This man donated $2 million to Trump’s inauguration:

Does this help explain Trump’s rabid desire to overthrow and replace Iran’s Government?:

https://www.citytomb.com/biographies/Houshang_Ansari/en

Hushang Ansary

Hushang Ansary was born in 1926 in Ahvaz, Khuzestan, Iran.

Spouse: Maryam Panahi (Shahla Nazemian)

Life events:

Hushang Ansary, “a resident of the United States since 1979 and citizen since 1986, has had a remarkable career in business, economic development and diplomacy. Born in Ahvaz, in Iran’s Khuzestan Province, Ansary first worked as a newspaper and magazine photographer in Ahvaz, Tehran, and England before moving to Japan in 1954. There he met Abbas Aram, Iran’s ambassador to Japan, who soon brought him to the attention of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Shah asked Ansary to return to Iran and appointed him to several government positions starting in 1961, including Undersecretary of Commerce, ambassador to many African nations and to Pakistan, and Minister of Information. In 1964 he married Maryam Panahi, a friend of ambassador Aram who had many high-ranking acquaintances in the governments of the United States and Iran. He served as Ambassador to the United States and then as Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance. Ansary has long championed the cause of International trade and economic cooperation as a tool to enhance greater understanding among Nations. He has received special recognition by TIME Magazine for his contributions in this area. He is a Republican Regent. He was a member of the National Finance Committee of the Bush-Cheney Presidential Campaign. He is a recipient of the distinguished Woodrow Wilson International Center Award and has been decorated by the Governments of Japan, South Korea, Italy, Norway, Spain, Egypt, Romania and Pakistan. By the 1970s, the CIA considered Ansary to be one of seventeen members of “the Shah’s Inner Circle” and he was one of the Shah’s top two choices to succeed Amir Abbas Hoveyda as Prime Minister.Ultimately, this appointment went to Jamshid Amouzegar, and Ansary became the leader of the Constructionist wing of the Rastakhiz party, which opposed Amouzegar’s Progressive wing.

Occupations and Career:

He is a diplomat, businessman, and philanthropist with a net worth of over $2 billion. Hushang Ansary served as Chief Executive Officer of IRI International Corporation since March 1997. He served as Chief Executive Officer of National Iranian Oil Company. He was an Economic and Finance Minister of Iran and Iranian Ambassador to the United States. He has been the Chairman of Stewart & Stevenson LLC since January 2006. He served as Chairman of National Iranian Oil Company. Ansary served as Chairman of Sun Resorts Ltd. N.V., since 1986 and Parman Capital Investments Ltd., since 1982. He also served as Chairman of Parman Capital Group, LLC. He also served as Chairman of IRI International Corporation from March 19, 1995 to June 2000. He serves as a Trustee Emeritus of Asia Society. Mr. Ansary served as a Director of National Oilwell Varco, Incorporated from June 2000 to March 2005. Hushang Ansary is a Trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. He sits on the Board of Overseers of the Weill Cornell Medical College. He is a John Harvard Fellow and a member of the Senior Advisory Board of the Shorenstein Barone Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government. He serves on the President’s Council of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at RAND.

Awards /Honors:

Ansary is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2003) and the Woodrow Wilson Award.

Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University established the Ansary Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics in 2004 in honor of a grant from Ansary and his wife Shahla.

The American Academy of Diplomacy’s Ansary Outreach Program was a two-year series of discussions, lectures, and seminars about U.S. foreign policy which began in 2004.

The Ansary Gallery of American History at the George Bush Presidential Library was named in his honor in 2004.

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Gentrified Urban America Will Be Hit Hard by the Recession

A number of macro dynamics have set up gentrified urban America for a big fall in the coming recession. What does gentrified mean? Gentrified means only the gentry (top 10%) can afford to enjoy the urban amenities as commercial rents and the cost of doing business in desirable urban areas have skyrocketed along with residential rents.

As a result, low-margin businesses have been squeezed out of desirable urban neighborhoods along with lower-income residents. The top 10% is the only demographic who can afford to live in gentrified urban America.

As noted in What’s Really Happening to Retail?Only Amazon-proof businesses can now survive in brick and mortar. And that quickly boils down to high-cost, high-margin food and drinks–cafes, bars, restaurants– and mega-corporate chains: Walgreens, Starbucks, Chipotle, etc. and smaller chains that cater to the needs/obsessions of the top 10%: fitness centers, etc.

On a per capita basis, America is grossly over-supplied with commercial real estate. But within the desirable urban cores, commercial rents have soared due to the relative scarcity of commercial space. As a result, landlords and property managers are asking exorbitant rents, and many are leaving spaces empty rather than rent them for less.

