Showing posts from July, 2014

Report: CIA Officers Read Senate Emails

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[Who's in charge of the hen house? Despicable and frightening in a democratic state. Feinstein finally has he smoking gun. *RON*]


WASHINGTON (AP) -- CIA officers improperly accessed Senate computers, read the emails of Senate staff, and exhibited a "lack of candor" when interviewed by agency investigators, according to a declassified CIA inspector general's report.

The document, released Thursday by the CIA, is a summary of an internal CIA investigation that prompted CIA Director John Brennan to abandon his defiant posture in the matter and apologize to Senate Intelligence Committee leaders.

Brennan has convened an internal accountability board chaired by former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., that will examine whether the CIA officers should be disciplined, said his spokesman, Dean Boyd.

The agency officers searched Senate computers without permission for information gathered in th…

McDonald’s Already Knows How to Manage Its Franchisee Labor Practices

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[This ignores the possibility that MacDonalds steers as far away from this issue as possible because it is well aware of the fact that employee abuse is built into the business model. See also: Fast-Food Workers Just Took McDonald’s Down a Notch. *RON*]

by Christine Bader, Harvard Business Review Blogs, July 31, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board ruling on Tuesday that McDonald’s could be held responsible for labor conditions in its franchisees’ operations has business groups and lawyers crying foul. McDonald’s says it will appeal, contesting the determination that it exercises “significant control” over the practices of its franchisees.

But McDonald’s is already going through great lengths to ensure good working conditions in the other direction in its value chain. It should do the same for franchisees.

Its sustainable supply chain program employs staff around the world to strengthen sustainability and working conditions in the operations …

Study shows link between B.C. extraction industries, domestic abuse

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[Nothing surprising here. Rising rates of crime in general, but especially drug sales and use, alcohol fuelled violence, and prostitution all correlate with the boom-town phenomenon. But are these being counted as part of the Province's LNG cost-benefit analysis or Harper's analysis of the public good concerning tar sand development? *RON*]

Andrea Woo, Globe & Mail, Jul. 24 2014

An increase in domestic and sexual violence against women is among the troubling social impacts of resource extraction industries, according to a B.C. victims’ services association behind a new $40,000 initiative aimed at drawing awareness to the issue.

Tracy Porteous, executive director of the Ending Violence Association of B.C. (EVA BC), pointed to recent Canadian and international research showing that factors such as a largely transient and male work force, increases in drug and other substance use and income disparity between sexes associated with such i…

Site C dam a threat to $8.6 billion in ecological values in B.C.: report

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[Site C is seen as "necessary" because of anticipated massive increases in the need for electricity once the government's hoped-for fracking projects are up and running. BC Hydro is also stymied in being able to provide alternative forms of energy by policies of the Liberal government that explicitly prevent them from doing so. *RON*]
By Vivian Luk, The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 07/30/2014

VANCOUVER - Major development projects such as the Site C dam in British Columbia's Peace River watershed could threaten up to $8.6 billion in ecological values, suggests a report commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Faisal Moola, a chief scientist with the environmental group, said the 56,000-square kilometre watershed is a "Fort Knox" of ecological wealth, with ecosystems providing benefits including clean air, clean water, carbon storage and flood and erosion control.

BC Hydro is proposing an $8-billion hydroelectric d…

West Vancouver city council passes unanimous motion to ban LNG tankers in Howe Sound

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[Resistance continues to pile up. "We have good reason to be concerned - this is a volatile, dangerous cargo," Councillor Bill Soprovich said. *RON*]

Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, Jul 30th, 2014

West Vancouver council has passed a unanimous motion to ban tankers carrying liquified natural gas out of Howe Sound.

The motion takes aim at Woodfibre LNG, a $1.7 billion LNG facility in Squamish that would ship 40 LNG tankers to Asia every year. It was passed on July 21, after Council heard from a delegation about the potential environmental impact of a large LNG plant on Howe Sound.

"We have good reason to be concerned - this is a volatile, dangerous cargo...We should pull all stops out to prevent this (plant) from being placed at Woodfibre," councillor Bill Soprovich said, to loud applause.

