March 26, 2012
J. D. Heyes
Anytime you download a movie from Netflix to your television or turn on an Internet-based radio, you could be alerting people who you don’t want or need watching you.
According totheCentral Intelligence Agency, the organization says spies won’t have to plant bugs in homes, businesses or other places where they want to spy because of coming advances in computer and Internet technology. Specifically, CIA Director David Petraeus, one-time commander of the Iraq and Afghanistan war theaters, says new apps and the rise of “connected” devices means people, essentially, will be bugging their own homes.
The CIA says it is very possible the agency and others will be able to “read” these and other gadgets from outside the places they want to monitor via the Internet and perhaps even with radio waves outside your home.
Nowadays, everything can be controlled by an app – your home security system, a clock radio, remote controls, the lighting in your kitchen. And, according toWiredmagazine’s online “Danger Zone” blog, it’s going to get better – or worse, depending on your point of view. Computer-chip maker ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which can and will be used in virtually everything, including refrigerators, doorbells and ovens.
The resulting flood of app-controlled devices will be able to be easily read and even manipulated and controlled, Petraeus said, adding that the technology will allow agents to spy without having to plant bugs, breaking or entering or engaging in other risky (or illegal?) behavior. Spies, instead, will simply monitor activity through existing apps in use by the subject.
“Transformationalis an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus said in comments made to a venture capital firm looking at new technologies that could transform previouslydumbappliances into an interconnected “Internet of things.”
“Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” he said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”
He acknowledged that these devices and the technology to use them to spy “change our notions of secrecy” and triggers a rethink of “our notions of identity and secrecy.”
‘Mapping’ our lives?
Those like Petraeus who are looking at the future say they believe someday such devices will be able to tell what modes of operation they are in at all times, and that they will be able to bemappedas efficiently as Google Maps charts the world right now. All of the devices that could be made into these so-calledsmartgadgets would become a wealth of information to spies if you are a “person of interest” – or not, critics contend. The advent of so-calledsmart homeswould mean occupants would be continually sending out specific, geolocated information that spies can intercept in real time.
As you might expect, though, such technology has already alarmed privacy advocates. Already groups such as theElectronic Freedom Foundation(EFF)have filed suit against the CIAand other government agencies for allegedly using social media networks to spy on people.
“Social-networking sites are becoming a part of the way we communicate every day and everyone thinks they are sharing information [on the sites] with just their friends,” Shane Witnov, a law student who worked on the case in 2009 on behalf of the EFF by theSamuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinicat theUniversity of California Berkeley School of Law. “Governments are using the sites but not in the way [citizens] expect when they sign up.”
Learn more at Natural News
March 5, 2012
By J.G. Vibes
“Being an individual rocks. It’s fun being weird and different. Most people are brain-dead, boring, trite, cliche, and walking zombies. Life is way more fun when you’re totally unique. But if you insist on being labeled a Democrat or Republican, that’s fine – just as long as you understand you are just another member of the sheep herd.” –KTRN
Is there any valid reason or excuse to violate the rights of a nonviolent person? That is the primary question that separates the two political philosophies of collectivism and individualism. I’m sure that this was not a question that was raised in your college political science class, but nonetheless this is the fundamental question that determines whether a society is collectivist or individualist. While it may be true that there is a lot of grey area because these terms are defined so many different ways, the sacrifice of individual rights has always been a consequence of holding the rights of “the tribe” above those of the individuals that make up that tribe.
Be patient with me for a minute, I understand that these ideas may be putting you off a bit because it sounds like I’m saying that one person is more important than many people, but that’s not what I’m saying at all. So I urge you to just give this argument a chance with an open but critical mind.
I am not saying that one single person’s life or needs are more important than that of 50 or a 100 people. I am simply saying that you, your body and mind or the body and mind or your neighbor is worth more than “the State of California” or “the United States of America” or “the Democratic Republic of North Korea” or “Native Americans”. Why is that? Because those “countries”, “states”, and “races” are just categories; categories that are ironically enough used to describe… individuals.
With that being the case, it is perfectly fine to use whatever means necessary to describe people, but what is dangerous about collectivism is giving groups or categories rights that the individual does not have. The reason why this is a problem is because since collectives are just categories to describe individuals, when you give those categories rights that the individuals do not have, you are really giving some people rights that other people don’t have. This is how I feel collectivism operates in a political sense, and it is easy to see because this has been the dominant way of thinking throughout history.
When I speak of collectivist societies I am not only speaking of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, who are among the most obvious collectivized regimes in recent history. I am actually pointing out that collectivism is a trait that all modern governments share, since all governments ask the people living under their control to sacrifice their individual rights for the sake of “the country”.
This is where we can start to see the problem, because “the country” is never the millions of people living in that geographic area that consider themselves to be “the country”. They are not the people who make the decisions that “the country” is judged by, nor are they the people who reap the benefits of “the country’s” policies.
November 7, 2011
by Elinor Mills
A new report from Google shows a rise in government requests for user account data and content removal, including a request by one unnamed law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality–which the company refused.
The latest Google Transparency Report, released today, also shows historic traffic patterns on Google services via graphs with spikes and drops indicating outages that, in some cases, indicate attempts by governments to block access to Google or the Internet. For instance, all Google servers were inaccessible in Libya during the first six months of this year, as was YouTube in China.
But the truly interesting data are the statistics on requests made to the company by governments for either access to user data or to remove content.
Some countries had large amounts of user data requests. The United States leads that pack, with 5,950 such requests pertaining to more than 11,000 users or accounts, and to which Google complied 93 percent of the time. That’s up from about 4,600 requests in the second half of last year. Other countries seeking lots of user data were India (more than 1,700 requests involving more than 2,400 accounts), France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Google says it complied most of the time in those cases, except in France.
The actual numbers are likely larger than what is reported because Google is prohibited by law from revealing information on requests from intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency or FBI, notes online privacy advocate Chris Soghoian, who released a report on law enforcement surveillance earlier this year.
“Google doesn’t say how many of the thousands of requests they get a year are compelled (via a formal legal process) and how many are emergency requests,” which they aren’t obligated to comply with, he said. “This is where Google could truly demonstrate its commitment to privacy…We know that Verizon gets 90,000 requests a year, and 25,000 are emergency requests for which there is no court order. It’s likely Google is getting a similar percentage.”
But Soghoian commended Google on providing the figures on the numbers of accounts that officials are seeking information from in addition to the number of requests. “This is a useful data point because one request could be for 50 accounts,” he said. “It’s great that Google is providing this.”
Also of note in the report were the attempts by governments to get Google to remove content, from YouTube videos to blogs to ads. Google said it received 29 percent more requests for user data from government sources in the U.S. during the first half of this year than during the previous six months, and 70 percent more requests to remove content in that period. The report called out the request to remove YouTube videos of police brutality and separate requests from an unnamed different law enforcement agency to remove allegedly defamatory videos, but it said those requests were denied.
In the United States, Google said it received 92 requests to cumulatively remove 757 items, and complied fully or partially in 63 percent of the cases. That compared to 54 requests in the second half of last year. There were 24 court orders related to Web searches, and 26 police or executive requests related to YouTube.
October 12, 2011
By: Christopher S. Rugaber
U.S. employers advertised fewer jobs in August than the previous month, a sign some may have pulled back on hiring plans in the face of wild stock market swings and renewed recession fears.
Companies and governments posted 3.1 million job openings in August, down from 3.2 million in the previous month.
The drop was the first in four months, although July’s openings were the highest in nearly three years.
Still, there’s heavy competition for each job. Nearly 14 million people were out of work in August, which means an average of 4.6 unemployed workers competed for each opening. That’s worse than July, when the ratio was 4.3. In a healthy economy, the ratio is roughly 2 to 1.
Total openings are more than 900,000 higher than they were in July 2009, one month after the recession officially ended. But they are far below the 4.4 million jobs advertised in December 2007, when the recession began.
The downshift in job postings partly reflects the increasing ability of companies to quickly adjust their hiring plans if the economy sours.
“As soon as companies hear talk of a ‘soft patch,’ they hit the pause button on hiring,” said Jeff Joerres, chief executive of ManpowerGroup, the world’s largest staffing agency.
August was a weak month for hiring. Employers added only 57,000 net jobs that month, about half the total added in July.
Some companies may have delayed hiring plans after the economy flashed signs of trouble and seemed to be more at risk of falling into another recession.
The government said the economy barely grew in the first six months of the year, and consumer confidence fell to a two-year low. The White House and Congress fought over raising the nation’s borrowing limit, Standard & Poor’s downgraded long-term U.S. government debt and Europe’s debt crisis intensified. Stock markets plunged in response.
