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Friday, November 16, 2018

Trump have you no shame? Delete these tweets!

Dear President Donald Trump:

Whereas the death toll of 65 from this current round of California wildfires is bound to rise drastically as the final status of the 631 presently listed as missing is determined. Whereas poor forest management is not the cause of this tragedy. Whereas it is the job of the president to lead the nation in times of such tragedy. You should delete these shameless tweets before you visit California again.




Sign the petition at Change.org:
President Trump please delete these shameless tweets before you visit California.



Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Rise of Xenophobia

After a white supremacist murdered eleven Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue because of their support for Central American immigrants, Amy Goodman on Democracy Now said this about the killer:
Robert Bowers has a history of posting anti-Semitic and xenophobic content.
She put it the same way on the next show:
Bowers has a history of posting anti-Semitic and xenophobic content and was posting on the far-right social media site Gab until just before the shooting.
The Washington Post less charitably called Gab "the white supremacist sanctuary" in a headline.

Xenophobia is a much used word on Democracy Now. It's been used more than two thousand times by Google's count. It is especially favored when describing Donald Trump. Here are a few examples:

22 July 2016 Title:
Classic Authoritarianism: In a Speech Filled with Fear & Xenophobia, Donald Trump Accepts Nomination
28 September 2016:
In the wake of Monday night’s first presidential debate, the establishment Republican Party and conservative newspapers continue to distance themselves from Donald Trump amid increasing accusations of racism, sexism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.
5 September 2017 Title:
Trump Slammed for Siding with “Hate and Xenophobia” by Rescinding DACA for 800,000 “DREAMers”
31 January 2018 Title:
In Xenophobic Speech, Trump Attacks Immigrants, Pushes War with North Korea
Of course, Democracy Now is far from the only white Left organ to make liberal use of the word xenophobia in the age of Trump. It is widely used as an all encompassing super-category under which a host of hatreds or "phobias," including racism can be subsumed. For example, Jacob Bacharach, writing on Jacobin had a similar assessment of the Pittsburgh massacre:
"this murder is a project of the political right, who deploy xenophobia and antisemitism to incite senseless violence"
Calling it xenophobia favors the conclusion that it was "senseless," violence, whereas racist violence has a purpose. It generally serves the economic interests of the capitalist class. Anti-Semitic violence is also employed with a purpose by fascists.

In another example, an article by Joseph Natoli in counterpunch, titled "Über-Globalization or Über-Xenophobia?," 9 September 2016, two months before the election, promoted the view that xenophobia is the natural root of many ethnic, racial, and religious issues. He begins by quoting Jim Harrison:
“We are all naturally xenophobic.”
Before going on to say this about what he calls Über-Globalization:
Revolt against this now remains with Trump and his supporters, its manifesto being what I call über-xenophobia, xenophobia being the mildest preamble to the ugliness of the whole.
And this is how he appears to justify this xenophobia:
Indeed, a fear of difference, whether of skin color, religion, language, culinary passion, dress code or shocking idiosyncrasy, is woven into the cloth of our cultural imaginaries.
We saw a big increase in the usage of the word "xenophobia" on the Left in 2016. That year, the word "xenophobia" was often mobilized to give a minimalist description to the outright racism of the Trump campaign by those out to defeat Clinton by any means necessary. The cardinal sin of the white Left in 2016 was to disparage the distinction between what Clinton represented, another vanilla Democratic regime, and what Trump represented, an extreme white supremacist regime with fascist inclinations. For those on the Left telling progressives "Don't vote! for the lesser of two evils," substituting "xenophobic" for "white supremacist" helped cloud the differences, and sell that very bad advice.

In a pre-midterm Left Voice piece titled "Democrats Were Not "the Lesser Evil" for the Migrant Caravan," Tatiana Cozzarelli recounted the very bad record the Democratic Party has on Central America and immigration, and then argued that progressives should've sat out the midterm elections that took the House away from Trump sycophants. Under the banner of "No Votes for an Anti-Immigrant Party," she wanted to see progressives repeat the same mistake that allowed Trump to win in the first place. She describes Trump supporters as "the xenophobes who are terrified of people rushing to the border." I assume she would also include under that umbrella the "terrified" terrorist who wrote "Screw your optics, I'm going in" before he massacred eleven Jews in Pittsburgh.

Many on the Left position xenophobia as the higher, all encompassing category, with racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim [Islamophobia] attitudes operating as sub-categories of xenophobia. This is how John Reiman, who blogs as the Oakland Socialist, and thinks himself a Marxist, used it in discussions with me. He defines xenophobia simply as "hatred of foreigners" [email 23/7/2018]:
Yes, the anti-immigration issue is and will be used to build the forces of white supremacy, but you could also put it the other way around. In any case, I think that the xenophobia that is being built also has its own component. And let’s not forget that this is a global development. Yes, white supremacy is often part of it elsewhere, but consider this: The Brexit vote was largely an anti immigrant vote, but a large part of that xenophobic, anti immigrant sentiment was directed against Polish immigrants into Britain.
The Poles and white supremacy

Actually, anti-Polish attitudes have their own phobia - polonophobia. More to the point is this BBC News article from 19 July 2012:
The Polish Association of Northern Ireland has called for action after Poland flags were burned in several locations across Belfast on 11 July.

They have described the burning of the flags as "racist intimidation" of the Polish community.
The reason they called it "racist intimidation" and not "xenophobic intimidation" is that it was being done by white supremacist gangs that don't consider the Poles to be really "white," no matter how hard the extreme right-wing government back in Poland tries to be white nationalist. Such are the odd contradictions of "whiteness."

