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Forum Post: Big Money and the NSA Scandal … How Dangerous is the "Security/Digital Complex"?

Posted 1 year ago on June 11, 2013, 3:05 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5845)
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Big Money and the NSA Scandal … How Dangerous is the "Security/Digital Complex"?

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 13:17 By Richard Eskow, Campaign for America's Future | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/16909-big-money-and-the-nsa-scandal-how-dangerous-is-the-security-digital-complex

It should be self-evident that recent NSA revelations bring up some grave concerns about civil liberties. But they also raise other profound and troubling questions – about the privatization of our military, our culture’s inflated expectations for digital technology, and the increasingly cozy relationship between Big Corporations (including Wall Street) and Big Defense.

Are these corporations perverting our political process? The campaign war chest for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who today said NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden committed “treason,” is heavily subsidized by defense and intelligence contractors that include General Dynamics, General Atomic, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Bechtel.

One might argue that a politician with that kind of backing is in no moral position to lecture others about “treason.”

But Feinstein’s funders are decidedly old-school Military/Industrial Complex types. What about the new crowd? This confluence of forces hasn’t been named yet, so for the time being we’ll use a cumbersome label: the “Security/Digital Complex.”

With computers and communications encompassing an ever-larger portion of human activity, we may someday learn that this new force dwarfs even its predecessors in the Feinstein camp when it comes to its impact on our democracy, our economy and our values.

There’s much we don’t know yet, so it’s wise to be cautious in describing this new force. But Edward Snowden’s revelations, and the reactions to them, are offering us a glimpse into rarely-seen intersections of Wall Street wealth, information technology, and the national security state.


NYC Sushi Restaurant's Ban on Tips Perplexes Diners

By Gillian Mohney | ABC News Blogs – 23 hours ago

http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/nyc-sushi-restaurants-ban-tips-perplexes-diners-181622826.html

Sushi Yasuda has made headlines for its mouth-watering sushi and excellent service for more than a decade, but the restaurant is getting noticed now for a different reason: banning tips.

"The diner doesn't [have to] think about how much to leave and make calculations [after] a contemplative and special meal," co-founder Scott Rosenberg said. "We're really sort of just staying connected to that classical approach [of fine Japanese dining]."

In keeping with the pared-down aesthetic of the business, owners of the New York City restaurant earlier this year decided they would no longer ask patrons to do any complicated math at the end of the night.

Instead of relying on tips, all their servers are on salary with paid vacation and sick leave.

Rosenberg said the goal was to enhance the restaurant experience for customers.

The high-end restaurant, which seats only 45 and where the omakase, or chef's menu, can easily run beyond $100, also raised its prices slightly to allow for servers to be put on salary.

Daisy Chung, executive director for Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, a nonprofit that supports restaurant workers, said she thought the practice of banning tips and providing a salary with benefits was a "good idea."

"It started a good conversation about tips and restaurant compensation," Chung said, adding that inclement weather, for instance, is something that deters diners and thereby limits tips no matter how good the service.

"We definitely feel there shouldn't be a separate system where tip workers rely on tips to subsidize their wages," Chung said. "Workers should be fully compensated."

None of the staffers at Sushi Yasuda was available to comment and it's unclear how much they make in salary.

Banning tips can also smooth the process on the management side of a restaurant, said Andrew Moesel, spokesman for the New York City chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association.

"It also can be easier for the house," Moesel said. "Wage and tip lawsuits are on the rise, since rules are becoming increasingly complicated."

Moesel knows of no other New York City restaurants that have banished tips, but he said the practice has gained traction at other high-end dining restaurants, including a few in Chicago where the entire meal is paid for beforehand.

"Whether or not this is a culinary trend, this is something we're seeing more of," Moesel said.

Rosenberg said one of Sushi Yasuda's biggest challenges was explaining to customers that they could no longer tip. They put a note in both the menu and receipt explaining that customers did not need to tip, but many patrons were still bewildered.

"They'd look up at dinner partner or partners and say, 'There's s no tipping'" Rosenberg said. "[There's] a moment of [people saying], 'Wait a minute, what?' And then, 'OK, that sounds good.'" A few customers still tried to write in a tip on the receipt, even though there was no longer a tip line. The restaurant eventually started circling the explanation on the receipt in red to draw the customer's attention.

Rosenberg said that once customers realize they don't have to pay a tip, they are usually delighted.

"One [young guy] said, 'I'm going to eat 20 percent more sushi," Rosenberg said.

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