From the world pool: April 8, 2018

cat lying stretched out in sun

Where did our sun go? We HAD it…

Socio-political commentary

USA/Politics

US may tie social media to visa applications Apparently Canadians are exempt, because we don’t need visas. So far.

The Trump administration has said it wants to start collecting the social media history of nearly everyone seeking a visa to enter the US. The proposal, which comes from the state department, would require most visa applicants to give details of their Facebook and Twitter accounts. They would have to disclose all social media identities used in the past five years.

Harvard Business School: The U.S. Political System Has Been ‘Hijacked’ 

America’s Political Economy: Essential new work on intergenerational inequality in the US – how race, gender and social structure interact 

Canada/Politics

The three decades of sordid political shenanigans behind the Site C dam Sounds like Sarah Cox’s book will be well worth reading.

Media and Communications

Power Needs to Be Restored to Internet Users The problem is bigger than Facebook.

Nearly the entire Internet is based on the following trade: You give us intimate personal data, and we give you magical services for free. This is the original sin, and almost every major website you visit (except Wikipedia) commits it. (Yes, dear online Nation reader, there are at least five trackers running on you as you read this.)

Add then the sin of omission: Instead of building public spaces online where all were equally free to participate, in the same way that one can walk into a public park or, if duly registered, cast a ballot, without fear of being tracked, our leaders did nothing and let private capital colonize all of the digital public sphere.

How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe: A Special Investigation The disinformation campaign—and massive radiation increase—behind the 5G rollout.

The scientific evidence that cell phones and wireless technologies in general can cause cancer and genetic damage is not definitive, but it is abundant and has been increasing over time. Contrary to the impression that most news coverage has given the public, 90 percent of the 200 existing studies included in the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed database on the oxidative effects of wireless radiation—its tendency to cause cells to shed electrons, which can lead to cancer and other diseases—have found a significant impact, according to a survey of the scientific literature conducted by Henry Lai. Seventy-two percent of neurological studies and 64 percent of DNA studies have also found effects.

The wireless industry’s determination to bring about the Internet of Things, despite the massive increase in radiation exposure this would unleash, raises the stakes exponentially. Because 5G radiation can only travel short distances, antennas roughly the size of a pizza box will have to be installed approximately every 250 feet to ensure connectivity. “Industry is going to need hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of new antenna sites in the United States alone,” said Moskowitz, the UC Berkeley researcher. “So people will be bathed in a smog of radiation 24/7.”

Public Domain — Just Kidding! 

Anyway, she was startled to see that the publisher wanted $38 per copy for an article that clearly stated on its first page was in the public domain. It wasn’t copyrighted! But the version the publishers put out was. Sort of. The publisher “added value” (according to their website “such as formatting or copy editing”). Unless the authors of the article that was in the public domain paid the publishers of the journal $3,000, readers and libraries would have to pay for it.  

The work was produced by federal government employees, whose work is placed in the public domain. They wanted it to reach academic readers so they submitted it to an academic journal that is, like most academic journals now, owned by a for-profit multinational corporation. So publicly-funded research that had the privilege of being published in one of over 1,300 journals owned by this particular publisher is not accessible unless somebody pays, very often with more public dollars. Does this make sense?

A lot of sense, to publishers and their investors. The profit margins are fabulous!

Privacy

Are your phone camera and microphone spying on you? 

Felix Krause described in 2017 that when a user grants an app access to their camera and microphone, the app could do the following:

  • Access both the front and the back camera.
  • Record you at any time the app is in the foreground.
  • Take pictures and videos without telling you.
  • Upload the pictures and videos without telling you.
  • Upload the pictures/videos it takes immediately.
  • Run real-time face recognition to detect facial features or expressions.
  • Livestream the camera on to the internet.
  • Detect if the user is on their phone alone, or watching together with a second person.
  • Upload random frames of the video stream to your web service and run a proper face recognition software which can find existing photos of you on the internet and create a 3D model based on your face.

