Showing posts from May, 2015

On a hiatus!

[I'm off for four weeks of fun and frolicking. I won't post here again until 10 June at earliest. Sorry, but life is too short to not have good times along the way! See you in one month. :-) *RON*]

Shell's Chukchi exploration plan wins federal approval

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[So, Obama has okayed Shell Oil's arctic drilling plans. See the previous article. The argument in favour of this used to be that oil prices were so high that they could justify high-risk drilling. What is the excuse now? That the price is so low and will stay there? The US continues to try to grossly over-produce oil and blame falling prices on OPEC. On a similar note of 'Corporatocracy Uber Alles" (especially the environment) see Forbidden Data: Wyoming just criminalized citizen science. *RON*]

Yereth Rosen, Alaska Dispatch News, 11 May 2015

Federal regulators on Monday approved Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to resume oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean three years after a series of mishaps, mistakes and legal problems forced the company to temporarily shelve its drilling program.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval for Shell’s drilling plans in the Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska is conditioned on additional permit…
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[Crime and the corporatocracy. No one goes to jail, and the $6+ billion will simply be surgically removed from your and my retirement. *RON*]

Laura Noonan, Martin Arnold, Caroline Binham, Lindsay Fortado and Gina Chon, Financial Times, 11 May 2015

Five of the world’s biggest banks are finalising agreements to collectively pay more than $6bn for allegedly manipulating foreign exchange markets, with an announcement expected as soon as Wednesday.

Switzerland’s UBS will pay less than $800m, people familiar with the situation said. The highest fines will be borne by the UK’s Barclays, which is expected to agree to pay about £2bn, or about $3.1bn. JPMorgan Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland and Citigroup are all expected to pay as much as $1bn each.

UBS’s payment is lower because the bank alerted the US authorities to issues in the forex markets. Barclays’ fine is higher because the lender was not part of a $4.3bn November settlement with the UK’s Financial C…

OPEC says you can forget about $100 oil for at least the next 10 years

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[The corporatocracy eats itself. Americans over-produce oil in a weak market, then beat their chests and rail when OPEC refuses to take the fall for them by dropping their production to protect US prices. Obviously this makes OPEC an evil cartel that messes with the American concept of the free market, which applies to everyone except Americans. *RON*]
Akin Oyodele, Business Insider, 11 May 2015

Don't expect oil to go above $100 per barrel within the next decade.

The 12-member oil cartel OPEC has this grim forecast in a draft report presented to its staff last week that the Wall Street Journal read.

Here's the Journal's Benoît Faucon and Summer Said (emphasis added):
"The report, seen by The Wall Street Journal, predicts that oil prices will be about $76 a barrel in 2025 in its most optimistic scenario, a reflection of OPEC worries that American competitors will be able to cope with low prices and keep pumping out supplies. It also…

Canadian Government Says Free Speech is for Offending Muslims — Not Opposing Israel

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["When the views being suppressed are ones amenable to those in power (e.g., cartoons mocking Islam), free speech is venerated; attempts to suppress those kinds of ideas show that 'they have declared war on any country, like ourselves, that values freedom, openness and tolerance.' We get to celebrate ourselves as superior and progressive and victimized, and how good that feels. But when ideas are advocated that upset those in power (e.g. speech by Muslims critical of Western nations and their allies), the very same people acquiesce to, or expressly endorsefull-scale suppression. Thus can the Canadian Prime Minister pompously parade around as some sort of Guardian of Enlightenment Ideals only, three months later, to act like the classic tyrant." See Harper Government Threatens BDS Supporters with Hate Crime Charges*RON*]
By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, 11 May 2015
(updated below)

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Janu…

Stephen Harper: “For the first time in history, this country actually has GHG emissions that have been falling.”

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[Come election time, Stephen Harper's grand new policy on the environment is to lie about his actual policies for the environment. There is no better sign that he knows he's deeply in the wrong. *RON*]
By: Brandon Bailey on May 11, 2015

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister and Conservative MP for Calgary Southwest, in a interview on December 17, 2014
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen annually since 2010. While emissions did fall from 2007 to 2009, it was not the first decrease in Canadian history. FactsCan Score: False

In a year-end interview last December, Stephen Harper claimed Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are falling for the first time in history. Arguing Canada had made “a substantial contribution to confronting” emissions, the Prime Minister said, “for the first time in history, this country actually has GHG emissions that have been falling.”

A similar claim surfaced more recently. In his budget speech in April of this yea…

Coal a sunset industry

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[Conservative politicians argue that 'socialist' approaches fail because governments don't know enough to pick winners and losers and ought to let the free market decide what's best. Yet the Harper government constantly intervenes on behalf of its friends and supporters in the corporatocracy, even when it involves all-around loser industries like coal. Also, this one, on what a good neighbour the Port really is: Metro air pollution authority contested in court*RON*]

by Frank Bucholtz - Surrey North Delta Leader, 8 May 2015

The coal port proposed for Fraser Surrey Docks is changing shape. The company that operates the docks is now proposing that coal be loaded directly onto ships, rather than being transported by barge to Texada Island, and then loaded onto ships.

Fraser Surrey Docks has amended its proposal for a coal export terminal, and public input on the change is being welcomed until May 19.

CEO Jeff Scott says the change…

Dr. John O’Connor Fired? Why?

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[It will be interesting to hear what the explanation is for this. John O'Connor was among the first and most prominent whistle-blowers concerning the health effects of the Tar Sands on the Aboriginal community in Fort Chippewa. *RON*]
West Coast Native News, 10 May 2015

From: “Caroline Adam” <>
Date: May 8, 2015 at 2:51:37 PM MDT
To: “‘John O’Connor'” <>
Cc: “‘Richard Ibach, Dr.'” <>, “‘Manish Joshi'” <>, “Blue Eyes Simpson” <>, “Flossie Cyprien” <>, “Margo Vermillion ” <>, “Paul Tuccaro” <>, “Roxanne Marcel” <>, “Trish Merrithew-Mercredi” <>
Subject: Termination of clinical on call – consulting coverage – Fort Chipewyan

Good afternoon Joh…

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

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[Seymour Hersh says that Obama's version of how Osama bin Laden was killed is a tissue of lies. *RON*]
Seymour M. Hersh, London Review of Books, Vol. 37 No. 10 · 21 May 2015

It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations…

Billionaire bunkers: Security for the super-rich

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[The peasants are coming with their pitch forks. An old article, but I saw a reference to it and couldn't resist tracking it down. "Home security has gone straight into sci-fi territory with ballistics-proof suites and DNA-coded fog screens." By the way, I came across the reference here: Inside the Billion-Dollar Brain: 3 Attitudes That Explain Their Selfish Behavior. *RON*]

Morgan Brennan, / Yahoo News, 6 December 2013

Al Corbi’s residence in the Hollywood Hills has the requisite white walls covered in artwork and picture windows offering breathtaking views of downtown Los Angeles, but it has more in common with NSA headquarters than with the other contemporary homes on the block.
The Corbi family doesn’t need keys (thanks to biometric recognition software), doesn’t fear earthquakes (thanks to steel-reinforced concrete caissons that burrow 30 feet into the private hilltop) and sleeps easily inside a 2,500-square-foot ho…

More Consensus on Coffee’s Benefits Than You Might Think

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[A big "Hooray!" from those of us whose consciousness is buoyed on a sea of caffeine molecules! :-) I am seriously jonesing for some of the Spanish coffee I'll be drinking in a few days. *RON*]

Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times, 11 May 2015

When I was a kid, my parents refused to let me drink coffee because they believed it would “stunt my growth.” It turns out, of course, that this is a myth. Studies have failed, again and again, to show that coffee or caffeine consumption are related to reduced bone mass or how tall people are.

Coffee has long had a reputation as being unhealthy. But in almost every single respect that reputation is backward. The potential health benefits are surprisingly large.

