The Mess on Our ‘Information Superhighway’
by Sam Pizzigati
Posted March 3, 2014
Why should moving data around be any different from moving people? No private party ought to be getting rich off a basic public trust.
So how would thinking “superhighway” help us out of this mess? America’s only actual “superhighway” — our Interstate road network — demonstrates quite neatly the wonders we can realize once we start thinking about basic infrastructure as a public good, not a source of grand private fortune.Americans currently pay much more for Internet than just about everybody else in the developed world. Other countries have established fast, cheap Internet access as a given of modern life. In the United States, we surf the Net at Model-T speeds — and tens of millions of Americans still have no broadband access at all.
This pitiful situation may soon get worse. Two corporate giants that share significant responsibility for our current digital state of affairs, Comcast and Time Warner, are now seeking regulatory approval for a $45 billion merger that would leave Comcast controlling the bulk of the nation’s broadband access. More…
Wave of US Municipal Bankruptcies Caused by Wall Street Predatory Interest Rates, not Pensions
By Thomas Gaist
Posted Feb 1, 2014
The political establishment and the media have relentlessly promoted the myth that the crisis in Detroit and in cities across the US is a product of overgenerous spending on social services and benefits, with public employee pension liabilities cited as the main culprit.
In reality, the driving force behind the Detroit bankruptcy has been a predatory interest rate swap foisted on the city by Wall Street bankers, which was signed by former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2005. Scores of states, municipalities, school districts and various other public entities entered into similar swap contracts over the past decade. These deals have enabled the world’s most powerful banking houses to systematically plunder public budgets across the nation, creating the conditions for the rising wave of municipal bankruptcies. In Detroit, Orr is seeking to pay Bank of America and UBS $165 million in termination fees, while offering only pennies on the dollar towards unfunded pension obligations owed to 23,500 retired city workers. More…
Restoring the Sacred Land: An Inquiry Into the Origins and Implications of Land-Ownership
By Jeriah Bowser
Posted Jan 13, 2014
The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had someone pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: “Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!
“Sold! To bidder number 70!” the large man in a white shirt jovially declared, as he successfully transferred the ownership of 22,500 acres of Southern Utah’s gorgeous Redrock wilderness to a young man whom he assumed was a representative of the oil and gas industry. The assumed course of action would be for the representative to then set about drilling and extracting oil from the area- doing irreparable damage to one of the most unique and beautiful pieces of land in the world. Bidder 70 was not an oil baron; however, he was Tim DeChristopher, a 32-year old economics student who was ” interfering with an illegitimate auction that threatened his future.”[i] Once the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) authorities realized what he was up to, they removed him from the auction immediately, but the damage had been done. More…
Hundreds Of U.S. Cities Are Turning Into Rotting, Decaying Hellholes
by Mike Snyder
Posted Dec 18, 2013
All over America, formerly prosperous communities are being transformed into crime-infested wastelands of poverty and despair. Of course the most famous example of this is Detroit. At one time, Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city that the world had ever seen and it had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But now it has become a rotting, decaying hellhole that the rest of the planet laughs at. And of course Detroit is far from alone. There are hundreds of other U.S. cities that are suffering a similar fate. In this article, the focus is going to be on Camden, New Jersey, but the truth is that there are lots of other “Detroits” and “Camdens” all over the nation. Jobs and businesses are leaving our cities at a staggering rate, and what is being left behind is poverty, crime and extreme desperation.
You can read the rest of the article right here. But as bad as things have become in Camden, this should not be a surprise to most of you. The reality is that this kind of rot and decay is happening in communities all over the United States.
Are you starting to get the picture? Our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted and more than 46 million Americans are now living in poverty. And if you are waiting for the jokers in Washington D.C. to fix things, you are going to be waiting for a very, very long time. More…
The Death of Irony, Or, University Of Penn’s Secret Meetings On Secret Laws
By Dustin Slaughter
Posted Dec 7, 2013
This morning’s roundtable discussion [at U of Penn]: Spying and the Judiciary: FISA and Other Special Courts. The event is one of seven moderated discussions included in the university’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) conference, On the Very Idea of Secret Laws: Transparency and Publicity in Deliberative Democracy.
