Dec 132023
 December 13, 2023  Posted by at 4:54 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »

Eugene Delacroix Greece expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi 1826



(TAE=The Automatic Earth). I wanted to talk about some things at the end of this year. In early 2015 things changed for me. When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President, the world of news acquired a whole new outlook. It’s one thing to not like, or agree with, someone or something. It’s quite another to go after it, or him, en masse with all you got and all of your friends. In the beginning, it seemed almost innocent. Because everyone was so convinced that he had no chance anyway.

As the year went on, that idea changed. Even though at the end, 17 months later, in November 2016, there were still plenty polls that gave Hillary Clinton a 90%-or so chance to win. It’s when I first started thinking that maybe we should adapt the approach to news at the Automatic Earth. It was no longer commenting on the news, but changing it completely. The Trump presidency was unlike any other. “They” were awake now. He remained under investigation non-stop for 4 years. Which is odd, because the Constitution invests a lot in the rights and privileges of the President.

But the losing side never stopped their attempts to interfere with both Trump and his presidency. The Mueller probe lasted for years with 10x a day insinuations, and ended in nothing found, zero, zilch, nada. It’s hard not to think from time to time that such a thing should not be possible. But Washington (both sides) did let it happen, because it’s allergic to outsiders. Both Washington and the court system have made that abundantly clear, and continue to do so. Today, he faces an insane 91 charges and 4 indictments. Which he wouldn’t if he had not declared a renewed candidacy.

What finally caught up with Trump was Covid. The only advisors he had for that (Fauci, Birx) were in the “other team”. He bought their stories hook line and sinker because there was no-one else. Operation Warpspeed has caused more deaths and disabilities than anything in American history, and they haven’t even started blaming it on him. The worldwide death toll from mRNA vaccines now stands at some 17 million, lifelong adverse effects is a multiple of that (10x?) , and we’re just 2-3 years into what will be a long tragedy.

Covid really changed my view of both TAE and the so-called news. It is one thing to interpret the available news for readers, but the story changes when there is no alternative available. Then you really need to start digging. Ironically, it was thanks to pre-Musk Twitter, which censored left right and center, including us, that we did get at least some info. There was a group of medical professionals, McCullough, Kory, Urso, Meryl Nash etc etc, who had the guts -and knowledge- to stand up to Pfizer and Fauci et al.

We now know for sure that the vaccines don’t save lives, they kill people. If we would have had a policy of, right from the start, handing out vitamin D3/K2, zinc and magnesium, even before Ivermectin and HCQ, millions of lives would have been saved, and tens of millions of disabilities would have been averted.

The reaction to reporting on that has been to demonitize us. And that hurts. Elon Musk can say Go F*ck Yourself, and Zerohedge can work around similar funding difficulties, but, small as we are, the only way we can make up for losing 1/3 of our revenue, is our readers. And you can say: grow bigger!, but Twitter sent us warnings pre-Musk, Facebook closed our account, and Google has now “officially” blacklisted us. And for what? Inciting violence? Gun trade? Drug trade? Sex trade? No, for questioning the party line.


All this is why we moved to making the Debt Rattle news overviews the overarching item on TAE. You can offer an different view on something the MSM report, but when you’re faced with an info tsunami, that becomes impossible. When Ukraine became the next hot topic after Trump and Covid, we started including Russian news agencies. The ones that are banned because they are “Russian propaganda”. But it’s impossible to know what happens in Ukraine just from western MSM. So are we not supposed, or allowed, to know what goes on? Thing is, that’s exactly what TAE is meant to clear up.

I notice that the four topics that have driven us since 2015, Trump, Covid, Ukraine and now Gaza, are all very much alive long after they first became “news”. Trump more than ever, 91 charges. Covid with renewed vax campaigns, despite the vax victims. Ukraine despite the fact that they lost, decidedly. Gaza despite the children’s slaughterhouse. And I will not stop saying about any of these topics, what I think must be said.