Hiring picked up a bit in September; the economy added 103,000 net jobs, the government said last week.
That was enough to ease fears the economy is about to fall into another recession. But it wasn’t enough to lower the unemployment rate, which stayed at 9.1% for a third straight month.
August 11, 2010
by Patrick Allen
America is a “Mickey Mouse economy” that is technically bankrupt, according to Jochen Wermuth, the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) and managing partner at Wermuth Asset Management.
“America today looks like Russia in 1998. Consumers, companies and the government are all highly indebted. America as a result is a bankrupt Mickey Mouse economy,” Wermuth told CNBC.
The comments followed news that the Fed was extending its quantitative easing program following what the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) described as a fall in the pace of growth in output and employment.
The Fed has spent the past three years on a route of aggressive rate cuts and purchases of trillions in various securities but it is running out of measures it can take, Pimco’s co-CEO Mohamed El-Erian told CNBC.
Wermuth is a fund manager heavily invested in Russia and says if the same International Monetary Fund (IMF) team that managed the financial crisis in the former super power in 1998 now turned up at the US Treasury, they would withdraw support for current US policy immediately.
“The big evil for the IMF in Russia in 1998 was the prospect of the central bank funding government debt. The Fed is now even buying mortgage-backed securities,” he noted.
“Even before the (Troubled Asset Relief Program) and the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet, total US public and private debt as a percentage of GDP in the US stood at 290 percent, that figure is now far higher,” Wermuth added.
“US credit risk is huge and America has two options, either default or let the currency depreciate substantially against currencies such as the yuan and the rouble,” he explained.
“Last night’s news from the Fed simply creates the right conditions for dollar weakness and a reduction in US liabilities to foreign investors and governments,” Wermuth said.
June 30, 2010
U.S. private employers added just 13,000 jobs in June, according to a report published Wednesday that suggested expectations of a big drop in the government’s upcoming nonfarm payrolls report were on target.
The ADP Employer Services report also said May’s gain was revised marginally higher to 57,000 from the original estimate of 55,000.
That revision was basically the only good news, however, in a report that under-shot expectations of a rise of 60,000 private-sector jobs in June.
It also supported fears that the short and tepid recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s was fizzling.
“There is really no way to characterize this number other than disappointing,” said Macroeconomic Advisers LLC chairman Joel Prakken, whose firm jointly developed the ADP report. “The overall number tells you that the recovery in the jobs market is very, very sluggish at this point.”
June 16, 2010
By Jason Groves
Democracy could ‘collapse’ in Greece, Spain and Portugal unless urgent action is taken to tackle the debt crisis, the head of the European Commission has warned.
In an extraordinary briefing to trade union chiefs last week, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso set out an ‘apocalyptic’ vision in which crisis-hit countries in southern Europe could fall victim to military coups or popular uprisings as interest rates soar and public services collapse because their governments run out of money.
The stark warning came as it emerged that EU chiefs have begun work on an emergency bailout package for Spain which is likely to run into hundreds of billions of pounds.
December 16, 2009
By Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D
Those who are observant have noticed a dangerous trend in the United States, as well as worldwide, and that is the resorting of various governments at different levels to mandating forced vaccination upon the public at large. My State of Mississippi has one of the most-restrictive vaccine-exemption laws in the United States, where exemptions are allowed only upon medical recommendation. Ironically, this is only on paper, as many have had as many as three physicians, some experts in neurological damage caused by vaccines, provide written calls for exemption, only to be turned down by the State’s public-health officer.
Worse are the States, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland, where forced vaccinations have either been mandated by the courts, the state legislature, or have such legislation pending. All of such policies strongly resemble those policies found in National Socialist empires, Stalinist countries, or Communist China.
When public-health officers are asked for the legal justification for such draconian measures as forcing people to accept vaccines that they deem either a clear and present danger to themselves and their loved ones or have had personal experience with serious adverse reactions to such vaccines, they usually resort to the need to protect the public.
One quickly concludes that if the vaccines are as effective as being touted by the public-health officials, then why should one fear the unvaccinated? Obviously the vaccinated would have at least 95% protection. This question puts them in a very difficult position. Their usual response is that a “small” percentage of the vaccinated will not have sufficient protection and would still be at risk. Now, if they admit what the literature shows, that vaccine failure rates are much higher than the 5% they claim, they must face the next obvious question – then why should anyone take the vaccine if there is a significant chance it will not protect?
When pressed further, they then resort to their favorite justification, the Holy Grail of the vaccine proponents – herd immunity. This concept is based upon the idea that 95% (and some now say 100%) of the population must be vaccinated to prevent an epidemic. The percentages needing vaccination grows progressively. I pondered this question for some time before the answer hit me. Herd immunity is mostly a myth and applies only to natural immunity – that is, contracting the infection itself.
December 9, 2009
By Ben Hirschler
Governments around the world have mobilized Tamiflu stockpiles to fight swine flu but an updated review of past clinical trial results found there was insufficient data to know if the medicine cut complications in otherwise healthy people.
Roche contested the finding and said it stood behind the robustness and integrity of previous data showing a benefit.
Sales of the antiviral drug, also known by the generic name oseltamivir, have soared since the start of the current H1N1 flu pandemic in April due to massive government orders.
That has provided a windfall for the Swiss drugmaker, which said in October it expected Tamiflu revenue to reach 2.7 billion Swiss francs ($2.65 billion) this year.
The latest analysis, which updates an earlier 2006 review, was published online by the British Medical Journal, whose editor-in-chief, Fiona Godlee, said it left important questions about Tamiflu’s effectiveness unresolved.
“Governments around the world have spent billions of pounds on a drug that the scientific community now finds itself unable to judge,” she said.
The BMJ report was also the subject of a Channel 4 News story on British television.
At issue is whether or not certain previously published trials on Tamiflu should be included or excluded when analyzing the drug’s effectiveness.
For the latest review, a team led by Chris Del Mar from Bond University in Australia looked at 20 trials — but they decided to drop eight that were included in the earlier review because they were unable to independently verify the results.
As a result they concluded that while Tamiflu reduced flu symptoms by about a day they had no confidence in previous claims that it cut the risk of flu complications.
David Reddy, Roche’s pandemic taskforce leader, said the expert group was wrong to exclude the data from the eight studies.
He told reporters that Roche would have supplied full data on the contested studies if the investigators had signed confidentiality agreements, which were drawn up to protect patients.
November 11, 2009
By John Arlidge
Number 85 Broad Street, a dull, rust-coloured office block in lower Manhattan, doesn’t look like a place to stop and stare, and that’s just the way the people who work there like it. The men and women who arrive in the watery dawn sunshine, dressed in Wall Street black, clutching black briefcases and BlackBerrys, are very, very private. They walk quickly from their black Lincoln town cars to the lobby, past, well, nothing, really. There’s no name plate on the building, no sign on the front desk and the armed policeman stationed outside isn’t saying who works there. There’s a good reason for the secrecy. Number 85 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004, is where the money is. All of it.
It’s the site of the best cash-making machine that global capitalism has ever produced, and, some say, a political force more powerful than governments. The people who work behind the brass-trim glass doors make more money than some countries do. They are the rainmakers’ rainmakers, the biggest swinging dicks in the financial jungle. Their assets total $1 trillion, their annual revenues run into the tens of billions, and their profits are in the billions, which they distribute liberally among themselves. Average pay this recessionary year for the 30,000 staff is expected to be a record $700,000. Top earners will get tens of millions, several hundred thousand times more than a cleaner at the firm. When they have finished getting “filthy rich by 40″, as the company saying goes, these alpha dogs don’t put their feet up. They parachute into some of the most senior political posts in the US and beyond, prompting accusations that they “rule the world”. Number 85 Broad Street is the home of Goldman Sachs.
The world’s most successful investment bank likes to hide behind the tidal wave of money that it generates and sends crashing over Manhattan, the City of London and most of the world’s other financial capitals. But now the dark knights of banking are being forced, blinking, into the cold light of day. The public, politicians and the press blame bankers’ reckless trading for the credit crunch and, as the most successful bank still standing, Goldman is their prime target. Here, politicians and commentators compete to denounce Goldman in ever more robust terms — “robber barons”, “economic vandals”, “vulture capitalists”. Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, contrasts the bank’s recent record results — profits of $3.2 billion in the last quarter alone — and its planned bumper bonus payments with what has happened to ordinary people’s jobs and incomes in 2009.
It’s even worse in the US. There, Rolling Stone magazine ran a story that described Goldman as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. In his latest documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore drives up to 85 Broad Street in an armoured Brinks money van, leaps out carrying a sack with a giant dollar sign on it, looks up at the building and yells: “We’re here to get the money back for the American people!”