Showing posts from March, 2015

Poverty shrinks brains from birth

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[Studies show that children from low-income families have smaller brains and lower cognitive abilities. "The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin, Brain Droppings. *RON*]

By Sara Reardon and Nature magazine, Scientific American, 31 March 2015
The stress of growing up poor can hurt a child’s brain development starting before birth, research suggests—and even very small differences in income can have major effects on the brain.

Researchers have long suspected that children’s behaviour and cognitive abilities are linked to their socioeconomic status, particularly for those who are very poor. The reasons have never been clear, although stressful home environments, poor nutrition, exposure to industrial chemicals such as lead and lack of access to good education are often cited as possible factors.

In the largest study of its kind, published on March 30 in Nature Neuroscience, a…

Robert Reich: The Rich Don't Work Anymore—Working Is for Poor People

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[The poor are just lazy and the rich just work harder than everyone else, right? A large portion of the super-rich have never broken a sweat. *RON*]

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog / AlterNet, 31 March 2015

Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they’re lazy. As Speaker John Boehner has said, the poor have a notion that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.”

In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

It’s also commonly believed, especially among Republicans, that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others.

In reality, a large and growing portion of the super-rich have never broken a sweat. Their wealth has been handed to them.

The rise of these two groups — the working poor and non-work…

Canadian Corporate Profit Margins At 27-Year High, Thanks To Low Loonie, Soft Labour Costs

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[So, if the Canadian economy is shrinking, and the Provinces are offsetting the losses in taxes to the rich given away by Ottawa by raising taxes on the average Joe and cutting even more services, yet corporations are laughing their way to the bank based on falling wages and a shrinking loonie, who do you suppose is getting screwed? 90% of Canadians. Thank you once again Mister Harper! *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 31 March 2015

TORONTO - CIBC World Markets says corporate profit margins hit a 27-year high in the fourth quarter and are likely to remain strong despite the recent softening in the economy due to the oil price shock.

According to a new study released Tuesday, the average profit margin of all non-financial corporations rose to 8.2 per cent of sales in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Even after excluding the recently hard-hit energy sector, it says profit margins are currently at their highest in almost three decades at 7.6 p…

John Baird To Join Canadian Pacific Railway Board Of Directors

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["...a position that pays at least $235,000 a year" for a few committee meetings. A transparent show of how the corporatocracy works for Canadian politicians. First Barrick Gold, now CPR, let's see who's next - SNC Lavalin perhaps? Do you see the connection to the story on how Canadian corporate profits are at a 27-year high? A nice counterpoint is this new article on Ayn Rand and how "the battle is between the producer and the moochers, and it must end in life or death." *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 30 March 2015

CALGARY - John Baird continues to deepen his ties with corporate Canada.

The former Conservative cabinet minister is among 13 nominees to the expanded board of directors at Canadian Pacific Railway's (TSX:CP), a position that pays at least $235,000 a year.

The 45-year-old ex-politician, who officially retired March 16 after most recently serving as foreign affairs minister, was listed …

GALLERY: Police confront austerity protesters in Quebec City

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[Photos of the recent anti-austerity student protests in Quebec City and the young woman who was hit in the face with a tear-gas canister. *RON*]
By Amanda Kelly Global News, 27 March 2015

It started peacefully with demonstrators reading poetry — but very quickly turned into a stand off between protesters and police.

Bank of Canada head says oil's effect on economy 'atrocious'

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[Gosh I wonder why Joe Oliver hasn't released that pre-election budget yet? :-) See also Provinces will offset 75% of Ottawa's tax cuts: BMO: "the provincial budgets unveiled in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Quebec have announced a collective $2 billion in tax hikes on citizens, or cuts to services, to balance the books — part of a new fiscal age prompted by lower oil prices." Also see Canada's Economy Shrank In January Amid Widespread Slowdown*RON*], 31 March 2015

TORONTO (Reuters) — The head of the Bank of Canada said a slump in oil prices is having an "atrocious" effect on the Canadian economy but a cheaper currency and incipient U.S. revival should help exports drive a recovery, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Governor Stephen Poloz said in an interview with the newspaper that the central bank still had many options to help the economy if needed. These included pledges to…

Major publisher retracts 43 scientific papers amid wider fake peer-review scandal

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[It's becoming increasingly clear that self-regulation is not working for the sciences. *RON*]

By Fred Barbash, Washington Post, 27 March 2015 A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of “fabricated” peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications.

