Brazen! Amazing how wealth translates into authority but there you go. Zuckerberg prances around the world stage telling others that the US government “blew it” on spying, meanwhile Facebook enables the most insidious spying on a fellow humans the planet has ever seen.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says US ‘really blew it’ on surveillance.
Since when does a representative democratic government negotiate away its sovereignty? That’s exactly what agreement to the TPP means. Government policy and action will limited by the financial interests of transnational oligopolies. The agreement would allow foreign companies to sue any government that passed laws such as plain packaging on cigarettes, effectively creating a trans pacific protection racket that suits the likes of hollywood, pharmaceutical companies and the champions of intellectual property, Microsoft.
Forget about national boundaries and democratic sovereignty, this racket will open the door to even more NSA like spying and surveillance. But to what end? In whose interest is such an agreement? Obviously the owners of any form of intellectual property, so-called and most of those reside overseas. Could it be that our elected representatives have been coerced by rich corporations into agreeing with something that is detrimental to the interests of the people they are supposed to represent? Or has the persuasion been more sycophantic, whatever the US wants of us it gets? War brides, military bases, spy facilities…it seems we can’t do enough to accommodate Uncle Sam. Collectively we seem to suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome, where “hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.”
Surely this is somehow unconstitutional. It seems crazy.
But worse still, the promise of economic growth is just a promise and if it is pinned on the growth prospects from the digital revolution then we are in deep shit. In a quite unremarkable little article Stan Beer who is editor of the Tech Blog ITWire wrote
The digital revolution was supposed to be a step forward for mankind but instead it has been a giant leap backwards putting people on breadlines and fomenting dangerous unrest among the unwashed masses. The prognosis looks grim and now even some top of the tree tech market analysts are saying so.
And why is the US congress putting the hurry up to Prez Obama? Well if you were in the pay of these corporations you would want to close this deal as quickly as you could because wow, what a deal! And I’m not making up the bit about who pays who, see this timely bit of research about whose interests are really represented in US politics.
Frankly the only piece of good news is the Greens are jumping up and down about it and what’s more they are doing it with some skill. Senator Larissa Waters seems to have mastered the Bob Brown school in representing a fair,honest and independent Australia, something missing in a lot of self serving hacks from the mainstream parties. Far removed from the secrecy of the Prime Liar and Mad Monk.
Still it’s a very dark day. Worse if it becomes ratified.
Paul Klugman writes
France has committed the unforgivable sin of being fiscally responsible without inflicting pain on the poor and unlucky. And it must be punished.
But I am sceptical. Not about his analysis, I think it is a fair interpretation of the facts but it doesn’t seem to go quite far enough. There is no sense of outrage here, just a muted observation that the rich class is exercising their power. They are attacking the socialist foundations of each and every state around the globe.
You won’t read about it, except for dry detached articles like Klugman’s, you wont see it on the TV news or current affairs, you certainly won’t get it disseminated via facebook because these are all vehicles that propagate a version of the truth that suits the rich and powerful. The message that most of us are routinely screwed over isn’t news, the subtext is a, it’s the way things are and b, you can’t do anything about it.
But they must be worried. The rich. Their desperation to deploy more spying machines reveals a basic insecurity. Eventually the mask of civility will slip and the fascade of democratic government will give way to a less the benign authoritarian rule. A bit like Russia in slow motion. Socialist/communist state, foundered in revolution where everyone was equally oppressed, briefly opened up to western democratic ideas only to be transformed into a oligarchy with Putin front and centre. And to think it took less than a century for the wheel to turn full cycle.
So is there a plot against France? It is worth remembering the ideals of The Revolution which had such a profound effect on Europe a few centuries ago, describe on wikipedia as “the most significant and dramatic challenge to political absolutism up to that point in history and spread democratic ideals throughout Europe and ultimately the world”. Destroying any vestige of egalitarianism in the birth place of modern western democracies would be a symbolic and substantial victory for the elites. But a plot? Suggests cartels and serious cloak and dagger shit, and that doesn’t happen does it?
Klugman in The Age
It seems like a good idea for politicians, especially those of a conservative nature to be prepared and given the recent reports of Australian government ministers with their snouts in the public purse I found this little gem written for our northern cousins.
It seems like only yesterday pollies were using credit cards to pay for prostitutes when all they really needed was to be reimbursed for their expenses. Ahh memories,,,
Here’s your general purpose one apology fits all from Andrew Coyne.
