AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1350111 times)

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
This Brilliant Initiative Is Sending 100 Solar Trailers to Puerto Rico for Free
« Reply #9255 on: November 25, 2017, 04:52:10 PM »
 A remarkable collaborative effort to deploy portable solar energy systems to relieve critical areas in Puerto Rico is well underway.

The "Power On Puerto Rico" project from the Amicus Solar Cooperative, a nationwide solar energy cooperative, and Amurtel, an international disaster relief nonprofit, is sending 100 off-grid Solar Outreach Systems (SOS) to the storm-battered island.

New England-based solar company ReVision Energy is building the emergency power hubs at a warehouse in North Andover, Massachusetts. These 12-foot-long trailers each come with six foldable solar panels and can charge cellphones, lights, radios, laptops and other other low-load items.

Notably, the off-grid systems will be loaned at no cost to the communities for as long as they need them. Once they are no longer needed, the units will be redeployed to other areas as needs and events dictate.

"It is a 100 percent volunteer donation. Nobody is getting paid," ReVision Co-Founder Phil Coupe told the Portland Press Herald.

Ten of these trailers will be initially sent to remote community centers for residents to charge their gadgets.

While the SOS can't run whole buildings, "this is going to be supplemental emergency power for basic lighting, small electronics, communications," Coupe said.



Coupe told the Press Herald it could take three to six months to finish building all 100 planned units.

While the Puerto Rican government said the island's power should be mostly restored by Christmas, Coupe pointed out that the ReVision systems will still be important resources since they can be redeployed to other places that need emergency power.

"Based on the level of damage that we are getting reports on, these things will be useful for a year or more," he said.

"We are preparing for a climate where bad weather events are getting worse all the time," Coupe noted. "In that environment, a utility grid infrastructure with poles and wires is extremely vulnerable. Systems with power regeneration and batteries are proving to be resilient to those events."

The SOS units will be deployed by the Aireko Foundation, the Puerto Rican wing of Aireko Energy Solutions. Both Aireko and ReVision are Amicus members.

About half of the U.S. citizens living on Puerto Rico are entering their third month without electricity following the devastating Category 4 hurricane. The power restoration process has been grueling and mired in controversy (see Whitefish Energy).

"The aftermath of Hurricane Maria has been as strong and even harder, than the path of the storm itself, especially for those communities that are lucky enough to have this service, which are very few. Sadly, those communities are far from returning to their normal lives," said Hector Rivera Russe of Aireko Energy Solutions in a statement.

"I'm deeply touched by how my Amicus partners, alongside Amurtel, have jumped without hesitation, to putting their time, resources and effort to give relief to my people in Puerto Rico. I will always be thankful to them."

According to Amicus, while much of the design and components are being donated by its members, financial support will still be needed to see the project succeed. Donations are tax deductible and can be made here. Or you can send a check to Amurtel, PO Box 232, Warren, VT 05674.

https://www.ecowatch.com/power-puerto-rico-solar-project-2512174871.html?utm_source=EcoWatch%2BList&utm_campaign=a236c4f7e4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-a236c4f7e4-85986361
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
Pakistan calls in army to quell protests after 2 people killed, 250+ injured
« Reply #9256 on: November 25, 2017, 04:56:27 PM »
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)Pakistani officials on Saturday authorized the deployment of soldiers in the capital, Islamabad, to restore order after two weeks of raucous and violent protests.
At least two people died and more than 250 others have been injured in the street demonstrations, hospital officials said.
The Interior Ministry called for a "sufficient number" of Pakistan Army troops to help establish "law and order" in the Islamabad Capital Territory, according to the internal order.

The move, conferred under constitutional powers, was requested by the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration. It was not immediately clear when, or if, the army would take the streets.
Protesters had been blocking a key road connecting Islamabad and the neighboring city of Rawalpindi since November 8.

The group is demanding the resignation of the country's law minister for what it considers blasphemy after amended parliamentary bills weakened rules that require lawmakers to reference the Prophet Mohammed when taking their oaths.
Protesters on Saturday tried to break into the home of Law and Justice Minister Zahid Hamid, police in the Punjabi city of Sialkot said. Hamid and his family weren't home at the time. The gate at the residence was damaged, police said.

Slingshots and tear gas
Pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had given protesters around Islamabad until last Thursday to disperse, but they continued their demonstration.

Video from the scene Saturday showed law enforcement forces carrying sticks and firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters. Groups of protesters could be seen throwing rocks with their hands or using slingshots.
About 100 protesters were arrested Saturday, said Fakhar Sultan, a police officer in Rawalpindi city.
At least 112 people, including protesters and law enforcement, were being treated at the Pakistani Institute of Medical Services in Islamabad, said Dr. Tahir Nadeem, a physician at the hospital.
Three smaller protests broke out in Rawalpindi on roads leading to the capital, a journalist there said. The motorway between Rawalpindi and the eastern city of Lahore also was closed, as authorities feared more protesters might try to enter the city to support demonstrators in the capital.
Protests also broke out in Lahore and the southern port city of Karachi, local media reported.

Media blackout ordered
Private television channels in Pakistan were taken off the air by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, according to a message slate that replaced the channels' programming.

The agency had ordered local TV channels to refrain from live coverage of the ongoing government operation.
Only state-run PTV, which has not been reporting on the protest, remained on air.

Blasphemy accusations leveled
Demonstrators accuse the government of blasphemy based on a proposed changed that they say would soften electoral laws. The government has apologized and denied making such a change, calling it a clerical mistake.

Protesters want Hamid to resign over the matter. They support Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan, the hardline Islamist movement spearheading demonstrations.
The movement was formed by followers of Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed last year for shooting and killing Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer in 2011. Qadri allegedly killed Taseer because the governor spoke out against the country's blasphemy law, which makes insulting Islam a crime punishable by death.

As news of Qadri's death emerged, thousands of the executed man's supporters took to the streets in cities across Pakistan. They praised Qadri as a martyr who died for the cause of the Prophet Mohammed.
Since then, Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan has been attracting political and religious support through the country. A video on the party's Facebook page shows Rizvi reciting religious phrases into a microphone and his supporters repeating the phrases in unison.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/25/asia/pakistan-islamabad-protest/index.html
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
‘Boys’ for rent in Tokyo: Sex, lies and vulnerable young lives
« Reply #9258 on: November 26, 2017, 05:50:52 AM »

Bought and sold: 'Ko' spent three years as an urisen (rent boy) in Shinjuku's Ni-chome district. 'The place I worked at employed about 100 urisen, 10 of whom, including me, were gay, the rest nonke (straight),' he says.

