The robot, unemployment, and immigrants

By Roberto Savio*

ROME, Feb 19 2018  -Since a few days, Amazon has started Amazon Go. The idea is simple: a shop where you go in, take whatever you want from the shelves, and the cost goes automatically to a magnetic card that you carry. Going out, you swipe the card, which goes to your bank account or to a credit card, and that it is. No ques, no cashiers, fast and easy. The first shop, in Seattle, has a roaring success. Nobody is in charge with restocking the items. An automatic system does that. And soon two robots will replace the items on the shelves, now done by two employees. Even the cleaning of the floor is being done by a robot. The goal is to have a totally automatic shop, where no human can make mistakes, get ill, go on strike, take holidays, or bring into the work personal problems.

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Makedonia Not a Rose by Any Other Name

by Nadia Batok*

Since 1991, when the former Yugoslavia collapsed, Makedonia – or Macedonia as it is generally known – and Greece have been engaged in a dispute over what the former should be called.

Makedonia is a historical and geographical region in the Balkans, administratively divided into the Republic of Makedonija (FYROM, the name by which it is recognised at the United Nations), Vardar Makedonia, the Greek region of Aegean Makedonia, and the Bulgarian region of Pirin Makedonia.

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Oxfam’s Sexual Abuse Episode Must Inspire a Culture Shift

By Siddharth Chatterjee*

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 2018 (IPS) – Sexual abuse allegations against Oxfam staff, and failings in the charity’s response to them, delivered a body blow to an organisation renowned for years of humanitarian and development work. At the very least the accusations will leave a stain on the reputation of a charity that works in some of the toughest environments in the world, and has made a positive difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.
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The Costs of US Wars Are Staggering, but Most Americans Continue to Ignore Them

By Stephanie Savell* – TomDispatch

I’m in my mid-thirties, which means that, after the 9/11 attacks, when this country went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq in what President George W. Bush called the “Global War on Terror,” I was still in college. I remember taking part in a couple of campus antiwar demonstrations and, while working as a waitress in 2003, being upset by customers who ordered “freedom fries,” not “French fries,” to protest France’s opposition to our war in Iraq. (As it happens, my mother is French, so it felt like a double insult.) For years, like many Americans, that was about all the thought I put into the war on terror. But one career choice led to another and today I’m co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

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Zuma is not enough. The ANC itself must be cleansed of corruption

Sisonke Msimang* – The Guardian

South Africa’s unpopular leader is gone. But if the once mighty ANC is to have a future, this is what Cyril Ramaphosa must do

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s unpopular president, has finally been removed. Yet the terms of his departure were deeply problematic. In what was a painfully tortuous process, the ANC could not even agree on a timeframe for his departure.

Although Zuma was embroiled in many scandals – acquitted of rape after being accused by the daughter of a friend; refusing to pay for a massive building project at his palatial home; a questionable friendship with a family alleged to have benefited from corrupt state tenders – the ANC failed to act against him for years.

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Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market

By Stacy Mitchell * – The Nation

The company is a radically new kind of monopoly with ambitions that dwarf those of earlier empires.

Chris Lampen-Crowell started to feel the undertow four years ago. Gazelle Sports, the running-shoe and apparel business he founded in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1985, had grown steadily for decades, adding locations in Grand Rapids and Detroit and swelling to some 170 employees. But then, in 2014, sales took a downward turn. From the outside, at least, it was hard to see why. Gazelle Sports was as beloved as ever by local runners. People continued to flock to its free clinics and community runs. And scores of enthusiastic reviews on Google and Yelp, along with an industry ranking as one of the best running-shoe retailers in the country, gave Gazelle Sports and its e-commerce website plenty of prominence in online searches.

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Netanyahu’s shamelessness is corrupting Israel

Peter Beaumont – The Guardian

Like Trump and Berlusconi, the Israeli leader knows our imperfect democracy is no match for his brazen and disingenuous politics

A few weeks ago in Tel Aviv a noisy demonstration gathered on Rothschild Boulevard to protest at the slow pace of the police corruption investigation into Benjamin Netanyahu, which yesterday evening concluded with a recommendation that the prime minister be charged with bribery and breach of trust.

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‘Causes of Rohingya Refugee Crisis Originate in Myanmar; Solutions Must Be Found There’

By Human Wrongs Watch*

Nearly six months after an outbreak of violence drove almost 700,000 minority Rohingyas from Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh, senior United Nations officials on 13 February 2018 said it is time to address the root causes – including decades of repression inside Myanmar – so those who fled feel safe enough to return to their homeland.

“We are now in a race against time as a major new emergency looms,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the Security Council via videolink from Geneva, Switzerland.

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The Future of the World Social Forum: to be or not to be?

By Francine Mestrum*

The world has changed dramatically since 2001, the year of the first WSF. Looking back, one can only congratulate its founders for their insights and thank them with great respect for the way in which they have preserved these basic principles.

Re-inventing the forum?

Nevertheless, it is very clear that something has to happen. The attendance of the International council meetings is dwindling, many movements have no resources anymore to travel, others are fed up with endless bureaucratic discussions of reforms that never are made concrete.

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The Middle East’s Coming War

By RONEN BERGMAN*  –  THE NEW YORK TIMES

In the early hours of Saturday morning, the Middle East was on the brink of yet another war.

During the night, according to my high-ranking sources, Israel’s intelligence services had been tracking an Iranian drone that was launched by the Quds division of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the Tiyas air base in central Syria.

A minute and a half after the drone entered Israeli airspace, an Israeli Air Force attack helicopter shot it out of the sky. Simultaneously, eight Israeli fighter jets fired missiles at the drone’s command and control center at Tiyas, blowing it up, along with the Iranians manning the center. (Iran has denied that its drone was shot down or that its troops were killed.)