The publisher is BioMed Central, based in the United Kingdom, which puts out 277 peer-reviewed journals. A partial list of the retracted articles suggests most of them were written by scholars at universities in China, including China Medical University, Sichuan University, Shandong University and Jiaotong University Medical School. But Jigisha Patel, associate editorial director for research integrity at BioMed Central, said it’s not “a China problem. We get a lot of robust research of China. We see this as a broader problem of how scientists are judged.”

Meanwhile, the Committee on Publication Ethics, a…

Amazon Requires Badly-Paid Warehouse Temps to Sign 18-Month Non-Competes

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[The corporatocracy meets totalitarianism. Oh, let me count the ways in which you suck. They don't deserve your business; don't buy from them if you can possibly avoid it. *RON*]
Posted by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism, 30 March 30, 2015

The Verge has broken an important story on how far Amazon has gone in its relentless efforts to crush workers. Despite its glitzy Internet image, Amazon’s operations depend heavily on manual labor to assemble, pack, and ship orders. Its warehouses are sweatshops, with workers monitored constantly and pressed to meet physically daunting productivity goals. Indeed, many of its warehouses were literally sweatshops, reaching as much as 100 degrees in the summer until bad press embarrassed the giant retailer into installing air conditioners. In Germany, a documentary exposed that Amazon hired neo-Nazi security guards to intimidate foreign, often illegal, hires it had recruited and was housing in cr…

Costa Rica utilities burned no fossil fuel in first 75 days of 2015

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[From Burlington, Vermont to Germany to Costa Rica, it can be and is being done: it's a matter of political will. *RON*]

By Danniel Costa-Roberts, PBS, 28 March 2015
In late January, NewsHour reported on Burlington, Vermont, the first U.S. city to meet all its energy demands with renewables. Now a whole country can make that claim: From the beginning of the year through at least March 23, Costa Rica’s electrical grid was powered entirely by renewable sources.

'Energy vampires' are draining your power and money. Here's what to do about it.
Running on renewable energy, Burlington, Vermont powers green movement forward

Heavy rainfall in the Central American country has caused a spike in hydroelectric production this year. Together with green energy from sources like geothermal, wind, solar and biomass, the power glut means Costa Rica’s energy utilities didn’t need to burn a single gallon of fossil fuel in in the first 75…

McCain Suggests Israel "Go Rogue," Blow Up Iran Negotiations By Starting War

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[The Republicans are, once again, acting with what could easily be seen as treasonous disregard for US foreign policy in the Middle East and actively encouraging war. *RON*]
By Zaid Jilani / AlterNet, 29 March 2015

As Iran talks appear to be coming to a close with a successful agreement that would both lead to the lifting of international sanctions and restrictions that would prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons, most in the international community are relieved.

Yet Republicans have teamed up with their counterparts in the Israeli political system to do everything they can to obstruct a deal – with tactics such as drafting new sanctions legislation and warning the Iranian leadership that the nuclear agreement will not outlast President Obama.

But this past week Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ratcheted up this sabotage to a new level. During a floor speech he gave on March 24th, the senator suggested that Israel “go rogue” and that if they …

Yemen: 'I hope we will not turn into another Syria'

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[Religion and geopolitics; things are going to hell in a hand-bucket in Yemen (one hot mess of a country at the best of times). Most recently, Saudi Arabia has stepped into the fray; their issue not being that there are terrorists there, per se, but, typical of the Middle East, that they are the wrong kind of terrorists ('theirs' not 'ours'). See also Calls for Diplomacy Unheeded as Saudi-Led Assault Pummels Yemen*RON*]

Charlene Anne, Al Jazeera, 30 March 2015
Sanaa - Yasmine, a woman in her early twenties who is seven months pregnant with her first child, took shelter on her kitchen floor in the Asser district of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, as the sounds of air strikes grew louder this past weekend.

