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Big Brother Is In Your Spotify: How Music Became the Surveillance State’s Trojan Horse

March 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Andrew Leonard, Salon

Big win for Big Data: As Amazon and Google drive down costs, more people are taking their listening to the cloud.


Here’s how the surveillance state consolidates control: Living in “the cloud” — where all our pertinent data is stored on computer servers operated by the likes of Google and Amazon and Microsoft — becomes too seductive to avoid and too cheap not to afford.

On Tuesday, Google offered fresh new support for Moore’s Law, the hoary thesis that the price of computer processing power and storage will relentlessly plummet. At a San Francisco event called “Google Cloud Platform Live,” the company announced sweeping price cuts for a wide array of cloud computing services. Of particular interest to anyone on the lookout for a cheap backup storage plan: Google is now charging a mere $9.99 a month for a full terabyte of storage. A terabyte! That’s a great deal.

Or at least it was, for about 24 hours. Because on Wednesday, Amazon matched the cuts, drastically slashing its own prices for storage and access to computing power. As the inevitable price wars continue, consumers are swiftly going to reach the point where they don’t even bother calculating the cost/benefit algebra of moving to the cloud. It will simply be too cheap to matter.

This migration will continue even in the face of the obvious privacy and surveillance concerns associated with storing your data outside the security of your own offline hard drives. Sure, the Snowden revelations about government snooping mean that in the short term, U.S. cloud companies are having a hard time drumming up business from customers who don’t want the NSA watching every move. But it’s hard to see this as anything more than just a bump in the road; the price and convenience advantages of living in the cloud are too seductive to ignore.

The easiest place to see this is in a domain that the NSA probably isn’t interested in at all — our music listening habits. In the last year, even as surveillance and privacy concerns peaked, music consumers migrated to streaming …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Newsweek Honcho Thinks Gays Can Be 'Cured'? Behind New Owners' Strange Ties to Controversial Pastor

March 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Jon Swaine, The Guardian

The 80-year-old company's odd new leadership.


It was meant to herald the triumphant return to newsstands of a venerable 80-year-old American media institution with a proud journalistic record.

Newsweek’s 4,500-word relaunch cover story on Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, a California engineer who, it claimed, was the creator of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, gripped readers from Silicon Valley to Manhattan and delivered a frenzy of follow-up coverage to rival some of the biggest scoops of the magazine’s heyday.

“Everyone is really excited to start this new chapter,” Johnathan Davis, Newsweek’s new co-owner, told the Guardian earlier this month, before it went to press. “It’s a great honour. Newsweek has a storied history of great storytelling and hard-hitting journalism both in the United States and around the world.”

Since then, however, the article has come under an onslaught of criticism, as Nakamoto “unconditionally” denied that he was “the face behind bitcoin,” as Newsweek’s cover had proclaimed, and said that he had not even heard of the currency until he was contacted by a reporter.

Newsweek declared in a statement that it stood “strongly behind” the story, whose reporting, it said, “was conducted under the same high editorial and ethical standards that have guided Newsweek for more than 80 years.”

The relaunch has, however, focused new attention on the young and relatively inexperienced men now at the helm of the newsweekly: Davis, 31, and Etienne Uzac, his 30-year-old business partner, whose company IBT Media bought the magazine last August and detached it from the Daily Beast, with which it had merged three years earlier.

Davis, a Californian electrical engineering graduate, is IBT Media’s chief content officer. Uzac, a French-South African economist, is its chief executive. The smartly suited pair have a confident sales pitch for the firm and are pursuing an aggressive expansion plan. They say that their online media outlets already reach 40 million unique users a month.

But they come with a backstory that is unusual for the mainstream media. The pair started their company in 2006 reportedly after meeting via Christian fellowships, and have frequently been the subject of reports linking them to David Jang, a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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New Documentary 'Cesar Chavez' Showcases the Power of Union Organizing and Immigrant Labor

March 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Sonali Kolhatkar, Truthdig

Director Diego Luna's biopic dramatizes roots of Chavez and Dolores Huerta's then-National Farm Workers Association.


When Ronald Reagan famously ate grapes on television as governor of California in 1969, he was thumbing his nose at a growing movement for the rights of farmworkers. The grape boycott that Reagan proudly defied put him on the wrong side of history. Today, the leader of that boycott, Cesar Chavez, who died more than 20 years ago at the age of 66, not only has his March 31 birthday commemorated each year, but he now has a feature film dramatizing his life.