Because Reiman considers the Poles to be "white," he thought they would make a good case for why xenophobia, as opposed to white supremacy, was the operative force at work in this case. What he overlooks is that it is the racists that determine who is "white," and the Poles aren't always considered white.

The white race was invented in the pre-United States between 1650-1705, after the colonial ruling class decided to solve its labor shortage problems with African slave labor, and needed to cobble together the various European nationalities into a new synthetic one that would enforce racial slavery. After about 1690, "white people," and along with the "white race" even started showing up in English language dictionaries.

It wasn't easy to get the various European people to give up their native heritages, and buy into this new synthetic "white race." It isn't widely recognized that the earliest "whites only" legal restrictions {circa 1670s} were not designed so much as to restrict the rights of the few free blacks, as they were to force anyone who was deemed as qualifying for membership in the white race to apply for membership. Under the new racial laws, if you wanted to own land, do legal business, etc, you had to declare yourself "white," not English, Irish, French, or German. The white race was created by force, just as the black race was, and by the same people.

Today, the Trump administration wants to put a citizenship question on the US census. It is widely recognized that the promotion of white supremacy {or as the white Left would say "xenophobia"} is behind this demand. The US census of 1790 recognized only three categories of Americans: “free whites”, “other free people”, and “slaves.” There were many advantages that came with being able to check the "free whites" box. As for the other categories: White slaves {indentured servants} had existed in abundance in the colonies before lifetime racial slavery had become solidified with the Virginia 1705 Slave Codes. By 1790 they were history.

Still, not all whites were free, and the category of "other free people" was a multiracial one that included whites still in bondage or prison, free Africans, native Americans, Asians and others such as the Irish, Jews and Slavs, that weren't initially considered white. Reiman may consider the Poles "white," but they became white much later than white Americans from England, or even Ireland. {The first prototype for white supremacy was the English oppression of the Irish.}

In a piece titled "How do you become “white” in America?," Sarah Kendzior describes the status of Polish immigrants in the United States before 1919 in some detail, and then sums it up by concluding:
The Poles, in other words, were not considered white.
In this period when racism is on the rise, there seems to be a lot of obfuscation about just what is racist. Recently, NBC host Megan Kelly lost her job after asking:
"But what is racist? Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween,..."
Kendzior gave us a lesser known example of why blackface will forever be associated with racism in her description of how the Poles became white:
In 1919, Irish gangs in blackface attacked Polish neighborhoods in Chicago in an attempt to convince Poles, and other Eastern European groups, that they, too, were “white” and should join them in the fight against blacks. As historian David R. Roediger recalls, “Poles argued that the riot was a conflict between blacks and whites, with Poles abstaining because they belonged to neither group.” But the Irish gangs considered whiteness, as is often the case in America, as anti-blackness. And as in the early 20th century Chicago experienced an influx not only of white immigrants from Europe, but blacks from the South, white groups who felt threatened by black arrivals decided that it would be politically advantageous if the Poles were considered white as well.

Over time, the strategy of positioning Poles as “white” against a dark-skinned “other” was successful. Poles came to consider themselves white, and more importantly, they came to be considered white by their fellow Americans, as did Italians, Greeks, Jews, Russians, and others from Southern and Eastern Europe, all of whom held an ambivalent racial status in U.S. society.
As you can see, the attitude of the Irish to the Poles was all about whether they were to be considered in or out of the white race, so-called xenophobia had little to do with it.

These post-war years were very tumultuous ones for race-relations in the US. During the war, many African Americans migrated North to take part in war production while others went abroad to fight in it. Both were changed by their experiences. In Chicago, the African American population increased from 44,000 in 1909 to more than 100,000 in 1919, when many veterans were returning to find them in the industrial jobs that were "whites only" before the war.

"Xenophobic" groups like the Ku Klux Klan were taking full advantage of these disruptions. The KKK was making a comeback, and bringing racial violence back to the South. There were 64 lynchings in 1918, and another 83 lynchings in 1919. One would hope that such "xenophobic" lynchings are history, but even now, Monday, 12 November 2018, CNN is carrying a story about a white US Senator from Mississippi joking about her desire to sit "front row" at a "public hanging," as she faces a 27 November run-off election against her African American opponent.


In the "Red Summer" of 1919, resentment against the great migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North prompted by the war came to a head, and race riots broke out in Washington, D.C.; Knoxville, Tennessee; Longview, Texas; Phillips County, Arkansas; Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago. The riot in Chicago started on 27 July 1919 after an African American teenager was stoned and drowned to death by a group of white youths because he had strayed over an unofficial segregation line. Police refused to arrest the white man that eyewitnesses said was responsible, and that sparked a week of rioting that saw more than a thousand black families burned out of their homes in violence that also took the lives of 15 whites and 23 blacks.

While some of those homes may have been burned by white men in white sheets, many more were burned by white men in blackface. Blackface wasn't just for minstrel shows at the time. As Christopher Lamberti wrote in Riot Zone: Chicago 1919:
White men in black grease paint posing as African Americans frequently committed crimes in the South around the turn-of-the-century, and in Chicago as early as 1914, when the Defender complained, "With a blackened face crimes of all kinds are committed and laid at the door of an innocent Afro-American." The number of robberies and assaults by white men in blackface increased in Chicago during the early years of the Great Migration.
Characteristically, some of these blackface crimes involved assaults on white women.

Here's an interesting tidbit that turned up in my research: One of the Irish-American gangs that took part in the riot was the Hamburg Athletic Club. At the time, the legendary mayor of Chicago (1955-1976), Richard J. Daley, was a 17 year old member.

