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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling?

NicBenjamin Re: maybe (349 comments)

Whether the analogy holds really depends on how the contract is written. Which we can't know because he hasn't told us which contract he's got.

AT&T has agreed to deliver a certain amount of data to his house. If the contract says that all data they send to his network counts as "delivered to his house" he's screwed. It's not their fault he agreed to this. If the contract says it has to be data he specifically requested he might have a case.

Most likely in the US he doesn't really have a paper contract. He has bought a product AT&T advertised, there was an asterisk warning about "terms and conditions" and he doesn't even know how to check what said terms are.

2 days ago
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Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

NicBenjamin Re:The problem with American Embargos (254 comments)

I think I understand FATCA pretty well. And I really don't think you understand how international law has ever worked. An embargo that wasn't recursive would not be an embargo, because most companies American subsidiaries are technically totally different companies then they subsidiary that would actually be selling Iran nuclear material.

So yes, we do this shit all the time. We have done this shit for decades. Every country that enforces sanctions on any other country in the history of the entire human fucking race has done this. Your finance companies are just whining because it's a lot of fucking work and they've never had to bother before. I'm not saying this is a particularly good idea, but just because it's a bad idea doesn't mean it's Imperialist.

Here's another example of your ignorance:
"Border change" is a very specific term. It just hasn't happened since the adoption of the UN Charter in 1948 outright banned all border changes by force, and created a very strong precedent that any border change would be very carefully looked at.

Prior to the adoption of that particular treaty you could date a map of Europe to within a decade or two simply by looking at the borders. Who has Alsace-Lorraine? How about Dobruja? How much of the Ottoman Empire still exists? Post-UN (and post-Stalin redrawing the map) there're no changes for 40 years. After that a lot of states break up, so you can date maps by whether Kosovo exists, but that's not a border change. That's the creation of a new state.

Incidentally, one of Israel's huge problems being taken seriously as a pro-freedom Democracy in compliance with international norms; is that everyone suspects they really want to have more territory then they claimed in '48; and they have already claimed territory nobody recognized as theirs in '48 in East Jerusalem.

about three weeks ago
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Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

NicBenjamin Re:The problem with American Embargos (254 comments)

I was actually mostly talking about Crimea. In the modern world the borders of an existing nation-state do not change. New states can be created by secession, or merge into a single entity, but the precedent for one country taking part of another is that it stopped happening in 1948. Yet Putin's response to a new government in Ukraine, that might someday decide to take his base away from him, was to change the borders of Ukraine so the Russian bases around Sevastapol were no longer Ukrainian. That is the most Imperialist thing anyone has done since Stalin died.

The support for rebels in the East is just the icing on the cake. And believe me, if he wasn't supporting the rebels in the East they wouldn't have anti-aircraft missiles. It's pretty clear he doesn't want them to win (otherwise the rump of Ukraine would simply join the EU with minimal fuss), but he also wants the area to be a warzone for some reason. Maybe he can't afford the domestic hit of abandoning the rebels. Maybe he wants everyone else to know he don;t back down. But no anti-government group, anywhere, has ever gotten surface-to-air missiles without support from an actual Head of State, and there ain't no Heads of State with the right missiles and a motive to give them to the rebels except Czar Vlad the Plane-blower-upper.

As for FATCA, you do realize every country does this? Seriously, Judgments are made in absentia all the fucking time. FATCA allows the IRS to go after any institution that does business in the US* but doesn't agree to obey our rulings on tax law. Note that this doesn;t apply to our ability to tax "everyone," we only tax citizens or residents of the US so if you renounce your citizenship you're fine.

*Granted technically they can get judgments made against a bank that never does business in the US, but since no US Court would ever have the opportunity to enforce those judgments they don't really.

about three weeks ago
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Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

NicBenjamin Re:what Snowden has done is like... (254 comments)

You're missing the forest for the trees.

Yeah on the exact day Hillary screwed up his passport it was solely her fault.

But every day since that day Putin has had the ability to fix the problem. He is a sovereign Head of State. He can issue whatever travel documents he wants.' He has a large supply of actual client states (ie; Transdniester, Abkhazia) who would happily do the job if they thought it would make Vlad happy. He's got a larger group of friends that all have a somewhat anti-US agenda. Correa's Ambassador actually issued travel documents before revoking them. If the State Department had the power to influence Correa's choice of travel documents, it wouldn't need to do so because Correa would not be President.

