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The Future of Syria under Bashar Assad - SPIEGEL ONLINE, Aug 2018
On a hot summer day, the pharmacist Ahmed Talji is standing on the roof of his sons' house in Basateen, in front of which there is an expansive wasteland filled with debris and construction pits. In the distance, a bulldozer is kicking up a cloud of white dust. Below Talji are the ruins of his own home. The bulldozers arrived in September 2016 and plowed their blades into his two-story home. The pharmacist never received adequate compensation.

Those who owned land in Basateen were compensated with shares in the development project. In theory, at least. Ahmed Talji ultimately received the equivalent of just 2,000 euros. The bicycle repairman around the corner was given 4 million shares in promissory notes. He doesn't yet know how much they are worth. Residents, though, suspect that the shares won't be sufficient for an apartment in the new world of glass and concrete that is to be built here.

In addition to Marota City, there is only one other large development project in the country that has been approved. It is called Basilia City, a new, nine-square-kilometer city quarter to the south of Damascus. And it is being built in the suburb of Darayya, many of the final survivors of which were sent in August 2016 to Idlib on the Turkish border.

A woman in Douma, a town near Damascus, has told DER SPIEGEL what has been happening recently to those Syrians who remained in rebel-controlled regions. The woman regularly provided DER SPIEGEL with information during the fighting in spring. "Last week, they took three men from our neighborhood and we've heard nothing more from them," they woman wrote via WhatsApp. "We stayed because we didn't want to live in tents in Idlib. Today, I am dreaming of the tents!"

She added that she planned to immediately delete the message after sending it. And if a stranger were to come to her door, she said, she would of course speak of how happy she was to have been liberated from the terrorists.
hidden  fear  Mar15  Reconciliation  HLP  dispossession 
16 days ago by elizrael
The Automation Charade
"The rise of the robots has been greatly exaggerated. Whose interests does that serve? (..)

Jobs may be eliminated and salaries slashed but people are often still laboring alongside or behind the machines, even if the work they perform has been deskilled or goes unpaid. (..)

In its more harmless form, fauxtomation is merely a marketing ploy, a way to make pointless products seem cutting-edge. (The Tovala “smart oven,” for example, is Wi-Fi-connected and scans barcodes to glean reheating instructions for pre-made meals available through a subscription delivery service. Overpriced TV dinners cooked in an expensive toaster hardly live up to the slogan, “Cook your own ingredients with your smartphone.”) (..)

Where Hollywood’s sci-fi futurism and leading tech pundits lead us astray, however, socialist feminism can lend invaluable insight, inoculating us against techno-capitalism’s self-flattering claims. The socialist feminist tradition is a powerful resource because it's centrally concerned with what work is—and in particular how capitalism lives and grows by concealing certain kinds of work, refusing to pay for it, and pretending it's not, in fact, work at all.

That women have special insight into technology shouldn’t come as a surprise: after all, they have been sold the promise of liberation through labor-saving devices since the dawn of mass consumerism, and this applies to kitchen appliances in particular. (It’s a short and rather sad leap from self-cleaning ovens to self-cooking ones.) Despite this, they have seen their workloads multiply, not diminish.

In her study More Work For Mother: The Ironies Of Household Technology From The Open Hearth To The Microwave, Ruth Cowan sheds astonishing light on the way innovations like electric irons and vacuum cleaners only added to the list of daily chores for women confined in the cult of domesticity. (..)

“How did the app know my order would be ready twenty minutes early?” he marveled, clutching his phone. “Because that was actually me,” the server said. “I sent you a message when it was done.” (..)

But a better predecessor for fauxtomation as I understand it would be Thomas Jefferson’s dumbwaiter[:] (..)

In Jefferson’s dining room, he installs dumbwaiters into both sides of the fireplace mantel. A weight drops, and a bottle rises from the wine cellar directly below the dining room. Just outside the dining room is a revolving door with shelves on it, so when the food is ready to serve, it can be brought upstairs, loaded on the shelves, and the door turned into the room. These gadgets impress visitors, but they also allow Jefferson to hide something from his visitors and that is the reality of slavery..."
automation  labor  technology  smartkitchen  socialism  feminism  ruthcowan  chores  postmates  fauxtomation  thomasjefferson  dumbwaiter  slaves  slavery  hidden  book 
21 days ago by gohai

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