Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Mar 2017 22:47 UTC
Legal

The United States, a country in North-America bogged down by extensive corruption, just passed a bill allowing ISPs to share and sell users' browsing history without their consent.

Internet providers now just need a signature from President Trump before they’re free to take, share, and even sell your web browsing history without your permission.

The House of Representatives passed a resolution today overturning an Obama-era FCC rule that required internet providers to get customers' permission before sharing their browsing history with other companies. The rules also required internet providers to protect that data from hackers and inform customers of any breaches.

The corrupt US senator who sponsored this clearly atrocious bill, Marsha Blackburn, from an area in the southern part of the country called Tennessee, received 693,000 US dollar in bribes from AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and other related companies who operate in the country's dysfunctional telecommunications sector.

In the United States, officially a representative democracy, it is entirely normal for high-level figures - up to and including the president of the troubled nation, a man named Donald Trump - to receive vast sums of money to enact laws written by corporations, regardless of their effects on civil liberties or the poor and needy people of the country.

Americans, as citizens of the nation are called, often lack access to basic necessities such as healthcare, parental leave, clean drinking water, high-quality infrastructure, and so on. This is in spite of the country's vast natural resources and wealth, to which only a few percent of the country's population of 320 million have access to.

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VPNs
by jonsmirl on Tue 28th Mar 2017 23:31 UTC
jonsmirl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I've already started getting ads for VPNs that include private DNS. 100% sure that ISPs are going to grossly abuse this. This will result in some very unhappy people since they won't be able to sue over the disclosure of private information. The result of this is that US government is going to get what it deserves, everyone in this country is going to start deploying heavy encryption and VPNs.

Might be a very good time to enter the VPN business. There is incredible potential for free advertising via stories of people who were abused and then explain how to use a VPN to stop it.

Reply Score: 6

RE: VPNs
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 29th Mar 2017 13:39 UTC in reply to "VPNs"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Well, here's the issue with third party VPNs. They are also free to sell your network history. And if they want to change the content you see over non HTTPS connections, there perfectly capable of doing so.

I think the only safe solution is DIY, with a cloud server at amazon. But then again, amazon might also log your network traffic.

So we could run TOR via VPN, we'd be safe then, right? Nope. There are too many Evil TOR exit nodes that log ( for intelligence agencies or for lolz) and or modify non https traffic.

We're pretty much screwed. There are some solutions I'm still looking into, but nothing concrete I could recommend at this point.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: VPNs
by Lennie on Thu 30th Mar 2017 08:08 UTC in reply to "RE: VPNs"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Choose a VPN provider outside of the US of course. That could help, a little bit.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: VPNs
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 30th Mar 2017 13:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: VPNs"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

How does that help at all? There are scummy people inside and outside the US. At least it would be easier for me as a US resident to sue a US company if they promise no resale no logging and they do actually sell. If it was in another country, I think that would be much more difficult.

Reply Score: 1

v Character Assassination
by gilljr on Wed 29th Mar 2017 00:04 UTC
RE: Character Assassination
by WorknMan on Wed 29th Mar 2017 00:07 UTC in reply to "Character Assassination"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

This is a bit more of a balanced article on the topic:

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/house-votes-to-block-obama-era...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Character Assassination
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 29th Mar 2017 00:28 UTC in reply to "Character Assassination"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Just like you would be offended if I told you how your politicians are wrong, backward, or cheats;


Why would I be offended? Here, let me do it for you: Geert Wilders is a dangerous fascist sponsored by US right-wing money, the new political party Denk are literally Erdogan puppets in our f--king lower house, and we have tons of questionable politicians at lower, more local levels.

I will not be offended by factual information. I urge you to adopt a similar stance - none of what is written in my blurb is factually wrong. Sure, it is presented in a way to make it more impactful by employing turns of phrase and a style usually reserved for news from countries in Africa or whatever, but NONE of what I wrote is factually wrong.

You know this, and that's why you're offended.

This topic from what I can tell is not about OS News.


I decide what is OSNews and what isn't - not you. You are, as always, free to skip content you don't like.

Edited 2017-03-29 00:29 UTC

Reply Score: 13

RE[2]: Character Assassination
by cb88 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 01:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Character Assassination"
cb88 Member since:
2009-04-23

While you may not be factually wrong, you are statistically irrelevant..

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Character Assassination
by dylansmrjones on Wed 29th Mar 2017 09:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Character Assassination"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

LOL !

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Character Assassination
by feamatar on Wed 29th Mar 2017 12:10 UTC in reply to "RE: Character Assassination"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

Thom, the guy's problem that you can target anyone this way and this does not bring us closer to a working system. Look at my country, Hungary, where the right tries to discredit the left with Soros all the time. And it works, because you know, believers on the left side see fascists on the right, and believers on the right see commies or liberals on the left. Those in the middle try to get along, and you know what? Even if the current ruling party is full of jackasses, at least they can govern, while the left does not have that credibility at the moment.

