Dissident Voice

Dissident Voice
1 Jun 2023 | 2:40 pm

1. The Pegasus Effect

In 2022, we partnered with Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and Mind the Gap consortium to visually depict effect of Israeli spyware and how technologies that uphold Israeli apartheid ripple outward to impact communities thousands of miles away from Palestine.

Join us as we put a spotlight on "the Pegasus Effect"––or how the captive Palestinian population has been used by the Israeli cyber industry as a laboratory for research and development, with global human rights consequences — at RightsCon, the leading summit on human rights in the digital age. The deadline to register for a virtual ticket is June 2.


When: Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023 at 6:00 pm Palestine/11:00 am ET 

Session Description:

The session examines the Pegasus spyware tool, a product of Israeli cyber company NSO group, and explores the implications of this Israeli surveillance industry on human rights.

Dissident Voice
1 Jun 2023 | 1:16 am

2. Reflections on Russia and Crimea

We spent nearly 20 days in Russia, including 5 days in Crimea. During our journey, we spent around 70 hours in trains riding in close quarters with Russians who we had never met before but who freely shared food and drink with us.  Indeed, throughout our travels, we were treated invariably with kindness, generosity and hospitality. When people realized that we spoke English and were from the States, they tried very hard to communicate with us and to make sure that we, as visitors in their land, were comfortable and taken care of. In short, it was clear to us that while many Americans may hate Russia and even Russians themselves, this hatred is not returned in kind.

One anecdote is illustrative of such treatment. About half an hour into our 27-hour train ride from Crimea to Moscow, Rick realized that he had left his money belt, with around $2000 in cash, back in his Moscow hotel room safe. This hotel had a quaint name in English – the Sunflower Avenue Hotel – and is located around the corner from the biggest mosque in Europe. Rick called the hotel and informed them of what had happened, and, after some back and forth to make sure that Rick was the true owner of the money, the hotel management said they would give it to anyone we designated to retrieve it. We got a hold of a friend in Moscow, Yulia, who went to the hotel and took possession of the money belt. And, because our plan was to travel back from Crimea directly to St. Petersburg, and not to return to Moscow, Yulia also arranged for a friend of hers to bring the belt to St. Petersburg – a city located at least 4 hours by train from Moscow.  Within a few hours of our returning there a week later, this friend drove up to the hotel and handed the belt to Rick outside of our hotel.  And, not a dollar was missing.  Obviously, this could have turned out much differently given how many times the money belt had to change hands before getting back to Rick and given that all involved knew that if we never saw some or all of the money again there would have been little we could do about it given that we were not returning to Moscow and would soon be leaving for the United States. Our faith in humanity remained intact from the experience.

The other place where we witnessed that the hate goes only one way is in Crimea – a peninsula on the Black Sea which has changed hands from Russia to the Soviet Union to Ukraine and back to Russia and which has three main distinct ethnic groups.  These three ethnic groups are Russians which make up around 65% of the Crimean population, Ukrainians which are 16 percent of the population and Tatars who are around 13 percent. While there are these different ethnic groups, over 80 percent of the Crimeans speak Russian on a daily basis.  

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in December of 1991 and Ukraine's taking control of the peninsula in spite of a January 1991 referendum in which 94% of Crimeans voted to become an autonomous Republic, Ukraine moved quickly to try to "Ukrainize" Crimea along with the Russian-speaking Donbas region of Ukraine.  What this meant in practice was outlawing Russian as a national language and as a language taught in schools, and attempting to eradicate Russian culture and historical monuments. This process accelerated after the 2014 coup in Kiev which brought to power a right-wing government quite hostile to Ukraine's own Russian population.  It was this open hostility which led Crimeans to hold a referendum to rejoin Russia – a referendum in which, with an 83 percent voter turnout, 97 percent of the voters cast their vote for Russian reunification.

For its part, the Ukrainian government moved to punish the Crimean people for their decision to return to Russia.  Thus, Ukraine dammed a canal which fed Crimea with fresh water and cut off electricity to Crimea, resulting in Crimeans suffering from a lack of electricity for months.  While Zelensky and the US are escalating their threats that Ukraine will somehow "recapture" Crimea, this type of spiteful mistreatment of Crimea, combined with the periodic drone attacks against civilian targets in Crimea, have guaranteed that Crimea will never willingly go back to Ukraine. 

Ukraine dammed the canal supplying Crimea's reservoirs with fresh water.

Despite this ill treatment, neither Russia nor the Crimean local government have treated the Ukrainians in Crimea as Ukraine had treated their Russian population.  Thus, far from outlawing the Ukrainian language, the Crimean parliament as far back as 1998 passed a law memorializing Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar as the official languages of Crimea.  This was passed in response to Ukraine's 1998 law designating Ukraine only as the national language.  Even after the 2014 referendum, the Crimean law respecting and protecting all three national languages continues to be the law of Crimea. In addition, while Ukraine moved to destroy Russian and Soviet monuments in Crimea, there was no retaliation to do the same to Ukrainian monuments.  As just one example, Irina Alexiava pointed out to us the statue of famous Ukrainian poet, Lesya Ukrainka, which still stands in a prominent spot in Yalta, Crimea and which had fresh flowers laid at it.  

Crimeans honor Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka. Photo Dan Kovalik.

As for the Crimean Tatars, the Russian government moved swiftly to try to make good relations with this group after the 2014 Crimean referendum.  As many may know, the Tatars had been persecuted during WWII as suspected collaborators and forcibly removed from Crimea to other Soviet Republics.  However, many have moved back to Crimea, and, as noted above, make up about 13 percent of Crimea's population.   One of the first things President Putin did after Crimea returned to Russia in 2014 was to officially "rehabilitate" them from the claims of collaboration made by the Stalin government, give them land they protested for in Crimea, provide them with modest monetary reparations and build a new Mosque for them in Crimea.  This Mosque, once completed, will be one of the biggest in all of Russia.

Still, readers may fairly ask about Russia's military intervention in Ukraine, and whether this shows antipathy on the part of the Russian government and the Russian people towards Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.  What we found in talking to people throughout our journey was that while nearly everyone believes that the current war, while regrettable, was necessary to defend both Russia and the Russian-speaking population within Ukraine, they nonetheless do not bear ill-will toward either Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.  Rather, their issue is with the right-wing government in Kiev, the government's neo-Nazi allies and above all NATO which they perceive as the puppet master of these forces.  

The people with whom we met during our journey to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Crimea made it clear that the Ukrainians are their "brothers and sisters," and many Russians have friends and family within Ukraine. In addition, Russia has welcomed more Ukrainian refugees (over 5 million since February of 2022) than any other country. Many refugees have resettled in Crimea.  

The Russians we met spoke quite somberly about the war, regretting the huge loss of life on both sides of the conflict, and expressing frustration and concern about how long the war is lasting and how many more will die as a result. In addition, Russians are reasonably fearful that the war may expand into something greater and something more terrible – for example, a world war that might involve nuclear weapons. This fear was magnified when a drone attack, which the US government has now admitted was most likely launched by Ukraine, damaged the Kremlin during our stay.

May 9 Victory Day in Russia was subdued because of terrorist threats but on the streets, many families still remembered their family members who died in WW2. Having been invaded many times, Russians are much more fearful of war than Americans.The overwhelming sentiment we heard is they want the Ukraine conflict to end and "peace and friendship" with the US.

Families honor their relatives who died in WW2. Photo Rick Sterling.

In the end, whatever one thinks of the war which is taking place in Ukraine and which is now bleeding into Russia as well, we believe that the primary goal of those living in the US must be to do everything we can to prevail upon our government to de-escalate this situation which is at grave risk of spiraling out of control and threatening humanity itself.  Instead of fueling the flames of war with more weapons and munitions to Ukraine, our government should encourage instead of opposing a negotiated solution to the conflict and the offer to help broker negotiations by countries like China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One of the first steps in helping achieve peace is being willing to look at the world as our adversaries, including Russia, do, and being willing to make concessions to their legitimate security concerns.  This is how the Cuban Missile Crisis was solved, for example, and this is how the current crisis can be solved.

Dissident Voice
31 May 2023 | 2:41 pm

3. Beware of Economic Textbooks

Protests by British university economic students against neo-classical economics highlight the notion that economic education is dominated by theories that defy practical applications and applications that cannot predict, prevent, and ameliorate periodic crises. Students learn economics from unverified and outdated theories, many contradicting one another, which leads to a confused understanding of the discipline and complicated approaches to resolving problems. Adding to the dilemma is that textbooks in Middle Schools, High Schools, and universities lack updates with recent knowledge and contain dubious propositions. It is time to examine several propositions that are prominent and dubious. This examination is not absolute, is intended to arouse discussion, and, hopefully, gauge if the theories should be restated or expunged from current academic learning, textbooks, and public discourse.

(1)   Keynes Multiplier

(2)   Philips Curve

(3)   Disposable income

(4)   Okuns Law

Keynes GDP Multiplier

One explanation of the Keynesian "multiplier is:

Marginal propensity to consume (MPC) = 0.8, when people get an extra dollar of income, and spend 80 cents of it. If the government increases expenditure by 1 dollar on a good produced by agent A, this dollar becomes A's income. Suppose A spends the 80 cents on a good produced by B, then B would have an extra income of 80 cents. B would then spend 0.8 of this 80 cents, ie, 64 cents, on something else. This 64 cents becomes someone else's income, and this someone will spend 0.8 of it. The process repeats itself. The GDP added to the economy is the sum of all the spending, 1 + 0.8 + 0.64 + 0.512 + … which has a larger effect than the 1 dollar that the government originally spent. In other words, the government spending is "multiplied". Mathematically, the sum 1 + 0.8 + 0.64 + … is a geometric series. When you sum them up, it takes the form 1/1-MPC. For MPC = 0.8, the effect of the government spending is multiplied 5 times.

Can a fiscal multiplier of >1 exist? Has Keynes been misinterpreted?

When the government uses deficit spending (idle money that purchases government securities) to buy goods that are produced by A, then A has funds for producing additional goods to those already produced. If A spends the funds to buy goods from B, then A cannot produce additional goods. If B does not buy goods from C, then A's spending can enable additional production by producer B. At no time does added production exceed the original spending and the GDP cannot increase by more than the original deficit spending.

Imagine a hypothetical system in which we have The Quantity Theory of Money


where M= Money Supply, V=Velocity of Money, P= average price level, and Y = output, and the cost of goods sold (PxY) is in balance with the money (MxV) available to purchase the goods. The purchase of all goods continually generates new cycles of production of the same amount of goods. Add the new dollars (d) to the economic system. If all goods available remain at Y, then absorbing the added spending (d) dictates an increase in prices. If entrepreneurs use the added dollars to produce additional dollars of goods, the economy is in balance again ? (PxY)+d cost of goods is in balance with the available money supply (MxV)+d to purchase the goods. After (PxY)+d goods are sold in one round of spending, a new production cycle of (PxY)+d goods starts. Until more money enters the money supply, each production cycle cannot produce more than (PxY)+d value of goods.

The concept that A buys goods from B, which allows B to buy goods from C, and so forth, and that this increases GDP by more than the initial investment is implausible. Each is buying already produced goods with sufficient funds to purchase all the goods from the present production cycle. After all the goods have been purchased, others will be left with funds that are equal to the original expenditure. The GDP will only increase if these funds are invested in new production and that increase will, at maximum, be equal to the original expenditure,

Taken at face value, the Keynesian Multiplier hits a theoretical inconsistency; when MPC = 1, the multiplication becomes infinite, and the era of abundance has been reached. Actually, MPC = 1 signifies that, if the total of the original investment is spent, reinvested, and continues to be spent and reinvested, then, after an infinite number of rounds of spending, the total contribution to GDP of this investment (not the value of GDP) during the infinite period will reach infinity ? not surprising.

Rather than being a "multiplier," the formula is a "divider." Keynes' formula states that, if not all available spending is used to purchase goods in a production cycle, fewer goods will be manufactured in succeeding cycles. Eventually, the public will no longer need these specific goods, and manufacturing of those goods will cease. Let MPC=0.8 in the investment series described above, and, with each investment cycle, the investment is reduced by 20 percent until it becomes nil and the company stops producing from the original investment. The production cycles, over the years, generate five times the original production. Instead of each investment being multiplied by 0.8, investment is reduced by 0.2. If MPC =1, then investment is entirely repeated in each investment cycle, and after an infinite number of cycles, total investment reaches infinity. The formula becomes logical and has no indeterminate value.