At a glance, First Dash is just a regular Tokyo bar. Customers laugh and drink, their animated chatter competing with the monotonous beat of techno thumping through speakers hovering somewhere above dimmed, orange-tinted lights.

When a customer enters, however, a row of eight fresh-faced young men who had previously been gathered around the bar counter glued to their smartphones suddenly rise to their feet and in unison bark out a well-rehearsed greeting: “Irasshaimase!”

The customer — a portly, balding middle-aged man in a nondescript suit — shuffles over to a table followed by a slightly built teenage lad, ruffled locks partly shielding a furtive, floor-fixed stare.

“He’s here for an interview … and kenshū,” says bar manager Toshiyuki Matsuura, using a Japanese term for “training” that in everyday parlance would do little to raise any eyebrows.

On this occasion, however, the stocky customer is the instructor, and the “trainee” has been put through a rigorous day-long test to see if he can perform the job at hand, work in which many of the other staffers — who are referred to in this part of Shinjuku’s Ni-chome district as “boys” — are already well-versed.

They are known as urisen and their job is to “entertain” First Dash’s customers, who are almost entirely men.

“I think of myself as a kind of hedonist — I’ll do anything if it makes me feel good,” says “Hiroshi,” a strong-jawed 18-year-old “boy” from Chiba who, at 187 centimeters tall, is forced to stoop slightly as he makes his way across the floor of the cramped bar. “The clients I have served are aged between around 30 and 65. Usually they are masochists who want me to be, well, you know, domineering.”

For over 35 years, men have visited the bar, one of around 400 gay establishments in Shinjuku Ni-chome — Japan’s indubitable gay hub — to purchase the services of hundreds of young men like Hiroshi. While some want nothing more than a bit of company over dinner, others want a whole lot more, performing acts that in some cases could be argued verge on abuse, even rape.

“There are guidelines as to what I’m required to do,” says Hiroshi, who entered the business partly for the money, partly in an attempt to work out his sexual orientation. “But I’m willing to keep an open mind. I have no problem with gay people and don’t understand those who do. My sister is lesbian, and so is my aunt. … I can tolerate pretty much anyone — except rorikon (adults sexually attracted to children). They disgust me.”


Ian Thomas Ash, executive producer of the ‘Boys for Sale’ documentary.

The subject of urisen is at the center of a film titled “Baibai Boizu” (“Boys for Sale”), whose production was led by two foreign Japan residents. Since its release earlier this year, the documentary, directed by the singularly named Itako, has been screened in over 25 film festivals around the globe, including London’s Raindance and Los Angeles’ Outfest.

Many urisen interviewed for the film, whose more intimate on-the-job moments are cleverly represented by often-explicit animation sequences, are uneducated, occasionally homeless young men who cite financial hardships, even crippling debts, for taking on the work. It also highlights how some bar owners and managers willfully conceal crucial information about the nature of the work and potential health risks.

“I think the film tells a lot about the vulnerability of young people, particularly when they are economically disadvantaged and how they can be taken advantage of,” says Ian Thomas Ash, a Tokyo-based filmmaker from New York and executive producer of the film, which will make its Japan premiere on Nov. 26 during Tokyo AIDS Week.

“But we didn’t want viewers to go away thinking these guys are being victimized. Sure, there’s a willful holding back of information by owners, but there is also an almost willful ignorance on the part of the urisen.”

A legal business with a history

The urisen (rent boy) industry dates back to Japan’s growth years of the 1960s and ’70s, though its roots are thought to be found in Edo Period Japan (1603 -1868), when bisexuality was commonplace and male concubines found favor even with shoguns.

It continues to exist today thanks to a loophole in Japan’s Anti-Prostitution Law, which mentions nothing about paid sex between men. According to experts, the government has no plan to revise this, although it came under some scrutiny in 2015 when Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Takaya Muto was accused of engaging in sexual acts with a 19-year-old male prostitute on a number of occasions — a case that never went to court due to a lack of legal recourse.

While urisen clients are invariably homosexual, urisen themselves are mostly straight, though even those who are gay are told to pretend they are heterosexual as it provides an enticing challenge for many clients, according to Shingo, 28, a manager at First Dash who until recently worked as an urisen.

“We have 42 boys here, aged between 18 and 20,” says Shingo, passing over an iPad showing pictures and profiles of each of them. None of them knows exactly what’s required until they come for an interview, and some even have the impression that they will be paid to have sex with women, he says.

“Usually you can tell straightaway which ones will be able to do the work required of them. Money talk sometimes convinces some of the more reticent ones.”

Some decide it’s not for them and turn to jobs such as construction work paying ¥5,000 to ¥8,000 a day, he says. “Those who accept can earn that in an hour here,” he adds.

A former urisen who goes by the name of “Ko” says that this is one example of how management continues to find ways to deceive new intakes. While his monthly income could reach as much as ¥800,000, including “tips,” the situation is not always so rosy for some in the industry today, he says.

“The place I worked at employed about 100 urisen, 10 of whom, including me, were gay, the rest straight,” says Ko, who spent three years as an urisen and whose tip size would depend on what he was prepared to do.

“Regardless of sexual orientation, though, financial problems along with criminal convictions were common reasons for going into this work, though the pay is not what it used to be and turnover these days is pretty high. It’s clear in some cases that good looks are no longer a priority,” he says, for employers. “Some of the urisen look frankly ugly and really badly off, but the key question in this business is: Can you hack the work?”

First Dash’s Hiroshi says his average income is ¥10,000 per day, which he supplements with a daytime job. Another urisen, who uses the name “Shota” and works independently, says monthly income can be as little as ¥150,000. “It depends on the client — some are just regular salarymen types with little extra cash to burn, others lawyers, doctors, even teachers. I’ve even heard of well-known politicians and celebrities, Japanese and foreign, going to urisen for sex. To all of them, we are just a product.”

