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Essay: John Rawls and Robert Nozick: liberalism vs …

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Aug 152015

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These days , in the occasional university philosophy classroom, the differences between Robert Nozicks Anarchy, State, and Utopia (libertarianism) and John Rawls A Theory of Justice (social liberalism) are still discussed vigorously. In order to demonstrate a broad spectrum of possible political philosophies it is necessary to define the outer boundaries, these two treatises stand like sentries at opposite gatesof the polis

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. Rawls presents an account of justice in the form of two principles: (1) liberty principle= peoples equal basic liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience (religion), and the right to vote should be maximized, and (2) difference principle= inequalities in social and economic goods are acceptable only if they promote the welfare of the least advantaged members of society. Rawls writes in the social contract tradition. He seeks to define equilibrium points that, when accumulated, form a civil system characterized by what he calls justice as fairness. To get there he deploys an argument whereby people in an original position (state of nature), make decisions (legislate laws) behind a veil of ignorance (of their place in the society rich or poor) using a reasoning technique he calls reflective equilibrium. It goes something like: behind the veil of ignorance, with no knowledge of their own places in civil society, Rawls posits that reasonable people will default to social and economic positions that maximize the prospects for the worst off feed and house the poor in case you happen to become one. Its much like the prisoners dilemma in game theory. By his own words Rawls = left-liberalism.

Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, libertarian response to Rawls which argues that only a minimal state devoted to the enforcement of contracts and protecting people against crimes like assault, robbery, fraud can be morally justified. Nozick suggests that the fundamental question of political philosophy is not how government should be organized but whether there should be any state at all, he is close to John Locke in that government is legitimate only to the degree that it promotes greater security for life, liberty, and property than would exist in a chaotic, pre-political state of nature. Nozick concludes, however, that the need for security justifies only a minimal, or night-watchman, state, since it cannot be demonstrated that citizens will attain any more security through extensive governmental intervention. (Nozick p.25-27)

the state may not use its coercive apparatus for the purpose of getting some citizens to aid others, or in order to prohibit activities to people for their own good or protection. (Nozick Preface p.ix)



Some Practical Questions for Rawls:

Some Practical Questions for Nozick:

Read The Liberal Imagination of Frederick Douglass for an excellent discussion on the state of liberalism in America today.


Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Robert Nozick. Basic Books. 1974

A Theory of Justice. John Rawls. Harvard University Press. 1971

Disclaimer: This is a forum for me to capture in digital type my understanding of various philosophies and philosophers. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the interpretations.

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Essay: John Rawls and Robert Nozick: liberalism vs …

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Wikipedia vs NSA – PREVENTING THE TRUTH – Video

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Mar 132015

For a very long time now I have posted videos telling you about Wikipedia. They are now suing NSA for violations of the first and fourth amedments. We now officially know that the NSA and other…

By: sonofmabarker

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Wikipedia vs NSA – PREVENTING THE TRUTH – Video

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NSA sued over surveillance by Wikimedia & more

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Mar 132015

Chris Davies

The NSA may be used to lurking in the shadows and quietly reading our emails, but the ACLU and Wikimedia Foundation aren’t willing to let them stay that way, filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the government agency’s actions. The suit, filed today in the US District Court for the District of Maryland, takes issue with NSA “upstream” surveillance which, it’s argued, needlessly and intrusively gathers huge quantities of text-based messages sent and received by innocent people. That, the ACLU insists, is an infringement of both First and Fourth Amendment rights, among other things.

The core of the controversy is the National Security Agency’s use of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA) to justify its activities. That Act, the agency argues, gives it the legal permission to tap into the “backbone” of the internet in the name of gathering communications with “non-U.S. persons.”

By collaborating with infrastructure operators like AT&T and Verizon, to get a direct tap into the bulk messaging feed, the NSA can run thousands of keyword searches to hunt for anything vaguely suspicious.

However, the ACLU points out, no court approves each search, or each target, and “the limitations that do exist are weak and riddled with exceptions.” There are also suspicions that the NSA is keeping and indexing communications far longer than they’re meant to.

Along with the ACLU and the Wikimedia Foundation, the lawsuit includes The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, PEN American Center, Global Fund for Women, The Nation Magazine, The Rutherford Institute, and The Washington Office on Latin America.

