–the reduction of deficit spending;
–reforming tax law often by lowering taxes for the wealthy while spreading the tax base;
–opening up markets to trade and limiting protectionism;
—privatizing state-run businesses;
–holding private property as sacrosanct.
–representing the aims and views of the World bank coupled with the IMF/ECM
James Sheffield, Knoxville
As I write this, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is on trial in Fort Meade, Md., facing a slew of charges pertaining to his role in a massive leak of classified government documents. More than 8,000 miles away, former National Security Administration contractor Edward Snowden faces the possibility of extradition to the United States from Hong Kong, where he sought refuge earlier this month after pulling off one of the most significant leaks of government secrets in U.S. history.
Thanks to Snowden’s noble actions, we now know that President Barack Obama’s administration (and that of George W. Bush’s before him) has sanctioned the widespread surveillance of U.S. citizens under a secret NSA program known as PRISM, whereby companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Verizon have been ordered to turn over information regarding their customers to the intelligence community.
People across the political spectrum are outraged, and rightfully so. Conservatives have unintentionally joined forces with those on the far left (yes, it’s true) and many liberals in chastising the Obama administration for what amounts to one of the worst instances of governmental abuse of power — at least on the domestic front — in many years.
Needless to say, none of these things would have been exposed had it not been for those brave souls who risked spending the rest of their lives in prison so that we could know what our government is up to. In light of this, we should praise these individuals as heroes, not vilify them as traitors. Everyone who is alarmed by executive overreach should be paying close attention to what happens to Manning and others like him and should be praying to whatever god they pray to that our government doesn’t succeed in silencing all future whistle-blowers. We need them, for democracy — if that is in fact what we have — cannot function otherwise.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Social Justice, in cooperation with the National Security Agency, is proud to announce its new program, the Proletarian Review of Information in Social Media (PRISM).
Developed by the State in its efforts to centralize the management of citizen data and collectivize all individual information into an easy-to-access and record format, PRISM now downloads and sorts all citizen electronic communication from a variety of sources, including (but not limited to) Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple iCloud.
On behalf of the workers and peasants of the USSA, PRISM collects data on potential counter-revolutionary activities while the reactionaries are still typing! This information can then be used by State security officials to not only identify potential saboteurs and terrorists, but also identify their nefarious plans and prevent them from undermining the safety and security of USSA citizens.
As we all know, suspicion of non-conformism and potential unauthorized activity is sufficient grounds for the searching of electronic devices in our Socialist Democracy.
However, PRISM allows the State to move beyond such primitive concepts as ‘probable cause’ or ‘hunches,’ and removes all doubt about what each citizen is thinking and doing.
Comrades, imagine what good the State can do for the Masses with such intimate and detailed information! Let us ponder how our social services can be better tailored to suit the needs of each citizen, so that social programs will fit each person like a hand in a glove!
PRISM is an efficient means of data collection, developed by the diligent work of Socialist labor. Under the visionary leadership of Comrade Party Chairman and Future President Barack Barackovich Obama, the loyal Party members in the State’s internet industries have produced for us not only wonderful gifts such as Facebook and the iPhone, but also the means by which everything we share with our friends through these platforms is also shared with our Motherland.
PRISM helps us share with the Motherland! Agitate for universal data sharing, and open your heart to the world!
Faithfully submitted to the Collective of the People’s Cube,
Dialectical Progressivism Translator
A group of Irish online publishers say draft European laws could force users to register just to see the homepage of a website.
WEB USERS could be forced to register with a website just to see its homepage, if the current draft of an EU regulation on online data is not changed before becoming law.
That’s according to a group of small and medium-sized Irish digital advertising firms, which says a new data protection regulation being put together in Brussels could make it virtually impossible to show content to casual users.
IAB Ireland, a trade association for the online advertisers, says the current draft of the laws would mean websites could only show content to users who explicitly approve the submission of some of their personal data.
It also extends the definition of ‘personal data’ to include non-personal details like an internet user’s IP address and the cookies stored by their browser.
IAB Ireland’s member firms say the rules could mean the end of an era where users can “serendipitously” discover new websites – as they would have to explicitly approve the submission of their personal data simply to see its homepage.
The group said it was important to realise that the laws would be coming in the form of a European regulation – meaning it would automatically become law in each EU member state, and was not subject to national amendment or discretion.
While this has advantages – making sure that online publishers only have to deal with one set of rules, instead of complying with dozens of separate legal systems – it also requires the unanimous approval of all EU member states, and the European Commission and Parliament, to be changed.
Once the laws were in, therefore, it was almost impossible for individual countries to engineer a change – meaning it was vital that the final regulation be workable and fully thought through.
‘Large parts of the web could disappear’
Eamonn Fallon, chief executive of Distilled Media whose sites include TheJournal.ie, said large parts of the web could “disappear behind login walls” if the regulation was not amended before being brought into law.
He added that users would also have to explicitly agree to send their IP address to different sites, whose content might all appear on one page.
So, for example, a website featuring ads controlled by Google would be asked whether they wanted to give Google their IP address, simply in exchange for allowing the ads to appear on the page. Similarly, Facebook users could be asked to explicitly send their IP address to Facebook just so a ‘Like’ button could appear.
Fallon said that if information like a user’s IP address was considered ‘personal’, “the only way companies like ours can legally run web analytics and third party adservers would be to force all our users to login.”
Digitize director John Patten added it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible, to gather explicit consent on the websites on which ad networks, or site analytics companies, operate.”
This was because the companies delivering ads to users, or compiling readership figures on behalf of a web publisher, “do not have have a direct relationship with the users from whom they would need to obtain explicit consent.”
The group says the regulation’s whole purpose – to try and minimise the data that websites can collect about users – would be totally undermined if it forced websites to actively seek more information from users before allowing them to view content.
Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly, who attended an IAB media event this morning, is the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the data protection updates. Kelly says he has tabled a number of amendments to the draft regulations, to try and address the concerns of the SMEs.
“We are working hard at an EU level to ensure that the Regulation balances strong protection for consumer rights with the opportunity to facilitate SMEs in Ireland and across Europe to prosper in the digital economy,” he said.
The military trial in the case of Wikileaker Bradley Manning continued earlier this week. An interesting legal point in the case has arisen, as Manning’s defense lawyers pushed back against tweets that the prosecution wanted introduced as evidence.
Allow me first to provide a little bit of background on why the tweets in question are even being discussed in the case.
One of the key issues in the case has been the relationship between Army Private First Class Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, and its founder Julian Assange. Prosecutors have alleged that Manning was influenced by Wikileaks to leak some of the confidential documents. (Manning has already admitted to leaking the documents, but has denied more serious accusations, including that he knowingly aided the enemy).
Previously released chat logs between Manning and ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, who earlier testified in the case, have established that Manning had been in contact with Wikileaks, but there remains contention between prosecution and defense about to what extent and when that contact occurred. They also continue to argue over whether or not Manning’s actions were influenced by Wikileaks, or if there was any collusion between the two. This has been a crucial point as well for federal prosecutors seeking to build a case against Julian Assange.
On Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over a couple of tweets in particular. One of those tweets, alleged to have been posted from the Wikileaks Twitter account on 7/8/2010, asks for the public to assist in providing .mil email addresses to Wikileaks. Another on 1/8/2010 posted by Wikileaks referenced having an encrypted video of a U.S. air attack (referring to what we now know was the “Collateral Damage” video, one of the items in the files leaked by Manning and later edited and published by Wikileaks). Prosecutors argue that this further emphasizes evidence of a leak, and that it should be admissible as part of its broader argument on the point.
Special Agent Mark Mander of the Army Criminal Investigative Command testified about how he went about determining the tweets were from Wikileaks’ account. In the past, he first went to the Wikileaks Twitter account directly and saw the tweet personally; then he more recently collected it from a Google cache version and the content in both was the same. Mander testified that Google cache is something that he has used regularly in his capacity as a CID agent investigating computer intrusions and computer crimes. He also explained a variety of other steps he took, in addition to obtaining cached versions of the tweets, to cross-check the authenticity of the tweets as being that of Wikileaks.
But Manning’s defense attorneys challenged the authenticity of such tweets.