That Trump, whatever you think of him, was the most disrespected President in US history, which means the Constitution was violated and dragged through the mud. A big thing, there’s no route back from that. That Covid was Washington -and Brussels- conspiring with Big Pharma to murder millions of people. That Ukraine is a ploy to depopulate a crucial plot of land in the center of Europe, on Russia’s border. And that murdering 1000s of innocent children is never okay, period.


A bit more about the ads: a few years ago, we noticed that Google was taking an ever bigger part of revenues. We went from $1,000 a month to $3-400. We had the idea that their monopoly was largely over, so we looked for alternatives. We tried a whole series of those, but the end result is that the only viable way to get a reasonable return is through Google (+ added-on ads). It’s a virtual monopoly, and it’s hard to see why that still exists. As I said, now Google has blacklisted TAE, so we’re screwed in this field. And Google to this day still sends us mails about policy violations, even if we haven’t hosted their ads for years. One wonders what they think over there.

The policy violations mails say there’s something in a post that they don’t like. But not what that is. You have to guess where in a 8,000-9,000 word post their feelings are offended. The only way would seem to be to take down the entire post. We can only post what a faceless person at Google (or G-d knows, an AI engine) allows us to. It is an impossible demand.

Long story short: we should have $1,000 each from Paypal donations, Patreon, and ads. But one third of that has been missing for a few years now. And I see Paypal and Patreon also creeping down. Hopefully a Christmas fundraiser appeal will wake our readers up. I’ve said many times that I abhor paywalls. But I do think sometimes that if our core group of 5,000 readers would pay $1 a month, we’d be fine, and free to worry about other things.


All of this of course also affects the Monastiraki kitchen project (“Self-managed Social Kitchen Monastiraki”). Which the Automatic Earth has been supporting for 8,5 years already. And proudly so. Because when you’re old and look back on your life, you will find that what’s important is the things you did for other people. And because when you find a project such as this that lasts this long, with scores of people who bring nothing but their time and energy and often their own money, you need to cherish that. Because it’s rare.



Here’s me doing a copy and paste from last year:

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them, especially for Christmas-.

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. To get through the winter in one piece, the Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,000 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. In earlier times, 2016-2017, we had way more than that with Konstantinos, but both Filothei and I decided a few years back, independently from each other, that we didn’t want to work with him anymore.

So let’s see where we can get today, shall we? I want to write the perfect article with the perfect plea, but there is of course no such thing. Therefore, I will be back in a few weeks time with a reminder -and updates-, hoping that y’all have gotten the message.

I love all you people so much, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier.

Love you. Thank you.



Here’s Filothei’s photo project covering 10 years of Monastiraki kitchen, entitled Ekei (“There”).





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Nov 292022
 November 29, 2022  Posted by at 1:37 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  22 Responses »

Vincent van Gogh Autumn landscape 1885



I’m not sure if what I’m going to tell you would officially be called a shadow ban, but it sure feels like it. A few years ago, we noticed that our ad revenues, then from Google, which had been falling for a while, had plummeted by some 80% from high to lowest. On top of that, at some point Google started sending Policy Violation mails. Which say “you violated our policies”, without ever specifying in what way(s). Now, you could read through all these policies, and guess at what you have done “wrong” and delete the “offending” material, you could delete the entire post, or you can just ignore these mails.

Given that we have no intention of having someone else decide what we write, ignoring them seems the only option. If they decide what we can say, we might as well not say it. What’s the use? If the web is to have any function at all, it will always be to provide diverse opinions. In that, we very much agree with Elon Musk. But yes, through the interference of companies like Google we have moved in the opposite direction. First with Trump, than with Covid, and now with Ukraine. Media and politics are hellbent on wiping out any views and ideas that don’t conform to theirs, but there is no future in that.


With the declining revenues, and the violation mails, we decided to look beyond Google for ad providers. Google had a total monopoly in the field before, but there appeared to be other, smaller companies popping up that offered some competition. The 80% revenue drop at first looked to us like Google was simply taking a bigger part of what came in, and that is certainly part of what happened, but there was also something else. That we initially didn’t recognize. Now we do.

