Iceland's On-going Revolution
I am posting this so others can read how a country's people said no to bailing out greedy bankers, etc. This should happen here but our 'citizens' are too stupid and lethargic.
It is an inspiring story but you will never hear about it on our msm. Might cause probems.
An Italian radio program's story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt. The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.
As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here's why:
Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors. But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt. In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent. The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro. At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.
Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution. But only after much pain.
Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures. The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.
Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros. This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back.
What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.
Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country. As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF. The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North. But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.)
In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt. The IMF immediately froze its loan. But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis. Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.
But Icelanders didn't stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money. (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)
To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.
Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name. Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution. And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat.
They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.
That’s why it is not in the news anymore.
Researchers Expose Cunning Online Tracking Service That Can’t Be Dodged
Researchers at U.C. Berkeley have discovered that some of the net’s most popular sites are using a tracking service that can’t be evaded — even when users block cookies, turn off storage in Flash, or use browsers’ “incognito” functions.
The service, called KISSmetrics, is used by sites to track the number of visitors, what the visitors do on the site, and where they come to the site from — and the company says it does a more comprehensive job than its competitors such as Google Analytics.
But the researchers say the site is using sneaky techniques to prevent users from opting out of being tracked on popular sites, including the TV streaming site Hulu.com.
The discovery of KISSmetrics tracking techniques comes as federal regulators, browser makers, privacy activists and ad tracking companies are trying to define what tracking actually is. The FTC called on browser makers to add a “Do Not Track” setting that essentially lets users tell websites to leave them alone — though it doesn’t block tracking on its own. It’s more like a “privacy, please” sign on a hotel door. One of the big questions surrounding Do Not Track is about web analytics software, which sites use to determine what’s popular on their site, how many unique visitors a site has a month, where users are coming from, and what pages they leave from.
In response to inquiries from Wired.com, Hulu cut ties with KISSmetrics on Friday.
UPDATE 5:00 PM Friday: Spotify, another KISSmetrics customer named in the report, said that it was concerned by the story:
“We take the privacy of our users incredibly seriously and are concerned by this report,” a spokeswoman said by e-mail. “As a result, we have taken immediate action in suspending our use of KISSmetrics whilst the situation is investigated.” /UPDATE
“Hulu has suspended our use of KISSmetrics’ services pending further investigation,” a spokeswoman told Wired.com. “Hulu takes our users’ privacy very seriously. We have no further comment at this time.”
KISSmetrics is a 17-person start-up founded in 2008 and based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founder Hitten Shah confirmed that the research was correct, but told Wired.com Friday morning that there was nothing illegal about the techniques it was using.
“We don’t do it for malicious reasons. We don’t do it for tracking people across the web,” Shah said. “I would be having lawyers talk to you if we were doing anything malicious.”
Shah says KISSmetrics is used by thousands of sites to track incoming users, and it does not sell or buy data about those visitors, according to Shah. After this story was published, the company tweeted a link that explains how its tracking works.
So if a user came to Hulu.com from an ad on Facebook, and then later, using a different browser on the same computer, visited Hulu.com from Google, and then at some point signed up for the premium service, KISSmetrics would be able to tell Hulu all about that user’s path to purchase (without knowing who that person was). That tracking trail would remain in place even if a user deleted her cookies, due to code that stores the unique ID in places other than in a traditional cookie.
The research was published Friday by a team UC Berkeley privacy researchers that includes veteran privacy lawyer Chris Hoofnagle and noted privacy researcher Ashkan Soltani.
“The stuff works even if you have all cookies blocked and private-browsing mode enabled,” Soltani said. “The code itself is pretty damning.”
The researchers were reprising a study from 2009 which discovered that some of the net’s biggest sites were using technology from online ad tracking firms Clearspring and Quantcast to re-create users’ cookies after users deleted them. The technique involved using a little known property of Flash to hold onto unique ID numbers. Then, if a user deleted her cookies, the companies would check in the secondary stash for the user ID, and use it to resurrect the traditional HTML cookies.
That finding led to inquiries from regulators and a class action lawsuit alleging that websites and the tracking companies were unfairly monitoring users. That suit was settled for $2.4 million in cash and a promise by Clearspring and Quantcast not to use that method again.
One of the sites named in that suit was Hulu, but its part of the settlement only required that the company tell users if it was using Flash to store cookies and provide a link in the policy that would show users how to turn off Flash data storage. However with KISSmetrics running, even knowing how to do that wouldn’t have saved a user from persistent tracking.
This go-round the researchers’ report found only two sites that were recreating cookies after users deleted them — and Hulu.com was the only one doing so for tracking users across the entire site.