Keynes' "investment multiplier" has never been shown to be true in practice and is not true in theory, yet it is used to justify policy decisions regarding government spending and is often quoted as a means to rapidly expand the economy. The "multiplier" only describes the way the system works  ? sell the goods in one investment cycle, and, if there are additions to demand from additions to the money supply, start a new investment cycle that is greater than the previous cycle by the added demand and increased money supply. The renowned economist iterated in mathematical terms what all adequate company managers know ? if you turn over inventory quickly and replace it with new inventory, the enterprise can earn a lot of bucks.

Philips Curve

The Philips curve has had several transitions from its original concept. Its inception started from a paper in 1958 titled The Relation between Unemployment and the Rate of Change of Money Wage Rates in the United Kingdom, 1861-1957, which William Phillips, a New Zealand-born economist, published in the quarterly journal Economica. Phillips described an apparent inverse relationship between wage changes and unemployment in the British economy during a one-hundred-year period. Because wage and price inflation seemed to move together, economists determined there must be a link between inflation and unemployment; when inflation was high, unemployment was low, and vice-versa. Historical data during the 1960s appeared to support the theory.

Supports the theory, but does not prove it is correct. Statistical coincidence is not proof.

Another statistical match.
Plot defense spending during the same years and a similar curve emerges, where inflation is related to increased defense spending.

During the 60s, the United States increased defense spending, which increased employment and demand without increasing consumer goods production. Add the 1964 tax cut to the increases in defense spending and we have additionally increased consumer demand without increased supply. Could this have caused inflation?

Historical data from the Federal Reserve during the period from 1990-1999, which shows inflation and the unemployment rate decreasing together, refutes the Philips curve.

The record low unemployment and simultaneous low inflation rates during the late Obama and early Trump administrations also demonstrate the error of the Philips curve. The anomaly was extended into the Biden administration, where the inflation rate went to nine percent and unemployment reached a near-record low of 3.4 percent.

An explanation for inflation sometimes occurring when unemployment decreases may be more due to the euphoria in an expanding economy. As the economy looks bright, the bright start to borrow, which raises asset values and consumer demand. If additions to the money supply create demand that swells beyond production capacity, then prices are sure to rise. In addition, if the government continues to run deficits, which usually transfers savings to demand, the pressure on prices increases. During the Clinton administration, the government ran surpluses, which lowered the money supply and demand and resulted in stable prices.

Thus, it is incorrect to attribute decreasing unemployment to increasing inflation and vice-versa; it is the optimistic market and uncontrolled money supply expansion that causes inflation. As the industrial base and employment expand, costs should decrease — economies of scale grow, and fixed costs become a lesser cost of each production item, at least until the marginal revenue for each new worker starts to decrease.

Philips has thrown a curveball.

Disposable income

Disposable income is defined in textbooks as total personal income minus total personal taxes. This may be true, but analysis shows it is meaningless. The definition implies that taxation lessens disposable income and reduces spending in the economy.

Government spending transfers taxes back to the economy and provides income to workers. Other than profits made by corporations from government spending, interest payments (which may become another person's income), foreign assistance that does not require payback or purchase of U.S. goods, and maintaining U.S. facilities in foreign countries, government spending from taxation winds up in the pockets of others as income. Individuals may have their disposable income reduced by taxes, and disposable income at one moment may be "income minus taxes," but the disposable income of the entire population, in the long run, eventually remains almost the same as the original personal income. The original income reduced by taxes grows back again after the taxes are spent in the economy.

As a simple example, let us have the tax revenue used to support the income of government workers. In effect, disposable income has been entirely transferred from the private sector to the public sector but remains the same. The civil service workers also pay taxes and their taxes may support wages in a defense industry. Continue through continuous quick cycles of pay-as-you-go-taxation and government spending and we find that total income is much more than the originally taxed income and the final disposable income (DI) for the entire population is almost always equal to the original income. The regeneration of taxes and income follows the geometric series shown below, where t, a number <1, is the tax rate.

DI = (1-t) + (t- t2) + (t2-t3) + … (tn-1-tn) = (1-t) (1 + t + t2 + t3 +…tn)

If n goes to infinity, the equation becomes (1-t) / (1-t) = 1.

During a fiscal year, the government cannot, ad infinitum, invest all tax revenue, but can make, say, two turnovers of tax revenue to spending. DI then equals (1-t) + (t-t2) + (t2-t3), which becomes DI= 1-t3.

If t=0.2, then DI = .992, and almost all the original personal income is available as disposable income and that disposable income is available as purchasing power and spending.

Disposable income, as defined in textbooks as total personal income minus total personal taxes may be true, but analysis shows it is meaningless and that taxation does not lessen disposable income and reduce spending in the total economy.

Okun's Law

Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke summarized Okun's Law:

Okun noted that, because of ongoing increases in the size of the labor force and in the level of productivity, real GDP growth close to the rate of growth of its potential is normally required, just to hold the unemployment rate steady. To reduce the unemployment rate, therefore, the economy must grow at a pace above its potential.

More specifically, according to [the] currently accepted versions of Okun's law, to achieve a 1 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate in the course of a year, real GDP must grow approximately 2 percentage points faster than the rate of growth of potential GDP over that period. So, for illustration, if the potential rate of GDP growth is 2%, Okun's law says that GDP must grow at about a 4% rate for one year to achieve a 1 percentage point reduction in the rate of unemployment.

Here we are faced with vague expressions – real GDP growth, GDP potential growth, and unemployment. How are they defined, especially unemployment? Is teenage unemployment the same as that of experienced workers? Does the gain in the former contribute as much to GDP as a gain in the latter? The essence of Okun's argument is that reducing employment is not simple and easy; GDP must grow substantially to allow that to happen.

Okun's Law is more a statement than a law and not one that has definite consistency or proof. Obviously, employment can be increased without an increase in the GDP – just decrease the working hours and hire more workers, as has been offered in several nations, or, tax and spend the revenue on the hiring of new government employees.

Edward S. Knotek, a vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, has examined Okun's law. His Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank publication, How useful is Okun's law? states

First among these is that Okun's law is not a tight relationship. There have been many exceptions to Okun's law, or instances where growth slowdowns have not coincided with rising unemployment. This is true when looking over both long and short time periods. This is a reminder that Okun's law-contrary to connotations of the word "law"-is only a rule of thumb, not a structural feature of the economy.

