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Showing posts from August 25, 2016

Under The Knife: Human Rights and Inequality in the Age of Austerity

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[This raises a good question. What ever became of the United Nations' 2015 Sustainable Development Goals? *RON*]

Written by Ignacio Saiz and Luke Holland, Diplomatic Courier, 23 August 2016


In the wake of the global economic crisis austerity appears to have become the new normal. The fiscal austerity drive that has been aggressively pursued in Europe is now spreading around the world, with the International Labour Organization predicting that some 132 nations will implement significant reductions in public spending over the next few years. And with the ‘Brexit’ crisis in Europe fuelling fears of longer-term economic instability, the storm clouds of fiscal tightening are gathering in all corners of the globe.

Moreover, these austerity programs – generally comprising severe cuts to social expenditure, along with regressive tax hikes, and reforms to pensions, social welfare and labour protections – are intensifying despite ample evidence of the ne…

Private lives are exposed as WikiLeaks spills its secrets

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[This is terrible, and blame seems to lie squarely with Julian Assange, who could not be bothered to take the time and effort needed to protect people's privacy in his rush to get juicy stories out into the media. *RON*]
By Raphael Satter and Maggie Michael, AP The Big Story, 23 August 2016

CAIRO (AP) — WikiLeaks' giant data dumps have rattled the National Security Agency, the U.S. Democratic Party, and the Saudi foreign ministry. But its spectacular mass-disclosures have also included the personal information of hundreds of people — including sick children, rape victims and mental health patients, The Associated Press has found.

In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case…

Corporate tax cuts: why the old analyses don’t stack up any more (did they ever?)

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[Another good piece on why the neoliberal party line makes no sense, with a number of links to more detailed materials. *RON*]

By Rasmus Christensen, Fair Skat Blog / Tax Justice Network, 23 August 2016

Last month Pascal Saint-Amans, head of tax for the OECD, spoke to the Wall Street Journal, in an article subtitled The argument against taxing capital income relatively more than wages is losing its force. He said:

“For the past 30 years we’ve been saying don’t try to tax capital more because you’ll lose it, you’ll lose investment. Well this argument is dead, so it’s worth revisiting the whole story,” Pascal Saint-Amans, the OECD’s tax chief, said in an interview.”

This particular article came to our attention via the Fair Skat blog, which sketches out the implications – and they are highly significant. The usual story goes something like this:

“It’s important to cut taxes on capital because this promotes investment and growth. This is because h…

Like Humans, Chimps Reward Cooperation and Punish Freeloaders

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[It looks like this has been hard-wired into our evolutionary family tree for at least the seven million years since we split off from our common ancestor with the chimps. Recent research challenges the notion that our closest animal relatives don’t like working as a team. *RON*]

By Bret Stetka, Scientific American 22 August 2016

Although humans love the playful ways and toothy grins of chimpanzees, our primate cousins have the reputation of being competitive, churlish and, at times, aggressive.

New research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that despite being prone to occasional violent behavior, chimps actually much prefer cooperating over competing. In fact, the work shows that chimps work together at similar rates as humans—and that when violence does occur among apes, it is often directed toward an individual that is not being a team player.

Working with 11 chimps housed in a large outdoor enclosure at…

Set to Stun: Children Are Being Tasered by School-Based Police Officers

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[The glories of the American police state meet the glories of the American educational system. See also: Birmingham Police Really Want To Use Pepper Spray in High Schools. *RON*]
By Rebecca KleinThe Hechinger Report / AlterNet, 18 August 2016

It was just a dumb fight. Two boys, both juniors, stood in the hallway discussing a classic teenage hypothetical: whether one of them could win in a fight against another student. But when one of the teens, Scott, said he didn’t think his friend could win, things turned personal.

They flung curse words back and forth that Thursday morning in March, lurching through the hallway of Knightdale High School, slamming into a row of lockers and tripping over a trashcan. A video shot by another student shows a teacher breaking up the fight after a few seconds, and both teens ending up on the ground, hurt only in pride.

One student was ushered away. But 17-year-old Scott, whose name has been changed to protect his…

French police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban

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[How do they think this will improve ethnic relations? How do they think this will curb terrorism? See also: RCMP allows Muslim women Mounties to wear hijab. And: French ‘Burkini’ Bans Provoke Backlash as Armed Police Confront Beachgoers. *RON*]

Ben Quinn, The Guardian, 25 August 2016

Photographs have emerged of armed French police confronting a woman on a beach and making her remove some of her clothing as part of a controversial ban on the burkini.

Authorities in several French towns have implemented bans on the burkini,which covers the body and head, citing concerns about religious clothing in the wake of recent terrorist killings in the country.

The images of police confronting the woman in Nice on Tuesday show at least four police officers standing over a woman who was resting on the shore at the town’s Promenade des Anglais, the scene of last month’s Bastille Day lorry attack.

After they arrive, she appears to remove a blue long-sleeved tun…