Whistleblower alleges RSS promotes fear, anti-Muslim narratives on Facebook

November 30th, 2021


Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has kicked up a storm in the US with her leaks highlighting how Facebook’s internal decisions are detrimental to individual well-being and society at large. Fresh reports indicate her complaints to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reference alleged fear-mongering and dehumanizing content promoted by Facebook accounts purportedly run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Here are more details. In this article

  • Haugen leaked vast amounts of confidential Facebook research, data
  • What exactly are the allegations against RSS?
  • India one of Facebook’s ‘top three political priorities’ in 2020
  • Facebook maintains it actively combats hate speech in Indian dialects
  • Internal records suggest Facebook cannot flag Hindi, Bengali hate speech
  • Facebook classifies India in ‘Tier zero’ alongside US for elections
  • Complaint notes Facebook didn’t act on complaint against Bajrang Dal
  • Allegations strengthen case against Facebook allowing amplification of political messaging

Frances who? Haugen leaked vast amounts of confidential Facebook research, data

Haugen submitted around eight complaints to the SEC to prompt regulation of her former employer, Facebook. She also leaked thousands of pages of internal research and documentation to the Wall Street Journal for The Facebook Files. Haugen’s revelations forced Facebook to halt the development of Instagram Kids , perhaps shaved around $6 billion off CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s value , and triggered Congressional and Senate Committee hearings . Ideology issues What exactly are the allegations against RSS?

According to Hindustan Times , the complaint filed with the SEC reads, “RSS (Indian nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ) Users, Groups, and Pages promote fear-mongering, anti-Muslim narratives targeted pro-Hindu populations with V&I (violence and inciting) intent.” The RSS is widely regarded as the originator of ideologies for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Outline India one of Facebook’s ‘top three political priorities’ in 2020

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What can Russia do about NATO hostility?

November 30th, 2021


The United States and its NATO allies are ratcheting up hostility towards Russia with unscheduled military drills in the Black Sea. Absurd accusations about Russia planning to invade Ukraine are also part of the provocations winding up dangerous tensions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned aggressive conduct as a threat to national and international security. He warned that as a result of the hostility, the Russian Federation may take “asymmetrical responses”. “We will act in a reciprocal manner, and if necessary, also asymmetrically,” said Lavrov in regard to a surge in NATO drills near Russia’s borders.

First of all, it should be said that the conduct of the US and its NATO is totally out of order. The unprecedented increase in warships and surveillance planes near Russia’s borders is tantamount to aggression. Under international law that is criminal conduct.

More sinisterly, the unscheduled NATO drills point to the probing of Russian defense systems that are coupled to the threat of offensive operations by the Kiev regime against the Russian people of Southeast Ukraine and against Russia’s territory. The NATO buildup is emboldening the risk of all-out conflict.

Therefore, in these circumstances, Russia has a right to respond on the basis of self-defense from an extant threat to its national security. A reciprocal response would be firing warning shots at NATO aircraft or vessels in a similar way to when a British destroyer HMS Defender approached Russian territorial waters in June.

Another reciprocal measure could be Russia conducting naval and air drills off the US coast. The predictable apoplectic reflex by the Americans in that scenario would go to illustrate the rank hypocrisy and double-think of what they are doing presently in the Black Sea on Russia’s doorstep.

But what about more subtle asymmetrical responses? These could be far more effective in hitting the US and NATO bullying behavior where it hurts. And being more oblique, such retaliation would be harder to politicize by Washington.

Note, we are not talking here about the fallacious Western hype about imagined Russian “hybrid warfare”. Such as alleged Russian interference in Western elections and domestic politics, or alleged Russian cyberattacks, or orchestrating the flow of migrants into the European Union. All those purported malign activities attributed to Russia are in the realm of hoax and the West’s anti-Russian propaganda. In any case, Moscow has rejected all allegations of this kind of hybrid warfare.

Instead, what we are talking about are legitimate, asymmetric responses to exact a sobering cost on the reckless policy of Western states for threatening Russia. And, indeed, threatening international peace.

US-based political analyst Randy Martin says that Russia has quite a few aces up its sleeve.

He points to Russia’s strong position as a supplier of space technology to the United States. This coveted renewed frontier of superpower status could be hampered embarrassingly for the United States if Russia withheld exports of space technology.

Another vital domain is Russia’s outsized role in the export of oil, gas and cereals, says Martin. We are not talking about a vulgar “weaponization” of trade. But it is Russia’s prerogative as a supplier to modulate the price and supply of its natural resources. “The West is choking on petrol and gas costs and cereal production. Inflation is about to blow up in Western economies,” comments Martin. “Russia could make the supply chain crisis afflicting the West a lot more problematic.”

