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    Monthly Archives: March 2008

    A Black Eye for Financial Folks Everywhere

    Inspirational and Comical Story Here.

    Frightening Story Here.

    The collapse of Bear Stearns is giving the entire financial industry a massive black eye. If we’re not careful, we’ll see a KO punch land square on the jaws of the global economy and not just the financial industry if this keeps up.

    Confidence is at an all time low, but bailouts are salvaging the reputations of dismally run organizations.

    The question is “why”?

    In the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of efficient markets and once-proud capitalists, why are these folks always the first ones running with their hands open, seeking a bailout? Why is it that $200 billion (now more) gets spent in the blink of an eye while schools, hospitals, renewable energy programs, social assistance, unemployment insurance, fair housing, charities and other organizations are selling off their chairs and black boards so that folks on Wall Street can blast blindly through billions without a care in the world?

    Somebody’s gotta pay for this and we all know who it’s going to have to be. Us. Well, I’m Canadian and I don’t think our country is in the dismal shape that the US is in (although the Harpies are doing their best through tax cuts to get us there).

    I’d like to re-iterate a theory from Naomi Klein in her outstanding book “The Shock Doctrine”: the outset of the Great Depression brought on the New Deal. Americans were so pissed with the corporate world, what with its gluttony and irrefutable disregard for the majority of employees and consumers that without the New Deal, the US certainly would have descended into communism. Every American and Canadian should read this book to get a grip on what might have happened to North America had it not been for government bailouts in the 30s and a war in the 40s.

    OK. I get that. So what’s going to happen now? The only people with a black financial statement are the Chinese. And we’ve been kicking them in the junk for the last 30 years. What are they going to do when the US goes under? Are they just going to shower us with praise and say ‘hey, it’s OK. Here’s a trillion or two.’

    Or are they going to laugh all the way to the bank. One that’s owned by the People’s Republic of China?

    Woman Sues RIAA for Spying, Racketeering

    You Go Girl!!

    Full Story Here.

    The new suit claims that the RIAA and MediaSentry – the RIAA’s private investigative arm that discovers file sharing by looking into peer-to-peer users’ public files – “conspired to develop a massive threat and sham litigation enterprise targeting private citizens across the United States.” The lawsuit also accuses the industry and MediaSentry of spying “by unlicensed, unregistered and uncertified private investigators” who “have illegally entered the hard drives of tens of thousands of private American citizens” in violation of laws “in virtually every state in the country,” according to Wired.

    The RIAA has hopefully met its match. Of course, they’ll bring every lawyer into this suit that they can afford, but let’s hope it’s something that slows down their ambitions to gum up the Internet with the monitoring of ISPs and other such nonsense.

    Category: DRM issues, media | Tags:

    MPAA Getting in the way of Net Neutrality?

    Full Story Here.

    Despite there being dozens of perfectly fine business models with respect to music and movie distribution, most of them untried by the music and movie industries, the MPAA persists with the notion that they must have all ISPs police content use by individuals.

    Net neutrality laws, [MPAA head Dan Glickman] said, “would impair the ability of broadband providers to address the serious and rampant piracy problems occurring over their networks today.”

    “Technology,” Glickman continued, “is handing us the opportunity to deal the first real body blow to online piracy, to begin to reach toward the day when we might be able to take it off the table and debug the system.”

    Don’t forget: technology has handed us so much more than just getting a few free tunes or the occasional movie. I’m not going to list the thousands of ways in which technology has at least changed (and many people argue, improved) our lives, but folks in charge of the MPAA or the RIAA or the SAC have to understand that they can either catch up or get out of the way. Continuing to fight an already beleaguered public will only piss people off.

    However, that’s really not what’s at issue here. What folks in the industry seem to be arguing is this: we need a multi-tiered web access platform that people will pay for at the higher levels in order to at least monetize those folks who are downloading information en masse. As the author of the article points out, this has a severly negative impact on well-funded and insightful organizations that carry original content. Making people pay for this content would be like making people pay for the air they breath.

    Category: DRM issues, media, Music Industry | Tags:

    Asparatame Experiment

    Aspartame is one of those little things that bugs me and this site belw me away:

    If you have to consume something that’s got artificial sweeteners, you may want to ask why you’re eating/drinking it.

    Category: The Corporation | Tags:

    Renewable Co-ops

    I categorize this idea under “The Future” because this is where I put all of my links and stories that give cause for optimism.

    Recently, I’ve been very excited about the whole co-op model for energy production and suggest others look into it as well. Here’s a PDF article prepared that introduces the idea:

    More links:

    So … we may not be able to get ‘off grid’ by ourselves, mainly because the cost of implementing solar and wind are so high, but we can pool our resources to create co-ops that will invest in bigger projects.

