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Posts in Category: politics

Stallman on Privacy

Richard Stallman interviewed about privacy, NSA and why he doesn't have a phone

Interview with Richard Stallman the creator of the free software foundation. He gives his views on Assange, Snowdon, big brother and why he doesn't have a mobile phone. The great thing about Stallman is he saw this coming. He's had this position for ten or fifteen years and has been largely ignored. Now all he has been saying has been completely vindicated.

Urban decline

How capitalism is an atractor for conglomeration

Several years ago I was living in a town called Cehegin in Murcia, in Spain, about an hours drive inland from the south coast.

My neighbours son was the local vet and over a few beers one day he explained to me that he didn't just work in town, but he had a very wide network of farms that he visited.
The farmers paid into a sort of insurance fund and he would vaccinate herd and inspect sick animals etc. He catchment area extended to the mountains of Albacete. I'd probably had too much beer, because when he asked me if I wanted to go with him on his rounds one day, I accepted. A few days later on one freezing cold morning I was getting into his car a 6am.

Well we drove and drove. As the altitude increased, so the temperature decreased. People think of Spain as a warm country. Don't believe a word of it. Winters here have been know to go down to minus 36 centigrade!

We passed a frozen waterfall and I noticed my companion was sporting a colourful woollen hat whereas I was stupidly bareheaded.

Eventually we arrived at the first farm. Antonio the vet greeted the farmer and was soon in an enclosure doing unmentionable things so yelping goats.

Old farmhouseThe farmer took me to oneside and, with my limited Spanish, seemed to be offering me his farm for sale. The buildings including the sheds and animal enclosures must have totalled about five hundred square meters. Goodness knows how much land would have been included because he gestured as far as the eye could see. His asking price was 6000 euros.

I was quite taken aback. It was a beautiful spot. The farmhouse was old but liveable.

When Antonio and I were back in the car I mentioned the farmer's offer. He chuckled and explained, that the farmer is one of the last people left in what was previously a huge goat herding region. None of the children wanted to herd goats as there was no money in it so over the years they drifted off to Madrid, Barcelona or maybe abroad to find work.

Soon the town has so few people, there is no money to pay for services and everything collapses. We drove past the town, which was on the other side of the river so we couldn't enter, but all was still. It had long since been abandoned. The farmer had to drive twenty miles to the next town for everything he needed, which was crippling any profit he had from the goat farm. He just wanted out.

Today we're looking at a similar situation in Detroit, the largest American city ever to file for bankruptcy. Detroit's population has declined from 1.85 million in the 1950's to just 700k today. Deeply underfunded schools are being shutdown. People are leaving in droves.

The cause is the same in both cases. An economic activity becomes uneconomic. Goat herding in Albacete, building cars in Detroit.

The thing about capitalism is that it takes care of money but not the people who generate it. As long as we leave the care of people to market forces, we're really saying that people are an expendable resource that can be disposed of when no longer needed.

My take on this is that profit is the expendable resource that should be used to take care of people. Today there is more profit than ever before in human history thanks to the automation afford by machines, computers and robotics. Instead of the fruits of those developments going to the benefit of mankind they are sequested by a tiny minority - the rich 1% whose only purpose in life seems to be to make more money and make the rest of us continually poorer.

Unless we start to reorganise the worlds wealth, I do fear towns and cities across the globe will gradually disappear and be replaced by one big city - the only place left to work.

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What's the opposite of a Baby Boom?

Recent Report Shows Falling Birth Rate in Europe Due to Recession

In a press-release that got far to little coverage last week, on the 10 July, the Max Planck Institute in Germany announced a demographic research paper demonstrating that there had been a Europe-wide fall in fertility during and as a result of the 'great depression' in Europe. http://www.demogr.mpg.de/en/news_press/press_releases_1916/economic_crisis_lowers_birth_rates_3250.htm

(I leave you to study the stats and thumb through the graphs)

Perhaps this should come as no surprise. Sensible people are going to try an put off having children until they have money in their pockets. With European joblessness hitting 12.5% in May 2013, there has never been a worse time to procreate.

