Category Archives: Class

Headline of the day: They’re coming for your job

From the Mainichi Shimbun:

Insurance firm to replace human workers with AI system

  • Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co. is planning to slash nearly 30 percent of its payment assessment department’s human staff after it introduces an artificial intelligence (AI) system in January 2017 to improve operating efficiency.
  • While concrete examples of AI systems making human workers redundant are currently rare, observers have pointed out that such cases are likely to increase.
  • The insurance firm will introduce an AI system based on IBM Japan Ltd.’s Watson, which according to IBM is a “cognitive technology that can think like a human,” and “can analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video.” The Watson-based system will be tasked with reading medical certificates written by doctors and other documents to collect information necessary for making payouts, such as medical histories, length of hospital stays, and surgical procedure names.
  • In addition to determining payment amounts, the system will also be able to check customers’ cases against their insurance contracts to find any special coverage clauses —a measure expected to prevent payment oversights. The type of payments the AI is expected to oversee at Fukoku Mutual totaled some 132,000 cases in fiscal 2015.

The Wall Street Journal refuses to say Trump lies

Anyone with half a brain would have to admit that His Puerility is a compulsive liar, telling the public whatever he thought they wanted to hear to win the nomination and then the White House.

Hell, the man even lies about the length of his fingers, even though the proof of his falsehood is cast in bronze.

But the Wall Street Journal, the paper that represents the Pussygrabber’s class interests more than any other, refuses to use the L-word when reporting on his profigately prodigious prevaricating.

From teleSUR English:

The Wall Street Journal would not call a lie a lie if it was told by President-elect Donald Trump over concerns of “objectivity,” the paper’s editor-in-chief told Meet the Press on Sunday.

“I’d be careful about using the word, ‘lie,’” said Gerard Baker, editor-in-chief of the conservative paper. “‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”

Instead of calling the lie by what it is, he would print the facts next to Trump’s statement and let readers decide for themselves which is the truth.

“I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective,” he said.

He also orders his staff to respond similarly on social media, despite “questionable” or “challengeable” comments from Trump. But he added that there should be “a little less deference, a little less insider behavior” by the media on politicians.

The Journal‘s refusal to call a spade a spade should come as no surprise, given that it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same loathsome reptile who gave us Fox News.

Quote of the day: On Democratic Party elitism

From historian Michael Phillips, writing for Jacobin:

Trump’s rise, however, has unleashed a cascade of contempt for white working-class voters. In the aftermath of the election, Kali Holloway, a senior writer at AlterNet, treated racism as a disease pandemic among the white proletariat, asking in one column that people “Stop asking me to empathize with the white working class.”

Writers like Holloway spent 2016 depicting Trump’s electoral successes as symptoms of white working-class dysfunction, ignoring that Trump voters earned a higher-than-average median income (about $70,000), that Trump won a plurality of voters earning $100,000 and above, and that Trump carried the votes of more white college graduates than Hillary Clinton.

Demonizing the white working class as disproportionately prone to white supremacist thinking serves a reactionary political agenda. It delegitimizes the economic pain suffered by the white working class in an age of mounting debt, downward mobility, decreasing life expectancy, and shrinking opportunity. (“Be happy for coal miners losing their health insurance. They’re getting exactly what they voted for,” Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas proclaimed in one recent post.) It makes it easier to dismiss the grievances of white workers as racial backlash, mere tribal scapegoating.

Too many imagine that the occupants of what Clinton called “a basket of deplorables” toil in vanishing Rust Belt factories, auto plants, or Christ-haunted and gun-toting farming communities.

Mexican gasoline price hike spurs anger, protests

Under neoliberal President Enrique Peña Nieto, just as north of the border, the rich have been getting richer, and once public assets have been auctioned off to the highest corporate bidders.

But now the consequences of one such sell-off of the commons has resulted in an outbreak of rage across the country.

And even one of Mexico’s drug cartels is threatening on the side of the public, threatening a wave of arsons.

From teleSUR English:

The people of Mexico are entering the New Year in a state of rage and anxiety, with protests planned for Sunday to strongly denounce the government’s huge hike in gasoline prices. The strong rise in prices has been called the “gasolinazo” in Spanish, which roughly translates to “gasoline-punch.”

Unpopular President Enrique Pena Nieto has promised that fuel prices will fall thanks to his neoliberal 2014 energy reforms, which dismantled the seven-decade-old national ownership of petroleum resources by state-owned firm Pemex.

The government plans to end subsidies and let the market dictate prices in March, but the already-strained Mexican people will feel the pinch at the pump before they start falling.

The finance ministry announced Tuesday that the price of gasoline would increase by as much as 20.1 percent to 88 cents per liter on Jan. 1, while diesel would rise by 16.5 percent to 83 cents.

The price ceiling will be adjusted daily starting Feb. 18, before letting supply and demand determine them in March.

Around 100 protestors blocked a service station in the Pacific Coast resort of Acapulco on Friday, while on Saturday an assembly of popular organizations in Chihuahua state’s capital pledged to block all commercial transportation from entering or exiting the city as a means toward paralyzing the economy and pressuring the federal government to reverse the hikes. The assembly of people’s organizations also announced their intention to block major highways and railways in response to what they see as a neoliberal looting of Mexico and handover of its resources to private capital, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, Jalisco authorities are investigating reports that the country’s powerful Jalisco New Generation cartel has entered the fray, threatening to torch gas stations in response to the price hikes.

“They are speculating in order to obtain million dollar profits from the majority of the people who don’t make even a minimum wage … we have already realized that the (shortage) of fuel is because dealers don’t want to sell fuel unless they can do so at a profit, all of our people are now ready to start the mission,” the cartel stated in a WhatsApp message circulating in Jalisco.

A protest is planned in the capital on Sunday while Mexicans were urged on social media to block service stations on Monday. People were also encouraged to boycott fuel for three days.

Headline of the day: A really, really good law

The creation of email spawned a number of consequences.

But for millions of us, email created a way for bosses to intrude in our lives at any time or place.

We suspect the reason is that while phone calls are direct human contact, complete with vocal tones and inflections signalling anger and disgust at intrusions into our private lives, emails are simply blips dispatched into an impersonal mediasphere, free of all that human messiness.

And for all of us who’ve been badgered on nights, weekends, holidays, one country has passed a law giving workers the right to be emauil free off the job.

Vive la France!

From BBC News:

French workers get ‘right to disconnect’ from emails out of hours

  • France employees are getting the legal right to avoid work emails outside working hours.
  • The new law, which has been dubbed the “right to disconnect”, comes into force on 1 January.
  • Companies with more than 50 workers will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails.

O’Reilly rants: Electoral college saves the pales!

Never was Fox News’s snide sniper so transparent as when he came out full-white privilege during a Tuesday evening rant in which he declared democracy is good, right up until it endangers white privilege.

In other words, he laid his racist cards on the table, and he’s holding a full house.

Here’s the money shot. It’s both amazing and frightening:

Chart of the day: Renters lose financial ground

As home ownership rates fall, mortgage interest rates rise, and the housing bubble reinflates, America’s growing numbers of renters are falling behind, with all but the oldest and the wealthiest [often the same folks] losing financial ground.

From a new report on housing and household finances from the Pew Research Center: