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To my erudite and gentle readers, I wish you all a wonderful and prosperous New Year.  We made it, Hallelujah!

 

 

The underwhelming performance of the Democratic President Obama is really unsurprising considering the context of the current US political system.   State capitalism continues to grind the general population into dust to enrich the business class with Obama at its helm.  Considering where the majority where his contributions come from Obama is performing up to expectations.   Noam Chomsky looks at the hollow brand of Obama and what really his particularly vacuous platform of “Hope & Change” really mean in his book “Hopes and Prospects” in the final chapters.  I’ll reproduce some highlights from that last chapter.

“Labour journalist and lawyer Steve early wrote that “while running for office, Obama said he strongly backed the Employee Free Choice Act, a long overdue labour law reform measure that should be part of his promised economic stimulus plan.”  However, when Obama introduced his top economic advisers on taking office “and talked about steps to ‘jolt’ the economy…the Act was not part of the package,” and Chief of Staff Emanuel “declined to say whether the White House will support the Employee Free Choice Act… [Workers] will be watching closely to see whether their plight merits the same helping hand so quickly extended to Wall Street.”

The answer has been sharp and clear, and working people did not have to wait very long to find it out.  EFCA quickly vanished,  And to make priorities even clearer, a few weeks after taking office, President Obama decided to show his solidarity with works by giving a talk at a factory in Illinois (February 12th, 2009).  He choose a Caterpillar plant, over objections of chruch, peace, and human rights groups, who were protesting Caterpillar’s role in providing Israel with the means to devastate the territories it occupies and to destroy the lives of the population – also killing an American volunteer, Rachel Corrie, who tried to block the destruction of a home.

Apparently forgotten, however, was something else.  Following Reagan’s lead with the dismantling of the air traffic controllers union, the new hardline CEO of Caterpillar, Donald Fites, rescinded the contract with the United Auto Workers in 1991, instituted a lockout, threatened to bring in “permanent replacement workers”, and later did so, for the first time in generations in manufacturing industry.  The practice was illegal in other industrial countries apart from South Africa at the time; now the United States appears to be in splendid isolation.  It is hard to imagine that Obama and his advisers purposely chose a corporation that led the way to undermine labour rights.  More likely, they were unaware of the facts, which would be an even worse indictment of the business-run doctrinal system.

At the time of Caterpillar’s innovation in labour relations, Obama was a community organizer in Chicago and visiting fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.  He must have been reading the Chicago Tribune, which ran a careful study of these events.  They reported that the union was “stunned” to find that unemployed workers crossed the picket line with no remorse, while Caterpillar works found little ‘moral support’ in their community, one of the many where the union had “lifted the standard of living for entire communities.”  Wiping out of those memories is another victory in the campaign to destroy workers’ rights and democracy that is relentlessly waged by the highly class-conscious American business sector, elementary facts about American society that the union leadership had stubbornly refused to understand.  It was only in 1978 that the UAW president Doug Fraser recognized what was happening and criticized the “leaders of the business community” for having “chosen to wage a one-sided class war in this country – a war against working people, the unemployed, the poor, the minorities, the very young and very old, and even many in the middle class or our society,” and for having “broken and discarded the fragile, unwritten compact previously existing during a period of growth and progress.”

Placing one’s faith in a compact with owners and managers is suicidal.  The UAW is discovering that again today, as the state-corporate leadership proceeds to eliminate the hard-fought gains of working people while dismantling the productive core of the American economy, with government assistance. “

– From Noam Chomsky’s Hope and Prospects pages 217 – 219.

I urge you faithful reader to purchase or get this book from the library as it provides depth and insight into the American body politic that you most definately will not find in your local newspaper.

 

Let us not take lessons from the religiously addled with regards to running our justice system.

“An Iranian court has ruled that a man must  lose his eye and part of an ear after he blinded and burnt an ear of another man in an acid attack .  Judge Aziz Mohammadi gave the order against the man, who was only identified as Hamid, after convicting him of throwing acid on the victim, named as Davoud, hardline Kayhan newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The judge also ordered Hamid to pay blood-money for the burn injuries suffered by Davoud, who was 22 at the time of the attack, in a ruling issued under the Islamic Republic’s eye-for-an-eye justice code.  Hamid told the court he had mistaken Davoud for a classmate who had bullied him in hfigh school, saying that even after moving, he remained tormented by the memory of the bullying.”

