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Private For-Profit University Collapses in London

Last Thursday’s I for 1st August 2019 carried a report by Ewan Somerville on the  collapse of one of the private universities set up in recent decades, GSM, on page 11. The article, titled ‘Private London university GSM collapses’, ran

One of Britain’s largest private universities has collapsed into administration, leaving thousands of students fearing they will not be able to complete their degrees.

GSM London, a for-profit private degree provider with 3,500 students, will close in September after failing to “recruit and retain sufficient numbers of students” to stay afloat. It says 247 jobs are threatened.

The UCU lecturers’ union blamed the “marketisation of education” and warned against an “increase in poorly regulated private providers”.

Jeffrey Fernhout, 23, who has just completed an economics degree at GSM, told the I he received “no warning” about the collapse. “This has left a lot of students angry, frustrated and uncertain about their future,” he said. “But the organisation was very badly managed so this isn’t a shock.”

The Office for Students, the higher education watchdog, said its “priority is to ensure that students are able to complete their studies”. GSM promised to “support as far as possible “those needing to be relocated.

The Department for Education reiterated its stance of not “bail(ing) out failing providers”.

So much for their superiority of market forces and private enterprise. Of course, this isn’t the only university in trouble. Very many are experience financial problems, partly due to cuts in government funding. When I was studying for my Archaeology Ph.D. at Bristol, I was told that the archaeology department was faced with laying off some of its teaching staff because of funding cuts made by the Blair government. Blair, Mandelson and co. funding policy was inadequate to support courses that required expensive technical equipment. I also heard from academic friends this weekend that one university has also been forced to close their conservation course for archives and libraries, despite it being considered the leading course of this type in the country. Again, the reason was the high cost of funding against the small number of students taking the course. It’s a financially simplistic attitude that ignores the fact that archives and libraries need skilled conservators, and that the money spent on such a course is repaid in the continuing upkeep of rare and valuable materials held in institutions up and down the country.

I also think that many other universities, which are similarly experiencing financial problems, also have problems recruiting the necessary number of students. Years ago, way back at the beginning of the century, another academic friend of mine predicted this would happen. He had been looking at the demographic rates, and concluded that the bulge in the number of people in their late teens and early twenties, who would enter Higher Education, had passed. Colleges and polytechnics, which were perfectly good as they were, were encouraged, if not required to expand into universities. I think that as a result, many of them have seriously overstretched themselves. Universities have complained that the initial student fees they were allowed to charge, which were capped at £3,000, were inadequate. Hence the increase to £9,000. And this has led in turn to massive student debt.

Many students now feel that they cannot afford their education, and that includes nurses. A little while ago BBC Bristol produced a documentary reporting that students number on nursing courses had fallen. Interviewing some of those still on the course, they explained that the reason was that they simply could not afford to support themselves and pay the tuition fees. Some of those still on the course explained that they had to work to support themselves. These young people often worked long hours, as well as the time they spent on their academic and practical studies. Those aspiring nurses, who are continuing their studies in this environment, are clearly to be admire for their dedication. But it’s a deplorable way to treat the future skilled medical staff which Britain needs, especially with its aging population.

And the situation has not been helped by the concern of university management and administrators for their own enrichment at the expense of teaching staff. I understand that many of the lecturers at universities are actually poorly paid. Quite a number actually work only part-time, because full-time positions are rare and extremely difficult to get. Meanwhile, we’ve seen a procession of university chancellors awarding themselves salaries in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. This mirrors the way business management has consistently voted massive pay rises for themselves, while cutting investment and freezing pay or even finding ways to deliberately underpay their employees. Like zero hours contracts.

But despite the precariousness of university finances, thanks to Thatcherite educational policies, the government is determined not to give financial support to those failing. Which means that if they go under, tens of thousands of students will have racked up tens of thousands in debt for zilch.

The introduction of market forces and the privatisation of Higher and Further Education is a failure. It’s leaving universities in financial trouble, forcing some lecturers and other non-management staff to accept poor wages and job insecurity, and leaving students with a mountain of debt which many will find impossible to pay off.

It’s another example of the utter failure of Thatcherism, despite its continuing loud promotion by a shrilly intolerant media and political establishment. It’s time to bring it to an end, and get rid of it. All of it, including the parties supporting it – the Brexiteers, the Tories and the Lib Dems. Get them out, and a proper Labour government in.