If Putin wanted Ed Snowden to live a good life Ed Snowden would be in Ecuador today.

about three weeks ago
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Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

NicBenjamin Re:The problem with American Embargos (254 comments)

Like many so-called anti-Imperialists, you have a double-standard.

The only way for the US to support the Syrian people at this moment would be direct military action. So you are calling for a US invasion of Syria. To do anything else is Imperialism. But then you turn around and accuse the US of Imperialism specifically because we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. You can;t have it both ways. Either invading to shoot an evil dictator and replace him with a feckless Democrat is Evil Imperialism or it's not.

As for your points about Iraq and Afghanistan being intended to increase the US sphere, you will note that it has not actually worked.

OTOH, Russia's adventures have increased it's power in Ukraine greatly.

about three weeks ago
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Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

NicBenjamin Re:what Snowden has done is like... (254 comments)

"Only in Russia BECAUSE of the US?" Like almost every statement that starts with the word "only," that is incorrect.

Russia is a sovereign state. That means it has the exact same legal powers as the US. It can issue passports. It can inform the chick at the ticket counter that she really shouldn't notice when this one white dude with a buzz cut boards the plane. It has a sizable air force. If Vladimir Putin was in any way a friend to Ed Snowden, Ed Snowden would not be totally fucked in Moscow. He'd be chilling on the beach in Venezuela, or mountain-climbing in Peru. It wouldn't even cost Vlad money. He could simply instruct his minions to accept whatever BS paperwork an anti-American Honorary Consul in Vladivostok cooked up. Ed gets on the plane to Cuba, nobody notices until it's halfway to Cube, by which time they can't do any shenanigans.

Prior to this Ukraine crisis there was actually a weird symbioses between Putin and Obama. They had their spheres of influence. Syria starts messing with the balance of power in the Mideast, that messes up the spheres, so Vlad lets Obama force the Syrians to destroy their chemical weapons. Afghanistan is the US sphere, so Putin doesn't interfere with out supplies to the country. The rest of Central Asia is Russian, so we don't support coups when they kick us out. Vlad could an anti-American mascot, Obama needs to totally discredit Ed Snowden; therefore Hillary pulls his passport just when doing so will give Put5in the opportunity to turn him into a pet.

about three weeks ago
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Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

NicBenjamin Re:The problem with American Embargos (254 comments)

By every definition of Imperialism I've ever seen the Russians are doing a lot more of it then the US. Putin is trying to increase his sphere of influence with the Eurasian Union. eat bits of neighbors who rock his boat, refusing to give up control of a region that included a major military base, etc.

OTOH, Obama isn't setting up any new organizations. He's abandoned a fairly large country that included a lot of US bases entirely. He really doesn't want to go back, even tho he doesn't have much option. He's not shy about telling people he'll happily turn over two other (Afghanistan and Pakistan) allies to anyone who will take them if the Afghans decide they don't want American troops on their soil.

It's true the US has a large alliance-system that many have likened to an Empire, but there's a massive difference between forcing Canada to coordinate it's policy with the US and letting the Canadians coordinate their policy with the US because the Canadian people have chosen to elect Steven Harper. The former is the definition of Imperialism. The latter is the opposite.

about three weeks ago
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Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

NicBenjamin Re:The problem with American Embargos (254 comments)

The reason the so-called "deep state" is totally immune to public pressure is that most of the public likes damn near everything it does. In fact if you actually had a referendum on any aspect of the "deep state" that you personally oppose, you'd almost certainly lose damn near every point. Jack Bauer is the deep state, and he gets great ratings because as far as the American people are concerned, having a badass motherfucker oppress dirty foreigners without having to bother with any stupid paperwork is the ideal situation.

Sanctions are actually an excellent example. Most people want the US to take strong positions on almost every imaginable issue in foreign affairs. They tend not to want actual military action, because a) that costs money, which means taxes, b) American troops could get hurt, and c) any sufficiently large military action will include a certain amount of dead civilians. So you get half-assed bullshit opposition like sanctions. Europe is even worse, because the EU is specifically designed to be unable to do anything that is not hall-assed bullshit.

