There are no breaking news at the moment

Capitalism produces much news meaningful to understand the system.

Minimum wage

John Bel Edwards, Governor of Louisiana, US, says:

“We need to raise the minimum wage.”

John Bel Edwards writes in a mail widely served:

“As Governor of Louisiana, I’ve fought to raise our minimum wage.

“Our current rate of $7.25 an hour forces families to face impossible scenarios every single day.”

The governor raises a few facts undeniable in life of wage worker:

“Pay rent or put food on the table?

“Buy school supplies or keep the lights on?

“Pay the phone bill or make the car payment?”

The governor makes the comment:

“No family working full time should EVER have to make those kinds of decisions. It’s heartbreaking.”

The politician suggests:

“This is the right thing to do. It’s the economic thing to do. It’s the American thing to do.

“But change will only happen if we ALL band together and create a movement IMPOSSIBLE to ignore.”

The governor is collecting signatures for a petition on the issue: raise minimum wage. He writes: “I need 10,000 Democrats who agree with me to sign on before midnight and demand we finally pay hardworking Americans what they deserve.”

The Louisiana governor writes:

“10,000 signatures needed on my petition: Demand Governors join me nationwide and call to raise our minimum wage.

With this call, the Governor sends mails to many citizens.

Radio.com quoted Edward: “A modest but meaningful increase to $8.50 over a couple of years would be the right thing to do.”

Earlier attempts to raise the wage faced resistance from groups claiming the raise would increase the costs of running a business. (“Minimum wage hike for Louisiana workers?”, January 01, 2019, also, Watchdog.org, “Louisiana governor calls for minimum wage increase, licensure reform in session address”, March 13, 2018)

Many questions may haunt any brain:

How minimum wage (MW) is determined?

Why MW be raised?

Is it impossible to raise MW?

Why is it impossible or so difficult?

Why a Governor is making the effort?

Is there any conflict of interest between rising of MW and keeping it at its present level?

Does anyone benefit from raising MW?

Shall rising of MW hurt anyone?

What’s the opposite of MW?

Is it profit?

Is similar petition required to increase profit?

Why there’s no need to make such petition to increase profit?

There are so many questions regarding the issue – MW. The questions concern economy and politics. Questions in the area of politics are connected to political parties, factions within the parties, political relations, unions and union leaders/bosses, voters, election.

Mega-merger

Friends of the Earth, an NGO, informs:

“Disastrous news: Trump’s Department of Justice has officially approved the toxic Bayer-Monsanto mega-merger.

“We’ve been speaking out relentlessly against this deal because combining these two chemical giants into one pesticide-producing mega-corporation is bad news for EVERYONE. Bayer-Monsanto will have unprecedented power and control of our food system, driving up prices, selling more of its dangerous pesticides and limiting our options. And we could have even MORE crops soaked in pesticides that kill bees and butterflies, contaminating our environment and undermining our entire food system.”

So, it appears:

There’s connection between merger, mega-corporation, food, power to control food system, price, pesticide, bees and butterflies, environment, contamination, and law. This makes food and politics connected. Politics is not free from power-equation or power relation.

What role can an ordinary person on street or a low-wage earner, a consumer, play in the face of such complex connection? What can an ordinary consumer do when the connection turns out powerful, and similar consumers, many, millions, are unconnected and unaware? The questions, like the connection, are complex.

Throwaway packaging

Green Peace (GP) informs:

Can you believe that the corporation — the world’s largest food company — has built its entire business model on throwaway packaging? With the words “the world’s largest food company”, GP meant Nestlé.

GP informs:

“98% of Nestlé’s products are sold in single-use packaging.”

So, it urges consumers:

“We need Nestlé to make big changes this year and that means we need to crank up the pressure before the corporation’s annual shareholder meeting in two weeks.”

The organization seeks help:

“Will you help recruit 5 friends to demand Nestlé make real commitments to protect our oceans and communities by phasing out single-use plastic packaging? We need hundreds of thousands of signatures before April 11 to make Nestlé feel the heat.”

GP suggests:

“Email this message to five friends and ask them to click on this link to sign the petition: http://bit.ly/2utk6Zh

Click here to share the petition on Facebook.

