Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Naomi Klein writes that Donald Trump's cabinet represents a direct takeover of the U.S. government by the corporate oligarchy - and comments on what the progressive movement needs to do to fight back:
Let us be clear: This is not a peaceful transition of power. It’s a corporate takeover. The interests that have long since paid off both major parties to do their bidding have decided they are tired of playing the game. Apparently, all that wining and dining of politicians, all that cajoling and legalized bribery, insulted their sense of divine entitlement.

So now they are cutting out the middleman and doing what every top dog does when they want something done right — they are doing it themselves. Exxon for secretary of state. Hardee’s for secretary of labor. General Dynamics for secretary of defense. And the Goldman guys for pretty much everything that’s left. After decades of privatizing the state in bits and pieces, they decided to just go for the government itself. Neoliberalism’s final frontier. That’s why Trump and his appointees are laughing at the feeble objections over conflicts of interest — the whole thing is a conflict of interest; that’s the whole point.

So what do we do about it? First, we always remember their weaknesses, even as they exercise raw power. The reason the mask has fallen off and we now are witnessing undisguised corporate rule is not because these corporations felt all-powerful; it’s because they were panicked.
All this makes Trump incredibly vulnerable. This is the guy who came to power telling the boldest and brashest of lies, selling himself as a champion of the working man who would finally stand up to corporate power and influence in Washington. A portion of his base already has buyer’s remorse, and that portion is just going to grow.

Something else we have going for us? This administration is going to come after everyone at once. There are reports are of a shock-and-awe budget that will cut $10 trillion over 10 years, taking a chainsaw to everything from violence-against-women programs, to arts programs, to supports for renewable energy, to community policing. It’s clear they think this blitzkrieg strategy will overwhelm us. But they may be surprised — it could well unite us in common cause. And if the scale of the women’s marches is any indication, we are off to a good start.
- Meanwhile, Vikram Patel highlights how extreme inequality in India - which doesn't seem to be improving with economic development - fits into the broader global political picture.

- Sarah Boseley reports on Neena Modi's research showing the stark connections between childhood poverty and a wide range of health problems. And CBC discusses how workplace instability too is linked to health issues, as restructuring and layoffs tend to lead to sick leave and depression.

- Reuters reports on the latest major oil spill to highlight the dangers of rubber-stamping pipelines without recognizing the risks to the environment around them. And Emma Gilchrist notes that British Columbia's much-repeated talking points about "world-leading" oil spill responses don't mean for a second that anybody is prepared to deal with foreseeable disasters.

- Finally, Chantal Hebert examines where the Libs now stand on electoral reform, and points out that even their attempts to stack the deck in favour of false majorities have been met with strong public pushback.

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