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User Journal

Journal Journal: There is no going back now

by ArylAkamov ( 4036877 ) Alter Relationship on 4:56 Wednesday 08 March 2017 (#53997411)

It's more sinister than that.

Consider a one year old child today who may grow up to be a politician, high-level businessman, civil servant, inventor, etc.

That child is going to grow up with his communications logged, messages recorded, phone conversations intercepted, and what's more all his porn interests, mistakes in teenage years, drug taking, cheating, law breaking, foolish racist or bigoted or cruel utterances, web searches, fucking everything.

Then when they're making something of themselves they get a knock at the door and someone comes in with a big file.

The end consequence of this project means that the intelligence agencies will become our permanent rulers. Not even democracy can overturn them because democracy's players, our politicians, have and do make mistakes, mistakes which are captured by the agencies. And any revolution would be thwarted before it even began.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Re:TANSTAAFL

by WaffleMonster (969671) Alter Relationship on 1:48 Tuesday 05 May 2015 (#49617147)

As Heinlein famously put it in his The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (and he was just echoing the sentiment), There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch -- or in this case, a free app.

If they're not charging you, then you (or your time, your attention, or your information) are the product they're charging somebody else for. Or as Heinlein would have put it, even at a charitable soup kitchen you're going to have to listen to a sermon.

I don't think cost explains or excuses this phenomenon. There is always a motive for doing anything but traditionally much of it was side projects, hobbies, getting famous, filling resumes, PR and making money off pay version upgrades... the primary goal was never making money by fucking people over until the rise of the app store.

There must be countless hundreds of unique pieces of "free" software I use all the time on my desktop.. none of it is engaged in this bullshit.

The culprit in my view are perverted market pressures brought about by existence of app stores.

There is no useful quality filter.. You don't go to Walmart and walk out with a "free" or $3 PS4 title. When everything is free people who want to publish real software get fucked over by everyone expecting free or $1.50 while their product appears as just another piece of flotsam in a vast ocean of mostly useless crap.

Couple this with undeserved global exposure all apps automatically get regardless of whether they deserve it or not and feedback loops that make profiting from advertising and spying networks easy for app vendors and you get the current cesspool of mediocrity and hostility.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Re:Now using TOR after WH threats to invade homes (Score:5, Insightful)

by vux984 (928602) on 10:32 Tuesday 27 January 2015 (#48912339)

It is a catch 22; You can't get a warrant without evidence and you can't get evidence without a warrant.

No. Its really not. Its called regular police work. And police have been identifying suspects, building cases against them, culminating in search and arrest warrants for a hundred years now without "mass surveillance".

Will the EFF be the ones who apologize to the families of those killed by attacks that could have been stopped?

Where are these unicorns? Has there ever been a single verifiable case of this?

And even if they do exist? So what? Why should the EFF apologize for pushing for policies that make us all more free; even if a tiny handful of people die as a result?

Should the police be allowed to just randomly stop and frisk you? Maybe give you an anal probe right on the street? Maybe come into your house at night, and search the place for evidence of terrorism? No? You don't think that's ok?

Will you personally apologize to the families of those killed by attacks that could have been stopped if these searches had been allowed?

User Journal

Journal Journal: And that's what's wrong today

by AthanasiusKircher (#48256537)

I'm pretty sure I remember reading a study some years back about average IQ vs. salary. (Given the thread I'm discussing this in, I'm hesitant to say I'm sure of anything.) Anyhow, the conclusion was that people who made the big money in business tend not to be the smartest -- they tend to be somewhat above average, but not more than a standard deviation or two. Those results make some intuitive sense, given not only the parent's argument about ignorance, but also the fact that the people who possess rare intelligence often also end up with weird and eclectic interests, which means they often may be driven by some more esoteric obsession than the simple accumulation of wealth.

But perhaps I'm just rationalizing, as TFA says.

Anyhow, I would also agree with the parent to some extent because I think our current corporate culture specifically REQUIRES a certain level of ignorance to produce the results that many businesses want. There are very few corporations satisfied to be relatively "stable" from year-to-year. Growth, expansion, innovation, etc. are the normal desired features, even in businesses where basic methods don't change very fast.

The most rational choice -- and probably the one adopted by intelligent, informed people -- would be one that probably approximates the average growth rate of the economy as a whole. For example, it's like the "invest in index funds" strategy -- from a rational, informed perspective, it's probably the course most likely to keep your investments stable.

But lots of people are convinced that they have a strategy that will beat the market. Similarly, lots of people in mid-level management think they have a plan for a business that will involve risky choices to get ahead of competition, to expand at a great rate, etc.

Obviously there will be a few people who actually ARE smart enough to figure out a strategy that's likely to beat the average. But there are probably 10 times as many people who THINK they can beat the average, but they're deluded.

The problem is that if you gather enough such people together, a few of them are bound to have a string of "hits" just by chance. And those people tend to get promoted in our current corporate culture, because they apparently produce "results" which are far ahead of what the rational, informed, safer course would be... even if their "hits" were just a string of luck.

And once you reach a certain level of management and size of business, even really bad decisions won't sink your career. For one thing, you increasingly rely on delegating those decisions to underlings who will take the fall unless a true disaster happens where they call for the head of the CEO. Instead of promoting the risky decisions yourself, you are in change of promoting the people who will do it, and some will get lucky... just like you did. And if you have a string of luck, you become a "great CEO." If you fail miserably (as is just as likely with chance), you take your golden parachute and retire.

