We Don’t Talk

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An anonymous statement was posted today with a link to NSA files which it is claimed, prove that the NSA is spying on people. Not only on American people, but citizens of over 35 different countries. My first thought, and I assume that of many others, was “how is this news?”. Do any of you really imagine that governments are not spying on us; what do you think all the biometric passport and identity card registrations are intended for? These schemes – passports in the “developed” world, ID cards in the rest (generously funded by stronger economies) – are presented as a means to “protect” our identity and to ensure freedom, democracy and the rule of law. It strikes me as like being told to have sex to protect your virginity.

Digression: My second thought, the one that crops up routinely these days, was “why do we always fall into the trap of talking about Anonymous as if it were a tangible entity, and not a concept?” For example “Anonymous releases  NSA files..” instead of “Files were released anonymously..” That is a trap I fall into regularly, and a fight I  know I am never going to win, so I don’t even try.

In the UK, there were and always will be concerns about these adventures which trespass into our private lives. Accordingly, beginning several years ago, we experienced a series of incidents, which were delivered to us as “data breach” revelations in the media, where government staff or contractors had somehow “lost” laptops, CDs, etc., which contained the records of millions of people or even entire families. Before too long, we could expect detailed information on every household in the UK to have been included on one or more of the “lost lists”. As far as I can recall, no one lost their job or was punished in relation to any of these events, and little news was published about what was being done to recover the missing items or data. What a fine strategy those “data breaches” would be for creating an independent database containing information on every person in the UK!

We also see reports in the media including the same major technology and service companies implicated in the NSA data gathering exercise – Apple, Amazon, Google – evading business tax. Between them, these companies also happen to collect data belonging to millions of individuals on identity, finance, movement or location, interactions and relationships. Is this corporate tax avoidance or a discount for services rendered?

Let us not forget the banks and financial institutions that are too big to fail or be adequately punished for misdeeds and “miscalculations“, the governments and super-governments that are too entrenched to be accountable, and the media’s own scandals, manipulation and scare mongering. What your bank doesn’t know about you these days isn’t worth knowing. But it’s worth something to agencies that like to spy on you. The new data centre for Lloyd’s Bank is constructed like a supervillain’s fortress.

Lloyds Banking Group's new IT data centre

Lloyds Banking Group’s new IT data centre

It has more safeguards and failsafes than any similar structure I have ever heard of. That is good news, as long as all they are concerned with is looking after their clients’ money and securing their data. What difference does data centre security make if the bank is willing, or can be coerced under some new law, to simply hand over the data?

Taken together, this paints a rather horrific image: a collage of corruption, criminality, and mismanagement on a “big brother” canvas. These days I see a growing divide, with ordinary citizens showing an interest in alternative currency systems like Bitcoin or bringing back bartering on the one hand, and institutions selling us out on privacy while frothing at the mouth and waging war on (other people’s) corruption and money laundering on the other.

Many of my recent conversations have broached these topics, and the consensus is that people in general are not, as the media tells us, too lazy and self-serving to take action, but rather are trapped in a demotivating pattern of unquestioning acceptance and compliance. The manufactured obsession with new-newer-newest devices and social media, with the latter a long-term offender with regard to suspicionsprivacy scares and scandals, has spawned a self-perpetuating meme-based ecosystem.

teen_sleep

Social media tells us that smartphones or selfies are phenomena, and without question we embrace them, thereby creating and sustaining them. Generally, the feeling is that people need to disengage from the brainwashing, shun the presstitutes, and start to have meaningful, authentic conversations again, to reconnect with the world and their own thoughts, ideas and opinions. It is increasingly evident that a better sleeping pattern wouldn’t go amiss, either.

What do you think? I do actually want to know, yet I have so little confidence that you will respond, beyond the less than one percent of those who read and click “like”. I feel the distance between us more sharply each day, as we drift on these social media currents. Most days, I can barely see the coastline of our conversation.

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Clashes as tens of thousands protest against austerity in Rome

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYoBv-Op11s]

Tens of thousands of people marched through Rome in a “No Monti Day” on Saturday, some throwing eggs and spraying graffiti to protest against austerity measures introduced by Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government.

Appointed in November when Italy risked being sucked into the euro zone debt crisis, Monti has pushed through painful austerity measures to cut the country’s massive debt, including tax hikes, spending cuts and a pension overhaul.

“We are here against Monti and his politics, the same politics as all over Europe, that brought Greece to its knees and that are destroying half of Europe, public schools, health care,” said demonstrator Giorgio Cremaschi.

Police were on alert for possible infiltration by extremists who turned past demonstrations violent. But while protesters threw eggs at bank windows and set off firecrackers, no major incidents were reported.

“United with a Europe that is rebelling. Let’s get rid of the Monti government,” read one of the banners held at the demonstration.

Unemployment in Italy has risen to its highest since monthly records began in 2004 and unions are locked in growing disputes with companies over plant closures and layoffs.

“It’s been years that there have been no investments, instead it’s all outsourced and privatized, we are here to say enough and we hope this voice will grow,” said another demonstrator, Caterina Fida.