Channel 4 News editor urges media to build alternative platform to ‘toxic’ Facebook 

But de Pear expresses a lack of faith in Zuckerberg’s ability to “fix” the platform’s problems, as the Facebook founder has pledged. “You can’t live on the promise of one slightly strange individual who is running a massive multi-billion organisation that they are going to protect your data and fund you properly when they haven’t – they have done the opposite.”

It’s not just Facebook. Thousands of companies are spying on you 

… for every article about Facebook’s creepy stalker behavior, thousands of other companies are breathing a collective sigh of relief that it’s Facebook and not them in the spotlight. Because while Facebook is one of the biggest players in this space, there are thousands of other companies that spy on and manipulate us for profit.

Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you 

Microsoft to ban ‘offensive language’ from Skype, Xbox, Office and other services 

Microsoft will ban ‘offensive language’ and ‘inappropriate content’ from Skype, Xbox, Office and other services on May 1, claiming it has the right to go through your private data to ‘investigate.’

Roger McNamee: “I Think You Can Make a Legitimate Case that Facebook Has Become Parasitic”

Feminist Issues

I’m a female chef. Here’s how my restaurant dealt with harassment from customers. 

We decided on a color-coded system in which different types of customer behavior are categorized as yellow, orange or red. Yellow refers to a creepy vibe or unsavory look. Orange means comments with sexual undertones, like certain compliments on a worker’s appearance. Red signals overtly sexual comments or touching, or repeated incidents in the orange category after being told the comments were unwelcome.

When a staff member has a harassment problem, they report the color — “I have an orange at table five” — and the manager is required to take a specific action. …The color system is elegant because it prevents women from having to relive damaging stories and relieves managers of having to make difficult judgment calls about situations that might not seem threatening based on their own experiences. [my emphasis] The system acknowledges the differences in the ways that men and women experience the world, while creating a safe workplace.

Who Does She Think She Is? The internet does not hate women. People hate women, and the internet allows them to do it faster, harder, and with impunity.

It’s a clammy summer night. You’re 24, and you call a suicide hotline.

The nice lady who answers is probably in her seventies. She is very understanding as you explain to her that hundreds of people, thousands of strangers, are saying awful things about you, that some of them seem to really want to hurt you. You don’t know why. You’re just a writer, and you didn’t expect this. But some of them tell you in detail their fantasies of your rape and murder.

The nice lady is very sweet as she asks you if these voices ever tell you to do things. Yes, they tell you to stop writing. You inform the nice lady about this in a creepy whisper because your family is sleeping nearby and you don’t want to wake or worry them. These strangers tell you you don’t deserve to live, let alone have a newspaper column. Do they tell you to hurt yourself? Yes, every day.

The nice lady tells you to hold the line, because if it’s alright, she’s going to transfer you to one of her colleagues with specialist training.

No, wait, you say. You’re not hearing voices. You’re not delusional.  The nice lady can Google you. This is really happening.

Racism and Civil Rights

The story behind a performance: How Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte fought racism arm in arm 

The script said nothing about Clark and Belafonte touching. “It was improvised,” Binder says. “The first few takes, Petula walked up and stopped a few steps behind Harry, but I felt it wasn’t working. So I said to Petula: ‘Just go right up alongside him and stand shoulder to shoulder.’ So we do this take and all of a sudden it starts happening. Her eyes are tearing up, Harry’s eyes are tearing up and Petula becomes so emotional that she reaches over and physically holds Harry’s forearm. And I’m tearing up too, thinking: ‘This is great! This is the take!’ And then it all blew up.”

No sooner had Binder cried “cut” than Lott stormed crimson-faced out of the green room and on to the set. “Screaming,” says Binder. “Because a white woman had touched a black man on screen. Seriously! It sounds comical but he was yelling ‘This will never get on TV!’ and ‘We’ll all lose our jobs!’ and demanding that I reshoot it, which I point blank refused to do. He was literally shouting ‘You’ll never work in this town again’ and threatening to fire me.”