A Polish gang member of that period told researcher Frederick Thrasher, “A Jew or a nigger can be a pal of mine if he’s a good fellow.” Such was the contradictory position the Poles occupied in the US at the time. It was in the context of this sharp struggle that Chicago's Poles were finally admitted to the white race, less than a hundred years ago! Some might call this a part of the rich history of "xenophobia," but they would just be misappropriating the history of white supremacy.

It is the racists that get to define the races. Hitler didn't label the Poles white, although he did the English. I'll bet the pro-Brexit "xenophobes" don't see the Polish immigrants as "white" either.


The Rise of Xenophobia

Above is a graph of the popularity of word "xenophobia" from 1800 to 2008, it is based on the Google Books collection as constructed by Google's Ngram Viewer. It seems to indicate that nobody was describing the attitudes of the Irish or Poles in terms of "xenophobia" at the time of these events. The word didn't even get noticeable usage until the 1900s. It saw a steady increase in usage after WWII, followed my a kind of leveling off and then its sharpest rise beginning with the Reagan years. No doubt there has been another sharp rise recently that this tool, which only goes to 2008, can't show. Such has been the meteoric rise of xenophobia over its relatively short life.

Fashioned from the Greek prefix "xeno," and the Greek suffix "phobia," it has the feeling of being a very old term for a timeless condition. In point of fact, it was coined about 1880. It didn't even exist until the 200+ year regime of racial slavery had been overthrown, and white supremacy was re-positioning itself for the age of imperialism.

Xenophobia is a political term and not a recognized medical phobia. Phobias are legitimate anxiety disorders. Those with a genuine fear of something don't seek out and harass the objects of their "phobia." Xenophobic harassment is a method of racist control. A part of the "charm," shall we say, of "xenophobia" is that it masquerades as a psychological disorder when it decidedly is not one. The same can be said about Islamophobia, homophobia, and the above mentioned polonophobia, for that matter. The use of the suffix "phobia" in these cases is a fraudulent one, but clearly it has been embraced by the white Left.

Merriam-Webster tells us a bit more about the history of the word:
Word History
The History of the Word 'Xenophobia'

The word isn't as old as you might think

Xenophobia"fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners"—has the look and feel of a word that has been in the English language for hundreds of years, borne of the tumultuous political climates of the Renaissance and the penchant that many writers back then had for fashioning fancy new words from Latin and Greek. It is not that old. In fact, the word is relatively new (with an emphasis on "relatively"), with all evidence suggesting that it originated near the end of the 19th century. Our earliest citation is from 1880:
Here, however, as in other cases, we are inclined to think that intelligent xenomania is decidedly preferable to the Xenophobia which is of necessity and always unintelligent.
—The Daily News (London, England), 12 April 1880
Xenophobia was formed from a brace of words found in ancient Greek, xenos (which can mean either "stranger" or "guest") and phobos (which can mean either "flight" or "fear"). More...
More History

The use of African slavery in the colonies produced a theory and practise of white supremacy with deep roots that go back to the earliest days of capitalist development. The development of white supremacy was inextricably tied to the creation of the white race itself.

Once richly developed after 200 years of racial slavery, white supremacy became the antecedent from which a multitude of oppressions sprang. It was the model applied to oppress people everywhere, even white workers. For example, the slave owners need to control human reproduction determined much about the status of all women, as white supremacy came to influence the system of domination not only of people of color, but also of nature, and the Earth itself.

How does this compare with the relatively brief history of xenophobia? African slave labor was central to the economic development of the US for a very long time. That was the material basis for the development of white supremacy. This involved detailed and expensive material world elaboration:

Here is just one example from American history: Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia so that the sons of slave owners would not be "corrupted" by a liberal Northern education. A new appraisal of Jefferson's role in creating UVA, issued just this year by the university admitted to “his vision in creating a southern pro-slavery Ivy League school.” He wanted UVA to be “an institution with slavery at its core.” What this meant is that Jefferson created a university in which every course was corrupted by white supremacy, because truth could not be allowed to interfere with commerce. Such were the foundations of white supremacy. Upon what pillars does "xenophobia" stand, beyond the assertion that it is natural and forever?

Since "xenophobia" as a concept that has earned it own word goes back a little over a hundred years, it is hard to credit it with a long history, or with having great impact on social development before it was recognized. Generally, when it is proposed as a reason for behavior today, it is given no particular foundation in economic development. Instead it is left to stand on its own as though the term explains itself.

Nativism, Tribalism and Identitarian

Two other words often associated with xenophobic behavior, tribalism and nativism, turn out to be older than xenophobia, but not much older. Etymonline.com dates nativism from the US anti-immigrant movement ~ 1845, and tribalism from 1868. Identitarian is too new for Etymonline.com to find, but the Ngram Viewer has it showing up around 1938. Although it is the least used of any on this list, it has been sharply trending up since 1991. It also is a white supremacist movement by another name.

Here is what the Google Books Ngram Viewer tells us about the usage of white supremacy, xenophobia, nativism, tribalism, and identitarian.

We can see that since 1954, the year of the Supreme Court school desegregation decision, xenophobia  had pretty much caught up with white supremacy, and has been running neck-and-neck with it ever since.  Tribalism and nativism have been bringing up the rear, with identitarian looking for market share.

In Australia, the "nativists" adopted "White Australia" as their policy. Asian immigration was severely restricted, and most Pacific Islanders were deported. When Japan tried to get a racial equality clause included in the Covenant of the League of Nations at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, Australia collaborated with Britain to block it. Japan's own Wajin supremacy having developed around 1880, after being influence by white supremacists from the West and their pseudo-scientific ideas about race.