Film’s disturbing revelations

“Boys for Sale” includes interviews with two young men — one from Fukushima Prefecture, the other from Iwate — who have both ended up as urisen due to the loss of their homes and livelihoods following the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Both moved to Tokyo to find work and accommodation and were scouted off the streets as they arrived fresh off the train in the capital. According to Ash, one of them told him he heard the words “money” and “dorm,” and that had been enough to convince him to sign up.

According to one NPO in the devastated region, this is not an uncommon trend, and one that is not limited to young men. “I have heard of young women affected by the disasters who have been forced into sex work in Tokyo,” says Yuko Kusano of Miyagi Jonetto.

Perhaps the most disturbing revelation in the film is how poorly schooled interviewees are in sexual health matters. Some appear to have no or only a vague notion as to what sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are or how they can be transmitted. Soap, mouthwash and brushing teeth are cited as being effective ways to prevent them. One urisen is unsure if men can even get STDs.

Ash says he is occasionally asked by film viewers if he ever attempted to educate the urisen.

“These are people who don’t even possess the vocab to describe parts of their body or substances that come out of it,” Ash says of the urisen interviewees, whom he and fellow producer and director of photography Adrian Storey put in front of the camera — some with masks to conceal their identities — for one hour each within the confined space of a typical room where they would fornicate with their clients. “So you’re not going to get far trying to make them understand why it’s dangerous to brush your teeth before oral sex.”

Indeed, the same lack of awareness is apparent with regard to HIV/AIDS. First Dash’s Hiroshi admits to sometimes having unprotected sex, both at work and in private life, but is unconcerned about contracting AIDS. “It’s curable now, right?” he says.

Statistics show that this lack of concern about HIV/AIDS among young Japanese is part of a new and worrying trend.

“Many young people, not just those working in the sex industry, do not know about HIV/AIDS,” says Yuzuru Ikushima, executive director of Place Tokyo, which offers information on HIV prevention, supports people who have contracted HIV and also conducts surveys of HIV and AIDS prevalence among gay and bisexual men. “This is different from older age groups — even people in their 30s and 40s — who are aware of the dangers largely due to AIDS panics and incidents that have gone before.”

An example, he says, is the scandal that rocked Japan in the 1980s and ’90s, where up to 2,000 hemophilia patients contracted HIV via tainted blood products. “Since then there have been no such incidents in the news, and anyone under the age of 25 is oblivious to the dangers of AIDS. When it comes to prevention all they are told about at school is condoms, but even then, they are poorly educated in how to use them.”

Particularly vulnerable are those in the sex industry, especially those who are in a weak position, financially or physically, such as urisen — who fit the AIDS-unaware age profile almost too well.

“If a bar operator has a strict condom policy, that’s one thing, but … as there is money being exchanged, if the customer wants unprotected sex, I can imagine sex workers might find it difficult to say no. In the case of urisen, the boys are young and customers are invariably gay men, so this is another layer of concern that needs to be addressed,” Ikushima says.

Instilling a sense of responsibility among bar managers and owners is also essential, Ikushima says, although this concern is not confined to the urisen industry. Indeed, a similar lack of instruction on sexual health would seem to exist in host clubs, an industry that traditionally pairs handsome young men with female clientele, though not officially for sex.

“We never mention such matters as sexual health, STDs or HIV to our staff at interviews,” says Ryo Tachibana of Goldman Club in Shinjuku. “I’m sure unprotected sex is also requested. You just assume, for their own sakes, they will be careful.”

One host, who requested anonymity, said to his knowledge unprotected sex was “not unusual” among hosts.

The wider STD knowledge gap

An organization that has been searching for a solution to this problem since its inauguration over a decade ago is akta, an HIV/AIDS awareness NPO based in the heart of Ni-chome.

One of its main projects is an outreach program that delivers condoms and flyers about HIV testing and prevention to gay bars and cruising spots known as hattenba in the district. Every week, volunteers deliver to around half of the gay establishments in the area that are participating in the NPO’s Delivery Boys program, says akta President Kohta Iwahashi.

“Awareness has changed since we started operations in 2003,” he says. “Then it was difficult to gain cooperation among gay-bar operators whose customers questioned why contraceptives were being placed in a bar frequented almost entirely by gay men, or there would be the attitude of ‘Don’t bring talk of diseases to a district where people have come to enjoy themselves.'”

According to Iwahashi, one change is the gradual increase in the number of MSM (men who have sex with men) getting tested, which has risen 10 percent over the past decade. “Those getting tested for HIV now stand at around 30-35 percent, which is low compared with some Western nations but increasing nonetheless.”

There is now also talk of the arrival in Japan of an HIV-prevention drug for high-risk people known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which has been available in the U.S. since 2012 and been approved for use in Britain.

Reflecting Ikushima’s observations about a lack of HIV/AIDS awareness among the under-25s, however, are worrying statistics that show an increase in HIV diagnoses among that age group, from 65 cases in 2002 to 141 last year, according to health ministry data.

While incidences of HIV among Japanese aged 30 and over are still high, they have leveled out over the past decade, Iwahashi says. However, when it comes to the under-25s, surveys have unveiled a steep upward curve “of the kind never seen before,” he says.

“Whichever way you look at it, in Japan HIV/AIDS is a predominantly MSM problem and 73 percent of those who contracted HIV in 2016 were Japanese MSM,” says Iwahashi. “When you look at where the major movements are, it’s among younger MSM. And the background to that is the awareness issue.”

For all the apparent downsides of the industry, many urisen comment on a unique camaraderie that exists. “At one point there were so many urisen boys cramped into the small dorm room I lived in you couldn’t lie down to sleep and we’d take turns sleeping outside the toilet,” says Ko. “But that was all part of the fun.”

First Dash’s Hiroshi agrees. “There’s a special bond,” he says. “No matter how bad it gets, we’re in it together.”

Foreign men defy drop in HIV/AIDS cases

Numbers of HIV and AIDS cases among foreign residents in Japan continue to rise, according to health ministry statistics.

In 2016, homosexual contact accounted for 72.7 percent (735 cases) of all HIV infection cases (905) in Japan, while heterosexual contact (170) accounted for 16.8 percent, according to a Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare study. For reported AIDS cases (total 355), homosexual contact accounted for 55.1 percent (241) and heterosexual contact 26.1 percent (114). A further 82 HIV and 65 AIDS cases were listed as status “unknown.”