White Women Who Enable Trump Do Not Deserve The Benefit Of Your Doubt 

The majority of white women have voted Republican for decades, and that pattern is rooted in systems of white supremacy and patriarchy: When white women marry white men (and around 90 percent do), their economic interests are yoked to those of their husbands. Most people writing and talking about Trump don’t put “white” and “women” together as a demographic category. Instead, the white women who voted for Trump are lumped together as “Republican” or “rural” or “white evangelicals,” but whiteness and the way it changes woman-ness slips away in these configurations.

It’s hard for us to grasp the idea that white women are culpable, because it doesn’t fit the widespread culture image of us as benevolent, peaceful and nurturing. These assumptions allow white women to behave in ways that materially harm non-white people, without being held accountable.

How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war 

Instead of remembering the first world war in a way that flatters our contemporary prejudices, we should recall what Hannah Arendt pointed out in The Origins of Totalitarianism – one of the west’s first major reckonings with Europe’s grievous 20th-century experience of wars, racism and genocide. Arendt observes that it was Europeans who initially reordered “humanity into master and slave races” during their conquest and exploitation of much of Asia, Africa and America. This debasing hierarchy of races was established because the promise of equality and liberty at home required imperial expansion abroad in order to be even partially fulfilled. We tend to forget that imperialism, with its promise of land, food and raw materials, was widely seen in the late 19th century as crucial to national progress and prosperity. Racism was – and is – more than an ugly prejudice, something to be eradicated through legal and social proscription. It involved real attempts to solve, through exclusion and degradation, the problems of establishing political order, and pacifying the disaffected, in societies roiled by rapid social and economic change.

When will Britain face up to its crimes against humanity? 

On 3 August 1835, somewhere in the City of London, two of Europe’s most famous bankers came to an agreement with the chancellor of the exchequer. Two years earlier, the British government had passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which outlawed slavery in most parts of the empire. Now it was taking out one of the largest loans in history, to finance the slave compensation package required by the 1833 act. Nathan Mayer Rothschild and his brother-in-law Moses Montefiore agreed to loan the British government £15m, with the government adding an additional £5m later. The total sum represented 40% of the government’s yearly income in those days, equivalent to some £300bn today.

You might expect this so-called “slave compensation” to have gone to the freed slaves to redress the injustices they suffered. Instead, the money went exclusively to the owners of slaves, who were being compensated for the loss of what had, until then, been considered their property. Not a single shilling of reparation, nor a single word of apology, has ever been granted by the British state to the people it enslaved, or their descendants.

Today, 1835 feels so long ago; so far away. But if you are a British taxpayer, what happened in that quiet room affects you directly. Your taxes were used to pay off the loan, and the payments only ended in 2015. Generations of Britons have been implicated in a legacy of financial support for one of the world’s most egregious crimes against humanity.

Race still trumps class for black Americans 

Class does not protect black Americans from racism. Regardless of class status, black people have higher incarceration rates, lower incomes, less wealth, and worse health outcomes. Many politicians and academics continue to insist that education is the key to upward mobility, yet racial disparities persist even when black people attain high levels of education. 

In light of U.S. gun violence protest, black students in Baltimore ask: Where is our march?

Always remember 

Indigenous Issues

Locked up at 12 

“I think the jail system is just like residential school. It’s a way to keep us shut out from the rest of the world and to keep us quiet,” Lepine says.

Inuit oral historian who pointed way to Franklin shipwrecks dies aged 58 

The Alt-Right

The Alt-Right is Killing People 

The violence that left one dead at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer should not be understood as the high-water mark for the movement as some analysts have argued. The alt-right worldview, this rebranding of old hatreds, will remain compelling to disaffected white males and those who claim to speak for them for the foreseeable future. Worse, as this study suggests, punctuated violence will continue. For the same vision of society that the alt-right promulgates—its externalization of blame that lands on a host of enemies seen to be in the ascendancy—also aligns with the indicators of mass violence.

Meanwhile, the alt-right is redoubling its efforts at youth recruitment, intensifying its rhetoric and calling for radical, individual action.

How White American Terrorists Are Radicalized 

They’re reading the same websites, talking to each other, and killing the same targets. The lone wolves are actually a pack.