In the United States, the nativists were first represented by the Native American Party, more commonly called the Know Nothings. Abraham Lincoln had no trouble seeing the racism of these "nativists," he wrote in a 24 August 1855 letter to Joshua Speed:
I am not a Know-Nothing—that is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equals, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to that I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
From the above we can gather that one difference Lincoln had with the Know Nothings was that he considered "foreigners and Catholics" to be among the "classes of white people," and they didn't.

What is being sold to us as xenophobia, nativism, and tribalism are recent elaborations of white supremacy. All were founded long after it, and like symbolic links, have no independent existence without it. Of course, their promoters can always go back and claim various early behaviors represented xenophobia, just as they can claim the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were "white," no matter what color they really were, or how little attention they paid to it.

When you include racism in the NGram chart, all the others fade towards insignificance.

After racial slavery had finally been overthrown, and while black reconstruction was being overthrown, and white supremacy was being refitted for a larger, if subtler role, under imperialism, "xenophobia" was created as a way of excusing white supremacy without ever even acknowledging it.

Google Trends show us how "xenophobia" has been doing lately. I find it curious that it peaked so sharply just when Trump was becoming president.


In Summary

Xenophobia is often used by the white Left to describe the motivation behind the current anti-immigrant movement. They are doing the fascist a great service by promoting this limited framework. Xenophobia is made to stand in as reason enough to explain anti-immigrant attitudes without invoking racism, but the white supremacists who are building the anti-immigrant agitation are consciously trying to create a white supremacist fascist state. They see the anti-immigrant agitation as but a step up the ladder, even while the white Left strives to disguise the danger by explaining away the current movement with talk of "xenophobia," and such.

What these various white Left commentators are doing is very dangerous because this explanation for racist behavior tend to favor the white nationalist argument for ethnostates.  If there is a natural fear of people that are different, say different skin color, maybe the best thing for all is that we go our separate ways. People of color can leave the US, or live under a white apartheid regime. This is genocidal nonsense, but it is what the white nationalists conclude about xenophobia.

It is also dangerous because it divorces racism from its material and historic roots. It favors thinking of racism as simply a personal dislike of the others, so all people can be racists, just as all people can be xenophobic or whatever. It is no longer connected to that long history in which the employers of labor systematically used differences in skin color to divide the laborers between white and black. This opens the door to the situation in which our "xenophobic" president is publicly accusing African American reporters of being racist.

This too, is part of a plan. Last week Trump verbally attacked three female African American reporters. Observers have noted that he has a record of attacking black women, including Michelle ObamaApril RyanAbby PhillipBrenda SnipesMia LoveMyeshia JohnsonRep. Frederica WilsonJemele HillSusan Rice, and Rep. Maxine Waters to name a few. This is a program fully supported by Fox News and the rest of the Alt-Right [white supremacist] media. This week they are also loudly blaming a black women for incompetence and voter fraud in Florida. We can expect a lot more of this. They have long vilified African American men, but they understand that if they are to build white support for taking down a people, they must vilify the women as well.

Likewise, the have seized upon the issue of immigration as a gateway to much more extreme white supremacists' policies. They know exactly what they are doing. They have a plan to lead people step by step to accept conditions and commit atrocities that most who consider themselves anti-immigrant would find unthinkable now. The white Left is obliging this white supremacist movement by blaming the current anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim movements on "xenophobia," and failing to expose its deeper roots and long-term program.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Sending texts to get out the vote - A Linux hack

Since I consider this to be a political blog, I almost never post anything from the technical side of Linux here at Linux Beach. Tonight I am making an exception because this crosses the nexus of politics and technology.

If you've followed Linux Beach for a few years, you know that I focused my attention on defeating Donald Trump in 2016...............................................and lost.

I now think we are facing the most crucial election of our lifetime.

If we lose this election, we could well lose our country to fascism.

Therefore, I think that all of us should be pulling out all the stops, to vote, and to get other progressives to the polls. This is not an election you are going to want to say you sat out.

So in that spirit, earlier today, I decided that I would send texts to the mobile phones of all my friends and associates, not only to ask them to vote, but also to text their friends and associates, asking them to do the same.

While looking into the easiest way to do this, I discovered that you can send a text message via email. The way you do that is by sending an email with the text to 10digit-ph-number@vtext.com with the text in the body. so if you send:

Email : 3105551212@vtext.com
Subject Line: PLEASE VOTE
Body : Please text all your friends, asking them to vote on Tuesday & text their friends. Vote like your life depended on it!


The mobile phone @ 3105551212 will receive this text:
(PLEASE VOTE) Please text all your friends, asking them to vote on Tuesday & text their friends. Vote like your life depended on it!
This may only send from @vtext.com if you are Verizon customer, which I am, but I since I sent from two email addresses not linked {AFAIK 😉} to my Verizon account, I think it should work for anybody. If not, your mobile provider may have something similar. {Google is your friend. 😌}

In an effort to make this even easier, I turned to automation via a little bash scripting on Linux.
bash shell
Note on Linux history: bash stands for "born again shell." You see, an earlier version was written by a guy named Bourne, and became known as the Bourne shell. So, when eventually it was substantially rewritten and upgraded, it got a funny new name, just because that's the way we like to do things in Linux world.
First, I created a list of phone numbers, one 10 digit number per line with anything that wasn't a number removed, so that the list looked like this:

3123456789
2123456789
4123456789
3123456789
...

Except with real numbers.

