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Friday, March 16, 2012

PayPal Threatens Book Publishing

Who the hell is Pay Pal to dictate which books publishers can sell?

PayPal, the online payment arm of eBay that is used all overthe Internet to process financial transactions such as the sale of a book. PayPal recently sent letters to online publishers and booksellers, including Smashwords, Bookstrand.com, and excessica, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, asking them to remove from their Web sites any e-books containing themes of rape, incest, bestiality, and underage subjects.

It is an outrage that in 2012 we still have attempts by the moral police to wield influence over what Americans watch, listen to, or read. There is no room for book-banning or attempts to strong-arm merchants to limit free speech or freedom of the press.

Here's a simple way to look at it. Support freedom of speech, the exchange of ideas, and the creativity of writers. If it is legal to publish the book in the United States, one should be able to sell it. If the book has pornographic images and the purchaser must be 18 or over. Only honor sales to adults in that case. Other than that, PayPal should not have to give much thought about a book's contents.

Books reflect ideas, fantasies, history, reality, truth, and alternate perspectives to what life was, is, or could be. If someone includes bestiality in their novel, so be it. Not my kind of book, but that doesn't mean you can't read it. If a memoir reflects back on being victimized by incest, so be it. Decent people don't support the act of incest or rape or child abuse -- but they understand it happens and respect that books reflect the warts of life.

No matter how revolting these acts would be in real life, they are merely part of a story in a book.  These books have a right under the law to exist and if someone wants to sell them, the last place we expect to find interference from is PayPal. 

What’s next?  Will American Express not allow their cards to be used to rent a Rated R movie?  Will Visa not allow someone to pay for drinks at a dance club?  Will publications with articles on abortion, guns, politics or controversial topics not be sold online with the use of PayPal?  Will they stop people from selling Bibles that they disagree with?

PayPal made it sound like the banking merchants they work with asked for this crackdown.  What bullshit.  The American public should not accept an abuse of position and power that the banking and credit system has.  Billions of dollars are charged everyday using PayPal, AMEX, Visa, and the like.  Can you imagine if Google says it won’t advertise sites that sell books it doesn’t agree with or if Facebook says it won’t allow profiles to be posted if they include the world “sex” in them?  I mean, you can see where this is going and what’s at stake.


PayPal is not a store—it’s a payment service.  Basically, it is e-cash.  Since when do dollar bills dictate what we can buy?  If a store, say Macy’s, doesn’t want to sell thong bathing suits, that’s its choice.  Plenty of other stores will sell them.  But if PayPal bans merchants from selling them you cause a major roadblock for the consumer.  The rule of thumb for PayPal should be: trust your merchant to sell legal goods in a legal way.  If an individual store violates the law, PayPal can decide if they want to cut them off.  Otherwise, it should not dictate what consumers purchase.

The only way to beat a bully is to beat them hard and fast.  Tell PayPal to go screw themselves.  Read www.paypalsucks.com. Then call them and tell them they should be ashamed of their tactics to censor America—call 1-888-221-1161.  Interestingly, there’s no way to e-mail PayPal about this.  Their site purposely doesn’t accept general correspondence or feedback, only emails on specific things related to payments.  

Also see: www.paypalwarning.com and www.screw-paypal.com.  Apparently, many people are fed up with PayPal as a service.  More than 82,000 people “like” the FB page PayPal Sucks.  I didn’t realize just how crappy this company was until I tried to email them over their censorship policy and found all this negative stuff about them online.

Apparently, all of the negative feedback PayPal has been receiving over its censorship attempts has forced the company to relent or revise its policy, according to some news reports.  But this may not be the last we here from PayPal or other influential service providers.  It’s up to the American public to fight for its freedoms and to shun those companies, groups, individuals and government agencies who would dare trample our rights.

PayPal, you’re no pal of mine!



New Book: Why Oil Prices Are So High – And How We Can Lower Them

One of my clients, author Raymond Learsy, has put together a fantastic book that explains why oil is so sky high. Most readers, once educated, will want to rip Wall Street, the government, OPEC, and the oil magnates a new one.

