Posts Tagged ‘bureaucracy’

We Are Without Excuse.

Ghosts Of The Future | A film (by my comrade) Kelvin Mason.
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Author| John Perkins wrote Confession of an Economic Hitman. Here he covers the history of Globalisation from WWII to present day.

It’s a very familiar story. But a question it answers is; Does it really matter who America elected as their President when the country is an Empire to Corporatocracy?

Keep in mind that although the next president will be important symbolically, it’s essential to recognise that this is just a charade as the President is beholding to the Corporatocracy.


Does The Next President Matter?

As I travel around the country discussing my new book The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man  and meeting with people from all walks of life, I hear a great deal of discouragement over the U.S. presidential election. So I try to encourage people to look at the positive side and see what wecan affect. Here are a couple of key points:

1) The extreme divergence between the left and the right indicates that a huge segment of our population is very dissatisfied with the current system. I call this the Death Economy, one based on wars, fear, debt and the destruction of our Earth’s resources. This unsustainable economy is failing us on a global level.

2) Although the next president will be important symbolically, it’s essential to recognize that his or her powers are very limited. For example, we used to think that one of the most influential things the president could do was to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices. Even that is in serious question now as many Republicans say they will not even consider an Obama nominee.

All of us must understand that we the people have the real power. Governmental systems, including most of our elected officials, are controlled by the global corporations who finance their campaigns and offer them lucrative consulting jobs if they lose or decide not to run for office. However, these global corporations are dependent on us, you and me, to buy their goods and services, invest in them, and support them through our tax dollars and government policies. So, during this election year, please commit to taking action, regardless of who is elected.

For more on our government systems and specific ideas on how you can act now, read my recent blog posts “Vote and Then Act in Favor of Democracy”and “Take Action in the New Year.

What you and I do every single day counts. There is a perceived reality that this Death Economy is the only reality. The truth is that revolutions have always occurred when people alter their perceived reality. In the 1770s, there was a perceived reality that the British army was invincible. When people changed that reality and understood that the British could be defeated by American farmers and hunters who stood behind trees and fired at the ridged lines of British troops, everything changed.

We are at one of those moments today. We are faced with a serious crisis as the rhetoric gets worse and political parties seem irrelevant. You and I need to understand the power that we have—each of us as individuals and as a community. So yes, vote in this next election but also realize that no matter who is elected, we must do our part every single day. We must convince the corporations that depend on us to move from a Death Economy based on fear, doubt, and the destruction of resources to a Life Economy based on regenerating destroyed environments, cleaning up pollution, and alleviating the causes of desperation and terrorism.

It isn’t so much about who next sits in the Oval Office or even changing the mechanics of economics. It is about changing the ideas, the dogmas that currently drive politics and economics: debt and fear, insufficiency, divide and conquer. It is about moving from ideas about merely being sustainable to ones that include regenerating areas devastated by agriculture, mining, and other destructive activities. It is about We the People taking control. It is about a revolution in consciousness and actions. It is about making the transition from a Death Economy to a Life Economy.

A turning point in the American revolution occurred when Thomas Paine helped change the perceived reality by writing, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day that my child may have peace.”

This is another time of crisis, a time to follow Paine’s advice. It is a time to own up to our power and not expect the president or any other politician to change the world for us. It is a time for us to act in ways that will assure peace for our children.

About John Perkins

John is a founder and board member of Dream Change & The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit & the author of the NY Times bestseller, Confessions Of An Economic Hitman.

 

Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour.

Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, says.

“Ignorance is not just the not-yet-known, it’s also a political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you ‘not to know’.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance

How do people or companies with vested interests spread ignorance and obfuscate knowledge? Georgina Kenyon finds there is a term which defines this phenomenon. Agnotology.

In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public.
Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”.

In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.

Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

It comes from agnosis, the neoclassical Greek word for ignorance or ‘not knowing’, and ontology, the branch of metaphysics which deals with the nature of being.

Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour.

“I was exploring how powerful industries could promote ignorance to sell their wares. Ignorance is power… and agnotology is about the deliberate creation of ignorance.

“In looking into agnotology, I discovered the secret world of classified science, and thought historians should be giving this more attention.”

The 1969 memo and the tactics used by the tobacco industry became the perfect example of agnotology, Proctor says.

“Ignorance is not just the not-yet-known, it’s also a political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you ‘not to know’.”

To help him in his search, Proctor enlisted the help of UC Berkeley linguist Iain Boal, and together they came up with the term – the neologism was coined in 1995, although much of Proctor’s analysis of the phenomenon had occurred in the previous decades.

Balancing act

Agnotology is as important today as it was back when Proctor studied the tobacco industry’s obfuscation of facts about cancer and smoking. For example, politically motivated doubt was sown over US President Barack Obama’s nationality for many months by opponents until he revealed his birth certificate in 2011. In another case, some political commentators in Australia attempted to stoke panic by likening the country’s credit rating to that of Greece, despite readily available public information from ratings agencies showing the two economies are very different.

(Credit: Thinkstock)

The spread of ignorance is as relevant today as it was when Proctor coined his term (Credit: Thinkstock)

Proctor explains that ignorance can often be propagated under the guise of balanced debate. For example, the common idea that there will always be two opposing views does not always result in a rational conclusion. This was behind how tobacco firms used science to make their products look harmless, and is used today by climate change deniers to argue against the scientific evidence.

“This ‘balance routine’ has allowed the cigarette men, or climate deniers today, to claim that there are two sides to every story, that ‘experts disagree’ – creating a false picture of the truth, hence ignorance.”

For example, says Proctor, many of the studies linking carcinogens in tobacco were conducted in mice initially, and the tobacco industry responded by saying that studies into mice did not mean that people were at risk, despite adverse health outcomes in many smokers.

A new era of ignorance

“We live in a world of radical ignorance, and the marvel is that any kind of truth cuts through the noise,” says Proctor. Even though knowledge is ‘accessible’, it does not mean it is accessed, he warns.

“Although for most things this is trivial – like, for example, the boiling point of mercury – but for bigger questions of political and philosophical import, the knowledge people have often comes from faith or tradition, or propaganda, more than anywhere else.”

(Credit: Thinkstock)

When people do not understand a concept or fact, they are prey for special interest groups who work hard to create confusion (Credit: Thinkstock)

Proctor found that ignorance spreads when firstly, many people do not understand a concept or fact and secondly, when special interest groups – like a commercial firm or a political group – then work hard to create confusion about an issue. In the case of ignorance about tobacco and climate change, a scientifically illiterate society will probably be more susceptible to the tactics used by those wishing to confuse and cloud the truth.

Consider climate change as an example. “The fight is not just over the existence of climate change, it’s over whether God has created the Earth for us to exploit, whether government has the right to regulate industry, whether environmentalists should be empowered, and so on. It’s not just about the facts, it’s about what is imagined to flow from and into such facts,” says Proctor.

Making up our own minds

Another academic studying ignorance is David Dunning, from Cornell University. Dunning warns that the internet is helping propagate ignorance – it is a place where everyone has a chance to be their own expert, he says, which makes them prey for powerful interests wishing to deliberately spread ignorance.

“While some smart people will profit from all the information now just a click away, many will be misled into a false sense of expertise. My worry is not that we are losing the ability to make up our own minds, but that it’s becoming too easy to do so. We should consult with others much more than we imagine. Other people may be imperfect as well, but often their opinions go a long way toward correcting our own imperfections, as our own imperfect expertise helps to correct their errors,” warns Dunning.

Dunning and Proctor also warn that the wilful spread of ignorance is rampant throughout the US presidential primaries on both sides of the political spectrum.

“Donald Trump is the obvious current example in the US, suggesting easy solutions to followers that are either unworkable or unconstitutional,” says Dunning.

So while agnotology may have had its origins in the heyday of the tobacco industry, today the need for both a word and the study of human ignorance is as strong as ever.

Wilful acts to spread a narrative and obliterate competing interpretations – something that the social media echo chambers do, too. (But not even then very successfully).

There’s an idea – here demonstrated in a lecture by Adam Curtis – that brainwashing is not really achievable. https://vimeo.com/61089268

I don’t think Agnotology is quite the same as ‘brainwashing’. It’s more the creation of a ‘post-truth’ society, or “hyper-normalisation” as Curtis has titled his newest film.

Welcome to the post-truth world. You know it’s not real, but you accept it as normal.


Defeat device software

https://youtu.be/hOTKIZgppbs – Dan Carder, West Virginia University’s director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions, and Bloomberg Intelligence’s Kevin Tynan discuss the exposure of the Volkswagen vehicle-emission cheating scandal with Bloomberg’s Matt Miller and Mark Crumpton on “Bloomberg Markets.”


And yet TODAY – 24th October – there’s this…
Industry Lobbyists have won yet again.

“Petrol cars allowed to exceed pollution limits by 50% under draft EU laws”

https://gu.com/p/58fb4/stw  -Monday 24 October 2016

New European cars with petrol engines will be allowed to overshoot a limit on toxic particulates emissions by 50% under a draft EU regulation backed by the UK and most other EU states.

Campaigners say that a simple €25 (£22) filter could drastically cut the pollution, but the Guardian has learned that car-makers have instead mounted a successful push for loopholes and legislative delay.

