Showing posts from June, 2014

The 8 Best Lines From Ginsburg's Dissent on the Hobby Lobby Contraception Decision

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[What happened to the separation of church and state? *RON*]

—By Dana Liebelson, Mother Jones, Jun. 30, 2014
On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering dissent to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that the government can't require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. Ginsburg wrote that her five male colleagues, "in a decision of startling breadth," would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find "incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."

Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg's dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:
"The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage""Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subs…

For the first time, Boy Scouts march for equality at NYC Pride

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[There has been massive public pressure on Boy Scouts of America to change their policy. *RON*]
By Alexandra Bolles, Glaad, June 30, 2014

On Sunday, the iconic Pride March in New York City and its 14,000+ participants were led, in an historic first, by Boy Scouts members and leaders.

Three generations of Boy Scouts -- gay and straight -- were in uniform at the nation's oldest and largest LGBT Pride event, where they presented the American flag during the national anthem and served as Color Guard during the march.

Among those marching were Pascal Tessier, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout who is openly gay; Greg Bourke, former associate scoutmaster who was ousted for being gay; David Knapp, 88, who first became a Boy Scout in 1938 at the age of 12, and, as an adult, was ousted as district executive for being openly gay; and Crystal Sabinsky, an active leader in scouting, mother of young Boy Scouts, and ally to the LGBT community.

Crystal, who participated…

Natural Resources’ sweeping report warns feds of increasing climate change, urges action

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[“I don’t quite get the prime minister’s indifference and the minister of the environment’s indifference to this entire process. Mother nature sent the most catastrophic flood in Canadian history through the centre of Calgary. If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.” Liberal environment critic John McKay. “We’re seeing the increase in insurable losses across Canada, billion-dollar events more frequently, and it doesn’t seem to be having any impact at all, certainly not on Stephen Harper. That’s quite surprising.” Green Party leader Elizabeth May. NDP environment critic Megan Leslie contrasted the report’s release—“tabled under the cover of darkness and I’ve not heard a single government representative talk about it”—with that of the U.S. National Climate Assessment in May, which was a major media event at the White House. *RON*]
By Mark Burgess, Hill Times, 06/30/2014

A new report from the government’s own Natural Resources Departmen…

Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws

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[Long, interesting article on the crapification of biomedical research. US biomedical research is going down the tubes, with researchers spending far more time writing grant proposals than doing investigations, and with research increasingly focused on finding applications rather than more fundamental work with higher payoffs (and even a growth in falsified results due to hyper-competition). One underlying problem is an over-production of scientists while National Institutes of Health funding has fallen by at least 25% in real dollar terms since 2003 and the cost of studies has increased. *RON*]

Bruce Albertsa, Marc W. Kirschnerb, Shirley Tilghmanc,and Harold Varmusd, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, 22 April 2014.


The long-held but erroneous assumption of never-ending rapid growth in biomedical science has created an unsustainable hypercompetitive system that is discouraging even the most outstanding …

Free markets killed capitalism: Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, Wal-Mart, Amazon and the 1 percent’s sick triumph over us all

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[Monopoly is back: Barry Lynn on the concentration of American economic power -- and how we can restore fairness. *RON*]

Thomas Frank, Salon, 29 June 2014
Barry C. Lynn is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of two important books, “End of the Line” and ”Cornered,” the latter of which describes the dramatic return of monopoly to the American landscape. Both books had a big effect on me when they appeared, as did Lynn’s periodic articles in Harper’s Magazine describing the concentration of economic power in all sorts of different industries. One of the reasons his books startled me is the weird silence of virtually all our other popular economic writers on the subject. Monopoly is back, in a massive way, and yet it seems as though even liberals often have trouble talking about it. If we’re really going to do something about inequality, however, it’s time we looked this thing in the face.

Barry Lynn and I sat down and talked…

Moaning Moguls -- Why are the Super-Rich so Angry?

