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25455 Posts in 9722 Topics by 980 Members Latest Member: - Roots Dawta Most online today: 57 (July 03, 2005, 11:25:30 PM)
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 1 
 on: September 18, 2017, 01:16:52 PM 
Started by Dani37 - Last post by Dani37
In reading this article the author focused on the varying forms of violence which have become common place for poor, dark skinned women, which is more vicious if these women are fat and/or transgender. It was instructive because it is a violence, especially the mental, that is often denied, ignored or brushed aside due the economic and educational status of those that are affected.

https://catherineimanicosby.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/on-cardi-b-and-the-popular-fantasy-of-the-hood-black-femme

 2 
 on: September 15, 2017, 10:28:51 AM 
Started by News - Last post by News
By Noam Chomsky
July  1, 2014 - tomdispatch.com


NOTE

It goes without saying that the honchos of the national security state weren’t exactly happy with Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations.  Still, over the last year, the comments of such figures, politicians associated with them, and retirees from their world clearly channeling their feelings have had a striking quality: over-the-top vituperation.  About the nicest thing anyone in that crew has had to say about Snowden is that he’s a “traitor” or -- shades of the Cold War era (and of absurdity, since the State Department trapped him in the transit lounge of a Moscow airport by taking his passport away) -- a “Russian spy.”  And that’s the mild stuff.  Such figures have also regularly called for his execution, or quite literally stringing him up from the old oak tree and letting him dangle in the breeze.  Theirs has been a bloodcurdling collective performance that gives the word “visceral” new meaning.

Such a response to the way Snowden released batches of NSA documents to Glenn Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras, and the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman calls for explanation.  Here's mine: the NSA’s goal in creating a global surveillance state was either utopian or dystopian (depending on your point of view), but in either case, breathtakingly totalistic.  Its top officials meant to sweep up every electronic or online way one human being can communicate with others, and to develop the capability to surveil and track every inhabitant of the planet.  From German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to peasants with cell phones in the backlands of Afghanistan (not to speak of American citizens anywhere), no one was to be off the hook.  Conceptually, there would be no exceptions.  And the remarkable thing is how close the agency came to achieving this.

Whether consciously or not, however, the officials of the U.S. Intelligence Community did imagine one giant exception: themselves.  No one outside the loop was supposed to know what they were doing.  They alone on the planet were supposed to be unheard, unspied upon, and unsurveilled.  The shock of Snowden’s revelations, I suspect, and the visceral reactions came, in part, from the discovery that such a system really did have no exceptions, not even them.  In releasing the blueprint of their world, Snowden endangered nothing in the normal sense of the term, but that made him no less of a traitor to their exceptional world as they imagined it.  What he ensured was that, as they surveil us, we can now in some sense track them.  His act, in other words, dumped them in with the hoi polloi -- with us -- which, under the circumstances, was the ultimate insult and they responded accordingly.

An allied explanation lurks in Noam Chomsky’s latest TomDispatch post.  If the “security” in national security means not the security of the American people but, as he suggests, of those who run the national security state, and if secrecy is the attribute of power, then Edward Snowden broke their code of secrecy and exposed power itself to the light in a devastating and deflating way.  No wonder the reaction to him was so bloodthirsty and vitriolic.  Chomsky himself has an unsettling way of exposing various worlds of power, especially American power, to the light with similarly deflating results.  He’s been doing it for half a century and only gets better. Tom

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whose Security?
How Washington Protects Itself and the Corporate Sector
By Noam Chomsky

The question of how foreign policy is determined is a crucial one in world affairs.  In these comments, I can only provide a few hints as to how I think the subject can be productively explored, keeping to the United States for several reasons.  First, the U.S. is unmatched in its global significance and impact.  Second, it is an unusually open society, possibly uniquely so, which means we know more about it.  Finally, it is plainly the most important case for Americans, who are able to influence policy choices in the U.S. -- and indeed for others, insofar as their actions can influence such choices.  The general principles, however, extend to the other major powers, and well beyond.

There is a “received standard version,” common to academic scholarship, government pronouncements, and public discourse.  It holds that the prime commitment of governments is to ensure security, and that the primary concern of the U.S. and its allies since 1945 was the Russian threat.

There are a number of ways to evaluate the doctrine.  One obvious question to ask is: What happened when the Russian threat disappeared in 1989?  Answer: everything continued much as before.

The U.S. immediately invaded Panama, killing probably thousands of people and installing a client regime. This was routine practice in U.S.-dominated domains -- but in this case not quite as routine. For first time, a major foreign policy act was not justified by an alleged Russian threat.

Instead, a series of fraudulent pretexts for the invasion were concocted that collapse instantly on examination. The media chimed in enthusiastically, lauding the magnificent achievement of defeating Panama, unconcerned that the pretexts were ludicrous, that the act itself was a radical violation of international law, and that it was bitterly condemned elsewhere, most harshly in Latin America.  Also ignored was the U.S. veto of a unanimous Security Council resolution condemning crimes by U.S. troops during the invasion, with Britain alone abstaining.