Bas Eickhout, a Green MEP on the European parliament’s environment committee and dieselgate inquiry panel, promised action to ensure that the lessons of the VW scandal were learned.

“With this ridiculous proposal, the EU’s member states are again trying to dilute EU laws at a terrible cost to human health. We will call on the European commission to come to the European parliament and explain themselves on this issue,” he said.

Particulate matter (PM) is the largest single contributor to the estimated 600,000 premature deaths across Europe from pollution-related heart and lung diseases each year.

Children and the elderly are worst affected, and the associated health costs could be as high as €1.6 Trillion a year in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.

Although exhaust fumes from diesel and petrol engines are one of the largest sources of particulates emissions, most EU member states support raising the EU’s pollution standard 50% above the legal limit set down in the Euro 6 regulation.

Behind the scenes, vehicle makers have pushed strongly for a staggering 300% over, according to material seen by the Guardian.

The draft regulation is still being discussed by EU member states and the auto industry has not given up hopes of wrenching further concessions on particulate emissions ahead of a final decision on 7 December.

One Powerpoint slide shown to EU expert groups by the European automobile manufacturers association (Acea) says that a 300% latitude in meeting the letter of the law would be “realistic” because of “measurement uncertainty” in emissions tests.

Florent Grelier, a clean vehicles engineer at the Transport and Environment (T&E) campaign group, told the Guardian he feared that EU attempts to improve air quality were being “bent to the will of the automotive industry”.

“This is a petrolgate scandal in the making,” he said.

“Unless the European commission and governments establish strict test procedures to protect the industry from its own short-sightedness, within a few years we will see continuing high levels of particles killing hundreds of thousands of citizens prematurely.”

Under EU law, car-manufacturers are already obliged to use filters for diesel engines, but not for the rapidly-growing 40% of the petrol engine market which is made up by uncontrolled gasoline direct injection engines.
These release more particulate matter than modern diesel cars.

Gasoline particulate filters could reduce these emissions by a factor of around 100, and would cost manufacturers just €25 per car, according to research by T&E.
But car manufacturers have argued this would violate the principle of technology neutrality.

A spokesman for Acea declined to comment on the issue.

Calls by the auto industry for a delay in implementing the new regulation have been well received by several car-producing EU countries.
Spain and Sweden argued for a one-year legislative delay that would push its introduction back to 2019, in minutes of a technical committee meeting earlier this month seen by the Guardian.

The UK took no formal position on when the new regulation should enter into force but warned of “unintended adverse effects” if pm limits were given a separate starting date to standards for another pollutant, nitrogen oxide (NOx) , which will now begin in 2019.

An EU group of national experts – the technical committee on motor vehicles – is now expected to sign off on the final proposal to amend the Euro 6 regulation for real world driving emissions, in December.

The issue of “conformity factors” – or compensating for uncertainties in emissions tests – last year led the committee to impose a NOx limit 110% higher than the one written into the Euro 6 regulations last year.


http://cumminseuro6.com/what-is-euro-6

Euro 6 is the latest diesel engine emission legislations being driven by the European Commission.

Since 1993, when the very first ‘Euro 1’ legislation was introduced for trucks and buses, the European Commission has regulated the amount of pollutants coming out of the tail-pipe of a diesel engine. In particular, the Commission identified two key constituents within the exhaust stream – Oxides of Nitrogen or ‘NOx’, and ‘Particulate Matter‘ (basically soot particles) – as being harmful, and which needed to be controlled and reduced… etc (see http://cumminseuro6.com/customise/upload/files/20_a.pdf )


Euro 6 regulations in detail

The Euro 6 European exhaust emission regulations have been implemented in two stages. The first, which applied to all ‘new type approval’ vehicles, came into force on 1 January 2013. As at 1 January 2014 all new trucks and buses registered from 1 January 2014 will be equipped with a Euro 6 certified engine.

The Euro 6 regulations see significant reductions in permitted tail-pipe emissions as well as other operational changes including:

  • All NOx emissions reduced to 0.46 grams-perkilowatt-hour (g/KWh)—that’s down by 75% compared to current Euro 5 limits Particulate Matter (PM) reduced to 0.01 gm/kWh – or a further 66% drop compared to Euro 5.
  • However, with the further introduction of a new ‘particle number limit’ as part of the legislation, the actual overall reduction in the permissible levels of PM will be closer to 95%.
  • The introduction of a lower ammonia emission limit – ammonia being a byproduct of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust after-treatment process.
  • The inclusion of a crank-case emission limit if a closed system is not used. An enhanced emissions durability requirement for all Euro 6 engines of up to 700,000 km or seven years for the largest vehicles.
  • Further improvements to the engine’s On-Board-Diagnostic (OBD) system performance.
  • The adoption of new, world-wide ‘transient’ and ‘steady-state’ test cycles including cold-start and normal-running temperature components which are designed to more closely reflect what a vehicle does in real-life.

