Friday, December 26, 2014

Suki Kim, Unsung Hero

This woman went UNDERCOVER into North Korea. She posed as a schoolteacher (she's actually a writer) and got accepted to teach at their top private school, where she reported on what life is like for their students. Kim wanted to humanize North Korea and show us where their next generation of leaders was coming  from. Suki Kim tells us that these kids were good people, but terrified every minute and made to turn on each other for survival:

Now, isn't that pretty brave? And an interesting way to help improve the world's relations with North Korea? And have you heard about her in the mainstream news lately? Or, have you heard only negative stuff and drama about the Sony Pictures movie fiasco...

Suki Kim's book should be the real story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Police Elf Christmas State!

WPXI News says we should beware watchful idols like Elf on a Shelf, because it convinces our kids to accept a future "police state."


We already have a police state, don't we? Secret surveillance, journalists getting jailed, protestors getting teargassed, arrested and fined, and innocent civilians getting murdered in broad daylight with no legal consequence because it was the police who murdered them. How many more horrors do you need to have a police state?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Facebook Apology Misses the Point

So, Facebook has taken it upon itself to police identities and decide who is real and who is not allowed to exist. Yes, they only have domain over their social sphere but with Facebook being THE defining social media platform of our era, it's a huge handicap to be excluded from it.

Summary of the worrying news (along with my commentary):

Facebook's Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, defends the name policy that "affected" our LGBT community. Yes, we've been "affected" by their uneven enforcement of the policy that bans names they deem unreal or "not real enough." Facebook chose to support those who report non-gender-conforming accounts, or people who report someone's account as unreal in response to them not liking what their opponent said in an online debate. Meanwhile, plenty of fake-named accounts that look like everyday gender-conforming men and women and don't post controversial topics will never get banned from this policy.

Cox stood by the original "real name" policy — which Facebook says is not synonymous with requiring "legal" names. He said the rule helps Facebook stand out amid all the anonymity online and helps keep users safe from anonymous cyberbullying.

"With this input, we're already underway building better tools for "authenticating" the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors." (Sister Roma is the famous Drag Queen shown above. When her Facebook account was threatened, she got her friend San Francisco City Supervisor David Campos to complain to Facebook, which is probably the only reason Facebook is even pretending to listen to the queer community on this issue.)

You heard it here first, folks. The way Facebook enforces their new name policy is meant to KEEP USERS SAFE FROM BULLYING.

It's not like any of us use aliases to protect ourselves from bullying, right? It's not like any women, transgender people or LGBQ folk have ever been threatened over something we published on the internet. It's especially not like people like Anita Sarkeesian are all over the news for exactly this sort of trouble.

Meanwhile, Ello is gaining 4,000 users per hour...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some Facts About the Michael Brown Incident

While Michael Brown was deemed too dangerous to live, another man in Dallas set fires so that he could shoot police and firefighters who responded, and HE was taken into custody unharmed and perfectly alive. Spoiler alert: he was white. (source)

Fox News jumped to paint Michael Brown as a criminal for allegedly stealing cigars in this video, meanwhile the man who terrorized Dallas and shot multiple officers was given a chance to defend his reasons as NBC published an article painting him as a human who was making a respectable political statement.

The town of Ferguson, Missouri is 67 percent African-American. Their police force is over 96 percent white. (source)

This sort of thing happens often; 4 other unarmed black men were killed by police this month in the USA: Eric Garner(NY), John Crawford(OH), Ezell Ford(CA), and Dante Parker(CA) (source).

Black women and girls are also regularly killed by police, see the stories of Yvette Smith(TX), Eleanor Bumpurs(NY), Aiyana Stanley-Jones(MI), and Tarika Wilson(OH).

It happens even in "nice places": police officers have shot unarmed black men and women in Hollywood, Riverside (California), and Prince Georges County—a Maryland suburb known as the most affluent US county with an African-American majority. (source)

The ACLU sued to get a copy of Ferguson's police report covering the shooting, but it was "mostly blank" and did not contain any info like a description of the scene, quotes from eyewitnesses, names of the officers involved, or any other pieces of information normally found on such documents. (source)

German reporters covering the protests afterwards (it's international news) said that Ferguson officers were worse to deal with than covering conflict zones in Georgia, the Gaza strip, Kaliningrad/the Soviet Union, Iraq, Vietnam, China, and Cuba. Police here would not let them take any pictures and they got arrested. (source)

Ferguson police also threatened to kill American journalists covering the protests. (source)

Though the Grand Jury is not even sure they will charge Darren Wilson with anything, Darren Wilson has raised over $234,000 for his legal defense at Gofundme. Michael Brown's family has raised only $168,000. (source)

Our police force now has so much military gear that you can play the Cop or Solider? guessing game online.

A 14-year old in Lilburn, Georgia, was so bothered by our epidemic of police violence that he designed an app for it.