“These plaintiffs sensitive communications have been copied, searched, and likely retained by the NSA,” the ACLU said in a statement on the lawsuit. “Upstream surveillance hinders the plaintiffs ability to ensure the basic confidentiality of their communications with crucial contacts abroad among them journalists, colleagues, clients, victims of human rights abuses, and the tens of millions of people who read and edit Wikipedia pages.”

It’s not the first time the ACLU has attempted to tackle how broadly the NSA interprets the FAA. In fact, the group filed a suit back in 2008 shortly after it was made law, only to be rejected by the Supreme Court in 2013 for not having sufficient proof that spying had, in fact, taken place.

Since then, of course, whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed huge quantities of information on the upstream surveillance being undertaken by his former employers.

NSA sued over surveillance by Wikimedia & more

Why Wikimedia Is Suing To Shield Users From NSA Surveillance – Video

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Mar 122015

Why Wikimedia Is Suing To Shield Users From NSA Surveillance
Volunteers produce most Wikipedia entries, and the lawsuit alleges the NSA's potential surveillance will deter those contributors. Follow Jamal Andress:…

By: Newsy

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Why Wikimedia Is Suing To Shield Users From NSA Surveillance – Video

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NSA sued by Wikipedia parent group over mass surveillance

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Mar 122015

Wikipedia’s parent group, Wikimedia Foundation, is suing the US National Security Agency (NSA) for what it dubs the “suspicionless seizure and searching of internet traffic by the agency on US soil”.

The legal action has been filed by Wikimedia and eight other groups against the NSA and the Department of Justice (DoJ), in a federal court in Maryland, where the spy agency is based.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, said that Wikimedia is filing the suit on behalf of Wikipedia’s readers and editors everywhere.

“Surveillance erodes the original promise of the internet: an open space for collaboration and experimentation, and a place free from fear,” he said.

In its official complaint, Wikimedia said that the NSA conducts its “upstream” surveillance by tapping directly into the internet backbone inside the US.

It described this backbone as “the network of high-capacity cables, switches, and routers that today carry vast numbers of Americans’ communications with each other and with the rest of the world”.

By intercepting traffic, the NSA is seizing Americans’ communications en masse while they are in transit, said Wikimedia, and this surveillance “exceeds the scope of the authority that congress provided in the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008 and violates the First and Fourth Amendments”.

In a blog post, the foundation’s legal counsel said that the FAA authorises the collection of these communications if they fall into the broad category of “foreign intelligence information”, which includes any data that could be construed as relating to national security or foreign affairs.

“The programme casts a vast net, and as a result, captures communications that are not connected to any target’, or may be entirely domestic. This includes communications by our users and staff,” the organisation added.

Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said that “by tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy”.

NSA sued by Wikipedia parent group over mass surveillance

Wikipedia is suing the NSA over online spying

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Mar 112015

The nonprofit behind Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, is suing the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice over a government surveillance program. The suit challenges a program that collects databy tapping into the infrastructure, or backbone, the Web is built on.

“We are asking the court to order an end to the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of Internet traffic,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wrote in a New York Times opinion piece about the suit.

The Justice Department spokesperson said the agency isreviewing the complaint. TheNSA did not immediately respond a request for comment about the suit.

The suit allegesthat the government has been tappinginto cables that are part of the Internet’s infrastructure, a practice often called “Upstream” collection, which violates the First and Fourth Amendments, according to a blog post from Wikimedia.

Such programs have been targeted in other lawsuits,including the long-running Jewel v. NSA case, which was originallybased on documents from aAT&T technician in San Francisco.Some cases about government surveillance have either been thrown out or stalled after failing to prove they were specifically targetedby thegovernment surveillance programs.

But that may be less of an issue for Wikimedia, which has based its case largely on informationdisclosed byNSA contractor Edward Snowden. Some Snowden documentsappearedto showthat the government is tapping into cables that connect the United States to the rest of the online world. One government slide disclosed by Snowdensuggested that Wikipedia and its userswere targeted as part of government surveillance programs, the lawsuit alleges.

However, there may be other legal hurdles. Last month, Jewel v. NSA hit a significant roadblock when a federal judge sided with the government’s state secret defense — ruling that the plaintiffscould not win their challenge over NSA tapping of the Internet backbone without disclosing information that would harm national security.

The type and amount of data collected as part of these programs are unclear. But the data could reveal details about people’s browsing history, scaring somefrom using the Internet freely, privacy advocates have argued.

By tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy, Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov said in a blog post about the suit. Wikipedia is founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and information. By violating our users privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is central to peoples ability to create and understand knowledge.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing plaintiffs inWikimedia v. NSA, a group that includesHuman Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, Global Fund for Women, and The Nation Magazine among others.

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Wikipedia is suing the NSA over online spying

Wikipedia Just Joined the List of Pissed-Off Organizations Suing the NSA

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Mar 112015

Wikipedia’s parent organization just joined the fight against dragnet government surveillance.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit today against the National Security Administration for its spying tactics. The lawsuit challenges the NSA’s surveillance program as a violation of Fourth Amendment privacy rights, an infringement on First Amendment rights, and an overstepping of the authority given to the NSA under Congress’ FISA Amendments Act.

“The reason we’re filing this lawsuit is that we feel we’ve been harmed directly by the NSA,” Wikimedia General Counsel Geoff Brigham told me, noting that the NSA explicitly targeted Wikipedia in a top secret document revealed by Edward Snowden. Plaintiffs stretch across political boundaries and include both conservative and liberal organizations.

This is far from the only recent lawsuit against the NSA. In February, a judge announced that he can’t rule in Jewel vs. NSA, a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against the NSA’s spying tactics. The EFF has also filed a suit regarding government spying in July 2013 (First Unitarian vs. NSA) and helped the ACLU on the legal team for Smith vs. Obama, which also argued that bulk government data collection violates a citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights.

So far, none of these cases have worked out. Smith v. Obama was dismissed. And the ACLU cited Clapper vs. Amnesty as a precedent to this case. While that lawsuit wound up dismissed by the Supreme Court after it determined that plaintiffs couldn’t prove they were getting spied on, there’s still a lot of optimism this time around.

“I expect the district court will rule in our favor and that the NSA will accept that ruling,” Bingham told me.

First Unitarian is still pending, and also boasts a long and weird list of organizations united together primarily by their reluctance to be okay with sweeping government surveillance. Just to give you a glimpse at the scope of furious groups, here’s a list of all the companies and organizations currently participating in pending suits related to the NSA’s surveillance program:

I have a feeling this list will just keep growing if the pending cases aren’t heard soon. So far, Obama’s weak stabs at NSA reform haven’t exactly soothed reasonable concerns that government surveillance is an uncontrolled privacy piss-storm.

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Bitcoin – Wikipedia

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Feb 142015

Da Wikipedia, l’enciclopedia libera.

Bitcoin (simbolo: ; codice: BTC o XBT) una moneta elettronica creata nel 2009 da un anonimo conosciuto con lo pseudonimo di Satoshi Nakamoto, implementando un’idea dello stesso autore presentata su Internet a fine 2008. Convenzionalmente, il termine Bitcoin maiuscolo si riferisce alla tecnologia ed alla rete mentre il minuscolo bitcoin si riferisce alla valuta in s.[2]

A differenza della maggior parte delle valute tradizionali, Bitcoin non fa uso di un ente centrale: esso utilizza un database distribuito tra i nodi della rete che tengono traccia delle transazioni, e sfrutta la crittografia per gestire gli aspetti funzionali come la generazione di nuova moneta e l’attribuzione di propriet dei bitcoin.

La rete Bitcoin consente il possesso ed il trasferimento anonimo delle monete; i dati necessari ad utilizzare i propri bitcoin possono essere salvati su uno o pi personal computer sotto forma di “portafoglio” digitale, o mantenuti presso terze parti che svolgono funzioni simili ad una banca. In ogni caso, i bitcoin possono essere trasferiti attraverso Internet verso chiunque disponga di un “indirizzo bitcoin”. La struttura peer-to-peer della rete Bitcoin e la mancanza di un ente centrale rende impossibile per qualunque autorit, governativa o meno, di bloccare la rete, sequestrare bitcoin ai legittimi possessori o di svalutarla creando nuova moneta.

Bitcoin una delle prime implementazioni di un concetto definito criptovaluta qui, descritto per la prima volta nel 1998 da Wei Dai su una mailing list[3].

Il controvalore totale dell’economia Bitcoin, calcolato a dicembre 2012 era di circa 140 milioni di dollari statunitensi[4], in aprile 2013 1,4 miliardi di dollari statunitensi[5], nel novembre 2013, con un cambio 1 bitcoin = 540 USD, il controvalore sale ancora a pi di 6 miliardi di dollari statunitensi[6].

