Showing posts from September 29, 2014

With FIPA, Harper Shows There's More than One Way to Skin a Constitution

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[This should have occurred to me before, but I felt like the scales had dropped from my eyes: this story contains an amazing insight. Gutting sovereignty via international trade agreements means gutting the Bill of Rights, which Harper loathes. Why else would he sign such a crappy deal? *RON*]

By Mitchell Anderson,, 25 September 2014

Is Stephen Harper on crack? Why would someone who was such an outspoken critic of communist China sign the Canada-China FIPA -- a three decade investment treaty so disadvantageous to this country that the Financial Postcalled the terms "unbecoming a nation state." So bad is this deal for Canada that experts worry that it would effectively allow closed door trade tribunals to undermine the authority of Parliament or even our constitution.

Could it be that Harper signed the FIPA because it was such a terrible deal? Let me explain. Harper's abiding preoccupation during his tenure has been scali…

BC No Winner in South Korea Trade Deal

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[Just in case you suspected for one moment that Harper knows what he's talking about concerning the economy. "Government upbeat, but Jim Stanford says the deal fails to fix existing trade imbalance." *RON*]

By Jeremy J. Nuttall,, 26 September 2014

'We don't get an advantage selling natural gas to Korea from free trade,' said Unifor economist Jim Stanford of the deal signed this week between Canada and South Korea. Photo: Government of Canada.

A trade deal signed between Canada and South Korea won't do much for the British Columbian economy because many of the products which will see trade tariffs lifted didn't have high duties to begin with, according to Unifor economist Jim Stanford.

The deal was signed this week and enjoys the support of the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives in the House of Commons.

In a breakdown of the deal's benefits for different regions of Canada, Ottawa claimed British Columbia s…

Help Put the Spotlight on Government Secrecy

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[Economists call it "information asymmetry" and they say this is why markets don't work. It's also the flip side of the Surveillance Society, which amount to the same thing. "Enraged by redacted FOIs? Baffled by backroom deals? Hashtag it #cdnfoi." It seems to me this article puts forward a good case that FOI is a non-partisan issue; rather it's a fundamental building block of democracy. *RON*]

By Sean Holman,, 26 September 2014

Spread the message. Spotlight examples of government secrecy with the hashtag #cdnfoi.

Partisans may not believe it, but Canada's "culture of secrecy" existed long before Stephen Harper moved into the prime minister's office. And it'll be around long after he moves out, unless Canadians do more than cast their ballots in the next election.

That's why four groups concerned about freedom of information, one of which I'm part of, are launching a campaign …

Our infant mortality rate is a national embarrassment

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[It's an inequality issue! P.S. Note that Canada under Harper - "Mister Maternal Health," tooting his horn for the UN - is the only nation that was unable to provide 2010 infant mortality data - thanks once again for gutting Statistics Canada Stephen! *RON*]

By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post Blogs, 29 September 2014

The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. A baby born in the U.S. is nearly three times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan. That same American baby is about twice as likely to die in her first year as a Spanish or Korean one.

Despite healthcare spending levels that are significantly higher than any other country in the world, a baby born in the U.S. is less likely to see his first birthday than one born in Hungary, Poland or Slovakia. Or in Belarus.Or in C…

US judge denies 'enforceable right' to water and allows Detroit shutoffs

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[In case you were uncertain about whether we truly live in a corporatocracy; in case you wondered whether austerity can really kill. This judge has ruled that poor Chicagoans have no fundamental right to water; he says the city can continue to shut off water access to residents behind on payments; noting, of the water company, that “The last thing it needs is this hit to its revenues.” See also: Residents fight back against shutoffs: ‘It’s life or death’. *RON*]
Dominic, 29 September 2014
The judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy ruled Monday that the city can continue to shut off water if people can’t pay their bill.

Judge Steven Rhodes said there was no “enforceable right” to water and the Detroit water department would face a significant risk of higher defaults if a moratorium was issued. “The last thing it needs is this hit to its revenues,” he said.

Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) began shutting off water …

Sightings Of Spectacular Dolphin Superpods Boom In Vancouver Island

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[An antidote for all the usual newsy doom and gloom! :-) *RON*]
The Huffington Post B.C., 29 September 2014

Whale-watching boats are reporting a boom in rare sightings of Pacific white-sided dolphins off the coast of Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands.

The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) says its members have increasingly been spotting the huge pods of 150 or more dolphins in the past month. The species is not endangered, but has not been seen frequently in the area for decades, said the group's executive director Michael Harris on Friday.

"With the world’s oceans in such trouble and whale and dolphin populations plummeting in so many places, it’s great to report the comeback of any wildlife to a particular area," he said in a statement.

"When these guys turn up, they really put on a show. The entire ocean seems to explode with life," Harris added.

Last November, two superpods dazzled boaters and ferry passengers…