Urgent: Registrar of copyrights
10 December 2018

US citizens: phone your senators and congresscritter to oppose making the registrar of copyrights a presidential political appointment.

The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.

If you phone, please spread the word!

Cindy Hyde-Smith
10 December 2018

US citizens: call on the Senate to censure Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith for apologizing for slavery and supporting bigotry.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Sinclair Broadcasting
10 December 2018

In the US: call on Sinclair Broadcasting to fire Epshteyn.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Military-industrial complex
10 December 2018

US citizens: Call on powerful Congresscritters to return large campaign donations from the military-industrial complex.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Reparation for slavery
10 December 2018

Reparations for Slavery Are Not about Punishing Children for Parents' Sins.

I basically agree with the conclusion, but not with the whole of the argument he uses. The concept of "collective guilt" is misguided: we are not "guilty" in any sense of past crimes.

However, "guilt" is a red herring in this discussion, because responsibility is broader than guilt. Today's descendants of the victims of past systematic bigotry suffer damage today as a consequence, so society has the responsibility to make up for that — to cure the damage. You and I are not guilty of that past systematic bigotry, but the responsibility to cure the continuing damage falls on us.

Russia's 'anti-extremism' law
10 December 2018

Russia's "anti-extremism" law is being used to prosecute a feminist for a joke about beating up men.

Jailing a news editor
10 December 2018

Do-dirty is planning to jail a news editor based on unlikely tax evasion charges.

The charges are unlikely a priori because that's the sort of thing rich people do and expect to get away with; but investigative journalists would hardly take the risk of offering a valid excuse to prosecute them.

Hong Kong 'democracy'
10 December 2018

Hong Kong "democracy" is now only for supporters of Chinese power.

Anti-fascists in Heraklion
10 December 2018

How anti-fascists in Heraklion, the capital of Crete, kicked out the fascist extremist party.

Funding abortions
10 December 2018

The US government should fund abortions.

You can't stop your taxes from being used to fund new nuclear weapons, or locking up refugee minors and using them as bait to find and deport their relatives. Does it make sense to treat abortion as if it were worse than those?

Poland climate conference
10 December 2018

The Poland climate conference is supposed to work out detailed plans for curbing global heating, but the event not only faces opposition from planet-roaster states, the Polish government undermined it from the outset by allowing two coal companies an influential role.

Netanyahu corruption charges
10 December 2018

More about the new corruption charges that Netanyahu faces.

New NAFTA criticism
10 December 2018

Progressive legislators criticize the new NAFTA.

Jim Hightower
10 December 2018

The Jim Hightower column I recently linked to was censored by the syndicate that normally distributes his columns. It seems that the hedge funds he rebuked own the newspapers that the syndicate distributes to, so it won't publish any criticism of them.

Syrian refugee student beaten
10 December 2018

A racist British student beat up a Syrian refugee student, Jamal, out of hatred. This led to threats of violence against the perpetrator. So Jamal asked people not to resort to violence.

Under Putin's thumb
10 December 2018

We now have proof that the bullshitter was under Putin's thumb.

It appears that he still is.

Corporate feminism
10 December 2018

We must reject the "corporate feminism" that cites the success of some female CEOs as a distraction from justice and equality for women who are not executives of big companies.

Oligarchy psyche
10 December 2018

Understanding the Psyche of Today's American Oligarchy through Magazine Ads (in The New Yorker).

Canceling UK citizenship
10 December 2018

The UK cancels citizens' citizenship without a trial, arbitrarily, citing a law with vague conditions. Nowadays it has a loophole so that it can leave the victim stateless. At least one victim was lured into making a trip to a country that handed him to the CIA.

Netanyahu
10 December 2018

Netanyahu faces corruption charges, unless his influence is enough to get them dropped.

Hotel room
10 December 2018

Ariel Dorfman tells of when he stopped Bush I from getting the hotel room in Sydney that he wanted, by refusing to cede it to him. Though that was small payback for the cruel things that Bush I did to the US, and to Chile.

Left behind in poverty
10 December 2018

Leaving parts of society behind in poverty is not the work of a magical "invisible hand". It's the result of laws set up by plutocracy.