Basically, this is bound to be a case in a system where we promote people based on the idea that they will be overly aggressive and make strong decisions outside the norm, expecting results outside the norm. We're essentially demanding a level of exceptionalism that will tend to favor promotion on the basis of chance success (since few people have the skills to actually succeed that way due to skill). The demand for those sort of people will always exceed their supply -- which means lots of people will just get promoted for having a string of positive results outside the norm... even if it's the blind luck of someone who's too ignorant to choose a more rational and safer course.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Every single problem with hard drugs

by Procrasti (459372) (#46109717)

> every single problem you can find with fighting hard drugs is smaller than the negative effects of hard drugs themselves (heroin, cocaine, meth)

Every single problem with hard drugs (heroin, cocaine and meth) is smaller than the negative effects of fighting them.

You actually think that bloggers murdered by mexican drug cartels are worse than an individual who chooses to take heroin... That is stupidity of the highest level.

> we can of course find bad tactics in fighting hard drugs, and we should

There are of course negatives associated with being addicted to drugs, even if they were medically pure and provided free of charge... We should help those addicts who chose of their own free will to seek help.

> addiction to hard drugs destroys lives. this is the primary and ultimate problem. if you don't understand that problem as the root cause of everything else, you're an idiot on the subject matter

My experience has been that being forced into prostitution and being controlled by criminal gangs with no morality to obtain your drugs to be far worse than the addiction itself.

My property being stolen to fund prohibition prices is worse than addiction.

This is worse than addiction [].

> no, the hard drugs are the real problem

Again... if you start with the axiom that addiction is the worst thing in the world, you will always end up with result that anything addictive is the worst thing in the world. Once you realise that addiction is easily satiated, then where are the real problems?

Remember, addiction simply means being willing to do anything to satiate that desire. You simply want addicts to crawl over more broken glass, then point to all the cuts and blood to prove the problems of addiction. Remove the glass and the problems of addiction become far less.

Some of my best friends are drug addicts, heroin, meth and crack... Their problems appear to come entirely from the current legal environment, that their suppliers are all criminal gangs, and the inflated prohibition prices requiring prostitution and theft to fund. When they have their drugs, they harm no one. If their drugs were available at pharmaceutical prices and purity, their problems would be diminished a thousand fold.

On the bright side, keeping drugs illegal keeps the illegal prostitutes desperate and cheap... This is what you want, right?

User Journal

Journal Journal: I don't know yet, and I don't want to find out.

by Valdrax (32670) (#44822747)

Seriously, Americans? What do you care? What do you have to hide!?

I don't know yet. Personally, I don't want to find out after the fact that there was something I would have wanted hidden. Maybe I'm doing nothing wrong by today's standards, but who knows how we'll think about ourselves 10, 20, or 40 years from now?

Think of how many older people you know/knew who lived through the days when racism was still openly practiced and encouraged. Think of people who have mellowed their views about homosexuality only in the past decade. Think of how people used to smoke in their homes around their children. Or how they used to spank children that misbehaved. Or let them ride in the back of a truck with no seat belt. Or let them run around naked and even take pictures of it.

If you grew up in a rural area, you probably remember someone having hunting rifles on a gun rack in the back of their truck at school or maybe you even carried a pocketknife to school. Maybe you used to be the kind of geek that wore a trenchcoat before Columbine killed that fashion off.

So who knows what innocent thing I'm doing today that will be disapproved of later? Maybe it'll just be embarrassing. Maybe it'll be blackmail worthy. Maybe it'll even be grounds for suspecting me as some kind of future or current criminal. I mean, how many Muslims in America thought their social networks would be under heavy scrutiny before 9/11?

We shouldn't have to live in perpetual fear of the future or of the judgment of our peers. We need a personal space in which to unwind and to develop our thoughts before they're ready to take before public scrutiny. We need privacy to become ourselves and not just an empty reflection of what others expect from us.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ah, the old victim routine...

by Benfea (1365845)

What is it about conservative/authoritarian political movements that causes them to do this? The Nazis were convinced they were being persecuted by Jews even as they stuffed them into ovens en masse. Apartheid South Africans were convinced they were being persecuted by dark-skinned Africans. And of course American conservolibertarians are convinced that the rich are being persecuted by the poor, men are being persecuted by women, Christians are being persecuted by homosexuals, whites are being persecuted by minorities, etc.

It's not just that they are convinced they are victims. They are convinced they are victims when precisely the opposite is happening. I cannot fathom the level of delusion necessary to make people think this way, but it seems that every major conservative political movement does this.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sorry to see it go, our freedom 1

by cdrguru (88047)

Unfortunately, this seems to be the way things are going. There will be one or two "retailers" left on the Internet which will be in unassailable positions because of heavy discounting on freight and committments from suppliers. Buying anything locally will be an option fondly remembered by grandparents and a concept utterly foreign to the next generation.

Why will there be only two? Well, Amazon ships with UPS and UPS charges them so little based on volume that they can make money offering free 2-day shipping. Should some new player come along they aren't going to get discounts like that until they have a huge volume, which means their prices will be higher, meaning they aren't going to get that huge volume. Same thing with suppliers: if you buy 1,000 TVs from Samsung they give you a different price than if you buy 100. If you sell 1000 a week you are going to be buying a huge number - maybe more like 10,000 at a time - and get such a better price that they new start-up can't ever get that good a price.

So what do we have now? A monopoly. Mostly driven by the Internet and the way shipping works in the US. Best Buy had their own fleet of truck for distribution so their costs were quite different than using UPS or FedEx. The idea that some new startup can come along - as Best Buy did - is pretty much gone. The market is closed to new entrants. Would there be room for two such distributors? Maybe not - we might end up with only Amazon as the big retailer in the US and WalMart for low-end stuff. We can all see that the small independent seller is doomed if they haven't already closed up shop now. WalMart put those folks out of business a long time ago.

