When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do? -- John Maynard Keynes

Friday, January 31, 2014

Abby Martin Censored, Wikipedia, Editing Truth, Mob Rule (video)

Abby Martin Censored on Wikipedia: Editing Truth by Mob Rule
Jan 13, 2014 - Abby Martin goes over the editing practices of the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, and calls out the websites editors for their lack of all-encompassing points of view.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Take on Obama's State of the Union and the GOP Response

This is the easiest post I have EVER done --

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Give America a Raise: Fire Obama, Eliminate the Fed; State of the Union Sap: "As sappy as [Obama's State of the Union Address] was (and it was the sappiest state of the union address ever), the official republican response was even worse." (read more at the link above)


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First Amendment protection for bloggers

Ninth Circuit extends First Amendment protection to bloggers | Broedlow Lewis LLP - JDSupra: "... The Ninth Circuit found that attempts to distinguish between bloggers and traditional media outlets for purposes of defamation liability were “unworkable”: In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue—not the identity of the speaker—provide the First Amendment touchstones  This case represents an important expansion of protection for persons who use the internet to communicate, report news and express opinions.  Defamation liability will not be imposed absent some showing of intent and actual damages, the same legal standards governing defamation actions against traditional journalists... "


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State of the Union Address? Nobody is Going to Watch that Charade!

Or "hope and change" means "more of the same" in the Bush-Obama era!


Monday, January 27, 2014

FTC punishment against Apple 'has no foundation'

The FTC is one sick federal agency -- it ought to be shut down since it glorifies itself wasting tax dollars on meritless cases --

FTC commissioner says in-app purchase punishment against Apple 'has no foundation': In the dissent, which was issued alongside the FTC's own decision, Commissioner Joshua D. Wright echoed Apple chief Tim Cook's own conclusion that the Cupertino, Calif. company had already taken sufficient action — instituting refunds and altering the behavior of in-app purchase prompts — to remedy any hardships caused by children's accidental purchases. The opinion was first spotted by Fortune's Philip Elmer-Dewitt. "When the problem arose in late 2010, press reports indicate that Apple developed a strategy for addressing the problem in a way that it believed made sense, and it also refunded customers that reported unintended purchases," Wright wrote. Given Apple's actions, the "commission has no foundation upon which to base a reasonable belief that consumers would be made better off if Apple modified its disclosures to confirm to the parameters of the consent order," he continued, adding that in "the absence of such evidence, enforcement action here is neither warranted nor in consumers' best interest." Some believe that the commission's order was a political ploy, designed to gain accolades from the electorate at the expense of one of America's most important corporate citizens..."

Typical irresponsible FTC behavior. Congress ought to investigate the shenanigans going on over at the FTC -- pursuing meritless cases against Google, Apple, and other reputable companies!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Davos wrap-up: Orgy of Out of Touch Billionaires (video)

Davos: Orgy of Out of Touch Billionaires| Brainwash Update
Published on Jan 24, 2014
Abby Martin highlights those attending the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, calling attention to how out of touch the billionaires who attend the conference are with the rest of the world.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Martin Sorrell, Money Shouldn't Be Your Objective (video)

Martin Sorrell: Money Shouldn't Be Your Objective: Video - Bloomberg: "Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- In Betty Liu's new book "Work Smarts," the Bloomberg anchor asks some of the biggest leaders in business how they got ahead. Here, the founder and CEO of the world's largest advertising agency, WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell, explains his secrets to success. (Source: Bloomberg)"


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Who Killed Net Neutrality? Obama and his FCC appointees

It's a simple question, and there is a simple answer --

Who Killed Net Neutrality? : The New Yorker: "... who lost net neutrality? Tasked by President Obama with codifying the principle, the previous chairman of the F.C.C., Julius Genachowski, was cowed, leading to the present debacle. Put less generously, he blew it. In 2010, the F.C.C. introduced formal net-neutrality rules, in what it called the Open Internet Order. Genachowski, inexcusably, did not use his agency’s main authority over wire communications to enact it..."

