Monday, December 18, 2017

The end of net neutrality and the fight to defend the free internet – SEP Newsletter

From WSWS:

As 2017 comes to a close, the political crisis within the United States and internationally is entering a new stage: Ferocious conflicts within the ruling class, talk of nuclear war against North Korea, unprecedented levels of social inequality, moves to pass a tax plan that will hand out billions to the corporate and financial elite.

Under these conditions, the ruling classes around the world are seeking to block workers from accessing a socialist perspective. Google, working closely with the intelligence agencies and the Democratic Party, has led the way through its campaign of internet censorship, which has particularly targeted the WSWS. This is only the beginning.

Donating to the WSWS has never been more important. We need your help to fight back. There is a great deal that we must do. The fight against Internet censorship requires resources. We must have more meetings. We must send reporters to more areas. We must invest in new technologies.
Support for socialism is growing all over the world. We see it every day. But the WSWS needs your aid to carry forward the fight.
This week, the WSWS launched its New Year Fund Appeal. Please read the appeal and make a large donation to the WSWS today.

Joseph Kishore
SEP National Secretary
Support the World Socialist Web Site New Year Fund!
We are calling on all our readers to make a large donation to develop and expand the work of the WSWS in the new year. Donate! »

The end of net neutrality and the fight to defend the free internet

By Andre Damon
The US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to overturn rules, known as net neutrality, that required internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all data on the internet the same and prohibited them from limiting or blocking users’ access to web sites and services.
The ruling heralds a new age in internet communications, where giant internet and technology monopolies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast regulate what information people have access to.
It is difficult to overstate the momentous implications of the ruling. It allows a small cabal of home internet service providers and mobile data carriers to operate a blacklist of oppositional web sites and services, effectively blocking access to them for nearly all Americans. Read more »
World’s richest one percent capture twice as much income growth as the bottom half
By Niles Niemuth
The inaugural World Inequality Report published on Thursday by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, Facundo Alvaredo and Lucas Chancel documents the rise in global income and wealth inequality since 1980.
The report covers up to 2016, leaving out the last year, in which the stock market has soared on the expectation that the US will enact massive tax cuts, providing yet another windfall for the rich.
The report found that between 1980 and 2016 the world’s richest one percent captured twice the income growth as the bottom half of the world’s population, contributing to a significant rise in global inequality. Read more »
Lessons of the Alabama election
By Patrick Martin
Media pundits and Democratic Party leaders are hailing the outcome of the special election in Alabama to fill a seat in the US Senate—with Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeating the ultra-right Republican Roy Moore—as a political “miracle.”
The spreading of editorial rose petals over the Alabama result should fool no one. A right-wing Democrat, operating with a nearly 10-1 financial advantage, has eked out a victory over a fascistic candidate, not by confronting and opposing Moore’s ultra-right pronouncements, let alone offering an alternative to defend working people. Instead, Jones owes his razor-thin margin to the unleashing over the past month of a barrage of allegations of sexual misconduct by Moore.
Following the defeat of Moore, the Democrats are doubling down on their strategy of opposing Trump based on anti-Russia hysteria and allegations of sexual misconduct, aimed primarily at mobilizing sections of the upper middle class. They are seeking to divert and suppress working class opposition to the Trump administration behind a politics that is compatible with the aims of the financial aristocracy and the military-intelligence apparatus. Read more »

On-the-spot report

Over a million in Puerto Rico living without the necessities of modern life

“The island has been turned upside down since the storm”

By Genevieve Leigh and Zac Corrigan
Nearly three months since Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island of Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm, hundreds of thousands of workers and youth continue to live without the basic neccessities of modern life. Over a million of the island’s estimated 3.4 million residents are still without electricity and running water. At least 700 schools remain closed with thousands of students either redirected to other schools or forced to stay home. Many of the rural areas in the center of the island have yet to be reached and many roads still lay in disrepair.
The storm has laid bare the horrific conditions under which the working class in Puerto Rico has been living for decades. Like working people on the mainland of the United States, the island’s residents are subjected to dangerously poor infrastructure, lack of healthcare, unemployment, poverty, cuts to education and social services while the wealth of a handful of billionaires grows at a staggering rate. The situation for the working class in Puerto Rico is magnified by the island’s “commonwealth” status and the legacy of colonial oppression by the US.
A reporting team from the World Socialist Web Site is currently traveling throughout the island to document the ongoing crisis, the lack of aid from the Trump administration and local authorities, and the corporate and government efforts to exploit the desperate situation to accelerate the looting of public assets.
Read more »
Washington’s secret wars
By Bill Van Auken
The Trump White House Monday issued a so-called “War Powers” letter addressed to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the president pro tempore of the Senate, Orin Hatch, to “keep the Congress informed about deployments of United States Armed Forces equipped for combat.”
In 1973, against the backdrop of the debacle of the Vietnam War, the US Congress, overriding the veto of then-President Richard Nixon, passed the War Powers Act. The aim of the legislation was to prevent future presidents from waging undeclared and open-ended wars with little or no accountability to Congress, which under the US Constitution has the exclusive power to declare war.
It gave the president the right to use military force at his discretion for up to 60 days—itself a huge concession of power to the executive branch—but required withdrawal after a total of 90 days if Congress failed to vote its approval of military action.
While still on the books, the War Powers Act has long ago been turned into a dead letter by the quarter century of US wars of aggression that have followed the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union, all waged without a declaration of war by Congress. Read more »
Ron Chernow’s Grant: An able and compelling new biography
By Andre Damon
Ron Chernow’s new biography of Ulysses S. Grant is an account and analysis of the life of the Civil War general, two-time US president and memoirist.
Chernow’s task in writing Grant’s biography was complicated. Not only did his life span hairpin turns in American social and political history, but Grant was, and continues to be, one of the most unfairly calumniated individuals in American politics.
To make things more difficult, Grant was a unique personality: A general who hated the sight of blood, an abstemious alcoholic, an eloquent writer famous for his silence, a morally upright man who spent his last decades surrounded by corruption.
It is a testament to the success of Chernow’s book that out of this mass of political, historical and personal complexities an integral picture of Grant and his age emerges. Chernow’s biography serves as a complement to Grant’s memoirs, helping to provide political and personal context to Grant’s firsthand account of the Civil War. Read more »
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