Facebook censored the historic “Napalm girl” photo — why is anyone surprised?


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Nick Ut

❝ If you were to pick a handful of images that changed how people think about war, Nick Ut’s most famous photograph would surely be among them. The image of 9-year-old Kim Phuc running from napalm — her skin burning, her clothes burned away — defined the horrors of the Vietnam War.

❝ Norwegian author Tom Egeland had the lasting power of Ut’s work in mind when he shared the photo to Facebook weeks ago. But when Facebook’s moderators saw the Pulitzer Prize-winning image, they saw not its documentary significance or its impact on the world, but a violation of the site’s nudity policy.

Facebook’s moderators removed the photograph from Egeland’s page, along with its accompanying text. His account was suspended for 24 hours after he shared an interview with Phuc criticizing Facebook’s decision to censor this image, he said. But that was just the beginning of the incredible outrage at Facebook that has swept across Norway in recent days, becoming the subject of an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from Norway’s largest newspaper, and rising all the way up to the country’s prime minister.

❝ After initially defending its decision to remove the photograph, Facebook decided to “reinstate” the image on Friday afternoon, according to a written statement from a Facebook spokeswoman. “We recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time,” the statement reads. “Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal.”…

Corporate hogwash.

❝ While Zuckerberg recently said that Facebook is “a tech company, not a media company,” this incident highlights just how much control the platform can wield over what media its users do (and don’t) see.

Espen Egil Hansen, the editor of Aftenposten — Norway’s largest paper — called Zuckerberg the “world’s most powerful editor” in an open letter to Zuckerberg protesting Facebook’s censorship of the photo, which was published on Friday morning.

“I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly,” he wrote.

❝ The outrage in Norway escalated when Prime Minister Erna Solberg posted the image to her own Facebook page on Friday, after the publication of Aftenposten’s letter. “Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such pictures. It limits the freedom of speech,” she wrote in an accompanying statement that was translated by Reuters. “I say yes to healthy, open and free debate — online and wherever else we go. But I say no to this form of censorship.”

Solberg’s post, along with the statement, then disappeared. A spokesman for the prime minister’s office confirmed that she “did not remove it” herself from her own page — instead, Facebook deleted it.

❝ She later reposted the image — censoring Phuc’s entire body with a large black box — and called on Facebook to reconsider its policies. She paired the censored version of Ut’s work with several other censored versions of iconic photos, writing, “What Facebook does by removing images of this kind, good as the intentions may be, is to edit our common history.”

❝ Aftenposten ran its direct address letter to Zuckerberg on the front page of its paper. “I am writing this letter to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove a documentary photography from the Vietnam war made by Nick Ut. Not today, and not in the future,” Hansen, the paper’s editor, wrote.

“The media have a responsibility to consider publication in every single case. This may be a heavy responsibility. Each editor must weigh the pros and cons,” Hansen wrote. “This right and duty, which all editors in the world have, should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California.”

After more bullshit, Facebook finally relented.

RTFA and you’ll bump into all the rationales Facebook editors offered up to excuse and continue their censorship. Eventually, you can read their attempt to excuse their actions. It reads like a press release from any government, any corporate behemoth, trying to excuse a self-serving attempt to control access to history, to politics, to the freedom of individuals to decide what they wish to see and read.

That’s what it comes down to.

Don’t kid yourself about geeks being liberal or tech entrepreneurs automatically having the best interests of the world at heart. The breed has no corner on the market for kindness, care or concern – for either individual rights or the end of the world. Dollar$ govern the system. Don’t count on Harvard dropouts to be less likely to harbor bigotry and reactionary foolishness than any less-educated populist idjit.

Of course that includes the head of Facebook, the corporation. Ultimately, Mark Zuckerberg sets the standards of the company he started.

Cartoon: Yup, all our presidents should jog

Yup, I remember the arguments about health and fitness conservatives added to all the other reasons they hated FDR. Not as severe as their hatred of him for selling out their class.

Then, they worked just as hard after his death to pass that wonderful reform called “term limits” – which is about as undemocratic as any law the American people have been sold.