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The Future of the World Social Forum: to be or not to be?

By Francine Mestrum*

The world has changed dramatically since 2001, the year of the first WSF. Looking back, one can only congratulate its founders for their insights and thank them with great respect for the way in which they have preserved these basic principles.

Re-inventing the forum?

Nevertheless, it is very clear that something has to happen. The attendance of the International council meetings is dwindling, many movements have no resources anymore to travel, others are fed up with endless bureaucratic discussions of reforms that never are made concrete.

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As West Fears the Rise of Autocrats, Hungary Shows What’s Possible

By PATRICK KINGSLEY *  – THE NEW YORK TIMES

BUDAPEST — The senior leaders of Fidesz gathered on the banks of the Danube, in a building known as the Hungarian White House, stunned by the scale of their good fortune. Their right-wing party had won unexpectedly sweeping political power in national elections. The question was how to use it.

Several men urged caution. But Viktor Orban, the prime minister-elect, disagreed. The voting result, Mr. Orban continued, had given him the right to carry out a radical overhaul of the country’s Constitution.

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The World seen by the Davos Economic Forum (January 23rd – 26th, 2018)

by Jean-Pierre Vettovaglia*, for Q Magazine Bucarest, Nr 215

Davos is the place selected by the native of Baden Württemberg, Klaus Schwab then a young professor at the University of Geneva, to organize in 1971 the first European Management Forum. Two hundred industrialists and economics professors came to discuss American management methods. It was the era of the “American Challenge”. Almost half a century later, the World Economic Forum is host to nearly 3,000 people, including the bosses of the world’s top 1,000 companies and some 70 heads of state.

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Bitcoin or Bit-con? Talking blockchain with Hazel Henderson

Interview by  Green Economy Coalition (GEC) *

Hazel Henderson is a multi-award-winning futurist and evolutionary economist, and the founder-president of Ethical Markets Media, an independent media company promoting the emergence of a sustainable, green, more ethical and just economy worldwide. After the publication of her recent article “Money is not wealth: cryptos vs. fiats” garnered significant attention worldwide, the GEC caught up with Hazel to get her take on blockchain, bitcoin, and the potential for cryptocurrency technology in the green economy. 

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The World seen by the Davos Economic Forum (January 23rd – 26th, 2018)

by  Jean-Pierre Vettovaglia*,   for Q Magazine Bucarest, Nr 215 

Davos is the place selected by the native of Baden Württemberg, Klaus Schwab then a young professor at the University of Geneva, to organize in 1971 the first European Management Forum. Two hundred industrialists and economics professors came to discuss American management methods. It was the era of the “American Challenge”. Almost half a century later, the World Economic Forum is host to nearly 3,000 people, including the bosses of the world’s top 1,000 companies and some 70 heads of state.

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Health, Gender, and Blockchain for Financial Inclusion

By Adam Fishman* –  SDG Knowledge Hub

Building on recent SDG Knowledge Weekly discussions of activities relating to gender, health and finance, this week’s brief unpacks the interlinked issues of water, health and gender, which were among the priority development topics discussed in Davos. This column also examines blockchain technology, which presents new opportunities to leverage additional funding for achieving the SDGs.

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“No Time to Waste” in Ending Female Genital Mutilation

By Will Higginbotham and Tharanga Yakupitiyage

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 7 2018 (IPS) – More than 200 million women around the world have experienced some kind of female genital mutilation (FGM) and more could be at risk, a UN agency said.

Though the practice has declined in prevalence globally, alarming new figures from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) predict that any progress could be off-set as a further 68 million girls face the risk of FGM by 2030.

The statistics from the UN were unveiled today as the world marks the 15th International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

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Hungary and Poland Aren’t Democratic. They’re Authoritarian

BY DALIBOR ROHAC* – Foreign Policy

Central Europe’s populist revolt against the EU isn’t about safeguarding the West. It’s about rolling back freedoms and cozying up to Russia

There are too many journalists. They should be liquidated,” Czech President Milos Zeman joked at his meeting with Vladimir Putin last May. In the summer of 2014, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban singled out Singapore, China, India, Turkey, and Russia as “stars of international analyses.” In the now-famous speech, which also touted the idea of “illiberal democracy,” he suggested that Hungary needed to part with “Western European dogmas,” especially with the liberal notion that people are “free to do anything that does not violate another person’s freedom.”

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Adapting to global human mobility after a refugee and migrant crisis

By Idriss Jazairy* – Euractiv.com

More people than ever are on the move globally. This raises the need for courageous European leadership and broad-based support from the media to depoliticise refugees and migrants and to free public opinion from irrational fear.

More people than ever are on the move under the centrifugal impulse of globalisation. Fifteen percent of the world’s population or one billion of the Earth’s seven billion people are considered as people on the move. Host developing countries or societies bear the brunt of those that flee from their homes.

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Is It Really True That Switzerland Is The #1 Most-Corrupt Nation, & U.S. #2?

by Tyler Durden – ZeroHedge

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Tax Justice Network produces a Financial Secrecy Index, ranking countries for the assistance their legal systems provide, to money-launderers, and to all people who seek to protect corruptly-obtained wealth. The higher the score, the more corrupt the government is. The last time this Index was published, in 2015, Switzerland was rated the world’s most-corrupt country, and Hong Kong was then #2. But now, in its newly released global rankings, “Financial Secrecy Index — 2018 Results”,though Switzerland still holds its #1 (most-corrupt) spot, the U.S. has become #2, and Hong Kong has now fallen to #4, which is immediately below Cayman Islands (which is #3, and which had been #5 in 2015).

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