When I set out to look at the research on coffee and health, I thought I’d see it being associated with some good outcomes and some bad ones, mirroring the contradictory reports you can often find in the news media. This didn’t turn out to be …

Inequality: how rich countries can make a difference

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[Ken Rogoff is still hard at it. His argument here is basically that dragging the developed world's middle class down to developing world poverty levels is actually good since it makes ALL the rich richer while raising the pay of the developing world's poor just enough to keep them from actually rising up for justice. *RON*]
Kenneth Rogoff, The Guardian, 11 May 2015
Europe’s migration crisis exposes a fundamental flaw, if not towering hypocrisy, in the ongoing debate about economic inequality. Wouldn’t a true progressive support equal opportunity for all people on the planet, rather than just for those of us lucky enough to have been born and raised in rich countries?

Many thought leaders in advanced economies advocate an entitlement mentality. But the entitlement stops at the border: though they regard greater redistribution within individual countries as an absolute imperative, people who live in emerging markets or developing countries …

Cuomo Orders Emergency Measures to Protect Workers at Nail Salons

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[This is in response to the Friday story in the Times, which you can read here (the links are also given within this posting, below). Of course, as one comment to the original article notes, nowhere is there any mention in Cuomo's response about the minimum wage. *RON*]

By Sarah Maslin Nir, New York TImes, 11 May 2015

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered emergency measures on Sunday to combat the wage theft and health hazards faced by the thousands of people who work in New York State’s nail salon industry.

Effective immediately, he said in a statement, a new, multiagency task force will conduct salon-by-salon investigations, institute new rules that salons must follow to protect manicurists from the potentially dangerous chemicals found in nail products, and begin a six-language education campaign to inform them of their rights.

Nail salons that do not comply with orders to pay workers back wages, or are unlicensed, will be shut down. The new rules co…

Lobbyists, agencies, government-funded ideological front groups face setbacks in wake of Alberta's Orange Wave

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[On the over-turned pork barrel in Alberta. *RON*]
By David J. Cimenhaga,, 11 May 2015

WANTED: Someone -- anyone! -- willing to work for major national lobbying firm in Alberta. New Democratic Party connections essential! Orange party card as asset.

Back in the fall of 2012, not long after the New Democrats led by the late Jack Layton had become the official Opposition in Ottawa, the Globe and Mailbreathlessly reported that the lobbying world was starting to pay attention to the NDP.

A few prominent New Democrats began to work in what practitioners prefer to call"government relations" -- for example, erstwhile NDP national director Robin Sears, who spent more than a little time professionally burnishing the reputation of former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Not here in Alberta, though. In late 2012 the Progressive Conservative Party was firmly in control, having just renewed itself under the leadership of premier Ali…

The solar road in the Netherlands is working even better than expected

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[The practical alternatives are there, they simply (!!) require politicians with the will to implement them. *RON*]

Fiona MacDonald, Science Alert, 11 May 2015

Hell yeah, solar roads!

The Netherlands made headlines last year when it built the world's first solar road - an energy-harvesting bike path paved with glass-coated solar panels.

Now, six months into the trial, engineers say the system is working even better than expected, with the 70-metre test bike path generating 3,000 kWh, or enough electricity to power a small household for a year.

"If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70kwh per square metre per year," Sten de Wit, spokesman for SolaRoad, the group behind the project, told Tarek Bazley at Al Jazeera. So just imagine the potential if we covered all our roads in the stuff.

It’s this kind of thinking that got the Internet so hyped-up over Solar Roadways last year - a crowd-funded project that ai…

How we can Use Livestreaming Apps to Promote Justice

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[Participatory technology. On streaming human rights violations and protests live to your home with products such as Meerkat, Periscope and Bambuser. *RON*]
Sam Gregory, 10 May 2015

MOBILE LIVESTREAMING IS enjoying a moment in the spotlight with the launch of apps like Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope. You can use livestreaming apps to broadcast your trip to the grocery store, or to illegally stream expensive boxing matches, but their most important use is not at all trivial: documenting news and serving as an important tool for highlighting social injustice or emergencies as they happen.