In other words, if you’re still popular with the majority of voters after two terms in office, we don’t dare let you run again. Don’t let us have a chance to re-elect you, again – as we did FDR.

A principled decision by the US government offers Native Americans an opportunity for justice


Lucas Reynolds

❝ Shortly after federal Judge James Boasberg denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Department of Justice and Army Corps of Engineers issued a joint statement that, in effect, temporarily halts all construction bordering Lake Oahe on the Missouri.

❝ The tribe had sought an injunction to stop the routing of the Dakota Access oil pipeline underneath the Missouri River, the source of the reservation’s drinking water, on the grounds that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had failed to conduct a proper environmental and cultural impact study. While acknowledging that damage had been done to an area sacred to the tribe, Boasberg said that the tribe had not made its case for an injunction…

❝ Shortly after Judge Boasberg’s decision, the three government agencies stepped in, suggesting that a change in process may be in order when it comes to how the courts and federal law view Indian land.

“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act,” the joint announcement stated. “However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain.”

❝ The agencies called for “serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.” The statement announced “formal, government-to-government consultations” this fall that would examine what the federal government can do “to ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights,” and whether new legislation was needed to meet the goal of meaningful consultation

“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws,” the statement said. “Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time…”

❝ Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II expressed elation and gratitude.

“Our hearts are full. This an historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for tribes across the nation,” Archambault said in a statement. “Today, three federal agencies announced the significant decision to respect tribal sovereignty and stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Army Corps land…”

“Our voices have been heard,” said Archambault. “The Obama administration has asked tribes to the table to make sure that we have meaningful consultation on infrastructure projects. Native peoples have suffered generations of broken promises and today the federal government said that national reform is needed to better ensure that tribes have a voice on infrastructure projects like this pipeline…”

Please RTFA. Judge Boasberg’s decision is worth reflection. Even though I believe like too many in the American legal profession he forgets to consider the spirit of laws intended to protect people and their property at a higher priority than corporate wealth and profit.

The full statement from David Archambault 11, Standing Rock Chairman is inclusive and reflects his thanks to all across this nation who support his tribe, Native Americans, and the broader fight against rich and powerful interests.

President Obama’s decision should be recognized as an act of courage. Albeit not one taken frequently enough against the most reactionary elements in American society. I only hope it succeeds in reversing the decades of repression against those fighting for equal rights and authority in this nation – and Native American people in particular.

Moving from Globalization 2.0 to 3.0

While seemingly elegant in theory, globalization suffers in practice. That is the lesson of Brexit and of the rise of Donald Trump in the United States. And it also underpins the increasingly virulent anti-China backlash now sweeping the world. Those who worship at the altar of free trade – including me – must come to grips with this glaring disconnect.

Truth be known, there is no rigorous theory of globalization. The best that economists can offer is David Ricardo’s early nineteenth-century framework: if a country simply produces in accordance with its comparative advantage (in terms of resource endowments and workers’ skills), presto, it will gain through increased cross-border trade. Trade liberalization – the elixir of globalization – promises benefits for all…

In the US, Trump’s ascendancy and the political traction gained by Senator Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign reflect many of the same sentiments that led to Brexit. From immigration to trade liberalization, economic pressures on a beleaguered middle class contradict the core promises of globalization…

In short, globalization has lost its political support – unsurprising in a world that bears little resemblance to the one inhabited by Ricardo two centuries ago. Ricardo’s arguments, couched in terms of England’s and Portugal’s comparative advantages in cloth and wine, respectively, hardly seem relevant for today’s hyper-connected, knowledge-based world. The Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson, who led the way in translating Ricardian foundations into modern economics, reached a similar conclusion late in his life, when he pointed out how a disruptive low-wage technology imitator like China could turn the theory of comparative advantage inside out…

Of course, this isn’t the first time that globalization has run into trouble. Globalization 1.0 – the surge in global trade and international capital flows that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – met its demise between World War I and the Great Depression. Global trade fell by some 60% from 1929 to 1932, as major economies turned inward and embraced protectionist trade policies…

Similarly, the means of Globalization 2.0 are far more sophisticated than those of its antecedent. The connectivity of Globalization 1.0 occurred via ships and eventually railroads and motor vehicles. Today, these transportation systems are far more advanced – augmented by the Internet and its enhancement of global supply chains. The Internet has also enabled instantaneous cross-border dissemination of knowledge-based services such as software programming, engineering and design, medical screening, and accounting, legal, and consulting work.

