Destroy The 40-Hour Workweek

image

Courtesy of Frugling.org:

Our American economy needs you to work nothing less than 40 hours per week. The message is simple: earn more, collect belongings, and don’t stop until you retire/die. Unless you meet this expectation, be prepared to be called lazy and unproductive — stuck in the unfortunate world of lower and middle incomes. And if you’re not doing something that makes more money than your neighbor, you ought to think about changing careers.

McMansions, vehicles, and stores grow. In turn, our consumption escalates. We need more to fill our bigger homes; otherwise, they feel empty. Meanwhile, our wallets are stripped and we maintain this cycle of work and near poverty — just getting by. Despite going through a horrific “great recession” over the last few years, companies have continued to report record revenue and profits. The business world is clearly benefiting from our workweek and continued spend.

This current system is predicated on infinite growth. If you’re not continually benefiting from pay raises and getting promoted, you’re not doing it right. Since the Industrial Revolution, we haven’t stopped to seriously question what we’ve created and amassed. Like worker zombies, it’s hard not to see the countless hours we put into companies — all so that we reach financial independence. Continue reading

Frankie Boyle letter about BBC in full

image

Courtesy of The Telegraph:

Obviously, it feels strange to be on the moral high ground but I feel a response is required to the BBC Trust’s cowardly rebuke of my jokes about Palestine.

As always, I heard nothing from the BBC but read in a newspaper that editorial procedures would be tightened further to stop jokes with anything at all to say getting past the censors.

In case you missed it, the jokes in question are:

“I’ve been studying Israeli Army Martial Arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back.

“People think that the Middle East is very complex but I have an analogy that sums it up quite well. If you imagine that Palestine is a big cake, well… that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.”

I think the problem here is that the show’s producers will have thought that Israel, an aggressive, terrorist state with a nuclear arsenal was an appropriate target for satire.

The Trust’s ruling is essentially a note from their line managers.

It says that if you imagine that a state busily going about the destruction of an entire people is fair game, you are mistaken. Israel is out of bounds.

The BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal in 2009 to help residents of Gaza rebuild their homes.

It’s tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying.

I told the jokes on a Radio 4 show called “Political Animal”. That title seems to promise provocative comedy with a point of view.

In practice the BBC wish to deliver the flavour of political comedy with none of the content.

The most recent offering I saw was BBC2′s “The Bubble”.

It looked exactly like a show where funny people sat around and did jokes about the news.

Except the thrust of the format was that nobody had read the papers. Continue reading

Student loan system is almost financially unworkable, say MPs

image

Courtesy of Rowena Mason @ The Guardian:

The entire student loan system is nearing a point where it is financially unworkable, the group of MPs in charge of scrutinising university policy has found.

In a scathing report, the Commons business committee called for an urgent review of the system, amid predictions the government is heading towards a multibillion-pound black hole in the funding of universities.

There are growing fears among academics about the student loan system, despite unpopular changes in 2011 that involved tripling tuition fees for students. In its inquiry, the committee found that plans to lift a cap on student numbers, funded by selling the student loan book, may make the funding gap worse.

The report will be published just days after the Guardian reported that Vince Cable, the business secretary, had stalled on the sell-off of the student loan book because of fears it would not raise the amount of money predicted. Cable has decided that it will not take place before the general election, although another government could revive the plan after that point. Sources insisted this would not stop Osborne’s plan to lift the cap on student numbers, saying this would be funded from elsewhere.

In their report, the MPs questioned whether the sale of the loan book would lead to a good return for the taxpayer, since the government’s own analysis has now found it would raise only £2bn rather than the £12bn originally expected by the government with “an unusual and potentially costly deal made to protect the private investor”. Continue reading

Offshore wind farms create ‘reef effect’ perfect for marine wildlife – especially seals

image

It would be interesting to see a worldwide study on the effects of wind farms providing reef like conditions for marine animals. Courtesy of The Independent:

Wind farms and wildlife do not always go together: the giant turbines have been accused of luring species to their death, and the noise they generate can drive away certain marine mammals.

But wind farms have an unexpected benefit if you happen to be a harbour seal hunting for food in British waters, according to a new study. They are a magnet for hungry seals eager to take advantage of the fact that fish and crustaceans tend to cluster on the structures – which become artificial reefs for marine life over time.

Offshore wind farms can be fertile feeding grounds for seals who choose to seek them out – concludes the study, by an international team of researchers from Britain, Holland and the US, published yesterday in Current Biology Journal.

This is because the presence of a hard structure beneath the waves attracts barnacles and other crustaceans, and, in turn, fish. Dr Deborah Russell, a research fellow at the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews, explained how the “reef effect” attracts seals. “Things like barnacles and mussels will settle on hard structures and then that in turn will attract other marine species and it builds up over time.”

Dr Russell, the lead researcher on the study, told The Independent: “The seals will be eating fish that are attracted to the artificial reef; we are not actually sure what species they are eating but I think it might be species like cod and whiting.” Continue reading

UK definition of terrorism ‘could catch political journalists and bloggers’

image

David Anderson said UK anti-terror laws were meant to give police powers to tackle al-Qaida-inspired terrorists, rightwing extremists and dissident Northern Irish groups. Photograph: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Courtesy of Alan Travis @ The Guardian:

The current British definition of terrorism is so broadly drawn that it could even catch political journalists and bloggers who publish material that the authorities consider dangerous to public safety, said the official counter-terrorism watchdog.

David Anderson QC, the official reviewer of counter-terrorism laws, said Britain had some of the most extensive anti-terrorism laws in the western world, which gave police and prosecutors the powers they needed to tackle al-Qaida-inspired terrorists, rightwing extremists and dissident Northern Irish groups.

“But if these exceptional powers are to command public consent, it is important they need to be confined to their proper purpose, and recent years have seen a degree of ‘creep’ in parliament that could be reversed without diminishing their impact”

In his annual report to be published on Tuesday, Anderson is expected to give three examples of how the terror laws were too widely drawn.

They included “actions aimed at influencing governments”, hate crime and what he called the “penumbra of terrorism”.

On the first, Anderson said Britain’s laws treated politically motivated publication of material thought to endanger life or to create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public as a terrorist act if it was done for the purpose of influencing the government.

He said in other European and Commonwealth countries the bar was set much higher and there must also be an “intention to coerce or intimidate”.

The watchdog said: “This means political journalists and bloggers are subject to the full range of anti-terrorism powers if they threaten to publish, prepare to publish something that the authorities think may be dangerous to life, public health or public safety.” Continue reading

How British Spies “Seed the Internet with False Info, Control YouTube Pageviews and Manipulate Online Polls”

Courtesy of Liberty Blitzkreig:

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have proof about an incredible set of tools used by the British equivalent of the NSA, known as the GCHQ, or Government Communications Headquarters. These tools will essentially confirm every single conspiracy theory you could have ever imagined when it comes to propaganda on the Internet. It allows British intelligence officers to: “manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, ‘amplify’ sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be ‘extremist.’”

Being the creative folks that they are, GCHQ even came up with code words to describe each “product.” These include, UNDERPASS (for poll manipulation), SILVERLORD (for censorship), GESTATOR (for the manipulation of YouTube views), PREDATORS FACE (for DDOS attacks), the list goes on…

Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept that:

The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.

The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

GCHQ refused to provide any comment on the record beyond its standard boilerplate, in which it claims that it acts “in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework” and is subject to “rigorous oversight.” But both claims are questionable.

Several GCHQ memos published last fall by The Guardian revealed that the agency was eager to keep its activities secret not to protect national security, but because “our main concern is that references to agency practices (ie, the scale of interception and deletion) could lead to damaging public debate which might lead to legal challenges against the current regime.” Continue reading

BRICS Announce $100 Billion Reserve To Bypass Fed, Developed World Central Banks

Courtesy of The Hedge:

As we suggested last night, the anti-dollar alliance among the BRICS has successfully created a so-called “mini-IMF” since the BRICS are clearly furious with the IMF as it stands currently: this is what the world’s developing nations just said on this topic “We remain disappointed and seriously concerned with the current non-implementation of the 2010 International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms, which negatively impacts on the IMF’s legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness.”

 image

As Putin explains, this is part of “a system of measures that would help prevent the harassment of countries that do not agree with some foreign policy decisions made by the United States and their allies.” Initial capital for the BRICS Bank will be $50 Billion – paid in equal share among the 5 members (with a contingent reserve up to $100 Billion) and will see India as the first President. The BRICS Bank will be based in Shanghai and chaired by Russia. Simply put, as Sovereign Man’s Simon Black warns, “when you see this happen, you’ll know it’s game over for the dollar…. I give it 2-3 years.”

  • BRICS MINISTERS SIGN DEVELOPMENT BANK AGREEMENT
  • INITIAL SUBSCRIBED CAPITAL OF BRICS BANK IS $50 BLN: STATEMENT

A quick take on existing monetary policy.

  • MONETARY POLICY MUST BE CAREFULLY CALIBRATED: BRICS STATEMENT

The punchline, however, is that using bilateral swaps, the BRICS are effectively disintermediating themselves from a Fed and other “developed world” central-bank dominated world and will provide their own funding.

We are pleased to announce the signing of the Treaty for the establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of US$ 100 billion. This arrangement will have a positive precautionary effect, help countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures, promote further BRICS cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements…. The Agreement is a framework for the provision of liquidity through currency swaps in response to actual or potential short-term balance of payments pressures.
Incidentally, the role of the dollar in such a world is, well, nil.

Continue reading