In the US we’ve seen this most recently in events in Ferguson, Missouri, where livestreamers shared the realities of protest on the ground, capturing live moments such as when a police officer threatened media and protestors with a gun.

The response in the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore to the deaths of young African American men at the hands of police is t…

Is the Government Harassing and Censoring Scientists for Studying Ties Between Pesticides and Bee Deaths?

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[This will certainly sound familiar to Canadians. *RON*]
By Reynard Loki, AlterNet /, 10 May 2015

Following reports that scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture are being harrassed and their research on bee-killing pesticides is being censored or suppressed, a broad coalition of farmers, environmentalists, fisheries and food-safety organizations urged an investigation in a May 5 letter sent to Phyllis K. Fong, USDA Inspector General.

"The possibility that the USDA is prioritizing the interests of the chemical industry over those of the American public is unacceptable," states the letter, which was signed by more than 25 citizens' groups concerned that a forthcoming report by the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health, which is co-chaired by the USDA, will be compromised.

The signatories include the American Bird Conservancy, Avaaz, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Farmworke…

Rocco Galati challenges role of Bank of Canada in latest case

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[It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this. By far and away the majority of government debt has nothing whatsoever to do with social spending. It consists, rather, or money paid to private banks for financial services that used to cost us nothing up to 1974. *RON*]

CBC News, 8 May 2015

The lawyer best known for stopping the Supreme Court appointment of Judge Marc Nadon has turned his sights on the Bank of Canada.

Rocco Galati has taken on a case for a group called the Committee for Monetary and Economic Reform, or COMER, which wants the central bank to return to the practice of lending federal and provincial governments interest-free money for infrastructure.

"They felt it was important in the face of the financial sector meltdown in 2008, the banking meltdown, and the drastic reduction and elimination of human capital infrastructure such as health care, universities and basically the stuff that the Bank of Canada from 1938…

Police arrest 15 in anti-austerity protest in London

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[See also Tony Blair's Labour must be the party of ambition as well as compassion - complete vacuous blather - no wonder they lost - you really can't make this shit up. *RON*]

BBC News, 10 May 2015

Fifteen people, including a 16-year-old boy, were arrested following clashes with police during an anti-austerity protest close to Downing Street.

Officers in riot gear clashed with a "minority" of protesters who threw objects during the rally - which came after the Tory election victory.

Met Police said four police officers and a police staff member were injured.

A police investigation is also under way after graffiti referring to "Tory scum" was daubed on a war memorial.

Met Police said of the 15 arrested, 14 people been bailed pending further enquiries including a full review of CCTV footage and a 24-year-old man remains in custody after being arrested on suspicion of assault on police.

Graffiti was sprayed on the Women&…

Why Food Companies Aren’t Prepared To Deal With Water Scarcity

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[It's never been an issue in the past so they are unprepared to deal with it and are ignoring the issue like crazy. "The reality is that for a very long time the business model for the food sector has been premised on cheap abundant water." See also California drought rules frustrate regions that prepared for the worst. *RON*]

By Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, 9 May 2015

Leading global food companies are failing to account for impending water scarcity in their business plans, a new report finds.

Released Thursday by the Boston-based sustainable business consortium Ceres, Feeding Ourselves Thirsty: How the Food Sector is Managing Global Water Risks looked at how the world’s top 37 food companies, like Coca-Cola, Cargill, and General Mills, are planning for a world with water shortages. The results, according to Brooke Barton, senior director of Ceres’ Water Program, are concerning.

“If you look at the science of groundwater deplet…

Court rules search of businessman’s laptop at border ‘unreasonable’

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[I.e., the argument is that foreign nationals should be subject to unreasonable search and seizure. "President Barack Obama and his predecessors have maintained that people crossing into U.S. territory aren't protected by the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. That... means the government could, at least in theory, target travelers for no reason other than political advocacy, for example." *RON*]

By Associated Press / PBS News Hour, 9 May 2015
WASHINGTON — A federal court has ruled that the government’s search of a traveling businessman’s laptop at the California border was unreasonable and violated his privacy.

