18 Jan 2012

Musician Peter Gabriel Comes Out Against SOPA/PIPA; Website Will Go Dark

We keep hearing how the "artists" that the entertainment industry gatekeepers say they're "protecting" are not at all pleased about SOPA and PIPA. For example, we've already seen Ashton Kutcher come out against the bill. The latest is that famed musician Peter Gabriel has said that his own website will go dark in protest:
“This year is going to be a very crucial year for the fate of digital rights and freedoms on the internet. We strongly support the campaign against both the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. For that reason our websites will be down from 05.00 GMT for 24 hours in support of the campaign.

Please check out http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_internet/ if you want to read more/sign the petition.

Thank you.”

Peter Gabriel
It's been really sickening to see our usual critics (some of whom are admitted lobbyists in favor of the bills) insist that anyone against the bills is "in favor of piracy." Clearly, many people from all over the place -- including those who make their living in the "entertainment business" are against the bills. Or are we going to hear that Peter Gabriel just wants free stuff, too? Source

Syrian Girl visits Damascus War Memorial 1973 Israeli War - built by DPRK

The DPRK designed the war memorial, and built a lot of it, including an amazing 360 degree panorama, in the video are captured and abandoned Israeli tanks and an Israeli plane and the DPRK's Art Work.. The Syrian girl relates some of the events of the war. Source

Lavrov Warns of False Flag. 'Attack on Iran won't be an easy walk'

During his annual news conference, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the scenario Russia and the global community could face if things in the Middle East, especially in Iran, get out of hand.Addressing what is certainly the most worrisome development on the global stage, Lavrov spoke at length on the standoff involving Iran, which faces deepening sanctions, as well as the threat of military attack, over its nuclear energy program. The Russian Foreign Minister did not mince his words when he spoke about the “grave” consequences of a military strike against Iran.
"As for the chances that this disaster (a military attack against Iran) could occur, this question would be better addressed to those who keep mentioning this as an option that remains on the table,” Lavrov said in a comment apparently intended for Israel and the United States. The consequences will be really grave, and we are seriously concerned about this.” A possible military attack against Iran would trigger a huge migration of refugees, who would pour into  Azerbaijan, possibly pushing up against the Russian border. "This is one and perhaps not the main aspect of the problem,” Lavrov admitted. “This will not be an easy walk, and it's impossible to calculate all of the possible consequences." Finally, an attack against Iran would also "pour oil on the…smoldering flames of the Sunni-Shiite confrontation,"Lavrov said. "Then a chain reaction will begin, and I don't know where it will stop.”

Unilateral sanctions work against united front: The Foreign Minister told the conference that “unilateral sanctions” against the Islamic Republic could backfire by placing a “suffocating grip” on the national economy and its people. "What Western states…have been adding as they adopt their additional unilateral sanctions against Iran has nothing in common with the desire to keep the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime unshaken,” Lavrov warned at his Q&A press conference in Moscow. “This is seriously calculated to put a suffocating grip on the Iranian economy and on Iranian citizens, possibly in the hope of provoking discontent.” The UN-backed sanctions regime against Iran over its nuclear energy program, which some Western countries suspect is a cover for a nuclear weapons program, threatens to hit at Iran’s central bank, as well as its oil exports to Europe. Lavrov says the effort to impose sanctions on Iran to influence its policies have been “exhausted.” "This was so when the resolution on Iran was being negotiated 1.5 years ago,” he said. “After its adoption, all thinkable sanctions that could influence Iran in the nuclear field and its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency were exhausted." A more effective way of dealing with Iran would be to continue the negotiation process, he believes. "We are calling for the six negotiators to continue their work,” Lavrov stressed. “Currently we have information that the Iranians are also prepared for this (the six-party talks).  We are working with Iran.” Although the way is clear for six-party talks – between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany – Lavrov alluded to Russia’s concern over “obstacles” that are thwarting the start of the negotiations. "We are convinced that we now have an available opportunity to restart the talks between the Sextet and Iran,” he said.“And we are deeply concerned that these processes sometimes run up against obstacles.” Addressing the heightened tensions in and around Iran, which recently threatened to impose a naval blockade on the Strait of Hormuz, a critical passageway for about 20 per cent of the world’s oil shipments, the foreign minister stressed that Russia objects to unilateral sanctions in international affairs, saying this undermines the UN Security Council's authority. "Unilateral sanctions always undermine collective efforts, whether this concerns Iran, Syria, or any other situation,"Lavrov said.

