Showing posts from November, 2015

You Are More Than 7 Times As Likely To Be Killed By A Right-Wing Extremist Than By Muslim Terrorists

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[Islam-inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.” The percentage of refugees that are connected to terrorist plots is vanishingly small. *RON*]

By Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, 30 November 2015
Friday afternoon, one week after elected officials all over the country tried to block Syrian refugees from entering their states in an apparent effort to fight terrorism, a white man in Colorado committed what appears to be an act of terrorism in a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Though the details of Robert Lewis Dear’s motives for killing three people in the clinic and injuring nine others are still being revealed, Dear reportedly told law enforcement “no more baby parts,” an apparent reference to heavily edited videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress, which numerous politicians…

Northern Ireland law on abortion ruled 'incompatible with human rights'

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["High court judgment in Belfast could lead to women being allowed to have terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest." It's certainly a slow process, but the Ayatollahs have gradually been losing ground in Ireland and North Ireland. *RON*]
Henry McDonald, The Guardian, 30 November 2015

A high court judge has ruled that Northern Ireland’s almost outright ban on abortion breaches the human rights of women and girls, including rape victims.

The historic judgment, delivered in Belfast on Monday, could lead to women and girls who are the victims of rape and incest as well those suffering from fatal foetal abnormalities having terminations in Northern Irish hospitals.

At present, under a 19th-century law, local medical teams could be jailed for life for carrying out abortions even in these circumstances. Unlike the rest of the UK, the Abortion Act 1967 has never applied to Northern Ireland and since devolution was…

Two-Thirds of Americans Want U.S. to Join Climate Change Pact

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[Pick one. Merriam-Webster: "DEMOCRACY. 1. a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority." Oxford Dictionaries Online: "A society or system that is governed or controlled by corporations." *RON*]

By Giovani Russonellonov, New York Times, 30 November 2015

A solid majority of Americans say the United States should join an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming, but on this and other climate-related questions, opinion divides sharply along partisan lines, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Two-thirds of Americans support the United States joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but a slim majority of Republicans remain opposed, the poll found. Sixty-three percent of Americans — including a bare majority of Republicans — said they would support domestic policy limiting carbon emissions from power plants.

Public support for internat…

Can we define terror, or should we let terrorism define us?

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[An old one; I don't remember how I came across it. This rather long article makes a rather short point, but an important one: first define your terms. Where terrorism is concerned this matters a great deal, since otherwise we leave it to power-hungry political ideologues to define it for us by default. *RON*]

By K (a nice Kafkaesque touch), International Observatory on Stability & Conflict, 2 November 2014 .

In May 2013, the renowned International Institute for Counter Terrorism, the ICT, held a global workshop of legal scholars, experts, analysts, in order to work toward an international definition of terrorism. Without exception, all panelists worked against the effort led by Dr. Boaz Ganor. In his closing remarks, he lamented the frustrating and sterile experience. “We will never reach the level of counter terrorism efficiency and cooperation that is needed (…) without agreeing on the basic issue. What are we fighting? What is the co…

Donald Trump May Not Be a Fascist, But He is Leading Us Merrily Down That Path

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[Donald Trump's ümwelt would need to take a giant step forward in coherence to quality as fascist: he's simply a hate-filled gas bag in my opinion. But, in this, Neiwert is totally correct: this doesn't mean he's not dangerous. *RON*]

David Neiwert, Orcinus: Spy Hopping the Right, 28 November 2015

People who have studied the extremist right as a historical and sociopolitical phenomenon in depth are acutely aware of a simple truth: America has been very, very lucky so far when it comes to fascistic political movements.

And now, with the arrival of the Donald Trump 2016 phenomenon, that luck may be about to run out.

Nor is this phenomenon just a flash in the pan. Trump is the logical end result of an endless series of assaults on not just American liberalism, but on democratic institutions themselves, by the American right for many years. It is the long-term creep of radicalization of the right come home to roost.