This article has also documented that Okun's law has not been a stable relationship over time. Part of this variation is related to the state of the business cycle: The relationship between output and unemployment is different in recessions and expansions, and recent expansions have been longer than average. Additionally, the data suggest that a weakening of the contemporaneous relationship between output and unemployment has coincided with a stronger relationship between past output growth and current unemployment. This finding favors versions of Okun's law that are less restrictive in the timing of this dynamic relationship. These findings have practical applications. For instance, forecasting the unemployment rate via Okun's law is much improved by taking into account its changing nature. These forecasts can be improved even more by allowing for a dynamic relationship between unemployment and output growth.

Despite some rationalizations that approve use of Okun's law, Knotek's review does not give Okun's law a strong validation; mainly saying that, under some conditions, Okun's law may apply, or, "If GDP increases substantially, unemployment may decrease," which is not a powerful thought for academic expression.

Rephrased, Okun's Law can be meaningful. Okun highlighted that the U.S. industry cannot accommodate new entries into the workforce and reduce unemployment without harboring substantial resources to increase the GDP. Omitted from Okun's analysis is that entrepreneurs will not increase production and GDP unless they increase profits. Therefore, the statement should be more correctly rephrased as, "profits must grow at a higher percentage than normal to accommodate reduced unemployment," which has been true.

The reduction of unemployment to record low levels during the Obama administration and continued reduction in the Trump administration showed that the GDP did not have to increase unusually fast to achieve the objectives. Government deficit spending took care of the entire matter.


Re-evaluating accepted economic concepts and correcting textbook explanations of vital topics are mandatory. Specious theoretical concepts deter proper thinking and can prove damaging to decision-making. Could this be one of the reasons why economic leaders have not been able to predict and prevent periodic recessions and economic catastrophes?

Dissident Voice
31 May 2023 | 2:15 pm

4. Manipulation

Dissident Voice
31 May 2023 | 10:26 am

5. AUKUS, Congress, and Cold Feet

The undertakings made by Australia regarding the AUKUS security pact promise to be monumental. Much of this is negative: increased militarisation on the home front; the co-opting of the university sector for war making industries and defence contractors; and the capitulation and total subordination of the Australian Defence Force to the Pentagon.

There are also other, neglected dimensions at work here: the failure, as yet, for the Commonwealth to establish a viable, acceptable site for the long term storage of high-grade nuclear waste; the uncertainty about where the submarines will be located; the absence of skills in the construction and operational level in Australia regarding nuclear-powered submarines; and, fundamentally, whether a nuclear-powered Australian-UK-US submarine (AUKUS SSN) will ever see the light of day.

One obstacle, habitually ignored in the Australian dialogue on AUKUS, are the rumbling concerns in the US itself about transferring submarines from the US Navy in the first place. These concerns are summarised in the Congressional Research Service report released on May 22, outlining the background and issues for US politicians regarding the procurement of the Virginia (SSN-774) submarine. "One issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify DOD's AUKUS-related legislative package for the FY2024 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] sent to Congress on May 2, 2023". This includes requested authorisation for the transfer of "up to two Virginia-class SSNs to the government of Australia in the form of sale, with the costs of the transfer to be covered by the government of Australia."

A laundry list of concerns and potentially grave issues are suggested, and the report is clear that these are not exhaustive. They are also bound to send shivers down the spine of the adulatory Canberra planning establishment, so keen to keep Washington interested. There is, for instance, the question as to whether the transfer of the Virginia-class boats should be authorised as part of the 2024 financial year, or deferred "until a future NDAA."

There is also the matter about how many submarines should be part of the request, whether it remains up to two as per the current request, or larger numbers. With those numbers also comes the dilemma as to what vintage they will be: those with less than 33 years of expected service life, or newly minted ones with the full 33-year period of operational service. (We can already hazard a guess on that one.)

The issue of cost also looms large. What will Australia, for instance, pay for the Virginia-class vessels, and furthermore, the amount that would be needed as "a proportionate financial investment" in Washington's own "submarine construction industrial base." Such a potentially delicious state of affairs for US shipbuilders, who will be receiving funds from the Australian purse to accelerate ship-building efforts.

Other issues suggest questions on operational worth. What would, for instance, be the "net impact on collective allied deterrence and warfighting capabilities of transferring three to five Virginia-class boats to Australia while pursuing the construction of three to five replacement SSNs for the US Navy". The transfer of US naval nuclear propulsion technology would come with its "benefits and risks" and should also be cognisant of broader implications to US relations with countries in the Indo-Pacific, not to mention "the overall political and security situation in" in the region.

The report takes note of sceptics who claim this "could weaken deterrence of potential Chinese aggression if China were to find reason to believe, correctly or not, that Australia might use the transferred Virginia-class boats less effectively than the US Navy would". This is a rather damning suspicion. Will Australian sailors either have the full capacity and skills not only to use the weaponry in their possession, but actually comply with US wishes in any deployment, even in a future conflict?

The report is particularly interesting from the perspective of assuming that Australia will retain sovereign decision-making capacity over the use of the vessels, something that can only induce much scoffing. "Australia might not involve its military, including its Virginia-class boats, in US-China crises or conflicts that Australia viewed as not engaging important Australian interests." On that score, the report notes remarks by Australia's Defence Minister Richard Marles made in March 2023 that are specifically underlined to concern Congress. Of specific interest was the claim that "no promises" had been made by Australia to the United States "that Australia would support the United States in a future conflict over Taiwan."

This is a charming admission that members of the US Congress may well be pushing for a quid pro quo: we authorise the boat transfer; you duly affirm your commitment to shed blood with us in the next grandly idiotic battle.

There is also a notable pointer in the direction of whether an individual SSN AUKUS should even be built. Sceptics, it follows, could argue that it would be preferable that US nuclear submarines "perform both US and Australian SSN missions while Australia invests in other types of military forces, as to create a capacity for performing other military missions for both Australia and the United States."

This is exactly the kind of rationale that will confirm the holing of Australian sovereignty, not that there was much to begin with. But those voices marshalled against AUKUS will be able to take heart that Congress may, whatever its selfish reasons, be a formidable agent of obstruction. President Joe Biden, his successors, and the otherwise fractious electoral chambers certainly agree on one thing: America First, followed by a gaggle of allies foolishly holding the rear.