The net result is desirable urban zones are being homogenized: niche retailers and other small service providers can no longer afford the rents (unless they also own the building) and the only businesses that can afford the nosebleed rents are high-margin food-beverage establishments or corporate chains.

The irony is two-fold: the very diversity and novelty that attracted the top 10% is being eroded, while the reliance on free-spending young wage earners in the top 10% (or even top 5% in pricey urban zones) makes such gentrified urban areas extremely vulnerable to any downturn that trims the population, salaries and bonuses of the top 10%.

Drive out all the small businesses that the top 50% can afford and all that’s left is high-cost businesses only the top 5% can afford.

Even worse, the vast majority of these high-cost businesses are discretionary:nobody really needs a $5 coffee, $5 bagel, fitness center membership, etc., and buying a couple rolls of toilet paper and some instant noodles at Walgreens ins’t going to generate the per-square-foot sales Walgreens needs to keep the high-rent store in a gentrified urban neighborhood open.

Corporations have been able to pay high salaries and bonuses to top employees because sales and profits have continued marching higher for a decade. Once a recession cuts revenues and profits, corporate managers have no choice but to slash expenses.

All the low hanging expenses were cut a decade ago–fixed overhead, janitorial services, automation of lower-skilled workers, etc.

All that’s left to slash and burn is the top 10%. First, cut bonuses. Next, move the software-eats-the-world automation up the food chain, and outsource whatever’s still soaking up money in corporate HQ.

In effect, the top 10% is ripe for the disruptions of globalization and automation that have already laid waste to the bottom 90%. Here’s one way this works: Human Resources lays off 20% of the workforce making $100,000 or more, and then hires back some percentage at $75,000 because they know everyone else is laying off the same talent.

It’s called over-supply / over-capacity. There’s too many people with PhDs, Masters degrees, JDs, 10 years experience and so on, and not enough slots for everyone who’s overqualified.

And don’t forget, global corporations can’t afford loyalty to anyone or anything except their major shareholders. If someone in Singapore can do a job for half of what it costs in Silicon Valley, NYC, Austin or Atlanta, bye-bye job in high-cost USA.

How much of a decline in sales will it take to sink high-fixed costs cafes, bistros, fitness centers, etc.? I’m guessing a 15% decline in revenues will sink an outsized number of these enterprises, as their fixed costs won’t drop by much while their operating margins will drop into the red (losses).

Greed is sticky, meaning commercial landlords won’t drop their rents enough to be meaningful until bankruptcy is staring them in the face, and by then it’s too late to find any tenants.

Charts: let’s start with commercial space per capita: the US has way too much:

The Creative Class is one way of describing the top 10% of wage earners:

The top 10% now take home as much as the bottom 90%:

Incomes have only risen for the top 5% and the next 15%:

Combine sky-high commercial rents in homogenized, gentrified urban areas and sharp declines in the incomes of the limited populace who can afford gentrified urban areas and what do you get? A tidal wave of small businesses closing and very few takers for all that empty commercial space. 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print): Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

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Want to Heal the Internet? Ban All Collection of User Data

I’ve been commenting on the cancerous disease that’s taken control of the Internet– what Shoshana Zuboff calls Surveillance Capitalism–for many years. Here is a selection of my commentaries:

800 Million Channels of Me (February 21, 2011)

The New Facebook Buttons: Promote, Despise, Abandon (November 1, 2012)

How Much of our Discord Is the Result of the “Engagement” Advert Revenue Model of Social Media? (October 24, 2017)

Are Facebook and Google the New Colonial Powers? (September 18, 2017)

Hey Advertisers: The Data-Mining Emperor Has No Clothes (September 15, 2017)

The Demise of Dissent: Why the Web Is Becoming Homogenized (November 17, 2017)

Should Facebook, Google and Twitter Be Public Utilities? (March 5, 2018)

Should Facebook and Google Pay Users When They Sell Data Collected from Users?(March 22, 2018)

The Blowback Against Facebook, Google and Amazon Is Just Beginning (April 27, 2018)

How Far Down the Big Data/’Psychographic Microtargeting’ Rabbit Hole Do You Want to Go? (April 25, 2018)

If you’ve followed any of my analyses, it will come as no surprise that I’ve concluded the only way to restore the health of the Internet is to ban all collection of user data. That’s right, a 100% total ban on collecting any user data whatsoever.

We need to distinguish between customer/supplier data and user data. If a social media or other corporation wants to collect data from people who pay it money for services rendered, or from suppliers that it pays for services, then that process of data collection should be 100% transparent.

A customer pays for a service in cash; a user pays nothing. A company might want to collect data from its paying customers in order to upsell them or serve them better, and corporations who produce goods and services might want to collect data from the suppliers they pay.

