What's Left 2016-09-11 Volume 73

Digital Democracy is not easy, but UK Labour under Corbyn has a plan; Edward Snowden Financial Times Interview; Decline in union membership means lower wages for everyone ; Arrest warrant issued for Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! radio show; Prisoners across the US are on strike against forced labour; LEFT NOISE

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Digital Democracy is not easy, but UK Labour under Corbyn has a plan

Access to the internet has become essential for individuals to engage fully in society. The internet is now necessary for accessing citizenship, public and tax services, to applying for jobs, to news, travel and connection with family and friends.

Unfortunately, access is still not deemed a right in advanced economies. Digital democracy campaigners around the world have identified the lack of public options for internet as a driver of high costs from mostly private monopoly communications providers. Even though access to the internet is approaching the importance of access to water, electricity and the old telephone system, it is not regulated as a utility. Most of the expansion of these large systems happened at a time under either public ownership or public subsidy.

The savings that result from cheap public borrowing (versus private borrowing) makes a large difference in the ability to expand investment enough to reach universal access. Infrastructure investment of this size is one of the easiest arguments for public ownership, especially when most rural areas are currently serviced by a private monopoly charging high rates for low-quality service.

In the UK, discussions of the failures of the 30+ year project of privatization of rail, transit, water and communications has pushed renationalization (or remunicipalization) back in popular discussion. The new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn has even toyed with the idea of renationalization (or at least heavily regulating) the backbone services for the internet. Corbyn has even released a manifesto outlining what they would like to see in terms of democratizing access to the digital services. This includes access, libraries, supporting cooperatives providing digital services, digitization of public and identification services, and a charter of digital rights.

Digital Democracy Manifesto (scroll to the end for the full-text PDF)

No such thing as free data

Access to high speed Internet services should be a right for everyone in Canada | Citizens’ Press



Edward Snowden Financial Times Interview

In anticipation of the new Snowden Movie, Lunch with FT spoke with NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden this week. It is worth revisiting the impact and real story of the Snowden leaks before seeing the movie.

Citizenfour: documentary on the Snowden Leaks

Whistleblowing Is Not Just Leaking, it’s an Act of Political Resistance

Snowden Archive

TIFF 2016: Oliver Stone says Barack Obama should pardon Edward Snowden

Snowden FT Interview


Decline in union membership means lower wages for everyone

A new study from the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute shows that, as the number of people in private-sector unions drop, so do wages for non-union workers. Demonstrating the important role unions play in improving working conditions for members and for those in non-unionized workplaces, the report found that if US union membership had not declined as it has since 1979, non-unionized workers would be earning thousands of dollars more a year today.

Why The Decline Of Unions Has Lowered Pay For All Workers

Arrest warrant issued for Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! radio show

In a blatant example of “unacceptable violation of freedom of the press” in the US, journalist Amy Goodman has been charged with criminal trespass. Goodman, well known on the left as a dedicated journalist, was reporting on the violent repression of an indigenous community’s protest against a pipeline. The Dakota Pipeline is backed by the largest players in finance. The indigenous protests are the first to bring this particular pipeline into the media and the resulting response from these vested interests has been extreme.

Arrest Warrant Issued for Amy Goodman in North Dakota After Covering Pipeline Protest

Who Is Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline? Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo

Prisoners across the US are on strike against forced labour

In what has been called the largest prison strike in US history, inmates are engaging in a massive protest strike against their forced labour. The US has more prisoners per capita than any country in the world except the Seychelles. Maintaining the prison population costs the US over $75B a year. Also, unlike most countries around the world, prisoners are forced into work and, in many states, the profits from this forced labour goes to the for-profit prisons.

US prisoners are going on strike to protest a massive forced labor system

United States incarceration rate


1. Remembering Victor Jara this September 11th

Check out the Left Noise Victor Jara edition from a few weeks ago.

2. Zack de la Rocha, ‘Digging for Windows’

The first solo song in a decade from the Zack de la Rocha, the rapper who fronted Rage Against the Machine.

3. MIA’s new album is out!

M.I.A.’s Album ‘AIM’ Juggles Social Consciousness and Self-Assurance

Listen to most of the new album here

4. When Nirvana and Pearl Jam Stood up for Feminism

Matthew Reyes on Medium

5. Prophets of Rage have just released an EP “The Party’s Over”

Check out their FULL live show and other great videos.

6. Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery

Take a knee!