The 1960s struggle of migrant farmworkers in California played out alongside many other political movements of the time. Long hours, brutal conditions and lower-than-minimum wages provided the impetus for the great grape strike and boycott, centered in Delano, Calif. The campaign, led by Chavez and Dolores Huerta, the co-founders of the National Farm Workers Association (today known as United Farm Workers of America), lasted more than five years and involved hundreds of miles-long marches, nearly month-long hunger strikes and brutal police violence.

That story and Chavez’s central role in it are depicted in a new biopic by Mexican actor and director Diego Luna. The film, named simply “Cesar Chavez,” opens in theaters Friday, just days before what would have been the labor organizer’s 87th birthday. Starring Michael Peña as Chavez, America Ferrera as Chavez’s wife Helen and Rosario Dawson as Huerta, the film is Luna’s directorial debut.

Thirty-five-year-old Luna is no stranger to politics and political filmmaking. He has spoken out about Mexico’s brutal drug war, lending his support to family members of the war’s victims who traveled across the U.S. in a caravan from Mexico. He has also supported drug legalization to undermine cartels. And he co-founded Ambulante, the largest documentary film festival in Mexico, to “support and spread documentary film as a tool of social and cultural transformation.”

Best known for his role in Alfonso Cuarón’s “Y Tu Mamá También,” Luna has also appeared in Hollywood films such as “Criminal,” “Casa de mi Padre” and most recently “Elysium.” In an …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Deficit Hawks Are Trying to Pit Millennials Against Seniors to Attack Social Security and Medicare

March 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

A Tea Party congressman calls out greedy Wall Streeters for the ruse.


Generational grievances pitting struggling young millennials against supposedly better-off seniors is creeping back into American politics, fanned by a new wave of deficit hawks who want to undermine public confidence in Social Security and Medicare—as the first step in cutting the social insurance programs.

A string of recent examples—rants from MSNBC’s wealthy young commentator, a notorious elderly-attacking House candidate, think tanks promoted on NPR—generational warfare cheerleaders are proclaiming that America is heading toward an epic and immoral conflict as better-off seniors are robbing millennials of shrinking federal dollars because retirement programs cost too much. That’s simply false, as Social Security is solvent through 2033, and spending on all mandatory programs as a percentage of GDP is close to where it’s been since 1975, at 21 percent. 

This line of attack isn’t in a political vacuum. It comes as some Democrats are reframing the debate on Social Security and campaigning for increased benefits. Nor is it a new argument, as a right-wing club of libertarians, Wall Street bankers and deficit hawks have tried for decades to undermine and privatize the program. Amazingly, the generational warmongers are not just irking progressives who see shifting political winds; they're scaring at least one Republican congressman who called out the generational warfare ruse and game plan in a fundraising letter.        

Pennsylvania Republican Tom Marino is a former U.S. Attorney and conservative two-term incumbent. His re-election website boasts he is anti-Obamacare, pro-gun, pro-fracking and anti-gay marriage. Yet, the top news item on his website is a letter from Vivian Mae Marino, “to let all of you know that my son, Tom Marino, will save Medicare and strengthen Social Security.”

Why is a 62-year-old Tea Partier calling on mom? Because a generational antagonist bent on sounding “the alarm of gerontocracy, or rule by the elderly,” may run against Marino as an independent in 2014. That self-proclaimed Paul Revere for millennials is Nick Troiano, 24, who co-founded a group supposedly representing young Americans who are losing …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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More Photos From AERC

March 28, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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From last week’s Austrian Economics Research Conference:

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unnamed

reception photo

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Pragmatism and Intellectual Property

March 28, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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By Nathan Nicolaisen

Libertarians often argue over the pragmatism of intellectual property at the expense of the ethical aspect of restricting knowledge by force. The question posed in Butler Shaffer’s A Libertarian Critique of Intellectual Property is, “…by what reasoning can the state create and enforce such interests upon persons who have not agreed to be so bound?”[i]  This is the core of all voluntary interactions, and the question of whether or not intellectual property is profitable is not critical for the libertarian. Of course there will be winners and losers by granting IP rights to some at the expense of others, but Shaffer’s point is that it is wrong to enforce contracts upon those who have not voluntarily accepted the terms.  This crucial tenet of libertarian ethics is essential in understanding why so many libertarians are opposed to intellectual property.  Few people, and even fewer libertarians, if any, contend that inventors should not be rewarded for their efforts. Rather, the chief objection to intellectual property is that inventors may not use the force of government to prevent others from peacefully employing that knowledge.

Even if we ignore the ethical and moral objections, however,  numerous problems arise in the application of intellectual property laws. For example, how do we properly credit long-dead inventors for providing us with their discoveries?  Do we track down their offspring and pay royalties?  If it’s impractical to grant perpetual IP rights, then exactly how long should they last? Patent term length in the United States is twenty years while copyrights last seventy years after the last surviving author’s death.[ii]  What makes it right to grant patents for twenty years, but not nineteen?  What happens at seventy years that makes copyrights invalid at seventy years and one day?  The question seems trivial, but is nevertheless revealing.  If IP rights are truly rights, they must be inviolable and universal, unconstrained by time and place and not established by the arbitrary laws by the state.

Economists frequently warn of the unintended consequences of market intervention by the state, and Shaffer notes that it is well established that corporations with teams of lawyers and vast financial wealth are more able to file, receive, and defend their IP claims than are small proprietors.  As a result, individuals and smaller businesses are crowded out of the marketplace of ideas and discouraged from competing in fear of infringement and …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Cuba Woos Foreign Investors

March 28, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

800px-Flag_of_Cuba.svg

One of socialism’s last men standing, Cuba has recently softened its stance on foreign investment. In a bid to attract capital to the stagnant economy, a newly proposed foreign investment law would cut taxes on foreigners in half to 15% and exempt most investors from paying it for at least eight years.

The country wants to also promise legal protection to foreign investors. As a general rule, foreigners have steered clear of investing in Cuba for fear of having their capital nationalized by the socialist regime.

The National Assembly is widely expected to approve the draft of the law with few changes.

In a time when the world’s “capitalist” countries are moving towards higher taxes and tougher regulations on investors, one of the last bulwarks of socialism is moving in the other direction.

To be sure, Cuba is not a free-market paradise by any stretch of the imagination. Yet after 50 years of living under the heavy hand of the Communist Party, the need for real reform is more apparent than ever. In 1959, Cuban GDP per capita was 2/3 that of the United States’. By 2010 that figure had dropped to less than 10%.

Investment matters. It creates the economic growth that raises our quality of life. Cuba’s change of heart demonstrates that the real living standard matters more than defunct ideologies.

(Originally posted at Mises Canada.)

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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New Spanish-language Translations

March 28, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

The good people at Instituto Mises Hispano often translate Mises Daily articles into Spanish.

Here are some recent additions for our Spanish-speaking friends:

El euro no está sobrevalorado (ni ninguna otra divisa) by Frank Hollenbeck

¿Por qué la nostalgia de una vieja economía comunista? by Predrag Rajsic

El efecto riqueza: Una creencia en la paradoja del ahorro by Chris Casey

Maquiladoras: Una salida de la pobreza by Benjamin Powell

Dinero fiduciario y ciclos económicos en mercados emergentes by Roger McKinney

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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WATCH: Daily Show's Kristen Schaal Lacerates 'Marry Smart' Princeton Mom

March 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

“Your eggs are jumping out of your vagina like rats off a sinking ship.”


First Jon Stewart eviscerate the so-called news media for taking Princeton Mom, Susan Patton, author of Marry Smart at all seriously when it comes to women's issues. This is the woman who is making the rounds hysterically urging young women to find a husband in college, because they'll never be swimming in a better pool of men.

If you wait until you're in you thirties, says Patton, you'll be competing with women who are ten years younger, “dewy eyed, fresh and adorable.”

Enter Kristen Schaal, self-described “dried up old crone” in her 30s. She's there to address the “feminist lie” that women in their 30s are “remotely doable.”

It's best to start that search for a husband early, in kindergarten, she suggests . . . to a classroom full of five-year-olds. To one little girl, Schaal holds up a clock and says, “tick tock, that's the sound of your uterus getting older.”

She introduces KDate, a dating service for kindergartners. What a brilliant idea! The tagline: “Men are terrible creatures. Get one as soon as you can.”

Princeton Mom is kicking herself for not thinking of KDate.

Watch:

Related Stories

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Source: ALTERNET

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Audio: Peter Klein Examines ‘The Present State of Entrepreneurship Research’

March 28, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

MP3 Audio.

“The Present State of Entrepreneurship Research” by Peter G. Klein. The Murray N. Rothbard Memorial Lecture, sponsored by Hélio Beltrão. Recorded at the 2014 Austrian Economics Research Conference in Auburn, Alabama, on 21 March 2014.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE