Showing posts from March 13, 2014

Enbridge applies to Ontario regulator for a major natural gas rate hike

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[Gosh I'm glad to see that the increased supply that is making us energy self-sufficient is causing big drops in prices, just like the oil and gas companies promised it would. Oh, sorry. Are we not supposed to remember that or mention that? *RON*]

Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 03/13/2014

OTTAWA - The exceptionally cold winter could get a lot more expensive for millions of people who heat with natural gas.

Households heating with propane and oil have already experienced a price shock.

Even those with price contracts have seen their bills go up because they've been using more energy.

But now, natural gas supplier Enbridge has applied to Ontario's regulator for a big rate increase and other suppliers are expected to follow suit.

If the hike is approved, Enbridge says the typical household will see their annual natural gas bill increase to nearly $1,400 from about $1,000.

Enbridge, which serves around two million customers in Ontario,…

Obama was right: To boost the economy, spread the wealth

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[The problem being - how many Republican and Conservative Party minds are going to be changed as the evidence continues to mount that their policies are not just misguided but positively harmful? *RON*]

Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, March 13, 2014
Two recent reports from the International Monetary Fund – one just out today – make a compelling case that not only is inequality bad for economic growth, but redistributive policies might also actually be good for it.

These reports are part of what Oxfam America’s Nick Galasso calls a new “evidence-based arsenal” of inequality research coming from the Fund that’s challenging conventional economic wisdom, which has long held that efforts to redistribute wealth undermine future growth.

The new studies are absolutely unequivocal on the issue: “Redistribution is overall pro-growth,” the authors write. “On average, across countries and over time, the things that governments have typically done to red…

Genetically modified salmon court case prompts federal government to publish vague notice of waiver for toxicity information

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[Harper's government dropped the requirement for a company that sells genetically modified salmon to prove that their product isn't pathogenic, toxic or invasive, and they refuse to say why they gave this waiver. It's a brilliantly typical Harperism; it turns out that, under current laws, this means that they cannot be sued for doing so because no one knows whether or not they had an acceptable reason for doing so. *RON*]
Staff Reporter, Vancouver Observer, Mar 13th, 2014

The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) and Living Oceans Society (LOS) spoke out today against the cloud of secrecy obscuring federal government approvals of genetically modified (GM) organisms in Canada – including what may be the world’s first GM food animal to hit supermarket shelves: AquAdvantage™ salmon, according to a press release sent to Vancouver Observer from Living Oceans.
Here's more from the press release:

In December of 2013, EAC and LOS brought a legal acti…

Researchers Confirm: When NSA Watches Your Metadata, It Is Watching You

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[Not surprising, perhaps, but an important confirmation nonetheless, and one the directly contradicts Obama's assurance that the NSA is not looking at content. *RON*]
Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams, March 13, 2014

Stanford researchers prove what civil liberties advocates have warned since NSA scandal broke

Stanford University researchers have confirmed what civil liberties advocates have warned since the NSA scandal broke: metadata surveillance is a window to highly sensitive personal information, including medical issues, financial history, and even marijuana cultivation.
Two Stanford graduate students proved this by doing the snooping themselves. Since November, they have surveyed the phone records of 546 volunteers and consulted Yelp and Google Places directories to determine how much sensitive personal information metadata can reveal. Participants installed a “MetaPhone” app on their Android phones to enable the surveillance.

"The degree …

The Paradox of Modern Individualism

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[Weiner argues that, while the state does often destroy individual liberty, an even greater danger lies in the rule of the clan. Clan-based societies have been found throughout the world, are generally highly resilient, successful at replicating themselves – and markedly illiberal. Individual freedom may need a strong central state after all, one that can provide the rule of law, enforce contracts, and suppress clan-based feuds and prejudices. Without the state, we may find ourselves regressing from an egalitarian society of contract to a hierarchical society of status. Liberals of all persuasions, including classical liberals, should beware this outcome. *RON*]
 By Mark S. Weiner, Cato Unbound, March 10, 2014

3 Comments[See the sneering responses by Libertarians... *RON*]

Many conservatives argue as a basic tenet of their political thought that individual liberty thrives when the state is limited and weak. “As government expands, liberty contracts,” expl…

Is pee-power really possible?

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["...if a one-cubic-metre box containing a microbial fuel cell system was installed in a village of 2,500 people – and all their urine was constantly funneled through that box – you could generate a constant current of around 500 watts." *RON*]
 Jonathan Kalan, BBC, March 12, 2014
Over one billion of the world’s population still lack access to basic electricity. Could tech that tries to generate power from urine be the answer?

Scientists have developed a way of charging mobile phones using urine.

Today, over seven billion people populate our planet, which means on average around 10.5 billion litres (2.8 billion gallons) of human urine is produced and wasted each day. It’s the equivalent of 4,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools, if anyone was counting. In fact, some scientists are – and if they have their way, our human waste will be wasted no more.

With around one-seventh of the population lacking access to basic electricity, and as our global supply …

Feinstein Versus the CIA: a Moment of Truth

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[The details of the CIA’s torture program may finally come to light. But what a disappointment Obama has turned out to be on so many fronts. See also Obama Continues to Shield Public from Bush's CIA Torture Mess.*RON*]

Robert Scheer, The Nation, March 12, 2014
This story originally appeared at Truthdig. Robert Scheer is the author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street (Nation Books).

It was a truly historic moment Tuesday when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor to warn that the CIA’s continuing cover-up of its torture program is threatening our constitutional division of power. By blatantly concealing what Feinstein condemned as “the horrible details of a CIA program that never, never, never should have existed,” the spy agency now acts as a power unto itself, and the agency’s outrages have finally aroused the senator’s umb…

Greek unemployment rises to 27.5 percent

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[That austerity program is still working well I see. *RON*]

Associated Press, Mar 13

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Official figures show the unemployment rate in Greece increased to 27.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 as the economy struggled to emerge from a protracted recession.

Thursday's figures from the statistics agency showed the jobless rate increasing from 27 percent in the third quarter of 2013 and from 26 percent in the same three months of 2012.

Greece, a country of about 10 million people, has 1.36 million people out of work, the figures showed. Young people are the most severely affected, with 57 percent of those aged 15-24 jobless.

Greece, which has been affected by a financial crisis since late 2009, depends on rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund and other European countries. In return, it has had to impose deep spending cuts and tax increases.

Quebec Election 2014: Marois Wants Independent Quebec To Keep Using Canadian Dollar

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[This is living in a fantasy world. In any case, if Marois would seek to apply the European model to Quebec-Canada relations she should visit Greece first! Greeks have virtually lost compete control over their banking system and fiscal policy in their own country. *RON*]

By Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press, 03/12/2014

MONTREAL - An independent Quebec would continue using the Canadian dollar and request a seat at the Bank of Canada, Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois said Wednesday as she campaigned ahead of next month's provincial election.

Marois highlighted the European model and said Canada would benefit from having a sovereign Quebec keep the loonie as well as ties to the central bank.