After taking a seat (and catching out of the corner of my eye NSA’s deputy director John “Chris” Inglis drift into the room, among others), a wiry CERL staffer named Ilya Rudyak walks over and asks for my name. I introduce myself and offer my press badge. In other words, this morning’s moderated discussion on secret courts, secret laws, and a rampaging surveillance apparatus is strangely, well, secret. More…
(Un)Paving Our Way To The Future
by James H. Kunstler
Posted Dec 2, 2013
Country life for everybody in the world’s savior democracy! Fresh air! Light! Play space for the little ones! Nothing in world history had been easier to sell. Interestingly, in a nation newly-addicted to television viewing, the suburban expansion of the 1950s took on a cartoon flavor. It was soon apparent that the emergent “product” was not “country living” but rather a cartoon of a country house in a cartoon of the country. Yet it still sold. Americans were quite satisfied to live in a cartoon environment. It was uncomplicated. It could be purchased on installment loans. We had plenty of cheap energy to run it.
It took decades of accreting suburbia for its more insidious deficiencies to become apparent. Most noticeable was the disappearance of the rural edge as the subdivisions quickly fanned outward, dissolving the adjacent pastures, cornfields, and forests that served as reminder of the original promise of “country living.” Next was the parallel problem of accreting car traffic. Soon, that negated the promise of spacious country living in other ways. The hated urban “congestion” of living among too many people became an even more obnoxious congestion of cars. That problem was aggravated by the idiocies of single-use zoning, which mandated the strictest possible separation of activities and forced every denizen of the suburbs into driving for every little task. Under those codes (no mixed use!), the corner store was outlawed, as well as the café, the bistro, indeed any sort of gathering place within a short walk that is normal in one form or another in virtually every other culture. More…
Letter to an Unknown Whistleblower
by Tom Engelhardt
Posted September 27, 2013
I don’t know who you are or what you do or how old you may be. I just know that you exist somewhere in our future as surely as does tomorrow or next year. You may be young and computer-savvy or a career federal employee well along in years. You might be someone who entered government service filled with idealism or who signed on to “the bureaucracy” just to make a living. You may be a libertarian, a closet left-winger, or as mainstream and down-the-center as it’s possible to be.
I don’t know much, but I know one thing that you may not yet know yourself. I know that you’re there. I know that, just as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning did, you will, for reasons of your own, feel compelled to take radical action, to put yourself in danger. When the time comes, you will know that this is what you must do, that this is why you find yourself where you are, and then you’re going to tell us plenty that has been kept from us about how our government really operates. You are going to shock us to the core. More…
GOP Appointed Officials Black Out Detroit During Heatwave To “Send Them A Strong Message”
by Randa Morris
Posted September 17, 2013
If you ever had any doubt that Michigan has been taken over by a group of dangerous, radical extremists, what happened in Detroit on September 11th, 2013 should be enough to wake you up. There were several things significant about September 11th, 2013. Not only was it the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, but the state of Michigan was also experiencing an unseasonal heat wave. In the city of Detroit, power outages left people stranded in elevators, trapped four hours in the blistering heat. Hundreds were evacuated from buildings in the downtown area, traffic lights did not function, public transportation was disabled and 1,400 sites across the city were without power. Wayne State University and other key buildings still remained closed, the following day. All of this after the city’s power supply supposedly failed.
The problem is that the city’s power supply never failed.On September 12th, 2013, Bill Nowling casually stated that the city’s power outages were intentional. Officials and citizens working in the city were given no warning before the electricity was cut off. Law enforcement officials working in the Hall of Justice had no time to prepare. Senior citizens and disabled citizens using elevators in the city’s downtown district had no way to know what was coming. The entire criminal justice system was shut down without notice. More…
Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security
by James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald
Posted September 10, 2013
This story has been reported in partnership between the New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica based on documents obtained by the Guardian.
US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.
The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments. More…
Building the Commons as an Antidote to the Predatory Market Economy
by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese
Posted September 6, 2013
These are times of radical change. We are in the midst of an evolution. As David Bollier writes, “We are poised between an old world that no longer works and a new one struggling to be born. Surrounded by centralized hierarchies on the one hand and predatory markets on the other, people around the world are searching for alternatives.”
We are at a crossroads in the global economic order. If not stopped, the two massive “trade” agreements under negotiation at present, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (known as TAFTA), will cement this globalized neoliberal market economy through greater deregulation, profit protection and an extra-judicial trade tribunal in which corporations can sue sovereign nations if their laws interfere with profits. More…