If Russia were to tweak these global markets in its favor, as it has a right to do, then the repercussions for faltering Western economies would be severe. Already, the rocketing consumer price inflation in the US and Europe is stoking social and political discontent. If prices at the pumps or household energy bills go up any further, Western governments will have a lot more to worry about from their own restive populations than flying recon airplanes over Ukraine and the Black Sea.

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The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow review – have we got our ancestors wrong?

November 30th, 2021


Prehistory was a time of diverse social experimentation’: a 4,000-year-old cave drawing. PHOTO/Getty Images/iStockphoto

This imaginative attempt to reconfigure humanity’s roots contends that early people were free to shape their own lives

In the wake of bestselling blockbusters such as Jared Diamond’s Collapse and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, that backwater of history – prehistory – has been infused by a surge of popular interest. It’s also proved an area of fertile promise for those who find the established narratives of modernity either constricting or based on false premises or both.

The last point is particularly relevant for the egalitarian-minded. After the catastrophic failure of the Soviet experiment, there were few places left to turn in support of the belief that humanity is at heart cooperative rather than competitive. The notable exception was the pre-agricultural era, those tens of thousands of years in which humans were thought to live in a state of… well, what exactly?

Since the Enlightenment, there have been two conflicting visions of humanity stripped of its civilised trappings. On the one hand, there is Hobbes’s notion of us as predisposed to violence – waging war against each other in a “nasty, brutish and short” existence. On the other, Rousseau’s idyll of prelapsarian innocence, in which humanity led a life of Edenic bliss before being destroyed by the corruptions of society.

Both these understandings of humanity’s roots are manifestly wrong, contend the late anthropologist David Graeber and his co-author, the archaeologist David Wengrow in their new and richly provocative book, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. As the title suggests, this is a boldly ambitious work that seems intent to attack received wisdoms and myths on almost every one of its nearly 700 absorbing pages.

Of course, few modern scholars accept either Hobbes’s bleak caricature or Rousseau’s romantic musings. Nonetheless, Graeber and Wengrow argue, these antithetical conceptions of human nature feed into the consensus that has been popularised by figures such as Diamond and Harari.

That is to say that for most of human history our ancestors lived an egalitarian and leisure-filled life in small bands of hunter-gatherers. Then, as Diamond put it, we made the “worst mistake in human history”, which was to increase population numbers through agricultural production. This, so the story goes, led to hierarchies, subordination, wars, disease, famines and just about every other social ill – thus did we plunge from Rousseau’s heaven into Hobbes’s hell.

According to Graeber and Wengrow’s reading of up-to-date archeological and anthropological research, that story, too, is nonsense. Humanity was not restricted to small bands of hunter-gatherers, agriculture did not lead inexorably to hierarchies and conflicts and there was not one mode of social organisation that prevailed, at least until thousands of years after the introduction of agriculture.

On the contrary, they maintain, prehistory was a time of diverse social experimentation, in which people lived in a variety of settings, from small travelling bands to large (perhaps seasonally occupied) cities and were wont to change their social identities depending on the time of year.

The strength of the book is the manner in which it asks us to rethink our assumptions

The author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years and Bullshit Jobs, Graeber, it’s worth bearing in mind, was a committed anarchist who was instrumental in setting up the Occupy Wall Street protest. Another factor that bears consideration is that both archaeology and anthropology are disciplines that are notoriously vulnerable to subjective interpretation.

Such “distant times can become a vast canvas for the working out of our collective fantasies”, the authors caution, but then do not entirely heed their own warning. While readily acknowledging the limitations of verifiable evidence, they nonetheless engage in creative speculation, albeit with a host of covering “most likelys”.

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Caribbean Honeymoon No.1 (1960)

November 29th, 2021

“My People!” Edric Connor returns to his birthplace of Mayaro, on Trinidad, to celebrate his homeland’s natural beauty and manufacturing, capturing the Caribbean islands in all their glorious warmth. Pioneering West Indian filmmaker Edric Connor tours the Caribbean and Nigeria on the cusp of independence in these beautiful short films. In 1959 he returned to the Caribbean, producing seven films in quick succession. A proud West Indian nationalist, Connor documents nation-building, focusing on flourishing commerce, reverently capturing the people and terrain.

VIDEO/British Film Institute & Youtube

The truth about money

November 29th, 2021


The explosion of quantitative easing, the epic monetisation of debt and the rise of cryptocurrencies, frothy stock markets and furlough schemes, all seemed to imply we have an endless supply of money. But it also means that we now see money very differently.

But has this got us any closer to understanding what money really is? Or does it now simply mean that we know the price of everything but the value of nothing?

Host, Ross Ashcroft, met up with Economist and Associate Professor at International Institute of Social Studies, Howard Nicholas, to discuss.

Apocalyptic euphoria

When we think of the term apocalypse, what often comes to mind is a set of events that lead to a catastrophe. But in reality, if you go back to the Greek, the term actually relates to the discovery of new knowledge.

