Showing posts from July 3, 2014

National Distribution of Blog Views

[Considering this is a Canadian blog site, I thought the distribution of blog views by country was oddly interesting. To be honest, this looks more like the international distribution of the intelligence community. Possibly this is what all Internet traffic looks like nowadays! Smile for the NSA! :-D *RON*]

Syrian Jihadists Pledge to Retake Spain

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[One would normally think this laughable if it wasn't for the Madrid train bombings and the recent arrests of Al Qaida recruiters in Spain and a large increase in similarly-toned YouTube postings from Spain. *RON*]
By Gianluca Mezzofiore,, Assyrian International News Agency, 2014-07-03

Syria-based Jihadists have vowed to retake Spain - "the land of our ancestors" - in a video shot in Castilian Spanish that emerged on YouTube from a Syrian pro-government account.

In the footage, a young fighter introduces another "friend and brother" saying that "we're going to speak in Spanish". The second militant, wearing a kefiah scarf around his head, says:

"We are in the Holy Land [Syria], the land of Islam and I tell and warn everyone: we are living under the Islamic flag and we will die for it until we open those locked lands from Jakarta to Andalusia. And I say: Spain is the land of our …

Maximum security in times of austerity

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[In March, the United Nations issued a report on the effects of austerity and the quality of fundamental rights which were found to be in retreat, and concluded that there was a causal relation between them. A new type of maximum security prison reflects undemocratic austerity where law must provide security, but not justice. *RON*]

Matthaios Tsimitakis, Al Jazeera, 3 July 2014

It's one of those stories that go provocatively under-reported. In Greece, 4,500 prisoners went on hunger strike for ten consecutive days, protesting a governmental plan to build a new type of maximum security prison that will look a lot like the infamous white cells.

They are called type-C prisons and they are supposed to host the most dangerous criminals, but in reality this is just the codename for an ongoing deep and wide reform of the Greek judicial and penal system amid the financial crisis.

Wide because it expands the pool of virtual prisoners to many of those w…

Aggressive Tactic on the Fracking Front

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[A Pennsylvania gas company offers residents cash to buy protection from any claims of harm. "I will give you $50,000 if you promise to never have me arrested for any harmful, illegal thing I may do to you in future." *RON*]

by Naveena Sadasivam, ProPublica, July 2, 2014
The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

For the last eight years, Pennsylvania has been riding the natural gas boom, with companies drilling and fracking thousands of wells across the state. And in a little corner of Wa…

The Great Disinvestment

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[It would be interesting to do the same calculation for Canada, but since Mr. Harper has transformed Canada into the land of Freedom From Information, it cannot be done. *RON*]
Paul Krugman, NY Times, The Conscience of a Liberal, 3 July 2014

Here’s total public spending on construction, adjusted for the price level (GDP deflator) and population growth; 2007IV=100:

And if no deal is made on the federal highway fund, it will soon plunge even further.

It’s important here not to get caught up too much in the details. Yes, it’s absurd that the federal gasoline tax has been flat in nominal terms since 1993, which means that in real terms it has fallen 40 percent. But highways don’t have to be paid for with gas taxes — the fund could be (and has been) topped up with transfers from general revenue. And federal borrowing costs remain incredibly low by historical standards.

So the highway issue should be seen as part of the larger craziness of infrastructure p…

Google Is Being Forced To Censor The History Of Merrill Lynch — And That Should Terrify You

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[From Wikipedia on George Orwell's 1984: "In the novel, the memory hole is a slot into which government officials deposit politically inconvenient documents and records to be destroyed. Nineteen Eighty-Four's protagonist Winston Smith, who works in the Ministry of Truth, is routinely assigned the task of revising old newspaper articles in order to serve the propaganda interests of the government." *RON*]

Jim Edwards, Business Insider, 3 July 2014

The European Union's new law giving people a "right to be forgotten," which requires Google to remove links to information about them, is having exactly the effect its critics predicted: It is censoring the internet, giving new tools that help the rich and powerful (and ordinary folk) hide negative information about them, and letting criminals make their histories disappear.

Exhibit A: Google was required to delete a link to this BBC article about Stan O'Neal, the form…

Lac-Megantic Disaster Could Easily Be Repeated, Because Nothing Has Changed: Expert

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[The oil must flow. This must make the people grieving in Lac-Megantic feel so much better: "no plans and equipment are in place to deal with a similar situation as the one-year anniversary of the tragedy approaches" *RON*]

By Peter Rakobowchuk, CP / Huffington Post, 07/02/2014

MONTREAL - An expert who examined the devastating train derailment in Lac-Megantic says no plans and equipment are in place to deal with a similar situation as the one-year anniversary of the tragedy approaches.

Rosa Galvez-Cloutier, a civil engineering professor at Universite Laval, says she doesn't think much has changed since the massive explosion and fire that killed 47 people on July 6, although the federal government has tightened regulations.

"There was an evident lack of preparation at all levels," she said on Wednesday. "Prevention measures, preparedness and emergency plans need to urgently be updated."

She says firefighters and …