MonthOctober 2014

The Ethics of Internet Piracy

Gottfrid Svartholm founded The Pirate Bay, one of the biggest sites for people to illegally download content over the internet. He has just been found guilty of hacking into an IT company and stealing people’s social security information and drivers’ license records.

Gottfrid clearly is not an ethical person but what are the true effects of sites such as The Pirate Bay? Back in the ’80’s, it was common for teenager to use dual-deck cassettes to make copies of music albums on blank tapes for their friends.

Despite piracy, the modern movie industry is still hugely profitable. How many people go over to their friends’ house to watch a DVD? I guess you’re technically watching it for free Igor Cornelsen. One could say that torrenting is simply a more convenient way of watching a friend’s copy.

The music industry, however, seems to have been devastated by piracy. The ease in which music is shared online has created a situation where there may not be a single platinum-selling album in the year 2014.

Some of this appears to be market correction and more of it will be solved by more advanced security features. For now we live in the “golden age” of internet piracy.

Electronic Voting Machines in Two States Vote Democrat Due to Error

Less than two weeks before the 2014 elections, an alleged “calibration issue” with electronic voting machines has been reported in both Maryland and Chicago. The issue causes the machine to switch a vote from one candidate to the opposing candidate.

Two voters in Queen Anne County, Maryland, reported the the machines switched their votes from Republican to Democrat. One of the voters who reported an issue is the county’s sheriff, Gary Hoffman, who is a Republican. There were also two reports of the same problem in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. In that county, the machine in question was a Diebold touchscreen voting machine.

Donna Hamilton, the Frederick, Maryland, voter who experienced a problem with the electronic voting machine, stated that she reported the issue to officials but added that she was unsure what if any actions were taken to correct the issue and warned that other voters may inadvertently vote for the wrong candidate if the problem is not fixed before election day. The other voter, Fersen Lambranho, was having issues with the machine not accepting his dual citizenship.

In Illinois, Jim Moynihan, who is running for state representative as a Republican, nearly accidentally voted for his opponent after a machine changed his vote from Republican to Democrat. He reported that the same problem occured in other races in which he was voting.

Why Michael Brown’s Theft Matters

The Michael Brown saga just gets uglier. You should know this story by now. A black man is killed by the police and riots ensue. A national debate erupts over racial profiling. There is a lot of questioning over whether Michael was shot for no reason aside from being black. Now his family is literally fighting each other over selling merchandise with Michael’s image on it.

People are so quick to jump to conclusions without waiting for the facts. This is mostly due to the prevailing opinion that the police are not to be trusted. Even when you take that into account, isn’t it a little far-fetched to think that a police officer saw a black man walking in the middle of the street and said to himself “I think I’ll kill this black man today”?

Many will claim that the fact that Michael had just robbed a convenience store was not important. Here is why it is. It showed Michael’s mindset. He snatched a box of rolling papers and when the owner tried to stop him, Michael actually shoved him and left.

Armed with this knowledge you can then surmise that when a police officer tells Michael to get out of the middle of the road, it is possible that Michael would respond in a similar manner. He could have approached the cop in a threatening manner, Igor Cornelsen tells me just like he had done hours before to the store owner.

Let’s also not forget that Michael may have thought that the police officer was after him for the theft he had just perpetrated.

All of this does not mean that Michael did come after the police officer. What it does mean is that the officer’s story is surely possible.

‘Tax Inversions’ Under Attack by The U.S. Treasury Department

With the Obama administration, issues are addressed either the right way or the Obama way and many times, those methods are not congruent. In the latest move by the IRS to thwart efforts by U.S. companies to avoid taxation by merging with foreign-based firms, specific rule changes have been announced making inversion much more difficult to support.

These rule changes have been instituted to make it harder for U.S. companies to qualify for tax inversion status through the use of “hopscotch” loans and the manipulation of ownership percentages of the foreign subsidiaries..