Launch negotiations, not attacks on Syria: Russia opposes military intervention in Syria, proposing instead to launch an immediate internal national dialogue in this country without delay, Lavrov told journalists at his press conference.

"We insist that a political settlement is a must and we support the efforts which the monitoring mission of the Arab League have been making," the Foreign Minister said. "We think all manifestations of violence must cease in Syria, wherever they derive, and a national, all-inclusive dialogue must be launched.” Meanwhile, Lavrov suggested that foreign governments could actually feign a humanitarian disaster in an effort to discredit the ruling authorities. "There are other ideas that are being implemented in practice: sending so-called humanitarian convoys to Syria in the hope of provoking a reaction on the part of government forces and border guards, and feigning a humanitarian catastrophe," he said at a news conference in Moscow. He also mentioned disturbing incidences of weapons infiltrating Syria for use by the opposition. "It is also known, which no one has denied, that weapons are coming to Syria for militants and extremists to be used for seizing power," the head of Russian diplomacy said. "This is unacceptable and absolutely counterproductive, since this is only spurring the spiral of violence." Finally, Lavrov said it would be “unacceptable” to attempt to apply the so-called “Libyan scenario” to resolve similar internal conflicts in other countries. "We deem attempts to expand the so-called Libyan precedent to other conflicts absolutely unacceptable," he said.

Taking aim at missile defense: Concerning Russia-US relations, the conversation turned to the issue of US missile defense in Europe, a subject that threatens not only to short-circuit the so-called reset, but even spark another arms race. The Foreign Minister said he hopes the United States will take Russia's legitimate concerns into account over the thorny issue. "We hope the US will finally hear our legitimate concerns, which we have been absolutely, specifically and professionally bringing to them, and take them into account,” Lavrov said. “And we hope that our partners will opt for concerted efforts to find agreed responses to modern challenges, which are common for both of us.” Relations between the two former Cold War foes took a dramatic turn for the worse when Washington announced it was building a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, just miles from the Russian border, and without Russia’s assistance. President Dmitry Medvedev warned the US and NATO on numerous occasions that Russia would be forced to respond in military language unless the two sides came to acceptable terms. Both sides continue to work on resolving the issue.

Business as usual following presidential elections: Russian foreign policy will not undergo significant changes following the presidential election in March 2012, Lavrov said. “I think that our partners abroad have every reason to count on the continuity of our foreign policy in relation to the forthcoming presidential election in our country," the Foreign Minister said. Lavrov stressed that the Kremlin’s foreign policy enjoyed “broad consensus” throughout Russian society. "We estimate that there is broad consensus in our society in support of the basic guidelines of the foreign policy course that is set down in Russia's foreign policy concept," he said. Lavrov outlined the key elements of Russia’s foreign policy, which includes “pragmatism and predictability of our foreign policy, its focus on protecting our national interests, the well-balanced multi-vector nature of our actions on the international stage with a view to … facilitating economic growth, solving social problems and in general securing the welfare of Russian citizens.” Source

China Brings US Treasury Holdings To One Year Low, Russia Cuts Treasury Exposure By 50% In One Year

Tyler Durden's picture
Today's TIC data confirmed what Zero Hedge readers have now known for quite some time: namely that foreigners are selling US paper. And while we have used contemporaneous Custody Account data from the Fed to present that in the past 7 weeksforeigners have sold a record amount of bonds, we now get confirmation via TIC that in November the selling continued, especially at the biggest non-Fed holder of US paper, China, which saw its holdings down to $1,132.6 billion, the lowest in the past year. Yet where the selling is just relentless is in Russia, which has quite demonstratively slashed its US Treasury holdings in half in the past year from $176 billion to under $80 billion. Putin is not happy, and is not afraid to show it.