You can certainly say that Best Buy failed in providing customer service, but we are seeing a passing of a lifestyle. We are also seeing an interesting phenomenon whereby more and more things in people's daily lives are being supplied through a single source. Did you know there is only one factory in the US making glass bottles? If one can do it, why have more, right? Except it is a single point of failure and there are many substances that a glass bottle is required for. If that one factory has a fire or some other accident the entire US is without glass bottles for perhaps a very long time. With retailers being eliminated we are focusing more and more on online retailers and two shipping companies - of which there will only be one in the end. When it is only Amazon and FedEx (far more diversified then UPS and therefore the more likely one to survive), what happens if there is a strike against FedEx? Well, it means people stop getting stuff. When it is WalMart and Amazon alone and everyone is getting food, clothes and everything else through these channels what does it mean?

One big thing it means is that if the buyer at WalMart doesn't like some supplier, their stuff isn't getting sold in the US. It means decisions that consumers get to make today are then made by the buyers for the retailers that are left. If the buyer doesn't choose it, the consumer can't choose it. Period.

Oh, you think "the long tail" will solve this problem. Not really. There will be only a few retailers because the dynamics of an online store are quite different from opening a little shop on Main Street. It is already pretty much impossible for an upstart to compete with Amazon today and it isn't going to get any better. Which means if Amazon doesn't strike a deal with a supplier - on Amazon's terms - their stuff doesn't get sold. Manufacturers are ill-suited to sell things directly, so that isn't really an option. Neither is Amazon going to take on a new product that completes with an existing high-volume product unless they get a really good deal - why trade dollars for pennies? This puts Amazon in control of what brands of toothpase you get to choose from - you will not have the option of going to a different store.

Pretty sad, isn't it. At least it isn't the government making these decisions for us.

User Journal

Journal Journal: For America, War is peace

by Jeremiah Cornelius (137)

The engine of American foreign policy has been fueled not by a devotion to any kind of morality, but rather by the necessity to serve other imperatives, which can be summarized as follows:
* making the world safe for American corporations;
* enhancing the financial statements of defense contractors at home who have contributed generously to members of congress;
* preventing the rise of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model;
* extending political and economic hegemony over as wide an area as possible, as befits a "great power."
This in the name of fighting a supposed moral crusade against what cold warriors convinced themselves, and the American people, was the existence of an evil International Communist Conspiracy, which in fact never existed, evil or not.

The United States carried out extremely serious interventions into more than 70 nations in this period.

China, 1945-49:
Intervened in a civil war, taking the side of Chiang Kai-shek against the Communists, even though the latter had been a much closer ally of the United States in the world war. The U.S. used defeated Japanese soldiers to fight for its side. The Communists forced Chiang to flee to Taiwan in 1949.

Italy, 1947-48:
Using every trick in the book, the U.S. interfered in the elections to prevent the Communist Party from coming to power legally and fairly. This perversion of democracy was done in the name of "saving democracy" in Italy. The Communists lost. For the next few decades, the CIA, along with American corporations, continued to intervene in Italian elections, pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars and much psychological warfare to block the specter that was haunting Europe.

Greece, 1947-49:
Intervened in a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left which had fought the Nazis courageously. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a new internal security agency, KYP. Before long, KYP was carrying out all the endearing practices of secret police everywhere, including systematic torture.

Philippines, 1945-53:
U.S. military fought against leftist forces (Huks) even while the Huks were still fighting against the Japanese invaders. After the war, the U. S. continued its fight against the Huks, defeating them, and then installing a series of puppets as president, culminating in the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

South Korea, 1945-53:
After World War II, the United States suppressed the popular progressive forces in favor of the conservatives who had collaborated with the Japanese. This led to a long era of corrupt, reactionary, and brutal governments.

Albania, 1949-53:
The U.S. and Britain tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the communist government and install a new one that would have been pro-Western and composed largely of monarchists and collaborators with Italian fascists and Nazis.

Germany, 1950s:
The CIA orchestrated a wide-ranging campaign of sabotage, terrorism, dirty tricks, and psychological warfare against East Germany. This was one of the factors which led to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Iran, 1953:
Prime Minister Mossadegh was overthrown in a joint U.S./British operation. Mossadegh had been elected to his position by a large majority of parliament, but he had made the fateful mistake of spearheading the movement to nationalize a British-owned oil company, the sole oil company operating in Iran. The coup restored the Shah to absolute power and began a period of 25 years of repression and torture, with the oil industry being restored to foreign ownership, as follows: Britain and the U.S., each 40 percent, other nations 20 percent.

Guatemala, 1953-1990s:
A CIA-organized coup overthrew the democratically-elected and progressive government of Jacobo Arbenz, initiating 40 years of death-squads, torture, disappearances, mass executions, and unimaginable cruelty, totaling well over 100,000 victims -indisputably one of the most inhuman chapters of the 20th century. Arbenz had nationalized the U.S. firm, United Fruit Company, which had extremely close ties to the American power elite. As justification for the coup, Washington declared that Guatemala had been on the verge of a Soviet takeover, when in fact the Russians had so little interest in the country that it didn't even maintain diplomatic relations. The real problem in the eyes of Washington, in addition to United Fruit, was the danger of Guatemala's social democracy spreading to other countries in Latin America.

Middle East, 1956-58:
The Eisenhower Doctrine stated that the United States "is prepared to use armed forces to assist" any Middle East country "requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism." The English translation of this was that no one would be allowed to dominate, or have excessive influence over, the middle east and its oil fields except the United States, and that anyone who tried would be, by definition, "Communist." In keeping with this policy, the United States twice attempted to overthrow the Syrian government, staged several shows-of-force in the Mediterranean to intimidate movements opposed to U.S.-supported governments in Jordan and Lebanon, landed 14,000 troops in Lebanon, and conspired to overthrow or assassinate Nasser of Egypt and his troublesome middle-east nationalism.