Now what? Unfortunately the fix, while technically simple, may not be so simple in Washington D.C.--

"Tom Wheeler, the new chairman of the F.C.C., now has the unfortunate task of dealing with strategic errors made by his predecessor...Wheeler needs only to reaffirm that, for Internet firms that want to send information to customers, broadband is a “telecommunications service,” meaning that the F.C.C. has the authority to regulate it. He has both the time and the votes to do so. It is possible that Wheeler will do nothing, confirming the suspicions of his critics..." (source supra)

Stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Bad Way to Reduce Unemployment, Labor Participation Rate, Giving Up

There's a good way to reduce unemployment -- jobs, and a bad way -- people giving up looking for work. If you are not actively "looking for work" you are not counted as "unemployed." That is how Obama has mostly reduced the unemployment rate since he became President -- the bad way --

What Caused the Crash In the Labor Participation Rate? Washington's Blog:  "Most disturbingly, the Post notes that the main factor (in decrease of the unemployment rate) may be workers simply giving up: The number of Americans working or actively seeking work has actually fallen faster than demographers had predicted" ... "And here’s another clue that this isn’t just a demographic story: The participation rate for workers between ages 25 and 54 fell sharply during the recession and still hasn’t recovered. Obviously, retirements can’t explain this"... In other words, the crash in labor force participation rate is a very significant indication that all is not well with the economy. Unfortunately – instead of helping to reduce unemployment – bad government policy has made it much worse. And see here and here."


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Congress, Bridgegate, TPP Fast Track

How Congress Used Bridgegate to Sneak Through TPP Fast Track
Jan 10, 2014 - Abby Martin calls out the corporate media's coverage of Chris Christie and 'Bridgegate' and discusses how this is distracting from Congress sneaking through new legislation that would give Obama authority to fast track the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

The Biggest Overlooked Trend of 2013

And this is a real positive trend, for a change --

"After three decades of steep increases in total incarceration and incarceration rates, the last three years have seen the total incarcerated population in the United States decrease, as well as the incarceration rate. At the same time, some disparities between blacks and whites in the criminal justice system have also been reduced. The politics of crime, which used to know only one register—“tough on crime”—and used to be dominated by mandatory minimums, three-strikes laws and elimination of parole, has changed. In recent years, half of all U.S. states have enacted legislation designed to reduce reliance on incarceration, shorten sentences, reintroduce parole and generally shrink the size of our incarcerated population. We still lead the world in incarceration rates, but these trends are encouraging. Moreover, none of these changes has led to any significant increase in crime. We can, it turns out, be smart on crime." - David Cole, Professor, Georgetown University Law School 

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/12/overlooked-trends-of-2013-101491.html#ixzz2pwfiqjhW


Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Fed, QE, Forecasts

Mish usually tells it like it is, and when it comes to the Fed and QE, he nailed it --

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Fed Minutes Show Majority Believe "Marginal Efficacy of QE Likely Declining"; Economy Turned the Corner?: "A few participants worried about the "incentive for excessive risk-taking in the financial sector" I suggest it's far too late for that worry. The incentive for excessive risk-taking has been operative for years. It is reflected in economic bubbles of all sorts. One only has to open one's eyes to see them. Fed forecasts are exceptionally wrong at economic turns, as past minutes from 2000 and 2007 show. And here we are again, at yet another 7-year interval, with the Fed unable or unwilling to see the bubbles they created, just as they failed to see the dotcom bubble in 2000 and the housing bubble in 2007."


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Google+, Identity, Hysteria

What is the big deal about Google +? I have read more hysteria in the past week about Google implementing integration of Google+ and Gmail.  Big deal! -- Just Opt Out! If Google wants everyone who uses Gmail to also have a Google + page, that's OK as long as Google continues to allow you to "opt out" of "integration" and other Google schemes to increase revenue. So far, Google has been true to its word and allowed "opting out."

Google+ Is Getting Harder And Harder To Avoid – ReadWrite: "...That’s not to say Google is changing everything in one fell swoop. In fact, with each new service it announces, Google anticipates backlash and makes updates less intrusive than they might be perceived. For instance, while the Google+ and Gmail contact integration is a default, the company gives you a variety of options to let you control who on Google+ can email you. That includes no one (although you have to take the initiative to change that setting yourself)...."


Friday, January 17, 2014

Obama's best speech ever because of Snowden's NSA disclosures

Now it comes down to execution and follow-up. There are a lot of details to fill in. The devil is in the details.


How Many Apps Do You Need?

