Showing posts from May, 2014

The myth about climate change

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[The placid-cow-like views of Canadian farmers on climate change may be leaving them open to a rude awakening. *RON*]
Eric Reguly, The Globe and Mail, May. 29 2014
Climate change is not all bad news. The higher temperatures that bring floods, droughts and wildfires also, broadly speaking, expand growing seasons and improve crop yields. We humans might drown in a flash flood or burn to a crisp in a midsummer heat wave, but we’d die with our stomachs full.

That, at least, was the theory.

Indeed, the 2007 report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which won the Nobel Peace Prize that year) was fairly sanguine about the impact of climate change on harvests. The latest IPCC report, released in March, took a distinctly darker view. The summary of its final draft noted that the “Negative impacts of climate trends [on food production] have been more common than positive ones.”

It added that, without adaptation measures, temperat…

William D Cohan on Wall Street whistleblowers

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["The personal price of exposing financial wrongdoing can be devastating. William D Cohan meets three men who went public and paid for it." This piece reads very much like an unveiled warning to financiers on what they can expect if they try to blow the whistle on Wall Street wrongdoing. *RON]

By William D. Cohan, Financial Times, May 30, 2014

Whistleblowing is not for the faint-hearted – and especially not on Wall Street.

On Wall Street, as every­one now knows, wrong­doing by bankers, traders and executives led to disaster in 2008 after they were rewarded for taking risks with other people’s money. Leading bankers and traders were motivated – by the hope of getting large bonuses – to package up mortgages into securities and then sell them off as AAA-rated investments all over the world. This happened even though one damning email after another makes clear they knew some of the mortgages would probably default and that the securities sho…

Sterling to Reap 15,900 Percent Return on Sale

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[Obnoxious bigot whines about being hard done by all the way to the bank. *RON*]

Josh Barro, New York Times, May 30, 2014
Whether he likes it or not, Donald Sterling is poised to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive. And, for $2 billion, what’s not to like about it? Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million in June 1981, according to some reports, and he’ll get a tidy 15,900 percent return over 33 years, an annualized rate of 16.6 percent. In fact, he’s probably done even better than that, because of the distributions of profits during the years of ownership.

To say the least, the rate of return is very impressive. It’s a much better performance than most of the ways Sterling could have invested his money.

For example, it’s about four and a half times the return he would have gotten by putting his money in the stocks of the S&P 500 index and reinvesting the dividends.

Desmond Tutu: Oilsands 'Filth' Created By Greed

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By Bob Weber, CP / Huffington Post, 05/31/2014

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu has called Alberta's oilsands "filth" created by greed, and has urged all sides to work together to protect the environment and aboriginal rights.

"The fact that this filth is being created now, when the link between carbon emissions and global warming is so obvious, reflects negligence and greed," Tutu told more than 200 rapt attendees at a conference on oilsands development and treaty rights in Fort McMurray on Saturday.

"The oilsands are emblematic of an era of high carbon and high-risk fuels that must end if we are committed to a safer climate."

"Oilsands development not only devastates our shared climate, it is also stripping away the rights of First Nations and affected communities to protect their children, land and water from being poisoned."

Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nati…

Feds still improperly collecting background info on access-to-info requesters

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[The Information Commissioner has identified several "instances of political interference by staff in the office of the Public Works minister, where material that should have been released was withheld illegally under the Act." *RON*]
By Dean Beeby, CP / Huffington Post, 05/31/2014

OTTAWA - The federal government continues to collect background information on individuals who file access-to-information requests, more than seven months after officials agreed to stop the practice.

An online service launched last year requires all requesters applying for documents under the Access to Information Act first to indicate whether they're members of the media, business, academia or other categories.

The service, which to date has processed almost 30,000 electronic access-to-information requests, does not allow a requester to decline to identify her or his background — and failure to select a category halts the process in its tracks.

Last fall, Ca…

Weather forecasters at Environment Canada aren’t supposed to discuss climate change in public, says a Canadian government spokesman.

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[“I’m probably quitting. Harper wins.” – Federal scientist in Canada. *RON*]
Mike DeSouza, May 27, 2014

Environment Canada made the comments in response to emailed questions about its communications policy.

