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Exporting Big Brother

Oh, so now they’re worried? This has always been the problem with technology. We eventually ask “Should we?” but only long after we’ve asked, “Can we?” (Or, as the nuns would say, locking the barn door after the horse is out.) But it really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to realize we’re still exporting American products, even if it’s only to oppress people! Via the Washington Post:

Northern Virginia technology entrepreneur Jerry Lucas hosted his first trade show for makers of surveillance gear at the McLean Hilton in May 2002. Thirty-five people attended.

Nine years later, Lucas holds five events annually across the world, drawing hundreds of vendors and thousands of potential buyers for an industry that he estimates sells $5 billion of the latest tracking, monitoring and eavesdropping technology each year. Along the way these events have earned an evocative nickname: The Wiretappers’ Ball.

The products of what Lucas calls the “lawful intercept” industry are developed mainly in Western nations such as the United States but are sold throughout the world with few restrictions. This burgeoning trade has alarmed human rights activists and privacy advocates, who call for greater regulation because the technology has ended up in the hands of repressive governments such as those of Syria, Iran and China.

“You need two things for a dictatorship to survive — propaganda and secret police,” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who has proposed bills to restrict the sale of surveillance technology overseas. “Both of those are enabled in a huge way by the high-tech companies involved.”

But the overwhelming U.S. government response has been to engage in the event not as a potential regulator, but as a customer.

He’s part of the brotherhood

Yes it’s chain lightning
It feels so good.

The decline of unions, outsourcing, off-shoring, politicians who are bought and paid for by corporate kingpins — all of these factors and more have resulted in levels of employee pay that would have sickened our parents and grandparents:

For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling. That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.

Back in 1914, Henry Ford announced he was paying workers on his Model T assembly line $5 a day – three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal termed his action “an economic crime.”

But Ford knew it was a cunning business move. The higher wage turned Ford’s auto workers into customers who could afford to buy Model T’s. In two years Ford’s profits more than doubled.

That was then. Now, Ford Motor Company is paying its new hires half what it paid new employees a few years ago. The basic bargain is over – not only at Ford but all over the American economy.

New data from the Commerce Department shows employee pay is now down to the smallest share of the economy since the government began collecting wage and salary data in 1929. Meanwhile, corporate profits now constitute the largest share of the economy since 1929.

1929, by the way, was the year of the Great Crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

More here.

If Mitt Romney had really said this stuff, people might start thinking he has a personality. Don’t worry — he didn’t, doesn’t.

Wow, man

My friend Cos sends this with the note, “Someone must have had super negative energy around this tofu pan and it exploded in a vegan rage.”

Fire investigators in Portland, Ore., are trying to figure out how cleaning a pan of tofu could cause an explosion that broke out a window and resulted in $15,000 of damage.

Fire Bureau spokesman Paul Corah tells The Oregonian that a woman in the Old Town district said she cooked tofu Sunday night, and as she washed the pan, a blast knocked a 4-by-6-foot window into the street.

Corah says the 25-year-old woman could tell investigators only that the hot pan “flashed” as she rinsed it. She suffered a slight hand burn.

Did you see this on your teevee?

Me neither. Seems like two million people in the streets is worth a mention:

Thom Hartmann

If money is free speech, why not tents?

Violence Against Women Act.

(forwarded from an email I received.)

The Violence Against Women Act is due for reauthorization. Our wonderful champions, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), will introduce a bipartisan bill on Wednesday (11/30) to reauthorize and improve VAWA! The National Task Force has worked closely with them on the bill to ensure that it will not only continue proven effective programs, but that it will make key changes to streamline VAWA and make sure that even more people have access to safety, stability and justice. This is an important step forward for VAWA and we hope to get even more improvements as the bill moves forward!

What’s most important now is to get the Senators on the list below excited about VAWA and to get their support for the bill. If you live in any of the states listed below, please call your Senator(s) TODAY and ask for them to be original co-sponsors of VAWA. We need to keep their phones ringing!

Talking points:
We know that Senator _________ cares about ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The Violence Against Women Act is critical to our ability to address these crimes in our state.
There is evidence showing that VAWA has saved millions of dollars and countless lives.
We are asking for you to be an original co-sponsor of the Leahy/Crapo bill that will be introduced on Wednesday.
Please contact Anya McMurray or Noah Bookbinder at (202)224-7703 to sign on to the bill.

So much larger than life

“Big Time” was in the soundtrack of Inside Job, the Academy Award-winning film about Wall Street crooks. Probably not on Mike Bloomberg’s Top Ten list (the song or the film).

Every time I think this guy can’t possibly seem any worse, he opens his mouth and proves he’s not only an arrogant plutocrat, but also a dangerous one:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the New York Police Department was like his own personal military force during a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to PolitickerNY. “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world,” he said. More here.

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