Posted tagged ‘Government’

Julian Assange: Defense Fund Frozen

December 6, 2010

The Swiss Bank Post Finance has issued a press release this morning stating that they have frozen Juilan Assange’s defense fund and personal assets.

This now leaves Assange with only a few options for raising money for WikiLeaks through a Swiss-Icelandic credit card processing center and accounts that he currently has in Iceland and Germany.

What could happen next?

From the Associated Press:

The swift action by Postfinance, the financial arm of Swiss Post, came after it determined the “Australian citizen provided false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process.”

Assange had told Postfinance he lived in Geneva but could offer no proof that he was a Swiss resident, a requirement of opening such an account.

Postfinance spokesman Alex Josty told The Associated Press the account was closed Monday afternoon and there would be “no criminal consequences” for misleading authorities.

“That’s his money, he will get his money back,” Josty said. “We just close the account and that’s it.”

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Obama To Broaden Financial Bailout

January 9, 2009

Barack Obama’s economic team is broadening the mission of the $700 billion bailout for the financial sector, aiming to unfreeze credit for homeowners, consumers, small businesses and local governments.

From the Associated Press:

The overhaul is aimed at the $350 billion remaining in the Troubled Asset Relief Program and comes amid mounting criticism from lawmakers and watchdogs that the Bush administration has administered the money in an inconsistent way and has not made banks accountable for the money.

The head of a congressional panel overseeing the $700 billion bailout program said Friday that lawmakers need to “take a very hard look” at how banks have used the money and she welcomed Obama’s attempts to better define the program’s mission.

Obama’s selection for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, is developing a “comprehensive set of investment principles,” an Obama transition official said Friday. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the plan has not yet been fleshed out, said the economic team will include measures to mitigate rising foreclosures and will place tougher conditions on financial institutions that receive the money, including limits on executive compensation.

With 11 days left before Obama is sworn in as the nation’s 44th president, the task of requesting Congress for access to the remaining funds will now likely fall on the new Obama administration.

Geithner is expected to face a confirmation hearing before the Senate next Thursday and he can count on being quizzed vigorously on his TARP proposals.

Though the Obama team is not offering any specifics, the mere fact that it is setting goals for the money won support from the head of a congressional panel that is charged with overseeing how the money is being spent.

“These are powerfully important initiatives,” said Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren. “I’m very pleased that the incoming administration is focused on these issues.”

She offered no specific advice on how to free up more credit. “It’s going to take a variety of tools,” she said. “They may have to move through multiple approaches.”

What are Social Media’s Next Steps?

December 3, 2008

Great posting today by Jason Falls who imagines the Web getting smarter and getting more semantic and sensory input about what users are paying attention to — and responding to it. He also sees a future in which every online development either has a mobile application or is doomed to obscurity.

From the post:

Last night I spoke to the Social Media Club gathering in Chicago where I pontificated a bit on the future of social media. I’ve talked about the future of the agency and social media before in a guest post on Valeria Maltoni’s Conversation Agent, but hadn’t tackled the topic with such a wide-angle lens before.

As social media becomes more widely accepted as a communications channel, more and more businesses will find ways to use it. Some of them will innovate. Others will just follow, but because the core of social media and the corporation is connecting directly to one’s consumers, which makes them happy, we still only sit at the front end of the bell curve of this movement.

Without putting a time frame on my thoughts, here are some notions I shared last night. While I have no way of knowing if any of this will ring true, it’s fun to imagine what our world will look like a few years down the road. Take good notes. I’d love to hear what you think the future of social media will be like in the comments.

The Web Will Get Much Smarter

Semantic search and artificial intelligence are upon us. As our browsers, social networking platforms and software packages evolve, they will all function more intelligently. They will track our every click, every keystroke and perhaps even eye movement, not to impose on us in some big brother sort of way, but to serve up smarter search results, more intuitive navigation options and almost frightening sets of information. One day, we will look at the suggested text or contacts our email software or Facebook offers and say, “Yeah … that was what I was thinking. I’m not sure if I should be impressed or scared.”

But it will be more than just smart text. The barriers of our social networks will dissolve as OpenID or similar cyber-identification takes precedence. Everyone will have access to all online applications and our browser, perhaps, will suggest the networks and tools that might be most meaningful to us based on our usage, profession, network of contact’s online behavior and more. Imagine having conversations on Twitter or in the comments of a blog and having your browser pop up with a message that says, “You’ve been talking about your Saturn a lot lately. Would you like to join other Saturn users at imSaturn.com?” Or perhaps the browser just imports imSaturn.com content into your experience seamlessly?

Social media savvy and philosophy, paralleled by the open source attitude on the technical side of things, will lead to advances never before thought possible as companies open their code and trust the consumers to contribute to their success in code, just as they do in service. Dell is already openly discussing product innovation with the public. Yahoo has hinted at opening their code set. Why is WordPress perhaps the world’s best blogging software? Because any developer in the world can work to improve it. This will become the standard, not the exception.

If It’s Not Mobile, It Won’t Exist

The iPhone, new models of Blackberries, the Google Phone or even the open source approach of Google Android are already showing that the future of the web is in the palm of your hand. If you haven’t seen a touch screen smart phone yet, know that when you do, you’ll immediately want to run out and get your own. And as the web gets smarter, so will the hardware that accesses it. My guess is that instead of having laptops or desktops, we’ll simply have universal docking stations at work and at home — or even better, in public places, Starbucks, airports, etc. — but we won’t plug in our laptops. We’ll plug in our smart phones. They will be our hard drives. They will be our entire computers. Software and webware companies are already learning if they aren’t mobile-enabled, they’ve lost half the battle. That will only become magnified as smart phones become more ubiquitous.

Journalism Will Not Die

Media is changing because of social media, but as much as I’ve picked on old-school journalism, there’s still a need for accuracy, ethics and quality in reporting. Newspapers may very well die. Traditional media outlets that don’t shift their focus to a web-first approach certainly will. But journalism will never go away. We need it as a society because it keeps our world — government, industry and more — honest. Where will the journalists go? That I’m not so clear about, though it will certainly be in web-centric opportunities. But all the social media evangelists and bloggers in the world can’t tear down one of the world’s most noble professions.

Marketing Will Continue To Be More Consumer-Centric

In very general terms, social media has reversed a century-long trend that has made brands, corporations and businesses think they know their consumers better than the consumers know themselves, or at least has made them take their consumers for granted. Thanks to social media, brands are becoming more focused on customer service, whether it’s through listening to feedback, crowdsourcing innovation or just responding to inquiries. The more social media savvy that breaks through to the C-Suite and to marketing managers everywhere, the better the consumer experience will be. You’ve probably heard Internet marketers say, “Content is king.” It is only if it’s relevant to the website’s audience. The more true statement is, “The customer is king.” This will not change.

Massachusetts Woman’s 1 Penny Debt Paid in Full

November 19, 2008

Eileen Wilbur was one cent short when she paid her water bill last year. The next twist was that the city of Attleboro, Massachusetts, decided to take action against her. In a letter which cost the city 42 cents to mail, city officials said that they would place a lien on the blind 74-year-old’s house unless she coughed up a penny by December 10.

Thankfully, the situation has been taken care of.

From the Associated Press:

A 74-year-old blind woman’s 1 cent debt to a Massachusetts city has been settled.

People from across the country called Attleboro City Hall on Tuesday offering to pay the 1 cent balance owed by Eileen Wilbur for an overdue water and sewer bill.

Antonio Viveiros, a former city councilor who does not know Wilbur, wrote a check for one penny. He says he was “irked” by the fact that the federal government can spend billions for bailouts, yet a senior citizen was threatened with a lien on her home over 1 cent.

Wilbur’s daughter first noticed the letter that warned of a lien and a $48 penalty if the overdue bill was not paid by Dec. 10.

Mayor Kevin Dumas says the whole situation was blown out of proportion.