The motion called on federal government to ban the passage of LNG tankers in the waters of Howe Sound.
Opposition to LNG project sparks calls…

Steven Blaney's Statement On Gun Ownership 'Right' Full Of Baloney

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[I enjoy reading Terry Pedwell's (well researched) "Baloney Meter" pieces; this is the first one I've seen that comes out saying that what a Minister says is full-out baloney! :-) Good! - Canada is not the United States, we don't want to carry automatic weapons over our shoulders into fast food restaurants. *RON*]
By Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 07/31/2014

OTTAWA - "To possess a firearm is a right, and it's a right that comes with responsibilities." — Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney at a news conference in Powassan, Ont., while announcing planned changes to Canada's gun laws, July 23, 2014.

The Canadian Press has examined Blaney's statement and put it to its baloney meter test — a dispassionate examination of political statements that culminates in a ranking of accuracy.

Spoiler: On a scale from "no baloney" to "full of baloney," the claim would appear, from…

Charities and the limits of political action under the Harper government

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[Compares Harper's heavy-handed, vindictive political application of the tax system to approaches that are used in the UK and Australia where, for example, the courts have established that "promoting public debate on political issues is, by definition, in the public benefit, and therefore charitable." *RON*]

BY Pro BonoBrian Iler,, 31 July 2014

Environmental Defence. PEN Canada. Amnesty International Canada. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Canada Without Poverty. The David Suzuki Foundation.

What do these organizations have in common -- aside from all doing great work?

All are registered charities.

All have been publicly critical of Stephen Harper's government.

And all are undergoing audits of their political activities by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

What's this about? Here's what you need to know.

When organizations seek charitable registration from government in order to entice donors who would l…

Free-traders panic over German challenge to investor-state dispute-settlement

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[A good piece on the ins-and-outs of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms in so-called free-trade agreements - or, corporatocracy by another name. *RON*]
By Jim Stafford,, 31 July 2014

In my many years documenting and critiquing the overblown claims of free trade proponents about the supposedly self-regulating, efficiency-promoting, mutually benefiting effects of globalization, I've encountered some real doozies. (My PhD dissertation consisted of a critique of the theoretical and empirical basis of neoclassical CGE trade models, and the construction of quantitative models based on alternative theoretical foundations; I've never been able to lock up that nerdy side of my personality ever since!) The more troubled the global economy becomes, despite (or because of) decades of free trade medicine, the more rose-coloured are the predictions of the gains expected from the next free trade deal. The promised gains from t…

Could BC Become a 100% Renewable Energy Region? Part 2

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[Good-to-know information about the feasibility of sustainable energy in BC. Part 1 was here. *RON*]
By Guy Dauncey, BC Sustainable Energy Association Blog on July 25, 2014

Last week I started to explore the possibility that British Columbia could become a 100% renewable energy region, as 140 regions in Germany are planning to become.
This week, we look at transportation. Is it possible that we could get where we want to be and ship our goods where they need to go without any use of fossil fuels?

Helsinki, capital of Finland, is taking a big step in this direction, with its goal that by 2025, nobody will need to own a car in the city at all, thanks to an advanced integrated ‘mobility on demand’ network of shared bikes, transit, LRT, and computer-automatedKutsuplus minibuses that adapt their routes to take you wherever you want to go.

The cars, trucks, ferries and planes that we use to go about our daily lives are 38% of the cause of global warming i…

LNG backers worry B.C. could see similar cost spikes as Australia

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[An older piece I just ran across, on a topic I haven't seen mentioned much locally. Australia's experience with a boom in liquid natural gas has been that it has contributed mightily to inflation for the general population. *RON*]
Jeff Lewis, Financial Post, 22 May 2014

VANCOUVER — A pint of beer that cost A$5 in Perth, Australia, in 2004 this year cost A$11. The reason: A decade-long boom that is poised to make Australia the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

The chief executive of Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. said the state-run energy giant will not proceed with a planned liquefied natural gas export terminal proposed for Canada’s West Coast at all costs, even as the company eyes a potential final investment decision on the plant by year-end.