Dissident Voice
31 May 2023 | 1:39 am

6. When Anti-Government Speech Becomes Sedition

In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

— George Orwell

Let's be clear about one thing: seditious conspiracy isn't a real crime to anyone but the U.S. government.

To be convicted of seditious conspiracy, the charge levied against Stewart Rhodes who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for being the driving force behind the January 6 Capitol riots, one doesn't have to engage in violence against the government, vandalize government property, or even trespass on property that the government has declared off-limits to the general public.

To be convicted of seditious conspiracy, one need only foment a revolution.

This is not about whether Rhodes deserves such a hefty sentence.

This is about the long-term ramifications of empowering the government to wage war on individuals whose political ideas and expression challenge the government's power, reveal the government's corruption, expose the government's lies, and encourage the citizenry to push back against the government's many injustices.

This is about criminalizing political expression in thoughts, words and deeds.

This is about how the government has used the events of Jan. 6 in order to justify further power grabs and acquire more authoritarian emergency powers.

This was never about so-called threats to democracy.

In fact, the history of this nation is populated by individuals whose rhetoric was aimed at fomenting civil unrest and revolution.

Indeed, by the government's own definition, America's founders were seditious conspirators based on the heavily charged rhetoric they used to birth the nation.

Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Marquis De Lafayette, and John Adams would certainly have been charged for suggesting that Americans should not only take up arms but be prepared to protect their liberties and defend themselves against the government should it violate their rights.

"What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms," declared Jefferson. He also concluded that "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government," insisted Paine.

"When the government violates the people's rights," Lafayette warned, "insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties."

Adams cautioned, "A settled plan to deprive the people of all the benefits, blessings and ends of the contract, to subvert the fundamentals of the constitution, to deprive them of all share in making and executing laws, will justify a revolution."

Had America's founders feared revolutionary words and ideas, there would have been no First Amendment, which protects the right to political expression, even if that expression is anti-government.

No matter what one's political persuasion might be, every American has a First Amendment right to protest government programs or policies with which they might disagree.

The right to disagree with and speak out against the government is the quintessential freedom.

Every individual has a right to speak truth to power—and foment change—using every nonviolent means available.

Unfortunately, the government is increasingly losing its tolerance for anyone whose political views could be perceived as critical or "anti-government."

All of us are in danger.

In recent years, the government has used the phrase "domestic terrorist" interchangeably with "anti-government," "extremist" and "terrorist" to describe anyone who might fall somewhere on a very broad spectrum of viewpoints that could be considered "dangerous."

The ramifications are so far-reaching as to render almost every American with an opinion about the government or who knows someone with an opinion about the government an extremist in word, deed, thought or by association.

You see, the government doesn't care if you or someone you know has a legitimate grievance. It doesn't care if your criticisms are well-founded. And it certainly doesn't care if you have a First Amendment right to speak truth to power.

What the government cares about is whether what you're thinking or speaking or sharing or consuming as information has the potential to challenge its stranglehold on power.

Why else would the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies be investing in corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

Why else would the Biden Administration be likening those who share "false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information" to terrorists?

Why else would the government be waging war against those who engage in thought crimes?

Get ready for the next phase of the government's war on thought crimes and truth-tellers.

For years now, the government has used all of the weapons in its vast arsenal—surveillance, threat assessments, fusion centers, pre-crime programs, hate crime laws, militarized police, lockdowns, martial law, etc.—to target potential enemies of the state based on their ideologies, behaviors, affiliations and other characteristics that might be deemed suspicious or dangerous.

For instance, if you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you could be at the top of the government's terrorism watch list.

Moreover, as a New York Times editorial warns, you may be an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) in the eyes of the police if you are afraid that the government is plotting to confiscate your firearms, if you believe the economy is about to collapse and the government will soon declare martial law, or if you display an unusual number of political and/or ideological bumper stickers on your car.

According to one FBI report, you might also be classified as a domestic terrorism threat if you espouse conspiracy theories, especially if you "attempt to explain events or circumstances as the result of a group of actors working in secret to benefit themselves at the expense of others" and are "usually at odds with official or prevailing explanations of events."

In other words, if you dare to subscribe to any views that are contrary to the government's, you may well be suspected of being a domestic terrorist and treated accordingly.

There's a whole spectrum of behaviors ranging from thought crimes and hate speech to whistleblowing that qualifies for persecution (and prosecution) by the Deep State.

Simply liking or sharing this article on Facebook, retweeting it on Twitter, or merely reading it or any other articles related to government wrongdoing, surveillance, police misconduct or civil liberties might be enough to get you categorized as a particular kind of person with particular kinds of interests that reflect a particular kind of mindset that might just lead you to engage in a particular kinds of activities and, therefore, puts you in the crosshairs of a government investigation as a potential troublemaker a.k.a. domestic extremist.

Chances are, as the Washington Post reports, you have already been assigned a color-coded threat score—green, yellow or red—so police are forewarned about your potential inclination to be a troublemaker depending on whether you've had a career in the military, posted a comment perceived as threatening on Facebook, suffer from a particular medical condition, or know someone who knows someone who might have committed a crime.

In other words, you might already be flagged as potentially anti-government in a government database somewhere—Main Core, for example—that identifies and tracks individuals who aren't inclined to march in lockstep to the police state's dictates.

As The Intercept reported, the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies have increasingly invested in corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior.

Where many Americans go wrong is in naively assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or harmful in order to be flagged and targeted for some form of intervention or detention.

In fact, all you need to do these days to end up on a government watch list or be subjected to heightened scrutiny is use certain trigger words (like cloud, pork and pirates), surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, limp or stutter, drive a car, stay at a hotel, attend a political rally, express yourself on social media, appear mentally ill, serve in the military, disagree with a law enforcement official, call in sick to work, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious, appear confused or nervous, fidget or whistle or smell bad, be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun (such as a water nozzle or a remote control or a walking cane), stare at a police officer, question government authority, or appear to be pro-gun or pro-freedom.

And then at the other end of the spectrum there are those such as Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, for example, who blow the whistle on government misconduct that is within the public's right to know.

In true Orwellian fashion, the government would have us believe that it is Assange and Manning who are the real criminals for daring to expose the war machine's seedy underbelly.

Since his April 2019 arrest, Assange has been locked up in a maximum-security British prison—in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day—pending extradition to the U.S., where if convicted, he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison.

This is how the police state deals with those who challenge its chokehold on power.