GP says:

“There is no time to lose. Have you heard that every minute a truckload of plastic enters the oceans? Corporations — starting with Nestlé — must reverse their tide of plastic pollution or even more communities, whales, sea turtles and birds will suffer.”

For life on the earth, oceans are essential. Until today, science has not succeeded in discovering any alternative to the oceans. Shall human on this planet allow a number of companies to endanger life by polluting the oceans? What’s the problem if the companies stop polluting the oceans? What’s the “mystery” driving the non-action or ceasing actions that pollute the oceans?

GP presents good news:

“Some of the biggest food service and supermarket companies are stepping away from plastics and that will put pressure on corporations like Nestlé.”

Further good news is there:

“Nestlé is already feeling the heat. Because millions of people like you have already spoken out, Nestlé has finally acknowledged that recycling alone won’t solve the plastic pollution crisis.”

Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA, writes:

“I know people-power can force Nestlé to go from pollution to solutions. […]

“Now it’s up to [us] to make sure Nestlé goes beyond greenwashing and makes real commitments to phase out single-use plastic. It knows its reputation is at stake.”

It’s not a lone effort. A global movement is being built up, according to Annie. “Millions of people, and dozens of organizations, from every continent are poised to take creative action calling out Nestlé. That is a force that cannot be ignored!”

So, the Executive Director, Greenpeace USA reminds:

“But for your voice to have the biggest impact.”

Annie urges:

I need you to spread the word right now before Nestlé’s Annual General Meeting for shareholders on April 11.”

The activist feels: “This is its most important day of the year, and our biggest chance to expose its massive plastic pollution.”

GP is collecting signatures on a petition on the issue.

GP mentions the possibility:

“By taking action today, [we] will help change history. Nestlé is such a big corporation that commitments to phasing out single-use plastic will shift the entire industry.

“You can make Nestlé — and other mega-corporations — see that breaking free from plastic isn’t a passing trend, but a movement that won’t stop until we have a circular economy based on reuse, instead of waste.”

So, GP feels: These positive developments won’t happen unless consumers spread the word right now.

Therefore, GP says:

“Nestlé’s Annual General Meeting for shareholders is April 11. This is the perfect time to crank up the pressure on Nestlé. Forward this message and share the petition on Facebook to demand to demand Nestlé immediately move toward phasing out single-use plastics and embracing systems of refill and reuse.

The same questions:

What drives a company to move in the way that harms life?

Why an appeal of so many consumers is needed to change the harmful course of the company?

Was there any such appeal to encourage the company to take the harmful course?

Is the company ocean-, life-blind?

Is the company profit-blind?

Has the company insisted with any measure that curtailed its profit?

Consumers know answers to the questions.

First ever all-female spacewalk: not now

Anne McClain of NASA was scheduled to make history as part of the first ever all-female team to make journey out into space.

But Anne McClain, the astronaut, had to pull out of the planned first ever all-female spacewalk.

The historic moment was cancelled because there weren’t enough spacesuits available to fit the two women, and so Anne McClain had to be replaced by fellow International Space Station inhabitant Nick Hague, a man.

People around the world suggested that NASA should be able to make another spacesuit.

To date, spacewalks have all been entirely male-led or a mix of male and females, but never all-female.

Therefore, the historic moment for the people on the world was lost for now.

NASA offered a detail explanation with issues of life aboard the ISS, the way human body changes in space, training on ground, spacesuit size, the number of ready-to-use and backup space suits available on the ISS.

There are limitations in many areas. Limitations are overcome over time. Here, in this case, blame shall not bring benefit. But this is happening in an economy that spends a lot of money to find out appropriate size and shape of garments for different parts of body, for finding out color and chemical to be put on human body simply to market a particular color or chemical so that profit can be increased. Many consumers know information on that amount of money spent.

A governor warns Trump: I’ll punch in the mouth

Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from the hit of Hurricane Maria. The hit was in 2017.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló was soft-pedaling his criticism of US President Trump for months.

Therefore, Rosselló voiced his frustration with the White House in a recent interview with CNN.