We did a number of trial runs with alternative ad providers, which typically started at a promising level, and then all fell down to “Google levels”. These trial runs take months, you have to give the new provider time to get their end right etc. I think we tried 4-5 of them, over a 2-3 year period. Once they’re down to 20% of the initial highs of years ago, you think: this doesn’t improve the situation. And you wonder why, is it their effort, is it their models, it’s hard to see at times. And then the last company we tried sort of opened our eyes.

We had spent quite a bit of time setting things up with them, video calls, mails etc. We in this is me and invaluable friend Danny, who keeps an eye on the back end of TAE. We have good visitor and page view numbers, and one stat that I like a lot, and that should appeal to advertisers a lot. The bounce rate when people log in is close to 30%, which seems normal. But even with that, the average time spent on the site is almost 5 minutes. An advertisers’ dream, or so you would think. But then, just as we were ready to launch with them a few weeks ago, they blew it off.

They said: it’s no use doing this, our biggest advertisers don’t want to work with you. Not good news, but enlightening. This has undoubtedly been a factor in all the trial runs we did, all the way back to and including Google, but nobody ever told us. And why did they not want to work with us? Not because they did their own research, they have other things to worry about. There’s only one source I can imagine them basing this on, and that takes us back to Google. Who have built up a file, a database, of websites they issue Policy Violation mails to.

“Don’t trust those guys, they don’t toe the line. They offer alternative views on Covid and Ukraine”. The end result is that for now we don’t have any ads. I went back to our Google AdSense page, thinking maybe we could go back to their generic ads for a bit, and there are two warnings there now.

• Ads are disabled on one or more of your sites – no ads are serving on one or more of your sites because of policy violations. Please investigate the reasons for this in the Policy Center.

• Due to the war in Ukraine, we will pause monetization of content that exploits, dismisses, or condones the war.

Yes, it sounds exactly like what Musk found at Twitter. Just on a much smaller scale. Twitter banned lots of doctors that didn’t parrot Fauci and Pfizer, tried to ruin their careers and reputations. And now we have plastic blood clots, heart attacks and dying and disabled children. Twitter also won’t allow anything but NATO narratives about Ukraine. And now we have one country in the dark, and a whole continent about to experience something similar, while being forced to pay for the pleasure. No amount of Policy Violation warnings can turn that around. But Google’s “policies” are the same as “the old” Twitter’s.

We cannot think for ourselves. Someone else, organized in groups, wants to do our thinking for us. And tells themselves they have the right to do so. Nay, the obligation, lest we stray from their path. Not only do we find that path uninteresting, it would also mean the Automatic Earth can stop publishing. We don’t intend to do that. But at the same time we realize what we’re up against. We are lucky to have people donating on Paypal and Patreon, but losing $400-$1,000 per month from ads of course still hurts. Who knows anymore what an uninterrupted ad revenue stream would look like by now?

Just thought I’d let you know.




We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.



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Jan 102018
 January 10, 2018  Posted by at 10:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »

Ansel Adams The Tetons and the Snake River 1942


Is Bank of Japan The Latest To Take The Punch Bowl Away? (CNBC)
Fed Officials Are Scrambling To Figure Out How To Fight Next Recession (BI)
Market Could Be Headed For A ‘Melt-Up’ Of 30% – Bill Miller (CNBC)
People Have A Hard Time Even Imagining How The Market Could Decline (ZH)
World Bank Issues Warnings On Interest Rates And Inflation (G.)
South Korea’s Moon Says Trump Deserves ‘Big’ Credit For North Korea Talks (R.)
Apple’s Privacy Feature Costs Ad Companies Millions (G.)
Antivirus Tools Caught With Their Hands In The Windows Cookie Jar (Reg.)
Julian Assange’s Stay In London Embassy Untenable, Says Ecuador (G.)
Australia Must Rescue Assange From The Establishment That Tortured Manning (CJ)
The Fog of War: Global Airstrike Deaths Up At Least 82% In 2017 (RT)
Scores Feared Dead And Up To 100 Missing After Boat Sinks Off Libya Coast (G.)



The Last of the Mohicans. But does Japan really want to, and can it, carry the global financial system on its shoulders now the Fed and ECB no longer want to do their share?

