Is Google paying AdBlock Plus to greenlight their ads

According to reports from German news site Horizont, Google and other companies are paying the makers of AdBlock Plus to add their content to the app’s list of ‘acceptable ads’.

AdBlock Plus, the single most popular browser extension for both Firefox and Chrome, is a free application that users install to remove advertising from their web experience. Despite this, the company has always been open about its ‘whitelisting’ of certain content.

The makers define advertisements they consider acceptable as those which are static (ie, without animation or sounds), that do not obscure page content, are clearly marked as advertising and that are preferably text-only…

However, if AdBlock didn’t work with companies in some way then brands would almost certainly take action against them. So it seems that having at least some standards – ie, AdBlock’s criteria of what makes an ‘acceptable advertisement’ – is preferable to having no standards at all.

Sounds like “Do no harm” is one of those standards that been sufficiently watered down to have become no standard at all. Adblock is free. I might be interested in an app that actually blocked all adverts. It is what I do with TV ads, after all, with the 30-second skip feature on my DVR.

Fox market analyst paid $50,000 to hustle investors


Most investors can’t tell the difference between “sponsored investment research” and independent analysis, and that’s exactly what the “sponsors” — typically small companies paying for a marketing campaign that will inflate their stock activity and value — are counting on.

The difference gets even tougher to figure out when the sponsor hires someone who is known for giving independent commentary colored only by his own feelings and research.

Think of it as a big, honking commercial, with a celebrity endorser.

Last week, that bought-and-paid-for stock endorsement was a 20-page mailer about Petrosonic Energy PSON…supported by an email campaign, featuring Tobin Smith, a money manager who has been a fixture on the television news shows for 15 years and who is a regular on the Fox networks, describing himself on Twitter as a “guest anchor.” According to Fox, he is “a contributing market analyst for Fox News Channel and a regular panelist on ‘Bulls & Bears.’ ”…

The people who contacted me considered buying the stock entirely based on Smith’s say-so, and the credibility he exudes in his Fox appearances. They didn’t appear to read the disclaimers of the campaign; had they bothered, they would have quickly found it was paid advertising for which Smith’s company pocketed $50,000.

This is a unique case because of how recognizable Smith is, and it brings into focus credibility questions that I’ve found most investors fail to answer even as they are deciding who they can trust. Fox’s official policy is that “no Contributor to FBN, nor his/her firm, and/or family members are allowed to accept financial consideration of any kind whatsoever to issue research, advertisements, or to otherwise promote individual stocks or securities,” a spokesman says. However, the network, which was unaware of Smith’s efforts on Petrosonic’s behalf until I contacted them, would not comment on the matter.

On Tuesday afternoon, though, Fox terminated Smith’s contract on the basis of its contributor policy, according to a spokesman. Smith, by text message, confirmed the news.

Asked earlier whether he had violated Fox’s rules, Smith said, via text message, “that policy was added late last year … my contract was not subject to that clause …”

I guess questions of ethics and legitimacy never entered discussions when the decision was made to take the money and run.

When will Republicans modernize? Kickbacks are so old-fashioned

Campaign Troika: Gov. Susana Martinez, Heather Wilson, Sen. Marco Rubio

Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson collected nearly half a million dollars in questionable payments from four federally funded nuclear labs after she left office, the Energy Department’s inspector general says in a new report.

Wilson failed to provide documentation for the work she did to earn $20,000 a month from the Los Alamos and Sandia national labs in New Mexico from January 2009 to March 2011, the report said. Officials at the Nevada Test Site and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee acknowledged there “were no deliverables” associated with $30,000 the two labs paid Wilson. And Sandia and Los Alamos appear to have asked Wilson to help them secure more work for the labs, an apparent violation of her contract, the report said.

In total, nearly $450,000 in questionable payments were identified, the bulk from Los Alamos and Sandia.

The contractors that run the labs billed the payments to the government, “even though they did not receive evidence that work performed under the agreements had been completed,” the report said. The payments were fully reimbursed by the government

The report called Wilson’s agreements with the labs unusual and in some cases “highly irregular.” And it said the agreements and the lab operators failed to include or enforce “even minimum” invoicing standards required under federal regulations.

Wilson, a Republican who represented New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, collected much of the money in between two unsuccessful runs for the U.S. Senate. She was defeated last year by Democrat Martin Heinrich during a campaign that highlighted her connections to Los Alamos and Sandia. The labs conduct classified research on nuclear weapons…

During the 2012 Senate campaign, the AP sought copies of Wilson’s contracts with the labs after she disclosed income from Los Alamos, Sandia and Oak Ridge. And all three labs called the documents confidential.

Well – we’re not supposed to question anything the government and their security monkeys say is “confidential”. Right?

Meanwhile, stealing from the American people – whether it’s to pay for shiny nuclear weapons or the latest gear to snoop on our online conversations – is always the favorite hustle for the military-industrial mafia.

Country club life in Congress joins elected officials with the NRA

On a Monday evening in early February, two months into a national debate over gun violence after the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, representatives of the firearms industry were wining and dining lawmakers in Washington.

The occasion was the “Changing of the Guard” reception and dinner for the incoming leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which counts more than 250 members in the House and Senate. Hosting the gathering was a little-known but well-connected organization, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

Despite its low profile, the foundation has close ties to members of Congress, allowing its donors, who give as much as $100,000 a year, to mix with lawmakers at shooting contests, banquets and wine tastings. The food and drink at last month’s gathering were paid for in part by the National Rifle Association and the trade group for the gun industry.

Over the past year, sportsmen’s caucus members have clinked glasses and puffed cigars at a “Wine, Wheels and Wildlife” fund-raiser at a North Carolina vineyard, a “Whiskies of the World” and cigar reception on Capitol Hill, and a “Stars and Stripes Shootout” in Tampa, Fla., where the top shooting awards went to a Republican congressman and a lobbyist for the N.R.A. Such events provide the firearms industry and other foundation donors with a tax-deductible means of lobbying the elected officials who shape policies important to their businesses…

The foundation says its positions fit naturally with its mission “to work with Congress, governors and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, recreational angling, and shooting and trapping…”

Others see the linkage to hunting as part of a calculated effort by the firearms industry to advance policies that have little to do with outdoor sports…“They see this as if they give in on any one item, it will put them on a slippery slope to coming into your home and taking your guns away,” Representative Bill Pascrell Jr said. “They’re creating hysteria.”

Contributions ballooned from $434,000 in 2001 to more than $2 million in 2011, with its top-tier donors including firearms makers and retailers like Remington, Winchester and Walmart. Other high-level donors include the N.R.A., outdoor groups like Safari Club International, and ExxonMobil, Amgen and Altria.

The foundation is blunt in its appeal to donors. Its Web site says that “no organization has access to so many elected officials,” adding that “we know how important it is to have an effective voice in the political arena looking out for your interests.”

Our promise to you is to keep delivering big returns on your investment,” the foundation said in a message to donors.

RTFA for details, the crappola you already can guess. Laws are bent and reshaped to provide cover for the buying and selling of politicians. Lies like the NRA casting itself as a voice for hunters and sports shooters – which hasn’t been true for decades.

The corruption which defines the heart of political office inside the Washington Beltway is alive and well. Even if your own lifestyle is still in decline.