With the introduction of the Euro 6 regulation this is the first time a ‘World Harmonised Test Cycle’ has been used for engine certification.


Volkswagen’s Code of Conduct

highlights the Company’s responsibility for;

“continuous improvement of the environmental tolerability of our products” and for “making ecologically efficient technologies available throughout the world.”23

It is a Group-wide guideline that outlines the strategy for corporate global and local responsibility and for which each individual is equally responsible for compliance.

The Code of Conduct states that to achieve the goal of being number one among the world’s automobile manufacturers, they must:

  • Act responsibly, for the benefit of our customers, shareholders, and employees,
  • Consider compliance with international conventions, laws, and internal rules to be the basis for sustainable and successful economic activities,
  • Act in accordance with our declarations; and
  • Accept responsibility for our actions.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR VOLKSWAGEN?

(The Volkswagen Scandal  – Written by Britt Blackwelder, Katherine Coleman, Sara Colunga-Santoyo, Jeffrey S. Harrison and Danielle Wozniak at the Robins School of Business, University of Richmond. http://scholarship.richmond.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1016&context=robins-case-network)

The “Dieselgate” scandal exposed unethical and deceptive practices at Volkswagen, and hurt its brand image around the world.

New CEO Matthias Muller stated that his “most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency.” 62

Among efforts to repair relationships with the key stakeholders affected by the scandal, the company has withdrawn its diesel cars from the market and is working through plans for recalling the affected vehicles that are already on the road.

The company has also undertaken a number of initiatives to repair important relationships with customers and dealers.

These attempts include reimbursement to dealers for holding inventory and new dealership incentives connected to sales of gasoline­ powered cars.v”

For customers affected by the scandal, Volkswagen has issued a “Goodwill Package” including gift cards, credits for services or products, and a three-year extension of roadside assistance. Perhaps this is enough.

Volkswagen’s major competitors have also been caught doing socially irresponsible or even reprehensible things in the past, and seem to have weathered their storms fairly well.

  • Should this current crisis, although unfortunate, be allowed to distract the company from other critical issues, such as rapidly advancing technologies?
  • What is the bigger picture with regard to the future of Volkswagen?
  • What should its strategic emphasis be moving forward?
  • And should the company completely abandon diesel technology?
  • In short, how can this highly successful company get back on the path towards becoming the best auto manufacturer in the world?

DEFEAT DEVICE SOFTWARE

Dan Carder, West Virginia University’s director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions said his lab first discovered anomalies in test correlations in early spring of 2013.

https://youtu.be/hOTKIZgppbs 

AUDI/VW PR advertising slogan was “Truth in Engineering”

Industry experts said the car industry faced a crisis similar to recent banking scandals.

Professor of Industry at Aston University, David Bailey, said;

“the government, manufacturers and regulators needed to act on the results of the study“.
“I liken this to the Libor crisis in banking. There is a fundamental question of confidence in the industry,” Bailey said.
“Clearly the testing regime needs to more accurately reflect the real world.
That is not happening at the moment, not just in terms of nitrogen oxide but fuel efficiency. There is also an issue of accountability and openness for manufacturers in terms of what they put into public domain.”


My conclusion

Of course emission standards should be as low as possible but they should also reflect economic and technical realities.
Under present standards car manufacturers have been able to exploit glaring loop holes in regulations, no doubt the extremely powerful Automotive lobby is active in ensuring the loop holes exist?
It’s clear that the VW tricks represent only the tip of the ice berg.
Other manufacturers have also exploited the same loop holes, BUT, for some reason they have not been punished by the media and authorities.
For example; the real emissions of many Ford, GM, Land rover, Volvo, Fiat and Renault cars are many times the permitted levels.

The first task therefore HAS to be European Court action and legislation to close all existing loop holes!
The result would be substantial reduction in emissions.

Lowering the emission limits will obviously also help but closing the loop holes will have a bigger impact.

Many (but not all) of the latest Euro 6 specification diesel engines will already meet the proposed emission standards.

The technology is already there but if, by exploiting loop holes, manufacturers can save a few hundred £ or € hand improve market share and a competitive edge – They will DEFINITELY do it. Especially in the EU as they won’t receive US level fines if their caught!

