Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How to delete Facebook for good: Step-by-step guide to permanently removing your account

Thursday, July 12th, 2018


IMAGE/Get Top Info

A growing movement to delete Facebook is spreading across the world.

In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal – in which it emerged that Facebook was being used to gather information to help the Trump and Brexit campaigns – people are leaving the site in protest at the data that is being collected using the site and how it is being used. Some experts have argued that the controversial bits of Cambridge Analytica’s tracking aren’t actually unusual or remarkable at all, but instead a central part of how the site works.

That has led to a movement that has been referred to as “Delete Facebook”, echoing the same kind of trends that took hold in the wake of controversies about Uber and other companies.
How to stop Facebook from revealing everything about you

The first step to take is to decide whether you’re really sure you want to delete your account. Facebook offers a much less permanent option, called deactivation, which will stop your account from appearing in search and for other users, but allows you to bring it back.

But for that reason Facebook still needs to hold onto the data it holds on you. Deactivating might stop Facebook tracking you in the future, since you won’t be using it – but all the information it has collected will still be around.

If you want to get rid of it entirely, then you can delete your account and with it the information that has been stored about you. (One useful middle ground can be to delete all of that and then start again, but don’t add any friends or information to your account, and don’t use it any more than you need to – that way you keep your place on the site, and can use it for whatever you need, while also ensuring that data gathered about you is kept to a minimum.)

Deleting your account is a major step, so think it through before committing. Facebook can take up to 90 days to process account deletion requests, but once your account’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Before taking the plunge, it’s well worth downloading a copy of the data Facebook has on you.

To do this:

Click the downwards-pointing arrow in the top-right corner of the screen
Select Download a copy of your Facebook data

Once that’s done, you’re ready to delete your account. Bear in mind, however, that your sent messages will continue to exist even when all other traces of your account are gone.

To permanently delete your Facebook account:

Head to Facebook’s Delete Account page
Select Delete My Account

Independent for more

Cyber intimidation: A bad idea

Thursday, July 12th, 2018


IMAGE/National Coalition Against Censorship

Last week an unsigned email from Netra­ landed in my inbox. It accused me of stirring “hate against the state and the institutions in the garb of being sane and intellectual” while claiming “we know what cooks in your mind when u address the masses and who u work for”. And so, to deal with me, it says “we can enlist them”. What “them” means is unstated.

Hidden somewhere in cyber space some prankster bearing some personal grudge — possibly a student who couldn’t pass my physics course — might well have authored this email. If so the only action called for has already been taken — hitting the delete button followed by a trash flush. I lost no sleep over this.

But instead, what if today there is actually some organised and systematic effort afoot to frighten and silence those Pakistani voices judged unpatriotic? Could this be why — now for many months — meaningful political analysis and discussion have disappeared from local print and electronic media? Bloggers have disappeared, only to reappear with horrendous tales to tell, and many journalists have been stilled forever.

To gag voices that dare criticise abuse of power cannot lead to a better and more viable Pakistan.

The evidence is all over: cable operators have been forced to block certain TV news channels, and street hawkers have been warned against selling certain newspapers that don’t toe the line. The line — that mysterious line — can only be inferred because specifying it might reveal too much of who actually draws the line. With some exceptions, owners, editors, anchors, journalists, and opinion writers have fallen quickly into place.

But even if some voices are successfully gagged, I contend such tactics by anonymous actors cannot ever create a more stable or stronger Pakistan. In fact the efforts of and his ilk are arguably counter-patriotic. Here’s why.

Dawn for more

The foul role of Spiked in the demonization of Julian Assange

Thursday, July 12th, 2018


Julian Assange, 5 February 2016 PHOTO/WikiLeaks/Conversation

WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange is in increasing danger of being expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and turned over to US authorities, at whose benevolent hands he could face decades in prison or even the death penalty.

Assange has been denied use of communications for nearly three months on the order of the Ecuadorean government, in response to pressure from the US. On Wednesday, Ecuadorian foreign minister Jose Valencia warned that Assange could not claim asylum in the embassy indefinitely.

Assange’s plight demonstrates the extent to which basic democratic rights have been eviscerated by the imperialist powers.