Indonesia, 1957-58:
Sukarno, like Nasser, was the kind of Third World leader the United States could not abide. He took neutralism in the cold war seriously, making trips to the Soviet Union and China (though to the White House as well). He nationalized many private holdings of the Dutch, the former colonial power. He refused to crack down on the Indonesian Communist Party, which was walking the legal, peaceful road and making impressive gains electorally. Such policies could easily give other Third World leaders "wrong ideas." The CIA began throwing money into the elections, plotted Sukarno's assassination, tried to blackmail him with a phony sex film, and joined forces with dissident military officers to wage a full-scale war against the government. Sukarno survived it all.

British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64:
For 11 years, two of the oldest democracies in the world, Great Britain and the United States, went to great lengths to prevent a democratically elected leader from occupying his office. Cheddi Jagan was another Third World leader who tried to remain neutral and independent. He was elected three times. Although a leftist-more so than Sukarno or Arbenz-his policies in office were not revolutionary. But he was still a marked man, for he represented Washington's greatest fear: building a society that might be a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model. Using a wide variety of tactics-from general strikes and disinformation to terrorism and British legalisms, the U. S. and Britain finally forced Jagan out in 1964. John F. Kennedy had given a direct order for his ouster, as, presumably, had Eisenhower.
One of the better-off countries in the region under Jagan, Guyana, by the 1980s, was one of the poorest. Its principal export became people.

Vietnam, 1950-73:
The slippery slope began with siding with ~ French, the former colonizers and collaborators with the Japanese, against Ho Chi Minh and his followers who had worked closely with the Allied war effort and admired all things American. Ho Chi Minh was, after all, some kind of Communist. He had written numerous letters to President Truman and the State Department asking for America's help in winning Vietnamese independence from the French and finding a peaceful solution for his country. All his entreaties were ignored. Ho Chi Minh modeled the new Vietnamese declaration of independence on the American, beginning it with "All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with ..." But this would count for nothing in Washington. Ho Chi Minh was some kind of Communist.
Twenty-three years and more than a million dead, later, the United States withdrew its military forces from Vietnam. Most people say that the U.S. lost the war. But by destroying Vietnam to its core, and poisoning the earth and the gene pool for generations, Washington had achieved its main purpose: preventing what might have been the rise of a good development option for Asia. Ho Chi Minh was, after all, some kind of communist.

Cambodia, 1955-73:
Prince Sihanouk was yet another leader who did not fancy being an American client. After many years of hostility towards his regime, including assassination plots and the infamous Nixon/Kissinger secret "carpet bombings" of 1969-70, Washington finally overthrew Sihanouk in a coup in 1970. This was all that was needed to impel Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge forces to enter the fray. Five years later, they took power. But five years of American bombing had caused Cambodia's traditional economy to vanish. The old Cambodia had been destroyed forever.
Incredibly, the Khmer Rouge were to inflict even greater misery on this unhappy land. To add to the irony, the United States supported Pol Pot, militarily and diplomatically, after their subsequent defeat by the Vietnamese.

The Congo/Zaire, 1960-65:
In June 1960, Patrice Lumumba became the Congo's first prime minister after independence from Belgium. But Belgium retained its vast mineral wealth in Katanga province, prominent Eisenhower administration officials had financial ties to the same wealth, and Lumumba, at Independence Day ceremonies before a host of foreign dignitaries, called for the nation's economic as well as its political liberation, and recounted a list of injustices against the natives by the white owners of the country. The man was obviously a "Communist." The poor man was obviously doomed.
Eleven days later, Katanga province seceded, in September, Lumumba was dismissed by the president at the instigation of the United States, and in January 1961 he was assassinated at the express request of Dwight Eisenhower. There followed several years of civil conflict and chaos and the rise to power of Mobutu Sese Seko, a man not a stranger to the CIA. Mobutu went on to rule the country for more than 30 years, with a level of corruption and cruelty that shocked even his CIA handlers. The Zairian people lived in abject poverty despite the plentiful natural wealth, while Mobutu became a multibillionaire.

Brazil, 1961-64:
President Joao Goulart was guilty of the usual crimes: He took an independent stand in foreign policy, resuming relations with socialist countries and opposing sanctions against Cuba; his administration passed a law limiting the amount of profits multinationals could transmit outside the country; a subsidiary of ITT was nationalized; he promoted economic and social reforms. And Attorney-General Robert Kennedy was uneasy about Goulart allowing "communists" to hold positions in government agencies. Yet the man was no radical. He was a millionaire land-owner and a Catholic who wore a medal of the Virgin around his neck. That, however, was not enough to save him. In 1964, he was overthrown in a military coup which had deep, covert American involvement. The official Washington line was...yes, it's unfortunate that democracy has been overthrown in Brazil...but, still, the country has been saved from communism.
For the next 15 years, all the features of military dictatorship that Latin America has come to know were instituted: Congress was shut down, political opposition was reduced to virtual extinction, habeas corpus for "political crimes" was suspended, criticism of the president was forbidden by law, labor unions were taken over by government interveners, mounting protests were met by police and military firing into crowds, peasants' homes were burned down, priests were brutalized...disappearances, death squads, a remarkable degree and depravity of torture...the government had a name for its program: the "moral rehabilitation" of Brazil.
Washington was very pleased. Brazil broke relations with Cuba and became one of the United States' most reliable allies in Latin America.