Yasmine, who declined to provide a last name, said she could feel the strikes drawing nearer to her, and she woke up to the sound of windows shattering and splinters of glass raining down.

"My bags are packed and I’m ready to g…

Heiltsuk take over DFO office to stop herring fishery

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[This is a strategic provocation by Harper. The Heiltsuk may play into his hand by reacting strongly. It's hard to know where to draw the line in terms of making an effective response without adding fuel to the fire of the 'see, we really do need more legislative protection from economic terrorists' party line. See the DFO statement that: "DFO respects the right to protest, however the Department condemns any threat of violence or reprisal against those exercising their right to practice a lawful and sustainable fishery." Read the article, there are no threats being made; it's more like Harper hopes for this, and is getting ready for this to happen, so he continues to prod the bear. *RON*]
Mychaylo Prystupa, Vancouver Observer 29 March 2015

Heiltsuk tears and anger were cast at Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers standing on the front steps of the federal office on Denny Island Sunday afternoon, as band Elders, l…

Harper Government On The Sidelines As UN Climate Talks Ramp Up

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[Harper previously said there was no point in regulating Canadian oil and gas until the US and China did so. Now that they have done so he has simply switched stories, saying there is no point in regulating oil and gas until the US and Mexico do so: "We've said for some time, it's very public, we're seeking a continental response on this particular question, not just with the United States. We'd like to see Mexico as well in it." Now that the US and Mexico have done so we can only hear the sound of crickets chirping from Ottawa. The man is in the pockets of Big Oil, he does not have the interests of Canadians at heart, and he simply lies to protect his overlords in the oil patch. *RON*] 
By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 30 March 2015

OTTAWA - The Harper government is temporarily standing on the sidelines as international negotiations ramp up for a United Nations climate conference at the end of this…

Austerity, Big and Small

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[Any way you look at it Greece is an outlier and so contributes in an over-weighted fashion to the correlation. Still it's clear that the correlation as a whole is quite real. Austerity goes up, national economic productivity shrinks. See also: George Will is wrong: Income inequality does not benefit everybody. *RON*]
Paul Krugman, New York Times, 29 March 2015

At this point it’s fairly common to look at the effects of austerity via cross-country scatterplots: one axis shows some measure of fiscal consolidation, while the other shows the change in GDP. Who started this practice? I think I did, here, although I’m happy to cede credit to someone else if I missed it.

There are problems with this approach: causation could run the other way, although given the extent to which austerity, in the eurozone at any rate, was driven by debt panic, those problems shouldn’t be too severe. Another issue, however, is concern that such cross-sectional pictur…

Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back as Citigroup Tries to Blackmail the Democratic Party

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[Lizzy unleashed. Watch the video. *RON*]

Posted on March 29, 2015 by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism

An unusual move by a thin-skinned too big to fail bank, Citigroup, to slap down the finance-skeptic faction of the Democratic party appears to be backfiring.

Reuters reported on Friday that Citigroup was making clear its displeasure with the way Elizabeth Warren had been calling to its overly-cozy relationship with the Administration by threatening to withhold its customary bribe, um, donation to the Democratic party:

Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften th…

Indiana Governor Won’t Say If ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill Will Be Used To Discriminate

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[I liked one reader's comment: "Tolerance is not a two-way street. Tolerating intolerance is functionally the same as intolerance itself. 'Oh, I'm not a racist. I just believe in tolerance, so I tolerate racists because refusing to tolerate their racism isn't very tolerant, is it?'" *RON*]

By Kay Steiger, Think Progress, 29 March 2015

Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) defended a “religious liberty” law he signed on Sunday, saying that tolerance was a “two-way street” and the law was about protecting religious people from government overreach.