I got the numbers from my Google Contacts. First I followed this guide to export the contacts I wanted to text to a spreadsheet: How to Export Your Gmail Contacts Then in the spreadsheet, in my case Libre Calc, I deleted all the columns except the phone number column. Then I exported that 1 column spreadsheet back to a CVS file that I could then load into a text editor, in my case, gedit. In the editor, I cleaned up the phone numbers by deleting all (,)-, spaces, and starting 1 or +1, so that they all conformed to the example above. Then I saved it to a file named numbers.txt

Also with the text editor I created the body of the email in a file named vote.txt with this content:
Please text all your friends, asking them to vote on Tuesday & text their friends. Vote like your life depended on it!
Did I mention that I did all of this in a ssh shell on a Linux server that already has a functioning mail server such as postfix? This is key, because if you can't already use the mail command to send email, this won't work.

With those two files, vote.txt with the message, and numbers.txt in the same directory on a Linux mail server, I ran the following simple bash script:
for n in $(cat numbers.txt)
do
mail -s "PLEASE VOTE" -r cjc@Linuxbeach.net $n@vtext.com < vote.txt
sleep 120
done
What this script is doing, even as I write this, is taking a number from that list, sending a text message-email to it, it waiting 120 seconds, and sending to the next one on the list. The 120 second delay is so that, hopefully, this won't be flagged as automation or spam. So far, so good.

If you received a PLEASE VOTE text from me today, this is how it was done. I have taken the further step of telling you how I did it in the hope that it will give others an idea of how they might get the message out.

BTW, all the software I mentioned in this post is FREE SOFTWARE. Meaning free as in beer and free as in speech. Your freedom to use this labor-donated software is protected by the GNU "Copy-Left" License.

Go Vote!


Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Mild protest @ Google Venice - a picture essay

So, I heard there was going to be a walkout at Google facilities worldwide over sexual harassment scandals this morning. This Guadian report will fill you in:
Google walkout: global protests after sexual misconduct allegations

Thousands of employees from Tokyo to California stage demonstrations targeting workplace culture


Matthew Weaver and Alex Hern in London, Victoria Bekiempis in New York, Lauren Hepler in Mountain View and Jose Fermoso in San Francisco
1 November 2018

Thousands of Google staff across the world have staged a series of walkouts in protest at claims of sexual harassment, gender inequality and systemic racism.

Demonstrations at the company’s offices around the world began at 11.10am in Tokyo and took place at the same time in other time zones.

They follow allegations of sexual misconduct made against senior executives, which organisers say are the most high-profile examples of “thousands” of similar cases across the company.

Greater numbers appeared on the streets outside Google’s Swiss office in Zurich, and there were protests in the Israeli city of Haifa and Berlin.

Google staff also walked out of the London, Dublin and New York offices. More...
Since Google Venice is just across the parking lot from me, and I had some time before reporting to my own job at noon, I decided to wander over and see if I could catch some pictures of the protest.

I don't know if the media received a press release or what, but word on the street was that the Googlers would be walking out at 11:10AM PST time today.
They gathered and waited around the iconic binaural entrance to Venice Google. I waited with them, but nobody came out. 
Eventually, someone found that they were rallying in a courtyard on Google property. We were given no access.
It wasn't media friendly or public friendly at all. Everyone took what shots they could through the holes in an iron fence.
I got a few pictures by sticking my lens into the spaces to get a few clear shots.
There may have been a few hundred Googlers but it was hard to tell from the position all the reporters were limited to, It was also hard to hear what was being said.
After the rally broke up, most of the Googlers filed back across Hampton Ave in the back to the main facilities across the street. 
Reporters tried to engage the protesting Googlers in their few minutes on public property, but they were having none of it.
This event left me with this troubling question: Since the protesting workers at Google Venice only left Google property to cross a street to a rally on Google property, can they really call this a walkout?

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fox News host @kilmeade compares refugee caravan to oil spill

This morning on Outnumbered, Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade said that he thought all US citizens should see the refugees fleeing violence as if they were an oil spill head towards our shores:


There are difficult issues to figure out, and they're easy issues to figure out where both parties stand, but I thought this would be as black and white as the Deepwater Horizon oil leak, when everyone who saw when that platform exploded, that oil leaking into the water in the Gulf, they said "We've got to stop that!" And Obama paid the price because it took forever to do it, he was just starting. We all agreed "Stop the oil leak!"

When you have eight thousand people, roughly, marching towards our border, who we know nothing about, who Sarah Carter just told me on the radio, she's in Guatemala, most of them are men, very few families. We know nothing about them, coming to our border. I would think Democrats and Republicans would go "Yeah, this is a problem. We have a System."
Dehumanizing immigrants and refugees in not new on Fox News, their mouthpieces gleefully parrot President Donald Trump when he implies all undocumented Latinos are MS-13, and refers to these immigrants as "animals," but this may represent a new low in their efforts to stoke the genocidal side of racism.

Fancying myself something of a wordsmith, I can appreciate how well crafted these 146 words are. First, he adopts a causal attitude while stating that his position is a "no-brainer," that the only two possible parties, or positions, obviously should agree with it. With that out of the way, he brings to mind questions of race with his reference to "black and white." There is a lot being done with those three words here, so we must spend a minute on them.

Those words are used often in reference to race on Fox News, so naturally they bring to mind that topic, but here Kilmeade is using them as synonyms for "good" and "bad," or "right" and "wrong." These are the primary, immutable, even pre-cultural meanings of these words. The application of the word "white" to the European settlers in the "New World," and eventually to Europeans everywhere, and the simultaneous labeling of Africans, or in many cases, all people of color, as "black," are secondary definitions these words acquired less than 400 years ago as African slavery was being established in colonial America. The original trick of white supremacy was the fraudulent claiming of the label "white," together with all its virtuals, for a selected group of people based on a lighter skin color. I have written more about this in The two meanings of white. Here Kilmeade encapsulates all of that in his choice of these three words as he segues into his racist analogy: He compares people fleeing violence to an oil leak that needs to be stopped.

