Angry protesters swarm Dwight Ball and Cathy Bennett before CBC special broadcast (video)
More than 50 protesters were waiting for the Newfoundland and Labrador premier and finance minister Monday evening, as they walked into CBC studios in St. John's for a special edition of Here and Now.

More than 50 protesters were waiting for the Newfoundland and Labrador premier and finance minister Monday evening, as they walked into CBC studios in St. John’s for a special edition of Here and Now.

As Dwight Ball and Cathy Bennett arrived before the show, people began confronting them one by one to voice, and sometimes shout, their concerns about the new provincial levy, increased gas tax and many other parts of the recent provincial budget that makes them angry.

Check out a video montage of what people were so angry about in the player above!

Feminist protesters storm red carpet at London premiere of Suffragette
More than a hundred protesters jumped the barriers onto the red carpet as green and purple smoke bombs filled the air outside the Odeon cinema
By Nicola Slawson
“These cuts disproportionately affect women of colour. Of the 32 services for women affected by domestic violence that have been closed since 2010, they were all specialist services which helped LGBQ and BAME women.”

“It’s timely because the cast of the film is entirely white and they are running with this slogan, ‘I’d rather be a rebel than a slave’ which implies passivity or acceptance of being a slave. But it also ignores the fact that women of colour were completely involved in the suffragette struggle. This film isn’t representing them.” 

U.K. government reveals thousands died after their welfare payments were stopped
The Department of Work and Pensions emphasized that there is no proof of a causal link.

U.K. government statistics reveal that thousands of people died within weeks of being found “fit to work” and having their welfare benefits cancelled.

The release of the statistics follows a protracted campaign from journalists and activists, including a Change.org petition that garnered almost 250,000 signatures. Many have already accused the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of stalling its response until after this year’s election in May.

The most shocking mortality data comes from a document about disability-related benefits. Between December 2011 and February 2014, 81,140 people died within six weeks of “flowing off” benefits such as ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), which the government pays to people who cannot work due to illness or disability.

Over the past five years, the DWP has made a public effort to reduce the number of people claiming government benefits. This included the introduction of “fit to work” assessments, which are used to determine whether people are qualified to receive disability benefits.

The newly published documents show that 2,380 former ESA claimants died within two weeks of being declared “fit to work.” 


Half of public libraries in Newfoundland to close in wake of budget cuts
Library board chair says it's going to have a 'major impact' on the 64 people losing their jobs

The library board in Newfoundland and Labrador announced sweeping changes to its services Wednesday, adopting a regional library model which will see 54 branches close in the next two years.

The board met Tuesday to discuss how best to deal with a $1-million loss in its annual budget, a cut announced in the provincial budget.

“It’s tough on everybody,” said chair Calvin Taylor.  

He said the board is just doing its part to help reduce the province’s deficit.

“And also in the long run, to improve the library services in Newfoundland by going with a regional library-type [of] system.”

Continue Reading.

UN to probe the UK's deadly disability cuts
UN investigators to determine if the government committed "grave violations" after disabled people ordered back to work.

The UK has become the first country in the world to be placed under investigation by the United Nations for violating the human rights of people with disabilities amid fears that thousands may have died as a consequence of controversial welfare reforms and austerity-driven cuts to benefits and care budgets.

UN inspectors are expected to arrive in the country within days to begin collecting evidence to determine whether the British government has committed “systematic and grave violations” of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I know Caitlin Moran has been complaining in the Guardian recently that people shouldn’t use the phrase “Tory scum” because apparently some Tories are nice people deep down, or whatever, but seriously there’s an article in the Guardian today about a book coming out that says welfare dependency can be “bred out” and that people on welfare are more likely to have “damaged” kids and honestly I cannot believe that any reasonable left-wing person would think that a harmless insult like “Tory scum” can even come close to the kind of damage that this attitude does to people.

People who get caught up in austerity need to get their kicks where they can. If the phrase “Tory scum” gets people to think about how their behaviour is making other people see them, that’s great. If it just pisses them off, then that tells you something about the arrogant attitude that’s led them to support Tory policies. Either way, I like that tag and I’m keeping it.

For the so-called millennials, born between 1980 and 1994 and hitting adulthood just as the teeth of a global economic crisis closed around a technological revolution, the old “markers of adulthood” – secure paid work, living independently of your parents, buying a house, settling down, having children – are a vanishing dream.
Austerity an easy out for elites (Newfoundland)
Sneering elites believe the public is ignorant and in search of easy answers, but we see the broad strokes of immorality and unfairness.

Resistance to the [Newfoundland] Liberals’ austerity budget has been mounting, and if you’ve been tuned into the media around it (both social and traditional), you’ve likely been noting a lot of sneering condescension from academics and journalists on the resistance to the budget. Treating the public as if they’re naive morons, unaware of the hard choices to be made.

