Category Archives: Corporations

The Next-Generation Copyright Monopoly Wars Will Be Much Worse

Rick Falkvinge writes for TorrentFreak:

‘We’ve been manufacturing our own copies of knowledge and culture without a license for quite some time now, a practice known first as mixtaping and then as file-sharing.

[...] We’re now somewhere in the 1980s-equivalent of the next generation of copyright monopoly wars, which is about to spread to physical objects. The copyright industry is bad – downright atrociously cynically evil, sometimes – but nobody in the legislature gives them much thought. Wait until this conflict spreads outside the copyright industry, spreads to pretty much every manufacturing industry.’

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The best and worst countries for journalists

Both images are taken from ‘These maps show the best and worst countries for journalists‘ over at Global Post:

The Biggest Tax Scam Ever: How Corporate America Parks Profits Overseas, Avoiding Billions in Taxes

‘As Burger King heads north for Canada’s lower corporate tax rate, we speak to Rolling Stone contributing editor Tim Dickinson about his new article, “The Biggest Tax Scam Ever.” Dickinson reports on how top U.S. companies are avoiding hundreds of billions of dollars by parking their profits abroad — and still receiving more congressionally approved incentives. Dickinson writes: “Top offenders include giants from high-tech (Microsoft, $76 billion); Big Pharma (Pfizer, $69 billion); Big Oil (Exxon­Mobil, $47 billion); investment banks (Goldman Sachs, $22 billion); Big Tobacco (Philip Morris, $20 billion); discount retailers (Wal-Mart, $19 billion); fast-food chains (McDonald’s, $16 billion) — even heavy machinery (Caterpillar, $17 billion). General Electric has $110 billion stashed offshore, and enjoys an effective tax rate of 4 percent — 31 points lower than its statutory obligation to the IRS.”’ (Democracy Now!)

Gadgets Turning Me Into an Idiot!

Andrew Vltchek writes for CounterPunch:

vintage photo of a salesmen selling a shirt‘[...] The way new-era-gadgets are designed is that after just 1-3 years they become obsolete: applications cannot be run or downloaded and everything becomes incompatible. Entire systems demand a periodical overhaul, but even overhauls have time limitation, at some point they cease to ‘be allowed’. And so, eventually, new equipment has to be purchased, and, that happens with increasing frequency.

We all know that this is how the ‘market’ works, that this is how ruthless, self-serving ‘entrepreneurship’ is shagging us. We are all bitching about it, but there seems to be nothing that can be done. We have simply become slaves of those vicious, greedy and twisted capitalist companies. We know that they only care about their profits and nothing about the advancement of society and humanity. They are clearly and determinedly robbing creative people, of both time and resources.’

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Plugged-In Over Preppy: Teenagers Favor Tech Over Clothes

Elizabeth A Harris And Rachel Abrams write for The New York Times:

‘For some teenagers, wearing last season’s jeans will always be unthinkable.But a growing number consider texting on a dated smartphone even worse. For teenage apparel retailers, that screen-obsessed teenager poses a big threat in the still-important back-to-school sales season.

Muscle shirts and strategically ripped jeans no longer provide an assured spot for retailers like Hollister and American Eagle Outfitters in the marketplace of what’s cool at an American high school. The social cachet these days involves waving the latest in hand-held technology.’

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Hurricane Katrina 9 Years On: Interview with Greg Palast

How DoD flawed algorithms are the basis for drone ‘Kill List': Interview with Nafeez Ahmed

‘Abby Martin features an interview with author and journalist Nafeez Ahmed, discussing his four-part investigation into the Pentagon’s mass social science project called The Minerva Research Initiative, as well as his latest book ‘Zero Point’.’ (Breaking the Set)

BT alleged to have supplied high-speed fibre-optic cable to aid US drone strikes

Juliette Garside reports for The Guardian:

domestic high speed fibre optic network in close up‘The government has been asked to investigate whether BT is aiding drone strikes with a specially built military internet cable connecting US air force facilities in Northamptonshire to a base for unmanned craft in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

Evidence is mounting that the $23m (£13m) fibre-optic circuit built by BT in 2012 was installed to facilitate air strikes in Yemen and Somalia by US air force drones, according to a complaint filed by the human rights group Reprieve.

