Monthly Archives: January 2016

The rich are getting richer…

A recent article attracted my attention; it seems that according to Oxfam the richest 62 people in the world owned as much as half the world’s population and half of the super-rich individuals were from the United States. What struck me is that the wealth of the super-rich rose by 44% since 2010 while the wealth of the poorest fell by 41%. In other words, the rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer.

What seems clear is that the world is more and more unequal and the trend seems to be accelerating. What is most distressing is that areas of the world that were always poor are still poor as for example, Africa. At least for that continent we know where some of the wealth is hidden; 30% of all African financial wealth is held offshore costing 14 billion dollars US in lost tax revenues every year.

Obviously companies are at fault as well here as 180 out of the leading 200 companies have a presence in at least one tax haven. It is not clear to me if we are talking about something illegal or only immoral and unethical. It is one thing to search the tax law for loopholes and pay as little tax as Google and Amazon do and quite another to evade paying taxes that are owed.

What is clear is that according to a OECD report most poor people now live in middle-income countries like India and not in the poorest countries as in the past. And in these countries the social net is woefully inadequate and cannot compare to modern industrialized countries where taxes and transfers help reduce urban poverty.

None of this should be a surprise to anyone who works and lives in most modern countries. Another reason to oppose the TPP!


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The price of life.

It is rare to see people die in the world of drug testing. By that I mean people who are paid to take drugs and who do so in a voluntary way. Very rarely does one die in such circumstances but it has happened now in France. In a phase one trial one person died and of six men admitted to hospital three could have permanent brain damage. Something went horribly wrong and it should not have happened.

I suppose that when one volunteers for such trials one does not think about the risks. After all the risks are quite low especially in a phase one trial because the toxicity of the drugs that are used are quite low.. This story in France struck a chord in me as I had thought of being a guinea pig for the money it could bring. I must admit that this story has made me think twice about embarking in such trials, never mind that this is a rare occurrence. I could be unlucky as the others were. Over 90 people have ingested this drug and who knows what could happen to them now. The side effects could linger on for years.

I think that we should silently thank these people who willingly ingest drugs just to make sure that when the population at large ingests them no ill effects will occur. I have looked into how much they are paid and for my part, it is not enough to risk my health for a few dollars. I value my health a lot more than these drug companies are willing to pay. Considering how much money these companies make they should consider seriously offering more to those who choose to take such risks, for the benefit of all.

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El Chapo!

For those who do not know El Chapo is that Mexican drug lord that escaped prison last July and has now been duly recaptured, felled by his ego I suppose. I read in the New York Times an article that describes what he is; vain, egotistical and violent. When asked if he was a violent man he replied that he used violence only in self-defense!

At least he had the honesty to admit that indeed he was running a drug cartel. The last time he was interviewed he had said that he was a poor farmer…

In the end it was his thirst for fame that did him in. He wanted to participate in a movie that was to be made about him and he was in contact with actors and producers that were to make it happen. The Mexican forces were aware of these contacts and in some way were able to get to him.

He clearly was living in a delusional world. When asked how he wanted to die, he replied in his sleep.

I do not know what is worse; that Sean Penn interviewed a criminal on the run or the fact that Rolling Stone magazine who did the interview let the criminal review the piece before it was printed. To me both are objectionable and exhibit an appalling lack of judgment. From Sean Penn I am not surprised but from the Rolling Stone magazine I am. After all, it does have a reputation to be serious and wants to be taken seriously. I suppose that now people will wonder about that.

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The buying and selling of weapons.

I read an interesting article last week in the New York Times about who sold what on the global scene in respect to weapons. No surprise that the leader was the United States, accounting for fully 50% of the market. Russia was second and Sweden was third. I was surprised to see Sweden in such a high position. It just does not sound right for a so called social democracy.

The top buyer of arms was South Korea and most of these weapons were bought from the United States. No surprise there as the threat of North Korea has not diminished in recent years. I do not see any problems in two democracies buying and selling weapons from each other. Where I draw the line is when poor developing countries buy weapons from the larger and well developed countries, and in 2014 this totaled a whopping 62 billion dollars.

I find this to be quite immoral. Some of these poor countries are saddled with severe problems of poverty and yet, they spend money on weapons. In some cases, theses weapons are used on their own people. Surely a more developed country like the United States should be more morally concerned about aiding and abetting injustices, and having its weapons used in conflicts that have more to do about egos being bruised than legitimate self-defense. I am particularly appalled when some of these poor countries use these weapons on its own people, like the Egyptian state has done in the past.

I am concerned when I hear that the Saudi government has bought from Canada tanks and other military hardware, even if it is justified that it is for its domestic market. Translation; we will use this against our own people who might want forcibly to change the system. In other words, we will be aiding and abetting the royal Saudi family in continuing its illegitimate reign in Saudi Arabia. Nothing to be proud of.

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A new app!

I have recently installed an app on my home computer that really saves me a lot of megabytes. The purpose is simple; it blocks all publicity that usually appears in my browser. The difference in how much bandwidth I now consume on the net is astounding. I regret that I have not installed this before. I can basically surf twice as much as before.

The one that I have installed is called ublock, a free open source program that is available on the net. It has no publicity as compared to others and I must say that it works amazingly well. Give it a try if you do not use one and you will see how Internet surfing is so much smoother now.

I really had no choice in installing this program as my Internet consumption is limited to 3 gigabytes per month, a paltry number for sure. You tube downloading is pretty much out of the question for me, until now. I must still be frugal in downloading stuff from the web but less so.

I want to wish my subscribers a Happy New Year!


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