08 February 2010

César Alierta, Telefonica Spain to charge Google, Yahoo, Microsoft for access to Spain's internauts

The President of Telefónica Spain, César Alierta, says in today's El Pais that Telefonica Spain will now begin to charge search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. He states that these search engines use the Telefonica networks without paying anything.

Now, I am all in favour of multinational corporations charging other multinational corporations, and even of multinational corporations fighting among themselves. The problem here though, seems to be the fact that César Alierta wants to have the best of both worlds, he wants to be paid twice for the same service. To give an idea, it would be like the electricity companies charging Bosch or Whirlpool because their washing machines use electricity.

Now if he were to reduce Telefonica's DSL charges to consumers at the same time, I'm sure he'd get a lot of support. This won't happen, of course, and the end result will see search engines beginning to charge for their services, meaning that in the end it's always the consumer who pays.

It appears telecommunications companies are deliberately being allowed to make excess profits.

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) reported last year that:

"Financial results from incumbents, such as Telefonica’s last week, show that they are primarily focused on increasing profitability at the expense of vital infrastructure investment What is particularly disingenuous is that, at the same time, they are threatening governments and European politicians that they will not invest in next generation access unless there is a relaxation of competition rules that allow rivals to offer services over these networks.”...“Despite Spanish regulator CMT granting Telefonica a regulatory moratorium for next generation fibre networks, ostensibly to support a €1bln fibre investment programme, there is little or no evidence that it will prioritise infrastructure investment in future. Instead it is committed to ‘preserving the company’s strong cash flow generation’, to the benefit of shareholders.

ECTA continues: "Telefonica Spain posted an 8.9% increase in profit (EBITDA) and cashflows up 14% to €8bln, but a reduction of 7.2% in investment (Capex) in 2008."

We have no problem with companies prioritising profitability, making healthy profits and benefiting from their own investment and innovation. However, we do have a problem with healthy companies using the recession as an excuse to blackmail policy-makers into relaxing regulation, with the aim of strengthening their own dominant position further at the expense of competitors and consumers. For companies such as Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom, investment in next generation fibre networks should be part of their normal upgrade strategy to replace decades-old copper networks, which have been fully paid for, and not a licence for stifling competition.

Telefonica's.results for the third quarter of 2009 showed a tiny drop in profits but the profits are still enormous and T. was "was able to boost the company’s dividend for the year 2010 by 22% in the last month and pledged a higher payment for 2012."

And `presumably we the consumers can go fuck ourselves again.

05 February 2010

This Time We Went Too Far - Norman Finkelstein

For the Palestinians who live in the narrow coastal strip of Gaza, the December 2008 Israeli invasion was a nightmare of unimaginable proportions: in the 22-day-long action 1,400 Gazans were killed, several hundred on the first day alone. More than 6,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged. The cost of the destruction and disruption of economic life, in one of the worlds poorest areas, is estimated at more than $3 billion.

And yet, while nothing should diminish recognition of Palestinian suffering through these frightful days, it is possible something redemptive will emerge from the tragedy of Gaza. For, as Norman Finkelstein details, in a concise work that melds cold anger with cool analysis, the profound injustice of the Israeli assault has been widely recognized by organizations impossible to brand as partial or extremist.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN investigation headed by Richard Goldstone, in documenting Israel's use of indiscriminate and intentional force against the civilian population during the invasion (100 Palestinians died for every one Israeli), have had an impact on traditional support for Israel. Jews in both the United States and the United Kingdom, for instance, are beginning to voice dissent, and this trend is especially apparent among the young.

Such a shift, Finkelstein contends, can result in new pressure capable of moving the Middle East crisis towards a solution, one that embraces justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike. The seeds of hope were thus sown in the bitter anguish of Gaza. This Time We Went Too Far, written with Finkelsteins customary acuity and precision, will surely advance the process it so eloquently describes.

Norman G. Finkelsteins books include Beyond Chutzpah, The Holocaust Industry, A Nation on Trial and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.

02 February 2010

The Challenges of 21st Century Socialism in Venezuela By William I. Robinson

Interview with William I. Robinson,
Professor of Sociology, University of California at Santa Barbara
By Chronis Polychroniou
Editor, Greek daily newspaper Eleftherotypia

  1. There are scare stories coming from Venezuela. The border is heating up, infiltration is taking place, a new Colombian military base near the border, US access to several new bases on Colombia and constant subversion. Is the regime concerned about a possible invasion? If yes, who is going to intervene?

