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by Editors — last modified Jul 29, 2015 01:12 PM
Contributors: Faiz Ahmed, JBB, Graham H. Cox, R. Dubois, JA Cox

ETUC Congress adopts emergency resolution on TiSA

by Graham H. Cox last modified Oct 02, 2015 02:11 PM
The adoption of the resolution is a clear sign that trade unions across Europe are united in rejecting any give away of the right to regulate and possibilities to maintain and/or develop universal access to quality public services.

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Syria army, allies prepares for major offensive in north | The Daily Star

by Faiz Ahmed last modified Oct 02, 2015 08:46 AM
"Two Lebanese sources told Reuters hundreds of Iranian troops had reached Syria in the past 10 days with weapons to mount a major ground offensive. They would also be backed by Assad's Lebanese Hezbollah allies and by Shi'ite militia fighters from Iraq, while the Russians would provide air support."

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David Cameron rules out slavery reparation during Jamaica visit | BBC

by Faiz Ahmed last modified Sep 30, 2015 04:58 PM
"The issue of former slave-owning nations compensating former colonies is a contentious one in the Caribbean ... One suggestion has been that the money could be provided in the form of debt relief. ... Mr Cameron announced £25m in British aid for a new Jamaican prison ... More than 600 Jamaican nationals are in UK jails but cannot be deported because of Jamaica's poor prison conditions."

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Open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron on the issue of reparations to Jamaica | The Gleaner

by Faiz Ahmed last modified Sep 30, 2015 03:18 PM
"You owe it to us as you return here to communicate a commitment to reparatory justice that will enable your nation to play its part in cleaning up this monumental mess of the empire. We ask not for handouts or any such acts of indecent submission. We merely ask that you acknowledge responsibility for your share of this situation and move to contribute in a joint programme of rehabilitation and renewal. The continuing suffering of our people, sir, is as much your nation's duty to alleviate as it is ours to resolve in steadfast acts of self-responsibility."

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Dr. Jamal Barzinji (1939-2015): In Memoriam | Counter Punch

by Faiz Ahmed last modified Sep 29, 2015 10:10 PM
"Leaders like Dr. Barzinji represent the best examples of Muslim leaders in the West ... The American Muslim community, but especially, its youth, who have since 9/11 been suffering enormously from societal alienation, government overreach, Xenophobic attacks, and Islamophobia, must follow in the footsteps of Dr. Barzinji, and learn about his life and sacrifices. They must look up to his example for inspiration and hope. When they do that they would learn that they need to seek knowledge to free their minds; that they must fight ignorance and Islamophobia with education and outreach; that they must stand up for their rights and speak out against injustice to be respected and empowered; that they must unite and stand for high principles and moral values against false promises and easy access to power."

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Jeremy Corbyn has given hope to my generation. Please don’t let the cynics take it away | New Statesman

by Faiz Ahmed last modified Sep 29, 2015 04:10 PM
"Right now, the last thing that young people need is for newspapers to adopt braying tones of avuncular chastisement. ... Jeremy Corbyn has given many of my generation hope for a better future and he could do the same thing for many more disadvantaged and disenfranchised young voters." Full story here.

Also see: Jeremy Corbyn says Britain 'can and must change' | BBC

"The thirst in the hall for him to do well was tangible. Some members of the party have wanted to hear a speech like this for years. And although he never really expected to be doing one of the most high-profile, hardest jobs in politics, if Jeremy Corbyn was nervous, he didn't show it. [T]he audience was pleased to see him, applauding for two minutes on their feet before he even said a word."
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Volkswagen scandal exposes big business | What's Left

by Editors (What's Left) last modified Sep 29, 2015 02:52 PM
The magnitude of the Volkswagen scandal can be boiled down to this: Volkswagen consciously installed software in some of its diesel-fuled models that would ensure cars would pass regulatory CO2 emissions standards, but only in the event of a test.

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Volkswagen, a prized and reputable car giant has for years been polluting the air we breathe in what is now known to be a scandal of deception and cheating of great proportions. 11 million vehicles world-wide have been affected. The numbers being floated as what Volkswagen could potentially face in fines are vertiginous.

At face value, the scandal has brought consternation to Germany's car manufacturer. Reactions from the public all over the world have been one of shock and awe: a cherished maker of cars had cheated consumers on two fronts: by installing spy software in their cars, and by skirting environmental regulations. On both accounts, Volkswagen faces a long road ahead to live them down.

Now, chances to expose big business in this way are few are far between. If anything, the Volkswagen scandal should confirm that "corporate accountability" is not backed up with adequate oversight from governments. As companies become bigger and more international, what is the proper way to avoid such deception and maintain international standards that respect basic principles of living together as a society?

More: Volkswagen Says 11 Million Cars Worldwide Are Affected in Diesel Deception

More: Volkswagen Scandal: Why Is It So Hard to Make Clean Diesel Cars?

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Profit and prescription drugs | What's Left

by Editors (What's Left) last modified Sep 29, 2015 02:53 PM
In the Canadian system, the private sector controls all aspects of prescription medication with profit for shareholders driving the industry. As such, it is not surprising when companies exploit their monopoly for huge profits. Recent events show just how ridiculous this system is.

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In the past week, the price for the drug used to treat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, Cycloserine, was hiked 2,000 per cent overnight. Then a Pharma CEO and former hedge fund manager defend his 5,000 per cent price hike for an anti-parasitic drug Diaparam. And finally, Alexion Pharmaceuticals has filed a motion in Federal Court arguing that Canada's drug price watchdog has no authority to force the company to lower its price for the drug Soliris.

In New Zealand, a country not known for its left wing ideology, prices of medication has increased by only three per cent per year compared to ten per cent worldwide. And, individuals in New Zealand pay a maximum of 100$ nz a year no matter what the costs of their drugs.

In Canada, because of limited cooperation among provinces and no effort by current and previous federal governments to tackle the issue, pharmaceutical costs are amongst the highest in the world. Pharmaceutical companies seem to be under the impression that in Canada, people will pay whatever the cost. The result is that the private pharmaceutical industry has been one of the most successful parts of the corporate campaign to privatize and profit from the public health care system.

More: Tuberculosis drug price jumps 2,000%, shocks doctors

More: U.S. drug company sues Canada for trying to lower cost of $700K-a-year drug

More: Drug company CEO to lower price of Daraprim after public outcry, news report says

More: Canada could have universal drug coverage without raising taxes – Morgan

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A slight variation on the argument for card check certification | What's Left

by Editors (What's Left) last modified Sep 29, 2015 02:43 PM
In Canada, there is a two step process for most workers to form a union. There is a card signing process which acts as a poll asking workers if they want democracy in their workplace. Then, if enough of them do, there is a vote asking those same workers if they want workplace democracy through a union.

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This means that current labour law on union certification starts with the premise that the neutral position for workers is as an unorganized mass who are essentially anti-democratic.

It is rather odd for a democratic state to force organizations to poll citizens whether they want democracy before they can vote. In fact, no other structures of association have ever been forced to do this.

The current union argument is that only a "card check" certification would make it easier to form a union. But this argument does not go far enough.

The neutral position for groups of people in a democracy is of course not anti-democratic, but is a process of discussion, agitation and education; the building blocks of any democracy. It should be assumed that unorganized workers are no different. In their 'natural state', groups of workers are already on-board with (and even practising) some aspects of workplace democracy.

In a democratic country, workers should not to be assumed to be ignorant of their right to democracy. As such, a single vote by signing a union card should be the only step to forming a union.

More: Reforming Labour Laws: There's a Lot on the line

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