Having bought a  new smartphone (Moto X - yes, I love it!) I considered what apps, if any to install. My new smartphone came with all the needed functionality of Google services, and as a result, I have installed no apps. I didn't need to--with responsive design of websites for the mobile web, and continuing progress of HTML5, I've yet to find one application I need to install. I just bookmark the site, and if use frequently, add the bookmark to home screen. Easy, and doesn't waste battery power and other smartphone resources! Now if you are a teenager, it might be a different case --

"For the past five years, we have watched mobile disrupt every industry, in every country, and continue to break its own records year after year," Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf wrote in a blog post. "What is surprising, however, is that the rate of growth (of messaging and social apps) dramatically outpaced other popular categories. This type of growth could explain the high valuation Facebook has allegedly put on SnapChat, or Facebook’s rush to add direct messaging in Instagram, an app frequented by teens." Messaging, social apps drive 115 percent surge in mobile app usage | ZDNet


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Informed, Misinformed, Depends on What You Read

Barry Ritholtz in Bloomberg has a great post on the accomplishments of bloggers (excerpt below) which is great reading --

What the Heroes of Blogging Have Accomplished - Bloomberg: "1. Loosened the grip of traditional players on information and news: Go back in time a decade or so, and we all got our financial news from only a handful of sources. The mainstream papers and magazines dutifully reported what companies said, government agencies reported and what markets did. Blogging has added a level of skepticism to the media diet. There is a willingness to call out nonsense that quite bluntly, deserves to be called nonsense. Not that it didn't happen before bloggers were willing to do it -- but it happens much more quickly and with more depth than pre-blogging days. During the run up to the financial crisis, it was not the big press outlets, but rather the blogging community, that most urgently identified housing, sub-prime and derivatives as a huge problem. Much of the MSM -- the blogger acronym for Mainstream Media -- missed it . . ."

In other words, if you want to be informed, you better read the blogs-- MSM will tend to leave you misinformed.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

al-Qaeda has a new poster boy

Whatever it is with these guys (al-Qaeda), the drone manufacturers will stay busy --

Meet al-Qaeda's new poster boy for the Middle East - Telegraph: ".... “This guy was a Salafi (a follower of a fundamentalist brand of Islam), and Saddam’s regime would have kept a close eye on him,” said Dr Michael Knights, an Iraq expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “He was also in Camp Bucca for several years, which suggests he was already considered a serious threat when he went in there.” That theory seems backed by US intelligence reports from 2005, which describe him as al-Qaeda’s point man in Qaim, a fly-blown town in Iraq’s western desert. “Abu Duaa was connected to the intimidation, torture and murder of local civilians in Qaim”, says a Pentagon document. “He would kidnap individuals or entire families, accuse them, pronounce sentence and then publicly execute them.”Why such a ferocious individual was deemed fit for release in 2009 is not known. One possible explanation is that he was one of thousands of suspected insurgents granted amnesty as the US began its draw down in Iraq. Another, though, is that rather like Keyser Söze, the enigmatic crimelord in the film The Usual Suspects, he may actually be several different people...“There are those who want to promote the idea that this man is invincible, when it may actually be several people using the same nom de guerre.”..." (read more at link above)


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Productivity, Technology, Economic Growth

“the recent low productivity readings and the weak labor market are primarily symptoms of an economy slowly recovering from the greatest recession and financial crisis since the Great Depression. In this view, technological innovation has not plateaued or become permanently depressed, nor are we on the precipice of massive labor-displacing technological revolution. Economic growth in the long run will be driven by produc-tivity increases, and thus by technology. The debate between techno-pessimists and techno-optimists is not going away” (source supra)


Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Obama and His Sickening Double Standard Justice

Obama's sickening double standard: If it's a crime committed by a government official serving in the Obama administration (or Bush administration), even torture in violation of US and international law -- no prosecution. For anyone else, especially whistleblowers who reveal to the American public any official US government misconduct, prosecute to the maximum of the law --

The Snowden Obama Amnesty Double Standard | MSNBC: " . . . we needn’t look back that far for more examples of the Obama administration “looking forward” on possible violations of the law when they’re done in the interest of the intelligence community. Obama officials leak to journalists all the time when they’re trying to shape coverage, but they’re only prosecuted if, like former NSA executive Thomas Drake, their disclosures anger the intelligence community. Obama’s intelligence chief, James Clapper, admitted to misleading Congress when asked a direct question by Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden about whether the NSA “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” It’s against the law to lie to Congress . . . The smart money is on Clapper never having to seek asylum in Russia to avoid prosecution. . . ."

