Category Archives: Class

Headline of the day: When hell freezes over


From the Guardian, a problem the departing esnl knows well:

Big tech asked to pay their ‘fair share’ in taxes to help San Francisco’s homeless

The tech boom has generated thousands of high-paying jobs and vast amounts of wealth. It’s also contributed to a spike in housing costs, a steady rise in evictions, a seismic shift in the identity of neighborhoods and an ever-widening gap between the city’s richest citizens and its poorest.

Do robotic insurance agents get commissions?


Or are banksters [for insurance is, after all, banking on your own mortality] putting the premium on profit in an aging Japan?

From the Yomiuri Shimbun:

A major life insurance company will deploy humanoid robots nationwide this autumn, using them to wait on customers at its offices and sending them out on sales calls.

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. has announced plans to deploy 100 Pepper robots, made by SoftBank Group Corp., at its 80 branches in October. Pepper will explain insurance products and services, and accompany sales people on their rounds.

This will give Meiji Yasuda the highest number of humanoid robots deployed in the financial industry.

Pepper will explain comparatively simple, reasonably priced insurance products in customer service areas at branch offices. The robots also will attend to visitors at insurance seminars held by the company, and accompany Meiji Yasuda salespeople on visits to other companies to promote insurance products.

How long before we start to see robotic peddlers on our own doorsteps?

And what does such a development imply?

What other sales jobs can be filled without having to do with those messy humans? No unions, no health insurance, no retirement benefits, and programmed to do exactly what you want them to do.

Kinda like the Trump Republican base.

Peña pushes on with ‘reforms,’ U.N urges talks


Plus the rising impact of ablockades and the latest violence. . .

The government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is pushing ahead with its neoliberal corporation-enriching educational “reforms,” and refusing to meaningfully engage with the striking teachers of Southern Mexico.

Teachers are striking in a region with a high population of indigenous peoples, where historically resistance to the central government has been strong.

And it’s important to remember that those 43 missing students kidnaped on the night of 26 September 2014 were attending the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College, and had planned to teacher in villages in the region now most deeply affected by the strike by members of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación [CNTE], and not the government’s pet union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, or SNTE.

The latest on the government’s plans from teleSUR English:

Another round of negotiations between dissident Mexican teachers and government officials has ended without an agreement after the Ministry of Education refused to call off plans to announce a new education model on Wednesday, a move the national union argued proves that authorities are not taking seriously their demands to cancel neoliberal education reforms, local media reported.

Leaders of the National Coordinator of Education Workers, better known as the CNTE, characterized the nearly six-hour meeting dedicated to discussing education issues on Tuesday as tense and without agreements, while Undersecretary of Basic Education Javier Treviño Cantu described it as “successful.”

The CNTE accused the government of waging a “two-lane manoeuvre” in which authorities continue holding talks with the national dissident union to manage the conflict — which reached fever pitch when police violently cracked down on protesters in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca, one month ago   — while also plowing ahead with education policy plans that only take into account the opinions of the more government-friendly teachers union, the SNTE, La Jornada reported.

Both Education Minister Aurelio Nuño and Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong failed to attend the meeting, according to EFE. Nuño has been recalcitrant throughout the negotiations, refusing to engage in dialogue with the CNTE unless the union accepts President Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2013 education reform. Osorio Chong, on the other hand, has attended previous sessions, though teachers have criticized his lack of political will and interest in the process.

According to members of the CNTE, the new education model Nuño is set to announce at 11:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday excludes the dissident union due to lack of consultation.

The UN urges Peña to negotiate with the CNTE

While the government has been holding inconclusive meetings with the CNTE, the real talks have been with the CNTE, and a new voice has been added to the chorus calling on the central government to talk with strikers from the CNTE.

Government World reports:

The head of the United Nations forum on indigenous issues today urged Mexican officials to meet with a wing of the national union of teachers to resolve the conflict in the southern state of Oaxaca, where violent protests over education took at least six lives.

“I would like to express my absolute rejection and condemnation of the events that took place on 19 and 20 June this year in Asuncion Nochixtlán and neighbouring municipalities in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico,” said Alvaro Pop, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

In addition to the people killed, more than 100 were injured in protests that followed President Enrique Peña Nieto’s changes to the education system.

The group that is protesting the changes is known as the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), an offshoot of the national teacher’s union.

In today’s statement, Mr. Pop urges the Government to dialogue in an “effective, participatory and mutually respectful manner” with the CNTE “to find a solution that respects national and international obligations undertaken by Mexico to promote and protect the rights of its indigenous peoples.”

Strikers impact the economy

One of the most effective tactics adopted by the strikers is to erect blockades in an effort to force the government to come to the bargaining table.

And now the Yucatan Times reports that the roadblocks are beginning to bite:

A delegation from the coastal city of Puerto Escondido called on the offices of the Interior Secretariat (Segob) in Mexico City to issue a plea for help.

“We cannot put up with the teachers’ blockades any more,” said spokesman Abraham Clavel, who operates a transportation service in the city. “They are strangling the state of Oaxaca. Puerto Escondido is under siege; there are no tourists.”

Government officials were told that 3,000 people have lost their jobs in the city and that hotel occupancy is less than 20% despite this being the high season for domestic tourism.

Clavel also said there have been fuel and food shortages caused by the blockades. “We’re fed up with always being put under siege,” he declared, claiming that the situation was “a disaster.”

He said combined losses in the region were running at 7.5 million pesos, or US $400,000, per day, and if the protests continue over the next few weeks another 3,000 people will be laid off by businesses in Puerto Escondido, Huatulco, Mazunte, Zipolite and Chacahua.

Violent confrontations continue

The Ayotzinapa students were kidnaped after the commandeered buses ot take them to a political rally, upsetting the wife of the mayor of Iguala, the real power in the local community rather than her spouse.

The students were then ambushed by a coalition of local and federal law enforcement, abetted by cartel gunslingers, who are widely suspected of subsequently killing all the students.

The latest round of violence erupted after another bus commandeering, reports Fox News Latino:

Students and teachers burnt three buses and a truck in the western Mexican state of Michoacan as part of a drive to pressure the government to hire 1,200 graduates from teacher training colleges.

In addition, the protesters have stolen 143 heavy vehicles including passenger buses, cargo trucks, fuel transportation trucks and tractor-trailers in the past few days.

The Secretariat of Public Security (Spanish: SSP) of Michoacan reported that the incident took place at 2 p.m. local time (7 p.m. GMT) when students and teachers burnt three buses crossing the Uruapan-Patzcuaro highway, near Morelia, capital of the state, up to the town of San Juan Tumbio, where they detained 15 passenger trucks.

Riot police prevented teachers and students from torching the remaining 12 buses, although the protesters managed to set fire to a Coca-Cola delivery truck on the Zacapu-Zamora highway.

Quantifying climate change economic impacts


No one doubts [well, except for lots of Republicans] that climate change is upon us, and that it will cause a great many changes to the planet we inhabit.

While we’re all acquainted that things are set to get hotter and drier for most of us, and that seas are rising, those are just some of the broader impacts.

But we many be less aware that profound economic changes lie ahead, and they’ll be very costly indeed.

New research tries to set a price tag on some of them.

From the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

Rising temperatures caused by climate change may cost the world economy over $2 trillion in lost productivity by 2030 as hot weather makes it unbearable to work in some parts of the world, according to U.N. research published on Tuesday.

It showed that in Southeast Asia alone, up to 20 percent of annual work hours may already be lost in jobs with exposure to extreme heat with the figures set to double by 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen.

Across the globe, 43 countries will see a fall in their gross domestic product (GDP) due to reduced productivity, the majority of them in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Bangladesh, researcher Tord Kjellstrom said.

Indonesia and Thailand could see their GDP reduced by 6 percent in 2030, while in China GDP could be reduced by 0.8 percent and in India by 3.2 percent.

Resisting the Greek capitulation to the banksters


Greek’s have seen austerity at its worst, inflicted by the joint powers of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

The austerians are acting in the interest of the banks of Germany and France, lending institutions that bankrolled arms deals that profited the military/industrial complexes of the lender nations.

While Greek official corruption was clearly involved in some of the deals, the bribe payments came from German companies eager for profits from the sale of weapon systems, warships, and other materiel necessary for the new Cold War.

A succession of Greek governments signed off on massive cuts in public salaries and pensions, restrictions on the national public health system, and the sell-off of ports, railroads, islands, and other public assets.

Finally, the Greek people said “Enough!,” and in and in January 2015, they voted in a new government headed by a previously marginal party, a coalition of the Left named Syriza [previously], swept to power on a platform calling for an end of the payments.

With party leader Alexis Tsipras becoming chancellor, Syriza seemed on track to mount the first real resistance to the ave of austerity programs imposed on nations of Ireland and Southern Europe in the wake of the crash caused by the institutional corruption of Wall Street and the City of London.

Seven months after taking power, Syriza called a referendum on the issue of whether or not Greece should accept the latest austerity mandates from the Troika. When the votes were tallied, 61 percent of the Greek electorate declared no to further austerity.

Two months later the leaders of the anti-austerity movement were gone, and Tsipras was ready to surrender once again.