The Iranians will not be getting any bonus points for human rights any time soon if they continue with this sort of activity.

“The report, quoting other sources, including Iran’s Fars news agency, did not say whether the authorities would, in fact, carry out the  punishment by using acid or via surgery.”

Wow.  By surgery or by acid, so many wonderful options.  How about imprisonment?   How about monetary compensation?  Or other options that do not involve maiming the individual in question.

Woo for You!

The CBC needs a proper throwdown on alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is untested, unproven and most of the time ineffective. Does the CBC title for the story reflect this? – “Herbal medicine may be risky for kids.”  Talk about a time to relegate journalistic “objectivity” to the sidelines.  Presenting a ‘balanced case’ for both sides when one side is a dangerous illusion is irresponsible reporting.

“Giving alternative treatments such as homoeopathic remedies instead of conventional medicines to children may have deadly side-effects in rare instances, a new analysis says.”

Trying to cure ailments with unproven treatments is a deadly practice.  End of line.

“Australian researchers monitored reports from pediatricians in Australia from 2001 to 2003 looking for suspected side-effects from alternative medicines like herbal treatments, vitamin supplements or naturopathic pills. They found 39 reports of side-effects including four deaths.”

You know why you only hear about the alternative medicine success stories?  The majority that did not make it are dead.

“In the study, researchers found infants to children aged 16 were affected by complementary medicines and that in nearly 65 per cent of the cases, side-effects were classified as severe, life-threatening, or fatal. In 44 per cent of cases, pediatricians believed their patient had been harmed by a failure to use conventional medicines.

“We have known for a long time that alternative medicines can put patients at risk,” said Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England. He was not linked to the study.

“Perhaps the most serious harm occurs when effective therapies are replaced by ineffective alternative therapies,” he said. “In that situation, even an intrinsically harmless medicine, like a homeopathic medicine, can be life-threatening,” Ernst said.

Embracing woo is hazardous to your health.

“Many of the adverse events associated with failure to use conventional medicine resulted from the family’s belief in complementary and alternative medicine and determination to use it despite medical advice,” Alissa Lim of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and colleagues wrote.

They described one case of a 10-month-old baby who had severe septic shock after being given naturopathic medicines and was assigned to a special diet to treat eczema. In another case, an infant who suffered multiple seizures and a heart attack died after being given alternative therapies — which the parents had chosen due to their concerns about the side-effects of regular medicines.”

Misinformed, ignorant people paying woo practitioners to kill them and their loved ones.  A deplorable state of affairs that could have been averted with just a touch of critical thinking.

Sparsely populated, cold for half the year and a relatively well off population makes Canada a lively hub of Internet activity.

“Canadians spend more time online than users in any of the countries tracked by measurement company comScore, which also said Canada had the highest penetration of internet access. About 68 per cent of the Canadian population is online, comScore estimated in April, compared to 62 per cent in France and the United Kingdom, 60 per cent in Germany, 59 per cent in the United States, 57 per cent in Japan, and 36 per cent in Italy.

Canada was the only country in which users logged an average of more than 2,500 minutes online a month, which is almost 42 hours. Israel was second with an average of around 2,300 minutes, while a few other countries were around the 2,000-minute mark.”

Most Internet couch potatoes!  Hurrah notoriety!  And we like watching youtube videos with reckless abandon!

“In Canada, YouTube per capita consumption of video is No. 1 in the world. It’s just absolutely crazy in terms of how passionate Canadians are about YouTube,” said Chris O’Neill, Canada’s country director for Google.  It’s estimated that about 21 million Canadians visit YouTube each month, compared to 147 million Americans. But considering the U.S. has 10 times Canada’s population, Canadians are way ahead on a per capita basis.”

There is some heartening news though, apparently we reference Wikipedia more than anyone else in the world.  Hopefully as a starting, not an endpoint, to data gathering.

“The average Canadian web surfer reads 16 Wikipedia pages a month, which is the most in the world — one more than German users, two more than Polish users and four more than Americans. Canadian users generate about 217,000 edits a month, which ranks 8th among the most productive countries.”
We should really keep this story quiet, as with the “economic recovery”, I’m sure Steven Harper will try to take credit for it.

 

As yet another new beginning approaches us, one is asked: “Why bother with life if there is no eternal reward, why struggle with the pain and the hardship, all for nothing”?  QS takes that question on and provides much food for thought in this compelling video.

 

Happy Holidays ;)

 

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