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Big League Economics

Youtube ‘Censors’ Ron Paul, Misses Chance To Stay Relevant

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Nearly one year ago, several YouTube content creators and journalists came out saying the organization had started to drop certain videos from its monetized listings. Many complained that, while the company has the right to change its policy or act on it as it sees fit, many of the videos that had been “de-monetized” were about political subjects. Most specifically, these videos were critical of the government.

Now, former congressman Ron Paul is suffering the same type of scrutiny, with several of his “Ron Paul Liberty Report” videos being de-monetized overnight.

In a tweet, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange shared a screenshot of Paul’s YouTube account depicting the videos that had been flagged as unfit for monetization, showing that in most cases, the former presidential candidate discussed Afghanistan, Wikileaks, and the U.S. government financing terrorists abroad while pretending to fight them.

Trending: Judge Who Jailed Manafort Also Cleared Hillary Clinton In Benghazi Case

Calling it “economic censorship,” Assange suggested this behavior showed YouTube may not like content creators who criticize U.S. foreign policy or who mention Wikileaks.

Much like the complaints dating back to 2016, YouTubers seem to find that every other one of their political videos, even the popular ones, are targeted.

As a private organization, YouTube has the right to revoke monetization privileges from users. But it’s always worth to take a look at the current environment to try to understand why such companies would be targeting this or that political group. It’s also worth to look at the company’s politics to determine whether they favor certain narratives over others.

In YouTube’s case, it’s easy to see what kind of policies they fancy.

Owned by Alphabet Inc., the company behind Google, YouTube has a virtual monopoly over video production online. YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, one of the many executives in Silicon Valley who endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, may not like government critics.

Because of her support for the Democratic ticket, one may speculate she isn’t into criticism of certain foreign policies not because her candidate turned out to be president, but because President Donald Trump ended up enacting certain foreign policies regarding Afghanistan that would have made Clinton proud.

But the YouTube CEO isn’t to blame for the toxic and hostile culture that has been driving so many out of Silicon Valley lately alone. She is an example of what has become the acceptable norm.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all been strongly criticized for sometimes shunning debate in their pages, whether by censoring news stories critical of their political allies or by blocking accounts sharing content seen as offensive.

Now, PayPal and other financial institutions that became popular in the internet age are also cutting off companies or organizations being accused of spewing divisive rhetoric.

But in the aftermath of Google’s firing of engineer James Damore over a memo criticizing the company’s diversity efforts, entrepreneurs who are betting on free speech and free speech only got a huge boost in their fundraising efforts.

Seeing a niche that has been marginalized and pushed to the shadows, the creators of Gab are betting on developing a social media platform that does not sensor. In other words, they developed the private market response to the ongoing blacklisting efforts that are so common online.

But to get to this point, companies like Facebook, YouTube, and others must have reached a wall. After all, even after so much hard work to maintain such a close relationship with Washington, D.C., these organizations are still not able to keep all competitors at bay. And as YouTube censors content creators like Paul, firms like Gab are starting to cash in.

So the lesson companies like YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook should learn from keeping antiwar free marketers and anarchists, radical leftists, Trump supporters, Austrian economists, offensive personalities, bigots, and yes, even terrorist sympathizers of all kinds from having access to social media is that the only ones hurting from being kept from the exposure are the everyday consumers. They are the ones who will either become radicalized by being driven into the shadows or who will simply take their business elsewhere.

 

 

 

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Big League Economics

Amazon Feeds Facial Recognition To Law Enforcement, Congress Wants Answers

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Congress and civil rights groups demand answers from Jeff Bezos no later than June 20th regarding Amazon’s new facial recognition software, Rekognition, which allows consumers to search millions of images in a matter of seconds. With rates lower than the cost of a value meal at your local fast food joint, this service is fast, affordable, and available to anyone signed up with Amazon Web Services.

The multi billion dollar company’s facial recognition software, named Rekogniton, works by using Amazon’s cloud computing network AWS (Amazon Web Services). The software compares images provided by the customer to an already existing database of images also provided by the same customer. In addition to identifying humans, Rekognition can be used to search for inanimate objects like cars, text, and furniture.

