November 16, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:01 PM

Posted by orrinj at 5:33 PM



According to the Wall Street Journal, Rebekah Mercer is a leading investor in Parler, a social media and microblogging app founded in 2018. Following the Journal report, Rebekah Mercer wrote from her "verified" Parler account that she and CEO John Matze aim "to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended," adding, "The ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining." While Parler fashions itself as pro-free speech, in reality, it is more of a "for us, by us" right-wing alternative to Twitter and Facebook. It's become a de facto safe space for Trump supporters participating in the "Stop the Steal" protest campaign--a group shut down by Facebook--and others perhaps trying to ignore the reality of a race that the Associated Press and major networks, including Fox News, called for Joe Biden on November 7. 

'Mythic Quest's "Dinner Party" Is a Scathing Takedown of the Internet's Nazi Problem (Kayla Cobb, Feb 12, 2020, Decider)

As is always the case with anything relating to Mythic Quest the game, the team becomes aware of its white nationalist problem because of Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao). The implementation of her beloved shovel has given these garbage players a way to carve swastikas into the ground. To make matters worse the video game criticism juggernaut Kotaku has written an article about MQ's rampant hate problem.

The MQ team is forced to go into damage control mode for fear of garnering more bad press. Naturally, each character rises to that challenge in a different and equally terrible way. For Ian (McElhenney) that means adding poorly thought out salutes and SS badges to the game in an attempt to draw all the Nazis out of the shadows to be dealt with at once. For the finance-minded Brad (Danny Pudi) it means delaying any sort of mass ban of paying customers for as long as humanly possible by distracting his team with a bracket of the type of players who deserve to be banned the most. And for Poppy Li it means desperately trying to shoehorn her latest invention, the in-game social function Dinner Party, into the conflict. [...]

Eventually it's Poppy's Dinner Party that "saves" the day. After organizing a peaceful in-game protest through Dinner Party, all of the hate groups emerge from the shadows to kill the protesting players. That move allows Ian and Poppy to learn all of these users' names, thereby banning all the white nationalists to their own server. Mythic Quest's solution to its Nazi problem never feels heroic. It's a well-organized dodge of a much larger problem that allows these paying hateful players to continue spewing hate while also allowing this video game company to profit off of them. Everyone emerges from the episode looking like a worse person, and that's what makes "Dinner Party" so smart

It could only be funnier if the wingnuts had named their site Paler.
Posted by orrinj at 12:21 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Bolsonaro-backed candidates sink in Brazil's local elections (Agence France-Presse, 11/16/20)

"The pandemic has put the brakes on the trend towards anti-politics and rejection of traditional parties for being corrupt," said Creomar de Souza, head of Brasilia-based consultancy Dharma Political Risk and Strategy.

"Voters understood that the politicians elected with Bolsonaro in 2018 are flawed and they want to see public services improve," he added.

The results are a setback for Bolsonaro and indicate that the wave of anti-establishment sentiment that got him elected in 2018 following the widespread political corruption uncovered by the Car Wash graft investigation may have subsided.

As voters look to traditional parties, like the DEM and the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), which is leading the race for Sao Paulo mayor, Bolsonaro appears vulnerable because he has no party.

Should have chosen Pinochet as his model, not Donald.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Pro-Western Candidate Victorious In Moldovan Presidential Runoff Election (RFE/RL, 11/16/20)

Maia Sandu, a former World Bank economist who favors closer ties with the European Union, is the winner of Moldova's presidential election runoff, preliminary results showed early on November 16.

Sandu captured 57 percent of the vote, giving her a runaway victory over pro-Russian incumbent Igor Dodon, who had 43 percent, with 99 percent of the vote counted, according to preliminary data from the Central Election Commission.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Muslims are not the problem, and critics are not the enemy: How aggressive secularism is dividing France (Fethi Mansouri and Greg Barton, 16 Nov 2020, Religion & Ethics)

Taking decisive steps to confront individuals and groups involved in the incitement of hatred makes good sense, but dealing with hate speech in a way that avoids conflating it with genuine struggles for social justice and anti-racism is not so simple.

Indeed, when French political leaders, like interior minister Gerald Darmanin, threaten to ban Muslim civil society groups working to address Islamophobia -- such as the Collectif contre l'islamophobie en France (CCIF), an organisation that works against social marginalisation and for social integration -- these bans end up alienating key partners in the effort to countering the appeal of violent, extremist ideologies.

Likewise, by accusing anti-racist and de-colonial activists and academics not only of having suspect loyalty but of supporting violent extremism, the French government threatens to make enemies of the very groups, and communities, that it needs to be working with. This risks the perverse outcome of having racism against minorities protected as "free speech", while anti-racist activism and critical scholarship are presented as violating freedom and protecting terrorist groups.

It is in this context that a recent manifesto, signed by 100 leading French academics and intellectuals, and published in Le Monde on 2 November 2020, signals uncritical and deeply problematic support for minister of education Jean-Michel Blanquer's politically charged statement that "'indigenist, racialist and, and 'decolonial' ideologies" (Les idéologies indigéniste, racialiste et "décoloniale"), imported from North American universities, were responsible for "conditioning" the violent extremist who beheaded Samuel Paty on 16 October 2020. A few days later OpenDemocracy published a response, which claimed that Blanquer's charge was both disingenuous and profoundly dangerous, pointing to a spike in death threats targeting academics. The letter goes on to state:

The manifesto proposes nothing short of a McCarthyist process, to be led by the French Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation to weed out "Islamist currents" within universities, to take a clear position on the "ideologies that underpin them", and to "engage universities in a struggle for secularism and the Republic" by establishing a body responsible for dealing with cases that oppose "Republican principles and academic freedom". The "Islamogauchiste" tag (which conflates the words 'Islam' and 'leftists') is now widely used by conservative members of the government, large sections of the media and hostile academics. It is reminiscent of the antisemitic accusations of "Judeo-Bolshevism" thrown around in the 1930s which blamed the spread of communism on Jews.

France needs to focus on building trust and social cohesion. Not only does it face a very real and immediate threat from extremist groups, it also needs to contend with the incitement to hatred and violence from the far-right. The government's push for a more muscular institutional authoritarianism targeting French Muslims, above all other groups, plays into the hands of the latter while unjustifiably alienating the former.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump Campaign Scales Back Pennsylvania Lawsuit After Law Firm Abandoned Ship (ALBERTO LUPERON, Nov 15th, 2020, Law & Crime)

The Trump team scaled back its federal lawsuit over Pennsylvania's vote certification in the 2020 presidential election. An amended complaint was filed Sunday. The move raised eyebrows. After all, this change follows shortly after attorneys from the law firm Porter Wright withdrew from representing the Trump campaign, and electors Lawrence Roberts and David John Henry.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Nationalists Lose Major Cities In Bosnia Vote (RFE/RL, 11/16/20)

Bosnian opposition parties have won local elections in the Balkan country's two largest cities, where they defeated long-ruling nationalists.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital, Sarajevo, the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) of Bakir Izetbegovic conceded defeat late on November 15 after losing mayors in three out of four municipalities that were won by candidates of a coalition of moderate parties.