Most Americans have no idea how much economic trouble is heading our way. Most of them just assume that everything will eventually “return to normal” just like it always has before and that those running our economy “know what they are doing” and that we should trust them to do their jobs. Unfortunately, these beliefs are being reinforced by the bubble of false hope that we are experiencing right now. For example, it is being reported that weekly unemployment claims in the United States have fallen to a four-year low. That is a very good thing. Let us hope that unemployment claims go even lower and that the current period of stability lasts for as long as possible. We should enjoy these last fleeing moments of tremendous prosperity for as long as we can, because when they are gone they won’t be coming back. As I noted the other day, all of this false prosperity in the United States has been financed bythe 15 trillion dollar party that we have been enjoying. We are adding about 150 million dollars to our debt every single hour so that we can continue to enjoy an inflated standard of living. Unfortunately, nobody in the history of the world has ever been able to keep a debt spiral going indefinitely, and our debt bubble will burst eventually as well.
Sadly, when you attempt to end (or even slow down) a debt spiral the consequences can be extremely painful. Just look at what is happening in Greece. Several waves of austerity measures have been implemented, the Greek economy has been plunged into a full-blown depression and Greek debt is stillgoing up.
The rest of the nations of the eurozone are also now implementing austerity measures, and most of them are also starting to fall into recession. The economic pain in Europe is just beginning and it will go on for quite a long time.
And eventually the United States is going to join the pain. Right now the U.S. government can still borrow trillions of dollars at super low interest rates thanks to games being played by the Federal Reserve. But it is simply not possible for this Ponzi scheme to last too much longer. When it ends, the pain will be extremely great.
And even in the short-term there are some extremely troubling signs for the U.S. economy.
The following are 19 signs of very serious economic trouble on the horizon….
Did you know that roughly 10% of the American population suffers from depression? It isn’t exactly a coincidence, with the FDA approving a wide variety of damaging foods and drugs that many millions of Americans consume each day. The FDA isn’t helping the population with their approval of the dozens of antidepressant medications on the market – it in fact is doing the exact opposite.
The beneficial results of antidepressants have been under the spotlight for quite some time in the health world, and the validity of giving them out like candy to patients in need of a quick and easy solution is under question as well; just how useful is medication for depression? At best, the tangible results felt by patients are comparable to sugar pills. That is to say, the medication itself does virtually nothing to improve the mood of the patient directly. At worst, antidepressants cause decreased mental stability. Wanting to kill yourself or others around you are feelings which antidepressants have been shown to ignite.
There is even the possibility that while on these terrible drugs you can become even more vulnerable to more serious mental illnesses – all whilst other legitimate non-medication methods for treating depression are being tread underfoot by the FDA.
The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world”. “I am more worried than I have been in the past,” he said. “It’s scary.”
The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry’s attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of “restrictive” walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.
The 38-year-old billionaire, whose family fled antisemitism in the Soviet Union, was widely regarded as having been the driving force behind Google’s partial pullout from China in 2010 over concerns about censorship and cyber-attacks. He said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the internet for long, but now says he has been proven wrong. “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle,” he said.
A Transportation Security Administration baggage inspector at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport has been indicted in the theft of Apple iPads from luggage over eight months.
Clayton Keith Dovel, 36, of Bedford was arrested Feb. 1 and has been suspended indefinitely, officials said.
The investigation led to the recovery of eight stolen iPads, including one that was among Dovel’s possessions at Terminal E when he was arrested, airport police said.
According to airport police, a traveler reported Jan. 24 that his iPad 2 had been stolen and that he had traced it electronically to a home in Bedford owned by Dovel.
The report, screened on the main evening news of Channel 10, was remarkable both in terms of the access granted to the reporter, who said he had spent weeks with the pilots and other personnel he interviewed, and in the fact that his assessments on a strike were cleared by the military censor.
No order to strike is likely to be given before the P5+1 talks with Iran resume in May, the reporter, Alon Ben-David, said. “But the coming summer will not only be hot but tense.”
In the event that negotiations fail and the order is given for Israel to carry out an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, “dozens if not more planes” will take part in the mission: attack and escort jets, tankers for mid-air refueling, electronic warfare planes and rescue helicopters, the report said.
The Sex Pistols, the punk rock band famous for their anti-establishment antics, are to re-release their classic anthem God Save the Queen to coincide with the jubilee celebrations this summer.
