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Celerity's Journal
Celerity's Journal
January 20, 2023

Towards a social democratic century? (free e-book download)

How European and global social democracy can steer a course through the crises


With the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis, the lingering pandemic and the onrushing threat of climate change, a bewildering array of transnational political challenges present themselves. Can social democrats articulate convincing solutions to these challenges, behind which progressives can rally, in Europe and globally?

The FEPS-FES publication ‘Towards a social democratic century? How European and global social democracy can steer a course through the crises’ gathers interviews and chapters contributed by political thinkers and practitioners, and presents a rich repertoire of ideas and proposals which offer some reasons to hope for better times ahead.

You can also watch the interviews with the authors of the book on this link.

Download here: https://feps-europe.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Towards-a-social-democratic-century-2.pdf

The authors:

• PORTUGAL: REAL ACHIEVEMENTS Isabel Estrada Carvalhais
• HARD LABOUR IN HOLLAND Catherine de Vries

January 20, 2023

EXPLAINED: These are the weapons Sweden is sending to Ukraine

Sweden has announced the largest ever delivery of heavy weaponry in its history, including the advanced Archer missile defence system, NLAW anti-tank missiles and CV-90 assault vehicles. Here's what you need to know about these weapons.


The Archer artillery system is composed of a fully automated howitzer mounted on an all-terrain vehicle. Photo: Bezav Mahmod/Swedish Armed Forces

Sweden’s government said on Thursday that it was giving 4.3 billion kronor (€390 million) worth of weaponry to aid Ukrainian forces in their defence of the country, and in their efforts to recover territories lost to Russia since its invasion began last February. Here are the main weapons included in the delivery.

The Archer Artillery System

The Archer Artillery System, otherwise known as Archer FH77BW L52 or Artillerisystem 08, is a mobile artillery system developed by the Swedish company Bofors, and then ordered by the Swedish and Norwegian armed forces after Bofors had been taken over by BAE Systems. The weapon entered service in Sweden in October 2013. The howitzer has a range of of either 35 kilometres, or more than 50 kilometres, depending on whether it is using BAE Bofors/Nexter Bonus rounds or the Raytheon/Bofors guided artillery shell M982 Excalibur. It is mounted either on the back of a Volvo A30D 6×6 articulated all-terrain hauler vehicle or on the back of a Rheinmetall MAN HX2 tactical truck. Defence minister Pål Jonson told a press conference on Tuesday that Archer was “perhaps the world’s most advanced artillery system”, and that Ukraine had been asking to have it for “a long time”.

Jonson said that the reason Ukraine was so interested in receiving Archer howitzers was for their 50 kilometres range and high precision, which help give Ukrainian forces the edge over Russian artillery. M982 Excalibur shells are fitted with GPS systems allowing them to guide themselves towards their target. Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba during a visit to Sweden in August said that receiving Archer systems was one of Ukraine’s top priorities, but the Swedish Armed Forces were initially reluctant to do so due to its importance for Swedish defence, and the weapons’ complexity, which will mean extensive training for Ukrainian forces, and significant maintenance and reserve parts requirements. According to Dagens Nyheter, there are currently 24 Archer systems in storage, of which at least 20 could be upgraded so they can be put into use. It is unclear how many will be delivered to Ukraine, but an Archer battalion usually consists of 12 vehicles.

CV90 assault vehicles

Sweden will deliver Ukraine up to 50 of these assault vehicles, known in Swedish as Stridsfordon 90. The CV90 was developed by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration in the mid-1980s in cooperation with the Swedish companies Hägglunds and Bofors, now both part of BAE Systems. It is designed to be a rapid all-terrain vehicle, sufficiently well armoured to withstand attack, and able to target both tanks and planes. The standard assault vehicle is armed with a 40 mm Bofors cannon, a machine gun, and six grenade launchers. It is manned by a crew of three with seats in the back for up to eight infantry soldiers. “With the CV90 the Ukrainians will get stronger firepower, better mobility and better protection,” defence minister Pål Jonsson said at the press conference. Sweden has 549 CV90s currently in service, of which 42 are the heavily armoured CV9040C variant.