Armed guards and teachers at schools
8 December 2018

School systems should not waste money on armed guards -- they don't make students safer in school because school is generally the safest place they ever go.

Gaza: Israel crimes campaign
8 December 2018

Gazans call on people to pressure their governments to tell Israel to stop its crimes in Gaza.

Michigan: Judge orders ICE to release detainees
8 December 2018

A court has ordered the release of some Iraqis who were jailed for the sake of deportation that cannot be done.

They were jailed on the pretense that they would be deported, but it is impossible to deport them and the government knows that.

Rental evictions in Spain
8 December 2018

There have been tens of thousands of evictions in Spain this year. One woman jumped out the window rather than be evicted.

Woolsey Fire chemical contamination
8 December 2018

The wildfire that burned parts of Malibu (and lots more) seems to have started near where the Santa Susana Field Laboratory's experimental nuclear reactor was ruined by a nuclear accident. Some fallout may have been spread in the air.

Plutocratists push to block Pelosi
8 December 2018

Plutocratist Democrats propose to make the election of the Speaker of the House require Republican support. That shows whose side they are on.

They probably won't succeed in blocking the election of Pelosi, but Pelosi herself is too centrist to campaign against plutocracy.

Ireland phasing out peat burning
8 December 2018

Ireland is phasing out the practice of extracting peat and burning it, perhaps going no faster than the bogs are being exhausted. But the bogs that were already dried out and mined will continue spewing greenhouse gases unless they are filled with water again.

France: antisemitism
8 December 2018

The French state's refusal to recognize race is intended to discourage racist politics. It has not been entirely successful.

This does not necessarily mean the policy is doing no good, or that it is clear how to do better.

Europe: diesel emissions cost
8 December 2018

Diesel emissions cost Europe 70 billion per year.

City bikes monopolies
8 December 2018

What was touted as a "sharing economy" has evolved into a domain of quasi-monopolies which are now changing from platforms into owners of things for rent.

Afghanistan food crisis worsens
8 December 2018

A drought in Afghanistan has cut "agricultural output" by about half. It is not clear what portion of that decrease is in food production and what part in opium, but there is a big shortage of food.

Both kinds of decrease cause instability, and any instability will be useful for the Taliban.

Manafort's plea bargain cancelled
8 December 2018

Mueller cancelled Manafort's plea bargain, saying that Manafort has given the FBI false testimony. Manafort will face prosecution.

This is a setback, because Manafort's testimony would have been helped to convict bigwigs including perhaps the cheater himself. Sentencing Manafort to start a long prison term soon is at best a consolation prize. And if the cheater pardons him, he may not spend much time in prison.

General Motors to close factories
8 December 2018

General Motors will fire 15% of its US workers and close factories, presumably to move production somewhere else.

This shows how foolish it is to try to keep jobs in the US by cutting taxes on business. We have cut those taxes drastically in the past 5 decades, and all it achieved was a lot more inequality.

American public favors war ending
8 December 2018

Most Americans want the US to stop aiding Salafi America in bombarding and crushing Yemen. Sanders says he thinks the Senate can pass something to end US participation.

US and Saudi Arabia arms sales
8 December 2018

The bullshitter said that the US really really needs to sell arms to Salafi Arabia, but that was bullshit.

Urgent: INF nuclear treaty
8 December 2018

US citizens: call on your congresscritter and senators to protect the INF nuclear treaty and don't fund the weapons systems that would violate it.

To sign this without running nonfree software, use the Salsalabs method.

If you send a letter, please spread the word!

Urgent: Sanders in 2020
8 December 2018

US citizens: Urge Bernie Sanders to run for president in 2020.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Protect abortion rights
8 December 2018

US citizens: call on your legislators to protect abortion rights.

If you send a letter, please spread the word!

Urgent: Sinclair advertising
8 December 2018

US citizens: call on companies to stop advertising in Sinclair Broadcast Group's TV channels.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Thank for Yemen resolution
8 December 2018

US citizens: Thank your senators for voting to take the Yemen resolution out of committee (if they did so).

Free press and hedge funds
8 December 2018

Jim Hightower: "Our right to a free press is meaningless if hedge funds can gobble up and gut the community newspapers that exercise it."