Fascistic element…

How Sharing Economy Harms Workers

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[The so-called "sharing economy" (doesn't it sound nice?) is just another way of saying "union busting." It's one of the many things that's edging society toward ever greater divisiveness. *RON*]

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s blog / LA Progressive, 28 November 2015

In this holiday season it’s especially appropriate to acknowledge how many Americans don’t have steady work.
The so-called “share economy” includes independent contractors, temporary workers, the self-employed, part-timers, freelancers, and free agents. Most file 1099s rather than W2s, for tax purposes.

It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will be in such uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.

It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will be in such uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.

Pounding the Table, Israeli Officials Malign International Criminal Court

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["If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you don't have the facts or the law, pound the table." See also: Netanyahu suspends diplomatic dialogue with EU. *RON*]

By James Marc Leas, Truthout, 29 November 2015

This is the first installment in a five-part series, "Israel Attacks the International Criminal Court, but Its Arguments Fall Flat."

Within hours of Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), announcing that she was initiating a "preliminary examination" into the situation in Palestine, Israeli officials launched an aggressive campaign to undermine the court and the Palestinian Authority (PA). News media reported the following elements of this forceful effort by the Israeli government:

A "public diplomacy campaign to discredit the legitimacy of the ICC's decision to start an inquiry into what the Palesti…

Banned Paris Climate March Turns Violent As Protesters Throw Memorial Candles At Police

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[Looks like they should have permitted a protest. This year, at least, COP evidently doesn't stand for 'climate of peace.' *RON*]
By Louise Ridley, Huffington Post, 29 November 2015

Over 200 people have been arrested in Paris after a climate change protest at the memorial site for the victims of the city's terrorist attacks turned violent, the Associated Press reported.

Protesters clashed with police officers at the Place de la Republique, trampling on top of candles and flowers laid out in memory of the 130 people killed in the wave of attacks in the city two weeks ago.

A planned march in the city was cancelled due to the state of emergency imposed after the 13 November attacks, but police say they identified about 200 or 300 people who violated the ban.

The protests ahead of next week's 2015 Paris Climate Conference began peacefully, but riot police later used tear gas to stop the advance of groups throwing projectiles incl…

Rafe: How does oil-boosting Postmedia boss get into News Hall of Fame?

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[Good old Rafe. The mainstream media is the 1% - and, evidently, rather proud of the fact. "I have repeatedly made these findings public – or as public as one can when no newspaper will print them – and in the absence of a denial from Postmedia concluded, hard as it was to believe, that these agreements were for real even though they demonstrate that Postmedia are little more than humble shills for the fossil fuel industry." *RON*]
By Rafe Mair, Commonsense Canadian, 28 November 2015
In the news recently was an item about Paul V. Godfrey, C.M., the President of Postmedia, the largest newspaper chain in the country, owning some 15 papers in major centres plus a slew of community papers across the land. M. Godfrey has been admitted to the Canadian News Hall of Fame.

I have one or two questions for Mr. Godfrey, arising out of investigations I’ve been doing in recent months.

Mr. Godfrey, can we agree that Postmedia wholly owns the Vancouver P…

Mississippi Man Guns Down Waffle House Waitress After She Asks Him Not to Smoke

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[Johnny Mount: NRA poster-boy. Another day, another shooting. The corporatocracy and regulatory capture. *RON*]
By Travis GettysRaw Story / AlterNet, 28 November 2015

An enraged Waffle House customer shot and killed a waitress early Friday who asked him not to smoke.

Police said Johnny Mount was eating about 1 a.m. at the restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi, when he lit a cigarette, reported WLOX-TV.

A waitress asked the 45-year-old Mount to put out the cigarette or smoke outside, and he began arguing with her.

Police said Mount then pulled out a 9 mm handgun he had concealed under his shirt and shot the 52-year-old waitress in the head.

She was taken to a nearby hospital but died from her wounds.

Mount was arrested as he tried to leave the restaurant and has been charged with first-degree murder.

He remains held on $2 million bond.