“Anyone can create a Web page…that looks like WikiLeaks or that looks like Twitter,” argued defense attorney Captain Joshua Tooman when the government sought to admit a May 7, 2010 tweet from WikiLeaks seeking military Internet addresses, and the Web page of the Internet archive site archive.org that showed a 2009 WikiLeaks “Most Wanted” list of items it was seeking from the public.
Tooman said a government investigator had accessed the tweets indirectly, through Google, rather than directly through Twitter or WikiLeaks. He said the evidence failed to meet the test of authenticity since there was no way of knowing what the website looked like when the tweet or page was published.
The argument from the defense about the tweets’ authenticity raises an interesting legal point that could potentially influence similar arguments in civilian cases.
While it’s accurate that anyone can create a web page that mimics a legitimate site – in fact we’ve seen this in other circumstances that have been the subject of recent news reports, such as when Wikileaks Punked the NY Times – there surely needs to be some acceptable standard for authenticating tweets and other content that has since been archived and may no longer be available online. Most would assume that the standard tools regularly used to find archived content, like Google cache and the Internet Archive (formerly the WayBackMachine), would be acceptable in these instances, coupled of course with additional cross-checking. But the Manning defense team argues that it’s not.
If the judge determines that Google cache and other such tools are not an acceptable way to authenticate archived tweets, it poses an interesting question about how this might influence similar arguments going forward (not necessarily as precedent, but just as a general point).
You can read the entire day’s testimony in this particular argument in the unofficial court transcript for 6/18 provided by Freedom of the Press Foundation.
It will be interesting to see what the decision is on this matter. Proceedings resume in the Manning trial on June 26th.
The International Monetary Fund has admitted that some of the decisions it made in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis were wrong, and that the €130bn first bailout of Greece was “bungled”. Well, yes. If it hadn’t been a mistake, then it would have been the only bailout and everyone in Greece would have lived happily ever after.
Actually, the IMF hasn’t quite admitted that it messed things up. It has said instead that it went along with its partners in “the Troika” – the European Commission and the European Central Bank – when it shouldn’t have. The EC and the ECB, says the IMF, put the interests of the eurozone before the interests of Greece. The EC and the ECB, in turn, clutch their pearls and splutter with horror that they could be accused of something so petty as self-preservation.
The IMF also admits that it “underestimated” the effect austerity would have on Greece. Obviously, the rest of the Troika takes no issue with that. Even those who substitute “kick up the arse to all the lazy scroungers” whenever they encounter the word “austerity”, have cottoned on to the fact that the word can only be intoned with facial features locked into a suitably tragic mask.
Yet, mealy-mouthed and hotly contested as this minor mea culpa is, it’s still a sign that financial institutions may slowly be coming round to the idea that they are the problem. They know the crash was a debt-bubble that burst. What they don’t seem to acknowledge is that the merry days of reckless lending are never going to return; even if they do, the same thing will happen again, but more quickly and more savagely. The thing is this: the crash was a write-off, not a repair job. The response from the start should have been a wholesale reevaluation of the way in which wealth is created and distributed around the globe, a “structural adjustment”, as the philosopher John Gray has said all along.
The IMF exists to lend money to governments, so it’s comic that it wags its finger at governments that run up debt. And, of course, its loans famously come with strings attached: adopt a free-market economy, or strengthen the one you have, kissing goodbye to the Big State. Yet, the irony is painful. Neoliberal ideology insists that states are too big and cumbersome, too centralised and faceless, to be efficient and responsive. I agree. The problem is that the ruthless sentimentalists of neoliberalism like to tell themselves – and anyone else who will listen – that removing the dead hand of state control frees the individual citizen to be entrepreneurial and productive. Instead, it places the financially powerful beyond any state, in an international elite that makes its own rules, and holds governments to ransom. That’s what the financial crisis was all about. The ransom was paid, and as a result, governments have been obliged to limit their activities yet further – some setting about the task with greater relish than others. Now the task, supposedly, is to get the free market up and running again.
But the basic problem is this: it costs a lot of money to cultivate a market – a group of consumers – and the more sophisticated the market is, the more expensive it is to cultivate them. A developed market needs to be populated with educated, healthy, cultured, law-abiding and financially secure people – people who expect to be well paid themselves, having been brought up believing in material aspiration, as consumers need to be.