Back doors in Australia
8 December 2018

Whether to require back doors for the state in encryption has become one of the paramount political issues in Australia.

Alas, Labor's criticism of the law is based on secondary issues — that parties other than the state might break security using the back door — rather than mentioning that the goal itself is dangerous and unjust.

Look at how Australia has treated the refugees it has dumped into prison on Nauru and Manus. Look at the prosecution of the whistleblower who revealed that Australia was snooping on the diplomats of East Timor during a negotiation. One cannot presume that the Australian government will not act with cruelty and oppression.

Some day someone might find a way to reliably limit a back door to real state agencies. That will invalidate the secondary argument, but it won't make the spying requirement acceptable. If Australians want to defend their country's freedom in the long term, if they don't want their country to become like China, they must move beyond the weak argument about unintended consequences and focus on the injustice of the intended consequences.

Australians, why wait? Please spread the word.

Editing germlines
8 December 2018

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with editing germlines.

The reason this method of genetic editing affects the germline is that it affects the whole body — which therefore includes the germline. It can be done early in development.

To cure genetic problems that result from genetically-guided incorrect fetal development can only be done in this way. Once you're going to do something so fundamental, there is no benefit in leaving the problem uncorrected in the germline, to spring up again in the next generation, even if that could be done.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the approach, but in the present state of inexperience, there are risks that things will go wrong. But I suspect that many of them could be avoided by aborting fetuses that are developing visibly wrong.

Trusting thug departments
8 December 2018

To be seen as making society safer and better, rather than as an occupying army, thug departments need to win the public's trust. The only way to do that is to behave in a way that earns that trust.

The gilets jaunes
8 December 2018

The gilets jaunes in France are denouncing more or less the same problem that the US suffers: life is getting harder for all but a wealthy fraction, because there are not enough good jobs.

I support them wholeheartedly, except for their demand for low prices for gasoline and diesel fuel.

'Counterfeit' goods
8 December 2018

The article about the danger of "counterfeit" goods makes false arguments.

The word "counterfeit" is sometimes used for inferior imitation products. But nowadays it is used also as propaganda by the copyright industry to smear copies it does not authorize. These copies are normally in no way inferior to the authorized copies, and often much, much better because they don't mistreat people as authorized copies do.

As for manufacture in sweatshops, we have no reason to suppose that the "real" products are not made that way. If we want to ensure that products are made by well-treated workers, trademark enforcement won't do the job; we need rather to establish laws to hold importers responsible for how suppliers in other countries treat their workers.

App store and antitrust law
8 December 2018

The Supreme Court will decide whether Apple's censorship power, imposed by limiting users of iThings to apps in Apple's store, violates US antitrust law.

US antitrust law is so narrow nowadays that a verdict in favor of Apple would signify nothing on the moral level. Apple's censorship is an injustice to the users. If it is not illegal now, we should make it illegal.

Anonymous publication
8 December 2018

Some academics meet with real repression for expressing hated ideas. The journal for anonymous publication will serve a real purpose.

As the article shows, this danger is not limited to defense of Palestinians' rights.

There is a resemblance between protecting authors from death threats and denial of employment with the safe spaces that protect students from insults and attacks. However, when safe spaces are used to censor, they are not at all similar to this journal.

Portrait of a planet
8 December 2018

Portrait of a Planet on the Verge of Climate Catastrophe.

Hate crimes against Palestinians
8 December 2018

In occupied Palestine, hate crimes by Israelis against Palestinians are frequent. Here are typical examples.

Green New Deal
8 December 2018

It is silly to ask how to "pay for" the Green New Deal, since failing to implement it will cause so much damage that we can't afford not to do it.

Medicare for All
8 December 2018

The question, "How could we pay for Medicare for All," is foolish because it is based on a false assumption. The right question is, "How shall we use the $500 billion annual savings from Medicare for All?"

Informative G20 seminar
8 December 2018

(satire) …member leaders at the G20 Summit attended the Saudi Crown Prince’s informative seminar Friday on eliminating dissident journalists.

