Here’s how you fit into the NSA’s surveillance protocol

You don’t need to be talking to a terror suspect to have your communications data analysed by the NSA. The agency is allowed to travel “three hops” from its targets – who could be people who talk to people who talk to people who talk to you. Facebook, where the typical user has 190 friends, shows how three degrees of separation gets you to a network bigger than the population of Colorado. How many people are three “hops” from you?

Guardian NSA
Click to enlarge

Why the CPC’s third plenary session is important – Insight article

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President Xi Jinping in the center of local officials and activists in Tayuanzhuang Village

Observers believe that an upcoming meeting of the Communist Party of China in November will follow Party tradition and be a springboard for major national reform.

In a meeting last Tuesday, the Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee decided that the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee will be held in November in Beijing to discuss major issues concerning comprehensive reform.

The meeting comes as China faces major economic and social challenges. It will, to some extent, determine the direction of reform of the new leadership.

On Tuesday, the 25-member Political Bureau emphasized the importance of reform and how it concerns the overall work of the Party and the government.

“There is no way for China to reverse or even stop the process,” it said, adding that reform and opening up have “only a progressive tense, no perfect tense…”

The meeting proposed innovation in theory, system, science, technology and culture with wholescale reform across the board.

“Besides the economic sector, the Third Plenary Session will promote administrative reform, ” Chi Fulin, director of the China Institute for Reform and Development, added…

The CPC has a tradition of proposing key changes in third plenary sessions since 1978 when the third plenary session of the 11th CPC Central Committee decided to implement reform and opening up, ending decades of seclusion.

The third plenum of the 14th CPC Central Committee in 1993 endorsed the socialist market economy, paving the way for China’s economic takeoff in the subsequent two decades.

The political economy of China is still hindered by a tradition of corruption rooted in centuries. No matter the economic structure, societies free of Protestant moralizing often need a few decades of an ethics injection. Fortunately, part of being a self-perfecting species is that laws and regulations can not only be passed – they can be enforced.

Yes, that’s a two-way street. We’ve witnessed enough of that in the United States. Between so-called conservatives lifting regulations and oversight from mortgage bankers to cutting taxes for the wealthiest, lobbyists and Congress in concert reintroduced a level of corruption to American governance not seen in decades. That, too, can be turned around.

I expect Chinese politicians to get into reform a lot faster than we shall here in the States. They are not a nation as divided politically as we are. Their officials could deal better with the hindrance of tradition than the gutless wonders in Congress. And, honestly, I think they are more strongly motivated by the pressures of growing their economy than the class of corporate lawyers and pimps our government attracts, nowadays.

I could be wrong, of course. Not for the first time. 🙂

Trial run of Twitter IPO declared a success

twitter ipo test

The New York stock exchange has declared a test of Twitter’s stock market debut a success as it tries to avoid the technical problems that marred Facebook’s flotation last year.

While the NYSE often does testing on the weekend, this was the first time the exchange conducted a mock initial public offering of shares. Traders from member firms gathered with NYSE staff on Saturday to run simulated buy and sell orders and test the flow of those orders and open the stock…

Twitter will be the biggest technology IPO since Facebook went public in May 2012. While Nasdaq won Facebook’s listing, one of the biggest flotations in years, the debut was hit with trading delays and order failures.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the US regulator, later fined Nasdaq $10m (£6m), the largest sum ever levied against an exchange.

Twitter plans to sell 70m shares between $17 and $20 each for a possible valuation of $1.6bn. Shares will trade under the ticker TWTR.

While I have experimented with a stock-tracking site – one that followed my personal investments – I’m not about to start offering anyone advice about picking stocks, investing for their retirement, whatever their goals may be.

This test was particularly interesting to me because of my years as a geek and an interest in global markets, global business, that flows naturally from modern economics.