Daily Archive: 04/25/2014

Apr 25 2014

Moral Bankruptcy

It looks like this-

Do NOT take Western Help for your “revolution”

Ian Welsh

2014 April 24

There is no point, if you are are unhappy with your domestic regime, in accepting Western aid to overthrow it at the moment, not unless you’ve got a plan to bite the hand that feeds you.  The reason is that the West is no longer exporting prosperity, and hasn’t been for some time.  Excepting (sort of, very sort of) China, the last countries to get prosperity from the West were a few Eastern European ones; before that, the Asian Tigers.*  Instead the sphere of prosperity based on the West is in contraction, just ask the South of Europe, or Ireland.  (The Chinese sphere is another matter, though they have problems too.)

Even if you win your revolution with foreign aid, a la Libya or the Western Ukraine,  you aren’t going to be offered a good deal: the Ukraine is still going to get shafted by the IMF to the tune of a 50% cut in pensions, a 50% increase in gas prices even before Russian price increases, government austerity and selling off the crown jewels of energy companies and arable land to foreigners.  Libya is a bloody mess: again, however bad Qaddafi was, he was better than the current situation.

There is no real money; no real resources, for prosperity to be spread to new nations by the West and its allies (like Japan).  The new money being created is heavily leveraged debt piled on the back of countries who already can’t pay, money they’d be better off without.

So, don’t play with the West.  Don’t take their money and aid in overthrowing your corrupt government, unless you know exactly what you’re doing and plan to to turn on them and align with someone else.  If you do, your country will be worse off.

Though, perhaps you should take their money.  Personally, I mean.  You can get rich yourself and then escape your country, if you’re a traitor.

Apr 25 2014

The End of the Internet As We Know It

In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dealt a blow to net neutrality when it struck down the government’s latest effort to require internet providers to treat all traffic the same and give consumers equal access to lawful content. The Federal Communication Commission new proposal would allow Internet providers like Verizon or Comcast to charge media companies like Netflix or Amazon extra fees in order to receive preferential treatment, such as faster speeds for their content. This will translate not only to higher fees from you internet service provider (ISP) but from Netflix, Amazon, etc. According the FCC chairman Thomas Wheeler, former venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, is insisting nothing will change.

According to Mike Massick at Techdirt that’s just flat out not true

The problem is that this is absolutely misleading — and either the FCC doesn’t realize this or it’s not being honest. And, I’m not sure which one is more bizarre. Wheeler is, indeed, correct in saying that under the court ruling from earlier this year, in order to be able to do anything under Section 706 of the Telecom Act, they had to shift from talking about “unreasonable discrimination” (which they can’t regulate under 706) to “commercially reasonable” activities (which they can regulate). So, in effect, Wheeler is trying to argue that by basically shifting the basis for the rules and substituting in the “commercially reasonable” standard as opposed to blocking “unreasonable discrimination” (which can be done under common carrier rules, but since the FCC reclassified broadband service as not being a telco service, that’s not available), they’re now back in proper legal territory under the law.

Perhaps Wheeler and his friends at the FCC think that this subtle shift in phrases to abide by the blueprint the court set out really does leave the existing rules in place. But, it’s not that simple. As Stacy Higginbotham points out, even if the FCC doesn’t want to destroy net neutrality, this subtle shift will do so anyway. To understand why, the best article to read is the one by Marvin Ammori, who has been fighting this fight for years. He argues that, unlike the CNET article above that says to “calm down,” we should actually be even more worried. Because even if the FCC thinks it can stop net neutrality violations, companies are still going to get screwed. Basically, the FCC can only act after the fact, and then it’s going to come down to a fight between a big telcos’ lawyers… and a tiny startups’ lawyers. Guess who wins?

Retired FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, told Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Juan González that this “transformation of the Internet where the 1 percent get the fast lanes, and the 99 percent get the slow lanes,” and “If we let that happen, we have really undercut the potential of this transformative technology. This has to be stopped.”

They were joined by Astra Taylor, author of the new book, “The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age.”

The transcript can be read here

We need to stop the FCC from ending the internet as we know it and preserve net neutrality.

People everywhere understand that the Internet is a crucial driver of free speech, innovation, education, economic growth, creativity and so much more. They demand real Net Neutrality rules that protect Internet users from corporate abuse.

But the Federal Communications Commission is proposing rules that would kill – rather than protect – Net Neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online.

Under these rules, telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications. And no one would be able to do anything about it.