The circuit runs from RAF Croughton, a base where US air force personnel staff a command, control, communications and computer support hub for global operations organised by the US military.’

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Hollywood and the Obama Myth

Chris Ernesto writes for Antiwar:

obama-unicorn“And believe it or not, entertainment is part of our American diplomacy. It’s part of what makes us exceptional, part of what makes us such a world power.” – US President Barack Obama at the DreamWorks Animation facility, November 2013.

As sensational as that pronouncement was, at least it shed light on how the people of the United States have been sucked into accepting another war in Iraq, and possibly one in Syria, too.

And in a larger context, American’s infatuation with Hollywood-like fantasy helps explain how so many people still believe that Obama and the Democratic Party are less egregious than the Republican Party on issues of foreign policy, civil liberties, the environment and much more.

Hollywood is notorious for telling the same story over and over – just packaged with different titles, villains and celebrity heroes. Washington does the same.’

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What Wannabe Jihadists Order on Amazon Before Leaving for Syria

Mehdi Hasan writes for the New Statesman:

The cast of Chris Morris’s black comedy Four Lions. Photo: Magnolia Pictures‘Can you guess which books the wannabe jihadists Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed ordered online from Amazon before they set out from Birmingham to fight in Syria last May? A copy of Milestones by the Egyptian Islamist Sayyid Qutb? No. How about Messages to the World: the Statements of Osama Bin Laden? Guess again. Wait, The Anarchist Cookbook, right? Wrong.

Sarwar and Ahmed, both of whom pleaded guilty to terrorism offences last month, purchased Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies. You could not ask for better evidence to bolster the argument that the 1,400-year-old Islamic faith has little to do with the modern jihadist movement. The swivel-eyed young men who take sadistic pleasure in bombings and beheadings may try to justify their violence with recourse to religious rhetoric think the killers of Lee Rigby screaming “Allahu Akbar” at their trial; think of Islamic State beheading the photojournalist James Foley as part of its “holy war”but religious fervour isn’t what motivates most of them.’

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Hedge funds gave Robert Mugabe $100 million for genocide, got platinum mines in return

Cory Doctorow reports for Boing Boing:

‘Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe unleashed a storm of brutal, genocidal violence after losing the 2008 elections — and now we know that it was funded by western hedge-funds and banks, led by Och-Ziff Capital Management, the largest publicly traded fund, with assistance from Blackrock, GLG Partners, and Credit Suisse, who raised $100M for Mugabe’s weapons and torture-chambers in exchange for a sweetheart deal on the country’s platinum mines.

Daniel Och’s Och-Ziff manages $45.7B, including funds from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Och’s protege, Michael Cohen, led the charge to fund Mugabe’s pogrom; while an Israeli diamond trader called Dan Gertler helped broker a joint deal with OCH to invest in mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, another nation whose state is complicit in horrific terror-campaigns that include child soldiery and rape camps.’

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Microsoft Admits Keeping $92 Billion Offshore to Avoid Paying $29 Billion in U.S. Taxes

David Sirota reports for The International Business Times:

‘Microsoft Corp. is currently sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore, according to disclosures in the company’s most recent annual filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The amount of money that Microsoft is keeping offshore represents a significant spike from prior years, and the levies the company would owe amount to almost the entire two-year operating budget of the company’s home state of Washington.

The company says it has “not provided deferred U.S. income taxes” because it says the earnings were generated from its “non-U.S. subsidiaries” and then “reinvested outside the U.S.” Tax experts, however, say that details of the filing suggest the company is using tax shelters to dodge the taxes it owes as a company domiciled in the United States.

In response to a request for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson referred International Business Times to 2012 U.S. Senate testimony from William J. Sample, the company’s corporate vp for worldwide tax… The disclosure in Microsoft’s SEC filing lands amid an intensifying debate over the fairness of U.S.-based multinational corporations using offshore subsidiaries and so-called “inversions” to avoid paying American taxes. Such maneuvers — although often legal — threaten to signficantly reduce U.S. corporate tax receipts during an era marked by government budget deficits.’

