Fred Griffin
ISPs are the New Secret Police
Amplify’d from www.pcworld.com

ISPs Are the New Secret Police, Says Report

More and more European Union member states are delegating online policing to private companies and Internet service providers, according to a report released Wednesday.

Where law enforcement agencies would traditionally have tackled the problem of illegal online content, more powers are being given to ISPs in the name of industry self-regulation, according to a study by the organization European Digital Rights (EDRI). That trend is likely to become stronger with increasing “extra-judicial sanctions” against consumers, EDRI said

"The European Commission appears far from perturbed by the dangers for fundamental rights of this approach and appears keen to export the approach. This process is gradually strangling the openness that is at the core of the Internet. This openness has enhanced democracy, has shaken dictatorships and has boosted economies worldwide. This openness is what we will lose through privatized policing of the Internet by private companies," said Joe McNamee, Advocacy Coordinator at European Digital Rights.

Read more at www.pcworld.com
 
llinois Democrats Pass Huge Tax Increase - via Britta Rivera
Amplify’d from brittaj17.wordpress.com

IL STATE TAX APPROVED, 66% INCREASE-and I’m pissed!

CAN WE FIRE THEM ALL NOW!  The votes are in, and we will pay the new 5% state tax for individuals, and 7% state tax, for business owners, in the upcoming year.  Are they all crazy?  THIS IS THE LARGEST INCREASE IN HISTORY.  While I understand the state in a serious crisis, and owe billions of dollars, don’t they realize the public is in a crisis of their own?  We have also gone through a “recession” and are feeling the pinch.  We just made adjustments to our spending, we did not ask for a raise.  Why can’t they cut spending, and stop paying huge salaries to useless family members, and city worker’s on the payroll for pretend jobs?

GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK!

Rejecting pleas that Illinois is headed down a destructive path, the Illinois House has approved one of the largest tax hikes in state history, boosting the individual income tax from 3% to 5%, and the corporate rate from 4.8% to 7%.

   The action by the lame-duck House sent the bill to the Senate, which is expected to approve it and send it to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature before the new Legislature takes office at noon on Wednesday.

   But Republicans focused on the fact that, though the bill also includes spending caps, state spending would still rise at least from $36.8 billion in fiscal 2012 to $39.1 billion in fiscal 2015. They unanimously voted no.

   ”We’ll be right back where we are now,” said Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill.

Read more at brittaj17.wordpress.com
 
Florida Governor Scott Prepares to Take On Obscene Florida Pensions
Amplify’d from www.orlandosentinel.com

Public employees’ pension plan scams taxpayers

Mike Thomas
Rich Crotty may be out of a job, but don’t look for him in the free-food line at Lake Eola.
Our former mayor is entitled to a lump sum payout of $365,584 from the state pension fund. That’s on top of an annual pension of about $120,000.
He has won the public employee pension sweepstakes.
And his payout is peanuts compared to what Lawson Lamar and his cronies are bilking taxpayers for over in the State Attorney’s Office
Florida is home to what may be the biggest public employee pension scam in America.
Legislators eliminated the requirement that employees — including themselves — contribute to the pension fund. They boosted pensions for administrators by creating a senior management class with an increased accrual rate.
Cops, firefighters and correctional workers got their accrual rate bumped to 3 percent, so they could retire after 25 years with 75 percent of their salaries.
Actually, they could retire with a lot more than. The state lets them include overtime pay and unused annual leave into their salaries. So as their careers draw to a close, they pile up both. They could end up earning more in retirement than they did on the job.
The reason is simple. Public safety unions are very organized and scream very loudly, particularly the firefighters. They have lots of time on their hands to work on campaigns, making them a very potent political force.
You may notice that when some legislators leave office, they wind up in cushy government jobs or they run for higher-paying local offices. There is a reason for this. Pensions are based on their five highest-salaried years. So if they spend eight years in the Legislature making about $30,000 a year, and then get on the county commission for eight years at an average salary of $75,000 a year, they will have an extra $36,000 a year to get them through retirement.
Gov. Rick Scott has promised to fix pensions.
"What I want to understand is why there are all these different classes,” he said. "How did this even get set up? And then we want to do what’s fair.”
Read more at www.orlandosentinel.com
 
FCC Bureaucrats Will Seize The Internet Tomorrow

It wasn’t long ago that bipartisan and international consensus centered on insulating the Internet from regulation. The call for more Internet regulation became imbedded into a 2008 presidential campaign promise by Barack Hussein Obama.

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com

The FCC’s Threat to Internet Freedom

'Net neutrality' sounds nice, but the Web is working fine now. The new rules will inhibit investment, deter innovation and create a billable-hours bonanza for lawyers.

