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Category Archives: Freedom

Is There Freedom of Speech in Germany? – The New York Times

Posted: October 4, 2019 at 3:45 am

HAMBURG, Germany Germany doesnt have a problem with free speech. It has two or rather, it is caught between two very different conceptions of free speech, each of which has significant shortcomings and each of which is rooted in our inability to close the chasm that remains between eastern and western Germany, 30 years after reunification.

Simply put, the division pits one part of the country that believes freedom of speech is on the decline against another that believes freedom of speech is going way too far. These arent just different concepts, rooted in two different formative national experiences the Nazi era and the East German Communist regime. They are also at fundamental odds with each other, meaning that the day in, day out debate over what counts as acceptable speech is driving Germans further apart.

Lets start with the Germans who believe that freedom of speech is endangered. Concentrated in eastern Germany, many of them experienced communism and its better say nothing atmosphere firsthand, only to be freed with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For many eastern Germans, the revolution of 1989 held the promise that in a free country you would be able to utter any opinion, without suffering consequences. Instead, they complain, when they express conservative views on hot topics like immigration or multiculturalism, they are quickly labeled Nazis.

We know what it feels like to live in a society where certain opinions are unacceptable, they say, and increasingly, were feeling that same pressure.

The second group, rooted in western Germany, has a different concern, and a different historical reference point. They believe they see social norms around tolerance and diversity eroding, and fear a replay of the 1930s.

From 1933 onward, the incremental acceptance of hatred, racism and dehumanization paved the way to the Holocaust. This group, which includes high-profile journalists and celebrities, believes that hatred should not be covered by the freedom of speech. That in itself is not a new view in Germany, but recently those who hold it have ceased to draw a distinction between the broad political right and right-wing extremism.

To them, rechts right-wing has become the new collective term for an immensely broad range of people, from conservative critics of Chancellor Angela Merkel to neo-Nazis. We have learned our lesson, this group says, and we will never again allow intolerance and inhumanity to enter legitimate discourse.

Both groups command support from broad sections of German society. And both fundamentally misunderstand what free speech means.

The promise of 1989, to start with, never included a guarantee that speech came without consequences. In fact, most opinions have and will always have a social price. Freedom of speech never meant freedom from ridicule. Part of the messy necessity of democratic civil society is sorting out good ideas from bad ones. Plus, in Communist East Germany, people who criticized the government were often tortured by the Stasi. We are far from this danger today.

What the other side gets wrong is that brute, malign and even hateful speech is, in fact, broadly covered by freedom of speech. Freedom of opinion includes the right to utter opinions against freedom.

The German constitutional court ruled in 2009 that even the dissemination of National Socialist ideas as a radical challenge to the existing order is principally covered by the right of the freedom speech. Why? Because theres no better way to fight nonsense than a good counter argument.

Increasingly lost on the German left is exactly this confidence: that the freewheeling fight of opinions is the best insurance against a victory of inhumane ideologues. In Nazi Germany, this clash of ideas did not exist. Dissidents were shut in concentration camps or killed. We are far from this danger today as well.

The real danger Germany faces today is neither a creeping leftist regime nor a nascent far-right dictatorship. Rather, it is the irrational insinuation that people who hold views different from your own are themselves illegitimate. This suspicion leads to tribalism, and tribalism is what drives societies apart.

What protects us against this drift? A good start might be the realization that complaining about the others who allegedly impair ones freedom of speech is often an excuse for ones own lack of courage to speak out. Right after World War II, the German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, had a good piece of advice for citizens who feared others anger: Its only after having made yourself unpopular that you will be taken seriously.

In the age of Twitter, it is extremely easy to make yourself extremely unpopular. It is also easy as never before to gain a voice. Thats the new deal.

Jochen Bittner is a co-head of the debate section for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a contributing opinion writer.

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Is There Freedom of Speech in Germany? - The New York Times

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Clippers’ offense will feature plenty of freedom in preseason – Los Angeles Times

Posted: at 3:45 am

When the Clippers play their first exhibition game Thursday night against the Houston Rockets at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii, the type of offensive system they run will not be on display.

Its not only because stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will sit out the game.

The main reason is that there has been less importance placed on the Clippers offense after three days of practice and more emphasis directed toward defense.

We have one set in that we put in a half-hour ago, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after practice. They know how to play. Thats what we are trying to teach them. We are teaching them backwards in a lot of ways. You get to the playoffs and every play breaks down and then it becomes a play after the play, making a play. So we are teaching them that now so we can get used to it.

Even if there is less structure and more freelance, Rivers said, that freedom he will allow his players to employ against the Rockets can be beneficial in the long run.

Rivers sees that as a way for the Clippers to adjust when the opponents defense is stacked to stop one of their offensive plays during the season and in the playoffs.

It is probably more random freelance than it is structure early, Rivers said. Because, literally, and thats every night, some team will figure out one of your sets and the second and third option, what happens when you get to the fourth option? That is called playing basketball, reading each other. So we are doing a lot of that early.

Rivers said dont be surprised if he plays a lot of players, and at different positions.

Landry Shamet and rookie Terance Mann arent known as point guards, but Rivers said its possible both could play the position against the Rockets and at times during the season.

For me, I can see different lineups, No. 1, and I can see different combinations on the floor, where in practice the teams are pretty much set, Rivers said. Its the red against the white and the white against the black. In the game, its just five guys and you have to keep changing and you may see a group of guys that function better than another group of guys. So were going to try to play a lot of guys tomorrow. We have a lot so we can play a lot.

The Clippers had one of the best offenses in the NBA last season.

They were ranked fifth in scoring (115.1), seventh in field goals (47.1%), second in three-point shooting (38.8%) and 10th in offensive efficiency (109.7).

Well, tomorrow night, I have no expectations, Rivers said. That will be the first time that we have gone up and down with the clock on, so my guess is fatigue early. When you actually play, its different. When youre going down and back and down, three to four times and then we stop it. But when you have to keep doing that, my guess tomorrow I will be coaching fatigue more than actual good and bad play.

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Clippers' offense will feature plenty of freedom in preseason - Los Angeles Times

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Civil society and media freedom on agenda as Norway takes over chair of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council – The Independent Barents Observer

Posted: at 3:45 am

Norway will be chairing the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in 2019-2021. Swedens new foreign minister, Ann Linde, handed over the responsibilityto her Norwegian colleague at the councils bi-annual meeting in Ume on Thursday.

To the Barents Observer, Ine Eriksen Sreide says NGOs, media and indigenous peoples can expect strengthened support.

Norway is very focused on the conditions for civil society in the Barents Region. Supporting and strengthening civil society will be important during the chairmanship period, the foreign minister assures.

Eriksen Sreide looks with concern to what happens with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the Russian side of the border in the Barents region.

Supporting and strengthening civil society will be important during the chairmanship period.

Since President Putin singed the so-called foreign agent law and it came into force in 2012, more than 160NGOs are blacklisted. A criteria to be branded foreign agents is for the organization to receive money in one or another way from abroad and work with things the government considers to be political.

Once on the list, the organizations seetheir domestic reputations tarnished, theyre staff harassed and the funding shrinking. Many groups give up and stop working.

Consequently, the original people-to-people cooperation between Russia and its northern Scandinavian neighbours is weaker, while the official structures with employees in the public sector still stands.

Ine Eriksen Sreide expresses concern especially for the condtions for NGOs, the media and indigenous peoples.

We regularly address this in our dialogue with Russian authorities, she says.

In Barents Russia, there are now nineNGOs labelled as foreign agents. In Murmansk region, that includes the LGBT-friendly Maximum, the environmental group Bellona Murmansk andthe Humanist Youth Movement . In Arkhangelsk region it is the LGBT-friendly Rakurs organization and in Karelia the youth group Nuori Karjala and the Petrozavodsk-based Northern Environmental Coalition. Another Karelian organization listed is the Association of Legal Expertise Partnership Union. On the tundra in Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the indigenous peoples group Yasavey Manzara is declared foreign agents. In the Komi Republic, Memorial Commission on protection of Human Rights is listed.

Other well-known groups in Russia are Memorial, Committee Against Torture, Transparency International-Russia, Nordic Council of Ministers office in St. Petersburg, Golos Association, Levada Centre, Dynasty Foundation, Bellona St. Petersburg, Regional Press Institute, the Freedom of Information Foundation and Moscow School of Civil Education.

Soldiers Mothers and Kola Eco Centre are twoorganization that has managed to be removed from the list.

In response to the current wave of media suppression in Russia, the Norwegian foreign minister wants to use the chairmanship period of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council to support cross-border journalism.

We will continue to support press freedom and medias opportunity for free cross-border journalism, Ine Eriksen Sreide tells.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will strengthen support for projects via the Barents Secretariat to for example Barents Press and the Svarte Natta conference, she says.