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How the Gates Foundation’s Investments Are Undermining Its Own Good Works

Charles Piller writes for The Nation:

‘[...] For all its generosity and thoughtfulness, the Gates Foundation’s management of its $40 billion endowment has been a puzzling ethical blind spot. In 2007, with colleagues at the Los Angeles Times, I examined whether those investments tended generally to support the foundation’s philanthropic goals. Instead, we found that it reaped vast profits by placing billions of dollars in firms whose activities and products subverted the foundation’s good works.

For example, Gates donated $218 million to prevent polio and measles in places like the Niger Delta, yet invested $423 million in the oil companies whose delta pollution literally kills the children the foundation tries to help. It had vast holdings in Big Pharma firms that priced AIDS drugs out of reach for desperate victims the foundation wanted to save. It benefited greatly from predatory lenders whose practices sparked the Great Recession and chocolate makers said by the US government to have supported child slavery in Ivory Coast.

After our investigations were published, the foundation briefly considered changing its policy of blind-eye investing, but ultimately pulled funds only from firms that provided the financial basis for genocide in Darfur. Even in that case, when the glare of adverse publicity faded, the foundation hopped back into such companies, including the Chinese construction giant NORINCO International.’

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‘They can’t get sick or ask for vacation’: Chinese restaurant unveils robot waiters and cooks

AFP reports:

A robot carrying food to customers in a restaurant in Kunshan, China. [AFP]‘The restaurant, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, follows in the tracks of another robotic eatery which opened in the northeastern city of Harbin in 2012. Rising labor costs in China have encouraged manufacturers to turn to automation, and the country last year surpassed Japan to become the world’s biggest consumer of industrial robots.

The cooking robots — which have a fixed repertoire — exhibit limited artificial intelligence, and are loaded with ingredients by human staff, who also help to make some dishes. But customers at the restaurant who tucked into fried tomatoes with egg, soup, and rice were thrilled with the experience.’

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When the U.S. goes to war, TV networks call the warheads

Kate Sanders writes for the Tampa Bay Times:

‘When President Barack Obama decided to drop bombs in Iraq this month, television news turned to a group of familiar faces to decipher the plan for viewers.

CNN told its audience that retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona’s experience advising Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the Persian Gulf War shows “he knows what he’s talking about.” Fox News turned to retired four-star Army Gen. Jack Keane. “Very well versed on all of these challenges.”

On MSNBC it was retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, commander of “the 24th Infantry Division during the first Gulf War.”

Francona, Keane and McCaffrey are three of TV’s “warheads,” a prestigious group of military analysts who are handsomely paid to offer authoritative straight-talk on the chaos unfolding in Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza.

But who are they, really? And how were they chosen to analyze military situations on the other side of the world?’

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Ferguson and The Media

‘Listening Post examines racial conflict and social divisions in the US and how those issues are reported. Helping us to understand how the media reported Ferguson are: Mikki Kendall, a writer; Lizz Brown, a columnist for the St Louis American; Byron Tau, a reporter for Politico; Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color of Change; and Ash-har Quraishi, a correspondent for Al Jazeera America.’ (Al Jazeera)

Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere

Foley captors’ ransom demand revives debate over US no-pay policy

Ariel Zirulnick writes for The Christian Science Monitor:

‘The militant Islamist group that murdered freelance journalist James Foley had demanded a ransom from the US government before his beheading. But the US has a strict policy of not paying ransoms to terrorist groups, putting it at odds with several European countries who have paid in the past to free hostages. Mr. Foley’s death has revived the debate over the policy.The New York Times reported recently that ransoms have bankrolled Al Qaeda operations worldwide.

According to The New York Times, the self-declared Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) demanded a $100 million ransom for Mr. Foley, which the US refused to pay. (The Wall Street Journal cited a demand of 100 million euros.) IS has made a similar demand for Steven Sotloff, another American freelance journalist being held. The US attempted to rescue hostages in Syria in a special forces operation earlier this summer, but failed to do so.

Trading captives for payouts has become a routine way for militant groups to raise revenue, netting them at least $125 million in the last five years. “Kidnapping hostages is an easy spoil, which I may describe as a profitable trade and a precious treasure,” wrote Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The US refusal to pay may discourage the kidnapping of Americans, but it also makes it less likely that they would survive captivity.’

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James Risen and the Crisis in Investigative Journalism

John Kendall Hawkins writes for CounterPunch:

‘Lots of people when they think of journalism have in mind the mum-and-pop variety —  car crashes and the latest gossip, local politics, sports, all the little details about “the time the doorknob broke,” to trot out an old Bob Dylan lyric. A step up from this layer of short and punchy news bits is that more ‘literate’ class of journalism traditionally associated with the New York Times and Washington Post, the so-called newspapers of record, which publish only the most polished, scrupulous pieces by the most ethical journalists. Or so the story goes.

But there is a third layer, the most important one, compared to which all other reportage is mere puff piecework, and this reified sphere is known as investigative journalism, often occupied by paunchy supermen and lithe linguists, such as Benjamin Franklin, H. L. Mencken, Martha Gellhorn, Jack Anderson, George Washington Williams, Seymour Hersh, Woodward and Bernstein, Hunter S. Thompson (if you quick-toke a doobie, this example will seem more obvious), Mike Tabibi, and even Ernest Hemingway – the list is long and legendary. What sets their work apart is its adversarial engagement, the refusal to take things at face value or as laid out by the spokespeople for the rich and powerful, the relentless willingness to dig deeper and deeper until the truth is exposed.

Such investigative journalists are the vanguard of the so-called Fourth Estate, bearing the formidable task of watchdogging the other three estates – the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative – to ensure that they remain ‘checks and balances’ to each other in their assigned constitutional tasks of maintaining the Democratic Republic’s integrity and vibrancy.  While such journalists are often associated with a ‘paper of record’, their work is so crucial that sometimes some separation even from their publisher is necessary, since publications are owned, and owners have political agendas, and those agendas may conflict with the findings of deep journalism.’

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Wall Street’s hot new scam: Shady banking consultants absolve the banks that pay them!

David Dayden writes for Salon:

‘On Monday, New York’s top banking regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, announced an enforcement action against PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the venerable auditing firm you might know from its work tabulating votes at the Academy Awards. But when it’s not ensuring fairness in the best supporting actress race, PwC makes its money engaged in one of the most insidious practices in the financial industry – operating as a third-party “consultant” for major banks, with far more loyalty to the firms that hire them than the truth.

Over the past several years, one way banks have devised to get themselves out of trouble is to hire consultants to head up “independent” investigations into their operations. Because state and federal regulators often don’t have the resources for such an intense inquiry, the consultants often step in as a shadow regulator, performing the work of bank examiners. Regulators increasingly require independent consultant reviews as part of their enforcement actions. However, these consultants are typically handpicked and paid for by the bank they intend to examine.

The potential for abuse in that relationship is clear. If your promise of future work depends on a continued positive relationship with your employer, you’d be the last person willing to rat them out to the federal government for misconduct. And third-party consulting has become big business indeed, as well as a way station for ex-regulators wanting to make real money out of government.’

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Corporate Tax Burden in U.S. Not as Heavy as It Looks, Report Says

Andrew Ross Sorkin writes for The New York Times:

‘For years, chief executives have complained bitterly about the United States corporate tax code, arguing that it is too complicated and that rates are too high. The issue has reached a near boiling point this summer as many large American companies have sought to buy smaller foreign rivals so they can renounce their United States corporate citizenship and reincorporate overseas to lower their tax bills. Others are considering the move, known as an inversion.

Again and again, we hear that these deals are being driven by an effort to make our companies more competitive globally and that unless we “reform” our tax system — which is code for “lower our corporate tax rate” — we will lose business to foreign rivals. It is a compelling narrative. But it may be wrong. Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California and a former chief of staff to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, makes a captivating argument in an academic paper that the United States tax code — counter to the conventional wisdom — is not impeding global competitiveness. In fact, the opposite is true.’

