Full article: Democratic regression in comparative perspective: scope, methods, and causes | #civilsociety #decline #democracy #democratic #economy #fear #institutions #media #politics #populism #regression
Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market
To think of Amazon as a retailer, though, is to profoundly misjudge the scope of what its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, has set out to do. (...)
Instead, it’s that Bezos has designed his company for a far more radical goal than merely dominating markets; he’s built Amazon to replace them. His vision is for Amazon to become the underlying infrastructure that commerce runs on.
In the left-behind towns and neighborhoods, the despair that has set in stems from more than just economic hardship. There is a pervasive sense of powerlessness that is toxic to democracy. (...)
The cities that possessed a degree of local economic power had a bigger middle class and a greater variety of jobs, Mills and Ulmer found. But their most important findings had to do with civic health. The cities with a robust local economy invested more in public infrastructure and services, and their residents were involved in community affairs in greater numbers.
via an interview with the author on “On The Media”: ▻https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/making-america-antitrust-again-on-the-media
Glen Greenwald, Micah Lee - 20190412
In April, 2017, Pompeo, while still CIA chief, delivered a deranged speech proclaiming that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” He punctuated his speech with this threat: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.”
From the start, the Trump DOJ has made no secret of its desire to criminalize journalism generally. Early in the Trump administration, Sessions explicitly discussed the possibility of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information. Trump and his key aides were open about how eager they were to build on, and escalate, the Obama administration’s progress in enabling journalism in the U.S. to be criminalized.
Today’s arrest of Assange is clearly the culmination of a two-year effort by the U.S. government to coerce Ecuador — under its new and submissive president, Lenín Moreno — to withdraw the asylum protection it extended to Assange in 2012. Rescinding Assange’s asylum would enable the U.K. to arrest Assange on minor bail-jumping charges pending in London and, far more significantly, to rely on an extradition request from the U.S. government to send him to a country to which he has no connection (the U.S.) to stand trial relating to leaked documents.
Indeed, the Trump administration’s motive here is clear. With Ecuador withdrawing its asylum protection and subserviently allowing the U.K. to enter its own embassy to arrest Assange, Assange faced no charges other than a minor bail-jumping charge in the U.K. (Sweden closed its sexual assault investigation not because they concluded Assange was innocent, but because they spent years unsuccessfully trying to extradite him). By indicting Assange and demanding his extradition, it ensures that Assange — once he serves his time in a London jail for bail-jumping — will be kept in a British prison for the full year or longer that it takes for the U.S. extradition request, which Assange will certainly contest, to wind its way through the British courts.
The indictment tries to cast itself as charging Assange not with journalistic activities but with criminal hacking. But it is a thinly disguised pretext for prosecuting Assange for publishing the U.S. government’s secret documents while pretending to make it about something else.
Whatever else is true about the indictment, substantial parts of the document explicitly characterize as criminal exactly the actions that journalists routinely engage in with their sources and thus, constitutes a dangerous attempt to criminalize investigative journalism.
The indictment, for instance, places great emphasis on Assange’s alleged encouragement that Manning — after she already turned over hundreds of thousands of classified documents — try to get more documents for WikiLeaks to publish. The indictment claims that “discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that ‘after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.’ To which Assange replied, ‘curious eyes never run dry in my experience.’”
But encouraging sources to obtain more information is something journalists do routinely. Indeed, it would be a breach of one’s journalistic duties not to ask vital sources with access to classified information if they could provide even more information so as to allow more complete reporting. If a source comes to a journalist with information, it is entirely common and expected that the journalist would reply: Can you also get me X, Y, and Z to complete the story or to make it better? As Edward Snowden said this morning, “Bob Woodward stated publicly he would have advised me to remain in place and act as a mole.”
Investigative journalism in many, if not most, cases, entails a constant back and forth between journalist and source in which the journalist tries to induce the source to provide more classified information, even if doing so is illegal. To include such “encouragement” as part of a criminal indictment — as the Trump DOJ did today — is to criminalize the crux of investigative journalism itself, even if the indictment includes other activities you believe fall outside the scope of journalism.
As Northwestern journalism professor Dan Kennedy explained in The Guardian in 2010 when denouncing as a press freedom threat the Obama DOJ’s attempts to indict Assange based on the theory that he did more than passively receive and publish documents — i.e., that he actively “colluded” with Manning:
The problem is that there is no meaningful distinction to be made. How did the Guardian, equally, not “collude” with WikiLeaks in obtaining the cables? How did the New York Times not “collude” with the Guardian when the Guardian gave the Times a copy following Assange’s decision to cut the Times out of the latest document dump?
For that matter, I don’t see how any news organisation can be said not to have colluded with a source when it receives leaked documents. Didn’t the Times collude with Daniel Ellsberg when it received the Pentagon Papers from him? Yes, there are differences. Ellsberg had finished making copies long before he began working with the Times, whereas Assange may have goaded Manning. But does that really matter?
