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Showing posts from May 8, 2014

Who can control the post-superpower capitalist world order?

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[Normally I think of Žižek as a court jester-at-large - a bit of a fool - but this piece is actually quite thoughtful. *RON*]

Slavoj ŽižekThe Guardian, 6 May 2014
To know a society is not only to know its explicit rules. One must also know how to apply them: when to use them, when to violate them, when to turn down a choice that is offered, and when we are effectively obliged to do something but have to pretend we are doing it as a free choice. Consider the paradox, for instance, of offers-meant-to-be-refused. When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich uncle, we both know he will cover the bill, but I nonetheless have to lightly insist we share it – imagine my surprise if my uncle were simply to say: "OK, then, you pay it!"

There was a similar problem during the chaotic post-Soviet years of Yeltsin's rule in Russia. Although the legal rules were known, and were largely the same as under the Soviet Union, the complex network of imp…

Anti-austerity group to contest 40 seats in local elections

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[This, in Ireland, is the first I've heard of a party (or alliance) running explicitly on an anti-austerity platform. This group is running against the Labour Party in Ireland. *RON*]
Elaine Edwards, Irish Times, 8 May 2014 A group opposing water charges and other austerity measures will contest 40 seats in the local elections on May 23rd and said it planned to “obstruct” the Government’s agenda for further cuts.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance said it would use council seats as a “platform to organise opposition to water tax and other austerity measures”. It officially launched its campaign in Dublin today.

Candidates include Fingal councillor Ruth Coppinger and Mick Murphy, who was treasurer of the anti-water charges campaign in the 1990s.

The alliance is also backing Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy in the European Parliament elections.

“More than any other previous local election in recent history the verdict that will be cast by working peopl…

Chantal Bernier Says Ottawa Snooping On Social Media

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[I doubt the government is aimlessly scraping up information about its citizens: there is more to be learned here. Certainly it's clear that more accountability is needed here for the government. I wonder if Chantal Bernier will be appointed permanently by Harper when her interim term is done? :-) *RON*]

CBC, 05/08/2014


Federal government departments are collecting data on Canadian citizens via their social media accounts for no good reason, Canada's privacy watchdog says.

In a letter to Treasury Board president Tony Clement in February, interim privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier says "we are seeing evidence that personal information is being collected by government institutions from social media sites without regard for accuracy, currency and accountability."

The letter dated Feb. 13th also reads: "Should information culled from these sites be used to make administrative decisions about individuals, it is incumbent upon gov…

Jason Kenney: Without Foreign Workers, Canadians Would Lose Jobs

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[Kenney lies when he says that these are mainly skilled workers. See the following CBC story, in which they demonstrate that "the largest portion of the businesses that received authorizations, by far, were in the food service sector":http://goo.gl/FCsfE4. *RON*]

By Lee-Anne Goodman, CP / Huffington Post, 05/07/2014


OTTAWA - Most of the temporary foreign workers hired in the manufacturing sector over the past three years in Windsor, Ont. — a hotbed of unemployment hit hard by the global recession — were skilled workers who repaired and installed industrial equipment, Jason Kenney said Wednesday.

"The overwhelming majority of these (labour market opinions) were issued for industrial instrument technicians and mechanics for less than six months," the embattled employment minister said in the House of Commons before tabling some of his department's data on the region.

"These would typically be people who are installing equi…

Elizabeth Warren: A Fighting Chance

[Whatever Elizabeth Warren says publicly, this has all the ear-marks of someone positioning herself to run against Hillary Clinton - and I for one would welcome that heartily! *RON*]


ECB holds rates but Draghi hints at policy change

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[The ECB is bankrupt -- of policy ideas. The economy continues to drag its tail as it has for years now; increasing numbers of nations are in active states of deflation; and unemployment is over 30% in parts of Europe (which doesn't bother the ECB in the slightest). Their only, persistent thought is to give money away to corporations, who pass it to their CEOs and shareholders, then simply sit on the balance, neither creating jobs nor making capital investments. *RON*]

BBC News Business, 8 May 2014

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has hinted the bank's policymakers may act soon to reverse the eurozone's prolonged low inflation.

The ECB chief said on Thursday that the monetary authority was "not resigned" to low inflation, which at 0.7% is well below the 2% target.

The comments followed that ECB's decision to keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.25%.

Low inflation makes it harder for people and…

The poor sidelined with access to safer water

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[Differences in health and mortality attributable to income inequality are due to such things as access to water facilities that are separate from sewage facilities. "When we fail to provide equal access to improved water sources and sanitation we are failing the poorest and the most vulnerable children and their families." *RON*]

An AFP story published on Al Jazeera, 08 May 2014.

The number of people who lack access to safer drinking water has fallen drastically over the last two decades but the progress has all too often sidelined the poor, the United Nations has said.

A new report released on Thursday underscores a recent report on efforts to improve drinking water and sanitation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF said 89 percent of the globe’s population had access to improved water supplies at the end of 2012.

But despite that progress, 748 million people - roughly half of them in Sub-Saharan Africa and most of the re…

Online Surveillance: Government, Business Sharing Info In 'Unprecedented' Ways

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[A review of Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada. Click here to see the 'nine themes'. When Canada's chief spies share intelligence on environmentalists with oil and gas executives, is it helpful to frame the situation with such blanket circumspection? -- "There is no conspiracy," "it's not always that simple," "the vast grey area in between makes simplistic metaphors about Big Brother meaningless," "it is more difficult to decide what information is private and what is not," or "Surveillance is not bad in itself." What would it take for them to finally say "This is wrong"? *RON*]

By Jim Bronskill, CP / Huffington Post, 05/08/2014


OTTAWA - Personal information is flowing between the public and private sectors in unprecedented ways, posing fresh risks to privacy, says a new book on surveillance in Canada.

Data gathered for one purpose may easily be used for another …