Congress has raised concerns about Amazon Rekognition and some have written a letter to Jeff Bezos demanding to know how the software is being used by law enforcement agencies. In the letter dated May 25, 2018, Bezos is asked to provide information concerning bias and error rates and wants to make sure Rekognition is not being used to “facilitate systems that disproportionately impact people based on protected characteristics in potential violation of federal civil laws.” The letter asks Bezos to respond no later than June 20th, 2018.

Read the letter in its entirety:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4484636-Ellison-Cleaver-Letter-to-Jeff-Bezos.html#document/p1

The ever growing market for facial recognition software and other image-scanning technology emboldens many privacy concerns. The possibility of having your photo taken without your knowledge or consent by cameras at traffic stops, individuals taking photos with their smartphone in a public venue, security cameras at different businesses and the like, leaves individuals vulnerable-especially when these images are loaded into a database that can scan and recognize you without your knowledge.

According to a blog from 2017 on Amazon’s website, they claim the software can “accurately capture demographics and analyze sentiments for all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports and department stores.”

The ACLU obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act that state Rekognition can identify up to 100 people in a crowd in databases of tens of millions of photos. In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sent May 22, 34 groups said people should be “free to walk down the street without being watched by the government. Facial recognition in American communities threatens this freedom.”

Full document: https://www.aclunc.org/docs/20180522_ARD.pdf#page=8

These civil rights groups are most concerned with Rekognition’s use amongst law enforcement agencies. Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Director for the ACLU in Northern California stated, “Once powerful surveillance systems like these are built and deployed, the harm can’t be undone. We’re talking about a technology that will supercharge surveillance in our communities.”

The Jeff Bezos owned behemoth of a business has all but given away these new facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies including the Orlando Police Department in Florida and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, outside of Portland Oregon.

Orlando police chief, John Mina initially claimed the software was only being used at their headquarters, but later admitted at a news conference that three of the city’s downtown IRIS cameras were equipped with the software, and insisted that Rekognition being ran on these public cameras was still only able to track the seven officers that volunteered to test the system.

Matt Cagle, ACLU attorney said in a statement: “After misleading the people of Orlando, the Orlando Police Department has finally confirmed that it is indeed using Amazon’s face surveillance technology on public cameras. Now, it’s up to Amazon. Will it stop selling dangerous technology to the government?”

Amazon is not the only business selling facial recognition software, with both Google and Facebook having their own facial recognition services. Revealed by Forbes in April, one of the largest surveillance providers in the world, Israel-based Verint runs a large database of Facebook photos for facial recognition.

How much is this service? Between $6 and $12 a month. Yes, you read that right. $6 to $12 a month-which has always been a part of Amazon’s normal business model: start dirt cheap and the customers will come flooding in. Basically, you only pay for the number of images or minutes of video that you analyze–there are no upfront commitments or minimum fees applicable.

According to the document obtained by the ACLU, the Orlando Police Department only paid $30.99 for processing of 30,989 images. If you sign up to be part of the AWS Free Tier, you’re able to analyze 1,000 minutes of video for free each month for the first year.

Businesses and police agencies aren’t the only ones who have access to Amazon Rekognition, the average consumer can set up an account and use the software for just pennies on the dollar. Under the FAQs page on Amazon’s AWS website it gives a detailed description of how to sign up and get started using the software right away.

One last important note that should raise major concerns, as stated on Amazon’s AWS FAQ page: as long as you’re compliant with Amazon’s Rekognition Service Terms and have provided them with required verifiable parental consent under COPPA (Children’s Privacy Protection Act), you may use Amazon Rekognition in connection with websites, programs, or other applications that are directed or targeted, in whole or in part, to children age 13. Not only are adults vulnerable to the software, but images of children under 13 can also be scanned into the database.

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Big League Economics

EXCLUSIVE: All Of Starbucks’ Official Race Experts Worked For George Soros

Because of course George Soros is involved…

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In response to claims of racism surrounding two black men being arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, every Starbucks in the country will be closed on May 29th for “racial-bias education.” The company stated that the training will be mandatory, and will be implemented in the onboarding process for all new employees going forward.

The curriculum is being developed with guidance from “several national and local experts.” When Big League Politics reached out to get a list of those experts, we received the names of five different people. All of them have one major connection: George Soros.

Here are the five people Starbucks mentioned, who are also named in their press release:

Bryan Stevenson: Founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson also serves on the board of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

Sherrilyn Ifill: President and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Ifill also served on the board of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

Heather McGhee: President of Demos, a non-profit organization that advocates for a number of left-leaning issues. McGhee served in the Open Society Foundation’s “Fellowship Program” for two years.

Jonathan Greenblatt: CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. Greenblatt previously served as the Director of the Impact Economy Initiative at the George Soros-funded Aspen Institute.

Eric Holder: Former Attorney General appointed by Obama, who since leaving his position has continued to push far-left politics using George Soros-funded groups.

Nearly 175,000 employees of Starbucks will be required to participate in the training next month. While the curriculum has not yet been released, it will be no surprise if it is filled with leftist propaganda.

George Soros has pumped tens of millions of dollars through his “Open Society Foundation,” which in turn has funded countless leftist organizations, from Planned Parenthood, to Black Lives Matter, and even extremist antifa groups like Refuse Fascism.

Refuse Fascism believes that Donald Trump is a fascist, and organizers for the group believe he is more dangerous than Adolf Hitler was.

With people so closely connected to George Soros being involved in creating the curriculum for a training that every single Starbucks employee must go through, who knows what will be included in it?

 

 

 

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Big League Economics

Tariffs On China Alone Won’t Protect U.S. Steel

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In early March, President Trump announced forthcoming import tariffs on both steel and aluminum, leaving key trade allies scrambling for possible exemptions and prompting wild speculation of artificial price inflation.

European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom abruptly flew to Washington to push back against the proposed measure. Ultimately, the commission proved successful, as the EU, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea received exemptions, protecting two-thirds of world steel production from the proposed tariffs.

While smoothing over relations with allies, these exemptions quickly undermined the initial leverage the proposed tariffs granted, representing a serious threat to the sustainability of the U.S. steel industry.

Immediately following the announcement of tariff exemptions on March 22, shares of U.S. Steel Corp dropped 11 percent, while the S&P steel index fell 7.4 percent, the largest single-day drop since 2011. These economic downturns could easily jeopardize the creation and sustainment of domestic steel jobs, including the 500 new jobs announced by U.S. Steel in March.

Fortunately, the tariff exemptions are temporary, bearing a May 1 expiration date. When these measures have lapsed, the president should continue to use tariffs to hold bad actors accountable.

These economic measures have already given the Trump administration an effective bargaining chip to combat steel market overcapacity, and to give American companies access to foreign markets they were previously barred from.

South Korea agreed to reduce its steel exports to the U.S. by 30 percent in March, all to avoid Trump’s proposed 25 percent tariff.  Additionally, the agreement allows U.S. car companies to sell 50,000 cars per year in South Korea, forgoing additional testing. This exercise in South Korea proves that tariffs, or the mere threat of tariffs, work.

“In lieu of tariffs on steel, we have a quota which is equal to only 70 percent of their shipments from the last few years, and this will be as effective as the tariffs, and preserve the integrity of the steel industry. So let’s not talk about exemptions letting anybody out,” Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro told NPR, and his judgement rings true.

Trump recently placed $60 billion in tariffs on China, an actor that depresses U.S. steel production and prices by illegally subsidizing domestic production of steel to sell in the global marketplace, also known as “dumping.”

While this is an excellent move, China isn’t the extent of the issue, as 85 percent of U.S. steel trade cases have involved countries other than China in the last four years.

In 2015, six major steelmakers filed anti-dumping and countervailing duties charges against China, India, Italy, South Korea, and Taiwan, alleging a violation of international trade law by importing government-subsidized steel.

“These unfairly traded imports have seriously impacted pricing in the U.S. market, which has resulted in a significant negative effect on our production, sales and earnings,” AK Steel President James Wainscott wrote in a statement.

Clearly, in order to protect the U.S. steel industry, the president should not consider further exemptions, as even trade “allies” are actively engaging in predatory business practices. By extending tariffs to all countries that break the rules, Trump could shore up our economy and national security, keeping a vital domestic industry alive.

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