But the reality is that people aren’t ignorant to the state of our economy, and as uninformed on the details as your average person might be due to the rigors of caring for self and family in a competitive, ruthless market, they are aware that the burden is distributed unevenly. That’s nothing new with this budget, of course, but becomes all the more pronounced as you ask the working poor to give more; their life is full of constant reminders that taxes on the wealthy have been low and lowering for decades. While this island is possessed of wealthy people who are able to do absurd things such as buy whole towns for themselves, those on the cusp of poverty are asked to fork over more cash, and those in poverty are told to deal with fewer services.

It is abundantly clear to them that the wealthy who profit off the back of minimum and low-wage and foreign workers—such as our Finance Minister Cathy Bennett—are deciding how the burden of paying the public debt should be laid. Dwight Ball insisted under opposition attack that some earners are benefiting under the new budget versus the old.

These reassurances only highlight the reality gap between rich and poor.

Continue Reading.

CBC to sell all of its buildings and properties across Canada
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada's financially troubled public broadcaster, has plans to sell all of its properties and buildings across the entire country.

According to the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), the plan was announced today during a staff town hall in response to continued federal government funding cuts that have stripped the CBC of its ability to carry out its mandate of creating quality and original domestic programming.

Every single property will be sold – no stone will be left unturned. This includes the Toronto headquarters, Montreal studio, and the recently renovated and expanded Vancouver studio.

“The decision to close down production centres is of great concern for our members as it should be for all Canadians, and seriously jeopardizes the CBC’s ability to do meaningful production in the future,” said Marc-Philippe Laurin, CBC Branch President for the Canadian Media Guild, in a statement.

Our members believe the public broadcaster can’t only be a distributor, it has to also be a producer. This plan threatens the ongoing legacy of award- winning documentaries, drama and other quality production at CBC and Radio Canada.”

The union also notes that the plans make no sense given that three of the four federal-level parties have vowed to increase the public broadcaster’s funding. […]

As Austerity Hits Puerto Rico, Students Pay The Price

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — Earlier this year, social work student Coraly León arrived at her research assistant job at the University of Puerto Rico to find her salary abruptly cut in half due to budget cuts. “Not only do I have to find another job in order to support myself,” she told ThinkProgress, “but I still have to somehow complete my required 25 volunteer hours a week in order to graduate, on top of my research assistant work, on top of studying, on top of being an activist. I really don’t know if I can go on like this.”

You know what’s bad? Brain damage.

Flint, Michigan, is finding this out after it accidentally gave its entire population at least a little bit of lead poisoning when it switched up their water supply. In an attempt to save money for a cash-strapped city, Flint started drinking water from the Flint River — but ended up contaminating children with a poisonous heavy metal. Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of emergency, and the federal government is investigating.

Why on Earth did they do this? Austerity. Aside from the obvious humanitarian disaster, this is a stark demonstration of austerity’s false economy. Trying to be cheap on Flint’s water supply will end up costing the state of Michigan (and probably the country as a whole) a ton more money than it would have to fix it properly in the first place.


Now Snyder has already been forced to pony up over $10 million to switch the Flint water system back to the way it was before (hooked up to Detroit, basically), and the city is asking for some $50 million more to replace lead pipes. But that’s very likely only the beginning. Flint’s population is roughly 100,000, and several families have already sued state and local officials over the lead issue. It’s unclear so far how badly the city’s children have been poisoned, but it’s a pretty safe bet the state will end up spending tens or perhaps even hundreds of millions on settlements.

And that’s where a moral atrocity becomes an economic self-kneecapping. Aside from the cost of settlements, children are the major portion of the future’s economic capacity, which depends critically on their ability to function normally. Destroying their brains with heavy metals will rather impede their ability to get the jobs and pay the taxes that will get Flint on a sound fiscal footing.
Detroiters struggle to survive without city water
A third of all residential water accounts in the city of Detroit— 68,000 of 200,000 — are at least 60 days past due. Many live without running water.

How do you survive without running water for more than two years?

First, get a trash can. Put it under the roof to collect water to flush the toilet. Then, get a bucket and remember what your grandparents taught you in the early 1950s, before indoor plumbing reached all of rural America.

“You use your brain. You scramble. You survive because you’re used to dealing with nothing,” said Fayette Coleman, 66, who grew up fetching water from wells in Belleville.

She hasn’t had running water in her Brightmoor house since May 2013. The crumbling home is one of at least 4,000 in Detroit — and perhaps many more — whose water was never turned back on after massive shutoffs attracted international attention last year.

The outcry faded, but the situation hasn’t. Within a block of Coleman’s house on Fielding near Lyndon, at least three neighbors have endured shutoffs, including one who spent months walking up the street, twice a day, to fill buckets at a friend’s before service resumed in mid-November.