Gun Control

Emma González on Why This Generation Needs Gun Control 

 ‘It has to be perfect’: Putting out a yearbook after the Parkland shooting 

For several days in the aftermath, the staff allowed the New York Times to follow the group of 37 editors, designers, writers and photographers as they pulled together the book — choosing the photographs and laying out the pages and making the painstaking decisions on how to best honor the students and staff who had died. The 452-page book is scheduled to be published in May and distributed to more than 2,500 people.

“This,” Elizabeth said, “has to be remembered for the rest of our lives.”

From Malala to Parkland, why are the victims demonised? 

The result is that the smear campaigns, so vicious and unrelenting, sow seeds of doubt in the larger population. More importantly, they end up diverting the conversation away from the core issue – the fundamental flaw in a society that has failed to protect its children, those most innocent of victims, and fixates instead on the figurehead as corrupt or as a vehicle of sinister puppeteers.

These figureheads are also not held to be competent agents of political change and so are seen as upstarts, precocious transgressors, pretentious people who think they are better than everybody else. This is an impulse that is suspicious of activism when carried out by everyday people, even those who have been unwillingly thrust into the spotlight by traumatic events. In the case of the young, the smear campaigns have to be especially vicious because there is so little information available that would easily discredit them. They have no history, no romantic past, no adult failings or idiosyncrasies.

Society has a problem with public campaigners because they are symbols of all the threats that encroach upon its comforting myths and hierarchies. It is not really about gun control in America or about girls’ education in Pakistan or about providing safe harbour to refugees. It is about upholding the status quo in all the ways that ensure our small relative superiorities are enshrined; and it is about our prejudices as to who gets to advocate or campaign.

Queer Teenage Girls Are Leading the Gun Control Movement 

“So like Jackie said, there’s been so many groups before us. People from Newtown and people from Las Vegas and people from Pulse who have been fighting for this change like we are, but for some reason, honestly, their voices have not been heard. And we’re here to stand with them and to make sure that their voices are heard through this, because they went through some of the same things we did. It’s not fair that we’re the only ones being heard, especially with Chicago and stuff. They go through gun violence every single day. And maybe because they’re minorities, they’re not heard. And that’s not fair. So if we can take our voices and use it to amplify the voices of minorities and people who aren’t being heard, then that’s our goal right now, and that’s what we’re going to try to get to.”

The anti-Trump resistance should stop bringing knives to a gunfight: Neil Macdonald

Parkland Survivor Mei Ling Ho-Shing is a #NeverAgain Champion at the Intersections 

17-year-old Mei Ling Ho-Shing, like many of her classmates, became an activist after she survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida that left 17 of her classmates and teachers dead. But in the wake of the tragedy, and on the heels of nationwide school walk-outs and the March for Our Lives, Ho-Shing is calling for more than gun law reform alone. She’s demanding an intersectional approach to the #NeverAgain movement.

What to Know About the NRA 

Police, Prisons and Justice

Shouldn’t Police at Home Exhibit at Least as Much Discipline as Soldiers at War? 

Deadly Force: Fatal encounters with police in Canada: 2000-2017 We need to do better.

Dangerous, growing, yet unnoticed: the rise of America’s white gangs White gangs are less covered by the media, and less punished – even though 53% of gang members in Mississippi are white

Surveys of young Americans have shown that 40% identifying as gang members are white, but police tend to undercount them at 10% to 14% and overcount black and Hispanic members, says Babe Howell, a criminal law professor at City University of New York who focuses on crime and race.

“Police see groups of young white people as individuals, each responsible for his or her own conduct, and hold young people of color in street gangs criminally liable for the conduct of their peers,” she says.

Most articles I read about prison are pretty depressing. This one isn’t. ‘I have no thought of escaping’: inside the Brazilian prisons with no guards 

Founded in 1972 by evangelical Christians to provide a humanising alternative to mainstream prisons, the system has now reached 49 jails in Brazil, and has branches in Costa Rica, Chile and Ecuador. They seek to rehabilitate inmates, who must show remorse. They are cheaper to run, have lower rates of recidivism, and are designed to benefit the wider community.