Is Sarah Palin the Future of the Republican Party?

October 29, 2008

If so, they may be in trouble for quite some time! Or won’t they? You be the judge.

From the New York Times:

Whether the Republican presidential ticket wins or loses on Tuesday, a group of prominent conservatives are planning to meet the next day to discuss the way forward, and whatever the outcome, Gov. Sarah Palin will be high on the agenda.

Ms. Palin, of Alaska, has had a rocky time since being named as Senator John McCain’s running mate, but to many conservatives her future remains bright. If Mr. McCain wins, she will give the social conservative movement a seat inside the White House. If he loses, she could emerge as a standard bearer for the movement and a potential presidential candidate in 2012, albeit one who will need to address her considerable political damage.

Her prospects, in or out of government, are the subject of intensive conversations among conservative leaders, including the group that will meet next Wednesday in rural Virginia to weigh social, foreign policy and economic issues, as well as the political landscape and the next presidential election.

Ms. Palin’s aides insist that winning this time around is her sole objective. But there are signs that she, too, is making sure that she is well positioned for the future if she and Mr. McCain lose.

Sarah Palin Had More Than One Private E-Mail Account

October 1, 2008

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin maintained a private e-mail account that she used to communicate with a small circle of staff members outside the state government’s secure official e-mail system, according to the Wasilla company that established the site.

From the Washington Post:

The account was separate from the Yahoo e-mail address that was abruptly abandoned by the McCain campaign on Sept. 17, the day hackers penetrated the account and posted pages from it on the Internet. Palin had routinely used her Yahoo address for state business.

Quentin Algood, the owner of ITS Alaska, said a discreet e-mail system was created from an old campaign account, with access confined to “a group of people, her closest confidants and co-workers and advisers and the person she sleeps with.”

Algood said the system was maintained by Frank Bailey, a Palin aide. Bailey disputed the existence of the private circle of e-mail recipients run through PalinForGovernor.com, the Web site that Algood, a Palin supporter, established free of charge for Palin’s 2006 campaign.

“No, no, completely inaccurate,” Bailey said in a brief interview last week. “We haven’t used that domain in a long time.”

A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign acknowledged the accounts in a statement Tuesday.

Why Americans Aren’t Buying the Economic Bailout

October 1, 2008

According to Time Magazine, the $700 billion financial bailout package failed because most Americans wanted it to fail. Before the vote, members of Congress were getting calls 100 to 1 against the bill.

From the article:

The question is: why? It’s easy to see why bailing out rich bankers doesn’t feel super, but why, despite all the efforts of all of the country’s leaders to fill them with fear of an economic apocalypse, did Americans not see a failure to act as a serious threat to their livelihoods?

Traditionally, human beings are not great at assessing this kind of risk — a peril that has not yet arrived and that is, in any case, hard to viscerally imagine. Witness people’s reluctance to evacuate before hurricanes, and weather forecasts portend a danger far easier to comprehend than failing investment banks.

But there are methods of communicating risk in a way that stills the heart, with words that inject dread into the populace. And Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr., Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and President George W. Bush used none of them. “

The case wasn’t made as to why the little guy needs this,” says Paul Slovic, author of The Perception of Risk and a psychology professor at the University of Oregon. “The numbers and vague warnings are too abstract.”

The most effective warnings are like the most effective TV ads: easily understood, specific, frequently repeated, personal, accurate, and targeted. Paulson and his grim reapers managed only to repeat themselves frequently. They were not easily understood, partly because the problem is so complex. They did not personalize or target their warnings.

And, as they themselves admitted, they did not know if their warnings were necessarily accurate, due to the novelty and unpredictability of the crisis.

But their biggest mistake was a lack of specificity. They never clearly told the American people what might happen if Congress did not act. “If you want people to support an action,” says Dennis Mileti, an expert on risk communications who has studied hundreds of disasters of the more conventional kind at the University of Colorado, Boulder, “you need to link the action to cutting people’s losses. And that link isn’t in place.”