Exposed: 'Full Range of Collusion' Between Big Oil and TTIP Trade Reps

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["new documents reveal that EU trade officials gave U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil access to confidential negotiating strategies considered too sensitive to be released to the European public... What's more, EU trade officials gave a briefing on the state of TTIP talks to two trade groups and 11 oil and gas companies—including fossil fuel behemoths Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil... a key aim of TTIP has been to destroy regulations that prevent high-polluting tar sand crude oil from entering Europe... the lines of demarcation in TTIP are between the mutually exclusive interests of transnational big business and people and the planet; if the deal passes, the former wins and the latter lose." *RON*]
by Deirdre FultonCommon Dreams, 27 November 2015

Amid warnings that the proposed TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could undermine global attempts to rein in runaway climate change, new documents reveal that EU trade officials g…

A Wealthy Governor and His Friends Are Remaking Illinois

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[From the front lines of the class wars. "They’re not what you would call the traditional corporate world. They come with a very political and philosophical bent." "There was never so much money behind these efforts. It has gotten much stronger in the last five or six years. It's about the social compact — who’s responsible for whom?" Mr. Shaw, of the Better Government Association, on Mr. Rauner: "I think he views this as a very long, long term war." *RON*]

By Nicholas ConfessoreThe New York Times, 29 November 2015

The richest man in Illinois does not often give speeches. But on a warm spring day two years ago, Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, rose before a black-tie dinner of the Economic Club of Chicago to deliver an urgent plea to the city’s elite.

They had stood silently, Mr. Griffin told them, as politicians taxed too much, spent too much and drove busin…

Trudeau Era To Begin With Parliamentary Reforms, MP Empowerment

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[Also in today's news: Canadian Government Pledges Over $15 Million For African Job Training, and Trudeau 'Very, Very Optimistic' About Global Climate Change Agreement (and, hiliariously, China Says It Has Met Pollution Reduction Goals Early As Smog Envelops Beijing). You can't say he's taking his eye off the ball for his new vision for Canada. *RON*]
By Joan Bryden , CP / Huffington Post, 29 November 2015

OTTAWA — The Justin Trudeau era begins in earnest Friday with all the pomp of a traditional speech from the throne.

But thereafter, the new Liberal government is aiming to break from tradition, promising to transform the way Parliament operates to empower backbenchers, diminish partisanship, restore civility, make government more accountable, be more family friendly and create a more independent Senate.

In short, the prime minister is hoping to bring his "sunny ways" to an institution known more recently for its t…

Six children die as migrant boats sink off Turkey: report

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[It's not stopping, it's not slowing down. *RON*]

Agence France-Presse, The Nation, 27 November 2015

ANKARA - At least six children drowned on Friday in two separate incidents when their boats sank off Turkey while trying to make the risky crossing to Greece, state media reported.
A first boat loaded with 55 Syrian and Afghan migrants sank in strong winds and high waves in the Aegean after setting out from near the town of Ayvacik for the Greek island of Lesbos, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Turkish coastguards have so far recovered bodies of four Afghan children, it said.

Another two children perished when their vessel heading for the Greek island of Kos sank off the coast near the southwestern resort of Bodrum, Anatolia said.

The boat capsized because of heavy rains and stormy weather, it added.

Turkey, which is hosting 2.2 million refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria, has become the main transit point for people fleeing war …

France bows to Obama and backs down on climate ‘treaty’

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[Obama forces France to make the global climate accord non-binding, having successfully approved franken-salmon for human consumption. Meanwhile, of course, the US Congress is frothing at the mouth about the little bit of non-binding change that Obama is still trying to accomplish: Obama takes his reckless energy plan to the United Nations. *RON*]
Anne-Sylvaine Chassany and Pilita Clark, Financial Times / CNBC News, 28 Nov 2015

France has offered a key concession to the US on the eve of historic climate talks in Paris, saying a new global climate accord will not be called a "treaty" and might not contain legally binding emissions reduction targets.

In a significant climbdown, Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister, said signatories to the planned deal would still be legally required to meet many of its terms but most likely not the carbon-cutting goals underpinning the agreement.

"The accord needs to be legally binding. It's …

American big business faces the G20 in a fight for $2.1tn in unpaid tax

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[Early in this process - say the 1980s - people complained about a corporation's lack of national pride and called them bad citizens when they avoided taxes or offshored jobs. No one even expects this any longer. Pfizer’s controversial takeover of Allergan has thrown a new multinational crackdown on tax avoidance into sharp relief. *RON*]
Simon Bowers, The Guardian, 29 November 2015
Less than two months ago, the finance ministers of the G20 gathered for acelebratory dinner in Peru to mark agreement on a “once-in-a-century” package of reforms to combat tax avoidance by multinational corporations that is costing governments up to $240bn a year. But last week a Scottish accountant unveiled a record-breaking $160bn transaction that laid bare quite how much work remains to be done.

