Showing posts from September 24, 2015

Student accused of being a terrorist for reading book on terrorism studies

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[Staffordshire University apologises after counter-terrorism student Mohammed Umar Farooq was questioned under anti-extremism initiative. "What this case displays is something we have seen frequently: most notably the over-reporting of normal behaviour, and a fear-based approach that alienates and antagonises communities." *RON*]
Randeep Ramesh and Josh Halliday, The Guardian, 24 September 2015

A postgraduate student of counter-terrorism was falsely accused of being a terrorist after an official at Staffordshire University had spotted him reading a textbook entitled Terrorism Studies in the college library.

Mohammed Umar Farooq, who was enrolled in the terrorism, crime and global security master’s programme, told the Guardian that he was questioned about attitudes to homosexuality, Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaida.

His replies, Farooq said, were largely academic but he stressed his personal opposition to extremist views. However, the con…

Enough with the Pessimism about Peacekeeping

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[We are bombarded, on nearly a daily basis, by the fear- and war-mongering rhetoric of the Stephen Harpers of the world. This is how far Canada has drifted from its role as the world's peace keeper. It's well worth remembering that, despite the militaristic swing in big media sentiment, peace keeping remains a highly effective form of international intervention in support of peaceful coexistence. *RON*]
By Page Fortna, politicalviolenceataglance, 24 September 2015

The recent story from the New York Times about United Nations peacekeeping is typical of the pessimistic pieces one tends to see in the press. While the article acknowledged that “in some places…the presence of peacekeepers has saved lives”, it focused overwhelmingly on peacekeeping’s ineffectiveness, and worse — places the UN failed to stop the killing, allowed civilians to be killed, contributed to the spread of disease, or actively abused the civilians peacekeepers are meant…

The rise and fall of Burkina Faso's coup: what you need to know

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[Indicative of its fractious history, the relatively short Wikipedia article on the former French colony of Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso, uses the word "coup" 31 times. A seizure of power threatened to derail forthcoming elections, but a swift intervention from regional heads of state seems to have restored order – for now. *RON*]
Rakotomalala and Nadia Karoui for Global Voices online, part of the Guardian Africa network, 24 September 2015.
A coup in Burkina Faso threatened to pull the country further into political crisis, with leading ministers detained, violent clashes on the streets of the capital, and a wide-eyed general installed overnight as head of state.

But a swift intervention from west African countries including Senegal, Benin, and headed by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, has restored the country to order in an unprecedented – and peaceful – turnaround.

Pope tells Congress U.S. should reject hostility to immigrants

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[Will Born-Again vs Catholic become the Sunnis vs Shias of the US, or will American hard liners simply abandon any pretense at humane Christianity? Or will people eventually recall that politics and religion should have nothing to do with each other? *RON*]

By Philip Pullella and Scott Malone, Reuters, 24 September 2015

Pope Francis told Congress on Thursday that the United States should reject hostility to immigrants and treat them humanely, directly addressing a thorny subject that is dividing the country and stirring debate in the 2016 presidential campaign.

In the first speech by a pope to a U.S. Congress, the Argentine pontiff said the United States "must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past," when dealing with immigrants.

"Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility," the 78-year-old Francis told the Republican-dominated legislature.


Martin Shkreli announces turnaround on 5,000% price rise for drug

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[Turing, poster boy for Big Pharma venality, increased price of Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750, but now says it will make it more affordable.
:-D *RON*]
Reuters, The Guardian, 23 September 2015

Turing Pharmaceuticals, a small company that generated outrage by raising the cost of an old anti-infective drug by more than 5,000%, said it would roll back that increase to make sure it remains affordable.

Turing and its chief executive officer, Martin Shkreli, became the new face of the US drug pricing controversy this week, after the New York Times reported that the company had raised the price of Daraprim, a 62-year-old treatment for a dangerous parasitic infection, to $750 (£488) a pill from $13.50 (£8.79) after acquiring it. The medicine once sold for $1 a pill.

In America, You Can Work Hard, Play By the Rules, and Still Get Screwed

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[Labour under the corporatocracy. Being steadily employed ain’t what it used to be. *RON*]

By Pat TomainoJames M. Larkin and Zach Goldhammer, The Nation, 23 September 2015

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of three installments in a podcast series on American work produced in partnership with Open Source with Christopher Lydon, a weekly program on WBUR. In the final episode, we’ll consider policy solutions for working people that should be on the table in 2016. You can subscribe to the podcast oniTunes or Stitcher, or listen anytime at

Last week we spoke about the surprising history of the bloody, decades-long fight for a two-day weekend, an eight-hour workday, for pensions, worker safety, and a minimum wage.

But we also heard Calvin Coolidge’s famous line that “the chief business of the American people is business.” Almost a century later, that’s still true. Ours remains the biggest economy in the world, and American wor…

Why Is College So Expensive if Professors Are Paid So Little?

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[Great question. Education and the corporatocracy. These are educational professionals, and they need to be compensated like they are. *RON*]

By Michelle Chen, 21 September 2015

As the fall semester begins on the small-town campus of St Michael’s College in Vermont, Sharyn Layfield is entering the autumn of her educational career with the freshman writing seminar, The Examined Life. Lately, though, she’s been examining her own career with both mild pride and disappointment. With a degree in creative writing, she’s been working short-term teaching jobs since her 30s, often skirting poverty, never achieving the job security traditionally associated with academia. Now in her 60s, approaching retirement age modestly in a compact mobile home, she’s helping build one of Vermont’s few adjunct unions to help colleagues gain the respect on the job she has long been denied.

As an organizer with a newly formed SEIU local, she acknowledges she’s “too old to b…

Here’s How to Cop Watch - Everyone should know how to do this

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[It's come to the point where the public needs a primer on how to countervail our supposed protectors so you won't be hurt or jailed in the process. *RON*]

By Muna Mire, The Nation, 23 September 2015

Turn on the news and another reel is playing: A man is brutally beaten trying to buy groceries with an EBT card in Oakland; a woman refuses to put out her cigarette during a routine traffic stop and is never heard from again; two Texas deputies fatally shoot a man with his arms raised. The viral spectacle of police brutality captured on video is now inescapable, galvanizing fresh organizing like #BlackLivesMatter. It functions much like television footage of white terrorist violence in the Jim Crow South: When enough people were presented with incontrovertible evidence of brutality, public opinion became more favorable to activists.

Filming the police turns the tables on the police surveillance that black and brown communities face daily. Fo…