Maybe a big lesson here for US and UK – where corruption in government and business is rife

China’s Antigraft Enforcers Take On a New Role: Policing Loyalty Credit: CHRIS BUCKLEY (NYT, OCT. 22, 2016)

The Communist Party of China’s anticorruption commission has assumed a growing role as political inquisitor, investigating the commitment of cadres to Mr. Xi and his agenda. Credit: Jason Lee/Reuters

BEIJING — The investigators descend on government agencies and corporate boardrooms. They interrogate powerful officials and frequently rebuke them for lacking zeal. Most of all, they demand unflinching loyalty to President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party.

They are the inspectors from the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and the humbling displays they have orchestrated recently in many of China’s most influential government agencies and largest corporations are the most prominent sign of their expanding authority.

Best known as the country’s anticorruption agency, the commission has lately assumed a growing role as political inquisitor, investigating the loyalty and commitment of cadres to Mr. Xi and his agenda, while cementing the commission’s role as his chief political enforcer.

“It’s not just anticorruption, but more powerfully about central control,” said Jeremy L. Wallace, a political scientist at Cornell University who studies Chinese politics.

Mr. Xi will press his demands for top-down obedience at an annual meeting of the party’s Central Committee in Beijing starting Monday. The committee is expected to issue new rules for “comprehensive and strict management” of the party, especially its top ranks, giving the discipline commission even more leverage to police and punish officials.

The move reflects Mr. Xi’s ambitions and fears as he prepares for a second five-year term as national leader, and has confirmed the rise of the commission and its formidable secretary, Wang Qishan, a longtime ally of Mr. Xi now seen by many as the second-most powerful official in China.

But nothing has illustrated the new order as bluntly as the commission’s intimidating inspections, which the commission calls “political health checks.” They have scrutinized prominent agencies like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the party’sDepartment of Propaganda and the nation’s biggest state companies.

The commission’s investigators have shown a taste for chastening displays of power in what has become a ritual of rebuke and repentance.

At the Ministry of Public Security headquarters in Beijing this month, for instance, hundreds of officers were marched into a cavernous auditorium to listen to investigators excoriate senior ministry officials for lacking “political judgment” and demand greater loyalty to Mr. Xi and the party.

Then their boss, Guo Shengkun, the minister of public security, rose to offer contrition, vowing to make his officers “even more steadfastly and conscientiously” obedient to Mr. Xi and other party leaders. “Loyalty to the party is the top political imperative,” he acknowledged.

Mr. Wang, the commission secretary, has pointedly warned officialsthat under his commission, “being red-faced and sweating will be the norm.”

Another notable target was the Propaganda Department, which the commission censured in June, saying that it “lacked vigor” and that “the political awareness of some leading officials has not been high.”

The criticism of such a powerful arm of the party fueled speculation of a factional rift at the top of Mr. Xi’s government. But dozens of other party and government agencies have faced similar reprimands.

The discipline commission has even taken a role in enforcing Mr. Xi’s economic policies, including efforts to cut back gluts of coal, steel and other industrial products.

But the core of its work is about loyalty to the party and its top leadership, referred to as the party center.

“The entire party must safeguard the authority of the party center,” Mr. Xi said in remarks featured recently on the commission’s website. “There can absolutely be no outwardly shouting that you’re in lock step with the party center while actually you’re not really paying attention.”

Underlying the push for stricter loyalty is fear, the leadership’s nagging nightmare of the Communist Party’s crumbling in a Soviet-style collapse.

“Rebuilding a disciplined hierarchical party organization is about avoiding the collapse Xi and other leaders observed in the Soviet Union,” said Melanie Manion, a political scientist at Duke University. “I think Xi views the stakes for China as very high, but the stakes for Xi as a leader are also high.”

The campaign appears to be timed to reinforce Mr. Xi’s grip on power as the Central Committee is about to set plans in motion to give himanother five-year term as party leader.

Some officials have been publicly swearing to uphold his “absolute authority.”

“Resolutely defend General Secretary Xi Jinping as the leading core of the party’s center,” Li Hongzhong, the party secretary of the port city of Tianjin, vowed at a meeting to respond to criticism of the city by discipline commission inspectors. “Resolutely defend the absolute authority of the leading core.”

For Mr. Xi, the commission has proved a versatile mechanism for fighting corruption, with its ancillary ability to take down or intimidate potential political opponents, and now to enforce loyalty. Its leader, Mr. Wang, is a trusted friend he has known since the 1960s, when the two were sent as youths to labor in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution.

The commission has long had the power to secretly detain officials without court approval, a contentious and feared tool. But past leaders lacked the authority to take on the corruption and abuses that have flourished since the economic liberalization of the 1990s.

Mr. Wang, with Mr. Xi’s backing, has freed the commission of organizational shackles that once allowed local officials to stymie it, and he has taken to the task with enthusiasm.

