Article 43

 

Friday, December 28, 2007

Japan Polices Their Internet

Regulating The Japanese Cyberspace, One Step At A Time

By shioyama
Gyaku
December 27, 2007

With little fanfare from local or foreign media, the Japanese government made major moves this month toward legislating extensive regulation over online communication and information exchange within its national borders. In a series of little-publicized meetings attracting minimal mainstream coverage, two distinct government ministries, that of Internal Affairs and Communications (SOMUSHO) and that of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MONBUKAGAKUSHO), pushed ahead with regulation in three major areas of online communication: web content, mobile phone access, and file sharing.

On December 6th, in a FINAL REPORT compiled by a study group under the Somusho following up on an INTERIM REPORT drafted earlier this year, the government set down plans to regulate online content through unification of existing laws such as the BROADCAST LAW and the TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUSINESS LAW. The planned regulation targets all web content, including online variants of traditional media such as newspaper articles and television broadcasting, while additionally going as far as to cover user-generated content such as blogs and webpages under the vaguely-defined category of “open communication”.

Only days following the release of the Dec. 6 report, again through the Somusho, the government on Dec. 10th requested that mobile phone companies NTT DOCOMO, KDDI, SOFTBANK and WILLCOM commence strictly filtering web content to mobile phones for users under the age of 18. The move to filter content in this area comes at a time when the Japanese market has become saturated with mobile phones, a growing proportion of which are held by high-school and even grade-school students. The proposed policy, in part responding to fears and anxieties expressed by parents about online dating sites, is broad in scope and reportedly covers all websites with forum, chat, and social networking functionality.

Regulation of a third area of online communication, that of online file sharing, was meanwhile advanced through the Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee of Japan’s AGENCY FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS (under the Mobukagakusho) in a meeting held on December 18th. Authorities and organizations pushed in this case for a ban on the download of copyrighted content for personal use, a category of file transfer previously permitted under Article 30 of JAPAN’S COPYRIGHT LAW.

The final report on Internet regulation released on December 6th, and the meetings about mobile phone regulation and copyright policy held on December 10th and 18th, collectively touch on nearly every aspect of modern network communication in Japan and together indicate a significant shift in government policy vis-a-vis the Japanese cyberspace. While granted little attention in mainstream media, a series of Japanese-language articles, government reports, and blog entries on the topic together sketch basic details of the proposed regulations. The main points of these documents are summarized below, with references to resources offering more in-depth discussion included at the end of the article.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/28/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section News
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

We Are All Prisoners Now

By Paul Craig Roberts
Information Clearinghouse
December 26, 2007

At Christmas time it has been my habit to writea column in remembrance of the many innocent people in prisons whose lives have been stolen by the US criminal justice (sic) system that is as inhumane as it is indifferent to justice.  Usually I retell the cases of William Strong and Christophe Gaynor, two men framed in the state of Virginia by prosecutors and judges as wicked and corrupt as any who served Hitler or Stalin.

This year is different.  All Americans are now imprisoned in a world of LIES and deception created by the Bush Regime and the two complicit parties of Congress, by federal judges too timid or ignorant to recognize a rogue regime running roughshod over the Constitution, by a bought and paid for media that serves as propagandists for a regime of war criminals, and by a public who have forsaken their Founding Fathers. 

Americans are also imprisoned by fear, a false fear created by the hoax of terrorism.  It has turned out that headline terrorist events since 9/11 have been orchestrated by the US government.  For example, the alleged terrorist plot to blow up Chicagos Sears Tower was the brainchild of a FBI agent who searched out a few disaffected people to give lip service to the plot devised by the FBI agent.  He arrested his victims, whose trial ended in acquittal and mistrial.