It’s a small sign of what could happen in British Columbia, where major energy companies are jockeying to export natural gas in hopes of supplying higher-priced markets in As…

Temporary foreign worker restrictions will hurt B.C.’s LNG development, minister warns

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[The point, in case you thought you or your children were going to get a job out of these projects, is this: "B.C. is counting on temporary foreign workers to help fill as many as 100,000 jobs if LNG projects materialize as planned." *RON*]
Jeff Lewis, Financial Post, 25 June 2014
CALGARY — British Columbia’s minister of natural gas urged the federal government to keep the doors open on temporary foreign workers as the province looks to head off a skill shortage tied to development of a liquefied natural gas industry.

A shortage of skilled workers will be one of Canada’s greatest future economic challenges, Employment Minister Jason Kenney told a skills summit Wednesday.

The conference held in Toronto brought together stakeholders to discuss the labour market, employee training and those under-represented in the labour force.

“It’s critical, quite frankly, to the Canadian economy,” Rich Coleman said Wednesday in Calgary. “We can’t be like …

Ten reasons not to bet the farm on fracking

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[A good summary! Also, links to useful facts. *RON*]
Bob Landell, Vancouver Observer, 27 July 2014

We’re told that LNG is needed to keep growth and progress alive. The planned development of LNG would lock BC into fifty more years of increased fossil fuel production. Although the LNG story is attracting votes from believers, some see this as the future of fracking:

First Nations: June’s Supreme Court ruling giving Aboriginals more control over pipeline and resource developments may add another layer of complexity to the proposed LNG pipelines and is likely to delay or kill projects - particularly as the projected impact of the industry becomes clearer.

Flawed Policies: our current BC government has added a loophole to the package of science-based climate policies adopted by the previous Liberal government. To benefit LNG proponents, they have exempted LNG plants from the Clean Energy Act - the plants are now free to burn huge volumes of fracked gas…

Why Aren't Harper And Baird Angry About Dead Babies In Gaza?

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[See also An interview with Marci McDonald, author of The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. *RON*]
Mohamed Omar, Huffington Post Canada, 29 July 2014

Should the government of Canada denounce the intentional and accidental slaughter of babies and other civilians caught in the crossfire between two military forces?

It's a question as redundant as "does Red Lobster serve Lobster?"

Yes. Of course the government, or any other organization run by rational and peace-loving people, should condemn such violence. The killing of civilians has always and will always be a reprehensible act.

And yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird remain silent on the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza.

It's baffling, since a quick peek at Baird's Twitter timeline or a gander at his foreign affairs press releases will reveal that he regularly condemns a lot of things: church attacks in Niger…

National Defence Looking For System To Protect VIPs From Heat-Seeking Missiles

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[At a cost of around $3 million per airplane, systems like the Israeli C-MUSIC are generally thought to be quite ineffective. After all, military aircraft have far more sophisticated systems and are routinely shot down by so-called MANPADs - Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems. I had to create a new label for this story, "austerity-not." *RON*]
By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 29 July 2014

OTTAWA - The Canadian military is looking for an air defense system to protect its VIP aircraft, including the one used by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, from surface-to-air missiles.

And one of Israel's top defence contractors, Elbit Systems Ltd., has been working behind-the-scenes for months to get in on the anticipated project. The downing of Malaysian Airlines jet MH-17 may have given defence officials more urgency.

The program is meant to deliver a system that will "defeat modern, man-portable infrared missiles,&quo…

UN human rights body slams Canada's immigration detention system

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[The Canadian government has an official policy of indefinite detention for people undergoing investigation for possible immigration violations; a policy that directly contradicts anybody's concept of fundamental justice. Do you think Mister Harper will be swayed by the opinions of the United Nations Human Rights Commission? *RON*] 
By Miriam Katawazi,, 28 July 2014

Canada's immigration detention system is under fire after a United Nations human rights monitoring body released its first opinion stating "detention should be the last resort and permissible only for the shortest period of time."

This opinion was in response to demands that Canada immediately free Michael Mvogo, a man who has been imprisoned in Ontario for eight years because of immigration violations. The Toronto Star reports that officials cannot determine who Mvogo is, where he comes from or how to deport him.