Yet while the figures for Japanese nationals have remained relatively stable over the past six years, even decreasing since 2012, the same can’t be said of HIV and AIDS cases among foreign residents, particularly men. Between 2005 and 2015, HIV cases among foreign males reached 108, including a more-than-four-fold increase among foreign men who have sex with men (MSM) (from 15 in 2005 to 66 in 2015). In 2016 that shot up further to 126 reported cases, although non-MSM case numbers were virtually unchanged. AIDS cases between 2015 and 2016 increased from 38 to 43.

In the past, women from Southeast Asia involved in the sex industry were thought to make up the bulk of foreign residents with HIV, says Kota Iwahashi, head of the HIV/AIDS awareness NPO akta. “Looking at the data, while those numbers have been decreasing for some time, the number of MSM foreigners who have contracted HIV has been growing.” Indeed, since 2014 there have been more foreign MSM than foreign women living in Japan with HIV, he added.

A major problem is the dearth of places for non-Japanese to get sexual health check-ups with English-language support, says Place Tokyo’s Yuzuru Ikushima, adding that at present the only place providing such a service is the Shinjuku public health center.

The majority (57.7 percent) of Japanese nationals who find out they are HIV-positive discover their status during visits to hospitals for other treatments, he says, which shows just how crucial specific sexual health check-ups are. According to Ikushima’s findings, of that unwitting 57.7 percent, almost 90 percent are found to have full-blown AIDS.

“With the Tokyo Olympics approaching, it has never been more crucial to provide foreign-language testing and support,” he says.

The accumulated total of HIV and AIDS cases in Japan in 2016 was 18,920 and 8,523, respectively — approximately 0.015 percent and 0.007 percent of the population. In contrast, 39,513 people in the U.S. received an HIV diagnosis and 18,303 an AIDS diagnosis in 2015 alone. The overall prevalence of HIV in the U.S. was around 0.3 percent of the population. In Europe, nearly two-thirds of new HIV cases in 2015 were in Russia (98,177).

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/11/23/national/social-issues/boys-rent-tokyo-sex-lies-vulnerable-young-lives/
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
Millions of Americans have opened their Sunday morning newspapers to find full page advertisements from tobacco companies with statements saying that smoking kills and cigarettes are intentionally designed to get people addicted.
Key points:

    The ads will feature in 50 major newspapers, as well as on TV
    They contain messages about the adverse health effects of smoking
    Cancer Council WA has taken out its own ads in hopes it will help people quit

The companies will also pay for television ads running between 30 and 45 seconds with the same message to air on major television networks at prime time, five nights a week for a year.

The "corrective statements" have been ordered by the US Federal Court and come after a 19-year legal battle with the US Department of Justice.

The newspaper advertisements will be published in 50 major US papers on five Sundays between now and March and will also feature in prime locations on the websites of these publications.

The television advertisements will air on CBS, NBC and ABC between 7:00pm and 10:00pm on weeknights.

They will be attributed to and paid for by the tobacco companies Altria, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA.

In 2006 a US District Court Judge found these companies had violated civil racketeering laws and defrauded the American people.

After 10 years of litigation, the precise wording, font, format and locations of the corrective statements was agreed on last month.

The statements contain messages about the adverse health effects of smoking that include:

    "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol combined."

They also explain that smoking is addictive and hard to quit and state that the companies intentionally designed cigarettes to be more addictive.

"Smoking is highly addictive. Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco," the ads say.

"Cigarette companies control the impact and delivery of nicotine in many ways, including designing filters and selecting cigarette paper to maximise the ingestion of nicotine, adding ammonia to make the cigarette taste less harsh, and controlling the physical and chemical make-up of the tobacco blend.

"When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain — that's why quitting is so hard."
'Deceiving the public for decades': Cancer Council WA

There are no legal requirements for the international divisions of these companies to run the statements in other countries, so Cancer Council WA has taken out its own television and newspaper advertisements featuring the statements.

Spokeswoman Kelly Kennington said it was important these messages direct from big tobacco were heard by Western Australians.

"Finally tobacco companies in the US are being forced to admit that they've been deceiving the public for decades," she said.

"Companies across the world are engaging in the same behaviour so the statements that they're required to make in the US are very, very relevant to smokers here in Australia.

"Any messages that the tobacco companies make about their own product being honest, and informing their consumers about the dangers of the product need to be heard."

Ms Kennington said there had been good progress in reducing smoking prevalence in WA but with 12 per cent of the adult population still smoking this was too high.

She said smokers are always needing new reasons to quit and Cancer Council WA believed it would help if smokers heard admissions from tobacco companies that they had been manipulated.

"Today 180,000 West Australians woke up and the first thing they did was have a cigarette," she said.

"We've showed this ad already to a collection of smokers and the majority of them have been really alarmed and angry that the tobacco industry has been able to behave like this over the years.

"Particularly the fact that they're admitting they intentionally design cigarettes to be more addictive.

"They were quite shocked by these admissions and we're hoping that this gives West Australian smokers another reason to quit."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-26/big-tobacco-forced-to-advertise-admissions-in-us/9194960
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
Suddenly fired Tesla workers speaking out about dismissals
« Reply #9260 on: November 26, 2017, 05:59:22 AM »
Seven-hundred workers were dismissed in October with little warning.

Frank Morales joined Tesla about four years ago, eager to work for a growing company.

Morales handled the aggressive deadlines of the Tesla warehouse — until last month. He said he received years of strong performance reviews, but was fired one day “with no warning.”

A friend and a cousin recently asked him if they should go to work for the carmaker. “I told them no,” Morales said. “Stay where you’re at.”

Tesla’s dismissal of 700 workers in October has former employees angry and outspoken. Some, like Morales, have refused to sign a separation agreement they feel is unfair and restrictive. The agreement bars former employees from disparaging the company or the executives who fired them, according to a copy obtained by the Mercury News.

Tesla also faces ongoing protests, lawsuits and federal complaints from former workers and workers seeking to unionize, and is again aggressively defending its image.

The disruptions come as the company battles the enormous task of hiring, training and expanding a skilled workforce to produce a new vehicle — the delayed, lower-cost Model 3 — that is important to its success and survival.

Experts in human resources and employment law say the abrupt dismissals and upheaval could have lasting consequences for the Tesla brand and the company’s ability to attract talented engineers and factory workers.