    If you’re in the London, ON area and would like to explore this further, please let me know. OR … if you know of national co-ops that accept contributions and aren’t concerned about where you’re located, again, please let me know.

    6 signs the US may be headed for war with Iran

    What caught me off guard was that this article was posted with the “US News and World Report”. However, it’s very slow in loading, so I have summarized the 6 reasons below:

    1. Fallon’s Resignation
    2. Cheney’s ‘peace’ trip to the Middle East
    3. Israeli airstrikes on Syria
    4. Warships off Lebanon
    5. Israeli Comments
    6. Israel’s war with Hezbollah

    I’d suggest that there’s really only one main reason: Admiral William Fallon’s resignation. He had been quoted a number of times as saying that he’d quit before assisting with the invasion of Iran and, well, he’s done that.

    The reason an invasion won’t happen: the US is broke. Who’s going to pay for another war?

    Category: iran, US economy | Tags:

    US No Longer #1 Economy?

    The title of this article is a little misleading (hence my question mark), because I’m pretty sure the US as an individual country is still the largest economy. What the article points out is that the combined market of the European Community, coupled with the strength of the Euro vis-a-vis the US dollar has made it the world’s biggest economy.

    BUT … it’s a sign of the times. The more the US dollar plummets, the more we’ll see comparisons like this.

    Now … if only there were articles about how much the US military economy is shrinking.

    Category: US economy | Tags:

    Duncan Cameron: “Bring in the police”

    Full Story Here.

    Section 119 of the Criminal Code of Canada could not be more precise. An offer of money to a member of parliament to influence his or her actions in an official capacity constitutes a criminal offence. The section specifies a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

    … There is sufficient corroborative evidence for a police investigation, and a criminal inquiry. There are witnesses, and a reported violation of the Criminal Code.

    Despite clear accusations of criminal conduct by high-ranking Conservatives, including the leader and now prime minister, it is as if the media has been numbed into inaction by years of partisan bickering, and has failed to seize the nature of the offence.

    So what do we have to do to make things happen on Parliament Hill?

    Missile Defense: “Longest Running Scam” Exposed

    Full Story Here.

    Here are some comments:

    Rep. Stephen Lynch asked whether the allocation of resources is proportional to the threat.

    “Absolutely not. I believe that the Ballistic Missile Defense program is the longest running scam in the history of the Department of Defense,” Joseph Cirincione, [president of the Ploughshares Fund] said. “This is an enormous waste of money, and if you leave this decision to the Joint Chiefs they won’t spend anything near what this Administration is requesting. In fact, the last time the Joint Chiefs were asked about this in 1993, [they] recommended to then-Pres. Clinton that we spend only $3 billion a year on these kinds of programs, and of that $2.3 billion should be spent on efforts to intercept short-range missiles – the ones that are a real threat to our troops and allies…. We’re no further along in our ability to actually hit a real ballistic missile now than we were 20 years ago.”

    Both Cirincione and Flynn pointed to the disturbing fact that there is no comprehensive threat assessment comparing missile and non-missile threats to our security. “We haven’t done a good threat assessment – an intelligence estimate that looks at the non-missile threat and the missile threat,” Flynn said.

    Cirincione agreed. “I believe that in order for Congress to judge whether these sums are necessary they need a comprehensive assessment of the ballistic missile threat. Congress has never – never – gotten this kind of assessment…. We need a comprehensive threat assessment of what the most serious security threats are facing the United States, and then budget allocations based on that.”

    Not, it’s not quite the same context, but I seem to recall a lot of tension when then-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien rejected the scheme that the Americans had to envelope the entire North American continent with a ‘missile defense’ system. A scheme that would have siphoned billions of funds to the companies that perpetuate the myth that missile attacks need a massive level of spending year after year.

    Good call, Jean!

    Of course, that didn’t stop the mainstream media multitudes from lambasting the man at every turn, insinuating cowardice and lack of will to support our most important neighbour.

    Brazil and Argentina to drop US dollar in bilateral trade

    Full Story Here.

    My bet is that this will be the first of many stories that will materalize over the next few months / years about the rest of the world resisting trade in US funds. These are the cracks in the pavement that give way to Honda-sized potholes in the economic roads we’ve paved.

    To be honest, I would have thought that they’d trade in a local currency anwyays, but then, there isn’t one in Latin America. Maybe this is the first step in many towards a common currency in South America? What would Mexico do? As a Latin country that is rich with resources, would they get pulled in that direction, potentially even bowing out of the NAFTA?

    Anything’s possible, right?

    Category: Latin America, US economy | Tags: ,