Tag Archives: Facebook

Summer Newsletter-2019

Greek mountain village

Monetary alchemy: how to turn bad money into good

In my latest article, just published on Open Democracy, I describe how fiat money can be transmuted into a truly effective and scalable community currency, while at the same time providing a way to finance community improvement projects like affordable housing. Key features that distinguish my design from other “fiat backed” currencies that have been tried before are (1) the limitations placed on cash redemption, and (2) the requirement that the community currency be issued as loans to businesses based on the amount of needed and desired goods and services they have available for immediate sale. You can read the full article here.

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Libre Not Libra: Facebook’s Blockchain Project

Facebook’s Libra crypto-currency project has caused a major uproar. In this talk, delivered on June 19th 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland, respected technologist, entrepreneur, and crypto-currency guru Andreas Antonopoulos provides an interesting interpretation of the nature of Libra and its implications for the future of payments, privacy, and freedom, all of which is both exciting and terrifying. Antonopoulos couches his comments in the framework of what he sees as the emerging “currency wars,” distinguishing among government currencies, corporate currencies, and people’s currencies on the basis of the principles that underlie them. You can view the video here.

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Europe and the UK

I spent most of May and half of June on the other side of the Atlantic conferring with colleagues in the UK and Italy, and living in community at the Kalikalos Holistic Center in Kissos, Greece, where I’ve stayed many times before. My work in the UK has been ongoing for almost a year during which time I’ve been advising a group that has now formed the Open Credit Network.  

“The Open Credit Network is a cooperative of businesses who have come together, under a simple shared agreement, in order to trade with each other without the need for hard cash.”

This project is still in the formative stages but is making good progress. UK cooperatives and small businesses are invited to get involved.

During my trip I managed  to mix in a bit of R&R, enjoyed spending time with friends old and new, and toward the end of the trip had some fun with friends Yannis and Catherine rafting on the Voidomatis river in the Vikos gorge in northern Greece. This experience is one of many being offered through Yannis’ new travel platform, https://www.gofreedly.com/.

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How to Legally Not Pay Taxes by Tom Wheelwright

I discovered this video by accident while randomly browsing YouTube. Whether your goal is to play the system and become rich, or to change the system to make it fairer, you need to pay attention to this presentation. Tom Wheelwright, is a high powered CPA and tax advisor who describes here how entrepreneurs and investors legally avoid paying taxes. In this video, he points out that on average, those who are classified as employees pay a tax rate of about 40%, and professionals like doctors and lawyers get hit even harder with an average rate of 60%, while entrepreneurs pay only around 20% and big investors pay virtually zero. It’s all a matter of knowing the tax laws and how they favor capital over labor.

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Dr. Laurence Victor, R.I.P.

I was greatly disturbed by the content and tone of Larry’s last message to me on Friday July 5, so I dropped by his place to see him on Saturday morning, but when his wife greeted me at the door she asked, “are you psychic?” and told me that Larry had just died a few hours earlier. I’m sorry I did not have the opportunity to bid him farewell. His health had been in decline for several months, and he had reported suffering severe pain from a massive tumor at the back of his tongue that his doctors said was inoperable.

With PhDs in both physics and psychology Larry had a long career in academia. He was a brilliant and innovative thinker whose unique perspectives on life, civilization, “uplift,” and human “emergence” fascinated many. Larry was a good and respected friend of thirty years. He will be greatly missed.

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Movie reviews

I’d like to recommend two movies I’ve seen recently.

Pavarotti is the story of opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti (1935–2007) who had perhaps the greatest operatic voice of the past 100 years. Director Ron Howard does a masterful job of telling the story of a man whose life impacted the world of music well beyond the narrow confines of opera, and whose generosity touched the lives of many. The story and the music will move you deeply, .…if you let it.

The Biggest Little Farm. Exquisite in every aspect, this film tells the inspiring story of a professional couple who take a leap of faith into small-scale, diversified farming in southern California. Tracing their trials and tribulations over several years, it shows what can be achieved when working with nature to find balance.
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Wishing you a pleasant summer,

Thomas

P.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard wants the U.S. to stop its endless wars and do what it takes to REALLY make America great again. Let’s keep her in the Presidential debates by making a small contribution to her campaign.

