Photons, Quasars and the Possibility of Free Will
By Brian Koberlein
Posted January 12, 2020
Flickers of light from the edge of the cosmos help physicists advance the idea that the future is not predetermined.
Life is full of choices. Do we have a cookie or go to the gym? Do we binge watch our favorite show on Netflix or go to bed at a reasonable time? Our choices have consequences, and we make them of our own free will. Or do we?
The nature of free will has long inspired philosophical debates, but it also raises a central question about the fundamental nature of the universe. Is the cosmos governed by strict physical laws that determine its fate from the big bang until the end of time? Or do the laws of nature sometimes allow for things to happen at random? A century-old series of physics experiments still hasn’t been able to settle the question, but a new experiment has tilted the odds toward the latter by performing a quantum experiment across billions of light-years. More…
Glyphosate Worse than We Could Imagine. “It’s Everywhere”
By F. William Engdahl
Posted January 11, 2020
Glyphosate residues have been found in tap water, orange juice, children’s urine, breast milk, chips, snacks, beer, wine, cereals, eggs, oatmeal, wheat products, and most conventional foods tested. It’s everywhere, in brief.
As new studies continue to point to a direct link between the widely-used glyphosate herbicide and various forms of cancer, the agribusiness lobby fights ferociously to ignore or discredit evidence of human and other damage. A second US court jury case just ruled that Monsanto, now a part of the German Bayer AG, must pay $ 81 million in damages to plaintiff Edwin Hardeman who contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. The ruling and a line-up of another 11,000 pending cases in US courts going after the effects of glyphosate, have hit Bayer AG hard with the company announcing several thousand layoffs as its stock price plunges.
In a trial in San Francisco the jury was unanimous in their verdict that Monsanto Roundup weed-killer, based on glyphosate, had been responsible for Hardeman’s cancer. His attorneys stated,
“It is clear from Monsanto’s actions that it does not care whether Roundup causes cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about Roundup.” More…
The Catalan Integral Cooperative: an organizational study of a post-capitalist cooperative
by George Dafermos
Posted January 10, 2020
The Cooperativa Integral Catalana (CIC) is one of the most interesting cooperative projects which have sprung up during the age of crisis in Europe. First of all, it is notable on account of its revolutionary character: the main objective of the CIC is nothing less than to build an alternative economy in Catalonia capable of satisfying the needs of the local community more effectively than the existing system, thereby creating the conditions for the transition to a post-capitalist mode of organization of social and economic life.
To fulfil the purpose it has set itself, the CIC is engaged in an impressive spectrum of activities: although it was formed just seven years ago, it has already been actively involved in developing infrastructures as diverse as barter markets, a network of common stores, an alternative currency called ‘eco’, a ‘Cooperative Social Fund’ for financing community projects and a ‘basic income programme’ for remunerating its members for their work. By setting up such structures, the CIC aspires to be an organizational platform for the development of a self-sufficient economy that is autonomous from the State and the capitalist market. More…
Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance
By Bennett Cyphers and Gennie Gebhart
Posted January 9, 2020
Trackers are hiding in nearly every corner of today’s Internet, which is to say nearly every corner of modern life. The average web page shares data with dozens of third-parties. The average mobile app does the same, and many apps collect highly sensitive information like location and call records even when they’re not in use. Tracking also reaches into the physical world. Shopping centers use automatic license-plate readers to track traffic through their parking lots, then share that data with law enforcement. Businesses, concert organizers, and political campaigns use Bluetooth and WiFi beacons to perform passive monitoring of people in their area. Retail stores use face recognition to identify customers, screen for theft, and deliver targeted ads.
The tech companies, data brokers, and advertisers behind this surveillance, and the technology that drives it, are largely invisible to the average user. Corporations have built a hall of one-way mirrors: from the inside, you can see only apps, web pages, ads, and yourself reflected by social media. But in the shadows behind the glass, trackers quietly take notes on nearly everything you do. These trackers are not omniscient, but they are widespread and indiscriminate. The data they collect and derive is not perfect, but it is nevertheless extremely sensitive. More…
The New ‘Black Codes’
by Chris Hedges
Posted January 8, 2020
The police forces in impoverished urban communities, equipped with military-grade weapons and empowered to harass and kill largely at will, along with mass incarceration, are the principal tools for the social control of the poor. There is little pretense of justice and even less of protection and safety. The corporate state and our oligarchic rulers fear a backlash from those they abandoned in deindustrialized enclaves across the country, what Malcolm X called our “internal colonies.” The daily brutality and terror keep the poor, especially poor people of color, in bondage. On average, more than 1,100 people, or one every eight hours, almost all unarmed, are killed every year by police in the United States. These killings are not accidents. They are not the results of a failed system. The system works exactly as it is designed to work. And until the system of corporate power is destroyed, nothing will change for the poor, or the rest of Americans.
Our national conversation on race and crime, which refuses to confront the economic, social and political systems of exploitation and white supremacy, has been a whitewash. The vast pools of the unemployed and underemployed, especially among people of color, are part of the design of predatory corporate capitalism. And so are the institutions, especially the police, the courts, the jails and the prisons, tasked with maintaining social control of those the system has cast aside. More…
America Escalates Its “Democratic” Oil War in the Near East
by Michael Hudson
Posted January 7, 2020
The pretense – or more accurately, the diversion – by the U.S. news media over the weekend has been to depict the United States as being under imminent attack. Mayor de Blasio has positioned policemen at conspicuous key intersections to let us know how imminent Iranian terrorism is – as if it were Iran, not Saudi Arabia that mounted 9/11, and as if Iran in fact has taken any forceful action against the United States. The media and talking heads on television have saturated the air waves with warnings of Islamic terrorism. Television anchors are suggesting just where the attacks are most likely to occur.
The message is that the assassination of General Soleimani was to protect us. As Donald Trump and various military spokesmen have said, he had killed Americans – and now they must be planning an enormous attack that will injure and kill many more innocent Americans. That stance has become America’s posture in the world: weak and threatened, requiring a strong defense – in the form of a strong offense. More…
‘It’s a miracle’: Helsinki’s radical solution to homelessness
by Jon Henley
Posted January 7, 2020
Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally.
It is important that they are tenants: each has a contract, pays rent and (if they need to) applies for housing benefit. That, after all, is all part of having a home – and part of a housing policy that has now made Finland the only EU country where homelessness is falling.
When the policy was being devised just over a decade ago, the four people who came up with what is now widely known as the Housing First principle – a social scientist, a doctor, a politician and a bishop – called their report Nimi Ovessa (Your Name on the Door).
“It was clear to everyone the old system wasn’t working; we needed radical change,” says Juha Kaakinen, the working group’s secretary and first programme leader, who now runs the Y-Foundation developing supported and affordable housing. More…
The USA Doubles Down on its Saudi Allegiance
by Craig Murray
Posted January 6, 2020
For the United States to abandon proxy warfare and directly kill one of Iran’s most senior political figures has changed international politics in a fundamental way. It is a massive error. Its ramifications are profound and complex.
There is also a lesson to be learned here in that this morning there will be excitement and satisfaction in the palaces of Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran. All of the political elites will see prospects for gain from the new fluidity. While for ordinary people in all those countries there is only the certainty of more conflict, death and economic loss, for the political elite, the arms manufacturers, the military and security services and allied interests, the hedge funds, speculators and oil companies, there are the sweet smells of cash and power.
Tehran will be pleased because the USA has just definitively lost Iraq. Iraq has a Shia majority and so naturally tends to ally with Iran. Tel Aviv and Riyadh will also be celebrating today at the idea that their dream of the USA destroying their regional rival Iran, as Iraq and Libya were destroyed, is coming closer. There will also today be rejoicing in Washington. There is nothing like an apparently successful military attack in a US re-election campaign. More…
The Facts: The US recently killed a leading general at an International Airport in a sovereign nation. Now the US is threatening that nation if it retaliates.
Reflect On: Consider what the response of the US would be if one of our leading generals was killed by a drone at Toronto International Airport by any nation. Is it OK just it is we who are doing the killing?
Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.
by Jonathan English
Posted January 6, 2020
The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.
When it comes to the quality of public transit, comparisons between American cities and international counterparts are usually met with a simple response: “It’s different over there.”
How did transit become such an afterthought in Americans’ transportation habits? Transit everywhere suffered serious declines in the postwar years, the cost of cars dropped and new expressways linked cities and fast-growing suburbs. That article pointed to a key problem: The limited transit service available in most American cities means that demand will never materialize—not without some fundamental changes. More…