The Co-Op Movement – A Decentralized Solution to Solving Inequality and Avoiding Serfdom?

Or take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.

-Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World Revisited (1958) 

As readers of this website are well aware, the entrenched power structure has proven itself unwilling to address any of the extreme fraud, crony capitalism and corruption that plagues the U.S. economy. As such, it has become increasingly clear to myself and countless others that the solutions we need must be grassroots and decentralized. I have personally made it a point to encourage people to take matters into their own hands, using whatever tools they have available to make the communities in which they live better for their families and their neighbors.

Of course, in a world in which power is ever increasingly concentrated in the hands of a very unenlightened egomaniacal handful of oligarchs, this seems like a daunting and near impossible task to many. Because so many Americans are simply consumed with making ends meet and putting food on the table, the concept of changing the world appears entirely unrealistic if not downright impossible.

The message I want to convey is that this is not the case. Whether it be decentralized competing currency systems, states rights initiatives such as legalizing marijuana (some pot convictions can now be overturned in Colorado), neighborhood farms, independent energy systems, the path toward localized solutions is the one I firmly believe we must follow.

To that end, I want to highlight this encouraging article from the New York Times titled, Who Needs a Boss?, which explores possibilities worker co-ops provide for workers everywhere. Not only is the pay far better, not only is work engagement considerably more robust, but it restores a sense of community and power to those involved. I think this is a model we should greatly expand upon, rather than looking for centralized solutions, which are merely band-aids placed upon a cancer.

Here are some excerpts from the New York Times:

If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction. Of the $3.50 you hand over for a latte (plus $2.75 for the signature sourdough croissant), not one penny ends up in the hands of a faraway investor. Nothing goes to anyone who might be tempted to sell out to a larger bakery chain or shutter the business if its quarterly sales lag.

Instead, your money will go more or less directly to its 20-odd bakers, who each make $24 an hour — more than double the national median wage for bakers. On top of that, they get health insurance, paid vacation and a share of the profits. “It’s not luxury, but I can sort of afford living in San Francisco,” says Edhi Rotandi, a baker at Arizmendi. He works four days a week and spends the other days with his 2-year-old son.

Arizmendi and its five sister bakeries in the Bay Area are worker-owned cooperatives, an age-old business model that has lately attracted renewed interest as a possible antidote to some of our most persistent economic ills. Most co-ops in the U.S. are smaller than Arizmendi, with around a dozen employees, but the largest, Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, has about 2,000. That’s hardly the organizational structure’s upper limit. In fact, Arizmendi was named for a Spanish priest and labor organizer in Basque country, José María Arizmendiarrieta. He founded what eventually became the Mondragon Corporation, now one of the region’s biggest employers, with more than 60,000 members and 14 billion euro in revenue. And it’s still a co-op.

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Meet the U.S. Allies – Saudi Arabia Passes Draconian, Medieval Laws to Crush Dissent

One of the most significant geopolitical events of 2013 was the failed push for war in Syria by the Obama Administration. It didn’t merely fail as a result of a war weary public (although that played a key role), it also failed due to the fact our clownish “leaders” were attempting to offer military support to rebels with a large al-Qaeda element. So the pathetic “sell” by the U.S. establishment was to push the nation into a conflict allied with the very terrorist group against which we are fighting the “war on terror,” and have given up so many of our civil liberties to wage. Ridiculous, yet they tried anyway. That is how stupid they think the public is.

What that failed attempt at war mongering demonstrated to anyone paying attention is that our foreign policy is a complete joke and total sham. We publicly claim to support “democracy” and “freedom” around the world, yet in reality support some of the most oppressive regimes out there.

No relationship highlights this hypocrisy as clearly as our extremely close alliance with the Saudi regime, one of the last “absolute monarchies” on the planet. Not only that, but increasing evidence points to its direct involvement in the 9/11 attacks. But it gets worse. A lot worse. The regime has just passed a series of Medieval laws to crack down on all dissent. In a nutshell: Dissent = Terrorism.