 

 

 

Alta Via Day 1 or, If You Really Loved Me You Would Bring Me Edelweiss

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/08/2019 - 2:21am in

So, I’m blogging from my phone because for the first time in about 15 years I left my laptop at home. I’ll be in the mountains for the next 5 days hiking the Dolomites. An upside of not having a laptop, dear reader, is the posts will be shorter given I’m no iPhone novelist.

Anyway, day 1 Antonella and I started out with an hour train ride north to the town of Bressanone (Brixen) in Alto Adige.* From there a bus ride to a lift that would take us up to the top of Plose Mountain at 2446 meters (or 7300 feet). The place was hopping (most places attached to a ski lift are) and the cyclist defying physics was a highlight during our short stay: https://vimeo.com/352277839

We got up to Plose around 11:30 AM and needed to make it to our first overnight destination Rifugio Genoa (a rifugio is Italian for a mountain hut for hikers with awesome food) before 6 PM which was 10 miles and a 500 meter (1500 feet) ascent away. We knew this would be tight given we were starting late, so we made sure to pack sandwiches to power through. The vistas were already remarkable, and the first 6 or 7 miles were all downhill from 2400 meters to about 1900. We were moving and grooving, we even had some bovine traffic on the trail.


Also, the wood carvings were equal parts amusing and haunting, but seeing s fullblown wood ship sailing through thr aloine woods was refreshing, if not odd.


Wood carving aliens

Do you see what I see?

A ship in the woods leftover from the ice age

All was wine and roses and I was feeling strong and getting cocky, but as I’m sure you can imagine, I would pay for that. By 2:15 we stopped to eat our sandwiches after a solid 3 hours, and then we started our ascent after making it to Passo Rodella (with a short stint on the road) to the Forcella de Pütia, which sucked.


The hills are alive with the sound of bava

Alta Via 2

Brief stint on the road

Oh look at the pretty peaks, everything’s fine” he says

Alook back at the Plose (notice mountains still have snow in August)

It started mildly enough, but the last hour we basically were walking vertically for 300 meters (1000 feet). My 220 pound frame was feeling it, after about 500 feet I started re-thinking the whole thing, which probably won’t be the last time on this trip.


A look at the grueling ascent to Forcella de Pütia

I took a breather and gutted the last bit out, and my reward was worth it. Waiting for me was this guy!


This dog was begging for a picture at the Forcella de Pütia

And then there were the views. of thr views, views, views!!!

In fact, I had been to Forcella de Pütia in the Fall with Duke, but the path we took on that sojourn was much more forgiving. Once at the top a German family was kind enough to point out the rare flower Edelweiss growing in the wild, which immediately meant I would be breaking into song:


I was told this is Edelweiss

The last 40 minutes of the hike was spectacular, and brought us into Rifugio Genoa with an hour to spare. We were feeling accomplished!

Now a few impressions of my first time staying overnight at a Rifugio in Alto Adige:

  • These places are spotless. The Alto Adigeans may even be more orderly and neat than Jerry Seinfeld
  • Sleeping in a common room is a trip, just think of all the late night bodily excretions x10
  • The food in these Rifugi is awesome
  • You know all the hikers who are staying over night cause they’re the ones walking around in flip-flops
  • It gets quite chilly at night
  • The common dinner was a lot of fun, sharing stories with folks from Barcelona, Sydney, and Amsterdam was a real highlight

There are a lot of boots:

And that was day 1, below was the final shot of the day capturing the Odle group of Dolemite as the sun was retreating. Tomorrow we go in search of a path to take us to the other side of this stunning group:

P.S. -looks like I lied about the whole phone related brevity thing, but it’s my blog and I’ll go on ad nauseam if I want to.

*Alto Adige (Süd Tirol) is a border region that was annexed to Italy after WW1 but the primary language is still German, but it is effectively a bi-lingual region if Italy, although there is some tension for sure given the strong-handed measures of Italianizing the region during fascism that still linger. Anyway, all this to say if I know the German name for a place I’ll try and include it in parentheses, like Brixen for Bressanone, etc.

Education alone isn’t enough

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 11:43pm in

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Nick Hanauer writes in The Atlantic:

Income inequality has exploded not because of our country’s educational failings but despite its educational progress. Make no mistake: Education is an unalloyed good. We should advocate for more of it, so long as it’s of high quality. But the longer we pretend that education is the answer to economic inequality, the harder it will be to escape our new Gilded Age.

Read more here.

