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Books

Journal Journal: Why Are Schoolchidren in USA Today Required? 5

Why are they required to read "Diary of Ann Frank", but not "Black Like Me"?

Which one is really relevant to the actual understanding of social, civil and human rights in the society that they are a part of?

Which one do they have a daily context for approaching and doing something about?

Privacy

Journal Journal: What Can We Learn from LoTR About the Surveillance State? 2

Slate has an article: The Eye of Sauron Is the Modern Surveillance State. Although the insights provided are not necessarily unique, and echo the observations of some like Bruce Schneier, Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges, they do illustrate them nicely, through an unexpected allegorical reading of Tolkien's familiar epic. The gist is that unlike most dystopian fantasy - especially the explicitly political variety - Tolkien understood that the minions of absolute power were untrusted by that power, itself. It's also worth reading for the defense of the fantasy-epic genre, which offered Tolkien the opportunity to explore themes like the "distinction between omnipotence and omniscience," that were under-examined in modern idioms, but relevant to Tolkien from a theological interest and connected to the experience under tyranny.

United States

Journal Journal: "Another Important Difference" 1

"Another important difference between my administration and the Bush administration is that when the Bush administration secretly spied on you, the Bush administration could not point to a single judge willing to say their program was legal. We, on the other hand, can point to such a judge. I'm not going to tell you who this judge is, or why he or she thinks our program is legal. If I did that, it would, obviously be harder for me to convince you that the program is legal. Instead, I'm just going to tell you that we secretly found one judge who was willingly to secretly say that it was legal for us to collect all of your data..."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w25GDPlF12g

Education

Journal Journal: 101 5

"Banks love securitization because it's cheaper for them than holding loans on their books, and having to pay for them in equity capital and FDIC insurance. But those requirements are precisely what make a market safe and fair. They are buffers against risk, which in securitization gets transferred to investors. The market proved incapable before and during the crisis of properly pricing that risk, and now everyone knows it. So the investors are wisely staying away. And if these markets no longer work, then perhaps it's time to rethink the wisdom of the 30-year fixed rate mortgage (which most other countries don't have) and come up with a way for lenders to retain the risk while still protecting themselves against catastrophe."

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/david-dayen-a-revealing-episode-in-dc-groupthink.html

United States

Journal Journal: Obama's Soft Totalitarianism 10

Obama's Soft Totalitarianism: Europe Must Protect Itself from America

A Commentary by Jakob Augstein
Is Barack Obama a friend? Revelations about his government's vast spying program call that assumption into doubt. The European Union must protect the Continent from America's reach for omnipotence.

On Tuesday, Barack Obama is coming to Germany. But who, really, will be visiting? He is the 44th president of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. He is an intelligent lawyer. And he is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

But is he a friend? The revelations brought to us by IT expert Edward Snowden have made certain what paranoid computer geeks and left-wing conspiracy theorists have long claimed: that we are being watched. All the time and everywhere. And it is the Americans who are doing the watching.

On Tuesday, the head of the largest and most all-encompassing surveillance system ever invented is coming for a visit. If Barack Obama is our friend, then we really don't need to be terribly worried about our enemies.

It is embarrassing: Barack Obama will be arriving in Berlin for only the second time, but his visit is coming just as we are learning that the US president is a snoop on a colossal scale. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that she will speak to the president about the surveillance program run by the National Security Agency, and the Berlin Interior Ministry has sent a set of 16 questions to the US Embassy. But Obama need not be afraid. German Interior Minister Hans Peter Friedrich, to be sure, did say: âoeThat's not how you treat friends.â But he wasn't referring to the fact that our trans-Atlantic friends were spying on us. Rather, he meant the criticism of that spying.

Friedrich's reaction is only paradoxical on the surface and can be explained by looking at geopolitical realities. The US is, for the time being, the only global power -- and as such it is the only truly sovereign state in existence. All others are dependent -- either as enemies or allies. And because most prefer to be allies, politicians -- Germany's included -- prefer to grin and bear it.

