Showing posts from April 14, 2014

Does Torture Work?

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[Shockingly, "An average of 80% of states are alleged to have practiced torture in any given year between 1981 and 2010." The results (nota bene Mister Cheney): "First, torture has no identifiable systematic association with decreases in insurgent perpetrated killings. Second, torture is shown to be robustly associated with increased killings perpetrated by counterinsurgents." *RON*]

Guest post by Christopher Sullivan, Political Violence at a Glance, April 14, 2014

More precisely, does committing torture enable state forces to limit subsequent acts of violence? Over the course of the past few decades, political practitioners and scholars alike have debated the merits of using torture as a tool to combat the international and domestic threats of terrorism and insurgency. Concerns over the morality and potential effects of torture have emerged again recently in response to the revelation of new material on CIA torture practices

Triumph of the Drill

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[Excellent overview of corporate welfare in the oil and gas industry. *RON*]

Andy Kroll, Mother Jones, 14 April 2014

 Over the past century, the federal government has pumped more than $470 billion into the oil and gas industry in the form of generous, never-expiring tax breaks. Once intended to jump-start struggling domestic drillers, these incentives have become a tidy bonus for some of the world's most profitable companies.

Taxpayers currently subsidize the oil industry by as much as $4.8 billion a year, with about half of that going to the big five oil companies—ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips—which get an average tax break of $3.34 on every barrel of domestic crude they produce. With Washington looking under the couch cushions for sources of new revenue, oil prices topping $100 a barrel, and the world feeling the heat from its dependence on fossil fuels, there's been a renewed push to close these decades-old loophole…

World must end 'dirty' fuel use - UN

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["There must be a massive shift to renewable energy.... About half of all the carbon that humans have pumped into the atmosphere since 1750 has been emitted in the last 40 years. Rates have been rising fast since 2000, despite the global economic crash." *RON*]

By Matt McGrath, BBC News, Berlin, 13 April 2014

A long-awaited UN report on how to curb climate change says the world must rapidly move away from carbon-intensive fuels.

There must be a "massive shift" to renewable energy, says the study released in Berlin.

It has been finalised after a week of negotiations between scientists and government officials.

Natural gas is seen as a key bridge to move energy production away from oil and coal.

But there have been battles between participants over who will pay for this energy transition.

The report is the work of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up to provide a clear scientific view o…

Top US companies are deeper in debt even as cash piles grow

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[You've got to love the coinage "synthetic cash repatriation" = "covering up tax evasion by borrowing money for cheap." *RON*]

By Ed Crooks in New York, Financial Times, April 14, 2014

The biggest US companies have added significantly to their debts over the past three years, at the same time as corporate cash piles have increased, according to Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency.

The figures show how US companies have been able to raise money to pay for capital investment, dividends and share buybacks, even when they have not been spending their cash holdings.

Harper government pressured to reject Northern Gateway after Kitimat defeat

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[Stephen Harper gets a chance to show the public who he works for. Canada's new Natural Resources Minister must decide before mid-June if the Northern Gateway project goes forward. See also Northern Gateway B.C. Vote Should Be Next*RON*]

Mychaylo Prystupa, Vancouver Observer, Apr 13th, 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his new Natural Resources Minister, Greg Rickford, are facing growing calls to reject the Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline, after the project was defeated in a critical Kitimat plebiscite vote Saturday.

Nathan Cullen, NDP MP for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, said the $6.5 billion project no longer has social license.

"Enbridge should listen, the Conservatives should listen," said Cullen Saturday night in Kitimat, shortly after announcing the vote's outcome to an ecstatic crowd in the street.

"They say in politics, money always wins, but not this time. The people did," he said. "Despite signs, d…