Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 24 Jan 2021
The World for People who Think

Society's Child
Map

Stormtrooper

Coming to a city near you soon: Madrid police fire rubber bullets as thousands surround Spain's parliament


Madrid riot police have cleared Plaza de Neptune of protesters, with about 200 officers securing the surrounding blocks. At least 60 people have been injured and 26 arrested as police used batons and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

­Local emergency services have confirmed that at least 60 people, including eight policemen, were injured in clashes between police and protesters, El Pais reports. One of the wounded is believed to be in critical condition, while one of the injured policemen suffered a severe concussion.

Laptop

Second Bitcoin Hack Highlights Challenges, Resilience of Anarchic E-Currency

Image
© Zach Copley
Hack occurred due to exchange operator leaving his keys unencrypted

Originally conceived of by science fiction writers -- most notably Neal ­Stephenson's cult science-fiction novel Snow Crash -- peer-to-peer cryptocurrency has been all over the headlines, following its leap to the real world, in the form of the Bitcoin. Created by a shadowy individual known as "Satoshi Nakamoto", bitcoins are an inherently anarchic construct looking to free a key piece of the global economy -- specifically, currency -- from the grip of any one nation. They're also difficult to trace, making them a popular mode of purchasing quasi-legal items.

But over the year the flowers and sunshine surrounding Bitcoin has been slightly diminished. Last June, there was a massive devaluation, letting off inflationary steam and costing late adopters large amounts of real-world dollar value. Later that same month Mt. Gox, the single largest Bitcoin exchange (which trades Bitcoins for real world dollars and vice versa) was hacked. Since then we've learned about Bitcoin-stealing malware and Bitcoin Ponzi schemes.

Dollar

Is America The Most Materialistic Society In The History Of The World?

Image
When it comes to materialism, has any nation ever surpassed what we are seeing in the United States right now? We define our lives by how much stuff we have, to a large degree our personal and business relationships are defined by how much money we make, and even most of the important dates on our calendar are all about materialism. Just think about it. We throw outrageous birthday parties for our kids and we shower them with gifts. Most of our "holidays" have become highly materialistic, and the biggest holiday of all in our society, Christmas, is an absolute orgy of materialism. We make lists of the "wealthiest Americans" and we glorify their achievements. We spend most of our time either making money or spending it. Even the phrase "the American Dream" reveals how materialistic we are. When most people are asked what "the American Dream" is, they start talking about a house, a car, vacations, retirement, sending your kids to college, etc. The American Dream has become all about money and stuff. Sadly, no matter how big our homes are and no matter how many shiny new toys we accumulate, we never seem to be happy. We always want more, and we always seem to be willing to go into more debt to get it. We are the most materialistic society in the history of the world, and our endless greed is going to end up swallowing us alive.

When it comes to materialism in America, there are outrageous examples all around us, but one of my favorite examples is the "Rich Kids of Instagram". It is a Tumblr blog of photos from Instagram of young Americans showing off how they are enjoying the vast wealth of their parents. The following is how the Washington Post describes the blog....

Light Sabers

Rage against austerity: Protesters in gas masks, helmets clash with Greek police


Demonstrators wearing helmets and gas masks and armed with sticks clashed with police in the Greek capital on Wednesday, as a general strike was held to protest the government's austerity drive.

Riot police fought with the protesters wearing the black clothes favored by anarchist groups for about 45 minutes in the central Syntagma Square, letting off tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

The demonstrators let off flares and a tent in the center of the square advertising an air show was set on fire.

The anarchist group appeared to be trying to cause as much damage in the square as possible.
Image
© Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
A Molotov cocktail explodes beside riot police officers near Syntagma Square in Athens on Wednesday.

There were also violent clashes between anti-austerity protesters and riot police in Spain on Tuesday. Police there told The Associated Press that 38 people were arrested and 64 people injured when officers clashed with protesters demonstrating against cutbacks and tax hikes.

Comment: In case you're lacking an idea of what is, and is about to befall the majority of us:
Euro zone crisis sends stock markets tumbling Wednesday in Greece and Spain
Order Through Chaos: Who Wants to Set the World on Fire?
Is the food shortage before us? Will we be buying bacon and pork sausages next year?


Dollar

Privatization: A Big, Unfunny Joke

privatization
© n/a
"Charter schools also can take money away from the public system, and their teachers have fewer years of experience and a higher turnover rate."

The privatization of public goods and services turns basic human needs into products to buy and sell. That's more than a joke, it's an insult, it's a perversion. It generally benefits only a privileged group of businesspeople and their companies while increasing inequality and undermining the common good.

Various studies have identified the 'benefits' of privatization as profitability and productivity, efficiency, wider share ownership and good investment returns. These are business benefits. More balanced studies consider the effects on average people, who have paid into a long-established societal support system for their schools and emergency services, water and transportation systems, and eventually health care and retirement benefits. These studies have concluded that:
  • Privatization has generated large profits for new owners but these have not been shared with the general public.
  • The potential benefits of privatization are often outweighed by high contracting costs and opportunism.
  • Most privatization programs appear to have worsened the distribution of assets and income, at least in the short run.
While privatization may lead to efficiencies in producing goods, it is generally only true under conditions of competition and regulation. The New Jersey Privatization Task Force asserted that "States that have had the most success in privatization created a permanent, centralized entity to manage both privatization and related policies aimed at increasing government efficiency."