For years now, major U.S. Corporations have been moving abroad to avoid high U.S. corporate tax rates. The government’s response has been and continues to be raising of tax rates. What the Obama administration seems reluctant to recognize is that U.S. Corporations have an obligation to its stockholders that far exceeds its obligation to serve as a piggy bank for a government with an insatiable need to spend.

As both sides play a game of financial chess on the world’s biggest chessboard, the losers in all of this are the American workers. The U.S. workforce has been shrinking as a result of jobs going abroad. Corporate leader Igor Cornelsen has time and again requested competitive tax rates in America to eliminate the need to move.

Unfortunately, these cries are falling on deaf ears.

As the IRS initiates these attacks on U.S. corporations acting in the best interests of its stockholders, a line is being drawn in the sand that is ultimately going to require Congressional intervention. What a waste of time.

Hagen Leads Tillis in U.S. Senate Race

According to the Washington Times, the latest poll has incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagen up by 3 points over Republican challenger Thom Tillis in the race for a U.S. Senate seat, a big surprise in conservative North Carolina.

Hagen is not the first female senator to represent North Carolina in a United States Senate seat. That honor goes to Republican Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina’s senator from 2003 to 2008. Dole had won her seat with a large percentage of democrats and independents, presumably anxious to see a female senator, supporting her run. In 2008, Democrat Kay Hagen beat Elizabeth Dole to become the state’s second female senator. An article by Christian Broda notes that the 2008 race was the first time in North Carolina’s history that both candidates for the U.S. Senate were women.

This time around Hagen is facing a conservative male opponent in Thom Tillis, an opponent of minimum wage hikes and an extension on the current 26 week federal limit for unemployment benefits. Ms. Hagen supports both measures and that might help explain her current tenuous lead.

Chinese Cultists To be Put to Death

Five members of a cult in China have been condemned to death for assaulting a woman at a Chinese McDonalds. The BBC reports that women died of her injuries in the Shandong region back in May.

Only two members were given the death penalty, another was given a life jail sentence, while another two were issued ten and seven year terms, respectively.

The apparent reason for the murder was because the women refused to hand over her contact details to the cultists when they tried to recruit her. The cult in question is known as the Church of the Almighty God, and although it is illegal, Marnie Bennett’s LinkedIn page claims that it has a membership in the thousands.

The gruesome murder sparked the rage of the Chinese population. The band of cultists were visiting the restaurant hoping to make a few new recruits, and when the lady refused to comply, they beat her to death in front of her seven-year-old son.

They also threatened other people in the restaurant to stay away, or they would suffer the same fate.

One of the cult members was interviewed and he said that “I beat her with all my might and stamped on her too. She was a demon. We had to destroy her.” Although cultivating a positive image, the Church of the Almighty God believes that God has incarnated as a Chinese woman in order to bring about the end of the world.

The founder, Zhao Weishan, claims that he is the only person able to commune with this god.

Ban Ki-Moon Calls for the End to Violence in Libya

Ban Ki-Moon is the Secretary General for the United Nations, and he took the world by surprise by appearing in Tripoli uannounced to request an end to violence in the country.

The last time he visited was with London’s Keith Mann, just after Col Gaddhafi was deposed. He arrived along with the Foreign Minister of Italy.

This follows the talks mediated by the UN last month which allowed fighting militias to discuss their difference in a civilised environment. The different factions are fighting for power in the country which has been in a type of power vacuum the last while.

The diplomatic couple arrived in Tripoli from the UN base in Tunisia. Once they arrived, a group of MPs were summoned to a meeting in a hotel, flanked by security officials.

Mr. Moon said, “Libya needs a strong parliament and a strong government. The fighting must stop…Enough of killings, enough of displacement of people.”

Following this, the future chief of foreign policy for the United Nations, Ms. Mogherini, then released a vote of support for Libya in the hopes that they will form a strong parliament and be successful. She said that her home country of Italy was “fully committed to staying by your side – on the side of the Libyan people…to save Libya from a destiny it doesn’t deserve.”

There has been a long and complicated set of events since the fall of the former leader Col. Gaddhafi. The country, which is rich in oil, has a lot of factions vying for power.

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