Pence had said he was going to appear on the Sunday news show to “clarify the intent” of the law. Instead, he refused repeatedly to say if the law would greenlight discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation in the state.

Pence told This Week host George Stephanopoulos it was “absolutely not” a mistake to sign the religious liberty bill into law. Pence dodged a question…

Texas city opts for 100% renewable energy – to save cash, not the planet

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[Georgetown, Texas decision not about going green: 'I’m probably the furthest thing from an Al Gore clone you could find,' says city official. It's got to mean something when a Texas barber talks like this: "They were just looking out for the cheapest deal; that's business. I don’t really think we should be relying too much on oil, even though they have to right now. That don’t last forever. Sun will, though. Long as the sun comes up, the wind will blow." *RON*]
Tom Dart, The Guardian, 29 March 2015
News that a Texas city is to be powered by 100% renewable energy sparked surprise in an oil-obsessed, Republican-dominated state where fossil fuels are king and climate change activists were described as “the equivalent of the flat-earthers” by US senator and GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.

“I was called an Al Gore clone, a tree-hugger,” says Jim Briggs, interim city manager of Georgetown, a community of about 50,000 people…

MPs receive 2.3 per cent pay raise

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[Under an automatic yearly hike pegged on an average from private-sector contract settlements, MP base salaries will jump nearly $4,000 to $167,400. The Canada Pension Plan, by comparison, is tied to the cost of living, and only rose by 1.8% in 2015, with no "extras" thrown in. Of course, politicians like John Baird retire to land in cushy new jobs with the corporations whose interests he protected over those of Canadians during his term in office, in addition to the large pension we Canadians are now paying him, so I guess it all works out, right? *RON*]
By Tim Naumetz, 27 March 2015

PARLIAMENT HILL—MPs’ salaries will rise by a healthy 2.3 per cent on April 1, the day before they leave for a two-week recess.

Under an automatic yearly hike pegged on an average from private-sector contract settlements, MP base salaries will jump nearly $4,000 to $167,400.

That’s just the minimum.

More than half of the 308 MPs—a total of 177 MPs including com…

John Baird Lands Job As Special International Adviser To Barrick Gold

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["Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power."  B. Mussolini. Baird cashes in on favours done for the corporatocracy while in office. Canadian voters have a short memory, but you may recall this story from three years ago: Nigel Wright Conflict Of Interest Probe: Formal Investigation Underway. You might also note the connections of right-wing pundit Andrew Coyne to Aurea Foundation, founded by Peter Munk, head of Barrick Gold, who is also a major funder of free-market think tanks in Canada, including: The Fraser Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, the Frontier Center for Public Policy, the Montreal Economic Institute and the MacDonald Laurier Institute. See Andrew Coyne's Connections to Free Market Think Tanks; Disclosure Lacking. The happy 1% club. *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 28 March 2015

TORONTO - Former foreign affairs minister John…

Russia's rich forego some luxuries but still back Putin

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[Diametrically opposed takes on the reactions of the oligarchs in Russia from Reuters and The Telegraph, see Russia’s oligarchs head for London as rouble collapses. *RON*]
By Elizabeth Piper, Reuters, 29 March 2015

(Reuters) - Russian model Alisa Krylova canceled her order for the latest Mercedes, spent New Year in Moscow rather than skiing in the Alps and now employs Russian staff rather than foreigners.

The former Mrs Russia and Mrs Globe beauty pageant winner is among Russia's super rich but even she and many of her wealthy friends are feeling the pinch from the economic crisis.

Driven into "a kind of hibernation", they are steering clear of celebrity parties and trimming spending to make up some of the millions lost to a weak rouble and a falling stock market.