For Britain’s Spiked magazine, however, whose writers advance themselves as the foremost humanist and, on occasion, even “Marxist” defenders of democratic freedoms and the rights of the individual against the state, the situation has not warranted comment for over a year.

This is not an oversight. Before lapsing into silence, Spiked helped prepare the conditions for Assange’s isolation, as one of the most vindictive participants in the campaign against WikiLeaks. While styling itself the embodiment of contrarian radicalism, the publication nonetheless followed virtually word for word the British government’s attack on Assange’s rights and character. Here we have a supposedly libertarian tendency that is slavish in its support for the state.

The essential points of Spiked’s position were set out in their last comment on Assange, “Why Assange should stand trial,” by law editor Luke Gittos. This was published on May 25, 2017—a week after Swedish prosecutors had dropped trumped-up sexual assault allegations against Assange.

Gittos made reference to these events only to dismiss them. “We could all speculate,” he remarked, “on the veracity of the [Swedish] case.” And further: Assange “feels no need to make himself accountable for allegations related to his private life.”

This is disingenuous. Assange had no case to answer in Sweden and Gittos knew it. His invitation to “speculate” was a blatant attempt to muddy the waters over a settled question.

When Gittos wrote that “It’s time [Assange] was held to account for these leaks and for the Swedish allegations,” it was not the (dismissed) frame-up allegations that really enraged him.

World Socialist Web Site for more

1968 in Asia: Malaysia’s “Second Emergency” (1968–89) and the Malayan Communist Party

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018


Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Verso — The impact of revolutionary developments in Vietnam and China on the May events of 1968 in France and other Western countries has long been acknowledged. Less notice has been paid outside Asia to their repercussions on other Southeast Asian countries, which also experienced a revolutionary high tide in 1968. The upsurge of armed struggle in Malaysia in 1968 is rarely mentioned in general studies on the period, and is not often talked about even in Malaysia.

In 1968, the Malaysian Communists under their ethnic-Chinese leader Chin Peng declared war on the Malaysian government. They kept their insurgency going until 1989, although to increasingly diminishing effect. This armed struggle is generally known as the Second Emergency, following the original “Malayan Emergency ” of 1948-1960. (Malaya united with North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore in 1963 to become Malaysia; in 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation.) At the time, Chin Peng was feared almost as much as Osama bin Laden in later times, and had earlier gained a reputation as “Britain’s enemy number one in Southeast Asia.”

The strategic context of Malaysia’s two Emergencies starting in 1948 and 1968 was the Cold War, which in Southeast Asia took the form of Soviet and Chinese competition with the US-led Western bloc. In the 1960s, the main arena of this competition was Vietnam, where Moscow and Beijing supported the north under Ho Chi Minh against the US-backed south. In Indonesia too Communists staged a rebellion in the 1960s that was crushed by local anti-Communist forces.

The Malaysian insurgency of 1968 had its roots in the 1948 insurrection, which in turn took its inspiration from the interwar anticolonial movement spawned in Asia by the Russian Revolution. The Malaysian population under the colonial regime comprised three main ethnic groups — the indigenous Malays and Chinese and Indian immigrants and their descendants. The Communists drew their support almost exclusively from the Chinese population, which partly explains their failure. The Nanyang Communist Party, reorganized in 1930 (with the help of Ho Chi Minh) as the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), recruited strongly among Chinese students in the colony and established a firm base among the workers, through its industrial arm, the Malayan General Workers’ Union. In 1937, it briefly established a Soviet government of workers among the colony’s miners, sparking a major crisis for the colonial authorities.

Links for more

The pseudoscientific approach thriving under the BJP has its roots in British rule

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018


Historian Wendy Doniger

In a new book, the scholar writes about the convoluted reasoning and origins of Hindutva’s love for ‘mythoscience’.

The spirit of dissent that was nourished first by the scientific temper of the Arthashastra and the Kamasutra and then by the Charvaka mythology of scepticism has now come up against a new incarnation of the forces of repressive dharma, now supporting pseudoscientific claims. Once again science, now the sciences of physics, aeronautics, and medicine rather than politics and erotics, has come into direct conflict with authoritarian aspects of dharma.

