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by Editors — last modified Jul 21, 2015 12:00 PM
Contributors: Faiz Ahmed, JBB, Graham H. Cox, R. Dubois, JA Cox

Turkey’s messy war in the Middle East, explained | The Washington Post

by Faiz Ahmed last modified Jul 28, 2015 12:56 PM
"Turkish police rounded up more than a thousand suspected Islamic State, PKK, and lefitst militants -- but the vast majority appeared to belong to the latter two categories, and were not jihadists. ... [H]undreds more of those detained were said to belong to the PKK, a separatist faction deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and Turkey. ... Ideologically, the PKK could not be farther from the Islamic State: The PKK's political roots are Marxist-Leninist, and its political leadership is staunchly secularist. Moreover, the PKK and other Kurdish factions have lost hundreds of soldiers in front-line clashes with the Islamic State." Full story here.

Also see: Turkish Fighter Jets Target Kurdish Rebels | The New York Times
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Libyan court sentences Gaddafi son Saif, eight other ex-officials to death | Reuters

by Faiz Ahmed last modified Jul 28, 2015 12:50 PM
"The verdict on Saif al-Islam was passed in absentia since he has been held since 2011 by a former rebel group in Zintan, a mountainous western region beyond central government control. Internal armed conflict has split Libya into factional fiefdoms. ... Saif appeared by video link only at the start of the trial. The Zintanis have refused to hand him over, saying they do not trust authorities in Tripoli to make sure he does not escape, but agreed to let him be tried there."

The link address is: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/28/us-libya-security-idUSKCN0Q20UP20150728

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Employment Insurance system broken, needs complete overhaul | What's Left

by Editors (What's Left) last modified Jul 28, 2015 11:07 AM
This week, a new study on Employment Insurance (EI) was released by the liberal Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). It details how the Conservatives broke the system, and provides recommendations for massive changes to the EI system, including a focus on eliminating regional disparities.

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Unfortunately, debates around regionalization of social welfare and insurance benefits tend to end poorly for workers. Last year, the Mowat Centre flagged similar issues, saying that the EI system discriminated against Toronto workers. While this is true, the disparities have to do with the way the EI system calculates benefits. If the call is to eliminate all regional disparities then the only fair way to set it would be to give every laid-off worker access to their EI money. There is no point in trying to regionally balance the percentages of workers that get left out.

Critics of nationally funded programs are always quick to point out regional differences in allocation and say it is unfair. Then those same liberal think tanks "encourage labour mobility", a red flag for anyone in the Atlantic or rural areas of Canada. Encouraging labour mobility means pushing workers to move to areas where there is work (of any type, short and long-term). This is not how you build a sustainable economy.

The Labour Movement has been calling for proper consultations with workers and communities about how best to manage unemployment support. Unions want workers' experiences with unemployment and precarious work incorporated into a social welfare system that ensures people don't bear all the risk of the current economic system.

Labour is calling for the previous budgets' changes be scrapped and the following reforms brought in:

  1. Reduce the number of qualifying hours (for regular benefits) to 360 hours, no matter who workers are or where they live and work in Canada.
  2. Measure a “week” as 30 hours instead of 35 when calculating benefit levels and duration, to reflect the average Canadian work week.
  3. Increase the benefits period to 50 weeks.
  4. Increase benefits to at least 60% of earnings being replaced calculated on a worker’s best 12 weeks.
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Mistakes pile-up in Hydro One sale | What's Left

by Editors (What's Left) last modified Jul 28, 2015 11:06 AM
The Liberals seem to be fumbling the Initial Public Offering of Hydro One. In a public letter this week, CUPE's lawyers asked the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to review the government's interference with the legal obligations of Hydro One's board.

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The Board is required to protect the rights of all stakeholders, but the Liberals had eliminated the previous board's right to do exactly that. The letter says the process undermined shareholder rights and the stability of financial markets in Ontario.

In response to the letter, the Liberals changed their board process twice in five days, presumably after getting it wrong the first two times. Does anyone trust that they've now gotten it right?

This fumbling should not surprise anyone as the Liberals have a long history of failure when it comes to privatization. Think gas plants, Ornge, and the $8 billion wasted through public-private partnerships.

In additon to their fumbling, the Liberal's privatization narrative contains more than a few inconsistencies. It jumps from saying that government revenue from high Hydro One is important, to saying that the loss of revenue from the sale is minor. It says rates cannot be regulated under public ownership, but lower rates can be effectively regulated if it is private. And, they claim to think it is not worth it for the province to own Hydro One, but it is a super valuable investment for the financial community.

In the end, Ontarians will be on the hook – paying too much for their power, getting lower quality service, and freezing in the winter while the rich get richer.

More: CUPE union claims Hydro One sale violates securities law

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Black Lives Matter protest shuts down Allen Road | BlogTO

by R. Dubois last modified Jul 28, 2015 10:59 AM
"Yesterday evening, a Black Lives Matter protest blocked a portion of the Allen Expressway. Over the past year, two black men were shot and killed by police and the group was honouring and seeking justice for both of them."

The link address is: http://www.blogto.com/city/2015/07/black_lives_matter_protest_shuts_down_allen_road/

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Harper's Universal Child Care Benefit not effective, just a cynical attempt to buy votes

by Sarah Ryan — last modified Jul 28, 2015 10:53 AM
There has been a healthy dose of suspicion around the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) – the Conservative government's latest attempt at buying votes. Many have criticized the timing, execution, and eligibility with good cause. However, one of the more substantial issues is that of public policy.

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What's the goal of the UCCB? If it's to help parents find and afford quality child care, it's a solid policy fail. Many parents are left in a serious child care bind with regulated spaces available for only 22.5 per cent of children 0-5.

And then there's the question of affordability. In 2012, the Canada-wide median monthly fee was $761 for infant care – skyrocketing to a whopping $1,152 in Ontario. In Toronto, it's even higher at $1,676/month.

So, how will the UCCB help with child care costs in Ontario? If you can actually find a regulated space, the $160/month UCCB for children under the age of sixteen will cover just 14% of the median cost of an infant space. That's without counting the taxes on the UCCB.

Public policy is about choices. If you took the combined costs of the enhanced UCCB and the equally ill-considered income splitting policy, you could actually cover a $7/day child care program in all provinces outside Quebec (which has an existing, equivalently priced program).

The Conservatives say #YourKidsYourWay. Well, "Our kids, Our way" involves a universal, affordable and quality child care system.

Contribution to What's Left by Sarah Ryan

More: The NDP's Child Care plan

Infographic: Two Child Care Plans: Same cost, real difference

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Jeremy Corbyn vs. Project Fear

by JBB last modified Jul 27, 2015 06:42 PM
Jeremy Corbyn may not be able to save the Labour Party, but there’s a reason why the British establishment fears him. | by Richard Seymour

The link address is: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/07/jeremy-corbyn-labour-left/

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The Syriza Dilemma

by JBB last modified Jul 27, 2015 06:39 PM
What would constructive pressure on the Syriza government look like? | by Sam Gindin & Leo Panitch

The link address is: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/07/tsipras-debt-germany-troika-memorandum/

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Boston mayor ‘cannot commit’ to Olympic bid | Boston.com

by Faiz Ahmed last modified Jul 27, 2015 05:08 PM
"[The Mayor] is willing to lose the city’s Olympic bid rather than commit today to an agreement that puts Boston on the hook for budgetary shortfalls ... The host city contract includes the requirement that the city agree to cover any financial shortfalls of the Olympics, which has emerged as the most contentious issue around the bid." Full story here.

Also see: Why Boston won't be hosting the 2024 Olympics after all | The Christian Science Monitor

And: With Boston out of 2024 Olympics race, an opening for Toronto? | The Boston Globe
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Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat

by JBB last modified Jul 26, 2015 09:08 PM
by Michael Welton | CounterPunch

The link address is: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/24/surviving-together-canadian-public-tradition-under-threat/

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