Showing posts from December 1, 2014

Wahhabism to ISIS: how Saudi Arabia exported the main source of global terrorism

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[Good piece by Karen Armstrong explaining the religious background to the development of ISIS. Although IS is certainly an Islamic movement, it is neither typical nor mired in the distant past, because its roots are in Wahhabism, a form of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia that developed only in the 18th century. *RON*]

By Karen Armstrong, The New Statesman, 27 November 2014

As the so-called Islamic State demolishes nation states set up by the Europeans almost a century ago, IS’s obscene savagery seems to epitomise the violence that many believe to be inherent in religion in general and Islam in particular. It also suggests that the neoconservative ideology that inspired the Iraq war was delusory, since it assumed that the liberal nation state was an inevitable outcome of modernity and that, once Saddam’s dictatorship had gone, Iraq could not fail to become a western-style democracy. Instead, IS, which was born in the Iraq war and is intent on rest…

Oil at $40 Possible as Market Redraws Politics From Caracas to Tehran

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[Good piece describing what's already happening and what is at stake. In the 1980s, when the Saudis got into a price race to the bottom in order to protect their market share (sound familiar?) oil got as low as $12 a barrel! See also How Oil's Price Plunge Impacts Wall Street and The Ruble Just Crashed To An All-Time Low As Oil Prices Tank*RON*]

By Gregory Viscusi, Tara Patel and Simon Kennedy, Bloomberg, 1 December 2014

Oil’s decline is proving to be the worst since the collapse of the financial system in 2008 and threatening to have the same global impact of falling prices three decades ago that led to the Mexican debt crisis and the end of the Soviet Union.

Russia, the world’s largest producer, can no longer rely on the same oil revenues to rescue an economy suffering from European and U.S. sanctions. Iran, also reeling from similar sanctions, will need to reduce subsidies that have partly insulated its growing population. Nigeria, …

The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black Men - And how to reform our bigoted brains.

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[An interesting and informative piece on the psychology and neuroscience of racism in general, with applications to the behaviour of police. I've clipped it as a "keeper" in Evernote. *RON*]

—By Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, 1 December 2014

"YOU'RE NOT, LIKE, a total racist bastard," David Amodio tells me. He pauses. "Today."

I'm sitting in the soft-spoken cognitive neuroscientist's spotless office nestled within New York University's psychology department, but it feels like I'm at the doctor's, getting a dreaded diagnosis. On his giant monitor, Amodio shows me a big blob of data, a cluster of points depicting where people score on the Implicit Association Test. The test measures racial prejudices that we cannot consciously control. I've taken it three times now. This time around my uncontrolled prejudice, while clearly present, has come in significantly below the average for white people …

Who will save Canada's economy from Harper and the CEOs?

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[Important statistics on the devolution of Canada as an industrial nation as we slide backward into being a more strictly raw resource-based petro-nation. And, on how Harper's giving lazy CEOs everything they have asked for has done nothing to improve Canada's competitiveness. *RON*]
By Murray Dobbin,, 1 December 2014

However you see it -- as separate from society or integral to it -- Canada's "economy" is increasingly at the mercy of a risk-averse, inept corporate elite addicted to government tax breaks and an ideologically addled government which more than anything else is simply incompetent. It is a deadly combination -- a sort of dumb and dumber team slowly dragging us backwards at a time when the world is just hoping there won't be another economic collapse.

In this there is little that is really new. It just keeps getting worse and seems that few in positions to challenge the situation or even expose it ar…

Dispelling Minimum Wage Mythology

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Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 21 October 2014.
[As a riposte to a recent Vancouver Sun article once again pretending that raising the minimum wage would be a sign of the Apocalypse, this recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives can be cited whenever you run into one of the Four Horsemen. *RON*]

The Minimum Wage and the Impact on Jobs in Canada, 1983–2012
AUTHOR(S): Jordan BrennanJim Stanford
Download: 697.6 KB, 26 pages

This report conducts a wide empirical study of Canadian employment data in search of any evidence that higher minimum wages reduce employment or increase unemployment. It examines the relationship between minimum wages and employment in all ten Canadian provinces between 1983 and 2012, and finds no consistent evidence that minimum wage levels affect employment in either direction. Instead, the research concludes that employment levels are overwhelmingly determined by larger macroeconomic factors.

A facepalm-inducing climate proposal from the Government of Canada

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[What a sad, sad showing. We're letting the planet go to hell in a hand-bucket and making monkeys of ourselves on the international scene at the same time. *RON*]
By Kelsey MechBrenna OwenAlex Cool-FergusKatie PerfittBronwen Tucker, Megan Van BuskirkAleah Loney,, 30 November 2014

Today, the COP 20 UN Climate Negotiations in Lima begin. As part of the lead-up to a global climate agreement next year in Paris, governments around the world will be discussing their commitments for emissions reduction targets. These commitments are slated to come in the form of intended nationally-determined contributions (INDCs) and are due in March 2015 -- three short months from now. Canada's most recent proposal avoids any mention of the tar sands and our increasing inability to meet emissions targets, and outlines only a handful of inadequate "solutions." Here are the highlights, or should we say lowlights, from the dismal prop…