Monti has defended the austerity measures, saying he believes his technocrat government will be remembered for having helped Italy pull itself out of a deep economic crisis without needing to resort to external aid.

In another demonstration in northern Italy, a small group of protesters scuffled with police near where Monti was addressing a rally on the theme of family values.

Reuters.

 

#Spain Surrounds Police In Anti- Austerity Riot! | Political Vel Craft

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Spanish protesters enraged with austerity cutbacks and tax hikes clashed with police near the country’s Parliament, while the nation’s borrowing costs increased in an auction of its debt.

More than 1000 riot police blocked off access to the parliament building in the heart of Madrid, forcing most protesters to crowd nearby avenues and shutting down traffic at the height of the evening rush hour.

Police used batons to push back some protesters at the front of the march attended by an estimated 6000 people as tempers flared, and some demonstrators broke down barricades and threw rocks and bottles toward authorities.

Television images showed officers beating protesters in response and several people being dragged away by police, one with his head bloodied.

Spain Financial Crisis

Spain‘s Parliament has taken on the appearance of a heavily guarded fortress with dozens of police blocking access from every possible angle.

Spain’s state TV said at least nine people were injured, including one officer, and that 15 were detained.

The demonstration, organised with an Occupy Congress slogan, drew protesters from all walks of life weary of nine straight months of painful economic austerity measures imposed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his solid majority of politicians. Smaller demonstrations overnight attracted hundreds of protesters in Barcelona and Seville.

Angry Madrid marchers who got as close as they could to parliament, 250 metres away, yelled “Get out!, Get out! They don’t represent us! Fire them!”

spain protests

Their message is clear.

“The only solution is that we should put everyone in parliament out on the street so they know what it’s like,” said Maria Pilar Lopez, a 60-year-old government secretary.

Ms Lopez and others called for fresh elections, claiming the government’s hard-hitting austerity measures are proof that the ruling Popular Party misled voters when it won power last November in a landslide.

While Mr Rajoy has said he has no plans to cut pensions for Spaniards, Ms Lopez fears her retirement age could be raised from 65 to as much as 70. Three of her seven nieces and nephews have been laid off since Mr Rajoy ousted Spain’s Socialists, and she said the prospect of them finding jobs “is very bleak.”

Spain is struggling in its second recession in three years with unemployment near 25 per cent. The country has introduced austerity measures and economic reforms in a bid to convince its euro partners and investors that it is serious about reducing its bloated deficit to 6.3 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012 and 4.5 per cent next year.

The deficit reached 50.1 billion euro ($62.51 billion), equivalent to 4.77 per cent of GDP, through August, the government said overnight. Secretary of State for the budget Marta Fernandez Curras said the deficit “is under control.”

Spain has been under pressure from investors to apply for European Central Bank assistance in keeping its borrowing costs down. Mr Rajoy has yet to say whether Madrid will apply for the aid, reluctant to ask since such assistance comes with strings attached.

Concerns over the country’s public finances were evident when the Treasury sold 3.98 billion euro in short-term debt but at a higher cost.

It sold 1.39 billion euro in three-month bills at an average interest rate of 1.2 per cent, up from 0.95 per cent in the last such auction August 28, and 2.58 billion euro in six-month bills on a yield of 2.21 per cent, up from 2.03 per cent.

The government is expected to present a new batch of reforms later tomorrow as it unveils a draft budget for 2013.

The Daily Telegraph

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‘Deadtowns’ show solidarity with striking #Spain miners

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It has been almost four weeks since miners in Asturias first went on strike, protesting against government cuts meant to reduce Spain’s budget deficit.

The striking workers say they will continue to fight against plans to slash coal subsidies which will result in thousands of job losses.

Anger at the government is demonstrated by a hanging effigy of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy in the tower of the Santiago mine.

“We’re not here because we like to block roads and bother people, but we don’t have any other choice,” said one striking miner.

The area is already struggling, explained a woman supporting the industrial action: “Half the mothers have unemployed children at home.”

Shopkeepers across the northwestern region refused to open up, making their areas into ‘Deadtowns’ in an act of solidarity with the miners.

Eight thousand workers on strike are worried the planned 63 per cent subsidy cut will devastate their industry.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Euronews

#Spain seeks EU bailout in wake of protests

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In the last two weeks, Spain has seen a strike by miners from the regions of Leon and Austurias. These strikes are in response to government austerity measures, and have sometimes resulted in violent confrontations with riot police.

The conservative government raised taxes and cut subsidies in an effort to improve its weak economy. The Spanish economy is stagnant, with a 24% unemployment rate. In response to budget cuts, there have been frequent protests throughout the country.

On May 23, coal miners began the newest strike after Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy proposed cutting subsidies for coal mines from €301 million last year to €111 million. Unions have warned the cuts would make Spanish coal less competitive and will lead to closures and job losses at country’s 40 coal mines.

Since the strike began, citizens have documented violent clashes filled with burning barricades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said the country will stick to its austerity measures. Meanwhile miners have called an indefinite strike until the government revises budget cuts.

via IN DEPTH: Mining protests in Spain- June 2012 – YouTube.