L’economia basata sui bitcoin ancora molto piccola, se paragonata ad economie stabilite da lungo tempo, ed il software ancora in uno stato di beta release, tuttavia sono gi commercializzati in bitcoin merci e servizi reali quali, ad esempio, automobili usate o contratti di sviluppo software. I bitcoin vengono accettati sia per servizi online sia per beni tangibili[7].

Sono moltissimi ormai gli enti, le organizzazioni e le associazioni che accettano donazioni in bitcoin; tra i tanti si possono citare la Electronic Frontier Foundation[8], The Pirate Bay[9], Free Software Foundation[10] e anche Wikimedia Foundation[11].

possibile inoltre acquistare da altri grandi siti come Amazon o eBay attraverso alcuni intermediari. Dal novembre 2013 l’Universit di Nicosia, a Cipro, accetta il bitcoin come mezzo di pagamento della tasse universitarie.[12]. Alcuni commercianti, utilizzando appositi siti di cambio, permettono di cambiare bitcoin in diverse valute, ivi compresi dollari statunitensi, euro, rubli russi e yen giapponesi[13].

Chiunque pu controllare la catena dei blocchi (detta Blockchain) ed osservare le transazioni in tempo reale. Diversi servizi sono gi disponibili per facilitare queste operazioni.[14][15]

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Sedona ~ Raven’s Cosmic Portal

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Feb 112015

Sedona Portal Retreat Safe ~ Affordable ~ Comfortable ~ Healing ~ Ideal Location ~ Fun ~ Capture ORBs on film for you! ~ Beautiful Views! Local Private Trail head ~ Observation deck ~ Psychic Aboard ~ Tour Guide ~ FREE Tea & Coffee & Toast ~ Flower & Fresh Fruit~ Scotties & Kitties & Tortoise too! A one of a kind experience!

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Cosmic Tours Sacred Vortex ~ Film Orbs~ Spiritual Breakthroughs!Breath work ~ Intuitive Life Coach ~ PRIVATE Day & Night Tours ~ Feel the energy of the land as you collect the gifts of the Vortexes ~ DNA Activation. Merkabah ~ Wildlife ~ Ravens Haven!

Experience OrbsInter~Dimensional Angels ~ Mysterious Life Forms ~ Spiritual Guardians ~ Tours with photos of you and ORBs ~ Day or Night!

Sonic Gateway Experience ~ Sedonas Heaven on Earth Foundation ~ non-profit ~ DIVINE PERFORMANCE HEALING ART THROUGH SONICS ~ LIGHT ~ COLOR ~ TOUCH ~ & MOVEMENT ~ Interactive Leading Edge Revival ***

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Raven’s Cosmic Blog!

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Satire and Sanity: Where Do You Draw the Line? (News Analysis)

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Jan 152015

“We have the right to make dumb jokes.”

— Tina Fey

I’m a free speech advocate. I’ve been arrested and I have served jail time for exercising my First Amendment rights. As a reporter, magazine editor and political cartoonist, I’ve received complaints (and a few rare death threats) for my work. So it goes without saying that I share the global outrage over the brutal murders of the cartoonists and staff at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. It chills the blood to imagine any American cartoonist being placed in the crosshairs of a Kalashnikov. No matter your race, religion, history or lifestyle, murder is a heinous crimefar worse than even the most wounding insult.

But after dwelling on the causes and effects of this tragedy, I find that I have some qualms about the argument that there should be no limits to the exercise of free speech.

My concerns begin with a question: “At what point does satire become bullying?” At what point does satire morph from a deftly wielded surgical tool into a blunt instrument of personal or cultural assault? As we have seen, a pen can draw a cartoon but a weaponized cartoon can draw blood. Does the cause of “free speech” bind us to defend slanders, lies and defamation?

Many advocates of free speech make a point of defending uncensored and fearless public expressionbut only so long as the speech does not veer into venomous and hateful rhetoric. When “free speech” devolves into racist or misogynistic invective, it can prove as devastating to public peace as yelling “Fire!” in the legendary “crowded auditorium.” Such mean-spirited expressions are classified as “hate speech” and are characterized by content that “offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.”

Unclothed Emperors Versus the Naked Masses

Satire, as a form of mockery, reads entirely differently depending on where and how it is directed. Ridicule directed against the powerfulwhether the target be a wealthy member of the elite or a multinational corporationis most easily recognized as the proper use of the satiric tool. However, ridicule directed against the powerless, the disenfranchised, or the disabled can be seen as inappropriate and coldhearted bullying.

