Showing posts from August 9, 2015

Austerity Kills: The Sad, Sick Truth About Right-wing Economics’ Body Count

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[Conservative economics wrecks lives and destroys people: Just look at the impact of brutal UK austerity policies. "If austerity were tested like a medication in a clinical trial, it would have been stopped long ago, given its deadly side effects…. One need not be an economic ideologue – we certainly aren’t – to recognize that the price of austerity can be calculated in human lives." *RON*]
By Mary O'HaraSalon, AlterNet, 9 August 9, 2015

Reprinted with permission from "Austerity Bites: A Journey to the Sharp End of Cuts in the UK" 
Austerity pushes people to the edge “This government will not cut [the] deficit in a way that hurts those we most need to help, that divides the country, or that undermines the spirit and ethos of our public services.” (David Cameron, in a speech in June 2010)

The mental strain unleashed by cuts:

Helpline caller number 1: ‘David’ is getting more anxious and more agitated the more calls he makes t…

Who Are the Biggest Killers in America? The Numbers Will Shock You

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[The richest Americans not only steal more wealth through white-collar crime, but their crimes also lead to more deaths. Every hour, two Americans are murdered. Every hour, six Americans die in unsafe workplaces. *RON*]
By Zaid Jilani / AlterNet, 5 August 2015

The criminal justice reform movement has shined a light on the inhumane conditions in our prisons, and the horrific killings of unarmed people by the police. This movement has done important work in demonstrating the needless brutality involved in our system, particularly as it is directed against marginalized groups: the poor and racial minorities.

Recently, I examined the economic backgrounds of those killed by police this year. I found that between January and May 2015, 95 percent of police killings occurred in neighborhoods with average incomes under $100,000. There were no killings in neighborhoods with incomes of $200,000 or above.

I received many responses to this article, but one of t…

Cannabis: Silicon Valley’s hot new sector

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[Capitalism and drugs. A budding industry shall we say? "California has the biggest medical marijuana market in the US. Ahead of a referendum that could see recreational use legalised, start-ups are proliferating and investment is pouring in." *RON*]

Leslie Hook, Financial Times, 7 August 2015
Wearing a straw hat and a big grin, farmer Casey O’Neill is busy greeting customers at a Saturday farmers’ market in Mendocino County, Northern California. “Another day in paradise,” he calls out, as one approaches. Fresh broccoli, courgettes and spring onions are on display on his table, all grown at his farm.

Next to the vegetables is a different kind of crop: mason jars full of marijuana buds, bearing handwritten labels such as “Lemon OG” and “Ogre Berry”. A bong sits at the front of the table, for sampling. “Wow, is that really grown outdoors?” says one shopper who takes a hit. Cannabis-infused honey, lip balm and chai tea are for sale at nearb…

Learning to Speak Lingerie: Chinese merchants and the inroads of globalization.

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[A truly fascinating piece on globalization, specifically, on Chinese merchants in Egypt. *RON*]

By Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, 10 August 2015 issue.

The city of Asyut sits in the heart of Upper Egypt, at a crescent-shaped bend in the Nile River, where the western bank is home to a university, a train station, approximately four hundred thousand people, and three shops in which Chinese migrants sell racy lingerie to locals. These shops are not hard to find. The first time I visited Asyut, I hailed a cab at the entrance of the city and asked the driver if he knew of any Chinese people in town. Without hesitation, he drove along the Nile Corniche, turned through a series of alleyways, and pointed to a sign that said, in Arabic, “Chinese Lingerie.” The two other shops, China Star and Noma China, are less than a block away. All three are owned by natives of Zhejiang province, in southeastern China, and they sell similar products, many of which ar…

Ferguson: 'They were never here to protect us'

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["When you're given a hammer you treat everything as a nail." Police reform at standstill as Americans mark the one year anniversary of the killing that sparked Ferguson protests. *RON*]

James Reinl, Al Jazeera, 9 Aug 2015
New York, United States - The protests have shrunk, but activists are still fuming.

At a recent rally against racial bias and brutality in the US' police forces, demonstrators illuminated a square in downtown New York with candles and traded stories about being stopped, frisked and hassled by cops because they are black.

One year since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot and killed by a white police officer, in Ferguson, Missouri - and despite some of the largest anti-racism protests to jolt the United States in years - many feel that their voices are still not being heard.

"We won't stop talking about this until people understand that we have rights," Elsa Waithe, 27, a decorator and …

Google's Search Algorithm Could Steal the Presidency

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[Interesting - the Internet and the Google-ocracy - should there be government controls? Via my friend Harry. *RON*]
Adam Rogers, Wired, 6 August 2015
IMAGINE AN ELECTION—A close one. You’re undecided. So you type the name of one of the candidates into your search engine of choice. (Actually, let’s not be coy here. In most of the world, one search engine dominates; in Europe and North America, it’s Google.) And Google coughs up, in fractions of a second, articles and facts about that candidate. Great! Now you are an informed voter, right? But a study published this week says that the order of those results, the ranking of positive or negative stories on the screen, can have an enormous influence on the way you vote. And if the election is close enough, the effect could be profound enough to change the outcome.

In other words: Google’s ranking algorithm for search results could accidentally steal the presidency. “We estimate, based on win margins i…

Kinder Morgan Pulls Trans Mountain Pipeline Ads During Federal Election 2015 Campaign

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[Politics and the oil corporatocracy. Notice: they only pulled the ads when threatened with legal action on an issue they had to be perfectly aware of. A better-phrased story title: Kinder Morgan pulls 'flurry of ads' for duration of federal election campaign after complaint. *RON*]
By Laura Kane, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 9 August 2015

VANCOUVER — Kinder Morgan will pull advertising for its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion during the federal election campaign, after a British Columbia New Democrat seeking reelection complained about a flurry of ads in local newspapers.

Kennedy Stewart sent a letter to Canada's elections commissioner earlier this week. He said if the company wants to promote a position on an election issue, it must register with Elections Canada as a third-party advertiser subject to spending limits.

"I have a very tough fight against my opponent in my riding," said Stewart, who is running…

Stephen Harper vows to make it illegal for Canadians to travel to terrorist hotspots

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[It's as though he's doubling down to test the limits - to see how obnoxiously undemocratic he can possibly be and still get away with getting elected. *RON*]

The Canadian Press, National Post, 9 August 2015
OTTAWA — The Conservatives are promising a legal crackdown on Canadians travelling to regions of the world controlled by terrorist groups.

The policy promise, made during a campaign stop today in Ottawa, would expand federal laws that make it a crime for Canadians to head overseas to fight alongside groups officially identified by the federal government as a terrorist organization.

'Democracy is too important to be left to the politicians’: Elizabeth May has a small party but a big voice
'In Canada, I feel like I'm sucking air': Canadian woman returns after fighting ISIL

The measure would establish “declared areas” — regions of the world where terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant hold contr…