Live by the barrel, die by the barrel : Connections between oil production, oil dependency, and economic growth

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 11:00pm in

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In every introductory macroeconomics course, oil is used as the classic example of a negative price shock. Professors tend to discuss the 1973 oil price shock triggered by the Arab-Israeli conflict and the 1979 oil price shock caused by the Iranian Revolution as reasons for rising inflation and falling global output—connecting these shocks to models about investment and aggregate supply and demand. More recent literature, including this presentation by St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, indicates that oil prices can sometimes be interpreted as a proxy for demand. But what’s the impact of oil supply for the consumers in oil-producing countries? We can use FRED to plot crude oil production versus GDP growth in oil-producing countries to get at least a first idea of just how oil-dependent a country might be.

For the United States, the relative importance of oil to industrial production (which is now less than 20% of the economy) is typically between 7% and 15%. Thus, in the graph above, the correlation between oil production and GDP growth per capita is practically negligible. In fact, the correlation is slightly negative. It’s unlikely that changes in oil production have much of an effect on aggregate economic activity.

But the relationship between oil production and GDP growth per capita is much stronger for countries that have more oil-dependent economies. For example, the correlation coefficient for this measure is 0.51 for the United Arab Emirates, 0.76 for Iran, and 0.93 for Iraq. (The closer this coefficient is to 1.0, the stronger the positive correlation.) The scatter plot below indicates the strength of this positive relationship. For these countries, aggregate well-being could be largely influenced by how much oil the country produces—which is why economic diversification is key to building a national economy less susceptible to oil or other shocks.

How these graphs were created: For the first graph, search for and select “constant GDP per capital United States” and click “Add to Graph.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Add a Line” feature to search for and select “industrial production crude oil”; change the units to “percent change from year ago” in the “Units” dropdown menu and click “Copy to All.” In the “Format” tab, change the line type to “Scatter Plot.” For the second graph, search for and select “constant GDP per capita United Arab Emirates” and click “Add to Graph.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Add a Line” feature to search for and select “crude oil production United Arab Emirates.” Repeat this process for each individual country. Change the units to “percent change from year ago” in the “Units” dropdown menu and click “Copy to All.” Change the line graph to a scatter plot by using the “Format” tab and changing “Graph type” entry to “Scatter” and pick different colors as needed.

Suggested by Darren Chang and Christian Zimmermann.

40% of Scottish Labour Voters Support Independence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 11:00pm in

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The headline from the major new Ashcroft poll of Scottish public opinion is that Independence now has 52-48 majority support, and that is excellent news. Ashcroft himself is a Machiavellian Tory but his polling effort involves much larger samples than regular newspaper polls and has a generally good record. For me, the most interesting point in his new Scottish poll is that fully 40% of Scottish Labour voters in 2017 now support Independence.

This has important repercussions. The Labour leadership will no longer be able to portray Independence as beyond the pale for decent thinking people, or to portray Scottish nationalism as akin to Viktor Orban, without alienating a huge swathe of its own support. It certainly ought, at the very least, to encourage the Labour Party in supporting the Scottish people’s right to a new referendum, against Tory attempts to block it.

But it also has ramifications for how the SNP and wider Yes movement conduct ourselves, particularly online. Nationalists must stop automatically writing off Labour supporters as unionists. There remains a Blairite rump still powerful in Scottish Labour who are rightfully despised, but we need more readily to acknowledge how much we have in common with a great many ordinary members of the Labour Party, both in terms of supporting Independence and in terms of the more socially inclusive Scottish state we wish to build.


The dates in brackets indicate that the affiliation refers to how people voted in the election or referendum of that date.

It is not surprising that many more Labour voters are looking to Scottish Independence as a reaction to a historically extreme right wing government in London. But as I blogged at the time, already in 2017 25% of Scottish Labour voters supported Independence and a significant number who had voted SNP in the 2015 General Election had reverted to Labour in the 2017 General Election. The reason for this was simple – the SNP showed little sign of pushing on with Independence anyway and our dreadful, lacklustre 2017 GE campaign was conducted entirely on the basis of “don’t mention Independence and deny we are pushing for it whenever the Tories bring it up.” No wonder some Indy supporters drifted away.

As ever I looked to the estimable James Kelly for his interpretation of the latest poll, and found that I had beaten him to it. I did however find his last article touching on precisely the subject of whether the SNP should put Independence at the forefront of their campaign in the likely event of an early General Election. As James puts it:

“But we’ve all heard the mood music from the SNP leadership: in a snap pre-Brexit election, they’re more likely to emphasise their plan to stop Brexit, albeit with a pledge to hold an independence referendum.”