The department defended its policy by suggesting that Environment Canada meteorologists – among the most widely-quoted group of government experts in media reports and broadcasts – weren’t qualified to answer questions about climate change.

“Environment Canada scientists speak to their area of expertise,” said spokesman Mark Johnson in an email. “For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority.”

Environment Canada estimates that nearly half of all the calls it takes from journalists are related to the weather. Its meteorologists also offer a 24-hour media…

An astonishing record – of complete failure

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[Economists are always saying "We don't get it perfectly correct, but we're better than any of the alternatives." Yet "In 2008, the consensus from forecasters was that not a single economy would fall into recession in 2009." *RON*] 

By Tim Harford, Financial Times, May 30, 2014

In the 2001 issue of the International Journal of Forecasting, an economist from the International Monetary Fund, Prakash Loungani, published a survey of the accuracy of economic forecasts throughout the 1990s. He reached two conclusions. The first was that forecasts are all much the same. There was little to choose between those produced by the IMF and the World Bank, and those from private sector forecasters. The second conclusion was that the predictive record of economists was terrible. Loungani wrote: “The record of failure to predict recessions is virtually unblemished.”

Now Loungani, with a colleague, Hites Ahir, has returned to the topi…

Who really benefits from Canada's tax giveaways?

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[The Harper government is the 1%. No surprise here, but the results are disappointing in how blatantly regressive and contributory to inequality Harper's policies are. *RON*]
By Kayle Hatt,, May 30, 2014

On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Budget Office released their long-awaited costing and distributional analysis of the tax measures implemented since the Harper government has been in power. In essence, they asked what is the cost of these tax cuts, who benefits, and to what degree.

The price tag of the tax cuts

The total cost of the tax cuts implemented by this government is $30.4 billion in 2014 ($17.1B on the income tax side and $13.3B from the GST/HST cuts). This is in addition to the cuts to the federal corporate income tax, which the PBO report did not look at but Jim Stanford has estimated to cost around $13 billion in annual revenue.

For comparison, reducing post-secondary tuition fees to 1992 levels (as proposed by this year's

Government repeatedly shuts out witnesses from citizenship and immigration debate

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[Canada, the land of Freedom From Information: "It is perfectly representative of the attitude that prevails both in the House and in committee." Earlier this month, expert witnesses were outraged after they were invited to Ottawa to speak to the citizenship committee, only to be shut out as the meeting went on behind closed doors. Other witnesses have come forward to say they have experienced this exclusion as well. "It's very disappointing, not only to myself but others -- especially those who come from away to testify as expert witnesses," Desloges said. *RON*]
Matthew Millar, Vancouver Observer, May 30th, 2014
Expert witnesses were shocked and "insulted" when the federal government recently flew them to Ottawa to speak to the Citizenship committee regarding a major new citizenship bill, only to muzzle them at the last minute.

“Do they think citizenship legislation is a joke?” historian Melynda Jarratt said a…

Why did Sun News Network censor my comments on the CBC?

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[Funny! I'll post the video once he answers my email! "That’s an excellent point Adrienne, unions didn’t get us worker safety regulations and a ban on child labour. Those things were generously offered by rich men who were visited by ghosts and filled with the Christmas spirit." Comedian Scott Vrooman appeared on the Sun News Network and lampooned right-wing critics of the CBC. When the video was taken down, he got mad. *RON*]

Comedian Scott Vrooman appeared on Sun News Network last week to discuss the recent round of layoffs at the CBC. During the interview, he played a Colbert-like caricature of a right-wing critic. It’s not clear whether the interviewer or the program’s producers were aware of what was going on. Later, after the video had gained some traction online, the network removed it from its website and everywhere else on the Internet. Here is Vrooman’s response:

Dear Sun News Network,

Your removal of our recent interview…

Liberal MLA Pat Pimm called on carpet over ‘downright racist’ comments

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[The most honest statement made by a Liberal politician in BC so far: "Here is an opportunity to actually muster up some support for our team but instead we will ignore it and go out and find some way to give the Indians more money which doesn’t get me one vote!" *RON*]

By Cassidy Olivier, The Province, May 29, 2014

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is calling on the B.C. government to issue a written apology for the “downright racist” comments made by a Liberal MLA during an email exchange with his colleagues.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the UBCIC, also wants Pat Pimm, MLA for Peace River North, stripped of his status as a member of the government’s select standing committee on Aboriginal Affairs and a public repudiation of his “shocking” remarks.