From the New York Times:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia put into effect a sweeping new counterterrorism law Sunday that human rights activists say allows the kingdom to prosecute as a terrorist anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or otherwise engages in dissent.

The law states that any act that “undermines” the state or society, including calls for regime change in Saudi Arabia, can be tried as an act of terrorism. It also grants security services broad powers to raid homes and track phone calls and Internet activity.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s last absolute monarchies. All decisions are centered in the hands of 89-year-old King Abdullah. There is no parliament. There is little written law, and judges — implementing the country’s strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam — have broad leeway to impose verdicts and sentences.

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The Ukrainian Government is Now Mass Texting Protestors with Warning Messages

Earlier today, I highlighted the ingenious use of mirrors by Ukrainian protestors to utilize non-violent, creative tactics to make powerful political statements. With violence escalating in the past 24 hours, it appears the Ukrainian government is now breaking out technological Big Brother by sending mass text messages to protestors warning them that they are being watched.

Remember: Your Government Loves You.

From CNET:

Your government wants to protect you. Because your government cares. Because your government works for you.

Except, that is, when you don’t like your government. That’s when your government works against you.

Take the Ukraine, which several people are trying to do just at the moment.

It’s decided to show what open government is really about. So it’s openly texting its citizens to tell them when they’ve been spotted protesting against the government.

As The New York Times reports, the powers-that-be are being powered by phone technology that identifies any cell phone that happens to be adjacent to where protesters are clashing with the uniformed officers of the state. (Protesting, you see, has suddenly been made illegal.)

Text messages are reportedly being sent that say: “We can see you!!!”

Yes, I have inserted quite some paraphrasing here. The texts actually say: “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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How the U.S. Employs Overseas Sweatshops to Produce Government Uniforms

The following article from the New York Times is extraordinarily important as it perfectly highlights the incredible hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it comes to overseas slave labor and human rights. While the Obama Administration (and the ones that came before it) publicly espouse self-important platitudes about our dedication to humanitarianism, when it comes down to practicing what we preach, our government fails miserably and is directly responsible for immense human suffering.

Let’s get down to some facts. The U.S. government is one of the largest buyers of clothing from overseas factories at over $1.5 billion per year. To start, considering our so-called “leaders” are supposedly so concerned about the state of the U.S. economy, why aren’t we spending the money here at home at U.S. factories? If we don’t have the capacity, why don’t we build the capacity? After all, if we need the uniforms anyway, and it is at the taxpayers expense, wouldn’t it make sense to at least ensure production at home and create some jobs? If a private business wants to produce overseas that’s fine, but you’d think the government would be a little more interested in boosting domestic industry.

However, the above is just a minor issue. Not only does the U.S. government spend most of its money for clothing at overseas factories, but it employs some of the most egregious human rights abusers in the process. Child labor, beatings, restrictions on bathroom brakes, padlocked exits and much more is routine practice at these factories. Even worse, in the few instances in which the government is required to actually use U.S. labor, they just contract with prisons for less than $2 per hour using domestic slave labor. Then, when questions start to get asked, government agencies actually go out of their way to keep the factory lists out of the public’s eye, even going so far as denying requests when pressed for information by members of Congress.

Sadly, as usual, at the end of the day this is all about profits and money. Money government officials will claim is being saved by the taxpayer, but in reality is just being funneled to well connected bureaucrats.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — One of the world’s biggest clothing buyers, the United States government spends more than $1.5 billion a year at factories overseas, acquiring everything from the royal blue shirts worn by airport security workers to the olive button-downs required for forest rangers and the camouflage pants sold to troops on military bases.

But even though the Obama administration has called on Western buyers to use their purchasing power to push for improved industry working conditions after several workplace disasters over the last 14 months, the American government has done little to adjust its own shopping habits.

Labor Department officials say that federal agencies have “zero tolerance” for using overseas plants that break local laws, but American government suppliers in countries including Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, Pakistan and Vietnam show a pattern of legal violations and harsh working conditions, according to audits and interviews at factories. Among them: padlocked fire exits, buildings at risk of collapse, falsified wage records and repeated hand punctures from sewing needles when workers were pushed to hurry up.