Hope and Change? LOL!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bitcoin, High-Tech Poseur

Bitcoin Is a High-Tech Dinosaur Soon to Be Extinct - Bloomberg: " . . . people who believe that governments of the world will let a stateless cryptocurrency usurp their hard-won monetary prerogatives aren’t forecasting the future. They’re living in the past." -- Stephen Mihm, an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia

And my 2 bits worth: We already have a global virtual currency -- the US dollar. The Fed Chair, with a mere computer entry, controls supply, value, etc. You can use it to pay taxes (US), easily convert it into other currencies, and exchange it for any commodity or service in the world. Are there competing virtual currencies issued by other "central banks?" Yes, and someday one of them may supplant the US dollar, but Bitcoin will never be a playa.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Thanks to the Fed, Without Bubbles There Is No Economic Growth

Fed (Federal Reserve) Policy over the last 25+ years has not only put us on the road to ruin for the US currency, but also our economy --

RealClearMarkets - Are Stocks Really That Great Over the Long Run?: " . . . without full five-year participation in the dot-com bubble and the last two years, stocks have been utterly atrocious. Not only does that more than suggest that managing risk is paramount, it points to perhaps systemic deficiencies where they were never expected. In a very serious way that turns the recent suggestion from Larry Summers, echoed by Paul Krugman (http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/12/20/an_economy_wrecked_by_ivy_league_phds_100807.html), somewhat on its ear. Summers suggested that the economy may be operating with a negative natural interest rate, meaning that asset bubbles would be the natural economic and financial course from policy operating with that constraint. Krugman largely extrapolated further and assumed that there might be an economic component to that idea, where real growth in income and employment has been tied to the asset bubble "necessity." Without bubbles, extending this to its conclusion, there is no economic growth. . . ." (read more at the links above)

How to get out of this paradigm? I hate to be pessimistic, but I'm not sure the US will ever give up its addiction to bubbles, until it is too late. It's like a junkie or alcoholic who has to hit bottom.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Obama Era, Democrats, Drones National Security State, Domestic Surveillance

Oh that hope and change thing? You didn't believe that did you?


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Next Computer? A Chromebook

Google’s Chromebooks Have Hit Their Stride | TechCrunch: "It looks like Microsoft was right to worry about Google’s Chromebook project. According to the latest numbers from NPD, Chromebooks accounted for 21 percent of all laptop sales and almost 10 percent of all computer sales to businesses in 2013. That’s up from virtually nothing in the year before. Given that Apple is irrelevant in commercial channel sales (it commanded a whopping 1.8 percent of sales), Chromebook’s increased share is coming at the cost of Windows...."

Simple, fast, secure -- a Chromebook is pretty much all one needs in a computer today. Certainly not the mess than Microsoft has made of Windows (Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 8.x). I have no use for a Windows computer that slows me down by requiring me to touch a screen and forcing me to use Microsoft Live Tiles! I will need 4GB of RAM  and a decent processor. Whether it will be a Chromebook Pixel, HP, Dell, Acer, Samsung, or other brand, I do not know yet. Offline? No problem! https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/collection/offline_enabled


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Rich States, Poor States, It Makes a Difference Where You Live

Rich States, Poor States from ALEC_states

Rich States, Poor States - 2013 Economic Outlook: "Rich States, Poor States, 6th Edition By Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams All across the nation, states are looking for ways to boost their economies and become more economically competitive. Each state confronts this task with a set of policy decisions unique to their own situation. However, not all state policies lead to economic prosperity and while some states achieve economic prosperity, others continue to struggle in their efforts to revive their economies...."

Is your State headed for prosperity or the poor house?


Monday, January 6, 2014

Bitcoin, medium of exchange yes, but not a reasonable store of value

Bitcoin, as I've said before, is something you don't want to waste your time and money on -- Nobel Economist Paul Krugman (with  help from Brad DeLong) explains it in a recent column (link below, excerpt follows):