Dominican Republic, 1963-66:
In February 1963, Juan Bosch took office as the first democratically elected president of the Dominican Republic since 1924. Here at last was John F. Kennedy's liberal anti-Communist, to counter the charge that the U.S. supported only military dictatorships. Bosch's government was to be the long sought " showcase of democracy " that would put the lie to Fidel Castro. He was given the grand treatment in Washington shortly before he took office.
Bosch was true to his beliefs. He called for land reform, low-rent housing, modest nationalization of business, and foreign investment provided it was not excessively exploitative of the country and other policies making up the program of any liberal Third World leader serious about social change. He was likewise serious about civil liberties: Communists, or those labeled as such, were not to be persecuted unless they actually violated the law.
A number of American officials and congresspeople expressed their discomfort with Bosch's plans, as well as his stance of independence from the United States. Land reform and nationalization are always touchy issues in Washington, the stuff that "creeping socialism" is made of. In several quarters of the U.S. press Bosch was red-baited.
In September, the military boots marched. Bosch was out. The United States, which could discourage a military coup in Latin America with a frown, did nothing.
Nineteen months later, a revolt broke out which promised to put the exiled Bosch back into power. The United States sent 23,000 troops to help crush it.

Cuba, 1959 to present:
Fidel Castro came to power at the beginning of 1959. A U.S. National Security Council meeting of March 10, 1959 included on its agenda the feasibility of bringing "another government to power in Cuba." There followed 40 years of terrorist attacks, bombings, full-scale military invasion, sanctions, embargoes, isolation, assassinations...Cuba had carried out The Unforgivable Revolution, a very serious threat of setting a "good example" in Latin America.
The saddest part of this is that the world will never know what kind of society Cuba could have produced if left alone, if not constantly under the gun and the threat of invasion, if allowed to relax its control at home. The idealism, the vision, the talent were all there. But we'll never know. And that of course was the idea.
Indonesia, 1965:
A complex series of events, involving a supposed coup attempt, a counter-coup, and perhaps a counter-counter-coup, with American fingerprints apparent at various points, resulted in the ouster from power of Sukarno and his replacement by a military coup led by General Suharto. The massacre that began immediately-of Communists, Communist sympathizers, suspected Communists, suspected Communist sympathizers, and none of the above-was called by the New York Times "one of the most savage mass slayings of modern political history." The estimates of the number killed in the course of a few years begin at half a million and go above a million.
It was later learned that the U.S. embassy had compiled lists of "Communist" operatives, from top echelons down to village cadres, as many as 5,000 names, and turned them over to the army, which then hunted those persons down and killed them. The Americans would then check off the names of those who had been killed or captured. "It really was a big help to the army. They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands," said one U.S. diplomat. "But that's not all bad. There's a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment. "

Chile, 1964-73:
Salvador Allende was the worst possible scenario for a Washington imperialist. He could imagine only one thing worse than a Marxist in power-an elected Marxist in power, who honored the constitution, and became increasingly popular. This shook the very foundation stones on which the anti-Communist tower was built: the doctrine, painstakingly cultivated for decades, that "communists" can take power only through force and deception, that they can retain that power only through terrorizing and brainwashing the population.
After sabotaging Allende's electoral endeavor in 1964, and failing to do so in 1970, despite their best efforts, the CIA and the rest of the American foreign policy machine left no stone unturned in their attempt to destabilize the Allende government over the next three years, paying particular attention to building up military hostility. Finally, in September 1973, the military overthrew the government, Allende dying in the process.
They closed the country to the outside world for a week, while the tanks rolled and the soldiers broke down doors; the stadiums rang with the sounds of execution and the bodies piled up along the streets and floated in the river; the torture centers opened for business; the subversive books were thrown into bonfires; soldiers slit the trouser legs of women, shouting that "In Chile women wear dresses!"; the poor returned to their natural state; and the men of the world in Washington and in the halls of international finance opened up their check- books. In the end, more than 3,000 had been executed, thousands more tortured or disappeared.

Greece, 1964-74:
The military coup took place in April 1967, just two days before the campaign for j national elections was to begin, elections which appeared certain to bring the veteran liberal leader George Papandreou back as prime minister. Papandreou had been elected in February 1964 with the only outright majority in the history of modern Greek elections. The successful machinations to unseat him had begun immediately, a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, and the American military and CIA stationed in Greece. The 1967 coup was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, torture, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a "Communist takeover." Corrupting and subversive influences in Greek life were to be removed. Among these were miniskirts, long hair, and foreign newspapers; church attendance for the young would be compulsory.
It was torture, however, which most indelibly marked the seven-year Greek nightmare. James Becket, an American attorney sent to Greece by Amnesty International, wrote in December 1969 that "a conservative estimate would place at not less than two thousand" the number of people tortured, usually in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States.
Becket reported the following: Hundreds of prisoners have listened to the little speech given by Inspector Basil Lambrou, who sits behind his desk which displays the red, white, and blue clasped-hand symbol of American aid. He tries to show the prisoner the absolute futility of resistance: "You make yourself ridiculous by thinking you can do anything. The world is divided in two. There are the communists on that side and on this side the free world. The Russians and the Americans, no one else. What are we? Americans. Behind me there is the government, behind the government is NATO, behind NATO is the U.S. You can't fight us, we are Americans."
George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-Communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

East Timor, 1975 to present:
In December 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor, which lies at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago, and which had proclaimed its independence after Portugal had relinquished control of it. The invasion was launched the day after U. S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had left Indonesia after giving Suharto permission to use American arms, which, under U.S. Iaw, could not be used for aggression. Indonesia was Washington's most valuable tool in Southeast Asia.
Amnesty International estimated that by 1989, Indonesian troops, with the aim of forcibly annexing East Timor, had killed 200,000 people out of a population of between 600,000 and 700,000. The United States consistently supported Indonesia's claim to East Timor (unlike the UN and the EU), and downplayed the slaughter to a remarkable degree, at the same time supplying Indonesia with all the military hardware and training it needed to carry out the job.

