Category Archives: Science

How Rotten is Apple’s Core? Tax Avoidance and Human Rights Abuses

The Apple brand is not only one of the most famous in the world, it is also the one with the highest value. Although Apple shares have plummeted during the last months, the latest brand value rankings show that the brand remains the best in the world. In addition to this, in the third quarter of 2012 Apple had a market capitalisation of US$ 625 billion, by far the largest in the world, on top of which it had and it had a US $117 billion cash hoard. You would think that a company this size would pay a fair amount of tax, but Apple thinks differently.

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Celebrating Reason: Non-Believers and Muslims Sing Along in Melbourne

Today is Sunday, a day which most Christians consider to be a day of rest and worship of god. First of all because it is the belief that this is the day of Christ’s resurrection, and secondly because by the seventh day, the man in the sky had completed his work and took a well deserved day off to rest (creating the universe with everything in it sounds tiring). Interestingly enough, Christians can’t decide amongst themselves on which day of the week they should observe Sabbath, as a minority believe they should do so on Saturday instead of Sunday, as do the Jews of course, making the entire practice somewhat more trivial. Additionally, in Israel and in most Muslim countries, Sunday is a regular working day. At least they seem to be on the same page where this matter is concerned. For non-believers, Sunday is part of something we call ‘the weekend’, during which we read a larger edition of our newspaper, our children watch cartoons on television in the early morning, and our favourite sporting team will make their appearance on the pitch. How lovely all these differences between people can be.

But I mustn’t digress. As the Muslims and non-believers can do anything they like on Sunday, they ran into each other in Melbourne earlier this month at the Atheist Convention 2012. Was there signing? Yes! Was there chanting? Yes! A Sunday not unlike one that Christians would have? Judge for yourself:

Conspiracy Theories: Why The Revolution Will (Not?) Be Tweeted

A new catalyst of civil uprising many believe has been identified in the form of social media. Examples range from the election protests in #Iran, the ousting of #Mubarak, the #ArabSpring as a whole, #WikiLeaks with its #Cablegate and the latest showcase, the #Occupy events in the United States. The matter whether social media like Twitter and Facebook actually contribute to these forms of civil disobedience or are just a form of ‘clicktivism’ has been discussed to a great extend. More recently, the debate has turned against Twitter with claims that the social network had a hand in some hashtags not becoming a trending topic.

It goes without saying that this is the kind of stuff for conspiracy theorists: the government is aware of the power of social media and is quietly instructing Twitter to suppress certain hashtags from making it to the trending topics list. Then again, the way in which 700 protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge shows an unrelenting crackdown on civil disobedience by the American government. In addition, the track record of governments around the world, including the United States government, shows plenty of violation of digital privacy and intrusive online behaviour. So, you wouldn’t really put it past them either. Continue reading Conspiracy Theories: Why The Revolution Will (Not?) Be Tweeted

Canadian Tar Sands: The Need To Move Away From The Second-Hand Car Salesman Logic

 This week the United States will decide whether it will build a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. The pipeline, which will cost 7 billion dollars, will ensure the transportation of oil gained from Canadian tar sands to the United States. Proponents emphasize the need of energy supplied by a friendly neighboring country instead of the hostile Middle East. Opponents see great risks to the environment and would prefer investing in renewable energy. A debate followed on PBS between pipeline proponent Robert Bryce and environmentalist Bill McKibben.

Continue reading Canadian Tar Sands: The Need To Move Away From The Second-Hand Car Salesman Logic