Showing posts from October, 2015

Rachel Notley Sympathetic, But Can't Offer Relief To Energy Industry

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[The oil and gas industry fishing around for welfare. *RON*]
By Bill Graveland, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 30 October 2015
CALGARY — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she sympathizes with the plight of energy companies and their employees due to low oil prices, but her government isn't in a position to offer any short-term lifelines.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has estimated 36,000 jobs in the oil and gas sectors have been shed so far this year.

"We know of course that where these jobs disappear that it's very hard for families. It's very hard for communities. It's very hard ... for the people who have lost their jobs," Notley said in Calgary on Friday.

"Quite frankly the energy industry is addressing and succumbing to pressures that are international in scale.

The Okinawa missiles of October

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[Via my friend Harry. Similar horrifying stories abound, even though it takes more than fifty years before the armed forces will allow some information about some of them to be made public. It's amazing that we're all still here. *RON*]

Aaron Tovish, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 25 October 2015

Since 2003, Aaron Tovish has been the Director of the 2020 Vision Campaign of Mayors for Peace, a network of more than 6,800 cities worldwide. From 1984 to 1996, he worked as the Peace and...More

John Bordne, a resident of Blakeslee, Penn., had to keep a personal history to himself for more than five decades. Only recently has the US Air Force given him permission to tell the tale, which, if borne out as true, would constitute a terrifying addition to the lengthy and already frightening list of mistakes and malfunctions that have nearly plunged the world into nuclear war.
The story begins just after midnight, in the wee hours of October 28, 196…

Austerity comes to B.C.'s health care system

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[The problem is not that the healthcare system cannot function with less money; it can. A great deal is known about how to make healthcare more economically sustainable. The problem is when the government simply cuts the budget without trying to change how the system operates. The real block to change is physicians, who are: a) wealthy and powerful lobbyists, b) the most expensive component of the system, c) what needs to be changed (they provide too little, too late, for too much money) and d) politically conservative. *RON*]
By Marc Lee,, 30 October 2015

For many years, B.C.'s health care system escaped the austerity imposed on other parts of the public sector. No longer. While total dollars allocated to health care are still increasing somewhat, those increases are not sufficient to keep up with cost drivers in the system, leading to a real reduction in health care services. This needs to be rectified in February's budget.


The GOP and the Rise of Anti-Knowledge

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[See also Richard Hofstadter's 1966 Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, Thomas Frank's 2005 What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America and Rick Schenkman's 2008 Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth About the American Voter. *RON*]
by Mike Lofgren, Moyers & Company, 29 October 2015

This post was first published at Consortium News.

In the realm of physics, the opposite of matter is not nothingness, but antimatter. In the realm of practical epistemology, the opposite of knowledge is not ignorance but anti-knowledge. This seldom recognized fact is one of the prime forces behind the decay of political and civic culture in America.

Some common-sense philosophers have observed this point over the years. “Genuine ignorance is . . . profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions…

Fixing what Harper broke: A to-do list for the incoming government

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[One heck of a good To-Do list! "Rehire Munir Sheik as Chief Statistician of Canada and give him the Order of Canada." :-D *RON*]
By Elizabeth May,, 29 October 2015

We need a stock-taking. A "to-do" list. Some of what the Harper administration broke will be easy to fix; much will be very hard indeed.

What we must do is insist the damage be reversed. There is an equally long list of steps to take moving forward -- but we need to repair immense damage to nearly every aspect of federal law and policy.

Here's a start:

1) Fixing security law:
Repeal Bill C-51. As a compromise, the Liberals could amend part 2 (No Fly lists) while repealing Parts 1 (info sharing), 3 (terrorism in general propaganda), 4 (the most dangerous, unleashing CSIS as covert disruptors) and 5 (allowing evidence obtained by torture).Repeal C-44 -- allowing CSIS agents to operate over-seas.Repeal C-38 -- with a section eliminating the Inspector General …

Want democratic reform? Let's start with newspapers.

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[The Canadian media plutocracy. The mass media are the 1%. *RON*]
By Murray Dobbin,, 30 October 2015

Observing the cathartic effect of the end of the Harper regime reveals just how traumatized millions of Canadians were by nearly 10 years of rule by this paranoid and vindictive prime minister. The analogies and metaphors keep coming: like getting out of jail, like waking up from a nightmare, like the end of an occupation.

This election will provide students, pundits and authors with career-building opportunities to dissect the results. Part of that analysis will, of course, examine the unprecedented assault on democracy carried out by the Conservatives. As it should, because undoing the damage must be the litmus test for the new Liberal government and Parliament.

