Showing posts from June 17, 2014

7 Talking Points You Need for Discussing the Iraq Crisis

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[Especially if you're talking to a right-winger braying for military action. *RON*]

—By David Corn, Mother Jones, Jun. 13, 2014
1. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney invaded Iraq with no clear and comprehensive plan for what to do after the invasion and the end of Saddam Hussein's regime. Weeks before the war, the administration stated there was no reason to fear that sectarian conflict would ensue after Saddam was booted.

2. Following the invasion, the Bush-Cheney administration decided to prohibit the Sunni-dominated Baath Party from participating in a post-Saddam government and decommissioned the existing Baathist-led military. This caused deep resentment among Sunnis, especially former military commanders and soldiers (who would now be available for an armed opposition). The move had the effect of banishing Iraqis with governing and security experience from the post-Saddam order. That would be good for chaos and conflict.

3. The Bush-Che…

Harper government approves Northern Gateway

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[No surprise here - this is only the beginning of the fight, however. The cabinet approval (as well as making the announcement via a press release rather than a public presentation) is also his chicken way of avoiding any public debate on the matter. *RON*]
By iPolitics | Jun 17, 2014
Stephen Harper’s cabinet has approved the Northern Gateway pipeline despite widespread opposition.

The decision comes with a caveat that Enbridge must meet the 209 conditions detailed by the National Energy Board in its report.

Handing down the decision in a press release, Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford noted that many of the conditions require consultations with Aboriginal communities.

“The proponent clearly has more work to do in order to fulfill the public commitment it has made to engage with Aboriginal groups and local communities along the route,” he is quoted as saying in the release.

The 1,177km pipeline would run from Bruderheim, Alta. to Kitimat…

Rich-poor gap and the risk of civil war

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[A physics web site is an odd place to find reviews of sociological research on income inequality, but they have a section of their site entitled, "Other Sciences," which contains quite a lot of interesting material. *RON*]
by Eberhard Karls,, 4 June 2014

Researchers from the University of Tübingen have found that the greater the disparity in wealth, the greater the risk of civil war. "If unequal division passes a certain level, the effects within a region are enormous," say Economic History specialists Professor Jörg Baten and Christina Mumme. Extremes of wealth inequality could explain the frequency of civil wars in Latin America and Africa in the past 200 years – and could be contributing to the current situation in eastern Europe. "The gap between rich and poor there has widened significantly in recent years. National and ethnic identities are often dug up to distract attention from discontent over income diff…

Could politics trump economics as reason for growing income inequality?

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[Unsurprisingly the declining strength of unions plays a key role in the growth of income inequality. *RON*]
by Jeff Grabmeier,, 16 June 2014

Most research examining growing income inequality in the United States has focused on economic causes, for seemingly obvious reasons.

But a new study suggests that a different cause – the politically induced decline in the strength of worker unions – may play a much more pivotal role than previously understood.

In fact, the role that union decline has played in growing income inequality may actually be larger than many of the favorite explanations offered by economists, such as the education gap in the United States.

Among their contributions to income equality: unions reduce pay differences within companies and use their influence to lobby on behalf of the working and middle classes, the researchers say. "The effect that unions used to have on protecting the incomes of middle class and worki…

Everything We Know About What Data Brokers Know About You

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[The companies that sell information about how much money you make — and whether you’re pregnant, divorced, or trying to lose weight — are facing new scrutiny — in the US at least. Here in Canada, however, the corporate surveillance state is thriving with no sign of government interest in controls. *RON*]

 by Lois Beckett, ProPublica, June 13, 2014
June 13, 2014: This story has been updated. It was originally published on March 7, 2013.

We've spent a lot of time this past year trying to understand how the National Security Agency gathers and stores information about ordinary people. But there's also a thriving public market for data on individual Americans—especially data about the things we buy and might want to buy.

Consumer data companies are scooping uphuge amounts of consumer information about people around the world and selling it, providing marketers details about whether you're pregnant or divorced or trying to lose weight, abou…

Five strategies to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline from being built

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[This gives everyone some place to fit in to a solution. My feeling is still that the best bang for buck will be obtained by supporting the court challenges and working to defeat Conservative MPs in BC. But take your pick and chip in! *RON]
By Brent Patterson,, 17 June 2014
The Harper government must announce its decision on the 525,000 barrels per day Northern Gateway tar sands export pipeline by midnight today.

On CTV's Question Period this week, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, said, "We fully expected the Harper government to make every effort to ram this project through. But…there's enormous solidarity here in British Columbia between First Nations people, British Columbians, Canadians, and we'll do what's necessary and whatever it takes to stop this project."

Even if the Harper government approves the pipeline today, a range of strategies are being propo…

Hospital Deaths Rise Markedly Once Occupancy Hits a Tipping Point

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[Our hospitals in fact strive mightily to keep their occupancy rates up as high as they can, in the name of efficiency. Obviously they are missing out on something - such as effectiveness (i.e., our lives and health). *RON*]

by Andrew O’Connell, Harvard Business Review Blog Network, June 17, 2014

Death rates in hospitals are unaffected by how full the institutions are—but only up to a point, at which mortality rises rapidly as occupancy increases, says a team led by Ludwig Kuntz of the University of Cologne in Germany. In a study of more than 82,000 patients in German hospitals, the researchers identified the tipping point as 92.5% occupancy; among the patients who experienced those levels of crowding, occupancy accounted for 1 in 7 deaths. When surges in demand increase hospital occupancy beyond the tipping point, employees face limited resources and increased stress, which can lead to problems such as medication errors and delayed treatments.