January 20, 2023

Job quality, the foundation of good working lives

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and live. To avoid long-term scarring effects and promote good working lives, a comprehensive policy agenda must deliver job quality, together with measures supporting individuals through the life course, and a fair and inclusive labour market.


Covid-19 was a critical event in everyone’s working and daily lives. The longer-term effects on health and well-being, future earnings, work motivation and career prospects are still uncertain. The extent and quality of policy answers will be critical in limiting the negative impact of the pandemic on the workforce and its capacity to engage in work and experience a positive working life. Two main topics emerge: the health of the workforce, and a gender-friendly work-life balance. The European Working Conditions Telephone Survey (EWCTS), a high-quality probability survey covering 36 European countries via interviews of 70,000 workers and conducted in 2021, provides evidence on both topics.

The health of the workforce

Health and well-being were dominant topics during the pandemic. Learning about the risk of possible exposure to the virus at work helped to shed light on the complex relationships between work and health. EWCTS data confirms that, indeed, health issues affect a significant proportion of the workforce. In the 2021 survey, upper limb pains were reported by 57 per cent of workers, followed by backache (54 per cent), headaches (51 per cent), muscular pains in the hip or lower limbs (35 per cent) and anxiety (30 per cent). Physical exhaustion was reported by 23 per cent, chronic illness by 20 per cent, and combined physical and emotional exhaustion (a key factor of burnout) by 13 per cent. Almost a quarter of workers in Europe are at risk of depression.

In line with pre-pandemic empirical research, workers experiencing job strain reported more health problems. Job strain is characterised by a situation where a worker is exposed to a higher level of job demands (the parts of a given job that require effort and increase a worker’s risk of poorer health and well-being, like exposure to posture-related demands, intensive work, long working hours, violence at work, discrimination, and job insecurity) than job resources (the parts of a given job that support workers, like social support by colleagues, training, autonomy, influence on important decisions, being able to use one’s skills in work, being able to do quality work). Almost a third of workers (32 per cent of women and 29 per cent of men) experienced job strain during the pandemic.

Strained jobs are also associated with poorer mental well-being. While people in good quality jobs, where the resources that are available to the worker outnumber the demands of the job, reach an average score of 74 on a well-being scale of 0-100, workers in extremely strained jobs reach only 47 on average. This confirms the relevance of measures supporting the mental and physical health and well-being of workers through the design of quality jobs. It is also a requirement considering the high share of workers experiencing health problems. Their needs must be considered in the design of workplaces and work organisations to maintain or reintegrate them into the workforce.

Gender inequalities and work-life balance.........


January 20, 2023

Gay-Bashing Bigot Tony Dungy Pushes Debunked Cat Litter Conspiracy

fuck this asshole

NBC Sports NFL analyst Tony Dungy peddled a widely debunked myth about litter boxes in schools in a now-deleted tweet posted in reply to a video about trans children.

The former Indianapolis Colts coach—who has previously been criticized for his comments about gay athletes—replied to a Daily Wire video in which Minnesota Democratic state Rep. Sandra Feist spoke about a bill designed to give all students access to menstrual products in which Feist argued “not all students who menstruate are female.”

“That’s nothing,” Dungy wrote in his deleted reply. “Some school districts are putting litter boxes in the school bathrooms for the students who identify as cats. Very important to address every student’s needs.”

Last year, baseless rumors circulated in right-wing circles that litter boxes were being introduced in classrooms across the U.S. to cater to “furry” students.

Read it at Deadspin


What to make of Tony Dungy’s anti-gay present and past, and NBC’s choice to remain silent

For almost two decades Dungy has spoken out against the LGBT community, as NBC and his colleagues stay silent.


NFL broadcasters Tony Dungy and James Brown are featured speakers at outspoken anti-gay preacher’s event

The NBC and CBS analysts are annual speakers at an event held by rabidly anti-LGBT preacher Andrew Wommack.