Is Bank of Japan The Latest To Take The Punch Bowl Away? (CNBC)

The Bank of Japan is seen as the last grown-up in the room actively filling the global liquidity punch bowl with both hands. That’s why a slight tweak to its bond-buying program caused a flurry across financial markets Tuesday, sparking speculation it was joining the Fed and ECB in cutting back on asset purchases, a move that could ultimately help drive up global interest rates. On Tuesday, the BOJ modestly trimmed its purchases of Japanese government bonds by about $10 billion in the 10- to 25-year maturities and another $10 billion in maturities of more than 25 years. The yen jumped about 0.5% to about 112.60 to the dollar, and bond yields rose. The U.S. 10-year yield also moved higher, breaking above the key 2.50% to as high as 2.55%. Meanwhile, the 10-year JGB yield moved in a range of about 0.16 and saw a high of 0.074%.

But some strategists say while the BOJ may have sent a powerful signal, it is just acting on a technicality that comes with changes it made to its bond purchase program back in 2016. Unlike the U.S. and Europe, where central banks have targeted the balance sheet size, the Japanese central bank is targeting interest rates and its purchases are based on prices. “I think it’s too early to proclaim the easy conditions in Japan are over. That said, I do think it’s constructive and it shows how sensitive the markets are to any potential change,” said Greg Peters, senior portfolio manager at PGIM Fixed Income. The Bank of Japan has been a poster child for central bank easing, taking its rates to negative levels and buying all types of assets, including stocks.

“They’re still buying ETFs, J-REITs, corporate paper. They changed how they’re easing, but they’re still easing,” said Marc Chandler, head of fixed-income strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman. “I think the market is overinterpreting this, partly because of their positions. They’re short yen. They’re long euros. They’re being squeezed on both legs today.” [..] While it’s last to leave the party, a change in BOJ policies would be the most symbolic move yet that the extreme policies adopted in the global financial crisis are finally coming to an end, and the juice that helped push risk assets higher is being slowly withdrawn. Chandler said the BOJ has made a point of saying it will continue to ease. “The BOJ says, ‘We’re going to be patient. We’re going to be the last one out.’ … [Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe told the Bank of Japan..

“If long rates continue to move higher, and the BOJ follows this with a continued reduction in the pace of the purchases, then we know we’re on to something. We’re on to a potential change in monetary policy in Japan,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Financial Group. “I think that is likely in 2018,” Boockvar said. “Whether this is the beginning of it, we’ll have to see. They have some cover too. They know what the Fed is going to do, and they know what the ECB is doing. Does the BOJ want to be the outlier of temporary insanity when every other central bank is pulling back? They are the epitome of extremity in terms of monetary policy.”

Read more …

Fed interference will go down in history as the uttermost of stupidities. Not yet though, the narrative of saving the economy can still be kept alive. But wait till things go south.

Fed Officials Are Scrambling To Figure Out How To Fight Next Recession (BI)

Federal Reserve officials puzzled by chronically-low US inflation seem to agree on at least one thing: They worry, almost universally, that they will lack the tools to fight the next recession, whenever it comes. Yet instead of focusing on tried and true policy measures like low interest rates and possibly bond buys, Fed officials current and former appear focused instead on broad shifts in the policy framework, including moving away from the current inflation targeting regime toward a potentially more aggressive approach. More importantly, the string of discordant ideas being offered up at a Brookings Institution conference by such high profile figures as former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, former White House economic advisor Lawrence Summers, and two current Fed members, does more to confuse the already muddled outlook for monetary policy than clarify it.

Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren suggested the Fed follow the model of the Bank of Canada, which periodically reviews its approach to maintaining price stability. He also called for the Fed to move toward an inflation target range, which he hinted might be from 1.5% to 3%, rather than the current 2% goal. John Williams, president of the San Francisco Fed, called for a system where the Fed would target the price level, meaning that it would compensate periods of undershooting the 2% inflation goal with periods of overshooting. US inflation has remained stubbornly below the Fed’s 2% target for much of the economic recovery, suggesting the labor market is not as healthy as the 17-year low unemployment rate of 4.1% suggests.

