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Showing posts from December 27, 2015

The Cannibalized Company: How the cult of shareholder value has reshaped corporate America

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[The same basic story keeps getting re-written in slightly different form, but little enough happens in response. Buybacks fueled by cheap credit leave workers out of the equation. *RON*]

By Karen Brettell and Timothy Aeppel, Reuters, 23 December 2015


The story of two Iowa cousins - one a retired teacher, the other a laid-off Deere & Co worker - shows who benefits, and who doesn't, in the vast money-go-round powered by the chase for higher investment yields.

Michael Moore Just Exploded the Right's Biggest Lie

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[I'm not all that sure what the story title refers to. The article is about Michael Moore's latest documentary, which lays out a political agenda for the US by looking around the world for its best policy ideas. If followed, this would permit progressive to actually vote for something, instead of just voting against the right. *RON*]
By Sophia A. McClennenSalon / AlterNet, 26 December 2015

Michael Moore’s new film, “Where to Invade Next,” is sure to generate Oscar buzz. It is already on the short list of 15 documentaries from which the final five nominations will be announced on Jan. 14. But rather than wonder whether Moore will score a second Oscar (his first was for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2002), the question to ask is whether this film can spark a political revolution just in time for the 2016 election.

“Where to Invade Next” has a wide release set for Feb. 12, which is also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the week of the New Hamps…

Dutch city plans to pay citizens a ‘basic income’, and Greens say it could work in the UK

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[Thomas Paine has his day. Utrecht takes step towards paying people a salary whether they work or not. *RON*]
Daniel Boffey, The Guardian, 26 December 2015
It’s an idea whose adherents over the centuries have ranged from socialists to libertarians to far-right mavericks. It was first proposed by Thomas Paine in his 1797 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, as a system in which at the “age of majority” everyone would receive an equal capital grant, a “basic income” handed over by the state to each and all, no questions asked, to do with what they wanted.

It might be thought that, in these austere times, no idea could be more politically toxic: literally, a policy of the state handing over something for nothing. But in Utrecht, one of the largest cities in the Netherlands, and 19 other Dutch municipalities, a tentative step towards realising the dream of many a marginal and disappointed political theorist is being made.

Looking back at 2015 through Vancouver Observer's top stories

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[The Vancouver Observer's choice for their stories of the year. *RON*]
Vancouver Observer, 26 December 2015

The year 2015 has been scary, exciting and rewarding, filled with soaring highs and abysmal lows. Below is a list of our top stories of the year, those that attracted the most traffic, and those that provoked thought and reflection. The stories are local, national, and global in scope and all worth reading twice over the holidays.


Alabama Governor Uses BP Spill Money To Fix Up A Second Mansion For Himself

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[From the You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department. Politics and venality: he can't be accused of not knowing his priorities. Governor "says the move has no connection to the fact that he recently lost two beachfront properties in a messy divorce." *RON*]
By Alice Ollstein, Think Progress, 27 December 2015


As storms once again battered the state of Alabama over Christmas, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley moved to divert funding from the 2010 BP oil spill recovery effort to finance the renovation of a second Governor’s mansion on the Gulf Coast.

Yet that beachside mansion, which Alabama governors beginning with famed segregationist George Wallace have enjoyed, was not damaged by the BP oil spill. It was damaged more than two decades earlier by Hurricane Danny, and has sat empty ever since.

Searching for Steele

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["An investigation into the role played by a retired US colonel in Iraq's US-funded sectarian interrogation units." You can click on the link above to view the entire 47 minute video. *RON*]

Source: Al Jazeera, 27 Dec 2015


Sparked by Wikileaks' release of classified US military documents, this investigation uncovers how the Pentagon sent James Steele, a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America, to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from fighters.

Composed of violent Shia militias, these commandos evolved into death squads and eventually numbered over 17,000 men.

General David Petraeus is also implicated in the chain of command in this abuse of human rights. Colonel James Coffman, another special forces veteran drafted in to oversee the operation, describes himself as Petraeus' "eyes and ears out on the ground" in Iraq.

&…

Poor and uneducated are biologically different to affluent, UCL finds

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["Scientists at University College London have found that hormone levels of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' are significantly different which could explain health inequalities." At best this is a mechanism, not an explanation. In order to have given any insight into the meaning of these findings, this article should have spent most of its space explaining the difference between correlation and causation. *RON*]

By Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph, 25 Dec 2015

Poor and uneducated people could be ageing faster, and more vulnerable to disease, because their hormones are out of balance, a new study suggests.

Scientists have known for some time that the most underprivileged members of society die earlier and are ‘biologically older’ than the rich, with those in the most affluent areas expected to live around eight years longer than those in the poorest regions.

Now researchers at University College London believe they have found a poss…

Smyth: B.C. Liberals deny unions an exclusive deal for Site C megaproject

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[For Site C, B.C. Hydro has opted for an "open-shop" contracting model, meaning union and non-union companies are free to bid. If the unions and the NDP together can raise the alarm that BC workers are getting shafted in this deal, this could create big political problems for the Liberals in the next election. The problem is that the NDP has, so far, been useless to the point of seeming to be non-existent. *RON*]

By Michael Smyth, The Province, 24 December 2015



The NDP and the construction unions say jobs will be going to workers from Alberta and Saskatchewan. B.C. Hydro and Energy Minister Bill Bennett say there will be tonnes of jobs for British Columbians and the complaints are ridiculous.


The way the Christy Clark government sees it, giving British Columbia’s construction unions an exclusive deal to build the Site C dam would send the cost of the megaproject into the stratosphere.

Make that higher into the stratosphere, actually, as th…