I too have picked up that mood music, and I have also picked up the massive groundswell of discontent with it. The SNP must put Independence right at the forefront of a general election campaign, and I entirely endorse the Angus MacNeil option of declaring the general election a de facto Independence referendum if the Tories persist in their refusal to countenance a formal one.

For the SNP yet again to put Independence on the backburner and to lead their campaign on Brexit would be a massive mistake. Firstly the surest way for Scotland to remain in the EU is to become an Independent country. It might end up with more SNP MPs at Westminster, but for those of us whose object is to have Scotland out of the UK and no SNP MPs at Westminster at all, the SNP is looking more and more like an organisation over-interested in its own institutional strength and in highly paid UK jobs for its highheidyins.

In short, Tommy Sheppard’s brilliant 2015 quote “We came to Westminster to settle up, not to settle in” is in danger of turning Tommy – for whom I have high regard – into a liar if they don’t rediscover the sense of urgency that quote conveyed.

Secondly it is not our right to keep England and Wales in the EU if they wish to exit. If we genuinely believe Scotland should be an Independent country, we have to accept that we have no right to interfere in English politics and no right to force them to stay in the EU, against the democratic wish of English voters, just as they have no right to drag us out of the EU, against the democratic wish of Scottish voters.

The SNP seems to have its heart set on being heroes on the UK stage and beloved of the Guardian and Alastair Campbell by thwarting Brexit for the UK. Well, bugger that. I want to destroy the UK and I want Scottish Independence. The rest is detail.

Whether England remains or leaves the EU is a decision for the residents of England, not for me.

Thirdly, an all out bid for Independence will attract back to voting SNP many of those Independence supporting 40% of Scottish Labour voters, many of whom voted SNP in 2015 but not 2017. I can see no especial reason they should change their vote if the SNP does not look a great deal more serious about Independence than it does today.

Finally, if you can’t achieve Independence while Boris Johnson and his bunch of ghouls are lurking around No. 10, when can you? Forget waiting for a better time.

If the SNP fails to strike all out for Independence now, and gets further distracted by the effort to stop Brexit for the whole UK, I shall not be alone in wondering how many of the 8% of SNP voters in the Ashcroft poll who do not support Independence, are at or near the top of the party.

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The post 40% of Scottish Labour Voters Support Independence appeared first on Craig Murray.

MMT — the key insights

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 7:00pm in

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from Lars Syll As has become abundantly clear during the last couple of years, it is obvious that most mainstream economists seem to think that Modern Monetary Theory is something new that some wild heterodox economic cranks have come up with. That is actually very telling about the total lack of knowledge of their own […]

August 5: Andy Capp debuts.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 5:00pm in

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On this day in 1957, Andy Capp debuted in Britain’s Daily Mirror. If you’re a Millennial you may have no idea of whom I’m speaking. Please allow me to hip you up. Andy Capp is an extraordinary daily comic strip about a working-class Brit whose main interests are drinking, fighting, leisure activities and playing rugby. What he definitely isn’t interested in is getting a job. He seems to spend most of his day in the pub. If not a man’s man, then certainly a scoundrel’s scoundrel. And very funny. Capp’s creator,  Reg Smythe, didn’t believe in soft edges or political correctness. And while Andy thrived during the latter-half of the last century, his star has dimmed somewhat in this new age of easy outrage and arbitrary offense. Fun fact: Since the 1960’s, Andy Capp Fries, a bagged pub snack somewhere between potato chips and french fries, has been available to the public in a wide variety of flavors. They’re actually quite excellent.

Um artista chinês criticou o Google e Xi Jinping. Agora está sendo perseguido pelo governo.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 1:03pm in

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As mensagens chegaram de repente, e então ele ficou quieto. “Minha identidade vazou”, disse ele. “Estou preocupado com a minha segurança.”

O artista dissidente chinês Badiucao estava ocupado preparando uma exposição em Hong Kong para celebrar a Semana de Livre Expressão, uma série de eventos organizados por grupos de direitos humanos. Seu material era em parte inspirado pelo plano do Google de criar um mecanismo de busca censurado na China e incluiria o trabalho que o artista havia criado para alfinetar a gigante de tecnologia norte-americana por cooperar com a supressão da liberdade na internet promovida pelo regime do partido comunista.

Mas apenas alguns dias antes da data prevista para a estreia da exposição no ano passado, em um evento digno de nota com membros do grupo punk-ativista russo Pussy Riot, a mostra foi cancelada pelos organizadores. Badiucao recebeu ameaças do governo chinês e logo se escondeu.