This is the hardest thing I have ever done. This has been the worst experience of my entire life. Believe me, no one feels more badly about this than I do. How could this have happened to me?
I just want all the facts to come out. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of all this. I am prepared to answer everyone’s questions. I am prepared to speak with certain hand-picked media. But first let’s let the police do their work. Let’s see all the evidence. Let’s release all the documents. And then let’s let my lawyers move for a mistrial.
About my expense claims. We’re still trying to piece together what happened, but it seems that, yes, in the crush of a very busy schedule, some receipts marked “personal” or “private” may have been inadvertently mixed in with some other receipts marked “business” or “naughty.” And I pledge to you today that every penny of these expenses will be repaid, with interest, out of the proceeds of future expense claims.
Second, with regard to my alleged drug use. I can’t lie to you: When I told you I couldn’t lie to you before, I wasn’t telling the whole truth. But that’s because you didn’t ask the right questions. When I said “I do not do drugs,” you didn’t specifically ask, “are you lying to us?” But let’s not overstate this. I am not “addicted” to drugs. If I did drugs, it was only while filling out my expenses.
As for the rest – the conflict of interest, the drunk and disorderly, the theft under, the driving while, not to mention tariff items 13485 through 13496: I am sorry. I am so sorry. I am just so sorry. I am sorry in a hundred inadmissible ways. To my family, my constituents, and most of all, to my dealers, I want to say: I am sorry. I know I’ve let you down. Worse, I’ve let myself down. I have not lived up to the standards I set for myself, which were pretty much non-existent to begin with.
I just wish I could go back in time and make everything right. If I could go back in time – if I could get in a time machine right now and go back to certain points in my life and change the course of history, without accidentally murdering my own grandfather or otherwise tearing a hole in the fabric of space-time, I would. But I can’t. I can’t alter the past. On the other hand, I can refuse to learn from it.
There’s more at the Vancouver Sun.
Contrary to Shane’s pun, I’m not shocked by his truth about the privatisation of power in the garden state.
Nor, I suggest, should anyone else be given the question
“why has privatisation and corporatisation of electricity failed to deliver the promises of lower prices, and in fact, delivered higher prices?”
The premise of the question seems to include a presumption that privatisation of state owned monopolies is done for the benefit of the public. This is a blatant lie. Private ownership is only attractive to those who can profit from owning or controlling something the public through the state once owned. Private wealth doesn’t go into a business if it can’t see a profit. That would be like giving money away….
Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas (New Matilda)
Electricity prices, post privatisation, have gone up because faced with relatively static demand and having cut costs (wages) as much as possible, the private owner of electricity generators can only make more money by charging the buying public more for electricity. Increased consumer prices means higher profits for private equity owners. After all it’s not like electricity is a discretionary expense and the supplier is a virtual monopoly, which is pretty much why it’s called an ESSENTIAL service.
The lie spread by corrupt governments, governments that are supposed to represent the majority but in fact represent only the vested interests of the rich, the lie that privatisation is for the public benefit when it is in fact for the benefit of the rich and facilitates greater inequality in wealth distribution, this lie should be posted on every building and in everything that prints words. The notion should be treated with utter disbelief. It’s a lie. And the parliaments that debate such notions should echo with exclamation.
Here’s a radical post 20th century notion. Stop believing the lies.
The shocking truth about the privatisation of power.
Back of the envelope calculations here…1500 per day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks in a month, maybe 5 months of work – a cool $150,000 thankyou very much.
No wonder they’re smiling.
Auditors to be paid $1500 a day to recommend spending cuts.
Two thoughts, actually three but that might be too many, so let’s call it two and a premise. The premise is humans are social creatures. The thoughts are what are the conditions that favour human life and lead to prosperity?
But first a tiny bit of history. Briefly, think about the last couple of thousand years, basically the only time on this planet when there is a record of human society as a civilisation. This period starts with a few empires, the Egyptians built a few pyramids, there were organised civil societies in India, the Greeks created an empire built on war and trade, then the Romans followed suit. The Roman empire is often portrayed as some kind of golden age with order and prosperity backed up by a bloody big army who kept the barbarous hordes at bay while the civilised world could get on with life.
But of course it came crashing down, eventually.