This is also why the government fears a citizenry that thinks for itself: because a citizenry that thinks for itself is a citizenry that is informed, engaged and prepared to hold the government accountable to abiding by the rule of law, which translates to government transparency and accountability.

After all, we're citizens, not subjects.

For those who don't fully understand the distinction between the two and why transparency is so vital to a healthy constitutional government, Manning explains it well:

When freedom of information and transparency are stifled, then bad decisions are often made and heartbreaking tragedies occur – too often on a breathtaking scale that can leave societies wondering: how did this happen? … I believe that when the public lacks even the most fundamental access to what its governments and militaries are doing in their names, then they cease to be involved in the act of citizenship. There is a bright distinction between citizens, who have rights and privileges protected by the state, and subjects, who are under the complete control and authority of the state.

This is why the First Amendment is so critical. It gives the citizenry the right to speak freely, protest peacefully, expose government wrongdoing, and criticize the government without fear of arrest, isolation or any of the other punishments that have been meted out to whistleblowers such as Edwards Snowden, Assange and Manning.

The challenge is holding the government accountable to obeying the law.

A little over 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in United States v. Washington Post Co. to block the Nixon Administration's attempts to use claims of national security to prevent the Washington Post and the New York Times from publishing secret Pentagon papers on how America went to war in Vietnam.

As Justice William O. Douglas remarked on the ruling, "The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell."

Fast forward to the present day, and we're witnessing yet another showdown, this time between Assange and the Deep State, which pits the people's right to know about government misconduct against the might of the military industrial complex.

Yet this isn't merely about whether whistleblowers and journalists are part of a protected class under the Constitution. It's a debate over how long "we the people" will remain a protected class under the Constitution.

Following the current trajectory, it won't be long before anyone who believes in holding the government accountable is labeled an "extremist," relegated to an underclass that doesn't fit in, watched all the time, and rounded up when the government deems it necessary.

We're almost at that point now.

Eventually, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we will all be seditious conspirators in the eyes of the government.

We would do better to be conspirators for the Constitution starting right now.

Dissident Voice
30 May 2023 | 4:58 pm

7. Maskers

Dissident Voice
30 May 2023 | 3:27 pm

8. Eye-witness Crimea

May of this year, we took the long, 27-hour train ride from Moscow to Crimea to see how life is there and what the sentiment of the people are as the US and Ukraine sharpen their threats to "recapture" this peninsula from Russia. And, while we were there, these threats were backed by a series of terrorist drone attacks in Crimea which, while doing little serious damage, signaled an escalation in the US/Ukrainian assault on Crimea.

Despite such threats and attacks, what we found in this historic peninsula on the Black Sea was a beautiful, almost idyllic place with a bustling economy and a general sense of prosperity and hopefulness. We also found a people who seem quite content to remain a part of Russia just as Crimea has been, except for a brief interval, since 1783.

During our trip, we visited the three major cities of Simferopol, Sevastopol, and Yalta.

Crimea has rugged but beautiful coastline.

The Capital Simferopol

Simferopol is an inland city with about half a million residents. There are universities as well as Crimea's parliament and industry. When we visited it, most people were enjoying the holidays. We saw multiple groups of teenagers singing patriotic songs on the street and in front of memorials. It is difficult to imagine something comparable happening in the US or Canada. The difference may be partly the result of education but it also shows the different consciousness and experience. Approximately 1 in every seven citizens died in WW2 so every family in the Soviet Union lost family members. The Nazi invasion and occupation were horrible, real and impacted every one.

Theater students sing patriotic songs on the street, 6 May 2023.

In Simferopol we met two women, Larisa and Irina, who described in detail what happened in early 2014. Confrontations started when a small group of ultra-nationalists tried to demolish the statue of Lenin in the capital center. Seeing this as an attack on their Soviet and Russian heritage, a much larger group gathered and stopped them.

Then, three police who were residents of Crimea were killed in Maidan protests. As their corpses were brought home, there was increasing fear that the violence in Kiev could come to Crimea. Volunteers formed self-defense battalions.

Hundreds of Crimeans went to Kiev on chartered buses to peacefully protest against the Maidan chaos and violence. The violence climaxed with the killing of police and protesters by snipers located in opposition controlled buildings on February 20. The Crimeans realized that peaceful protests were hopeless and departed back to Crimea on the chartered buses. At the town of Korsun, the convoy of eight buses was stopped by a gang from the Neo-Nazi "Right Sector". Dozens people were beaten and seven Crimeans killed.

Crimean Bus Passengers were beaten with seven killed on 20 February 2014.

On February 22, the elected Ukraine government was overthrown. On its first day in power, the coup government enacted legislation to remove Russian as a state language. These events provoked shock, fear and the urgent desire to re-unify with Russia. According to Larisa and Irina, there was a huge popular demand to hold a referendum to secede from Ukraine.

The Crimean parliament agreed and first proposed to have the referendum in May. The popular demand was to have it much sooner. Larisa says that on February 27 the Russian flag was flying over parliament. She does not know how, but says, "It was like a miracle." People sensed then that Russia might accept Crimea. Suddenly there were Russian flags all over the city.

Crimea Parliament in the capital Simferopol

There was still the fear of violence. Soldiers in green uniforms without insignia, known as the "polite men" appeared at key locations such as the airport and parliament. It is generally understood these were Russian special forces. They were heartily welcomed by nearly all and events proceeded without violence. Larisa laughed at western journalists who used the photograph of a WW2 tank in a park, to suggest that Russian tanks were in the capital.

There was no involvement by Russia in the referendum; it was organized and carried out by the traditional election council on March 16. The results were decisive: with 83% voting, 97% voted to rejoin Russia.

Two days later the Crimean parliament appealed to the Russian Federation. Two days after that the agreement was signed in Moscow. Larisa and Irina say, "Everyone was happy"; they call it "Crimea Spring".

Nuclear Submarines Museum

We visited many amazing places in Crimea. In the port town of Balaklava, we visited a museum which reminded us of the increasing danger of nuclear war. The first class museum is located in the site where Soviet submarines were repaired, refitted and nuclear missiles installed. The site is a tunnel at sea level under a mountain. The tunnel goes from the open Black Sea to the protected Balaklava harbor. Under the mountain, the submarines could survive any attack and respond if necessary. When we visited, many school children were also there, learning about the dangers of nuclear war, how and why Russia felt the need to develop their own nuclear capacity. The educational graphics start with the fact that the US dropped nuclear bombs on Japan, and why Russia must be prepared to defend itself. Today this site is an educational museum. We don't often think about nuclear weapons and the likelihood they could be used if war was to break out between Russia and the US. The museum shows they take this very seriously. Russia's active nuclear armed submarines are located in Vladivostok and elsewhere.