However, while it is critical to keep track of these efforts, the other democratic institution which needs renewed attention is the media -- and in particular, the newspapers in…

How humans are driving the sixth mass extinction

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[The corporatocracy and the end of the world, or at least, us. Scientists have been warning for decades that human actions are pushing life on our shared planet toward mass extinction. Such extinction events have occurred five times in the past, but a bold new paper finds that this time would be fundamentally different. Fortunately, there’s still time to stop it. *RON*]
Jeremy Hance, The Guardian, 21 October 2015
Periodically, in the vast spans of time that have preceded us, our planet’s living beings have been purged by planetary catastrophes so extreme they make your typical Ice Age look like the geological equivalent of a stroll in the park. Scientists count just five mass extinctions in an unimaginably long expanse of 450 million years, but they warn we may well be entering a sixth.

According to a bold new paper in The Anthropocene Review, this time would be different from past mass extinctions in four crucial ways – and all of these stem from…

The Center Is Dead in American Politics

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[It's worth noting this quote from the Elections Canada web site: "Since Confederation, most candidates for election to the House of Commons have not been affiliated with political parties. Political parties were not formally recognized in the Canada Elections Act until 1970, however, when changes to the Act also allowed the political affiliations of candidates to be shown on the ballots." *RON*]

By Ryan Lizza, New Yorker, 21 October 2015

Yesterday, Jim Webb, who was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination, dropped out of the race, and suggested that he may run as a third-party candidate. In his announcement, he blasted the two parties and suggested that the real political force in America is independents. “Our political candidates are being pulled to the extremes,” he said, at the National Press Club in Washington. “They are increasingly out of step with the people they are supposed to serve. Poll after poll shows that a…

The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp

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[“Just feeling like he wasn’t human, like he was just a piece of paper,” she said. “You know, [they] can dispose of you. It kind of hurt.” Death in the corporatocracy: what the future of low-wage work really looks like. I'll try posting a few, or some, or any articles at a time until my computer dies definitively. *RON*]

By Dave Jamieson. Art by Davide Bonazzi, Huffington Post,

On Jan. 18, 2013, as the sun went down, Jeff Lockhart Jr. got ready for work. He slipped a T-shirt over his burly frame and hung his white work badge over his broad chest. His wife, Di-Key, was in the bathroom fixing her hair in micro-braids and preparing for another evening alone with her three sons. Jeff had been putting in long hours lately, and so the couple planned a breakfast date at Shoney’s for when his shift ended around dawn. “You better have your hair done by then,” he teased her.

As he headed out the door, Jeff, who was 29, said goodbye to the boys. He tol…

Ron's News on an Indefinite "Hold"

[My computer is nonfunctional about 90%+ of the time now. I won't be able to make any more postings until I've been able to obtain a new computer and get everything on it re-installed and re-configured. See you soon, I hope! *RON*]

Joseph Stiglitz: Under TPP, Polluters Could Sue U.S. for Setting Carbon Emissions Limits

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[This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. The replacement of sovereign democracy by the corporatocracy must end, or we will. *RON*]
Amy Goodman, Joseph Stiglitz, Democracy Now!, 27 October 2015

Nobel Prize-winning economist, Columbia University professor and chief economist for the Roosevelt Institute. His new book is called Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity.

Nobel Prize-winning economist and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz warns about the dangers of the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "We know we’re going to need regulations to restrict the emissions of carbon," Stiglitz said. "But under these provisions, corporations can sue the government, including the American government, by the way, so it’s all the governments in the TPP can be sued for the loss of profits as a result of the regulations that restrict their ability to emit carbon emis…

Bill Gates: The Private Sector Is Inept

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[The world's richest man doubts the private sector is up to the most important job: fixing climate change. How many decades did it take for that ship to turn about 180 degrees? *RON*]
By Janet Allon / AlterNet, 27 October 2015

Bill Gates, still the world's richest man after all these years, does not have a lot of faith in his fellow billionaires or even capitalism when it comes to doing the right thing. It turns out he thinks the private sector is too selfish and inept to tackle the dire climate change situation, and relying on it would be courting disaster. Better to take a quasi socialist approach and remove the profit motive altogether from this important work.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Atlantic recently, Gates tacked pretty hard to the left. "There's no fortune to be made," he said, when it comes to developing clean energy sources and mitigating climate change. Besides, he pointed out, "the private sector …

'Yes, I Lied': Vindicating Villagers, Star Chevron Witness Busted for Perjury

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[Corruption, injustice, oil and gas, and the corporatocracy. 'Chevron has taken the people of Ecuador and the U.S. court system on a ride, full of lies, deliberate delay, and obstruction of justice,' says Amazon Watch. *RON*]

Deirdre FultonCommon Dreams, 27 October 2015

In what is being called "a dramatic turn" in a protracted legal battle, documents publicized Monday reveal that the star witness in a case pitting rainforest villagers against a multinational oil giant has admitted to lying under oath in an effort to help Chevron avoid paying a $9.5 billion judgment for deliberate pollution of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

"Yes sir, I lied there...I wasn't being truthful," ex-judge Alberto Guerra reportedly told an international arbitration tribunal earlier this year when asked about his claim that the plaintiffs' legal team offered him a $300,000 bribe to ghostwrite the ruling in their favor.