Bribing Putin
8 December 2018

The cheater planned in 2016 to bribe Putin by giving him the penthouse in the planned Moscow Trump Tower. If, that is, the concept of "bribe" is meaningful in the context of a kleptocracy where corruption is everywhere.

Facebook's Soros investigation
8 December 2018

Sheryl Sandberg Asked Facebook Staff to Investigate George Soros' Finances.

Having seen that order could easily have led employees and contractors to choose him as a point of attack against the protest group.

Her order was in response to a speech by Soros, copied here.

I agree completely with his criticism of Facebook and Google, though he doesn't recognize some of their worst problems — collection of personal data, and nonfree software, and the concept that one of the main dangers of large companies is their political power.

Did Facebook manipulate its useds so that they would see and believe the smears against its critics?

Tesla cars
8 December 2018

Tesla cars in China report their location in real time. What about Tesla cars in the US?

All "connected" cars report their location because the "connection" works via a cellular modem. Every cell phone is tracked the same way, but you can turn off the phone (maybe), and you can certainly leave it home.

I think we need laws to require cars to have a way to turn off the car's "connection" at the physical level, a way that malicious software can't override.

St Louis protesters
8 December 2018

St Louis protesters for Black Lives Matter are aware of what a lucky coincidence it was that thugs beating up protesters attacked an undercover thug who was infiltrating the protest. For once, thugs could not get away with impunity after maiming someone for pleasure.

We know it was for pleasure because of the text message one of the thugs sent, about how much fun it would be to attack protesters.

Very urgent: Bombardment of Yemen
6 December 2018

US citizens: phone your senators to urge them to vote for the resolution to cut off US support for Salafi Arabia's bombardment and invasion of Yemen.

If you phone, please spread the word!

Urgent: Green New Deal
6 December 2018

US citizens: call on Democratic representatives to support establishing a Green New Deal committee.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Acosta
6 December 2018

US citizens: call on Secretary of Labor Acosta to resign.

Also call on the House of Representatives to impeach him.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Prescription drug prices
6 December 2018

US citizens: call on Congress to support the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Manchin
6 December 2018

US citizens: phone Senator Schumer's office and call on him to choose someone other than planet roaster Manchin for the ranking Democrat in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

If you phone, please spread the word!

Seismic exploration
6 December 2018

The marauder's men have authorized seismic exploration off the Atlantic coast. In the short term this can kill some of the endangered North Atlantic right whales.

In the longer term it creates the danger that oil will be extracted, and whatever doesn't spill and poison marine life will be burned and endanger all life.

Training US thugs in Israel
6 December 2018

Israel regularly invites US thugs for training. Now Americans in some places are objecting to this.

What would they learn from Israeli thugs? How to dehumanize?

MLK on anti-poverty efforts
6 December 2018

Martin Luther King saw and reproved the elimination of programs to cut poverty, in favor of fighting the Vietnam War.

That war was based on lies about a fictitious attack by North Vietnam, lies which the US government has since admitted.

When will we have a Congress that has the courage to refuse to feed the military-industrial complex, and refuse to fight wars that don't have any justification? Pulling out of the war in Yemen would be a good start.

Meat without animals
6 December 2018

Progress is being made towards making meat without animals.

I expect it will be a lot more efficient than growing real animals, because only a small fraction of the animal is the meat that people want to eat.

Interview notes
6 December 2018

Canada's supreme court ordered a reporter to hand over his notes from an interview with someone accused of being a member of PISSI.

Catching and stopping supporters of PISSI is important, but there were tens of thousands of them and surely still are thousands. Only a few of them could possibly be prosecuted by using reporters' notes, and that would not make much of a dent in PISSI. (Indeed, it required a war to achieve that.) So is it worth endangering the free press to build a case against one member of PISSI? Especially one who is reported to be dead?

I have to suspect that the state's purpose is precisely to intimidate journalists and their sources.

I wonder if journalists could entrust their notes to a sanctuary in another country which won't give them back the notes unless they show they are not threatened.

Wildfires in Queensland
6 December 2018

Queensland, the northernmost part of Australia, is encountering the worst wildfire situation ever. A few days ago, hundreds of wildfires were burning. And it is not even summer.