Ian Read, chief executive of American drug maker Pfizer, has agreed plans for a so-called “tax inversion”: a takeover deal that involves joining forces with a smaller, f…

It is Legal for Terrorists to Buy Guns in America

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[Members of ISIS go to sleep each night with a little prayer for the safety of the NRA. A report  from the Government Accountability Office highlighted by the Washington Post says at least 2,043 known and suspected terrorists in the United States legally purchased firearms between 2004 and 2014. The proposed "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015" is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA states the bill is "aimed primarily at law-abiding American gun owners," and that the bill was "sponsored by gun control extremists." *RON*]

Peter van Buren. Ghosts of Tom Joad, 25 November 2015

Serial idiot Lindsey Graham, among too many others, stated that if only more people in Paris had been armed, the tragedy would have been lessened.

He echoed a popular right-wing meme in America, that “all it takes is a good guy with a gun to defeat a bad guy with a gun,” and that therefo…

Research Shows Mainstream Media Don't Do Follow-Up Reporting to See if Civilians Are Killed in US Drone Strikes

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[Both the New York Times and the Washington Post "substantially underrepresented the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, failed to correct the public record when evidence emerged that their reporting was wrong and ignored the importance of international law." *RON*]

By John Hanrahan, Expose Facts / TruthOut, 28 November 2015
By now you know the drill: The CIA or US military forces unleash a drone strike or other aerial bombardment in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia or any other country that the United States claims the right to attack.

A US government spokesperson reports 5 or 7 or 17 or 25 or whatever number of "militants" killed - Taliban, or al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State fighters - according to its fill-in-the-blanks press release. Wire services, mainstream newspapers, television newscasters dutifully report in brief fashion on another successful drone or missile strike…

5 Depressing Signs America Just Isn't the Country It Used to Be

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[Welcome to the front lines of the class wars. There exists a common theme amidst these signs of societal decay. The unquenchable thirst of the plutocracy must be slaked, über alles. *RON*]
By Paul Buchheit / AlterNet, 28 November 2015

While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilifiedfor revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his "Outstanding Contributions to Society."

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay:

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as 'Honest Mistakes'

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America's greatest cri…

HSBC whistleblower given five years’ jail over biggest leak in banking history

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[It's a bankster's world, baby. A real incentive for people who suddenly realize that they are working for criminals. "Hervé Falciani sentenced in his absence for financial espionage by federal court for exposing wrongdoing at HSBC’s private Swiss bank." Fully accompanied by a Snowden-esque character smear. *RON*]
Juliette Garside, The Guardian, 27 November 2015

The whistleblower who exposed wrongdoing at HSBC’s Swiss private bank has been sentenced to five years in prison by a Swiss court.

Hervé Falciani, a former IT worker, was convicted in his absence for the biggest leak in banking history. He is currently living in France, where he sought refuge from Swiss justice, and did not attend the trial.

The leak of secret bank account details formed the basis of revelations – by the Guardian, the BBC, Le Monde and other media outlets – which showed that HSBC’s Swiss banking arm turned a blind eye to illegal activities of arms dealers …

Colorado Springs: a playground for pro-life, pro-gun evangelical Christians

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[White men who murder innocent citizens for political and religious reasons are "lone gunmen" not terrorists, in case you didn't know. See also: Republican Candidates Are Too Busy This Morning to Denounce Attack on Planned Parenthood Clinic. *RON*]

Josiah Hesse, The Guardian, 28 November 2015

Colorado Springs, the location of an attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic that left three people dead, is a centre of rightwing Christian culture with a “wild west mentality” when it comes to guns.

The attack, by a lone gunman carrying a rifle or shotgun, took place at a clinic that is the site of regular anti-abortion protests by the city’s pro-life Christian groups.

Planned Parenthood, aware of hostility about their work, recently moved to the new facility, hoping it would provide more security for staff.