All routine.  And all forgotten (which is also routine).

From El Salvador to the Russian Border

The administration of George H.W. Bush issued a new national security policy and defense budget in reaction to the collapse of the global enemy.  It was pretty much the same as before, although with new pretexts.  It was, it turned out, necessary to maintain a military establishment almost as great as the rest of the world combined and far more advanced in technological sophistication -- but not for defense against the now-nonexistent Soviet Union.  Rather, the excuse now was the growing “technological sophistication” of Third World powers.  Disciplined intellectuals understood that it would have been improper to collapse in ridicule, so they maintained a proper silence.

The U.S., the new programs insisted, must maintain its “defense industrial base.” The phrase is a euphemism, referring to high-tech industry generally, which relies heavily on extensive state intervention for research and development, often under Pentagon cover, in what economists continue to call the U.S. “free-market economy.”

One of the most interesting provisions of the new plans had to do with the Middle East.  There, it was declared, Washington must maintain intervention forces targeting a crucial region where the major problems “could not have been laid at the Kremlin’s door.”  Contrary to 50 years of deceit, it was quietly conceded that the main concern was not the Russians, but rather what is called “radical nationalism,” meaning independent nationalism not under U.S. control.

All of this has evident bearing on the standard version, but it passed unnoticed -- or perhaps, therefore it passed unnoticed.

Other important events took place immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, ending the Cold War.  One was in El Salvador, the leading recipient of U.S. military aid -- apart from Israel-Egypt, a separate category -- and with one of the worst human rights records anywhere.  That is a familiar and very close correlation.

The Salvadoran high command ordered the Atlacatl Brigade to invade the Jesuit University and murder six leading Latin American intellectuals, all Jesuit priests, including the rector, Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría, and any witnesses, meaning their housekeeper and her daughter.  The Brigade had just returned from advanced counterinsurgency training at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and had already left a bloody trail of thousands of the usual victims in the course of the U.S.-run state terror campaign in El Salvador, one part of a broader terror and torture campaign throughout the region.  All routine.  Ignored and virtually forgotten in the United States and by its allies, again routine.  But it tells us a lot about the factors that drive policy, if we care to look at the real world.

Another important event took place in Europe.  Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to allow the unification of Germany and its membership in NATO, a hostile military alliance.  In the light of recent history, this was a most astonishing concession.  There was a quid pro quo.  President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker agreed that NATO would not expand “one inch to the East,” meaning into East Germany.  Instantly, they expanded NATO to East Germany.

Gorbachev was naturally outraged, but when he complained, he was instructed by Washington that this had only been a verbal promise, a gentleman’s agreement, hence without force.  If he was naïve enough to accept the word of American leaders, it was his problem.

All of this, too, was routine, as was the silent acceptance and approval of the expansion of NATO in the U.S. and the West generally.  President Bill Clinton then expanded NATO further, right up to Russia’s borders.  Today, the world faces a serious crisis that is in no small measure a result of these policies.

The Appeal of Plundering the Poor

Another source of evidence is the declassified historical record.  It contains revealing accounts of the actual motives of state policy.  The story is rich and complex, but a few persistent themes play a dominant role.  One was articulated clearly at a western hemispheric conference called by the U.S. in Mexico in February 1945 where Washington imposed “An Economic Charter of the Americas” designed to eliminate economic nationalism “in all its forms.” There was one unspoken condition.  Economic nationalism would be fine for the U.S. whose economy relies heavily on massive state intervention.

The elimination of economic nationalism for others stood in sharp conflict with the Latin American stand of that moment, which State Department officials described as “the philosophy of the New Nationalism [that] embraces policies designed to bring about a broader distribution of wealth and to raise the standard of living of the masses.” As U.S. policy analysts added, “Latin Americans are convinced that the first beneficiaries of the development of a country's resources should be the people of that country.”

That, of course, will not do.  Washington understands that the “first beneficiaries” should be U.S. investors, while Latin America fulfills its service function.  It should not, as both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations would make clear, undergo “excessive industrial development” that might infringe on U.S. interests.  Thus Brazil could produce low-quality steel that U.S. corporations did not want to bother with, but it would be “excessive,” were it to compete with U.S. firms.

Similar concerns resonate throughout the post-World War II period.  The global system that was to be dominated by the U.S. was threatened by what internal documents call “radical and nationalistic regimes” that respond to popular pressures for independent development.  That was the concern that motivated the overthrow of the parliamentary governments of Iran and Guatemala in 1953 and 1954, as well as numerous others.  In the case of Iran, a major concern was the potential impact of Iranian independence on Egypt, then in turmoil over British colonial practice.  In Guatemala, apart from the crime of the new democracy in empowering the peasant majority and infringing on possessions of the United Fruit Company -- already offensive enough -- Washington’s concern was labor unrest and popular mobilization in neighboring U.S.-backed dictatorships.