Many Europeans regard 9/11 itself as an orchestrated event. Former cabinet members of the British, Canadian and German governments and the Chief of Staff of the Russian Army have publicly expressed their doubts about the official 9/11 story. Recently, a former president of Italy, Francesco Cossiga, said in an interview with the newspaper, Corriere della Sera (November 30, 2007), that democratic elements in America and Europe, with the Italian center-left in the forefront, now know that the 9/11 attack was planned and executed by the American CIA and Mossad in order to blame the Arab countries, and to persuade the Western powers to undertake military action both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is unclear whether Cossiga was being sarcastic about the opinion of skeptics or merely reporting what people think.  I have written to him asking for clarification and will report any reply that I receive.  Apparently, the Italian media has not offered a clarification.

Cossiga’s statement has not been reported by a US newspaper or TV channel. Raising doubts among Americans about the government is not a strong point of the corporate media. Americans live in a world of propaganda designed to secure their acquiescence to war crimes, torture, searches and police state measures, military aggression, hegemony and oppression, while portraying Americans (and Israelis) as the salt of the earth who are threatened by Muslims who hate their freedom and democracy.

Americans cling to this truth while the Bush regime and a complicit Congress destroy the Bill of Rights and engineer the theft of elections.

Freedom and democracy in America have been reduced to no-fly lists, spying without warrants, arrests without warrants or evidence, permanent detention despite the constitutional protection of habeas corpus, torture despite the prohibition against self-incrimination - THE LIST goes on and on.

In todays fearful America, a US Senator, whose elder brothers were (1) a military hero killed in action, (2) a President of the United States assassinated in office, (3) an Attorney General of the United States and likely president except he was assassinated like his brother, can find himself on the no-fly list.  Present and former high government officials, with top secret security clearances, cannot fly with a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of water despite the ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE that extreme measures imposed by airport security makes flying safer. 

Elderly American citizens with walkers and young mothers with children are meticulously searched because US Homeland Security cannot tell the difference between an American citizen and a terrorist.

All Americans should note the ominous implications of the inability of Homeland Security to distinguish an American citizen from a terrorist.

When Airport Security CANNOT DIFFERNTIATE a US Marine General recipient of the Medal of Honor from a terrorist, Americans have all the information they need to know. 

Any and every American can be arrested by unaccountable authority, held indefinitely without charges and tortured until he or she can no longer stand the abuse and confesses. 

This predicament, which can now befall any American, is OUR REWARD for our STUPIDITY, our INDIFFERENCE, our GULLABILITY, and our LACK OF COMPASSION FOR ANYONE BUT OURSELVES.

Some Americans have begun to COMPREHEND the tremendous financial costs of the Ԕwar on terror.  But few understand the cost to American liberty.  Last October a Democrat-sponsored bill, ӔPrevention of Violent Radicalism and Homegrown Terrorism, passed the House of Representatives 404 to 6.

Only six members of the House voted against tyrannical legislation that would destroy freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and that would mandate 18 months of congressional hearings to discover Americans with Ӕextreme views who could be preemptively arrested.

What better indication that the US Constitution has lost its authority when elected representatives closest to the people pass a bill that permits the Bill of Rights to be overturned by the subjective opinion of members of an Extremist Belief

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan administration. He is credited with curing stagflation and eliminating Phillips curve trade-offs between employment and inflation, an achievement now on the verge of being lost by the worst economic mismanagement in US history.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/27/07 •
Section Dying America
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Holiday Spending Growth at 5 Year Low

middle-class-squeeze.jpg

If the TREND of MIDDLE CLASS Americans going broke continues, pretty soon, EVERYTHING will grind to a HALT because nobody can afford anything, anymore.
- Bad Moon Rising Part 12

Last-Minute Buys Fail to Turn Tide

By Joseph Galante
Bloomberg News
December 26, 2007

A surge in spending over the weekend may not have been enough to rescue Target, Sears Holdings and Macy’s from the slowest holiday spending season in five years.

MasterCard’s consulting unit said yesterday that sales from Nov. 23 to Dec. 24 gained 3.6 percent. Spending in the week through Dec. 22 declined 2.2 percent, the fourth week of declines, even after sales increased almost 20 percent over the last weekend before Christmas, Chicago-based ShopperTrak RCT said Monday.

