Further information at: Not-so-Random Information: Introduction and Table of Contents
“Whose sarin?” by Seymour M. Hersh - “Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.”
Canada’s sluggish labour market and the myth of the skills - “Canada’s federal politicians are fond of trumpeting that Canada’s economy has performed better than almost any other jurisdiction, and that we should be thankful for their ‘prudent economic management.’ In actual fact, however, the hard numbers indicate that Canada’s jobs performance has been ho-hum at best—and isn’t getting any better.
“Part of the confusion stems from how labour market performance is measured. The government emphasizes absolute growth (or growth rates) in total employment. They boast that Canada has created over a million net new jobs since the worst of the recession: a statement that is correct, but misleading. Remember, any economy with a growing population must create many jobs each year just to keep up with population growth. In Canada’s case, our working-age population grows relatively rapidly: by over 350,000 persons per year (one of the fastest growth rates in the OECD). In other countries (like Germany or Japan), population is stable; hence the labour market can attain a much stronger balance between demand and supply with little or no absolute growth in the total number of jobs. Any increase in absolute employment levels must be considered relative to the supply of available potential workers.”
“‘Economic inequality’ has recently appeared on the public radar in North America, but much of the attention has been confined to its ominously high level and its socially corrosive impact. The long-term drivers of inequality, by contrast, have attracted less attention. This presentation will explore the linkages between corporate power and inequality, arguing that both the level and pattern of inequality in Canada closely shadow the differential power of capital.”
“Our Invisible Revolution” by Chris Hedges - “‘Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?’ the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay ‘The Idea Is the Thing.’ ‘If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.’
“Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.”
David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show' - “America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.
“There's no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be. We've somehow managed to march on to two separate futures and I think you're seeing this more and more in the west. I don't think it's unique to America.”