Shifting to a price-level target is “not nearly as scary as you might think” Williams told the audience of monetary economists, academics, and market participants. He worried about the “issue of credibility” that has resulted from persistently below-target inflation, which makes it look ” like the central bank is not committed to its goals.” Prolonged low inflation, which also reflects soft wage growth, can make monetary policy less effective because “it gets into inflation expectations and makes it harder to achieve 2% objective in good times.”

Read more …

Possible in theory, but with CB tightening not in practice.

Market Could Be Headed For A ‘Melt-Up’ Of 30% – Bill Miller (CNBC)

Worried about higher interest rates putting a dent on the stock market’s rip-roaring rally? Fear not, a rise in rates will actually help stocks, according to legendary investor Bill Miller. “Those 10-year yields go through 2.6% and head towards 3%, I think we could have the kind of melt-up we had in 2013, where we had the market go up 30%,” Miller, the founder of Miller Value Partners, told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Tuesday. “If we can get the 10-year towards that 3% level, you’ll see the same thing.” “In 2013, people finally began to lose money in bonds. They took money out of bond funds and put it into equity funds,” Miller said. Miller is considered one of the best investors ever, after beating the market for 15 years in a row while working at Legg Mason. Stocks have been on a rip-roaring rally for more than a year, as economic data and corporate earnings have improved.

On Tuesday, they closed at fresh record highs. But some experts fear the improvements in the economy could force the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy faster than they forecast, thus pushing interest rates higher. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield rose to 2.55% on Tuesday and hit its highest level since March.The yield has not traded above 3% since early 2014. It last traded above 2.6% last March. But Miller thinks the stock market could get another boost from lower corporate tax rates. President Donald Trump signed a bill in December that slashed the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. “The tax cuts are probably partly in the market, but maybe not wholly in the market because we’re seeing things like companies raising the minimum wage, giving bonuses,” he said. “The people that are getting those $1,000 bonuses probably have a marginal propensity to consume of 99%.”

Read more …

It’s high time for that decline then.

People Have A Hard Time Even Imagining How The Market Could Decline (ZH)

A calm complacency never before seen has fallen blanket-like over US equity markets. “The behavior of volatility has entirely changed since 2014,” noted BAML in a a recent note thanks to major central banks keeping interest rates near historic lows (and printed more money than ever before). As The Wall Street Journal points out, One sign of that: VIX closed below 10 more times last year than any others year in its history, and until today, closed below 10 for the first 5 days of 2018… And while correlation is not causation, there is a clear causal link between the conditioning now deeply embedded within investors’ minds and the endless expansion of central bank balance sheets…

As JPMorgan’s infamous quant guru Marko Kolanovic wrote, “the first four Fed hikes in a decade have failed to generate the revival of volatilities that many had expected at the end of last year,” and a wave of political uncertainty linked to U.S. tensions with North Korea and the new presidential administration also raised the prospect that market tumults could occur with greater frequency… but no… In fact worse still for The Fed, financial conditions eased as they tightened and vol collapsed to levels never seen before…

All of which has led, as The Wall Street Journal reports, to a number of investors abandoning defensive positions taken to protect against a market downturn, in the latest sign that many doubters are shedding caution as the long rally rolls on. “I haven’t seen hedging activity this light since the end of the financial crisis,” said Peter Cecchini, a New York-based chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. “It started in late 2016 and accelerated in the second half of the year.” But as Morgan Stanley warns in a recent note, what goes up (this fast) typically comes down… “Our team has observed a dramatic shift in sentiment since we initiated coverage in April. In April, it felt as if people were looking for a reason for the market to fail. Now, we have seen a total reversal with people having a hard time even imagining how the market could decline.”

Read more …

Recovery is just a story. Unless it has become viable to fight debt with more debt.

World Bank Issues Warnings On Interest Rates And Inflation (G.)