The building has been likened to a fortress by anti-abortion campaigners and Friday’s attacks revealed that it is equipped with “safe roo…

Big Pharma has become addicted to an illusion

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[A good article that adds another piece to the puzzle of how the financialization of capitalism gambles with the world economy. Is any of it even working? "Mergers, acquisitions, tax inversions and price rises are definitely not making pharmaceuticals companies popular with patients or politicians. If they turn out to be wasting capital too, they will look rather foolish." *RON*]

John Gapper, Financial Times, 25 November 2015

Pharmaceuticals companies used to be research enterprises that discovered and developed drugs. Then they became marketing giants, skilled at selling as many blockbuster pills as possible. Lately, they have turned into mergers and acquisitions machines, buying and selling medicines invented by others. It is hard to view their evolution as progress.
Pfizer’s $160bn planned acquisition of Dublin-based Allergan, the maker of Botox, has attracted loud criticism because it will allow the US group to reduce its taxes throu…

Commonwealth Summit 2015: Trudeau Commits $2.65 Billion To Climate Fund

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[In another HuffPo article - Back? Canada Never Left - Erin O'Toole (Conservative Public Safety Critic) says the "greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target of 30 per cent by 2030 over 2005 levels.... is the same target announced previously by the Conservative government." The difference, which eludes Conservatives when talking about the environment, is that Trudeau is doing something to meet his promise, not just blowing hot air in the hope of being re-elected. A magnificent illustration is provided by this article - B.C. climate report says hike carbon tax, extend reduction targets to 2050 - Christy Clark says she intends to bill BC as a climate leader in Paris, yet she's done squat to meet her own targets. "B.C.'s lone Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver said the government's plans to develop a liquefied natural gas export industry blows a hole in its climate plans, because GHG emissions from one LNG facility would exceed …

Russia Didn't Tell Turkey About Bombing Runs, Canada's NATO Envoy Says

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["Russia apparently didn't respond to Turkish hailing frequencies..." Well, that is ever so slightly different, ain't it? *RON*]
By The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 25 November 2015
OTTAWA — Russia repeatedly failed to inform Turkey of its bombing runs over Syria in the weeks leading to Tuesday's downing of one of its jets by Turkish forces, Canada's NATO ambassador says.

Kerry Buck said in an interview Wednesday that Canadian diplomats in Brussels and Vienna are working with various countries, including Russia, to strengthen communication protocols to prevent future incidents.

The ambassador said Russia needs to join western forces in attacking Islamic militants, instead of bombing ethnic Turkmen in Syria, whom she described as a moderate opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

She attended Tuesday's emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council, which was called by Turkey after it shot down a Russian plane …

'Global War on Terror' Coincides with Dramatic Increase of Terrorism

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["Mission accomplished!" Terrorism index shows a nine-fold increase since 2000. Soon enough the world will consist solely of Westerners, refugees and terrorists. *RON*]
by Tharanga Yakupitiyage, Inter Press Service,, 26 November 2015

In 2014, the number of lives lost to terrorism around the world increased by 80 percent, the highest level ever. The majority of such terrorist activity occurred in the largest refugee-producing nations, a Global Terrorism Index (GTI) showed.

The GTI, developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), comprehensively studies the patterns and impacts of terrorism globally.

The 2015 GTI, released on 17 Nov, has recorded the rise in terrorism, with a nine-fold increase in terrorism-related deaths since 2000. In total, 32,658 people were killed in terrorist attacks in 67 countries in 2014.

Even in the wake of the 13 Nov Paris attacks, the majority of terrorism-related deaths do not occur in…

Fossil fuel companies risk wasting $2tn of investors' money, study says

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[Unfortunately we're forced to announce that the continued existence of planet earth is, quite simply, not a good investment. "Paris climate deal could render oil, gas and coal projects worthless with US, Canada, China and Australia most vulnerable to losing billions." *RON*]

Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 26 November 2015

Fossil fuel companies risk wasting up to $2tn (£1.3tn) of investors’ money in the next decade on projects left worthless by global action on climate change and the surge in clean energy, according to a new report.

