Google codifies its right to crawl through your emails..fuck you Google!

Originally posted on Follow The Money:

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http://www.canberratimes.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/google-codifies-its-right-to-crawl-through-your-emails-20140417-zqvok.html?google_editors_picks=true

It’s no secret that Google keeps an eye on what users of its services are into. But on Monday, the company updated Gmail’s terms of service to spell out its relationship with users in no uncertain terms:
“Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customised search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

A Google spokesman told The New York Times that the changes “will give people even greater clarity and are based on feedback we’ve received over the last few months.”

By feedback, Google might mean a federal judge’s swift denial of the company’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Gmail users and non-users who’ve sent emails to Gmail accounts. The lawsuit claimed Google violated federal and state wiretapping laws by scanning…

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In the latest Anti-Empire Report from Bill Blum

Chris Floyd

the latest Anti-Empire Report from Bill Blum. He takes up the astonishing lies and historical misrepresentations Obama made in his recent European trip to re-ignite the Cold War. It was a jaw-dropping performance, as the Peace Laureate heartily defended the Hitlerian war of aggression against Iraq, and the war crimes in Serbia of his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton. It was Clinton, you remember, who, before launching that splendid little war,  rejected a Serbian peace offer that would have given him everything he demanded to “protect” Kosovo — save for a free pass for a complete military occupation of Serbia. Clinton then proceeded to pulverize Serbia’s civilian infrastructure in a vicious bombing campaign that ended with an agreement which… gave Clinton everything he asked for except, er, a free pass for a complete military occupation of Serbia. In other words, Clinton took the original offer — but only after killing hundreds of innocent people, just to show everybody’s who’s boss.

Here again we see the reality of the “progressive,” “liberal,” “centrist,” “moderate” (or whatever) side of the American imperium: behind their noble words, their evocations of the “common good,” of justice, freedom, and human rights, there is the same murderous, pointless quest for dominance.

Scientific Study: America Now a Sham Democracy

US IS AN OLIGARCHY NOT A DEMOCRACY, SAYS SCIENTIFIC STUDY

SOURCE: COMMON DREAMS

In America, money talks… and democracy dies under its crushing weight. (Photo: Shutterstock)A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journalPerspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.

The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:

Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.

Nonetheless, this is the first-ever scientific study of the question of whether the U.S. is a democracy. “Until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions [that U.S. policymaking operates as a democracy, versus as an oligarchy, versus as some mixture of the two] against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.” That’s an enormous number of policy-issues studied.

What the authors are able to find, despite the deficiencies of the data, is important: the first-ever scientific analysis of whether the U.S. is a democracy, or is instead an oligarchy, or some combination of the two. The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media). The U.S., in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious “electoral” “democratic” countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now. Today, after this exhaustive analysis of the data, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” That’s it, in a nutshell.

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the World

A huge pyramid in the middle of nowhere tracking the end of the world on radar. An abstract geometric shape beneath the sky without a human being in sight. It could be the opening scene of an apocalyptic science fiction film, but it’s just the U.S. military going about its business, building vast and other-worldly architectural structures that the civilian world only rarely sees.

The Library of Congress has an extraordinary set of images documenting the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex in Cavalier County, North Dakota, showing it in various states of construction and completion. And the photos are awesome.

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

Taken for the U.S. government by photographer Benjamin Halpern, the particular images seen here show the central pyramid—pyramid, obelisk, monument, megastructure: whatever you want to call it—that served as the site’s missile control building. Like the eye of Sauron crossed with Giza, it looks in all directions, its all-seeing white circles staring endlessly at invisible airborne objects across the horizon.

The pyramid’s location is given somewhat absurdly as “Northeast of Tactical Road; southeast of Tactical Road South.” Like I said, then, it’s in the middle of nowhere.

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

One thing I like so much about these shots is how they remind me of the hulking Mayan ruins found at Chichén Itzá.

Check out these comparative shots, for example, where the latter image was taken by photographer Henry Sweet during a 19th-century archaeological journey led by Alfred P. Maudslay. The photo was featured as part of an exhibition at the University of North Carolina back in 2007.

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

There is nothing really to compare outside of their same overall geometry, of course—yet it’s striking to consider the functional, if obviously metaphoric, similarities here as well.