In both cases the consequences reach to the present.  Literally not a day has passed since 1953 when the U.S. has not been torturing the people of Iran.  Guatemala remains one of the world’s worst horror chambers.  To this day, Mayans are fleeing from the effects of near-genocidal government military campaigns in the highlands backed by President Ronald Reagan and his top officials.  As the country director of Oxfam, a Guatemalan doctor, reported recently,

“There is a dramatic deterioration of the political, social, and economic context.  Attacks against Human Rights defenders have increased 300% during the last year.  There is a clear evidence of a very well organized strategy by the private sector and Army. Both have captured the government in order to keep the status quo and to impose the extraction economic model, pushing away dramatically indigenous peoples from their own land, due to the mining industry, African Palm and sugar cane plantations.  In addition the social movement defending their land and rights has been criminalized, many leaders are in jail, and many others have been killed.”

Nothing is known about this in the United States and the very obvious cause of it remains suppressed.

In the 1950s, President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles explained quite clearly the dilemma that the U.S. faced.  They complained that the Communists had an unfair advantage.  They were able to “appeal directly to the masses” and “get control of mass movements, something we have no capacity to duplicate.  The poor people are the ones they appeal to and they have always wanted to plunder the rich.”

That causes problems.  The U.S. somehow finds it difficult to appeal to the poor with its doctrine that the rich should plunder the poor.

The Cuban Example

A clear illustration of the general pattern was Cuba, when it finally gained independence in 1959.  Within months, military attacks on the island began.  Shortly after, the Eisenhower administration made a secret decision to overthrow the government.  John F. Kennedy then became president.  He intended to devote more attention to Latin America and so, on taking office, he created a study group to develop policies headed by the historian Arthur Schlesinger, who summarized its conclusions for the incoming president.

As Schlesinger explained, threatening in an independent Cuba was “the Castro idea of taking matters into one's own hands.”  It was an idea that unfortunately appealed to the mass of the population in Latin America where “the distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes, and the poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living.” Again, Washington’s usual dilemma.

As the CIA explained, “The extensive influence of 'Castroism' is not a function of Cuban power... Castro’s shadow looms large because social and economic conditions throughout Latin America invite opposition to ruling authority and encourage agitation for radical change,” for which his Cuba provides a model.  Kennedy feared that Russian aid might make Cuba a “showcase” for development, giving the Soviets the upper hand throughout Latin America.

The State Department Policy Planning Council warned that “the primary danger we face in Castro is... in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries… The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the U.S., a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half” -- that is, since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, when the U.S. declared its intention of dominating the hemisphere.

The immediate goal at the time was to conquer Cuba, but that could not be achieved because of the power of the British enemy.  Still, that grand strategist John Quincy Adams, the intellectual father of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny, informed his colleagues that over time Cuba would fall into our hands by “the laws of political gravitation,” as an apple falls from the tree.  In brief, U.S. power would increase and Britain’s would decline.

In 1898, Adams’s prognosis was realized. The U.S. invaded Cuba in the guise of liberating it.  In fact, it prevented the island’s liberation from Spain and turned it into a “virtual colony” to quote historians Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.  Cuba remained so until January 1959, when it gained independence.  Since that time it has been subjected to major U.S. terrorist wars, primarily during the Kennedy years, and economic strangulation.  Not because of the Russians.

The pretense all along was that we were defending ourselves from the Russian threat -- an absurd explanation that generally went unchallenged.  A simple test of the thesis is what happened when any conceivable Russian threat disappeared.  U.S. policy toward Cuba became even harsher, spearheaded by liberal Democrats, including Bill Clinton, who outflanked Bush from the right in the 1992 election.  On the face of it, these events should have considerable bearing on the validity of the doctrinal framework for discussion of foreign policy and the factors that drive it.  Once again, however, the impact was slight.

The Virus of Nationalism

To borrow Henry Kissinger’s terminology, independent nationalism is a “virus” that might “spread contagion.” Kissinger was referring to Salvador Allende’s Chile.  The virus was the idea that there might be a parliamentary path towards some kind of socialist democracy.  The way to deal with such a threat is to destroy the virus and to inoculate those who might be infected, typically by imposing murderous national security states.  That was achieved in the case of Chile, but it is important to recognize that the thinking holds worldwide.

It was, for example, the reasoning behind the decision to oppose Vietnamese nationalism in the early 1950s and support France’s effort to reconquer its former colony.  It was feared that independent Vietnamese nationalism might be a virus that would spread contagion to the surrounding regions, including resource-rich Indonesia.  That might even have led Japan -- called the “superdomino” by Asia scholar John Dower -- to become the industrial and commercial center of an independent new order of the kind imperial Japan had so recently fought to establish.  That, in turn, would have meant that the U.S. had lost the Pacific war, not an option to be considered in 1950.  The remedy was clear -- and largely achieved.  Vietnam was virtually destroyed and ringed by military dictatorships that kept the “virus” from spreading contagion.

