Showing posts from November 12, 2015

It’s Not Just the Drug War

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[Long, interesting, informative article on the US penal system. Ideology meets corporatocracy meets racism meets the courts. Progressive narratives about what’s driving mass incarceration don't quite add up. *RON*]
by Marie Gottschalk, Jacobin, March 2015
When it comes to uniquely American nightmares, it’s hard to beat our carceral state. Living in a country with 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, many are aware of the human rights catastrophe taking place around them.

But when it comes to what’s actually driving this, the explanatory power of standard progressive narratives falls short.

The growing unpopularity of the War on Drugs and the number of bipartisan moves to, supposedly, roll back mass incarceration have led some leftists to believe that, finally, the prison-state is about to be cut down to size.

Yet a new book by University of Pennsylvania political scientist Marie Gottschalk, Caught: The Pri…

Earth-like world could be 'most important planet found outside solar system'

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[The most earth-like extra-solar planet discovered yet, but it's hot-hot-hot, with no realistic chance of sustaining life. But it's still extremely cool how many new planets are being discovered every year now. GJ 1132b is close enough for telescopes to observe any atmosphere it might have, which could help scientists spot signs of life on other planets in the future. *RON*]

Ian Sample, The Guardian, 11 November 2015

A rocky Earth-sized planet that circles a small, nearby star could be the most important world ever found beyond the solar system, astronomers say.

The planet lies in the constellation of Vela in the southern sky and is close enough for telescopes to observe any atmosphere it has, a procedure that could help spot life on other planets in the future.

Named GJ 1132b, the alien world is about 16% larger than Earth, and at 39 light years distant, is three times closer than any other Earth-sized rocky planet yet found around anoth…

Students across U.S. to march over debt, free public college

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[Taken to school by the banksters. US students are staggering under $1.2 trillion in debt. Germany, of course, does not charge college or university tuition and it is the strongest capitalist economy in the EU. *RON*]
By Curtis Skinner, Reuters, 12 November 2015

Students were set to walk out of classrooms across the United States on Thursday to protest ballooning student loan debt for higher education and rally for tuition-free public colleges and a minimum wage hike for campus workers.

The demonstrations are planned just two days after thousands of fast-food workers took to the streets in a nationwide day of action pushing for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and union rights for the industry.

Events for Thursday's protests, dubbed the Million Student March, have been planned at colleges and universities from Los Angeles to New York. Thousands of people signed up to attend on Facebook groups, though it remained to be seen how many would ultimately …

B.C. First Nations Could Be Awarded Millions For Government Error From 1950

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[Trying to pull a fast one? Canada "...ought to have known and taken this very ordinary precaution." The Doig River and Blueberry River First Nations of northeastern BC are potentially eligible for up to $150 million in compensation for improperly negotiated title of real property in a 65 year old land claim settlement. *RON*]
By Laura Kane, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 11 November 2015

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Canada could be on the hook for a 65-year-old mistake.

The Specific Claims Tribunal has found that the federal government botched a land purchase for two northeastern British Columbia First Nations in 1950 when it unknowingly failed to secure the rights to underground oil and gas reserves.

Justice Larry Whalen ruled that Canada failed to act in the best interests of the Doig River and Blueberry River First Nations by neglecting to adequately investigate the title it was acquiring on their behalf.

"A man of ordinary prudence ma…

Vancouver cops mum on use of covert cell phone surveillance technology

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[Stingray technology is considered creepy even by US surveillance standards. It would very surprising if a group like VPD was using this. This has national, constitutional policy implications; it will be very interesting to see if this garners even a peep from the new Trudeau government - or from Victoria, but don't hold you breath on that last one. *RON*]
Geordon Omand, Canadian Press / Vancouver Observer, 12 November 2015

Vancouver police are refusing to disclose whether they use, or have ever considered using, a controversial mass-surveillance device widely adopted in the United States and vigorously condemned by civil liberty groups.

Earlier this year the Vancouver department rebuffed a freedom-of-information request asking for any records about a technology known as Stingray. The department claimed that divulging documents on the topic could compromise the effectiveness of the force's investigative techniques.

Pivot Legal Society, the …

Is it meaningful to talk about the ownership of companies?

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[There's truth to what John Kay says here - the real power in corporations lies in the board of directors (or with the CEO, since nowadays they often hand-pick their boards) - but someone should also tell him about what activist investors such as Carl Icahn have been doing to big corporations these days. See also: Activist investors are targeting bigger companies: report, and Wall Street's Biggest Billionaire Activist Investor Targets Washington With $150 Million Super PAC and Yum bows to activist investor pressure. *RON*] 

John Kay, Financial Times / Personal Blog, 11 November 2015.

Shareholders own the corporation, and the duty of the directors to maximise shareholder value follows from that. I have lost count of the number of times I have been told “that is the law”.

But it is not the law. Certainly not in America, as Lynn Stout, a professor at Cornell University Law School, has pointed out.

Shareholders in England have more rights — but …

Our Economy Is Not Working: Joseph Stiglitz on Widening Income Inequality & the Fight for $15

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["...our view is that the only sustainable prosperity is shared prosperity and that one of the problems is that the way the rules have been rewritten since the beginning of Reagan has been to actually slow the American economy.... what we’ve done is we’ve actually undermined investments in people, investments in the corporation, all for the sake of increasing the income of the people at the very top. So there’s a really close link here between the growing inequality in our society and the weak economic performance." See also: Rising Income Inequality Causes Republicans to Shift Rhetoric—But Not Policy. *RON*]

Amy Goodman & Joseph Stiglitz, Democracy Now!, 12 November 2015

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist, Columbia University professor and chief economist for the Roosevelt Institute. His new book is called Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity.

The fight over income inequ…

Greek general strike: Petrol bombs and teargas during anti-austerity protest - live updates

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[General strikes are common enough in Athens, but not with Molotov cocktails, full riot gear, tear gas clouds and tourists running away from sidewalk cafes. Thousands protest against the 'vicious cycle' of austerity in Greece during a general strike. See also: Austerity a factor in rising suicide rate among UK men – study and Portugal eyes experiment with anti-austerity policies. *RON*]

Graeme Wearden, The Guardian, 12 November 2015

We’re hearing that petrol bombs were thrown at the headquarters of the left-wing Pasok party in downtown Athens, and that no-one was hurt. — Alexia L. (@AlexiaGH20)November 12, 2015

About 10 people, around 4.30 pm, threw Molotov cocktails in front of PASOK offices, in the area of ​​Exarchia #12ngr

Helena Smith

Greece’s unions are declaring today’s general strike a success.
Helena Smith has the details:

ADEDY, the civil servants’ trade union which reckons the strike’s turnout was at least 65% across Greece.