After that, Obama decided he also was alarmed and ordered a review of our militarized police system. Racism or race was not mentioned even once in the 1,382 word New York Times article covering his statement.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Protest that Actually Helped People

Last January, low-income residents of San Francisco were REALLY MAD at the Google buses using their bus stops. Why? They viewed these buses as symbols of gentrification and displacement in a city where the rapid growth of the tech sector has driven up their rent. And Google wasn't paying anyone  anything to use the bus stops, but they were getting in the way of their regular buses, causing delays and overcrowding at the bus stops.  Imagine, seeing your own public transit cutback due to budget cuts, while some dude in a suit takes your spot in the bus shelter to wait for his fancy-pants Google shuttle that you can't even ride.

So, angry protestors began blocking the tech company's buses from leaving the stops. Google employees got so disturbed, some of them even called this a hate crime.

But, these protests actually produced a REAL BENEFIT:

On January 21, 2014, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (also known as MUNI)  imposed a fee of $1 per day for each public stop used by a private company. This fee was expected to raise $1.5 million a year and was the
largest the agency could impose without a vote from San Francisco residents! Then in February, Google donated $6.8 million to the transit agency to provide free public transit for low-income children in San Francisco.

It's interesting that both the local government and Google here were influenced by the protestors, unlike other protests we've seen in the past, who get ignored or even fined.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Invisible Hand of Oligarchy

The Invisible Hand in the USA might as well mean "invisible influence of money on our political reps."  Especially when you consider that most corporate spending on elections here is secret information.

Sometimes though, you can see how the money affects the outcome of political process.  When a policy gets passes that the majority of the public disagrees with, you can bet it's that "Invisible Hand of Elite Interest" at work:

Consider the Merchant's House Museum in New York City. This historical museum, a historical preservation society, and thousands of neighborhood residents don't want another "drab on so many levels" hotel to be built in their neighborhood. The hotel construction is guaranteed to damage the neighboring museum and put it out of service for 1 year or more, and require repairs costing $1 million+.  We know this because the same thing happened in the 1980s with another for-profit construction project.

Yet the government body responsible, the NYC "Landmarks Preservation Commission," voted 6-1 to approve the construction with NO guarantees or compensation to the Merchant House museum. So the hotel makes a huge profit at the cost of the neighborhood identity, education, and culture. And the museum might be out of business forever.

The Invisible Hand is said to maximize value and opportunity because market forces guide resources to be used in the most efficient manner. But who's opportunity is being maximized here?  Not the local community, that's for sure.

US exposed as fake democracy

Well, I'm not sure I'll have much to make fun of here anymore.  Princeton researchers have exposed the US government for the sham it is, publishing a report that says,"The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite."

They supported it with tons of academic stats, like "Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

And nightmarish numbers like, USA elites get their policies enacted 18% to 45% of the time, even when the majority of Americans disagree with them. So this small percent can make a law happen even if 85% of the country is against it.  So much for "one man, one vote."

Now that everyone knows our masses are ruled by the monied elites, how can I be ironic about US "Democracy?"

Well, this article was only published by the BBC, so perhaps most Americans still don't know.  So maybe Liberal Propaganda will still have a market after all!

Thanks, American Oligarchy & your carefully-controlled media!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Japan Returns Lost Cash Post-Earthquake

Gawker recently bragged that Japanese people have been notably selfless after their earthquake distaster, returning over (the equivalent of) $70 MILLION dollars in cash to it's rightful owners.  By cutting open safes that washed up on shore, turning in lost wallets & purses found in the rubble to the police, ect.

One commenter complained that praising the Japanese for this altruism is romanticizing and racist:

But ColdBloodedSerialCommenter seems to have missed the point.  In Japan, savings are more commonly stored in cash AND their population is less desperate and less impoverished than the USA, as he admitted when he said "is it especially remarkable for people to return lost property in a ... economically developed nation with universal education, robust law enforcement, and extensive social support structures?"  Because yea, that sounds nothing like the USA to me.  While technically we do have public schools and law enforcement, are school quality is hardly consistent across neighborhoods and a free high school degree is not enough to get a good job, most ppl have to pay for higher education if they want a salaried job.  And don't even get me started on law enforcement...

In America, people would never turn in large quantities of cash like this.  Our law enforcement SEIZES cash when it's found, more often than not, and holds it as "Evidence," never returning it to anyone.  And the average person would the money too if they found it, not turn it in to the authorities (because the authorities would just keep the cash anyway.) 

So yea, it's not romanticization to point out that Japan is vastly different.  And maybe it's partially BECAUSE they don't have the desperation and corruption that USA does...we don't really HAVE universal education,  healthcare or a good standard of living.  And we have a high amount of corruption in government and law enforcement.  See how these things make a difference when a crisis hits.