Guerra's claim, VICE…

How many guns are in America? A web of state secrecy means no one knows

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[A majority of states actively restrict access to information on gun permits, the FBI must destroy background checks and Congress bans funding for research. I feel so glad that, by comparison, Canada is now where near this psychotic. *RON*]
Jessica Glenza, Guardian, 27 October 2015

The American Public Health Association will join the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in a national summit in Washington DC to tackle gun violence. They describe the issue as “one of the biggest public health issues facing America”.

But you wouldn’t know it from looking at the state of gun research.

Ask one of the dozen or so active firearms researchers in the United States, and they won’t be able to answer the fundamental question: how many guns are in America?

In addition to a 1996 ban on federal funding for firearms research that is cited as one of the most onerous obstacles to treating gun violence as a public health issue, states have passed dozens of laws in j…

Art binned by cleaner in Italy 'restored'

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[Was the problem that they hired cleaning staff who could not tell art from garbage, or that they commissioned work from an artist with the same problem? :-D *RON*]

BBC News, 27 October 2015

An art exhibit in Italy has been restored after it was mistakenly binned by a cleaner.

The artwork, named "Where shall we go dancing tonight?", was thrown away by a cleaner who mistook it for a mess from the previous night.

It consisted of cigarette butts, empty champagne bottles and confetti.

The museum has now re-installed the artwork after getting the artists' approval.

BC approves Woodfibre LNG enviro approval over huge local opposition

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[Oil and gas profits über alles! Using yet another farcical 'public' environmental assessment process (which approved processes that are illegal in the United States because of their environmental harm), government and industry have crammed this unneeded, unwanted, and hazardous project down the throats of the public. *RON*]
Vancouver Observer, 26 October 2015

The B.C. government has granted the controversial Woodfibre LNG plant in Squamish an environmental permit, despite a loud chorus of opposition from Squamish citizens, and local municipal governments around Howe Sound.

Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman issued the environmental assessment certificate to Woodfibre LNG Ltd. on Monday afternoon, before the Squamish mayor had seen any of the details.

"It’s been a controversial project in the community. There’s a lot of vocal opposition to it, and to a lesser degree, vocal support,” said …

‘Mass exodus’ of Conservative staffers expected, Liberals need to hire hundreds

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[It's a great time to be an unemployed staunch Liberal supporter! And the sight of all those Conservative staffers trying to collect Employment Insurance will be something to behold as well. :-) *RON*]
By Laura Ryckewaert, The Hill Times, 26 October 2015
A new Liberal government means a “mass exodus” of Conservative staffers from the Hill is expected in the coming weeks, along with hundreds of New Democrats, with a rough estimate of 1,200 staffers looking for jobs.

“I would call it a mass exodus,” said a Conservative staffer who worked on a local GTA campaign and will soon be out of a job, speaking last week on the condition of anonymity.

“Once you’ve been in government so long, working in opposition is not something that’s appealing. I don’t think there will be anyone fighting over opposition-type jobs. That’s not the sense I’ve gotten. So far, everyone is just taking this as a sign that it’s time to leave Ottawa.”

The question of whether or …

French economist Thomas Piketty talks income inequality

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["The ideal solution involves a broad combination of institutions, including progressive taxation, education, social and labor laws, financial transparency [and] economic democracy," Piketty said. *RON*]

Stefan Lacmanovic, Stanford Daily, 25 October 2015

Thomas Piketty lectured on his 2013 bestseller, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” last Friday in Memorial Auditorium. “Capital” explores wealth and income inequality in U.S. and western European economies. This lecture was part of a joint venture between the Stanford Economics Department and the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, which hosted Piketty as part of their Kenneth Arrow lecture series.

Piketty is currently a professor at the Paris School of Economics. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics.