Then since the American people were told the sanctions would magically make Cuba free, ending the sanctions is unacceptable to them unless Cuba gets free. To them the point of the sanctions was to get Cuba free, and if the sanctions don;t do the trick ending them without replacing them with a tougher option is basically admitting there's no point in fighting for Cuban freedom.

about three weeks ago
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Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience

NicBenjamin Re:A right to be remembered? (113 comments)

There's only one government, so you really have to vastly over-simplify the demands of the people or it can't function. A first-past-the-post system really aggravates the problem because an asshole with under 40% support can dominate if his opponents are dumb enough to run three candidates against him.

Let me put it to you this way:
Can you name a single issue on which most Green party activists actually disagree with most NDP activists?

There are differences in emphasis, but it seems to me that it's remarkably stupid to lose the entire fucking Kyoto treaty because your activists want to implement it at a different speed then some other party's activists. Which is pretty much exactly what happened in the last election. Harper got his majority, so he was able to scrap Kyoto, and if fucking Canada is ignoring Kyoto how can desperately poor Liberia afford to sign on?

A GreenDP with a caucus that had strong internal debates about these issues just makes a whole hell of a lot more sense then having two competing parties.

about three weeks ago
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Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience

NicBenjamin Re:A right to be remembered? (113 comments)

Back in the day journalists also brought a budget, to hire people who knew what they were talking about. Which meant you had a trifecta -- good writing, experience in the subject matter (beat reporters would stay on the same beat for literally decades), and access to knowledgeable people. They also all had lots of eyeballs, because everyone in their town would read the headline of their paper.

Bloggers generally only manage two of the four, and many only manage one. Quite a few people can write well, but don't really understand what they're writing about./ Quite a few more understand the topic, but are shitty at writing. Some of them (ie: Ezra Klein) manage to earn a budget, but even he has a fraction of the audience that a beat reporter would have had in the 70s. That means it doesn't matter how great Vox's piece on the Afghan War is, 99% of the people who should read the damn thing won;t even know it exists.

As for Iraq, I agree with you.

The problem lay in proving to people who didn't have enough background knowledge of international politics to have said "half a brain," that their President was clearly completely full of shit. Which happened in Canada, because they had a guy with all four of the characteristics I mentioned; but did not happen in the US.

So if there was some way to pay journalists at something approaching 70s-levels, then they'd have a hell of a lot to offer. In fact a lot of them would actually be bloggers, just now with a salary, no need for marketing savvy, organizational support, etc. The problem is that in the current system there's no way to do that.

about three weeks ago
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Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience

NicBenjamin Re:A right to be remembered? (113 comments)

One of my favorite examples of how good journalism works is the CBC. I just mentioned it to the other guy responding to this post. The day of Powell's big speech to the UN justifying the Iraq War the CBC debunked one of the claims Powell made.

My own wonderful media ignored the debunking totally, which really shows how little they care for accuracy.

I'm not surprised Harper is doing it in. He's an American-style Conservative, convinced a tax-supported TV network is an evil boondoggle. Unfortunately you guys adopted fixed election dates, so you're stuck with him until October of 2015. Hopefully by that time the NDP and Elizabeth May will have merged their parties. There's no sensible reason to have two left-wing parties keeping the main guys honest in a first-past-the-post electoral system. It can only serve to help the Liberals and Tories by splitting the anti-main party vote.

about three weeks ago
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Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience

NicBenjamin Re:A right to be remembered? (113 comments)

Keep in mind that if we're both on slashdot it's highly unlikely we remember much of the actual old journalism. It started dying in the 90s, and by the time I was 14 in '95 both my hometown papers (Detroit has both the Free Press and the Detroit News) were in full fire-people mode.

Old journalism's real heyday was the 70s. Journalists aren't BSing when they say they forced a President out, exposed the Vietnam War, etc. At that time period they were also the major agents exposing local-level corruption, generally beating the cops to the story. They had a bunch of advantages over new journalists -- since they were part of a large organization they had an entire team working for them, so if the veteran reporter was getting suspicious about the Mayor's new-found wealth they could call in an accountant. And this happened everywhere, even BoringtownUSA874.

With new Journalists you have to depend on a) some new journalist deciding to obsess about the budget of BoringtiownUSA874, and b) he happens to have mad accounting skills. They're freelancers. They only get paid if they get their faces on TV. And accounting classes don;t put your face on TV. It just doesn't happen much. Today I lived through a major corruption scandal in Detroit, which totally blind-sided the media. My current hometown of Cleveland only has one paper, but it's much worse then either Detroit rag. I never thought I'd see a major daily's front page story be about High School sports, but it seems like that's the case once a week with the Plain Dealer.