In retrospect, Kennedy-Johnson National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy reflected that Washington should have ended the Vietnam War in 1965, when the Suharto dictatorship was installed in Indonesia, with enormous massacres that the CIA compared to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.  These were, however, greeted with unconstrained euphoria in the U.S. and the West generally because the “staggering bloodbath,” as the press cheerfully described it, ended any threat of contagion and opened Indonesia’s rich resources to western exploitation.  After that, the war to destroy Vietnam was superfluous, as Bundy recognized in retrospect.

The same was true in Latin America in the same years: one virus after another was viciously attacked and either destroyed or weakened to the point of bare survival.  From the early 1960s, a plague of repression was imposed on the continent that had no precedent in the violent history of the hemisphere, extending to Central America in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan, a matter that there should be no need to review.

Much the same was true in the Middle East.  The unique U.S. relations with Israel were established in their current form in 1967, when Israel delivered a smashing blow to Egypt, the center of secular Arab nationalism.  By doing so, it protected U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, then engaged in military conflict with Egypt in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia, of course, is the most extreme radical fundamentalist Islamic state, and also a missionary state, expending huge sums to establish its Wahhabi-Salafi doctrines beyond its borders.  It is worth remembering that the U.S., like England before it, has tended to support radical fundamentalist Islam in opposition to secular nationalism, which has usually been perceived as posing more of a threat of independence and contagion.

The Value of Secrecy

There is much more to say, but the historical record demonstrates very clearly that the standard doctrine has little merit.  Security in the normal sense is not a prominent factor in policy formation.

To repeat, in the normal sense.  But in evaluating the standard doctrine we have to ask what is actually meant by “security”: security for whom?

One answer is: security for state power.  There are many illustrations.  Take a current one.  In May, the U.S. agreed to support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Syria, but with a proviso: there could be no inquiry into possible war crimes by Israel.  Or by Washington, though it was really unnecessary to add that last condition.  The U.S. is uniquely self-immunized from the international legal system.  In fact, there is even congressional legislation authorizing the president to use armed force to “rescue” any American brought to the Hague for trial -- the “Netherlands Invasion Act,” as it is sometimes called in Europe.  That once again illustrates the importance of protecting the security of state power.

But protecting it from whom? There is, in fact, a strong case to be made that a prime concern of government is the security of state power from the population.  As those who have spent time rummaging through archives should be aware, government secrecy is rarely motivated by a genuine need for security, but it definitely does serve to keep the population in the dark.  And for good reasons, which were lucidly explained by the prominent liberal scholar and government adviser Samuel Huntington, the professor of the science of government at Harvard University.  In his words: “The architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen.  Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”

He wrote that in 1981, when the Cold War was again heating up, and he explained further that “you may have to sell [intervention or other military action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has been doing ever since the Truman Doctrine.”

These simple truths are rarely acknowledged, but they provide insight into state power and policy, with reverberations to the present moment.

State power has to be protected from its domestic enemy; in sharp contrast, the population is not secure from state power.  A striking current illustration is the radical attack on the Constitution by the Obama administration’s massive surveillance program.  It is, of course, justified by “national security.” That is routine for virtually all actions of all states and so carries little information.

When the NSA’s surveillance program was exposed by Edward Snowden’s revelations, high officials claimed that it had prevented 54 terrorist acts.  On inquiry, that was whittled down to a dozen.  A high-level government panel then discovered that there was actually only one case: someone had sent $8,500 to Somalia.  That was the total yield of the huge assault on the Constitution and, of course, on others throughout the world.

Britain’s attitude is interesting.  In 2007, the British government called on Washington’s colossal spy agency “to analyze and retain any British citizens’ mobile phone and fax numbers, emails, and IP addresses swept up by its dragnet,” the Guardian reported.  That is a useful indication of the relative significance, in government eyes, of the privacy of its own citizens and of Washington’s demands.

Another concern is security for private power.  One current illustration is the huge trade agreements now being negotiated, the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic pacts.  These are being negotiated in secret -- but not completely in secret.  They are not secret from the hundreds of corporate lawyers who are drawing up the detailed provisions.  It is not hard to guess what the results will be, and the few leaks about them suggest that the expectations are accurate.  Like NAFTA and other such pacts, these are not free trade agreements.  In fact, they are not even trade agreements, but primarily investor rights agreements.

Again, secrecy is critically important to protect the primary domestic constituency of the governments involved, the corporate sector.

The Final Century of Human Civilization?

There are other examples too numerous to mention, facts that are well-established and would be taught in elementary schools in free societies.

There is, in other words, ample evidence that securing state power from the domestic population and securing concentrated private power are driving forces in policy formation.  Of course, it is not quite that simple.  There are interesting cases, some quite current, where these commitments conflict, but consider this a good first approximation and radically opposed to the received standard doctrine.