This, too, began back during the British Raj. By assimilating the same British Protestant judgments that inspired the Hindu reaction against kama, members of Reform Hinduism came to admire both British science (particularly as expressed in technology such as trains) and British moral codes, in essence British ethical and social dharma – progressive in opposition to aspects of Hindu social dharma such as suttee.

They accepted the idea of moral progress as an integral part of scientific progress. But then, in a kind of compensatory reaction against their uncomfortable admiration of their colonisers, many Hindus kept the foreign values but denied that they were foreign.

Just as they had reasserted their own “eternal” sanatana dharma in response to British moral codes, now they asserted that their own oldest religious document, the Veda, back in 1500 BCE, had already anticipated European science. They claimed that ancient Indian scholars had made major scientific discoveries not only in grammar and mathematics (which they had, though not in the Vedas) but in aeronautics (which they had not, ever). Swami Dayanand Saraswati argued that the incarnate god Krishna and the Mahabharata’s human hero Arjuna (Krishna’s close friend) had gone to America five thousand years ago, travelling through Siberia and the Bering Straits. And so, others insisted, since the Vedic people had discovered America long before Columbus, he was, therefore, actually right when he called the native Americans “Indians.” Confusion here hath made its masterpiece!

Those who made these claims referred to the Vedas for their authority, ignoring the far more scientific shastras, for two reasons. First, because it’s always easier to argue that something is “in the Vedas” than in a later text, since Vedic language is so archaic (it is to classical Sanskrit what Beowulf is to Shakespeare) that only relatively few priests and scholars know what’s in the Vedas well enough to contradict anyone who cites the Vedas as their authority. And second, because the Vedas, being much older than the shastras (indeed, even older than the Bible), have more authority – particularly, of course, religious authority.

Scroll for more

Evidence builds for a new kind of neutrino

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018


The interior of the MiniBooNE detector is studded with photodetectors to capture the light signal created when a neutrino interacts. PHOTO/Fermilab/Los Alamos

“Sterile neutrinos” that ignore all other particles might be showing up in experiments—and could even help solve the mystery of dark matter

Physicists have caught ghostly particles called neutrinos misbehaving at an Illinois experiment, suggesting an extra species of neutrino exists. If borne out, the findings would be nothing short of revolutionary, introducing a new fundamental particle to the lexicon of physics that might even help explain the mystery of dark matter.

Undeterred by the fact that no one agrees on what the observations actually mean, experts gathered at a neutrino conference this week in Germany are already excitedly discussing these and other far-reaching implications.

Neutrinos are confusing to begin with. Formed long ago in the universe’s first moments and today in the hearts of stars and the cores of nuclear reactors, the miniscule particles travel at nearly the speed of light, and scarcely interact with anything else; billions pass harmlessly through your body each day, and a typical neutrino could traverse a layer of lead a light-year thick unscathed. Ever since their discovery in the mid–20th century, neutrinos were predicted to weigh nothing at all, but experiments in the 1990s showed they do have some mass—although physicists still do not know exactly how much. Stranger still, they come in three known varieties, or flavors—electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos—and, most bizarrely, can transform from one flavor to another. Because of these oddities and others, many physicists have been betting on neutrinos to open the door to the next frontier in physics.

Now some think the door has cracked ajar. The discovery comes from 15 years’ worth of data gathered by the Mini Booster Neutrino Experiment (MiniBooNE) at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. MiniBooNE detects and characterizes neutrinos by the flashes of light they occasionally create when they strike atomic nuclei in a giant vat filled with 800 tons of pure mineral oil. Its design is similar to that of an earlier project, the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector (LSND) at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. In the 1990s LSND observed a curious anomaly, a greater-than-expected number of electron neutrinos in a beam of particles that started out as muon neutrinos; MiniBooNE has now seen the same thing, in a neutrino beam generated by one of Fermilab’s particle accelerators.

Because muon neutrinos could not have transformed directly into electron flavor over the short distance of the LSND experiment, theorists at the time proposed that some of the particles were oscillating into a fourth flavor—a “sterile neutrino”—and then turning into electron neutrinos, producing the mysterious excess. Although the possibility was tantalizing, many physicists assumed the findings were a fluke, caused by some mundane error particular to LSND. But now that MiniBooNE has observed the very same pattern, scientists are being forced to reckon with potentially more profound causes for the phenomenon. “Now you have to really say you have two experiments seeing the same physics effect, so there must be something fundamental going on,” says MiniBooNE co-spokesperson Richard Van de Water of Los Alamos. “People can’t ignore this anymore.”

The MiniBooNE team submitted its findings on May 30 to the preprint server arXiv, and is presenting them this week at the XXVIII International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics in Heidelberg, Germany.

Scientific American for more


Tuesday, July 10th, 2018


Andraya Yearwood (left) and Terry Miller (right), two transgender track and field student-athletes, open up about their experiences facing backlash in an interview with ABC News’ Linsey Davis. PHOTO/ABC News

Individual transgender lives track a wider cultural history of surgery, hormones and revolutionised gender identities

Mel Wymore started taking testosterone just before menopause hit. As it turned out, he and his son went through puberty together. His son developed an Adam’s apple and a deeper voice first. ‘I trailed him,’ Mel said.

Mel, an engineer and community activist in New York City, had been divorced for nearly 10 years when he made the decision to start transitioning his appearance. ‘I sat down with the kids, and I pulled out an album of my childhood. I said: “You guys know that I’m not the typical mom because I date women, and you’ve seen me cut my hair short, and I’m discovering there is a boy inside of me that I’ve been hiding. I’m going to let that boy out.”’

Mel switched to a masculine wardrobe, restyled his hair into a traditional man’s cut, and wrapped his breasts to flatten them. ‘One of the first things I did was bind my breasts. It was such a relief to get rid of the bras and to masculate my feminine qualities.’

His children were supportive; they were 12 and 15 at the time. But Mel said they had no idea what was to come. Nor did he.

Mel, like others in the transgender community, believed with a deep-seated conviction that his female anatomy did not conform to the way he felt inside. That is not the same as sexual orientation, which is about desire. People in the trans community like to say that sexual orientation is whom you want to go to bed with; gender identity is who you go to bed as.

Aeon for more

Marx at 200: “The best hated and most calumniated man of his time”

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018


PHOTO/The News International

As the world commemorates the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx, the author reminds us of how this great German political philosopher was and still is a divisive figure on all sides of the political divide.

The destiny

of iron


and sugar

and red copper and textiles

and love and cruelty and life

and all the branches of industry

and the sky

and the blue ocean,

of sad riverbeds

and plowed earth and cities

will be changed one morning

one sunrise when, at the edge of darkness,

pushing against the earth, with their heavy hands,

they rise up.

Many things were said of them,

and of them

it was said

they have nothing to lose but their chains.

(Nazim Hikmet: Human Landscapes from my Country)

You can love him; you can hate him; you can ignore him. It is not going to make a difference to modern history’s most formidable thinker Karl Marx and his extraordinary legacy that has disturbed the slumber of wealth-owning classes for longer than a century and a half and will continue to do so as long as class inequalities exist. Marx was hardly a popular man in his lifetime; therefore, it would be unfair to expect him to be venerated by posterity; but, there is not one social thinker or movement whether on the right or the left that can honestly claim not to be influenced or affected by Marx’s thought.

Marx is a theorist; like Newton, Darwin or any other great scientists. That is how he saw himself: as a theorist of politics, society and history. As a theorist his great contribution is to add economy to every other discipline: “that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.” There is a scientific authority and rigour to his analysis that refuses to be opposed on any easy terms. But like all great writers, such as Freud later, Marx cannot resist the temptation to be a literary artist, an aspect of his personality that he is careful to suppress when writing Capital which is stylistically bland and perhaps the most admired and least read of his work.

One of my personal favourites is the lyrical exposition of alienated labour in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 where, as Marx notes: “the more the worker spends himself, the more powerful becomes the alien world of objects which he creates over and against himself, the poorer he himself – his inner world – becomes, the less belongs to him as his own. It is the same in religion. The more man puts into God, the less he retains in himself.” This comparison of alienated labour with alienation of the self where a person invests in God at the expense of his own self is developed in other early works as well.

In Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction, Marx says: “man makes religion; religion does not make man. Religion is indeed man’s self-consciousness and self-awareness so long as he has not found himself or has lost himself again…. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly a struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.”