The Iraq War is a great example. The case against Saddam really depended on the assertion that this one specific Kurdish Islamist group was linked to both a) Al Qaeada and b) Saddam's Ba'athist regime. So during Powell's speech about the justification for invading at the UN he showed a picture of the person who was supposed to be the link. The Canadian Broadcasting Company happened to have a guy in Norway, which was where the leader of the Kurdish Islamists was exiled. He watched Powell's case with this Islamist jackass. The jackass immediately proved Powell's assertion was total BS. He had a much more likely story about who that guy was, including a completely different name then Powell gave.

You didn't see anything about it in the mainstream media. Why would they spend money sending a guy to fucking Norwqay when they can sit in luxurious offices in DC and NYC debating the point with their friends on-air for obscene salaries? New Journalism would not have helped one iota in this instance, because nobody trusts new journalists they haven't watched for awhile; and no new journalist has a following big enough to make a difference.

about three weeks ago
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Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience

NicBenjamin Re:A right to be remembered? (113 comments)

Back when your town had multiple papers they kept everyone fed by selling lots of ads. Classifieds, obits., etc. were huge money-makers. Actual journalism was a loss leader. The internet changed that by making it super-cheap to have classified ad-type websites. If everyone's using Craig's list for nominal fees then the newspaper simply won't get many classified ads.

So the technology has changed. We simply aren't gonna get a couple great investigative reporters hounding the Mayor in every little 100k area. Peop0le will still pay for news, but it's news they want NOW, such as reports on foreign affairs, or reports aimed at proving Obama is Hitler reborn/a god among men. Fox and MSNBC do better then CNN because this kind of reporting is incredibly cheap. You get a couple Media personalities to burn air-time blaming/praising Obama; then you get a small news organization. You send the news organization wherever the News is. You don't do the real journalist thing the BBC does, and have an actual correspondent in Zambia 24/7 reporting that a Monkey shit on the President in the middle of a press conference because that happens to be the least boring thing that happened in Zambia that week; you have a guy who spends a lot of time in African disaster zones and you send him to Zambia if something sufficiently disastrous were to happen. CNN is pretty bad about this. A lot of their Libya stories are actually reported by people currently in Baghdad, because the entire fucking organization only has one team that speaks Arabic and they have been moved to Baghdad.

This is one potential solution. The trouble is it's really easy to over-come. Google simply refuses to serve links that it has to pay money for. Now instead of having no classified ad money, and sharply reduced business ad money, the papers have none of either. Spain can try to play hardball about this, but unless the EU Bureaucracy gets involved Google will simply ignore that. Pulling out of Spain completely would probably be better for them then agreeing to pay papers for content.

The ideal solution would probably be a BBC-type system in more countries, particularly for local news. The BBC is funded by a special television tax paid by viewers. So perhaps if everyone in Spain had to pay $50 a year per internet-connected device, that would work.

I suspect nobody will try that. Going after google is a lot easier sounding, and even tho everyone knows it won't really work (Belgian papers actually won the right to these payments in Court already, and then immediately decided to stop using it because Google removed them from news searches) they'll waste at least a year trying to make it work. Then they'll blame big, bad google when it fails. Sio what's gonna happen is small towns will continue to be shittilly served by journalists, big towns (ie: NYC) will lose ever more journalism; and we'll just have to put up with a world where partisan hacks bitching at eachother = journalism.

about a month ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

NicBenjamin Re:Great... (582 comments)

The first lesson in seeing through propaganda is learning to use Occam's Razor in global affairs. There's a pretty fine art to it because you're talking about seeing into people's heads, but that doesn;t mean you can;t eliminate 90% of BS just based on the smell test. For example you are positing that Obama is trying to escalate a conflict with Putin.

He's trying to simultaneously start a war with a nuclear-armed power, that happens to have the second largest air force in the world, roughly 900k more troops then Obama, and those nuclear fucking weapons; while simultaneously proposing to fire 40-50k Army troops? That's ridiculous. Nobody's that stupid.

A much more likely explanation is this:
Putin's rebel friends did precisely what the USS Vincenes did. They blew the wrong plane out of the sky. Since Putin's a Russian nationalist, and they're Russian nationalists, Putin can't really walk back his support for them His own support would crumble. Since they killed hundreds of citizens of states the US is allied to we can;t very well walk back from the conflict, either. In a lot of ways this was predictable -- nationalist fervor is a genie that's impossible to put back in the bottle, and Putin unleashed it when he annexed Crimea, but the exact form of the chaos unleashed is always unique.

about a month ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

NicBenjamin Re:Great... (582 comments)

He is a politician. So no.