As an economist who has studied the theory of money for many years, Howard Nicholas, is recently said to have experienced a ‘eureka’ moment of apocalyptic euphoria. Indeed, it could be argued that Nicholas has created a new paradigm about our understanding of how money is created and what its function is.

The one thing that Nicholas posits is missing from books about the theory of money, is its primary function. The starting point for Nicholas is his rejection of the notion taught in economics that price is determined by supply and demand.

What’s been missing in most studies is the fact that we use money to set prices, thereby assigning it a value that reflects the real values of goods and services produced. Nicholas says that it’s therefore “utterly nonsensical” when people say we can create value by printing money.

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Technofeudalism: Explaining to Slavoj Zizek why I think capitalism has evolved into something worse

November 29th, 2021

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Weekend Edition

November 26th, 2021

Surreal reality: Killer Rittnehouse goes free

November 26th, 2021


The one in T-shirt is Kyle Rittnehouse with AR-15 rifle PHOTO/Huffington Post
CARTOON/Matt Wuerker/Politico
“Acquitted killer Kyle Rittenhouse (right) flew to the Mar-a-Lago resort of twice-impeached former president Donald Trump (left) in Palm Beach, Florida, following the teen’s recent criminal trial.” PHOTO/Screenshot/Twitter/Yahoo

Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinoisan, killed 2 and injured another

in Kenosha, a town in the neighboring state of Wisconsin, on 08/25/20

on 11/19/21, he was acquitted of all charges on the basis of “self defense”

the surreal thing is the murderer went unpunished; was glorified

racist/misogynist/bigot Donald Trump met him in his Florida mansion

former president told Fox TV’s Sean Hannity that he met Rittenhouse.

“Kyle [Rittnehouse], I got to know him a little bit…really a nice young man. That was prosecutorial misconduct.” “He called. He wanted to know if he could come over and say hello because he was a fan. He came over with his mother, really a nice young man.”

Rittenhouse also got internship offers by many congresspersons

US House Representative Matt Gaetz (Republican) said the following:

“He is not guilty and deserves a not guilty verdict.” “You know what, Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good Congressional intern. We might reach out to him and see if he be interested in helping the country in additional ways.”

“helping the country”? how?

by killing people in 2024 when Republican candidate denies defeat

Marjorie Taylor Greene proposes Congressional Gold Medal for Rittenhouse

Greene has already introduced a bill in the Congress

but earlier she had voted against awarding a medal to police officers

U.S. Capitol Police officers who faced rioters on January 6, 2021

Fox TV’s T. Carlson interview of Rittenhouse attracted 5 million viewers!

the more surreal thing is yet to come post 2024 presidential election

a recent poll: Trump is still the “800-pound gorilla” dominating his party

if Trump or a more nastier character than Trump loses election

all hell will break loose when Trump or other refuse to accept the result

the Republican Party is propelling this country on the path to a civil war

Noam Chomsky describes Republicans as the “gang of radical sadists

this will prompt the Republican supporters to come out on the streets

they have all the weapons at their disposal – and have plenty of them

they can use “self defense” excuse as Rittenhouse successfully did

and Rittenhouse’s “future looks hideously bright,” as Kali Holloway says

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

Une chorégraphie originale par Sadeck Waff

November 26th, 2021

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Why capitalism needs imperialism to drain wealth from the global South

November 26th, 2021


Why does capitalism need imperialism? What is the magnitude of colonial and imperial theft of resources from the Global South? How did global capitalism adapt after World War II and in the neoliberal era? And how is it fueling neofascist movements today?

Rania Khalek was joined by renowned Marxist Economist Utsa Patnaik. She is co-author of “A Theory of Imperialism” and the more recent “Capital and Imperialism: Theory, History, and the Present,” with Prabhat Patnaik.

TIME CODES 0:00 Intro 1:00 Why Marxism is important to understanding imperialism 2:41 How much wealth was stolen by colonial powers from the Global South? 7:29 What to look at to quantify colonial transfers of wealth 9:50 Effects of British colonial drain on India, then and now 11:23 Why we don’t understand mechanisms of colonial drain 13:26 Why the Global North stole from the Global South 17:04 Oil in West Asia as primary product the Global North needs 19:35 The Global South is NOT poor! 22:32 Why did the Global North have to subjugate the Global South? 25:21 Magnitude of colonial transfers from India to England, 1700s 33:42 The industrialization of the Global North deindustrialized the Global South 39:21 The slave trade & indigenous land theft 42:24 The Global South does not need trade from the Global North 52:15 After 1857 mechanism of British colonial drain changes 58:19 How the budgetary revenues were used by colonial powers 1:03:08 British colonialism drained $64 trillion from India! 1:06:03 From colonialism to imperialism and The rise of neoliberalism 1:23:37 Capitalism caused food insecurity and farmer’s protests in India 1:28:52 Connection between neoliberalism & neofascism

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