Nuclear submarine base under mountain in Balaklava (now a museum).

The Valley of Death

Driving north from Balaklava, we paused at a memorial overlooking a valley that was scene of an important battle in the Crimean war of 1854. It was immortalized in Alfred Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" where British cavalry charged embedded Russian forces and suffered many losses. The poem says "Into the valley of death rode the six hundred." A famous photograph taken by one of the first war time photographers shows a barren hillside strewn with cannon balls which mowed down the British attackers.

The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy was a volunteer fighter in the Crimean War, and he himself documented his experiences in battle. As one Crimean told us in making the point that Crimea has been part of Russia for a very long time, "the Crimean War was a Russian war; it wasn't a Ukrainian war."

Today those valleys have grazing sheep and vineyards with premier wineries comparable to those in Napa Valley, California. Visitors do wine tasting just like in California. The past war and bloodshed seem far away.

Sevastopol: A Special City

Further north is Sevastopol, a thriving city and the base of the Russian Black Sea naval fleet. Sevastopol is known as "the most Soviet City in Russia and the most Russian City in Ukraine," and even the City Hall continues to bear the hammer and sickle emblem on its gates.

When Ukraine seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia negotiated a long term lease for the naval port. The Russian military has been in this port for 240 years. Along with Russian navy ships, there are locals fishing from the docks. There is a laid back, casual air to the port although the war hit close to home when Russia's naval ship "Moskva" was sunk early in the conflict.

Fishing from dock in Sevastopol….. Russian Navy vessels in distance.

Tanya introduced us to former Soviet and Ukrainian Navy captain Sergey. He described how, when the decision was made to secede from Ukraine in spring 2014, many enlisted sailors and officers chose to be in the Russian rather than Ukrainian navy. Throughout our visit it was emphasized that Crimea has been Russian since 1783 and the large majority of the population have Russian as their native language and consider themselves Russian.

People in Russia are very conscious of war and fascism. They call WW2 the Great Patriotic War. The Soviet Union caused by far the most losses of Axis soldiers. The US, Canada, and other allies supported the war with troops and supplies but it was the Soviet Union that bore the brunt of the war and was the primary cause of victory over Nazi Germany.

Crimea was a major target of the Nazi Axis and was the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of WW2. Despite stiff resistance the peninsula was temporarily defeated. After 250 days of siege, Sevastopol was captured by the Germans in June 1942. Crimea was retaken by the Soviet Red Army in 1944.

This history may explain why Crimeans are adamantly opposed to ultra nationalist hate filled rhetoric and why they decisively chose to re-unify with Russia following the overthrow of the elected Ukraine government in February 2014.

In Sevastopol we visited the Partisan Museum which is a house where anti-fascist Crimeans organized resistance to the Nazi occupation. The house had a hidden basement where fliers were printed and partisans organized the sabotage campaigns.

Partisan Museum in Sevastopol.

A few miles south of Sevastopol is the hilltop where Nazi German command was based. It has been converted into a memorial and during our visit on Saturday prior to May 9 Victory Day, there were educational exhibitions and military displays along with miniature tanks driven by kids in a 50 foot track.


In a palace at Yalta, the leaders of the US, UK and Soviet Union negotiated the spheres of influence in Europe after the defeat of the axis powers. The three countries were allies in WW2 but in just a few years the Cold War emerged.

Yalta is a thriving tourist city. The palace where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met is open for visitors. During our visit, the hotels in Yalta were near capacity and the promenade and city streets were full of locals and visitors. Russians who used to travel to West Europe are now travelling about their own huge country and Crimea is especially popular.

Reflections on Crimea

Crimea is incredibly beautiful and historic. Today, despite occasional sabotage actions, the situation in Crimea is calm and inviting.

Following Crimea's secession, Ukraine tried to punish Crimeans by cutting off the electricity supply to the peninsula. They were without power for five months. Next Ukraine blocked the fresh water supply.

Despite these hostile actions, Crimeans display no hostility to regular Ukrainians. They say, "They are our brothers and sisters." Ukrainian is a state language in Crimea and Ukrainians are respected. There are statues honoring Ukrainian writers and artists. Many Ukrainian civilians have come to Crimea to escape the war.

Sergey says that Crimeans are sad about the conflict in Ukraine but will continue, slowly and patiently, to victory.

Irina says, "Zelensky will sooner take back the Moon than take back Crimea."

Dissident Voice
30 May 2023 | 2:57 pm

9. The Phony War on American Culture

Bereft of an economic program, Republicans turn to social values, beliefs, and prejudices to gain votes and turn the clock back on the change that accompanies society's development. The GOP can no longer convince a majority of voters to support tax cuts for the rich, eliminating government regulations and cutting programs for the poor. In desperation, they are conducting a war on changing American values.

Powerful and wealthy interests discovered that rural people fear the social changes that replace the white Christian power structure with more open, inclusionary, equal, and forward-looking values that attempt to fulfill American ideals. A new set of values accepts gays, different ethnicities, business regulations to protect our health and environment, food, education, housing assistance, and the equal distribution of our economic surplus.

The world changes as America's great melting pot absorbs immigrants, young people, women, and tries to prevent discrimination based on skin color. They reject being ruled by a closed white, male power infrastructure. People no longer accept being dictated to by the color of their skin, sexual preference, cultural choice, or other incidental characteristics—and demand to share power.

When GOP billionaires, the Koch network, Fox News, and smaller state and local elites began to lose power, they pandered to traditional religious, business, and rural prejudices to gain support. Politicians like Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, and Marjorie Taylor Greene cashed in. They exemplify politics that clings to the past and resist change. They cherry-pick the most radical, out-of-the-mainstream behavior and language for campaigns that promote elite corporate and business interests to amass power and take a larger share of national wealth.