Banning the collection of any data from users would of course destroy much of the revenues of companies such as Facebook, Google , Twitter, Instagram et al. It would also destroy the perverse incentives these corporations have institutionalized and excused as “garsh, you can’t stop the advance of technology,” as if their pursuit of Surveillance Capitalism were somehow an inevitable outcome of the Internet rather than a malign disease that’s undermining democracy and the free flow of diverse opinions and dissent that is the foundation of functional democracy.

By banning the collection of any and all user data, the social media/search giants would become quasi-public utilities, providing whatever service they offer for free and collecting revenues from other businesses for services such as display advertising–advertising which cannot be targeted at specific groups of users because there is no data on users to exploit.

If you think this is unrealistic, look at craigslist. Craigslist is free to individual users, and it doesn’t collect and sell user data to make billions of dollars. It sells adverts to businesses such as auto dealers and companies placing employment ads. These income streams are more than enough to fund the operational expenses and reap the owners a substantial profit.

Surveillance Capitalism is all about creating the illusion of privacy controls. The social media/search giants have mastered the dark arts of obfuscating how they’re reaping billions of dollars in profits from monetizing user data, and lobbying technologically naive politicos to leave their vast skimming operations untouched.

Keep it simple: ban all collection of user data–no exceptions. That will be easy to enforce and easy for all participants to understand.

 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print): Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

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The Shutdown Government Is Busy Figuring Out New Ways to Recruit Soldiers

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War

Shutdown or no shutdown, not a single war, base-construction project, or war ship has been halted in its course, and the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service released its “interim report” on Wednesday.

The report comes after a lengthy period of collecting public comments and holding public hearings. At World BEYOND War we encouraged people to submit comments on the following themes, and we know that a great many people did so:

  1. End required selective service (draft) registration for men.
  2. Do not begin requiring that women register.
  3. If not ended, allow the choice of registering as a conscientious objector.
  4. If there must be non-military service, make sure that its pay and benefits are at least equal to those of military “service.”

The interim report is completely silent on points 1, 3, and 4. On point 2, it says that the commission heard from both sides, and it quotes people from both sides. By both sides, I mean those who do not want women forced against their will to kill and die for the profits of Lockheed Martin and those who believe that women should be so forced as a matter of equal rights. The former group includes those who oppose the barbarism of compulsory participation in mass murder, those who believe that women should stay in the kitchen because the Bible said so, and anyone else opposed to expanding draft registration to women. In Washington power terms, therefore, it includes basically Republicans.

On the question of non-military service, the interim report suggests that the commission is likely not going to propose making it mandatory, but has not completely abandoned that idea:

“We are also considering how service could be integrated into high school. For example, should high schools transform the final semester of senior year into a hands-on service learning experience? Should schools offer service-oriented summer projects or a year of service learning? What benefits could such programs bring to the participants, our communities, and our nation? How would such programs be structured to ensure they are inclusive and available to all?”

The report lists other ideas:

“ Formally ask all young Americans to consider national service

 Create a national marketing campaign to advertise opportunities about national service

 Promote service learning to tie kindergarten through higher education curricula to community service

 Encourage or incentivize colleges and employers to recruit individuals who have completed a service year and to award college credit for national service experience

 Offer a fellowship to 18-year-olds who want to serve, covering their living stipend and post-service award for a year of national service at any approved not-for-profit organization

 Integrate a semester of service into the high school curriculum

 Fund additional national service opportunities

 Increase the living stipend for those who participate in national service programs

 Exempt the existing education award from income tax or allow it to be used for other purposes

 Explore possibilities within the Peace Corps to meet host country needs with volunteers who have not completed a college degree

 Provide an expanded educational award for each year of national service completed

 Explore models in higher education that seek to raise the profile and attractiveness of public service and prepare outstanding high school graduates for careers in public service

 Give agencies better tools to recruit and hire interns or fellows and transition them to permanent positions

 Establish a Public Service Corps program, like Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, that would offer scholarships and specialized coursework to students at colleges throughout the nation in exchange for a commitment to work in civil service

 Retain programs to forgive student loans for Americans who work in public service careers for at least a decade

 Offer a new, optional federal benefits package to allow for greater flexibility in career progression

 Use modern tools, such as relevant online writing and quantitative tests, to assess candidates

 Test new approaches to hiring, classifying, and compensating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) personnel throughout the government

 Establish a civilian reserve program for former federal cybersecurity employees, who could be called up to help agencies in an urgent situation

 Establish a single, streamlined personnel system for health care professionals throughout the government”

Obvious solutions that would allow people to freely choose to do good in the world, such as making college free, making jobs pay a living wage, and requiring time off work are nowhere to be seen.