All in all, the system works more or less, even in the US. And anarchy might be an option, but I don't think it was proven to work so far. I would like to see that as an experiment though, but from the side line if possible.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Character Assassination
by cranfordio on Wed 29th Mar 2017 12:24 UTC in reply to "RE: Character Assassination"
cranfordio Member since:
2005-11-10

Thom, Normally I disagree with you on a lot of things, and sometimes I even find your views offensive, but this one had me laughing for several minutes and I agree with every bit of it. It amazes me how blind some people are to what Trump and the Republicans are doing. We are only a little over two months into his four years and I am already ashamed that he is our president.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Character Assassination
by lakerssuperman2 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 00:48 UTC in reply to "Character Assassination"
lakerssuperman2 Member since:
2017-03-29

Well given that I'm from America and I believe that 1) he has the right to say what he wants about our politicians since this is one of the core beliefs America was founded on. 2) Every word he wrote was true. Corporate America rules far too many of the policy changes in this country. The Republican Party has no other agenda than to enact the will of the giant corporations that care little for the regular people. In what reality does voting to allow ISP's to openly trade on our private data not send shivers down people's spines? You know they are going to abuse this until hopefully the Democrats who are somewhat less corrupt retake control and walk this stuff back.

It's pure insanity and it came on the heels of electing our worst President ever.

Reply Score: 12

RE[2]: Character Assassination
by jasutton on Wed 29th Mar 2017 01:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Character Assassination"
jasutton Member since:
2006-03-28

You know [the republicans] are going to abuse this until hopefully the Democrats who are somewhat less corrupt retake control and walk this stuff back.

It's pure insanity and it came on the heels of electing our worst President ever.


I agree that Trump is a terrible choice for President. Whether Hillary would have been any better is, of course, impossible to tell. Her history suggests to me that she is just as corrupt. I didn't vote for either one.

It does make me snicker that you believe that democrats are any less corrupt than republicans; they're just a different brand of corrupt, IMO.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Character Assassination
by CaptainN- on Wed 29th Mar 2017 03:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Character Assassination"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

I say that the Republicans are nakedly pro-business, and pro-corporate power. They were taken over by the pro-corporate forces very soon after they were created.

The Democrats are a bit more mixed. They have definitely been taken over by similar forces (a different set of corporate backers, who couldn't get into more lucrative party at the GOP) to an extent - especially the Clinton wing of the Democrats. But they really aren't quite as ridiculous as the Republicans. All of the rational voices we have left in America seem to be in the Democratic party (there are more outside the two parties, but thusfar, they have no power).

It would be foolish to believe the Democrats are angels, but they are not equivalent to Republicans.

Reply Score: 7

RE[4]: Character Assassination
by FlyingJester on Wed 29th Mar 2017 21:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Character Assassination"
FlyingJester Member since:
2016-05-11

I disagree. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are awfully pro-corporation, anti-individual. It seemed to me that until recently (say the last five years) either the Democratic party was more mixed, or (more likely) they were better at hiding it. Or perhaps my socially liberal views blinded me to it.

Hopefully, after an election where Bernie Sanders had so much grassroots support, and Donald Trump was actually elected, the American third parties will get their poop in a group. Hopefully next time Gary Johnson (or whoever follows him) will do their homework and be able to realize the hunger for alternative parties, or Gill Stein (or whoever follows her) will be better at pointing out the moderate and generally easy-to-sell components of their platform.

If I have hope for anything, it's that we've rightly lost faith in a two party system, and finally enough people will exercise their rights to make real change. Given the usual voter turnout in the USA, it doesn't even need to be that many people, relatively speaking.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Character Assassination
by Alfman on Wed 29th Mar 2017 22:45 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Character Assassination"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

FlyingJester,

I disagree. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are awfully pro-corporation, anti-individual. It seemed to me that until recently (say the last five years) either the Democratic party was more mixed, or (more likely) they were better at hiding it. Or perhaps my socially liberal views blinded me to it.


This bothers me as well about both parties, particularly the revolving door for special interests - there were plenty in the Obama administration. But still we must not overstate the equivalence: one party is consistently the one deregulating banks, subsidizing private energy companies with public land, ruling against minimum wages improvements, cutting public services, worker protections, slashing the tax burden on the corporations, etc. I don't even have to say which party this is, because everyone already knows that top-down corporate economics is the modus operandi for this party in particular.



If I have hope for anything, it's that we've rightly lost faith in a two party system, and finally enough people will exercise their rights to make real change. Given the usual voter turnout in the USA, it doesn't even need to be that many people, relatively speaking.


Many of us have wanted to break apart the two party system for decades. Third parties actually had significant gains at the polls this past election due to the hatred of both candidates, and yet due to the mechanics of the electoral college, they captured ZERO of the electoral votes. The problems run far deeper, it's just awful that parties can use gerrymandering to "fix" elections.

Solving political diversity in the US it would require changes that neither of the incumbent parties have been willing to pass when it's their turn in power. Capping campaign contributions could boost the viability of non-affluent politicians. Corporations that finance political elections will prefer corrupt and selfish politicians that they trust not to side with middle or lower classes. This makes it incredibly difficult for lower/middle classes to get fair representation in politics.


Even Trump himself spoke out against the electoral college, you know he would have thrown it under the bus if he lost, but now that he won he became a proponent and if anything his incentive is to makes things worse. It will take a very selfless leader to fix political diversity, Trump is not that leader.

Some third parties have made election reform a core part of their platform, but it's not really clear that they could ever win a major election as long as the barriers remain in place. It's a major catch-22.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Character Assassination
by Lennie on Thu 30th Mar 2017 08:23 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Character Assassination"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

While I agree the democrats, I would like to add that Bill Clinton actually deregulated a lot. Maybe more than the Republicans could have done without people complaining about it.

Fixing the way voting/campaigns work in the US should be one of the highest priorities of people in the US.

Lawrence Lessig tried to run for president with a platform to fix the electoral system.

Who else is trying to solve it right now and might actually have some plan/chance in hell, I can only think of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_PAC

As I understand it, there are states in the US where they are working on laws which discourage protests. That would be the other high priority issue if you still want to have a democracy in the future.

Edited 2017-03-30 08:31 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Character Assassination
by Lennie on Thu 30th Mar 2017 08:48 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Character Assassination"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I should probably add what the other highest priority issue should be for people in the US: education.

Forget about coal, 'worry' about automation taking your jobs. Or better yet embrace the use of automation by getting educated how to use it.

The economy is doing 'fine', it's 'just' that people getting paid the same over time or not even having a job at all is a real problem:

http://i0.wp.com/andrewmcafee.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Character Assassination
by unclefester on Wed 29th Mar 2017 08:01 UTC in reply to "RE: Character Assassination"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

It's pure insanity and it came on the heels of electing our worst President ever.


Every US government in history has been corrupt. It started with George Washington's shady land deals.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-22/like-donald-trump...

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Character Assassination
by Soulbender on Thu 30th Mar 2017 01:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Character Assassination"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Being a bit shady is different from lying all.the.time.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Character Assassination
by Soulbender on Wed 29th Mar 2017 05:24 UTC in reply to "Character Assassination"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

If there ever was a character that deserved assassination it's Trump's.

Edited 2017-03-29 05:35 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Character Assassination
by FlyingJester on Fri 31st Mar 2017 17:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Character Assassination"
FlyingJester Member since:
2016-05-11

I don't think Pence would do a better job than Trump.

Reply Score: 2

A few percent?!
by jasutton on Wed 29th Mar 2017 01:11 UTC
jasutton
Member since:
2006-03-28

Thom,

While I agree with your basic premise that politicians in the US are corrupt (as they are just about anywhere outside the US also), and that this bill is unjustifiable, your final paragraph where you state that only a few percent of the US's citizens have access to clean drinking water, healthcare, et. al., simply isn't true; in fact, the opposite is true.

As someone who actually lives and works in the US, I can attest to the fact that anyone can go to any Emergency Room and get treatment if needed, even if they have no way to pay for it. I can attest to having traveled throughout my country and finding infrastructure to be built up sufficiently for me to travel to an area to which I've never been and survive quite easily. And while the taste of the tap water varies from place to place, it is always safely drinkable. Your attempt to point to one case of unsafe drinking water and suggest that it reflects a common occurence in my entire country (to which you don't live) seems disingenuous at best, and downright malicious at worst.

I understand our respective countries have very different governmental structures. I'm okay with that. I won't attempt to deeply analyze your country, as I have no experience there, but my quick perusal of Wikipedia suggests that a big difference between our countries is that mine taxes less and provides less to it's citizens (allowing them to make their own choices, and yes, even mistakes) while yours tends to tax more and provide more (more safety nets). While you might imagine that your country has FAR lower poverty than mine because of this difference in structure, yours has about 91% of it's citizenry above the poverty line while mine has about 85%; not really that far off.

I am what most in the US would classify as "middle class." My tax rate after everything is said and done is around 30% (which is average for the population). I have a job in technology in which I work around 40 hours a week, sometimes more, and sometimes less but still pays the same regardless (salaried, not paid hourly). I have paid vacation days every year. I have health insurance for which my employer assists with, but doesn't pay for completely. I have always had clean drinking water, even when I was growing up in a family which was significantly poorer than I am today. I have a wife and a child on the way.

What I have experienced in my country, and have embraced, is the opportunity to make my life better by making good choices for myself and my family. I agree that not everyone has the same opportunities, and that motivates me to give of myself to help others on a personal level.

Ultimately, my country isn't perfect, and I don't think you would claim that yours is either. My bottom line is that attacking another country (which is what I perceived from your post) without having any experience there doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Reply Score: 3

RE: A few percent?!
by cb88 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 01:49 UTC in reply to "A few percent?!"
cb88 Member since:
2009-04-23

Another difference is that some people can live quite comfortably below the poverty line in the USA.... It's very cheap to live some places, and some people live largely off their land. I have no idea what percentage these make up but they surely exist in larger numbers here in the USA just because it's a bigger country and land is more available.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: A few percent?!
by CaptainN- on Wed 29th Mar 2017 03:22 UTC in reply to "RE: A few percent?!"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

Poverty and hunger are both objectively higher here than many other industrialized nations. Let's leave the illusions and deceit to the corrupt politicians.

Reply Score: 9

RE[3]: A few percent?!
by cb88 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 15:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A few percent?!"
cb88 Member since:
2009-04-23

That's nonsense... even the extremely poor are fat in the USA...

