Community Articles from 2018

Thought Police for the 21st Century

[Media]
Thought Police for the 21st Century
by Chris Hedges
Posted March 10, 2018

thought police from Facebook and GoogleThe abolition of net neutrality and the use of algorithms by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to divert readers and viewers from progressive, left-wing and anti-war sites, along with demonizing as foreign agents the journalists who expose the crimes of corporate capitalism and imperialism, have given the corporate state the power to destroy freedom of speech. Any state that accrues this kind of power will use it.

While the Internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. While still in its infancy, the trends are clear and of a geometric nature. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities. More…

The Opioid Epidemic in America – Killing One Million Workers: The Triumph of Capital

[Social]
The Opioid Epidemic in America – Killing One Million Workers: The Triumph of Capital
By Prof. James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya
Posted March 9, 2018

government guilty of malpractice in opioid epidemicOfficial government studies estimate almost 700,000 deaths since 1999, based on the scattered and incomplete coroner reports and death certificates that characterize the state of vital statistics in the US. There is no uniformity in data collection and no interest in developing a uniform national system on which to formulate social policies. Most likely additional hundreds of thousands of drug deaths have gone un-recorded or attributed to ‘pre-existing’ medical conditions, suicides and accidents – despite clear evidence of over-prescription of narcotics and sedatives in the victims.

The ‘drug epidemic’ in the US is all about the current structure of power and social relations in an increasingly oligarchic state amidst growing class inequalities and immiseration. At its roots, American capitalism in the 21st Century has degraded, impoverished and exploited US workers and employees with increasing intensity over the past two decades. Workers have lost almost all collective influence in the workplace and in politics. Working conditions and safety have deteriorated – while capitalists hire and fire at will. Salaries, pensions, health care and death benefits have been slashed or disappeared. More…

Why Farmers Are Using Glyphosate To Kill Their Crops — And What It Might Mean For You

[Community]
Why Farmers Are Using Glyphosate To Kill Their Crops — And What It Might Mean For You
By Ben Hewitt
Posted Match 5, 2018

saturating crops with glyphosate before harvestFew consumers are aware of what also has contributed to increased glyphosate use: Pre-harvest crop desiccation. Originating in Scotland in the 1980s, this practice involves applying the herbicide to a standing crop toward the end of the growing season with the express purpose of expediting the natural process that would occur, where a crop slowly dies and dries in the field. The glyphosate kills the crop so it can be dry enough to harvest sooner than if it were left to die naturally — allowing the farmer to clear the field before the onset of unfavorable weather. The practice has since gained significant traction in North America, particularly in the northern regions of the Great Plains and the grain belt of Midwestern and western Canada, where cold, wet weather comes early.

The exact timing of the application depends on a number of factors, but generally ranges from three to seven days before the onset of harvesting activities. And herein lies a potential explanation for the appearance of glyphosate in Ben & Jerry’s, as well as a large number of other food products. “Pre-harvest desiccation may account for only a small percentage of overall glyphosate use,” says Charles Benbrook, a visiting scholar at the Bloomberg School of Public Health who has spent more than a decade studying the use of glyphosate and associated health risks. “But it accounts for over 50 percent of dietary exposure.” More…

Money creation and inequality – an underexposed topic for monetary reformers

[Economic]
Money creation and inequality – an underexposed topic for monetary reformers
by Lino Zeddies
Posted March 4, 2018

wen need transformation, not changeIt is beyond doubt that the current money system has a huge impact on the distribution of power and wealth and heavily contributing to systemically worsening inequality. Even though there is growing public awareness and debate about the problem of inequality, so far the focus has been on the distribution of existing money and wealth, while the distributive effect of how and for what purpose money is created in the first place, seems to be a complete blind spot.

To raise awareness for these neglected dynamics, this article provides in the following an overview of the several direct and indirect channels through which the current money system worsens inequality and how a sovereign money reform could improve matters. Some of the mechanisms might seem at first glance not to be connected with bank money creation but it can be argued that they are part of the current money systems logical unfolding and would probably not, or to a much lesser extent, exist in a sovereign money system. More…

Rural Broadband-Boosting Bills Would Enshrine Towns’ Rights to Build Their Own Internet

[Media]
Rural Broadband-Boosting Bills Would Enshrine Towns’ Rights to Build Their Own Internet
by Kaleigh Rogers
Posted March 3, 2018

municipal broadband can save consumers moneyRun like a utility, municipal networks allow for community control, high speeds and, because the local government isn’t out to turn a profit, more affordable options. But multiple states, egged on by Big Telecom, have enacted legislation to try to prevent towns from building their own internet. The CBA, which has been introduced before but never gained much traction, would restore town’s rights by prohibiting lower levels of government from blocking municipal networks.

Big telecom companies see municipal networks as a threat (perhaps because they actually provide affordable internet) and will be no fans of this kind of legislation. As one of the most powerful lobbies on the hill, it will be important to watch who stands up for this legislation and who stays quiet. More…

This Is The Scientific Way To Win Any Argument (And Not Make Enemies)

[Spiritual]
This Is The Scientific Way To Win Any Argument (And Not Make Enemies)
By David Hoffeld
Posted February 26, 2018

changing mindsIt’s not about the specific points you make, it’s all about how you position them. You’re in the middle of a heated discussion–or fine, let’s just call it an argument–and the person whom you’re trying convince seems unable or unwilling to grasp your point of view. What should you do?

For starters, you should realize that your odds aren’t exactly superb. Belief change, as psychologist and fellow Fast Company contributor Art Markman put it, is frequently “a war of attrition. There’s usually no one argument that can suddenly get someone to see the light.” Still, some fascinating research suggests that reframing your ideas can boost your opponent’s receptiveness to them. Here’s how it works. More…

Next Stage Of Net Neutrality Conflict Begins

[Media]
Next Stage Of Net Neutrality Conflict Begins
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Posted February 25, 2018

Ajit Pai goes against public wishesOn Thursday, the FCC’s net neutrality rule was published in the Federal Register. This was the official start of the next phase of the campaign to protect the open Internet as a common carrier with equal access for all and without prejudice based on content (net neutrality).

There are multiple fronts of struggle to make net neutrality a reality: Congress, the courts, states and communities. This is part of a campaign to create an Internet for the 21st Century that is fast, reliable and available in all communities.

Polls show widespread support for net neutrality. Last year, polling found 77% of people in the Unite States “support keeping the net neutrality rules, which are already in place” and 87% agree that “people should be able to access any websites they want on the internet, without any blocking, slowing down, or throttling by their internet service providers.” The FCC’s net neutrality rule does the opposite of the national consensus, and if members of Congress want support from Internet users, they need to reverse the FCC’s rule. More…

Why Is It So Hard for Inmates to Sue Prisons?

[Justice]
Why Is It So Hard for Inmates to Sue Prisons?
by Jaeah Lee
Posted February 24, 2018

difficult to hold prisons accountableUnder the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 1996, prisoners who seek to file federal civil rights cases must first jump through several hoops, like exhausting all internal grievance procedures and paying $350 to file a case.

The law’s backers claimed it would protect inmates with legitimate complaints. Instead, it established a labyrinth of red tape. Between 1995 and 2012, as prison populations swelled 40 percent, the number of federal civil rights cases filed by prisoners dropped by more than 70 percent. About one-tenth of those cases resulted in an outcome favoring inmates, a slight decrease from the 1990s. If the PLRA was meant to filter out flimsy lawsuits, we should see more prisoners winning their cases, notes University of Michigan law professor Margo Schlanger. But now, she says, “each success is harder fought.” More…

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