The sharpest contrast between the two waves of globalization is in the speed of technology absorption and disruption. New information technologies have been adopted at an unusually rapid rate. It took only five years for 50 million US households to begin surfing the Internet, whereas it took 38 years for a similar number to gain access to radios…

Unfortunately, safety-net programs to help trade-displaced or trade-pressured workers are just as obsolete as theories of comparative advantage…

The design of more enlightened policies must account for the powerful pressures now bearing down on a much broader array of workers. The hyper-speed of Globalization 2.0 suggests the need for quicker triggers and wider coverage for worker retraining, relocation allowances, job-search assistance, wage insurance for older workers, and longer-duration unemployment benefits.

Stephen Roach cautions, “the alternative – whether it is Brexit or America’s new isolationism – is an accident waiting to happen.” Globalization is not only inevitable, the most recent wave is complete. The backwash is populated with opportunist capitalists jumping ship this time for a 10% wage advantage instead of greater – some fleeing China to Mexico for the second time. Replicating the short lurch that followed the passage of NAFTA in the Clinton years.

What comes next in emerging markets, newly-developed and developing economies will be friendly competition and cooperation. That already is a central point of advocacy in China and ASEAN nations. Obama and President Hillary [probably] are stuck with the stereotypical American political solution of playing the blame game to unemployed and underemployed constituents – while Congressional know-nothings continue their death spiral-dance with religious conservatives hoping to retain their seat-of-the-pants veto of any legislation that might aid American workers. We’re faced with the potential of nothing changing in Washington until the elections of 2022 and 2024.

OTOH — If Americans are bright enough to remove bigots-pretending-to-be-conservatives from Congressional power in the November election, there may be an opportunity to implement the sort of safety net Dr. Roach suggests. We’ll see. Part of being both an optimist and cynic is my confidence in science and knowledge aiding our species in solving the problems we create. Just not in my lifetime.

The OldChilla Concert


Click to enlarge

If this is a handy venue – and you’re young enough to wonder why so many geezers uniformly agree that much of today’s music is crap – here’s an opportunity to find out what we’re talking about. Most of these artists are younger than me; but, that’s not saying much. 🙂

I know some of them are still in good voice. Regardless, worth checking out.

Me? I’m still a New Mexico hermit. I won’t be there; but, one of our regular contributors, Ursarodinia, will be there with bells on. And maybe a cardboard camel.

Celtic fans raise money for Palestinian charities after protest — UEFA suits want to fine the football club

Celtic fans support Palestine
Click to enlargeRussell Cheyne/Reuters

UEFA began disciplinary proceedings against Celtic last week after a number of fans displayed Palestinian flags during their 5-2 home victory against Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva in a Champions League qualifier. In an attempt to match an impending UEFA fine for displaying the flags, supporters of the Glasgow club have exceeded their initial target of raising £15,000 for Palestinian charities.

Since UEFA’s threat against the club went viral, supporters have now raised over £140,000 for Palestinian charities. Here’s the link if you wish to donate.

The Green Brigade group of supporters set up an appeal on the gofundme website on Sunday to match the anticipated fine. The fans are raising money for Medical Aid Palestine, which delivers health and medical care to those “worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement,” and the Lajee Centre, a cultural and sports project for children in Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem.

BTW, the away leg was played in Israel, this week, and though Hapoel won the match, aggregate score gave victory to Celtic. Hapoel is now out of the tournament. In Israel’s “traditional spirit of fair play”, they limited the number of Celtic supporters allowed to attend the match to 250. They were searched by police before entering the stadium and threatened with arrest if they demonstrated support for Palestinians during the match.

