Hollywood has a white problem

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The author of this piece is pretty much on target with her complaints about Hollywood.

I can’t accept that. I can’t accept that there was only one black woman in the entire film, who delivered one line and who we never saw again. I can’t accept that the bad guys were Asian and that although in China, Lucy’s roommate says, “I mean, who speaks Chinese? I don’t speak Chinese!” I can’t accept that in Hercules, which I also saw this weekend, there were no people of color except for Dwayne Johnson himself and his mixed-race wife, whose skin was almost alabaster. I can’t accept that she got maybe two lines and was then murdered. I can’t accept that the “primitive tribe” in Hercules consisted of dark-haired men painted heavily, blackish green, to give their skin (head-to-toe) a darker appearance, so the audience could easily differentiate between good and bad guys by the white vs. dark skin. I can’t accept that during the previews, Exodus: Gods and Kings, a story about Moses leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt, where not a single person of color is represented, casts Sigourney Weaver and Joel Edgerton to play Egyptians. I can’t accept that in the preview for Kingsman: The Secret Service, which takes place in London, features a cast of white boys and not a single person of Indian descent, which make up the largest non-white ethnic group in London. I can’t accept that in stories about the end of the world and the apocalypse, that somehow only white people survive. I can’t accept that while my daily life is filled with black and brown women, they are completely absent, erased, when I look at a TV or movie screen.

It’s been this way for a very, very long time. Sure we’ve had some breakthroughs with Denzel Washington, Lupita Nyong’o and Halle Berry winning Oscars and Will Smith being a box office draw; but you can’t stop there and think that’s enough.

There are issues that go much further than the casting. There is also the way films are written and how people of color are portrayed that must be changed. It’s rather sad that Hollywood has a difficult time depicting the real world in their films. It’s as if they’re afraid to feature people of color because they feel those films won’t sell.

via Lucy: Why I’m Tired of Seeing White People on the Big Screen – Olivia Cole.

Photo by Scott Smith (SRisonS)

DC unemployment owes her $7k but Congress keeps her poor

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This is what our Congress has become. It is so dysfunctional that it refuses to pay unemployment, kicks people out of their homes and puts them in poverty and homelessness.

My school aid ran out totally…I am so broke. in two weeks on June 30 I am about to be homeless unless I can get some help or job or the congress finally sends my last 20 weeks of dc unemployment currently they owe me $7000 but congress is too busy to help Americans.

Things shouldn’t have to be this way. But the Republicans we’re dealing with today are so extreme they put Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon to shame.

via Please help me!!!! by Laurie Hughes – GoFundMe.

Photo by aflcio

We Need an Internet Archive for the Progressive Blogosphere

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The liberal blogosphere to my knowledge first came into being around the year 2002, give or take a few years. Back then you had the upstarts like DailyKos, MyDD, Talking Points Memo, Oliver Willis, Smirking Chimp, AmericaBlog, Pandagon, Hullabaloo, Eschaton and many others; who began the top of what would become a long tail.

Many more blogs would be created and some would poke through into the A-list and the top of the tail in the years to come; blogs like The Huffington Post, Think Progress and Fire Dog Lake come to mind. During this time there was also a plethora of state based progressive blogs like My Left Nutmeg, The Daily Gotham, The Albany Project and Michigan Liberal to name a few.

The the era of the progressive blogosphere thankfully still continues. But throughout this era we’ve seen many blogs come and go. They cease publishing for a number of reasons, whether they be at the top of the tail or the bottom. Personally, I’m still here treading away somewhere at the upper-bottom of the tail I suppose. But I do this for the love of writing and the ink is cheap to buy. So onward I continue.

Yet what if I or thousands of others like me in the progressive blogosphere eventually decide to close up shop? What happens to all those posts and all those ideas? Is it all to be lost and forgotten? Some of the A-list blogs who have stopped publishing still pay their hosting fees to keep their sites up for posterity, but not everyone does that. I suppose if your blog was hosted with Google or WordPress you’re safe for now but they can always close down as other blog hosting sites have done in the past.

So what I’m proposing is that we start an archive of the progressive blogosphere. We archive every word of it–or as much as possible. I say this knowing that there is an Internet Archive in existence but their web crawlers only go so deep.

So we reach out to people and try to get their codebase and databases when we can and then we harvest the rest with software when we can’t. But that’s my idea. This way all that collective knowledge can be preserved and indexed.

Could you live on $11dollars a day?

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Dan Cantor over at the Working Families Party sent out a blast email talking about the minimum wage in New York State. Now, we already know that $7.25 an hour really isn’t enough to make a living on, what we don’t realize is just exactly how little this is per day for someone earning the bare minimum.

Someone who works full-time earning the bare minimum makes only $290 a week — after housing costs and taxes, that breaks down to just $11 a day to spend on food and transportation.

Many people don’t even realize how much of a fight it was to get the minimum wage increased in New York State. This is how the Working Families Party first came to power actually. They fought to get the minimum wage increased from $5.15 to where it is now. They did this years before the wage would be increased at the federal level by the then Pelosi-led U.S. House in 2007.

