Leftrants

All the news that doesn't fit on my other blog

15 notes

Years of air strikes, drone-operated killings, and covert operations have brought neither peace nor safety to the region and its people. Estimates of the death toll from U.S. attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia alone range from 3,100 to 5,400, including 570-1,200 civilians. Precise figures are impossible to obtain since the strikes remain classified, and investigating drone attacks is difficult and dangerous work. Nor has the drone campaign halted the proliferation of groups seeking to link their — usually local — agendas to the idea of a global struggle represented by al-Qaeda. Indiscriminate killing — and the constant fear of death from above — has only destroyed communities and provided easy recruitment material for extremist groups.
The Next Round of an Unwinnable War Beckons (via azspot)

(via azspot)

6 notes

I’m making the point that it’s not just about waiting for our politicians to say, “This is really, really serious.” Social movements have the ability to lend that sense of urgency to an issue. In fact, this is how change happens. This is how change has always happened.

Naomi Klein interviewed by Joshua Holland in The American Prospect. Naomi Klein: Pitting Environment Against Economy Risks Failure of Both

The solutions to climate change, she writes in a new book, are not those that consolidate wealth.

(via protoslacker)

19 notes

The reality is that the government was not reducing the amount of money devoted to management of the urban poor. It was radically altering what the funds would be used for. The dramatic shift toward punitiveness resulted in a massive reallocation for public resources. By 1996, the penal budget doubled the amount that had been allocated to AFDC or food stamps.
Michelle Alexander (via azspot)

(via azspot)

4 notes

"Classification Situations: Life-chances in the Neoliberal Era" proposes to revisit class analysis through the prism of techno-social changes represented by the advent of novel market devices

econsociology:

This very interesting article (open access) by Marion Fourcade & Kieran Healy examines the stratifying effects of economic classifications. They argue that in the neoliberal era market institutions increasingly use actuarial techniques to split and sort individuals into classification situations that shape life-chances. While this is a general and increasingly pervasive process, the main empirical illustration comes from the transformation of the credit market in the United States. This market works as both as a leveling force and as a condenser of new forms of social difference. The U.S. banking and credit system has greatly broadened its scope over the past twenty years to incorporate previously excluded groups. The researchers observe this leveling tendency in the expansion of credit amongst lower-income households, the systematization of overdraft protections, and the unexpected and rapid growth of the fringe banking sector. But while access to credit has democratized, it has also differentiated. Scoring technologies classify and price people according to credit risk. This has allowed multiple new distinctions to be made amongst the creditworthy, as scores get attached to different interest rates and loan structures. Scores have also expanded into markets beyond consumer credit, such as insurance, real estate, employment, and elsewhere. 
The result is a cumulative pattern of advantage and disadvantage with both objectively measured and subjectively experienced aspects. The paper argues that these private classificatory tools are increasingly central to the generation of “market-situations”, and thus an important and overlooked force that structures individual life-chances. In short, classification situations may have become the engine of modern class situations.

137 notes

Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up

Not terribly long ago in a country that many people misremember, if they knew it at all, a black person was killed in public every four days for often the most mundane of infractions, or rather accusation of infractions – for taking a hog, making boastful remarks, for stealing 75 cents. For the most banal of missteps, the penalty could be an hours-long spectacle of torture and lynching. No trial, no jury, no judge, no appeal. Now, well into a new century, as a family in Ferguson, Missouri, buries yet another American teenager killed at the hands of authorities, the rate of police killings of black Americans is nearly the same as the rate of lynchings in the early decades of the 20th century.

(Source: azspot)

7 notes

When we talk about the process, then, we are talking, increasingly, not about “the democratic process,” or the general mechanism affording the citizens of a state a voice in its affairs, but the reverse: a mechanism seen as so specialized that access to it is correctly limited to its own professionals, to those who manage policy and those who report on it, to those who run the polls and those who quote them, to those who ask and those who answer the questions on the Sunday shows, to the media consultants, to the columnists, to the issues advisers, to those who give the off-the-record breakfasts and to those who attend them; to that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life.
Joan Didion (via azspot)

(via azspot)

6 notes

econsociology:

The Supranational Corporation: Beyond the Multinationals shows how corporations flaunt laws and act as controlling powers beyond the constraints imposed on legal state citizens.
This book by Laura Westra  lays bare corporate actions both domestic and international, under the guise of legal “personhood” that has granted corporations increasing power. As a result, corporate decisions undermine and even nullify legal decisions made by governments designed to protect citizens.
Corporations are now “embedded” within domestic legal regimes and insinuate themselves to subvert the very systems designed to restrain corporate power and protect the public weal. Using international vehicles like the WTO and NAFTA, corporate collective power effectively supersedes the constitutional mandate of nation states.

econsociology:

The Supranational Corporation: Beyond the Multinationals shows how corporations flaunt laws and act as controlling powers beyond the constraints imposed on legal state citizens.

This book by Laura Westra  lays bare corporate actions both domestic and international, under the guise of legal “personhood” that has granted corporations increasing power. As a result, corporate decisions undermine and even nullify legal decisions made by governments designed to protect citizens.

Corporations are now “embedded” within domestic legal regimes and insinuate themselves to subvert the very systems designed to restrain corporate power and protect the public weal. Using international vehicles like the WTO and NAFTA, corporate collective power effectively supersedes the constitutional mandate of nation states.

21 notes

the origin of the legal subject, and notably of penal law, is commercial law; it is the law of commerce, debt, the market, the exchange between things, bodies and monetary signs, with their general equivalent and their surplus value, their interest.
Jacques Derrida, The Death Penalty p. 152 (via post-makhno)

(via lointaine-3)

54 notes

laliberty:

Net Neutrality: The Story Not Being Told

Protesters and corporations working together?
It was only three years ago this month when protestors were waving signs in Wall Street’s Zuccotti park.
But this week, in an ironic turn of events, the protesters have teamed up with many of the corporations they undoubtedly rallied against.
If you can’t beat ‘em… eh?
Why are protesters and corporations holding hands?
In case you missed it, here’s the full rundown of what happened this week…
On Wednesday, you may’ve noticed [the above] icon on some of your favorite websites…
Websites donning it on their front page were in support of what was calledInternet Slowdown Day.
They were fighting against, of course, the evil cable companies.
“Cable companies want to set up toll booths on the Internet,” one activist website reads. “This would destroy net neutrality and ruin the open Internet that we know and love.” …
The argument, according to the protesters, is this…
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP), if allowed to create “fast lanes,” would essentially wield the power to pick what websites are accessible on the Internet.
They would be able to block content and rhetoric they don’t like. And reject websites and applications that may compete with their business models…
The Internet would be corporatized. And have the power of full censorship.
“The Internet was designed to empower people,” said Derek Slater, Google policy manager.
He continued: “To get online, you need to use an Internet access provider. But once you’re online, you decide what to do and where to go. Anyone, anywhere can share their opinions freely – and any entrepreneur, big or small, can build, launch and innovate without having to get permission first.”
All of this, according to the protesters, is at stake.
Of course, it’s bad news for all the big-name US streaming and image websites too. Because they use so much bandwidth, they’ll take the biggest hit if they’re being forced to pay for what they use.
That’s why almost all of them — from Netflix to WordPress — took part in Wednesday’s protest. …
We agree with the message. Keeping an open Internet is extremely important…
But, as reporter Jon Healey pointed out in the Los Angeles Times, there are some important details that have been glossed over in the Battle for the Net protest. 
“First,” Healey writes, “nothing in the FCC rules today stops Internet service providers from creating ‘fast lanes’ or ‘slow lanes’…The courts threw out the two previous efforts by the commission to require ISPs to manage traffic on the last mile in a neutral way.”
Technically, Healey explains, ISPs can strike deals with content companies to prioritize traffic. In fact, it’s already happened.
Just take a look at what Michael Weinberg, vice president of digital advocacy group Public Knowledge, said last February:
“We now have an Internet service provider telling content providers that the only way its service can work is if you pay an extra fee.”
He was referring to a deal between Netflix and Comcast. Netflix, Comcast said, was using too much bandwidth. So they decided to choke them out by slowing their website. If you’re a Netflix user, you might recall laggy videos late last year. …
Meanwhile, Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts called cable a “highly competitive and dynamic marketplace.”
Phh.
He must’ve practiced that one. Because he didn’t even crack a smile when he said it.
We don’t have to seek far to see that’s total bullsh*t. Most Americans, probably you included, live in a local monopoly, cable-wise.
It’s a running joke here in Baltimore how horrible Comcast’s service is.
We laugh about it because we have to. It’s all we can do to keep from choking cable guys in the streets.
And the frustration isn’t limited to the Charm City.
Take a look at these maps from Consumerist…
Here’s one of Minneapolis-St. Paul…