So why, exactly, given the huge amount of investment needed to create such a market, should access to it then be “free”? The neoliberal idea is that the cultivation itself should be conducted privately as well. They see “austerity” as a way of forcing that agenda. But how can the privatisation of societal welfare possibly happen when unemployment is already high, working people are turning to food banks to survive and the debt industry, far from being sorry that it brought the global economy to its knees, is snapping up bargains in the form of busted high-street businesses to establish shops with nothing to sell but high-interest debt? Why, you have to ask yourself, is this vast implausibility, this sheer unsustainability, not blindingly obvious to all?
Markets cannot be free. Markets have to be nurtured. They have to be invested in. Markets have to be grown. Google, Amazon and Apple haven’t taught anyone in this country to read. But even though an illiterate market wouldn’t be so great for them, they avoid their taxes, because they can, because they are more powerful than governments.
And further, those who invest in these companies, and insist that taxes should be low to encourage private profit and shareholder value, then lend governments the money they need to create these populations of sophisticated producers and consumers, berating them for their profligacy as they do so. It’s all utterly, completely, crazy.
The other day a health minister, Anna Soubry, suggested that female GPs who worked part-time so that they could bring up families were putting the NHS under strain. The compartmentalised thinking is quite breathtaking. What on earth does she imagine? That it would be better for the economy if they all left school at 16? On the contrary, the more people who are earning good money while working part-time – thus having the leisure to consume – the better. No doubt these female GPs are sustaining both the pharmaceutical industry and the arts and media, both sectors that Britain does well in.
As for their prioritising of family life over career – that’s just another of the myriad ways in which Conservative neoliberalism is entirely without logic. Its prophets and its disciples will happily – ecstatically – tell you that there’s nothing more important than family, unless you’re a family doctor spending some of your time caring for your own. You couldn’t make these characters up. It is certainly true that women with children find it more easy to find part-time employment in the public sector. But that’s a prima facie example of how unresponsive the private sector is to human and societal need, not – as it is so often presented – evidence that the public sector is congenitally disabled.
Much of the healthy economic growth – as opposed to the smoke and mirrors of many aspects of financial services – that Britain enjoyed during the second half of the 20th century was due to women swelling the educated workforce. Soubry and her ilk, above all else, forget that people have multiple roles, as consumers, as producers, as citizens and as family members. All of those things have to be nurtured and invested in to make a market.
The neoliberalism that the IMF still preaches pays no account to any of this. It insists that the provision of work alone is enough of an invisible hand to sustain a market. Yet even Adam Smith, the economist who came up with that theory, did not agree that economic activity alone was enough to keep humans decent and civilised.
Governments are left with the bill when neoliberals demand access to markets that they refuse to invest in making. Their refusal allows them to rail against the Big State while producing the conditions that make it necessary. And even as the results of their folly become ever more plain to see, they are grudging in their admittance of the slightest blame, bickering with their allies instead of waking up, smelling the coffee and realising that far too much of it is sold through Starbuck
A Bill Hicks bit on politics that is as relevant now as when he delivered it.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has slammed a recently exposed NSA mass-surveillance scheme as a “calamitous collapse in the rule of law.” Google, Facebook and other tech giants apparently involved have denied giving the NSA access to their servers.
Assange accused the US government of trying to “launder” its activities concerning the large-scale spying program PRISM. The system was made public after a leaked classified National Security Agency (NSA) document was revealed earlier this week.
“The US administration has the phone records of everyone in the United States and is receiving them daily from carriers to the National Security Agency under secret agreements. That’s what’s come out,” he said.
President Barack Obama earlier defended PRISM, saying it was a key part of the country’s counterterrorism efforts and that privacy was a necessary sacrifice for the sake of security. He also lashed out at the media, and those who leaked information on the massive spying program.
If every step that we are taking to try to prevent a terrorist act is on the front page of the newspapers or any television, then presumably the people that are trying to do us harm are going to be able to get around our preventative measures,” Obama said.
