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GM's OnStar service raises privacy alarms

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© GM / Wieck

GM’s OnStar telematics service came under fire after a change that would have allowed it to collect data even from nonsubscribers.
In a sudden reversal, General Motors' OnStar subsidiary has backed down on plans to keep monitoring customers even when they choose to unsubscribe from the in-car telematics service. But the service will still maintain the right to track active customers.

OnStar, with 6 million subscribers, had come under withering attack in recent days from customers, privacy advocates and federal lawmakers over what Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., described as "one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory."

Before OnStar backed down, Schumer was calling for a Federal Trade Commission investigation into OnStar's revised terms and conditions, which some liked to Big Brother, the fictitious, all-seeing dictator in George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984.

"We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers," OnStar President Linda Marshall said in a prepared statement announcing the hasty retreat. "This is why we are leaving the decision in our customers' hands. We listened, we responded and we hope to maintain the trust of our more than 6 million customers."

What kicked off the brouhaha was a seemingly modest revision to the OnStar customer guidelines which revealed the company would maintain the cellular data link installed in any vehicle subscribed to the OnStar service, "unless they (customers) ask us not to do so," confirmed Joanne Finnorn, vice president of subscriber services.

USA

The Mad As Hell Generation: 20 Reasons Why Millions Of Americans Under The Age Of 30 Are Giving Up On The U.S. Economy

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© N/A
Millions upon millions of young Americans have completely lost faith in the U.S. economy and are mad as hell that their economic futures have been destroyed. The recent economic downturn has hit those under the age of 30 the hardest. Today, there are hordes of young people that should be entering their most productive years that are sitting home with nothing to do. Many of them have worked incredibly hard throughout high school and college. Many of them have stayed out of trouble and have done everything that "the system" asked them to do. But once they got finished with school, the promised "rewards" simply were not there. Instead, millions of young Americans are faced with crushing student loan debt loads in an economy where they can't find good jobs. When you are in your twenties, it can be absolutely soul-crushing to send out hundreds (or even thousands) of resumes and not get a single interview. Most of us grew up believing that we would "be something" when we got older, and millions of young Americans are having those dreams brutally crushed right now. Americans under the age of 30 voted for Barack Obama in droves back in 2008 because they believed that he would make things better. Instead, Barack Obama has made things even worse. Significant numbers of young Americans are starting to wake up and realize that neither political party is providing any real answers, and they are starting to get mad as hell about it.

Americans under the age of 30 don't want to hear that they are not going to be able to do better than their parents. They don't want to hear that they are going to have to "pay the price" because of the mistakes of previous generations. They don't want to hear that the "good jobs" that have been held out as a "carrot" for them all these years have disappeared and are not coming back.

Cookie

The Science Behind Pleasure-Seeking

No matter the season, we all take part in the pursuit of pleasure, each in our own way. And although there's an art to enjoying life, it turns out there's science behind it, too. Our Cover Story is reported now by Susan Spencer of "48 Hours":

It can be as simple as a sunset, as decadent as a dessert, or as extravagant as a weekend in Paris. But we all have our own little pleasures ...

"Chocolate and peanuts! ... mmmmm ..."
"I'm a Barbie collector. I have, like, over 100 Barbies."
"I love Mexican food!"
"The rush of cliff jumping, when you're up in the air, and you're hoping the water is deep enough, and your heart is beating a thousand miles an hour, and you SPLASH!"


Professor Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist at Emory University, notes that some pleasures are no less than a matter of survival.

"Pleasure is an instantaneous feeling of something good," Dr. Berns said. "When you teach a bunch of undergraduates and teenagers like I do and I ask them to list the things that give them pleasure, sleep is always at the top of the list.

Arrow Down

China Says Successor Chosen by Dalai Lama "Illegal"

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© Yahoo News
Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, seen her September 17, has said he will decide when he is "about 90" whether he should be reincarnated and that China should have no say in the matter
China said Monday any successor chosen by the Dalai Lama would be "illegal" after the Tibetan spiritual leader announced that he, and not Beijing, would decide whether he should be reincarnated.

The Dalai Lama, who is 76, said on Saturday he would decide when he was "about 90" whether he should be reincarnated, in consultation with other monks, and that China should have no say in the matter.

Under Tibetan tradition, monks identify a young boy who shows signs he is a reincarnation of a late leader, but many predict China will simply appoint its own successor to the Dalai Lama.

China's foreign ministry said any reincarnation process would have to be conducted in accordance with the country's "laws and regulation".

Light Saber

Nobody Can Predict The Moment Of Revolution ( Occupy Wall Street )

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We want to share insights into the formation of a new social movement as it is still taking shape in real time.

The video was shot during the 5th and 6th day of the occupation.

This idea to occupy the financial district in New York City was inspired by recent uprisings in Spain, Greece, Egypt, and Tunisia which most of us were following online.

Despite of the corporate media's effort to silence the protests, and Yahoo's attempt to to censor it in e-mail communication, the occupation is growing in numbers and spreading to other cities in the US and abroad. Please forward our video to likeminded people via email, facebook, twitter - and make the voices of dissent circulate.

People

Noam Chomsky on the Wall Street protests

noam chomsky

Noam Chomsky sends a "strong message of support" to the organizers of the Occupy Wall Street protests:
"Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street - financial institutions generally - has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called "a precariat" - seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity - not only too big to fail, but also "too big to jail."

The courageous and honorable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course."
Professor Chomsky, along with John Pilger, Michael Albert, Johann Hari and Robert McChesney. will be appearing at the Rebellious Media conference in London on October 8th and 9th. Tickets can be purchased at www.radicalmediaconference.org

Vader

He was 14 years, 6 months and 5 days old - and the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th Century

George Junius Stinney, Jr.
© South Carolina Department of Archives and History
George Junius Stinney, Jr.

George Junius Stinney, Jr.,

[b. 1929 - d. 1944]

In a South Carolina prison sixty-six years ago, guards walked a 14-year-old boy, bible tucked under his arm, to the electric chair. At 5' 1" and 95 pounds, the straps didn't fit, and an electrode was too big for his leg.

The switch was pulled and the adult sized death mask fell from George Stinney's face. Tears streamed from his eyes. Witnesses recoiled in horror as they watched the youngest person executed in the United States in the past century die.

Now, a community activist is fighting to clear Stinney's name, saying the young boy couldn't have killed two girls. George Frierson, a school board member and textile inspector, believes Stinney's confession was coerced, and that his execution was just another injustice blacks suffered in Southern courtrooms in the first half of the 1900s.

Vader

US: Brutal Bank Crackdown But Crooks Go Free

occupy wall strett
© Reuters
Protesters march up Wall Street past the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

Protesters had been swarming Wall Street and Lower Manhattan for a week.There were at least six arrests the first day Occupy Wall Street camped out and chanted near the New York Stock Exchange. There were dozens more by the weekend.

By Saturday, the hundreds of protesters appeared to have lit a fuse with New York City police. There were rough arrests that bordered on brutality. Pepper spray brought tears and pain. Watch YouTube video of female protesters penned and pepper sprayed .

And to a nation's shock, not one of the police targets was a banker.

Che Guevara

US: Virginia - "Not On Our Faultline" group protests nuke plant outside Dominion Headquarters

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© The Free Lance-Star
Dominion's North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va.
Richmond - A group of residents from Louisa County is demanding that Dominion Resources Inc. ensure its North Anna nuclear power plant is safe from past and future earthquakes.

About 20 people from the group Not On Our Fault Line protested Tuesday outside Dominion's Richmond headquarters. They chanted and held signs reading "Shut Down or Meltdown," as Dominion employees went out for their lunch breaks.

The group says the Aug. 23 earthquake that shut down the plant brought attention to the danger of another event in the area. They are asking Dominion to retrofit the two reactors at the plant to higher earthquake safety standards. It also is asking for the company to inspect underground pipes at the nuclear facility to make sure they aren't leaking into the ground or drinking water.

"What we're afraid of is that Dominion is putting profits over the safety of the area," said Paxus Calta, a resident of Louisa County for 13 years. "This earthquake is a big wakeup call to us."

Nuke

US: Virginia - Dominion's nuclear plants have shut down more often than average in the last two years

In the past two years, Dominion Virginia Power's four nuclear power reactors experienced 12 unplanned shutdowns.

Then, the Aug. 23 earthquake in Louisa County forced two more shutdowns at the North Anna Power Station.

"That's too many trips for us," said David A. Heacock, president and chief nuclear officer of Dominion Nuclear. "And we're going to ensure it's not going to continue."