Showing posts from March 26, 2014

The Republican Street Fight Over Transparency in Government

Click here to view the original article.

[Recommended by my friend Harry. *RON*]

Lawrence Lessig, The Daily Beast, 03.26.14

Several in the GOP want to stop a request for scientists to disclose financial conflicts in their research. What good reason could they possibly have?

A growing rift in the Republican Party about transparency has deepened within the Senate, with 16 Republicans now scolding a federal agency for the outrage of requesting that scientists submitting studies in a rule-making procedure identify any financial conflicts of interest. But to see just how crazy this scolding is, we need some background.

Canada's Telecoms Have Built Databases For Police Spying

Click here to view the original article.
["The law as it stands allows telecoms to hand over voluntarily the personal information of subscribers without a warrant (and without notifying the subscriber) when there is a law enforcement investigation. But if the Harper government has its way, it will soon be even easier for telecoms to do so." *RON*]

The Huffington Post Canada, 03/26/2014

Canada’s telecoms appear to be building databases of subscriber information that law enforcement agencies can access without a warrant, according to documents released under access to information laws.

The news comes as Parliament once again gears up to debate the merits of giving police greater access to telecom subscriber data.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) accessed telecom subscriber data 18,849 times in a one-year period, from April 2012 to March 2013, according to documents provided to NDP MP Charmaine Borg.

Walmart Admits: 'Our Profits' Depend on 'Their Poverty'

Click here to view the original article.
[Walmart publicly admits for the first time that its business model depends on welfare programs being available for its employees. At the same time, a new report shows that poverty rates increase in areas where Walmart opens stores. *RON*
By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams staff writer, March 26, 2014

Critics cite irony of annual report filing: 'This is a company that everywhere it goes it creates poverty'

In their annual report, filed with the Security and Exchange Commission last week, the retail giant lists factors that could potentially harm future profitability. Listed among items such as "economic conditions" and "consumer confidence," the company writes that changes in taxpayer-funded public assistance programs are also a major threat to their bottom line.

Local Government Elections Reform

See the government information page here.

[This has been announced in the news, but I haven't seen any analysis yet. I look a quick look at the legislation. It provides some transparency for campaign donations including advertising sponsorship (a good thing) but I don't see anything about limits on donations (not such a good thing). There is some level of enforcement through Elections BC and the BC Chief Electoral Officer (see Section 7 of Bill 20). I've emailed Elections BC to ask them what the comparable status of these issues is for Provincial elections. *RON*]

The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is working to implement the recommendations of the joint Provincial and Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Local Government Elections Task Force. Local government elections rules apply to municipalities, regional districts, parks boards, the Islands Trust and boards of education.

The Local Government Elections Task Force process involved extensive stakeholder…

Health Canada pushed to force pesticide makers to release bee-death studies

Click here to view the original article.

[Health Canada must be asking for these reports very forcefully (and they are not winking and smirking while they ask) - they've requested them for ten years now. *RON*]

By The Canadian Press on Huff Post, 03/26/2014

OTTAWA - Four major environmental groups are demanding that Ottawa force pesticide makers to provide scientific studies looking at whether their products are killing off bees.

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency has been asking registered pesticide manufacturers for the studies since 2004.

But despite several notices, the studies haven't been produced, while the pesticides in question continue to be manufactured and sold.

Beekeepers, meanwhile, are growing ever more alarmed as their bees continue to die off.

Exclusive: Climate Change Philosopher A Target Of Abusive Hate Campaign

Click here to view the original article.
[Here is Torcello's article so you can be one of the few who has actually read it. Our vehement political polarization is going to kill us. A perfect illustration of why the moderation of public discourse called for by Jonathan Haidt is crucial today. *RON*]

 Graham Readfearn, DeSmogBlog, March 25, 2014.

“DIE you maggot,” reads one of the hundreds of emails from climate science deniers that have dropped into philosopher Lawrence Torcello’s inbox in recent days.

“Fortunately, your kind will be marched to the wall with all the other leftist detritus,” says another.

Others accuse Torcello, an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Department of Philosophy in the west of New York State, of being a fascist, Stalinist and a Nazi.

The catalyst for the bilious outpouring was an article Torcello had written for The Conversation website arguing there was “good reason to consider” that “the funding of climate denial” was morally and …

WHO: Air pollution caused one in eight deaths

Click here to view the original article.
[Filthy air kills more people than AIDS or diabetes40 percent of the 7 million people killed by air pollution globally in 2012 lived in the region dominated by China. *RON*]

By Arshiya Khullar, for CNN, Tue March 25, 2014

WHO describes air pollution as single largest environmental health riskAsian countries hardest hit by outdoor and indoor air pollutionMajority of 7 million deaths linked with pollution are heart disease, stroke, lung diseases (CNN) -- An estimated 7 million people died due to air pollution globally in 2012, with more than half of the deaths linked to indoor smoke from cook stoves, according to a report by the World Health Organization.

Air pollution is now the "single largest environmental health risk," the U.N. health agency stated in the report. The majority of the deaths associated with air pollution were heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

Groups decry 'meaningless' consultation in Canada-Colombia FTA human rights impact assessment process

Click here to view the original article.
[Harper's Canada -- land of the blood-soaked Almighty Buck. One trade union leader was assassinated every two weeks in 2013 in Columbia. There continue to be "attacks and assassinations of Indigenous people in areas of Colombia earmarked for resource extraction, including regions where Canadian companies are present." Harper's Canada -- Meaningless Consultations 'R' Us. And he's so happy about it. *RON*]
By Stuart Trew,, March 26, 2014

Human rights, development, and labour groups "have serious misgivings about the Canadian government's commitment to carry out a meaningful assessment of the human rights impact of its controversial free trade agreement with Colombia," says a press release from Amnesty International Canada and the Americas Policy Group at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation.

This is the third time the Conservative government has attempted to produce an impact asses…

Global Water Demand To Increase By 55 Per Cent By 2050: UN Report

Click here to view the original article.

[Maude Barlow's persistent warnings are becoming more of a reality by the day. Plainly, "the only way to achieve both water and energy security is to have a massive transition toward non-water intensive forms of energy and electricity production.'' *RON*]

By Edith M. Lederer, AP at Huffington Post, 03/25/2014

Increasing demands for fresh water and energy will strain resources in nearly all regions, especially in developing and emerging countries undergoing rapid economic growth, a U.N. report says.

Richard Connor, lead author of the report, told a news conference Tuesday that water and energy supplies are interdependent because water is required to produce nearly all types of energy.

He warned that growing competition for the resources could lead to legal disputes and social upheavals.