Financial markets are complacent about the risks of sharply higher interest rates that could be triggered by better than expected growth in the global economy this year, the World Bank has warned. The Washington-based organisation said that much of the rich west was running at full capacity as a result of a broad-based upswing in activity, but were now vulnerable to a period of rising inflation that would prompt action from central banks. Launching the Bank’s global economic prospects, the lead author Franziska Ohnsorge said: “There could be faster than expected inflation that would mean faster than expected interest rate hikes.” Ohnsorge added that stock markets were at levels similar to those seen before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, while bond markets were assuming that low inflation would keep official borrowing costs down.

“Financial markets are vulnerable to unforeseen negative news. They appear to be complacent,” she said, while announcing that the Bank has revised up its 2018 forecast for the global economy following a better than expected performance in the US, China, the eurozone and Japan in 2017. In its half-yearly assessment, the Bank said a recovery in manufacturing, investment and trade would mean global growth of 3.1% this year, up from the 2.9% pencilled in last June. But it warned the acceleration in growth would be temporary unless governments implemented structural reforms to raise long-term growth potential. “The broad-based recovery in global growth is encouraging, but this is no time for complacency,” said Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank’s president.

“This is a great opportunity to invest in human and physical capital. If policy makers around the world focus on these key investments, they can increase their countries’ productivity, boost workforce participation, and move closer to the goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.”

Read more …

They’re even planning to march in the Olympics opening ceremony together.

South Korea’s Moon Says Trump Deserves ‘Big’ Credit For North Korea Talks (R.)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in credited U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday for helping to spark the first inter-Korean talks in more than two years, and warned that Pyongyang would face stronger sanctions if provocations continued. The talks were held on Tuesday on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone, which has divided the two Koreas since 1953, after a prolonged period of tension on the Korean peninsula over the North’s missile and nuclear programs. North Korea ramped up its missile launches last year and also conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, resulting in some of the strongest international sanctions yet. The latest sanctions sought to drastically cut the North’s access to refined petroleum imports and earnings from workers abroad. Pyongyang called the steps an “act of war”.

Seoul and Pyongyang agreed at Tuesday’s talks, the first since December 2015, to resolve all problems between them through dialogue and also to revive military consultations so that accidental conflict could be averted. “I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, I want to show my gratitude,” Moon told reporters at his New Year’s news conference. “It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.” Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged threats and insults over the past year, raising fears of a new war on the peninsula. South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with the North after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

Read more …

Ads are killing the experience. Most people by now have ad blockers. That whole industry needs drastic change.

Apple’s Privacy Feature Costs Ad Companies Millions (G.)

Internet advertising firms are losing hundreds of millions of dollars following the introduction of a new privacy feature from Apple that prevents users from being tracked around the web. Advertising technology firm Criteo, one of the largest in the industry, says that the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature for Safari, which holds 15% of the global browser market, is likely to cut its 2018 revenue by more than a fifth compared to projections made before ITP was announced. With annual revenue in 2016 topping $730m, the overall cost of the privacy feature on just one company is likely to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Dennis Buchheim, general manager of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab, said that the feature would impact the industry widely.

“We expect a range of companies are facing similar negative impacts from Apple’s Safari tracking changes. Moreover, we anticipate that Apple will retain ITP and evolve it over time as they see fit,” Buchheim told the Guardian. “There will surely be some continued efforts to ‘outwit’ ITP, but we recommend more sustainable, responsible approaches in the short-term,” Buchheim added. “We also want to work across the industry (ideally including Apple) longer-term to address more robust, cross-device advertising targeting and measurement capabilities that are also consumer friendly.” ITP was announced in June 2017 and released for iPhones, iPads and Macs in September. The feature prevents Apple users from being tracked around the internet through careful management of “cookies”, small pieces of code that allow an advertising technology company to continually identify users as they browse.

Its launch sparked complaints from the advertising industry, which called ITP “sabotage”. An open letter signed by six advertising trade bodies called on Apple “to rethink its plan … [that risks] disrupting the valuable digital advertising ecosystem that funds much of today’s digital content and services.” It also accused the company of ignoring internet standards, which say that a cookie should remain on a computer until it expires naturally or is manually removed by a user. Instead, the industry said, Apple is replacing those standards “with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience and sabotage the economic model for the internet”.

