Thursday 29th of July 2021

ruskies & bubblies...

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MOSCOW: Russian oligarchs are facing a shortage of champagne, after French producers temporarily cut off supplies to the country over a new law that will force them to label their drinks as ‘‘sparkling wine’’.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin signed legislation stating that only wine produced in Russia could be labelled ‘‘champagne’’, while foreign makers, including those from France’s Champagne region, would have to rebrand their bubbly. Neither Putin nor parliament explained why Russia needed the law.

The ‘‘champagne’’ controlled designation of origin is governed by very strict rules in France, which state that the wine must originate from a small area in the Champagne region, be made with approved grape varieties and mature for a minimum of 15 months.

Moet Hennessy, which produces drinks such as Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon and Veuve Clicquot, told partners in Russia that it would have to halt distribution.

In a letter to local businesses, Moet Hennessy, part of the French luxury goods group LVMH, said stocks of its champagnes would therefore be at an ‘‘extremely low level’’. Later, the company told Bloomberg it would add a ‘‘sparkling wine’’ mention on the back label of its bottles, and resume deliveries once these changes were made.

Olga Sokolova, a sales director at Vinicom, which imports and distributes foreign wine in Russia, denounced the situation as absurd as she shared the letter from Moet Hennessy on social media. ‘‘This seems like it’s fake, but it’s true,’’ she said. ‘‘From today, black is now white, and white is black.’’

The new law came as Putin signed a decree stating that the ‘‘Westernisation’’ of Russian culture was one of the primary security threats to the country. The Telegraph, London.

 

Read more:

Sydney Morning Herald — a few days ago... 

 

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where’s the money?...

Noam Chomsky: The Elites Are Fighting a Vicious Class War All the Time

 

NOAM CHOMSKY

Noam Chomsky talks to Jacobin about why working-class politics can secure universal health care, climate justice, and an end to nuclear weapons — if we’re willing to fight for them.

 

In 1967, Noam Chomsky emerged as a leading critic of the Vietnam War with a New York Review of Books essay critiquing US foreign policy’s ivory tower establishment. As many academics rationalized genocide, Chomsky defended a simple principle: “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.”

A groundbreaking linguist, Chomsky has done more to live up to this maxim than almost any other contemporary intellectual. His political writings have laid bare the horrors of neoliberalism, the injustices of endless war, and the propaganda of the corporate media, earning him a place on Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List” and in the surveillance files of the CIA. At ninety-two, Chomsky remains an essential voice in the anti-capitalist movements his ideas helped inspire.

Ana Kasparian and Nando Vila interviewed Chomsky for Jacobin’s Weekends YouTube show earlier this year. In their conversation, Chomsky reminds us that history is a process of continuous struggle, and that the working-class politics needed to secure universal health care, climate justice, and denuclearization are out there — if we’re willing to fight for them.

 

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Let’s start with a big question — why does Congress continuously tell the American people that it will not deliver on policies that have overwhelming public support?

 

NC
Well, one place to look always is: “Where’s the money? Who funds Congress?” Actually, there’s a very fine, careful study of this by the leading scholar who deals with funding issues and politics, Thomas Ferguson. He and his colleagues did a study in which they investigated a simple question: “What’s the correlation over many years between campaign funding and electability to Congress?” The correlation is almost a straight line. That’s the kind of close correlation that you rarely get in the social sciences: greater the funding, higher the electability.

And in fact, we all know what happens when a congressional representative gets elected. Their first day in office, they start making phone calls to the potential donors for their next election. Meanwhile, hordes of corporate lobbyists descend on their offices. Their staff are often young kids, totally overwhelmed by the resources, the wealth, the power, of the massive lobbyists who pour in. Out of that comes legislation, which the representative later signs — maybe even looks at occasionally, when he can get off the phone with the donors. What kind of system do you expect to emerge from this?

One recent study found that for about 90 percent of the population, there’s essentially no correlation between their income and decisions by their representatives — that is, they’re fundamentally unrepresented. This extends earlier work by Martin Gilens, Benjamin Page, and others who found pretty similar results, and the general picture is clear: the working class and most of the middle class are basically unrepresented.

 

The decisions of representatives reflect a very highly concentrated amount of campaign money, and other financial pressures. I mean, if you’re a congressional representative, and you’re going to leave Congress one of these days, where do you go? Do you become a truck driver? Secretary? You know where you go, and you know what the reasons are. If you voted the right way, you’ve got a cushy future ahead of you.

There are many, many devices by which you can ensure that a large majority of the population is unrepresented, and, furthermore, robbed — robbed massively. The RAND Corporation, ultrarespectable, a couple of months ago did a study of what they call the “transfer of wealth” from the working class and the middle class — or, more accurately, the robbery of the public — since the neoliberal assault began around 1980. Their estimate for how much wealth has moved from the lower 90 percent of the income scale to the very top is $47 trillion.

It’s not small change, and it’s a vast underestimate. When Reagan opened the spigots for corporate robbery many devices became available: for example, tax havens and shell companies, which were illegal before that, when the Treasury Department enforced the law. How much money was stolen that way? That’s mostly secret, but there are some reasonable estimates. An IMF study came out recently that estimated $35 trillion, roughly — just from tax havens — over forty years.

Keep adding this theft up. It’s not pennies, and it affects people’s lives. People are angry, and they’re resentful for very good reasons: they’re perfectly arranged for a demagogue to come along — Trump-style — who holds up a banner with one hand saying, “I love you, I’m going to save you,” and with the other hand stabs you in the back to pay off the rich and powerful.

 

After Bernie, where should leftists direct our energies to address these immense problems which you just outlined?

 

NC
The first thing we should remember is that the Sanders campaign was a remarkable success. Within a couple of years, Sanders and others working alongside him have managed to shift the range of issues that are at the center of attention very far toward the progressive side. That’s quite significant. They did so with no funding, no corporate support, no media support — the media became mildly friendly to Sanders after he lost the nomination, not before. Before, it was kind of like what happened to [Jeremy] Corbyn in the UK: powerful forces were determined to stop anything to the left of the most mild social democracy.

Looking back at the success of the Sanders campaign, I think one answer to your question is “keep at it.” Remember, a terrible mistake was made when Obama was elected: namely, a lot of the Left believed in him. Obama had a tremendous amount of popular support, especially from young people — lots of young activists and organizers worked to get him elected. After the election, what happened? He told them, “Go home.” And unfortunately, they went home. Within two years, Obama had completely betrayed his constituency, and it showed in the 2010 election.

It’s not that the right wing won the labor vote; the Democrats lost it — for good reasons. In 2010, even union voters didn’t support the Democratic candidate; they saw what Obama had done. Well, we shouldn’t make that mistake again, certainly not with Biden. Biden is kind of a weak read, in my opinion; he can be pressed. There are some quite good people in the Biden administration, especially among the economic advisors, and they can be pressed.

 

Take climate change. There isn’t any more important issue. If we don’t deal with the environmental catastrophe soon, everything else is moot; there won’t be anything to talk about. A lot of pressure on the Biden-Harris campaign from the Sunrise Movement and others did manage to press their program toward the progressive side. Not far enough — but, still, their program is the best that’s ever been produced.

But the DNC started hacking away at it. Through August, when you Googled the Democratic Party climate program, you got the Biden-Harris program. The last time I saw it was August 22. The next time I looked, a couple of days later, it wasn’t there. What you got instead was “how to donate to the DNC.” I can only speculate as to what happened, but I think there’s a struggle going on. And it could continue if the Left doesn’t make the Obama mistake, and believes those who are in power and their pretty words.

The same is true of the corporate sector, which is running scared. They’re concerned with what they call “reputational risks,” meaning “the peasants are coming with their pitchforks.” All across the corporate world — at Davos, and at the Business Roundtable — there are discussions of how “We have to confess to the public that we’ve done the wrong things. We haven’t paid enough attention to stakeholders, workforce, and community, but now we realize our errors. Now we’re becoming what, in the 1950s, were called ‘soulful corporations,’ really dedicated to the common good.” So, now we have lots of “soulful corporations,” appealing to the public with their great humanity, sometimes taking measures like withdrawing funding from fossil fuel companies; they can be pressed.

I don’t like the system, you don’t like the system, but it exists, and we have to work within it. We can’t say, “I don’t want it. Let’s have another system that doesn’t exist.” We can only build a new system through pressure from inside and from outside.

So, for example, there’s no reason to avoid working to create an alternative political and social framework by creating a new party or worker-owned enterprises and cooperatives. The point is that there is a whole array of options open to us — and they all have to be pursued.

 

I agree that Bernie Sanders was certainly incredibly successful in waking people up so that many more people thought about politics in class terms. He also did spark quite a bit of anger, because realizing just how much the system is rigged against the average American infuriates people. I think people are getting incredibly impatient with our lack of influence on our lawmakers.

 

NC

Well, the lack of influence goes back in the United States roughly two hundred fifty years. So, we can start with the Constitution, which was established explicitly on the principle of preventing democracy. There wasn’t any secret about it. In fact, the major scholarly study on the Constitutional Convention, by Michael Klarman, a Harvard Law professor, is called The Framers’ Coup, and it’s about the coup against democracy by the Framers.

The theme of the of the founders was expressed quite well by John Jay, who was the first Supreme Court chief justice: “those who own the country ought to govern it.” That’s what we see today: those who own the country have succeeded in governing it.

This hasn’t been a uniform procedure; there has been plenty of resistance, and lots of victories have been won. During my childhood, for example, in the 1930s, there were major victories, mainly spearheaded by the organized labor movement (CIO organizing, militant strikes, militant labor actions), a moderately sympathetic administration, and political activism of all sorts.

The United States moved toward moderate social democracy — we’re still enjoying some of the benefits of that, though a lot of it’s been chipped away. Other periods of American history were similar. In the late nineteenth century, the Knights of Labor — a populist movement that has nothing to do with what’s called “populism” today — and radical farmers were getting together a major movement, which was finally crushed by state and corporate force, but left a residue.

This is fundamentally a class struggle that goes on through history, and now we’re in a particular stage of it. We keep struggling, we make improvements, there’s some regression, and we keep going. Slavery was overcome after hundreds of years of struggle, and then it came back in another form — the residue is still there. But it’s not that there’s no victory at all. Things are better than they were because of constant struggle.

In fact, this country is a lot better than it was sixty years ago, mainly because of activism in the sixties. Just remember what the country was like in the 1960s. Federal funded housing was denied by law to African Americans, not because the liberal senators wanted that, but because you couldn’t get anything through the Southern Democratic stranglehold on policy. There were anti-sodomy laws into this century. Lots of things have changed.

It’s not easy, but if you say, “Well, we haven’t gotten where we wanted; I’m going to quit,” you just guarantee that the worst is going to happen. It’s a constant struggle. Take, say, Tony Mazzocchi — one of the heroes of modern labor, head of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers [International] Union, one of the first serious environmentalists in the country. His constituents at the front line were being murdered by pollution, destruction of the environment, and so on. This is in the early seventies, way before the environmental movement took off. His union was working toward dealing with the environmental crisis, and it moved on to try to establish a labor party in the nineties. It could have worked, but it didn’t make it.

The neoliberal assault — beginning with Reagan, on through Clinton, Obama — was designed to destroy labor. Reagan’s campaign opened with an attack on the labor unions. Thatcher did exactly the same thing in England. The people behind the neoliberal assault understood what they were doing: you have to eliminate the ability of laboring people to defend themselves.

Clinton extended this; his neoliberal globalization policies were designed to protect investors and to crush labor, and they succeeded. It was similar to the thirties. In the 1920s, labor had been virtually crushed. There was a successful militant labor movement in the early part of the twentieth century, but after Woodrow Wilson’s red scare, it was almost destroyed. In the 1920s, there was almost nothing there, but it came roaring back in the thirties — that’s what led to the New Deal policies, the mild social democracy that we still benefit from.

We can rebuild again. In fact, it’s beginning to happen in quite interesting ways. So, labor had been so crushed by neoliberal policies that there were barely any strikes. Workers were afraid to go on strike; they’d be destroyed. Strikes started to pick up in red states among nonunionized labor. Teachers in West Virginia and Arizona had enormous public support.

In Northern Arizona, when the teachers began the strike, there were posters all over lawns saying, “Support the Teachers!” And the teachers weren’t just calling for higher salaries — which they very much deserve — but for improving the educational system, which has been hit by the neoliberal plague. Privatization, defunding, regimentation, teaching to the test — all of these things were bipartisan. Republicans are more extreme, so Betsy DeVos was almost openly devoted to destroying the whole system. But Obama’s policies weren’t much better.

 

 

READ MORE:

https://jacobinmag.com/2021/06/noam-chomsky-class-war-universal-health-care-climate-justice-denuclearization

 

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china's male elite...

Do you know that in 2020, males accounted for 30 percent of China's medical aesthetics consumers? Do you know that they spent 7,025 yuan ($1,086) on average on medical aesthetics, 2.75 times of that of female consumers?

With consumption resumption and upgrade, medical aesthetics, as a newly-emerged consumption sector, has been growing rapidly. Interestingly, men are found to be a rising consumption group of medical aesthetics.

If you are interested in what kind of medical aesthetics men prefer, and how do they try medical aesthetics in a safe way, follow China Daily reporter Zheng Yiran and check them out!

Reporter: Zheng Yiran

Intern: Ma Bingying

Video editors: Zhao Shiyue and Zhao Tingting

Supervisors: Zhang Chunyan, Lu Haoting and Wang Zhuoqiong

Producer: Wang Yu

 

See more:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202107/14/WS60ee1644a310efa1bd6619cf.html

 

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