Bitcoin Is Evil - NYTimes.com: " . . . So far almost all of the Bitcoin discussion has been positive economics — can this actually work? And I have to say that I’m still deeply unconvinced. To be successful, money must be both a medium of exchange and a reasonably stable store of value. And it remains completely unclear why BitCoin should be a stable store of value. Brad DeLong puts it clearly:
Underpinning the value of gold is that if all else fails you can use it to make pretty things.
Underpinning the value of the dollar is a combination of (a) the fact that you can use them to pay your taxes to the U.S. government, and (b) that the Federal Reserve is a potential dollar sink and has promised to buy them back and extinguish them if their real value starts to sink at (much) more than 2%/year (yes, I know).
Placing a ceiling on the value of gold is mining technology, and the prospect that if its price gets out of whack for long on the upside a great deal more of it will be created. Placing a ceiling on the value of the dollar is the Federal Reserve’s role as actual dollar source, and its commitment not to allow deflation to happen.
Placing a ceiling on the value of bitcoins is computer technology and the form of the hash function… until the limit of 21 million bitcoins is reached. Placing a floor on the value of bitcoins is… what, exactly?..."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

President Obama's BIGGEST Lie in 2013

I know what you are thinking -- "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan" -- the problem is that Obama LIE was repeated multiple times from 2009 through last year, so it is technically disqualified. Here's the BIGGEST Obama Lie of 2013 --

President Obama claims the NSA has never abused its authority. That's false | Trevor Timm | theguardian.com: "The facts that we know so far – from FISA court documents to LOVEINT – show that the NSA has overstepped its powers - Time and again since the world learned the extent of what the NSA was doing, government officials have defended the controversial mass surveillance programs by falling back on one talking point: the NSA programs may be all-powerful, but they have never been abused. President Obama continually evokes the phase when defending the NSAin public. In his end-of-year press conference, he reiterated, "There continues not to be evidence that the [metadata surveillance] program had been abused". Former NSA chief Michael Hayden says this almost weekly, and former CIA deputy director and NSA review panel member Mike Morrell said it again just before Christmas. This mantra is likely to be repeated often in 2014 as Obama is set to address the nation on government surveillance, and Congress and the president debate whether any reforms are necessary.

There's only one problem: it's not true.

We don't have to look further than the Fisa court opinions that have been released in the past few months (thanks to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits by Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union). One of the opinions from 2009 deals directly with the phone metadata surveillance program that has caused so much controversy – the same program a Washington DC district court recently ruled is likely unconstitutional . . ." (read more at the link above)

Memo to Obama: if you have to lie to justify a government program, you have a problem. It remains to be seen in 2014 what Obama does to fix his NSA problem. And his lying problem? Probably beyond hope of fixing.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

NSA Analyst: "We Could Have Prevented 9/11"

Why is the US government so scared that Americans might find out the truth?

Washington Spectator: NSA Analyst: "We Could Have Prevented 9/11": "Thomas Drake, a brilliant intelligence analyst, software engineer, and IT management consultant, worked at the CIA in the 1980s, then as a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and ultimately as an NSA senior executive in 2001. But from 2006 until July 2011, he became the government's and NSA's public enemy. Why? From his high-level perch at NSA, he saw the failure to act on intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks, and he saw corruption at the highest levels..." (read more at link above)


Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Snowden Effect

No one individual has had a more profound on the United States, its national surveillance complex, issues of privacy, and the abusive government power and control post-9/11, than Edward Snowden. President Obama (and others) has said it is a conversation we needed to have (yet Obama continues to chill free speech). Truly the Man of the Year (forget TIME--it's a dinosaur), Edward Snowden's revelations will continue to impact the US and world in 2014.

The Snowden saga heralds a radical shift in capitalism - FT.com: " . . . . the National Security Agency contractor turned whistleblower has revealed too many uncomfortable truths about how today’s world works. Technical infrastructure and geopolitical power; rampant consumerism and ubiquitous surveillance; the lofty rhetoric of “internet freedom” and the sober reality of the ever-increasing internet control – all these are interconnected in ways most of us would rather not acknowledge or think about. Instead, we have focused on just one element in this long chain – state spying – but have mostly ignored all others. . . ."

Prediction: Edward Snowden will never be prosecuted in the United States, but will live out his life as a free global citizen.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Peter Schweizer talks about his book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets

Why Washington DC is a sick place, full of self-important people lining their pockets at the public trough -- watch and listen to Peter Schweizer on Book TV at link below (50 minutes video):

Book Discussion on Extortion - C-SPAN Video Library: "Peter Schweizer talked about his book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, in which he argues that, contrary to popular belief, big money interests do not control politicians. He said that it’s the politicians who extort money from corporations and other wealthy groups, noting that members of Congress often introduce legislation for no other reason than to get donations from groups that will be impacted by it. Mr. Schweizer spoke at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California."


The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects