- July 2014
- June 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
The Vimeo video of Snowden’s interview that I posted has already disappeared. So far there is a link in the article that I posted that you can go to in order to see the video.http://benswann.com/media-blacks-out-new-snowden-interview-the-government-doesnt-want-you-to-see/ We’ll see if that one lasts. –BPR Editor
Edward Snowden Speaks: U.S. Blackout of Interview
By Carlton Stanley/ JonathanTurley.org/ February 1, 2014
Last Sunday, former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden was interviewed for the German television network ARD. The interview was big news in Germany and much of the world in both print and broadcast media. However, the interview appears to have been blocked intentionally by US government authorities. In fact, the media in the US appears to have gone to ‘radio silence’ about it. It has been posted on YouTube several times, but is taken down almost immediately. The video site Vimeo has it embedded, but as I write this, Vimeo is under a DDoS attack. LiveLeak also has it, and that video is embedded in this report by Jay Syrmopoulos for Ben Swann’s news page.
Mr. Snowden spoke candidly in a thirty-minute English language interview with the reporter from ARD.
He says his “breaking point” was “seeing Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress.” That was when Clapper denied the existence of a domestic spying programs when he testified before Congress in March of last year. Snowden added, “The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public.”
In case Ben Swann’s page is taken down, along with the LiveLeak video, here is the interview (above) on Vimeo. Offered without commentary, since Edward Snowden can speak for himself.
Two politicians who apparently represent different planets……
Today, A Federal Appeals Court Killed Free Speech on the Internet
The Internet will now be controlled by a handful of companies.
By Ben Collins/ Esquire/ January 14, 2014
Today, a federal appeals court handed over control of free speech on the Internet to a handful of companies. This is why it matters.
Say you’re an NRA Republican. You’re from Tennessee. The websites you go to on a daily basis are Yahoo for your email and news, ESPN for your sports, and TNGunOwners.com, a message board to talk about your day at the range.
What if one day your access to your email is fine, your Tim Tebow coverage from ESPN is as loud as ever, and TNGunOwners.com inexplicably took 4-to-6 times longer to load? What if you called your Internet service provider and their answer was, “That’s just the way it is now”?
Say you’re a Whole Foods-pillagin’ Democrat. You’re from Portland. You go to GMail for your email, MSNBC for your news, Reddit for your cat videos, and an indie music blog likeSaid The Gramophone to find your music.
One day, your access to Gmail is fine, your Rachel Maddow clips are coming in clear as day, and that YouTube video of a cat taking a bath on Reddit is rolling along smoothly. But it takes so long to load one song from that indie music blog you just turn on the radio.
Say you’re entirely apolitical. It doesn’t matter where you live. You’re struggling with depression because it’s hard to cope with your mother’s recently diagnosed cancer. You go tocancerforums.net. You go to takethislife.com for help, when you can’t read the cancer forum anymore.
One day, those sites take ten times longer to load than they did before. What if you called your Internet service provider and their answer was, “Verizon now throttles bandwidth to websites from the non-Premium Tier. Would you like to upgrade?”
A federal appeals court ruled that the FCC can no longer enforce which websites Verizon and all other broadband providers can favor, limit access to, or outright block — even if it’s to prop up a service or website of their own.
This is not a binary political issue. It is not a Republican or Democrat issue.
This is naked corporate greed. It is a bunch of companies who want to control the largest free information platform in the world.
There is nothing good that an individual can derive from this decision. Nothing.
Before someone tells you otherwise, Internet service providers’ backs were not against the wall in any way. “Bandwidth congestion” is not real. It costs just as much money, if not more money, to cap the data flowing through your broadband connection as it does to serve it to you. Data caps are solely a money-making construct.
Average connection speeds in South Korea are twice as fast as those in the United States. That gap will grow even wider now. This ruling is anti-competitive for American business on a global level.
Tech giants Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Yahoo have come out against rulings like this in the past. Instead, the decision favors companies with access to pipelines, like Comcast. It will help them use the Internet as a marketing tool for its other ventures, like NBC Universal.
The very best scenario a consumer can hope for is this: Companies will start offering “unlimited” Internet plans to access the Internet you currently see today. The Web will be partitioned off into sections, like cable tiers, and those ISPs will offer speedier connections to certain kinds of websites if you buy into each tier.