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The Government-Industry Conspiracy that Promotes Crap Food in School

Michele Simon writes for Al Jazeera America:

‘People often ask me, “How does lobbying work?” Last week it was with fat and sugar, when the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) hosted its 32nd annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party. Some 6,000 bowls of ice cream were served up to Sen.Tom Harkin, Reps. Pete Sessions, Robert Aderholt, Jeff Denham, John Shimkus, Ron Kind and Lamar Smith, among others, according to Politico.

Dairy lobbyists are ever present in Washington, and their efforts usually pay off. For example, last year when the IDFA implored the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give dairy foods a pass in the new snack food guidelines for schools, the agency capitulated, opening school doors to even more junk food, such as YoCrunch Lowfat Yogurt with M&Ms.

This is just one of many examples I uncovered in a report I published last month, “Whitewashed: How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods” (PDF). The dairy industry, propped up by government, has convinced us of the health benefits of milk and other dairy products. The assumption that eating dairy is essential to the diet has obstructed our ability to criticize federal government support for unhealthy dairy products, of which there are many.

One of the most important forms of government support is the federally mandated collection of industry fees for checkoff programs that promote milk and dairy.’

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Journalists Under Fire in Ferguson

How the rest of the world sees Ferguson

Adam Taylor and Rick Noack write for The Washington Post:

View image on Twitter‘In many ways, the chaotic situation in Ferguson, Mo., seems like something that shouldn’t happen in America. As WorldViews has noted, many of the hallmarks of the conflict are reminiscent of scenes from the Arab Spring and the Ukraine crisis – our former colleague Max Fisher has even wondered how American journalists would cover Ferguson, if only it weren’t happening “here.”

There are plenty of foreign journalists reporting on Ferguson, however, and for them, Ferguson is international news. Their coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent unrest can offer a refreshing viewpoint on America’s many problems. They can also reveal a lot about how such disturbances are viewed at home.’

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NAFTA Is 20 Years Old

Editor’s Note: Regional and global trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP currently being negotiated are not designed to benefit the populations they affect, they are designed to benefit the biggest corporations. Multinational corporations will move to countries where they can exploit cheap labour, don’t have to fund health care and have less environmental controls in order to enhance their bottom line. They don’t care about the people they leave behind, nor do they care about the people they exploit for low wages in the countries they move to. 

Michael Snyder writes for The Economic Collapse:

NAFTA-Logo-300x300‘Back in the early 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement was one of the hottest political issues in the country.  When he was running for president in 1992, Bill Clinton promised that NAFTA would result in an increase in the number of high quality jobs for Americans that it would reduce illegal immigration.  Ross Perot warned that just the opposite would happen.  He warned that if NAFTA was implemented there would be a “giant sucking sound” as thousands of businesses and millions of jobs left this country.  Most Americans chose to believe Bill Clinton.  Well, it is 20 years later and it turns out that Perot was right and Clinton was dead wrong.  But now history is repeating itself, and most Americans don’t even realize that it is happening.  As you will read about at the end of this article, Barack Obama has been negotiating a secret trade treaty that is being called “NAFTA on steroids”, and if Congress adopts it we could lose millions more good paying jobs.

It amazes me how the American people can fall for the same lies over and over again.  The lies that serial liar Barack Obama is telling about “free trade” and the globalization of the economy are the same lies that Bill Clinton was telling back in the early 1990s.  The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Paul Craig Roberts

I remember in the 90′s when former Presidential candidate Ross Perot emphatically stated that NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) would create a giant “sucking sound” of jobs being extracted away from the U.S.  He did not win the election, and NAFTA was instituted on Jan. 1, 1994. Now, 20 years later, we see the result of all the jobs that have been “sucked away” to other countries.

According to an article by the Economic Policy Institute on 1/3/14:

“Clinton and his collaborators promised that the deal would bring “good-paying American jobs,” a rising trade surplus with Mexico, and a dramatic reduction in illegal immigration. Considering that thousands of kids are pouring over the border as we speak, well, how’d that work out for us?

Many Americans like to remember Bill Clinton as a “great president” for some reason.  Well, it turns out that he was completely and totally wrong about NAFTA.’

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Children: The New Billionaires

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to leave embassy ‘soon’

Kim Hjelmgaard reports for USA Today:

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange taking part in a live video conference in Mexico City earlier this month. ‘WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced Monday that after spending two years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London he will “soon” leave the diplomatic safe harbor. He made the comments during a joint press conference with Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. Assange did not elaborate on the timing.

