Live fast, die young.
Live slow, think of dying often.
Live at all different paces, die at any time.
Think hard, live right. You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.
“The left has long admired Canada as an enclave of social democracy in North America: for its openly socialist electoral parties, its robust welfare state, and its more moderate policy profile. Recent developments, however, have thrown that reputation into question. The country is helmed by a prime minister, Stephen Harper, known for his brazenly right-wing views and executive unilateralism. Both federal and provincial governments have embraced austerity and eroded public services. And Canada’s newly aggressive exploitation of its natural resources has it trampling on civil liberties and reneging on its international obligations like, as Foreign Policy put it, a “rogue, reckless petrostate.”
These are not changes born in the hearts and minds of the Canadian people, but an agenda designed and implemented from above, articulated in an imported conservative ideology, to abet the interests of private industry. Some of that agenda, like the shocking attack on Canada’s environmental research community, has been implemented so swiftly and unilaterally that the public is just now catching up. Other aspects, like the undermining of the country’s universal health care system, have been imposed more gradually, a death by a thousand cuts combined with a relentless propaganda campaign.
What is happening in Canada is part of a much larger trend: the formidable disciplinary forces of late capitalism are exerting themselves everywhere, including in other western democracies, where governments are scaling back social programs while lavishing tax concessions and subsidies on industry. The European Union and the United States are similarly absorbing market shocks on behalf of business while allowing downturns to undermine the poor and working class. If Canada is becoming indulgent of, even slavish toward, its resource industry (the biggest contributor to GDP), it is arguably no more so than the United States in relation to its banking sector, which was never brought to heel despite causing the 2008 collapse.
Still, the drastic turn in Canadian politics and policy raises some urgent questions. Why hasn’t the population stopped the attack on its public services? Why have left-leaning parties lost ground at the polls while Harper and his ilk continue getting reelected? Why, in a society with a more collectively oriented spirit, has the political discourse taken a sharp turn to the right?
The answers to those questions tell a story to which the left should pay heed, for the hijacking of Canada’s social democracy was made possible in part by the utter failure of its left parties, and the prospects for wresting the country from the current conservative agenda depend on the success of grassroots movements of resistance…”
“Austerity measures imposed by the Greek government since the economic crisis have inflicted “shocking” harm on the health of the population, leaving nearly a million people without access to healthcare, experts have said.
In a damning report on the impact of spending cuts on the Greek health system, academics found evidence of rising infant mortality rates, soaring levels of HIV infection among drug users, the return of malaria, and a spike in the suicide count.
Greece’s public hospital budget was cut by 25 per cent between 2009 and 2011 and public spending on pharmaceuticals has more than halved, leading to some medicine becoming unobtainable, experts from Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) said.
Rising unemployment in a country where health insurance is linked to work status has led to an estimated 800,000 people lacking either state welfare or access to health services and in some areas international humanitarian organisations such as Médecins du Monde have stepped in to provide healthcare and medicines to vulnerable people.
The report, which is published today in the medical journal The Lancet, accuses the Greek government and the international community – which demanded swingeing cuts as a condition of bailing out the Greek economy during the debt crisis between 2010 and 2012 – of being “in denial” about the scale of hardship inflicted on the Greek people...”
Footage of protests in the Ukraine right now.
“It has become one of the most vicious, important and divisive battlegrounds in the 2012 US presidential election.
Since it was legalised in 1973, the issue of abortion has polarised the US, but now the battle has been taken to a new level.
Last year, an unprecedented number of laws have been passed across the US, all aimed at restricting abortion or reproductive rights.
But the fight goes far beyond the medical procedure, with Republican politicians even attacking the Obama administration for making contraception more readily available.
The US has seen more anti-abortion violence than any other country in the world. Since 1993, at least eight abortion providers, including four doctors have been killed. And there have been over 200 arsons and bombings against reproductive healthcare clinics since 1977.
Why is a medical procedure being reframed as a deeply divisive moral issue in the US?
Fault Lines travels to California to meet the next generation of frontline troops fighting to ban abortion, and to Ohio and Tennessee to investigate what lies behind the so-called war on women.
"It [Ohio’s heartbeat bill] really only sees a woman as a carrier and she has no other right beyond her ability to reproduce. One of the reasons that these abortion bills are so dangerous is because it chips away at the notion of personal liberty, your right. And what can be more fundamental to your personal liberty than being able to control your own body ….
Women died trying to get back-alley abortions. Do we want to get back to that in the land of opportunities, the land of freedom? When did it become a sin and a shame to be a woman in this country? But that is what is happening in the 21st century in many states across this country and also in our congress and it’s just absolutely shameful to me.””
“The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the country’s anti-prostitution laws in a unanimous decision, and given Parliament one year to come up with new legislation — should it choose to do so.
In striking down laws prohibiting brothels, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating in public with clients, the top court ruled Friday that the laws were over-broad and “grossly disproportionate.”
"Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes," wrote Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in the 9-0 decision that noted "it is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money."
The ruling was in response to a court challenge by women with experience in the sex trade, Terri-Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott that had resulted in an Ontario court ruling that overturned the laws.
The Ontario Court of Appeal later upheld the law against communicating in public, but sided with the lower court in overturning the provisions against living off the avails and keeping a common bawdy house or brothel.
"These appeals and the cross-appeal are not about whether prostitution should be legal or not. They are about whether the laws Parliament has enacted on how prostitution may be carried out pass constitutional muster. I conclude that they do not," McLachlin wrote.