Even hate speech can be nuanced by the interplay of social realities. It’s one thing for the oppressed to call for the elimination of the ruling classes; it’s another matter for the rulers to call for the elimination of masses. Regicide and genocide are both crimes but there is a vast difference in scale.

Satire, as defined by Wikipedia, is “a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement.”

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Satire and Sanity: Where Do You Draw the Line? (News Analysis)

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FTP Episode 003 | Cryptocurrency Talk, Casheer and Wikipedia – Video

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Jan 042015

FTP Episode 003 | Cryptocurrency Talk, Casheer and Wikipedia
Join us for Episode 3 of the Fun Time Podcast with Ross Marius. SUBSCRIBE NOW :) In this episode we discuss crypto currencies, the crypto payment system Ca…

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FTP Episode 003 | Cryptocurrency Talk, Casheer and Wikipedia – Video

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Bitcoin Zebra – Faucet

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Dec 212014

2014-12-20 Weekly payment run completed – over 276 million satoshi (2.76 BTC) paid out! Full details here

SPECIAL PROMOTION: Receive a huge 50% bonus on all your earnings by switching to immediate Xapo wallet payments!!! Click here for full details

You have a chance of winning each of the following amounts (average is currently 344 satoshi)…

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Bitcoin Zebra is a completely FREE bitcoin faucet paying out up to 1000 satoshi every hour. Each time you visit this page and feed the zebra you will receive a faucet payout amount randomly selected from the available amounts shown in green above.

As well as the faucet we also have some information about other ways you can earn bitcoins. Head on over to the earn more page for details of other free bitcoin faucets, bitcoin gambling and casino sites and bitcoin mining opportunities. And we also run a very generous referral program which pays commission of at least 50% on EVERY faucet payout made to new accounts that you send over to us!

If you need any more information then please scroll down to see a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment system introduced as open source software in 2009. The digital currency created and used in the system is alternatively referred to as a virtual currency, electronic money, or a cryptocurrency because cryptography is used to control its creation and transfer. Conventionally, the capitalized word “Bitcoin” refers to the technology and network, whereas lowercase “bitcoin” refers to the digital currency. Read more about Bitcoin on Wikipedia

Bitcoin Zebra is a bitcoin faucet. A bitcoin faucet is a web site that dispenses small amounts of bitcoins (or satoshi) for simply entering your bitcoin wallet address and solving a captcha (to prove that you are human). This faucet like most others is funded by donations and advertisements (so please turn off your ad-blocking software!). Donations: 1DXhNVViVYu4xPGUu4pYH2cTr72UPMqKAt

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Bitcoin Exchange Rate Predicts 1 BITCOIN = $700,000 BitCoin Video – Video

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Dec 132014

Bitcoin Exchange Rate Predicts 1 BITCOIN = $700,000 BitCoin Video
WHAT… An experts opinion of where we are headed. The likes of Gold hitting $5K an oz. in the near Future… Silver $500 WHAT IF… Take a closer look Wikipedia…

By: MetComTowers

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Campaign Spending Freedom Is Great For Speech and The Advertising-Media Sector

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Oct 162014

Many voices on the left complained vociferously each time in the past few years that the Supreme Court rolled back unconstitutional campaign finance restrictions. Yet the loosening of the rules on campaign donations and campaign spending are showing positive signs in both the political arena and in an economic one: the advertising sector.

In terms of politics, it should be self-evident that more speech is better than less. The first amendment really only had two points as the Founding Fathers saw it: protect the press so they could expose any government wrongdoing and ensure freedom of speech for political arguments. Nude dancing was not on their minds.

Read the history of the revolutionary period and the early presidential campaigns and you will realize that the campaigns were wild, often dirty, free-wheeling affairs. Todays negative campaigners have nothing on their forefathers of two centuries ago.

New Orleans house with a collection of signs for all the mayoral candidates, with the comment More candidates than voters? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet, beginning with a perhaps natural reaction to Watergate, a few incumbent politicians who wanted to protect their own reelections by making it harder for non-incumbents to raise money pushed through a series of restrictions on campaign financing, effectively reducing freedom of speech. We should all be glad that we are moving back in the direction of freedom of political speech. And no one has more to be glad about than the political operatives who design and buy advertising time and the corporations who sell the media slots to them.