The Venezuelan government is concerned about a possible US invasion and certainly an outright invasion cannot be ruled out. However I think the US is pursuing a more sophisticated strategy of intervention that we could call a war of attrition. We have seen this strategy in other countries, such as in Nicaragua in the 1980s, or even Chile under Allende. It is what in CIA lexicon is known as destabilization, and in the Pentagon's language is called political warfare - which does not mean there is not a military component. This is a counterrevolutionary strategy that combines military threats and hostilities with psychological operations, disinformation campaigns, black propaganda, economic sabotage, diplomatic pressures, the mobilization of political opposition forces inside the country, carrying out provocations and sparking violent confrontations in the cities, manipulation of disaffected sectors and the exploitation of legitimate grievances among the population. The strategy is deft at taking advantage of the revolution's own mistakes and limitations, such as corruption, clientalism, and opportunism, which we must acknowledge are serious problems in Venezuela. It is also deft at aggravating and manipulating material problems, such as shortages, price inflation, and so forth.

The goal is to destroy the revolution by making it unworkable, by exhausting the population's will to continue to struggle to forge a new society, and in this way to undermine the revolution's mass social base. According to the US strategy the revolution must be destroyed by having it collapse it in on itself, by undermining the remarkable hegemony that Chavismo and Bolivarianismo has been able to achieve within Venezuelan civil society over the past decade. US strategists hope to provoke Chavez into a crackdown that transforms the democratic socialist process into an authoritarian one. In the view of these strategists, Chavez will eventually be removed from power through any number of scenarios brought about by constant war of attribution - whether through elections, a military putsch from within, an uprising, mass defections from the revolutionary camp, or a combination of factors that can not be foretold.

In this context the military bases in Colombia provide a crucial platform for intelligence and reconnaissance operations against Venezuela and also for the infiltration of counterrevolutionary military, economic sabotage, and terrorist groups. These infiltrating groups are meant to harass, but more specifically, to provoke reactions from the revolutionary government and to synchronize armed provocation with the whole gamut of political, diplomatic, psychological, economic, and ideological aggressions that are part of the war of attrition.

Moreover, the mere threat of US military aggression that the bases represent in itself constitutes a powerful US psychological operation intended to heighten tensions inside Venezuela, force the government into extremist positions or into "crying wolf," and to embolden internal anti-Chavista and counterrevolutionary forces.

However, it is important to see that the military bases are part of the larger U.S. strategy towards all of Latin America. The US and the Right in Latin America have launched a counteroffensive to reverse the turn to the Left or the so-called "Pink Tide." Venezuela is the epicenter of an emergent counter-hegemonic bloc in Latin America. But Bolivia and Ecuador, and more generally, the region's burgeoning social movements and left political forces are as much targets of this counteroffensive as is Venezuela. The coup in Honduras has provided impetus to this counteroffensive and emboldened the Right and counterrevolutionary forces. Colombia has become the epicenter regional counterrevolution - really a bastion of 21st century fascism.

  1. Chavez's "Bolivarian revolution" has been very popular with the poor. Could you lay out how the Venezuelan society has changed since Chavez came to power?

First of all, let us acknowledge that the Bolivarian revolution has placed democratic socialism back on the worldwide agenda after we went through a period in the 1990s were most were scared to even talk of socialism, when it seemed that global capitalism had reached the apex of its hegemony and when some on the left even bought into the "end of history" thesis.

The Bolivarian revolution has given the poor and largely Afro-Caribbean masses their voice for the first time since the war of independence from Spanish colonialism. The Chavez government has reoriented priorities to the poor majority. It has been able to use oil revenues, in particular, to develop health, education, and other social programs that have had dramatic results in reducing poverty, virtually eliminating illiteracy, and improving the health of the population. International organizations and data collecting agencies have recognized these remarkable social achievements.

However, as someone who visits Venezuela regularly, I would say that the more fundamental change since Chavez came to power is not these social indicators but the political and socio-psychological awakening of the poor majority - a broad process of popular, grassroots mobilization, cultural expression, political participation and empowerment. The old elite and the bourgeoisie have been partially replaced from the state and from formal political power - although not entirely. But the real fear and resentment of the old dominant groups, the panic and their hatred for Chavez, is because they have felt slip from their grip the facile ability to exercise cultural and socio-psychological domination over the popular classes as they have for decades, nay centuries. Of course, there other still plenty of mechanisms through which the bourgeoisie and the political agents of the ancien regime are able to wield their influence, particularly through the mass media that is still largely in their hands...and this is why the "media battles" in Venezuela play such a prominent role.