The very worst a consumer can expect is that some information will be deemed too unsavory for public consumption, while select corporate messages can be blasted to your home at lightning speed.
This is not a political story. This is corporate greed at its most blatant and obvious.
Call a Congressman. Get a law passed. Override the better lawyers, the lobbyists, the bought Congressmen. Do the impossible. It’s the only way.
The Fox ‘News’-ification of CBS news and ’60 Minutes’: The Cleantech Crash
By Brad Friedman/ The Brad Blog/January 6, 2014
The President of CBS News is David Rhodes. He was hired in February 2011. He was formerly the Vice President of News at Fox “News”.
Again, the current President of CBS News was formerly the VP of News at Fox “News”.
According to his bio posted at CBS: “Rhodes began his career as a Production Assistant at the newly-launched Fox News Channel in 1996, where he later became Vice President of News. At the network he managed coverage of three presidential elections, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, hurricanes including Katrina, and was the channel’s Assignment Manager on the news desk the morning of September 11, 2001.”
That means, as The Nation’s Greg Mitchell pointed out at the height of the recent CBS News/60 Minutes Benghazi report controversy (before CBS was finally forced toretract the entire fake story), that Rhodes “was the guy who worked hand-in-glove on the biased, often propagandistic, Fox ‘coverage’ of the run-up to the Iraq war, the 2000/2004/2008 elections, the Plame affair, the worst years in Iraq, and all other things Bush and Cheney, and so on.”
Again, the guy who cut his teeth in the news business, beginning as a Production Assistant and working his way up to become VP at Fox “News”, is now the President of CBS News.
That bears both highlighting and repeating as many have been asking, once again, over the past 24 hours, “What’s the Matter with 60 Minutes?” after yet another report last night that is being described as a “hit job” by some and, more charitably, as“puzzling” by others — including by some who were interviewed both on-air and off for the once-great news magazine’s bizarre segment titled “The Cleantech Crash”…
Fail and Unbalanced
The complete segment, with correspondent Lesley Stahl, is posted at the bottom of this article, so feel free to judge for yourself. But coming on the heels of 60 Minutes’Benghazi hoax debacle last November, a soft-ball, one-sided puff piece on the NSA in December, and a number of other similar missteps, Sunday’s piece on the failures — and largely, only the failures — of the so-called “cleantech revolution” suggests that while it hasn’t yet become Fox “News” proper, the once-venerable news magazine no longer seems to be serving the public interest, but rather…some other interest.
The general premise of this week’s segment was that investment — both public and private — in the cleantech sector since Obama has taken office has been nothing but a disaster. While there have certainly been failures in the sector, it was not noted during the segment, as several critics of Sunday’s piece have pointed out since, that the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s loan program to green startups has a 97% success rate.
“In July 2012, the former head of the loan guarantee program testified to Congress that funds that went to bankrupt companies represented less than 3 percent of the total Department of Energy portfolio,” Media Matters’ Shauna Theel notes. “In other words, the program so far has a 97-percent success rate, far better than that of venture capitalists.”
“Clean technology is booming by every key indicator,” Climate Progress’ Joe Romm said in opening his piece lambasting the 60 Minutes report just after it aired, “but you would never know that from Sunday’s absurd 60 Minutes piece touting an imaginary ‘Cleantech Crash.’”
He also notes the 97% success rate cited for the DOE Loan Guarantee Program, “while the companies CBS focuses on such as Solyndra and Abound Solar were just 3 percent of the portfolio.”
“The piece was puzzling for several reasons,” Dana Hull, clean tech and energy policy reporter for the San Jose Mercury News’ writes, citing the fact that [emphasis hers] “there was absolutely no mention of climate change. None. That’s the whole point of cleantech, after all: using the promise of technology and innovation to try to wean our economy off of fossil fuels.”
Zombie Economy – Living Bubble
By Chris Kanthan/ Nation of Change/ December 4, 2013
Imagine the reaction you would get if you walked into an off-the-hook fraternity party and shouted, “Stop this party! There are too many drunk people and some of you are going to get hurt.” That’s the same reaction you get when you try to tell people about an economic bubble. It doesn’t matter if people were burned before because it is different this time. Actually, it is very different this time. We have a zombie economy that is artificially kept alive through blood transfusion, or if you prefer something more benign, think of the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s.” And there is a living, growing bubble that is ripe for a big burst.