January 20, 2023

Twitter might be replaced, but not by Mastodon or other imitators



By now, every social media network’s primary problem is all the other social media networks. Each platform becomes more valuable with each additional user, because it means more people to connect with. But at this point, fledgling platforms have basically two choices to grow their networks: Persuade users to give up some other app, or persuade us to give up sleep.

This is why Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter turned out to be a stroke of luck for Mastodon, a platform that might be described as an open-source, decentralized version of Twitter. In November, people who were disgusted with Musk’s new moderation policies — or just worried that Twitter would stop working after a 75 percent reduction in employee head count — migrated to Mastodon, driving its user total from 300,000 in October to 2.5 million.

This was a spectacular growth rate until it stopped. By early this month, active users had fallen by more than half a million, the Guardian reported. Possibly, this was simply a temporary hiccup, but I doubt it, because the nature of the attention economy makes it hard to create a major social media network that is like an existing network, only a little bit different.

In general, if you are providing a service that is like something else on the market but tweaked in some way, you run the risk that you have changed something important, and your new version will be less popular, or less profitable, than the one you were trying to replace.



Elon Musk drove more than a million people to Mastodon – but many aren’t sticking around

More than 130,000 people were joining the new independent social media network a day in November. So why hasn’t it taken off?

Sat 7 Jan 2023 19.00 GMT

The number of active users on the Mastodon social network has dropped more than 30% since the peak and is continuing a slow decline, according to the latest data posted on its website. There were about 1.8 million active users in the first week of January, down from over 2.5 million in early December.

Mastodon, an open-source network of largely independently hosted servers, has often been touted as an alternative to Twitter. And its growth appears connected to controversies at Twitter. But for many it doesn’t fulfil the role that Twitter did and experts say it may be too complicated to really replace it.

“Twitter, in its most basic form is simple,” Meg Coffey, a social media strategist, said. “You can open up an app or open up a website, type some words, and you’re done. I mean, it was [a] basic SMS platform.”

There were about 500,000 active Mastodon users before Elon Musk took control of Twitter at the end of October. By mid-November, that number climbed to almost 2 million active users.


newest numbers:


January 20, 2023

Corporate power: arbitrage in a fractured world

At Davos the corporate elite are discussing a more co-operative world—yet their arbitrage relies on its rifts.


World leaders from business and politics gathered this week at the World Economic Forum are charged with pondering how to strengthen ‘cooperation in a fragmented world’. Aspirations to tackle inequality, ensure climate justice and maintain financial stability may be peppering their inputs. But goodwill alone is not enough to resolve the mechanics of a system which has turbocharged global inequalities and eroded trust in global markets. Indeed, sceptics will reasonably ask whether speeches from the attendees can ever offer the necessary solutions to prevent further fracturing of the world economy and the oncoming tidal wave of crises in developing countries. Especially so when many of the institutions the Davos elite represent—financial giants, technology companies and other multinational corporations—have been beneficiaries of that system.

Mostly invisible

Corporate power over markets, societies and the environment is a fact of everyday life around the world. It is visible in inflated prices for consumer goods, rent extraction from developing markets, ‘greenwashing’ and vaccine apartheid. But the structural underpinnings of that power—and, crucially, of corporate impunity—remain mostly invisible. These lie in corporate arbitrage—strategic manoeuvring by corporations among different jurisdictional niches. This aims to avoid regulation which might otherwise come their way: ‘onerous’ taxation, accounting and reporting standards, social and environmental responsibility, labour standards and so on. Such behaviour was reinforced by the World Bank’s now disgraced Doing Business Report. The assumption was that should a corporation establish a network of entities in different jurisdictions, this allocation of ownership stakes would be driven by ‘efficiency’ gains which need not affect the firm’s productive operations.

Macroeconomic consequences

A recent study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) finds however that corporate arbitrage generally—corporate equity chains in particular—does have macroeconomic consequences, especially for developing countries. Examining the equity chains of the top 100 non-financial multinational enterprises (MNEs), the research distinguishes patterns of corporate ownership in the global north and south. This allows a deeper insight into whether foreign direct investment (FDI), channelled through the corporate structure, creates new economic activity in the target country. The study found that the most lucrative value-creation activities—legal infrastructure, financial, insurance, accounting, compliance services, research and development and so on—were typically placed in offshore financial centres and the ‘competition states’ of Europe. So even if hosted by a developing country, a global MNE would strategically locate the activities yielding most income elsewhere.

Figure 1 displays this network for a United States MNE. All interactions between the parent company and its subsidiaries in developing countries go through the United Kingdom. There is no direct relationship between the US and the developing country where the corporation invests. This pattern is typical of major corporations. What is even more worrying for developing countries and advocates of global corporate accountability is that a quarter of the subsidiaries in the global south of the MNEs studied engaged in no apparent associated economic activity. They were dormant entities, phantom structures. In advanced countries, by contrast, the proportion of such entities in the overall corporate structure comprises less than 1 per cent.

Fragmented regulatory space.....................


January 20, 2023

Eight hotel interiors enriched by decadent jewel tones


Plush velvet upholstery, Moroccan rugs and chinoiserie-style ottomans feature in this lookbook of hotel interiors that use saturated jewel colours to bridge the gap between cosiness and luxury. Shades of ruby red, cobalt blue and emerald can help to create interiors that are rich in depth and dimension, especially when accompanied by tactile materials such as silk or leather. Read on for eight hotel interiors that demonstrate how to translate this palette into modern interiors without it feeling stuffy. This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen's archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks featuring 70s-style interiors, biophilic homes and innovative stone furniture.

The Chloe, USA, by Sara Ruffin Costello

Interior designer Sara Ruffin Costello set out to emphasise the grand Southern Victorian architecture of this 1800s family mansion in New Orleans when converting it into The Chloe hotel. Cobalt blue walls and matching chinoiserie ottomans help to complement the building's original tall ceilings and dark wooden floors, as well as the burnt umber tiles that encircle the fireplace in the reception room. "The Chloe is moody with dark, antique furniture, with an emphasis on Orientalism but updated and made culturally relevant through a very special art collection," Costello told Dezeen.

Maison De La Luz, USA, by Atelier Ace and Studio Shamshiri

Housed inside the former annex to New Orleans' town hall, this 67-room guest house offers a modern take on Southern hospitality by integrating furnishings and artworks that draw on the city's uniquely multicultural heritage. Among them are references to New Orleans as the home of America's first pirate, alongside quirky details such as the sapphire-blue concierge desk, where guests can collect their tasselled keys.

Chief Chicago, USA, by AvroKO

Although not technically a hotel, this members' club in Chicago features a lobby in which every surface down to the service ducts is painted a rich shade of green, with matching tiles laid across the floor. This serves to set the backdrop for a mix of eclectic furnishings and abstract artworks, which design firm AvroKO chose to provide an alternative interpretation of traditional old-world luxury. "Saturated walls are intentionally bold, balanced by the warmth of plush upholstery and broken-in leather, creating approachability with an overall style that is fresh and enduring," the studio said.

Nobu Hotel Barcelona, Spain, by Rockwell Group

This Barcelona hotel by restaurant-turned-hospitality chain Nobu introduces elements of Japanese craft and design into the Catalan capital, with nods to traditional ink paintings, shoji screens and the gold-lacquer mending technique of kintsugi. In the hotel's moody suites, this is realised in the form of inky blue carpets and built-in millwork finished in saturated lacquer colours, while bathrooms feature traditional ofuro soaking tubs.

January 20, 2023

ACDF Architecture wraps glass home around apple tree in Quebec


Montreal studio ACDF Architecture has designed a low-slung, modernist-style home with massing shaped to surround an apple tree and provide lines of sight through the living areas. The project is located in St-Donat, a rural area near Montreal that serves as a popular getaway from the city. The all-black home, surrounded by a boreal forest, is made up of a square surrounding a small courtyard that contains an apple tree that reminded the client of their childhood.