The Great Recession and the current energy crisis have brought America to a crossroads.  Will it continue to conduct business as is or will it make dramatic changes to get the economy and the energy policy of the nation onto a healthy road toward recovery?

Learsy’s book insightfully, forcefully, and passionately condemns the oil industry, government, and Wall Street in a precision-filled attack that should enrage citizens.  Oil and Finance: The Epic Corruption Continues –2010- 2012 (Create Space, March, Trade Paperback, 240 pages, $18; ISBN: 978-1469903293) is an eloquent and cogent call to arms by Raymond Learsy, who draws on his extensive experience in commodities trading, with expertise in the shipping of oil and liquefied natural gas cargos, to methodically identify and document the free reign given to oil companies and the transgressions of financial firms. 

Learsy regularly writes about the crude truth of oil for The Huffington Post and his writings on the international oil trade have appeared in the New York Times, Pipeline and Gas Journal, and National Review Online. His latest book, the third on the subject, provides a clear understanding of where we’ve been  -- as a nation – and where we are headed with respect to our fossil-fuel consumption, and our place on the global stage.  It uncovers the truth behind oil pricing, including its speculation and manipulation, the politics of oil and its impact on our security, oil’s influence on our domestic and foreign policies, OPEC’s unchecked power, and the menacing impact of oil on the environment.

He identifies and explains:
  • The key factors fueling skyrocketing oil prices – and corrective solutions to combat them.
  • How we can be on the verge of energy independence in the U.S.
  • Why a CFTC task force must be formed so that a level playing field in the world of commodity trading, particularly that of oil, can be reached.
  • What can be done to contain OPEC’s stranglehold on oil prices.
  • Why the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not being used strategically.
  • Why the US should embargo Iran’s oil to halt its nuclear ambitions.
  • How the lies or misstated facts about “peak oil” led to unnecessary price increases.
  • Why both President Bush and President Obama coddled the oil markets.
  • Why there’s an urgent need to form an American Energy NASA.
  • Why natural gas must replace coal-fired power plants.
  • How price gouging starts at the well.
  • Why oil rose from $25/barrel in Bush’s first year in office to $147/barrel in his last year.
  • How we can liberate our nation from its addiction to foreign oil.
  • What can be done to combat the top 50 oil companies that are worth a record $1.7 trillion.

Learsy says a barrel of oil should cost less than $30, based on historical data and key indicators.  He also believes we need to drill, baby, drill, open up nuclear power plants, investigate Wall Street’s price manipulations of oil, pass NOPEC legislation, and take advantage of the discovery of huge deposits of gas shale and engage in fracting on a wide scale.  He also calls for converting our cars and trucks to run on gas instead of oil.

His goal is to enlighten the public – to anger them – and to drive them to hold their leaders responsible.  He identifies with the Occupy Wall Street movement and believes a pervasion of misinformation clouds the public’s understanding of how oil prices are really determined.  Further, he believes willful disinformation is circulated to make consumers meekly acquiesce to a rigged, manipulated, and speculator-driven market.

“Americans have been asked to open their wallets to pay for the greed of Big Oil, the failed policies of government, and their checkered thievery of Wall Street,” says Learsy, “but now we must also open our eyes to the truth of what has fueled the current state of affairs.

“No one likes high oil prices – except for the oil industry – as inflated prices lead to higher prices not just at the pump but for almost every product or service.  It kills our economy and puts national security at risk. I hope everyone will be aware of the changes posed by the great oil conspiracy.”

Indeed, Learsy’s book reflects upon not only the causes of the problem but also provides many solutions.  Oil and Finance provides a timeline of recent history that shows how the powerful and rich have gamed a system to the detriment of the vast majority, documenting with cunning commentary and savvy wit how we’ve ended up with $4+ gasoline in the United States.

This book, in chronicling the corruption of a commodity that is essential to the world’s economic well-being, should also be taken as a forewarning of -- and a wake-up call to -- what lies ahead when core commodities are subject to political maneuvers, monopoly marketing, and financial manipulation.

“If we don’t change course now, we will have to confront an almost insurmountable crisis in the near future,” warns Learsy.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.



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