#matchthefineforpalestine

Are millennials living with mom and dad in your state?

Young adults, often unable to find good jobs, even with a college education, are increasingly staying with their parents…

Almost a third of young adults — 18 to 34 — lived with a parent in 2014, making it the most common living arrangement for that age group for the first time in modern history, according to a study published earlier this year by the Pew Research Center…

Multiple reasons are behind the trend, lingering effects of the Great Recession, high housing costs and student debt among them. Whatever the causes, millennials in some states are living with their parents in far greater numbers than in others.

In New Jersey, a whopping 43.9 percent of young people are living with at least one parent, according to a Stateline analysis of 2014 census data from IPUMS at the University of Minnesota. Connecticut (38.8 percent) was second and New York (37.4 percent) was third, followed by Florida (37.2 percent) and California (36.7 percent).

States with the fewest young people living with a parent were North Dakota (15.6 percent), Wyoming (18.7 percent), South Dakota (19.7 percent) and Nebraska and Iowa (both 20.7 percent).

In New York City and surrounding states, scarce and expensive rental housing is a major factor pushing young adults to return home, said Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California…

Full nests are also prevalent in other areas where renters are severely burdened by housing costs of more than half of their income, such as Los Angeles, Miami and Orlando.

The high cost of homeownership is also a factor. Renters who might otherwise be homeowners end up renting longer, tying up the supply for those coming up behind them…

Millennials are the most educated generation ever. But in areas where housing is extraordinarily expensive, a college degree is not necessarily a ticket out of your childhood bedroom…

But financial stress may be only part of the story. More young people were living with their parents even before the Great Recession hit. Some see cultural factors at work…

Resurgent ethnic traditions may be another factor: In the New York metropolitan area, most adult children of Italian heritage live with parents…

In the New York area, “co-residence” rates are also high for people with Irish, Dominican, Puerto Rican and African-American roots…

And underemployment among young people…who can’t find the work they trained for, is also a factor, said Christopher McCarty, director of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Florida’s official unemployment rate is 5 percent. But McCarty points out that 10.6 percent of workers are unemployed or underemployed, with low-paid jobs they are overqualified for or part-time jobs when they would rather work full-time.

Whatever the reasons, change is often difficult for the families involved, parents and children alike. Some of this brings smiles, scripts for TV sitcoms. Some of it can end in explosive differences, exaggerated intrafamily conflict.

Only one Republican from New England may be left in Congress after the November elections


“I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president” – Senator Susan Collins

New England’s shrinking Republican delegation in Congress is moving toward the brink of political extinction in November with Donald Trump at the top of the party’s ticket…Only four Republicans remain in New England’s 33-member congressional delegation, and three are in competitive races this fall. The other, four-term Senator Susan Collins of Maine, doesn’t face re-election this year.

Republican moderates who once represented the region became a dying breed in the past few decades as the party moved to the right. Trump, with his controversies and bombastic demeanor, has complicated what was already a difficult task of getting re-elected for the region’s party members.

Losses by Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte and Representative Frank Guinta, both of New Hampshire, and Representative Bruce Poliquin of Maine could leave Collins as the only member of her party in Congress from the six New England states: Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts…

Democrats, even before Trump was nominated, were banking on Clinton’s coattails to help them win the Senate and make gains in House seats. Trump’s antics and cratering poll numbers have some Republicans increasingly worried about a rout in November.

Princeton’s Julian Zelizer said there’s a “cushion” of Republican congressional seats in the South to guarantee continued strong presence, even with a loss of some members. But there’s no such cushion in New England for Republican lawmakers.

The Pew Research Center says the combined House delegation of six New England states went from 15 Democrats and 10 Republicans in 1973-74 to 20 Democrats and two Republicans in 2011-2012.

The cradle of the American Revolution was also an important center for every generation’s fight against bigotry, for civil rights. Whether you were an Abolitionist, fighting for Women’s Suffrage, involved with the LGBT struggle for equal opportunity, New England could be counted on for national support.

As one of the centers for education in the nation, contempt for populism and Trump makes rote Republican politics a liability.