It has been suggested that Assange may need hospital treatment and that any move could be to address suspected health problems, although he refused to be drawn on that specific point, saying only that when he does leave it will “probably not” be for the reasons reported on.

He said that his health has suffered as a result of his confinement. “It’s an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves soon enough with certain difficulties they would have to manage,” Assange said. He said the embassy “has no outside areas, no sunlight.”‘

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White-collar crime could thrive under ‘plea bargain’ code

Jim Armitage reports for The London Evening Standard:

‘[...] The scrutiny of business people’s wrongdoing is, I fear, to be severely lessened under new powers for the SFO allowing companies to effectively plea bargain their crimes away in return for a hefty fine and no trial. These so-called deferred prosecution agreements are based on the US model which has garnered billions of dollars in fines, but potentially seen serious crimes committed by very well-paid executives swept into filing cabinets that will remain locked for ever more in prosecutors’ offices.

For, while deferred prosecution deals make it easier to raise fines from companies, they foster a perception that corporate corruption is not as serious as, say, ATM fraud by gangs. Imagine the uproar in the popular press if a gang of east European credit-card cloners paid off the courts with a £50,000 fine and a vow not to do it again. It’s easy to see why the SFO might want to go down the plea bargain route. This underfunded organisation has blundered repeatedly in attempts to take on the richest people, and organisations, in the land. But to let off the criminal companies with fines — which will inevitably be a fraction of their weekly profits — adds to the temptation of employees and directors to see potential settlements with the SFO as part of the everyday cost of doing dirty business.’

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How The Music Industry Tries To Brainwash You Into Liking Awful Music

Tom Barnes writes for Music.Mic:

‘Research suggests that repeated exposure is a much more surefire way of getting the general public to like a song than writing one that suits their taste. Based on an fMRI study in 2011, we now know that the emotional centers of the brain — including the reward centers — are more active when people hear songs they’ve been played before. In fact, those brain areas are more active even than when people hear unfamiliar songs that are far better fits with their musical taste.

This happens more often than you might think. After a couple dozen unintentional listens, many of us may find ourselves changing our initial opinions about a song — eventually admitting that, really, Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” isn’t as awful as it sounds. PBS’ Idea Channel‘s Mike Rugnetta explains, it’s akin to a musical “Stockholm syndrome,” a term used originally by criminologist Nils Bejerot to describe a phenomenon in which victims of kidnapping may begin to sympathize with their captors over time.

Most people assume that they hear a song everywhere because it’s popular. That’s not the case — a song is popular because it’s played everywhere. It is technically illegal for major labels to pay radio stations directly to play certain songs, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. The phenomenon is called “payola” (an amalgam of the words pay and Victrola), and it was rampant in the 1960s up through the ’80s, during which period the music industry was literally run by the mob. It still happens today, even though it isn’t as blatant. Labels pay independent promoters to “incentivize” radio stations to play their music, or create program caps to make sure a song gets enough plays to have its effect. There’s real neuroscience behind the strategy: If you hear something enough, you’ll start to like it.’

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Why US tech lobbyists have descended on Brussels

Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports for Market Place:

‘Brussels is home to the European Parliament, but it’s also hosting lots of lobbyists for the U.S. tech industry. Walk down the street near Parliament and you’ll see office blocks that are home to lobbyists representing the likes of Facebook, Google, and other tech companies.

They’ve set up shop because many U.S. tech companies oppose strict new online privacy legislation that members of the European parliament are considering. “It’s gotten a bit out of hand. Very, very emotional,” says Jean-Marc Leclerc, director of the digital economy policy group for a trade association called Digital Europe. Among its members: Apple and Microsoft. Leclerc says there were “thousands of amendments, night votes. It really went crazy.”

Why was it so crazy? The EU is considering an online privacy bill that would give consumers the right to have personal data erased. There would also be new limits on online profiling. The tech lobby says the legislation would hurt commerce and innovation on the Web, and would also create mandatory data reporting requirements that would be a burden for business.’

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