Mafia steals billions: surprise, surprise

The Italian Mafia has made €3bn over the past ten years by siphoning off EU funds intended for farmers within Sicily’s largest national park, according to a former director of the park, who survived a Mafia assassination attempt in 2016. In his new book, Giuseppe Antoci claims that Cosa Nostra clans use threats to deter …

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In contrast to media Wikipedia arguments are quite civilised

An analysis of millions of Wikipedia articles suggests that ideologically diverse groups can not only cooperate effectively, but also produce better work than homogenous groups. How did Wikipedia succeed where much of the online world has failed? Misha Teplitskiy and his colleagues at Harvard University looked at the editors of Wikipedia articles on politics, science …

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Comment-in-Brief: Compelled Speech? Try Compelled Humanity!

Consider the controversial bill C-16; formally known as An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. This bill sought to provide greater protections for at-risk individuals against systemic or societal discrimination on the grounds of their gender expression or gender identity. However, the bill was publicly divisive and cause for …

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The end of days for the family farm

Publicity for Blue Apron, a company selling pasture-raised, slow-growth, heirloom chickens direct to consumers as meal-kits, weekly if you want them, is a welcome development that  points up the disaster that is now ubiquitous factory farming, In the Midwest, rural towns are being (have been) destroyed by huge corporations buying up land and building vast …

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Cuckoos in the nest

The practice of “cuckooing” – victims’ homes being taken over by gangs as bases for illegal activity – is now estimated to affect thousands of people across the UK. Urban dealers typically befriend vulnerable people in rural and coastal towns, offering drugs to gain their trust. Victims often include those who are addicted, or who …

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That’s the way to do it!

“Joe Biden joked about the controversy that has engulfed his campaign-in-waiting in his first public appearance since several women accused him of touching them inappropriately. “Biden arrived on stage at the Washington Hilton to address the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) conference and shook the hand of the union president, Lonnie Stephenson, before giving …

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What you can do to help cut plastic waste

In our personal drive to reduce plastic waste, we should beware easy, but false, solutions:   Cutting out single-use plastic – water bottles, straws, disposable plates and so forth – is a good place to start reducing waste. But make sure you aren’t inadvertently increasing your carbon footprint. A cotton tote bag must be used …

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College recruitment in the US

The sordid scandal that broke this week concerning the bribery of college employees to get the children of rich kids entry into prestigious colleges when , by themselves, they hadn’t a hope, points to a growing crisis in the higher education that isn’t going away (given the general atmosphere of corruption in government nothing is …

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Womb rental: a racket for the rich

Kim Kardashian is having another baby. Well she’s not actually “having” it herself. She and her husband, the rapper Kanye West, are paying another woman to give birth to it. “I’m totally gonna forget,” she explains. “Then a month before I’m gonna be like holy shit, we need to get a nursery.” Rent-a-womb is legal …

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Street philosophy. No.1

Three philosophers were stationed on a New York street, prepared to take questions from the passers- by. A little girl, six years old, approached the group and asked, “How do I know I’m real?” Suddenly I was back in graduate school, reported one of the philosophers later. Should I talk about the French philosopher Rene …

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Leveraged loans, the latest threat dreamed up by the banks

We all know that the 2008 financial cataclysm was caused by mortgages offered to customers with weak or no credit histories, bundled together to create “investment opportunities”, causing a chain reaction of losses. Now it is the turn of “leveraged loans”, which are offered to companies already in debt, without too many strings attached. Most …

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Why is modern culture so awful?

In the contemporary era, with our record levels of wealth, technological advancement and scientific understanding, it follows that our culture should be as groundbreaking as everything else. We should be composing the best ever music, building the best ever buildings, and painting the best ever art. Yet in most ways, the culture of the past …

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