But when judging whether a pol's statement is true, the best policy is to try to figure out what would be most convenient for him. If he's telling you what he wants you to believe then it's difficult to figure out whether he's lying. If he's saying something completely different, for example he's trying to justify cutting the defense budget he probably wants you to believe the world is a safe place and we have too many troops.

Which is directly contradicted when he says that Ukraine is being attacked by the Russians.

Therefore he's almost certainly telling the truth about the Russian military in Ukraine.

about a month ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

NicBenjamin Re:Great... (582 comments)

They Nuland videos are quite interesting if you insist that everything the United States does is by definition evil. Otherwise they're good examples of how easy it is to over-complicate things when discussing foreign affairs.

The first, for example, says nothing about subverting anything, despite the fact that is the Youtube headline. It says we've spent $5 Billion trying to prepare Ukraine for the EU. That's not necessarily subversion even if you think Ukraine should not be in the EU, because "ready for the EU" includes a lot of things everyone likes (ie: reduced corruption, somewhat fair justice systems, democracy that only sucks a little, etc.).

It's very interesting that the second video you included was the same woman working around Europcratic ineffectiveness. She's not saying "fuck the EU"because she thinks the EU should go off and die, she's saying "fuck the EU" because she's pretty sure whatever plan they come up with in their ginormous 28-Excellency committee will suck, and therefore the US should go ahead with it's plans regardless of the EU.

Which makes me curious:
Are you a fan of the EU?

As for Obama, he's President. He IS US policy. Pretty much the entire reason his job was created was that when we let our ginourmas committee of 13 run it it was a fucking disaster. I'm always skeptical of someone who uses the phrase "Imperialist" because it stopped meaning anything several decades ago, and people started throwing it at any political movement they happened to disagree with. See every political movement has a foreign ally, and if you like the movement the ally is clearly a benign state promoting good things. If you dislike the movement it's all an Imperialist front for the foreign ally.

In this case there is literally no logical reason to oppose Obama's policy on grounds of Imperialism. He has done nothing to Libya's internal politics except blow up the guy who wanted to massacre a bunch of protestors. He doesn't pick a militia leader for Secretary of Defense. He hasn;t gone over their Constitution looking for areas where it differs from ours, and then trying to force them to fix it. He just blew the shit out of an asshole and went away.

about a month ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

NicBenjamin Re:Great... (582 comments)

So your argument is that a rebellion that boasted about blowing multiple Ukrainian military aircraft out of the sky couldn't possibly blow an aircraft out of the sky?

That's kinda my problem with all the rebel justifications. They're very clearly reaching, and reaching far.

about a month ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

NicBenjamin Re:Great... (582 comments)

Yeah, but if we send a battalion or three it'll be even harder to convince the Republicans to go along with force cuts.

More importantly for Obama, if Obama's demanding we fire a substantial portion of the Army while he's mobilizing troops to rattle their sabres in front of fucking Russia, it looks really bad. And in a few months we have a midterm election.

What Obama wants right now if for Putin and Bibi to shut the fuck up, go the fuck home, and stop talking foreign policy so Obama can get everyone talking about how evil the Republicans are for opposing a major minimum wage increase.

about a month ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

NicBenjamin Re:This is patently false. (582 comments)

Are you high?

The tactic the civilians're describing would only work if Malaysia Airlines agreed to fly right over the Ukrainian Air Force's target area. And if they did that, and the Ukrainians repaid the favor by destroying their plane, why the fuck wouldn't they be all over CNN with the betrayal?

Sensor data is really easy to fake.

about a month ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

NicBenjamin Re:Great... (582 comments)

The easiest way top tell the BS propaganda from reality is figure out who has a motive to lie.

In this case a) Putin obviously has a motive to shell Ukrainian military units fighting ethnic Russian separatists, b) Putin would have clear reason to lie about that shit, and c) Obama's trying really hard to convince everyone foreign policy is perfectly fine.

I wouldn't be totally shocked if it turns out some idiot is misinterpreting satellite photos in DC. But I would be totally shocked to learn that the photos themselves are fake.

about a month ago

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