Photo

The anticorruption campaign appears to be timed to reinforce Mr. Xi’s grip on power as he anticipates another five-year term as party leader. Credit: Wu Hong/European Pressphoto Agency

“The challenge that worries us most comes from within, from within the People’s Republic of China and from within our own party,” he said in a closed-door speech to his inspectors last year that was leaked on the internet.

He told them that the pressure would not let up. “I’ve said there’ll be no end to this, because if there’s a backlash, there’ll be big problems,” he said.

The dual missions go hand in hand. Mr. Xi and Mr. Wang see corruption as a symptom of a breakdown of control in the party that also spawned disloyal cliques, resistance to policies and disillusionment. They worry that those undercurrents could undermine Mr. Xi and his plans to revive party power.

On a practical level, the anticorruption campaign has deprived thousands of local officials of illicit income, eliciting discontent that the loyalty campaign aims to eradicate.

“The anticorruption campaign has created a lot of resentment and disincentives among public officials,” Ling Li, a lecturer at the University of Vienna who has studied the commission, said in an email. “Political discipline is to repress that resentment and to recreate an incentive for public service.”

So far there have been no signs of public backlash to the campaign. But there are fears that it risks undermining Mr. Xi’s efforts to rejuvenate the economy.

As the discipline commission has taken a role in enforcing economic policies, censuring state-controlled companies and banks, foreign investors have become worried about the effects on their Chinese business partners and clients.

The number of Chinese corporations under investigation by the commission grew to at least 60 last year, from six in 2013, said James M. Zimmerman, the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

American businesses should not tolerate corruption, he said, but “we are very much concerned about the expanding scope and uncertain duration of C.C.D.I. investigations, which appears to have extended nationwide and to practically every sector of the economy.”

More broadly, the centralization of power, incessant inspections and demands for conformity have sapped the morale of government officials, experts and investors said. China’s past spurts of economic rejuvenation often came from letting officials take risks, but the relentless pressure for loyalty to the top has instilled caution.

Even the state-run news media and some supporters of Mr. Xi have begun to obliquely acknowledge that the pressure on the officials is taking a toll.

“Since last year, our politics have become very anxiety-ridden, and President Xi is facing passive resistance across the country,” Jin Canrong, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing, said in arecent speech.

“There is widespread inaction from local elites and local governments,” he said. “Nobody opposes, but nobody does anything.”

 

Theresa May wants the UK to quit the European Convention on Human Rights.

Any questions?


UK security agencies unlawfully collected data for 17 years, court rules Investigatory powers tribunal says secret collection of citizens’ personal data breached human rights law

The judges said both the collection and holding of personal data breached people’s right to privacy. The judges said both the collection and holding of personal data breached people’s right to privacy.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/17/uk-security-agencies-unlawfully-collected-data-for-decade

British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade, top judges have ruled. The investigatory powers tribunal, which is the only court that hears complaints against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, said the security services operated secret regimes to collect vast amounts of personal communications data, tracking individual phone and web use and large datasets of confidential personal information, without adequate safeguards or supervision for more than 10 years. The ruling said the regime governing the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) – the who, where, when and what of personal phone and web communications – failed to comply with article 8 protecting the right to privacy of the European convention of human rights (ECHR) between 1998, when it started, and 4 November 2015, when it was made public. It said the holding of bulk personal datasets (BPD) – which might include medical and tax records, individual biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel data – also failed to comply with article 8 for the decade it was in operation until its public avowal in March 2015.

“The BPD regime failed to comply with the ECHR principles which we have above set out throughout the period prior to its avowal in March 2015. The BCD regime failed to comply with such principles in the period prior to its avowal in November 2015, and the institution of a more adequate system of supervision as at the same date,”

the ruling concluded. The House of Lords is debating the final stages of the investigatory powers bill – the snooper’s charter – which will put mass digital surveillance activities on a clear legal footing for the first time since the disclosure by Edward Snowden of the extent of state surveillance in 2013. Chaired by Mr Justice Burton, the IPT ruling revealed that security agency staff had been sent internal warnings not to use the databases containing the vast collections of information to search for or access details “about other members of staff, neighbours, friends, acquaintances, family members and public figures”. It also revealed concerns within the security agencies about the secretive nature of their bulk data collection activities.

In February 2010, a Mr Hannigan, then of the Cabinet Office, wrote:

“It is difficult to assess the extent to which the public is aware of agencies’ holding and exploiting in-house personal bulk datasets, including data on individuals of no intelligence interest … Although existing legislation allows companies and UK government departments to share personal data with the agencies if necessary in the interests of national security, the extent to which this sharing takes place may not be evident to the public.”

