Showing posts from July 10, 2014

Man Sues Feds After They Target Him for Photographing Rainbow Art

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[On the extent of surveillance of ordinary Americans triggered by racial profiling and by engaging in ordinary quotidian activity. *RON*]
By Kim Zetter, Wired, 07.10.14

When 86-year-old photographer James Prigoff paused to photograph a natural gas storage tank in Boston ten years ago, he was simply doing what countless of tourists have done before. The colorful tank, painted with a rainbow-like design, is a popular photo op. He had no reason to suspect his snapshot would prompt an ominous visit by a federal agent months later and the addition of his name to a government database of suspicious activity.

But his case is hardly unique. Similar circumstances have befallen four other people, who are suing the government over so-called suspicious activity reports, SARs, filed against them.

The plaintiffs—two photographers, a white male convert to Islam, and two men of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent—were all engaged in seemingly innocuous activ…

Number of Statehouse Reporters Is in Decline, Study Shows

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[The democratic crash and burn continues, with informational losses for the general public and wins for the corporatocracy and ideological lobbyists. Traditional media reduces the number of on-the-spot reporters covering state government activity by more than one third with simultaneous increases in "ideologically driven publications and expensive trade newsletters catering to lobbyists." See also 'Screening Out Reality' through the one-way filter of the mainstream media, and How Did We Get Here? Tracing the Rise of Fox’s Right-Wing Media Empire*RON*]

By Christine Haughney, New York Times, 10 July 2014

The nation’s statehouses lost more than one-third of the journalists devoted to covering legislative matters full time, according to a study released on Thursday morning by the Journalism Project at the Pew Research Center.

The study, which surveyed all 50 statehouses, found a loss of 164 full-time statehouse reporters since 20…

And Now, Italy's Economic Recovery Is In Doubt

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[Say, here's a fresh idea -- let's demand more stringent austerity measures -- and change the EU anthem to 'Merkel, Merkel Über Alles' while we're at it. Also, see how well austerity is working in Portugal, Portugal bank woes spark equity sell-off. This has drawn down their stock market and made investors worry about the solvency of the nation. *RON*]
Sam Ro, Business Insider, 10 July 2014

Industrial production in Italy unexpectedly dropped by 1.2% month-over-month in May.

Economists were forecasting a modest 0.2% gain.

"The surprising decline in industrial production in May throws doubt on the expected Italian recovery in the second quarter," said Bloomberg's Maxime Sbaihi and David Powell.

This report follows disappointing industrial production and inflation data out of France earlier today.

All of this puts increasing amounts of pressure on the European Central Bank to be more aggressive in its efforts to stim…

Economists Are Running Out Of Ways To Describe How Bad It Is In France

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[The French economy is soundly into deflationary mode. European governments will try anything except easing up on austerity through government stimulus spending, which is the only thing that is likely to save France in my opinion. I also love how this is still being described as "a fall in inflationary pressure." What inflationary pressure? You could as realistically refer to this as "a mysterious absence of blue unicorns." See also: French Economy Minister Proposes Tapping the Brakes on Austerity.*RON*]
Sam Ro, Business Insider, 10 July 2014

Industrial production in France plunged 3.7% year-over-year in May, which was much worse than the 1.0% decline expected by economists.

"In one line: Horrible; GDP contraction in the second quarter is now base case," said Pantheon Macroeconomics' Claus Vistesen. "We are running out of downbeat adjectives to describe the data in France, with the headline numbers from the …

Are the Authoritarians Winning?

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[Interesting, lengthy piece on authoritarianism by Canada's worst former politician. *RON*]

Michael Ignatieff, New York Review of Books, 10 July 2014
Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America’s House in Order
by Richard N. Haass
Basic Books, 195 pp., $15.99 (paper)
Restraint: A New Foundation for US Grand Strategy
by Barry R. Posen
Cornell University Press, 234 pp., $29.95
The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
Penguin, 305 pp., $27.95
Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity
a white paper by Joseph Stiglitz
Roosevelt Institute, 28 pp., May 28, 2014; available at
In the 1930s travelers returned from Mussolini’s Italy, Stalin’s Russia, and Hitler’s Germany praising the hearty sense of common purpose they saw there, compared to which their own democracies seemed weak, inefficient, and pusillanimous.