Foi como um pesadelo para o artista, um dos mais prolíficos satiristas políticos da China, que nunca revelou seu nome verdadeiro. De alguma forma, a polícia chinesa descobriu quem ele era e estava tentando localizá-lo.

“A China está tentando impedir qualquer chance de resistência para as pessoas em Hong Kong.”

“O governo chinês mandou dois policiais fazerem uma visita à minha família na China. Eles levaram um de meus familiares para uma delegacia e o interrogaram por três ou quatro horas”, disse Badiucao ao Intercept. “Estavam mandando um recado para que meu programa fosse cancelado e disseram que não teriam mais misericórdia por mim. Foi intimidação, uma tática de terror para me forçar a calar a boca.”

Badiucao – que atende pelo nome de “Buddy” – nasceu em Xangai e estudou direito na China antes de se mudar para a Austrália, onde viveu no exílio nos últimos 10 anos. Usando máscaras ou travestido em aparições públicas, ele fez de tudo para esconder sua identidade, temendo represálias do governo chinês por conta de seu trabalho, que regularmente ironiza e critica as políticas autoritárias do presidente Xi Jinping e de seu regime.

Em um frame de “China’s Artful Dissident” (Habilidoso dissidente da China), Badiucao aparece em Melbourne, na Austrália, com uma peça que ele criou em resposta a uma alteração feita em 2018 na constituição chinesa, permitindo que o presidente Xi Jinping permanecesse no poder pelo resto da vida.

Em um frame de “China’s Artful Dissident” (Habilidoso dissidente da China), Badiucao aparece em Melbourne, na Austrália, com uma peça que ele criou em resposta a uma alteração feita em 2018 na constituição chinesa, permitindo que o presidente Xi Jinping permanecesse no poder pelo resto da vida.

Imagem: arquivo pessoal/Badiucao

Depois de ficar sabendo que a polícia chinesa havia descoberto sua identidade, Badiucao desapareceu da internet. Por seis meses, suas páginas extremamente ativas do Twitter e do Instagram ficaram em silêncio. Mas, depois de fazer uma pausa para avaliar seu futuro e sua segurança, o artista de 33 anos decidiu que está pronto para retornar. Seu mais recente projeto, “China’s Artful Dissident”, é um documentário que foi exibido na Austrália na terça-feira, no qual ele revela seu rosto ao público pela primeira vez.

“A única maneira de manter minha segurança é me mostrar ao mundo e contar o que aconteceu em Hong Kong”, disse Badiucao em uma entrevista por telefone de Melbourne. “Para muita gente, foi uma grande derrota dos direitos humanos e da liberdade de expressão o fato da minha exposição ter sido cancelada. Eu quero ter certeza de que as pessoas saibam que isso não é o fim. Eu não estou afastado. Eu estou de volta. Eu estarei de volta com vocês. E nós vamos lutar juntos.”

Hong Kong é uma região administrativa especial na China e tem um grau de independência do continente, com poderes judiciais descentralizados e mais proteções aos direitos humanos. No entanto, o regime de Pequim vem afirmando cada vez mais o controle sobre Hong Kong, e nos últimos anos tem havido uma constante repressão sobre eventos políticos, liberdade de imprensa, livrarias independentes e ativismo pró-democracia.

“A situação está ficando cada vez pior”, disse Badiucao. “A China está tentando impedir qualquer chance de resistência para as pessoas em Hong Kong. É uma cidade diferente agora. Não é mais a Hong Kong que conhecemos.”

O cancelamento forçado da exposição de Badiucao em Hong Kong foi um exemplo absoluto do aperto das garras de Pequim sobre a região. O evento havia sido intitulado “Gongle”, um jogo de palavras com Google, baseado em uma frase em chinês que significa “cantar pelo comunismo”.

Outro frame de “China’s Artful Dissident” mostra uma parte de uma exposição que Badiucao planejava lançar em novembro de 2018 em Hong Kong, inspirada pelo plano do Google de desenvolver um mecanismo de busca censurado na China.

Outro frame de “China’s Artful Dissident” mostra uma parte de uma exposição que Badiucao planejava lançar em novembro de 2018 em Hong Kong, inspirada pelo plano do Google de desenvolver um mecanismo de busca censurado na China.

Imagem: arquivo pessoal/Badiucao

O trabalho de Badiucao para a mostra incluía desenhos comemorando a Revolução dos guarda-chuvas, uma série de protestos de rua contra a interferência da China no sistema eleitoral de Hong Kong, ocorridos entre setembro e dezembro de 2014. A exposição também contou com retratos de Xi como o personagem de desenho animado ursinho Pooh, uma referência a um meme, desprezado pelo regime, zombando da aparência gorducha do líder chinês, Agora, imagens e menções ao ursinho Pooh são rotineiramente bloqueadas nos sites de mídia social chineses.