But everything being considered under the banner of “national service” is explicitly being considered for yet further increasing the already massive advertising and recruiting efforts to recruit for participation in wars:

“ Formally ask all young Americans to consider military service

 Invest in education for parents, teachers, and counselors on military service opportunities

 Increase the number of high school students who take a version of the military entrance exam that identifies strengths and career interests

 Reinforce laws that ensure recruiters receive equal access to high schools, colleges, and other postsecondary opportunities

 Create new pipelines to military service, such as offering financial support for students studying toward technical certifications in exchange for a military service commitment

 Develop new pathways in areas of critical need to access and develop those with the affinity, interest, training, education, and/or certification in exchange for a military service commitment

 Encourage more mid-career civilians to enter the military at a rank appropriate to their experience”

This, of course, depends on avoiding those obvious solutions that would allow people to freely choose to do good in the world, such as making college free, making jobs pay a living wage, and requiring time off work. It also must incline the commission toward its current attitude of treating participation in militarism as a charitable “service” rather than something that anyone with a conscience (and a reasonable alternative) might object to. So, conscientious objection is not mentioned at all.

The final recommendations of this commission will be made in March 2020, following these public hearings:

February 21 Universal Service Washington, D.C.
March 28 National Service College Station, TX
April 24-25 Selective Service Washington, D.C.
May 15-16 Public & Military Service Washington, D.C.
June 20 Creating an expectation of service Hyde Park, NY

Here are messages to be taken to those meetings:

  1. End required selective service (draft) registration for men.
  2. Do not begin requiring that women register.
  3. If not ended, allow the choice of registering as a conscientious objector.
  4. If there must be non-military service, make sure that its pay and benefits are at least equal to those of military “service.”

These messages can also be tweeted to @inspire2serveUS and emailed to info@inspire2serve.gov

Here’s a tweet read to go, just click: http://bit.ly/notaservice

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Want to Heal the Internet? Ban All Collection of User Data

I’ve been commenting on the cancerous disease that’s taken control of the Internet– what Shoshana Zuboff calls Surveillance Capitalism–for many years. Here is a selection of my commentaries:

800 Million Channels of Me (February 21, 2011)

The New Facebook Buttons: Promote, Despise, Abandon (November 1, 2012)

How Much of our Discord Is the Result of the “Engagement” Advert Revenue Model of Social Media? (October 24, 2017)

Are Facebook and Google the New Colonial Powers? (September 18, 2017)

Hey Advertisers: The Data-Mining Emperor Has No Clothes (September 15, 2017)

The Demise of Dissent: Why the Web Is Becoming Homogenized (November 17, 2017)

Should Facebook, Google and Twitter Be Public Utilities? (March 5, 2018)

Should Facebook and Google Pay Users When They Sell Data Collected from Users?(March 22, 2018)

The Blowback Against Facebook, Google and Amazon Is Just Beginning (April 27, 2018)

How Far Down the Big Data/’Psychographic Microtargeting’ Rabbit Hole Do You Want to Go? (April 25, 2018)

If you’ve followed any of my analyses, it will come as no surprise that I’ve concluded the only way to restore the health of the Internet is to ban all collection of user data. That’s right, a 100% total ban on collecting any user data whatsoever.

We need to distinguish between customer/supplier data and user data. If a social media or other corporation wants to collect data from people who pay it money for services rendered, or from suppliers that it pays for services, then that process of data collection should be 100% transparent.

A customer pays for a service in cash; a user pays nothing. A company might want to collect data from its paying customers in order to upsell them or serve them better, and corporations who produce goods and services might want to collect data from the suppliers they pay.

Banning the collection of any data from users would of course destroy much of the revenues of companies such as Facebook, Google , Twitter, Instagram et al. It would also destroy the perverse incentives these corporations have institutionalized and excused as “garsh, you can’t stop the advance of technology,” as if their pursuit of Surveillance Capitalism were somehow an inevitable outcome of the Internet rather than a malign disease that’s undermining democracy and the free flow of diverse opinions and dissent that is the foundation of functional democracy.

By banning the collection of any and all user data, the social media/search giants would become quasi-public utilities, providing whatever service they offer for free and collecting revenues from other businesses for services such as display advertising–advertising which cannot be targeted at specific groups of users because there is no data on users to exploit.

If you think this is unrealistic, look at craigslist. Craigslist is free to individual users, and it doesn’t collect and sell user data to make billions of dollars. It sells adverts to businesses such as auto dealers and companies placing employment ads. These income streams are more than enough to fund the operational expenses and reap the owners a substantial profit.

Surveillance Capitalism is all about creating the illusion of privacy controls. The social media/search giants have mastered the dark arts of obfuscating how they’re reaping billions of dollars in profits from monetizing user data, and lobbying technologically naive politicos to leave their vast skimming operations untouched.

Keep it simple: ban all collection of user data–no exceptions. That will be easy to enforce and easy for all participants to understand.

 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print): Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Posted in General | Leave a comment