democracy

Consider a Think Tank

The seekingGood.blog has endeavored to provide useful information such that readers might expand their understanding of themselves and their overall knowledge as well as to subsequently act in accordance with the “Good” they individually manage to determine. This blog has offered repeated admonishments to “find out for yourself”, to do your own investigations.  Furthermore, while this is a decidedly left-leaning blog, we have also endeavored to encourage open-mindedness, exploration of competing ideas and transcendence of the comforting limits of habitual ways of thinking.  In this light, consider the following.

Think Tand (borderless) - from ClipartFest.jpg

[IMAGE from ClipartFest]

Introduction

Governments do not think.  People think.  Think tanks represent people thinking collectively.  Governments implement and enforce policies.  Regardless how much thinking individuals do, most will have little direct impact on public policy issues.  Think tanks—collections of thinking people–often help to develop or influence public policies. (more…)

What is helpful?

What socio-political issues are most relevant to you? Jen Hofmann (who’s Action List and blog have been frequently mentioned here at seekingGood) is requesting input regarding your interests.  Essentially, Jen wants to insure the relevance of her Action List relative to our common good.

Jennifer-Hofmann (small)In her own words:

In August, my Action Checklist will have 7 actions per week–one for each day–to lighten the load during the vacation/back-to-school month. Knowing which issues are most important to you helps me plan.

Here is a link to her survey (confidential, of course).

Not signed up for Jen’s weekly action list?  You can do so here.

 

Three for the Left

Given the 2018 midterm elections and the desire of many to move the U.S. Congress back towards balance by electing more Democrats and progressives, here are three sites that might aid that effort.


swingleft.PNG  Swingleft.org – if you are interested in moving the current US congress back towards a more Democratic (that is, non-Republican) direction, you might find the swinglife.org useful.  This site lists swing districts which could be massaged (worked by you and others) to help sway voters in a more progressive (or at least Democratic) direction. Find a district near you.  If this is the way you might want to change things, get to work!


sisterdistrict.PNG  Sisterdistrict.org – similar to swingleft.org, sisterdistrict.org seeks to help organize folks in order to swing the voting outcome of specific districts in a blue (Democratic or progressive) direction.  “When you join the Sister District Project, you will be connected with your local home district team…. Anyone can join. When you sign up to volunteer, we will (1) connect you with your local Sister District team, (2) assign your team to a race that is both winnable and strategic to support, and (3) give you specific action items to carry out that have been vetted with the campaign.”  Just go to this link and type in your zipcode to find the SisterDistrict nearest to you.


runforsomething.PNG

Runforsomething.net – As reported by Mother Jones, one of the problems of establishing a more progressive government is to promote progressive candidates.  The goal of this organization is to promote and support would-be candidates for political office. Specifically, Runforsomething, composed of various people active within the political area, is specific about who they want to recruit. The target candidate is under 35 years old.  The ultimate goal is to “…recruit and support talented, passionate young people who will advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench…. We’ll take a chance on people the usual “institutions” might never encounter. We’ll help people run for offices like state legislatures, mayorships, city council seats, and more. We’ll do whatever it takes to get more under-35 year-olds on the ballot.”

Perhaps you want to run for office.  Perhaps you know someone who should. Perhaps you merely want to stay informed about how this initiative is building a new generation of progressives.  Perhaps you want to volunteer to aid the effort.  Take a chance. Make a stand.

 

July 12, 2017

This date – Wednesday, July 12, 2017 – has been designated by several organizations as aNational Day of Action” regarding the future of the Internet.  A large number of websites and companies have planned a protest against the attempts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to undercut the current Internet freedom we enjoy.   The issue is what most of us know as “net neutrality”.

Protect Our Internet - reduced.png

In a previous post on the seekingGood.blog (May 11th, 2017), we described a proposal engineered by current FCC chair Ajit Pai in which he is seeking to reclassify telecommunication companies. Of course, such changes do nothing in themselves. However, Pai’s proposal, once implemented, releases telecom companies from their obligation to refrain from restricting access to any Internet site–either through denial of service, slowing down that service, or by instituting pay walls to access content.

Whose Freedom?

Remember when many of us went through a “cable cutting” phase?  The proposed rule changes will essentially give telecommunications companies the ability to turn the Internet into a collection of Internet companies–structured like cable companies–leaving us with no escape.  Even with regulations, several of these companies have unlawfully attempted content manipulation.  With no restrictions, telecoms can essentiallynet neutrality outquote.png own the Internet, behaving as they choose, forcing us to pay for what we now access freely.  Additionally, consider the manner in which we have come to voice our opinions.  We do not post notes on a message board in the public square.  We seldom write letters to elected officials to be delivered days later through snail mail.  And most of us do not take to the streets in protest of current governmental decisions.  For most of us, speaking against what we do not like or do not accept has become a matter of expressing ourselves electronically.  The demise of net neutrality also means the death of free electronic speech.

Thankfully, there is already bipartisan support for preserving net neutrality.  Still, nothing is guaranteed.  The more We, the People express our ideas to the government, the more that government is likely to ponder its actions as our representatives.  Wouldn’t it be a shame if our silence tacitly validated some last minute, backdoor deal to allow telecom companies to steal the Internet?

Think this will all just go away? Or do you need more convincing?   Take a look at this video for a general idea of what could happen to your Internet access.
YouTube blocked.png

… or how about this one.

locked internet.PNG

Finally, look at this one (perhaps the simplest and the best).

telecom extortion 2.png

Defend net neutrality!


On July 12th, companies and organizations like Reddit, Netflix, Kickstarter, Vimeo, Amazon, The Nation and the ACLU among many others will participate in an online protest.  To find out more details, sign up here.

National Day of Action - Net Neutrality.PNG

Speak Out!

To let the FCC know your thoughts about potentially losing Internet freedom, follow the specific instructions, (originally posted by the Popular Resistance website) listed below:

Here are step-by-step instructions to help you submit a comment to the FCC.

  1. Click here to go to the page for Express Filings of comments. This is the simplest format to use.
  2. Type 17-108 into the top box called “Proceeding(s)”. Yes, in this Orweillian world Pai did title the proposal to end Internet freedom “Restoring Internet Freedom”. It should be called “Promoting Telecom Thievery”.
  3. Fill out the rest of the form. Yes, you do have to provide your address in order to be counted.
  4. Type your comment into the box at the bottom. See the advice [below] from Tech Crunch (midway down the page at this link).
  5. Review your submission and once you are satisfied, click on the ”submit” button at the bottom of the screen.

The window for your comments closes on July 17th – just a few weeks from now.  Voice your ideas!


Amy Kroin, Editor, edits all Free Press and Free Press Action Fund communications. She also edits and monitors the Free Press website and creates campaign, educational and outreach materials. Before joining Free Press, Amy served as a writer and editor for a division of Pearson, the media and education company, and earlier served as the arts editor of the Valley Advocate.

 

 

Monitoring News Bias

Media Bias - Fact Check.PNG

You want to know the “truth”, right?  As such, surely you spread your reading across news sources of varying political perspectives, right?  One can only hope your quest for truth is, indeed a quest and not self-administered salve to soothe intra-psychic fears about your future and the future well-being of those you hold dear.  “Truth” is larger than that.

Should you venture into the wild, attempting to get differing perspectives on current events, how can you know if what you are reading is valid?  If understanding the political leaning of any given site is important to you, check out Media Bias / Fact Check.  (MBFC), a news outlet evaluation site which describes itself as the following:

  • Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) is an independent online media outlet. MBFC News is dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices.
  • MBFC News’ aim is to inspire action and a rejection of overtly biased media. We want to return to an era of straight forward news reporting.
  • Funding for MBFC News comes from site advertising, individual donors, and the pockets of our bias checkers.
  • MBFC News follows a strict methodology for determining the biases of sources. Dave Van Zandt is the primary editor for sources. He is assisted by a collective of volunteers who assist in research for many sources listed on these pages.
  • MBFC News also provides occasional fact checks, original articles on media bias and breaking/important news stories, especially as it relates to USA politics.

Just type in the name of any site you are interested in and see what MBFC has to say about it.  Try searching for sites you know.  Try “The Guardian”, “Reuters” or “Breitbart”.  You can also get a list of many outlets that MBFC classifies together – Right-Bias, Pro-Science, Left-Center-Bias, etc. (nine categories in all, including “Conspiracy-Pseudoscience”).   Of particular interest is the category which MBFC considered the Least Biased.  You will notice that these MBFC lists are quite long as they included media outlet from all over the world (ever considered getting your news from the Bangkok Post?).

One of the advantages of MBFC is its employment of differing evaluation criteria during its daily analysis of various news outlets.  For instance, MBFC analyses a site’s relative factual reporting as one criterion.  This criterion focuses on whether the information presented by the site is verifiable.  However, a different criterion considers whether a site presents “biased” stories, which is not the same as accusing the site of “false” reporting. A site might present actual facts, but presents those facts couched in a slanted presentation, presumably with the attempt to sway the interpretation and opinion of readers of those facts.  Such bias can be seen in the use of loaded words, the choice of which stories to tell, what details to reveal and which to omit, for instance, all of which skew the whole truth of the situation.  Comparing even these criteria–and there are others–can be helpful for identifying the nature of the proposed “truth” being presented.  Perhaps MBFC’s greatest value is that the site presents many listings which provide direct links to outlets you might not have heard of (and might find quite informative).

The Media Bias / Fact Check site could be quite useful for anyone, regardless of socio-political orientation.  Give it a look.  You might learn something.

 

Expand your horizon and your mind! 
Read something you do NOT believe and see what happens!


DISCLAIMER: The seekingGood blog does not necessarily endorse the MBFC site except as a possible help in the evaluation of media sources.  As always, do your own research and think for yourself.

Reich on Resistance

Hportrait - Robert Reich.jpgow are you feeling these days?  Are you depressed, weary, feeling lost, even hopeless? Are you feeling as if every other day you finch at the seemingly uncanny events erupting in Washington, DC?  Perhaps you believe the mainstream media’s coverage of DC events beleaguers and distracts from a crusade to rid the country of “neo-liberal” political machinations designed not to help, but to dominate. Perhaps you are feeling that sometime in the future–certainly not now–that the country we call “land of the free” will feel that way again?

If you are feeling something—anything—take a look at a May 22 video by Robert Reich.  Mr. Reich offers encouragement, admonition, challenge, information and clarification. You might agree or not.  Let his words be a catalyst for you to form your own opinion and decide what you want to do about it.

If you agree, please do not take this as a feel good moment, to sit back, comfortable in your complacency.  Take up the challenge to act in accordance with your current opinion.

If you do not agree, please do not just utter your usual epithets against those “others”.  Rather, understand that Mr. Reich genuinely seeks Good for us all.  That he, taking the phrase “We, the People” very seriously, asks us to think about how (if) we care for one another and how we might insure that our government does the same.

If you feel somethings…do somethings!


Robert Reich is an American political commentator, professor, and author. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997.  If you find this video interesting, you might want to check out Professor Reich’s YouTube channel for frequent videos of this kind, posted under the name ResistancE is FertilE.

 

A New Form of Journalism?


[DISCLAIMER] Always seeking “truth” and the means to reliably find it, we are pushing the follow-up to “Locally Green” (scheduled for this week), to a later date.  Instead, check out this interesting development in the field of news reporting. Obviously, this early in the process, we cannot endorse this organization, but it is, at least worth a look.

With the power of online transparency, together we can beat fake news.
~Jimmy Wales

Introducing Wikitribune

wikitribune 1.PNG

Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) has just this week initiated a new journalism platform called “Wikitribune”.  Like Wikipedia, “Wikitribune is a news platform that brings journalists and a community of volunteers together. We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events. And that stories can be easily verified and improved.”

Seeking to “fix” the news, Wikitribune is attempting to bring control of the dissemination of factual information back to the community.  Mr. Wales suggests that “social media, where most people get their news these days, is literally designed to show us what we want to see, to confirm our bias.”  This trend “fundamentally breaks the news”.  Wikitribune is being launched to help correct this problem.

The principles are simple.

Articles must be fact based with named sources:  “Supporting Wikitribune means ensuring that journalists only write articles based on facts that they can verify…that you can see their sources. “

Ad-free content is free for all readers:  Wikitribune will present no pay walls, giving all people open access to all content.  Furthermore, the site will be completely ad-free, permitting no corporate influence to shape the nature of the information presented.

The community and hired journalists are equal… “Articles are authored, fact-checked, wikitribune community.PNGand verified by professional journalists and community members working side by side as equals, and supported not primarily by advertisers, but by readers who care about good journalism enough to become monthly supporters.”

…with full financial transparency:  Promising no compromise regarding financial influence, Wikitribune has plans to operate and publish its financials regularly.  The staff journalists will be paid by subscription revenue—which is to say, by us.

This noble endeavor has only just begun. However, as  Fortune magazine points out, this is not the first time such an idea has been proposed.  These previous efforts did not meet with much success.   Some critics question the possible success of Wikitribune.  And yet, Jimmy Wales faced similar criticism during the launch of Wikipedia.  We can see how that turned out.

Wikitribune is a good idea that needs our support.  If you are one to jump feet first into the possible, donate now.  If you are more of a wait-n-seer, take a look at the site, do some research about the project, and consider subscribing once they have reached their startup goals. Most of all, once Wikitribune is up and running, you might want to use the site as one of your news gathering tools.


Background articles:


For more information, contact: info@wikitribune.com