Democracies today are in the middle of a simila…

Second Silent Spring? Bird Declines Linked to Popular Pesticides

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[Neonicotinoids don't just kill pests. New research out of the Netherlands provides compelling evidence linking this widely used class of insecticides (including Monsanto's Roundup) to population declines across 14 species of birds.are aimed at insects, but they're affecting other animals too. See also Bird decline 'smoking gun' for pesticide's effects*RON*]

Jason Bittel for National Geographic, 9 July 2014

Those insecticides, called neonicotinoids, have been in the news lately due to the way they hurt bees and other pollinators. (Related: "The Plight of the Honeybee.")

This new paper, published online Wednesday in Nature, gets at another angle of the story—the way these chemicals can indirectly affect other creatures in the ecosystem.

Scientists from Radboud University in Nijmegen and the Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology and Birdlife Netherlands (SOVON) compared long-term data sets for both farmland bird po…

Agent Orange Ingredient Could Soon Be Used to Kill Superweeds

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[Unbelievable. Spray it on your GMO corn. Dow Chemical is pushing a product that contains a component used as a (carcinogenic) herbicidal weapon in the Vietnam War. See also Monsanto's Herbicide Linked to Fatal Kidney Disease Epidemic: Could It Topple Monsanto?*RON*]

 By Clare Foran, National Journal, July 10, 2014 Dow Chemical is seeking federal approval for an herbicide containing one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange.

The company is billing the compound as farmers' best bet in the battle against a new strain of "superweeds"—invasive plants that can't be killed by traditional herbicides and choke crops.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which is tasked with reviewing Dow's application, says that if the chemical, known as 2,4-D, is used in fields, trace amounts could end up in food and drinking water.

Agency officials insist, however, that any amount of the weed-crushing chemical that shows up in food or water …

Arctic LNG tankers to sail a rapidly melting north

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[This should become the poster image for destructive climate change -- tankers smashing through the rapidly melting arctic ice to feed the global hothouse via the Asian market. "Canada may be losing global race to get natural gas to Asia, as concerns loom large about wilder weather due to climate change." *RON*]

Mychaylo Prystupa, Vancouver Observer, Jul 10th, 2014
The once dangerous and inhospitable Arctic Ocean – home to ice flows and frigid temperatures at the top of the planet -- that thwarted all but the bravest of sea captains -- is now opening up for the first time to a regular shipping route.

And on board? Liquefied natural gas (LNG).

A Vancouver-operated LNG shipping firm – Teekay – announced Wednesday $2.1 billion in contracts to build six colossal icebreakers that can make the voyages, while keeping the gas super cooled to -160 Celsius.

It’s a sign of how globally importance this new class of fossil fuel has become.

“LNG is…

BC Hydro Site C Should Be Reviewed By Provincial Regulator: Mayor

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[The largest Provincial expenditure for the next 20 years, increasing our debt by 10%, destroying prime farm land that can feed a million people, opposed by local residents and Aboriginal groups, yet it is being rammed through with no external review. *RON*]

By Dene Moore, CP / Huffington Post, 07/09/2014

VANCOUVER - With a provincial decision on BC Hydro's proposed Site C hydroelectric dam expected in September, the mayor of Hudson's Hope appealed to the province Wednesday for a review by the independent utilities regulator.

Gwen Johansson said there is still time for the B.C. Utilities Commission to examine the multibillion-dollar dam proposed in the Peace River Valley, as recommended by a federal environmental review panel.

"We want to get to truth on this project. We want to see if, indeed, it is the best project," Johansson said at a news conference in Vancouver.

A Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency panel recommended in M…