Fast forward because history is so old hat. The movie, The Day After Tomorrow is loosely based on the idea of tipping points, that is, the world’s climate systems teetering on the edge of cataclysmic change suddenly tip over the edge and ecological chaos descends, bringing with it lots of human chaos. The speculation is based on an idea that rampant global warming paradoxically induces another Ice Age in the northern hemisphere.
Now consider, was there a tipping point that brought the Roman Empire crashing down? Probably not although we can’t say definitely. It does seem unlikely that a butterfly flapped its wings in Rome one day and the empire collapsed the next week but dynamic systems can throw up chaotic outcomes. What does seem more likely is an analysis that says the Roman Empire, like those before it, and possibly those afterwards, was based on exploitation which eventually collapsed. Exploitation of the natural resources of other countries, exploitation of slavery and the exploitation of any sense of good will. These factors didn’t all fall like dominoes, rather they produced a yield that had a peak period and then the various components became slightly less productive in different ways or at different times. At a critical point, the yield from the system of exploitation dipped below what was required to sustain the model and the system suffered a shock or set back. Prolonged periods of below sustainance yield and the system broke down.
That could be crap but I’m putting it out there because I think it’s useful in our contemporary times.
Let’s say the global human civilisation is more or less unified, that we do indeed live in the time of Pax Americana. It has some interesting parallels with the Roman Empire which have been explored by others at length but what if we take the model above and shoehorn the situation into the same sort of analysis. Natural resources are straightforward, they are still the natural resources of a certain place or country. Exploitation by way of a financial system that is backed up by the rule of law which in turn is guaranteed by state enforced violence is exploitation. Still.
Slavery, although officially outlawed a few years ago, has been replaced by wage slavery. I’m really not going to bother to argue this point, suffice to say Marx was dead right about the economics of production and it seems pointless to argue otherwise unless you want to obscure the obvious fact, that is production of stuff is about making money for the rich. Sure there are a host of supplementary outcomes that make it look ok but the bottom line is easy to prove. Consider any company making or doing anything that sells, if they make losses rather than profits they go out of business. Since most people who work do so for a wage and their livelihoods are therefore dependent on a wage, working for a wage is a form of social control that frees the slave master from the actual work of looking after slaves while continuing to exploit the slave’s productive capacity. Of course social control becomes critical but that’s getting ahead of the argument.
Finally there is good will which I’m going to define as that which drives us as humans to do better, to try to make this a better place. We do so individually and collectively but sometimes we are thwarted by circumstances or those who would do harm. It’s optimism or hope for a better place and it seems to be with us and without. It is also easily exploited because unlike the facts of the world, good will has no tangible existence. Instead we build things that are supposed to represent this quality and in so doing easily lose sight of the what motivates or grounds us individually or collectively. We start to worship false gods and idols.
Now let’s pull this rambling together. Dr Michael, my friend, says we heading for economic collapse. He’s a philosopher so he knows a thing or two about economics. His argument is simple, and with a tip to Marx, I simply refer to a couple of possibly key indicators, rising levels of debt around the world and increasing inequality in terms of income distribution. The economic system as such rests on economic activity, that is, the ordered state we call a system is premised on the idea that exchanges of time and effort for goods and services can be represented by a symbol called money and this symbol is both ubiquitous and universal. One thing money isn’t and that is it is not without friends and it tends to collect in piles, the trick with money is being where it is likely to collect in piles so you can grab it. Suffice to say, some people are only to aware of this fact. But a collapse in the economic system is probably best summarised as when money becomes worthless. Suddenly. Bad news for the slaves. Not so bad for the rich, they have already prepared their private armies, built their sanctuaries, bought their self sustaining life support systems…
Then there’s state of the planet, sans humans. Have a read of this man’s story about crossing the Pacific Ocean. Think about the tankers that can now use the north passage to sail around continental America and all the other indicators of climate change. Consider the dependency of 8 billion human beings on the planet for food and water.
Finally, consider the idea of good will. Love thy neighbour, welcome the foreigner, peace.
We’ve had a good time up to now, those of us fortunate to live in Pax Americana but its an empire built on exploitation which is not sustainable. It could end abruptly, the world could be plunged into huge turmoil by the shooting of some president or prince but I’m thinking it is more likely that chaos will visit us less dramatically but with longer lasting effect. Slowly, on a human timescale. Crops will fail here, countries will starve in obscure places. Monetised systems will produce more inequality but the losers will remain hidden as unemployed or struggling or somewhere else. Riots will appear, randomly but increasingly as people lose hope. The system will start to disintegrate. The the killing machines, the spy systems will come into their own. Dis-topic? Perhaps but you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.