The sad truth is even with all the effort that has gone into raising the minimum wage both locally and nationally, it is still not enough for someone to make a living on. Today it is still true that someone working full-time can still be living in poverty. We need a living wage in this country. If you’re interested, the Working Families Party has started something of a challenge for people to see what it’s like to live on $11 dollars a day. Personally I know I would not be able to win this challenge and I think many others will find the same thing. It’s time we join with people like councilwoman Sawant in Seattle who have fought there to get the minimum wage eventually raised to $15 an hour.

Samsung uses child labor

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I love Samsung’s phones, tablets and televisions but like Apple and other tech companies they need to stop taking advantage of people. Samsung isn’t even following its own global code of conduct with the way it treats its workforce.

Green America has launched an online action against the South Korean firm. On the organization’s action page they say:

“Workers in Samsung’s facilities in China and Korea work long hours for little pay and often do not have adequate safety training or equipment to keep themselves safe on the job.  Hundreds of former Samsung workers have become ill after working with dangerous chemicals in its plants in Korea. Most upsetting of all, children younger than 16 were recently found to be working in a Samsung facility in Dongguan, China.”

It’s not like their products are that inexpensive. We’re paying hundreds of dollars for their devices and yet they still condone worker abuse. Samsung is making a great deal of profits so its not like they cannot correct these problems.

via Green America: Economic Action for a Just Planet.

Company supplying iPhone 6 parts fires 24 union leaders

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Apple and Samsung are like two peas in an anti-labor pod.  While this post is about an Apple supplier, neither company is without guilt in the global supply chain. I could probably be naming a few other tech companies as well.

Look at what’s happening in the Philippines:

The Dutch multinational, which is reportedly supplying technology for Apple’s new iPhone 6, sacked 24 trade union leaders from the Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) on 5 May for not working on a series of public holidays.

The company (NXP) then tried to illegally pay off the 24 fired workers to make the whole story go away.

We enjoy the devices these companies make, but the truth is they come at an enormous price–not to us–but to the people who make them. Yet we in the West are in a position to make enough noise to get things changed for the better.

via Philippines: iPhone 6 supplier NXP ramps up intimidation and delaying tactics.

The Tories are trying to ban strikes in the UK

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David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s Tory-Lib coalition government are trying to require a 50 percent turnout threshold before a strike can be legal.

Recently at Tolpuddle, a site commemorating a past labor injustice, people spoke out against the Tory’s plans:

Speaking ahead of the rally, Ms O’Grady told the Star: “Back in 1834 the government used the law to send six farm workers to Australia to stop them campaigning against low pay.

“Today Conservative politicians are threatening to change the law on ballots to stop workers from taking strike action against low pay.”

Whether they be Tory or Republican it is true that both align themselves with capital at the expense of people.

via UK: Tory ban ‘will make legal strikes near-impossible,’ TUC warns.

How much of Kindle Unlimited’s collection is public domain?

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A writer over at The Awl posed a rather profound question. It’s one that I think deserves an answer.

“By the bye, I wrote to the PR contact supplied by Amazon in the subject press release, and asked how many of these six hundred thousand titles offered through Kindle Unlimited are in the public domain and therefore, already free to the public, but did not receive an answer.”

The whole concept of reselling what is already in the public domain to an unsuspecting public is dastardly. This is the sort of thing that would’ve driven Aaron Swartz insane.

via Seriously, Fuck You, “Kindle Unlimited” – The Awl.

How the BRIC nations are fighting back against Washington

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I’ve always resented the Washington Consensus and its hegemonic designs for the rest of the world. For decades they’ve used the World Bank and the IMF to keep nations in poverty and subservient to Washington’s vision. Whether that was rolling back Communism or doing the bidding of the oil companies and defense industry.

The Washington Consensus is the reason for much of the conflict we’ve been through and still face today in the last 50 years or so. Latin America was destroyed because of it. We’ve supported some pretty horrible dictators through its policies.

Now in the year 2014, the BRIC nations making up Brazil, Russia, India, and China are making moves to step out on their own and away from the orbit of the beltway.

They’ve set up their own bank to fund projects:

Barely noticed in the US press, but reported in the Economic Times, leaders of the BRICS group of emerging powers on Tuesday created a Shanghai-based development bank and a reserve fund to finance infrastructure projects and head off future economic crises. The funds are seen as counterweights to Western-led financial institutions.

The bank is going to start out with $50 billion with China contributing the largest sum of money followed next by Brazil.

The AFT and the NEA are fed up with Arne Duncan

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Both teacher’s unions are locked in a pitched battle with the corporitiziation of education crowd which features Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as its high priest. The main focus of their opposition to Duncan et al. appears to be their fixation on teaching to the test.

NEA President-elect Lily Eskelsen-Garcia is on board, too. She told her convention delegates the week before that “no commercial, mass-produced, industrial-strength standardized factory test should ever be used as the determining factor for any student or adult.” Duncan is an outspoken backer of using test results to rate, hire and fire teachers.

When you think with a corporate mentality testing provides an easy metric. But it doesn’t tell you how well students are really doing, especially if you’re teaching to the test.