“You really need to plan (terminations) very, very carefully, because it’s about people,” said Sanjay Sathe, CEO of placement support agency RiseSmart. The former workers could be future customers or even rehired as production demands increase, Sathe said. And bad word-of-mouth reviews can spread quickly on social media.

CEO Elon Musk acknowledged for the first time this month that the company had fired 700 employees, saying it was for poor performance. Tesla sets high work standards, he said, because it must be better than its bigger competition. “They’re high because, if they’re not high, we will die,” Musk said.

He complained that the October terminations became public and added that journalists should “be ashamed” for writing about a turnover of 2 per cent of the public company’s employees.

The company also shot back at critics questioning its treatment of workers, who have raised concerns about lax worker safety rules and low pay. Gaby Toledano, Tesla’s chief people officer, wrote an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee this month touting the company’s employee stock program and innovative environment. The company lists more than 2,500 open positions on its job board.

“Our employees have many paths towards promotion and long-term careers,” Toledano wrote in response to a critic. “We also believe it is important for everyone to be an owner of the company so, unlike other automakers, everyone is awarded company stock upon hiring.”

Tesla says workers remain attracted to the automotive and clean-tech company. A company spokesperson said Tesla received more than 73,000 applications worldwide in October, a 16-per-cent increase from January.

Any suggestion that the firings would hurt Tesla hiring in the long term, the company said, “is purely speculation.” The company’s stock price hit record highs this year, but has fallen in recent weeks.

Analysts have kept a close watch on employee turnover in key positions. High-profile executives in autonomous driving, batteries, finance and business development have left the company this year.

More than a dozen current and former employees interviewed said their dismissals came with little or no warning and were unrelated to performance. Some said they were fired weeks before stock options vested. Many added that morale suffered at the Tesla plant as workers were unsure of their job status.

The company has also angered outgoing employees by requiring them to sign a broad non-disparagement clause as part of their separation package.

The separation agreements prohibit former employees from badmouthing the company, its executives, investors, affiliated companies, contractors and products. Fired employees are prohibited from specifically criticizing Musk, in return for two weeks severance pay.

Irving Arguello, a former Tesla mechanic from San Francisco, refused to sign the agreement. “I got spit out,” said Arguello, an expert in automotive electronics. “It’s a lot to ask.”

Arguello spent months in Norway, Canada and in U.S. cities fixing Tesla cars and training mechanics. He enjoyed learning the cutting-edge technology, but said he became disillusioned with company managers ignoring workers’ needs, and Tesla’s demand for secrecy.

“Tesla relies a lot on perception,” he said. “They want to keep the positive perception.”

Scores of workers and supporters have protested at the Fremont factory since the terminations. Some former employees have joined a class-action suit, saying the dismissals were actually layoffs — a distinction that could bring the former employees up to 60 days of back pay.

Employment lawyers say it’s unusual to fire hundreds of employees within weeks for performance issues.

“If an employee is doing poorly, you would just fire him,” said Nick Rosenthal, a Los Angeles attorney for several former Tesla employees. “You wouldn’t fire hundreds at the same time.”

Randy Strauss, an employment attorney based in Oakland, questioned Tesla’s explanation for the dismissal.

“On its face, it seems highly unlikely,” Strauss said. “Have you ever heard of a company that fires up to 1,000 people at one time, for cause?”

Josie Camacho, an executive at the Alameda Labor Council, said the terminations shocked many in the community. Labour organizers had high hopes for Musk leading a new era of auto manufacturing in the Bay Area and restoring the former Toyota plant to regional, economic powerhouse.

Camacho said remaining factory workers she’s spoken with are upset. “As far as I’m concerned,” she said, “this employer needs to be held accountable.”

Morales insists he’s not bitter about his time at Tesla. He’s found a new, better-paying job closer to his home in San Jose. “Things happen for a reason.”

But still, he said, “I don’t think it was right.”

https://www.thestar.com/business/2017/11/25/suddenly-fired-tesla-workers-speaking-out-about-dismissals.html
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
UK to purchase Israeli Iron Dome defense system to defend Falklands
« Reply #9261 on: November 26, 2017, 06:04:05 AM »
Iron Dome demonstrated its ability to intercept short range missiles fired at Israel from Gaza.


Iron Dome.

Britain is buying Israel's Iron Dome short range missile defense system to protect the Falkland Islands according to reports in the UK media.

The system is produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. using software developed by Israeli startup mPrest.

A British Defense Ministry spokesman said, "Following an open competition we selected Rafael for a £78 million ($105 million) contract to provide the main computer system and boost our defense of the Falkland Islands."

The system will be called the Sky Sabre system and the final decision to buy by the British came after France signed a deal to sell five Super Etendard combat jets to Argentina. The procurement from Rafael is part of a £280 million defense package for the Falklands announced by the British Ministry of defense in 2015.

Iron Dome demonstrated its ability to intercept short range missiles fired at Israel from Gaza and over the past decade it has shot down more than 1,200 such rockets.

HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
Where does halal meat come from?
« Reply #9262 on: November 26, 2017, 06:09:59 AM »
The $415bn halal-food industry heavily relies on meat imported from non-Muslim majority countries.

There are about 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, most of whom only consume halal meat. The Arabic word "halal" means permissible, and in relation to food, refers to meat and meat-containing products that are prepared on the basis of Islamic law. It involves slaughtering animals according to Muslim tradition.

The halal-certified food and beverage industry is valued at $415bn. Eight of the 10 largest suppliers of global halal meat are non-Muslim majority countries, with Brazil, Australia and India at the top.



http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2017/11/171126063915359.html
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
Everything Must Go
« Reply #9263 on: November 26, 2017, 06:12:41 AM »
Economic growth will destroy everything. There’s no way of greening it – we need a new system.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 22nd November 2017

 

Everyone wants everything – how is that going to work? The promise of economic growth is that the poor can live like the rich and the rich can live like the oligarchs. But already we are bursting through the physical limits of the planet that sustains us. Climate breakdown, soil loss, the collapse of habitats and species, the sea of plastic, insectageddon: all are driven by rising consumption. The promise of private luxury for everyone cannot be met: neither the physical nor the ecological space exists.