In this interview with The Real News Network, one of those leaders talks about those critical events, and the launch of a new party to continue the resistance to the money lord of the North:

Odious Debt and the Betrayal of the Popular Will in Greece

From the transcript:

DIMITRI LASCARIS, TRNN: This is Dimitri Lascaris reporting from Lesbos, Greece, for The Real News.

This week, The Real News is in Lesbos to cover the Crossing Borders Conference on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

This afternoon we’re joined by Zoe Konstantopoulou. Zoe Konstantopoulou is the former speaker of the Greek Parliament. She was elected to that position in February of last year with a record number of votes from her fellow MPs, including, surprisingly, the support of the right-wing New Democracy Party. But her tenure as speaker of the Greek Parliament was short-lived. Her position was vacated in October of last year after the SYRIZA government decided to implement an austerity program that was even more severe than [the one that] over 60 percent of the population of Greece had rejected in a referendum in July of last year.

>snip<

LASCARIS: Now, last year, after the referendum in which over 60 percent of the Greek population effectively voted to reject an austerity program that was even less severe than what was ultimately implemented, the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, called a snap election and there was a rebellion of the left wing of the SYRIZA party, and they formed another party called Popular Unity, which I understand you supported in the election that was held in September.

KONSTANTOPOULOU: I cooperated as an independent candidate with Popular Unity.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Income inequality linked to unwed parents


The American conservative is a creature who demands marriage before babies, but new research reveals the economic policies espoused by Republicans [and, it must be added, neoliberal democrats] are almost precisely crafted to encourage women to have children without benefit of clergy.

From Johns Hopkins University:

Rising income inequality, and the resulting scarcity of certain types of jobs, is a key reason a growing number of young Americans are having babies before getting married.

A study led by Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin is the first to trace how the income gap, a large-scale societal trend, is affecting individual people’s personal choices about starting a family. The greater the income inequality in an area, the less likely young men and women are to marry before having a first child, concluded the study, which will be published online July 14 and will appear in the August issue of the American Sociological Review.

“Does income inequality affect a young adult’s decision about getting married and starting a family?” asked Cherlin, the Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Public Policy in the Krieger School of Arts and Science. “We think the answer is yes for those who don’t graduate from college. Places with higher income inequality have fewer good jobs for those young adults. They don’t foresee ever having the kinds of well-paying careers that could support a marriage and a family. But they are unwilling to forgo having children. So with good jobs in limited supply and successful marriage looking unlikely, young women and men without college degrees may go ahead and have a child without marrying first.”

Cherlin and his fellow authors found that areas with high levels of income inequality have a shortage of jobs available in the middle of the job market. These are jobs available to those without college degrees that pay wages that would keep a family out of poverty — like office clerks, factory workers, and security guards.

Without access to this sort of work, young men can’t make an adequate living. They don’t see themselves as good marriage material, and their partners agree. Couples like this might live together and have a child, but they are reluctant to make the long-term commitment to marriage, according to Cherlin.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Mexican gov’t agrees to alter education reforms


There’s only one catch.

The government is in talks with a teachers union, but it’s not the one currently on strike in much of Mexico’s South.

The ongoing action against the neoliberal “reforms” imposed by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto is the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, or CNTE.

The CNTE represents teacher primarily in Southern Mexico and is fiercely independent of the government, unlike the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, or SNTE, which is considered a house union.

The story form teleSUR English:

Mexican Minister of Education Aurelio Nuño Mayer said Wednesday that he will revise the education reform that has been at the center of intense CNTE-led protests, but that he will only consult the rival SNTE union.

Nuño Mayer has drawn intense criticism for refusing to negotiate with the CNTE teachers, who have been leading months-long blockades across the country that were subject to intense police repression. The teachers, mostly based in rural southern states, argue that the neoliberal reforms put poorer and Indigenous students at a disadvantage. They have demanded meetings with the Education Ministry, but Nuño Mayer has insisted that they accept the reforms before coming to the table.

The SNTE union, which is largely aligned with President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, did meet with Nuño Mayer.

“Last week, I welcomed the proposals brought to me by SNTE, 11 propositions that brought us to various negotiating tables, intense, that would allow us to come to an important agreement regarding the education reform,” he said.

“We have agreed, and the SEP (Ministry of Public Education) has decided, to revise and improve the evaluation of teachers, to make it more appropriate and much more useful.”

The main purpose of the revisions will be to improve implementation of evaluations and make them more context-specific, focusing on its application, the platform for publishing findings, cleaning up databases, accreditation of evaluators, and communication between the school and the teacher. Nuño Mayer said he will also expand the curriculum and raise the teacher’s salary by 3.5 percent.