That said, there are all kinds of problems and contradictions internal to the Bolivarian revolution.

  1. How widespread are nationalization plans under Chavez and is there any evidence so far that they bring the desired results?

The obvious major economic change has been the recovery of the country's oil for a popular project - and even at that there is still a PDVSA bureaucratic oligarchy. Other key enterprises, such as steel, have been nationalized. And the cooperative sector - with all its problems - has spread. Nonetheless, let's be clear: economic power is still largely in the hands of the bourgeoisie.

Let us recall that the Venezuelan revolution is unique in that the old reactionary state was not "smashed" as it was in other revolutions. The strategy of the revolution has been to set up new parallel institutions and to also try to "colonize" the old state. But the Venezuelan state is still largely a capitalist state. The key question is how can a transformative project move forward while operating through a corrupt, clientalist, bureaucratic, and often inert state bequeathed by the ancient regime? If revolutionary and socialist forces come to power within a capitalist political process how do you confront the capitalist state and the brakes it places on transformative processes? In fact, in Venezuela, and also in Bolivia and elsewhere, prevailing state institutions often act to constrain, dilute, and coopt mass struggles from below.

In my view, in Venezuela the biggest threat from the revolution does not come from the right-wing political opposition but from the so-called "endogenous" or "Chavista" Right, and that chunks of the revolutionary bloc, including state elites and party officials, will develop a deeper stake in defending global capitalism over socialist transformation.

  1. The revolution has been going on for over a decade now. Is it maturing or is it reaching a stage of decline and deformation?

I would not say, in answer to your question, that the revolution is in "decline" or "deformation". Rather, we need to be more expansive in our historical analysis and even theoretical reflection on what is going on at this historical juncture of 21st century global capitalism and its crisis. The turn to the left in Latin America started out as a rebellion against neo-liberalism. The post-neo-liberal regimes undertook mild redistributive reform and limited nationalizations, particularly of energy resources and public services that had previously been privatized. They were able to reactive accumulation. But post-neo-liberalism that does not now move towards a deeper socialist transformation runs up against limits.

The Bolivarian process faces contradictions, problems, and limitations, as do all historic projects! I would say that both the Venezuelan revolution and also the Bolivian and Ecuadoran processes, may be coming up against the limits of redistributive reform within the logic of global capitalism, especially given the crisis of global capitalism. Anti-neo-liberalism that does not challenge more fundamentally the very logic of capitalism runs up against limitations that may now have been reached.

It may be that the best or the only defense of the revolution is to radicalize and deepen the revolutionary process, to push forward structural transformations that go beyond redistribution. The fact is that the Venezuelan bourgeoisie may have been displaced in part from political power but it is still very much in economic control. Breaking that economic control implies a more significant change in property and class relations. This in turn means breaking the domination of capital, of global capital and its local agents. Naturally this is a Herculian task. There is no clear way forward and each step generates complex new contradictions and Gordian knots. Of course these are matters the whole Global Left must contemplate.

Let us recall the lessons of the Nicaraguan and other revolutions. Multiclass alliances generate contradictions once the honeymoon stage of easy redistributive reform and social programs reach their limit. Then multiclass alliances begin to collapse because there are fundamental contradictions between distinct class projects and interests. At that point a revolution must more clearly define its class project; not just in discourse or in politics but in actual structural transformation.

At a more technical level, we could say that the contradictions generated by trying to break the domination of global capital are not the fault of the revolution. Venezuela is still a capitalist country in which the law of value, of capital accumulation, is operative. Efforts to establish a contrary logic - a logic of social need and social distribution - run up against the law of value. But in a capitalist society violating the law of value throws everything into haywire, generating many problems and new disequilibria that the counterrevolution is able to take advantage of. This is the challenge for any socialist-oriented revolution within global capitalism.

Chris Hedges: The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News

"Reporters who witness the worst of human suffering and return to newsrooms angry see their compassion washed out or severely muted by the layers of editors who stand between the reporter and the reader. The creed of objectivity and balance, formulated at the beginning of the 19th century by newspaper owners to generate greater profits from advertisers, disarms and cripples the press. 