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: A few percent?!
by Carewolf on Wed 29th Mar 2017 16:01 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: A few percent?!"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

That's nonsense... even the extremely poor are fat in the USA...

Because they cannot afford proper food. Fat is something you get by eating cheap heavily government subsidized unhealthy food in the US.

Reply Score: 6

RE: A few percent?!
by galvanash on Wed 29th Mar 2017 05:25 UTC in reply to "A few percent?!"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

As someone who actually lives and works in the US, I can attest to the fact that anyone can go to any Emergency Room and get treatment if needed, even if they have no way to pay for it.


I work for a EM management company in the US (one of the larger ones). The problem with this, imo, is:

1. It creates a giant unfunded liability which ends up getting funded by everyone else because it requires raising rates to compensate for it. Someone always pays for it in the end - right now it is the patients that actually have insurance/money.

2. People without insurance/money going to the ER for basic care clogs the system and wastes resources intended to address emergency situations. People can and do die because of this.

3. All an ER is required to do (and what they exist for) is to stabilize the patient so that hospital/doctor care can take over. If you don't have insurance/money, it sounds nice that all ERs will treat you - but your on your own once you are basically not dying anymore...

4. ER doctors are extremely expensive resources. They are expensive because there are not nearly enough of them, so they can demand high wages. Misuse of ER resources compounds this issue and makes them even more expensive for everyone else.

Anyway, its better than throwing people out on the street, but it is FAR from a good system... Very far...

ps. The HCA didn't really fix anything to be honest. It is the right idea, but it only addresses one side of the equation (increasing access) and not the other (reducing costs). I don't know what the answer is to be honest, but it isn't simply spreading the costs around - because right now it costs are simply too high to bear. Everything needs to be restructured and streamlined imo, basic healthcare should be cheap, not expensive - no matter how it ends up being paid for.

ps.ps. I have no clue why anyone would downvote your post. It was unoffensive, well written, and imo as a US citizen pretty damn spot on accurate. I find it ironic that you seemingly got downvoted for going out of your way NOT to flame anyone... Sad.

Edited 2017-03-29 05:34 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: A few percent?!
by jasutton on Wed 29th Mar 2017 13:34 UTC in reply to "RE: A few percent?!"
jasutton Member since:
2006-03-28

My sense is that the ACA was intended to not work from the start, in an attempt to force a single-payer system.

I agree with your analysis of the issues, and appreciate your perspective. My point on ER availability was ONLY availability, not cost, which as you pointed out is ridiculous. The ACA has only made it worse, as piling on regulation just drives up cost.

Widespread use of health insurance was introduced as a result of government interference (i.e., wage controls during a time of war, leading to non-monetary compensation in the form of health insurance by private-sector companies competing for labor with the gov't). Additional paperwork involved in supporting this and "someone-else-will-pay" mindset led to massive price increases, which continue to this day. It's a self-feeding problem in my opinion.

Reply Score: 1

RE: A few percent?!
by moltonel on Wed 29th Mar 2017 11:07 UTC in reply to "A few percent?!"
moltonel Member since:
2006-02-24

You misread the article. It's "the country's vast natural resources and wealth" which is only available to a few percents, not the "basic necessities" (which are merely "often" lacking).

It's hard to argue against the "few percents" bit, since this is what the whole "we are the 99%" movement was based on. You can argue about whether "often" is an exaggeration or not, but I think that when it concerns basics such as clean water and healthcare, the threshold should be pretty low (so that IMHO "often" is appropriate wording in this case).

Reply Score: 2

RE: A few percent?!
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 29th Mar 2017 13:49 UTC in reply to "A few percent?!"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Emergency room care does not qualify as sufficient health care. Its last resort, and the law that requires emergency treatment is limited. Only certain kinds of treatment are available. And the care is only required to be provided by hospitals that partake in the medicare system.

There are hospitals in parts of the country that do not participate. You either have proof of insurance, or services are paid for up front.

Our water infrastructure is old and in peril. You only have to look at flint and related cases to see the dangers. In the wake of flint many other industrial rust belt cities have found similar issues, as well as many schools have issues with lead in the water due to internal lead piping.

Heck my house once had a well for drinking water. Can't use it any more due to industrial pollution.


Infrastructure, is one area I might be in agreement with you. Its much more diff ult due to the lower density populations we have in parts of the country that make it much more expensive to do. However, there are plenty of bridges, overpasses, roads in urban areas that are falling apart. And High speed rail can't seem to get off the ground.


I also think that our politicians are uniquely corrupted due to the Citizens United decision that allowed a flood of money into the system. I don't think one can seriously argue that we've ever had a more corrupt white house than the current occupants.

Reply Score: 3

v Comment by cb88
by cb88 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 01:45 UTC
RE: Comment by cb88
by CaptainN- on Wed 29th Mar 2017 03:24 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

Someone who came down with cancer and can't work, and therefor loses their health insurance is lazy ...

It's always the same blame the victim crap with right wingers in American and elsewhere. This is the real reason America can't solve problems anymore - folks like you are too busy moralizing away other people's hardships.

