Category Archives: Politics

Help Save Net Neutrality. Take Action Now!

take actionThe FCC has announced they plan on ending Net Neutrality and that spells doom for a free and open internet. We have always supported Net Neutrality and are asking you to do so as well. A vote is set for December 14, but we have the ability to make our voices heard to Congress who might be able to prevent what will be a disaster and corporate giveaway.

There are many different definitions of what exactly Net Neutrality is, but it’s basically the ability to the go where you want and do what you want on the internet without extra charges, artificially slow accessibility or blockages.

Net Neutrality protects us the consumer as well as benefits creators. It stops internet providers from slowing down, degrading, or even blocking content or access to online content. It also prevents deals where those with deep pockets can pay to be heard over start-ups or other competitors. When over 70% of Americans have only one option for internet providers in their area, this is a big deal.

But here’s possible scenarios in a world without Net Neutrality, and outlines why this is important:

  • Your internet provider provides you the option to buy voice over internet from them, so they decide to degrade or block the competition, making them the only real option,
  • Your internet provider owns some of the content it delivers (for example Comcast and NBC) and block other services to watch the same or similar content so you have to use their video on demand service,
  • An exclusive deal is struck where a service, say a video game platform or digital comics platform, pay and become the only distributor or platform of that content through your internet provider,
  • Business pay, or people have to pay, to have their content delivered quicker, in an age where ever millisecond counts (think stock trading or online ticket buying). The haves can outpace the have-nots when it comes to online activities.

We don’t need to imagine what it’ll be like, we can just look towards Portugal to see our future.

Comic creators too should care about Net Neutrality.

  • In today’s business world scripts and art are sent around the globe and without protection expect slower upload and download speeds and paying more to conduct business. Enjoy going back to sending files on CD or hard drive.
  • Your ability to chat through video such as Skype might be diminished.
  • And, say goodbye to digital and web comics as consumer speeds are decreased to the degree that there’s no point in attempting to download a file or wait for images to load and that’s after paying for the privilege to do so.

Internet1I can go on and on with these types of scenarios, and Comcast and Verizon have been fighting to end Net Neutrality and the internet as we know it. And with the consolidation of of internet service providers and content the scenarios become even more bleak.

The idea of Net Neutrality is to keep the internet a free and open platform for innovation and expression.

Please take action now and contact Congress to make your voice hear so sites like ours have an equal chance to be heard as those who can spend money to do so.

The Battle for the Net begins now!

A Comic Anthology Celebrating 100 Years of Women Gaining the Vote in the UK

Two Scottish comic publishers, 404 Ink and BHP Comics, are teaming up for an comic anthology that’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the UK.

We Shall Fight Until We Win celebrates the century since women gained the right to vote in the UK. That happened in 1918 and the comics within the anthology will reflect on that historic event as well as the “many pioneering women who have been, and are part of the ongoing fight”.

Women had been able to vote in the UK up until the 1832 Reform Act specified “male persons.” Throughout the 19th century women became politically active to advocate for female suffrage.

The anthology will be released in June 2018 with a Kickstarter fundraising campaign launching in January 2018.

Submissions are still open and comic creators interested should head to their site to find out more information and the process to take part. The deadline is November 17.

In the announcement the publishers said:

From suffragettes like Emmeline Pankhurst and Sophia Duleep Singh, through the ‘firsts’ in politics like Nancy Astor, the first female member of Parliament to take her seat, and Diane Abbott, the first black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons, to many of the women heading up politics today, this graphic novel tells their stories – some well-known, some less so – by a mix of contributors to celebrate the landmark and achievements of many incredible women.

404 Ink added in the announcement:

We’re delighted to be partnering with BHP Comics to release We Shall Fight Until We Win. Celebrating the lives of women through our debut book Nasty Women has been an incredible experience and we’re excited to work with one of our favourite publishers to continue doing this but by looking at women throughout history in the UK.

BHP Comics also said:

Working with 404 Ink is really exciting for us at BHP Comics. We look forward to exploring the lives of the women who won the right to vote and those who have utilised their political position since in We Shall Fight Until We Win.

(via The Bookseller)

Today is Election Day in the US. Go VOTE!

Today is election day in many locations throughout the United States and we’re asking you to get out, vote, and make your voice heard!

There’s Gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia as well as Legislative elections in both of those states. Many states have local elections, special elections, and ballot measures.

Over half of the states have elections and you can get the full list here. You can also find information here.

Voting is the most powerful thing you can do to make your voice heard and participate in our nation. Don’t sit on the sidelines, get out and take part in democracy.

Thor: Ragnarok is About Colonialism Come Back to Haunt

*Warning Spoilers Below*

Thor: Ragnarok is exciting the box office with an impressive $121 million domestic debut and over $431 million already. While audiences are praising the humor, visuals, and fun nature of the film, it also has an impressively thought out theme underneath exploring colonialism through it’s two main adversaries.

Director Taika Waititi‘s Te-Whanau-a-Apanui (Maori) descent and the European colonization of his native New Zealand makes you wonder if these themes are on purpose and come from his own personal history.

The film features the return of Hela, Thor and Loki’s half sister and Odin’s daughter. Hela was banished by Odin because she became too out of control and destructive but Hela reveals it might also have been to hide Odin’s crimes as he built Asgard. Also in the film is the Grandmaster, an Elder of the Universe who rules over Sakaar pitting individuals against each other in gladiatorial contests for the people’s entertainment.

The Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum, is the colonial conqueror. It’s clear this character is not from Sakaar based on his appearance and while we don’t know the specifics of his rise it’s obvious that he exploits the masses to live a life of opulence. In return he entertains through battles like the gladiators of old. While in the comics the character has blue skin, here he’s white and while there were other reasons for the change (the director has said he avoided blue to have the character not be prepared to a previous Goldblum role) it’s hard to not see the white conqueror in the character. Garbage falls from the sky to liter the world and beings are captured to do battle for entertainment. The Grandmaster’s exploitation is for his own power and amusement, not benefiting the people or his “nation.”

Thor: How did you end up here?
Korg: Well, I tried to start a revolution, but didn’t print enough pamphlets so hardly anyone turned up. Except for my mum and her boyfriend, who I hate. As punishment, I was forced to be in here and become a gladiator. Bit of a promotional disaster that one, but I’ m actually organizing another revolution. I don’t know if you’d be interested in something like that? Do you reckon you’d be interested?

While the movie doesn’t go deep into the history of the Grandmaster and its people, the kicker at the end of the film makes it obvious this was not one of the people’s choosing. After an uprising breaks out over the planet, we’re returned to the aftermath at the end of the film when the Grandmaster says:

I just, I gotta say. I’m proud of you all. This revolution has been a huge success. Yay us! Pat, pat on the back. Pat on the back. Come on. No? Me, too. ‘Cause I’ve been a big part of it. Can’t have a revolution without somebody to overthrow! So, ah, you’re welcome. And, uh, it’s a tie.

By his words and the reactions of those around him, it removes any doubt that this was a benevolent rule and this quick scene speaks to the relationship between ruler and its people.

Played by Cate Blanchett, Hela is the true villain of the film attacking and then overtaking Asgard as its new ruler. While she stamps out any resistance, it’s what’s revealed that makes it clear the wise Odin (her father and previous ruler) isn’t as benevolent as we have been led to believe the last two films. Asgard is a land of beauty with gold towers and flowing robes. But, how did it gain such extravagance? Hela reveals that Odin waged war against the other realms using Hela as his weapon of choice and then stripping those conquered of their raw materials. The revelation hearkens to the relationship that has plagued our real world for so long and continues to this day in the raw materials used to produce in our consumer drive lives.

We see the past literally being covered up when Hela walks into the Asgard throne room tearing down a mural on a ceiling revealing a far more sinister historical one underneath. At this moment she literally tears down the veiled lies.

Hela: [sees a mural of Odin’s work] Gardens and goblets? Peace offerings? All his deeds of peace… none of what he did to get it!
[tears down the mural to reveal a dark mural underneath]

For hundreds of years nations have waged war against each other conquering others and forcefully taking manual labor, raw materials, and leaving destruction in its wake. Hela reveals this fantasy world featured the same through Odin’s actions. While he might have claimed that Hela was banished due to her thirst for destruction, it was also his attempt to cover up the misdeeds of how he built his kingdom.

Hela’s return is a reminder of the atrocities and crimes committed by Odin’s rule. “Peace” relatively exists but only after his conquest.

Hela’s return is the past come back to haunt the Asgardians and consequence of their past actions. Up to this point the kingdom hasn’t paid for their crimes and Hela is that executioner for the guilty people.

The Asgardians by the end become refugees after their land is destroyed and they must flee for their survival. The former apex nation descends. Their reign has ended as the past has come back for its due. The imperial nation no more they are left to float in space with little direction to go and no “homeland” to call their own. They have paid for the sins of their past leadership refusing to accept their role in its actions and their gains as a people by the blood of others.

Comic Con Organizers Seized for Alleged “Attack on Morals”

An armed Libyan group attacked and closed a comic book convention in Tripoli over the weekend. The organizers were detained for an “attack on morals and modesty.”

This was the city’s second comic convention and hundreds attended it before it was cut short, even cosplaying as their favorite characters. The arrests came on the second of the three day event.

That same day, the Special Deterrence Force (Rada) entered the venue arresting the organizers and seizing materials. The group are Salafist’s, ultra-conservative “reform branch” who are Sunni Islamists. The group claimed the organizers “preyed” on the city youth and were going to hand over those seized to prosecutors. The group sees themselves as an “anti-crime unit.”

Rada in a statement said the Comic Con was:

…derived from abroad and exploit weakness of religious faith and fascination with foreign cultures.

The organisers and supervisors of the event were arrested and will be presented for public prosecution for acts of indecency and against public morals.

It is necessary to address these destructive phenomena and fight them, which drive the dissemination of pornography and feed the minds of teenagers and motivate them to kill and mutilate through well-known cartoons.”

Some Libyans had attacked the convention on social media claiming it was un-Islamic and a “Halloween party.”

Since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, militia groups have stepped in to fill the security vacuum that has been created under the U.N.-back Government of National Accord.

Check out a video below from last year’s debut convention:

Up, Up, and Away for Justin Trudeau this Halloween

Canada has their Prime Minister in Geek with Justin Trudeau who has had no issues showing off his nerdy geek cred. The Prime Minister went as Clark Kent/Superman this year and clearly had fun while doing so.

Legends of Tomorrow Commemorates Trump’s Pussy Grabbing Remark with a Plaque

Donald Trump hasn’t even been President for a year and he’s already getting plaques commemorating him. A small metal plaque has been posted at the studio where the now President commented to Billy Bush about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

The plaque was posted by producers of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow which airs on The CW. The comments which was recorded by Access Hollywood occurred on the same lot for the show.

The hot-mic recording happened in 2005 when the then Apprentice host bragged to show host Billy Bush about kissing and fondling women without their consent, assault.

The plaque reads:

On this spot in September 2005, Donald J. Trump bragged about committing sexual assault. In November 2016, he was elected President of the United States.

The plaque was taken down 15 minutes after it was put up. Now, the Legends team just needs to work this into their show…

(via The Hill)

Marvel Teams with Northrop Grumman for Custom Propaganda (Updated)

Earlier today, Marvel tweeted out a promotion this Saturday at New York Comic Con involving weapons manufacturer Northrop Grumman.

Under their “Custom Edition” printing arm, the company will see N.G.E.N. (Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus) meet the Avengers in a story called “Start Your N.G.E.N.S.!“. The comic is marked as “all ages” and written by Fabian Nicieza with art by Sean Chen.

Marvel’s “Custom Edition” allows the company to work on special comics like this for instance they’ve produced a comic for a pharmaceutical company to promote their drugs to treat IBD.

In this comic:

When RED RONIN emerges from the Hudson, the Avengers assemble to stop his destructive march toward New York City. But when the mechanical behemoth proves to be a match with seriously upgraded technology, a call for assistance goes out to a new super group. Northrop Grumman’s Elite Nexus is a team of scientists who specialize in cutting edge, hi-tech adventures. The new squad of heavy hitters, known as N.G.E.N. rushes in to assist the Avengers. But who could be behind Red Ronin’s mysterious attack?

Why doesn’t this sit well?

Northrop Grumman is a leading U.S. military contractor and aerospace company known as the producer of the B-2 Stealth bomber and fighter jets like the F-14 Tomcat (a competing company to Lockheed Martin) and also been fined for hundreds of millions of dollars for charges such as bribery, fraud, workplace safety issues, wages, and more.

There’s numerous reasons this corporate team-up is disappointing including it goes directly against Marvel’s “progressive” claims. It’s a help to mainstream part of the military industrial complex through comic propaganda.

The company is no saint and unlike Tony Stark has not seen the light when it comes to their death merchant ways.

In the 1970s the company was embroiled in controversies over illegal campaign contributions as well as $30 million in bribes it paid to foreign governments to win contracts.

During the 1980s there was numerous investigations about mismanagement over their work on the MX Missile and B-2 Stealth Bomber (defrauding upwards of $2 billion in this case alone) and in 1989 they were indicted on criminal charges of falsifying test results. Instead of a trial the company plead guilty to 34 fraud charges and paid a fine of $17 million. In 1992 the company paid $4.2 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit over padding invoices regarding the MX missile system.

The company then paid $1.4 million in 2000 to settle another whistleblower case about overcharging the Air Force. 2003 saw a $111 million settlement about overcharging the Pentagon for work on several programs. 2003 also included an $80 million settlement regarding two False Claims Cases. 2004 saw a settlement of $1.8 million over a whistleblower case from the 80s involving cruise missiles. 2005 saw $62 million paid to settle claims about overcharging for the B-2 bomber program.

The company was awarded a contract after the U.S. invasion of Iraq for $48 million to train the new Iraqi army. They did such a horrible job the Jordanian Army was brought in to take over.

In 2007 the Justice Department said Northrop would pay $8 million to resolve allegations about improperly testing equipment used in night vision goggles and sniper scopes sold to the Pentagon. 2008 saw a whistleblower bring a lawsuit about overcharges regarded the Joint STARS radar aircraft program.

The 00s weren’t done as the company then paid $325 million to settle charges that it failyed to test out parts for spy satellites. They wound up being defective.

They kicked off the 10s with a $12.5 million settlement that they neglected to test electronic parts it supplied for military aircraft and submarines.

Beyond fraud they’ve also destroyed the environment. A former complex in Bethpage, New York was contaminated with carcinogenic solvent and named a superfund site in 1983. The cleanup didn’t work.

There’s also labor abuses that led to strikes and in 2007 guest workers employed by a contractor were being held against their will.

A subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, Litton Industries, provided parts of source code for guidance and navigation systems aboard Air Force One to a company in Russia in 1998. They paid $15 million in fines for 110 violations of the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulation. They also failed to notify the U.S. State Department about guidance systems transfers to Angola, Indonesia, Israel, China, Ukraine, and Yemen.

Northrop Grumman also owns the Vinnell Corporation, a defense contractor who’s also a mercenary outfit that’s worked in fifty countries and allows US support with “official” United States involvement. Vinnell has trained other military organizations and in the case of training in Saudi Arabia it was used to crush unrest in Bahrain regarding the Arab Spring. This is the subsidiary that failed to train the Iraqi army.

The company has also been in a legal dispute with the city of Richmond, Virginia over IT infrastructure, showing off even more deplorable business actions.

We’ll of course have a full review of the comic as soon as possible.

Update: Marvel has cancelled the NYCC event and pulled the comic from Marvel Unlimited. References to Marvel have been removed from Northrop’s end. It’s unknown if the entire partnership has been dissolved.

Support Comic Creators By Rejecting Graham-Cassidy and Supporting Healthcare

We’ve reiterated numerous times on our site that ending the Affordable Care Act would have a devestating impact on the comic industry. Way back in February I brought up the fact the industry should get organized politically to oppose legislation such as this and prepare for battles in the future.

Here’s what I had to say then:

The pay for comic creators can be pretty low and add on top of that a lack of benefits and it’s clear that eeking out a living as a creator isn’t the easiest or most rewarding career there is. Freelance creators are forced to purchase their own healthcare through the ACA, from a union, a spouse, or through another job. That first option is currently at risk with threats of a repeal which will cost an estimated 18 million people their insurance in the first year.

Our insurance system is flawed, that’s not what this is about, this is about ensuring an easy way for self-employed individuals to gain insurance, not be discriminated against due to pre-existing conditions, and benefiting women and helping with their choice of birth control.

A repeal would increase costs by either putting some individuals in a high cost “risky pool,” deny coverage outright, or increase out of pocket benefits. It’s estimated that women will have to pay $1.4 billion in copay for birth control for instance.

That’s less money in the pockets of creators. More freelance jobs needed to take. Possibly greater cover prices due to the need to charge more by freelancers. Decreased health. Less money means less traveling for conventions. Less interaction because time spent online is time not spent earning money.

Quality of life will decrease for those in the industry.

What this means is the industry needs to start thinking of solutions. A guild through which freelancers could purchase insurance or publishers offering ways for creators to buy into their offerings are both solutions. Now is the time to think this through before it’s too late.

All of that stands today and we’re about seven days until creators who rely on the ACA can breathe a bit easier. Republican Senators are attempting to ram through legislation to gut the ACA before the end of the month because after they’ll need to work with Democrats as they’ll have to get 60 votes to pass major legislation.

Cassidy-Graham is a joke of a legislation shifting funds into block grants for states and allowing them to each set up their own system and standards. Some might do better than what the government does while others could gut protections and guarantees that exist causing skyrocketing costs leaving individuals destitute.

It’s reported that:

  • 21 to 32 million will lose their insurance
  • Those with pre-existing conditions will not be protected
  • “Under this bill, pregnancy will cost you an extra 17K. Metastatic cancer 172K. Autism 5K. Asthma 4K.” Just some examples.

Those with pre-existing conditions will see increases in their insurance and those who face life threatening illnesses won’t be able to afford treatment. While John McCain has said he will oppose the legislation putting the 50 votes it needs in doubt, there’s still a chance like a serial killer in a movie, it’ll come back to life before the month is done.

So, we’re asking you to take action and make your voice heard. Here’s a handy tool that you can fill out and they’ll connect you with your elected officials as well as a script for you to read. By doing so, you’ll support creators and allow them to worry about one thing less in their lives when this legislation is defeated.

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