Friday 24 February 2012

 

First-World Race to the Bottom: European Edition

 
 
 
By Marshall Auerback
AlterNet.org

21 February 2012 — Unemployment in Germany is now at a 20 year low and the country’s economy seems to be impervious to the strains afflicting its neighbors in the economic periphery- notably, Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain. So shouldn’t everyone else be copying Germany’s model?

In a recent speech in Berlin, Angel Gurría, the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 developed countries, gave Germany a big thumbs up, saying that the country’s “growth model has been so successful in navigating through the stormy waters of the crisis.”

But hold on a minute. Germany’s model is badly flawed. And because it impoverishes workers, the model will ultimately be a drag on the European economy. Here’s why. (More.)


 
By Shiv Malik, James Ball and Lizzy Davies
The Guardian

24 February 2012 — Unpaid jobseekers have been forced to clean private homes and offices for more than a month at a time under government employment schemes, despite mounting evidence that the controversial policy is reducing the overall availability of paid work by replacing temporary jobs and overtime for other staff.

A succession of high street shops have pulled out of the schemes this week amid criticism that using unpaid labour to carry out routine tasks such as filling shelves amounts to a public subsidy for employers, but the practice extends far beyond the retail industry.

The Guardian has now discovered through a freedom of informatin request that a major government contractor has compelled jobseekers to work as unpaid cleaners in houses and offices under the programme. (More.)


Syrian tribes and clans denounce foreign interference

Syrian tribes and clans denounce foreign interference. 46534.jpeg

Heads of clans and tribes of Syria supporting the country's defense

Prenza Latina

24 February 2012 — The heads of the clans of Syria gathered in assembly Monday 30 January in Raqqa in the north of the country. They confirmed what is believed among the people that they are facing a foreign conspiracy and expressed support for their government.

Speaking on television, Sheikh Saleh Al-Nuemi, chief organizer of the forum, said that these communities, which generally live in rural areas particularly in the north, are aware of the need to defend national unity. (More)
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Corporate war, corporate army

The American way of war is being out-sourced and robotized,

making mass murder nothing more than another profit center

   
By Tom Engelhardt
TomDispatch.com via ReaderSupportedNews.org
 
24 February 2012 — In the American mind, if Apple made weapons, they would undoubtedly be drones, those remotely piloted planes getting such great press here. They have generally been greeted as if they were the sleekest of iPhones armed with missiles.
 
When the first American drone assassins burst onto the global stage early in the last decade, they caught most of us by surprise, especially because they seemed to come out of nowhere or from some wild sci-fi novel. Ever since, they've been touted in the media as the shiniest presents under the American Christmas tree of war, the perfect weapons to solve our problems when it comes to evildoers lurking in the global badlands.
 
And can you blame Americans for their love affair with the drone? Who wouldn't be wowed by the most technologically advanced, futuristic, no-pain-all-gain weapon around?
 
Here's the thing, though: put drones in a more familiar context, skip the awestruck commentary, and they should have been eerily familiar. (More.)
 
True North Perspective publishes in
the best traditions of Canadian journalism
If you think it's too radical, please read
Wisdom is a result of a happy marriage between intelligence and experience.
© Carl Dow, Editor and Publisher, True North Perspective.
 
True North Perspective
Vol. 7, No. 07 (309)
Friday 24 February 2012
 
Editor's Notes

The problem with the Truth

is that it can shock the hell out of you

All of us absorb the mores and folkways of our parents and our immediate family and friends, starting from the very time we are born. We adopt ideas, including prejudices, and ways of doing things as if they are the only natural ways of life. Anything contary stirs suspicion and anger.

By the time we are eight, we're sure that we've got it all figured out. And this assurance is reinforced as time goes along by all sources of information. Aside from our community of family and friends. there's the schools, and the flood tide of the media, including the obvious, news and entertainment, that tells us how we should think and how we should behave. 

We find ourselves in a comfortable groove of feeling that we are at one with the majority until something like war, natural disaster, or unemployment, trembles our stability.

And more important than the above is being confronted with information that contends that everything we have been taught, everything that we have come to believe, is wrong. That there is another way of looking and believing. This will shake most of us into an angry response that is conditioned on a will to ignorance that hardens as we grow older. (More)

"News is what (certain) people want to keep hidden. Everything else is just publicity."
-- PBS journalist Bill Moyers.
 
Your support makes it possible for True North to clear the fog of "publicity" and keep you informed on what's really happening in the world today. Please send your donation to:
 
Carl Dow, True North, Station E, P.O. Box 4814, Ottawa ON Canada K1S 5H9.
 
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Alex Binkley is a foremost political and economic analyst whose website is www.alexbinkley.com. Readers will be aware that his columns in True North Perspective have foreseen political and economic developments in Canada. This week in ... 

The Binkley Report

Federal government muzzle gets tighter

There are more flacks hiding Harper than reporters trying to get the truth

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

24 February 2012 — Largely overlooked in the flap over Vikileaks was the main theme of a science conference in Vancouver that laid bare as big a threat to an open society as the ham-handed Internet snooping legislation.

The Harper government has essentially gagged civil servants so they can’t talk to reporters or the public. Weather forecasts may be the only communication that doesn’t require approval in advance. (More)
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From the Desk of Dennis Carr, Sustainable Development  Editor

Humanity's growing impact on the world's fresh water

It takes water to make everything, and the explosion of demand for all manner of products is draining rivers, shrinking lakes and depleting aquifers.
 
By Sandra Postel
National Geographic's Water Currents
 
23 February 2012 — This story first appeared on National Geographic's Water Currents blog.
 
As the human population has climbed past seven billion, and the consumption per person of everything from burgers to blue jeans has risen inexorably, the finiteness of Earth’s freshwater is becoming ever more apparent.
 
It takes water to make everything, and the explosion of demand for all manner of products is draining rivers, shrinking lakes, and depleting aquifers. (More)
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Health Watch
 
 
U.S. scientists say they have devised a new formula for calculating calories and weight loss that will revolutionize the way people diet
 
By Kerry Sheridan
Agence France-Presse/AlterNet.org
 
20 February 2012 — Everything you know about dieting is wrong, say US scientists who have devised a new formula for calculating calories and weight loss that they hope will revolutionize the way people tackle obesity.
Obesity rates have doubled worldwide in the past 30 years, coinciding with a growing food surplus, and the ensuing epidemic has sparked a multibillion dollar weight loss industry that has largely failed to curb the problem.
 
Current standards in the United States, where two thirds of people are overweight or obese, advise people that cutting calories by a certain amount will result in a slow and steady weight loss over time.
 
But that advice fails to account for how the body changes as it slims down, burning less energy and acquiring a slower metabolism, researchers told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Vancouver. (More.)
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Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

« Hope springs eternal in the human breast. »

(So please pay it forward!)

True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more www.albertevilleneuve.ca.

24 February 2012  — I had intended to write something about Family Day but my elderly mother fell and was rushed to hospital during the night, this past Saturday.
 
Family emergencies always shift thoughts about the dynamics of life. I completely lost my train of thought as my weekend plans shifted also.
 
My sister suggested we put a plan forward in the event that our mom’s weakened heart and congested lungs would prove fatal.
 
I had no plan in mind. (More.)
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Spirit Quest
 
By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

24 February 2012 — As many of us know, The Underground Railroad has nothing to do with London’s Tube, Paris’ Metro or Toronto’s Silver Sewer Rat that transport millions every day through the bowels of large cities. It was, instead, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th century black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.

When my son Stephen was studying in Keen, New Hampshire, he lived in a great old mansion out in the country that had been such a safe house. A tunnel from the house to the river was the underground passage that aided thosetravellers to reach the river where often under the cover of night they made their way north. Nevertheless, in so-called free states their liberty was still compromised by bounty hunters who sought to recapture  the slaves and take them back south where a hard welcome awaited them. (More)

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Beating the Drum

The New and Improved Oxy

Beverly Blanchard is an Ojibway First Nation from Northern Ontario.  She holds a degree in Economics. During the last twenty-two years, she has worked as a consultant to First Nation and Inuit organizations in a variety of disciplines including: homelessness, suicide prevention, violence prevention, childcare, HIV/AIDS, women’s issues, business planning, and economic development. She has also designed and delivered Aboriginal awareness and stress management workshops to Federal government employees. Currently, Ms Blanchard is a life strategy coach, author and energy healer in Ottawa.

By Beverly Blanchard
True North Perspective

24 February 2012 — Crush it. Mix it with some water, add a little heat and put it in a needle. They say it is a real high. They also say it is a very addictive.

I was somewhat confused when I read all the headlines regarding OxyContin last week. Health Canada is discontinuing it. The pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma who manufactures OxyContin is no longer producing it. Various provinces are no longer going to fund it. The more I read the more confused I got. So I decided to do a bit of research. Here is what I came to understand.

Apparently this decision was not a decision that was made in the past two weeks.  According to Purdue Pharma’s website, on August 22, 2011 Health Canada approved OxyNEO as a replacement for OxyContin. Purdue then began discussions with the provincial drug plans and other stakeholders, and was looking to introduce OxyNEO in 2012 in Canada.

This transition to OxyNEO was already completed in the United States in 2010. There are some who say the real reason for the Purdue Pharma’s drug change deals with exclusively with the issue of expiring drug patents, and not with being a better corporate citizen. (More)
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O! Canada!
 

The Prime Minister has a definite program to rob Canadians of their basic democratic rights and treasured values. And he's going to cause irreparable damage

By Nick Fillmore
XRayMagazine.ca
 
23 February 2012 — The stepped-up authoritarian, anti-democratic manner in which Stephen Harper has conducted himself since obtaining his Parliamentary majority nine months ago raises serious concerns about how far right he is planning to push the country in his effort to forever change the face of Canada.

Harper hates many things about Canada – most of all the moderate liberalism that a majority of people have preferred over the years.

He has adopted a ‘take-no-prisoners’ attitude, rushing ahead with destructive plans never before discussed in public, as well as doubling cuts to government compared to what he said before the election.

Elected with the support of only 25 per cent of eligible voters, Harper nevertheless is running roughshod over the wishes and interests of the majority 75 per cent of Canadians.

So, just how extreme is Harper’s behaviour? (More.)

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From the Desk of Darren Jerome

A continuing update on the war against WikiLeaks transparency

Please be advised that the below is not just the same old thing. By clicking on it you'll find the petition in support of Julian Assange and discover fascinating on-going reports and videos related to one of the most important events in modern history, and the desperate attempts to put a lid on information that everyone should know. Don't miss this special opportunity to stay informed.

Report from Obama's America

Cet animal est tres méchant; quand on l'attaque, il se défend. (This animal is very wicked; when you attack it, it defends itself) - French proverb
By Mike Lofgren
TruthOut
 
23 February 2012 — It is hard not to think of that Gallic witticism when observing recent international events. Aside from almost daily threats from the governments of Israel and the United States to attack Iran - a violation of the United Nations Charter - Iran has been subject to sabotage, violations of its airspace by military drones and assassinations of its citizens.
 
Under the circumstances, it is not surprising to hear news of attempted attacks on Israeli embassies in Georgia, India and Thailand. Iran may very well be behind them.
 
Or perhaps all is not as it seems. (More.)
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Third Ways
 
 
By Jim Hightower
Truthout

24 February 2012 — We're being told by today's High Priests of Conventional Wisdom that everyone and everything in our economic cosmos necessarily revolves around one dazzling star: the corporation.
 
This heavenly institution, the HPCW explain, has such financial and political mass that it is the optimal force for organizing and directing our society's economic affairs, including the terms of employment and production. While other forces are in play (workers, consumers, the environment, communities and so forth), they are subordinate to the superior gravitational pull of the corporate order. Profits, executive equanimity and a healthy Wall Street pulse rate are naturally the economy's foremost concerns.
 
But wait. There's another, much better way. (More.)
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Future: Tense (End of Work Department)

Forbes, other publishers, using computer-generated stories

By Jason Boog
MediaBistro.com

17 February 2012 — Forbes has joined a group of 30 clients using Narrative Science software to write computer-generated stories.
 
Here’s more about the program, used in one corner ofForbes‘ website: “Narrative Science has developed a technology solution that creates rich narrative content from data. Narratives are seamlessly created from structured data sources and can be fully customized to fit a customer’s voice, style and tone. Stories are created in multiple formats, including long form stories, headlines, Tweets and industry reports with graphical visualizations.”
 
The New York Times revealed last year that trade publisher Hanley Wood and sports journalism site The Big Ten Network also use the tool. In all, 30 clients use the software–but Narrative Science did not disclose the complete client list. (More.)
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Annals of (Corporate) Education
 
 
Students to pay for survelliance of faculty correspondence
 
CAUT Bulletin
 
February 2012 — The universities of Western Ontario and Toronto have signed a deal with Access. Copyright that allows for surveillance of faculty correspondence, unjustified restriction to copyrighted works and two million dollars in fees that will be passed along to students.

The agreement reached last month with the licensing agency includes provisions defining e-mailing hyperlinks as equivalent to photocopying a document, an annual $27.50 fee for every full-time equivalent student and surveillance of academic staff email.

CAUT executive director James Turk des­cribed the news as incredulous. (More.)

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Science

Researchers resurrect ancient life form found in Andean tomb

By Robert T. Gonzalez
io9.com
 
20 February 2012 — Close to 1,500 years ago, indians living in what is now Quito, Ecuador buried their most revered dead in 16-meter-deep tombs. An ancient alcoholic beverage was commonly included in these burial vaults.
 
Now, by examining the clay vessels used to ferment and store this brew, a team of South American researchers has managed to not only recover the microbes the indians used to ferment the ancient beverage, they've actually revived them...and they're unlike any species they've ever seen. (More.)
 

The Old Man's Last Sauna
 
An eclectic collection of short stories by Carl Dow that will stir your sense of humour, warm your heart, outrage your sense of justice, and chill your extra sensory faculties in the spirit of Stephen King. The final short story, the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Sauna is a ground-breaking love story. The series begins with Deo Volente (God Willing). Followed by The Quintessence of Mr. FlynnSharing LiesFlying HighThe Richest Bitch in the Country or Ginny I Hardly Knows YaOne Lift Too ManyThe Model A Ford, the out-of-body chiller, Room For One Only and O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You! The series closes with the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Saunaa groundbreaking love story. All stories may also be found in the True North Perspective Archives.

Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine
www.youtube.com
A brief and crucial history of the United States
Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine
www.youtube.com
A brief and crucial history of the United States
Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine
www.youtube.com
A brief and crucial history of the United States
 

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