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[Surowiecki argues that billionaires' interests are no longer as tightly tied to the interests of their own nation or to those of the middle class as they once were. *RON*]

By James Surowiecki, New Yorker, 7 July 2014
The past few years have been very good to Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and C.E.O. of the Blackstone Group, the giant private-equity firm. His industry, which relies on borrowed money, has benefitted from low interest rates, and the stock-market boom has given his firm great opportunities to cash out investments. Schwarzman is now worth more than ten billion dollars. You wouldn’t think he’d have much to complain about. But, to hear him tell it, he’s beset by a meddlesome, tax-happy government and a whiny, envious populace. He recently grumbled that the U.S. middle class has taken to “blaming wealthy people” for its problems. Previously, he has said that it might be good to raise income taxes on the poor so they had “skin in …

Boom Meets Bust in Texas: Atop Sea of Oil, Poverty Digs In

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[This is how the wealth from a petro-boom (does not) trickle down to the benefit of the general population. *RON*]

By Manny Fernandez and Clifford Krauss, New York Times, 29 June 2014
GARDENDALE, Tex. — From the window of her tin-roofed trailer, Judy Vargas can glimpse a miraculous world. It is as close as the dust kicked up by the trucks barreling by but seems as distant as Mars.

As you walk out of her front yard — where the chewed-off leg of an animal, probably a feral hog caught by a prowling bobcat, rots outside — a towering natural gas flare peeks over the southerly view. Across the railroad tracks and Interstate 35, a newly reopened railroad interchange stores acres of pipe and receives shipments of sand from Wisconsin to be used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Next to the terminal is an expanding natural gas processing plant that lies in the heart of the Eagle Ford, a giant shale oil field that here in La Salle County alone produces m…

Blackwater considered itself above the law, US state department was warned

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[Department told of lax oversight at firm with $1bn contract to protect US diplomats weeks before Blackwater (now known as Academi) security contractors killed 17 Iraqis. Following this incident, the Iraqi government refused to sign an agreement that made it impossible to apply local or international law to US troops in Iraq, which led ultimately to all American troops being withdrawn. *RON*]

Mark, 30 June 2014
A state department investigator warned that the private security firm Blackwater considered itself above the law, just weeks before Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians, it has been reported.

According to the New York Times, Jean Richter, who was sent to Iraq to review Blackwater's operations, warned in a memo dated 31 August 2007 that little oversight of the company, which had a $1bn contract to protect US diplomats, had created "an environment full of liability and negligence".


The Myth of America’s Golden Age: What growing up in Gary, Indiana, taught me about inequality.

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[Another "keeper" piece. Stiglitz is at his concise and stinging best in this piece, and he manages to cut a broad swath through the logic and humanity of Obama's economic policies while doing so. *RON*]

By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Politico, July/August 2014

I hadn’t realized when I was growing up in Gary, Indiana, an industrial town on the southern shore of Lake Michigan plagued by discrimination, poverty and bouts of high unemployment, that I was living in the golden era of capitalism. It was a company town, named after the chairman of the board of U.S. Steel. It had the world’s largest integrated steel mill and a progressive school system designed to turn Gary into a melting pot fed by migrants from all over Europe. But by the time I was born in 1943, cracks in the pot were already appearing. To break strikes—to ensure that workers did not fully share in the productivity gains being driven by modern technology—the big steel companies b…

Entire Unitarian Church Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuels

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[Momentum continues to build for the divestment movement. This is a good tactic, since it gets the fossil fuel industry in the only place that matters to them, and it is ultimately the correct approach. The Unitarian Church plans to maintain a few shares to engage in shareholder activism for climate movement. *RON*]

By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, 29 June 2014.
Marking a major victory for the climate movement, the assembly of the Unitarian Universalists, representing over 1,000 congregations, voted on Saturday to divest their $175 million endowment from fossil fuel companies.
According to a church spokesperson, the 2,000 delegates in attendance at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) meeting in Providence, RI, voted "overwhelmingly" to support a Fossil Fuel Divestment Business Resolution.