Read more …

We haven’t heard the last of this flaw which is actually a feature.

Antivirus Tools Caught With Their Hands In The Windows Cookie Jar (Reg.)

Microsoft’s workaround to protect Windows computers from the Intel processor security flaw dubbed Meltdown has revealed the rootkit-like nature of modern security tools. Some anti-malware packages are incompatible with Redmond’s Meltdown patch, released last week, because the tools make, according to Microsoft, “unsupported calls into Windows kernel memory,” crashing the system with a blue screen of death. In extreme cases, systems fail to boot up when antivirus packages clash with the patch. The problem arises because the Meltdown patch involves moving the kernel into its own private virtual memory address space. Usually, operating systems such as Windows and Linux map the kernel into the top region of every user process’s virtual memory space.

The kernel is marked invisible to the running programs, although due to the Meltdown design oversight in Intel’s modern chips, its memory can still be read by applications. This is bad because it means programs can siphon off passwords and other secrets held in protected kernel memory. Certain antivirus products drill deep into the kernel’s internals in order to keep tabs on the system and detect the presence of malware. These tools turn out to trash the computer if the kernel is moved out the way into a separate context. In other words, Microsoft went to shift its cookies out of its jar, and caught antivirus makers with their hands stuck in the pot. Thus, Microsoft asked anti-malware vendors to test whether or not their software is compatible with the security update, and set a specific Windows registry key to confirm all is well.

Only when the key is set will the operating system allow the Meltdown workaround to be installed and activated. Therefore, if an antivirus tool does not set the key, or the user does not set the key manually for some reason, the security fix is not applied. In fact, until this registry key is set, the user won’t be able to apply any Windows security updates – not just this month’s patches, but any of them in the future.

Read more …

UK and US will not give in any time soon.

Julian Assange’s Stay In London Embassy Untenable, Says Ecuador (G.)

Ecuador’s foreign minister has said Julian Assange’s five-and-a-half-year stay in her country’s London embassy is “untenable” and should be ended through international mediation. The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in Knightsbridge since the summer of 2012, when he faced the prospect of extradition to Sweden over claims that he sexually assaulted two women. He denies the accusations. Swedish prosecutors last year unexpectedly dropped their investigation into the allegations, which included a claim of rape. But Assange still faces arrest for breaching bail conditions if he steps outside the embassy and WikiLeaks has voiced fears that the US will seek his extradition and that there is a sealed indictment ordering his arrest. [..] Jeff Sessions, said last May that Assange’s arrest was now a “priority”.

Ecuador’s foreign minister, María Fernanda Espinosa, said her country was now seeking a “third country or a personality” to mediate a final settlement with the UK to resolve the impasse and said it was “considering and exploring the possibility of mediation”. “No solution will be achieved without international cooperation and the cooperation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out,” she told foreign correspondents in Quito, according to Agence France-Presse. Assange, who has received numerous visitors to his modest quarters in the embassy, ranging from Nigel Farage to Lady Gaga, has described the period since his initial arrest as a “terrible injustice”. Not being able to see his children grow up was “not something I can forgive”, he said.

[..] On Tuesday evening, a lawyer for Assange appeared to welcome Ecuador’s proposal. He said his client had a right to asylum and argued that the risk of him being persecuted in the US had “escalated further in recent months under the Trump administration’s war on WikiLeaks” and that the investigation in Sweden had twice been discontinued. “If the UK wishes to show that it is a nation that respects its human rights obligations and commitments to the United Nations, it is time for Mr Assange to be allowed to enjoy his right to liberty, and fundamental right to protection against persecution in the United States,” he said. A spokesperson for the UK government said: “The government of Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice.”

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“Julian Assange isn’t hiding from justice, he’s hiding from injustice.”

