What's Left 2017-01-08 Volume 85

| January 11, 2017


Fake news about fake news; we have not started the year on a positive note.; Trudeau’s Liberals, same as the old; Income inequality grows in Canada; Kentucky goes full speed down the anti-worker and anti-women road; SEIU slashes spending 30% in response to majority Republican elections; Book Review: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin; What we shared this week.


“FEATURE”

Fake news about fake news; we have not started the year on a positive note.

While no media organization is immune to sensationalist headlines, it is hard to see how the current frenzy is sustainable or helping to build understanding – which is arguably the point of mainstream news media.

Recently, the major stories have been the same for both blogs and the major dailies: Russia, fake news, hackers, artificial intelligence, and a new emboldened far-right seeing just how far it can take its ideology.

Liberal hand-wringers in the mainstream media have found their stride. Article after article lecture on how to deal with (or profit from) four years of Trump. Some have opted for appeasement and denial; others for history and consolation. The common theme is that the liberal elite must regroup and espouse (a revisionist) history about how economic liberalism brought so much wealth to the world in the previous century.

It is no wonder people have turned to social media. Unfortunately, social media is simply a vehicle to distribute mainstream news alongside even less deserving click-bait, and as such cannot be part of the solution.

What we all really need is some clear-headed reporting of what is happening backed by some actually thoughtful analysis based in reality. But, who can provide it?

While it is easy to dismiss all media as trash, there are still some media organizations made up of good people (or good people who somehow survive in terrible media organizations) who take the time to provide sensible, thought-out and reasonable analysis of important issues, the larger context, and their real impacts. What’s Left is going to scour the internet to find them and bring them to you. They are not without faults (some are quite large), but find sensible reading it is going to take a little trust and a little bit of critical thinking.

After all, it is news and analysis that we are after, not just editorial comment.

Here are some not so regular news sources:

Canada

The Tyee’s national reporter Jeremy Nuttall

Rabble.ca’s national reporter Karl Nerenberg.

Canada Land Show

United States

The Intercept

Democracy Now!’s weekly column

The New Yorker News section

Rolling Stones' Matt Taibbi

Robert Reich

International

The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn

The FT’s Martin Sanbu

Economics

Michael Roberts

These are some good places to start for getting quality news as well as analysis that you may not have considered. There are also many researchers, analysts, and writers working for progressive organizations who do not publish often. We will be keeping our eyes open for these folks as well and bringing you their best.

Fake news is not a new thing, but the new obsession with it is probably not a good thing.

WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived

 

“CANADA”

Trudeau’s Liberals, same as the old

The Liberals have dropped plans to eliminate tax cuts for the very wealthy. The business community complained that it would be “unfair” to tax them fairly. So, Morneau (who is from the wealthy business community) has rejected progressive tax measures.

No one is surprised. Except, maybe the public who voted for them.

Is This Why Liberals Killed Promise to Close Tax Loophole for Rich?

Income inequality grows in Canada

Federal and provincial legislation has helped income inequality grow in Canada. The highest paid CEOs got a 7% wage increase in 2014 compared to 2.6% for the average worker. When you bring in cuts to public services, inadequate investment and increased cost of living for the majority of Canadians, the result is a lower standard of living for those on lower income.

Throwing Money at the Problem

 

“ELSEWHERE”

Kentucky goes full speed down the anti-worker and anti-women road

The first move of the newly elected Republican government in Kentucky was to bring in legislation undermining abortion rights, so-called “Right to Work” legislation, and the elimination a fair pay regulations.

The anti-women’s rights legislation bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy (even in cases of rape) and forces doctors to show video and audio of the fetus to the woman before performing an abortion.

The anti-worker laws force unions to represent workers without forcing workers to pay dues for those services and eliminate the “prevailing wage” regulation that pays construction workers market wages for public infrastructure projects.

With Kentucky passing this group of laws, the majority of US states have adopted explicitly anti-worker legislation.

The Republicans won a majority in the Kentucky State House, Senate, and the Governor’s in November. The coordinated and long-term plan of the US right-wing has paid off. The legislation was backed by those who have been leading the charge on anti-worker legislation across the country, namely Koch Industries, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and other small, but well financed, far-right campaign organizations.

Kentucky Republicans Pass Right-To-Work, Dropping The Hammer On Unions

Right to Work Myths

In Statehouses Won By Republicans, the First Move Is to Consolidate Power By Weakening Unions

SEIU slashes spending 30% in response to majority Republican elections

The Services Employees International Union, one of the largest unions in the USA, has taken a dim view of the strength of labour movement over the next four years of a majority Republican system. The SEIU has reportedly cut about a third of its budget in an attempt to weather the Trump years and focus its spending on servicing and maintaining members.

The SEIU is one of the counties unions focused on organizing which included substantial support for the Fight for $15 campaign. The union is also a heavy donor to the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign.

With the passage of anti-union bills at the state level as well as talk of anti-worker legislation at the federal level, it is likely other unions will also face such cuts.

Fear of Trump Triggers Deep Spending Cuts by Nation’s Second-Largest Union

 

Book Review: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

When it was published in 1969, The Left Hand of Darkness reaped the following year’s Hugo and Nebula prizes, two major awards for science fiction writing. The book’s success helped to propel Ursula K. Le Guin as a figurehead for the genre. The Left Hand of Darkness is a brilliant, imaginative, and provocative work that raised questions of great relevance for its time – ones that continue to be important today.

Read in full: Book Review of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

 

“WHAT WE SHARED THIS WEEK”

 

Petition: Toronto Mayor John Tory - Open the armouries for shelter

Article: Service Work Is Skilled Work. Get Over It.

Article: Canada’s top CEOs earn 193 times average worker’s salary

Article: Bike courier wins ‘gig’ economy employment rights case

Article: Police and fear stalk the streets of Dhaka as clothes workers fight for more than £54 a month

Article: Black Lives Matter Toronto photographers share their most powerful images of the year

Article: Teaching Gender Studies to Straight Men

Article: Martin Freeman on Sherlock, politics and why he’s not on Twitter

Interview: Anthony Bourdain: The Post-Election Interview

Comic: The difficulty of disconnecting in the modern age

The LatestT