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: Comment by cb88
by cb88 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 15:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by cb88"
cb88 Member since:
2009-04-23

You bring up the exact situation I made exception to... why are you attacking what I said with BS.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by cb88
by Morgan on Wed 29th Mar 2017 03:55 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Yeah, I was lazy when I had cancer at 17 years old and got a late start on college and the normal adult life. I was on disability for several years before I could work a real job, and I still struggle with health issues to this day at nearly 40 years old.

Yeah, my mom is lazy because she sought assistance after my father passed away last year from an aneurysm and she suddenly couldn't make ends meet for a few months even with help from me and my sis.

Yeah, my friend Gene is lazy because he got severely hurt on the job and is on permanent disability, yet he went back to work on light duty even though it means he may lose future disability benefits, because he has a family to raise and that's more important than his own comfort.

Yeah, the people of Flint, Michigan are lazy good-for-nothings because their own corrupt government tried to cover up lead-filled drinking water instead of trying to clean it up. I guess they should all have just moved away from the problem, leaving their jobs and homes behind.

Fuck you, you smug bastard.

Reply Score: 19

RE: Comment by cb88
by Soulbender on Wed 29th Mar 2017 05:29 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Yes, we know you're not a democracy. It's painfully obvious to everyone, especially since you've devolved into a banana republic.

part of why the USA has lasted as long as it has


The US is still pretty young as far as countries go.

as well as why it has the potential to recover what it once was.


Not with the current clown-posse you won't.

Anyone that wants to work in the USA and is employable


Oh, you mean the Mexicans?

Edited 2017-03-29 05:30 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by cb88
by atsureki on Wed 29th Mar 2017 07:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by cb88"
atsureki Member since:
2006-03-12

The US is still pretty young as far as countries go.


I take issue with this sort of claim, because it's equivocating cultural continuity with political.

China's cultural legacy has been going on for thousands of years, but its current system of government is only decades old.

British Parliament has existed for about four times as long as the U.S., but in theory the representative government only serves by the consent of the monarch, rather than "the consent of the governed." That theory has meant less in practice as the centuries dragged on, with the monarchy never going so far as to recommend its own abolition, so the U.K. is basically a modern democracy, but there's no saying exactly when that happened.

Outside of the Anglosphere, most of the world's great western-style democracies are younger than some of their own citizens, having been established or re-established some time in the previous century, with the defeat of Fascism in Europe and Imperialism in Japan, holding back Communism from South Korea, and the retreat of the Republic of China to Taiwan.

Much of the Eurasian continent's political identity has been defined by the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, most of the Southern hemisphere and Pacific islands have been drawn and redrawn by colonialism for the past half millennium, and pretty much any country not fitting into those categories (the "third world", in the original sense) has been handed around among regimes or fiefdoms and only adopted a constitution recently, if at all.

So while much of Europe and Asia have been divided into largely the same geo-linguistic cultural silos for a millennium or more, there are few countries on the map that haven't been conquered, liberated, or revolutionized in the time the U.S. Constitution has stood.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Comment by cb88
by ssokolow on Thu 30th Mar 2017 02:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by cb88"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

It's interesting that you use China as an example because of how young the country is, culturally. Mao's reforms were not kind to the old culture and, paired with how recently and rapidly they've been developing a middle class, that has resulted in a lot of very boorish Chinese tourists. (Sort of a cultural Eternal September.)

...a parallel I notice with Americans. For all of their accomplishments, their culture itself tends toward the childish side of dispute resolution, peer pressure, empathy, etc.

That's why Americans have this stereotype of Canadians being polite but cold while Canadians stereotype Americans as loud and combative. Our cultures are just similar enough that we tend to have trouble telling them apart. When they don't realize that it's a cultural mismatch, they think we're "always so polite" while mistaking our more subtle "correct your behaviour" social cues as "being cold".

(By combative, I mean that, when we look south, we see a people who seem more likely to momentarily put aside their differences to attack the peacemaker for interfering with their freedom to yell at each other.)

Same sort of "old culture, young culture" divide that produces all those jokes about how Britons know how to queue while Americans don't.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by cb88
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 29th Mar 2017 10:04 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Thom, The USA is a Representative Republic. Not a democracy.


Common myth. You're conflating two, not mutually exclusive terms.

"It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law".


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States#Government_and_politics

As a comparison, The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy and representative democracy.

Edited 2017-03-29 10:05 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by cb88
by Megol on Wed 29th Mar 2017 12:02 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

Thom, The USA is a Representative Republic. Not a democracy. It is a very important distinction and part of why the USA has lasted as long as it has, as well as why it has the potential to recover what it once was.


Oh nerdy "facts". No, the US is a form of democracy (democrazy?). You using words in a way others don't doesn't make you right - just a smug idiot.


"healthcare, parental leave, clean drinking water, high-quality infrastructure" ... I also take issue with this statement. While some do fall on hard times, most of those roughing it are doing so because they are lazy, or refuse to move away from bad areas. Anyone that wants to work in the USA and is employable, is hardly living in the conditions you claim.


LOL! You really are a special kind of idiot. If you'd understand it I'd point out that there are ways learn that your "point of view"* is wrong...