The UN stated in their opinion that Canada&#…

Small foreign-aid charity struggles with onerous CRA demands after audit

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[Using government resources for such patently political, ideological pursuits should be illegal. It is pure vindictive heartlessness, but this Harper has $13 million for. Imagine what would happen if Harper tried imposing something like this on a bank - not that he ever would; they are his "base". *RON*]
By Dean Beeby, The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 30 July 2014

OTTAWA - A small Vancouver charity that helps the poor in Latin America has survived an audit of its political activities but is now struggling with fresh demands from the Canada Revenue Agency.

CoDevelopment Canada Association — known as CoDev — faces the crippling prospect of translating every scrap of paper it receives from 17 partners in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and elsewhere from Spanish into either English or French.

The demand, set out in a January compliance letter from the CRA, will start to bite this fall as the tiny four-person shop begins to receive banker…

Goldman mortgage deal with federal agency could reach $1.25 billion: source

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[Goldman Sachs has, of course, been fighting this bitterly. As noted, the government has recovered a grand total of $16.1 billion in "settlements" with banks. It has been estimated that a true accounting of the size of the bank bail-out is in the range of $12.2 trillion to $29 trillion. *RON*]

By Lauren Tara Lacapra, Reuters, New York, 26 July 2014

(Reuters) - A deal to resolve a U.S. regulator's claims against Goldman Sachs Group Inc over mortgage-backed securities sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac leading up to the financial crisis could cost the bank between $800 million and $1.25 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person said Goldman Sachs is discussing a settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which filed 18 lawsuits against Goldman and other banks in 2011 over about $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities that later went sour.

Goldman Sachs and the FHFA declined to comment on S…

Ireland preparing to lift austerity measures

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[Both the IMF and the EC still demand that Ireland continue to make cuts, but the economy is in fact doing well and there has been tremendous push-back from the electorate for an easing-up on austerity measures. Ahead of elections, "it is recognised that there is a political imperative not to impose as much austerity." *RON*]
, The Western Australian, 30 July 2014

Dublin (AFP) - Ireland is moving closer to a switch away from deep austerity measures as it prepares for a key budget -- the first since the eurozone nation emerged from a massive international bailout.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is predicting the Irish economy to do better than expected this year, meaning fewer cutbacks to state spending and a reduction in tax rises.

The government had forecast in April that a two-billion-euro ($2.69 billion) adjustment was required in October's budget, to reach a deficit target of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2…

Poor doors: the segregation of London's inner-city flat dwellers

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[Astounding. Developers were forced to include a certain number of affordable housing units in their projects. So they created a separate entrance in the alleyway for poor people to enter by. "Even bicycle storage spaces, rubbish disposal facilities and postal deliveries are being separated." A flashback to the Bad Old Days: 


Hilary OsborneThe Guardian, 25 July 2014
Multimillion pound housing developments in London are segregating less well-off tenants from wealthy homebuyers by forcing them to use separate entrances.

A Guardian investigation has discovered a growing trend in the capital's upmarket apartment blocks – which are required to include affordable homes in order to win planning permission – for the poorer residents to be forced to use alternative access, a phenomenon being dubbed "poor doors". Even bicycle storage spaces, rubbish disposal facilities and postal deliveries are being separated.

Enbridge falls short of pledge

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[Via my friend Jim; this speaks powerfully to the credibility of Enbridge testimony to the NEB concerning the world class protections built into the Northern Gateway proposal. "It was observed multiple construction mitigation measures committed to by Enbridge in its Environmental Protection Plan (EPP) to conserve topsoil, control erosion and manage drainage were not implemented," said the inspection report posted on the NEB website. *RON*]

By Stephen Ewart, Calgary Herald, 26 July 2014
Enbridge's commitment to safety and environmental protection is looking a little shaky after the National Energy Board stopped work along a crude oil pipeline in Manitoba following an inspection that turned up "numerous non-compliances" around maintenance.

The NEB's concerns are with the land around Line 3 near Cromer, Man., not the actual pipe or the $7.5-billion project to replace the half-century-old pipeline.