Critics of the Obama Administration have accused it of an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers – more government officials are being prosecuted for leaks under Obama than all previous administrations combined. News of PRISM comes just after reports that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of AP reporters’ telephone records and tapped Fox News reporter James Rosen’s private email.
“Over the last 10 years, the US justice system has suffered from a collapse, a calamitous collapse, in the rule of law,” Assange said.
The US tech giants apparently involved in PRISM have rushed to deny they participated in the program; their logos were visible on each the 41 PowerPoint slides of the leaked NSA document.
A source close to the security operation for the 2013 Bilderberg Group conference has told Infowars that numerous members of the secretive organization are aggrieved at the way it is being operated with scant regard for transparency and are lobbying for Bilderberg steering committee members to allow them to address protesters this week.
The Bilderberg Group is an annual confab of around 140 of the world’s power brokers from the spheres of banking, business, government, and academia. This year it meets in Watford, England from June 6-9. The group notoriously loathes attention of any kind – which makes this development all the more groundbreaking.
The source made it clear to us that a number of Bilderberg members, presumably the newer and younger attendees, are unhappy at the way the group has conducted its activities with total contempt for the democratic process, which has resulted in an increasing number of protesters being drawn to the event each year.
Campaigners set to congregate within the grounds of the Grove, the 5 star luxury hotel at which Bilderberg will scheme, are preparing a speaking platform at which they will invite Bilderberg members to address demonstrators and the press.
If a member or a representative from Bilderberg does speak publicly about the organization, it would be an unprecedented move. However, anyone expecting the group to admit that it is a shadow government manipulating world affairs behind closed doors is probably going to be disappointed.
While the source did not mention the names of specific individuals who expressed this view, it’s reasonable to speculate that it is coming from the so-called ‘Libertarian camp’ within the group, headed up by Paypal founder and hedge fund manager Peter Thiel, who is again in attendance this year.
Another interesting detail to emerge from the source who spoke with Infowars is the fact that preparations for the Bilderberg conference in Watford have been ongoing for a staggering 18 months. This again underscores the reality that Bilderberg is a major hub of power and influence and not merely a casual talking shop or golfing holiday for the elite, which is how much of the mainstream media still spins it.
The 2013 Bilderberg Group meeting has already received a deluge of media coverage before it has even officially begun, a sign that public pressure is forcing the clandestine cabal to lift its veil of secrecy and become more open.
However, such a process inevitably means that Bilderberg members will merely shift into newly emerging power networks and Bilderberg’s influence will begin to wane – although this will go down as a major victory for those who have spent years attempting to deflate the group’s bubble of secrecy.
Editor’s note from Alex Jones: I can confirm the above information that we received from a high level government contact inside Bilderberg is true. In the last two months alone, I have spoken with two different contacts in the US Senate that relayed the fact that there was a huge internal debate going on within Bilderberg concerning the issue of transparency. Bottom line – the Bilderberg group knows that their cover has been completely blown and is now debating whether they should have partial disclosure of the group’s agenda to diffuse growing scrutiny. I talked to another source at the highest levels of the media-entertainment complex and was told that billionaire Bilderberg attendee Peter Thiel is pushing for Bilderberg transparency. We are seeing a seismic shift in the transatlantic western power axis and a revolution inside Bilderberg. Paul Watson’s recent exposé of the merger between Google and Bilderberg is key in understanding how important this information really is. Watch this space for another report soon on illegal lobbying and Bilderberg.
Videos that take hours to load on a computer; companies fending off hacking attempts; inboxes filled with spam; users that are a little too anonymous for some governments; a network that is too U.S.-centric for Beijing…
These are just some of the reasons that researchers, companies and countries want to change the Internet.
Some companies have already developed a “layer” over the Internet for their own purposes. Skype has high quality demands for voice and video communication and Akamai offers to speed up their clients’ flow through its own network.
In fact, several research teams around the world are working on this issue. In the U.S. there is the National Science Foundation’s FIND project, as well as the GENI and RINA projects. Europe has FIRE, funded by Brussels. China and Japan are in the race too. They all have opposing interests but they do agree on one thing: A network designed for a few hundred scientists cannot be expected to meet the same requirements as a vortex sucking in more than 2.4 billion users — especially when these users connect from multiple devices, do online commerce, and perform surgical operations remotely.
Some researchers actually want to start over with a “clean slate.” John Day, director of the RINA project in Boston, is one of the advocates of this solution. They want to replace the 30-year-old TCP/IP protocol developed by Internet co-founders Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn.
The Internet is no longer a network of networks, but a single big network. In the 1980s, while many companies were creating private networks but the U.S. government released its free, open-source TCP/IP protocol and froze the initiatives that could have led to a thriving Internet — an Internet that would have developed slower but would have been more secure, according to Day.
Day wants to fix a fundamental design flaw: On the Internet, IP addresses confuse identity and location. In other words, we give addresses to machines, not actual people. What may seem like a minor detail isn’t. For instance, it makes the network less “redundant” — whereas the Internet was in fact created to provide this type of redundancy — side roads that can be taken in case the main communication road is blocked.
Today, whenever a company registers with two different Internet Service Providers for security or budget reasons, it will be assigned two separate IP address ranges. If they were merged under one single denomination, we would have a better chance of contacting them. This IP address problem results in all sorts of constraints: allocation of network resources, mobility management…
“If we start over with a clean slate, we could decide to identify contents or services instead of machines, it would be a complete paradigm shift,” says Kave Salamatian, professor of computer science at the French University of Savoie. This would be in the best interest of companies like Google. Whereas they are currently forced to negotiate with telecom providers to locate content servers in their facilities, this could grant them independence. Needless to say ISPs are less enthusiastic.
“Today on the Internet, everything is changing: on the top layer, the apps; in the infrastructure, the 4G and fiber-optic technology. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the IP protocol,” says Salamatian.
On the other hand, he says, we can still continue to apply “band-aids” on the IP. Stephane Bortzmeyer, R&D engineer at France’s domain name administration (AFNIC), believes that the band-aids will prevail, because the “clean slate” underestimate the weight of the existing system.
“We already have so many problems with the deployment of IPv6 – the solution to the shortage of IP addresses in the original Internet – that I can’t even imagine how they could build what would not be a new Internet, but a whole new network!” he says.
Band-aids already exist, such as the BCP 38 standard developed to stop IP address spoofing. But ISPs don’t use it, he explains: “They don’t want to pay for it since it is other companies that will benefit from it.”
Apple paid almost no tax on earnings of more than $100bn over four years, US Senator Carl Levin and former presidential candidate John McCainclaimed last night.
One Apple subsidiary incorporated in Ireland paid no tax anywhere on a staggering $30bn of revenue between 2009 and 2012, the senators claim.
And a second incorporated in Ireland paid a tiny fraction – just five hundredths of one per cent in 2011 for example – on total reported income of $74bn over the same period.
The claims come ahead of the senate hearing today that will look at Apple’s tax activities and its relationship with Ireland going back over three decades.
The US senators published an explosive 40-page report last night, outlining what they claim is Apple’s use of Ireland and its different tax system to the US to avoid paying huge amounts of tax.
Apple’s Tim Cook is due to mount a strong defence at the public hearing today in Washington.
He will say that Apple pays more US tax than any other corporation, has a real presence in Ireland with 4,000 workers, and will deny the use of “gimmicks” to get out of paying a proper share of tax.
“Apple does not move its intellectual property into offshore tax havens and use it to sell products back into the US in order to avoid US tax; it does not use revolving loans from foreign subsidiaries to fund its domestic operations; it does not hold money on a Caribbean island; and it does not have a bank account in the Cayman Islands,” Apple said in a statement last night.
But the company admitted that its Irish subsidiary, Apple Operations International, has no presence or employees in Ireland and pays no tax here as a result, but neither is it tax resident in the US.
It is the kind of legal tax scheme that is infuriating political leaders in the US and in the UK desperate to tax the profits of big corporations.
It is even claimed that Irish authorities negotiated with Apple to cut the effective rate it pays in tax in some cases to just 2pc – a fraction of the standard 12.5pc.
via US senators accuse Apple of using Irish arm to avoid tax – Independent.ie.
via US senators accuse Apple of using Irish arm to avoid tax – Independent.ie.