The researchers dug into Hulu.com’s tracking code and discovered the KISSmetrics code. Using it, Hulu was able to track users regardless of which browser they used or whether they deleted their cookies. KISSmetrics used a number of methods to recreate cookies, and the persistent tracking can only be avoided by erasing the browser cache between visits.
They also say that Shah’s defense that the system is not used to track people around the web doesn’t hold up.
“Both the Hulu and KISSmetrics code is pretty enlightening,” Soltani told Wired.com in an e-mail. “These services are using practically every known method to circumvent user attempts to protect their privacy (Cookies, Flash Cookies, HTML5, CSS, Cache Cookies/Etags…) creating a perpetual game of privacy ‘whack-a-mole’.”
“This is yet another example of the continued arms-race that consumers are engaged in when trying to protect their privacy online since advertisers are incentivized to come up with more pervasive tracking mechanisms unless there’s policy restrictions to prevent it.”
They point to their research that found that when a user visited Hulu.com, they would get a “third-party” cookie set by KISSmetrics with a tracking ID number. KISSmetrics would pass that number to Hulu, allowing Hulu to use it for its own cookie. Then if a user visited another site that was using KISSmetrics, that site’s cookie would get the exact same number as well.
In this screenshot provided by U.C. Berkeley's Chris Hoofnagle, the IDs numbers for all three cookies are exactly the same.
So that makes it possible, the researchers say, for any two sites using KISSmetrics to compare their databases, and ask things like “Hey, what do you know about user 345627?” and the other site could say “his name is John Smith and his email address is email@example.com and he likes these kinds of things.”
Shah did not respond to a follow-up e-mail seeking clarification on his first answers.
KISSmetrics is used by a number of prominent websites, which Wired.com is not naming until we have time to contact them.
Berkeley researcher Soltani, who consulted for the Wall Street Journal’s reporting on privacy, notes that the code includes function names like “cram cookie.”
One of the techniques used involves using something called ETags in the browser cache, a once-theoretical technique that’s never before been seen in the wild on a major site, according to the researchers.
The research also found that many top websites have adopted new ways to track users using HTML5 and that Google tracking cookies are present on 97 of the top sites, including government sites such as IRS.gov.
See the link for screen shots of the actual cookie and additional information.
So let's see what we have here: business wants to get every bit of information on each of us and they won't tell us what they do with the data. And what it REALLY tells them.
Guess why this crap happens? Because we live in a corporatocracy where business can do whatever it wants because this is a 'capitalist' country and they rule. And no one wants to stop them!
Did Mark Cuban Predict The Market Crash?
Written by: Eric Adelson
It's been a year of vindication for Mark Cuban. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks quieted a lot of the critics who said he was a loudmouth who didn't know how to run a basketball franchise. Now his team is the best in basketball.
But Cuban is also proving somewhat prophetic in a much more unsettling way. In the spring of last year, only three days after the harrowing May 6 "Flash Crash" that temporarily plunged the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 1,000 points within minutes, he wrote a blog post that seems chilling today. He titled it, "What Business is Wall Street In?" And toward the end, he wrote in bold, "There will be another crash."
Granted, there are a lot of doomsayers out there. But Cuban is not that. He's a successful businessman -- he sold his Internet start-up in 1999 for $5.9 billion in Yahoo! stock -- and he says he's been involved in the stock market for the better part of a decade. But what makes his post stand out even more is that he named a specific reason for the predicted "crash" -- professional traders.
"The only people who know what business Wall Street is in are the traders," Cuban wrote on May 9, 2010. "They know what business Wall Street is in better than everyone else. To traders, whether day traders or high frequency or somewhere in between, Wall Street has nothing to do with creating capital for businesses, its original goal. Wall Street is a platform. It's a platform to be exploited by every technological and intellectual means possible."
And more than a year later, a lot of Wall Street experts are blaming high frequency trading for this month's extreme stock market volatility. The swings are wild, to the tune of hundreds of Dow points within minutes, and "the machines" profiled last year by 60 Minutes are getting a lot of the blame.
Cuban went on to make another point, about how entire nations are now bought and sold within seconds and even nanoseconds:
"It’s hard to believe," he wrote, "but evaluating countries as an investment is now easier than evaluating companies."
Lo and behold, the current malaise on Wall Street is tied not to the earnings of public companies -- which are largely strong -- but to the debt load of national economies.
But Cuban came back again to the traders, who he called "hackers" because, he said, they look for weaknesses in the system to exploit for short-term gain.