In Bangladesh, shirts with Marine Corps logos sold in military stores were made at DK Knitwear, where child laborers made up a third of the work force, according to a 2010 audit that led some vendors to cut ties with the plant. Managers punched workers for missed production quotas, and the plant had no functioning alarm system despite previous fires, auditors said. Many of the problems remain, according to another audit this year and recent interviews with workers.

At Zongtex Garment Manufacturing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which makes clothes sold by the Army and Air Force, an audit conducted this year found nearly two dozen under-age workers, some as young as 15. Several of them described in interviews with The New York Times how they were instructed to hide from inspectors.

“Sometimes people soil themselves at their sewing machines,” one worker said, because of restrictions on bathroom breaks.

And there is no law prohibiting the federal government from buying clothes produced overseas under unsafe or abusive conditions.

Why am I not surprised…

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Paul Krugman Once Again Irrationally Attacks Bitcoin…Here’s My Response

The last aggressive anti-Bitcoin tirade I recall from Paul Krugman was written on April 14th of this year. It was such an irrational piece of drivel that I decided to respond to his Op-ed nearly paragraph by paragraph in my piece, Paul Krugman Goes on the Attack: Calls Bitcoin “Antisocial,” which I strongly suggest you read if you haven’t already.

What is most interesting about that previous article in hindsight is that he wrote it right after Bitcoin experienced its first major crash of 2013 (there have been two thus far, both after greater than 10-fold increases in the price). While I know Krugman periodically attacks Bitcoin, it’s interesting that this latest Bitcoin hit piece also came directly after the second crash. For those who are holders of Bitcoin, this should be taken as a very positive price signal going forward. Krugman’s prior article was written the day before the abolsute low price for the decline was reached at $50/btc on April 15th. It seems that Krugman becomes particularly comfortable slamming Bitcoin only after a price crash.

In any event, his latest Op-ed is almost as bad as the first one, and so I thought it’d be worthwhile to highlight his ignorance, irrationality and blatant use of statist propaganda once again. So let’s go.

From the New York Times:

This is a tale of three money pits. It’s also a tale of monetary regress — of the strange determination of many people to turn the clock back on centuries of progress.

The first money pit is an actual pit — the Porgera open-pit gold mine in Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s top producers. The mine has a terrible reputation for both human rights abuses (rapes, beatings and killings by security personnel) and environmental damage (vast quantities of potentially toxic tailings dumped into a nearby river). But gold prices, while down from their recent peak, are still three times what they were a decade ago, so dig they must.

The second money pit is a lot stranger: the Bitcoin mine in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland. Bitcoin is a digital currency that has value because … well, it’s hard to say exactly why, but for the time being at least people are willing to buy it because they believe other people will be willing to buy it. It is, by design, a kind of virtual gold. And like gold, it can be mined: you can create new bitcoins, but only by solving very complex mathematical problems that require both a lot of computing power and a lot of electricity to run the computers.

In the three paragraphs above, Krugman in employing a strategy that anti-gold people have used for years if not decades. That it is wasteful and environmentally destructive to mine for gold since it has no real purpose. Interesting. What purpose do diamonds have Paul? Did you buy your wife a diamond ring for your engagement? Did you make sure it wasn’t a blood diamond? Aren’t people likely raped and exploited in the mining of diamonds? I wonder how many articles Krugman has written on the destructiveness of diamond mining, a gem that isn’t even rare to begin with.

I tend to notice a huge hypocrisy from statists that in reality hate gold because it is a competing monetary asset, but then attempt to explain away their disdain using another, more publicly palatable rationale such as environmental destruction. After all, gold should get some credit for having at least has two hugely significant historical purposes. It has been valued for both its beauty and durability as jewelry, as well as for its monetary attributes. Diamonds have one primary purpose only recently established due to extensive marketing efforts (also in drills but you get the point), which is as a status or wealth symbol, so you’d think Krugman and other statists would get far more hot and bothered about blood diamonds than gold; but do they? No, they don’t. The hypocrisy is obvious.

