureaucracies played a crucial role. Fist tap Dale.

misery receding deeper into the confederate abyss...,

arstechnica | Each year, state legislatures play host to a variety of bills that would interfere with science education. Most of these are variations on a boilerplate intended to get supplementary materials into classrooms criticizing evolution and climate change (or to protect teachers who do). They generally don't mention creationism, but the clear intent is to sneak religious content into the science classrooms, as evidenced by previous bills introduced by the same lawmakers. Most of them die in the legislature (although the opponents of evolution have seen two successes).

The efforts are common enough that we don't generally report on them. But every now and then a bill comes along that veers off this script. Late last month, the Missouri House started considering one that deviates in staggering ways. Instead of being quiet about its intent, it redefines science, provides a clearer definition of intelligent design than any of the idea's advocates ever have, and it mandates equal treatment of the two. In the process, it mangles things so badly that teachers would be prohibited from discussing Mendel's Laws.

Although even the Wikipedia entry for scientific theory includes definitions provided by the world's most prestigious organizations of scientists, the bill's sponsor Rick Brattin has seen fit to invent his own definition. And it's a head-scratcher: "'Scientific theory,' an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy." The faith or philosophy involved remain unspecified.

Brattin also mentions philosophy when he redefines "hypothesis" as "a scientific theory reflecting a minority of scientific opinion which may lack acceptance because it is a new idea, contains faulty logic, lacks supporting data, has significant amounts of conflicting data, or is philosophically unpopular." The reason for that becomes obvious when he turns to intelligent design, which he defines as a hypothesis. Presumably, he thinks it's only a hypothesis because it's philosophically unpopular, since his bill would ensure it ends up in the classrooms.

Intelligent design (ID) is roughly the concept that life is so complex that it requires a designer, but even its most prominent advocates have often been a bit wary about defining its arguments all that precisely. Not so with Brattin—he lists 11 concepts that are part of ID. Some of these are old-fashioned creationist claims, like the suggestion that mutations lead to "species degradation" and a lack of transitional fossils. But it also has some distinctive twists, like the claim that common features, usually used to infer evolutionary relatedness, are actually a sign of parts re-use by a designer.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

LL might wanna reconsider going back to cali....,

"democrat" response to kill-list memo shows party's true stripes...,

Guardian | This past week has been a strangely clarifying political moment. It was caused by two related events: the leak of the Justice Department's "white paper" justifying Obama's claimed power to execute Americans without charges, followed by John Brennan's alarming confirmation hearing (as Charles Pierce wrote: "the man whom the administration has put up to head the CIA would not say whether or not the president of the United States has the power to order the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen within the borders of the United States"). I describe last week's process as "strange" because, for some reason, those events caused large numbers of people for the first time to recognize, accept and begin to confront truths that have long been readily apparent.

Illustrating this odd phenomenon was a much-discussed New York Times article on Sunday by Peter Baker which explained that these events "underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush's approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces." It began this way:
"If President Obama tuned in to the past week's bracing debate on Capitol Hill about terrorism, executive power, secrecy and due process, he might have recognized the arguments his critics were making: He once made some of them himself.
"Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country's core values in the name of security."
Baker also noticed this: "Some liberals acknowledged in recent days that they were willing to accept policies they once would have deplored as long as they were in Mr. Obama's hands, not Mr. Bush's." As but one example, the article quoted Jennifer Granholm, the former Michigan governor and fervent Obama supporter, as admitting without any apparent shame that "if this was Bush, I think that we would all be more up in arms" because, she said "we trust the president". Thus did we have - while some media liberals objected - scores of progressives and conservatives uniting to overtly embrace the once-controversial Bush/Cheney premises of the War on Terror (it's a global war! the whole world is a battlefield! the president has authority to do whatever he wants to The Terrorists without interference from courts!) in order to defend the war's most radical power yet (the president's power to assassinate even his own citizens in secret, without charges, and without checks).

Monday, February 11, 2013

the man who killed Osama bin Laden is screwed...,

CNN | He's the man who rolled into a bedroom in Abbottabad, Pakistan, raised his gun and shot Osama bin Laden three times in the forehead.

Nearly two years later, the SEAL Team Six member is a secret celebrity with nothing to show for the deed; no job, no pension, no recognition outside a small circle of colleagues.

Journalist Phil Bronstein profiled the man in the March issue of Esquire, calling him only the Shooter -- a husband, father and SEAL Team Six member who happened to pull the trigger on the notorious terrorist. It's a detailed account of how the raid unfolded, and what comes after for those involved. The headline splashed across the cover reads, "The man who killed Osama bin Laden ... is screwed."

"They spent, in the case of the shooter, 16 years doing exactly what they're trained to do, which is going out on these missions, deployment after deployment, killing people on a regular basis, " said Bronstein, executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting. "They finally get to the point where they don't want to do that anymore."

Bronstein reported that the man left SEAL Team Six in September. His family's health care coverage ceased. Because he left before the 20-year mark, he gets no pension.

killing drones for fun and profit!

privat.banhof | UAVs have two alternative systems for communication.