(* read: made up shit fresh from your behinds)

Reply Score: 2

Intro Spot on!
by sfzamd on Wed 29th Mar 2017 04:08 UTC
sfzamd
Member since:
2015-09-19

The First line of the reports nailed it! Corruption with a Capital!

Reply Score: 2

Its not just your browsing history!
by benali72 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 06:03 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

It's important to point out that it's not just your browsing history that's for sale here. The bill gives a green light to ISPs to do any kind of snopping they like on your connetion, including deep packet inspection.

Anything not transmitted by HTTPS will be looked at and potentially stored by your ISP.

It's a good time to go VPN and use the HTTPS Everywhere plug-in for popular browsers.

Reply Score: 5

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

benali72,

It's important to point out that it's not just your browsing history that's for sale here. The bill gives a green light to ISPs to do any kind of snopping they like on your connetion, including deep packet inspection.

Anything not transmitted by HTTPS will be looked at and potentially stored by your ISP.



It isn't just a theoretical intrusion to privacy either, there were ISPs in the US and EU that were doing this by partnering up with spyware companies like Phorm to collect data and inject tracking beacons for use by advertisers. At the time, it was allegedly being done in secret, which is really the worst case scenario for infringing on privacy.

https://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/Phorm


It's a good time to go VPN and use the HTTPS Everywhere plug-in for popular browsers.


TOR could be another option to prevent your own ISP from snooping on you, but technically your ISP would be snooping on other people's data sent through your node.

Edited 2017-03-29 06:42 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Comment by p13.
by p13. on Wed 29th Mar 2017 08:01 UTC
p13.
Member since:
2005-07-10

Land of the free

Reply Score: 3

Idiocracy
by lighans on Wed 29th Mar 2017 09:18 UTC
lighans
Member since:
2006-01-14

Ten years ago there was a movie called Idiocracy (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/). Sometimes this movie is pretty spot on, when it comes to politicians and I think it is going to be more spot on in the coming years.

Arranging your friend as a president. Only serve what is good for your business. Keep people dumb and avoid people get good education. Infrastructure based on laziness. Women judged by their appearance instead of intelligence. Making election a media circus. Healthcare based on assumptions and guidelines.

And to be precise. Not only US, also Europe is going the same idiocratic route. France may be the first after Poland. Russia is already there, great inspiration for Trump. Don't forget the childish powerplay of Israel. And the Netherlands might wait a few years before they give Wilders a green light to make is own idiocracy dream come true.

I have never been so sarcastic about politics as these times.


Men, we are so screwed. ;)

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ahferroin7
by ahferroin7 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 12:57 UTC
ahferroin7
Member since:
2015-10-30

I hate to say this, but it's refreshing to hear this description of the US despite having been born and raised there.

Also, once you get to the Federal level, we're an oligarchy that calls itself a representative democracy, not an actual representative democracy.

Reply Score: 4

IMHO
by djmdma02 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 13:47 UTC
djmdma02
Member since:
2017-03-29

First of all, I hate posting on websites, due to the fact that people just like to tear one another down, troll, etc. There seems to be no constructive conversation on the Internet anymore. Anyway, my first and last post here.

Thom, I have been a daily visitor to your website for somewhere in the neighborhood of ten years now. I have used links and arguments that you have made with my colleagues about skeuomorphism, why enterprising Google Docs is a bad idea and so forth. What you have said today, shakes me to my very core, and if I did not say something, I could not continue to look at myself in the mirror. You mention to just read what you care about and skip what you don’t, how is that a balanced world view if we continue to just look at things that we agree with? Why do you think the alt-right are as powerful as they are here in America? Isn’t part of being a global citizen to be involved?

I respect opinions, and I would hope you respect mine as I try to sum up some of the issues within the post and the comments from the point of view of someone who teaches American Government.

“The United States, a country in North-America bogged down by extensive corruption, just passed a bill allowing ISPs to share and sell users' browsing history without their consent.” Firstly, the rules were not in effect as of yet, and were not scheduled to come into effect for a while. Negating the fact the most governments would not seem to care about the rules anyway, (see NSA and GCHQ) my life has not changed at all. It still is as it ever was, and I will continue to use DD-WRT and a VPN at home.

“The corrupt US senator who sponsored this clearly atrocious bill, Marsha Blackburn, from an area in the southern part of the country called Tennessee, received 693,000 US dollar in bribes from AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and other related companies who operate in the country's dysfunctional telecommunications sector.” Call it what you will, but it is not a bribe. Ever since the 1896 election of McKinley, money has become the driving force in American politics. Campaign donations, PAC’s, etc., these are the tools of American democracy. I personally am not a fan of Citizens United, but it is the law of the land however, and every voice deserves to be heard, our courts have just decided that if you have more resources, you should be able to use them. I also would like to believe that if my child deserved a “B” in school but in fighting (even if I was in the wrong) I could gain him an “A”, I would. Fighting for our own interests, it is something that human beings do. I wish we were better than that, but evolution did not let that happen. Also, in American Politics, if you do not fight for the interests of your constituents, guess what is going to happen at the next election? How do we know that these company’s corporate bases are not located in Tennessee? If we were to do away with state politics, who would watch out for the interests of African-Americans, Mormons, or Tennesseans? Oh, and by the way Tennessee is more mid, you would have a bit of an argument on your hand if you go back to 1860 saying it was south.