Quite the competitive and dynamic marketplace, eh?
And one of Los Angeles…

And one more of Boston…

…
Here’s the story not being told…
“While popular arguments focus on supposed ‘monopolists’ such as big cable companies,” Wired magazine writes, “it’s government that’s really to blame.
“Companies can make life harder for their competitors, but strangling the competition takes government.
“Before building out new networks, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must negotiate with local governments for access to publicly owned “rights of way” so they can place their wires above and below both public and private property.
“ISPs also need “pole attachment” contracts with public utilities so they can rent space on utility poles for above-ground wires, or in ducts and conduits for wires laid underground.”
Problem? Local governments, and their public utilities, charge ISPs far more than these things actually cost.
“For example,” says Wired, “rights-of-way and pole attachments fees can double the cost of network construction.”
Not to mention all the time and money wasted sitting around waiting for approval. The “little guy” doesn’t even stand a chance to compete.
The real bottleneck, then, isn’t the broadband providers. It’s those who determine what hoops they have to jump through to get approval.
“This reduces the number of potential competitors who can profitably deploy service — such as AT&T U-verse, Google Fiber, and Verizon FiOS. The lack of competition makes it easier for local governments and utilities to charge more for rights of way and pole attachments.
“It’s a vicious circle,” Wired writes.
“And it’s essentially a system of forced kickbacks. Other kickbacks arguably include municipal requirements for ISPs such as building out service where it isn’t demanded, donating equipment, and delivering free broadband to government buildings.”
Puh.

laliberty:

Net Neutrality: The Story Not Being Told

Protesters and corporations working together?

It was only three years ago this month when protestors were waving signs in Wall Street’s Zuccotti park.

But this week, in an ironic turn of events, the protesters have teamed up with many of the corporations they undoubtedly rallied against.

If you can’t beat ‘em… eh?

Why are protesters and corporations holding hands?

In case you missed it, here’s the full rundown of what happened this week…

On Wednesday, you may’ve noticed [the above] icon on some of your favorite websites…

Websites donning it on their front page were in support of what was calledInternet Slowdown Day.

They were fighting against, of course, the evil cable companies.

“Cable companies want to set up toll booths on the Internet,” one activist website reads. “This would destroy net neutrality and ruin the open Internet that we know and love.” …

The argument, according to the protesters, is this…

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP), if allowed to create “fast lanes,” would essentially wield the power to pick what websites are accessible on the Internet.

They would be able to block content and rhetoric they don’t like. And reject websites and applications that may compete with their business models…

The Internet would be corporatized. And have the power of full censorship.

“The Internet was designed to empower people,” said Derek Slater, Google policy manager.

He continued: “To get online, you need to use an Internet access provider. But once you’re online, you decide what to do and where to go. Anyone, anywhere can share their opinions freely – and any entrepreneur, big or small, can build, launch and innovate without having to get permission first.”

All of this, according to the protesters, is at stake.

Of course, it’s bad news for all the big-name US streaming and image websites too. Because they use so much bandwidth, they’ll take the biggest hit if they’re being forced to pay for what they use.

That’s why almost all of them — from Netflix to WordPress — took part in Wednesday’s protest. …

We agree with the message. Keeping an open Internet is extremely important…

But, as reporter Jon Healey pointed out in the Los Angeles Times, there are some important details that have been glossed over in the Battle for the Net protest. 

“First,” Healey writes, “nothing in the FCC rules today stops Internet service providers from creating ‘fast lanes’ or ‘slow lanes’…The courts threw out the two previous efforts by the commission to require ISPs to manage traffic on the last mile in a neutral way.”

Technically, Healey explains, ISPs can strike deals with content companies to prioritize traffic. In fact, it’s already happened.

