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Comment Re:It also does away with national sovereigty! (Score 3, Informative) 247

Do you want to outlaw something traded under this agreement in your own country?
Nope! Your government will be tried in an international court!

It's not even a court. It's an ad-hoc panel that consists of private lawyers. Worse: very expensive lawyers that spend most of their time representing parties in front of similar panels. They can even rule over complaints filed by parties that they have previously represented.

I would strongly recommend to read the analysis of ISDS by the European Economic and Social Committee, as it appears in CETA (a TPP-style agreement between the EU and Canada that is now also in the ratification phase). It contains a lot of interesting information and citations of other documents.

Comment Re:Meaningless Gesture (Score 2) 210

Unless those member states

This is not a resolution by the member states. The member states are represented at the EU level by the EU Council of Ministers. The European Parliament is the (only) directly elected part of the EU structure, which often is at odds with the Council of Ministers (where the ministers often think more of national interests than of EU interests) and the Commission (which tends to do the opposite, or is too much steered by bureaucrats).

are willing to violate their extradition treaties with the United States, the resolution is more or less meaningless.

You piqued my interest, so I looked up the extradition treaty between the US and Belgium. It provides for exclusions for "political offences". If there would be sufficient political will, Snowden's offence could definitely be argued to constitute a political offence. There's also an exception possible if the requested state determines that the request is politically motivated.

So, while I doubt there would be sufficient political courage/will on behalf of the Belgian government to stand up to the US government in this case, there would not be any technical/legal problem as far as the extradition treaty is concerned (in my layman opinion).

Comment No legislation vacuum (Score 2) 18

The "Safe Harbour" agreement (which allowed US companies to basically wave their hand and say "yes, of course we comply with your privacy safeguards") was ruled to run counter to the EU privacy directive as interpreted in the light of articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

This EU privacy directive and its national implementations are, however still in full force.

Comment Re:They are used to getting away with it. (Score 4, Informative) 169

The USAF was not out to bomb that hospital. It was a horrible mistake.

They've said it was collateral damage, then a horrible mistake, then because the Afghani army asked for it, then because there was a Pakistani agent who was coordinating Taliban attacks from the hospital, ... And just yesterday the US army rammed the gate of the hospital with a tank to "investigate" things.

Whatever it was, it looks like everything but a "horrible mistake".

Comment Re:Candidate Obama (Score 1) 169

The true sign of a supremacy
Is who gets to decide at each given minute
When the rule of law is applied and when it's suspended

You can't spell justice without the US
And it's called justice cause it's just us that's justified
In judging just cause, just wars, and just evidence
Just test this justice and get just iced if you mess with us


I'm reassured by the many who were plainly disturbed
And who questioned the way in which 'justice was served'
If it was served, it can be served to us just the same
So what brand of justice do we want done in our name?

Osamacide! [RAP NEWS 8]

Comment Re:Oh really? (Score 0) 414

Homeopathic medicine is fucking water, that's it, plain old water.

I know.

You may get some minor placebo benefits from drinking magic water,

Or major placebo effects.

but literally ANYTHING (including real medicine) can act as a placebo if the patient has blind faith it will work

The thing is that some people tend to place way more faith into magic water than in real medicine :) In particular if real medicine hasn't worked for treating their symptoms (for whatever reason).

The problem here is that the vast majority of politicians do not understand how to research an everyday scientific question

The problem here is that a bunch of people are throwing a hissy fit because some consistently leftwing backbencher managed to get elected as president of the previous mirror image of the Conservative party, and they're pulling out the stops on all fronts. I mean, Slashdot as a platform to wage a campaign against the leader of the UK Labour Party, really?

Look at the actual letter the guy signed. What they mention there does make sense. They don't argue in favour of placebos as cancer or pneumonia treatments, but rather as an aid for treating things that are hard to treat using traditional medicine (probably exactly because they may often primarily be the result of things wrong "in the head" rather than of infections or other identifiable, medicine-treatable causes). And to be clear, with "in the head" I don't mean "mentally ill", because e.g. chronic and phantom limb pain have nothing to do with mental illness and are very real, but can also be treated sometimes by tricking the brain.

Comment Re:Comparison? (Score 3, Informative) 257

In spite of the gut feeling of the submitter, it's not much better in at least computer science: http://reproducibility.cs.ariz...

And to clarify: they only checked for what they call "weak repeatability": was it possible to get the code from the original researchers and if yes, was it possible to build it (or did the author at least explain how he himself managed to build it). They did not even investigate whether they could replicate the reported results with the the code that built.