But the enforced modesty has not yet driven the super wealthy out of Russia or against President Vladimir Putin, who has fanned patriotism during the Ukraine crisis and appea…

Access Denied: Ministry of Environment Vetoes Interview Request on Oilsands Toxins in Animals

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[Environment Canada is for the first time ever conducting a systematic study on oilsands toxins in fur-bearing animals. Want to know more about it? Too bad for you. Meanwhile, Oilsands mobile air monitoring cancelled over funding problems. *RON*]
Carol Linnitt, DeSmog Blog, 24 March 2015

Documents obtained by DeSmog Canada reveal that Canada’s Ministry of Environment vetoed an interview request on toxins in fur-bearing animals in the oilsands, even though the federal scientist was “media trained and interested in doing the interview.”

The Environment Canada scientist in question, Philippe Thomas, had asked members of the Alberta Trappers Association to send him samples of fur-bearing animals caught across Alberta in 2012. Thomas needed a broad range of samples to gain deeper insight into the contaminant load in animals living near the oilsands.

In late 2012, DeSmog Canada submitted a request to interview Thomas, and provided several written ques…

Fraser Surrey Docks seeks to pump coal waste water into Metro Vancouver’s sewer system

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[Fraser Surrey Docks CEO Jeff Scott says chemical products sprayed on coal piles are "considered safe" but contain an unknown "proprietary additive" that irritates eyes, skin and the respiratory system. A company that wants to pump coal waste water into our public sewers should have to do better than that before getting a permit. Click here to write a letter today urging Metro Vancouver not to give Fraser Surrey Docks a wastewater permit unless it can PROVE it's safe. *RON*]

By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun, 23 March 2015

METRO VANCOUVER -- Fraser Surrey Docks is asking Metro Vancouver for a permit to discharge treated waste water from its planned coal transfer facility into the regional sewage system.

The company’s permit application says it is proposing “comprehensive water-based dust suppression systems” that will generate run-off, as will washing down of machinery. Rain that falls on the coal piles would also be collected.


Federal energy regulator violates Charter, court case alleges

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[What do you get when the National Energy Board's 'public' reviews exclude the public? Court cases. Lotsa court cases. "The NEB (National Energy Board) has lost its way," said David Martin, a lawyer representing the group of landowners, business people, and academics. Likewise see Citizens Take Constitutional, Free Speech Challenge Against National Energy Board to Supreme Court: "The NEB's claim that it cannot consider scientific evidence regarding the long term impacts of the export of bitumen is simply wrong." Meanwhile B.C. citizens’ group launches recall campaign aimed at ‘ineffective’ MLAs — but it won’t be easy. *RON*]

David Geselbracht, Vancouver Observer, 23 March 2015

A group of concerned citizens has filed a constitutional challenge with Canada’s highest court today, frustrated with the National Energy Board’s review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, a process they believe is fundamentally undemocratic.

Heiltsuk First Nation says commercial herring fishery violated constitutional rights

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[This surprise attack threatens a key food source for this First Nation. It's no coincidence that the Heiltsuk are one of the nations fighting Ottawa in court over the National Energy Board's approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil tanker project. Heiltsuk claim Fisheries and Ocean Canada's method of measuring herring stocks is flawed. *RON*]
CBC News, 25 Mar 2015
External Links

Heiltsuk First Nation

(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

The Heiltsuk First Nation on B.C.'s Central Coast says whenFisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) opened a herring fishery on Sunday afternoon it violated the band's constitutional rights.

According to a statement released by the Heiltsuk, just before 5 p.m. PT the federal department opened the herring sac roe seine fishery in Spiller Channel, despite the First Nation's demands the commercial fishery remain closed this year to preserve herring …

Inside Canada's publicly funded $24 mil oilsands ad campaign

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[It must be nice, as usual, for the oil industry to have the general public pay for its advertising campaign. How many times did people watch an anti-Keystone video? Gotta keep tabs on environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer! Now, get the masses to remember and repeat: approve Keystone. Those were some of the explicit objectives of Canada's publicly funded $24 million oil sands ad campaign As a side-note, I just noticed that the Vancouver Observer is starting up a new project, the National Observer -- good for them! *RON*]

The Canadian Press, posted on Vancouver Observer, 23 March 2015

WASHINGTON — The multimillion−dollar campaign to market Canadian oil in the U.S. was hard to miss.