In an opinion posted Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson suppressed evidence obtained from the computer of South Korean businessman Jae Shik Kim, undercutting the government’s case that he conspired to sell aircraft technology illegally to Iran. Jackson said that federal law enforcement…

Boat carrying Rohingya migrants rescued off Indonesia

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[I threw away my copy of Aung San Suu Kyi's memoirs when I realized that this revered Buddhist politician - more politician than Buddhist it seems - was never, ever going to speak out against the treatment of the Rohingya in Myanmar. Many Rohingya are now dying as slaves in Thailand. See also Hundreds of Rohingya wash ashore in Indonesia on boats. *RON*]
BBC News, 10 May 2015

A boat carrying about 500 members of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim community has been rescued off northern Indonesia.

The boat - with many women and children on board - was stranded in waters off Aceh province when it was rescued.

Myanmar - formerly known as Burma - refuses to recognise Rohingya as citizens and hundreds of thousands have fled persecution in recent years.

Their main escape route has been the jungle border with Thailand, but many have also fled by sea.

"We received a report from fishermen this morning that there were boat people stranded," Aceh …

Mona Eltahawy: ‘All religions are obsessed with my vagina’

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[On Arabic feminism. The writer who became an icon of the Egyptian revolution on being a teenage feminist in Saudi Arabia, her tattoos and supporting Manchester United. *RON*]
Interview by Elizabeth Day, The Guardian, 10 May 2015
Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning journalist and commentator on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism. Born in Port Said, Egypt, in 1967, she moved to the UK with her parents (both doctors) when she was seven and then to Saudi Arabia when she was 15. In November 2011, while covering the protests in Egypt, she was physically and sexually assaulted by riot police, and detained for 12 hours by the Interior Ministry and Military Intelligence. The following year, her examination of misogyny in the Muslim world entitled “Why Do They Hate Us?” became a viral sensation. She has now expanded the original article into a book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. Eltahawy lives in Cairo and Ne…

Harper Vows No 'Permanent Underclass' Of Temporary Foreign Workers While He's PM

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[Just a temporary underclass. "Since I have, obviously, already been caught, simply, doing exactly this and, clearly, there is an election coming." *RON*]
By Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 8 May 2015

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday he doesn't want to create a permanent underclass in Canada because of problems with the temporary foreign worker program.

Harper made the comment as he hosted Philippines President Benigno Aquino, on the second day of his Canadian visit.

Harper touted the Philippines as a great source of immigration to Canada and he expects those levels to grow. "This is a pro-immigration government," he said.

But Filipinos are among the many communities in Canada affected by changes to the temporary foreign worker program.

With a federal election in the offing this fall and with 700,000 Canadians of Filipino descent making up one of the country's larger diaspora comm…

Russia seeks extradition of alleged Nazi war criminal living in Quebec

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[A nicely-played bit of realpolitik by Putin because it plays into his, certainly partly truthful, narrative about how the West supports fascist elements in Ukraine, and Harper does little to help his case by squirmingly changing the subject. Putin is also well aware of the fact that Harper normally counts on the pro-Israel Jewish vote. *RON*]

Steven Chase, The Globe and Mail, 8 May 2015

Russian authorities are asking Canada to extradite an alleged war criminal of Ukrainian ancestry who’s lived here for more than 60 years, a request that appears designed to embarrass Ottawa while relations with Moscow remain frosty over President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, a law enforcement body that reports only to Mr. Putin, on Friday called on Canada to deliver Vladimir Katriuk, a Quebec beekeeper now in his 90s, to Moscow so he can be tried for alleged war crimes.

Jewish groups have long urged …

The Alamo and Walmart

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[On "freedom," guns, and the funny ways in which right wing nuttery divides against itself. This piece is on the branch of American politics which states that guns are always good, as long as they are wielded by private citizens without government interference or control, but otherwise they are clear evidence that Big Government via "the military is going to stage a takeover via the tunnels under Walmart." *RON*]

Gail Collins, New York Times, 8 May 2015

Have you noticed that Utah doesn’t seem to be worried about a military takeover?