Of course, one might retort, “We are the wealthiest nation in the world, the stock market just reached record highs, the housing is booming, the inflation is low and the unemployment is reasonable. What are you talking about?”
Let’s take a look at the economy first.
If you look at the overall GDP, yes, the U.S. is still #1. And even under the GDP per Capita, the U.S. is ranked 10th or so in the world, depending on the metrics. Not bad. However, the “average” statistics can be misleading. If I have $999 and you have $1, then on the average, we have $500 each, but that fact is not going to help you buy a coffee at Starbucks.
If you have not watched the viral video on wealth/income inequality in the U.S., please do so.
This inequality has only grown more rapidly since the crash of 2008, as Paul Krugman explains in the New York Times. To understand what is happening, imagine $1000 being distributed to 1000 people. In a socialist world, everyone will get $1. In the current version of the capitalist system, this is what is happening:
1 guy gets $600, 9 other people get $39 each, and the remaining 990 peasants get 5 cents each.
If the Forbes 400 move to an island and establish their own country, it will have the 9thlargest GDP in the world, ahead of Russia, Canada, Australia and 185 other countries.
If all the 2200 billionaires of the world decide to move to that island, it will be the wealthiest country in the world with a GDP twice that of the U.S.
So how are the American workers doing? About 25% of workers make $10 or less an hour. Another 25% make under $15/hr. Thus, half of all American workers make under $28,000 per year.
Good jobs are hard to come by. About 60% of the jobs created since the Wall Street crash of 2008 are low-wage jobs. Consider that more than 300,000 college graduates are working for minimum wage. In 2013 alone, 75% of the jobs created were part-time jobs. The real unemployment rate, including those who have stopped looking for jobs, is closer to 14%, twice the official rate. Another factor that is helping the government rate is the fact that about10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day and dropping out of the labor force.
With all these facts, it is not surprising that about 75% of all Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. Half of the households carry an average of $15,000 in credit card debt. Americans are also saving at an abysmal rate of less than 3% of their disposable income.
Young Americans are in deep trouble as well. The total student debt is now more than $1 trillion, even more than the total national credit card debt.
In a nutshell, you can safely say that 0.1% of Americans are swimming in money, 1% are wealthy, 9% are comfortable and another 15% are truly middle class. The next 25% think they are middle class, but they are not. The rest – 50% – are just financially screwed.
Adding pain to all of this is the rising cost of living. Gas, health care expenses, rents, college tuitions have all been rising briskly every year. Even the famous “Big Mac Index” has gone up by 5% every year since 2008. According to some experts, the real inflation rate is around 11%. Thus, Americans have less and less disposable income every year. However, ask the Fed, they will tell you the inflation rate is about 2%. Fuggedaboutit.
Whoa! If we really have an anemic economy, how do we explain the stock market setting records day after day? And the booming housing market?
To understand that, we have to understand “quantitative easing” or “QE” – the unusual and monetary policy that the Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) has been engaging in for the last five years.
The official goal of quantitative easing is to inject money into the flailing economy to give it some life. What would you do if you had the task of giving more money to Americans? The simplest way would have been to enact a payroll tax cut since people would immediately see their paychecks go up.
But that would have been too logical. It will also violate the dogma that everything must involve the banks who would act as the middlemen skimming some cream off the top.
In a nutshell, the Fed has been doing two things: A) Buying government bonds and thus letting the government get into more debt, and B) giving free money – at 0% interest – to banks who have been primarily passing it on to billionaires and corporations at low interest.
(By the way, where does the Fed get all the money from? In the Bible, God said, “Let there be light.” In our world, the Fed says, “Let there be trillions of dollars.”)
Even when it has to buy bonds from the U.S. Treasury, the Fed does not buy them directly. Instead, it goes through Goldman Sachs who takes a cut of $45 billion every month just for a few clicks on the computer to buy and sell those bonds.
Corporations have been using the low-interest money in one big way: buying back their own shares. Since 2008, they have been buying back their own shares at a rate of about $1 trillion every year. Of course, regardless of who buys the shares, the rules of supply-demand make the share prices go up. Also, reducing the number of shares automatically makes the value of existing shares go up. So, the math is simple: borrow a few billion dollars at 3%, buy back your shares and make the price go up by 100%. See, you really don’t need an MBA from Harvard.