This business model would grind to a halt if a form of opt-in, as the European Union is now considering, is required before data supplied to one outlet, say Tumblr, is shared with other prying eyes, be they of corporate or government entities. As it is, sites such as Tumblr and Instagram became popular because they appeared to bestow a measure of privacy by not offering advertising. An aggressive ad program of the kind Yahoo needs to recoup its investment could fatally alienate Tumblr’s core constituency.
But shredding privacy is the essence of Tumblr’s appeal to Yahoo, and even though it has said it will retain the social networking site’s founders in key positions, one way or another that very personal data will be mined and inevitably fall into what users will discover to be the wrong hands. That is truly scary, for private space is the necessary incubator of personal freedom.
Nothing will be left to chance – even the hint of a green protest wave.
In 2009, 475 candidates registered to run for Iran’s presidency. Only four were approved by the Guardian Council – the all-powerful, vetting clerical committee. This year, no fewer than 686 registered for the upcoming June 14 elections. Eight were approved.
Among them, one won’t find the two who are really controversial; former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, aka “The Shark” – essentially a pragmatic conservative – and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, adviser and right-hand man to outgoing President Mahmud Ahmadinejad are both out.
Those who will run are not exactly a stellar bunch; former vice president Mohammad Reza Aref; former national security chief Hassan Rowhani; former telecommunications minister Mohammad Gharazi; the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili; Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf; the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s foreign policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati; secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei; and Parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel.
But they do read like a who’s who of ultimate Islamic Republic insiders – the so-called “principle-ists”.
According to the Interior Ministry, The Shark is out because of his advanced age (78). Not really. The Shark is out because he was the top moderate running – and was already catalyzing the support of most (excluded) reformists.
Mashaei is out because he would represent an Ahmadinejad continuum – supported by quite a few of Ahmadinejad’s cabinet ministers and profiting from a formidable populist political machine that still seduces Iran’s countryside and the urban poor. He would deepen Ahmadinejad’s drive for an independent executive. This may not be a done deal – yet. Both Rafsanjani and Mashaei cannot, in theory, appeal. But the Supreme Leader himself could lend them a hand. That’s unlikely, though.
Rafsanjani waited for the last day, May 11, to register as a potential candidate. Former president Khatami – of “dialogue of civilizations” fame – did not register, and announced his support for Rafsanjani the day before. One can imaginealarm bells ringing at the Supreme Leader’s abode.
The Shark was recently reconfirmed as chairman of the powerful Expediency Council – which oversees the government (Khamenei had this post while Ayatollah Khomeini was still alive). This may be interpreted as a sort of consolation prize.
Ahmadinejad, for his part, had been hinting at blackmail – threatening to spill all the beans on corruption by the Supreme Leader’s family. He will hardly be handed any favors.
Assuming the Supreme Leader remains immobile, himself and his subordinates across the conservative political elite do run a serious risk – that of totally alienating two very significant political factions in the Islamic Republic. By then, arguably the Guardian Council will have cleared the field for an easy victory by the former Revolutionary Guard Air Force commander and current Mayor of Tehran Qalibaf.
Qalibaf would be the ultimate politically correct vehicle for what I have described since 2009 as the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat – that is, the grip on Iran’s institutional life by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and conservative clerics under the real decider, Supreme Leader Khamenei.
This report alludes to the not exactly gentle side of Qalibaf. That, in itself, is not surprising. Infinitely more crucial is the question of whether Khamenei and the ultra-conservatives can afford to remain ensconced in an ivory tower as the internal economic situation deteriorates further and a vociferous Sunni Arab axis – amply instigated by the US and supported by Israel – is barking at Iran’s doors. [continue]
One day before President Obama is due to deliver a speech on national security, his administration formally acknowledged that the United States had killed American citizens in Yemen and Pakistan.
Read the letter here. (via NY Times)
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday issued an executive order granting convicted killer Nathan Dunlap a “temporary reprieve” from an execution that had been just three months away.
In an executive order that provides an indefinite stay of execution, Hickenlooper writes that the decision has weighed heavily on him.
He calls Dunlap’s crimes “horrendous” — although nowhere in the order does he refer to Dunlap by name — and declares his respect for the jurors who handed down the death sentence.
But more than 15 years have passed since that decision, and those years have provided “the benefit of information that exposes an inequitable system,” Hickenlooper’s order states.
“It is a legitimate question whether we as a state should be taking lives,” the order says. “Because the question is about the use of the death penalty itself, and not about Offender No. 89148, I have opted to grant a reprieve and not clemency in this case.”
The executive order will remain in effect until it is modified or rescinded by a future executive order.
Obama is the most valuable and important tool the guardians of American Empire have to implement the bone crushing agenda that must continue to be leveled against Americans at home and the world abroad for the benefit of the elite. Obama’s neoliberal government giveaways to private corporations and mercenary foreign policy already make him too valuable … to have his presidency threatened by the abuses of power that have been exposed.
Why Obama Will Walk Away Unscathed by the Current Political Scandals
This flew in under the radar - the DoD put a new rule into effect on May 13th of this year, seemingly in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. No matter (cuz terror). A summary:
… Pursuant to military regulations already in place, the military is authorized to deploy itself within the US to suppress “civil disturbances” and “provide for the restoration of law and order in a specific State or locality.” The regulations define a civil disturbance as “[g]roup acts of violence and disorder prejudicial to public law and order.”
These regulations state that the military may be deployed within the US where “[d]uly constituted Federal, State, or local authorities are unable or decline to provide adequate protection…” In other words, the military expressly asserts the power to intervene with force and violence to put down what it has determined to be an unacceptable “civil disturbance,” including over the opposition of civilian federal, state or local agencies. The regulations even authorize military action in response to “large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” where “prior authorization by the President is impossible.”
“Civil disturbance” is intentionally vague, of course - no need to clarify whether that protest you’re planning is included. Better not to protest anything at all, right?
Yet, in the fine print, the agency also effectively empowered a handful of select banks to continue controlling the $700 trillion derivatives market. … Just five banks hold more than 90 percent of all derivatives contracts.
“$700 trillion derivatives market”
More: Deja Vu on the Hill: Wall Street Lobbyists Roll Back Finance Reform, Again by Matt Taibbi
The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. This is part of a mammoth redevelopment project on South Lakeshore Drive consisting of a convention center anchored by an arena for a non-descript basketball team that has gone 47-111 over the last five years. It’s also miles away from DePaul’s campus.
Rahm Emanuel’s Zombie Pigs vs. Chicago’s Angry Birds | The Nation (via dendroica)
A groundbreaking research project has mapped the US government’s global kidnap and secret detention programme, shedding unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years.
The interactive online project – by two British universities and a legal charity – has uncovered new details of the way in which the so-called extraordinary rendition programme operated for years in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to avoid detection in the face of growing public concern.
The Rendition Project website is intended to serve as a research tool that not only collates all the publicly available data about the programme, but can continue to be updated as further information comes to light.
Data already collated shows the full extent of the UK’s logistical support for the programme: aircraft associated with rendition operations landed at British airports more than 1,600 times.
Although no detainees are known to have been aboard the aircraft while they were landing in the UK, the CIA was able to refuel during operations that involved some of the most notorious renditions of the post-September 11 years, including one in which two men were kidnapped in Sweden and flown to Egypt, where they suffered years of torture, and others that involved detainees being flown to and from a secret prison in Romania.
The database also tracks rendition flights into and out of Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Islands, and suggests that flight crews enjoyed rest-and-recreation stopovers on the Turks and Caicos Islands. Both are British overseas territories.
The Rendition Project is the result of three years of work, funded by the UK taxpayer through the Economic and Social Research Council, by Ruth Blakeley, a senior lecturer at the University of Kent, and Sam Raphael, a senior lecturer at Kingston University, working with Crofton Black, an investigator with the legal charity Reprieve.
“By bringing together a vast collection of documents and data, the Rendition Project publishes the most detailed picture to date of the scale, operation and evolution of the global system of rendition and secret detention in the so-called war on terror,” said Blakeley.
Raphael said: “The database makes a major contribution to efforts to track CIA rendition flights, and provides the clearest picture so far of what was going on. It also serves as an important tool for investigators, journalists and lawyers to delve into in more detail.”
Black added: “The Rendition Project lays bare the inner workings of the logistics network underlying the US government’s secret prison programme. It’s the most accurate and comprehensive resource so far published.”
The data includes details on 11,006 flights by aeroplanes linked to the CIA’s rendition programme since 2002. Of those, 1,556 flights are classed as confirmed or suspected rendition flights, or flagged as “suspicious”, depending on the strength of the supporting evidence surrounding each.