In addition to “Capital,” Piketty has written more than 12 books and has written numerous articles for publications such as the Journal of Politi…

An Analysis of the Final Intellectual Property TPP Chapter Leak

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[This is important. Take particular note of the section on the creation of the mysterious TPP Commission - this was news to me. *RON*]
Drew Wilson, FreezeNet, 23 October 2015

There’s been a development in the ongoing TPP debate. The Intellectual Property Chapter of the trade agreement has leaked. What’s significant about this leak is that it’s the final consolidated text. We offer in-depth analysis of the chapter.

Earlier, Wikileaks published one of the controversial chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). We here at Freezenet have been following the TPP debate carefully and offered very detailed coverage of the text of this agreement. Earlier, we analyzed the August 2015 draft. Before that, we offered an in-depth analysis of the 2011 leaked draft. Today, we are continuing our coverage by examining the final draft leak of this chapter.

For clarity, when we mention what page we are on, we’ll be using the paginated page number inst…

Canada's New Governent May be a New Beginning for Science

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["’s easier to close a lab than it is to start a new one. There's a structural deficit now and it may take a long time to come back." This raises one of the fundamental problems facing Trudeau. Now that Harper has shrunk government to nothing in order to give away everything including the kitchen sink to the corporatocracy, how can Trudeau now afford to bring back everything that has been cut? *RON*]
Thomas Hayden, Wired, 26 October 2015

When Simon Donner, a climate scientist at the University of British Columbia, visited a sprawling Canadian government research center last spring, it wasn’t the empty hallways and sparsely occupied laboratories that stuck with him. You’d expect those ghost town conditions after years of cutbacks and attrition. What really got him was the cafeteria.

Donner’s hosts suggested coffee; he figured he’d be able to get a bite to eat as well. “Instead, it was a huge indoor lunch room,” he says. The onc…

Going Online in the Age of Conspiracy Theories

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["Conspiracy theorizing is an inherent part of human nature." A video claiming Back to the Future predicted 9/11 is the latest in a long and often bizarre tradition of questioning key moments in history. "I think there’s a less than 1 percent chance that we’re ruled by reptilian overlords." *RON*]
Adrienne LaFrance, Atlantic Monthly, 21 October 2015

In the weeks and months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, there was an image that circulated heavily online, mostly via email. It showed a man who appeared to be standing on the observation deck of one of the World Trade Center towers. Pictured over his right shoulder was the nose of a jet. A tourist had captured a photo of one of the highjacked airplanes moments before it struck the tower, the story went, and the camera found in the debris at Ground Zero was all that remained.

The photo was doctored, a digital joke made by the man pictured. It was also one of the first in a …

Criminal Charges and $50 Million Fine Expected in Goldman-New York Fed Case

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[Corporatocratic justice. I guess the government needs to make it appear as though they're cracking down on something. Note that: a) the fine is a pittance, b) the charge involves at most pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, and c) that the banker (whom they don't even name) was part of the revolving door between Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve Bank. Smells like a 'Potemkin' crime to me. See, this is more like it: Nigeria telecom giant MTN fined a record $5.2bn*RON*]

By Ben Protess and Peter Eavis, New York Times, 26 October 2015

Federal prosecutors are preparing to announce a criminal case against a former Goldman Sachs banker suspected of taking confidential documents from a source inside the government, a rare criminal action on Wall Street that comes as Goldman itself is facing an array of penalties over the leak.

The banker and his source, who at the time of the leak was an employee at the Federal Reserve Bank of New Yo…

Eurosceptics claim victory in landmark Poland election

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[Poland has always been a very right-wing and exclusionary nation - observe how ethnically homogeneous the people are on the victory stand! In significant part their victory is due to the party's strongly anti-immigrant and anti-refugee stance. Their main geopolitical position is rabid nationalism - they are both Euroskeptics and big fans of keeping firm NATO controls on Russia. *RON*]
By Pawel Sobczak and Wiktor Szary, Reuters, 26 October 2015
Poland's eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS) claimed victory on Sunday in a watershed election that risks putting the ex-communist state on a collision course with key European Union allies.

Run by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of Poland's late president Lech Kaczynski, PiS secured 37.7 percent of the vote, just enough to govern alone and well ahead of the incumbent, staunchly pro-EU Civic Platform (PO) at 23.6 percent, said pollster IPSOS, based on 90 percent of election committees…

Morocco poised to become a solar superpower with launch of desert mega-project

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[Good for them! World’s largest concentrated solar power plant, powered by the Saharan sun, set to help renewables provide almost half the country’s energy by 2020. *RON*]
Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 26 October 2015
The Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is used to big productions. On the edge of the Sahara desert and the centre of the north African country’s “Ouallywood” film industry it has played host to big-budget location shots in Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, The Living Daylights and even Game of Thrones.

Now the trading city, nicknamed the “door of the desert”, is the centre for another blockbuster – a complex of four linked solar mega-plants that, alongside hydro and wind, will help provide nearly half of Morocco’s electricity from renewables by 2020 with, it is hoped, some spare to export to Europe. The project is a key plank in Morocco’s ambitions to use its untapped deserts to become a global solar superpower.

'Positive' economy stats 'ignore growing income inequality'

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[Positive reports on the UK's growing economy mask a large and growing inequality in income - with stark warnings of more and more low-paid jobs leading to a "race to the bottom", according to a new report. *RON*]

Juliet Michaelson, ITV News, 26 October 2015
A study by the New Economics Foundation found that while employment rates were on the rise, more people were stuck in insecure and poorly-paid positions.

The thinktank has now called on the government to measure the economy in terms beyond just Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It is a very mixed picture, and very different from the headline messages we hear from the Chancellor that the sun is shining on Britain when you just look at the growth rate pointing upwards.

Why do we want economic growth? It's to make sure we can have things like a good job - that is something we almost all aspire to if not for ourselves then for our children.

We don't just want an economy that just pr…

Portugal's Democracy Cracks Under Weight Of Austerity

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[The country’s president reappointed a center-right pro-austerity government despite majority support for anti-austerity parties that were actively seeking a coalition. Mind you, David Climenhaga is over-doing it with his story: Was there just a coup in Portugal? Why did Canada's media ignore the story? *RON*]

Daniel Marans, The Huffington Post, 24 October 2015

Elections in Portugal this week offered the latest sign that when an individual European nation’s voters challenge eurozone austerity policies, the monetary union -- and the international creditors it represents -- takes precedence.
Portugal’s president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, fueled an ongoing debate about the future of European democracy on Thursday when he reappointed an outgoing center-right prime minister despite election results that gave three left-leaning political parties the majority of seats in parliament.

Cavaco Silva named center-right leader Pedro Passos Coelho prime minis…

The Man Who Bought the Clintons: the Political Business of Terry McAuliffe

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[Plutocracy and progressive politics in the US. A real eye-popper on the dirty corporate money origins of the Clintons and the political skewering of Al Gore. *RON*]
by Jeffrey St. Clair, Counterpunch, 23 October 2015

In May 1999, the Labor Department brought suit against Jack Moore and John Grau, charging the two men with mismanaging the pension fund for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Moore was the longtime secretary of the union, while Grau was the vice-president of the National Electrical Contractor’s Association, which was partner in the fund. At issue was a series of sweetheart real estate deals in central Florida, which regulators labeled “imprudent”, and cost the fund money. Moore and Grau eventually settled the case for more than six figures. The union was forced to kick in another $5 million to cover the losses to the pension fund. The person at the center of the scandal, however, made out in the deal very well, inde…

Goodbye Middle Class: 51% Of American Workers Make Less Than $30,000 A Year

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[This number is completely mind-boggling. "The federal poverty level for a family of five is $28,410, and yet almost 40 percent of all American workers do not even bring in $20,000 a year." *RON*]
By Michael Snyder, End of the American Dream / WashingtonsBlog, 21 October 2015.

We just got more evidence that the middle class in America is dying. According to brand new numbers that were just released by the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all workers in the United States make less than $30,000 a year. Let that number sink in for a moment. You can’t support a middle class family in America today on just $2,500 a month – especially after taxes are taken out. And yet more than half of all workers in this country make less than that each month. In order to have a thriving middle class, you have got to have an economy that produces lots of middle class jobs, and that simply is not happening in America today.

Labor unions aren't just helpful — they might be 'necessary'

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[The graph, below, is a real jaw-dropper! See also: Weaker Unions Correlated with More Inequality, Higher Pay for Top Earners. *RON*]

Bob Bryan, Business Insider, 25 October 2015

Through boom and bust, the American worker has been faced by two trends over the past few decades: the percentage of workers that are members of labor unions has decreased and the American middle class has slowly been hollowed out.

According to four researchers — Richard Freeman at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Eunice Han at Wellesley College, and David Madland and Brendan V. Duke at the Center for American Progress — the two trends are closely connected.

"The evidence in this paper shows that parents' unionism has a significant relationship with their offspring's well-being," wrote the researches in a paper from the NBER.

The correlation, the study said, could have serious implications in the way that the public thinks about unions.

Malala Yousafzai: ‘I want to become prime minister of my country’

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Kate Kellaway, The Guardian, 25 October 2015

[“As our politicians are doing nothing for us, nothing for peace, nothing for education, I want to become prime minister of my country,” Malala says. She's certainly remarkably brave! On the eve of the release of a film about her life, Malala Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin, relive her remarkable journey from schoolgirl to ‘modern-day folk hero’ and the guilt he still feels about her attempted murder by the Taliban. *RON*]
On an overcast, anonymous morning, journalists assemble outside Claridge’s hotel in London. The plan is not to linger: a coach is to drive us to an undisclosed destination where Malala Yousafzai will be waiting. The security arrangements add edge to the existing sense of expectation at the prospect of meeting Malala Yousafzai and, in my case, her father. Malala, celebrated for her refusal to be silenced by the Taliban in her championship of girls’ education, is about to experi…

Trudeau Extends UN Climate Summit Invite To Elizabeth May, Other Federal Leaders

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[Clever. Who will not show up? He's 'inclusive' but he's also letting them mark themselves publicly for what they do or do not stand for. *RON*]
By Joan Bryden, Canadian Presss / Huffington Post, 24 October 2015

OTTAWA — Whatever else political opponents may say about Justin Trudeau's approach to reducing carbon emissions, they're not likely to curse his lack of inclusiveness.

The prime minister designate has already invited Green Leader Elizabeth May to be part of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations summit on climate change in Paris at the end of next month.

And he intends to invite NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and whomever is leading the Conservative party — be it Stephen Harper or an interim leader — as well, along with various non-governmental organizations and environmentalists, insiders say.

The premiers of all the provinces and territories that aren't facing an election this fall have also agreed to accompa…

This Election Showed Us Racism Is Alive and Well in Canada

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[The Conservatives' election tactics certainly seem to show that racist responses are there to be tapped into among a minority of Canadians. I saw a lot of Facebook comments during the election on the general theme of taking care of 'our own' first - meaning, from the sampling I saw, mainly older white people. We can't allow our politics to be ruled by feelings of fear, loss, division and scarcity. *RON*]
Bilan Arte, Huffington Post, 25 October 2015

The past 11 weeks of the 2015 federal election campaign have been violent for Aboriginal and racialized communities. Along the campaign trail, candidates and Canadians alike have exacerbated existing racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Aboriginal sentiments that, let's face it, have always been present in Canada.

Time and time again we witnessed the people running to represent our country pander to blatant racism, whether it be by arguing against refugee healthcare,threatening to revoke …

B.C. premier's open government promise a complete, utter sham

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[They have another 18-19 months left to do damage with their Liberal-style 'accountable democracy.' If the NDP had any brains, they'd find a reason to force a non-confidence vote (hmm, can they do that with just 36 seats?) and generate an election while the tide of public sentiment is in full force in their direction. *RON*]

Gary Mason, Globe and Mail, 23 October 2015

If you thought there might be some angst inside B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s administration over a scathing report that revealed the extent to which potentially incriminating information is regularly cleansed from the government computer system, you would be wrong. Instead, the result of an investigation by the province’s Privacy Commissioner into this practice was mostly met by shrugs and smirks initially.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone went so far as to suggest that he will likely not stop the practice of “triple deleting” e-mails, a procedure that permanently scru…

Aboriginal Voter Turnout Fuelled By Anger At Stephen Harper, Disenfranchisement

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[A fair lesson to be learned by the Conservative Party. Despite his 'dedicated base' theory of re-election, when you add up all the many 'minorities' he pushed away and angered, they matter. *RON*]
By Chinta Puxley, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 25 October 2015

WINNIPEG — Aboriginal activists who spent months mobilizing First Nations communities say Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attempt to disenfranchise aboriginal voters backfired and fuelled turnout so high that some reserves ran out of ballots.

Some aboriginal communities saw voter turnout spike by up to 270 per cent in the Oct. 19 election despite the Fair Elections Act which made it harder for someone to vote without approved identification.

In the riding of Kenora, which includes 40 First Nations in northern Ontario, voting on the reserves was up 73 per cent — almost 3,000 voters. At least four of those First Nations ran out of ballots and either used p…

Portugal's Socialists threaten minority government plan

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[Ah, democracy, thou are a bitch! :-) Portugal has a history of having an extremely entrenched right-wing government. This is the main reason the nation has been, seemingly, so accepting of harsh austerity, even while its citizens have been committing suicide when being put out of their homes. Would it be impolite, therefore, to ask which government it was that created a debt that is 130% of GDP? Obviously, it will be a major turn-around if the Socialist Party can succeed in putting together a leftist coalition, which Merkel is already growling about. *RON*]

by Olivier Devos, France 24, 23 October 2015

Portugal's Socialist Party on Friday rejected plans for a new centre-right minority government which outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has been asked to form, insisting they could assemble their own coalition.