Let us turn to another question: What about the security of the population? It is easy to demonstrate that this is a marginal concern of policy planners.  Take two prominent current examples, global warming and nuclear weapons.  As any literate person is doubtless aware, these are dire threats to the security of the population.  Turning to state policy, we find that it is committed to accelerating each of those threats -- in the interests of the primary concerns, protection of state power and of the concentrated private power that largely determines state policy.

Consider global warming.  There is now much exuberance in the United States about “100 years of energy independence” as we become “the Saudi Arabia of the next century” -- perhaps the final century of human civilization if current policies persist.

That illustrates very clearly the nature of the concern for security, certainly not for the population.  It also illustrates the moral calculus of contemporary Anglo-American state capitalism: the fate of our grandchildren counts as nothing when compared with the imperative of higher profits tomorrow.

These conclusions are fortified by a closer look at the propaganda system.  There is a huge public relations campaign in the U.S., organized quite openly by Big Energy and the business world, to try to convince the public that global warming is either unreal or not a result of human activity.  And it has had some impact.  The U.S. ranks lower than other countries in public concern about global warming and the results are stratified: among Republicans, the party more fully dedicated to the interests of wealth and corporate power, it ranks far lower than the global norm.

The current issue of the premier journal of media criticism, the Columbia Journalism Review, has an interesting article on this subject, attributing this outcome to the media doctrine of “fair and balanced.” In other words, if a journal publishes an opinion piece reflecting the conclusions of 97% of scientists, it must also run a counter-piece expressing the viewpoint of the energy corporations.

That indeed is what happens, but there certainly is no “fair and balanced” doctrine. Thus, if a journal runs an opinion piece denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin for the criminal act of taking over the Crimea, it surely does not have to run a piece pointing out that, while the act is indeed criminal, Russia has a far stronger case today than the U.S. did more than a century ago in taking over southeastern Cuba, including the country’s major port -- and rejecting the Cuban demand since independence to have it returned.  And the same is true of many other cases.  The actual media doctrine is “fair and balanced” when the concerns of concentrated private power are involved, but surely not elsewhere.

On the issue of nuclear weapons, the record is similarly interesting -- and frightening.  It reveals very clearly that, from the earliest days, the security of the population was a non-issue, and remains so.  There is no time here to run through the shocking record, but there is little doubt that it strongly supports the lament of General Lee Butler, the last commander of the Strategic Air Command, which was armed with nuclear weapons.  In his words, we have so far survived the nuclear age “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.” And we can hardly count on continued divine intervention as policymakers play roulette with the fate of the species in pursuit of the driving factors in policy formation.

As we are all surely aware, we now face the most ominous decisions in human history.  There are many problems that must be addressed, but two are overwhelming in their significance: environmental destruction and nuclear war.  For the first time in history, we face the possibility of destroying the prospects for decent existence -- and not in the distant future.  For this reason alone, it is imperative to sweep away the ideological clouds and face honestly and realistically the question of how policy decisions are made, and what we can do to alter them before it is too late.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Among his recent books are Hegemony or Survival, Failed States Power Systems Occupy ,and  Hopes and Prospects,  His latest book, Masters of Mankind, will be published soon by Haymarket Books, which is also reissuing twelve of his classic books in new editions over the coming year. His website is www.chomsky.info.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me.

Copyright 2014 Noam Chomsky[/i]

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175863/tomgram%3A_noam_chomsky,_america%27s_real_foreign_policy/

 3 
 on: September 12, 2017, 07:51:45 PM 
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
The Cotton Film: Dirty White Gold
The Cotton Film: Dirty White Gold [12min taster] on Vimeo

 4 
 on: September 11, 2017, 07:01:13 AM 
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
This documentary highlights some important problems brought on by consumerism via fast fashion. This author, in a review of the documentary, points out a great aspect it misses that is fundamental in the driving forces of abuse by big businesses. "... it is not explicit enough in stating the disproportionate effect of exploitative industries like fast fashion on people of colour, most of all people of colour in the ‘Global South.’ To put it into perspective, (particularly white) Western consumers are exempt of accountability for their part in exploiting the time, health, and labor of people of colour in ‘distant lands.’ So while I commend the film for putting women of colour’s voices and experiences front and center, it cheats its own argument by shying away from the ways in which gender, race, and nationality play into global capitalism’s systemic violence. The film also does not in any way note how global capitalism is in part an expression of Western colonialism and imperialism, and how people of colour (especially women) continue to suffer the greatest burden of this legacy." Full review at https://lifemarginally.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/review-the-true-cost/

The True Cost Official Trailer 1 (2015) - Documentary
The True Cost Official Trailer 1 (2015) - Documentary HD


 5 
 on: September 10, 2017, 07:24:51 PM 
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
Luxury brands: higher standards or just a higher mark-up?

