Showing posts from October 14, 2014

Is There an Answer for Syria?

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[A fairly sensible proposal. *RON*]

Jessica T. Mathews, New York Review of Books, 6 November 2014 Issue

The glaring weakness in President Obama’s new Middle East strategy, unveiled on September 24 at the United Nations, is the lack of troops on the ground in Syria. In Iraq, the Kurdish peshmerga, a reformed and remotivated Iraqi army, and the Sunni tribes that played a major part in the success of President Bush’s surge can all be brought into the fight against ISIS. But in Syria—whose disintegration directly threatens the five nations on its borders and indirectly the entire region—there is no one. The Pentagon has made its timetable starkly clear: it has announced that it will take three to five months to identify and vet fighters from the Syrian opposition and another year to train them. What will happen, other than air strikes, in the interim?

No matter how seemingly intractable a problem, reexamining deeply buried core assumptions can sometim…

New Report: Who Will Pay for the Costs and Damages of Climate Change?

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[On the new and rapidly-evolving issue of international climate litigation. *RON*]
Chris Rose, DeSmog Blog, 13 October 2014

Canadian oil and gas companies could be liable for billions of dollars of damages per year for their contribution to climate change caused by toxic greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study published Thursday.

The study looked at five oil and gas companies currently trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange — Encana, Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources, Talisman, and Husky — and found they could presently be incurring a global liability as high as $2.4 billion annually.

“Climate change is increasingly discussed not as some far-off threat but in terms of current realities,” said the 62-page study — Payback Time? What the internationalization of climate litigation could mean for Canadian oil and gas companies.

Published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), the study found data sh…

Sacked Environment Minister Owen Paterson Provokes Widespread Disbelief

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[I'm sure it would be in the public interest to see a public review of his income tax records. *RON*]
Brendan Montague, DeSmog Blog UK, 13 October 2014
Sacked environment minister Owen Paterson has provoked derision and disbelief at his “perverse” call to scrap the Climate Change Act, according to a report by the Guardian newspaper.

Paterson will present the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s annual lecture tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on Birdcage Walk, Westminster at 7pm, where he will attack his own government’s climate policies.

The former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will argue that the Climate Change Act should be suspended and if other countries don’t take Britain’s lead it will eventually be scrapped altogether, in a speech trailed on the front page of the Sunday Telegraph.

The extraordinary charge flies in the face of David Cameron’s promise that he would deliver the “green…

Oil Tankers Leaking into Seattle’s Water

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[Nope, no regulatory capture here (sarcasm alert) - let's expand to Vancouver! "A highly flammable byproduct flowed from oil tankers into an area stormwater system for at least a year before state regulators inspected the problem." *RON*]

Bill Conroy, 13 October 2014

Seventy miles north of Seattle, the Tesoro Anacortes rail facility—which daily offloads some 50,000 barrels of Bakken crude from tanker cars—was releasing a highly flammable oil byproduct into a stormwater system that lacked “required controls” for at least a year before state regulators were made aware of the potential hazard.

A faulty pipe connection was the source of the problem, according to a Northwest Clean Air Agency enforcement report obtained via an open-records request. As a result of the flaw, hydrocarbon vapors were being produced in the rail facility’s stormwater system that could have ignited under the right conditions, experts say.

Tesoro officials insist t…

Generic Drug Prices In Canada Nearly Double Those In Other Countries

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[This while we have a growing population of the elderly on fixed incomes in ever-greater need of affordable medication, and while Harper works over-time to sign and implement a trade agreement with Europe that would make our medications even more expensive - ALL while he attempts to wheedle the federal government's way out of paying for any healthcare expenses, downloading them on the provinces. *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 14 October 2014

OTTAWA - A new study has found that Canadians are still paying far more than other industrialized countries for generic drugs, despite recent efforts by the provinces and territories to bulk buy six particularly costly medications.

The study by the University of Ottawa and the Bruyere Research Institute says the price of the six drugs — which include medications used to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels — remains much higher in Canada than it is elsewhere.

It adds that wh…

Conservatives' 'very ethnic' media approach a success: journalism study

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[This was the key point in Bricker & Ibbotson's (2013) The Big Shift. The other major parties will ignore this at their peril. *RON*]

By Dylan Robertson, Ottawa Citizen, 14 October 2014

The Conservatives successfully targeted “very ethnic” ridings in the last federal election, according to a Ryerson University study of five Toronto-area ethnic newspapers. The party got good press by giving interviews and fielding diaspora candidates, as associate journalism professor April Lindgren, who led the study, told the Citizen’s Dylan Robertson.

Why did you decide to study this?

In the run-up to the 2011 election there was interest from media and politicians in the effort from the Conservative to court the ethnic media, like the leaked strategy document that the party would target 10 of what they called “very ethnic” ridings from across the country.

We also saw a pattern of courting the ethnic media undertaken by Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenne…

Ireland to unveil growth budget after 6 years of austerity

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[The worm continues to turn. B. Howlin is a GREAT name for a Public Expenditure Minister! :-) *RON*]
Shawn Pogatchnik, The Associated Press / CTV News, 14 October 2014

DUBLIN, Ireland -- The age of austerity is ending in Ireland after six years of grueling tax hikes and spending cuts.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin are unveiling a 2015 budget Tuesday expected to contain around 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in income tax breaks and spending increases, ending a seven-budget run that slashed 30 billion euros from the economy.

The move follows Ireland's 2013 exit from an international bailout and unexpectedly strong economic growth this year driven by robust exports to Britain and the United States. This has made it much easier for Ireland to meet its deficit-reduction targets without more cutting.

It has been a stunning turnaround for Ireland, which in 2010 teetered on the brink of national bankrupt…