Showing posts from December 3, 2014

Study: Corporate Bribery and Corruption Grease the Gears of Global Capitalism

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[The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that large multinational corporations, led by top managers, are behind majority of documented bribery cases. Meanwhile, as we posted here on 26 November, multinational corporations are looking at suing the Canadian government for not allowing companies with criminal records to bid on public works contracts. *RON*]

by Sarah LazareCommon Dreams, 2 December 2014

Large multinational corporations are behind the majority of documented bribes worldwide, with most payers and takers hailing from rich nations, according to a study released Tuesday by the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The report, which evaluated data obtained from 427 bribery offense cases spanning the past 15 years, found that 57 percent of all bribes examined involved corporate efforts to obtain public contracts—mostly in western, more developed states. Customs and defense offici…

Economist: I’ve Crunched the Numbers, and the American Dream Is Dead

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["America has no higher rate of social mobility than medieval England or pre-industrial Sweden." *RON*]

By Travis Gettys, AlterNet, 2 December 2014
A California economics professor says he’s crunched the numbers, and he has concluded that the American Dream is dead.

Gregory Clark, a researcher at the University of California, Davis, found that social mobility had diminished significantly in the past 100 years, reported KOVR-TV.

“America has no higher rate of social mobility than medieval England or pre-industrial Sweden,” Clark said. “That’s the most difficult part of talking about social mobility, is because it is shattering people’s dreams.”

He said social mobility is little different in the United States than in other countries, where ancestry strongly predicts adult social status.

“The status of your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, (and) your great-great grandchildren will be quite closely related to your average…

CPP Disability Benefits Denied To 60% Of Applicants, Among Highest Rejection Rates In World

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[From the "Hitting People When They're Down 'R' Us" Department. We should all just marry multi-millionaire wives like Stephen Harper did, then there would be no problem. Meanwhile, Canada Pension Plan invested in dirty coal*RON*]
By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 2 December 2014

OTTAWA - One terminally ill Canadian denied Canada Pension Plan disability benefits has been "diagnosed with brain cancer and is currently undergoing chemo and radiation treatments," according to the government's woefully backlogged social security tribunal.

Another of the tribunal's so-called crisis files, obtained under the Access to Information Act, describes an applicant as having been "diagnosed with liver cancer and received a liver transplant."

Yet another has been "diagnosed with Pick's Disease, which is terminal."

They are among the ailing or injured Canadians who have app…

1.7m Syrian refugees face food crisis as UN funds dry up

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[This in the middle of winter. The residents on the ground are always the ones forgotten in these geopolitical clashes. World Food Programme forced to suspend food voucher scheme to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. *RON*]
Sam JonesThe Guardian, 1 December 2014 20.13 GMT

More than 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt are facing a disastrous and hungry winter after a funding crisis forced the UN’s World Food Programme to suspend food vouchers to hundreds of thousands forced into exile by the conflict.

Since the war began in March 2011, the WFP has brought food to millions of Syrians inside the country, and has used the voucher programme – which allows refugees to buy food in local shops – to inject about $800m (£500m) into the economies of those countries hosting them.

But after finding itself unable to secure the $64m it needs to support Syrian refugees in December, the WFP announced on Monday …

Edward Snowden wins Swedish human rights award for NSA revelations

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[Whistleblower (aka 'traitor' in the US) receives several standing ovations in Swedish parliament as he wins Right Livelihood award "for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights." *RON*]

Ewen MacAskillThe Guardian, Monday 1 December 2014 18.26 GMT

Snowden, speaking by video from Moscow, said: ‘All the prices we’ve paid, all the sacrifices we made, I believe we would do again - I know I would.’

Whistleblower Edward Snowden received several standing ovations in the Swedish parliament after being given the Right Livelihood award for his revelations of the scale of state surveillance.

Snowden, who is in exile in Russia, addressed the parliament by video from Moscow. In a symbolic gesture, his family and supporters said no one picked up the award on his behalf in the hope that one day he might be free to travel to Sweden to receive …

Obama: Wants to avoid 'militarized' police culture

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[As the wealth gap grows the 1% will need stepped up state security services for protection against the 99%. A great illustration of US media double-speak. Compare this article title with the one given to the same story in The Guardian: Obama resists demands to curtail police militarisation calling instead for improved officer training. This at the same time that police shootings of civilians and prison conditions are denounced by the UN:  U.S. shootings by police, prison conditions trouble U.N. And on the same theme: Shootings by police show their evolution into “security services”, bad news for the Republic. *RON*]
Nedra Pickler, Associated Press / Yahoo!, 2 December 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday he wants to ensure the U.S. isn't building a "militarized culture" within police departments, while maintaining federal programs that provide the type of military-style equipment that were used to dispel racial…

Colleges that pledged to help poor families have been doing the opposite, new figures show

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[Education as a commodity, not as a public good. Colleges continue to put burden of price hikes on poorest. See also How dozens of failing for-profit schools found an unlikely savior: a debt collector. *RON*]
By Jon Marcus and Holly K. Hacker, The Hechinger Report, 30 November 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Decked out in black tie and formal dresses, guests at Mr. Jefferson’s Capital Ball finished their salmon with horseradish sauce just as the band lured them onto the dance floor with classics including “Shout” and “My Girl.” Some of the people who paid up to $400 a couple to attend the event in the Grand Ballroom of the historic Mayflower Hotel joined in the Electric Slide.

The ball was more than just another Friday night party to ease Washington into the weekend. It had the commendable purpose of raising money for scholarships to the University of Virginia.

But not the kind of scholarships that go to low-income students based solely on their financial…

Greece rejects more austerity

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[See also Austerity could prove incendiary in Quebec and Alternatives to Austerity, and George Osborne has snared his party in its own austerity trap. *RON*]
By Derek Gatopoulos, Waterloo Region Record, 2 December 2014
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's conservative government rejected demands by rescue lenders for deeper austerity measures, the prime minister said late Tuesday, describing calls for further cuts as "catastrophic" for the country's chances for recovery.

Antonis Samaras' remarks signalled failure so far to reach agreement with bailout lenders before parliament begins debating the 2015 budget Wednesday that includes targets which other Eurozone countries have openly disputed.

"No one can accept this irrational and unjustifiable pressure," Samaras told a financial conference in Athens.

"No one has the right to behave toward us as they did two and a half or four years ago when things were falling apart ... To…