"The owner embraced vivid childhood memories of growing up in an orchard environment," the architects explained. "The apple tree was symbolic of his earliest encounters with nature as a child, and of the continuity of that connection years later while picking apples with his own children," ACDF added.

Glass walls throughout the public areas of the home give sightlines of the tree and the other living areas from a variety of different positions. These views of the courtyard were designed to give residents a deeper connection to the natural setting around them. Its three bedrooms were built within opaque volumes clad in black wood siding. In one volume are two children's bedrooms, while the primary suite is seperate. A third box contains the garage and service areas.

In the primary suite, a separate lounge area acts as a secondary living room for the parents. This connects to a covered porch near the apple tree. This exterior area, in turn, leads back to the main living and dining area, forming a continuous circulation around the tree. "The home is designed for connectivity, and glances in every direction provide views across openings to other spaces," said Maxime-Alexis Frappier, one of ACDF's founders. "That being said, the boxes were designed to respect the need for privacy, and their wall placements are intentional in their offerings of solitude."


January 20, 2023

Dumbo Loft by Crystal Sinclair Designs features a book-filled mezzanine


Interiors studio Crystal Sinclair Designs has renovated a loft apartment in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighbourhood to include a mezzanine with a wall of books and a bedroom behind a glass partition. Upstate New York studio Crystal Sinclair Designs overhauled the space for a well-travelled lawyer and writer.

The client purchased the loft during the early Covid-19 pandemic in Dumbo, an area that has seen extensive conversion of buildings into luxury apartments. Sinclair's aim was to retain the industrial look of the space, while incorporating a mix of furnishings that offer a European flair and nod to some of the locations where her client has spent time.

"[She] wanted to incorporate certain elements that are representative of the places she’s lived and worked before," Sinclair said. "To that end, we worked in a nuristani mirror and a tribal qashqai rug purchased in Afghanistan, a statement chandelier from Italy, and her entire and not insubstantial library."

The concrete shell was largely left exposed, balanced with antique pieces like an easel and a leather wingback chair to add more story and a "lived-in" feel. "The space itself led the way," said Sinclair, who founded her eponymous studio with her husband, Ben. "The idea was to draw attention to the high ceilings with floor-to-ceiling drapes and a metal/glass partition wall. As the space is bright, we decided to paint everything white."


January 20, 2023

Undecorated creates The Caterpillar apartment building in Detroit


Architectural studio Undecorated has designed an elongated, metal Quonset hut punctuated with dormer windows and filled with loft-style units for an evolving neighbourhood in Detroit. The Caterpillar is located in Core City, an up-and-coming area that lies a few miles beyond the city's downtown zone. Set within an "urban woodland" with over 150 newly planted trees, The Caterpillar was designed by Undecorated, a local studio led by Ishtiaq Rafiuddin, who worked with executive architect Studio Detroit.

Totalling 9,000 square feet (836 square metres), the building contains eight apartments, all housed within an elongated Quonset hut – a type of prefabricated, arched metal structure that became popular in the US during World War II. The huts are known for being inexpensive and quick to build. The project is one of several ventures by Prince Concepts, a local real estate developer that is working with the city to develop about 100 vacant properties in the district.

The Caterpillar's enclosure is made of partly recycled steel and was manufactured by the US company SteelMaster. To bring in natural light, the team added glazed doors, skylights and dozens of rectangular dormer windows. The loft-style apartments are placed side by side and range from 750 to 1,300 square feet (70 to 121 square metres).

Each unit features 23-foot-high (seven-metre) ceilings and up to 18 windows, with daylight flowing in from both the northwest and southeast. The windows "capture the sunrise in the bedrooms and the sunset in the living rooms, which reflects off of the curved walls – creating an aura of ceremony and reflection", the team said.


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Current location: Stockholm, Sweden
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