Australia Must Rescue Assange From The Establishment That Tortured Manning (CJ)

Private Manning was tortured. As sure as if they’d strapped her down and set upon her flesh with fire and steel, she was tortured. United Nations special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mendez stated unequivocally in 2012 that Manning’s treatment at the hands of the US government during her imprisonment was “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” after 295 legal scholars had already signed a letter in 2011 declaring that she was being “detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.” Humans, like all primates, are evolutionarily programmed to be social animals, which is why solitary confinement causes our systems to become saturated in distress signals as real as pain or fear. Studies have shown that fifteen days of this draconian practice causes permanent psychological damage. Manning was in solitary confinement for nearly a year.

Manning attempted suicide in July of 2016. To punish her for her attempt to end her misery, they tortured her some more. She attempted suicide again three months later. The same sadistic regime which inflicted these horrors upon Manning has during the current administration prioritized the arrest of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, and the international arms of the US power establishment have been working to facilitate that aim. The Guardian reports that Ecuador’s foreign minister is now saying Assange’s continued stay in the nation’s London embassy has become “untenable” and is seeking international mediation, to which a spokesman for the UK government has responded that “The government of Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice.”

Justice. A government whose international operations are uniformly indistinct from America’s wants Assange to leave political asylum and trust his life to an international power establishment that tortures whistleblowers in the name of “justice”. Julian Assange isn’t hiding from justice, he’s hiding from injustice. What sane human being wouldn’t? Time after time after time we are shown that whistleblowers, leakers, and those who facilitate them are not shown anything remotely resembling justice by this depraved Orwellian establishment. Which is why Australia must intervene and protect him.

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The value of your life plunges along with that of others.

The Fog of War: Global Airstrike Deaths Up At Least 82% In 2017 (RT)

More than 15,000 civilians were killed by explosive weapons in 2017, a 42 percent increase on last year, while deaths by airstrikes increased by 82 percent, a new study by Action on Armed Violence has found. The research shows that, while official stats on civilian casualties are on the rise, they’re still modest in comparison to the “true figures.” “The US has a habit of assuming all fighting-aged men are, in fact, fighters…This is the hammer that the US uses to establish the truth in war,” the organization’s Executive Director Iain Overton told RT. Much of the increase is due to the battles to retake Islamic State strongholds in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. The Syrian conflict and the Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen also accounted for a large proportion of civilian deaths.

The survey, found 8,932 civilians were killed by air-launched explosives in the first 11 months of 2017, compared to 4,902 during the same period in 2016. “At least 60 countries around the world saw explosive weapons being used last year,” Action on Armed Violence’s Executive Director Iain Overton told RT. “We have always acknowledged that our data would likely represent a lower figure of total civilians killed or injured than might actually be the case,” Overton said. “This is particularly true when there is a single fatality or wounding, and particularly in under-reporting of those injured by a bomb blast.” “When the fog of war descends casualty figures often fall short – both because they become highly politicized and because accurate reporting is often a casualty of war itself,” he added.

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Europe has no morals left.

Scores Feared Dead And Up To 100 Missing After Boat Sinks Off Libya Coast (G.)

Survivors from a boat that foundered off Libya’s coast on Tuesday said about 50 people who had embarked with them were feared dead, while the coastguard said the number of missing might be as high as 100. Libyan coastguard vessels picked up nearly 300 migrants from three boats off the coast of the North African country on Tuesday, but one rubber boat was punctured and the coastguard only found 16 survivors clinging to its wreckage. “We found the migrant boat at about 10 o’clock this morning. It had sunk and we found 16 migrants. The rest were all missing and, unfortunately, we didn’t find any bodies or [other] survivors,” said Nasr al-Qamoudi, a coastguard commander.

Several of the survivors, who were brought back to a naval base in Tripoli, said there were originally about 70 people on board the boat when it set off near the town of Khoms, east of the capital. A coastguard statement later said that “at least 90-100” migrants were missing. The two other migrant boats were found off Zawiya, west of Tripoli. [..] Libya is the most common departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa by sea. More than 600,000 have crossed the central Mediterranean in the past four years, generally travelling in flimsy inflatable craft provided by smugglers that often break down or puncture. Under heavy pressure from Italy, some Libyan armed factions have blocked smuggling since last summer. Libya’s Italian-backed coastguard has also stepped up interceptions, returning migrants to Libya, where they are detained and often re-enter smuggling networks.

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