Most of the reports about the Assange indictment today have falsely suggested that the Trump DOJ discovered some sort of new evidence that proved Assange tried to help Manning hack through a password in order to use a different username to download documents. Aside from the fact that those attempts failed, none of this is new: As the last five paragraphs of this 2011 Politico story demonstrate, that Assange talked to Manning about ways to use a different username so as to avoid detection was part of Manning’s trial and was long known to the Obama DOJ when they decided not to prosecute.
There are only two new events that explain today’s indictment of Assange: 1) The Trump administration from the start included authoritarian extremists such as Sessions and Pompeo who do not care in the slightest about press freedom and were determined to criminalize journalism against the U.S., and 2) With Ecuador about to withdraw its asylum protection, the U.S. government needed an excuse to prevent Assange from walking free.
A technical analysis of the indictment’s claims similarly proves the charge against Assange to be a serious threat to First Amendment press liberties, primarily because it seeks to criminalize what is actually a journalist’s core duty: helping one’s source avoid detection. The indictment deceitfully seeks to cast Assange’s efforts to help Manning maintain her anonymity as some sort of sinister hacking attack.
The Defense Department computer that Manning used to download the documents which she then furnished to WikiLeaks was likely running the Windows operating system. It had multiple user accounts on it, including an account to which Manning had legitimate access. Each account is protected by a password, and Windows computers store a file that contains a list of usernames and password “hashes,” or scrambled versions of the passwords. Only accounts designated as “administrator,” a designation Manning’s account lacked, have permission to access this file.
The indictment suggests that Manning, in order to access this password file, powered off her computer and then powered it back on, this time booting to a CD running the Linux operating system. From within Linux, she allegedly accessed this file full of password hashes. The indictment alleges that Assange agreed to try to crack one of these password hashes, which, if successful, would recover the original password. With the original password, Manning would be able to log directly into that other user’s account, which — as the indictment puts it — “would have made it more difficult for investigators to identify Manning as the source of disclosures of classified information.”
Assange appears to have been unsuccessful in cracking the password. The indictment alleges that “Assange indicated that he had been trying to crack the password by stating that he had ‘no luck so far.’”
Thus, even if one accepts all of the indictment’s claims as true, Assange was not trying to hack into new document files to which Manning had no access, but rather trying to help Manning avoid detection as a source. For that reason, the precedent that this case would set would be a devastating blow to investigative journalists and press freedom everywhere.
Journalists have an ethical obligation to take steps to protect their sources from retaliation, which sometimes includes granting them anonymity and employing technical measures to help ensure that their identity is not discovered. When journalists take source protection seriously, they strip metadata and redact information from documents before publishing them if that information could have been used to identify their source; they host cloud-based systems such as SecureDrop, now employed by dozens of major newsrooms around the world, that make it easier and safer for whistleblowers, who may be under surveillance, to send messages and classified documents to journalists without their employers knowing; and they use secure communication tools like Signal and set them to automatically delete messages.
But today’s indictment of Assange seeks to criminalize exactly these types of source-protection efforts, as it states that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used a special folder on a cloud drop box of WikiLeaks to transmit classified records containing information related to the national defense of the United States.”
The indictment, in numerous other passages, plainly conflates standard newsroom best practices with a criminal conspiracy. It states, for instance, that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used the ‘Jabber’ online chat service to collaborate on the acquisition and dissemination of the classified records, and to enter into the agreement to crack the password […].” There is no question that using Jabber, or any other encrypted messaging system, to communicate with sources and acquire documents with the intent to publish them, is a completely lawful and standard part of modern investigative journalism. Newsrooms across the world now use similar technologies to communicate securely with their sources and to help their sources avoid detection by the government.
The indictment similarly alleges that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks, including by removing usernames from the disclosed information and deleting chat logs between Assange and Manning.”
Rebel Cities 20: With #Hip-Hop As Sound Track, Young Senegalese Say Enough Is Enough | Occupy.com
“The leaders hang on to the power
In spite of the opposition of the population.
Politicians are all the same, no difference.
Only broken promises and lies.
We are fed up of your nonsense,
We really need change.”
These are the lyrics of #Senegal hip hop artist Keur Gui in the 2014 song “Diogoufi,” which means “Nothing has changed.” The group is active in political organizing, walking the talk of their lyrics. In 2011, its leading vocalists were at the forefront of the Senegal #Y’en_A_Marre ("We Are Fed Up"), founded in the capital #Dakar alongside other artists, academics and activists.