The campaign group Privacy International said the ruling showed that despite this warning internal oversight failed to prevent the highly sensitive databases being treated like Facebook to check on birthdays, and “very worryingly” on family members for “personal reasons”.

The IPT ruling included the disclosure from an unpublished 2010 MI5 policy statement that the BPDs included material on the nation’s personal financial activities. “The fact that the service holds bulk financial, albeit anonymised, data is assessed to be a high corporate risk, since there is no public expectation that the service will hold or have access to this data in bulk. Were it to become widely known that the service held this data, the media response would most likely be unfavourable and probably inaccurate,” it said.

The legal challenge centred on the acquisition, use, retention and disclosure by the security services of BCD under section 94 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 and the use of BPDs under a variety of legal powers. The tribunal noted the highly secretive nature of the communications data regime, saying “it seems difficult to conclude that the use of BCD was foreseeable by the public when it was not explained to parliament”.

Mark Scott, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, who was instructed by Privacy International in the legal challenge, said: “This judgment confirms that for over a decade UK security services unlawfully concealed both the extent of their surveillance capabilities and that innocent people across the country have been spied upon.”

Millie Graham Wood, legal officer at Privacy International, said:

“[The ruling is] a long overdue indictment of UK surveillance agencies riding roughshod over our democracy and secretly spying on a massive scale.”

She said the use of BCD carried huge risks. “It facilitates the almost instantaneous cataloguing of entire populations’ personal data. It is unacceptable that it is only through litigation by a charity that we have learnt the extent of these powers and how they are used.

“The public and parliament deserve an explanation as to why everyone’s data was collected for over a decade without oversight in place and confirmation that unlawfully obtained personal data will be destroyed.”

Privacy International said the judgment did not specify whether the unlawfully obtained, sensitive personal data would be deleted.

A government spokesperson said the ruling showed that the regimes used to hold and collect data since March and November 2015 respectively were legal.

“The powers available to the security and intelligence agencies play a vital role in protecting the UK and its citizens. We are therefore pleased the tribunal has confirmed the current lawfulness of the existing bulk communications data and bulk personal dataset regimes.

“Through the investigatory powers bill, the government is committed to providing greater transparency and stronger safeguards for all of the bulk powers available to the agencies.”

A further hearing of the case is scheduled for December to consider a number of outstanding issues.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said the ruling showed “mass spying on the British people should be replaced with targeted surveillance of specific individuals suspected of wrongdoing”.

He added:

“Allowing the state to collect endless amounts of personal data is not just a gross invasion of privacy, it is a waste of precious resources. Every pound the government spends monitoring people’s emails, text messages and calls is a pound taken away from community policing.”

 

 

opposition research (noun)
investigation into the dealings of political opponents, typically in order to discredit them publicly.

 

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

What is opposition research?

Political campaigns are mostly defined according to the opponent. The observation of opponents is a key instrument of political strategy and, for over two decades, a professional part of election campaigns, particularly in the USA. Some party-people still resist opposition research – “Why do we need it? We have no money and no people. We prefer our own, positive message; let’s concentrate on this.” But it is an unavoidable fact that, in the coming years, the consistent observation of opponents will be an integral part of any campaign. This concerns in particular publicly accessible information. So it does not involve the invasion of privacy, baseless allegations or snooping! Opposition research detects developments and projects at an early stage, but also the opponents’ conflicts and contradictions. It is important to know how that information can be used for one’s own campaign.

Opposition research is not just about the opponent’s weaknesses; it can also serve to anticipate attacks. It is crucial to recognise one’s own potential weaknesses in communication and to ward these off with appropriate responses (arguments, counter-attacks, or ignore them).

There are 3 main activities of opposition research:
Planning of scenarios / analysis of opponents:

  • Monitor strategies of the opponents in order to plan your own activities
  • Understand the opponents and their ‘script’: what persons, messages, strategies, arguments are used in direct confrontation?
  • Analyse past election campaigns and election results
  • Understand the communication strategy of the others
  • Observation: what should be observed?

Reading newspapers is not enough! Overall media monitoring is required

  • Portraits and profiles of opponents
  • Campaign material
  • Direct contacts (mail, canvassing, activities on the streets)
  • Events
  • Networks, trade unions
  • Online media (social media, blogs, etc.)
  • Political attacks and allegations by opponents directed at the Greens

Documentation

  • Archives are worthless if you can’t find any information
  • Material should meet three criteria: correspond to the truth/ be open to the public/ have political relevance

Negative Campaigning

Negative campaigning is a tactic that attacks the opponent directly – with or without comparison to the alternative(s) proposed by one’s own party. In some countries, the Greens are subjected to massive amounts of negative campaigning. Negative campaigning is likely to become an increasingly decisive element of campaigning. Both in day-to-day political debates and in communication networks, polarising statements will get on to the agenda more easily. The sustained success of negative campaigning for campaigners is open to question, however. In the meantime, the negative campaigning in election campaigns has itself become a topic of discussion (e.g. dirty campaigning). In any case, it is crucial to know about attacks by opponents in advance.