Antes da exposição planejada, Badiucao havia criado várias peças satirizando mecanismo de busca censurada planejada do Google para a China. Ele desenhou imagens do CEO da empresa, Sundar Pichai, usando um boné de beisebol dizendo “Make Wall Great Again” (algo como tornem o muro grande novamente), referindo-se ao sistema de censura na internet da China, conhecido como “Great Firewall”. O artista também organizou um protesto na sede do Google na Califórnia, onde distribuiu alguns dos bonés vermelhos aos funcionários do Google antes de ser retirado pela segurança.

O Google afirmou que não está mais desenvolvendo o mecanismo de busca, conhecido como Dragonfly, mas se recusou a descartar o lançamento dele no futuro. Badiucao disse que ficou irritado com o plano do Google, descrevendo-o como “totalmente inaceitável” e simbólico de uma maior batalha entre a liberdade de expressão e a censura na China. “Desenvolver um novo mecanismo de busca que ajudaria o governo chinês a perseguir os dissidentes e aumentar o controle sobre a liberdade de expressão… isso é simplesmente uma vergonha”, disse ele.

Nas últimas semanas, Badiucao voltou sua atenção para os negócios do Twitter com a China. O artista apresentou um projeto para a empresa de mídia social, oferecendo a criação de um emoji especial “hashflag” para comemorar o 30º aniversário do massacre da Praça Tiananmen, em 1989. Toda vez que uma pessoa usasse a hashtag #Tiananmen30, um dos emojis de Badiucao – como a imagem do homem que ficou famoso por bloquear a passagem de um tanque durante os protestos – apareceria ao lado dela. O Twitter respondeu a ele alegando que só poderia usar “um número limitado de emojis” na plataforma e dizendo não estar interessado na colaboração.

Em 23 de maio, mais ou menos na mesma época da correspondência com Badiucao, o Twitter organizou uma conferência “Twitter para comerciantes” em Pequim. Para Badiucao, isso destacou que, embora a empresa não opere sua plataforma na China por ser proibida lá, ela ainda consome uma enorme quantidade de receita publicitária do país – e, portanto, tem grande interesse em permanecer do lado do regime do Partido Comunista.

“Estou esperando por uma vingança do governo chinês. No entanto, às vezes as ideias exigem sacrifício, e precisamos de pessoas que as defendam.”

“Se eles colaborassem comigo, isso agitaria as empresas chinesas que colocam anúncios no Twitter”, disse ele, observando que o Twitter aceita dinheiro publicitário de veículos de propaganda do governo chinês, como a Xinhua News, promovendo seus artigos para milhões de usuários em todo o mundo.

Badiucao está planejando lançar uma campanha de protesto contra a posição do Twitter em relação à China – um dos vários novos projetos que está desenvolvendo depois que as ameaças forçaram sua saída da vida pública. Ao se recusar a ficar quieto, ele enfrenta o risco de a polícia voltar a perseguir os membros de sua família que permanecem no continente chinês. Ele disse se tratar de uma tática comum. “Eles acham que talvez você seja próximo daquela pessoa e então podem machucar essa pessoa para chegar até você.”

Badiucao acredita talvez jamais possa retornar à China ou aos territórios ao redor, a menos que a situação política no país mude drasticamente, o que parece altamente improvável em um futuro próximo. Mesmo a milhares de quilômetros de distância, na Austrália, onde obteve cidadania, ele diz que não se sente seguro e teme que seu computador, os telefones e a conexão com a Internet que usa tenham sido submetidos a repetidas tentativas de invasão. Por conta disso, muda regularmente os aparelhos eletrônicos e números de telefone. Badiucao ainda não tem certeza de como o governo chinês descobriu sua identidade, levando-o a questionar se alguém que ele conhece possa tê-lo exposto. “Talvez alguém tenha vazado isso acidentalmente”, disse ele, “ou alguém que eu tenha constatado tenha sido comprometido pelo governo chinês e esteja espionando para eles.”