The song, widely regarded as an attack on the monarchy with lyrics equating the Queen with a “fascist regime”, is expected to be released in the final week of May, in a bid to top the charts over the Diamond Jubilee weekend at the beginning of June.
The move means the single is likely to go head to head in the charts with a special Diamond Jubilee song to be written by the pop singer Gary Barlow and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, which will be performed at a concert for the Queen outside Buckingham Palace on June 4.
Originally released on May 27 1977, ahead of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, the single, which featured a defaced image of the Queen on the cover, sparked widespread controversy and was banned by the BBC and the Independent Broadcasting Authority which regulated commercial television and radio and independent radio.
George Soros has gone to Berlin to tell the Germans that their policies are leading to the disintegration of not just the Euro, but Europe itself.
Yesterday in a panel on the “Future of Europe” at a conference organized by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Soros said:
The Euro has really broken down. It has sprung defects, some of which could have been anticipated and some were anticipated. But some actually couldn’t. Effectively, heavily indebted countries [in Europe] have ended up in the position of a third world country that is heavily indebted in a foreign currency. And that is only one of the unanticipated results of how things worked out [with the Euro].
Soros went on to say that Europe is simultaneously suffering from a Euro Crisis, a sovereign debt crisis, a balance of payments crisis, a banking crisis, a competitiveness crisis and suffering from other serious structural defects.
According to a Maoist adage, “power flows from the barrel of a gun.” Who controls the guns—the army—in communist China has been the key to who controls the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and thus the nation. As developments in the power struggle shaking the CCP’s top leadership have recently played out in front page editorials in China’s newspapers, behind the scenes an effort to secure the loyalty of the military has been moving forward.
The power struggle has so far swirled around Bo Xilai, the former head of the CCP in the central western megalopolis of Chongqing. Bo was relieved of his position in Chongqing on March 15 and of all his Party posts on April 10. He is now under investigation by the Party’s disciplinary committee.
Bo’s career in the CCP appears to be over and the only question remaining is how serious the punishment he suffers will be. But if hope remains for rescuing Bo’s fortunes, and the fortunes of the political faction he belongs to, that hope would reside in the military taking extraordinary action to protect him.
Amid rumors of a military effort to rescue Bo, the Central Military Commission, which controls China’s armed forces, has sent five inspection teams to Sichuan, Chongqing, Kunming, Guizhou, and other places, to investigate the connections of military leaders in the Chengdu military region to Bo, as reported by the South China Morning Post on April 15.
If suicide is a measure of a society’s health, the Eurozone is getting sicker by the minute. The rate of people taking their own lives is soaring in Europe at such a clip that the trend has given birth to a new media term: “Suicide by economic crisis.” How has it come to pass that people would rather die than be subjected to the pain imposed by global elites?
It always comes as a shock when we learn that we have been deceived. In the world of politics, deception and ulterior motives have become normal and are accepted as part of the game, and it is the people who are removed from the political spectrum who are fooled and manipulated. Because We the People have been undisciplined and distracted towards our responsibilities towards ourselves, our neighbors and our planet, we have allowed large corporations, the government agencies, politicians and scientists to usurp our power as a collective unit. We have watched them manipulate, distort and pervert facts, information and technology while they present their reasons and motives in a sugar-coated package that is wrapped in sweet words, dancing logic and confusion. We just shrug our shoulders and nod, and we go back to our sitcoms and video games with a contrived sense of peace and safety because, after all, it is our God-like scientists and our Altruistic government who are behind the actions and inventions. We accept the reasons why our government is bombing yet another country; we surrender to their misuse of technology in producing genetically modified foods and passify ourselves when they explain why they need not be labeled; we turn our backs to the destruction of the environment, and we blind ourselves from the realities of our modern system.
Our scientists have become prophets, and their findings have become laws. As a collective unit, we have flooded science with our faith and trust. We have elevated science’s position from one discipline among many to the supreme discipline who’s theories, findings and statements become truths that are accepted and unchallenged. Science has become a vehicle of deception and lies and is an institution that has been used by politicians, corporations and big business to manipulate facts and findings so that their product or invention can be marketable and profitable. Dirty science is behind the manufacturing and marketing of many products, including many which we use without hesitation or reserve. In the case of fluoride, science has played a central role in its acceptance and forced use by American residents. Because fluoride is recommended by most dentists and is considered by the masses to be a safe and important substance in our oral hygiene care, we use it without a second thought. Because we have been told that it is safe and effective, because we believe our scientists wholeheartedly, we turn our attention to the newest electronic gadget rather than doing our own research on the safety, effectiveness and consequences of fluoride use. One look into the fluoride issue immediately inspires suspicion and mistrust of the substance and the way it is used in today’s society.