“It’s NOT GOING TO OVERCOME the negative forecasts,” Frederick Crawford, managing director at Southfield, Mich.- based AlixPartners, said of the weekend. “It’s going to be a good start, a very weak midsection and a strong finish.”

Gasoline at $3 a gallon and rising food prices have discouraged shoppers from spending during November and December, which account for 20 percent of retailers’ annual revenue, according to the National Retail Federation in Washington.

Target, the second-biggest U.S. discounter, said Monday that sales at stores open more than a year may decline in December after customer visits slowed in the weeks after Thanksgiving.

Sales in November and December this year may rise 4 percent, the slowest growth since 2002, according to the National Retail Federation. MasterCard’s holiday growth figure was the lowest in at least three years.

Less than one-fifth of consumers finished their holiday shopping by Dec. 16, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers in New York. J.C. Penney, Sears and Toys R Us tried to lure late buyers with discounts over the weekend, helping boost U.S. retailers’ sales by 7.6 percent on Saturday.

Shoppers buying online led the growth in spending, with Internet sales gaining 22 percent from Nov. 23 though Dec. 24, said Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors.

“If you were expecting this holiday season to stimulate a new ramp-up in growth, I think you’d be disappointed,” McNamara said. “I think the vast majority of people in the marketplace had modest expectations.”

Apparel rose 1.4 percent from a year ago, McNamara said. Men’s clothing climbed 2.3 percent, while sales of clothes for women fell 2.4 percent.

Luxury goods, excluding jewelry, rose 7.1 percent from the comparable period last year, and footwear sales increased 6 percent.

MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse surveys retailers across the United States. Its figures are based on sales in the MasterCard network and estimates of other forms of payment, including checks and cash. MasterCard is the second-biggest U.S. credit-card company.

Last year’s holiday season grew 6.6 percent over 2005’s holidays. Two years ago, retail sales grew 8 percent from the previous year, MasterCard said.

Although Target’s customer visits increased for the week ended Dec. 22, “this increase was not sufficient to compensate for the unfavorable traffic trends that carried over into December from the week following Thanksgiving,” the Minneapolis-based retailer said.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/27/07 •
Section News • Section Dying America
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The Next Recession Part 9

housingbubble.jpg

I didn’t find it on the internet yet, but the news this morning said Remax is also closing 35 offices here in Florida.

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Major Real Estate Broker Shuts Down

By Brahm Resnik
12 News
December 23, 2007

A major Valley real estate broker has shut its doors just days before Christmas, leaving 350 agents without a home, and about 20 salaried employees without a job.

Remax 2000, based in Gilbert, is closing its 13 offices around the Valley. An attorney for owner Robert Kline told 12 News Sunday the company was not generating enough sales to meet its expenses because of the Valley’s DEPRESSED housing market. As for the timing of the closing, attorney Dax Watson said, “We felt it wouldn’t be fair to our clients to wait.”

Agents were learning the news over the weekend through office managers or a company e-mail. Watson said Friday was the last day of work for the company’s 15 to 20 salaried employees.

Bruce Fraser, an agent with Remax 2000 in Gilbert, said Sunday the company held its Christmas party about two weeks ago, and there were no signs the broker was in trouble. “I did not see this coming,” he said.

But Fraser said he had already received about a dozen calls Sunday from other brokers looking to hire him.

The 350 Remax 2000 agents are independent contractors. They now have 30 days to find a new broker to work with. Watson says any sales or purchases already under way through Remax 2000 will not be affected, and agents’ listings will follow them.

SOURCE

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October Home Prices Post Record Decline

By Stephen Bernard
Associated Press
December 26, 2007

U.S. home prices fell in October for the 10th consecutive month, posting their largest drop since early 1991, according to a key index released Wednesday.

The record 6.7 percent slide in the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index also marked the 23rd consecutive month that prices either fell or grew more slowly than the month prior.

“No matter how you look at these data, it is obvious that the current state of the single-family housing market remains grim,” said Robert Shiller, who helped create the index, in a statement.