The second thing Krugman does in the latest Op-Ed is to take this faux criticism and then attach it to Bitcoin. See the following paragraph:

Hence the location in Iceland, which has cheap electricity from hydropower and an abundance of cold air to cool those furiously churning machines. Even so, a lot of real resources are being used to create virtual objects with no clear use.

No clear use? Really, Krugman? There is nothing useful about essentially costless transfers of value on a peer-to-peer basis? There is no value to monetary transfers that eliminate expensive and parasitic middlemen? There is no value to using a public key as a way to ask for payment, thus reducing  enormous security concerns caused by providing all your private information to hundreds of merchants using credit cards? No value to being able to send millions of dollars across the globe in minutes rather than days? No value to free market currencies competing with state currencies? No value to economic freedom?

There are plenty of valid criticisms of Bitcoin, and a clear and thoughtful expression of those criticisms can only help the marketplace improve free-market crypto currencies in the future. Yet the irrational, ramblings of a statist who clearly hasn’t taken two minutes to objectively analyze Bitcoin is of no use to anyone and a disgrace to a supposedly highbrow newspaper like the New York Times.

His full Op-Ed is here if you have the stomach.

In Liberty,
Mike

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How Bloomberg “News” Censors the News

Over the weekend, I was alerted to a fascinating story that I hadn’t read about before. It relates to a piece of investigative journalism led by two Bloomberg News journalists out of Hong Kong. The report focused on the financial relationship between a Chinese billionaire and political leaders and it was being led by Michael Forsythe and Shai Oster. Forsythe and Oster were also the lead reporters on a story that Bloomberg News ran in 2012, which exposed the massive wealth of China’s leadership. That story angered the Chinese elite to such an extent that they stopped buying terminals  from Bloomberg LP for a period of time and also suspended new residency visas for its news employees.

Apparently, the loss of revenue was enough to convince Bloomberg to abandon real journalism, because according to the New York Times, the organization’s head editor, Matthew Winkler killed the story. The journalists had apparently been working on it for a year and were understandably none too pleased to hear about it being shelved. We learn that:

BEIJING — The decision came in an early evening call to four journalists huddled in a Hong Kong conference room. On the line 12 time zones away in New York was their boss, Matthew Winkler, the longtime editor in chief of Bloomberg News. And they were frustrated by what he was telling them.

The investigative report they had been working on for the better part of a year, which detailed the hidden financial ties between one of the wealthiest men in China and the families of top Chinese leaders, would not be published.

In the call late last month, Mr. Winkler defended his decision, comparing it to the self-censorship by foreign news bureaus trying to preserve their ability to report inside Nazi-era Germany, according to Bloomberg employees familiar with the discussion.

Oh good lord, how desperate can you get to justify censorship. Somehow, the New York Times was able to report on JP Morgan’s bribes in China just last week despite also having its visas pulled.

Bloomberg News infuriated the government in 2012 by publishing a series of articles on the personal wealth of the families of Chinese leaders, including the new Communist Party chief, Xi Jinping. Bloomberg’s operations in China have suffered since, as new journalists have been denied residency and sales of its financial terminals to state enterprises have slowed. Chinese officials have said repeatedly that news coverage on the wealth and personal lives of Chinese leaders crosses a red line.

Of course they think that, which is why we have journalism in the first place. To write about it anyway.

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Meet the Rebels

This Syrian civil war is extremely sad and tragic, but it has become abundantly clear that there are no “good guys” when it comes to the main factions fighting. The idea that we would provide aid to a side that is allied with al-Qaeda, the terrorist group used to justify the destruction of civil liberties domestically, is beyond absurd.

As we see from today’s New York Times article, these rebel factions are not fighting for peace or democracy, but more often than not for simple bloodthirsty revenge. Some of the factions are actively trying to form an Islamist state, while others are calling for the extermination of an entire group of people based solely on the fact they are part of a particular religious group, the Alawites. From the New York Times:

The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men.

The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.

This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.

In the more than two years this civil war has carried on, a large part of the Syrian opposition has formed a loose command structure that has found support from several Arab nations, and, to a more limited degree, the West. Other elements of the opposition have assumed an extremist cast, and openly allied with Al Qaeda.