"I would therefore make a suspended declaration of invalidity, returning the question of how to deal with prostitution to Parliament."
That means the provisions stay in the Criminal Code for the next year while the government decides what to do.
In a statement, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the government would take the time to decide how to address “this very complex matter.”
"We are reviewing the decision and are exploring all possible options to ensure the criminal law continues to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution to communities, those engaged in prostitution and vulnerable persons," his statement said.
MacKay also said there are “a number of other Criminal Code provisions” in place to protect sex-trade workers “and to address the negative effects prostitution has on communities.”
The women in the case had argued that the law prevented them from safely conducting their business as sex-trade workers, arguing that hiring bodyguards and drivers, and being able to work in private homes or talk with potential clients in public were important to their safety.
"Now the government must tell Canadians, all consenting adults, what we can and cannot do in the privacy of our home for money or not. And they must write laws that are fair," Bedford told reporters gathered in the foyer of the Supreme Court building in Ottawa on Friday.
One of her co-respondents in the appeal said a new law won’t work.
"The thing here is politicians, though they may know us as clients, they do not understand how sex work works," said Scott. "They won’t be able to write a half-decent law. It will fail. That’s why you must bring sex workers to the table in a meaningful way."”
“Top secret documents retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden show that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government allowed the largest American spy agency to conduct widespread surveillance in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits.
The documents are being reported exclusively by CBC News.
The briefing notes, stamped “Top Secret,” show the U.S. turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the National Security Agency while U.S. President Barack Obama and 25 other foreign heads of government were on Canadian soil in June of 2010.
The covert U.S. operation was no secret to Canadian authorities.
An NSA briefing note describes the American agency’s operational plans at the Toronto summit meeting and notes they were “closely co-ordinated with the Canadian partner.”
The NSA and its Canadian “partner,” the Communications Security Establishment Canada, gather foreign intelligence for their respective governments by covertly intercepting phone calls and hacking into computer systems around the world.
The secret documents do not reveal the precise targets of so much espionage by the NSA — and possibly its Canadian partner — during the Toronto summit.
But both the U.S. and Canadian intelligence agencies have been implicated with their British counterpart in hacking the phone calls and emails of foreign politicians and diplomatsattending the G20 summit in London in 2009 — a scant few months before the Toronto gathering of the same world leaders.
Notably, the secret NSA briefing document describes part of the U.S. eavesdropping agency’s mandate at the Toronto summit as “providing support to policymakers.”
Documents previously released by Snowden, a former NSA contractor who has sought and received asylum in Russia, suggested that support at other international gatherings included spying on the foreign delegations to get an unfair advantage in any negotiations or policy debates at the summit.
It was those documents that first exposed the spying on world leaders at the London summit.
More recently, Snowden’s trove of classified information revealed Canada’s eavesdropping agency had hacked into phones and computers in the Brazilian government’s department of mines, a story that touched off a political firestorm both in that country and in Ottawa.
The documents have rocked political capitals around the world. NSA spies on everyone from leaders of U.S. allies to millions of Americans. Personal information has been scooped up by the agency’s penetration of major internet and phone companies….”
“Shimizu, a Japanese architectural and engineering firm, has a solution for the climate crisis: Simply build a band of solar panels 400 kilometers (249 miles) wide (pdf) running all the way around the Moon’s 11,000-kilometer (6,835 mile) equator and beam the carbon-free energy back to Earth in the form of microwaves, which are converted into electricity at ground stations.
That means mining construction materials on the Moon and setting up factories to make the solar panels. “Robots will perform various tasks on the lunar surface, including ground leveling and excavation of hard bottom strata,” according to Shimizu, which is known for a series of far-fetched “dream projects” including pyramid cities and a space hotel. The company proposes to start building the Luna Ring in 2035. “Machines and equipment from the Earth will be assembled in space and landed on the lunar surface for installation,” says the proposal.
If that sounds like a sci-fi fantasy—and fantastically expensive—it’s not completely crazy. California regulators, for instance, in 2009 approved a contract that utility Pacific Gas & Electric signed to buy 200 megawatts of electricity from an orbiting solar power plant to be built by a Los Angeles area startup called Solaren. The space-based photovoltaic farm would consist of a kilometer-wide inflatable Mylar mirror that would concentrate the sun’s rays on a smaller mirror, which would in turn focus the sunlight on to high-efficiency solar panels. These would generate electricity, which would be converted into radio frequency waves, transmitted to a giant ground station near Fresno, California, and then converted back into electricity.
Unlike terrestrial solar power plants, orbiting solar panels can generate energy around the clock. The part-time nature of earthbound solar power means it can’t currently supply the minimum or “baseload” demand without backup from fossil-fuel plants. However, the cost of lifting the solar panels into orbit would be far higher than for building a photovoltaic power plant on earth.
Not much has been heard from Solaren since then, but last year Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said in a speech that the project was still under development. “Although this sounds like science fiction, I am hopeful that recent advances in thinner, lighter-weight solar modules will make this technology feasible,” Peevey said. “I believe it is worth taking a chance on this technology because as a baseload resource, space-based solar may help to displace coal-fired capacity that would otherwise meet those needs.”
But even if the energy that eventually comes from a solar power plant on the the Moon justifies the costs of building one—not to mention the fossil fuel you have to burn to get the machinery up there—Shimizu’s greatest hurdle may be staking a claim on all that lunar real estate, points out Wired. “Outer space law is notoriously difficult to apply in practice and may scupper the plans long before anything gets built.””