The Maple Leaf was plastered on the walls of subway stops in Washington, D.C., and it popped up in all sorts of American publications with messages like, "America’s Best Energy Partner," and "Friends and Neighbors."

Documents obtained by The Ca…

How Transit Impacts our Economy

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[Transit creates more jobs per dollar invested than any other type of infrastructure spending. *RON*]

Conversations for Responsible Economic Development, not dated.

The transit plebiscite is launching in a week, and whether or not you think a plebiscite is useful, it’s brought up much needed conversations about what Greater Vancouver’s transit system looks like now and should look like in the future.

It’s a fact that our population is growing and our transit system needs to grow, but let’s look at the economic impact that investment in transit could have in Metro Vancouver.

Transit as a job creator

Transit gets people moving, but it also gets our local economy flowing. You don’t have to be a frequent user of public transit to benefit from a good transit system. The economic impacts of investing in transit creates benefits that take many different forms:
Direct ROI & Multiplier Effects: It is estimated that for every $1 invested in public transit, …

Big Shelves Of Antarctic Ice Melting Faster Than Scientists Thought

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["...the rate of shrinking [in antarctic ice shelves] has increased by 70 percent over the past decade." This floating ice is what has been holding the ice over the land from flowing into the ocean, which could eventually raise sea levels by nine feet. Likewise, Antarctic Ice Shelves are Thinning Rapidly — and the Losses are Accelerating in West Antarctica. *RON*]
Christopher Joyce, National Public Radio, All Things Considered, 26 March 2015

The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating.

Many of the ice sheets that blanket Antarctica run right down to the land's edge and then out into the ocean, where they form floating ice "shelves." Some of those shelves have been shrinking lately. Now, a team of scientists …

Rights group presses watchdog on CSIS records about Northern Gateway pipeline

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[Hi, I'm back home! :-) Despite repeated government claims to the contrary, newly released documents bolster the case being brought by the BC Civil Liberties Association that CSIS repeatedly spied on law-abiding Canadians when they monitored the peaceful activities of citizens who'd prefer to not see more pipelines and tankers in B.C. Not only that, some of the information was shared with oil and pipeline companies. Unfortunately, Bill C-51 further weakens the checks and balances required in a healthy democracy to avoid this kind of abuse of power. There is an answer to this kind of civic erosion. There are tens of thousands of British Columbians banding together across this province to wrest decision-making power back from far away offices in Ottawa. Join them to re-invigorate our democracy and restore our institutions by clicking right here then checking the "Join a local Dogwood team" box. See also Makers of Firefox web brow…

Have the Banks Escaped Criminal Prosecution because They’re Spying Surrogates?

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[Big banks, the surveillance state, and impunity. Oh well, one more post because this is interesting, and raises a really good question. Are the terms under which we're collecting this information on one set of bad guys precisely what is preventing us from stopping an even bigger set of bad guys who have an even more egregious impact on our daily lives, i.e., the Big Bankers? *RON*]
By emptywheel, 21 March 2015

I’m preparing to do a series of posts on CISA, the bill passed out of SSCI this week that, unlike most of the previous attempts to use cybersecurity to justify domestic spying, may well succeed (I’ve been using OTI’s redline version which shows how SSCI simply renamed things to be able to claim they’re addressing privacy concerns).

But — particularly given Richard Burr’s office’s assurances this bill is great because “business groups like the Financial Services Roundtable and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association have a…

Comments on David Harvey’s “A Brief History of Neoliberalism”

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[I'm surprised that Harvey's Brief History is news to anyone, but it's such a good book that this is well worth posting. I'm not taking my laptop on the road with me, so this is my last posting until Saturday! *RON*]
Lambert Strether of Corrente, posted at Naked Capitalism on 23 March 2015.