“We, private citizens and the private and nonprofit sectors, need to take matters into our own hands, and use every …

Isis announces caliphate in 'declaration of war'

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[A British academic says that this new statement suggests Isis is now challenging al-Qaida for global leadership of the jihad movement. Historically, though, the word has a far stronger connotation - since the Caliph is traditionally meant to be the head of the entire Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah (which is to say, all Muslims everywhere), although formally it was abolished when the Ottoman empire collapsed in 1924. See also ISIL declares new 'Islamic caliphate.'*RON*]

Press Association,, 29 June 2014

The announcement of a formal Islamic state by insurgents in Syria and Iraq is a "declaration of war against the West and al Qaida", an expert has warned. The Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (Isis) group has sought to solidify its leadership of worldwide jihad today by declaring that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the new caliph, or head of state.

Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, a spokesman for t…

Burials, food stores and tent sites from Inuit ancestors found on Hudson Bay

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[Very cool. But because of the new Supreme Court ruling about Aboriginal title, it occurred to me: How much longer do you think it will be before Harper starts cutting funding for archaeological research that will prove that Aboriginals used specific territories during the pre-contact era? *RON*]

By Chinta Puxley, CP / Huffington Post, 06/29/2014

WINNIPEG - On the western coast of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba there's a gravelly cliff, covered in grass and large rocks, with a 360-degree view of the stark and wild area around it.

It doesn't look like much to the untrained eye, but some 400 years before Europeans set foot in North America, the cliff was a thriving hunting camp for the ancestors of today's Inuit.

Today, there are remnants of 22 large tent rings, as well as food caches, burial grounds and kayak rests — all estimated to be about 1,000 years old.

Researchers are heading to the site, just south of the Manitoba-Nunavut bor…

KPT’s coal handling wreaks havoc on public health, environment

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[This is the industry and the product that the Harper and Clark governments want to encourage in our Vancouver ports“Fine particles penetrate deeply into the lungs and are difficult for the body to expel. Over time these particles accumulate and do more damage. Epidemiological research suggests that there is no threshold at which health effects do not occur.” *RON*]
By Faiza Ilyas,, 29 June 2014
KARACHI: The Karachi Port Trust’s Keamari coal terminal operating in violation of environmental laws poses serious threat to public health, a visit to the site showed on Saturday.

Enveloped in dark dust, the entire place with blackened streets, shops, mosques, historical buildings and other infrastructure was an evidence how the pollutant had ruined the port area once thriving with business and tourist activities.

“Look at our faces and clothes. Can you believe that I had worn a clean dress in the morning?” said a fruit vendor, pointing to his cl…

No Limits to Shale Gas Chemicals in Mexico

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[Corporatocracy has succeeded once economics and politics become indistinguishable. Mexico is explicitly removing all restrictions on the chemical composition of fracking fluids - which are known to include poisonous and cancer-causing agents. They are simultaneously altering their constitution to dismantle state control of the oil and gas industry and to allow foreign oil and gas companies into their nation to explore and drill. *RON*]
By Emilio Godoy, Inter Press Service News Agency, 29 June 2014

MEXICO CITY, Jun 28 2014 (IPS) - The new legal framework for Mexico’s oil industry has not placed controls on the use of harmful chemicals in the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels, and environmentalists and experts fear their consumption will increase in an industry that is opening up to private capital.

The energy reform “will exacerbate the use of chemicals. The new laws do not address this problem. We need to know what is used, because othe…

Freedom Industries reaches $3M deal with insurance company

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[Freedom Industries, ultimately owned by the Koch Brothers, leaked pollutants into the water supply in North Carolina, then immediately declared bankruptcy in order to avoid financial responsibility for the cleanup. This is, in fact, what the Koch Brothers mean by "freedom" -- the freedom to create havoc while raking in profit. The general public is now footing the bill for the cleanup. There was also a rush of people to the emergency wards with symptoms of acute poisoning. As this article shows, Freedom Industries had been fighting with AIG about who will pay a $3 million settlement - pennies for these two groups - which, as one of the commenters notes, amounts to $10 per person affected, not including business expenses. *RON*]
by Ken Ward Jr., The Charleston Gazette, 27 June 2014

Freedom Industries says it has reached a nearly $3 million settlement with its insurance company over coverage related to the Jan. 9 Elk River chemical leak, …

500% Rise In Very Long-Term Unemployment In Spain: 1.26m Spaniards Unemployed Since 2010

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(Yet the IMF insists that what Spain really needs to do is raise taxes and slash wages. *RON*)

By Matthew Bennett | on Google+ | The Spain Report, May 29th, 2014

NEWS: A detailed break down of figures published by Spain’s National Statistics Institute last week shows very long-term unemployment in the county has risen by more than 500% since 2007.