But growth must go on: this is everywhere the political imperative. And we must adjust our tastes accordingly. In the name of autonomy and choice, marketing uses the latest findings in neuroscience to break down our defences. Those who seek to resist must, like the Simple Lifers in Brave New World, be silenced – in this case by the media. With every generation, the baseline of normalised consumption shifts. Thirty years ago, it was ridiculous to buy bottled water, where tap water is clean and abundant. Today, worldwide, we use a million plastic bottles a minute.

Every Friday is a Black Friday, every Christmas a more garish festival of destruction. Among the snow saunas, portable watermelon coolers and smart phones for dogs with which we are urged to fill our lives, my #extremecivilisation prize now goes to the PancakeBot: a 3-D batter printer that allows you to eat the Mona Lisa or the Taj Mahal or your dog’s bottom every morning. In practice, it will clog up your kitchen for a week until you decide you don’t have room for it. For junk like this we’re trashing the living planet, and our own prospects of survival. Everything must go.

The ancillary promise is that, through green consumerism, we can reconcile perpetual growth with planetary survival. But a series of research papers reveal that there is no significant difference between the ecological footprints of people who care about their impacts and people who don’t. One recent article, published in the journal Environment and Behaviour, finds that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not.

Why? Because, environmental awareness tends to be higher among wealthy people. It is not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions. Those who see themselves as green consumers, the paper found, “mainly focus on behaviours that have relatively small benefits.”

I know people who recycle meticulously, save their plastic bags, carefully measure the water in their kettles, then take their holidays in the Caribbean, cancelling their environmental savings 100-fold. I’ve come to believe that the recycling licences their long-haul flights. It persuades people they’ve gone green, enabling them to overlook their greater impacts.

None of this means that we should not try to reduce our impacts, but we should be aware of the limits of the exercise. Our behaviour within the system cannot change the outcomes of the system. It is the system that needs to change.

Research by Oxfam suggests that the world’s richest 1% (if your household has an income of £70,000 or more, this means you) produce around 175 times as much carbon as the poorest 10%. How, in a world in which everyone is supposed to aspire to high incomes, can we avoid turning the Earth, on which all prosperity depends, into a dust ball?

By decoupling, the economists tell us: detaching economic growth from our use of materials. So how well is this going? A paper in the journal PlosOne finds that while in some countries relative decoupling has occurred, “no country has achieved absolute decoupling during the past 50 years.” What this means is that the amount of materials and energy associated with each increment of GDP might decline, but, as growth outpaces efficiency, the total use of resources keeps rising. More importantly, the paper reveals that, in the long term, both absolute and relative decoupling from the use of essential resources is impossible, because of the physical limits of efficiency.

A global growth rate of 3% means that the size of the world economy doubles every 24 years. This is why environmental crises are accelerating at such a rate. Yet the plan is to ensure that it doubles and doubles again, and keeps doubling in perpetuity. In seeking to defend the living world from the maelstrom of destruction, we might believe we are fighting corporations and governments and the general foolishness of humankind. But they are all proxies for the real issue: perpetual growth on a planet that is not growing.

Those who justify this system insist that economic growth is essential for the relief of poverty. But a paper in the World Economic Review finds that the poorest 60% of the world’s people receive only 5% of the additional income generated by rising GDP. As a result, $111 of growth is required for every $1 reduction in poverty. This is why, on current trends, it would take 200 years to ensure that everyone receives $5 a day. By this point, average per capita income will have reached $1m a year, and the economy will be 175 times bigger than it is today. This is not a formula for poverty relief. It is a formula for the destruction of everything and everyone.

When you hear that something makes economic sense, this means it makes the opposite of common sense. Those sensible men and women who run the world’s treasuries and central banks, who see an indefinite rise in consumption as normal and necessary, are beserkers, smashing through the wonders of the living world, destroying the prosperity of future generations to sustain a set of figures that bear ever less relation to general welfare.

Green consumerism, material decoupling, sustainable growth: all are illusions, designed to justify an economic model that is driving us to catastrophe. The current system, based on private luxury and public squalor, will immiserate us all: under this model, luxury and deprivation are one beast with two heads.

We need a different system, rooted not in economic abstractions but in physical realities, that establish the parameters by which we judge its health. We need to build a world in which growth is unnecessary, a world of private sufficiency and public luxury. And we must do it before catastrophe forces our hand.

http://www.monbiot.com/2017/11/24/everything-must-go/
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
Its gonna be a collapsin' Christmas!
« Reply #9264 on: November 26, 2017, 06:14:17 AM »
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14569
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Re: Its gonna be a collapsin' Christmas!
« Reply #9265 on: November 26, 2017, 06:21:30 AM »


Wow. Just wow.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
The Orwellian New Digital Abilify Will Subjugate Vulnerable People Across the US
« Reply #9266 on: November 26, 2017, 06:27:59 AM »


In 2015 I wrote an MIA article called “Medication Mechanization: Microchip Sensors in Abilify to Increase Medication Compliance.” The article warned about the FDA considering approval of a new form of Abilify that carries a microchip inside to send digital information about its time-stamped ingestion to prescribers, and also potentially to family members and legal authorities.

The FDA approved the prescribing and sale of this new hi-tech compliance-monitoring “antipsychotic” drug this week. I believe that this new Orwellian pharmaceutical instrument of invasive individual and social control will serve to usher in an even more desolate landscape of oppression and human suffering.

I’ve been a dissident therapist with lived experience of extreme states in the SF Bay Area since 1980. I’ve seen the growing unified political power of NAMI, the APA and its disease model paradigm of psychiatry, plus the cash flow from Big Pharma, totally destroy the existence of compassionate, medication-free sanctuaries for people in extreme states — places like Soteria House, IWard, and Diabasis House. All three of those sanctuaries were actually open at the same time here in the Bay Area. My blog “Remembering a Medication-Free Madness Sanctuary” tells of my years serving at the IWard sanctuary, and about my research on Diabasis House and my connection with Loren Mosher of Soteria too.

For some years recently I’ve been involved with an RD Laing-inspired group called the Gnosis Project, that is just now starting up an off-the-grid in-home support service for people in extreme states, as well as planning the opening of a Laingian style 24/7 residential sanctuary. The Gnosis Project group is led by fellow MIA blogger and good friend Michael Guy Thompson, who worked with Laing in London for several years.

Our efforts on the Gnosis Project are bolstered by many volunteers and yearly large public weeklong events at Esalen Institute focusing on the living legacy of RD Laing. But as we passionately work to bring heart-centered resources forward, the conditions here in Northern California for people trapped in the various county and state mental health and prison systems are growing bleaker by the day.

So, these are some of my personal concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation for people in extreme states here, that are now multiplied by my profound fears about how the new digital Abilify will be used as a powerful weapon to even further trap, demoralize and abuse vulnerable people.

I see that tragic injury coming not just through the emotion-neutralizing drug effects themselves, which have been documented here on MIA by myself and many others (see my “Enslaved to Abilify” blog). I also see tragic personal injury coming via its supporters’ treacherous intent. They intend to use the new digital monitoring form of Abilify to control people’s “antipsychotic” dosing compliance from inside their own bodies, something that I believe would even make dystopian visionaries George Orwell and Aldous Huxley shudder.

Conditions are very ripe for such oppression in California right now, because there is an even more oppressive mental health services “best practice” model and standard of care for people in extreme states that is emerging based on forced in-home treatment or AOT.

Like California, almost every state now has some version of in-home compulsory court-ordered medication treatment based on state law, so that medication compliance for people in extreme states in the community can be ordered by the court.

In California the governing statute is called Laura’s Law. It’s based on New York’s Kendra’s Law, where the police can and do actually show up at the door in New York to escort the “patient” to the clinic for their antipsychotic medication injection if they have not kept their medication appointments.

It’s very ominous that under California’s Laura’s Law, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Francisco counties in the Bay Area, and many other California counties including giant LA County, have chosen the option of forcing people to take meds in their own homes or be in violation of a court order.

The incredibly politically successful (and I’d say unholy) alliance of NAMI, Big Pharma and the APA (which represents 25,000 medical/disease model psychiatrists) are now targeting Sacramento and Santa Cruz county politicians to also vote for the option of in-home forced medication treatment under Laura’s Law.

That powerful political alliance recently succeeded in getting the majority of county supervisor votes to secure compulsory in-home medication in San Francisco and both Oakland and Berkeley in Alameda County — arguably three of the most politically progressive cities in the United States!

That alliance is the relentless juggernaut we’re up against. It has tenaciously fought for and won almost every political battle for forced in-home medication all across the United States.

In addition, that alliance has recently won a huge victory because the US Congress that they’ve relentlessly lobbied for decades has finally responded with the recent 2017 passage of the historic Murphy mental health care legislation. This legislation ramps up the coercion for such compulsory community treatment by tying funding via federal dollars with requirements that states and counties have such legally mandated programs in place.

The compliance-monitoring microchip Abilify is designed to give medication prescribers, NAMI family members and courts the hands-on power to address the fact that 74 percent of people in extreme states who are prescribed “antipsychotic” medications have stopped taking them by 18 months, as a major research study recently confirmed. From their perspective, this is unacceptable.

Tremendous pressure, I believe, will also be exerted by mental health care providers for people to voluntarily accept taking the new digital Abilify. I see that pressure being put on people seeking discharge from in-patient units, and pressure will be put on people in extreme states or with such histories, who will be involved anywhere on the spectrum of community mental health services and in jails and prisons too. In both mental health and penal systems, medication compliance, not providing humanistic care, is clearly the highest priority.

How the very crucial need for alternative resources like the Laingian Gnosis project and the many other fine resources like Open Dialogue stands out against the very grim and Orwellian reality of a regimen of forced in-home medication treatment or voluntary submission to a regimen of compliance-monitoring Abilify.

The oppressive treatment is really an emotion drowning mistreatment. It’s a morally bankrupt approach that ensures a soul-numbing, hi-tech compliance-monitoring device be in the digestive tract of every DSM-labeled person in an extreme state, in order to keep them in line. It forces the controlling psychiatric adversary to be there within our very guts in the form of every single digitized Abilify capsule that we choke down and swallow.

People who would want and need to control other people in such ways often are limited by their inability to find a powerful way to do it.

Power is always potentially dangerous, as we are reminded every day that we look at the news.

This week the FDA, the government agency mandated and funded to protect us from harmful substances and drugs, made history.

I’m marking my calendar. This week in November 2017 a new chapter in human darkness descended — one that is applauded by the alliance of control addicts that made it happen.

As would be expected with these kinds of morally sinister social engineering projects, the rise of the internalized controlling power of the state to now both dwell in and monitor the inside of our very bodies was celebrated as a victory of reason, of light and of the most well-intentioned generosity by the victors who got their wishes fulfilled this fateful week.

https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/11/orwellian-new-digital-abilify/
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
Israel vows to destroy Iranian positions within 40 km of Syrian border
« Reply #9267 on: November 26, 2017, 04:10:38 PM »
Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly offered Netanyahu a comprehensive deal that would include a demilitarized zone stretching 40 kilometers from the border.


Israeli soldiers stand atop tanks overlooking the border between Israel and Syria.

Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida revealed on Sunday that an Israeli source disclosed a promise from Jerusalem to destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Israel's Golan Heights.

The source, who remains unnamed, said that during Syrian President Bashar Assad's surprise visit to Russia last week, Assad gave Russian Premier Vladimir Putin a message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Damascus will agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, but only if Israel does not work to remove Assad's regime from power.

The report also claims that Putin then called Netanyahu to relay the message, and that the Israeli prime minister said he would be willing to accept the deal, but that Israel's goal of eradicating Iran and Hezbollah from the country would remain.

According to the source, Jerusalem sees Assad as the last president of the Alawite community, indicating that a change of regime in Syria - at least towards a government less-linked to Iran - would be favorable for Israel. The Alawites are a minority Shi'ite community in Syria, and have long been supported by Iran, which seeks to extend its influence from the Gulf across the region to the Mediterranean.

The source also commented that after the defeat of the Islamic State, the conflict in Syria would become ''more difficult,'' likely pointing towards a vacuum that would be left without the group. Russian, Syrian and Iranian-backed forces have been fighting against ISIS, while also seeking to knock out rebel groups that oppose the current regime. Russia's stated interests have been in line with Iran's in wanting to keep Assad in power.

Israel has participated mostly on the periphery of the war in Syria, responding to fire on the northern border and occasionally bombing positions, including a weapons depot and scientific research center that allegedly produces chemical weapons. Damascus and Jerusalem have exchanged heated remarks as well, with Netanyahu threatening to bomb Assad's palace, and Syrian officials warning of ''dangerous repercussions'' to Israeli strikes on Syrian targets.