Nicaragua, 1978-89:
When the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1978, it was clear to Washington that they might well be that long-dreaded beast-"another Cuba." Under President Carter, attempts to sabotage the revolution took diplomatic and economic forms. Under Reagan, violence was the method of choice. For eight terribly long years, the people of Nicaragua were under attack by Washington's proxy army, the Contras, formed from Somoza's vicious National Guard and other supporters of the dictator. It was all-out war, aiming to destroy the progressive social and economic programs of the government, burning down schools and medical clinics, raping, torturing, mining harbors, bombing and strafing. These were Ronald Reagan's "freedom fighters." There would be no revolution in Nicaragua.

Grenada, 1979-84:
What would drive the most powerful nation in the world to invade a country of 110,000? Maurice Bishop and his followers had taken power in a 1979 coup, and though their actual policies were not as revolutionary as Castro's, Washington was again driven by its fear of "another Cuba," particularly when public appearances by the Grenadian leaders in other countries of the region met with great enthusiasm.
U. S. destabilization tactics against the Bishop government began soon after the coup and continued until 1983, featuring numerous acts of disinformation and dirty tricks. The American invasion in October 1983 met minimal resistance, although the U.S. suffered 135 killed or wounded; there were also some 400 Grenadian casualties, and 84 Cubans, mainly construction workers.
At the end of 1984, a questionable election was held which was won by a man supported by the Reagan administration. One year later, the human rights organization, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, reported that Grenada's new U.S.-trained police force and counter-insurgency forces had acquired a reputation for brutality, arbitrary arrest, and abuse of authority, and were eroding civil rights.
In April 1989, the government issued a list of more than 80 books which were prohibited from being imported. Four months later, the prime minister suspended parliament to forestall a threatened no-confidence vote resulting from what his critics called "an increasingly authoritarian style."

Libya, 1981-89:
Libya refused to be a proper Middle East client state of Washington. Its leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, was uppity. He would have to be punished. U.S. planes shot down two Libyan planes in what Libya regarded as its air space. The U. S . also dropped bombs on the country, killing at least 40 people, including Qaddafi's daughter. There were other attempts to assassinate the man, operations to overthrow him, a major disinformation campaign, economic sanctions, and blaming Libya for being behind the Pan Am 103 bombing without any good evidence.

Panama, 1989:
Washington's bombers strike again. December 1989, a large tenement barrio in Panama City wiped out, 15,000 people left homeless. Counting several days of ground fighting against Panamanian forces, 500-something dead was the official body count, what the U.S. and the new U.S.-installed Panamanian government admitted to; other sources, with no less evidence, insisted that thousands had died; 3,000-something wounded. Twenty-three Americans dead, 324 wounded.
Question from reporter: "Was it really worth it to send people to their death for this? To get Noriega?"
George Bush: "Every human life is precious, and yet I have to answer, yes, it has been worth it."
Manuel Noriega had been an American ally and informant for years until he outlived his usefulness. But getting him was not the only motive for the attack. Bush wanted to send a clear message to the people of Nicaragua, who had an election scheduled in two months, that this might be their fate if they reelected the Sandinistas. Bush also wanted to flex some military muscle to illustrate to Congress the need for a large combat-ready force even after the very recent dissolution of the "Soviet threat." The official explanation for the American ouster was Noriega's drug trafficking, which Washington had known about for years and had not been at all bothered by.

Iraq, 1990s:
Relentless bombing for more than 40 days and nights, against one of the most advanced nations in the Middle East, devastating its ancient and modern capital city; 177 million pounds of bombs falling on the people of Iraq, the most concentrated aerial onslaught in the history of the world; depleted uranium weapons incinerating people, causing cancer; blasting chemical and biological weapon storage and oil facilities; poisoning the atmosphere to a degree perhaps never matched anywhere; burying soldiers alive, deliberately; the infrastructure destroyed, with a terrible effect on health; sanctions continued to this day multiplying the health problems; perhaps a million children dead by now from all of these things, even more adults.
Iraq was the strongest military power among the Arab states. This may have been their crime. Noam Chomsky has written: "It's been a leading, driving doctrine of U.S. foreign policy since the 1940s that the vast and unparalleled energy resources of the Gulf region will be effectively dominated by the United States and its clients, and, crucially, that no independent, indigenous force will be permitted to have a substantial influence on the administration of oil production and price. "

Afghanistan, 1979-92:
Everyone knows of the unbelievable repression of women in Afghanistan, carried out by Islamic fundamentalists, even before the Taliban. But how many people know that during the late 1970s and most of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a government committed to bringing the incredibly backward nation into the 20th century, including giving women equal rights? What happened, however, is that the United States poured billions of dollars into waging a terrible war against this government, simply because it was supported by the Soviet Union. Prior to this, CIA operations had knowingly increased the probability of a Soviet intervention, which is what occurred. In the end, the United States won, and the women, and the rest of Afghanistan, lost. More than a million dead, three million disabled, five million refugees, in total about half the population.

El Salvador, 1980-92:
El Salvador's dissidents tried to work within the system. But with U.S. support, the government made that impossible, using repeated electoral fraud and murdering hundreds of protesters and strikers. In 1980, the dissidents took to the gun, and civil war.
Officially, the U.S. military presence in El Salvador was limited to an advisory capacity. In actuality, military and CIA personnel played a more active role on a continuous basis. About 20 Americans were killed or wounded in helicopter and plane crashes while flying reconnaissance or other missions over combat areas, and considerable evidence surfaced of a U.S. role in the ground fighting as well. The war came to an official end in 1992; 75,000 civilian deaths and the U.S. Treasury depleted by six billion dollars. Meaningful social change has been largely thwarted. A handful of the wealthy still own the country, the poor remain as ever, and dissidents still have to fear right-wing death squads.