And the creed of objectivity becomes a convenient and profitable vehicle to avoid confronting unpleasant truths or angering a power structure on which news organizations depend for access and profits. This creed transforms reporters into neutral observers or voyeurs. It banishes empathy, passion and a quest for justice. Reporters are permitted to watch but not to feel or to speak in their own voices. They function as “professionals” and see themselves as dispassionate and disinterested social scientists. This vaunted lack of bias, enforced by bloodless hierarchies of bureaucrats, is the disease of American journalism.

“The very notion that on any given story all you have to do is report what both sides say and you’ve done a fine job of objective journalism debilitates the press,” the late columnist Molly Ivins once wrote. “There is no such thing as objectivity, and the truth, that slippery little bugger, has the oddest habit of being way to hell off on one side or the other: it seldom nestles neatly halfway between any two opposing points of view. The smug complacency of much of the press—I have heard many an editor say, ‘Well, we’re being attacked by both sides so we must be right’—stems from the curious notion that if you get a quote from both sides, preferably in an official position, you’ve done the job. In the first place, most stories aren’t two-sided, they’re 17-sided at least. In the second place, it’s of no help to either the readers or the truth to quote one side saying, ‘Cat,’ and the other side saying ‘Dog,’ while the truth is there’s an elephant crashing around out there in the bushes.”
Ivins went on to write that “the press’s most serious failures are not its sins of commission, but its sins of omission—the stories we miss, the stories we don’t see, the stories that don’t hold press conferences, the stories that don’t come from ‘reliable sources.’ ”

This abject moral failing has left the growing numbers of Americans shunted aside by our corporate state without a voice. It has also, with the rise of a ruthless American oligarchy, left the traditional press on the wrong side of our growing class divide. The elitism, distrust and lack of credibility of the press—and here I speak of the dwindling institutions that attempt to report news—come directly from this steady and willful disintegration of the media’s moral core.

This moral void has been effectively exploited by the 24-hour cable news shows and trash talk radio programs. The failure of the fact-based press to express empathy or outrage for our growing underclass has permitted the disastrous rise of “faith-based” reporting. The bloodless and soulless journalism of the traditional media has bolstered the popularity of partisan outlets that present a view of the world that often has no relation to the real, but responds very effectively to the emotional needs of viewers. Fox News is, in some sense, no more objective than The New York Times, but there is one crucial and vital difference. Fox News and most of the other cable outlets do not feel constrained by verifiable facts. Within the traditional news establishment, facts may have been self-selected or skillfully stage-managed by public relations specialists, but what was not verifiable was not publishable.

The cable news channels have cleverly seized on the creed of objectivity and redefined it in populist terms. They attack news based on verifiable fact for its liberal bias, for, in essence, failing to be objective, and promise a return to “genuine” objectivity. Fox’s Bill O’Reilly argues, “If Fox News is a conservative channel—and I’m going to use the word ‘if’—so what? … You’ve got 50 other media that are blatantly left. Now, I don’t think Fox is a conservative channel. I think it’s a traditional channel. There’s a difference. We are willing to hear points of view that you’ll never hear on ABC, CBS or NBC.”
O’Reilly is not wrong in suggesting that the objectivity of the traditional media has an inherent political bias. But it is a bias that caters to the power elite and it is a bias that is confined by fact. The traditional quest for “objectivity” is, as James Carey wrote, also based on an ethnocentric conceit: “It pretended to discover Universal Truth, to proclaim Universal Laws, and to describe a Universal Man. Upon inspection it appeared, however, that its Universal Man resembled a type found around Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Cambridge, England; its Universal Laws resembled those felt to be useful by Congress and Parliament; and its Universal Truth bore English and American accents.”

Objectivity creates the formula of quoting Establishment specialists or experts within the narrow confines of the power elite who debate policy nuance like medieval theologians. As long as one viewpoint is balanced by another, usually no more than what Sigmund Freud would term “the narcissism of minor difference,” the job of a reporter is deemed complete. But this is more often a way to obscure rather than expose truth.

Reporting, while it is presented to the public as neutral, objective and unbiased, is always highly interpretive. It is defined by rigid stylistic parameters. I have written, like most other reporters, hundreds of news stories. Reporters begin with a collection of facts, statements, positions and anecdotes and then select those that create the “balance” permitted by the formula of daily journalism. The closer reporters get to official sources, for example those covering Wall Street, Congress, the White House or the State Department, the more constraints they endure. When reporting depends heavily on access it becomes very difficult to challenge those who grant or deny that access. This craven desire for access has turned huge sections of the Washington press, along with most business reporters, into courtiers. The need to be included in press briefings and background interviews with government or business officials, as well as the desire for leaks and early access to official documents, obliterates journalistic autonomy.