We must stop the FCC from moving forward with these rules, which would give the green light to ISPs eager to crush Net Neutrality.

The agency can preserve Net Neutrality only by designating broadband as a telecommunications service under the law. Anything else is an attack on our rights to connect and communicate.

Tell FCC Chairman Wheeler to throw out his proposed rules. Demand nothing less than real Net Neutrality.

Please sigh The Free Press petition Stop the FCC from Breaking the Internet

Apr 25 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The New York Times Editorial Board: Creating a Two-Speed Internet

Dividing traffic on the Internet into fast and slow lanes is exactly what the Federal Communications Commission would do with its proposed regulations, unveiled this week. And no amount of reassurances about keeping competition alive will change that fact.

Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the commission, is proposing that broadband providers – phone and cable companies – be allowed to charge fees for faster delivery of video and other data to consumers. [..]

In this new world, smaller content providers and start-ups that could not pay for preferential treatment might not be able to compete because their delivery speeds would be much slower. And consumers would have to pay more because any company that agrees to strike deals with phone and cable companies would undoubtedly pass on those costs to their users.

Paul Krugman: The Piketty Panic

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century,”the new book by the French economist Thomas Piketty, is a bona fide phenomenon. Other books on economics have been best sellers, but Mr. Piketty’s contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren’t. And conservatives are terrified. Thus James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute warns in National Review that Mr. Piketty’s work must be refuted, because otherwise it “will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged.”

Well, good luck with that. The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty’s thesis. Instead, the response has been all about name-calling – in particular, claims that Mr. Piketty is a Marxist, and so is anyone who considers inequality of income and wealth an important issue.

Trevor Timm: The mentality of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI undergirds today’s surveillance state

People forget that the FBI is the NSA’s primary partner in domestic spying, which allows them to work in secret

The new documentary 1971, about the formerly anonymous FBI burglars who exposed the crimes of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, debuted to a rapt audience at the Tribeca film festival last night. As the filmmakers noted in an interview with the AP, the parallels between Nixon-era FBI whistleblowers and Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations are almost eerie in their similarity.

But while the NSA connection seems obvious, the movie will actually shed light on the domestic intelligence agency with far more power over ordinary Americans: the modern FBI.

Everyone seems to forget that the FBI is the NSA’s primary partner in the latter’s domestic spying operations and that, in fact, the NSA’s job would be impossible without them. Whenever you see a company deny giving any data to the NSA remember: It’s because it’s not the NSA asking (or demanding) the information of them, it’s the FBI. They use the same Patriot Act authorities that the NSA does, and yet we have almost no idea what they do with it.

Sadhbh Walshe: The NCAA’s war on student-athletes ends now: time to unionize, eat and win

Northwestern football’s vote is a landmark for an $11bn industry that can no longer trade on the kind of education that can longer be called ‘free’

Moments after winning the NCAA Division I men’s basketball national championship this month, University of Connecticut star Shabazz Napier shocked the world when the projected NBA lottery pick – a future millionaire – said that “there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving”.

From the NCAA’s point of view, Napier’s timing could not have been worse. Here was a 22-year-old black kid, speaking of the hunger games buried within college athletics, from the depths of the Dallas Cowboys stadium, where he had just conquered the Final Four in front of 22m people. And all this in the span of the same month when a judge had – gasp! – let another group of used-up jocks decide for themselves whether they want to unionize. [..]

Already, thanks to Napier’s accidental hunger strike, lawmakers in Connecticut are paving the way for athletes to unionize in that state. If jocks across the country believe they deserve more from the NCAA than an extra helping at dinner, they ought to be voting the Husky way, too.

Eric Zeusse: The Rightwing Supreme Court Is Wrong: The Original Intent of the Constitution Was Progressive

The original intent of the U.S. Constitution can most accurately be determined upon the basis of the debates that occurred at the Constitutional Convention that (after preliminaries during the Convention’s opening days of 25-28 May 1787) started on 29 May 1787, and ended nearly four months later, on September 17th of 1787. James Madison transcribed those epoch-making, nation-forming, debates.

These debates began with some members of the Convention, especially Misters Randolph of Virginia, Gerry of Massachusetts, Butler of South Carolina, and Dickenson of Delaware, simply assuming that the existing Articles of Confederation would be improved, not replaced; i.e., that no new and single nation of the United States of America would result from their collective deliberations.

The American Revolutionary war of 1775-83 was at that time a mere four years past, and this Convention had been called together for the purpose of replacing the failed existing Articles of Confederation, by some Constitution that would improve upon that existing governing document.