One structure was built as part of a kind of divine tracking system for celestial events and epic calendars, as dark constellations of gods spun across the sky; the other was a temple to mathematics built for pinging incoming missiles as they streaked horizon to horizon, a site of early warning against the apocalypse, as nuclear warheads would burst open to shine their artificial world-blinding light on the obliterated landscapes below.

Trajectories, paths, horizons: both pyramids, in a sense, were architectural monuments for navigation of different kinds. Both timeless, strange, and seemingly inhuman, spatial artifacts of a lost civilization.

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

In any case, the original photos on the LOC website are heavily specked with dust and some lens artifacts, but I’ve cleaned up my favorites and posted some of them here.

But this is how modern-day pyramids are made: huge budgets and ziggurats of rebar, as tiny figures wearing hardhats scramble around amidst these Herculean forms, checking diagrams against reality and trying not to think of the nuclear war this structure was being built to track. [Library of Congress]

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the WorldSEXPAND

A Pyramid in the Middle of Nowhere Built To Track the End of the World

http://gizmodo.com/a-pyramid-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-built-to-track-the-e-1562753133

QOTD: Thought Control

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate. – Noam Chomsky

http://prorevnews.blogspot.com/2014/04/word_15.html

QOTD: Pacifying the Captive Population

 

America’s national government has become inured to lying and cheating the people whom it ostensibly serves, lying as consistently and thoroughly as would be the case with an occupying foreign power trying to keep a captive population pacified. Americans were lied to about Vietnam, lied to about Cambodia, lied to about the Gulf War, lied to about the invasion of Afghanistan, lied to about the invasion of Iraq, and lied to about a host of policies and interventions.

 

Zombie Democracy in the USA

by AJAMU BARAKA

I have always found discussions on democracy in the U.S. curious and at times hilarious. While I have always been impressed by the skillful way elites construct a narrative of democratic values and practice in a country that is, in reality, the antithesis of a democracy, the fervor with which that fairytale is embraced, even by intellectuals, has always been a source of curiosity for me. But at other moments, like the one we are in now, I can’t help but find some of the arguments used to support the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent McCutcheon decision—and even some of the comments lamenting how the decision will destroy democracy in the U.S.—somewhat funny.

Of course, these are deadly serious times and the McCutcheon decision, which makes it easier for the corporate and financial elite to buy elections and candidates, is a serious ruling that conveys a devastatingly simple message: that the furtherance of the neoliberal project and the maintenance of the U.S. Empire require the evisceration of democracy.

That message has always been clear to those of us on the margins who have never had the luxury of embracing illusion as a way of life. For us, democracy in the U.S. has always been a “zombie democracy”—a rotten facsimile that looked a little like democracy, sounded like democracy and even had some democratic forms, but was never the real thing, never really alive.

The possibility of democracy was aborted by Thomas Jefferson and the white, male, property-owning, settler “revolutionaries” who declared their independence in 1776. It was aborted by the first American coup in Philadelphia in 1787, when men of property ignored the mandate from their state legislatures to strengthen the Articles of Confederation and instead met in secret to produce a document that would solidify their power.  The resulting Constitution consolidated a white, male, property-owning republic that reduced black people to 3/5th of a person, marked the indigenous for genocide and did not mention democracy anywhere in its text.

It was the people’s struggle over time that injected what little life there is in the walking corpse that is democracy in America.

Democratic reforms, limited as they have been, have nevertheless represented high marks in the people’s demands for democratic rights and dignity. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that during the current phase of right-wing reaction; liberal capitulation; leftist opportunism, confusion and demobilization; and the hegemony of an NGO culture of de-politicized issue fragmentation, that a political culture has been created that has given a reactionary clique on the Supreme Court the confidence to brazenly demonstrate its class bias with the series of decisions we have seen it make over the last few years.

The Citizens United case, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act last year, the rash of state-level laws passed to suppress democratic participation, felony disenfranchisement, and now the McCutcheon ruling—they all signal that the democratic zombie apocalypse is upon us now. And we all know from popular culture what you do when you encounter the walking dead.  So let’s put this zombie out of its misery.

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