Comment Re:basic income? (Score 1) 755

No, I'm saying that running a social experiment 9 times and getting the same result (which you don't like), running it a 10th time is unlikely to get you a different result.

You really can't compare forced labour in a totalitarian state and an associated egalitarian income with a basic income in a (reasonably) free society, whereby you can earn as much on top as you want and are free to do whatever you want.

I'm predominantly Libertarian, and I'm all for a UBI -- and not because it makes the people more independent (although that may, in fact, have been what the documentarians wanted to hear in order to be willing to put a Libertarian on camera).

All the people they interviewed were people who have been studying or have been involved for basic income projects for years, and those people explained their reasons for why they thought it was a good idea. They didn't go to libertarian people to ask them what they think about it.

That said, I don't think any of them were predominantly libertarian, it was just one line of arguments that they used in favour. Others included

  • necessity: due to automated production and gradual/"natural" concentration of capital, you need a different system to redistribute wealth
  • mental health: more and more people get burnouts and depressions due to work and income related stress, to the point that their productivity reduces drastically or even become completely unable to work
  • removing the welfare trap: if you are on welfare and start part time working, you may earn less than if staying 100% on welfare, or the added income is not seen as worth it
  • getting rid of ridiculous situations and useless jobs: paying public servants to check that other people are /not/ working
  • creating an actually functioning job market: right now, employers generally have much more bargaining power than employees
  • giving people time and opportunities to do what they want and be creative

I'm doubting the veracity of the statement that it's resulted in more people working,

The most striking example is Otjivero, a ethnically diverse Namibian town in the middle of the desert. Before the basic income project, almost no one had a job. Virtually everyone survived on porridge made from corn flour donated by the government. With the basic income, pretty much everyone started their own business, because the basic income created a lot of local demand for goods and services. If people have money, they can spend it. If there is demand, supply will come.

and I'm doubting the speculation about the total job availability numbers, given that we are already in massive unemployment, according to World Bank numbers, since the U.S. Department of Labor only tracks eligible workers (those workers who are displaced, and eligible for unemployment benefits, whether or not they are receiving them).

I completely agree with you that there is a massive employment crisis almost everywhere, and that the actual numbers are worse than the ones reported due to the reasons you mention. The reason there are no jobs, is because many companies don't need more labour due to technical advances (fewer labourers needed for the same output) and lack of growing demand.

Basic income can increase demand in many ways, and not just from established companies. If people have more time (because they don't have to work two jobs to make ends meet) and more time, they have more money and time to spend. It's a bit like reinstating the Henry Ford model, but at a larger scale.

Don't get me wrong: I have *no problem whatsoever* with people on UBI *not* working. We have a looming "end to human labor" problem, and I don't think having a bunch of Unhappy Campers(tm), with nothing better to do with their time than smash things, is a sterling idea.

We agree that a UBI stopgaps that problem.

I think it may even be more than a stopgap. Several people have developed models on how to make a basic income sustainable in various countries. Of course, they still all need to be verified in practice, and many things can (and probably will at various points) go wrong there.

Where we disagree is whether all the economically disenfranchised people receiving UBI will rush out and work a bunch of non-existent jobs, or whether they're going to stay home with their cable TV, bong, and X-Box 360. I'm personally *fine* with them doing that; you don't have to make up happy little stories of them working jobs in order to satisfy the Libertarian in me. I'm not going to buy hat you're selling anyway, and you already have my vote in favor of a UBI, so you really need to stop trying so hard to make stuff up to get me on your side.

I'm just saying what the experiments in practice until now have shown. I don't know whether any of them included large communities of couch surfers, but several of them did include poor and disenfranchised people. I'm not trying to sell anything, just parroting what I saw and read (although maybe that's worse :)

Comment Re:basic income? (Score 1) 755

In every experiment they've tried until now

Does that include the soviet union? While it wasn't called basic income, it was a guaranteed unfireable for life job with a paycheck.

That's like someone saying "getting food for free is nice", and someone else asking "does that include the geese that get stuffed for fois gras production? While it's of course force-feeding, they still get fed all of their life and don't have to do anything for it".

One of the tenets of basic income is that it must serve to increase people's liberty. Guaranteeing people an income in a totalitarian police state without any room for personal initiative indeed doesn't solve anything. The problem may lie more with the totalitarian regime than with the guaranteed income though.

Moreover, I haven't heard any proponents claim that a basic income by itself would solve all (or even most) problems. Many see it as a necessary step due to various evolutions, such as technology starting to destroy more jobs than it creates, and the insanity of creating jobs that pay people to check on other people to make sure they are not working (allowance qualification). Just watch the documentary I linked, it's a nice introduction to the subject (it was for me, anyway).

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas