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Showing posts from June 12, 2014

Seeing through the bankers' new clothes

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[In this excellent TEDx Stanford talk she delivered earlier this year, economist Anat Admati explains how she fell into a “rabbit hole” when she started studying banking around the time of the financial crisis. She likens Wall Street executives and financial analysts to the emperor in the memorable children’s fairy tale. “In banking, there are lots of people who say lots of things,” she says, pointing at bankers, policymakers, regulators, experts, academics and politicians. “A disturbing proportion of what they say has as much substance as the emperor’s new clothes.” *RON*]


The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking

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[I'm sure I must have posted this before, but it is so good that it is one of those things that must be posted every now and again so we will not forget it. *RON*]

by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, evidently not dated.

Necessary cognitive fortification against propaganda, pseudoscience, and general falsehood.


Carl Sagan was many things — a cosmic sagevoracious reader, hopeless romantic, and brilliant philosopher. But above all, he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and common sense, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and openness. In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (public library) — the same indispensable volume that gave us Sagan’s timeless meditation on science and spirituality, published mere months before his death in 1996 — Sagan shares his secret to upholding the rites of reason, even in the face of society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda.

In a chapter titled…

Poll shows liberals, conservatives worlds apart not just on politics

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[Maybe there's nothing surprising here, but two things occur to me. Right wing and left wing views and lifestyles grow apart as inequality grows, and the people on either fringe grow apart most rapidly. We need to bridge this gap somehow if we're not going to push ourselves toward more violence. I guess there's a third thing - wealthy corporatist capitalists are already arming themselves against this day and those on the left are not. *RON*]

By Domenico Montanaro, PBS Newshour, June 12, 2014
Liberals and conservatives don’t agree on much when it comes to politics. But it runs even deeper than that, a new Pew Research Center poll finds.

The most polarized on the right and left disagree on where to live, who to associate with, even how big their house should be and who their children should marry.

NewsHour will have a deeper look Thursday night at the Pew poll, but here are some of the data points, from a sociological standpoint that s…

Economic Hardship Makes People More Racially Biased

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[Scientific confirmation of what we already knew. A new psychology paper finds that people's subconscious racial biases worsen when they are made to feel that economic resources are scarce. *RON*]

—By Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, Jun. 12, 2014


The economic collapse of the late 2000s hurt most Americans—but not equally. In fact, according to a 2011 Pew study (visualized above), while median household wealth dropped by 16 percent for white Americans, it dropped a stunning 53 percent for African-Americans.

What accounts for this dramatic disparity? Traditional explanations tend to focus on structural economic factors, such as the fact that African American families had a higher proportion of their total wealth tied up in the vulnerable housing market, and that they were targeted by predatory lenders. But according to a new paper just out in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that may not be the full explanation. It looks as though …

Brian Sinclair inquest told aboriginals face racism in ERs

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[Canada - the world's self-proclaimed multicultural darling - still has deep and unacknowledged levels of racism and we are very uncomfortable acknowledging or discussing this fact. Sadly it's perfectly true that Aboriginal people understand that they need to take someone with them to act as a witness when they visit an Emergency Room. See also A Tribe Called Red Accused Of Racism Over 'Caucasians' T-Shirt*RON*]

By Chinta Puxley, CP / CBC News, Jun 10, 2014

One of Canada's top aboriginal public health experts says native people face racism and discrimination in the country's emergency departments.

Janet Smylie told an inquest into the death of an aboriginal man during a 34-hour wait in a Winnipeg hospital's ER that Canada's health care wasn't set up to include aboriginals.

Smylie, a Métis physician at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, suggested the health system is a loose extension of colonialism becau…

Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown

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[Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements. Do you hear Big Brother knocking on your door? See also Spying Is Meant to Crush Citizens’ Dissent, Not Catch Terrorists.*RON*]

A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term "warfighter-relevant insights" for senior officials and decision makers in "the defense policy community," and to inform policy implemented by "combatant commands."

Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD 'Minerva Research Initiative' partners with universities "to improve DoD's basic understanding of the social, cultur…

Americans by 2 to 1 Would Pay More to Curb Climate Change

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[Take the political corporate lackeys out of the equation and the people themselves would be sensible. Bear in mind that this is a poll from a nation that typically displays some of the weirdest most logically unsustainable views in the world. *RON*]
By Lisa Lerer, Bloomberg,  Jun 10, 2014
Americans are willing to bear the costs of combating climate change, and most are more likely to support a candidate seeking to address the issue.

By an almost two-to-one margin, 62 percent to 33 percent, Americans say they would pay more for energy if it would mean a reduction in pollution from carbon emissions, according to the Bloomberg National Poll.

While Republicans were split, with 46 percent willing to pay more and 49 percent opposed to it, 82 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents say they’d accept higher bills.

Kenney says Ottawa to proceed with income splitting, despite report saying it may worsen income inequality

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[This program benefits 10% of Canadians, most of them wealthy Albertans - not surprisingly, Harper's most loyal followers. The Harper government actively encourages the growth of income inequality in many ways - few of them as 'in your face' as income splitting, however - “This policy is an inequality generating machine.” And Kenney, in typical double-speak (a.k.a. bald-faced lying), has the nerve to call this "ending the unfairness." *RON*]
Julian Beltrame, Canadian Press, Financial Post, June 11, 2014
OTTAWA — Employment Minister Jason Kenney says the Harper government has no intention of backing away from its income splitting pledge, despite a new report concluding the plan would exacerbate income inequality and bestow the most benefits to the West.

Kenney made the statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday while debating an NDP motion to do away with the idea.

The report by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute concluded …

Government may delay decision on Enbridge Northern Gateway: Rickford

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["The fact that the Harper government is even considering a delay speaks volumes to how unpopular this project is," said ForestEthics campaign director Ben West. Running scared? To some degree. I would guess that they are desperately wracking their brains looking for the right "spin" to put on their proposal - there isn't one. If you haven't done so already, please visit Stand Strong Christy Clark and add your name to the thousands who have asked the premier to stick by her stated intentions with respect to the pipeline proposal. *RON*]

By Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, Jun 11th, 2014

In a long-winded response to reporters in New York, the Minister said the federal government could "obviously" take the Joint Review Panel's recommendation to approve the pipeline, or choose "other options that would or could include delays.” The federal government may delay a decision on the controversial Enbridge N…