Porém, Badiucao agora está conformado com o fato de que seu anonimato não existe mais e afirma estar pronto para enfrentar as consequências. “Se encontrar minha família não funcionar, eles tentarão me encontrar pessoalmente, mesmo que eu esteja na Austrália”, disse ele, referindo-se a acusações de que a China já sequestrou dissidentes vivendo no exterior. “Eu não sou ingênuo em relação a isso. Estou esperando por uma vingança do governo chinês. No entanto, às vezes as ideias exigem sacrifício, e precisamos de pessoas que as defendam. Eu sinto que preciso fazer isso. Se eu não falar e defender minha própria liberdade de expressão, não posso mais ser artista.”

Tradução: Cássia Zanon

The post Um artista chinês criticou o Google e Xi Jinping. Agora está sendo perseguido pelo governo. appeared first on The Intercept.

MMT macro final (3/3) entanglement

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 9:08am in

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from Asad Zaman Previous posts (  MMT Macro Final 1/3 , and  MMT Macro Final 2/3 ) have covered questions 1-4 and 5-8. This post covers the last 4 question of the MMT based  Advanced Macro course I taught last semester at PIDE. The central methodological difference at the heart of my course was the principle of Entanglement: Theories cannot be understood […]

In the World of Truth and Fact, Russiagate is Dead. In the World of the Political Establishment, it is Still the New 42

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/08/2019 - 1:51am in

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Douglas Adams famously suggested that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. In the world of the political elite, the answer is Russiagate. What has caused the electorate to turn on the political elite, to defeat Hillary and to rush to Brexit? Why, the evil Russians, of course, are behind it all.

It was the Russians who hacked the DNC and published Hillary’s emails, thus causing her to lose the election because… the Russians, dammit, who cares what was in the emails? It was the Russians. It is the Russians who are behind Wikileaks, and Julian Assange is a Putin agent (as is that evil Craig Murray). It was the Russians who swayed the 1,300,000,000 dollar Presidential election campaign result with 100,000 dollars worth of Facebook advertising. It was the evil Russians who once did a dodgy trade deal with Aaron Banks then did something improbable with Cambridge Analytica that hypnotised people en masse via Facebook into supporting Brexit.

All of this is known to be true by every Blairite, every Clintonite, by the BBC, by CNN, by the Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington Post. “The Russians did it” is the article of faith for the political elite who cannot understand why the electorate rejected the triangulated “consensus” the elite constructed and sold to us, where the filthy rich get ever richer and the rest of us have falling incomes, low employment rights and scanty welfare benefits. You don’t like that system? You have been hypnotised and misled by evil Russian trolls and hackers.

[Whether Trump and/or Brexit were worthy beneficiaries of the popular desire to express discontent is an entirely different argument and not one I address here].

Except virtually none of this is true. Mueller’s inability to defend in person his deeply flawed report took a certain amount of steam out of the blame Russia campaign. But what should have killed off “Russiagate” forever is the judgement of Judge John G Koeltl of the Federal District Court of New York.

In a lawsuit brought by the Democratic National Committee against Russia and against Wikileaks, and against inter alia Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Julian Assange, for the first time the claims of collusion between Trump and Russia were subjected to actual scrutiny in a court of law. And Judge Koeltl concluded that, quite simply, the claims made as the basis of Russiagate are insufficient to even warrant a hearing.

The judgement is 81 pages long, but if you want to understand the truth about the entire “Russiagate” spin it is well worth reading it in full. Otherwise let me walk you through it.

This is the crucial point about Koeltl’s judgement. In considering dismissing a case at the outset in response to a motion to dismiss from the defence, the judge is obliged to give the plaintiff every benefit and to take the alleged facts described by the DNC as true. The stage of challenging and testing those facts has not been reached. The question Koeltl is answering is this. Accepting for the moment the DNC’s facts as true, on the face of it, even if everything that the Democratic National Committee alleged happened, did indeed happen, is there the basis for a case? And his answer is a comprehensive no. Even the facts alleged to comprise the Russiagate narrative do not mount up to a plausible case.

The consequence of this procedure is of course that in this judgement Koeltl is accepting the DNC’s “facts”. The judgement is therefore written entirely on the assumption that the Russians did hack the DNC computers as alleged by the plaintiff (the Democratic National Committee), and that meetings and correspondence took place as the DNC alleged and their content was also what the DNC alleged. It is vital to understand in reading the document that Koeltl is not stating that he finds these “facts” to be true. Doubtless had the trial proceeded many of them would have been challenged by the defendants and their evidentiary basis tested in court. It is simply at this stage the only question Koeltl is answering is whether, assuming the facts alleged all to be true, there are grounds for trial.