Research challenges assumption that there is a link between the cost of clothing and the way it is produced, explains Tansy Hoskins


Cheap retailers such as Primark, Tesco and Asda are generally held up as the villains of the industry: accused of driving wages and working conditions down through their desire to sell clothes at extraordinarily cheap prices. Buying expensive clothes is often suggested as an ethical option, with the idea being that designer brands somehow use their profit margins to benefit their workforce. However, a high price tag is no guarantee of ethical practices.

Numerous high-end brands including Prada, Hugo Boss and Dolce and Gabbana have been highlighted in a recent Clean Clothes Campaign report on conditions in the “Euro-Mediterranean textile cluster” – the former Soviet countries of eastern Europe plus Turkey. The rise of this region as a fashion industry hub has been aided by its “Made in Europe” brand – a concept that purports to be a guarantee of standards above and beyond those of “Made in Asia”.
...

Rewinding back through the supply chain, filmmaker Leah Borromeo has documented India’s cotton fields for Dirty White Gold: “If you want a purely ethical line you also have to go beyond this idea that your clothes are made in a sweatshop, that’s not where they are made, that is where they are processed,” she explains. “You have to look at who made the thread for that fabric and who supplied the cotton for that thread. At the base of it is the farmer.” Borromeo points out that fields aren’t divided between expensive brands and cheap brands, instead the same farmers and labourers are at the behest of the market.


Full article: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/dec/10/luxury-brands-behind-gloss-same-dirt-ethics-production

 6 
 on: September 10, 2017, 04:47:16 PM 
Started by Nakandi - Last post by Nakandi
Is Ethical Clothing Expensive?
Wendy Graham

"Something I hear a lot from people is that they would love to shop more ethically, but ethical clothing is just too expensive. And I do get that. When money is tight it’s only natural to want that budget to spread as far as possible.

Is ethical clothing expensive though? When you look at it on the surface, yes, ethical clothing is expensive. This $120 dress (approximately £96 at time of writing), by Everlane, whose business model is based on ‘radical transparency’, is pretty similar to this £35 dress from a company with no ethical statement. Why would you spend £60 more on a dress that’s pretty similar? It’s hard to make the maths add up.

When you sit and think about that £35 dress though, you begin to think how manufacturers can possibly make a dress for £35, and still make a profit. If you’ve ever tried to make your own clothing you’ll know it’s pretty tricky to make a dress for that amount of money. By the time you’ve bought the fabric and the pattern, and the thread and any zips or buttons, and the electricity to power your sewing machine, you may well have reached or exceeded that amount, before even accounting for the cost of your own time.

So could the rise of fast fashion retailers have caused us to lose our sense of perspective, and our benchmarks and baselines on what is expensive?

You would expect to pay more for something now than in say, 1980, wouldn’t you?"

Full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/wendy-graham/is-ethical-clothing-expen_b_15765086.html

 7 
 on: September 09, 2017, 11:57:33 AM 
Started by News - Last post by News
Dangerous Times: North Korea, China and the Threat of Nuclear War and Accident

By John Pilger and T.J. Coles
September 07, 2017


The threat is from the United States, which for more than two generations has bullied and provoked North Korea.

The U.S. continues to provoke North Korea with military exercises near its borders. It also fails to live up to diplomatic agreements. Western media continue to distort the chronology of cause and effect, inverting reality to claim that North Korea is provoking the West. John Pilger, author of "The Coming War on China," talks to T.J. Coles about the situation.

This interview contains material from our book, "Voices for Peace: War, Resistance and America’s Quest for Full-Spectrum Dominance," an edited collection of original works by Pilger, as well as Noam Chomsky, Cynthia McKinney, Ilan Pappe and other leading activists and scholars published by Clairview Books, 2017.

T.J. Coles: What is the threat from North Korea?

John Pilger: The threat is from the United States, which for more than two generations has bullied and provoked North Korea while denying Koreans a treaty that would finally end their civil war and open up numerous possibilities, including reunification. The one pause in this warmongering campaign, during the 1990s, demonstrated that negotiations can “work,” regardless of what (President Donald) Trump says.

In 1992, the North and South signed the Declaration of Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula called, “An Agreed Framework,” which established and resulted in a suspension of North Korea’s nuclear programs in exchange for a U.S. agreement to build two nuclear reactors within the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

George W. Bush tore this up in 2002.

Then there were six-party talks in Beijing. Today, China and Russia have said that if the U.S. and South Korea cease their provocative military exercises – which include regime change – North Korea will stop firing its missiles. Will the Trump administration agree to this?

T.J. Coles: How do you assess Trump’s China policy, as opposed to (former president Barack) Obama’s?

John Pilger: There isn’t a real difference. Obama – urged on by his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – initiated the so-called Pivot to Asia, which set the hare running of a U.S. confrontation with China. Trump has continued this. He has, however, hosted the Chinese president and said what a great guy he is, whatever that’s worth.