Ana Paula Pellegrino, of the Igarape Institute thinktank in Rio de Janeiro, says: “By committing a crime, prisoners break the social pact. An Apac prison restores this by allowing inmates to work for the community. Some prisoners might go out to sweep the streets, for example, which gives them a sense of responsibility and belonging.”

#MeToo helps shine a light on lack of feminine hygiene products in prison 

Disability Rights

Long waits for wheelchairs like having ‘your legs taken away,’ disability workers say 

Poverty

Barbara Ehrenreich: It Is Expensive to Be Poor 

The Great Recession should have put the victim-blaming theory of poverty to rest. In the space of only a few months, millions of people entered the ranks of the officially poor—not only laid-off blue-collar workers, but also downsized tech workers, managers, lawyers, and other once-comfortable professionals. No one could accuse these “nouveau poor” Americans of having made bad choices or bad lifestyle decisions. They were educated, hardworking, and ambitious, and now they were also poor—applying for food stamps, showing up in shelters, lining up for entry-level jobs in retail. This would have been the moment for the pundits to finally admit the truth: Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money.

… If anything, the criminalization of poverty has accelerated since the recession, with growing numbers of states drug testing applicants for temporary assistance, imposing steep fines for school truancy, and imprisoning people for debt. Such measures constitute a cruel inversion of the Johnson-era principle that it is the responsibility of government to extend a helping hand to the poor. Sadly, this has become the means by which the wealthiest country in the world manages to remain complacent in the face of alarmingly high levels of poverty: by continuing to blame poverty not on the economy or inadequate social supports, but on the poor themselves.

Environment

B.C. company develops battery for Swedish ‘hybrid’ ferry This sounds somewhat encouraging.

Corvus has already built a partnership with BC Ferries, which will see a battery-operated ferry hit the open water on some small-vessel routes either at the end of this year or the beginning of next.

‘We know we may be killed’: the rangers risking their lives for Virunga’s gorillas 

Anti-Nuclear Activism

What would happen if a #nuclearbomb went off in your backyard? We made an interactive map to show you how a #nuclear blast would affect your city. 

Health, Science and Technology

Amazon Discoveries: The new species found where few scientists have gone before 

The dark truth about chocolate 

Recent years have seen chocolate undergo another transformation, this time at the hands of branding experts. Sales of milk chocolate are stagnating as consumers become more health-conscious. Manufacturers have responded with a growing range of premium products promoted with such words as organic, natural, cacao-rich and single-origin. The packets don’t say so, but the message we’re supposed to swallow is clear: this new, improved chocolate, especially if it is dark, is good for your health. Many people have swallowed the idea that it’s a “superfood”. Except it isn’t. So how has this magic trick-like metamorphosis been achieved?

Art + Design + Writing

Ruth Miller: hand-embroidered tapestry portraits 

Shan Goshorn

I had an idea in 2008 about creating a work that addressed sovereignty and decided that a traditional single-weave basket shape would be an interesting way to present the friction between state and tribal government.  … My intention is to present historical and contemporary issues that continue to be relevant to Indian people today, to a world that still relies on Hollywood as a reliable informant about Indian life.

It was a thrilling accident to discover that the vessel shapes of baskets are a non-threatening vehicle to educate audiences.  But even more exciting, I am observing viewers literally leaning into my work, eager to learn more about the history of this country’s First People which can lead to the next wonderful step of engaging in honest dialogue about the issues that still plague Indian people today. America has believed a one-sided history for too long. Acknowledging and addressing these past atrocities is movement towards true racial healing… which has always been the goal of my work as an artist.

Rachel Newling: Artist & Printmaker 

The National Museum of Scotland is Putting Its Entire Collection Online

Kamwei Fong: cats 

Useful!

If You Find a Baby Songbird Out of the Nest 

Just for fun

Design fail 

Two years ago today Wikipedia notified me that someone at my IP address had vandalized the page for Mallard ducks. It turned out to be my then-12-year-old daughter. 

How to have Bedroom Eyes

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