Category Archives: Media

Chart of the day: Internet access in Europe

From Statistics Iceland:


Map of the day: Tracking a weighty condition

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From Gallup, which reports:

Of the 18 states with obesity rates of at least 30.0%, all but one are located in the South or Midwest. Meanwhile, all 11 states with obesity rates below 25.0% are located in the Northeast or West.

Since 2008, the obesity rate for the Midwest has increased by 3.2 percentage points, more than any other region. The South followed closely behind, with a 2.9-point increase. The Northeast and West have seen smaller, but still statistically significant, increases of 2.0 and 1.8 points, respectively.

Mexican anti-meme law author gets memed, duh!

Use a meme, go to prison.

That’s the penalty inscribed in a bill authored by a Mexican national legislator to criminalize unflattering mimesis.

From teleSUR English:

A Mexican lawmaker for the ruling PRI party will present a bill before her state’s congress to criminalize the creation and dissemination of memes on social networks.

Martha Orta Rodriguez suggests a penalty of up to four years in prison and a fine of nearly US$2,000 for those responsible for creating these often humorous and satirical images on the Web.

Orta said she is trying to prevent “harmful” and “humiliating” images from being circulated on the Internet, but unsurprisingly her proposal was not received well online.

A viral campaign of memes has flooded the web in Mexico with all kind of jokes and comments making fun of the lawmaker’s plans to criminalize them.


A quick visit to Twitter’s #LadyMeme yielded a bountiful harvest, including these examples, starting with the Catholic school girl version:

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Then there’s the Star Wars treatment:

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And another cinematic sendup:

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Yet another. . .

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Next, the surreal treatment, no words needed:

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And, finally, no comparison offered:

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Well, what else could she expect?

Quote of the day: A plea from the Panama leaker

An excerpt from an extended manifesto by “John Doe,” the source of the Panama Leaks, published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

I have watched as one after another, whistleblowers and activists in the United States and Europe have had their lives destroyed by the circumstances they find themselves in after shining a light on obvious wrongdoing. Edward Snowden is stranded in Moscow, exiled due to the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute him under the Espionage Act. For his revelations about the NSA, he deserves a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment. Bradley Birkenfeld was awarded millions for his information concerning Swiss bank UBS—and was still given a prison sentence by the Justice Department. Antoine Deltour is presently on trial for providing journalists with information about how Luxembourg granted secret “sweetheart” tax deals to multi-national corporations, effectively stealing billions in tax revenues from its neighbour countries. And there are plenty more examples.

Legitimate whistleblowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution, full stop. Until governments codify legal protections for whistleblowers into law, enforcement agencies will simply have to depend on their own resources or on-going global media coverage for documents.

In the meantime, I call on the European Commission, the British Parliament, the United States Congress, and all nations to take swift action not only to protect whistleblowers, but to put an end to the global abuse of corporate registers. In the European Union, every member state’s corporate register should be freely accessible, with detailed data plainly available on ultimate beneficial owners. The United Kingdom can be proud of its domestic initiatives thus far, but it still has a vital role to play by ending financial secrecy on its various island territories, which are unquestionably the cornerstone of institutional corruption worldwide. And the United States can clearly no longer trust its fifty states to make sound decisions about their own corporate data. It is long past time for Congress to step in and force transparency by setting standards for disclosure and public access.

And while it’s one thing to extol the virtues of government transparency at summits and in sound bites, it’s quite another to actually implement it. It is an open secret that in the United States, elected representatives spend the majority of their time fundraising. Tax evasion cannot possibly be fixed while elected officials are pleading for money from the very elites who have the strongest incentives to avoid taxes relative to any other segment of the population. These unsavoury political practices have come full circle and they are irreconcilable. Reform of America’s broken campaign finance system cannot wait.

The full, extensive, and growing collection of Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s Panama Leaks stories in English is posted here.

Big Agra claims an editorial cartoonist’s job

The United States has a government run of, by, and for the interest of corporations and banksters, and mainstream media held so deeply in their thrall that freedom of the press has become irrelevant.

And should any hapless journalist, in this case an editorial cartoonist, question that hegemony, the outcome is preordained.

From US Uncut:

Rick Friday, an editorial cartoonist who worked at a local Iowa newspaper for 21 years, has been fired for a cartoon that criticized Monsanto and other major figures in Big Agriculture.

The cartoon in question appeared in Farm News on April 29 showed two farmers talking to one another. The farmer on the left says, “I wish there was more profit in farming.” The farmer on the right responds, “There is. In year 2015 the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont, Pioneer, and John Deere combined made more than 2,129 Iowa farmers.”

However, the following day, Friday received an email from his supervisor at Farm News, informing him that he would be fired, citing he was “instructed” by a superior to not accept another cartoon from Friday. The supervisor told Friday that “in the eyes of some, Big Ag cannot be criticized or poked fun at.”

In an interview with KCCI, Friday stood by the cartoons and attributed his firing to corporate censorship. “When it comes to altering someone’s opinion or someone’s voice for the purpose of wealth, I have a problem with that,” Friday told KCCI. “It’s our constitutional right to free speech and our constitutional right to free press.”

Here’s the cartoon in question:

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Hey, what’s a little thing like the First Amendment, or the massive corporate burdens inflicted on small farmers, when it comes the necessity of ensuring maximal corporate profits, right?

Quote of the day: Dr. Seuss, a modern prophet

From author Lydia Millet in a short but powerful essay for the Atlantic Wire on why she believes Dr. Seuss’s brilliant parable The Lorax [the children’s book, not the treacly film version] is a seminal work of literature extremely relevant for our times with its warning of the dangers of rampant human greed:

Isn’t that a subject worthy of novels? Shouldn’t the cascades of extinction and rapid planetary warming register in our literature? And yet, despite the fact that most Americans support the work of saving species from winking out, and increasingly support strong action to curb climate change, the highly rational push for the preservation of nature and life-support systems often appears in the media—and certainly appears in most current fiction—as a boutique agenda. Climate change is shifting that marginalization, but not fast enough.

What makes The Lorax such a powerful fable is partly its shamelessness. It pulls no punches; it wears its teacher heart on its sleeve. This is commonplace and accepted in children’s stories, but considered largely undesirable in literary fiction. In fact snarkiness and even snobbishness can be brought to bear by some critics if they believe they’ve sniffed out a whiff of idea-mongering in fiction. When it comes to philosophy—just say no! Politics? Heaven forfend! If adults wish to put themselves in the path of notions about right and wrong, the theory seems to go, they can darn well seek out a house of worship or a counselor. Maybe even an AA meeting. They shouldn’t go to a book, unless it’s holy scripture or a self-help manual. Fiction should be an ethically safe space, free of fancy ideas. It should be dedicated modestly to relationships or escapism or the needs of luscious voyeurs.

But I happen to believe in the urgency of now. I don’t accept the proposition that ours is a historical moment like any other, that we can handily shrug off our duty to the future by placing ourselves in an endless, linear continuum of progress that makes its share of errors but is finally, comfortingly self-correcting. Rather I follow the strong evidence for the singularity of this human era, its unique power to make or break that future, directly linked to tipping points associated with climate catastrophe and the irreversibility of extinction. I cleave to science and the need to communicate science, or at least the products of science. Beyond and within science, love: not the love we have for ourselves, but that greater love we forget or take for granted in daily life, the love of otherness. The desperate need for otherness. And I suspect there’s no place, in art or journalism or politics, that isn’t ripe for that discussion.

Headline of the day II: Panoptical eyes of Texas

From the Intercept:

Texas Prisons Assert Right to Censor Inmates’ Families on Social Media

A new rule in Texas that prohibits prisoners from maintaining a social media presence could infringe on the free speech and expression rights of ordinary citizens who maintain accounts on behalf of incarcerated loved ones.