“In the United States, officially a representative democracy, it is entirely normal for high-level figures - up to and including the president of the troubled nation, a man named Donald Trump - to receive vast sums of money to enact laws written by corporations, regardless of their effects on civil liberties or the poor and needy people of the country.” Again, see the election of 1896, but further look into William Jennings Bryan, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and understand that your statement is not so simple. No one ever thought that our government was ever going to work, because as soon as Washington left office, the infighting would commence, that is why Washington tried his best to keep political parties from forming. Even though he failed, for whatever reason, power was handed over peacefully, and has been done for almost 240 years. In the last 60 years, the house and senate have changed hands like six times. How has if faired for Italy and how over sixty times in the same amount of time, they have changed government. We may not be perfect, but we are at stable.

Edited 2017-03-29 13:51 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: IMHO
by M.Onty on Wed 29th Mar 2017 20:48 UTC in reply to "IMHO"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

It shook you to your very core? I thought Thom was being rather witty in fact; he was using the same dispassionate call-a-spade-a-spade language western news outlets use to describe third world nations.

The joke, you see, is exactly that which your corrected. E.g. if we were to describe murky political donations like Marsha Blackburn's in a 'stan or a People's Republic of XYZ we wouldn't bother beating about the bush and would call it a bribe. This would be honest, but technically incorrect. But because we are close to the American system we observe the nonsensical technicalities of the law which makes it perfectly legitimate, yes sir, nothing odd here.

The intent is serious and should be taken seriously, but the tone is ironic.

Reply Score: 7

IMHO 2
by djmdma02 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 13:49 UTC
djmdma02
Member since:
2017-03-29

“Americans, as citizens of the nation are called, often lack access to basic necessities such as healthcare, parental leave, clean drinking water, high-quality infrastructure, and so on. This is in spite of the country's vast natural resources and wealth, to which only a few percent of the country's population of 320 million have access to.” I am an American, and I hold that tag with pride. I may not always agree with my leaders, but an American is what I am. Am I to every time that I do not agree with something that my leaders do, call them out and say I am going to move to Canada? How many people moved to Canada after the last election? How many drugs are developed in America? How many medical innovations are developed in America? Short answer, a lot. In Canada? Almost none. Even if I am destitute, I can still receive medical care, remember the Hippocratic Oath? Or maybe the memories of German doctors of yore have clouded some thoughts? We also do not have panels of doctors, such as in Canada and perhaps Europe that decide when we are too expensive to take care of anymore. Parental leave? That does suck. I wish we had longer, but you make do. Clean drinking water? I have yet been to a place under American control that did not have access to clean water. Please note that I have never been to the CNMI or Flint. Every time that something happens to water supplies in America, we will double down to see that it never happens again, just look back at the water treatment plants that have been built in America after sources are identified. Our infrastructure is ageing, but look at the size of the country, this is something that you do not have to deal with where you live. I look at Singapore and would love Gigabit internet for thirty USD a month. I have been waiting of Google Fiber for over two years now, but the cost due to space is so much higher. We do what we can but that is a comparison of apples to oranges, and is unfair to those people that labor daily to keep our country running. Percentage wise, I think it is far higher than what you are alluding to. Oh, and by the way, what is your percentage of your country’s GDP is spent on foreign aid? What about the Marshall plan?

“Why would I be offended? Here, let me do it for you: Geert Wilders is a dangerous fascist sponsored by US right-wing money, the new political party Denk are literally Erdogan puppets in our f--king lower house, and we have tons of questionable politicians at lower, more local levels.” Is Le Pen being funded by US money as well? Or is populism more of an outgrowth of frustration from peoples who see the world going in a direction that is conflicting with their self-interest?

“but NONE of what I wrote is factually wrong” and “to which only a few percent of the country's population of 320 million have access to.” We are not third world. That is a statement you make about Sierra Leone or Liberia, not the United States.

“I say that the Republicans are nakedly pro-business, and pro-corporate power. They were taken over by the pro-corporate forces very soon after they were created.” If very soon was 35 years. ;) But ask yourself, why did that happen? Why did the African-American vote go Democratic? Why during the 1932 Democratic convention did the KKK and the NAACP sit across from one another IN THE SAME PARTY? You are trying to simplify what is a very complicated question.

“All of the rational voices we have left in America seem to be in the Democratic party” If this is in your opinion, that I can fully accept this statement, however, please do not speak for every American on this.

“It's always the same blame the victim crap with right wingers in American and elsewhere.” Do you remember when in the world Eugenics were all the rage? Countries all over the world believed in that and what did it lead to? How far do you go? If I had continued with how I grew up, I would never be in the situation that I am in now. People will live up to what you expect of them and nothing more, Anne O’Sullivan said that about Hellen Keller.

Edited 2017-03-29 13:51 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: IMHO 2
by StephenBeDoper on Thu 30th Mar 2017 22:18 UTC in reply to "IMHO 2"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

How many medical innovations are developed in America? Short answer, a lot. In Canada? Almost none.