“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló said when asked about a tense meeting between members of the Trump administration and Puerto Rican officials. “It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with [lack of] courage,” said the governor. (also, CBS News, “Puerto Rico governor on Trump: ‘If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth’”, March 28, 2019)

The meeting was requested after reports that Trump was considering halting further disaster relief to the cyclone-devastated US territory.

In an earlier meeting with Senate Republicans, Trump said the amount of aid Puerto Rico had so far received “is way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten,” according to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who attended the meeting.

Though it has already slashed benefits, Puerto Rico faces a $600 million shortfall to administer food stamps. So far, the US government has spent more than $6 billion on disaster relief to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which was blamed for killing more than 3,000 people. In June, Texas received $5 billion in federal aid for housing and infrastructure repairs stemming from Hurricane Harvey, which left 103 people dead.

Rosselló told CNN: “He treats us as second-class citizens, that’s for sure. And my consideration is I just want the opportunity to explain to him why the data and information he’s getting is wrong. I don’t think getting into a kicking and screaming match with the president does any good. I don’t think anyone can beat the president in a kicking and screaming match. What I am aiming to do is make sure reason prevails, that empathy prevails, that equality prevails and that we can have a discussion.”

Trump administration’s response to Maria is criticized as inadequate. To many, the concerned authority is reluctant to offer aid to Puerto Rico.

Do the mainstream media (MSM) regularly tell these facts?

What’s the number of reports/analysis on two current issues – Puerto Rico’s pain and the “villainous” Venezuela – the MSM have carried over the last few months? Shouldn’t there be a comparison, simply in terms of number, between the two? Some other comparison, in qualitative terms, will be much difficult for the MSM to swallow. That comparison will tear away the MSM’s mask of “objectivity”, “neutrality”, “for people”. In this economy, it’s claimed, there’s the “free” flow of information, which anyone “can” access. But, what can a reader do if the info is blacked out, and info-channel is actually gagged?

Is money so scarce to help Puerto Rico? But is not there money for intervention in other lands, where people are trying to plan their political and economic future without external interference? Cuba and Venezuela are two examples of unceasing external interference.

Passengers stranded after flights abruptly shut down

Low-budget, Icelandic carrier WOW Air abruptly shut down, leaving its ticket-holders stranded.

Passengers were waiting for their flights and continuing to book future trips. The airline sent out a travel alert: “all flights have been postponed” due to the finalizing of equity raise with investors.

Shortly after, WOW made its final announcement: WOW has ceased operations. Then, customers were told: “All flights have been canceled.”

An estimated 5,000 passengers in North American and European cities found themselves stranded with little guidance from WOW Air on ways to move forward. Hundreds of thousands more people with future bookings were also seriously out of pocket.

Lack of communication; passengers learned about the airline’s abrupt shutdown via social media instead of from the airline.

WOW suggested would-be passengers to contact their credit card companies for status updates on refunds and to check available flights with other airlines.

The passengers began airing their grievances on Twitter.

Crypto Gumb wrote: “flight WW104 from […] was cancelled after a 4 hour delay and they gave us a $12 voucher. Pandemonium at the gate. I need a refund + new earliest flight ASAP.”

Mike Wendling wrote: “20 min to board, […] cancels the flight. But then sends an email that it’s just delayed until 9pm. Oh but the crew left because it was cancelled. Updates coming from the guy in the middle of this crowd.”

Barrai Omuireagain wrote: “wow air cancels flight to Dublin from Detroit at the last minute, looks like the company has gone bust. Any chance you can accommodate a family of four on […] out of Chicago or Tornado tomorrow the 28th. You would make this little girl Maeve very happy to see her cousins

Aisling O’Sullivan wrote: “Why won’t you give some clear answers? You are grounding flights left right and centre and keeping our flight as ‘delayed’? For 13 hours and 15 minutes?? Chances of it actually taking off at midnight?”

Rory Boland wrote: “Despite wowair cancelling all flights today, with an announcement on its future due at 9am. Incredibly it’s still selling tickets on some routes, and appears on flight booking sites. If it can’t currently afford to fly its planes it shouldn’t be flogging tickets to passengers.”