Haiti, 1987-94:
The U.S. supported the Duvalier family dictatorship for 30 years, then opposed the reformist priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Meanwhile, the CIA was working intimately with death squads, torturers, and drug traffickers. With this as background, the Clinton White House found itself in the awkward position of having to pretend-because of all their rhetoric about "democracy"-that they supported Aristide's return to power in Haiti after he had been ousted in a 1991 military coup. After delaying his return for more than two years, Washington finally had its military restore Aristide to office, but only after obliging the priest to guarantee that he would not help the poor at the expense of the rich, and that he would stick closely to free-market economics. This meant that Haiti would continue to be the assembly plant of the Western Hemisphere, with its workers receiving literally starvation wages.

Yugoslavia, 1999:
The United States is bombing the country back to a pre-industrial era. It would like the world to believe that its intervention is motivated only by "humanitarian" impulses. Perhaps the above history of U.S. interventions can help one decide how much weight to place on this claim.
William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.
"In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the 1990s it triumphed over democracy."
--David Korten

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ain't humanity great?

by AdamWill (604569)

I've replied to it before on slashdot, but no, that's a fallacy.

There isn't some magic limited quality of labor that needs to be done, and once we replace all of that with robots, there'll be no work left for people to do any more. That fallacy has existed for hundreds of years. It never quite seems to happen, yet people persist with the belief.

Couple hundred years ago, it was cotton weaving - see, hundreds of thousands of people used to work weaving cotton, then machines got invented that could perform the job much more efficiently. Surely this would result in there not being enough work for all those people! oh no!

Well, in a very short timeframe that can happen, but over the long run it just doesn't work out that way. Why? We just keep inventing more work to do. There's no objective definition of 'work'. It's whatever you can get paid to do. Back in the age of manual cotton weaving, for instance, almost no-one made a living in the 'creative industries', which barely existed. Nowadays, tens of thousands of people make a good wage producing utterly unnecessary and frivolous TV shows. The key point is _there's a direct link between the two things_. Automate things that at present take hundreds of thousands of humans to do, and those hundreds of thousands of humans won't - over the long run - starve to death. We'll invent new stuff for them to do. That 'stuff' is frequently frivolous and entirely unnecessary - like television, or advertising, or professional sports, or pet grooming, or personal shopping...the reason all those ridiculous 'jobs' exist is _precisely_ because we've got so good at making the really essential tasks - farming, construction, health care, clothes manufacture, resource extraction, power generation etc - happen very efficiently that, once all of the above tasks are done for everyone in a reasonably developed country, there's still a *massive* potential labor surplus. Via the magic of the free market economy, instead of rationing all the essential labor and the results of that labor out equally so everyone works 5 hours a week and we all live a comfortable life by the standards of 1850, we instead invented a bewildering array of utterly unnecessary 'work' so most people can continue to 'work' 40 hours a week, and be rewarded with the opportunity to buy a crystal-encrufted cellphone, buy a shirt for their dog, and watch 2.5 Men on an HDTV. Ain't humanity great?

This process can continue more or less indefinitely if we want it to. I see no particular limit to human ingenuity in inventing ridiculous new spheres of activity.

User Journal

Journal Journal: It was e- and cyber...

by JWSmythe (446288) Friend of a Friend

    It was e- and cyber... But to make some people with bigger budgets feel better, they were enterprise. Solutions were great. They could have their own solution to sell to someone else, or if they didn't want to go through the work, they could find someone else with a solution. Now they want to be in the cloud, with their enterprise cloud solutions. Of course, this is the logical progression to outsourcing to offshore 3rd party solutions. Too many words. "Cloud" fits them all.

        Are you cloud compatible? Cloud compliant? Don't you do all your work in the cloud?

        On so many occasions, I've had to decrypt what the buzzword of the day was for senior and middle management. They'd say enterprise cyber e- solution in the cloud. I'd ask "What the fuck do you mean?" Their answers are always the same. "Enterprise will give us sustainably, grow with our needs forever, and give us the perfect solution." Cyber, "e-", solution, and cloud, are usually answered with grumbles, some magic hand waiving and assurances that it's everything we've ever needed, wanted, and we can have it for just $19.95/mo. Of course, that $19.95/mo becomes $1,000/mo very quickly.

        Then the deciphering come into play.

        cyber? e-? Those mean that you use a computer to use them. You guys are *still* throwing that around like it's some new thing.

        solution? It's a sales package. A product. A little something that will give you something. My electric toothbrush isn't a dental hygiene cyber solution. It's a fucking toothbrush.

        And finally "cloud". It's a server that you don't own, don't have privileged access to, and most likely when shit hits the fan, I won't be able to help you.

        So they'll go with their enterprise cyber e-cloud solution. A few months later, I hear the shreaks. "Oh my god, my mail is down!" Ya, you have someone else running it. Call them. Oh, they lost everything when their storage crashed? Well, not much I can do. I ran equipment *here*. I ran equipment in *our* datacenter. I could try to recover it, if it was on *our* equipment. Since it's not, I hope you kept a copy. Oh. You didn't. You're shit out of luck then, aren't you?

        But we have the cloud solution for file storage. Their site has a message saying they just went out of business. How do I get my files? Well, you don't. You and all their customers are shit out of luck. Would it have been nice if we had the files on *our* servers, in *our* datacenter, with *our* tape backups. What would you like me to do for you?

        But they made a change the the cloud accounting interface! We need some functionality that they removed! OH my god, it's a disaster! Save us!