Eight thousand was an over-estimation when he said it.

The choice of "roughly" as a synonym for "approximately" was also not an accident. It was designed to support the image of men marching towards our border, and to support the lie that this is not a caravan of families, which it is.

He brings up Obama, but then gives him a pass. This is to show that he's not a racist.

He has the gall to claim "We know nothing about them," in spite of the fact that, by now, just about every major news organization in the US, including Fox News, has reporters among the marchers. The message: They aren't human like us, a point he makes twice.

He evokes these racist images of white and black again with his oil spill analogy. He doesn't have to mention the colors again. The image he brings to mind is that of black oil spoiling our white beaches.

These forty seconds simply reek with racist imagery. This was a purposefully crafted statement, almost certainly read from a teleprompter. It was no accidental outburst. Fox News is quite consciously attempting to create a fear of immigrants of color coming to what they project as a white country under siege. The way they chose to do this lays the psychological basis for the most inhumane treatment of refugees, including genocidal mass murder. After all, we put fire on advancing oil slicks to stop them from reaching our shores, didn't we?

Attempting to contain Deepwater-Horizon oil spill with fire
Honduran migrant caravan on the move
Oil soaked pelicans from the spill (Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace)
Fox News lies, many women & children are in the caravan
Every major genocide of the last century was proceeded by a propaganda campaign carried out by  media outlets designed to paint the targeted people as less than human. In Rwanda, it was radio stations that called the Tutsi "cockroaches," in Nazi Germany, Goebbels' control of all media labeled the Jews as "rats." Now we have Fox News referring to refugees as an oil leak. David Moshman wrote about the role such dehumanization plays in promoting genocide in a paper titled "Us and Them: Identity and Genocide," 2007 Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
In dehumanization, those deemed to be members of the out-group are denied the status of persons. Rather than being seen as members of a human community with individual identities of their own, they are construed as elements of a subhuman, nonhuman, or antihuman collective (Woolf & Hulsizer, 2005).

In the period leading up to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, for example, the Tutsi were persistently portrayed in Hutu Power propaganda as inyenzi, cockroaches. Not only were they a group distinct from the Hutu, regardless of their individual identity commitments, but they were increasingly construed as a group distinct from humanity, not capable of meaningful individual identities. Thus the killing of Tutsi was no more a violation of individual rights than the killing of cock roaches or, in another metaphor also popularized by Hutu Power, the pulling of weeds. On the contrary, given the threat allegedly posed by the Tutsi to the future of Rwanda, their elimination was deemed a moral imperative.

Similarly, a key aspect of the path to the Holocaust was the relentless dehumanization of Jews (Stannard, 1998, pp. 182–183). As Germans with Jewish ancestry were increasingly seen as Jews above all else, they came to be seen as less than fully German, and ultimately as less than fully human, part of a nonhuman mass of Jews. For Hitler, Jews were anti-human. Weitz (2003) provides a concise summary of the biological metaphors of Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “Jews were the maggots feeding on a rotting corpse, the parasites that had to be surgically removed, the sexual predators preying on German women, a spider that sucks people’s blood, a plague worse than the Black Death, the sponger who spreads like a noxious bacillus and then kills his host” (p. 106). Franz Stangl, in contrast, did not share Hitler’s animosity toward Jews, but Stangl’s blander dehumanizations were sufficient to enable him to serve as commandant of the death camp Treblinka (Moshman, 2005b; Sereny, 1983). To him the Jews were more like “cattle,” a mindless herd, making its way toward the slaughterhouse where it would be transformed into “a mass of rotting flesh” that “had nothing to do with humanity.” The Jews were “cargo” to be transported and their bodies were “garbage” to be disposed of. “I rarely saw them as individuals,” he explained. “It was always a huge mass.” (Sereny, 1983, p. 201)
This brings us right back to the Fox News analogy of the Honduran refugee masses hoping to be saved by coming to the United States as a dirty, smelly, dark, oil slick approaching our white beaches. A danger that clearly must be warded off at all costs. This is first rate racist propaganda. Goebbels would be jealous.

In many racist memes, the people to be dehumanized are called some other animal, like a monkey, rat, or cockroach, in Kilmeade's metaphor, the Honduran refugees aren't even considered animals, not even the distressed oil-soaked birds above. They are likened to the oil.

Its hard to imagine a more racist projection. Its easy to see how it supports the psychology of genocide. A billionaire's corporation is promoting this in the United States today for a reason.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

UPDATED: Did Trump just confirm Khashoggi's murder?

I don't know if he even knows that he has done that, but that's my opinion. You are certainly entitled to your own. What he said this morning, according to the Washington Post, is:
“I just spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia, and he denies any knowledge of what took place with regards to, as he said, to Saudi Arabia’s citizen,” Trump said while talking to reporters Monday morning. “He firmly denies that.”

“We are going to leave nothing uncovered,” Trump said later about the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. “With that being said, the king firmly denies any knowledge of it. He didn’t really know, maybe, I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe it could have been rogue killers, who knows? We’re going to try get to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.” [emphasis added]
So the Donald has talked to the King and now he is blabbing about it. We don't know how many times the King denied having any knowledge about Khashoggi's disappearance on the phone to Trump, but we do know that Trump has repeated that denial three times in this short statement that was also at pains to point out that while Khashoggi may have been a Washington Post reporter and a legal United States resident, he was also a subject of the King. Trump said he didn't "want to get into [the King's] mind," but! "it sounded to me like maybe it could have been rogue killers." Why would he say that if the King denied having any knowledge of his "disappearance?" It sounds to me like after his talk with the King,Trump was left with no doubt that Khashoggi had been murdered, and now he has already moved on to shifting the blame away from the Kingdom.