"The Government needs to create incentives for this business," he wrote, "and extract compensation from the traders/hackers for the systemic failure level of risk they introduce."
He concluded again in bold text with a scary forecast that, although not completely unique to him, now looks more and more accurate:
"There will be another crash, because there are too many players looking for the trillion dollar score."
As of this writing, the Dow Jones sits at 10,719, within 200 points of the 10,520 price at the close of trading on May 6, 2010, the day of the Flash Crash. The Dow has dropped almost exactly 2,000 points in the last month.
If what he says isn't corrected, namely the uncontrolled greed and indifference to the financial health of the country, the US will eventually have so much turmoil (like that which has already happened) that we will become third-rate. We are already second-rate.
But money rules and those that have it are considered kings.
6 So-Called "Job Creators" Who Won't Hire The Unemployed
Allstate Insurance, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and the University of Arizona are just a few of the companies advertising that they will only hire people who already have jobs.
As President Obama hits the road on his jobs agenda bus tour, millions of individuals trying to re-enter the job market, seeking to eke out a modest living so that they too can live the American Dream – or what’s left of it anyway – are stuck in a rut. They write hundreds of cover letters, perfect their interview techniques and network like crazy, but sometimes the barriers are too high.
What some may not know is that a number of employers, including household-name companies, have taken the position that the unemployed should forget about obtaining a job altogether.
Log on to any jobs site, do a quick search and the results may surprise you: slews of job ads are essentially warning the out-of-work that they worthless and disposable.
Welcome to 21st Century, post-Recession hiring discrimination: where you must be an “employed or recently employed” person to get a job.
Yes, for those individuals who make up the 9.1 percent unemployed in the United States, many laid off through no fault of their own, misfortune is a disqualifier. Numerous employers, staffing agencies and online job posting firms have adopted policies that explicitly deny employment to the unemployed. And they don’t even try to cover up their intent.
The language in the qualification requirement sections of the ads leave nothing to the imagination: “currently employed,” “must be currently employed,” “currently employed on a permanent basis,” “must be currently or recently employed” etc. If you are none of the above, as 14 million Americans are, you’re out of luck.How widespread is this practice? When the National Employment Law Project did an independent, one-month survey earlier this year of popular job sites such as CareerBuilder.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Craigslist.com, their snapshot came up with more than 150 ads containing employment-based exclusions, including 125 ads that were identified by company name. In my own research (done over the course of an hour this past week) I was able to find close to 20 more ads on these same sites. In other words, this is not a case of anomalous malice.
Who are the culprits? Aside from companies and hiring agencies you may have never heard of, included in the list of prejudicial employers are Allstate Insurance, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the Homebuilding Recruiters of America, the University of Arizona, the University of Phoenix, and the Oil and Gas Field Recruiters of America. Sony Ericsson only ended the practice after they were caught by CNN-Money last year during its reporting on this trend.
These practices not only smell of foul prejudice, but also lay bare the big political and economic reality of the day: The longer you’ve been laid off, the less likely you are to get a job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 6.2 million unemployed persons were out of work for six months or longer in July, and the average length of unemployment rose to more than 40 weeks, or more than nine months. That leaves these millions of people outside the definition of “recently employed.” Moreover, we are now entering the third consecutive year in which there are at least four unemployed persons for each available job opening.
The tools being employed by these companies are creating a permanent underclass of unemployed individuals. Talk about kicking someone when they’re down.
Accepting these practices sends a simple message to the unemployed: You are invisible and less worthy of the American Dream than anyone else who has a job. With something so blatant, so foul and so well-documented, acceptance is tantamount to complicity.
Some members of Congress are trying to crush this practice once and for all. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and her colleague Henry Johnson, Jr., D-Ga., introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, which makes it illegal to refuse to consider job applicants solely because they are unemployed. So far, though,the bill has moved nowhere, ignored by the Republican leadership in the House.
It is time to put pressure on the House to take up this bill for a vote. Members of Congress should be called to account on this issue so that the voices of the unemployed are not drowned out in the austerity, anti-worker wave generated by congressional conservatives. Call your representatives and tell them to speak out publicly and support this bill. If we truly want an America, indivisible, where liberty and justice are guaranteed for all, we have some fighting to do.
Nathan Birnbaum is a blogger at Campaign for America's Future
Are corporations the lifeblood of the country? No, people are. We do not need to kiss their ass so jobs will be created. Or give them tax breaks so they will hire. Demand is what is critical to hiring. and if you're unemployed/underemployed you can't create demand - you have no disposable income!
But the BS re corporations will continue because propaganda works - with the empty headed majority.
(edited for clarity) H/T to SL.