        Ya, remember all that magic hand waving, and assurances that the buzzword of the day will always save your ass? Remember I tried to be the sane one? You've spent enough with that outsourced abortion in the last year to put in a new set of servers to handle all of it, every month. You've wasted a metric fucktonne of cash, and I tried to tell you it was a mistake. It was a mistake. You see it now. I can't roll back the clock and undo the last year of managerial fuckups that you've done. You pulled executive privilege on me. There's nothing I can do to undo that. I can get you started again. It will take some time, and long hours. Remember when I said outsourcing accounting to the 3rd party was a mistake. It was. Now your accounting group will have to manually recreate all the accounts in a new system. Those emails that you just lost? Well, they're gone. Live with it. And all those files on the 3rd party server that's gone? Those are long gone. I don't care how important they were to you, your customers, your wife, or your cat. I don't, nor ever did, have access to them.

        If a managerial type person ever reads this, they're going to ignore it like it's the random rantings of an IT guy.. Print it out for them. Tell them that they are making a mistake. Hang it on your wall, so you'll remember it's there. When their e-cyber-cloud clusterfuck falls apart, show it to them again.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Switzerland and high gun ownership rate

I'm so tired of hearing that argument (especially when it's coming from pro-gun people).

Switzerland does not have high "gun" ownership rate, it has a high *assault rifle* ownership rate. Handguns are extremely rare, why?
- Military service is compulsory for men. Every male Swiss citizen receives an assault rifle during military training and is, by law, required to keep that weapon at home.
- These weapons are unloaded. People receive sealed ammunition but using those bullets without a direct army order is a crime.
- You still need a gun permit if you want to own anything beside your military weapon.

Switzerland is a paradox, it's a country full of assault rifles, and yet encountering a gun in daily life is as rare as in the UK. Firearms, especially handguns, are very much hated and absent from our daily life. What we are is essentially a population equipped with unloaded, inconcealable military weapons.We are probably less violent and more gun averse than most Europeans. Which is saying a lot.

But these facts have never stopped American gun freaks from using Switzerland as the poster child for their happy gun-owning fairy land. Ideology > facts.

User Journal

Journal Journal: We're philanthropists

by TheRaven64 (641858)

It's a really neat idea. 'We're philanthropists,' says the foundation's representative, 'we'd like to give you drugs - entirely free - that will save tens of thousands of lives in your country.' Pretty much the offer you can't refuse, for any politician - no one wants to be the one that turned down an offer to save that many lives. 'There's just one small thing you have to do for us,' says the foundation. 'Well, not really for us - we'd love to avoid this - but unfortunately the drug companies won't let us have the drugs unless you sign this IP treaty with the USA. It's to protect their investment, you understand.'

Well, that's fine - just one treaty, and it can't be that bad. Until you realise that it means that you are now not allowed to produce cheap generic versions of the drugs locally (or import them) - after the donation runs out, you have to keep buying the US versions that are several times the price. So, after a few years, it's probably going to cost more lives than not taking the money originally, but that's okay, you're a politician, you're not going to be accountable.

Oh, and as a bonus, it protects US IP-based companies (in which, coincidentally, the investors in the B&MGF have a lot of other investments) from foreign competition, by preventing another country from bootstrapping an industrial economy in the same way that the US, China, and so on, did.

Still, it would be hard to be a philanthropist if you ran out of poor people - they're just making sure that they can keep helping people for the foreseeable future.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I like Adam Smith's critique of small government

by spun (1352)

"Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."
The Wealth of Nations,Book V, Chapter I, Part II, 775

If Government is stripped of all other functions save the defense of property, it is a tyranny of the rich. I believe that is why the rich nearly invariably favor small government. The more desperate the have-nots are, the more they will put up with and the less they will demand. Taking away social safety nets favors the rich employer who desires a pool of desperate, starving, cheap workers.

But the truly rich make up less than one percent of our population. Why do the non rich desire smaller government? Is it out of some philosophical principle? Well, if humans were commonly genius-saints, perhaps. But we aren't. Most of us start from our assumptions and reason backwards to find support. And most of the upper middle class assume they will be rich one day, despite the lack of any evidence that this is likely. The gap between an upper middle class person making $100,000 to $250,000 per year and an actual owning class person is tremendous. We do not have as much upward mobility in our society as we would like to believe, but everyone believes we do. Why? Simple: anyone who says they don't think they can make it is obviously a failure. Who wants to admit to being a failure? The myth says hard work will make you rich, what, are you lazy?

This is how the rich fool the middle class into defending the rich from the poor, even though the middle class has far more in common with the poor than the rich.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Republicans 2

by Doc Ruby (173196):

Except the facts show that Republicans, by a significant majority, want the country ruled by religious laws. Here's just a sample of their positions on issues ruled by what they think their bible says, rather than the Constitution:

        Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?
        Yes 26
        No 55
        Not Sure 19

        Should same sex couples be allowed to marry?
        Yes 7
        No 77
        Not Sure 16

        Should gay couples receive any state or federal benefits?
        Yes 11
        No 68
        Not Sure 21

        Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?
        Yes 8
        No 73
        Not Sure 19

        Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?
        Yes 77
        No 15
        Not Sure 8

        Should contraceptive use be outlawed?
        Yes 31
        No 56
        Not Sure 13

        Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?
        Yes 34
        No 48
        Not Sure 18

        Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?
        Christ 67
        Other 15
        Not Sure 18

But I wasn't even talking about Republican Party members, but Republican officials. If you read the many supporting pages to which I linked about "American Taliban", you'll see that those officials are theocrats.

False equivalence. There is nothing actually "Communist" about Democrats, nothing anywhere near as severe as the truth about the Republican Party and its actions. "They're both as bad" is a lazy judgment, when the facts show the difference between "bad" and "intolerable".

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We don't know who it was that discovered water, but we're pretty sure that it wasn't a fish. -- Marshall McLuhan