Brexit: my most instant, heartfelt posting ever

Britain on Tuesday: May lost by over 400 votes! The rolling, roiling disaster gets worse by the day. Lack of forethought, bullying, and downright ignorance rule the day! Epicurus would advise me to calm down, to be philosophical, to assume all will eventually settle down and rationality will be restored. It is possible that he …

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Homelessness in Britain

At least 320,000 people are homeless in Britain, according to research by the housing charity “Shelter”. This amounts to a year-on-year increase of 13,000, a 4% rise, despite government pledges to tackle the crisis. The estimate suggests that nationally one in 200 people are homeless. Shelter says its figures, which include rough sleepers and people …

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The curse of American monopolies

Three quarters of all US industries became more concentrated between 1997 and 2012. Ten pharmaceutical companies control the production and sales of the world’s medicine. Three chemical companies control the supply of seeds and pesticides. One corporation controls nearly all the non-craft beer for sale on the planet. Industrial concentration has now reached the highest …

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Gerrymandering

The 2018 election results are a powerful demonstration of why American politicians want to keep control of redistricting to themselves, thus exposing one of the most blatently undemocratic aspects of elections. Successful partisan gerrymandering of constituences rests on one major concept: distributing the votes for your political party more evenly among districts than your opponent. …

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The Supreme Court … thoroughly politicised

The US Supreme Court, with the addition of two hard-right justices appointed by Trump, has now become so politicised that one could argue that a Republican Senate is almost unnecessary. The Court has five of the most conservative justices there have been for a hundred years. Although John Roberts tries to temper the extreme views …

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Time to rein in corporate power!

One of the few areas of agreement in Washington’s “bitterly divided politics” is “the need to tackle the omnipotence of the Faangs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google). Donald Trump may be a Twitter addict, but he has been “sharply critical” of the power of big tech. The Democrats taking control of the House of …

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Why is big business silent over Brexit?

Entrepreneurs and small firms on both sides of the argument have spoken out freely about Brexit. So too have bosses of foreign-owned companies. But the “Trappist silence” maintained by many of the UK’s largest firms “has become deafening” – even though surveys suggest the majority of corporate bosses would prefer to stay in the EU …

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Local council ends the year discussing a hot issue

“The ANC (Area Neighborhood Committee) got to flex its muscles over sprouting ginkgo trees on the East Side, an issue that brought a lively reaction from the crowd. Commissioner Rick Murphy commented: “All politics are local but this one is hyper-local. ”The commissioners went on to approve a motion that the stinky, squishy, hazardous berry-dropping …

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Why do only white youngsters deserve mercy?

“In the US, juvenile drug offenders are routinely tried as adults,” says Eric Levitz. Thirteen-year-old murderers have been sentenced to life without parole; teenagers who text naked pictures of themselves are regularly arrested for child pornography. The American Right has worked hard to bring this situation about, and wants the law made still harsher. Trump …

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A politician with principles

Mexico’s leftist president-elect has announced that he is looking for a buyer for the presidential plane – a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner – that his predecessor acquired two years ago for £302m. “It’s not just an efficient, modern plane – it’s a comfy plane, with a bedroom, a restaurant, with lots of space,” said Andrés Manuel …

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Macron and the dangers of liberal elitism

Every serious person knows that climate change is the greatest threat facing the world right now. Everyone also ought to know that air pollution is a big cause of premature death in our cities. Both climate change and pollution need to be addressed with bold policies if we are to have any hope of averting …

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Extreme economic concentration creates the conditions ripe for dictatorship.

In fascist regimes the leader seeks alliances with giant corporations, as long as they obey him, and in return they avoid democratic accountability and can continue growing. Maybe you can guess where I might be going with this? In the last few years the US has virtually ignored the anti-trust laws that helped the country …

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A subsidised CEO takes aim at an impertinent media

Those reporters have such nerve! Last month, a BBC reporter in London asked Jeff Fairburn, the CEO of Britain’s largest homebuilder and the nation’s highest-paid corporate chief exec, about the $98-million “performance” bonus the 52-year-old had pocketed earlier this year. A peeved Fairburn called the reporter’s question “really unfortunate” and abruptly walked out of the …

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Let’s get back to teaching some practical skills!

75% of English and Welsh children aged 11-16 say it is important to go to university, down from 86% in 2013. The proportion who are “very likely to” actually go to university has fallen from 38% to 32%. (Ipsos Mori/The Guardian) Why should anyone be surprised? University is too expensive, and whitecollar job prospects poor. …

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The slow death of public broadcasting

More than half the jobs in newspaper publishing disappeared between 2001 and 2016, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s much the same story across the developed world, of course. Yet in other countries the loss of local print outlets has been partially mitigated by public broadcasting, which has helped fill the void …

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Buying elections, and all the rest

A small group of 11 hedge-fund billionaires, entrepreneurs, media bosses – and a casino mogul – have put $1 billion into PACs, or one fifth of the $4.5 billion collected for political purposes, since the Supreme Court ruled on the Citizens United case in 2010. Candidates and parties rely increasingly on these donors, who themselves …

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