Sidewalk Labs' quiet plan for Canada's banks to manage a national digital ID for health care and housing

[I'm delighted to welcome Lilian Radovac back for another excellent piece on the digital surveillance shenanigans in Canada, which aren't always as showy as their stateside counterparts, but are every bit as worrying. In this piece, Radovac reveals the buried plan for a finance-sector managed, all-surveilling National ID card buried in the latest massive wedge of largely unread documents from Google spin-out Sidewalk Labs (previously) that is building a controversial, privatised city-within-a-city in Toronto -Cory]

In Sidewalk Toronto news, Sidewalk Labs has finally released its Master Innovation and Development Plan Digital Innovation Appendix. As with the 1,524 page MIDP before it, there's a lot to read in the DIA but a few excerpts already stand out.

Catalan independence movement declares a general strike in Barcelona

The cause of Catalan independence surged in October 2017, when voters defied Madrid and voted in a banned independence referendum despite indiscriminate violence and rubber-bullet fire from police, who had earlier seized the ballot boxes (the independence movement had wisely procured a backup set of boxes just in case. The referendum led to a declaration of independence, and the central government responded by imposing direct rule and arresting the movement's leaders (the ruling coalition was trounced at the polls a few months later). Read the rest

Relatives and cronies of Cambodia's dictator have bought "golden passports" from Cyprus and exfiltrated millions

Cambodia's long-serving dictator Hun Sen nearly lost power in 2013 when an opposition party mobilized over Facebook (Hun Sen recovered by mastering Facebook and using it to crush the opposition, whose leaders are now exiled. Read the rest

#RedForEd rebooted: Chicago's teachers are back on strike

The #RedForEd movement swept America in 2018 and 2019 as teachers in both "red states" and "blue states" staged massive -- sometimes illegal -- strikes, demanding a fair deal for themselves, their students, and their colleagues who drive buses, clean classrooms, and do other related work. Read the rest

Washington establishment freaks out as Modern Monetary Theory gains currency

Modern Monetary Theory (previously) is an economic philosophy based on the idea that all state spending is "deficit" spending, since money comes into existence when the government spends it, and when the government raises taxes, it does so in order to take that money out of existence, both in order to control inflation and to limit the concentration of power in the hands of the wealthy. Read the rest

Cutbacks caused Brexit: austerity correlates with UKIP membership

Not much detail, as the paper that makes the claim is only available at present to American Economic Association members; but in Did Austerity Cause Brexit? University of Warwick economist Thiemo Fetzer asserts that he found a "significant association between the exposure of an individual or area to the UK government’s austerity-induced welfare reforms begun in 2010, and the following: the subsequent rise in support for the UK Independence Party, an important correlate of Leave support in the 2016 UK referendum on European Union membership; broader individual-level measures of political dissatisfaction; and direct measures of support for Leave. Leveraging data from all UK electoral contests since 2000, along with detailed, individual-level panel data, the findings suggest that the EU referendum could have resulted in a Remain victory had it not been for austerity." (Image: Peter Damian, CC-BY-SA) (via Marginal Revolution) Read the rest

The government of Baltimore has been taken hostage by ransomware and may remain shut down for weeks

Nearly two weeks after the city of Baltimore's internal networks were compromised by the Samsam ransomware worm (previously), the city is still weeks away from recovering services -- that's weeks during which the city is unable to process utility payments or municipal fines, register house sales, or perform other basic functions of city governance. Read the rest

London councils plan to slash benefit payments with an "anti-fraud" system known to have a 20% failure rate

BAE developed the London Counter Fraud Hub, which uses machine learning systems to detect benefit fraud; after trials in the boroughs of Camden, Ealing, Croydon and Islington, the system has been approved for regular use, despite an admitted 20% failure rate. Read the rest

The Occult Defence Agency Budgeting Simulator: a text adventure that pits monster-slaying against austerity

In the Occult Defence Agency Budgeting Simulator, you are placed in charge of the budget for an organisation whose mission is "defending the United Kingdom from paranormal threats. Vampire covens, stray werewolves, pixie swarms, cultists with funny robes and impractical daggers, unlicensed hauntings, and more obscure matters" -- but you are British, and that means your boss is a government minister who insists that you make headline-grabbing "swingeing cuts" every year. Read the rest

Labour report on executive pay proposes giving customers a vote on compensation, ending share-based compensation for execs

Ten years of austerity in the UK have produced a definitive answer to the question: does austerity drive economic growth? (Spoiler: No) Read the rest

UN poverty envoy calls UK poverty a "political choice" that inflicted "great misery"

Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has followed up his scorching condemnation of US poverty with an even more damning report on poverty in the UK, which he calls a "political choice" brought on by a decade of austerity at the hands of the Conservative Party. Read the rest

Felons, Nazis: Michigan is occupied by an army of 3,000 armed, unregulated "police reservists"

Michigan's brilliant businessman governor Rick Snyder has slashed the state's budget over and over, in service to an electorate who would vote for a smear of roadkill if it would promise to knock a dollar off their tax-bills. Read the rest

Modern Monetary Theory: why government spending isn't like household checkbooks

You know the drill: someone proposes something utterly commonsense, that has been done all over the world (say, universal healthcare) and the next thing you know, someone's shown up to shout "Who will pay for it?!" Read the rest

Portugal proves that austerity doesn't work

Economists like Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna reshaped the world when their theories of "expansionary austerity" were put into effect after the 2008 crisis: the idea that governments could "increase taxes, cut spending, and grow strongly" was powerfully tempting to the world's leaders, who saw in them a way to pull out of a recessionary spiral without limiting the number of yachts the oligarchs they depended on could afford. Read the rest

UK visitors wait 2.5 hours to get through immigration at Heathrow

Official UK government statistics reveal that on 30 days in July the Border Force agency at Heathrow failed to meet its target of processing visitors within 45 minutes; on July 5, visitors had to wait 2.5 hours. Read the rest

The worse your town was hit by austerity, the more likely you were to vote for Brexit

After the Brexit vote, a lot of people pointed out that the areas that voted most heavily in favour of separating from the EU were also the areas that relied most heavily on EU subsidies, and wondered why British voters would decide to slit their own throats. Read the rest

The rich-poor obesity gap in kids is widening

A long time ago, obesity was often used as a shorthand for wealth, but over the decades obesity has become more and more correlated with poverty, both in culture and science (while wealth is increasingly correlated with being slim). Read the rest

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