According to Ashley Parker in The New York Times, spending on political advertising for the 2014 elections is up 70 percent over the last midterm elections in 2010. That will add up to about $2 billion in advertising buys just on House and Senate races with gubernatorial and local races added to that. Media consultants and campaign advisors who help design their candidates media strategy and place the advertising buys commonly earn high salaries and commissions equal to as much as 7 percent of the advertising spending.

That means that media consultants could stand to make $50 million off the increased spending just in the Congressional races. Freedom of speech appears to be excellent for media consultants. The Supreme Courts ruling in Citizens United might have been one of the best stimulus actions of the entire Obama presidency.

For media companies that are selling the advertising space, the increased political advertising is a bit of a mixed bag. Political candidates must be offered time or space for their ads at the lowest rates the outlet has charged to any other advertisers for equivalent spots. That means that more political ads could mean lower revenues for the media companies.

However, there is good news for the media companies as well. In this election cycle, an increased share of the political ads is being bought by outside groups. Outside groups do not benefit from the same preferential pricing, so media companies can charge them higher rates. Thus, the Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United that have made it easier for such groups to operate is a boon to those selling space for political ads.

Political speech is a good thing. When all sides and parties are free to express their opinions and make their case in favor of their causes and candidates, we get better, more informed elections and hopefully better election results.

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Campaign Spending Freedom Is Great For Speech and The Advertising-Media Sector

Schooling The Nation's Governors

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Oct 162014

Te Cato Cato Institute has long issued areport card on the nations governors. The grades are based on what Cato thinks constitutes good fiscal policy. Governors who work for policy like that get As, and those who dont get Fs. Back when my libertarianism was still in the closet, I wrote critically of the Cato report card. I now regret my harsh critiques of the project because I believe Cato does the nation a great service by analyzing, assessing, and rating state executives.

That doesnt mean everyone does or should agree with Catos assessment of each governor. The report card serves as a marker representing the institutes views, and those views challenge liberal and traditional conservative thinking on fiscal issues. Reading the report card and other works by the institute may change some minds. But more importantly, it broadens the debate over the role of fiscal policy in particular and government more generally. So if you pray at the altar of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities or of Citizens for Tax Justice, I hope you wont reflexively dismiss the Cato report card. Rather, I hope youll seriously consider the arguments in it. I also encourage libertarians and conservatives to follow the work of theCBPP,Citizens for Tax Justice, andGood Jobs Firstclosely. Just because their political philosophy is different than yours doesnt make their fiscal arguments wrong.

Entrance to the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that I have everyone holding hands, lets look at this years report card.There were only four A students, which tells you that Cato is a tough grader. IndianasMike Pence(R), MainesPaul LePage(R), KansassSam Brownback(R), and North CarolinasPat McCrory(R) were rated the only excellent governors when it comes to fiscal policy.

I realize that picking those four will jeopardize the possibility of any liberals taking the report card seriously. All four significantly cut taxes and have fought for less government spending, so its not surprising that Chris Edwards and Nicole Kaeding of Cato put them at the front of the class.

I like most of those choices. I think LePage (who removed 70,000 low-income citizens from the tax rolls), McCrory (who led significant reform), and Pence (who should get an A for fighting to eliminate the personal property tax on business equipment) deserved their grades. However, I disagree with the Brownback grade. While I generally like the idea of income and business tax cuts, I think Brownback deserves a D for supporting a policy that exempts from taxation income from passthrough entities. Thats bad tax policy whether youre conservative, liberal, or libertarian. By the way, LePage and Brownback are seeking reelection this year, and right now the polls suggest they wont be coming back to the governors mansion.

Eight governors failed: MinnesotasMark Dayton(DFL), OregonsJohn Kitzhaber(D), DelawaresJack Markell(D), WashingtonsJay Inslee(D), IllinoissPat Quinn(D), MassachusettssDeval Patrick(D), ColoradosJohn Hickenlooper(D), and CaliforniasJerry Brown(D). That sounds harsh to most Americans. We dont fail. Kids get straight As, go to Ivy League schools, and eventually work in a profession their parents can brag about. The failing governors are what we used to call tax-and-spend liberals. None have met a tax (or a spending policy) they didnt embrace. So I generally agree with Cato on its assessment of the worst kids in the class. Of those up for reelection, only Quinn is in any danger of not retaining his position.

