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  1. It is not just obvious neocon front groups like Foreign Policy Initiative. It also includes fatuous Western NGOs like Freedom House, where naïve but well-meaning career nonprofit workers are twisted in knots by political funding streams, denouncing non-Western human rights violations while keeping local abuses firmly in their blind spots.

    The civil society conference circuit—which flies developing-world activists across the globe hundreds of times a year to bless the unholy union between “government and private stakeholders” at geopoliticized events like the “Stockholm Internet Forum”—simply could not exist if it were not blasted with millions of dollars in political funding annually.

    Scan the memberships of the biggest U.S. think tanks and institutes and the same names keep cropping up. Cohen’s Save Summit went on to seed AVE, or, a long-term project whose principal backer besides Google Ideas is the Gen Next Foundation. This foundation’s website says it is an “exclusive membership organization and platform for successful individuals” that aims to bring about “social change” driven by venture capital funding. Gen Next’s “private sector and non-profit foundation support avoids some of the potential perceived conflicts of interest faced by initiatives funded by governments.” Jared Cohen is an executive member.

    Google Ideas is bigger, but it follows the same game plan. Glance down the speaker lists of its annual invite-only get-togethers, such as “Crisis in a Connected World” in October 2013. Social network theorists and activists give the event a veneer of authenticity, but in truth it boasts a toxic piñata of attendees: U.S. officials, telecom magnates, security consultants, finance capitalists and foreign-policy tech vultures like Alec Ross (Cohen’s twin at the State Department).

    At the hard core are the arms contractors and career military: active U.S. Cyber Command chieftains, and even the admiral responsible for all U.S. military operations in Latin America from 2006 to 2009. Tying up the package are Jared Cohen and the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt.

    I began to think of Schmidt as a brilliant but politically hapless Californian tech billionaire who had been exploited by the very U.S. foreign-policy types he had collected to act as translators between himself and official Washington—a West Coast–East Coast illustration of the principal-agent dilemma.

    I was wrong.

    Schmidt’s involvement in the New America Foundation places him firmly in the Washington establishment nexus. The foundation’s other board members, seven of whom also list themselves as members of the Council on Foreign Relations, include Francis Fukuyama, one of the intellectual fathers of the neoconservative movement; Rita Hauser, who served on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board under both Bush and Obama; Jonathan Soros, the son of George Soros; Walter Russell Mead, a U.S. security strategist and editor of the American Interest; Helene Gayle, who sits on the boards of Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, the Rockefeller Foundation, the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Unit, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the White House Fellows program and Bono’s ONE Campaign; and Daniel Yergin, oil geo-strategist, former chair of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Task Force.

    There was nothing politically hapless about Eric Schmidt. I had been too eager to see a politically unambitious Silicon Valley engineer, a relic of the good old days of computer science graduate culture on the West Coast. But that is not the sort of person who attends the Bilderberg conference four years running, who pays regular visits to the White House, or who delivers “fireside chats” at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

    Schmidt’s emergence as Google’s “foreign minister”—making pomp and ceremony state visits across geopolitical fault lines—had not come out of nowhere; it had been presaged by years of assimilation within U.S. establishment networks of reputation and influence.

    On a personal level, Schmidt and Cohen are perfectly likable people. But Google’s chairman is a classic “head of industry” player, with all of the ideological baggage that comes with that role. Schmidt fits exactly where he is: the point where the centrist, liberal and imperialist tendencies meet in American political life.

    By all appearances, Google’s bosses genuinely believe in the civilizing power of enlightened multinational corporations, and they see this mission as continuous with the shaping of the world according to the better judgment of the “benevolent superpower.” They will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them. This is the impenetrable banality of “don’t be evil.” They believe that they are doing good. And that is a problem.

    Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has. Schmidt’s tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of U.S. power structures as it expanded into a geographically invasive megacorporation. But Google has always been comfortable with this proximity. Long before company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Schmidt in 2001, their initial research upon which Google was based had been partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). And even as Schmidt’s Google developed an image as the overly friendly giant of global tech, it was building a close relationship with the intelligence community.

    If the future of the Internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world—in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union and even in Europe—for whom the Internet embodies the promise of an alternative to U.S. cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.

    A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-10-25)
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  2. Due dei principali motivi per cui il M5S ha stretto l’alleanza con l’Ukip in realtà non stanno in piedi.

    Premesso che ogni partito o movimento politico in Europa sceglie le alleanze che meglio gli convengono, due delle motivazioni principali con le quali i cinque stelle hanno da sempre giustificato la loro alleanza con il partito di Nigel Farage non reggono, andiamo per ordine.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-10-25)
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  3. The “sharing economy” is educating us for living in an economy with increasing non-market spaces, but it is the continuum of practices that today link up the “direct economy” and the “p2p mode of production” what will take us “beyond,” towards a new way of producing and sharing.

    atfab_opendeskFirst of all: this post is long, but it’s well worth reading it all (although there is a summary at the end). It aims to clarify the conceptual map that is gradually being drawn between the notions of “sharing economy,” “direct economy,” and “p2p production,” as well as taking stock of what each one brings to the table and understanding what are the requirements for them to make a real contribution against the crisis.

    From the start of the crisis, the concern for small industry has been an issue for what it represents in terms of wealth and employment. A few years ago, Natalia argued on this blog that it was time to leave fabbing as a prototype, and that we had the opportunity and the need to incorporate tools and resources from the p2p mode of production to industrial SMEs in order to address the crisis. Why? Quite simply because the perspective of the p2p mode of production offered a horizon of higher productivity at a smaller scale of production. That’s why it already represents an alternative mode of production in sectors such as free software – that’s why it represents the future in the industrial sector, even if it’s still green.
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  4. We shoulder the debt and expenses that this country's economy depends on to thrive. We buy houses, cars, we shop and many times, due to no safety net for our limited and overstretched paychecks, are forced to take on credit card debt to cover additional medical costs, prescriptions and daily necessities. Where is the fairness in that system. I would argue that while the poor are often times sympathized with, the middle and lower middle class really have it the shittiest. We bear the stress, horrible work/life balance, and the threat of an ever fluxing economy and job market. All so that a large portion of the chronically poor can exist with basic needs at no cost and the super rich can continue to ride us to ever increasing profits and personal wealth. A UBI would be a much fairer distribution of this county's productivity. It is time that we do not have to worry ourselves with life's basic necessities so we can start to invest our earned income back into the economy in the way of entrepreneurship, philanthropy, financial investments, etc.. Every year the rich ride more and more of us to the bottom and then jump on their penthouse elevators to which only they have the code.
    Tags: by M. Fioretti (2014-10-25)
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  5. The only path to recovery permitted by Brussels and Berlin — that of austerity — has been counterproductive because it has only been skin-deep. If austerity is to stimulate growth, it must be done to the hilt, which inevitably involves terrible suffering and the risk of mass agitation. No Italian politician can stomach that.
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  6. Napolitano potrà negare o concedere la “disponibilità” a rispondere, mentre i testimoni sono sempre obbligati a rispondere se non nei casi previsti dalla legge e che i giudici palermitani ricordano. Ma la corte d’Assise non potrà obbligare il presidente a rispondere. Un no da parte del Colle potrà essere soltanto registrato dai giudici e nulla più.

    Il codice di procedura penale e il segreto di Stato. Quando il 28 ottobre il processo sarà trasferito al Quirinale se è vero che potrà “essere posta al teste qualunque domanda sia ritenuta dal presidente comunque pertinente alla testimonianza ammessa e utile per l’accertamento dei fatti” il presidente sarà obbligato ad astenersi “dal deporre su fatti conosciuti per ragioni del loro ufficio che devono rimanere segreti“, in base all’articolo 201 del codice di procedura penale, avrà “l’obbligo di astenersi su fatti coperti dal segreto di Stato”, in base all’articolo 202. Ma non solo
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  7. Climate change is shrinking goats. And fast. A Durham University study of Alpine chamois mountain goats shows that the critters have downsized a startling 25 percent in 30 years. While that is great news for bridge trolls, for the rest of us, it’s rather alarming.

    Previous studies have fingered climate change as the culprit in shrinking other species, from fish to salamanders to polar bears. But in those cases, the shrinkage could be attributed to other factors such as a reduction in food supply, changes in prey behavior, or exceedingly cold pool water. (Seriously Marsha, it’s a thing.) But in the case of the goats, their food supply has been steady, while temperatures in their high-mountain habitat have risen between 3 and 4 degrees Celsius over the last three decades.

    As the temperatures rise, the researchers say, the goats get lazy. They spend more time resting and less time eating. This may be a good strategy in the short term, as larger animals in the same species don’t do as well when it’s hotter. And the goat population has actually increased in those 30 years.

    So what’s the problem, you ask? Lighter-weight animals do better when it’s hot, but struggle when it’s cold, so if the seasons don’t warm equally, or if freakishly harsh winters become more common, it could go badly for the goats.
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  8. Dal testo e dai numeri della legge di Stabilità saltano fuori varie sorprese. Un disavanzo aggiuntivo per poco più di 7 miliardi, nuovi assunti con decontribuzione solo per l’anno 2015, aumento delle entrate grazie alla tassazione dei Tfr che entrano in busta paga. Infine, meno tagli ai ministeri.
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  9. Avila, cosa pensa di questa prima bozza?
    “Ci sono punti di forza e di debolezza. Il pericolo è che molti dei punti forti della bozza rischino di finire annacquati da compromessi, eccezioni e negoziazioni politiche. Il dibattito su un Internet Bill of Rights ha bisogno di partire con salvaguardie forti, solide, e principi senza eccezioni. La bozza ha il potenziale per essere molto forte su neutralità della rete e free software – anche se non esplicitamente richiamato. Ma è un po’ carente su privacy, anonimato e su misure forti contro la raccolta dei dati. La raccolta e la conservazione dei dati dovrebbero essere consentite solo quando c’è una valida ragione per farlo, un ordine del giudice e un processo di revisione a posteriori. Ancora, credo che questioni come l’autodifesa dalla sorveglianza e l’uso di strumenti di cifratura siano ancora poco chiare. Il pericolo è che la bozza lasci margini troppo ampi per una interpretazione arbitraria della norma.
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  10. Aveva ragione Travaglio. La sentenza della Corte d’Appello ha escluso la concussione per costrizione perché (diversamente dal Tribunale) non ha ritenuto esistessero valide prove di minacce, neppure implicite, rivolte da Berlusconi a Ostuni; e ha escluso la concussione per induzione perché non esisteva prova della sussistenza di un indebito vantaggio atteso da Ostuni come conseguenza della sua acquiescenza alle richieste di Berlusconi.

    Il riconoscimento pieno della lungimiranza del condirettore del Fatto Quotidiano non mi impedisce di dire che la Corte d’Appello ha sbagliato e che attendo una mia riabilitazione dalla Cassazione; che, se non arriverà, sarà causa di mia eterna vergogna. Ciò dico per due motivi.
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