Tom Atlee’s Review(s) of ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’
A JOURNEY INTO THE JUICY COMPLEXITY OF REGENERATIVE CULTUREThank you so much for this wonderfully honest review of how Designing Regenerative Cultures landed within you. I am deeply grateful you gave it time and hope the book with remain useful to you. Lots of love, DanielI knew a lot about regenerative #culture before I opened this book. I knew how it differs from sustainability (although I actually see #regeneration as fundamental to true sustainability; it’s just that mainstream views of sustainability don’t recognize that). But I’ve now learned that what I knew is clearly only a beginning. So I’ve ended up writing two parallel reviews, a new adventure for me… Here’s my first one:1.I have not finished this book. I was waiting until I finished it to write a review. But now I realize that my (...)
The techlash against Amazon, Facebook and Google—and what they can do - A memo to big tech | #portability #microsoft #facebook #amazon #regulation #takeslash #bigdata #GAFAM #interoperability #mentalhealth #google #apple #democracy #technology #monopoly
Between “democracy” and “illiberalism”, what else ?
Is democracy doomed to lose its liberal core? | Eurozine
But there is evidence of mounting illiberal temptations in the industrialized world, in democratic societies. Are these temptations linked with temporary phenomena, in the ‘extraordinary times’ we are living through, or do they have deeper roots? An answer to this question begs an examination of trends in society and economy, of the emergence of new (unconventional) threats, and, not least, of failed public policies. The argument that ‘liberal democracy’ is on the wane is wrong to the extent that policies can be corrected, that citizens and elites alike do not lose trust in democratic values. It may also be true that, although democracy has a ‘liberal core’, it can also be driven by ‘illiberal’ components, and that the magnitude of the latter can vary. But for democracy to survive , its liberal core must be preserved.
(error 404 #democracy not found)
Centralized vs Decentralized Platform for Political or Public Influence
Centralized vs Decentralized PlatformOnce hyped as the tool that would free the people from dictatorship by providing all with a platform to air their opinion and organize resistance, Facebook’s appearance in the News lately has, increasingly often, been linked with breaches of privacy, with the wholesale distribution of fake news or as a tool used to exert undue foreign or domestic influence on democratic #elections.Though Facebook statistics are routinely used to measure participation and vote intentions, as well as a channel to influence #politics, its reliability for such purposes is questionable. Transparency and privacy issues coupled with the determinedly profit based model of Facebook does not make it a reliably neutral vehicle for opinions.Facebook algorithms and general (...)
De Paris à Washington, les sociétés du CAC 40 ont dépensé au moins 60 millions d’euros pour influencer les politiques - Basta !
Combien les groupes du CAC 40 dépensent-ils en lobbying auprès des centres de décision – parlements, congrès, cabinets ministériels... – à Paris, Bruxelles ou Washington ? S’ils restent incomplets, les chiffres déclarés par ces grandes entreprises auprès des registres officiels de lobbying en donnent une première idée. Plongée dans ces millions déboursés pour influencer la décision politique, en avant-goût du premier « Contre-rapport annuel » sur les grandes entreprises françaises que l’Observatoire des multinationales publiera dans quelques semaines.
New interview with Richard Stallman on goblinrefuge.com
Click on the image to watch
More info about the video here
How #agora Will Use #blockchain to Bring True #democracy to the World
It seems that our world is entering a very dangerous time. Regardless of one’s political views, it is impossible to ignore the growing dangers stemming from modernization. With the increased presence of technology in everyday life, governments are able to intrude on personal privacy through internet histories, social media, cell phone data and more.China recently made news by announcing the implementation of a “social capital” system, which consists of digitally tracked data points that will determine the liberties one will have in day-to-day life.However, technology can also be used to improve popular rule, rather than threaten it, and one blockchain start-up is committed to this idea. Agora, a project spun out of EPFL’s Swiss Lab for Digital Democracy, has created a blockchain voting (...)
President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph #Kabila will not contest in the December 2018 #elections - he intends to hand over power.
▻http://www.africanews.com/2018/02/05/kabila-ready-to-handover-power-set-to-name-successor-in-july #democracy #Africa #Congo #Zaïre #Afrique #démocratie #élections #transition #succession #DRC
A Guide to Russia’s High Tech Tool Box for Subverting US Democracy
(and not so high tech as well). One doesn’t need to fully control the ballot boxes to destabilise a country. Simply erode the population’s trust in the government and its institutions and you’re pretty much done.
The #Gambia’s outgoing President, Yahya Jammeh, appears to be going nowhere slowly. After conceding defeat in the December 1 presidential election, Jammeh – who has held #Power for the past 22 years – made a U-turn. In spite of the country’s electoral commission confirming opposition candidate Adama Barrow’s victory, Jammeh filed a petition with the […]
There is a nervous crescendo building up on the streets of Kinshasa ahead of December 19, the day President Joseph Kabila is supposed to step down. Diplomats are sending their families on early Christmas vacations and the Congolese franc has depreciated by about 25 per cent against the US dollar. On social media and even […]