Across much of Syria, where rebels with Western support live and fight, areas outside of government influence have evolved into a complex guerrilla and criminal landscape.

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How a $1 Bag of Salt Water Becomes a $546 Bill at Hospitals

Much like every other aspect of the U.S. ponzi economy, the healthcare system is one gigantic centralized oligopolistic racket. The New York Times has done some excellent coverage on this topic as of late, most recently in an article I highlighted earlier this month about how Americans are now finding themselves forced to travel overseas for surgery.

That article demonstrated how the medical industry is simply one huge convoluted racket, in which contracts are secret and no one has any clue about anything except for a small group of players involved. In fact, it reminds me of an incredible article from 1982 that explains how diamonds are actually basically worthless, and that the whole market is a gigantic con. You take something that is essentially free, and then charge a fortune for it through middleman markups.

And don’t think Obamacare is going to help you either, we all know it was written by lobbyists and special interests, just like every other piece of legislation from crony Congress. From the New York Times:

It is one of the most common components of emergency medicine: an intravenous bag of sterile saltwater.

Luckily for anyone who has ever needed an IV bag to replenish lost fluids or to receive medication, it is also one of the least expensive. The average manufacturer’s price, according to government data, has fluctuated in recent years from 44 cents to $1.

Yet there is nothing either cheap or simple about its ultimate cost, as I learned when I tried to trace the commercial path of IV bags from the factory to the veins of more than 100 patients struck by a May 2012 outbreak of food poisoning in upstate New York.

Some of the patients’ bills would later include markups of 100 to 200 times the manufacturer’s price, not counting separate charges for “IV administration.” And on other bills, a bundled charge for “IV therapy” was almost 1,000 times the official cost of the solution.

It is no secret that medical care in the United States is overpriced. But as the tale of the humble IV bag shows all too clearly, it is secrecy that helps keep prices high: hidden in the underbrush of transactions among multiple buyers and sellers, and in the hieroglyphics of hospital bills.

At every step from manufacturer to patient, there are confidential deals among the major players, including drug companies, purchasing organizations and distributors, and insurers. These deals so obscure prices and profits that even participants cannot say what the simplest component of care actually costs, let alone what it should cost.

And that leaves taxpayers and patients alike with an inflated bottom line and little or no way to challenge it.

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A Blockbuster Article on the Dangers of the NSA…From March 27, 1983

The warning signs were all there. Long, long ago they were all right there. Reading this article from the New York Times, published when I was just five years old, brings forth emotions of frustration, disappointment and even a sense of resentment. Resentment that many of those that came before us knew about all of this and basically did nothing. While those were my initial reactions, those negative emotions have turned into a strong sense of resolve and purpose. Many of us that are faced with the challenge of changing this messed up world we live in had very little to do with its creation, but that’s ok. This is our destiny and it is our duty.

There are several key takeaways from this article. First, and most importantly, sophisticated spy technologies with little oversight will ALWAYS be abused. This is not just the case today, but it was the case in the 1950′s, 60′s and 70′s as well. As the article points out, “the N.S.A. between 1952 and 1974 developed files on approximately 75,000 Americans” and “the agency also developed files on civil-rights and antiwar activists, Congressmen and other citizens who lawfully questioned Government policies.”

Second, no institution should ever be trusted to come clean on what they are up to. The N.S.A. has a long history of lying to everyone and anyone who questions it. It is only when leaks of their unconstitutional practices are made public that they cease any surreptitious activities (or at least pretend to).

Third, the most dangerous thing we can allow is the union of “public” and “private” intelligence security functions. These inevitably merge into one giant totalitarian nightmare such as what we suffer from today. The writing was on the wall long ago. It’s time to finally deal with this problem once and for all. Below are some choice excepts from this excellent New York Times article:

THE SILENT POWER OF THE N.S.A.