This was not a sentence I had ever envisioned writing. Yet here we are. A military training exercise is in the works for the Southwest this summer, and conspiracy theories are abloom. It’s hard not to be enthralled when Walmart denies that tunnels are being built under its stores to ferry troops into Texas where they will tear up the Constitution and confiscate everybody’s guns.

Hey, no laughing matte…

Stop-Go Austerity and Self-Defeating Recoveries

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[" guess is that we’re looking at an era of stop-go austerity, in which politicians who refuse to learn the right lessons from history doom their citizens to repeat it." *RON*]
Paul Krugman, New York Times, 8 May 2015

Sometimes good things happen to bad ideas. Actually, it happens all the time. Britain’s election results came as a surprise, but they were consistent with the general proposition that elections hinge not on an incumbent’s overall record but on whether things are improving in the six months or so before the vote. Cameron and company imposed austerity for a couple of years, then paused, and the economy picked up enough during the lull to give them a chance to make the same mistakes all over again.

They’ll probably seize that chance. And given the continuing weakness of British fundamentals – high household debt, a soaring trade deficit, etc. – there’s a good chance that the resumption of austerity will usher in another e…

A telling 24 hours in Stephen Harper’s world

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["If one were to draw up an indictment of this government’s approach to politics and the public purpose, one might mention its wholesale contempt for Parliament, its disdain for the Charter of Rights and the courts’ role in upholding it, its penchant for secrecy, its chronic deceitfulness, its deepening ethical problems, its insistence on taking, at all times, the lowest, crudest path to its ends, its relentless politicization of everything. But you’d think you would need to look back over its record over several years to find examples. You wouldn’t think to see them all spread before you in the course of a single day." See also: A bad news week for the Prime Minister. *RON*]

Andrew Coyne, National Post, 8 May 2015

Thursday was a busy day for the Harper government. Consider just some of what went on:

There was the continuing fallout over the revelation that officials in the Prime Minister’s Office had posted two videos online, taken duri…

Author Q&A: Journalist Andrew MacLeod charts B.C.’s growing income inequality

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[It would be interesting to go listen to him talk on Tuesday. I've put in a request with my library to buy this book. *RON*]

Vancouver Sun, 8 May 2015

A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia

by Andrew MacLeod

Harbour Publishing

Victoria journalist Andrew MacLeod’s A Better Place on Earth provides an in-depth analysis of income inequality in B.C. MacLeod says British Columbia has the highest rate of inequality in Canada and that the top 10 per cent in B.C. holds more than half the wealth. While fortunes of the rich grow exponentially, the rest of the population’s income is stagnant or even declining, he says.

Q: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind writing A Better Place on Earth?

A: I’ve been interested in economic justice for a long time. I remember as a child in the 1970s, having lived a fairly sheltered life, wondering why there were people begging when most the people I knew had nice hom…

Investors stung by eurozone bond volatility

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[Weird things are happening with the bond market, not just in Germany, but across Europe (Spanish bonds dropped 20% today), and in the US. It will be interesting to watch to see what happens net and how this gets explained. Though various partial explanations are being offered (e.g., rising oil prices), none are sufficient to account for this degree of volatility in what is usually an extremely stable, not to say boring, market. *RON*]

Elaine Moore, Joe Rennison & Michael Mackenzie, Financial Times, 7 May 2015

European bonds gyrated on Thursday in the worst bout of volatility since the eurozone debt crisis, as markets were thrown into confusion over the impact of quantitative easing on Europe’s financial assets and economies.

In the space of a few hours the yield on Germany’s 10-year Bund, which moves inversely to prices, jumped by 21 basis points to 0.80 per cent before easing back to 0.59 per cent.

With sovereign bond yields rarely moving by m…

The Price of Nice Nails

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[A nicely researched piece from the front lines of the class war. Manicurists are routinely underpaid and exploited, and endure ethnic bias and other abuse, The New York Times has found. See also PART 2 Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers. I had no idea it was this bad. *RON*]

By Sarah Masline Nir, New York Times, 7 May 2015

The women begin to arrive just before 8 a.m., every day and without fail, until there are thickets of young Asian and Hispanic women on nearly every street corner along the main roads of Flushing, Queens.