“The comments from MLA Pat Pimm, especially as an appointed member of the selection standing committee on Aboriginal Affairs, are completely repugnant, reprehensible and downrigh…

The Senate Loses One of Its Best as Romeo Dallaire Departs

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["...the tendency of institutions and offices perceived as corrupt and dysfunctional is toward the self-fulfilling prophecy, driving away the very people who would alter [that] perception." Exactly, this is a real loss for Canadian politics at a time when we can scarce afford to lose any good people. *RON*]

Wayne K. SpearWriter and host of The Roundtable Toronto, Huffington Post, 05/29/2014

The date was Thursday February 15, 2007, and I was on my way to a parliamentary Senate breakfast on Ottawa's Wellington Street. With me was the former long-time CBC national reporter Whit Fraser, a man who is never lacking for a quip of the moment. As I opened the door to the Senate building, keen to escape Ottawa's notorious winds, he remarked: "eighty per cent of these people are useless. But the other twenty make up for it."

In these post-scandal years, many will doubtless object, judging the math too generous and the conclusio…

A thumbnail sketch of federal privacy commissoner nominee Daniel Therrien

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[So, he served long under right-winger and staunch Harper loyalist Peter MacKay in Defense and helped supervise the utter abandonment of Canadian information sovereignty to the NSA and CIA. Sounds like a real "keeper" for a privacy commissioner. *RON*]

CP on Huffington Post, 05/29/2014

OTTAWA - A sketch of federal privacy commissoner nominee Daniel Therrien:

CURRENT JOB: Assistant deputy attorney general for public safety, defence and immigration at Justice Department since 2005.

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts and law degrees, University of Ottawa. Called to Quebec bar in 1981.

PAST ROLES: Began career as counsel to solicitor general's department, Correctional Service of Canada and National Parole Board. From 1990 to 2001, served as senior general counsel and director, Citizenship and Immigration legal services, at Justice. Later became director general, refugee policy, at Citizenship and Immigration. In 2002, took on the role with of…

Maternal Health Summit: Harper's Office Criticized For Restricting Journalists

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[One of the HuffPost readers had a good comment, "The opposition not allowed, now the media. If this is a private Conservative Party function then they should be the ones paying for it and leave the Government of Canada brand out of it." I believe he is doing this because he knows people will talk about reproductive health, and he doesn't want to see this covered. *RON*]

The Huffington Post Canada, 05/29/2014

The Prime Minister's Office is facing criticism for restricting journalists from covering certain aspects of an international maternal health summit in Toronto.

Maclean's science reporter Kate Lunau wrote Wednesday that, at the launch of the three-day conference, reporters were banned from attending sessions about immunization and nutrition.

Lunau said journalists also learned they could not attend the next day's sessions on newborn and maternal health.

On Thursday, reporters were told they could not attend a speec…

Big Carbon’s Big Liability

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[A new strategy. Environmental groups have warned directors of fossil fuel companies that they may be held personally liable for misleading the public about climate change. *RON*]

Dan Zegart, The Nation, May 29, 2014
A new and potentially potent weapon is being unleashed in the climate wars. Yesterday, three major international environmental organizations warned the corporate executives of some of the largest fossil fuel companies that they could be personally liable for damages for funding climate change denialists and working against efforts to slow climate change.

The notice came in the form of a letter, signed by Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the Center for International Environmental Law, that was sent to the directors and officers of thirty-two of the “carbon majors”—the ninety companies that a recent groundbreaking study (see “Paying the Price,” The Nation, May 12, 2014) demonstrated may be responsible for some two-thirds of the …

I should be back up again tomorrow! :-)

My hard drive crashed. Slowly but surely I'm working at getting various functions up and running again, so I hope to post at least a few stories again tomorrow...