The one governor who should have gotten an F but inexplicably received a B isAndrew Cuomo. The Democrat from New York pushed the worst tax policy idea of all time: tax-free zones. Im disappointed Cato didnt call him on it.

This post is an excerpt of an article that first appeared inState Tax Notes.

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Free Speech | Electronic Frontier Foundation

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Free Speech | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Sep 022014

Social networking websites allow groups to grow from a dozen friends, to a hundred hobbyists, to a huge organization that transcends national borders. Meanwhile, a new generation of citizen journalists have taken to (micro)blogging and video live-streaming to expose the world to stories that would otherwise go unheard. Websites like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive contribute to a new open-source model of sharing and preserving information.

In countless ways the Internet is radically enhancing our access to information and empowering us to share ideas and connect with the entire world. Speech thrives online freed of limitations inherent in traditional print or broadcast media that are created by corporate gatekeepers.

Preserving the Internet’s open architecture is critical to sustaining free speech. But this technological capacity means little without sufficient legal protections. If laws can censor us to limit our access to certain information, or restrict use of communication tools, then the Internet’s incredible potential will go unrealized.

Governmental organizations have time and again tried to do just that. Censorship laws often aim at speech that would also be restricted offline, but they can also erect new barriers to free expression on the Internet in order to privilege established stakeholders. When old laws are not properly adapted to this medium, it’s all too easy for governments and companies to undermine your rights.

EFF defends the Internet as a platform for free speech, and believes that when you go online, your rights should come with you. Learn more below and consider supporting our efforts.

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Free Speech | Electronic Frontier Foundation

HERITAGE: Mysterious isles of East Indonesia

 Islands  Comments Off on HERITAGE: Mysterious isles of East Indonesia
May 252014

WE were the only ones there at peak season, Shivaji Das observes of his trip to the Kelimutu coloured lakes in Flores, listed on Wikipedia as the islands most famous tourist attraction. Thats what makes these islands a bit special, he says.

Das was at Universiti Malaya last month to give a talk on his newly launched travel ebook, Journeys With The Caterpillar, that charts his adventures in the Eastern Indonesian islands of Sumba and Flores with his then partner, now wife, Lobo (real name Yolanda Yu).

These relatively unknown islands seem to be a curious choice for two lovebirds, but Das lists their other options as Nepal and Syria, proving that these two choose the road less travelled by (and also less air-conditioned) whatever the circumstances. As it were, he says, Indonesia was the cheapest option with the best weather.

Its very different from Bali, he tells an audience of students and academics who will probably venture no further than that glossy destination when it comes to Indonesian islands. Its still very raw.

Sumba, Das informs us, is known as the Texas of Indonesia. Its very dry and you have a lot of flatlands and small hills. And of course horses. About a hundred years ago, the Sumba used to export horses. They still do, though not to the extent it once was and horses still play a major role in their culture, especially in annual festivals like Pasola, where horseback riders throw spears at each other.

Flores on the other hand, is wet and mountainous and has many volcanoes. These volcanoes, Kelimutu specifically, are the cradles for the lakes that change colour according to the oxidation state of the lakes. But more captivating than their landscapes is their culture.

PINK BUFFALOES AND MONOLITHS In his three-week travel, Das managed to cover a lot of ground and also discover much about the daily lives and festivities of the people of Sumba and Flores.

In Flores they say they dont have a face, Das says as the projector reveals a slide populated with faces that seemed to look like they are from South America and Africa. If you look at their faces, theyre all very different. From a Creole face to sharper features to more Javanese features.

These variations can be attributed to the rich colonial history of Flores, waves of colonisation as Das calls it, from neighbouring islands of Sumbawa and Sulawesi, and the Portuguese, then the Dutch.

On Sumba and Flores, a lot of importance is placed on ancestor worship, although most of Flores is nominally Roman Catholic. It is especially strong in Sumba, where the practice is called Marupu. In recent years, there has been a new surge of pride in their culture.

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HERITAGE: Mysterious isles of East Indonesia

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Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Video

 Fifth Amendment  Comments Off on Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Video
May 012014

Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
This is a synthesized speech reading of the Wikipedia article “Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution” and is intended primarily for blind and visually impaired individuals who can…

By: Frank Eckstein

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Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Video

Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Video

 Fourth Amendment  Comments Off on Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Video
May 012014

Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
This is a synthesized speech reading of the Wikipedia article “Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution” and is intended primarily for blind and vi…

By: Frank Eckstein

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Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Video

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