To be clear, no oil spille…

Demonstrators vow to "Up the Noise" to protect Howe Sound from LNG development

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[The Future of Howe Sound Society held a rally Sunday to to raise awareness about the proposed industrial developments along the Sea to Sky corridor including the possibility of an LNG facility at Woodfibre. *RON*]
Joshua Hergesheimer, Vancouver Observer, Jul 28th, 2014

The Future of Howe Sound Society drew boaters and water enthusiasts Sunday to the Thornborough Channel on the north end of Gambier Island for a rally to raise awareness about the proposed developments along the Sea to Sky corridor, including timber harvesting, a waste-to-energy plant, a gravel crushing facility and an LNG loading terminal.

Speakers told attendees that these types of industries are not a good fit for the Howe Sound, an area treasured for its natural beauty. They said that BC and Canada have invested tens of millions of dollars into attracting tourists to the region through the Squamish Visitors Centre, the new gondola near the Chief and the upgrades made to the hi…

TransCanada pipeline contractors 'evicted' again in BC's north

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["Your equipment will be confiscated if you try to return," said a masked protester to contractors doing prep work for pipelines to proposed LNG terminals. *RON*]

Mychaylo Prystupa and Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, Jul 25th, 2014

An online video shows Wet’suwet’en protesters from the Unist'ot'en Camp peacefully evicting several TransCanada contract pipeline workers from their traditional Aboriginal territory on Tuesday. The region is where First Nations have been intensifying "direct actions" against several multi-billion-dollar pipelines for oil and LNG export for months now.

"Your equipment will be confiscated if you try to return," said an unidentified masked man, as he approached a company helicopter.

"You know TransCanada is not allowed on the territory, right?" he also asked other crews on patrol.

BC and China sign MOU to allow foreign workers to expand LNG industry

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[The Chinese would do the entire project by themselves if they could get away with it, so it will be interesting to see how the debate unfolds over the interpretation of the phrase "wherever possible." See also More trades training in B.C. will mean jobs for proposed LNG industry: ministers. Take note: 272 new training seats with no guarantees of actual apprenticeships for a projected 100,000 jobs in LNG alone. *RON*]
Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, Jul 28th, 2014

B.C. and China have signed a memorandum of understanding that will bring foreign workers, if needed, to help build the province's growing LNG industry.

The agreement reads:
"The Participants will, in accordance with their respective applicable laws and regulations, and respecting the priority of hiring domestic labour whenever possible, work together with the appropriate authorities to secure and facilitate the entry of foreign workers." The 16 proposed LNG p…

Money Talks: Learning the language of finance.

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[A good article on the importance of teaching yourself some of the basics of economics and finance. Ignorance is a form of consent. *RON*]

By John Lanchester, The New Yorker, August 04, 2014 issue

The most important mystery of ancient Egypt concerned the annual inundation of the Nile floodplain. The calendar was divided into three seasons linked to the river and the agricultural cycle it determined: akhet, or the inundation; peret, the growing season; and shemu, the harvest. The size of the harvest depended on the size of the flood: too little water, and there would be famine; too much, and there would be catastrophe; just the right amount, and the whole country would bloom and prosper. Every detail of Egyptian life was shaped by the flood. Even the tax system was based on the level of the water, which dictated how successful farmers would be in the subsequent season. Priests performed complicated rituals to divine the nature of that year’s flood…

Corporate Profit Margins Are Getting Ever Fatter

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[Corporate profits continue to grow at record rates while costs are cut to the bone. As I've said before, virtually free money allows companies to borrow freely, buy back their own stocks, thus raising the stock values and CEO bonuses, while not investing back into capital expenditures or job creation. The mythical free lunch, which isn't supposed to exist. *RON*]
Sam Ro, Business Insider, 28 July 2014
Profit margins are still getting wider.

"With earnings growth (6.7%) rising at a faster rate than revenue growth (3.1%) in Q2 and in future quarters, companies have continued to discuss cost-cutting initiatives to maintain earnings growth rates and profit margins," said FactSet's John Butters on Friday.

This comes at a time when profit margins are already at historic highs.

Ever since the financial crisis, sales growth has been weak. However, corporations have been able to deliver robust earnings growth by fattening profit margi…

Wishful Thinking About Natural Gas: Why Fossil Fuels Can’t Solve the Problems Created by Fossil Fuels

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[Describes some of the key ways in which natural gas is being spun as a "clean" fuel and debunks them. *RON*]
Posted Naked Capitalism on July 28, 2014 by Yves Smith

Yves here. We’ve featured a series of post by Gaius Publius (see here, and here) on why Obama’s climate change plan is a huge headfake, since it fails to induce the methane emitted during the fracking of natural gas. Naomi Oreskes, a professor at Harvard who has previously posted at Naked Capitalism on fossil fuel divestment campaigns, raises more doubts about the “clean” natural gas party line.

By Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at Harvard University, and co-author, with Erik Conway, of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. She is also a co-author of Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction published by the Council of Canadian Academies in 2014. Her new book with Erik Conway is Th…

Woman Sentenced to Prison for Photographing a War Protest

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[This is not happening in North Korea; it's in Syracuse, New York. ‘We are losing a generation because of drones’ says activist Mary Anne Grady Flores. *RON*]
By Alyssa FigueroaAlterNet,

Warplanes have long been based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY. But in 2009, something new arrived: MQ-9 Reaper drones that were flown remotely over Afghanistan, dropping missiles and bombs and unleashing terror.

Organizers in Upstate New York started protests soon after the drones arrived and foundedUpstate Drone Action in 2010. In 2011, one longtime activist and member of the Catholic Worker movement, Mary Anne Grady Flores, 57, joined the struggle. As part of the “Hancock 38” in April that year, she was arrested for protesting at the base’s main entrance by participating in a die-in to illustrate the indiscriminate killing of civilians overseas by drones.

She was arrested again in October 2012 for another act of “civil resistance,” …

On International Issues, Harper Commits Selective Morality

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[At times with Harper, as was also true of George W. Bush, it is impossible to tell the extent to which he truly means many of the things he says or whether much of what he says is simply performance art for his voter base. *RON*]

Murtaza Haider, Huffington Post, 27 July 2014

If Russia were to follow the American lead, it should decorate the officer who shot down the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17.

Grotesque as it may sound, but this is exactly what the U.S. did. On July 3, 1988, Captain William C. Rogers III, the commanding officer of USS Vincennes, shot down an Iranian Airbus over the Iranian airspace, killing all onboard. On his return to the US, Captain Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service, which included the unprovoked murder of 290 civilians and crew onboard Iran Air Flight 655.

In a Globe and Mail op-ed this Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has articulated a strong stance against Russia citing the attack on…

What the Fraser Institute's Numbers Actually Show, Minus the Spin: Alberta has a Revenue Problem, Not a Spending Problem

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["...there’s something almost admirable about the sheer chutzpah of it. As the figures cited in the fine print by the Fraser Institute clearly show, our government spending is too low, not too high. In other words, as a few voices in the wilderness have been crying out for several years now, when it comes to the Deadly D-word – Deficit – Alberta has a revenue problem, not a spending problem." *RON*]

by David Climenhaga, 28 July 2014

If the Fraser Institute told the whole truth, or if the mainstream media did its job, here’s the what the first sentence of the Edmonton Journal’s story about the institute’s most recent “report” could have said:
“Alberta’s finances are in better shape than other energy-producing provinces and states, says a report released Thursday by the Fraser Institute…”

Instead, the Journal, having been led successfully down the garden path by the Fraser Institute’s undeniably skillful press-release writers, stated the…

Here's Why Wall Street Reform Is Still in Limbo

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[GOP sabotage and bureaucratic foot-dragging have combined to prevent full implementation of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. *RON*]

By Patrick Caldwell, Mother Jones, Jul. 21, 2014
Four years ago today, with a who's who of congressional Democrats standing over his shoulder, President Barack Obama signed into law the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, hailing it as the answer to preventing future financial meltdowns. "For years," the president said at the signing ceremony, "our financial sector was governed by antiquated and poorly enforced rules that allowed some to game the system and take risks that endangered the entire economy."

But, years later, much of Dodd-Frank has not been implemented and the risks to the economy remain. According to law firm Davis Polk, which has been tracking the law, just 52 percent of the rules mandated by Dodd-Frank have been finalized by federal regulators. Another 23 percent…

New Mexico Residents Fighting Back Against Kinder Morgan CO2 Pipeline With Their Own Health Impact Assessment

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[A good illustration of how Kinder Morgan deals with community resistance. *RON*]
 Mike G, DeSmogBlog, 27 July 2014

Not many locals even knew the Bureau of Land Management was holding a scoping meeting in Mountainair, New Mexico last December for the proposed Lobos CO2 Pipeline that would run through their community.