“Record the fury of a Palestinian whose land has been taken from him by Israeli settlers—but always refer to Israel’s ‘security needs’ and its ‘war on terror,’ ” Robert Fisk writes. “If Americans are accused of ‘torture’, call it ‘abuse’. If Israel assassinates a Palestinian, call it a ‘targeted killing’. If Armenians lament their Holocaust of 1,500,000 souls in 1915, remind readers that Turkey denies this all too real and fully documented genocide. If Iraq has become a hell on earth for its people, recall how awful Saddam was. If a dictator is on our side, call him a ‘strongman’. If he’s our enemy, call him a tyrant, or part of the ‘axis of evil’. And above all else, use the word ‘terrorist.’ Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. Seven days a week.”

“Ask ‘how’ and ‘who’—but not ‘why’,” Fisk adds. “Source everything to officials: ‘American officials’, ‘intelligence officials’, ‘official sources’, anonymous policemen or army officers. And if these institutions charged with our protection abuse their power, then remind readers and listeners and viewers of the dangerous age in which we now live, the age of terror—which means that we must live in the Age of the Warrior, someone whose business and profession and vocation and mere existence is to destroy our enemies.”

“In the classic example, a refugee from Nazi Germany who appears on television saying monstrous things are happening in his homeland must be followed by a Nazi spokesman saying Adolf Hitler is the greatest boon to humanity since pasteurized milk,” the former New York Times columnist Russell Baker wrote. “Real objectivity would require not only hard work by news people to determine which report was accurate, but also a willingness to put up with the abuse certain to follow publication of an objectively formed judgment. To escape the hard work or the abuse, if one man says Hitler is an ogre, we instantly give you another to say Hitler is a prince. A man says the rockets won’t work? We give you another who says they will. The public may not learn much about these fairly sensitive matters, but neither does it get another excuse to denounce the media for unfairness and lack of objectivity. In brief, society is teeming with people who become furious if told what the score is.”

Journalists, because of their training and distaste for shattering their own exalted notion of themselves, lack the inclination and vocabulary to discuss ethics. They will, when pressed, mumble something about telling the truth and serving the public. They prefer not to face the fact that my truth is not your truth. News is a signal, a “blip,” an alarm that something is happening beyond our small circle of existence, as Walter Lippmann noted in his book “Public Opinion.” Journalism does not point us toward truth since, as Lippmann understood, there is always a vast divide between truth and news. Ethical questions open journalism to the nebulous world of interpretation and philosophy, and for this reason journalists flee from ethical inquiry like a herd of frightened sheep.

Journalists, while they like to promote the image of themselves as fierce individualists, are in the end another species of corporate employees. They claim as their clients an amorphous public. They seek their moral justification in the service of this nameless, faceless mass and speak little about the vast influence of the power elite to shape and determine reporting. Does a public even exist in a society as fragmented and divided as ours? Or is the public, as Walter Lippmann wrote, now so deeply uninformed and divorced from the inner workings of power and diplomacy as to make it a clean slate on which our armies of skilled propagandists can, often through the press, leave a message?

The symbiotic relationship between the press and the power elite worked for nearly a century. It worked as long as our power elite, no matter how ruthless or insensitive, was competent. But once our power elite became incompetent and morally bankrupt, the press, along with the power elite, lost its final vestige of credibility. The press became, as seen in the Iraq war and the aftermath of the financial upheavals, a class of courtiers. The press, which has always written and spoken from presuppositions and principles that reflect the elite consensus, now peddles a consensus that is flagrantly artificial. Our elite oversaw the dismantling of the country’s manufacturing base and the betrayal of the working class with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the press dutifully trumpeted this as a form of growth. Our elite deregulated the banking industry, leading to nationwide bank collapses, and the press extolled the value of the free market. Our elite corrupted the levers of power to advance the interests of corporations and the press naively conflated freedom with the free market. This reporting may have been “objective” and “impartial” but it defied common sense. The harsh reality of shuttered former steel-producing towns and growing human misery should have, in the hands of any good cop reporter, exposed the fantasies. But the press long ago stopped thinking and lost nearly all its moral autonomy.