 

 

The Tories, under an unelected Prime Minister without a mandate, Theresa May, have today normalised xenophobia and Fascism in Britain.

See: http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2016/10/05/the-tories-have-finally-become-ukip

Don’t worry re: the announcement by Amber Rudd that foreign workers should be registered/listed. It’s not like its without harmless precedent is it? (jk!)

Ref: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/04/jeremy-hunt-nhs-doctors-theresa-may-conservative-conference-live/

Himmler and foreign workers.jpg

Amber Rudd revealed that companies could be forced to publish the proportion of “international” staff on their books in a move which would effectively “name and shame” businesses which “are failing to take on British workers” in here words.

This decision by the Tories is utterly abhorrent and has echoes from history that I find chilling. CuBNHtnXgAAijp-.jpg

IMHO, Employers must decide to refuse to comply with this crypto-fascism. She has adopted the manifesto of the BNP!
If you’re in any doubt as to where on the political spectrum Theresa May’s ideas fall, here’s French National Front Marine Le Pen giving them her seal of approval!

CuAw0TxXYAEFktP.jpg

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What particularly sent a shiver down my spine was as May announced she would derogate the British military forces from the ECHR, the European convention on Human Rights, seeing the reaction of the Tory conference, rabidly clapping and cheering, the loudest cheer at Conservative Party Conference 2016 was to May slamming Human Rights lawyers for trying to expose potential war crimes!

This writer thinks derogations from the ECHR (which is nothing to do with Brexit from the EU but is commonly assumed to be by Brexit voters) will make the UK look like hypocrites on the World stage in it’s (self assumed) role as World’s Policeman.

May is only doing this because the MoD has been forced to settle hundreds of cases of abuse and mistreatment on the battlefield that we, the UK, as arbiters of Human Rights in the “Free World” should be trying to eradicate, not permit.

UK armed forces will still be subject to the Laws of Armed Conflict, the Geneva Conventions and UK Service Law, as I’m sure you know?

But none of those treaties and conventions stopped guys like Sgt Andrew Blackman committing war crimes in the battle field of Afghanistan (convicted of murder and imprisoned in 2015 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34267936).

What is genuinely concerning me most, is the way the Tories rabidly greeted the announcement and so, the way the sentiment that many will draw from it, especially as the “Overton Window” of media and political argument has shifted so far to the Right in the UK.

Oh, and by the way. I’m an ordinary working class person from a long line of ordinary working class people… and I HATE when politicians use the phrase “ordinary working class people”!


This was Jeremy Corbyn’s angry response to Theresa May’s speech.

“Conservative Party leaders have sunk to a new low this week as they fan the flames of xenophobia and hatred in our communities and try to blame foreigners for their own failures.

Drawing up lists of foreign workers won’t stop unscrupulous employers undercutting wages in Britain.
Shutting the door to international students won’t pay young people’s tuition fee debts,
and ditching doctors from abroad won’t cut NHS waiting lists.

The Conservatives will instead foster division and discrimination in our workplaces and communities.
Once again, they are making false promises on immigration they can’t deliver. Instead of turning people against each other, ministers should take action now to deal with the real impact of migration.

They should stop the abuse of migrant labour to undercut pay and conditions, which would reduce numbers.

They should support communities with high levels of migration and they should set out a positive agenda for fair migration rules as part of the Brexit negotiations for a new relationship with the European Union.”


Theresa May has been accused of “pure nationalism”

Theresa May has been accused of “pure nationalism” as members of the public began a backlash against parts of her closing speech at the Tory conference.

Mrs May sparked controversy when she said; “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere” during an attack on international corporations.

It came as the Prime Minister declared “change” was needed as she pledged to transform Britain in the wake of the Brexit vote.

But her comments were described as “pure undisguised nationalism” as critics queued up on social media to attack her over the “divisive” comments.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-may-sparks-twitter-backlash-over-citizen-of-the-world-remark-in-conservative-party-a3361701.html

Well, Sorry, Terroriser May!
I’m a homo-sapiens, resident of a planet called ‘Earth’ also known to its inhabitants as the “World”. And this world wasn’t created with notional boundaries.
Boundaries were imposed by other controlling hominids!


TheresaMay is selling bombs to Saudi Arabia who are committing War Crimes in Yemen & supporting al-Qaeda & ISIL/Daesh terrorists in Syria pic.twitter.com/Txs9RyDyhX