The incident also underscored the increasingly central role that drones now play in American foreign policy. During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the military conducted only a handful of drone missions. Today, the Pentagon deploys a fleet of 19,000 drones, relying on them for classified missions that once belonged exclusively to Special Forces units or covert operatives on the ground. American drones have been sent to spy on or kill targets in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya. Drones routinely patrol the Mexican border, and they provided aerial surveillance over Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In his first three years, Obama has unleashed 268 covert drone strikes, five times the total George W. Bush ordered during his eight years in office. All told, drones have been used to kill more than 3,000 people designated as terrorists, including at least four U.S. citizens. In the process, according to human rights groups, they have also claimed the lives of more than 800 civilians. Obama’s drone program, in fact, amounts to the largest unmanned aerial offensive ever conducted in military history; never have so few killed so many by remote control.
The use of drones is rapidly transforming the way we go to war. On the battlefield, a squad leader can receive real-time data from a drone that enables him to view the landscape for miles in every direction, dramatically expanding the capabilities of what would normally have been a small and isolated unit. “It’s democratized information on the battlefield,” says Daniel Goure, a national security expert who served in the Defense Department during both Bush administrations. “It’s like a reconnaissance version of Twitter.” Drones have also radically altered the CIA, turning a civilian intelligence-gathering agency into a full-fledged paramilitary operation – one that routinely racks up nearly as many scalps as any branch of the military.
But the implications of drones go far beyond a single combat unit or civilian agency. On a broader scale, the remote-control nature of unmanned missions enables politicians to wage war while claiming we’re not at war – as the United States is currently doing in Pakistan. What’s more, the Pentagon and the CIA can now launch military strikes or order assassinations without putting a single boot on the ground – and without worrying about a public backlash over U.S. soldiers coming home in body bags. The immediacy and secrecy of drones make it easier than ever for leaders to unleash America’s military might – and harder than ever to evaluate the consequences of such clandestine attacks.
People are underestimating sugar levels in drinks which are perceived to be “healthy” options, according to new research.
More than 2,000 people across the UK were asked to estimate how many teaspoons of sugar were in a variety of beverages and, while many overestimated the amount in fizzy drinks, they “significantly misjudged” the levels in milkshakes, smoothies and some fruit juices.
The research, carried out by the University of Glasgow, suggested the average person in the UK consumes 659g and 3,144 calories a week through non-alcoholic liquid intake.
At 450 calories a day, it is the equivalent to almost a quarter of the recommended daily calorie intake for women and around a fifth for men.
Half of people who admitted to drinking three or more sugary drinks in a day said they did not compensate by reducing the calorie intake of their food while nearly a quarter of those surveyed did not take into consideration their liquid sugar or calorie intake when they were last on a diet.
The over-consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks contributes to obesity, which is a major risk factor for health conditions such as type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and stroke.
Naveed Sattar, Professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: “What you drink can be as damaging to the body as what you eat and there is no question that consuming too many sugar-sweetened drinks can greatly contribute to abdominal obesity and, therefore, increase your likelihood of developing health conditions such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The following is an excerpt from a client letter published back in mid-March. By the look of things, this forecast is playing out precisely.
Starting back in August, I began suggesting that we were approaching a Systemic Crisis/ Crash scenario in the markets.
The technical and fundamentals both supported this forecast, but I completely underestimated the degree to which the Central Banks and EU would attempt to prop up the market.
At that time, I thought it likely we’d see a Crash, which would then be met with another round of stimulus, which would push the economy temporarily into the green. It seemed the most logical outcome given that we were heading into an election year with a President whose ratings were at record lows.
Instead, the Federal Reserve, particularly those Fed Presidents from Financial Centers (Charles Evans of Chicago and Bill Dudley of New York) began a coordinated campaign of verbal intervention, hinting that more easing or QE was just around the corner.
These verbal interventions coincided with coordinated monetary interventions between the Federal Reserve and other world Central Banks: first on September 15 2011 and again on November 30 2011.
The effects of both coordinated moves were short-lived in terms of equity prices, but they did send a message that the Central Banks were willing to intervene in a big way to maintain the financial system. This in turn helped to ease interbank liquidity problems in Europe (more on this in a moment) and maintain the belief that the Fed backstop or “Bernanke Put” was still in effect.
Another issue that served to push the markets higher was European leaders’ decision to go “all in” on the EU –bail out project. I’ve tracked those developments closely in previous articles.
Regarding this factor, I also underestimated the extent to which leaders would push to hold things together. After all, Greece had already received bailouts in excess of 150% of its GDP and still posted a GDP loss of 6.8% in 2011. It’s hard to believe they’d want to accept more austerity measures and more debt.
Moreover, political tensions between Greece and Germany had reached the point that Greeks were openly comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble as Nazis while the Germans referred to Greece as a “bottomless hole” into which money was being tossed.
Looking back on it, the clear reality was that Germany wanted to force Greece out of the EU but didn’t want to do it explicitly: instead they opted to offer Greece aid provided Greece accepted austerity measures so onerous that there was no chance Greece would go for it.
Well, Greece surprised many, including myself, and went for it. And so the EU experiment continues to exist today. However, before the end of this issue I will make it clear precisely why this will not be the case for much longer and why we are on the verge of a systemic collapse in Europe.
For starters, unemployment in Greece as a whole is now over 20%. For Greek youth (aged 15-24) it’s over 50%. The country is in nothing short of a Depression.
Indeed, Greece has now experienced five straight years of contraction bringing the total contraction of Greece’s GDP to 17%. To provide some historical perspective here, when Argentina collapsed in 2001 its total GDP collapse was 20% and this was accompanied by full-scale defaults as well as systemic collapse and open riots.
With new austerity measures now in place there is little doubt Greece will see a GDP contraction of 20%, if not more. I expect we’ll see other “Argentina-esque” developments in the country as well. Put mildly, the Greek issue is not resolved.
The economic crisis in Europe continues to get worse and eventually it is going to unravel into a complete economic nightmare. All over Europe, national governments have piled up debts that are completely unsustainable. But whenever they start significantly cutting government spending it results in an economic slowdown. So politicians in Europe are really caught between a rock and a hard place. They can’t keep racking up these unsustainable debts, but if they continue to cut government spending it is going to push their economies into deep recession and their populations will riot. Greece is a perfect example of this. Greece has been going down the austerity road for several years now and they are experiencing a full-blown economic depression, riots have become a way of life in that country and their national budget is still not anywhere close to balanced. Americans should pay close attention to what is going on in Europe, because this is what it looks like when a debt party ends. Most of the nations in the eurozone have just started implementing austerity, and yet unemployment in the eurozone is already the highest it has been since the euro was introduced. It has risen for 10 months in a row and is now up to 10.8 percent. Sadly, it is going to go even higher. As economies across Europe slide into recession, that is going to put even more pressure on the European financial system. Most Americans do not realize this, but the European banking system is absolutely enormous. It is nearly four times the size that the U.S. banking system is. When the European banking system crashes (and it will) it is going to reverberate around the globe. The epicenter of the next great financial crisis is going to be in Europe, and it is getting closer with each passing day.
The following are 27 statistics about the European economic crisis that are almost too crazy to believe….
As if there was any doubt, NATO’s official “Alliance News Blog” has confirmed that the US is committed to the overthrow of Syria’s government and is “already committed to helping [President Bashar al-Assad] fall,” but is “merely looking for the least violent, lowest cost way to get there.” The April 9, 2012 blog entry features an op-ed titled, “US ‘already committed to helping Assad fall’,” and fully admits that the US is equipping the so-called “Free Syrian Army” which has received weapons, leadership, and cash from the NATO-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) terrorists led by notorious mass-murderer Abdul Hakim Belhaj.
Additionally, NATO admits that the Kofi Annan brokered “peace deal” is merely a ploy stating, “if the pace of the killing slows, that could buy time: time for economic sanctions to undermine the regime, time to cajole Russia to switch sides and help pull the rug out from Assad, but also time for the opposition and its new army to organize themselves into a more effective force.”
This confirms what the Fortune 500-funded US policy think-tank Brookings Institution said regarding Kofi Annan’s plan. In Brookings’ latest report, “Assessing Options for Regime Change” it is stated (emphasis added):
An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts. – page 4, Assessing Options for Regime Change, Brookings Institution.