As if on cue, cavalcades of battered Ford Econoline vans grumble to the curbs, and the women jump in. It is the start of another workday for legions of New York City’s manicurists, who are hurtled to nail salons across three states. They will not return until late at night, after working 10- to 12-hour shifts, hunched over fingers and toes.

On a morning last May, Jing Ren, a 20-year-old who had recently arrived from China, stoo…

'Mr Khadr, you're free to go'

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[A Canadian judge has released Omar Khadr, formerly the youngest prisoner at Guantanamo, pending his appeal, no thanks to Stephen Harper, who has fought any attempt to alleviate the brutality of his treatment. *RON*]

Daniel Lak, Al Jazeera, 8 May 2015

I have covered Omar Khadr’s incarceration and legal battles since 2004, when the United States first convened the controversial military commissions to try inmates at Guantanamo Bay.

As the youngest prisoner at the US military base in Cuba, he was seen by rights groups as a juvenile, and entitled to much more lenient treatment than he was receiving.

But neither Canada’s government nor Washington agreed. Omar was subjected to brutal treatment on his way to Guantanamo and at the base detention centre.

Youngest prisoner leaves Guantanamo Bay

Canada not only condoned such treatment, it sent spies and diplomats to take part in his interrogation and obtained information that the Supreme Court of Canada late…

David Cameron and Conservatives Get Majority in British Election

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[The results were disastrous for the Labour Party, and (just like the BC elections) the polls proved to be totally incorrect. But the election results would not have made any big difference to the quality of life of average Britains, since all the major contenders had stated that they have an ongoing commitment to austerity policies. The Big Deal Cameron now faces is defining Britain's relationship to the European Union. *RON*]

By Steven Erlanger & Stephen Castle, New York Times, 8 May 2015

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservatives won a resounding victory in the British general election, with nearly complete results on Friday showing that the party had secured an overall majority in Parliament.

The vote was a stunning disappointment for the opposition Labour Party and its leader, Ed Miliband, who had shifted the party away from the more centrist strategy it pursued in the late 1990s and early 2000s under Tony Blair. Mr. …

Tories Kill Bill Urging 'Harmony' Between Canadian Law And First Nations

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[The Harper government squashed a bill proposing Canada align its laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada was the only country to raise its objections on the Declaration. *RON*]
By Zi-Ann Lum, Huffington Post Canada, 7 May 2015

A NDP-sponsored bill proposing Canada align its laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was defeated Wednesday.

The Conservative government used its majority to reject Romeo Saganash’s private member’s bill, five months after it was first introduced to the House of Commons.

In a statement after the vote, Saganash said he was disappointed with the outcome.

“Conservatives ignored Canadians and voted down a piece of legislation that would uphold the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples,” said the Quebec MP.

He added that Bill C-641 “was not a matter of left against right, but right against wrong.”

Bill C-51 Takes a Sledgehammer to the Canadian Charter

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[As Mr. Parmar puts it:

See also Elizabeth May makes impassioned speech against Bill C-51. *RON*]
Shekhar Parmar, Entrepreneur, Business Owner, Lawyer, Huffington Post, 7 May 2015.

As a Canadian citizen, lawyer, immigrant, and a student of world politics, I have always marveled at the beauty and principles of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To me it was the quintessential Canadian document -- one that protected the rights of all, promoted equality, celebrated our differences, and made our laws subject to a very high ethical and moral threshold. The Charter very carefully balanced individual rights versus the power of the state and purposefully set a high bar for when it would be appropriate for the individual's right to be secondary to the states. Our legal system had also added beauty to the Charter by adopting a living tree approach, which allowed the Charter's interpretation to evolve over time. So very rational. So balance…

How Canada made the Koch brothers rich

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[A good article based on the Koch brothers documentary that was suppressed by Global TV. The original article about that event is here: Global News Disappeared a Koch Brothers Exposé. *RON*]