Barents Press is an unformal network of journalists from different media in northern part of Norway, Finland, Russia and Sweden.Svarte Natta is a bi-annual journalist conference in Troms, Norway.

We will continue to support press freedom and medias opportunity for free cross-border journalism.

Human rights seminars is another area that will get support, Eriksen Sreide says.

The Barents Council meeting in Ume was co-arranged with EU Arctic Forum, a high-profile event with seven participating foreign ministers and one EU Commissioner.

A big drawback for the Barents Council meeting, though, was the absence of Sergey Lavrov. The Russian Foreign Ministry instead participated with his deputy, Aleksandr Grushko.

Although much of the focus in Ume highlighted the broader Arctic cooperation, the Norwegiansconsiderthe Barents cooperation to be a cornerstone in theregional part of cooperation in the Arctic.

Earlier this week, Markku Heikkil, a Finnish expert on both the Barents- and Arctic cooperations said in an interview with the Barents Observer that arranging the Barents Council meeting as a side-event to the EU Arctic Forum was a serious downscaling of Barents.

Gril Johansen is Norways representative in the Committee of Senior Officials of the Barents Council.

For Norway, the Barents Council meeting and the hand over of the chairmanship was the main purpose of the visit to Ume, Gril Johansen says.

We generally profile the Barents cooperation as a best practice for international cooperation in the Arctic. This was also the message of the foreign minister during the panel discussion at the EU Arctic Forum, she says.

In the official brochure for the coming two years the Norwegian chairmanship lists other priorities as well: Health, people-to-people contact and knowledge, with a view to building a stronger and more resilient Barents region are some of the priorities listed.

You can help us report about the Barents cooperation

. we hope you enjoyed reading this article. Unlike many others, the Barents Observer has no paywall. We want to keep our journalism open to everyone, including to our Russian readers. The Independent Barents Observer is a journalist-owned newspaper. It takes a lot of hard work and money to produce. But, we strongly believe our bilingual reporting makes a difference in the north. We therefore got a small favor to ask; make acontribution to our work.

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Civil society and media freedom on agenda as Norway takes over chair of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council - The Independent Barents Observer

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UK to Release ‘Pay to Slay’ Audits After Freedom of Information Request – Algemeiner

Posted: at 3:45 am

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 23, 2014. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Flash90.

JNS.org The branch of the British government responsible for administering overseas aid will disclose audit reports regarding aid money allegedly used to pay salaries to convicted terrorists, after abandoning its appeal against a ruling by UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

In July 2018, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), a British volunteer organization of lawyers who support Israel, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department for International Development for copies of audit reports for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program. The program is a World Bank multi-donor trust fund for the Palestinian Authority. The DFID refused to release the information, citing among other reasons the risk of potential harm diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and the PA.

According to UKLFI, Various countries, including the UK, paid large sums of money into the World Banks Palestinian Recovery and Development Program Multi Donor Trust Fund (PRDP-MDTF), which were then transferred to the Palestinian Authoritys Central Treasury Account. According to the organization, this is the account from which payments were made to convicted terrorists, rewarding them for their crimes.

Commissioner Denham ruled on July 26 of this year that the reports were of significant public interest, which outweighed any potential harm that might be done to diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and the PA Denham ordered the DFID to release the information within 35 days, or appeal.

October 3, 2019 1:36 pm

The DFID gave a Notice of Appeal on Aug. 19, saying it would appeal on the grounds that it opposed both the public interest argument and Denhams conclusion that the PA was not a state for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act.

However, when the DFID actually filed its Grounds of Appeal on Sept. 24, it withdrew part of its argument and said that it would release the documents.

While DFID considers that the ICs assessment of the public interest was wrong, it does not seek to appeal it,the DFID said. The IC gave insufficient weight to DFIDs reasons for withholding the materials, but since the time of the request there has been further engagement on this issue. While that does not vitiate DFIDs original decision, it does mean that DFID would not seek to withhold the information if a new request were made, and it therefore will provide the information.

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI, said in response that we hope that DFID will now comply with its legal obligations and release the documents, and end this long-standing cover-up.

According to Israel-based media watchdog Palestinian Media Watch, the PA spends more than 8 percent of its total budget on salaries for convicted terrorists, which serve to reward and encourage terrorism. These funds come out of the PAs Central Treasury account, to which Britain has paid 430.5 million ($528.9 million) in grant aid between 2008 and 2015.

If the DFID still refuses to release the records, UKLFI will ask Denham to certify DFIDs failure to comply with the Freedom of Information Act. This is a step to enable the High Court to hold DFID in contempt of court and to impose penalties including imprisonment of officials, according to UKLFI.

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UK to Release 'Pay to Slay' Audits After Freedom of Information Request - Algemeiner

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Freedom Boat Club celebrates 200th location – Boating Industry

Posted: at 3:45 am

Freedom Boat Club, a division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC), has announced its 200thfranchise location.The official announcement was made during the 2019 IBEX Marine Trade show in Tampa.Glenn Bergoffen, owner of the Tampa area franchise locations, has added another location this one in Madeira Beach, Florida.

Reaching our 200thlocation is quite a milestone for Freedom Boat Club, said John Giglio, Freedom Boat Club president.We announced our 100thlocation just over three years ago so to add another 100 locations in that short period of time is a testament to the growth of boat clubs and boating participation.

The growth of Freedom Boat Club has been astounding and Im thrilled to be a part of it. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have the gift to impact lives and in our case, our members, just by the little things you do, said Bergoffen. I am truly thankful for having such a committed team at Freedom Boat Club with our primary goal being to continually improve the boating experience.

Now serving more than 40,000 members around the United States, Canada and Europe, Freedom Boat Club continues to earn national awards including the top spot from Entrepreneur magazine in the Misc. Recreational Business Category for the second year and No. 270 in the overall 2019 Franchise 500 list.In addition, Freedom Boat Club was just named to Inc. Magazine 5000 list.

This is an exciting time for Freedom Boat Club and the boating industry, said Brenna Preisser, Brunswick Corporation Business Acceleration president. We are defining a new category in the marine industry and the more Freedom grows, the more our industry grows as well. The synergies between all of our Brunswick brands and Freedom Boat Club are in the early stages and we are very excited about the opportunities for continued collaboration.

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Freedom Boat Club celebrates 200th location - Boating Industry

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How the War on Meat Threatens Your Health and Freedom | Barry Brownstein – Foundation for Economic Education

Posted: at 3:45 am

Senator Kamala Harris from California is one of the Democratic authoritarians running for president. In his recent essay Kamala Harris and the Cult of the Presidency, Tyler Curtis documents alarming executive actions Harris promises to take if elected president.

In September, at a CNN town hall on climate change, Harris was asked this question: Would you support dietary guidelines changes to reduce consumption of red meat? Harris responded,

The balance that we have to strike here, frankly, is about what government can and should do around creating incentives and then banning certain behaviors.

Banning the eating of meat by executive action is not something Harris is threatening to do; but as hysteria over climate change mounts and freedom erodes, the unimaginable might one day become a reality.

If you believe this is hyperbole, consider this: Recently, Michael Mansfield, one of the UKs foremost barristers, predicted that eating meat could be banned like smoking. Mansfield called for the offence of ecocide to be introduced to prosecute those who damage nature on a massive scale.

Mansfield puts meat producers and eaters on par with Nazi war criminals and Pol Pot.

Mansfield claims that eating meat and dairy is high on the list of things that damage the environment. He said, I think when we look at the damage eating meat is doing to the planet it is not preposterous to think that one day it will become illegal.

Ominously, Mansfield argues, It is time for a new law on ecocide to go alongside genocide and the other crimes against humanity. In other words, Mansfield puts meat producers and eaters on par with Nazi war criminals and Pol Pot.

Mansfield is a vegetarian. The last time I ate red meat was over 30 years ago, but Im not a holier-than thou-vegetarian. I regularly eat wild-caught fish, such as salmon and cod. Eggs are usually part of my breakfasts. The amount of whole grains and beans that my body thrives on would send someone who relishes a keto or paleo diet into shock. My green vegetable intake from the Brassica family of vegetableskale, broccoli, bok choy, etc.is unfathomable to many.

Not everyone would thrive on my diet. There is not one human diet that will support the health and well-being of all.

To deny variations in the need for animal food is to deny reality. In his many books, the late great biochemist Roger J. Williams pointed to biochemical individuality as a fact of human existence. There is no such thing as a normal individual. In his book Biochemical Individuality, Williams explains, Variability in the human species is a much greater magnitude than that in animals.

In his introduction to Williamss book, Jeffrey Bland emphasizes the biochemical variability in humanity that Williams found:

Even identical twins could be different in their needs for optimal function based upon the fact that they developed in different environments in utero. Although identical twins share the same genes, their differing nutrition and developmental environments can result in different expression of the genes as they grow older.

Williams points out that there are significant anatomical variations between human beings. For example, Williams writes, some stomachs hold six or eight times as much as others. Not only the size of the organ but also the position in the body varies from person to person.

Williams continues down the list: Endocrine activities vary among individuals as do blood constituents. Differences from person to person go on and on.

All this leads to great individuality in nutritional needs. Humans, Williams observes, have differing requirements for vitamins and minerals. We process amino acids differently. Williams writes,

individual needs which we have been discussing are met to a degree by the process of self-selection of foods.

Humans are omnivores; to thrive, some need more animal food than others.

You have probably heard of the explosive demand for fake meat driven by the perception that eating fake meat is better for your health and more environmentally responsible. Still others are motivated by ethical concerns about the conditions animals are subjected to on feedlot factory farms.

Brands such as Impossible Burger and Beyond Beef are known for their remarkable resemblance to real burgers, right down to ersatz blood. Burger King has been rolling out the Impossible Whopper.

From the website of the Impossible Burger, here are its ingredients:

Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

Libertarian and vegan John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods, points out that these highly processed foods are not likely to sustain your health:

Some of these that are extremely popular now that are taking the world by storm, if you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foodsI dont think eating highly processed foods is healthy. I think people thrive on eating whole foods.

Mackeys concern may be an understatement. Soy protein concentrate, and the similar product isolated soy protein, is an ingredient found in a wide range of products such as vegan meats, vegan cheeses, power bars, protein powders, and soy drinks. Due to loopholes in food labeling requirements, consumers may unknowingly consume soy protein manufactured in China and thus be risking eating foods that are contaminated.

Think twice about switching to unprocessed foods if you find pot washing a tedious chore.

Regardless of the purity of the product, soy protein concentrate is a highly processed, unhealthy substance bearing little resemblance to healthy soy products such as tofu, miso, and tempeh. Tofu, miso, and tempeh have been traditional whole foods in Asian societies for thousands of years.

Dont pretend eating an Impossible Burger is a substitute for real change in eating habits. Mackey is right; avoid highly processed foods. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods are the hallmark of any healthy diet from vegan to paleo. A diet comprising unprocessed foods takes a commitment to learn how to shop, cook, and clean-up. Think twice about switching to unprocessed foods if you find pot washing a tedious chore.

Mackey believes that although ersatz burgers are not good for your health, they are good for the environment. Perhaps so, but onlynine percent of greenhouse gases come from all forms of agriculture. Going vegan leads to only about a two to six per cent drop in [ones] carbon footprint. A marginal reduction in greenhouse gases achieved by eating food that damages your health and increases health costs is a poor tradeoff.

Real change is not achieved by legislation but by voluntary changes in behavior. Lasting change is fueled by real market prices for food, not distorted prices driven by government subsidies. Subsidies for corn distort market prices for beef since corn is a major component in the diet of feedlot cattle. The last thing America needs are government incentives to manufacture and consume ersatz burgers. What America needs is a government that respects the power of free people to make wise choices for themselves.

Democratic politicians are completely consistent: they believe the state is free to apply coercive force against individual choices.

At about the same time Harris called for limiting meat consumption on a national level, Democratic legislators in California passed a state law, opposed by almost every Republican legislator, subjecting medical exemptions from vaccinations to bureaucratic review by government. As a practical matter, medical exemptions for vaccines are now almost impossible in California.

Democratic politicians are completely consistent: they believe the state is free to apply coercive force against individual choices.

I wonder how many who are outraged at the thought that government will decide what you eat are fine with forced injections of vaccinations.

I wonder how many who are opposing mandatory vaccination laws might be OK with government-mandated limits on meat consumption.

Few seem to realize that their rights are only as secure as their support of the rights of others.

As long as we selectively support the right of ownership in our body, there is no right of ownership in our body. Governments job is to protect the right of self-ownership, not to grant us rights to self-ownership.

In his seminal essay Justice and Property Rights, Murray Rothbard bases his ideas on the work of John Locke and asserts that each of us has the right of self-ownership. Rothbard explains,

This principle asserts the absolute right of each man, by virtue of his (or her) being a human being, to "own" his own body; that is, to control that body free of coercive interference. Since the nature of man is such that each individual must use his mind to learn about himself and the world, to select values, and to choose ends and means in order to survive and flourish, the right to self-ownership gives each man the right to perform these vital activities without being hampered and restricted by coercive molestation.

The basic freedom to self-ownership in our bodies is being eroded. It might be easy to blame politicians, but I would point to the publics lack of understanding of the self-ownership principle.

Before meat-eaters are singled out as the next group of social pariahs, its time to pause and reflect.

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How the War on Meat Threatens Your Health and Freedom | Barry Brownstein - Foundation for Economic Education

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Why digital sovereignty is central to innovation, freedom and democracy in Europe – ITProPortal

Posted: at 3:45 am

By far the greatest innovation of the past 50 years is the internet, enabling digitisation and global networking to change communications and business worldwide. In recent years, weve seen significant disruption and upheavals in industries like retail, telecommunications and music. Meanwhile, sectors such as banking, insurance and medical services face increasing pressure to change.

The arrival of the internet has undoubtedly boosted our personal freedom. Smartphones enable us to communicate, find information and buy goods without the need for an intermediary. Yet at the same time, a handful of vendors have rapidly become the dominant players, namely Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu.

The common ground between these services is that they collect, store and process user data and, if necessary, pass it onto third parties. This forms the basis (or at least a core part) of their business models.

Advertising-based business models have become prevalent amongst online services over the last 20 years, not least due to a lack of successful alternatives. Since advertisers were willing and able to pay higher prices to reach their target audiences directly, many sites began collecting as much information about their users as possible. The tech giants of Silicon Valley have thus established a new social contract: data in exchange for free services.

In order to get as much data as possible and to maintain sole access to it, Google, Amazon, Facebook and the rest have built closed platforms. Whatsapp and facebook Messenger retain users by ensuring they can only communicate with other users of the same platform, and are therefore unable to switch providers. Their goal is to lure users away from open and federated Internet services to their gated silos in order to ensure they their personal and monetisable data on their platforms.

The original vision for the internet was vastly different. Based around open standards and open protocols (TCP / IP, DNS, HTTP, IMAP), the internet was designed to give everyone the opportunity to communicate with each other and provide access to knowledge without a single centralised authority.

These closed systems lead to a network effect, which allows the largest provider to grow as the competition dwindles. Users flock to this service, making it enormously difficult for new providers to assert themselves against the dominant provider.

Dominant providers meanwhile optimise their businesses to ensure an enormous cash flow, huge profits, and billions of euros in liquid assets. They can use this money to acquire companies developing promising new technologies. This further consolidates their market position and prevents them from disruption by newer, more innovative start-ups. A good example of this is Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp and Instagram at an early stage, successfully diversifying and cementing its supremacy in the world of social networking.

The combination of dominant internet platforms, the triumph of the smartphone and the expansion of the mobile internet, along with the practice of capturing and processing consumer data, has led to comprehensive surveillance systems in the East and West. Over the last decade, these have developed as a means of analysing and manipulating user behaviour.

Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff coined the term "surveillance capitalism" to refer to the systems operated by Facebook and Google in the US, which collect users' data in order to generate advertising revenues. However, because capitalism requires a free market, and this no longer exists, we are in fact talking about surveillance monopoly.

Similarly, the Chinese social credit system, which grants the State the power to reward desirable behaviour and punish undesirable behaviour, can be characterised as "surveillance centralism.

Germany and Europe must become advocates for an open internet.

Neither of these perspectives should be acceptable in Europe, where we are united by the values of the Enlightenment and humanism. These values include a commitment to the dignity of human beings, freedom, equality and solidarity. Cooperation within the European Union is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

But the past decade has shown that we have largely lost sovereignty and control over our personal information and privacy. This exposes us to both private and state surveillance and manipulation, which ultimately endangers our democracies, which are based on personal freedom.

In addition, mass data is the basis for the next jump innovation: artificial intelligence (AI). Having the most and best data to train your algorithms has a strategic advantage for any AI company hoping to be successful in its specific market.

It is therefore clear that in Europe we must do everything in our power to limit the data-gathering and privacy-violating services of the monopolistic corporations. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager does a very good job in this area and does not shy away from conflict with powerful companies.

At the same time, we need to promote the development and use of open internet services that respect users' data sovereignty and are in line with the original vision for the internet, i.e. open, networked (federated) and non-admitted (permissionless).

Here, "open source" software holds the key. Only open source software can ensure transparency, which is a prerequisite for trusted services. Furthermore, open interfaces guarantee competition and innovation.

But this alone is not enough. The most promising approach would be to break the monopolistic market power by forcing it to allow interoperability. Then new, open services have a real chance of competing with the existing data silos. Meanwhile, government support is required to encourage the spread of open software. First, public administration at all levels should establish open source software as a standard in order to reduce reliance on a few vendors.

On the other hand, as demanded by the alliance of the digital economy and politics in the "Public Money, Public Code" campaign, state-funded software should be released under free software licenses. This way, it is genuinely open and made available to the very people whose taxes pay for it: the public.

Rafael Laguna, Founding Director, SprinD and CEO, Open-Xchange

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Why digital sovereignty is central to innovation, freedom and democracy in Europe - ITProPortal

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Idaho Second Amendment Alliance visits Twin Falls on ‘Freedom Tour’ – KMVT

Posted: at 3:45 am

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance is touring the state hoping to educate people about the rights that are given to people under the Second Amendment.

They will travel 10,000 miles throughout the state of Idaho.

The alliance is based out of the Treasure Valley, but wanted to visit more of Idaho.

The event was held at Red's Trading Post Tuesday night where the president of the alliance Greg Pruett talked about his thoughts on red flag laws, the constitutional carry rights in Idaho and his opinion on what could happen to gun control in Idaho because of the ballot initiative.

Idaho Rep. Christy Zito was at the event as well

"If we are not involved, if we don't educate ourselves, if we don't know what our representatives are doing, then the problem is ours," Zito said. "Then once you figure it out, and you like what they are doing then you better get out there and support them."

The reason that the group is going on this tour they say is to help have healthy conversation about the rights that people have in the state of Idaho.

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Ex-leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party to withdraw from politics – Deutsche Welle

Posted: at 3:45 am

Heinz-Christian Strache is withdrawing from politics and suspendinghis membership in Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FP), he said on Tuesday morning.

"Out of loyalty for my supporters, it is essential that I avert any further damage to the Freedom Party and prevent any internal divisions," said Strache ata press conference in Vienna.

Read more:Austria: Secret video ensnares far-right leader

Strache, who led the FP for 14 years,also served as vice chancellor from 2017 to 2019, before he was forced out ofthe government in May when video footage emerged of him appearing to offerpublic contracts in exchange for campaign help from what turned out to be a fake Russian backer in Ibiza.

The "Ibiza" scandal, as it became known, led to Strache losing his job in a vote of confidence supported by left-leaning parties and conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. At the time, the FP was the junior coalition party toKurz's conservative People's Party.

The government then called for a snap election, which was held on Sunday.TheFP suffered a heavy loss, winning just 16% of the vote, down 10 percentage points from 2017.

Read more:Austria's far right loses ground as Sebastian Kurz wins landslide

Until Tuesday, Strache had left open the possibility of seeking public office again in the future. The former vice chancelloris also under investigation for thealleged misuse of party funds. In Tuesday's press conference, he repeated his claim that he wasthe victim of a conspiracy against his party.

knp/rc (AP, dpa)

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It all boiled down to freedom: How a Michigan couple paid off $120,000 in student loans in less than 3 years – Fox Business

Posted: at 3:45 am

Center for Freedom & Prosperity co-founder Dan Mitchell discusses how the U.S. student loan debt reached a record $1.465 trillion last month and how it may affect the economy.

Quenton and Marchelle Ross thought they would never pay off their debt.

After college, their student loans came up to nearly $120,000 three-and-a-half times the national average for college grads in their 30s, and five times that of grads in their 20s.

Still, they were determined to try.

The couple, originally from Detroit, decided to stay local for school. Quenton, now 33, double majored in telecommunications and criminal justice at Michigan State University. And Marchelle, 28, took up secondary education at the University of Detroit, Mercy, where she got her bachelors before earning her masters in educational administration.

When Quenton graduated in 2008, his loans totaled around $40,000 before interest. When Marchelle graduated in 2016, her undergrad and post-grad loans were about $77,000.

Together, they owed roughly $118,000. And while they both received scholarships in high school that went toward their college education, it didnt make much of a dent in the debt.

I never really heard about [people paying off their student loans] too much, Quenton told Fox Business. My mom had loans for, like, 20 years after she graduated. It was just kind of something that you assumed would always linger around and never go away.

So that's kind of how I looked at it.

Quenton and Marchelle Ross paid off nearly $1200,000 in student loan debt in less than 3 years.

Thats until the couple, who got married in 2015, decided to try and beat the odds.

It all boiled down to freedom, Quenton said. I didn't want to work my entire life and always have to pay bills. I wanted to get to a point to where I was able to live freely and comfortably and not say, I have to work a full-time job when I'm 60, 70 years old.