Rory Boland again wrote: “A family of four travelling over the bank holiday could have paid wowair over a thousand pounds this morning to book flights the airline knew would never take off (or refund). It went out of business just two hours later. Complete and utter irresponsibility.”

Heal me wrote: “Hey wow air! my girlfriend is gonna miss her grandfathers funeral because of you this, i have nothing but deep hate and disrespect for this company”

DeeBee wrote: “My mom and friend are now stranded in Iceland due to wowair ceasing operations. They were due to fly on Saturday morning. Can you help them get home? Rescue Fare back to Ontario available?”

Denise E. wrote: “My wowair flight from BWI tonight is delayed almost 4h…I feel terrible for the family here with cranky kids […]”

The incident was a devastating blow to around 1,000 staff at the airline. The firm had already revealed plans to cut 111 jobs and cut its fleet size to 11 planes to reduce costs.

The company had been under pressure from creditors, but had said only that morning it was in the final stages of completing an equity fundraising with a group of investors.

WOW had been in talks with rival Icelandair, but the discussions appear to have broken down.

Indigo Partners, a private equity fund, also cancelled a proposed investment last week.

WOW last year announced its ambition: expand into India, the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, through low-cost long-haul flights between India and North America.

WOW’s founder and CEO Skuli Mogensen won Marketing Man of the Year in Iceland in 2017 and a national Business Man of the Year award in 2011 and 2016. By 2018, WOW was carrying 3.5 million passengers a year. WOW closed down after Mogensen failed to secure a rescue for the heavily indebted airline.

What went wrong with WOW?

A fountain of profit comes to life through a cutthroat competition is the answer to the question. And, the passengers in uncertain position are output of a dreadful contempt that worships profit only.

Facebook sued by Trump administration for alleged “discriminatory” ad practices

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook (Fb) over alleged discriminatory advertising practices, adding to scrutiny over online activity facilitated by one of the world’s largest social media platforms.

The agency informed in a statement that it was charging Facebook with “encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination through the company’s advertising platform” in violation of the Fair Housing Act. This prohibits prejudicial treatment in housing and related services such as online advertisements based on race, color, religion, and other identifying factors.

According to the statement, Facebook violated the act by “allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination.”

Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in the statement. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

According to HUD’s charge, “Facebook enabled advertisers to exclude people whom Facebook classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility; interested in Hispanic culture; or a wide variety of other interests that closely align with the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes.”

“While we were eager to find a solution, HUD insisted on access to sensitive information – like user data – without adequate safeguards. We’re disappointed by today’s developments, but we’ll continue working with civil rights experts on these issues,” the company said in a statement.

The company recently reached agreements with institutions on changes removing age, gender and zip code-related information targeting from housing, credit and employment ads. Late last August, Facebook removed thousands of targeting options to limit advertisers from excluding audiences based on certain demographic factors.

Therefore, it’s found:

There’s surveillance; and there’s no privacy. And, all involved in the case are concerned with self-interest. In addition, all these parties, basically, bear the same interest. In that case, why such a quarrel? No quarrel is done without reason. Moreover, the parties involved are not petty, the issues related are not minor; therefore, the quarrel isn’t petty.

And, this life without privacy, this life with constant surveillance is “freedom”, capitalist freedom, is “liberty”, capitalist liberty.

Doesn’t the situation relating to Facebook and the US federal department signify a few more facts: who’s securing whose interest?

Hustlers

News on J Lo beams: Jennifer Lopez, songstress and actress, is starring in Hustlers, a modern day Robin Hood story. A group of revenge-seeking strippers fights the wealthy by taking money from the filthy few. The group hustles their male Wall Street-clients.

Hustlers is based on a New York magazine article – “The Hustlers at Scores” (December 28, 2015) – by Jessica Pressler. Jessica concludes her article by quoting a character she focused on: “Because the want of wanting is what’s killing me.” It’s that original force that drives capitalism – the want of wanting; and, the force, evil in essence, kills all – capitalism, and all it targets.

The article is a part of a study on capitalism.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.

Comments are closed.