Tomorrow morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government’s reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.

mcdowell

Analysts and broadband companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain that the new rules will kill jobs. By moving forward with Internet rules anyway, the FCC is not living up to its promise of being “data driven” in its pursuit of mandates—i.e., listening to the needs of the market.

In May, the FCC leadership floated the idea of deeming complex and dynamic Internet services equivalent to old-fashioned monopoly phone services, thereby triggering price-and-terms regulations that originated in the 1880s. The announcement produced what has become a rare event in Washington: A large, bipartisan majority of Congress agreeing on something. More than 300 members of Congress, including 86 Democrats, contacted the FCC to implore it to stop pursuing Internet regulation and to defer to Capitol Hill.

Facing a powerful congressional backlash, the FCC temporarily changed tack and convened negotiations over the summer with a select group of industry representatives and proponents of Internet regulation. Curiously, the commission abruptly dissolved the talks after Google and Verizon, former Internet-policy rivals, announced their own side agreement for a legislative blueprint. Yes, the effort to reach consensus was derailed by … consensus.

To date, the FCC hasn’t ruled out increasing its power further by using the phone monopoly laws, directly or indirectly regulating rates someday, or expanding its reach deeper into mobile broadband services. The most expansive regulatory regimes frequently started out modest and innocuous before incrementally growing into heavy-handed behemoths.

On this winter solstice, we will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation. The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter’s night for Internet freedom.

Mr. McDowell is a Republican commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.
Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com
 

Why Government is Bankrupting America: This Fire Chief was forced to Resign due to Sexual Harassment, Verbal Abuse, and Racist Emails. Still, he walks away with $256,000 in Cash as a “Relatively Inexpensive” settlement.

Internet Under Attack from Government, ISP, and Telecom

The Internet Freedom you have enjoyed for 15 years or so may be heading for trouble. Government Censorship, coupled with New Fees, are already changing the Internet.

Amplify’d from www.clickz.com
Clickz

3 Reasons Why Online Marketing Is Headed for Turbulent Times

Sean Carton  |  December 6, 2010   |  0 comments

2011 looks like it’s going to be an interesting year for the Internet. As online marketers, we’d better start worrying.

Why? Because there seems to be some disturbing trends arising from activities of the U.S. government, telecom companies, and ISPs - all entities which have a role in the way the Internet works - that point to a tumultuous future. These stories have been out there for a while (in one form or another), but have often been overlooked by online marketers because they have to do with the underlying technologies that run the Internet…something a lot of us don’t have the time or expertise to think about much. Unfortunately, it seems that we may have to.

Government’s Strong Arm: Shutting Down Sites

The recent hubbub over WikiLeaks’ release of embarrassing (well, to the U.S. government) diplomatic cables provides the first example of why the tech matters. Not long after the release, WikiLeaks was brought to its virtual knees by a mysterious DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack designed to flood its servers and take the site offline. WikiLeaks responded by moving to Amazon’s cloud but was soon kicked off after Amazon bowed to political pressure lead by U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. WikiLeaks was finally “killed" on Friday, December 3 when its DNS service was revoked by EveryDNS.net, which withdrew its domain name service.

Regardless of your political views on the subject, the WikiLeaks saga exposes vulnerabilities that should have online marketers worried. The site was brought down not by overt government action but as a consequence of being a magnet for controversy. The same vulnerabilities that brought down WikiLeaks are the same vulnerabilities that major brands (and minor brands, too) face. As the WikiLeaks story shows, all it takes is one person with a grudge to effectively take any site off the Web. Some may applaud that this happened to WikiLeaks, but as online bad guys get better tools in the future, the likelihood of the same thing happening to other highly visible brands will continue to increase.

But we don’t have to look into the shadows of the Web to find miscreants shutting down sites: the Department of Homeland Security seems to be doing quite well out in the open. At the end of November, a combo of the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices shut down 82 websites for “copyright infringement” violations. Ostensibly, these raids were designed to shut down illegal file sharing sites, but unfortunately at least two legal sites - OnSmash.com and RapGodfathers.com - were caught up in the dragnet. Again, this might seem like a simple mistake or an isolated incident, except that it comes as a preview of the new Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. This act allows the government to “disappear” websites that even link to infringing material.

"So what?" you say, "My company (or client) doesn’t promote illegal file sharing!" Well, maybe you don’t officially, but the explosion of social media and the rise of consumer-generated content (and our integration of these communication tools into our online communications plans) now presents some major vulnerabilities. The COICA act means that companies can now become targets if they link to “infringing” materials. All it takes is a few bad links chucked into your social media stream and all of a sudden you’re vulnerable to law enforcement action. When the corporate counsel hears about this, you may find that your forays into social media are shut down because the risk has now become too high.