Post-shutdown America is on the verge of outright civil conflict
Like in that opera where the hero of the day rides to rescue the damsel in distress…
Ziggy Switkowski is mostly known as the former Chief Executive Officer of Australia’s largest telecommunications company Telstra, and for overseeing major aspects of the implementation and planning of its full privatisation through tranche sales
He was also appointed by Bishop Julie to chair the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
And now his good mate Malcolm has appointed him Chair of the soon to be privatised NBN. Isn’t cronyism fun!
Mr Abbott has returned triumphant from Indonesia. What does this show us about Mr Abbott?
Don’t underestimate him.
That’s the short answer but I have a few other ideas floating loose around Mr Abbott and I remain convinced Mr Abbott will be with us as PM for quite a while.
While there can be no doubt Mr Abbott has some powerful backers, I am slightly agog at the reaction of the progressive left to Mr Abbott’s ascent. It does seem to point to a collective blind spot on the side of progressive left of centre politics. No one seems to think Mr Abbott is a diabolically problematic politician for the left, possibly because they don’t quite get what Mr Abbott is doing. They (the intellectual progressive left) seem to think Tony is flawed because he lies, and admits it, or he is a sexist pig and revels in it, or that he is a catholic conservative who parades around in his underpants. Very big black marks from the progressive trendy lefty liberal perspective but characteristics that count for almost nothing when it comes to modern politics.
On the other hand, Mr Abbott’s relentless campaign over the last three years counts far more and demonstrates a personal tenacity sadly lacking in politicians on the other side, who it could be said regard such stubborn persistence as yet another personal flaw, one which closes off conciliation and negotiation. But the problem here is this, Mr Abbott’s strategy paid off despite the assumed superior position embodied in a more consensual approach. When it comes down to voting for someone to be PM, it seems we place greater value in the sort of strong willed behaviour demonstrated by Mr Abbott.
I think budgie smugglers would have been better.
That the ALP and others underestimated Mr Abbott initially is somewhat understandable but there is a good reason to expect the ALP brains trust should have known better, John Howard. When Howard took up the mantle of (then) leader of the opposition many dismissed him as a stop gap yesterday’s man who had failed to really impress as Malcolm Fraser’s book keeper. He was PM for 11 years. Repeatedly, the ALP failed to appreciate how someone who seemed quite dull and uncharismatic could successfully control the political narrative and ruthlessly exploit it. While it pains me to say this, many seem to have fallen for the same trap when it comes to Mr Abbott.
It does seem that for all the talk about policies and democratic convention, the real political game is about winning office and setting the public agenda. The ALP really dropped the ball and let Mr Abbott dictate terms for much of the last government, primarily because they shot themselves in the foot with the hamfisted assassination of K Rudd which was so easily exploited by Abbott and his running dog friends over at Murdoch Inc. Now if the ALP did that badly when they were in government and supposedly able to exert more control over the political narrative, how much harder is it going to be for them now?
All of this is really depressing. The coalition’s political agenda is overtly anti-worker, anti-green, anti-women, anti-science and anti anything that doesn’t conform to a Jesuit value system. That agenda is going to be aided and abetted by Palmer’s new party, further strengthening the power of the elites in this country to do whatever they want. Meanwhile Ironman Tony is going to strut around knowing that persistence pays off even if none of your ideas actually make sense for more than two seconds.
This “quiet” Tony isn’t going to last. It’s yet another narrative scam, with the ALP playing along with it’s measured search for another leader. Once the punctuation point is made between governments, Mr Abbott will be back to set the agenda because that is what a strong man does. It is puzzling that so few Australian’s can see where Tony’s leadership will take us but then maybe it is true after all, we do get the government we deserve.
Rusbridger said the NSA stories were “clearly” not a story about totalitarianism, but that an infrastructure had been created that could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands.
But there is something ironic in a story that cites Zuckerberg and his concerns about spying. Facebook prying and surveillance is ok because it’s a business? Isn’t the issue about any totalitarian surveillance, whether it is conducted by the state or a huge multinational business seems to miss the point.
via NSA surveillance goes beyond Orwell’s imagination – Alan Rusbridger | World news | theguardian.com.