Line of sight radio :
In the military C-Band  500 - 1000 MHz that can be jammed with simple spark-gap radio

Satellite communication :
In the Ku-Band between 10.95 - 14.5 GHz, and  the satellite can be jammed.
The Uplink-Band to the satellite is 13.75 - 14.5 GHz
The Downlink-Band from the satellite is 10.95 - 12.75 GHz
And you should jam the Uplink frequencies with a jammer directed at the satellite.

Surprisingly, the resistance can tap off the military's video feeds

As you can see in the specifications, the satellite link system uses the same civilian commercial technology as television broadcasting companies. And the surprise is that the resistance and others have tapped off the videos from the battlefield with simple commercial equipment.
But now the communication is perhaps encrypted.

If you jam the communication, then the operator becomes blind and the UAV will fly around until it crashes or the fuel is gone. But you must kill both links of communication to kill any rescue.

There are a limited number of satellite channels available which means that the satellite link becomes a bottleneck. The satellite is therefore used as a backup and jammer-rescue channel and for single special operations from far away from the target, while C-band radio is used for multiple simultaneous operations from near the targets. Every military base have their own UAVs that must be operated through the C-band radio. C-band radio is also reported to be used for take off and landing. Which means that the C-band radio is your primary target. The C-band radio is also easier to jam.

Dorner has become the first human target for remotely-controlled airborne drones on US soil

RT | As authorities intensify the manhunt for accused LAPD-killer Christopher Dorner, law enforcement agencies are doing everything under the sun to search for their suspect, apparently even deploying drones.
The specifics regarding the tools being used to track Dorner, a 33-year-old former Los Angeles Police Department officer suspected in three recent murders, is a mystery for now. But with a $1 million bounty out for his arrest and a nation at high-alert, it’s no surprise that the search for Dorner is on the way to becoming one of the most remarkable in ages. Now according to some reports, police are relying on high-tech unmanned aerial vehicles to snoop from the sky.

Britain’s Daily Express cites a senior police source in a report this week as saying that the surveillance capabilities of UAVs might be the only option for locating Dorner, who has been at large since a string of murders that began last Sunday.

“The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him. On the ground, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” the source tells the paper.

The Express adds that police figures on both a city-wide and federal scale have suggested drones are being deployed to search for the triple-murder suspect. In his report, journalist Mike Parker writes that Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz responded to a direct question about UAV usage by saying, “We are using all the tools at our disposal.

Parker adds: “The use of drones was later confirmed by Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio, who revealed agents have been prepared for Dorner to make a dash for the Mexican border since his rampage began.”

“This agency has been at the forefront of domestic use of drones by law enforcement. That’s all I can say at the moment,” DeSio told the paper.

In a bold affirmation from the facts ascertained by the Express, though, the paper concludes that “Dorner has become the first human target for remotely-controlled airborne drones on US soil.”

$1,000,000 for war on "those entrusted to protect the public"...,

abcnews | A Northridge, Calif., home improvement store was evacuated tonight because of a possible sighting of suspected cop-killer Christopher Dorner, just hours after police announced a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

As helicopters hovered overhead and a command center was established, police searched the Lowe's store and eventually told shoppers they could leave, but could not take their cars out of the parking lot.

LAPD spokesman Gus Villanueva said the major response to the possible sighting was a precaution, but couldn't say whether Dorner was in the area.

The announcement of the $1 million reward today came as authorities in Big Bear, Calif., scaled back their search for Dorner, the disgruntled ex-cop who is suspected in three revenge killings.
"This is the largest local reward ever offered, to our knowledge," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference today. "This is an act of domestic terrorism. This is a man who has targeted those that we entrust to protect the public. His actions cannot go unanswered."

The money for the reward was pooled by businesses, government, local law enforcement leaders and individual donors, Beck said.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

django dorner shining a light on LAPD....,

HuffPo | Fugitive former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner's claim in an online "manifesto" that his career was undone by racist colleagues conspiring against him comes at a time when it's widely held that the police department has evolved well beyond the troubled racial legacy of Rodney King and the O.J. Simpson trial.

Dorner, who is suspected in a string of vengeance killings, has depicted himself as a black man wronged, whose badge was unjustly taken in 2008 after he lodged a complaint against a white female supervisor.

"It is clear as day that the department retaliated toward me," Dorner said in online writings authorities have attributed to him. Racism and officer abuses, he argued, have not improved at LAPD since the King beating but have "gotten worse."

Dorner's problems at the LAPD, which ended with his dismissal, played out without public notice more than four years ago, as the department gradually emerged from federal oversight following a corruption scandal. At the time, the officer ranks were growing more diverse and then-Chief William Bratton was working hard to mend relations with long-skeptical minorities.

"This is no longer your father's LAPD," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared in 2009, after the federal clampdown was ended.

Dorner's allegations led Police Chief Charlie Beck on Saturday to order a reexamination of the disciplinary case that led to the former officer's firing. Beck said he wanted to assure the city that the department "is transparent and fair in all the things we do."

"I am aware of the ghosts of the LAPD's past, and one of my biggest concerns is that they will be resurrected by Dorner's allegations of racism," Beck said in a statement.

Civil rights attorney Connie Rice said the department should review the Dorner case and his claims, while stressing that she is not defending the suspect in any way and is shocked by the attacks.

She said the 10,000-member force headquartered in a glass-walled high-rise in downtown Los Angeles has entered a new era.