Just take a look at what Michael Weinberg, vice president of digital advocacy group Public Knowledge, said last February:

“We now have an Internet service provider telling content providers that the only way its service can work is if you pay an extra fee.”

He was referring to a deal between Netflix and Comcast. Netflix, Comcast said, was using too much bandwidth. So they decided to choke them out by slowing their website. If you’re a Netflix user, you might recall laggy videos late last year. …

Meanwhile, Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts called cable a “highly competitive and dynamic marketplace.”

Phh.

He must’ve practiced that one. Because he didn’t even crack a smile when he said it.

We don’t have to seek far to see that’s total bullsh*t. Most Americans, probably you included, live in a local monopoly, cable-wise.

It’s a running joke here in Baltimore how horrible Comcast’s service is.

We laugh about it because we have to. It’s all we can do to keep from choking cable guys in the streets.

And the frustration isn’t limited to the Charm City.

Take a look at these maps from Consumerist

Here’s one of Minneapolis-St. Paul…

MinneapolisCoverage

Quite the competitive and dynamic marketplace, eh?

And one of Los Angeles…

LosAngelasCoverage

And one more of Boston…

BostonCoverage

Here’s the story not being told…

“While popular arguments focus on supposed ‘monopolists’ such as big cable companies,” Wired magazine writes, “it’s government that’s really to blame.

“Companies can make life harder for their competitors, but strangling the competition takes government.

“Before building out new networks, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must negotiate with local governments for access to publicly owned “rights of way” so they can place their wires above and below both public and private property.

“ISPs also need “pole attachment” contracts with public utilities so they can rent space on utility poles for above-ground wires, or in ducts and conduits for wires laid underground.”

Problem? Local governments, and their public utilities, charge ISPs far more than these things actually cost.

“For example,” says Wired, “rights-of-way and pole attachments fees can double the cost of network construction.”

Not to mention all the time and money wasted sitting around waiting for approval. The “little guy” doesn’t even stand a chance to compete.

altThe real bottleneck, then, isn’t the broadband providers. It’s those who determine what hoops they have to jump through to get approval.

“This reduces the number of potential competitors who can profitably deploy service — such as AT&T U-verse, Google Fiber, and Verizon FiOS. The lack of competition makes it easier for local governments and utilities to charge more for rights of way and pole attachments.

“It’s a vicious circle,” Wired writes.

“And it’s essentially a system of forced kickbacks. Other kickbacks arguably include municipal requirements for ISPs such as building out service where it isn’t demanded, donating equipment, and delivering free broadband to government buildings.”

Puh.

(via liquidatedgeneration)

172 notes

What a country calls its vital economic interests are not the things which enable its citizens to live, but the things which enable it to make war; petrol is much more likely than wheat to be a cause of international conflict. Thus when war is waged it is for the purpose of safe-guarding or increasing one’s capacity to make war. International politics are wholly involved in this vicious cycle. What is called national prestige consists in behaving always in such a way as to demoralize other nations by giving them the impression that, if it comes to war, one would certainly defeat them.
Simone Weil, “The Power of Words” (1937)

(Source: weil-weil, via socio-logic)

2 notes

As British, American, and European labor unions came to control the working conditions of mining and coal’s transport and supply lines, their capacity to use such control for strikes and sabotage of coal’s supply led not only to capitalist wealth being more widely shared by the working population but also to the modern institutions of Western political democracy, such as the vote, labor unions, and political parties.

Sandy Smith Nonini & Donald Nonini at FocaalBlog.FUELING THE NEOLIBERAL TURN: WHY WE NEED TO ENGAGE TIMOTHY MITCHELL’S “CARBON DEMOCRACY”

Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil

(via protoslacker)

4 notes

Iraq and Syria are extreme examples of the fundamental grievances embodied by the 2011 Arab Spring. Since the 1920s, much of the Arab World has been struggling to answer one fundamental question: what is it that follows the Ottoman Sultan-Caliph as the source of political legitimacy? The answer suggested by protesters in Tunis, Cairo, Deraa, and elsewhere was compellingly correct: the consent of the governed. That autocrats should reject the answer and push back is hardly surprising.

Fred Hof in The New Republic. We Can’t Destroy ISIS Without Destroying Bashar al Assad First

 

(via protoslacker)