You are aware that Canada's population is about 1/10th that of the US... right? As for the "Almost none" claim, would I be correct in assuming that you didn't actually check into that? Or perhaps you just don't count things like, say, the discovery of insulin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Banting#Isolation_of_insulin) or the development of one of the primary modern cancer treatments (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt_therapy) as "medical innovations"?

That said, I'm not really sure what the point/significance is. I obviously can't speak for all Canadians, but I'll personally take access to those "medical innovations" via proper universal healthcare (without any split-the-baby compromises to appease the insurance industry) over bragging-rights on where they were developed.

We also do not have panels of doctors, such as in Canada and perhaps Europe that decide when we are too expensive to take care of anymore.


As opposed to the US, where insurance companies make that decision?

Reply Score: 3

IMHO 3
by djmdma02 on Wed 29th Mar 2017 13:50 UTC
djmdma02
Member since:
2017-03-29

Soulbender, I won’t repeat your quote, but if we here in American are violent every time there is something that we do not like, America would not stand today. Sometimes you need to step back and realize that you might be in a situation that you do not like, but work together and make something better rather than just stoking the flames and making things worse.

“basic healthcare should be cheap, not expensive - no matter how it ends up being paid for.” That the old-school Chinese way, and pay the doctors only when you are healthy. ;)

“The US is still pretty young as far as countries go.” Oldest Democracy in the world. Ask Mao if China of today is the same as China of a hundred years ago. Ask the Japanese if Japan of post 1870’s is the same as Japan of the 1500’s? Ask Putin if Russia is the same as during the time of Peter the Great. Ask the French if France is the same as when it was under Louis. Ask the Germans… well I digress. What you have said is a very Eurocentric point of view, as if people only matter from the European point of view. Remember the Treaty of Westphalia itself is only 370 years old, as are the nation-states. The USA is the oldest of its style of government in the world currently.

“Oh, you mean the Mexicans?” How do the French feel about the Syrians right now?

“Every US government in history has been corrupt. It started with George Washington's shady land deals.” And Britain’s rotten boroughs were not? What?

“Oh nerdy "facts". No, the US is a form of democracy (democrazy?). You using words in a way others don't doesn't make you right - just a smug idiot.” “to the republic for which it stands” Hmm… If I were a jerk, I would ask why you put facts in quotes.

“"It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law".” So where did I miss my chance to vote on the TPP?

I’ll leave it at this, Thom as you know in your translation work that the Internet is not the greatest place for trying to make sense of something. In my own translation work, Google Translate is much the abhorrent thing, as I would hope that you agree. The same is true of Social Studies and Wikipedia. Most of the garbage, like most of our textbooks, are written by people who are not experts in their fields, rather people that think they know. Granted there are some good pieces in both, but how do you know what is good and what is not when you are taking the statements at face value? Take for example the story of the Haymarket Riots, or the Nadir of race relations. The foremost scholar of the Haymarket Riots was shut down by a teenager on Wikipedia because the Teenage was a moderator, even though all he had was a textbook. The Nadir of race relations completely skips the 30’s and the 40’s as if they did not exist. The two great banes of the Internet, people that think they know what they are talking about based on Google Translate and Wikipedia, I wish both never existed.

I do not know if I will be back… Thom, I respect you immensely, and it has been a fun ride, but this last piece has just made you seem as if you are perpetuating ideas that the masses will take as true on face value rather than looking deeper and understanding how complicated the system really is.

Reply Score: 1

Agreed, but...
by pmac on Wed 29th Mar 2017 16:28 UTC
pmac
Member since:
2009-07-08

These are what we in the business call "bottom of the barrel arguments".

https://twitter.com/thomholwerda/status/844807874203176960

Edited 2017-03-29 16:28 UTC

Reply Score: 0

America as through the Media
by XD3l on Wed 29th Mar 2017 22:36 UTC
XD3l
Member since:
2015-04-25

I like how we all receive our interpretation of the world and each other through the very narrow, very filtered, and very controlled medium of mass media.

Living in America is a different thing all together than reading about it.

That being said... of course this is happening, why does this shock anyone? More than that, how come countries don't report on them selves when they are up to no good? Must America always be the scape goat? Besides is not America merely the total sum of a collective of Global interests? I know most of my ancestors are dead or have been assimilated. Then again, isn't that the way of all wars historically? Those being conquered are either killed or assimilated. So with that in mind, what makes American history unique? If we lived back in the day, we'd all be complaining about those pesky Huns.

Anyhow, I don't care, this will just leave the gate open for more gossip, more shoving the blame, and more exploitation of good men's wicked pasts, and wicked men's wicked present, and by men I mean men and womb-men both.

Reply Score: 0

the problem
by unclefester on Thu 30th Mar 2017 09:04 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

The main problem in the USA is that each candidates campaign is essentially self-funded. That means a candidate needs to be extremely wealthy (Washington, Johnson, Trump), personally very popular or highly regarded (Eisenhower, Bill Clinton). part of a dynasty (Bush and Kennedy families) or corrupt to get elected and remain in office.

Reply Score: 2