Yet here is the thing, this high unemployment figure would not be so bad had Europe been set marching on the beat of the austerity drum. A falling population means declining markets, and in fact more austerity because it is more difficult for the next generation of tax payers to provide pensions for the elderly.

Austerity isn't working - how long will it take to get that message across?

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US Bugging for Terror or Money

Are the latest revelations about US survailance more commercial?

New NSA leaks revealed by the British media organisation the Guardian indicate the extent to which monitoring has been done to allies of the US, not just it's potential enemies.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/30/nsa-spying-europe-claims-us-eu-trade

German online news-source Der Spiegel said documents and slides from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicating that the NSA bugged the offices of the EU in Washington and at the United Nations in New York.The would have been meetings largely to do with trade.

It also said they enacted an operation from Brussel's NATO headquarters in order to infiltrate phone and email networks at the Council of the European Union's headquarters in Brussels.

To me this is where the breach of trust exhibited by the American's shows its most ugly head. There are indicators here that the information being fished for is commercially sensitive. The Council of the EU controls an annual budget of over 100 billion euros. Having inside information as to where that money is going is of great value to US companies wishing to market into Europe. What safeguards are in place to prevent such information being used by either the govrnment to influence policy or even being sold on to the private sector?

The answer is none which is why it is so dangerous. We must pressure the US now to limit the global reach of it's power to snoop.

 

 

 

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I loved Jurassic Park

Michael Archer: How we'll resurrect the gastric brooding frog stimulates a debate on the ethics of evelution

Like so many people I was entranced when Jurassic Park hinted that there will come a time when extinct species will be reanimated. The book and film suggest this will be a bad thing. I've always had a theory that your views on evolution reveal a lot about your politics.

Consider for example that someone breaks into your house and steals something. If the government of the day gave you an option to terminate that persons life so as to stop future burglaries, would you think that is a good or a bad thing? It's interesting because there is no evidence that this person has any genetic code that makes them a burglar nor what degree of social stress or environmental upbringing let them to the action for which you could execute them.

Right wing people tend towards eugenics because of a simplistic view of evolution where nature does her work, the weak are culled and the strong survive.

This is probably how it has been for all of time, the fittest have survived because the have been victims or victors or opportunity. The thing about humans in the 21st century is that we have the power to change that. Our purpose should not be to seek the ultimate survival race but instead chase the ultimate diversity. We need to look at all providing an environment for as many of the variations presented to us by DNA as we can find and populate the universe with the most appropriate lifeforms.

Capitalism really should not be killing the poor in the third world - it should be creating lichens on Neptune.

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Capital Eugenics

Are we near a point where the rich have no further need of the poor?

Thanks to Hitler we tend to forget that until he made the concept unfashionable by the systematic murder of a whole spectrum of ethnic minorities, that eugenics was a highly and widely respected social philosophy for many years.

Following on from Darwin's theory of evolution, his cousin Francis Galton first championed the cause and giving the name eugenics to his work. His central premise was that the survival of the fittest should apply to humans as well as animals, and perhaps give a a prod to speed it up a bit. His baton was carried by many governments in the twentieth century who avidly sought to cull numbers by enforce programmes of birth control, genocide, and programmes of ethnic cleansing.

Of course the error here is clear to any reasonable person. The 'prod' is a judgementalism - one human making the decision to end anothers life is always subjective so is wrong. People must have equal opportunity to succeed or fail by their own efforts, and any measures to interfere with that, any human intervention that favours one group against another creates an unlevel playing field which is morally repugnant.

I believe eugenics is still going on, and capitilism is it's weapon. The increasing gap between rich and poor that has taken place over the last thirty years or so is neither an accident, or a natural consequence of greed, but a deliberately orchestrated plan that has a goal.