There are now 1.26 million Spaniards who have not had a job since 2010, and the total continues to rise, according to an adjunct report to the National Statistics Institute’s Active Population Survey published on May 23.

“In 2013, there were 1.276 million unemployed people who lost their job three years ago or longer, 234,200 more people than in 2012″.

The institute notes that this represents an increase of 22.5% on the figure for 2012, and that the very-long term unemployed now represent 23.1% of the total.

Edward Hugh, an independent British economist in Barcelona, told The Spain Report that: “The co…

U.S. mayors tackle the income gap

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[U.S. mayors forged a pact at their annual meeting to fight for a post-recession agenda that begins with more equitable cities. "No such sentiments were heard at the annual meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalties in Niagara Falls three weeks ago.... Canada could use municipal leaders willing to go to bat for their citizens – all their citizens." *RON*]
By: Carol Goar Star Columnist, Jun 26 2014
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a conference of U.S. mayors that "income inequality is the core crisis of our time."

As the American economy pulls out of its protracted stall, the country’s urban leaders are rolling up their sleeves to repair the damage left by the recession.

From Dallas to Seattle, mayors are raising civic wages, tackling the dearth of affordable housing, rebuilding neglected inner city schools and expanding access to pre-school care.

At last weekend’s annual meeting of the United States Conference of …

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century

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[I guess eventually we'll all have read more reviews of Piketty than there is original Piketty to read. Oh well, this is a good, intelligent piece for the average person, with generous quotations from Piketty's book. *RON*]

Corey Doctorow, Boing Boing, 24 June 2014

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century is a bestselling economics tome whose combination of deep, careful presentation of centuries' worth of data, along with an equally careful analysis of where capitalism is headed has ignited a global conversation about inequality, tax, and policy. Cory Doctorow summarizes the conversation without making you read 696 pages (though you should).
To sum up: modern growth, which is based on the growth of productivity and the diffusion of knowledge, has made it possible to avoid the apocalypse predicted by Marx and to balance the process of capital accumulation. But it has not altered the deep structures of capital -- or at any rate …

Report: The Sugar Lobby Threatens Organizations, Buries Science on Health Effects

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[The same tune that is sung by the tobacco industry and climate deniers. *RON*]
By Zoë Schlanger, Newsweek, 6/27/14
We know that consuming too much sugar can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a raft of other maladies. Yet sugar is the most popular food additive in the United States, added with abandon to nearly every processed food we eat. So why don’t American food policies governing added sugar reflect that?

Enter Big Sugar. According to a new report from the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, industry groups representing companies that sell sweeteners, like the Sugar Association and the Corn Refiners Association (for makers of high fructose corn syrup) have poured millions of dollars into countering science that indicates negative health consequences of eating their products.

For example, when a University of Southern California study from 2013 found that the actual high fructose corn syrup content …

Why the Rich Aren’t Job Creators

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[A venture capitalist explains how consumers drive capitalism and that The Revolution is coming. *RON*]
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, June 28, 2014

This is a short talk by venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, who among other things, was the first non-family investor in Amazon. Hanauer in very simple and effective terms debunks the “rich are job creators” myth. Even though the video is going viral (now at over 1 million views on YouTube, it is important enough that I wanted to make sure NC readers saw it and circulated it.

Hanauer’s remarks illustrates the degree to which propaganda has overcome commercial common sense. Any real entrepreneur will tell you that the thing you most need to start a new business is customers. But you here almost nothing about that in the media these days. The “job creator” meme has sucked almost all the air out of conversations on how to establish new ventures (and remember, for well over a decade, small businesses hav…

Modern Money Theory: The Basics

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[A "keeper" primer on modern monetary theory. Some of the reader's comments to the original article are worth looking at too. *RON*]
By L. Randall Wray, Modern Economic Perspectives, 24 June 2014.

Modern Money Theory (MMT) seems to confuse two groups of otherwise sympathetic economists. First there are those like Paul Krugman who are generally of the Keynesian persuasion and who like MMT’s “deficit owl” approach. I think Krugman would really like to stop worrying about the deficit so that he could advocate an “as much as it takes” approach to government spending. The problem is that he just cannot quite get a handle on the monetary operations that are required. Won’t government run out? What, is government going to create money “out of thin air”? Where will all the money come from?

He really doesn’t understand that “money” is key stroke records of debits and credits. He still thinks banks take in deposits and then lend them out. He st…

Liberal govt hubris handed Tsilhqot’in Nation bigger legal victory

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[They couldn't leave well enough alone when even the Harper government thought the Taseko Mine proposal was an environmental disaster in the making. Now they have truly cut off their own nose to spite their face. My friend Harry said, "Like the sorcerer's apprentice, they knew the incantation to start the process, but not how to stop it once it had begun." *RON*]
by Damien Gillis, Commonsense Canadian, June 27, 2014

The BC Liberal Government just couldn’t leave well enough alone. In choosing to appeal the Tsilhqot’in First Nation’s BC Supreme Court victory over land title and rights, the government set in motion a chain of events that could have profound consequences for its future resource development plans.

The Tsilhqot’in won a landmark legal victory affirming title and rights over 200,000 hectares of their traditional territory, west of Williams Lake, at the BC Supreme Court in 2007 (with limited rights to an even larger ar…

NSA queried phone records of just 248 people despite massive data sweep

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["Lisa: Oh come on now mom it's not like the government is monitoring everyone's conversations.Marge: (Whisper on Government Worker's headset) I just think we should lay low till we get to Seattle. NSA Worker: Oh my god it's them! (Screams) Hey everyone! We found them, the government actually found someone we're looking for! Yeah baby Yeah!" The Simpsons Movie (2007) A transparency report reveals the NSA only performed queries on 248 people in 2013, despite collecting data on nearly every American. "These are critical numbers to review when talking about a program that sweeps in the records of hundreds of millions of Americans." *RON*]
Spencer, 27 June 2014
The National Security Agency was interested in the phone data of fewer than 250 people believed to be in the United States in 2013, despite collecting the phone records of nearly every American.

As acknowledged in the NSA's fir…

US vulture fund ruling pushes Argentina towards second bankruptcy

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[In case you were in doubt as to who truly rules the world: "I'm really worried about how this court precedent is promoting predatory behaviour and will hurt debt restructurings for poor countries." US judge blocks $500m payment to creditors in ruling that favours 'predatory' US hedge funds over debt restructuring plan, moving Argentina closer to massive default. *RON*]

Phillip Inman, The Guardian, 27 June 2014
A US judge has blocked a $500m (£290m) payment by Argentina to creditors due on Monday, pushing South America's second largest economy closer to a second massive default in 13 years.

New York district judge Thomas Griesa said after a quickly convened court hearing that Argentina was in breach of his decision that US vulture funds, which have pressed for full repayment of their loans, were entitled to bypass a longstanding debt restructuring deal.

The ruling, which enforces an earlier decision in favour of vulture fu…

Anti-Homeless Spikes? Heartless. Cementing Over Them? Ingenious.

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[Londoners made their feelings clear about a corporate "solution" to the problem of homelessness—and the company listened. *RON*]

by Molly Rusk, YES! Magazine, Jun 26, 2014

Early in the morning on June 12, a few members of a group known as the London Black Revolutionaries showed up in front of a Tesco shopping center on Regent Street in London and covered the store's "anti-homeless spikes" with home-made cement.
If the issue of spikes outside of Tesco hit a nerve, it could be because rates of homelessness in England have been rising.

A few days before the stunt, the spikes generated a firestorm of public criticism of the retail giant. The criticism largely took place online and centered around a series of photosof the spikes taken in October 2013 by photojournalist Joshua Preston.

The spikes were intended to deter "antisocial behavior," Tesco told The Guardian in response to the criticism. But Londoners were hav…

Inequality Begins at Birth

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["America has the second highest child poverty rate out of the thirty-five nations measured by the United Nation Children’s Fund (only Romania is worse)." This piece provides a clear logic in one area for why austerity programs, which raise unemployment rates and increase poverty, must end: "our political leaders and legislators have until now largely overlooked the connection between poverty, poor educational attainment, and even neural malfunctions—and the extent to which effective poverty reduction itself can correct the problem." *RON*]
Jeff Madrick, New York Review of Books, June 26, 2014

Over the past year, the lack of universal pre-kindergarten for American four-year-olds has become a national issue. In 2013, President Obama proposed to fund an ambitious new nationwide pre-kindergarten program through a new cigarette tax. That plan failed to gain support, but Bill de Blasio gave new urgency to the issue when he swept in…

Health Canada keeps flu plant inspection report secret

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[Welcome to Harperland - where we value Freedom From Information and Corporate Rights. “Health Canada seems to be prioritizing what the companies claim is confidential business information over patient safety and that really isn’t acceptable.” Health Canada is refusing to release a report from the 2012 inspection of GlaxoSmithKline’s Quebec flu vaccine plant, which produced 5 million doses of vaccine for Canadians in 2013. The U.S. FDA found problems stretching back to 2011 with quality control in the plant. *RON*]
By: Tim Alamenciak, The Star, Jun 27 2014
Health Canada is refusing to provide a copy of its July 2012 inspection of GlaxoSmithKline’s Quebec plant, where about 5 million doses of flu vaccine were manufactured and supplied to the Canadian public in 2013 alone. The move comes in the wake of a warning letter from the U.S. FDA that documented concerns with the plant’s manufacturing process dating back to 2011.

Health Canada is keeping the…

The Harper government is expanding their Surveillance Policy to treat every Protester as a potential threat

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[This is like Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive war, but turned against our own citizens. “It’s a fundamental disrespect for basic rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, to say that they should monitor all the time in case somebody in the future breaks the law. It’s shocking,” NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison. “I don’t think pieces by themselves are as disturbing as the pattern. We see it with online data, we see it with the provisions they are trying to put into Bill C-13… to this order that all government departments spy on protestors. We see it in so many areas, and it’s that pattern that’s of most concern to me.” *RON*]

By Remi L. Roy,, Jun 26, 2014
In a push that sees Canada move one step closer to a state where being constantly watched, catalogued, and data mined is the norm, the Conservative government recently decided to expand its public surveillance policy to include all protests and demonstrations. The Gov…

Stephen Harper Failing To Protect Charter Rights, Lawyers Claim

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[If former Justice Department lawyer Edgar "Schmidt's allegations are correct, what it means is that the executive has decided to take as many freedoms away from us as possible, rather than as few as possible," says Simon Potter, a past president of the Canadian Bar Association. *RON*]

By Mike Blanchfield, CP / Huffington Post, 06/26/2014

OTTAWA - The Harper government is falling short in its duty as a guardian of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bar Association will be told Friday in a major speech.

Simon Potter, a past president of the association, is to deliver that scathing message in the keynote address to the day-long conference on the state of constitutional law in Canada.

The annual constitutional symposium by Canada's top legalists on the Charter unfolds this year against a backdrop of unprecedented acrimony between the Harper government and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's of…

S**t Harper Did Punks Tories With Action Plan Parody Website

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[I'm pleasantly surprised that Huffington Post would post this in the first place! *RON*]

The Huffington Post Canada, 06/26/2014

If you're not a fan of the Conservative government or its Economic Action Plan then you'll probably love this clever bit of viral mischief.

Shit Harper Did (SHD), the activist group famous for its subversive anti-Tory ads, noticed that the government never bought the url, opting instead. So the group purchased the first domain and transformed it into a biting attack on the government's controversial Economic Action Plan ads.

In a series of satirical videos, SHD make mockery of the government commercial, which have so far cost more than $100 million to produce.

National Gas Industry Hires Family Members of Leading Politicians

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[Yeah, not much conflict of interest here, right? When the Chinese do this, it's called "corruption." Also from the In China That Is Called Corruption Department: Snarky Lawmaker Reminds Former NSA Chief That Selling State Secrets Is Illegal. *RON*]

Written by Lee Fang, DeSmog Blog, 26 June 2014

In May of last year, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, now considered the favorite to win West Virginia’s open Senate seat, stood on a small platform in Charleston, behind a row of tiny trophies in the shape of drilling rigs.

She was there to congratulate the Energy Corporation of America, a major gas exploration and distribution company, on its plans to open a new building in the state capital.

The company needed new space to accommodate over a hundred new employees in coming years.

“I am honored to attend the groundbreaking celebration of theECA’s new eastern headquarters,” Capito told the crowd, according to an ECA press release. “This privatel…

Mapping Militarism

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[An article about the Mapping Militarism web site which, as the name suggests, provides mapped information about the distribution of many kinds of military activity around the globe. A number of the maps are surprising and a bit disconcerting. *RON*]

 By David, 6/26/14

World Beyond War has created a set of online interactive maps to help us all see where and how war and preparations for war exist in the world today. You can find the maps we've created thus far at and send us your ideas for more maps here. We'll be updating some of these maps with new data every year and displaying animation of the progress away from war or the regress toward more war as the case may be.

The following are still screen-shots of some of the maps available in interactive form at the link above.

This map displays annual spending on war and war preparations. When you view the interactive version, the key at th…

Canada Is Warming At Twice The Global Average And We Still Don't Have A National Plan

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[Another one I sent to Harper. Yet, despite the dramatic changes that have already taken place and which loom on the horizon, the report says... "There are relatively few examples of concrete, on-the-ground adaptation measures being implemented specifically to reduce vulnerability to projected changes in climate." *RON*]

By Michael Bolen, Huffington Post Canada, 06/26/2014

Canada has been warming at roughly double the global average over the last six decades, setting the stage for dramatic changes to the economy, environment and our very way of life. But government and business have been slow to react and Canada still has no national plan to address climate change.

That's the message in a new 259 page report from the federal government on how Canada is adapting to a warming world. And "adaptation" is the key word in the study. Rather than look for ways to slow down it down, Canada's federal government appears focused …

Beijing muzzles dissidents - by sending them on all-expenses-paid luxury holidays

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[I imagine the police must view this as a pretty choice assignment! Maybe we can sell this to Harper as a method for cracking down on Aboriginals and environmentalists? *RON*]
Chinese dissidents forcibly sent on luxury package holidays to remote islands - with armed guards - during sensitive political events By AFP, 26 Jun 2014

As top Communist leaders gathered in Beijing, veteran Chinese political activist He Depu was obliged to leave town – for an all-expenses-paid holiday to the tropical island of Hainan, complete with police escorts.

It is an unusual method of muzzling dissent, but Mr He is one of dozens of campaigners who rights groups say have been forced on vacation – sometimes featuring luxurious hotels beside sun-drenched beaches, trips to tourist sites and lavish dinners – courtesy of the authorities.

It happens so often that dissidents have coined a phrase for it: “being travelled”.

Mr He, 57, had not been charged with any crime, but offic…

Supreme Court Ruling Grants Land Title To B.C. First Nation

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[This is a landmark decision. The Province and the Feds had both been arguing that Aboriginal title should be restricted to small sites that were intensely used (e.g., a particular fishing spot, a salt lick), but not include any of the surrounding territory. First Nations had been arguing that they used and defended all the territory in between these spots and that any other definition would be a mockery of the whole concept of title - and they have been proved right by the Supreme Court. This will make it far more difficult for government to force resource development projects on First Nations - it remains to be seen how it works out in all its details, but this will undoubtedly create a major barrier for Harper and Company. See also Landmark Supreme Court ruling grants land title to B.C. First Nation ("the most important aboriginal rights case in the country’s history")Council intervenes in Supreme Court case that could derail Nort…