By David Burnham
Published: March 27, 1983

A Federal Court of Appeals recently ruled that the largest and most secretive intelligence agency of the United States, the National Security Agency, may lawfully intercept the overseas communications of Americans even if it has no reason to believe they are engaged in illegal activities. The ruling, which also allows summaries of these conversations to be sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, significantly broadens the already generous authority of the N.S.A. to keep track of American citizens.

Over the years, this virtually unknown Federal agency has repeatedly sought to enlarge its power without consulting the civilian officials who theoretically direct the Government, while it also has sought to influence the operation and development of all civilian communications networks. Indeed, under Vice Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, N.S.A. director from 1977 to 1981, the agency received an enlarged Presidential mandate to involve itself in communications issues, and successfully persuaded private corporations and institutions to cooperate with it.

Yet over the three decades since the N.S.A. was created by a classified executive order signed by President Truman in 1952, neither the Congress nor any President has publicly shown much interest in grappling with the far-reaching legal conflicts surrounding the operation of this extraordinarily powerful and clandestine agency. A Senate committee on intelligence, warning that the N.S.A.’s capabilities impinged on crucial issues of privacy, once urged that Congress or the courts develop a legislative or judicial framework to control the agency’s activities. In a nation whose Constitution demands an open Government operating according to precise rules of fairness, the N.S.A. remains an unexamined entity. With the increasing computerization of society, the conflicts it presents become more important. The power of the N.S.A., whose annual budget and staff are believed to exceed those of either the F.B.I. or the C.I.A., is enhanced by its unique legal status within the Federal Government. Unlike the Agriculture Department, the Postal Service or even the C.I.A., the N.S.A. has no specific Congressional law defining its responsibilities and obligations. Instead, the agency, based at Fort George Meade, about 20 miles northeast of Washington, has operated under a series of Presidential directives. Because of Congress’s failure to draft a law for the agency, because of the tremendous secrecy surrounding the N.S.A.’s work and because of the highly technical and thus thwarting character of its equipment, the N.S.A. is free to define and pursue its own goals.

According to an unpublished analysis by the House Government Operations Committee, the N.S.A. may have employed 120,000 people in 1976 when armed-services personnel were included in the official count. (According to a letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, overseas listening posts numbered 2,000.) In comparison, the F.B.I. had one employee for every six working for the N.S.A. The House report also estimated that the agency’s annual expenditures were as high as $15 billion.

During the course of the investigation, its chairman, Senator Frank Church, repeatedly emphasized his belief that the N.S.A.’s intelligence-gathering activities were essential to the nation’s security. He also stressed that the equipment used to watch the Russians could just as easily ”monitor the private communications of Americans.’‘ If such forces were ever turned against the country’s communications system, Senator Church said, ”no American would have any privacy left. … There would be no place to hide.”

The N.S.A. gradually developed a ”watch list” of Americans that included those speaking out against the Vietnam War.

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Meet “BOSS”: The Department of Homeland Security’s Facial Scanning Program

Ever heard of BOSS? Didn’t think so.

BOSS stands for Biometric Optical Surveillance System, and it is a crowd-scanning program that has been in development by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for almost three years now.

Did you catch that? This is the DHS, the ridiculously dangerous, cancerous, gargantuan waste of money our “leaders” foolishly created after 9/11 to prevent “terrorism.” Whereas in the beginning most people actually believed the DHS was there to stop cave dwellers with terroristic tendencies, it is now completely clear that its primary mission is to protect the oligarchs and political criminals from domestic dissent. For example, the New York Times notes that:

In a sign of how the use of such technologies can be developed for one use but then expanded to another, the BOSS research began as an effort to help the military detect potential suicide bombers and other terrorists overseas at “outdoor polling places in Afghanistan and Iraq,” among other sites, the documents show. But in 2010, the effort was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security to be developed for use instead by the police in the United States.

It now should be abundantly clear to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that the DHS has one mission and one mission only. Bring the degenerate activities we consistently engage in abroad back home for use on “we the people.” You know, to protect us. From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project.

The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

I’m sure the secret FISA court is all over it.

The automated matching of close-up photographs has improved greatly in recent years, and companies like Facebook have experimented with it using still pictures.

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