Trump’s subsequent histrionics over North Korea, over its provocative tests, have made real the possibility of miscalculation. This is a dangerous time.

T.J. Coles: Do you see much chance of a trade war between the U.S. and China?

John Pilger: No. Their interdependence has never been greater. Trump’s election campaign threat to impose 40 percent tariffs on certain Chinese imports came to nothing. Again, the real threat is a mistaken or accidental missile launch on China – for example, from the U.S.’s newly-installed THAAD ‘defense system’ in South Korea. The unspoken issue is the Pentagon, which has had unprecedented power in Washington since 9/11, especially since Obama’s presidency.

This article was first published by Plymouth Institute for Peace Research - http://johnpilger.com/

 8 
 on: September 07, 2017, 06:49:38 AM 
Started by News - Last post by News
By Mike Whitney
September 4, 2017


Here’s what the media isn’t telling you about North Korea’s recent missile tests.

Last Monday, the DPRK fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan’s Hokkaido Island. The missile landed in the waters beyond the island harming neither people nor property.

The media immediately condemned the test as a “bold and provocative act”  that showed the North’s defiance of UN resolutions and “contempt for its neighbors.” President Trump sharply criticized the missile test saying:

Quote
“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”

What the media failed to mention was that,  for the last three weeks, Japan, South Korea and the US have been engaged in large-scale joint-military drills on Hokkaido Island and in South Korea. These needlessly provocative war games are designed to simulate an invasion of North Korea and a “decapitation” operation to remove (Re: Kill)  the regime. North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un has asked the US repeatedly to end these military exercises, but the US has stubbornly refused. The US reserves the right to threaten anyone, anytime and anywhere even right on their doorstep. It’s part of what makes the US exceptional. Check out this excerpt from an article at Fox News:

Quote
“More than 3,500 American and Japanese troops kicked off a weeks-long joint military exercise Thursday against the backdrop of an increasingly belligerent North Korean regime. The exercise, known as Northern Viper 17, will take place on Hokkaido — Japan’s northern-most main island — and will last until Aug. 28….

    “We are improving our readiness not only in the air, but as a logistical support team,” Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th Fighter Wing commander, said in a statement. “We are in a prime location for contingency purposes and this exercise will only build upon our readiness in the case a real-world scenario occurs.” (US, Japanese troops begin joint military exercise amid North Korea threat”, Fox News)

Monday’s missile test (which flew over Hokkaido Island) was conducted just hours after the war games ended. The message was clear: The North is not going to be publicly humiliated and slapped around without responding. Rather than show weakness, the North demonstrated that it was prepared to defend itself against foreign aggression. In other words, the test was NOT a  “bold and provocative act” (as the media stated) but a modest and well thought-out  response by a country that has experienced 64 years of relentless hectoring, sanctions, demonization and saber rattling by Washington. The North responded because the Washington’s incitements required a response. End of story.

Full Article:
www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/04/what-the-media-isnt-telling-you-about-north-koreas-missile-tests/


 9 
 on: September 07, 2017, 01:10:13 AM 
Started by News - Last post by News
By Craig Murray
September 03, 2017


EXTRACT:

How did we get here? In the 1950s the USA dropped 635,000 tonnes of bombs on North Korea including 35,000 tonnes of napalm. The US killed an estimated 20% of the North Korean population. For comparison, approximately 2% of the UK population was killed during World War II.

That this massive destruction of North Korea resulted in a xenophobic, American-hating state with an obsession with developing powerful weapons systems to ensure national survival, is not exactly surprising. The western media treat the existence of the Kim Jong-un regime as an inexplicable and eccentric manifestation of evil. In fact, it is caused. Unless those causes are addressed the situation can never be resolved. Has any western politician ever referenced the history I have just given in discussing North Korea?

Full Article : www.informationclearinghouse.info/47743.htm

 10 
 on: September 06, 2017, 07:45:14 PM 
Started by mdw-ntr - Last post by mdw-ntr
Free Basics: Facebook's failure at 'digital equality'
Facebook's Free Basics app aimed at providing free online services in developing countries is not what it claims to be.

In Africa, internet costs are out of reach for most, thus having the internet at a low cost or partially free to access basic vital information is important. Free Basics - a mobile app created by Facebook - has since its 2015 launch been hailed by the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the "first step towards digital equality" due to its audacious plan to "introduce" millions of people to the internet, many of whom live in developing countries such as Kenya and Ghana.

Facebook claims to be bridging this gap by providing mobile phone users in developing countries with an app that gives them access to a few online services, among them Facebook. This is not the whole internet - it does not allow users to click links or load videos - but it is something.

If you have no other option, something is surely better than nothing. This tool may not give people the whole internet, but it could bring vital information to poor users. When it comes to public health information, for example, this could mean life or death for millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.

But while Free Basics may be "free" in terms of money, it comes at another cost that Facebook is loathe to acknowledge, despite concerns raised by digital rights experts and activists. The app gives users access to only a tiny set of services, a clear violation of net neutrality. And it collects data about users and their activities on the app, without telling them how this data will be used.

Facebook claims to want to 'introduce' people to the internet. But instead, they've built a walled garden that fails to meet local needs, and seems much better designed to collect users' data than it is to educate, inspire or empower them.

Despite Facebook's marketing campaigns, which depict Free Basics as a bridge to the information age, we found a stark difference between what the service is lauded for (mostly by Facebook itself) and how it actually works.

The app shows a lack of understanding of local nuances and needs, bears significant shortcomings in its features, and collects ample data about its users.

Overall, it fails to give tangible value to the very people that it claims to serve - the poor and less educated in developing countries.

The value proposition of Free Basics is rooted in its ability to make useful content accessible at no cost to the under-served. However, the app fails to deliver on this crucial aspect of its promise.

In both Ghana and Kenya, despite being built for countries with robust technology sectors and online content markets, the app gave users little access to these markets. To look at Free Basics in either place, one might think that there was not much happening online in these countries. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

In Kenya, out of the 16 services featured in the main menu of the app, only three are local. Two of these apps are job-search sites. The third comes from the Daily Nation, the country's largest daily newspaper. All three local services are available only in English.

This is despite the fact that Kenya is one of the most connected countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It has the 14th-fastest mobile internet speed (pdf) in the world, putting it well ahead of the United States. The country is experiencing an explosion in social media use and with it, an abundance of local content. According to State of the Internet in Kenya 2016 report (pdf) conducted by Bloggers Association of Kenya, there are currently approximately 15,000 Kenyan blogs. In 2016, overall monthly visits to blogs by Kenyans increased by 46 percent from 12.4 million to 18.1 million.

Blogs such as Farmerstrend, Kuzabiashara, Healthkenya, and Mzalendo just to name a few, are sites with local news and useful information on farming, entrepreneurship, health, governance and women's rights. No such blogs with local content are available on the app.

The Kenyan version of the app also did not offer access to government service websites such as eCitizen, which is used for everything from accessing one's birth certificate to registering a business, or www.hudumakenya.go.ke, which enables Kenyans to access basic vital services such as issuance of birth certificates and national IDs, registration of self-help groups and welfare societies, among others.

The Ghanaian version of the app was no better. It offered no access to government or citizen service websites, and included only a few local services. About 70 percent of all services included in the app were based outside of Africa, bearing little local relevance.

In addition, Free Basics in Ghana did not include popular and trusted local news sites such as myjoyonline.com, citifmonline.com and adomonline.com

And even with news sites that were included in the app, users were sometimes cut off from the complete version of a news story. Videos did not load, and photos were often removed from news articles. In some cases, the user does not get to see the whole story, but rather just a blurb of a sentence or two. Users who wish to access the full story are greeted with a pop-up notice telling them that they must pay full data charges in order to gain access.

Users who cannot afford these charges are thus left with incomplete information, potentially increasing the spread of false information and fake news.

In some versions that we tested, the different websites offered in the app were not organised on any logical basis. News, information, education, jobs and entertainment services were presented in alphabetical order and not organised by topic, making it quite a task for a user to scroll-search for a service. Some versions also lacked a search function.

This was a far cry from Facebook's public relations messaging, which depicts the service as a very functional one for those who have never used the internet before.

Free Basics also fails to meet the linguistic needs of target users in the region. In Kenya, while the app interface can be used in Kiswahili, only three services are available in Kiswahili. Kiswahili is one of the official languages of Kenya and is spoken by a majority of the population, unlike English, which despite being an official language, is not as widely spoken.

In Ghana, the version of Free Basics offered via Tigo - one of six leading mobile service providers in Ghana - was available only in English and it did not offer users the ability to change the user interface to Hausa, Twi or other major local languages.

Free Basics has no less than four different policies addressing terms of use and data privacy, all of which the user is alerted to by a few lines of small, light grey text that appears beneath a flashy purple button inviting them to "continue" and launch the service. For our group of seasoned internet users and bloggers, it was difficult to distinguish between the "Free Basics policies" and "Facebook policies" that every user technically agrees to. We can only imagine how this might look to a person who had never used the web before.

Although Facebook purports to use a distinct data privacy policy for Free Basics services that are not owned by Facebook, the technological infrastructure behind the app allows Facebook to gather key information about users across the board, including the websites they visit, and their phone numbers. Facebook is in the business of selling advertising based on their user data to companies. It stands to benefit from all of this information, which will help inform the company's decisions about how to market its products - and sell effective advertising - in developing countries.

Facebook claims to want to "introduce" people to the internet. But instead, they've built a walled garden that fails to meet local needs, and seems much better designed to collect users' data than it is to educate, inspire or empower them.

Indeed, Free Basics just might be the gift that keeps on receiving.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/08/free-basics-facebook-failure-digital-equality-170828083453067.html

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