Their made-up "culture war" focuses on changing values and diverts attention from everyday concerns about medical care, paychecks, and standard of living. Instead of asking why the government doesn't guarantee education and health care, they conceal how, sometimes in concert with Democrats, they distribute economic surplus into their own pockets. A perfect illustration is the 470 state anti-gay bills the GOP is trying to pass, which diverts attention away from GOP demands to cut aid for education, housing, and environmental protection. They increase military spending and ignore the GOP gift to the rich when they passed Trump's tax cuts.

This strategy shifts focus from worker rights, pay increases, housing costs, and medical care to disguise their efforts to keep profits high and shrink government power to allow the wealthy to control the country. They use language such as "woke" to label anything threatening their power and authority. By connecting cultural changes to gay marriage and teaching the American history of institutional racism, they shift emphasis away from issues such as Trump's rapes and molestation of women, stiffing contractors, lying about his taxes, demonizing minorities, and promoting violence and insurrection. It likewise obscures their continual demands to cut taxes, deregulate, and shrink government.

Consider how gender is one focus of their culture war campaign. Transgender people hardly affect our personal lives, despite the Republican campaigns to make it a voting issue. In America, only 1.3 million adults and 300,000 children identify as transgender out of a population of 332 million. Only 36 transgender athletes compete in college sports that include over half a million participants. Yet the Republican legislature in Kansas recently banned transgender girls from female high school sports, despite having only three transgender girls out of 41,00 competing in the state. Indeed, they should be respected and accommodated in some way. Yet, GOP legislators are considering a flood of bills to restrict transgender behavior, flooding email boxes with requests for donations, blasting isolated events on Fox News, and making them campaign issues.

The GOP's phony culture war is a temper tantrum orchestrated to blame everything on Biden and the Democrats, a simple hate campaign that reminds us of playground rivalries and dictatorships like the USSR and Nazi Germany. At the same time, these attempts are real and divert people's attention from the everyday issues and reforms that affect our lives. As for culture: It's changing—religion, ethnicity, immigrants, sexuality, age, and attitudes. The GOP cannot stop change.

Dissident Voice
30 May 2023 | 5:57 am

10. Meta and Privacy: The Economy of Data Transgressions

Meta, to put it rather inelegantly, has a data non-compliance problem. That problem began in the original conception of Facebook, a social network conceived by that most anti-social of types, Mark Zuckerberg. (Who claims that these troubled sorts lack irony?)

On May 22, the European Union deemed it appropriate to slap a $1.3 billion fine on the company for transferring the data of EU users to the United States. In so doing, the company had breached the General Data Protection Regulation, which has become something of a habit for information predators from Silicon Valley.

The data in question is the bread-and-butter of such companies, packed with the names of users, email and IP addresses, message content, viewing history, geolocation and the whole gamut of information used for targeted advertising. As the European Data Protection Board's Chair, Andrea Jelenik, stated, "the EDPB found that Meta's IE's [Meta Platforms Ireland Limited's] infringement is very serious since it concerns transfers that are systematic, repetitive and continuous. Facebook has millions of users in Europe, so the volume of personal data transferred is massive."

The outcome resulted from a binding decision by the EDPB of April 13, 2023, which instructed the Irish Data Protection Authority (IE DPA) to revise its draft decision and impose a fine upon the company, despite initial reluctance to do so. The board also instructed IE DPA to order Meta to bring its "processing operations into compliance with Chapter V [of the] GDPR, by ceasing the unlawful processing, including storage, in the US of personal data of European users transferred in violation of the GDPR, within 6 months after notification of the IE SA's final decision."

The implications for Meta, beyond the inconvenience of a fine, is the operational difficulty of removing the transferred data. "This order to delete data is really a headache for Meta," reasons Johnny Ryan, senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. To remove the digital material gathered from millions of EU users stretching back a decade posed seemingly insuperable problems regarding compliance.

The response from Nick Clegg, President of the company's global affairs arm, and Chief Legal Officer, Jennifer Newstead, is coldly practical on the issue. (Clegg, former UK Deputy Prime Minister, has long been on the dark side.) Data is key; data is everything. Privacy, goes the insinuation, is an impediment, a needless intrusion by sentimental bleeding hearts. "The ability for data to be transferred is fundamental to how the global open internet works. From finance and telecommunications to critical public services like healthcare or education, the free flow of data supports many of the services that we have come to rely on."

A favourite argument is mustered by the knight-in-digital-armour: the idea of an internet balkanised and fractured in the face of meddlesome regulations and bureaucrats. "Without the ability to transfer data across borders, the internet risks being carved up into national and regional silos". This would leave the "citizens in different countries unable to access many of the shared services we have come to rely on."

Clegg and Newstead also lament those privacy business bodies in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), who dared invalidate the Privacy Shield mechanism agreed upon between the US and EU on the transfer of personal data to the US. "This [2020] decision created considerable regulatory and legal uncertainty for thousands of organisations, including Meta."

What the court left intact was the Standard Contractual Clauses mechanism, which could function on the proviso that various safeguards were put in place regarding data processing. (An agreement reached on EU-US data transfers between Brussels and Washington on a revised Privacy Shield has yet to be signed off by European officials.) Meta proceeded to use these "believing them to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)." While the Irish Data Protection Commission initially found that Meta had acted in good faith and that no fine would be necessary, moans the company, the Data Protection Board thought otherwise.

Clegg and Newstead also expressed aggrievement at Meta being "singled out when using the same legal mechanism that thousands of other companies looking to provide services in Europe." Brazenly, they praise the US for doing much "to align with European rules via their latest reforms, while transfers continue largely unchallenged to countries such as China." The company intends filing appeals on both the substance of the decision and its orders, seeking a stay in the courts.

Other US tech behemoths have also drawn the ire of the EU, demonstrating the divergence of views between the money hungry dictates of the information market and the importance of a user's privacy. Between 2017 and 2019, Google caught their attention in the only way it could. That attention, based on the sheer scale of the company's market dominance, brought the ledger of fines to 8 billion euros. In 2021, Amazon received a 746 million euro fine for violating data protections.

Despite the coos of satisfaction coming from EU officials, such companies have integrated the occasional spanking fine into their operating models, the laceration nullified by a thumpingly large financial base to work from. An economy of data transgressions has emerged, one permitted to thrive, despite the punishments and orders. That penalties run into the billions of euros or dollars hardly affects the overall business rationale. As a consequence, the respective world views of US corporatism and EU data protection find some peculiar, if uncomfortable accord, an economy that tolerates surveillance capitalism while occasionally punishing its excesses.

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