Judge Koeltl’s subsequent dismissal of the Russiagate nonsense is a problem for the mainstream media and their favourite narrative. They have largely chosen to pretend it never happened, but when obliged to mention it have attempted to misrepresent this as the judge confirming that the Russians hacked the DNC. It very definitely and specifically is not that; the judge was obliged to rule on the procedural motion to dismiss on the basis of assuming the allegation to be true. Legal distinctions, even very plain ones like this, are perhaps difficult for the average cut and paste mainstream media stenographer to understand. But the widespread failure to report the meaning of Koeltl’s judgement fairly is inexcusable.

The key finding is this. Even accepting the DNC’s evidence at face value, the judge ruled that it provides no evidence of collusion between Russia, Wikileaks or any of the named parties to hack the DNC’s computers. It is best expressed here in this dismissal of the charge that a property violation was committed, but in fact the same ruling by the judge that no evidence has been presented of any collusion for an illegal purpose, runs through the dismissal of each and every one of the varied charges put forward by the DNC as grounds for their suit.

Judge Koeltl goes further and asserts that Wikileaks, as a news organisation, had every right to obtain and publish the emails in exercise of a fundamental First Amendment right. The judge also specifically notes that no evidence has been put forward by the DNC that shows any relationship between Russia and Wikileaks. Wikileaks, accepting the DNC’s version of events, merely contacted the website that first leaked some of the emails, in order to ask to publish them.

Judge Koeltl also notes firmly that while various contacts are alleged by the DNC between individuals from Trump’s campaign and individuals allegedly linked to the Russian government, no evidence at all has been put forward to show that the content of any of those meetings had anything to do with either Wikileaks or the DNC’s emails.

In short, Koeltl dismissed the case entirely because simply no evidence has been produced of the existence of any collusion between Wikileaks, the Trump campaign and Russia. That does not mean that the evidence has been seen and is judged unconvincing. In a situation where the judge is duty bound to give credence to the plaintiff’s evidence and not judge its probability, there simply was no evidence of collusion to which he could give credence. The entire Russia-Wikileaks-Trump fabrication is a total nonsense. But I don’t suppose that fact will kill it off.

The major implication for the Assange extradition case of the Koeltl judgement is his robust and unequivocal statement of the obvious truth that Wikileaks is a news organisation and its right to publish documents, specifically including stolen documents, is protected by the First Amendment when those documents touch on the public interest.


These arguments are certainly helpful to Assange in the extradition case. But it must be noted that the extradition request has been drafted to try to get round the law by alleging that Wikileaks were complicit in the actual theft of documents by Chelsea Manning. Judge Koeltl does not address this question as he was presented with no evidence that Wikileaks had contact with the “hackers” prior to their obtaining the documents, so the question did not arise before him. In the extradition request, the attempt is to argue that Assange encouraged and abetted Manning in obtaining the material. This is supposed to be a different argument.

In fact this attempt to undermine the First Amendment has no merit. Cultivation of an insider source is a normal part of journalistic activity, and encouraging an official to leak material in the public interest is an everyday occurrence in such cultivation. In the “Watergate” precedent, for example, the “Deep Throat” source, Mark Felt of the FBI, was cultivated and encouraged over a period by Woodward. In addition to which, Manning’s access to the documents could not be characterised as “theft”. Leaking of official secrets by an insider is a very different thing to a hack from outside.

And in conclusion, I should state emphatically that while Judge Koeltl was obliged to accept for the time being the allegation that the Russians had hacked the DNC as alleged, in fact this never happened. The emails came from a leak not a hack. The Mueller Inquiry’s refusal to take evidence from the actual publisher of the leaks, Julian Assange, in itself discredits his report. Mueller should also have taken crucial evidence from Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, who has explained in detail why an outside hack was technically impossible based on the forensic evidence provided.

The other key point that proves Mueller’s Inquiry was never a serious search for truth is that at no stage was any independent forensic independence taken from the DNC’s servers, instead the word of the DNC’s own security consultants was simply accepted as true. Finally no progress has been made – or is intended to be made – on the question of who killed Seth Rich, while the pretend police investigation has “lost” his laptop.

Though why anybody would believe Robert Mueller about anything is completely beyond me.

So there we have it. Russiagate as a theory is as completely exploded as the appalling Guardian front page lie published by Kath Viner and Luke Harding fabricating the “secret meetings” between Paul Manafort and Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. But the political class and the mainstream media, both in the service of billionaires, have moved on to a stage where truth is irrelevant, and I do not doubt that Russiagate stories will thus persist. They are so useful for the finances of the armaments and security industries, and in keeping the population in fear and jingoist politicians in power.

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