Christy Clark's Never Ending Campaign

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[BC's premier is still in election mode, so a fast-growing job sector (consisting of one big happy family of Liberal supporters) is spin agencies. With a spin-department costing $26 million taxpayer dollars per year, see the item two stories down about the Clark government clawing back $128/month in child support payments from a single mother living on a government disability pension. *RON*]

By Bob Mackin, 14 May 2014,

The bus bearing the Debt-Free B.C. slogan and Premier Christy Clark's face stood parked the day after the BC Liberals won a surprising return to running the province.

Now it was time for Clark, who had been premier for 26 months, to roll-up her sleeves and get governing. But that's only happened in fits and spurts, because when one campaign ended, another began. And another after that. In fact, there's plenty of evidence that British Columbia has become a parallel universe where the politician in charge …

IMF Pegs Canada's Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $34 Billion

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[This story is from the same edition of The Tyee as the following one, in which the BC Liberals claw back $184/month in child support payments from a single mom who lives on a government disability pension. In such corporate giveaways we're a world leader, a fact rarely noted when federal budgets are debated. *RON*]

By Mitchell Anderson, 15 May 2014,
While Canada slashes budgets for research, education and public broadcasting, there is one part of our economy that enjoys remarkable support from the Canadian taxpayer: the energy sector.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that energy subsidies in Canada top an incredible $34 billion each year in direct support to producers and uncollected tax on externalized costs.

These figures are found in the appendix of a major report released last year estimating global energy subsidies at almost $2 trillion. The report estimated that eliminating the subsidies would reduce global carbon emi…

Single Mom Slams Clark on Clawbacks: 'She Has Zero Idea'

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[Christy Clark's famous Families First agenda in action. "We want to make sure we're fair across the system," by taking your child support away whether you live in poverty or already make $180,000 per year, like single-mom Christy Clark. *RON*]

By Andrew MacLeod,, 15 May 2014

Jessica Sothcott could work and earn as much as $9,600 a year without it affecting the amount she receives in disability payments, but every dollar she receives in child support from her daughter's father is deducted in full from what the government will provide.

"I was shocked," said the mother of two who was at the British Columbia legislature with her 14-year-old daughter Rosalie on Wednesday to draw attention to the issue.

Sothcott said she raised the matter with the office that administers the province's Person With Disability benefits. "When I finally got on PWD, I went there and I said, 'Why are you taking my child…

Environment Journal Editor Responds To Conservative Media Storm Over Rejected Climate Manuscript

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[The ongoing effort to turn science into politics, which has, in turn, already been turned into economics. *RON*]
 Graham Readfearn, DeSmogBlog, 18 May 2014

THERE’S an old proverb that suggests it’s always the lie that gets half way around the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on.

But if evidence from the latest conservative media beat-up on climate science is anything to go by, even if the truth is only a couple of blocks behind, the myth can just keep on running.

We’re talking about a story that sprinted out of the blocks from the offices of The Times newspaper in Britain.

The newspaper’s environment editor Ben Webster was writing about the University of Reading’s Professor Lennart Bengtsson (pictured), who had a research manuscript rejected by the prominent Environmental Research Letters journal earlier this year.

Webster’s front page story claimed Bengtsson’s research had been “deliberately suppressed” because it didn’t sit we…

Amazon stands by Boy Scouts; GLAAD, gay Scouts to deliver over 120k petition signatures to Amazon HQ

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[I keep finding more reasons to not buy from Amazon. I had already stopped buying from them because they lease cloud storage to the NSA and CIA for the purpose of spying on the world at large. *RON*]
By Seth Adam, GLAAD, May 19, 2014

In a puzzling move, online retail giant Amazon is standing firm in its charitable support of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The Boy Scouts, which unapologetically discriminates against gay and lesbian adults, is among the organizations included in the AmazonSmile program, which allows shoppers to direct 0.5 percent of their purchase totals toward a charity of their choice.

This, despite the fact that the AmazonSmile participation agreement clearly stipulates that eligible organizations are those that "do not engage in, support, encourage, or promote [...] intolerance, discrimination or discriminatory practices based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability,sexual orientation [emphasis added], or age."…

Rules for Carcinogen Precursor Limited by Lack of Monitoring, Research

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[The by-now usual story. There is, somehow, no money available to research and monitor the industrial chemicals that are killing us. *RON*]
By Gabe Rivin, North Carolina Health News, May 19, 2014
Managers at water-treatment plants know bromides are a problem, but the science of how much bromide is needed to start forming carcinogenic byproducts is still unclear.