The previous record decline was 6.3 percent, recorded in April 1991. The index tracks prices of existing single-family homes in 10 metropolitan areas.

It is considered a strong measure of home prices because it examines price changes of the same property over time, instead of calculating a median price of homes sold during the month.

Home prices could fall another 10 percent over the next 12 to 18 months before bottoming out, said Patrick Newport, an economist with financial consultancy Global Insight, in an interview.

Newport said four of the largest groups currently trying to sell homes - banks holding foreclosed properties, homebuilders, speculators and unemployed consumers - are typically flexible about lowering house prices because they need to get rid of the property.

Sales of homes will likely start to rebound late in 2008, with price appreciation to follow, Newport said.

A second, broader Case-Shiller index, which measures 20 metropolitan areas, fell 6.1 percent in October. Among the 20 areas used in the broader index, 11 posted record year-over-year declines and all 20 declined in October compared to September.

Leading the index lower was Miami, where prices fell 12.4 percent in October compared to the same month last year. That led it to surpass Tampa, Fla. as the worst-performing city. Tampa posted a year-over-year loss of 11.8 percent.

Besides those two cities, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego also posted double-digit year-over-year declines.

Atlanta and Dallas, which had previously posted price appreciation, fell in October. Prices fell 0.7 percent in Atlanta and 0.1 percent in Dallas compared to a year earlier.

Only three areas - Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore. and Seattle - posted year-over-year home price appreciation in October. Charlotte posted the largest gains at 4.3 percent.

Among the three, only Charlotte is likely to be saved from declining house prices within the coming few months, Newport said, because the area has not seen periods of rapid appreciation like the other markets.

Kevin Johnson, co-founder of Homes of the South Inc. in Charlotte, agreed.

“We never jumped very high like other areas,” Johnson said. “We don’t have a hard fall as other places.”

Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, said the area’s strong economy is also playing a role in supporting price appreciation. While the numbers are preliminary, more than 14,000 jobs were created in the Charlotte area in 2007, he said, compared with more than 12,000 jobs in 2006.

The job growth is coming from a “pretty healthy” variety of sectors, including the financial industry, Morgan said. Charlotte is home to two of the nation’s four largest banks, Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp.

Carole Brake, the sales manager at Bissell Hayes Realtors SouthPark Office in Charlotte, said prices are still up despite an increase in inventory.

“Sellers are not in a mode to reduce their prices. They want a fair market price for their home,” Brake said.

The Next Recession
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13 - PART 14 - PART 15

Posted by Elvis on 12/27/07 •
Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Alcatel-Lucent Fined For Corruption

Alcatel-Lucent to Pay $2.5M in Fines to Settle Charges It Bribed Chinese Officials

Yahoo News
December 21, 2007

Alcatel-Lucent will pay $2.5 million to settle charges that it violated U.S. anti-bribery laws by paying for hundreds of trips taken by Chinese officials to secure millions of dollars in contracts.

The trips were provided between 2000 and 2003 by Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies, prior to its 2006 acquisition by Alcatel SA, the Justice Department said Friday.

Lucent footed the bill for approximately 315 trips for CHINESE officials, including sightseeing trips to Las Vegas, Disneyland and the Grand Canyon, the department said.

The company paid a $1 million fine to the Justice Department and $1.5 million in civil penalties to settle a separate complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mary Ward, a spokeswoman for Alcatel-Lucent, said the company “cooperated fully” with the investigation and is “glad to get this matter behind us.”

The recipients were officials with Chinese state-owned TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES considered important to securing new business, the department’s letter said.

The Justice Department agreed to forego criminal prosecution of Lucent as part of the settlement. The company promised to institute a corporate anti-corruption policy and put in place better internal controls to detect violations of anti-bribery laws.

The settlement DOES NOT AFFECT a separate case involving charges that an Alcatel-Lucent official paid bribes to Costa Rican officials from 2000 to 2004, the department said.

Shares of Alcatel-Lucent fell 2 cents to $7.39 in late afternoon trading Friday.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/26/07 •
Section News
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