Don’t believe it can happen? Just ask Justin Bieber, who was recently blocked from uploading his own videos to YouTube. If it can happen to Bieber, it can happen to you.

Telecom’s Strong Arm: Adopting New Fees

But it’s not just the U.S. government that’s using strong-arm tactics in a way that may end up making our lives difficult. In another end-of-November-surprise, The New York Times revealed that Comcast basically extorted additional fees out of Netflix partner Level 3 Communications, effectively making Level 3 pay a “toll” in order to keep streaming video content. Comcast has claimed that the whole thing is nothing more than a “good old fashioned commercial peering dispute” and has denied that the move has anything to do with an open Internet. However, while Comcast thinks that charging selected content providers more (providers who - just coincidentally, of course - pose a threat to its lock on content), a new plan by the FCC being billed as “promoting” “Net Neutrality” actually will allow ISPs to utilize differential pricing and speed throttling, effectively creating a tiered system and moving us away from an open and neutral Internet if passed next year.

Marketers should really worry about this one. Why? Because it threatens the convergence we’ve been seeing over the past year between video content and the Internet and the advertising that goes with it. In October 2010 alone, 176 million consumers watched 4.6 billion video ads. And if these huge numbers weren’t enough to put a smile on the face of online marketers, new studies have shown that video advertising is highly effective in engaging consumers and building brand awareness. I think that Old Spice would agree.

So why worry? Because a non-neutral Internet means that it may become a lot harder to get video content and a lot harder for content providers to make money providing such content. If Comcast can economically block its competition, video advertising starts to look a lot less attractive to advertisers. And if they start to advertise less, the revenue stream goes down. And if revenue goes down…well, you get the picture. Hopefully.

Read more at www.clickz.com
 
#Obama Vacation = $200 Million PER DAY of Your Tax Dollars
Amplify’d from www.dnaindia.com
US to spend $200 million a day on Obama’s Mumbai visit
Published: Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010, 21:01 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agency: PTI

The US will be spending a whopping $200 million (Rs900 crore) per day on President Barack Obama’s visit to the city.

"The huge amount of around $200 million would be spent on security, stay and other aspects of the presidential visit," a top official of the Maharashtra government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit said.

About 3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US government officials and journalists will accompany the president.

The city’s airspace will be closed half-an-hour before the president’s arrival for all aircraft barring those carrying the US delegation.
The area from Hotel Taj, where Obama and his wife Michelle will stay, to Shikra helipad in Colaba would be cordoned off completely during the movement of the president.

The official conceded that providing security to the visiting dignitary during his visit to Mahatma Gandhi Museum at Mani Bhavan in central part of the city was a tough job because of the narrow lanes.

Even some of the volunteers at Mani Bhavan have expressed displeasure over heightened security arrangements.

"Mani Bhavan is the place associated with Gandhi who promoted non-violence. But every day people from White House and US security agencies are coming with guns and sniffer dogs," one of them said.

Read more at www.dnaindia.com
 
#Climate - Al Gore Leaves Car Idling for 1 Hour
Amplify’d from climatedepot.com
Climate Depot

Gore leaves car idling for one hour during speech; Opts for Swedish government jet over public transportation  

'Local legislation prohibits any car engine running for more than 60 seconds' — But Gore Not Fined
Thursday, October 28, 2010By Marc Morano  –  Climate Depot

Al Gore — He did it again.

Recently, Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore toured again. Or maybe he does that all the time. This time, he turned up in Gothenburg (Sweden) for the usual alarmist talk. In advance, all distinguished guests were politely advised to – if possible – use any form of public transportation to go to the event, in order to minimize CO2 emissions.
Intriguingly, the Master of World Climate himself arrived in a rental car (with or without driver is unclear), from the airport, and subsequently left the engine running for the entire lecture. That is to say, about one hour. Incidentally, local legislation prohibits – for very good environmental reasons, i e pollution – any car engine running on empty for more than 60 seconds. Fines are severe. As far as I know, he was not fined.

After the ceremony in the Norwegian capital Oslo, it is customary that the laureate is invited to the Swedish capital Stockholm, for a cordial visit. The train ride, supposedly the environmental choice according to Mr. Gore, is approximately four hours. However, he opted for the cosier ride with one of the Swedish government aircrafts. As these can, according to the rules, only be used when a cabinet member is on board – and as the Swedish government after a short ceremonial visit – offered to fly him to Frankfurt (Germany) for his flight to the US, you can calculate both the manpower and the fuel used for this grand tour against man’s destruction of the planet.

Read more at climatedepot.com