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World leaders and business executives will be meeting at Davos to discuss how they want to run our economy - in their own best interests. We’re led to believe that without their entrepreneurial talent that we would all be worse off than we are now. The myths of this elite class have become so deeply engrained in society, that it can be difficult to challenge the power that they hold. So we’ve collected 7 myths to show that in reality, things are quite different…

  1. The poor are getting richer
  2. Big business runs things better
  3. We need to have faith in the financial markets to solve our problems
  4. All you need is growth
  5. Everyone wins under free trade
  6. Africa needs our help
  7. Aid makes the world a fairer place

Myth 1: The poor are getting richer 

Inequality doesn’t matter because the poor are getting richer. This is the story the political and economic elite at Davos would like us to believe. But this story is a fantasy. The reality is that while executive pay goes through the roof, there are more people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa than ever before.

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Myth 2: Big business runs things better 

Our political elites say they love the private sector because it’s so much more efficient than the public sector. But the truth is that the private sector only works by scrounging billions of pounds of public money in the form of subsidies and support. This shows that it is the corporate elite, not the poor, who are the real scroungers in our society.

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Myth 3: We need to have faith in the financial markets to solve our problems 

We live in the age of big finance. Despite the 2008 crash exposing the dangers of handing over too much power to bankers, more and more of our lives are influenced by the whims of the stock market. Now plans are in place to create markets in nature itself. But if we look at the facts, the evidence shows that we should reconsider our blind faith in the ability of markets to solve the world’s problems.

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Myth 4: All we need is growth 

Economic growth is the panacea of our age. All too often, the strategy for fighting poverty can be summed up in just three letters: GDP. But growth, while important, isn’t enough. Unless action is taken to ensure that the poor get their fair share, simply making the economic pie bigger is a terribly inefficient way of reducing poverty.

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Myth 5: Everyone wins under free trade 

Toilet paper shortages, bread queues, black markets, North Korea – we are told that all of these things are what we face if we abandon free trade. But the truth is very different. Some of the countries that have most zealously pursued free trade have suffered while others who have resisted opening up their markets have done very well indeed.

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Myth 6: Africa needs our help 

For decades, the dominant image of Africa has been that it is poor and helpless. This image is wrong. Most people in Africa may be poor, but the continent itself is one of the richest in terms of natural resources. Far from being helpless and dependent on our help, Africa pays more money to rich countries than it receives in aid. We need to face up to the uncomfortable truth: Africa is aiding us.

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Myth 7: Aid makes the world a fairer place 

Aid isn’t working. Instead of helping to rectify injustice, aid is being used to support multinational corporations, build shopping centres and force poor countries to privatise their public services. Aid urgently needs to stop being a corporate cash cow and start being used as a radical tool for real justice and social change.

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It’s time to start imagining a society that isn’t dominated by police.

After months of escalating protests and grassroots organizing in response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police reformers have issued many demands. The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with “We all know we need police, but…” It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, “But who’ll help you if you get robbed?” We can put a man on the moon, but we’re still lacking creativity down here on Earth.

But police are not a permanent fixture in society. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the "disorderly conduct" of the urban poor. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. It’s not. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing:

  1. Unarmed mediation and intervention teams


Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. This is real and it exists in cities from Detroit to Los Angeles. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn. While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war.

  1. The decriminalization of almost every crime


What is considered criminal is something too often debated only in critical criminology seminars, and too rarely in the mainstream. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. That means that wide-scale decriminalization will need to come with economic programs and community projects. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less.”


  1. Restorative Justice


Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails. From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. It has also been used uninterrupted by indigenous and Afro-descendant communities like San Basilio de Palenque in Colombia for centuries, and it remains perhaps the most widespread and far-reaching of the alternatives to the adversarial court system.

  1. Direct democracy at the community level


Reducing crime is not about social control. It’s not about cops, and it’s not a bait-and-switch with another callous institution. It’s giving people a sense of purpose. Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place. A more healthy political culture where people feel more involved is a powerful building block to a less violent world.

  1. Community patrols 


This one is a wildcard. Community patrols can have dangerous racial overtones, from pogroms to the KKK to George Zimmerman. But they can also be an option that replaces police with affected community members when police are very obviously the criminals. In Mexico, where one of the world’s most corrupt police forces only has credibility as a criminal syndicate, there have been armed groups of Policia Comunitaria and Autodefensas organized by local residents for self-defense from narcotraffickers, femicide and police. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact. Power corrupts, but perhaps in Mexico, withering power won’t have enough time to corrupt.

  1. Here’s a crazy one: mental health care


In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed up the last trauma clinics in some of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses "as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined," which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.

Silk Road on trial now

http://www.wired.com/2015/01/why-silk-road-trial-matters/

"Ross Ulbricht is finally getting his day in court, 15 months after plainclothes FBI agents grabbed him in the science fiction section of a San Francisco library and accused him of running the billion-dollar online drug bazaar known as the Silk Road. It’s a day that anyone who cares about crime, punishment and privacy in the shadows of the internet will be watching.

"If Ulbricht doesn’t take a last-minute plea deal and his trial begins as scheduled in a New York courtroom Tuesday, it will be the most significant case of its kind—in many ways the only case of its kind—to play out in front of a jury. The Silk Road anonymous drug market he’s accused of creating was an unprecedented experiment in online anarchy and black market commerce. And Ulbricht’s insistence until now on taking his case to trial means its fundamental issues will be argued in public.

"Ulbricht, 29, faces charges that include running a narcotics, hacking and money laundering conspiracy, as well as a “kingpin” charge usually reserved for mafia dons and drug lords. The case against him is likely strong; prosecutors already have shown in pre-trial hearings that they caught Ulbricht with his laptop seemingly logged into a Silk Road page called “Mastermind,” showing a detailed accounting of the site’s activities and finances. They’ve also revealed that they found a logbook on his hard drive and a journal that allegedly detailed his day-to-day activities running the site. (Stringer Bell was right, by the way: Don’t take notes on your criminal conspiracy.)

"But Ulbricht’s defense team, led by renowned terrorism-case defense attorney Joshua Dratel and financed in part by donations from bitcoin mogul Roger Ver, won’t make it easy for prosecutors. We may see a lively, dramatic and precedent-setting trial. Here are a few reasons to follow it closely.

"A Test of Anonymity and Surveillance Online

"The Silk Road pioneered a new kind of online marketplace, one that’s open to the public but whose administrators, buyers, and sellers are anonymous, thanks to tools like the software Tor and bitcoin. The prosecution’s case will need to cut through that anonymity to prove Ulbricht is indeed the masked mastermind of Silk Road known as the Dread Pirate Roberts. For the industry of copycat sites that followed the Silk Road, including popular black markets like Evolution and Agora, that makes this trial a case study in the vulnerabilities law enforcement uses to attack the Dark Web’s hidden contraband bazaars and identify the people who run them…."

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Flinders Street Christmas Grand Bazaar

Adelaide, prepare yourself for the Christmas Grand Bazaar this weekend! It’s going to be a massive market full of truly talented designers. Flinders Street Market is teaming up with Etsy - so I’ve put together a S+T Treasury filled with products from the sellers. So if you can’t make it to the market, get online and shop there! For more information on the day you can go here and to see just a few of my Lovely Bath & Body Creations, you can go here!

Don’t forget next week I’m going to be showing you have to make some awesome Christmas Bath Bombs!

Speaking of bath bombs, I’m off to make a few dozen more for the stall!

Emma xxoo