Fiscal Union Treaty to be Forced Through Without Referendums - Farage (Barroso confirms)

• European Parliament, Strasbourg, 18 January 2012

• Speaker: Nigel Farage MEP, UKIP leader, Co-President of the EFD Group in the European Parliament (Europe of Freedom and Democracy group)

• Debate: Draft International Agreement on a Fiscal Stability Union (Conclusions of the European Council meeting of the 8-9 Dec. 2011) - Motions for Resolutions

- with excerpts from European Commission president José Manuel Barroso's adress that followed some minutes later. Source

Saturn's Hexagon May Be Solar System's Coolest Mystery

Angelo: The SilverFuturist is spot on. I hope you learned something;)

Wikipedia blackout: 24-hour strike against SOPA, PIPA begins

The Internet's largest and most popular general reference has gone dark. Wikipedia has joined a protest against something it believes is even darker: passage of the Stop Online Piracy and Protect Intellectual Property Acts.
SOPA and PIPA have not even made it to the Senate floor, but have already caused public outrage. Internet giants such as Google, YouTube, Yahoo, AOL and many others have likened the bills to China-style censorship. The bills, which are perhaps the most controversial pieces of proposed legislation in recent American history, were supposedly written to protect copyrighted material. But most believe the bills would cripple the Internet, effectively killing all websites allowing user-uploaded content, endangering potential whistleblowers and severely damaging online freedom of speech. And amid fears they will lead to unprecedented censorship, many web moguls are trying to take matters into their own digital hands.
Today’s blackout is the biggest act of defiance yet. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said on Twitter that the move “will be wow” and that he hopes “it will melt phone systems in Washington,” before urging followers to spread the word. The world’s 6th most visited website joins Reddit, TwitPic, Mozilla, WordPress and others in their protest – a decision that did not, according to Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner, come lightly.
Gardner said that “it is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web. Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation.”
The press release went on to say that “the overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a 'blackout' of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.” 
But while the move is most definitely a grand stand, will it do anything more than force students to do their homework early – and perhaps even reintroduce printed reference sources to the digital generation? 
It might. The Obama Administration responded to an anti-SOPA and PIPA petition, claiming it “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
Which was taken by most to mean that these bills will never see life as laws, because all of the above is exactly what SOPA and PIPA do. But has that really ever stopped the US government from pushing through legislation deemed “important”? Look at the Department of Homeland Security's “See something, Say something” program, under which almost any action – including paying cash, buying waterproof matches and having discreet phone conversations in public – can be seen as potential terrorist activity. Look at the NDAA, which allows indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, suspected of terrorist activity.
So if you’re sitting there reading this, with some cash in your pocket and a website where someone may have posted something that may lead to something else that is potentially suspicious – expect the might of the US security and legal systems to knock – or bust through your door. They might not even have a warrant, having convenient access to the so-called ‘sneak-and-peak’ granted by the Patriot Act. Of course, those were also created to capture terrorists, but as we’ve established, we may all soon be branded as such because of a YouTube search.
Jokes aside, though – what about the arguments used to push the bill forward? Surely copyright infringement should be battled? And shouldn't the companies losing money everywhere because of pirated content be protected?
They should. But what SOPA and PIPA opponents are so upset about is that the bills are not specific enough; that they’re heaping all Internet users together and branding them as one step short of evil, instead of clearly defining what constitutes an illegal activity and how it can realistically be battled.
For now, however, most, including www.demandprogress.org founder and executive director Aaron Swartz, believe the Acts will change the rules for the Internet not just in the United States, but around the world.
“Under this bill, the rules totally change. It makes everyone who runs a website into a policeman. And if they don’t do their job of making sure nobody on their site uses it for anything that’s even potentially illegal, the entire site could get shut down – without even so much as a trial,” Swartz says.
So before the Acts become final, those in favor of an open information pool for the people are trying to make their final act count. Source

US DHS Suggests Military Action in Nigeria

US military has contingency plans for a Nigerian presence, and of-course, an Islamic movement is there. The oil prices rises have been reduced so that they are now only 50% higher. Source

Marc Faber - Gold Insurance

World Bank Cuts Economic Outlook, Says Europe Is In Recession, Warns Developing Economies To "Prepare For The Worst"

Tyler Durden's picture
This will hardly be a surprise to anyone with 3 neurons to rub across their frontal lobe, but at least it is now official.
Bloomberg, which just released an embargoed summary of the World Bank action, summarizes it all.
  • World Bank cuts global growth forecast by most in 3 yrs as euro area recession threatens to exacerbate slowdown in emerging markets, World Bank says in Global Economic Prospects report.
  • Sees world economic growth of 2.5%, down from June est. of 3.6%
  • Sees euro area GDP contracting 0.3% in 2012, compared with pvs est. of 1.8% growth
  • World Bank estimates euro area entered recession in 4Q
  • U.S. outlook cut to +2.2% from +2.9%
  • Japan forecast cut to 1.9% growth from 2.6%
  • China’s GDP growth will slow to 8.4%, unchanged from interim revised projection released in Nov.
  • India forecast cut to 6.5% from 8.4%
And the punchline:
  • World Bank urges developing economies to “prepare for the worst” as it sees risk for European turmoil to turn into global financial crisis reminiscent of 2008
  • Even achieving much weaker outcomes is very uncertain
Morgan Stanley may want to revise their 37% Muddle Through probability outcome, to something more like 36.745% on this news. Source

Peter Schiff U.S. is In Worse Shape Than Europe

Ancient Greek Sites Now Available For Rent - Acropolis Up First!!!