By Bruce Livesey, National Observer, 5 May 2015

Author's note: Until this past February, I worked as a contracted television producer for Global TV and its current affairs program, 16x9. Last fall, I was commissioned to do a story for the program about the Koch brothers, their holdings in Alberta’s oil sands and their interest in getting the Keystone XL pipeline built. In January, two days before the 22-minute documentary was about to air on 16x9, Global's senior management pulled the story. After Jesse Brown's Canadaland published a story about its sudden disappearance, Global fired me, although I was not quoted in that story or had any involvement with it. What you're about to read includes some of the material that has not yet been permitt…

Prince Rupert First Nations Band Rejects $1 Billion In 1st Stage Of LNG Vote

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[Incredible! Talk about standing by your beliefs! *RON*]
— By Geordon Omand, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 6 May 2015

PORT SIMPSON, B.C. - The first of three votes on a natural gas benefit offer worth over $1 billion has been unanimously rejected by a First Nation on British Columbia's northwest coast.

All of the more than 180 eligible voters at a meeting in Port Simpson stood up to oppose the plan to build a liquefied-natural-gas pipeline and terminal in their territory, said Lax Kw'alaams band member Malcolm Sampson.

Pacific NorthWest LNG, which is mostly owned by Malaysia-based oil and gas giant Petronas, has applied to build an export terminal on Lelu Island, just south of Prince Rupert at the head of the Skeena River.

Residents have raised concerns over the project's environmental impact, citing the site's problematic location and the threat it poses to the watershed.

What’s In The Recycled Oil Field Wastewater Sprayed On California Crops?

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[You may want to re-think your purchase of California veg from the local Safeway. Now that California has used up pretty well its last drop of real water, it's now looking at selling you vegetables raised in liquefied toxic sludge. "You can't find what you don't look for," indeed! *RON*]

By Mike Gaworecki, DeSmog Blog, 7 May 2015

“You can't find what you don't look for,” UC Berkeley researcher Seth B.C.Shonkoff recently told the LA Times, referring to the chemicals that state regulators don’t know to test for in the recycled wastewater the California oil industry sells for use on crops here in the top agricultural producing state in theUS.

Chevron produces more than 10 times as much water as it does oil at its Kern River oil field in California’s Central Valley, for instance — 760,000 barrels of water a day versus 70,000 barrels of oil. Half of that water is treated and sold to the Cawelo Water District in Bakersfield…

'Pollute at Will' Bill Enjoys Widespread Support From House Republicans

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[Move to slash budgets for clean air, clean energy and climate change planning called 'totally backwards' by critics. We need to think long and hard about what democracy means. *RON*]
By Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News, 6 May 2015

American lawmakers passed a bill last week that slashes funding for renewable energy, limits the federal government's ability to protect clean water, and prohibits agencies from planning for future climate impacts on infrastructure and military facilities. But it may prove only symbolic.

The legislation, known as the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, passed the House of Representatives 240-177, with 10 Democratic supporters, on May 1. It sets the 2016 budgets for the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and related agencies.

Representatives allocated $1.65 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency, a $266 million drop from 2015 and $1 billion less than President Barack Obama had…

Conspiracy Theories Over Jade Helm Training Exercise Get Some Traction in Texas

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[The thing with this article is - remember the days when the NYT was constantly accused of a left-wing bias? - by framing this as a right-wing issue, on "the outer edges of political paranoia," they implicitly condone the slow emergence of the police state. Something that is complete anathema from a progressive viewpoint. *RON*]

By Manny Fernandez, New York Times, 6 May 2015

DALLAS — The questions being raised by right-wing bloggers and conservative commentators about a Pentagon training exercise called Jade Helm 15 traverse the outer edges of political paranoia.

The eight-week exercise starting in July and planned for locations in Texas, New Mexico, California and other Southwestern states, they say, is part of a secret plan to impose martial law, take away people’s guns, arrest political undesirables, launch an Obama-led hostile takeover of red-state Texas, or do some combination thereof.

But when Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive to…