Pambazuka for more

Teacher pay is so low in some U.S. school districts that they’re recruiting overseas

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018


Donato Soberano, center, and his seventh-grade science students at Sunset Ridge Elementary School in Arizona. Budget cuts and stagnant salaries have prompted his district and others to recruit educators in his native Philippines to fill core teaching jobs. PHOTO/Deanna Alejandra Dent/The New York Times

The latest wave of foreign workers sweeping into American jobs brought Donato Soberano from the Philippines to Arizona two years ago. He had to pay thousands of dollars to a job broker and lived for a time in an apartment with five other Filipino workers. The lure is the pay — 10 times more than what he made doing the same work back home.

But Mr. Soberano is not a hospitality worker or a home health aide. He is in another line of work that increasingly pays too little to attract enough Americans: Mr. Soberano is a public school teacher.

As walkouts by teachers protesting low pay and education funding shortfalls spread across the country, the small but growing movement to recruit teachers from overseas is another sign of the difficulty some districts are having providing the basics to public school students.

Among the latest states hit by the protests is Arizona, where teacher pay is more than $10,000 below the national average of $59,000 per year. The Pendergast Elementary School District, where Mr. Soberano works, has recruited more than 50 teachers from the Philippines since 2015. They hold J-1 visas, which allow them to work temporarily in the United States, like au pairs or camp counselors, but offer no path to citizenship. More than 2,800 foreign teachers arrived on American soil last year through the J-1, according to the State Department, up from about 1,200 in 2010.

“In these times, you have to be innovative and creative in recruiting,” said Patricia Davis-Tussey, Pendergast’s head of human resources. “We embrace diversity and really gain a lot from the cultural exchange experience. Our students do as well.”

The district, which covers parts of Glendale, Avondale and north Phoenix, is a hotbed of activism in the teacher walkout movement, known as #RedforEd. Picketing educators say they have had to move in with their parents, apply for food stamps and pay out of pocket for classroom essentials like graph paper and science supplies. They argue that taxes are too low to adequately fund schools, or for teachers to secure a middle-class lifestyle.

The New York Times for more

Argentina’s Partido Obrero suppresses questions on alliance with Russian Stalinist with ties to neo-fascism

Monday, July 9th, 2018


Darya Mitina (with papers in her hand) and Savas Michael-Matsas at Buenos Aires conference
PHOTO/World Socialist Web Site

It is now over two months since the Partido Obrero (Workers Party) of Argentina hosted a conference of the Committee to Refound the Fourth International (CRFI) in Buenos Aires in which one of the honored guests was a representative of the United Communist Party of Russia (OKP), Darya Mitina.

The World Socialist Web Site published an exposure of the politics of this “reconstruction” and the history of both Mitina—a rabid Stalinist with intimate ties to the Russian state—and the middleman in arranging her presence in Buenos Aires, Savas Michael-Matsas, head of the Greek EEK (Workers Revolutionary Party).

The Partido Obrero has issued no reply to this exposure and has rapidly deleted postings of the article and questions about its contents from the party’s Facebook page. There have been no follow-up articles posted on the PO’s website dealing with the CRFI or any of the groups or individuals who attended it.

It is evident that the leadership of the Partido Obrero around Jorge Altamira fears any discussion of the issues raised in the analysis by the WSWS and wants to conceal from the party’s membership what they are up to.

Altamira and the central leadership have carried out a major political initiative and know exactly what they are doing. The turn to elements like Mitina and Russian Stalinists is part of a broader turn toward developing an alliance with right-wing forces.

Anyone who thinks that Mitina is being won to the perspective of Trotskyism through her association with the CRFI and the Partido Obrero is woefully ignorant and naive.

As the OKP’s secretary of international affairs, Mitina is in the business of forging connections on behalf of the Russian state not just with self-proclaimed socialists and leftists but, with far greater frequency and attention, to far-right and even neo-fascist forces.

A case in point is her role in organizing and speaking at a conference convened in the Crimean city of Yalta in August 2014 titled “Russia, Novorossiya, Ukraine: Global Problems and Challenges.”

It was organized by right-wing Russian nationalists, in particular the Izborsky Club, a far-right “think tank” in which Russian fascists like Alexander Prokhanov and Aleksandr Dugin participate, along with Mitina.

World Socialist Web Site for more