Real reporting, grounded in a commitment to justice and empathy, could have informed and empowered the public as we underwent a corporate coup d’etat in slow motion. It could have stimulated a radical debate about structures, laws, privilege, power and justice. But the traditional press, by clinging to an outdated etiquette designed to serve corrupt power structures, lost its social function. Corporations, which once made many of these news outlets very rich, have turned to more effective forms of advertising. Profits have plummeted. And yet these press courtiers, lost in the fantasy of their own righteousness and moral probity, cling to the hollow morality of “objectivity” with comic ferocity.

The world will not be a better place when these fact-based news organizations die. We will be propelled into a culture where facts and opinions will be interchangeable, where lies will become true, and where fantasy will be peddled as news. I will lament the loss of traditional news. It will unmoor us from reality. The tragedy is that the moral void of the news business contributed as much to its own annihilation as the protofascists who feed on its carcass.
AP / Elaine Thompson

Or read it at truthdig.com

01 February 2010

Letter to Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) about its Goldcorp investment


In March 2009 the BBC published a story "Canadian mine accused of causing skin infections" in which PSAC was mentioned indirectly:

"Bill Brassington heads a Canadian union pension fund that invests in Goldcorp and has seen the pictures taken by a North American non-governmental organisation called Rights Action.He points out that Rights Action has no medical evidence to support its claims. Still, as an ethical investor he is worried."

On 31 December 2009, the UK daily The Guardian published yet another story about the Goldcorp mine in Honduras "Gold giant faces Honduras inquiry into alleged heavy metal pollution" in whch we read the following:

"The community's complaints have been backed by two studies, commissioned by the UK-based advocacy group Cafod. The studies detected high acidity which could be linked to cyanide "heap-leaching" methods to extract gold from low-grade deposits. They describe how the process soaks piles of crushed gold ore in a cyanide solution which filters down, leaching out the precious metal from the rock but also releasing other toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead. Without careful management it can contaminate streams and groundwater.
The first study, by Paul Younger, a Newcastle university hydro-geochemical engineering professor and expert on mine water management, detected acidic mine drainage, whereby sulphides in the rock are exposed to oxygen and water and produce sulphuric acid. Younger said this can have devastating effects on animals and plants.
A follow-up study by Adam Jarvis and Jaime Amezaga, also of Newcastle University, found evidence of "severe" contamination in the form of highly acidic and metal-rich water from the mine site flowing into a stream used by villagers for agriculture and domestic purposes. The data was in a previously undisclosed 2008 report by Defomin, Honduras's mining regulatory authority.
"This new information provides concrete evidence that the San Martin mine has caused pollution in Honduras," said Sonya Maldar of Cafod. "Goldcorp must clean up its act so that the people of Siria Valley are not left with a toxic legacy."

In light of the fact that Goldcorp has caused massive damage to the population and the natural resources, I would like to know whether PSAC will be withdrawing its investment in Goldcorp immediately? If not, why not, considering PSAC states in its own blurb:

1. "
The PSAC...has been at the front of a variety of significant and successful campaigns for workplace and human rights, including the struggle for equal pay, enhanced workplace health and safety and the rights of same sex spouses."

2. "
The PSAC is working to achieve a compassionate and inclusive society free of sexism, racism, homophobia and all other forms of discrimination."

3. "
PSAC is committed...to social justice...around the world."

Not only that but
PSAC POLICY 22  on the Environment states:

As a socially responsible union, the Alliance recognizes that protection of the environment from acid rain, toxins and ecologically unsound consumer products is of paramount importance if the world is to survive into the 21st century. Over the long term, economic growth and employment creation will be impossible unless the environmental destruction of the past is reversed.
As a result, and in cooperation with the Canadian Labour Congress and environmental groups, the Alliance will:
(d) review its own practices and procurement policies to ensure that it is not contributing to the deterioration of the environment;"

In view of the reports mentioned above in the Guardian article, it can safely be said that Goldcorp and consequently, its investors such as PSAC, are intimately involved in the environmental destruction it professes to abhor.

When can we expect the announcement that PSAC has definitively withdrawn its investments from Goldcorp?

Yours Sincerely,
David Sketchley

NB: Interesting to note that Bill Brassington, "chair of its (PSAC's) socially responsible investment sub-committee...recently became a signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment" on behalf of the PSAC Staff Pension Plan. The PRI "process was coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the UN Global Compact."

"Marines may carry portable brain scanners"

So reads the headline over at the Marine Corps Times (I kid you not!). Optimists they are if they're hoping this machine will detect a single brain in the Marine Corps!