In the Dan River, in north-central North Carolina, a carcinogen precursor flowed freely through the water. The chemicals landed in two municipal drinking-water plants, temporarily causing the water to be tainted for thousands of residents.

That same precursor flowed freely in the Allegheny River, in Pittsburgh, causing the same problem for an even greater number of residents. In both cases, the chemicals, bromides, had been produced by energy industries. North Carolina’s source of bromides was Duke Energy’s Belews Creek Steam Station, a 2,240-megawatt coal-fired power plant that releases its…

‘Dark money’ floods in to US election

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[Billionaire versus billionaire, fighting for control of the US government. The mid-terms are on course to out-spend the Presidential election. *RON*]

By Richard McGregor, Financial Times, May 19, 2014
Long used to opposing candidates bitterly facing off in elections, US voters are being offered a different choice for this year’s congressional polls – the spectacle of billionaires battling each other head on.

Tom Steyer, a billionaire Democrat-aligned investor who is deploying his fortune to highlight the threat of climate change, is airing TV advertisements attacking not the Republicans but fellow billionaires Charles and David Koch.

Mr Steyer’s advertisements targeting the two industrialists are largely a stunt aimed at lifting the brothers’ public profile and demonising their role in backing conservative causes. But underlying the Democrats’ anti-Koch campaign is a genuine trend – of a huge growth in spending on politics by wealthy Americans out…

The Birth of a Eurasian Century: Russia and China Do Pipelineistan

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[On gas pipelines, BRICS as an emerging superpower, and the Cold War 2.0. For some background, see also Business Insider's Here's The Proposed Gas Pipeline That Has Russia-China Relations Stronger Than Ever. *RON*]
By Pepe Escobar, posted by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism, May 19, 2014

Yves here. I’m a big fan of Pepe Escobar’s work at Asia Times, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to run one of his posts here. Astute readers will no doubt point out that some of the elements of the Russia-Chinese emergent plan, such as reliance on gold-backed currencies, are sorely misguided. But the bigger point is that the two nations are looking hard for ways to undermine the US economic hegemony. And in any struggle, plans seldom survive first contact with the opposition. Much depends on how well each side adapts to and exploits changing conditions.

By Pepe Escobar, a roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT, and a TomDi…

Film Company Accused Of Foreign Worker Fraud, Extortion

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[“Not every case is going to get dealt with." Austerity defines justice as a scarce resource to be doled out only to the few. Despite Harper's pronouncements, the government is plainly incapable of "getting tough" on abusers of the Temporary Foreign Workers' program because, as the staff themselves say, the CBSA's investigative capacity has been cut to the bone and then some. *RON*]

CBC via Huffington Post, 05/19/2014

An Iranian couple are going public about how a B.C. business charged them $15,000 to come to Canada — a violation of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program rules — for jobs that turned out to be non-existent.

“We came for job. But they didn't give us,” said Sareh Aminian, who said her husband was only given one day’s paid work. “It makes me crazy.”

The couple entered Canada in March 2013, under contracts with Parvaz Film Corporation originally signed in 2011 and 2012.

Company owner Sherry Soltani and her hus…

The Paradox of Racism

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[Review subtitled: "Why the new book by the New York Times’ Nicholas Wade is both plausible and preposterous." It sounds like there will be a good deal of argle-barge, not to mention foofaraw, about Nicholas Wade's new book. One might well ask, if the combination of genetics and culture don't account for the majority of human behaviour, what does? *RON*]

By Andrew Gelman, Slate, May 8, 2014
The paradox of racism is that at any given moment, the racism of the day seems reasonable and very possibly true, but the racism of the past always seems so ridiculous.