Passos Coelho's ruling bloc took more than 38 percent of votes in the October 4 election despite overseeing…

How the Global Financial Crisis Drove Down Collective Bargaining

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[The problem of dwindling union membership is caused by government and can only be reversed by government. Of course if you elect crypto-Conservative Democrats, you wind up with them saying things like this: "Mr. Obama said America’s collective-bargaining laws have made it too hard to unionize." Duh. Like that has nothing to do with the President of the United States. *RON*]
By Melanie Trottman, Wall Street Journal, 23 October 2015

The U.S. isn’t the only country where collective bargaining has come under pressure. The global financial crisis put a widespread dent on it in recent years, a new analysis of 48 countries shows.

Between 2008 and 2013, the share of employees covered by collective-bargaining agreements fell an average of 4.6% in the 48 countries assessed, while union density dropped an average 2.3%, according to the International Labor Organization study.

Paul Ryan as Speaker: A Preview of the Fights He Will Face, in Plain English

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[Judging by the tone of their questions, one bright light is that it looks like the Republicans will be far too busy fighting among themselves to be much of a force against the Democrats. Republicans on the far right are demanding from Paul Ryan that, if he wants their support for him to become Speaker, he essentially has to give up most of his power as Speaker and become their rubber stamp. *RON*]

By Kevin Quely and Carl Hulse, New York Times, 23 October 2015

Not acquiesce to a continuing resolution TRANSLATES TO → Shut down the government

Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin appears to have rounded up sufficient support to become the next speaker of the House. But the tensions that plagued House Republicans under Speaker John A. Boehner are unlikely to disappear under Mr. Ryan.

One sign of those of tensions came Wednesday, when the Freedom Caucus, the hard-right group that helped topple Mr. Boehner, stopped short of giving Mr. Ryan its formal …

Germany Welcomes Trudeau Participation On Climate Change, Diplomacy

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["We used to say, 'it's a waste of time in Ottawa as long as Harper is around'," the diplomat said. More broadly, the diplomat said, "the traditional voice that Canada has had at the UN has been missed...." That said, there has been no permanent damage done to the "brand" of Canada, the diplomat added. "The values are still the same." *RON*]
By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 23 October 2015

OTTAWA — Germany hopes that the advent of a Trudeau Liberal government means Canada will play a more positive role at the upcoming Paris climate summit.

Werner Wnendt, the German ambassador, also says his country welcomes Justin Trudeau's post-election declaration to the world that Canada is "back."

Wnendt says he hopes it is a sign that Canada will play a bigger role again in international multilateral institutions such as the United Nations than was the case under the Ha…

B.C.'s premier delivers order to save emails after blistering privacy report

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[Since it is already the established practice of the Clark government to only speak to one another, not to keep notes or write emails - as was also established in the Information and Privacy Commissioner's report - this is meaningless. As she well knows. But it gives the illusion that she's acting swiftly to take corrective action. *RON*]

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press / Vancouver Observer, 24 October 2015

VICTORIA — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark ordered her cabinet ministers and all political staff Friday to save their emails after a stinging report criticized the government's access to information practices.

Clark's directive comes after Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she identified major information failures in the premier's office and two of her government ministries.

"I thought, we thought, that everything was being done properly," Clark said in a telephone interview from Mer…

Keynes Comes to Canada

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[As Krugman notes, so far Trudeau has talked the talk. Will he now walk the walk? In the best case scenario, in true Canadian fashion, he will partly succeed, partly fail, on balance look rather "boring," and still succeed in outperforming the US economy at lower risk. *RON*]

Paul Krugman, New York Times, 23 October 2015

Canada has a reputation for dullness. Back in the 1980s The New Republic famously declared “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative” the world’s most boring headline. Yet when it comes to economic policy the reputation is undeserved: Canada has surprisingly often been the place where the future happens first.

And it’s happening again. On Monday, Canadian voters swept the ruling Conservatives out of power, delivering a stunning victory to the center-left Liberals. And while there are many interesting things about the Liberalplatform, what strikes me most is its clear rejection of the deficit-obsessed austerity orthodoxy that has …

How Texas Teaches History

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[Some subtle, and not so subtle, ways in which the Texas school system down-plays slavery in teaching US history to children. I wonder: is this only in Texas? Aren't many of the textbooks used in the US used nation-wide? *RON*]

By Ellen Bresler Rockmore, New York Times, 21 October 2015

A TEXAS high school student and his mother recently called attention to a curious line in a geography textbook: a description of the Atlantic slave trade as bringing “millions of workers” to plantations in the American South. McGraw-Hill Education, the publisher of the textbook, has since acknowledged that the term “workers” was a misnomer.

The company’s chief executive also promised to revise the textbook so that its digital version as well as its next edition would more accurately describe the forced migration and enslavement of Africans. In the meantime, the company is also offering to send stickers to cover the passage.

But it will take more than that to fix …

Iceland Just Jailed Dozens of Corrupt Bankers for 74 Years, The Opposite of What America Does

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[The prosecution of the Icelandic bankers represents an accountability that does not exist in America. *RON*]
By Jay SyrmopoulosThe Free Thought Project / AlterNet, 22 October 2015

In stark contrast to the record low number of prosecutions of CEO’s and high-level financial executives in the U.S., Iceland has just sentenced 26 bankers to a combined 74 years in prison.
Photo Credit: c/o The Free Thought Project

Reykjavík, Iceland – In stark contrast to the record low number of prosecutions of CEOs and high-level financial executives in the U.S., Iceland has just sentenced 26 bankers to a combined 74 years in prison.

The majority of those convicted have been sentenced to prison terms of two to five years. The maximum penalty in Iceland for financial crimes is six years, although hearings are currently underway to consider extending the maximum beyond six years.

The prosecutions are the result of Iceland’s banksters manipulating the Icelandic financia…

Bacon and other processed meats cause cancer, claims WHO report

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[For all you "because... bacon" types out there. *RON*]
Ian Johnston, The Independent, 23 October 2015

The World Health Organisation is reportedly planning to declare that bacon, sausages and other processed meat cause cancer.

Red meat is also expected to be listed as being “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

A source told The Daily Mail that the announcements were expected to be made on Monday with processed meat put in the same category as cigarettes, alcohol and asbestos.

The NHS Choices website says that “evidence shows that there is probably a link between eating red and processed meat and the risk of bowel cancer”.

“People who eat a lot of these meats are at higher risk of bowel cancer than those who eat small amounts,” it adds.

Two Canadians among top five pianists at prestigious Chopin competition

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[This is cool: it's the first time a Canadian has every placed in the top 3 of the Chopin international competition in Poland. You can view his wonderful Stage II performance by clicking on this sentence. *RON*]

Tu Thanh Ha, The Globe and Mail, 12 October, 2015

A Canadian has placed second at the prestigious Chopin international competition, which has been a launchpad for classical music’s top concert pianists.

The gold medal for the 17th edition of the Warsaw-based event was awarded on Tuesday to Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea while the second spot was awarded to Charles Richard-Hamelin, 26, from Quebec.

A second Canadian, 16-year-old Yike (Tony) Yang from Toronto, placed fifth.

It was the first time that Canadians had made it to the final round of the competition, which is dedicated solely to the works of 19th-century composer Frédéric Chopin.

Kate Liu of the United States placed third, Eric Lu of the United States came fourth and Dmitry Shishkin…

Paul Ryan's 'Family Values' Are that Only Elite Families Have Value

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[From the front lines of the US class war. Paul Ryan has "has repeatedly opposed Democratic efforts to make family leave available to Americans who aren’t privileged enough to be congressmen." But Ryan isn't a hypocrite. He just sees thinks the rich and powerful are special and different. *RON*]
By Amanda MarcotteSalon, 22 October 2015

Critics of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In project argue that her brand of feminism is only for elite people, focused more on telling privileged people to throw their weight around at work than on the systemic issues that make it hard for people, especially people who have no power to set their own work schedules, to have a good work-life balance. She confirmed these suspicions Wednesday with an obnoxious Facebook post congratulating Paul Ryan for using his power to get weekends home with the family. It’s complete with this photo of him at a Packers game with the kids.

Killing Off Community Banks - Intended Consequence of Dodd-Frank?

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[The farce that is Dodd-Frank. Perpetrated under Obama and certain, if anything, to be even further weakened under Clinton, who has never seen a Wall Street banker she didn't like (and take money from). *RON*]
By Ellen Brown, Truthout, 23 October 2015
Truthout can only survive through reader support. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation and help publish journalism that fights corporate power!

At over 2,300 pages, the Dodd Frank Act is the longest and most complicated bill ever passed by the US legislature. It was supposed to end "too big to fail" and "bailouts," and to "promote financial stability." But Dodd-Frank's "orderly liquidation authority" has replaced bailouts with bail-ins, meaning that in the event of insolvency, big banks are to recapitalize themselves with the savings of their creditors and depositors. The banks deemed too big are more than 30% bigger than before the Act was pass…