The world’s nations aim to seal a UN deal in Paris in December to keep global warming below the danger limit of 2C. The heavy cuts in carbon emissions needed to achieve this would mean no new coal mines at all are needed and oil demand peaking in 2020, according to the influential thinktank Carbon Tracker. It found $2.2tn of projects at risk of stranding, ie being left valueless as the market for fossi…

At Donald Trump Rally, Ohio Students Become Part of a Lesson

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[Hatred, fear, exclusion. Just another day on the campaign trail. Some teenage students attended a Trump rally for extra credit. After vocally objecting to the candidate's Islamophobia, they were ordered remove by Trump and, two of the students said, called a racial epithet. *RON*]

By Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 25 November 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio — They looked as if they didn’t belong.

Seven students from Columbus Alternative High School filled a pocket of space in a cavernous hall of the city’s Convention Center on Monday night. They had come for a Donald J. Trump rally, but they looked as if they would be more at home at a casting call for the television show “Fame.” The group included a boy in skinny jeans who wore a wool hat and kept the fingernails on his right hand long and manicured, a girl with the sides of her head shaven, and two other girls wearing Marvel T-shirts and granny glasses.

They came to get extra credit for a history class…

Confronting the Best and Worst of Ourselves in Chicago

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["The underbelly of the city is a biting hatred that I, a black woman, fear when I hear it." At Esquire, Britt Julious writes how the video of black teenager Laquan McDonald's murder at the hands of a white police officer lays bare Chicago's larger systemic problems: "We've known all along how Chicago operates. The corruption flowing through all levels of government is a given and a running joke. The violence, conveniently pocketed in forgotten communities. The push and pull of history, the real currency of power more than outright wealth." *RON*]

By Britt Julious, Esquire, 25 November 2015

Chicago is a city rooted in communal isolation. Separation runs through our blood and muscles. Segregated bodies are the connective cultural tissue that citizens—political "leaders" and business owners and everyone else—use to define our ills. It makes Chicago "work." If we isolate the problem, ignore it, com…

President Obama Compares Syrian Refugees to Mayflower Pilgrims, Administration Says States Can't Block Them

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["The Obama administration said Wednesday that states can’t legally block the resettlement of refugees, according to a letter from the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement sent to state officials." The letter explains that "states are bound by the Refugee Act of 1980 to provide 'assistance and services' to refugees 'without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex or political opinion.'" See also: Watch: Here's What the Refugee Screening Process Looks Like*RON*]

By John Parkinson and Benjamin Siegel, ABC News, 26 November 2015

President Obama used his weekly address to appeal to families counting their blessings on Thanksgiving, reminding Americans that the holiday isn’t only about turkey but a tribute to the deep immigration history that led to the nation’s founding.

“In 1620, a small band of pilgrims came to this continent, refugees who had fled persecution and violence in their native land,” Obama say…

How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce

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[The corporatocracy, labour and the surveillance state. How Walmart spies on its employees, hoping to prevent Black Friday strikes or unionization drives that would hurt its profits. "Walmart considered [labor group OUR Walmart] enough of a threat that it hired an intelligence-gathering service from Lockheed Martin, contacted the FBI, staffed up its labor hotline, ranked stores by labor activity, and kept eyes on employees (and activists) prominent in the group… Employees (or associates, as they’re called at Walmart) across the company were watched; the briefest conversations were reported to the ‘home office,’ as Walmart calls its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark." *RON*]
By Susan Berfield, Bloomberg Business, 24 November 2015

The retail giant is watching.

In the autumn of 2012, when Walmart first heard about the possibility of a strike on Black Friday, executives mobilized with the efficiency that had built a retail empire. Walmart …

GOP rider would boost party spending

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[Mitch McConnell plans to slip campaign cash rider into a must-pass omnibus spending bill. This would effectively result in limitless campaign spending. *RON*]

By Kenneth P. Vogel and Seung Min Kim, Politico, 25 November 2015

Senate Republicans plan to insert a provision into a must-pass government funding bill that would vastly expand the amount of cash that political parties could spend on candidates, multiple sources tell POLITICO.

The provision, which sources say is one of a few campaign-finance related riders being discussed in closed-door negotiations over a $1.15 trillion omnibus spending package, would eliminate caps on the amount of cash that parties may spend in coordination with their candidates.