Over the course of the war, Israel has operated several field hospitals near the Syrian border, where those injured from the war are treated and subsequently returned to Syria. Some of those who have been treated have been rebels fighting against the Assad regime, leading some to say that Israel is assisting the rebels to unseat Assad.

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-Israel-vows-to-destroy-Iranian-positions-within-40-km-of-Syrian-border-515209
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
Archbishop of Canterbury baffled by Christians who back Trump
« Reply #9268 on: November 26, 2017, 04:16:56 PM »
 LONDON — England's top religious authority, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said Sunday that he doesn't understand why so many Christians in the U.S. support President Donald Trump.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby told ITV's "Peston on Sunday" program that he "really genuinely" can't comprehend why fundamentalists have provided such a strong base for Trump.

"There's two things going through my mind: do I say what I think, or do I say what I should say? And I'm going to say what I think," he said on the show, referring to the support Trump has garnered, especially from so-called Evangelical Christians. "No, I don't understand it. I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from."


Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby 'Peston On Sunday' in London, on Nov. 26, 2017



LONDON — England's top religious authority, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said Sunday that he doesn't understand why so many Christians in the U.S. support President Donald Trump.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby told ITV's "Peston on Sunday" program that he "really genuinely" can't comprehend why fundamentalists have provided such a strong base for Trump.

"There's two things going through my mind: do I say what I think, or do I say what I should say? And I'm going to say what I think," he said on the show, referring to the support Trump has garnered, especially from so-called Evangelical Christians. "No, I don't understand it. I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from."
Image: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby 'Peston On Sunday' in London, on Nov. 26, 2017.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby 'Peston On Sunday' in London, on Nov. 26, 2017. Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock / AP

Welby did say he would be willing to attend a state dinner in Trump's honor if the president comes to Britain on an official visit.

He noted that he's met with worse people than the president of the United States.

"I spent years and years involved in conflict stuff around the world where I met people who had killed many, many people," he told ITV.

He said part of his job is to meet with people he disagrees with "and to testify with the love of Christ to them and to seek to draw them in a different way."

Trump has accepted an invitation for a state visit to Britain, but no date has been set. Though he said he'd meet Trump, Welby also said, "It'd be unlikely I'd do more than shake hands with him."

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/archbishop-canterbury-baffled-christians-who-back-trump-n824001
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 10597
    • View Profile
This City Hall, brought to you by Amazon
« Reply #9269 on: November 26, 2017, 04:23:15 PM »

A chalk depiction of the 238 proposals Amazon received for its proposed 50,000-employee HQ2. Cities and states are going to great lengths to get a piece of that high-tech glory.

A review of some of the bids to woo Amazon’s HQ2 to other cities and states shows it’s not all about the money. In some cases democracy itself is a bargaining chip.

There’s rising worry that corporations are taking over America. But after reviewing a slew of the bids by cities and states wooing Amazon’s massive second headquarters, I don’t think “takeover” quite captures what’s going on.

More like “surrender.”

Last month Amazon announced it got 238 offers for its new, proposed 50,000-employee HQ2. I set out to see what’s in them, but only about 30 have been released so far under public-record acts.

Those 30, though, amply demonstrate our capitulation to corporate influence in politics. There’s a new wave, in which some City Halls seem willing to go beyond just throwing money at Amazon. They’re turning over the keys to the democracy.

Coming from the home of the largest corporate tax-break package in U.S. history, which our state gave to Boeing, I figured I was well acquainted with the dark arts of economic-incentive deals.

But still I was surprised to see the lengths to which some cities and states will go to get a piece of that high-tech glory.

Example: Chicago has offered to let Amazon pocket $1.32 billion in income taxes paid by its own workers. This is truly perverse. Called a personal income-tax diversion, the workers must still pay the full taxes, but instead of the state getting the money to use for schools, roads or whatever, Amazon would get to keep it all instead.

“The result is that workers are, in effect, paying taxes to their boss,” says a report on the practice from Good Jobs First, a think tank critical of many corporate subsidies.

Most of the HQ2 bids had more traditional sweeteners. Such as Chula Vista, California, which offered to give Amazon 85 acres of land for free (value: $100 million) and to excuse any property taxes on HQ2 for 30 years ($300 million). New Jersey remains the dollar king of the subsidy sweepstakes, having offered Amazon $7 billion to build in Newark.

But more of a bellwether to me are proposals that effectively would put Amazon inside the government.

Some are small. Boston has offered to set up an “Amazon Task Force” of city employees working on the company’s behalf. These would include a workforce coordinator, to help with Amazon’s employment needs, as well as a community- relations official to smooth over Amazon conflicts throughout Boston. (Surely Amazon can handle these things itself?)

But the most far-reaching offer is from Fresno, California. That city of half a million isn’t offering any tax breaks. Instead it has a novel plan to give Amazon special authority over how the company’s taxes are spent.

Fresno promises to funnel 85 percent of all taxes and fees generated by Amazon into a special fund. That money would be overseen by a board, half made up of Amazon officers, half from the city. They’re supposed to spend the money on housing, roads and parks in and around Amazon.

The proposal shows a park with a sign: “This park brought to you by Amazon,” with the company’s smiling arrow corporate logo.

“The community fund projects would give Amazon credit for the funding of each project,” the proposal says. “The potential negative impacts from a project would be turned into positives, giving Amazon credit for mitigating it.”

Is it even legal to give a company direct sway over civic spending like that?

When asked about it, Fresno’s economic-development director threw the public interest under the bus.

“Rather than the money disappearing into a civic black hole, Amazon would have a say on where it will go,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “Not for the fire department on the fringe of town, but to enhance their own investment in Fresno.”

You poor fools out on the fringe of town. All this time you’ve been paying your taxes, thinking it was for the broader public good. Suckers.

Seriously, we’ve got Congress slashing corporate taxes, business cash overwhelming elections and the Federal Communications Commission poised to turn control of the internet over to a few private companies. Now a single company is viewed as such a shiny prize that some seem ready to wave the white flag on the whole “for the people, by the people” experiment.

It feels like a dicey moment for the “civic black hole.“ Also known as democracy.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/this-city-hall-brought-to-you-by-amazon/
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com