I hope that at the next WHPC some reporter will ask just what the King said that made Trump think that Khashoggi had been murdered.

That's my take. What say you?

UPDATE 1:04PM PT: CNN's Clarissa Ward is reporting the Kingdom is preparing to admit that Khashoggi was killed in an interrogation gone bad. Was their hand forced by Trump's blabbing about "rogue killers," or has he been a part of this operation against Khashoggi from the beginning?

UPDATED 16 Oct. 7:00 PM PT: When I started writing this post yesterday, it was to make a different point, and it had a different title. I tabled that draft when I realized that the really important point to be made about Trump's "rogue killers" statement was that it was the first time either a US or Saudi official talked like he knew Khashoggi had been murdered. That was the breaking news yesterday.

Today, it seems appropriate to return to that original theme in light of a new statement from Trump. Yesterday, the first draft of this post began:


What do "rogue killers" have to do with Kavanaugh?


Does anyone else see a curious congruence between the way Trump & Company handled Dr. Christie Ford's allegations of attempted rape by Brett Kavanaugh, and the way they are handling the way they are handling the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi?

Turkey has alleged that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian embassy. They say they have convincing evidence, although no corpse has been found, or is likely to be found in the Turkish allegations are true.

In both cases they use a mis-applied presumption of innocence, combined with what they consider a lack of convincing evidence, to allow them to act like the crime never even happened.

The most curious thing about the way that they handled Dr. Ford's allegation that she was 100% sure that it was Kavanaugh that tried to rape her, was to say "We believe Dr. Ford." meaning they believe "somebody" tried to rape her, but she was just wrong about it being Kavanaugh.

With Trump's response this morning to a reporters question about the Khashoggi disappearance, it sounds like he wants to have it both ways again: "maybe it could have been rogue killers, who knows?"  Meaning, he now believes Khashoggi was murdered, just not by the Kingdom.

Yesterday I abandoned that draft. Today the New York Post is reporting:
Trump compares Khashoggi ‘murder’ to Kavanaugh accusations

By Tamar Lapin
16 October 2018
President Trump criticized those pointing fingers at Saudi Arabia in the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi — comparing the situation to the sexual assault allegations leveled against US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned,” Trump said Tuesday.

Trump warned of a rush to judgement in the case.

“I think we have to find out what happened first,” he said. More...
So, like I said. Its not at all surprising that Trump sees this obscene and curious congruence, since he is the author of it.

UPDATE: Wednesday Thoughts: I suspect Trump so strongly denies the murder of Khashoggi by MBS because there are some US reporters that he would like to murder himself. If he is empowered by a GOP victory in November, journalists everywhere had better watch their backs.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh and the Resistance Color Code

There are a thousand and one ways in which our misogynistic and racist culture is passed on and fortified. This is a story about one of them.

I was reminded of this one by the recent testimony about the serial sexual abuse of young girls by the youthful Brett Kavanaugh. It comes from my own education in technology. That began with an early interest in electricity and electronics. One of my earliest accomplishments in the field was earning a Merit Badge for Electricity from the Boy Scouts of America. It must have been about the same time I was first learning about resistors, and the color code used to mark them.

Resistors are electrical components used very frequently in electrical or electronic circuits. They are used to provide resistance to the flow of electricity. That resistance is measured in Ohms[Ω]. An Ohm is a measure of, well, electrical resistance. The unit was named after Georg Ohm, a 19th century German Physicist who gave us Ohm's Law, among other things. 1Ω really isn't much resistance at all, so in electronics, more often we talk in terms of kiloohms or megaohms. Resistors come in a wide range of resistances, and since most are very small, simply printing the resistance on them, something like 470KΩ, just isn't workable. I wouldn't have been able to read them even when my eyes were young. Instead they are marked by a series of colored bands. Each color stands for a number, or a power of ten. The colors are Black = 0 or 100, Brown = 1 or 101, Red = 2 or 102, Orange = 3 or 103, Yellow = 4 or 104, Green = 5 or 105, Blue = 6 or 106, Violet = 7 or 107, Gray = 8 or 108, White = 9 or 109.

Typical Resistor Color Code Chart
Now you know how to read resistors, so long as you can remember the colors used, and their proper order. Mnemonics can be very helpful in remembering sequences like these, and that is where the connection to the Kavanaugh saga comes to mind, because the most widely used mnemonic for teaching the resistance color code has been this:
Bad Boys Rape Our Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly
As you can see, the first letter of each word in this memorable little phrase corresponds to the first letter of the color that occupies that position in the resistance color code. As such, it has historically been an easy way to teach this essential piece of knowledge for anyone working with electrical or electronic hardware. I was probably first taught it, with a snicker, about the same time I was earning that Merit Badge in the Boy Scouts.

Now, it is easy to see that this racy mnemonic also taught something else to the overwhelmingly male technology students it was aimed at. It made the violent crime of rape out to be something frivolous, while at the same time it divided women between "good" and "bad" depending on if force was necessary to have sex with them. It also was, all by itself, another barrier women had to overcome to pursue careers in a number of well-paying, male dominated, fields.

Years later, I found there was an even worst version of this mnemonic. Perhaps I was shielded from it because it combined racism with the misogyny. This is from a European electronics manual:
THE RESISTOR COLOUR CODE

Here is an industry-standard mnemonic e-mailed by Bill Woods for recalling the order and value of colour-markings on resistors. Although a politically/socially dubious phrase, it has nevertheless served to teach budding electronics engineers the code successfully for many years.

"Black Boys Rape Our Young Girls, But Violet Gives Willingly."
I wasn't shielded from discrimination as I developed my technology career. In this version, "our" applied both to the men who needed to remember this bit of technological trivia, and the "young girls," and it went without saying that both were understood to be "white." This racist version may indeed be more popular in Europe. The Daily Mail had this report about a teacher using it lately:
Teacher who taught pupil racist 'rape' rhyme so he
could remember lesson is guilty of misconduct

25 February 2011
Teacher James Hersey of Hove, East Sussex, holding a circuit
board: He claims the rhyme he was taught in the 1950s
helps to remember a colour coding system for resistors
A supply teacher who taught a racist rhyme to a pupil - which included the vile phrase 'Black Boys Rape Our Young Girls' - has been found guilty of professional misconduct.

James Hersey, 68, taught the shocking mnemonic to a 16-year-old boy who was revising a wiring colour coding system for electronic resistors.

He taught the boy the ditty: 'Black Boys Rape Our Young Girls, But Virgins Go Without.' Each word represents the first letter of the colours in the code which are; black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, grey and white. More...
Hersey's version of this little ditty packs quite a few "collateral" social lessons into this memory exercise. In addition to the trivialization of rape contained in all versions, and the racist element added to some versions, his version promotes the view that women or girls who are raped, are raped because they want it, after all, "virgins go without."

Christine Blasey Ford's heartfelt testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court showed the lifelong damage that can be caused by teenage acts of sexual violence that are encouraged and trivialized by teaching methods such as this one. I'm not sure if this mnemonic is still used anywhere else in the past seven years. I certainly hope not. Clearly, it's time has passed.



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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Garrett Ventry "resignation" shows GOP Senate Judiciary Committee hypocrisy

NBC News broke this story today:
Spokesman for GOP on Kavanaugh nomination resigns;
has been accused of harassment in the past

An adviser for the Senate Judiciary Committee has resigned amid questions from NBC News about a previous sexual harassment complaint.

by Heidi Przybyla
22 September 2018
WASHINGTON — A press adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee’s response to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down amid evidence he was fired from a previous political job in part because of a sexual harassment allegation against him.

Garrett Ventry, 29, who served as a communications aide to the committee chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had been helping coordinate the majority party's messaging in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago at a high school party. In a response to NBC News, Ventry denied any past "allegations of misconduct." More...

Garrett Ventry was a current staff member, or employee, which would seem to give him more standing to keep his position than a job applicant, or an employee asking for a promotion, which is the position of Brett Kavanaugh, and yet there was no talk about the right to due process, or the presumption of innocent that has so animated the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in defense of Brett Kavanaugh. Ventry, was given no hearing, and no right to appeal. The reason he was asked to resign was simple:
Republicans familiar with the situation had been concerned that Ventry, because of his history, could not lead an effective communications response.
Meanwhile, on Fox News, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), the GOP congressman who joked that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been groped by Abraham Lincoln, complained that his favorite job applicant, Brett Kavanaugh wasn't being treated fairly, saying "Where else can you write a letter and convict someone?"

I'll bet the majority of old white men in congress have law degrees, and yet they seem confused over this simple fact: Kavanaugh is not on trial for his freedom, he is applying for a job.

It may not be "fair," but when there are many qualified candidates for a position, it doesn't take much to take any one candidate off the short-list. The real possibility that someone applying for the lifetime position of Supreme Court Justice may be lying about a crime of sexual assault, even one that happened long ago, should be enough. Sorry Charlie, but the job of the Senate is to be fair to the country.



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UPDATED: Where were Brett Kavanaugh's loving parents when he was drinking illegally?

United States President Donald Trump recently attacked Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who is accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape 36 years ago, by asking why she didn't go to her "loving parents," and the police:
We know there are many reasons #whyididntreport, check the hashtag for thousands of details. There is another question the president, and all of us, should be asking, and it is almost certainly the most socially actionable one: Where were Brett Kavanaugh's loving parents when he was illegally drinking because he was underage?

There certainly has been enough testimony and evidence of parties at which underage drinking took place in the ruling class high school environment that Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh, and his accomplice, Mark Judge grew up in. No doubt, they, along with many mutual friends, attended numerous such parties.

So where were the loving parents that allowed this?

Trump knows that one big reason the 15 year old Christine would not have reported the sexual assault was that she would have had to admit to illegal drinking at an illegal party to do so.

Did the 17 year old Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge understand the leverage they would have in sexually assaulting young girls who had already been lured into the illegal activity of underage drinking? Did these maturing legal minds understand the advantage that compromise gave them? Did they understand that even if the sex was consensual, it would still be illegal? Or did they expect the alcohol to buy them some cheap immunity?

There is also the question of who provided the alcohol? Was it the younger girls, or the older boys? Or the parents? My money is on the older boys, although some parents may have turned a blind eye to "their young men" raiding the liquor cabinet for a house party, "At least they're drinking at home," might be their excuse. No matter.

What needs to be said is that the alcohol-fueled party culture that was allowed to fester at Georgetown Prep created an environment in which the type of attack alleged by Christine Blasey Ford was encouraged and protected. I have little doubt that she is speaking the truth about what Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge did to her at such a party 36 years ago. I have no doubt that her participation in such a party, at 15, played a big role in her going along with Brett and Mark in covering up the attack even as rumors swirled all around the schools.

None of us should doubt that the type of sexual violence that Dr. Ford alleges Kavanaugh subjected her to, has happened to a great many teenage girls, even especially at the best schools, where illegal drinking is an accepted part of a privileged upbringing, and the young men of the ruling class are invited to join in the corruption from a very early age by their Georgetown Preparation.

UPDATE 24 Sept. 2018:



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