Not only has the US and NATO been lying to the world with the United Nations fully complicit, but they now are openly admitting as much – that their feigned aspirations to end the bloodshed in Syriais merely a ploy to buy time for their faltering proxy terrorist force to reorganize itself and finish dividing and destroying Syria as NATO-proxies have thoroughly done in Libya.
NATO admits that military intervention is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” depending on a predetermined number of objectives that must be achieved first. These include the Syrian opposition getting better organized, assurances that military aid wouldn’t fall into the hands of “radical Islamists,” and for Turkey, just as Brookings previously stated, “to establish safe havens for the opposition along its border with Syria.”
Two highly paid full-time BBC executives are able to avoid income tax because they are having their earnings paid into service companies.
The employees, each earning more than £100,000 annually, have been working for the corporation for more than a year and continue to do so. The tax arrangement could save them thousands of pounds, as it allows them to pay corporation tax of 20 per cent, rather than income tax at much higher rates. The revelation will be an embarrassment for the BBC at a time when tax avoidance has been described as “morally repugnant” by George Osborne.
The use of service companies is one of a number of tax avoidance measures that the chancellor vowed to clamp down on in his budget last month. Under rule IR35, individuals using service companies for their earnings should be paying full income tax and national insurance unless they are genuine freelancers with multiple sources of income and without fixed employment.
However, in response to an inquiry from Labour MP David Winnick about the number of BBC employees working full-time and paid more than £100,000 a year, Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director-general, wrote: “We do have two service company arrangements in place for two individuals who have been paid more than £100,000 over the last 12 months, and whose work is now of a continuing nature, but who were both initially contracted on a fixed-term basis.”
Thompson would not reveal their identities, but said that they were not in a “senior management position”. He said the corporation was “reviewing both of these arrangements” to “ensure that their contractual status reflects their most recent responsibilities”. He added: “We do not engage any other service companies on a continuous basis.”
Nasrallah to Assange: Hezbollah talked to Syria opposition; we want dialogue, US & Israel want civil war
Hezbollah urged the Syrian opposition to engage in dialogue with Assad’s regime, but they refused.
Hezbollah leader Sayyid Nasrallah confirmed this in his first interview in six years, the world premiere of Julian Assange’s The World Tomorrow on RT.
Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah told Assange that Hezbollah supports Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as Syria supported resistance in Lebanon and “hasn’t backed down in the face of Israeli and American pressure.”
Nasrallah, a freedom fighter to millions though a terrorist to the US, Israel, Canada and the Netherlands, says Assad’s regime “served the Palestinian cause very well.”
This is why Hezbollah supported the so-called Arab Spring in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and elsewhere, but when it came to Syria, Hezbollah urged the opposition to engage in dialog with President Bashar al-Assad.
Remember the headline in The Independentthat pointed an accusing finger: Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers (backup link)? And the Center for Media and Democracy’s claimthat Oil Money Funds Climate Deniers and Attacks on Climate Scientists (backup). And CleanTechnica’s automaticassumption that any politician who accept donations from oil companies is therefore a “shill for oil & gas interests” (backup).
In the simple-minded, comic book world in which many environmentalists live there’s only one acceptable view about climate change – the one they themselves hold. Intelligent people couldn’t possibly have compelling reasons to see the world differently. There must be some (condescending and dehumanizing) explanation – one that allows skeptics to be peremptorily dismissed, to be banished to that category of social rejects who need not be taken seriously.
We must be stupid. Or mentally ill. Or brainwashed by FoxNews. Most offensively of all it’s said that we’re being paid by big, bad oil companies to express particular views.
Well if oil money is corrupt and evil – and if green activists really believe that those who take it are nefarious and untrustworthy – why are there no websites analogous to Greenpeace’s ExxonSecretsabout the very long, very close relationship that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has enjoyed with Shell (aka Royal Dutch Shell)?
I’m currently reading a 2011 book titled Saving the World’s Wildlife: WWF – the first 50 years. It was written with the cooperation of WWF officials, and the author was granted access to archives that are usually off-limits to the public. Here’s what this book says on page 145:
the conservative, upper-class naturalists who founded WWF [in 1961] did not have a problem with approaching oil companies for funding…WWF’s earliest corporate sponsor was the petrochemical giant Royal Dutch/Shell. In 1961 it gave WWF-UK the remarkable sum of £10,000.
In today’s world, that donation is equivalent to £418,000 – or 663,000 US dollars (see the historical calculator here).
On page 146 we read that John Loudon served as president of Shell for 15 years and then as president of WWF International for four years.
And on page 271 we’re told that the WWF began to “phase-out” fossil fuel funding from companies such as “BP, Shell and others” in the year 2000.
In other words, the WWF’s very first corporate sponsor was an oil company – one which wrote it an enormous cheque. The WWF then continued to accept oil money from various sources for another four decades.
So all that finger-pointing by green activists has no moral coherence. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.
The truth of the matter is this: The environmental movement has been generously funded by oil companies for the past 50 years. Let it cast no stones at anyone else.
Everyone loves some good old-fashioned drama, especially when it happens to millionaire kids. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally admitted he said the controversial quote mocking Facebook users in the early conception days to trusting him with their information.
“They trust me — dumb f***s,” typed Zuckerberg during an instant message chat with a friend.
He has managed to avoid tackling the controversy head-on, but finally opened up during an interview for the New Yorker, saying that he “absolutely regretted” them.
A coalition of advocacy groups has begun a week of intensive protests against the latest attack on the free and open internet, The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The draconian legislation would force companies to ignore existing privacy laws and share information with the federal government.
At the forefront of the coalition’s protest efforts is a Twitter takeover, whereby users are being asked to use the hashtags #CongressTMI and #CISPA in an attempt to create the same level of publicity that was generated during the height of the protests against The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) earlier this year.
The organizations are pushing ahead with a mass distribution of letters and articles to raise awareness of the implications of CISPA, which is sponsored by Michigan Republican Mike Rogers.
The groups do not plan on conducting any “blackouts”, shutting down their websites as happened during the SOPA protests. Instead they will focus on informational campaigns aiming to teach people about all the cybersecurity bills currently in Congress.
The revelation that Facebook is supporting the legislation has also raised awareness of the issue ahead of the protests.
“Freedom of expression and the protection of online privacy are increasingly under threat in democratic countries, where a series of bills and draft laws is sacrificing them in the interests of national security or copyright,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
“A blanket monitoring system is never an appropriate solution. Reporters Without Borders opposes CISPA and ask Congress to reject this legislation.” the statement says.
Other groups taking part in the internet-wide protests include Access Now, American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, Avaaz, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, Center for Democracy and Technology, The Constitution Project, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, OpenMedia.ca, Open the Government, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Reverse Robo Call, Sunlight Foundation, Techdirt, and TechFreedom.
So Facebook has bought Instagram, a company with a single product – a photosharing app – for $1bn in cash and (FB) shares. Just to put that in context, Instagram has been in existence for 18 months, employs 13 people, has 30 million users and has had a grand total of $7m in investment funding. Oh, and it has precisely zero dollars in revenue.
Sound familiar? YouTube was founded in February 2005 as an angel-funded enterprise. In November 2005 Sequoia Capital invested $3.5m, and in April 2006 Sequoia and Artis Capital Management put an additional $8m into the company, making $11.5m in all. Then, in October 2006, YouTube was purchased by Google for $1.65bn.
Or how about this? In 1996 a group of Israeli engineers founded Mirabilis, a company that developed the ICQ messaging technology. AOL bought Mirabilis in 1998 for $407m, which then was a lot of money. In 2010 AOL sold ICQ to Digital Sky Technologies for $187.5m.
Or this? Skype was founded in 2003 by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström. It grew rapidly because it offered free VoIP (voice over internet protocol) but was slow to earn revenues by selling “Skype-out” facilities, which enabled subscribers to make calls to conventional telephones. In October 2005 eBay purchased Skype for a sum variously estimated at between $2.6bn and $3.1bn. Two years later eBay took a $1.4bn impairment on the value of Skype, revaluing the company at $2.7bn. In May 2011 Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5bn. At the time this was Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition.
And then there’s MySpace, also founded in 2003 and acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in July 2005 for $580m – a purchase lauded by some eminent commentators at the time as the wily Digger’s latest masterstroke. Myspace was flogged off last June to an outfit called Specific Media for $35m. Some masterstroke!
What is the moral of these stories? Answer: that internet valuations are like the Bible’s description of the peace of God: they “passeth all understanding”. There’s no rational way of valuing companies like these. That doesn’t mean, of course, that armies of high-priced accountants, consultants and lawyers toting massive Excel sheets and market “research” didn’t provide wodges of impressive documentation rationalising whatever number senior executives had plucked out of the ether. But, in general, there’s no way of knowing in advance whether any of these purchases will turn out to be masterstrokes or follies.