ATHENS, Available for rent: The Acropolis.
In a move bound to leave many Greeks and scholars aghast, Greece's culture ministry said Tuesday it will open up some of the debt-stricken country's most-cherished archaeological sites to advertising firms and other ventures.
The ministry says the move is a common-sense way of helping "facilitate" access to the country's ancient Greek ruins, and money generated would fund the upkeep and monitoring of sites. The first site to be opened would be the Acropolis.
Archaeologists, however, have for decades slammed such an initiative as sacrilege. The culture ministry said any renting of ancient Greek sites would be subject to strict conditions. According to a ministerial briefing dating from the end of December, a commercial firm could rent the Acropolis for a professional photographic shoot for as little as 1,600 euros a day ($2,046). Demonstrators could also rent the ancient landmark. Greece needs every euro it can get. The country's public coffers are drained and the nation is struggling to avoid a historic debt default in March. Greece was bailed out in May 2010 by the European Union and International Monetary Fund and is in the process of nailing down a second rescue, though it is undergoing tough talks with private creditors to reduce its massive debt mountain. Commercial use of Greece's archaeological sites has until now been the responsibility of the Central Council of Archaeology, which has been very choosy about who gains access. In recent decades, only a select few people, including Greek-Canadian filmmaker Nia Vardalos and the American director Francis Ford Coppola, have been able to use the Acropolis, while most filming and advertising requests have been refused. a Source

What kind of President Schulz are we going to get? - Farage

Well, good morning Mr Schulz, President Schulz. I know it is my job to congratulate you but given that we knew the result two and a half years ago as a result of a stitch-up there does not seem to be much point. After all, no one in Europe, or modern day Europe would dream of having a big powerful job that was decided by a full open process, I am sure Mr Barroso would agree. I was musing this morning. I was thinking, what kind of President Schulz are we going to get? Are we going to get a dignified, calm - a figure that behaves like the speaker of all great parliaments around the world, someone who puts himself above politics and the nitty gritty of arguments, who is an ambassador, indeed an ambassador. Or are we going to get the Martin Schulz we have got to know since 2004 and leader of the Socialist group. You know the one I mean - snarling, angry, unable to control his temper, intolerant of anybody with an alternative point of view. Somebody who is contemptuous of free referendums where people have the temerity to vote No. Somebody who is anti-British to his fingertips and does not like free markets. I was wondering which one we are going to get? Well, your opening speech has settled that question for me. It is pretty clear we are going to have two and half years of political fanaticism from the chair. And I have to say only a Third World country, only a banana republic would want to have an overtly political president of a parliament but it is what we have got. I may represent the smallest group in this parliament Mr Schulz, but I can tell you that it's a group whose ideas and views are now being echoed by a growing number of citizens right across this continent. I am sure you'll agree the opinion polls show it's kind of fifty-fifty whether people think this EU is a good thing or a bad thing. What we represent, sir is not anti-Europeanism - that is not what it's about. We believe in nation state democracy, we want a Europe of trade, we want a Europe of cooperation, we want a Europe that is responsible. We don't want a Europe that seeks to be a global superpower. We don't want a Europe run by Mr Barroso and the Commission under the so-called Community method. And I'll do my very best to provide political opposition to your presidency over the course of the next two and a half years. I hope you'll give us a fair hearing. Thank you. Source

Presenting The Big Mac Index Infographic

Tyler Durden's pictureWith ever more Americans boldly crossing into the obesity zone, where so many have gone before, it is only fitting that the topic of today's infographic du jour is the Big Mac index: the world's intercontinental standard of purchase price parity.
The Big Mac Index
Via: Online MBA Blog - Source

Update 28-5-2013: Jeff Webre from Online MBA Contacted me today. He asked, with regret, to remove the link to their sight with regret as apparently Google is being fascist and penalizing them for "some unnatural linking patterns".