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Free speech on the ropes

big-brother quotes

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.     —George  Orwell

What the Arab world needs most is free expression.    —Jamal  Khashoggi

In his famous dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell describes a world in which people’s actions and words are closely monitored in order to detect and punish thoughtcrime.  It is a world in which the ruling power structure has the means to preempt the expression of any idea or story that might challenge the official narrative of events and reality. Though a little late by Orwell’s reckoning, that world has all but arrived.

The development of the internet and the worldwide web brought, for a time, tremendous power to ordinary people to communicate and inform one another directly, bypassing the established news filters and centralized control of information. But in recent years, new corporate megaliths have emerged that have the power to shift control back in favor of “Big Brother.” We have become so dependent upon private corporate media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, that they are able to manipulate our thoughts and behavior. To be banned from those channels means to effectively be banished from participation in political discourse. Corporate power on such a scale inevitably ends up being complicit with political oligarchies in controlling  public perceptions and defining “reality.” The hyped-up battle against “fake news” is really a battle against free speech.

Facebook teams up with the “Thought Police” to purge dissenting voices

Facebook’s purging of hundreds of pages and accounts in recent days has been widely reported. The purges have been done based on allegations of “spam,” and “inauthentic behavior,” or of providing  “Russian propaganda.” But there’s much more to it than that.

An article in the online journal, Global Research, describes the arrangement that Facebook made five months ago with the Atlantic Council to,  “prevent [their] service from being abused during elections.” And who is the Atlantic Council? According to the article, the Atlantic Council “is a think tank that is essentially funded by NATO, weapons manufacturers, Middle-Eastern oil-state monarchies, billionaires and different branches of the US military. In short, it has been described as being nothing less than NATO’s unofficial propaganda wing. The Atlantic Council doesn’t shy away from its political intents across the world, which can be seen solely by looking at who sits on its directors board – the crème de la crème when it comes to US neocons & war criminals: Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Frank Carlucci, James A. Baker, R. George P. Shultz, James Woolsey, Leon Panetta, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, and many more.”

The article goes on to say that, “Many of the pages and accounts taken down have been political (often leftist), anti-war, independent journalists and media outlets that are known to go against the grain of mainstream media outlets.” You can read the complete article here.

So, what can we do? Let’s all dump Facebook, as well as Twitter, YouTube and all the other  massive, proprietary, data mining and propaganda platforms. I know that is not so easy to do, but alternatives do exist, and more of them are emerging every day. Here is a list of 6 Alternatives to Facebook. This article provides a list of 11 Facebook alternatives, and Fox News, surprisingly, provides a list of, Secure alternatives to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. My search engine, DuckDuckGo, turns up several more.

One Facebook alternative that has gotten significant funding support of late is MeWe. A recent article reports that MeWe has thus far managed to raise $10 million to support its development. The article quotes MeWe founder and CEO, Mark Weinstein: “It is clear that the world wants a better social network that treats its member as customers to serve, not data to sell. We’ve built a social networking experience that has a remarkable suite of features people love and none of the BS. MeWe has no ads, no spyware, no content manipulation, no facial recognition, and no Russians (or anyone) paying to show you fake news.”

Well, that sounds promising, but time will tell how real it is.
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Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and the U.S./Saudi connection

The sensational case of the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, underlines just how desperate the power elite is to control the narrative and manipulate our perceptions and beliefs. It would be a mistake to view this horrendous atrocity in isolation from the wider geopolitical propaganda campaign, much of it emanating from the U.S. government and their NATO and middle-eastern allies.

Two weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance, The Washington Post published his last editorial, in which Khashoggi wrote:

“Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media. But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet. They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications.”

The reaction of Donald Trump to this affair has been what we would expect. While paying lip service to justice and accountability, he immediately tried to provide cover for the Saudi regime by suggesting that the murder may have been the work of “rogue killers.” He also made it clear that he would not halt weapon sales to the Saudi government, a clear signal that money trumps “American values,” and belies the myth of the United States as champion of democracy and human rights.

But the cozy relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States goes back way before Trump. Recall that, according to the official report on the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 15 of the 19 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. Why then did the United States attack Iraq and Afghanistan instead? It is also established fact that the Bush family and the bin Laden family were longtime business associates. Furthermore, according to this article by Cindy Rodríguez in the Denver Post, “While all flights were halted following the terrorist attacks, there was one exception made: The White House authorized planes to pick up 140 Saudi nationals, including 24 members of the bin Laden family, living in various cities in the U.S. to bring them back to Saudi Arabia, where they would be safe. They were never interrogated.”

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