I’ve been thinking about this recently after reading the new book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History by New York Times reporter Nicholas Wade, who writes about the big differences in economic success between whites, blacks, Asians, and other groups and offers a sophisticated argument that racial differences arise from genetic differences that are amplif…

100 Percent of California Now in Highest Stages of Drought

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[Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has called global warming "a total fraud" designed by "liberals who … want to create global government." A Pew Research Poll conducted last year found that only 25% of tea party adherents believe climate change is real, against 61% of non-tea party Republicans (and 84% of Democrats). The state got no rain relief during the December-March wet season, according to a new national drought report. *RON*]

By Andrea Thompson and Climate Central, Scientific American, May 18, 2014
It might not seem possible, but California's drought just got worse. According to Thursday’s release of the U.S. Drought Monitor, 100 percent of the state is now in one of the three worst stages of drought.

The latest report, which indicated that rain had improved conditions in parts of Texas and the Plains states, revealed that California got no relief. In fact, a heat wave likely worsened the impacts of the drought…

UK holds talks with Brussels on options for intervening

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[Pretty soon we'll have one big drug company called 'Buy From Us Or DIE'. *RON*]

By Andrew Ward, Elizabeth Rigby and Alex Barker, Financial Times, May 18, 2014 AstraZeneca is braced for a fresh approach from Pfizer as the UK government holds talks with Brussels about its options for intervening in what would be the biggest foreign takeover of a British company.

Pfizer was weighing its next move over the weekend as the clock ticked towards the May 26 deadline for the US drugmaker to sweeten its £63bn offer or walk away under UK takeover rules.

People close to both companies said they expected Pfizer, maker of the Lipitor cholesterol treatment and Viagra anti-impotence pill, to improve on the £50-per-share proposal rebuffed by AstraZeneca earlier this month.

Greenwald Against the Establishment

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[I've put a hold on Greenwald's new book with my local library. *RON*]

By Justin Raimondo(about the author) OpEd News, 5/17/14

...And Glenn gets the better of them Glenn Greenwald's new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, is many things: an account of his relationship with Snowden, an indictment of political leaders who have used the pretext of "terrorism" to mask their unlimited power-lust, a technical analysis (complete with illustrations culled from the National Security Agency's own secret archives) of America's emerging police state. Most significant and enjoyable for me, however, it is a searing indictment of what "mainstream" journalists have become -- servitors of a corrupt political class blinded by their own arrogance.

It opens with an account of how the biggest story of the decade fell into Greenwald's lap -- and almost fell out. Many of Greenwald&#…

Portland Is First U.S. City to Divest Funds from Walmart

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[The initiative also prohibits the city from purchasing Walmart bonds in the future. There has been a trend toward municipalities and universities divesting from fossil fuel investments; this is the first I've heard of anyone targeting Walmart, though. *RON*]

by Laura Garcia, Molly Rusk, Yes! Magazine, May 16, 2014
On Thursday, May 15, the city of Portland got rid of $9 million, or 25 percent, of its investments in Walmart. This marks the beginning of a divestment program that will purge Portland's investment portfolio of $36 million in Walmart bonds by 2016, according to a press release. The divestment plan is part of the city's responsible investment initiative, introduced by City Commissioner Steve Novick, and adopted in October 2013. The initiative also prohibits the city from purchasing Walmart bonds in the future.

Portland is not only discontinuing its investments in Walmart, but has set up a committee to advise it on making soci…

Why Does B.C. Government So Desperately Want Grizzly Bears Dead?

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[Government policy in this area is repugnant, and only serves to buy them a rather small number of votes, despite the fact that 90% of British Columbians polled agree (including rural respondents and many hunters), that "gratuitous killing for recreation and amusement is unacceptable and immoral." The science shows that killing is unnecessary for bear management and that live bears bring in ten times the overall revenue of dead bears. *RON*]

Chris Genovali, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, May 19, 2014

We want these bears dead. This is the message the B.C. government's "reallocation policy" sends to Raincoast Conservation Foundation, British Columbians, and Canadians across the country. This policy is also preventing the implementation of an innovative solution to end the commercial trophy hunting of grizzlies and other large carnivores throughout B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest.

With the mismanaged, and some would say depr…

B.C. Glacier Melt Is Rapid, Unpredecented, And A Big Climate-Change Issue

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["Early results suggest these glaciers are shedding 22 cubic kilometres of ice annually, or about 22 billion cubic metres of water. For comparison, an Olympic swimming pool contains about 2,500 cubic metres of water." *RON*]

By Dene Moore, CP / Huffington Post, 05/18/2014

VANCOUVER - The mountains of British Columbia cradle glaciers that have scored the landscape over millenia, shaping the rugged West Coast since long before it was the West Coast.

But they're in rapid retreat, and an American state-of-the-union report on climate change has singled out the rapid melt in British Columbia and Alaska as a major climate change issue.

"Most glaciers in Alaska and British Columbia are shrinking substantially," said the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released last week to much fanfare south of the border.

"This trend is expected to continue and has implications for hydropower production, ocean circulation patterns, fisheries, …

The odds you’ll join the ranks of the long-term unemployed

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[On how people lose their careers simply through the bad timing of macroeconomics. One more reason why the failure to provide more stimulus is a crime against the citizenry. *RON*]

By Matt O'Brien, Washington Post, May 16, 2014

Long-term unemployment is a terrifying trap that, even in the best of times, is difficult to escape. And it's a trap that you can get stuck in for no reason other than bad luck.

Today, there are still almost 3.5 million people who have been out of work for six months or longer and are looking for work. There isn't a more urgent crisis, and there are three things you should keep in mind about it.

1. As former CEA Chair Alan Krueger found, the long-term unemployed aren't much different from the short-term unemployed. They're a little older and more of them are African-Americans, but they're just about as educated and work in the same industries as everyone else who's trying to find a job.

2. The …

An alphabet for a "schools to jobs" generation

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Excerpted from Jim Brown, The 180, CBC, May 8, 2014

Click here to listen
The Province of B.C. has a new "Skills for Jobs" blueprint. The plan aims to make sure that B.C. students are trained to fill the tens of thousands of jobs that projections say will open up in the province's Liquefied Natural Gas sector by 2022.
"Our goal, ultimately, is to give every student ... a better, early head start on their future education," said B.C. education minister Peter Fassbender. "We want students to find their fit earlier. That's why we're re-engineering our education system from Kindergarten right through to post-secondary."
That had the CBC's Stephen Quinn trying to imagine what the early years of the new "schools to jobs" focus would look like. We present to you, his "ABC's"

Kinder Morgan's historic oil spills are double the Kalamazoo disaster: NDP MP

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[Kinder Morgan VP calls Burnaby MP Kennedy Stewart’s oil spill analysis of its Trans Mountain pipeline “stupid”, “ludicrous” and “astounding.” Obviously he has touched a nerve. All he does is state the facts - Kinder Morgan has spilled twice as much oil from its existing Trans Mountain pipeline as was spilled at Kalamazoo. Pathetically, the KM VP does not consider oil spilled on their property to be "in the environment." *RON*]
Mychaylo Prystupa, Vancouver Observer, May 16th, 2014
Ducks dying, a Kalamazoo River blackened with oil, and haz-mat workers vacuuming sticky sediments in the worst land pipeline spill in U.S. history -- not the visuals Kinder Morgan wants to be associated with, especially when it had nothing to do with the disaster.
"It's a stupid comparison," bristled Kinder Morgan vice president Hugh Harden from Calgary on Wednesday.

The oil executive in charge of Trans Mountain pipeline's operations was reacti…

The Reason Canada's Federal Debt Reached $671 Billion

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[Canada already has a low ratio of public debt to GDP by international standards. This Fraser Institute author mashes together two entirely different issues - you can oppose the Canadian government's high (and hidden) levels of corporate welfare without falling for the ruse that Canada has a high level of government debt. The debt myth is used as an excuse for implementing austerity programs - thus freeing up more taxpayer dollars to give away to corporations - thus preparing our politicians for a soft landing when they retire. *RON*]

Mark Milke, Senior Fellow, The Fraser Institute, Huffington Post, 05/16/2014

Ever wonder how Canada's net federal debt reached $671 billion by 2013? Or how net provincial debt among the provinces ended up at $509 billion that same year? Wonder no more. It's partially due to massive subsidies to corporations, government businesses and even consumers that over three decades amounted to $684 billion.


Alberta Health issues warning after mercury found in eggs from lakes near oilsands

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[You'll notice that the Alberta government doesn't even deign to respond. *RON*]

By Bob Weber, CP / Huffington Post, 05/16/2014

EDMONTON - Alberta Health has issued a health warning about eggs from two northern lakes downstream from the oilsands after they were found to contain dangerous levels of mercury.

James Talbot, chief medical health officer, has advised people to restrict consumption of gull and tern eggs from Lake Athabasca and Mamawi Lake in the Peace-Athabasca delta. Children and pregnant women are at higher risk from mercury, a potent neurotoxin that accumulates in the body as more contaminated food is consumed.

"The developing brain is the one that's most at risk from mercury," Talbot said.

He added that the Nunee Health Authority in Fort Chipewyan has been informed of the advisory. A previous mercury advisory which been issued for fish in the area remains in place.

Concerns about mercury in the environment downstrea…

There's still time to stop the Unfair Elections Act

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[As the article title says, there is a link at the bottom that allows you to send an email letter to the Senate, asking for their support in killing this bill. *RON*]
By Dylan Penner, May 16, 2014

First, the good news: organizing works.

While the Unfair Elections Act passed third reading in the House of Commons this week, it could have been much worse. The campaign to stop the bill has already made a difference and we're not done yet.

The government was intent on passing a truly horrible piece of legislation. But because of public pressure, the government has backed down on some of the worst elements of the bill.

Since February, the Council of Canadians has been campaigning to stop the Unfair Elections Act. We built a common front to stop the bill, in partnership with a broad range of allies, including the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), Leadnow, human rights and civil liberties groups, peace and environmental organizations, trade unions, …

Harper's assimilation agenda just collided with First Nations resistance -- and lost

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[Harper has adopted the common Republican Party/Orwellian practice of naming and describing his bills with labels that are the direct opposite of their intent. the First Nation Control of First Nation Education Act is an excellent case in point. *RON*]
By Pamela Palmater,, May 16, 2014

This has been a difficult month for Prime Minister Stephen Harper in terms of Crown-First Nations relations. Harper seemed too busy picking fights with Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin and defending another "dodgy" Senate appointment, to notice that Canada's already brittle relationship with First Nations was crumbling.

In the last few weeks, Harper refused to conduct an inquiry into murdered and missing women or allow the RCMP to release its own investigation until "reviewed" by Canada. The auditor general's recent report criticizes Canada for lack of transparency and adequate funding in First Nat…

Recording seems to refute claims made by Anthem

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["That's covered by our insurance?" "Correct." A shining example of the kind of innovation and cost-cutting efficiency that makes it so important to keep private insurers at the core of the US health care system. *RON*]

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2014
We've all heard stories about health insurance companies refusing to budge after denying a claim, often asserting that the policyholder was in the wrong.

David Cienfuegos said his wife was told by Anthem Blue Cross that his doctor was part of the insurer's coverage network, but then was left with the tab for about $5,800 in medical costs after Anthem insisted that it never said any such thing.

In this case, though, Cienfuegos, 40, has a digital recording of the Anthem rep clearly saying his surgery would be covered.

And he's suing to hold the insurer accountable.

"It's shameful," Cienfuegos told me. "It's like they have a policy o…

Alberta Caribou Land Will Go Up For Sale, Says Government

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[Stephen Harper will sleep well tonight, telling himself "Mission Accomplished." *RON*]

By Bob Weber, CP / Huffington Post, 05/15/2014

EDMONTON - Some of Alberta's last remaining habitat for two endangered caribou herds has been sold off for energy development and auctions for more of it will proceed despite calls for a halt.

"There aren't any plans at this time for any further moratoriums," Alberta Energy spokesman Mike Feenstra said Thursday.

A lease auction that began Wednesday included 1,700 hectares in northwestern Alberta used by the Narraway and Redrock-Prairie Creek mountain caribou herds.

Feenstra said that, so far, leases on 181 hectares of caribou range have been purchased for $4,830.42, or $26.63 per hectare.

Earlier this month, both the herds were assessed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, the highest threat assessment in Canadian law.

Scientists on that committee say…