'It's Legal'

German citizens should be able to expect that their government will protect them from spying by foreign governments. But the German interior minister says instead: âoeWe are grateful for the excellent cooperation with US secret services.â Friedrich didn't even try to cover up his own incompetence on the surveillance issue. âoeEverything we know about it, we have learned from the media,â he said. The head of the country's domestic intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen, was not any more enlightened. âoeI didn't know anything about it,â he said. And Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger was also apparently in the dark. âoeThese reports are extremely unsettling,â she said.

With all due respect: These are the people who are supposed to be protecting our rights? If it wasn't so frightening, it would be absurd.

Friedrich's quote from the weekend was particularly quaint: âoeI have no reason to doubt that the US respects rights and the law.â Yet in a way, he is right. The problem is not the violation of certain laws. Rather, in the US the laws themselves are the problem. The NSA, in fact, didn't even overreach its own authority when it sucked up 97 billion pieces of data in one single 30-day period last March. Rather, it was acting on the orders of the entire US government, including the executive, legislative and judicial branches, the Democrats, the Republicans, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Supreme Court. They are all in favor. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, merely shrugged her shoulders and said: âoeIt's legal.â

A Monitored Human Being Is Not a Free One

What, exactly, is the purpose of the National Security Agency? Security, as its name might suggest? No matter in what system or to what purpose: A monitored human being is not a free human being. And every state that systematically contravenes human rights, even in the alleged service of security, is acting criminally.

Those who believed that drone attacks in Pakistan or the camp at Guantanamo were merely regrettable events at the end of the world should stop to reflect. Those who still believed that the torture at Abu Ghraib or that the waterboarding in CIA prisons had nothing to do with them, are now changing their views. Those who thought that we are on the good side and that it is others who are stomping all over human rights are now opening their eyes. A regime is ruling in the United States today that acts in totalitarian ways when it comes to its claim to total control. Soft totalitarianism is still totalitarianism.

We're currently in the midst of a European crisis. But this unexpected flare-up of American imperialism serves as a reminder of the necessity for Europe. Does anyone seriously believe that Obama will ensure the chancellor and her interior minister that the American authorities will respect the rights of German citizens in the future? Only Europe can break the American fantasy of omnipotence. One option would be for Europe to build its own system of networks to prevent American surveillance. Journalist Frank Schirrmacher of the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper recommended that over the weekend. âoeIt would require subsidies and a vision as big as the moon landing,â he argues.

A simpler approach would be to just force American firms to respect European laws. The European Commission has the ability to do that. The draft for a new data privacy directive has already been presented. It just has to be implemented. Once that happens, American secret services might still be able to walk all over European law, but if US Internet giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook want to continue making money off of a half-billion Europeans, then they will have to abide by our laws. Under the new law, companies caught passing on data in ways not permitted are forced to pay fines. You can be sure that these companies would in turn apply pressure to their own government. The proposal envisions setting that fine at 2 percent of a company's worldwide revenues.

Government

Journal Journal: If You Still Believe You Live in a "Liberal Democracy"? 34

You're just not as bright as you like to congratulate yourself.

It is very simple. Follow the money. Years ago the wealthy needed a strong middleclass. Henry Ford even commented that a strong middleclass bought the products of the wealthy. But the wealthy no longer make products. Money is earned through money games. And the economy is global.

The goal now is the destruction of the middleclass. Why? So that we'll work for nothing. A sort of coal mining economic theory. Work for nothing and then give what little money you have back when you buy life's necessities at the company store.

As the wealth gets concentrated and the middleclass destroyed there might be some uprisings. The Corporate Government will be able to get the leaders very quickly and thereby diffuse the uprisings literally before they start. Like arresting the persons behind "Occupy Wall Street" before the occupation.

With indefinite detention being the law of the land there will be no need for trials.

And with all that anti terrorism security money going to crowd control weapons like sonic beams that make you burn those crowds that do assemble will be quickly dealt with.

It is always about the money.

Posted by: Ray | Jun 29, 2013 9:27:54 PM

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