An arctic front has enveloped the United States, but not even mother nature can cool down the hot air that is omnipresent in our nation’s capitol and the flaming thievery taking place on Wall Street. That is unless you are getting your news from corporate media, in which case they will have you think that our Democracy was hacked not by the billions of corporate tycoons but by Russian bots. Consider this a lead in to the upcoming “This Week’s Recap of Corporate Media Bullcrap” that will be published shortly. But for now, on to the news and happenings from around our nation and the world from independent journalists and non-corporate news outlets. Enjoy this cup of your Daily Ghion Water. Quick programming note of sorts, we ask that you use the comment section below to give feedback and more importantly engage with your fellow Ghion Journal readers. We are trying to build an ecosystem of free thinkers who can share ideas and discuss ways to foster a paradigm of inclusive justice, so meet other readers and engage with each other.
Wall to Wall Insanity
Trump has promised “a big, beautiful wall” with Mexico as a centerpiece of his presidency but offered few details of where it would be built, when and at what cost. His administration asked for $1.6 billion this year to build or replace 74 miles (118 kilometers) of fencing in Texas and California, and officials have said they also will seek $1.6 billion next year. The 10-year plan, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, resulted from discussions with senators who asked the agency what it would take to secure the border, the official said. [from Truthdig]
About that Net Apartheid Thing
I get very nervous when I think about the implications of this: what if Facebook changed its algorithms one day, and Current Affairs articles ceased to show up in people’s news feeds when others shared them? Or what if we accidentally tweeted a snarky remark that Twitter interpreted as a violation of its Terms of Service, and terminated the Current Affairs account? Instantly, we would lose a significant portion of our audience, with no way to get it back. And because private companies are private, with no actual democratic control, there is no obvious “appeals process,” no “rule of law,” no “voting.” Because you don’t have any right to use these platforms (and they’re free, after all!), you have no remedy if they turn against you. [from Current Affairs]
A Land of Amazonian Monopoly
Digital political economy helps us understand how platforms accumulate power. With online platforms, it’s not a simple narrative of “best service wins.” Network effects have been on the cyberlaw (and digital economics) agenda for over twenty years. Amazon’s dominance has exhibited how network effects can be self-reinforcing. The more merchants there are selling on (or to) Amazon, the better shoppers can be assured that they are searching all possible vendors. The more shoppers there are, the more vendors consider Amazon a “must-have” venue. As crowds build on either side of the platform, the middleman becomes ever more indispensable. Oh, sure, a new platform can enter the market—but until it gets access to the 480 million items Amazon sells (often at deep discounts), why should the median consumer defect to it? If I want garbage bags, do I really want to go over to Target.com to re-enter all my credit card details, create a new log-in, read the small print about shipping, and hope that this retailer can negotiate a better deal with Glad? Or do I, ala Sunstein, want a predictive shopping purveyor that intimately knows my past purchase habits, with satisfaction just a click away? [from Naked Capitalism]
Mark of the Beast?
“This is nuts!” say a shrinking number of free-thinking consumers who are unwilling to be dragooned down the road to corporate captivity and coercion. These people treasure their privacy. They understand that it’s none of any conglomerate’s business – whether VISA, Facebook, Amazon or Google – what, where, when and how consumers purchase goods and services. Or where and when they travel, receive healthcare, or the most intimate relationships they maintain. Not to mention consumers’ personal information can be sent to or hacked around the globe. Cash-consumers are not alone in their opposition to a cashless economy. When they are in a cab and ask the driver how they prefer to be paid, the answer is near-unanimous. “Cash, cash, cash,” reply the cab drivers in cities around the country. They get paid immediately and without having to have a company deduct a commission. [from Common Dreams]
Neocon and Neoliberal Watch (they are the same thing)
By treating the protests as a vehicle for pressuring the regime to change non-nuclear policies, the American hardliners also run into inconsistency with all their prior opposition to doing any business with the Iranian regime, of which opposition to the JCPOA has been a part. If this regime is as irredeemable and thoroughly dominated by hardline fanatics as the American hardliners have repeatedly portrayed it, who could possibly emerge from such a cauldron to respond positively to street protests? Thus we get intellectual contortionssuch as trying to argue in the space of a single paragraph that it was a mistake in the past to “be in the business of currying favor with the regime’s ‘moderates’ ” but that today the protests provide an occasion to “strengthen the arguments of pragmatists arguing for a change in policy”. [from Consortium News]
Consolidation and Liquidation of a Free Press
The Huffington Post is one of America’s most widely read online news outlets. While the site’s various niche portals earn much of their traffic through clickbait headlines and celebrity news, the Huffington Post’s politics section has made its mark with slashing coverage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, Likudnik mega-donors and police brutality. Huffington Post reporters have not shied from targeting Democratic senators who promoted war on Iran or highlighting President Barack Obama’s support for a provision in TPP that would reward companies that profit from slavery. Earlier this year, Obama urged House Democrats not to read the Huffington Post, complaining that the outlet reported unfairly on the free trade agenda he has been promoting. [from Alternet]
From the YouTubes
This Day in History
On this day in 1838, Samuel Morse’s telegraph system is demonstrated for the first time at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. The telegraph, a device which used electric impulses to transmit encoded messages over a wire, would eventually revolutionize long-distance communication and media as it was known. The first telegraph read “what has God wrought”. Indeed.
Quote of the Day
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” ~ Voltaire
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