When the people of Mountainair did find out about what was proposed that day, many had concerns. BLM officials had laid out the route preferred by Kinder Morgan, which aims to build the 213-mile-long pipeline to get CO2 from Apache County, Arizona to Torrance County, New Mexico. From there, the Lobos CO2 pipeline would connect with the Cortez pipeline to deliver CO2 to oil wells in Texas. The route crosses tribal, private, state, and federal lands.

That’s when the locals started organizing themselves under the name Resistiendo: Resist the Lobos CO2 Pipeline. They networked with other concerned folks in the region, they packed a public i…

Residential School Survivors Reporting Hearing Loss, Broken Bones, Respiratory Illnesses

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[Cases involving losing hearing from being hit on the side of the head; broken bones from being pushed down stairs... *RON*]

By Chinta Puxley, CP / Huffington Post, 07/27/2014

WINNIPEG - The vast majority of claims filed by Indian residential school survivors seeking extra compensation for medical injuries are for hearing loss, respiratory illnesses and broken bones.

The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat — an independent body which helps resolve long-standing claims that address specific abuse of survivors — says just over 1,000 medical assessments completed so far focus primarily on ear, nose and throat ailments, as well as broken bones.

A request for proposals put out by the secretariat says 60 per cent of the assessments involve the ears, nose and throat, while 21 per cent involve orthopedics. Secretariat spokesman Michael Tansey confirmed the figures, but said no one could comment further on the nature of the claims.

Marie Wilso…

Feminist Therese Casgrain disappears from public history under Harper government

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[Years ago Harper said "You won't recognize this country when I get through with it." As far as this goes, he's a man of his word. Although, in fact, if you look closely you will recognize it - it's Canada circa 1890. *RON*]

By Dean Beeby, CP / Huffington Post, 07/27/2014

OTTAWA - The Harper government has spent millions to commemorate the War of 1812 and other episodes from Canadian history, but has also erased at least one inspiring piece of the past.

Therese Casgrain, a feminist icon and Quebec heroine who died in 1981, has been quietly removed from a national honour, to be replaced by a volunteer award bearing the prime minister's banner.

The Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award, was started in 1982 by the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau.

It honoured Canadian activists such as June Callwood until it was eliminated — unannounced —by the Harper government in 2010.

An image of Casgrain and her namesake volunteer-award medal…

How All of Us Are Paying a Heavy Price for Corporate Greed

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[The business model of internalizing profits and dumping their labor costs on society is unhealthy for the economy. *RON*]
By The Thom Hartmann ShowAlterNet, 23 July 2014

There’s a new epidemic spreading across America.

It’s an epidemic of corporations turning to a business model that helps them get the maximum amount of indirect support from the federal government - by having We the People - the taxpayers - subsidize their workforces.

Basically – they get rich – while the rest of us pay.

On October 1st – United Airlines – the third largest airline in North America – is reported to be planing to outsource 630 of its gate agent jobs at 12 airports to private companies.

The move by United will affect airports in Salt Lake City – Charlotte – Pensacola - Detroit and Des Moines.

It will mean that hundreds of unionized United employees who were making up to $50,000 per year and who were able to live comfortable, middle-class lives - will be forced to find…

Debunking the Bogeyman: Neoliberalism, austerity and economic agenda

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[On the unelected rulers of our democratic nations' economies. *RON*]
By Joyce Nelson,, 24 July 2014

In August 2011, the U.K.'s The Independent stated that the head of sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor's (S&P) "might be the most powerful man in the world that you've never heard of." S&P had just cut the triple-A credit rating of the U.S. down to AA+, a move that "changed the financial world."

The writer noted that "...there is a direct line from S&P's rulings to the cuts that governments around the world are imposing on their citizens. You might not have heard of him [David T. Beers, now no longer with S&P], but Treasury officials and finance minister all over the world certainly have, and they fear S&P's judgement."

The link between austerity budgets being imposed across Europe and the sovereign ratings given by the Big Three credit ratings agencies (CRAs) …