That was our driving force. It wasn't just the debt. It was really a bigger factor for us.

Marchelle agreed: We talked about a lot of very serious things in our relationship so that we were on the same page, she told Fox Business. We were very clear on what we wanted: We wanted to sacrifice young so we could enjoy life when we got older.

It wasnt until after school, though, that they started paying back. And not all at once, either.

I always paid the minimum balance because I was conscious of maintaining good credit, Quenton said, but I didn't really know how interest worked. Plus, a lot of the advice he got from advisors and peers was to apply for deferment and stay on for as long as possible.

Thats what he did, unaware that interest began accruing immediately after graduation with rates as high as 7% or more on Plus loans, according to the U.S. Treasury.

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Marchelle paid back a bit during undergrad, but it was just the minimum, she said, and due to high interest, my amount was going up, not down. So, I deferred when I went back.

It was frustrating, she added. But we knew this could not go on forever.

The coupleleaned on some reliable mentors they met during school,andfinancial expert Dave Ramseys The Total Money Makeover, a book that changed our mentality on how paying the debt was possible, Quenton said.

They implemented the snowball method, where they paid the smallest loan first, then moved on to the next largest one after a strategyused by Danny and Amber Masters, who racked up $600,000 in student loans and paid $200,000 in a year, and Redd Horrocks, a self-employed voiceover artist, who paid $39,000 in debt in 5 years.

With the first check of the month, Quenton said, we would make sure we had money for mortgage, the utilities, everything else, and then with the second check of the month, we would put toward whatever loan we were focusing on at that time.

It helped that Quenton owned a business, Q11 Photography, which opened in 2017, and inaddition to his full-time job as a director of a production at a broadcasting company, generated a good deal of income. He estimates he was bringing in about $100,000 a year.

Marchelle, who was a teacher at the time, was making around $50,000.

Despite their combined $150,000 income, the couple still took steps to cut back on their expenses and focus on their debt, frequently asking themselves, What do we spend daily, or weekly, on things we dont need? What are our shopping habits?"Quenton recalled. That's something we took a hard look at.

I didn't even go to the barbershop the entire time, he said. I learned to cut my own hair.

They reevaluated their grocery budget, too, Marchelle added, like, OK, lets eat out less and only shop for what we need to cook for the next couple of days instead of buying food that goes to waste. And the money we saved by doing that would go toward our debt.

As well, she said, even though Im a social person, I would say, Why don't you come to my house and I can cook as opposed to going out and paying exponentially more. Let's get something that costs $4 versus $25."

In 29 months, the debt was gone.

Unlike the Ross, a striking 60% of student debt borrowers dont expect to pay off their loans until their 40s, according to research from Citizens Financial Group.

And while the couplewasable to erase their debt, they acknowledge it wasnt easy.

It irritated me the way interest works, Quenton said. There would be times where I would make a $300 payment, $400 payment in between regular monthly payments and be expecting a huge difference in the amount we owed. But so much of that extra money was going toward interest and not principle. A lot of times youd want to say, Man, just skip this. We can take this money and put it toward something that could breed immediate results.

But they kept at it, and now that their debt is gone, they want to focus on more important things, like taking vacations together, donating to charity, buying property and funding thephotography business. Plus, Quenton said, I can finally go to the barbershop.

Above all, though, they wanted to be able to start a family.

Our main goal was not to birth a child into debt, Quenton said. So, whenever we have a baby they won't be adding to an insurmountable debt they had nothing to do with."

"Now we can stick our chests out as husband and wife say we can do that, Marchelle added, "and God gets the glory. We worked hard but we couldn'thave done it without faith."

Their advice to those struggling to pay down debt: Do the work.

We tell everybody that there are no shortcuts, Quenton said. We don't want you to have a 5-minute conversation with us and then think you have some master plan. Read the books, study, learn the nuances of interest and paying debt. Talking to us, you'll find out what works for us. But by doing the work, you'll find out what will work for you.

When I think about the value of college, he added, I tell people that a degree doesn't prove you learned a lot in class, instead, it shows that you were able to matriculate through a structured system for four years, while having the freedom to do whatever you wanted.

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And paying off debt is almost thesame: You have to commit to the process while having the freedom to spend your money on other things. You have to read on your own, study on your own and understand that everything matters. Even the small payments you think are irrelevant are needed and will be applied toward reaching your end goal.

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