Catalonia votes for independence

Spain’s north-eastern region of Catalonia finally cast their vote despite all of the resistance from the Spain’s authorities. The non-binding vote went ahead after Spain’s constitutional court ruled out a formal referendum. Almost 2 million people out of the population of 7.5 million could vote and the preliminary result is an overwhelming 80% in favor of vote of independence for Catalonia.

Catalan leader Artur Mas hailed the non-binding poll “a great success” that should pave the way for a formal referendum. Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala dismissed the poll as “fruitless and useless”, however. “The government considers this to be a day of political propaganda organized by pro-independence forces and devoid of any kind of democratic validity,” he said in a statement.

Judging from the recent events the region will not be allowed to gain independence in any democratic sort of way. Unfortunately, it is completely unclear whether Catalan are prepared to stand up and fight for their rights with weapon in hand. With the non-equivocal resistance from Spain that may eventually remain the only way though, just like the fight of the Eastern Ukraine for independence showed. It may be hard to imagine a bloody military battle in Spain but a year ago it was impossible to imagine a bloody battle in Ukraine either.

One thing that Spanish government made very clear is that they are not letting the region go. That stands to reason, no country is keen on breaking itself up, so why should they? If Catalonia wishes independence, they will have to fight for it. The economics of politics is such that it must become more expensive for Spain to keep them than to let them go. Is there a peaceful and non-destructive way to do that?


continue reading →

Obama must use his influence on Kiev to stop war

The People’s Republic of Lugansk appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama to influence the Ukrainian authorities, so that they stop military operations in the east of Ukraine. The statement published on the website of the Lugansk Republic.

The Lugansk Republic government states that “the humanitarian and technogenic catastrophe forces us to turn to you for influence on the Ukrainian authorities for an immediate cease-fire and rescue of hundreds of thousands of civilians who are every day exposed to artillery and missile attacks and air strikes by the Ukrainian regular army and illegal armed groups of neo-fascists.”

The statement announces that the south-east of Ukraine will never be Ukrainian again, “regardless of the outcome of the so-called “anti-terrorist operation”.” The authors of the statement also note that they no longer believe Ukrainian officials and military, who cannot be expected to keep a promise. Barack Obama was selected as the recipient of the message because “the severity of the crimes of the Ukrainian authorities, for whatever reason, was not yet recognized by the EU and the United States.”

“It [the cessation of military operations] will save hundreds of thousands of civilians and will help you to rehabilitate after Washington backed the illegal usurpation of power in Ukraine by neo-fascists and mass murder of civilians in Donbass” – says Lugansk Republic.… -->

continue reading →

Ukraine: Guns instead of Butter

Ukrainians will eat less. That is, even less. And it’s not Russian propaganda, but the official announcement by the Government of Ukraine.

“Funding for a number of social programs will be cut because of the need to finance the army and restore the infrastructure of Donbass. To balance the budget of Ukraine we need to cut funding of a number of social programs, and to increase funding for the Army,” – said Prime Minister Yatsenyuk at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, July 17.

“As the head of the government I am ready to take personal responsibility for these difficult but necessary decisions for the country. I am convinced that all our government members realize that there is no other way. Yes, the country is at war, it is necessary to finance the army, restore infrastructure, provide for the victims, pay the soldiers. And so we will have to cut back on a number of social programs,” – government’s press office quoted Yatsenuk.


 … -->

continue reading →

Turchynov accused the West of avarice

Speaker of the Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that Western countries did not provide the necessary military assistance to Ukraine. He stated this in an interview to ““.

According to him, the EU and the United States feared a large-scale continental war. Turchinov told the corespondents that he had met with many heads of European countries, USA, and Canada where Ukraine had begged assistance in the form of weapons and other technical military means.

“The availability of new high-accuracy weapons would allow us not only to fight more effectively, but to protect civilians better. Alas, we have not received from them even a slingshot. It’s true, “- said the speaker.

“On paper, they are the guarantor countries, but the reality is that all we got were sympathy and dry rations” – complained Turchinov. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that “moral support, the pressure of public opinion of the civilized world” and “the threat of economic sanctions” played their role.

Washington openly provides military assistance to Ukraine since March 2014, when the Pentagon dispatched 330,000 sets of dry rations (this was done against the backdrop of the conflict over Crimea). In early June, the Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet said that the White House will provide 18 million dollars for increasing the efficiency of the Ukrainian army. A few days later, the U.S. leader Barack Obama met with the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and promised to help the country’s security forces with body armor, night vision devices and communications for five million dollars.… -->

continue reading →

Privacy, Democracy and Big Data

I read recently two very interesting articles that discuss in depth the current problems with the internet, privacy and democracy implications. I highly recommend reading both:

  • The Real Privacy Problem
  • Three Paradoxes of Big Data

The Internet and the related technologies erode the very fabric of society. They do so quietly, surreptitiously, in little steps. As usual, do not blame the tool, blame those that use it for evil. Although some tools better not have existed in the first place, I feel.… -->

continue reading →

Global survillance economic results

An article in The Morning Call talks about economic impact of the NSA surveillance, but limits the discussion to its area of interest – the US companies, while making me think about the rest of the world:

Worldwide spending on the cloud is expected to double over the next three years to more than $200 billion. U.S. firms have been leaders in developing the technology. According to a new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, however, global worries about NSA surveillance are likely to reduce U.S. market share.

The report’s admittedly loose estimate is that U.S. cloud-computing firms will lose $21 billion to $35 billion in revenue between now and 2016. According to the report, some 10 percent of non-U.S. members of the Cloud Security Alliance said they’ve canceled a project with a U.S. company since the disclosure of the NSA’s surveillance. In addition, 56 percent indicated “that they would be less likely to use a U.S.-based cloud computing service.”

Interestingly, this does not only apply to the US economy. There are companies everywhere that would rather prefer not to be monitored. That would rather prefer to go about their business without this stranger looking over their shoulder day and night. What will happen?

I think we may be facing a new arms race soon. The businesses with money were not all that interested in keeping things private until now. Now they will likely invest in tools for privacy and the tools will get better. And so off we go, there will be demand for privacy from the, ahem, private sector and the demand for surveillance from the government sector. Big money to be made.

Just wondering… will the common citizen become “collateral damage” in this war?… -->

continue reading →

Surveillance and resistance

Quite interestingly, it seems there is some resistance to total surveillance, both in the minds and in the reality. Yes, the surveillance is increasing and the automated processes for surveillance, linking of events, things and people and follow-up and recognition is driving the technological advances now in the so-called “big data” processing. Not only your shopping habits but also all of your whereabouts can be linked together and clearly identified with sufficient data and processing power.… -->

continue reading →

USA love TSA!

The Reg reports on a recent survey that conclusively shows that “the majority of Americans think the Transportation Security Administration, which handles security screening at US airports, is doing just fine…”

Overcoming the initial shock, my conclusion is that if the government keeps something up long enough, people will just swallow it in the end because they will no more know any better. Duh, the humanity.… -->

continue reading →