I like physical bookstores (as opposed to virtual bookstores like the one to your right) because real shelves are easy to browse. Serendipitously, then, I encountered David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism, bought it, and read it. Harvey[1] is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at CUNY but it could well be that anthropologists (like David Graeber) are better equipped to interpret our political economy to it than either politicians or economists. Here are some reviews of the the book: Thom Hartmann, Theory, Culture, and Society, and Monthly Review.

What we might call “the question of the state” — its nature, our experience of it, a…

Tens of Thousands Flood Dublin Demanding Abolition of Austerity Tax On Water

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["We refuse to be bullied and intimidated into acquiescence." See also Protesters march against austerity measures in Madrid, and in Montreal where Thousands mobilize against austerity in first of weekly demonstrations, and Paul Krugman: No, Great Britain isn’t an austerity success story. *RON*]
by Sarah LazareCommon Dreams, 21 March 2015

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the Irish capital on Saturday to demand the abolition of a controversial water tax—an austerity measure that protesters say violates the human right to this vital good.

The campaign Right2Water announced in a press statement on Saturday that over 80,000 people from across Ireland took part in the demonstration. The group, whose steering committee organized the rally, had insisted ahead of the event that a big turnout is vital to "send a clear message that we refuse to be bullied and intimidated into acquiescence."

The Dublin rally was the lat…

'Go Big': Inside The $24 Million, 2-Year Federal Plan To Market Canadian Oil

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[In the corporatocratic state, the 'free market' means twenty-four million of your tax dollars hard at work, paying for what Big Oil should be paying for itself. *RON*]
By Alexander Panetta, CP / Huffington Post, 22 March 2015

WASHINGTON D.C., - The multimillion-dollar campaign to market Canadian oil in the U.S. was hard to miss.

The Maple Leaf was plastered on the walls of subway stops in Washington, D.C., and it popped up in all sorts of American publications with messages like, "America's Best Energy Partner," and "Friends and Neighbors."

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press offer a peek at the behind-the-scenes strategic considerations in 2013, as the federal government conducted a $1.6-million U.S. ad campaign that grew into a $24-million, two-year program that wraps up this month.

The records, released under the Access to Information Act, reveal the websites to be shunned as advertising outlets; the Internet …

Communication Security Establishment's Cyberwarfare Toolbox Revealed

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['Terror' is whatever threatens corporatocratic interests. Scary as hell. Remember that the Liberals also support Bill C-51, while the NDP have been shuffling around staring at their feet. It has only been actively and unequivocally opposed by the Green Party. *RON*]
By Amber Hildebrandt, Michael Pereira & Dave Seglins, CBC / Huffington Post, 23 March 2015

Top-secret documents obtained by the CBC show Canada's electronic spy agency has developed a vast arsenal of cyberwarfare tools alongside its U.S. and British counterparts to hack into computers and phones in many parts of the world, including in friendly trade countries like Mexico and hotspots like the Middle East.

The little known Communications Security Establishment wanted to become more aggressive by 2015, the documents also said.

Revelations about the agency's prowess should serve as a "major wakeup call for all Canadians," particularly in the context of the cu…

European far-right groups back Putin at Russia forum

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[Via my friend Harry. Can you imagine how the world would look if you had these guys in Russia then the Tea Party fanatics get elected in the US? *RON*]

By Marina Koreneva, Yahoo! News, 22 March 2015

About 150 members of Russian nationalist and right-wing European parties -- including Greece's Golden Dawn and Germany's National Democratic Party -- met in Russia's second city Saint Petersburg to berate the West for its stance on the Ukraine conflict and to promote "traditional values".

Far-rights groups across Europe have become vocal supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his handling of the Ukraine crisis, prompting allegations they have reached a Faustian pact to help burnish the Kremlin's battered image.

The growing ties come despite Moscow's claims it is aiming to counter what it sees as "fascism" in Ukraine, where pro-Western protesters swept a Kremlin-backed president from power last year.