Patagonia donations
6 December 2018

The company Patagonia will donate its windfall from the 2017 Republican tax attacks to environmental charities.

Meeting with Putin
6 December 2018

The bullshitter said he would cancel his meeting with Putin, but reportedly Putin ordered him to come to the meeting and he obeyed.

PFOA and PFOS
6 December 2018

PFOA and PFOS — chemicals that are used in nonstick pans, waterproof products, and firefighting foam — reduce male fertility.

The study was done on men exposed to those chemicals through industrial pollution. Whether contact with consumer products could give people a big enough dose to have an effect is apparently not clear.

A moderate reduction of human fertility is a change for the better, for the next few decades, but since these chemicals never degrade they could accumulate ever-larger quantities.

Global heating across the US
6 December 2018

Why No US Region Is Safe from [global heating].

Amazon colonization
6 December 2018

"New Yorkers won't give up the fight to stop Amazon colonising our city."

Wisconsin election rules
6 December 2018

How Wisconsin Republiars plan to change the election rules so as to maintain control of the state's supreme court, and thus preserve their gerrymander to maintain minority control of the state's legislature.

Marijuana vs meat
6 December 2018

"We ban [marijuana] but let people eat as much meat as they want. That makes no sense."

Helicopter photos
6 December 2018

Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem, a university student, visited Egypt and took photos out the window of his plane as it was landing. Some of the photos included a military helicopter at the airport. He now faces the insane charge of spying.

Anything that is exposed to the view of thousands of people is no secret.

House Raytheon executives
6 December 2018

(satire) … a Senate resolution to end the U.S. role in the war in Yemen was roundly rejected Thursday by House Raytheon executives.

Facebook page shutdowns
6 December 2018

It looks like Facebook is shutting down news and political pages, apparently based on their political orientations.

You can reduce Facebook's importance and power by using it as little as possible — ideally never. If you don't let Facebook decide what news you see, its political censorship won't affect you.

We can reduce Facebook's importance and power even more by campaigning against it and by not publishing through it. Don't depend for publishing your works on a company that calls your publications "content".

Mark Lamont Hill
6 December 2018

CNN fired commentator Mark Lamont Hill for speaking in favor of boycotting Israel for the sake of equal rights for Palestinians. This was described as "antisemitism".

His talk advocated a single state made up of what are now Israel and Palestine — a solution I do not support — and treats them unequally by calling that single state "Palestine". I don't like that position, but it is not antisemitic, because Israel and Jews are not the same.

I reject the claim that having two states is impossible, because the US has the power to pressure Israel quite firmly, and maybe it could bring about the return of the Palestinian land Israeli fanatics have colonized, if it tried. The US government is unwilling to try, but since it is unwilling to do anything towards any scheme for peace and equality between Israel and Palestine, that is no argument for preferring one such scheme to another. Following Uri Avnery, I advocate two states.

I am not dead-set on that solution. If Israelis and Palestinians come to support some other scheme for peace, then unless there is something gravely unjust about it, I will support giving it a try.

Zuckerberg hospital
6 December 2018

Some in San Francisco do not like the fact that the city's general hospital has been renamed after Zuckerberg, and one official has proposed to change the name back.

I think that the practice of naming institutions and buildings after donors is in general a form of decadence, regardless of who the donors are.

Whether the donors have a bad influence on the organization's activities is a different question: sometimes that happens, but not always. I don't think Zuckerberg's money would tend to corrupt the activity of a hospital — as far as I know, he has no special interests regarding hospitals. However, his money or Facebook's money might corrupt other kinds of organizations where they do have interests at stake.

The Gates Foundation's money has served to impose his policy ideas on education in the US.

School strike for global heating
6 December 2018

Greta Thunberg explains her school strike and weekly protest to demand curbing global heating fast.

"Some say I should be in school. But why should any young person be made to study for a future when no one is doing enough to save that future? What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts given by the finest scientists are ignored by our politicians?"

Intimidation of Uyghurs
6 December 2018

China intimidates Uyghurs even outside China, through the threat to their relatives.

The way China treats non-Uyghur Chinese expats is similar, just not as brutal.