Our overlords know that automation has a single and inevitable outcome. No more jobs - at least none for the masses. We're seeing at the moment a program by google to do away with car drivers. What is the logical conclusion of that - how many millions of people all over the world will that deprive of work.

Elswhere, the building trade is soon to be overhauled with machines that 3D print directly from architects plans. This will effect millions more. Most manufacturing will be decimated by 3D printing, even fast moving consumer goods when food printing is cracked.

The thing that worries me most about this issue is that the capitalists who have made their money from the labours of the poor no longer have a use for them. They are unlikely to wish to fund vast social programmes so I see only two ways the situation will pan out. Billions of people will get increasingly poor and quietly allowed to die, or as we're seeing with Syria at the moment, an almost deliberate effort will be made to trigger a world war that will eliminate vast numbers of people unneeded by the ruling elite.

What we need to do urgently then is to add capitalism to the dustbin of history where it belongs and make a new start where the efficiencies of automation are shared by all and not the top one percent. I think it will be a much better place to live.

View User Profile for Admin #Andalucia evangelist, social marketer, musician, guitar technician, reformed estate agent, recovering programmer, political disruptor - yup that's me!

The game is up for austerity

Worlds largest Bond fund manager attacks austerity

18 hours ago another revealing story appeared in the Finacial Times. Bill Gross, the manager of PIMCO, the worlds largest bond fund has rounded on the austerity measures being pursued by the US and Europe. 

In a quote that I think will become famous, Mr Gross said:

The UK and almost all of Europe have erred in terms of believing that austerity, fiscal austerity in the short term, is the way to produce real growth. It is not.

Now the thing is you have to consider who this guy is. He's not a left wing trade-union activist. He is a mega-capitalist who makes money trading bonds - big bonds issued by governments. Also consider that this is a complete u-turn as in 2010 he was criticising the UK for carrying too much debt. At a guess he has changed his view after the Reinhart Rogoff fiasco came to light earlier in the week.

This story sheds light on how quickly the support for austerity is waning, and probably hints at a forthcoming about turn in government policy in Europe and the US, so lets get ready for the boom we've been waiting for for so long.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/6c023bdc-a93c-11e2-a096-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2RHZBeAMZ

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Anti-Thatch Music Show

RNE3 plays an hour of protest songs from the 1980's

One of the many joys of living in Spain is the radio station RNE3, which was most aptly described by my partner as a station run by a load of John Peels. It's difficult to define the policy behind what they play but to give you an idea I've heard them play The Sex Pistols at 8am! They play Murcian folk music, Fada, Balinese gamalan ceremonial music and Fela Kuti, one after the other. They have won awards as best radio station in Europe over and over because there is no other station to touch them.

Well last week they surpassed themselves again. Just after Thatcher's death when the BBC were considering banning Ding dong (which made it to number two) RNE3 played an hour of music that captured the spirit of her time in office, which included many anti-Thatcher protest songs.

This Sunday, in 'Sonideros' we remember Margaret Thatcher related songs, perhaps the most controversial political figure of her time, and who aroused the most arguments and hatred. We hear pieces of resistance Britpop written during her years in office, rabid diatribes against her politics and harsh portraits of British society under her mandate by The Specials, The Beat, The Jam, Billy Bragg, The Blow Monkeys and yes, Ella Fitzgerald.

http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/sonideros/sonideros-doctor-soul-rock-margaret-thatcher-14-04-13/1765287/

RNE3 Play songs from the Thatcher Era

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London Thing

Poem written and read by John Elbrow, my nephew.

This is a poem written and read by John Elbrow about London, the city where we both lived and worked. John chooses to live their still and volunteers each year to help the homeless at Crisis at Christmas. I chose not to live there and moved to Spain. Who was right - you decide!

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Insightful as Always

Richard Wolff - nice description of the Cyprus bailout fiasco.

Richard Wolff explains ecomonics in words of one syllable that even dumb folk (like me) can understand!

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