Peter van Buren: I’m a Whistleblower: Want Fries with That?

An Apartheid of Dollars: Life in the New American Minimum-Wage Economy

There are many sides to whistleblowing. The one that most people don’t know about is the very personal cost, prison aside, including the high cost of lawyers and the strain on family relations, that follows the decision to risk it all in an act of conscience. Here’s a part of my own story I’ve not talked about much before.

At age 53, everything changed. Following my whistleblowing first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, I was run out of the good job I had held for more than 20 years with the U.S. Department of State. As one of its threats, State also took aim at the pension and benefits I’d earned, even as it forced me into retirement. Would my family and I lose everything I’d worked for as part of the retaliation campaign State was waging? I was worried. That pension was the thing I’d counted on to provide for us and it remained in jeopardy for many months. I was scared.

Apr 25 2014

On This Day In History April 25

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 25 is the 115th day of the year (116th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 250 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1859, ground broken is for Suez Canal

At Port Said, Egypt, ground is broken for the Suez Canal, an artificial waterway intended to stretch 101 miles across the isthmus of Suez and connect the Mediterranean and the Red seas. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat who organized the colossal undertaking, delivered the pickax blow that inaugurated construction.

Artificial canals have been built on the Suez region, which connects the continents of Asia and Africa, since ancient times. Under the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, a channel connected the Bitter Lakes to the Red Sea, and a canal reached northward from Lake Timsah as far as the Nile River. These canals fell into disrepair or were intentionally destroyed for military reasons. As early as the 15th century, Europeans speculated about building a canal across the Suez, which would allow traders to sail from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea, rather than having to sail the great distance around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.

The Suez Canal, when first built, was 164 km (102 mi) long and 8 m (26 ft) deep. After multiple enlargements, the canal is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) long, 24 m (79 ft) deep, and 205 metres (673 ft) wide as of 2010. It consists of the northern access channel of 22 km/14 mi, the canal itself of 162.25 km/100.82 mi and of the southern access channel of 9 km/5.6 mi.

It is single-lane with passing places in Ballah By-Pass and in the Great Bitter Lake. It contains no locks; seawater flows freely through the canal. In general, the Canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. The current south of the lakes changes with the tide at Suez.

The canal is owned and maintained by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Under international treaty, it may be used “in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag.”

Construction by Suez Canal Company

In 1854 and 1856 Ferdinand de Lesseps obtained a concession from Sa’id Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan, to create a company to construct a canal open to ships of all nations. The company was to operate the canal for 99 years from its opening. De Lesseps had used his friendly relationship with Sa’id, which he had developed while he was a French diplomat during the 1830s. As stipulated in the concessions, Lesseps convened the International Commission for the piercing of the isthmus of Suez (Commission Internationale pour le percement de l’isthme des Suez) consisting of thirteen experts from seven countries, among them McClean, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, and again Negrelli, to examine the plans of Linant de Bellefonds and to advise on the feasibility of and on the best route for the canal. After surveys and analyses in Egypt and discussions in Paris on various aspects of the canal, where many of Negrelli’s ideas prevailed, the commission produced a final unanimous report in December 1856 containing a detailed description of the canal complete with plans and profiles. The Suez Canal Company (Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez) came into being on 15 December 1858 and work started on the shore of the future Port Said on April 25, 1859.

The excavation took some 10 years using forced labour (Corvée) of Egyptian workers during a certain period. Some sources estimate that over 30,000 people were working on the canal at any given period, that altogether more than 1.5 million people from various countries were employed, and that thousands of laborers died on the project.

The British government had opposed the project of the canal from the outset to its completion. As one of the diplomatic moves against the canal, it disapproved the use the slave labor of forced workers on the canal. The British Empire was the major global naval force and officially condemned the forced work and sent armed bedouins to start a revolt among workers. Involuntary labour on the project ceased, and the viceroy condemned the Corvée, halting the project.

Angered by the British opportunism, de Lesseps sent a letter to the British government remarking on the British lack of remorse a few years earlier when forced workers died in similar conditions building the British railway in Egypt.

Initially international opinion was skeptical and Suez Canal Company shares did not sell well overseas. Britain, the United States, Austria, and Russia did not buy any significant number of shares. All French shares were quickly sold in France

Apr 25 2014

The Breakfast Club: 4-25-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Apr 25 2014

TDS/TCR (Candide)


Cow Tipping

Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.- Mark Twain