Pushed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime foe of campaign finance restrictions, the coordination rider represents the latest threat to the increasingly rickety set of rules created to restrict political fundraising and spen…

Pentagon Faces More Scrutiny Over $766 Million Task Force

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[Corruption in the military corporatocracy? Say it ain't so! The Pentagon is "...making it difficult for the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction to investigate reports of gross waste and mismanagement by the now-defunct, five-year Task Force for Business Stability Operations. One of its projects, a gas station, cost 140 times what it should have." *RON*]
By Megan McCloskeyProPublica, 27 November 2015

The Pentagon is scrambling to justify its actions in restricting the government watchdog investigating a $766-million task force in Afghanistan - with more controversy seemingly erupting by the day. Now there are allegations that Defense Department officials retaliated against a whistleblower and news of several ongoing criminal investigations.

Earlier this month, we reported that the Pentagon was making it difficult for the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction to investigate reports of gross waste and mi…

Wall St. Faces Mounting Criticism From Regulators

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[Hmm. Is this a "real" signal? More signs of turning worms? *RON*]

By William D. Cohan, New York Times, 25 November 2015
Despite the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis, Wall Street still has a tendency to dismiss as frivolous some of the ethical issues it faces daily.

But at a Nov. 5 symposium on ethics at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — the second on the topic two years — regulators suggested that Wall Street executives who continue to ignore the various cultural flaws at their firms do so at their own peril.

It seems that this time really is different: If Wall Street doesn’t take steps to prevent some of the behavior that has led to $230 billion in fines against American and European banks in the last six years, principal regulators appear quite determined to do it for them, promising to break up the big investment banks if they need to. And that will not be an outcome that will appeal to anyone running a powerful Wall Street…

U.S. working to keep up with surging weapons demand: Pentagon

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[It's nice to know someone will have a Merry Christmas.
By Anread Shalal, Reuters, 24 November 2015

The U.S. government is working hard to ensure quicker processing of U.S. foreign arms sales, which surged 36 percent to $46.6 billion in fiscal 2015 and look set to remain strong in coming years, a top Pentagon official said.

Indigenous Canadians comprised 23% of country's murder victims in 2014

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[Our corporatocratic media: Canadian bad news is still arriving via the UK. Newly released statistics find nearly a quarter of Canada’s homicide victims last year were aboriginal, even though they make up just 5% of country’s population. *RON*]

Jessica Murphy, The Guardian, 25 November 2015

Almost a quarter of homicide victims in Canada last year were aboriginal, even though the country’s indigenous people account for just 5% of the population, newly released federal statistics show.

Twenty-three percent of the country’s 516 homicide victims in 2014 were aboriginal, making them almost six times more likely than non-indigenous Canadians to become victims of deadly violence, the federal statistics agency reported on Wednesday.

Canada has just over 1.4 million First Nations, Inuit and Metis people, making up 5% of the country’s population.

Canada boosts funds to help UN address Syria refugee crisis

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[Ottawa to give extra C$100m ($75m) to UN refugee agency. Money will help refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. *RON*]
Reuters, The Guardian, 26 November 2015

Canada will give an extra C$100m ($75m) to the United Nations’ refugee agency to help it deal with the Syrian crisis, the international development minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, said on Thursday.

The announcement stood in contrast to ongoing controversy over refugee admittance and support south of Canada’s border with the US, where Republican candidates for president oppose the settlement of any refugees and the House of Representatives has passed a bill aiming to restrict US aid.

In his Thanksgiving message on Thursday, President Barack Obama – who has said he will veto the House bill if it reaches his desk – called for Americans to treat refugees as latter-day Pilgrims, in a reference to the first Americans who fled religious persecution to establish themselves in the new world.

Canadian mining companies continue to devastate Africa with human rights abuses

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[Canada has more mining corporate headquarters than any place else in the world. They have been a consistent blot on name of Canada in terms of persistent human rights violations. Stephen Harper couldn't do enough for them, bending foreign policy to their ends and feeding them a steady supply of corporate welfare. We'll see if anything changes under the Liberals. *RON*]
By Yves Engler,, 25 November 2015

Two weeks ago police shot and killed an individual at Pacific Wildcat Resources tantalum mine in central Mozambique. The incident received some attention in Canada because community members responded by seizing the Vancouver-based company's mine site and setting some equipment ablaze.