In the U.S. and around the world, privatization has simply not worked in industries that provide essential public goods and services:

Ambulance

Americans Are Literally Being Worked To Death

Image
Are you constantly tired and do you feel incredibly stressed almost all the time? Well, that means that there is a really good chance that you are a typical American worker. Even though our incomes are going down, Americans are spending more time at work than ever before. In fact, U.S. workers spend more time at work than anyone else in the world. But it was not always this way. Back in 1970, the average work week for an American worker was about 35 hours. Today, it is up to 46 hours. But there are other major economies around the globe that are doing just fine without burning their workers out. For example, the average American worker spends 378 more hours working per year than the average German worker does. Sadly, for many Americans work is not even finished once they leave the office. According to one recent survey, the average American worker spends an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls after normal work hours have finished. Other Americans are juggling two or three jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Americans are busier than ever and work is often pushing the other areas of our lives on to the back burner. What this also means is that "family vacations" are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. In fact, Americans spend less days on vacation than anyone else in the industrialized world. While some would applaud our "work ethic", the truth is that the fact that we are being overworked is having some very serious consequences. In fact, as you will see below, Americans are literally being worked to death.

The following is an excerpt from a comment that one reader posted on one of my recent articles. Can you identify with what this family is going through?....

Comment: Having problems with stress? Check out the Éiriú Eolas amazing stress control, healing & rejuvenation program here.


Stormtrooper

Spain police fire rubber bullets at Madrid protest

spain protest
© AFP, Dominique Faget
A protester clashes with riot policemen in Madrid during a demonstration
Spanish police have fired rubber bullets and baton-charged protesters attending a rally against austerity.

The clashes broke out as protesters tried to tear down barriers blocking access to the parliament in Madrid.

Spanish media reported that at least 20 people had been arrested and more than a dozen injured. The protesters dispersed after MPs left the building.

The "Occupy Congress" protest came as the government prepares to unveil further austerity measures on Thursday.

It is attempting to shrink its budget deficit, with the country in its second recession in three years and unemployment near 25%.

The government will unveil the draft budget for 2013 on Thursday and is expected to present new cost-saving reforms to reassure lenders about the state of the country's public finances.

Handcuffs

One Year After Troy Davis, More Injustice on Death Row

Image

Troy Davis
September 21 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Troy Davis. Davis was executed by the state of Georgia for a crime he probably did not commit. Davis's original trial was flawed, and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. His conviction was based solely on questionable testimony by witnesses, most of whom later recanted or contradicted their stories. Everyone from Jimmy Carter to the Pope had issued calls for clemency in his case. But the authorities killed him anyway.

Now Missouri is pursuing a very similar case, with death row inmate Reggie Clemons. As with the Davis case, there is no physical evidence linking Clemons to the crime for which he was convicted, and his conviction was based solely on witness testimony. One witness had been a former suspect in the case. In other words, here too there appears to be reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt.

This past week, Clemons was given an evidentiary hearing to review evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and police brutality in the case. One bombshell is an allegation that the star prosecution witness in the case had received a payment of $150,000 to settle a dispute with police over physical abuse. Clemons alleges that the police had abused him as well. If they can't get a confession by humane means, I guess they feel they have to beat it out of you. And that kind of "truth" is always suspect at best.

Arrow Down

Young Cancer Patient Victimized in Hoax

Valley Center, California - A 19-year old with a rare form of bone cancer is the victim of a hoax after a mysterious woman offered to pay his medical bills.

"She's a very sick person who did a very sick thing to a young man fighting for his life," said Tiffany Doty, whose son, Thomas, has osteosarcosis. Thomas has not responded to surgery or chemotherapy.

Tiffany Doty brought her son to Valley Center for a holistic approach to his care at the pH Miracle Center, but because of money troubles, the family has only enough money to pay for two weeks of treatment.

Doty said her son needs eight weeks of treatment.

The family thought Thomas' treatment was being paid for by a woman who called herself Jonnica Ellis. Ellis saw an online video featuring Captain Johnathan Hillstrand of the reality TV show The Deadliest Catch. In that video, the reality star asks people to help pay for Thomas' cancer treatments.

Stop

'Mystery Shopper' Scam Shut Down; Duped Victims into Wiring Money Overseas

No Scam
© Armed Response Team
Two websites that conned people by recruiting them as "mystery shoppers," only to trick them out of their money have been shut down by the state of New York.

The sites, Idealcorp.net and Survsonl.com, promised the chance to work from home, helping a market research company gauge customer service at Western Union.

Mystery shoppers were issued $2,000 checks, told they could cash them and keep $300 for themselves and wire the rest to someone overseas, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. They would then report on the quality of Western Union's customer service.

But the $2,000 check turned out to be counterfeit, and once the bank where the con victims deposited it learned it was worthless, the victim had already sent off the $1,700 balance - using his or her own funds. The banks held the victims accountable to pay back the money.