The Thursday Activist Reader is designed to be an online readers’ pick compilation of reading and discussion for a better world. You are invited to join in the discussion as well as in sending a list of one or more articles from your reading that you think would be informative and interesting to Comox Valley activists.
BDS movement: Lessons from the South Africa boycott
Those who led UK’s Anti-Apartheid Movement reflect on what new legislation means for latest generation of boycotters.
Fully exposing the agenda of the ruling UK Conservative party the government has passed legislation to restrict the freedom of all publicly-funded institutions – such as local councils, universities and the National Health Service – to participate in “inappropriate” political boycotts, it was met with anger.
The measure is clearly aimed at stopping the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is, obviously, becoming an effective tool in opposing Israel’s defiance of international law and rights of Palestinian people.
“Rather than taking steps to hold Israel to account, the UK government is undermining local democracy in order to insulate Israel from growing public opposition,” said Riya Hassan, the Europe campaigns officer for the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
While the bad news is the trampling on local democracy, the good news is that this action clearly signals that the BDS movement is beginning to move the world community as did the boycott South Africa Anti-Apartheid Movement did in ending the oppression of black people in that state.
The Husband’s Secret
By Liane Moriarty
Available in multiple copies at VIRL
It’s a novel! One of the best novel’s I have read in a very long time. The story of a personal and community devastating secret is beautifully told beginning to end. BUT the shocker for me was that there is an epilogue that made me rethink the whole story and my life’s story and –yes, even, the meaning of life itself!
‘I’m a Climate Scientist Who Doesn’t Fly’
It took three years to quit air travel. Here’s one man’s carbon-cutting journey.
By Peter Kalmus, 17 Feb 2016, YES! Magazine
While this is one man’s personal story about his carbon-cutting journey, it is a story that could change the world if we can take to heart the idea that there are many ways we can change the world one personal commitment at a time. Kalmus is a climate scientist who doesn’t fly! –unlike so many dedicated environmentalists who fly around the world trying to save us from the devastating impact of flying around the world!—or who simply believe that it would be nice to end global warming but their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is so small it isn’t worth a thought.
Kalmus is very clear if you don’t like harming others, don’t fly. Skype the conference; video tape the lecture; learn to enjoy your own back yard.
“ Hour for hour, there’s no better way to warm the planet than to fly in a plane. If you fly coach from Los Angeles to Paris and back, you’ve just emitted three tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, 10 times what an average Kenyan emits in an entire year. Flying first class doubles these numbers.
However, the total climate impact of planes is likely two to three times greater than the impact from the CO2 emissions alone. This is because planes emit mono-nitrogen oxides into the upper troposphere, form contrails and seed cirrus clouds with aerosols from fuel combustion. These three effects enhance warming in the short term. “
Walking our talk we seed social and political space for large-scale change. We tell a new story by changing how we live.
Christy Clark’s Inequality Budget
Unfairness grows in BC’s tax system, with families paying more and businesses less.
By Paul Willcocks, 19 Feb 2016, TheTyee.ca
You will want to memorize this one for next year’s provincial election!
“Christy Clark likes talking about B.C.’s low taxes.
But since she’s been premier, a fairly typical retired couple has seen their provincial taxes increase by 19 per cent.
A low-income family with two children has faced an even larger increase, paying 20 per cent more in provincial taxes since Clark’s first budget in 2012. That’s an increase of 4.6 per cent a year, more than twice the inflation rate.”
A family of four with $90,000 income is paying only 1.1 per cent more in taxes than they did in 2012. A single person with $80,000 income has faced a 2.2-per-cent increase in the Clark years.
“In this year’s budget, MSP premiums jumped again to bring in $2.6 billion. For the first time, they brought in more revenue than royalties from forests, natural gas and mining combined.
“All revenue generated by the carbon tax will be returned to individuals and businesses through reductions to other taxes,” the government promised in 2008.
That year, 64 per cent of the offsetting tax cuts benefited individuals and families and the rest went to businesses.
In this year’s budget, families and individuals get 35 per cent of the tax savings that are offsetting the carbon tax; businesses get 65 per cent.”
B.C. is the only province that charges premiums for health services and the NDP opposition has called for them to be eliminated as a regressive tax. De Jong argues that MSP covers only 14 per cent of a growing health care budget and eliminating it would amount to hiding the cost in the general tax system.
Brad Wall questions Bombardier bailout, urges Ottawa to help oil sector
What about the tens of thousands of job losses in Canada’s energy sector
While it is hard to follow the Saskatchewan Premier ‘s argument that if the federal government is thinking about a package for Bombardier, it could consider similar help for the Energy East pipeline project, it is interesting/useful to read his comments about the impact of the never ending public subsidies for the Montreal based corporation.
Bombardier had received $1.3 billion in repayable contributions since 1966 and had repaid $543 million as of Dec. 31, 2014
Past governments argued that funding for Bombardier should not be viewed as a handout, but as the kind of appropriate government support to match what other governments do for their own aerospace industries around the world.
When you look at their global competitors, they’re all being subsidized—we’re not just tolerating this attack on our atmosphere, we’ve paying for it with tax dollars that could go to creating a cleaner, healthier, economy/ Earth.
Let the market do its job: think-tank
A Montreal-based think-tank said a government bailout with strings attached would be a mistake, and urged leaders to let Bombardier restructure itself in peace.
The Montreal Economic Institute says the company must respond to the reality of the market, which includes weak demand for its planes.
“Artificially maintaining jobs that do not correspond to the company’s current needs would be a mistake that, far from saving jobs, would ultimately end up destroying even more of them,”
Amid Battle with Apple, Memo Reveals Big Brother’s Plan B for Encryption
“They said they wouldn’t seek to legislate ‘backdoors’ in these technologies. They didn’t say they wouldn’t try to access the data in other ways.”
A secret National Security Council (NSC) “decision memo” shows that the government began ingratiating itself with the tech industry, and ordering its agencies to figure out how to circumvent encryption software and access private data in consumer devices, long before its privacy fight with Apple began, according to new reporting by Bloomberg.
During a meeting in late November, senior national security officials ordered agencies to develop encryption workarounds to address the issue of users encoding messages to keep them private from government surveillance, the memo shows. Those workarounds could include forcing Apple to develop its own software to help law enforcement, or recruiting government hackers to find and exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities.
Captured: People In Prison Drawing People Who Should by
In a brilliant project that “shines a light on crimes masquerading as commerce,” two activists present “Captured,” wherein prisoners convicted of “a whole bucket of crimes” draw portraits of corporate bigwigs whose offenses – fraud, theft, conspiracy, manslaughter, public endangerment, trashing the environment – make their puny assaults, armed burglaries and even murders pale. Undertaken by Jeff Greenspan and Andrew Tider, the two New York City-based activists who last year installed the bust of Edward Snowden at a Brooklyn park, the project imagines the highest levels of corporate leadership being held personally responsible, for once, for their companies’ illegal and often vastly destructive actions. It also seeks to remind us that while both inmates and CEOs are deemed “untouchable” in polar opposite ways, prisoners are people, and corporations still aren’t.