One protester told O País newspaper this wasn't the first time someone was shot dead at the mine and another said "We don't want to see the managers of this company operating in the mine anymore. Otherwise we will take the law into ou…

James Carr Tells Alberta Oil Execs Environmental Growth Is Key To Energy Development

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["The message is that we're starting a new government at a critical time in the history of the energy sector in Canada, that we are committed to the dual ambitions of the economic growth and sustainable environmental practices and that's the way we look at the future unfolding." *RON*]
By Bill Graveland, CP / Huffington Post, 26 November 2015

CALGARY — Canada's new natural resources minister met with his Alberta counterpart and oil industry executives in Calgary on Wednesday but gave them little to cheer about.

"Canadians elected a new government and they expect a new approach," said James Carr to executives attending the Canadian Energy Person of the Year Awards.

"There may have been a time when people thought we had to choose between energy development or environmental stewardship. Today we know environment responsibility is a necessary condition for energy development," he added.

Carr praised the NDP gove…

Looking under the hood of Alberta's new climate plan

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[It could always be better, but this kind of plan would have been was unthinkable until the NDP were elected and Harper got the boot. The crazy thing is that the oil and gas CEOs were out in front of the Liberals when it came to calling for some of these changes. Since they are less wed to ideology than to the bottow line, they recognized that change was required on the oil patch if their companies were to survive this downturn. *RON*]
By Marc Lee,, 26 November 2015

How times have changed in 2015. Just days away from the Paris climate conference, Prime Minister Trudeau met with the premiers to talk about working together to make Canada a leader on climate. Compare this to PM Harper, who never met with the Premiers, championed the oil and gas industry, and if anything was a disruptive force in global climate negotiations. And leading the march to Paris? The premier of Alberta, a province long considered a laggard.

Alberta's new clim…

Five signs the B.C. economy is weak and what this means for Budget 2016

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[BC is now among a shrinking number of places where unadulterated austerity and neoliberalism still rules the roost. The last budget ended in a surplus, but neither the government nor business will make any investments in BC, so the jobs Clarke has promised us year after year after year have still failed to materialize. *RON*]
By Iglika Ivanova,, 26 November 2015

This week, the provincial government released its 2015/16 Second Quarterly Report: an update on where provincial finances are at six months into the fiscal year and where the economy is heading.

The news is not very good.

B.C.'s economy is expected to do better than other provinces this year, but that's largely because of weakness elsewhere (especially in resource-dependent provinces like Alberta). Private sector forecasters have lowered their projections for this year's economic growth in B.C. to 2.2 per cent (from 2.7 per cent this time last year). Projections for …

A shocking number of Americans don't have a toilet

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[In The Land of the Free it's "War For All, Toilets For Some!" *RON*]

Brian Patrick Byrne, Vocativ / The Week, 24 November 2015

Did you celebrate World Toilet Day? The recent holiday is a good reminder to rejoice as you read this article on your phone, maybe even while sitting comfortably on a modern, porcelain toilet, which flushes with water so crystalline clean you could, in hard times, drink it without too much fear of dying. (We do not recommend doing that, by the way.)

Going to the toilet wasn't always such a pleasant, risk-free experience for everyone, and even today, many people in America still go without proper sanitation. As recently as 1990, the rural stereotype of dropping trou in a shack out back was a reality for more than 1.1 million American households. If you think that's a lot of people, here's a little math for you. That represented 0.04 percent of the U.S. population back in 1990. Right here in 2015…

Hang Onto Your Wallets: Negative Interest, the War on Cash and the $10 Trillion Bail-In

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[The banksters at hard at work, rooting around in your pocket! *RON*]
By Ellen Brown, The Web of Debt Blog / TruthOut, 23 November 2015
Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned "Let your money work for you"? Or the scene inMary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into "all manner of private enterprise," including "bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . . ."?

That may still work if you're a Wall Street banker, but if you're an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.

Four European central banks - the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden's Riksbank, and Denmark's Nationalbank - have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussi…