Showing posts from January 16, 2015

Russia Is About To Absorb Part of Another Country

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[Putin is decidedly stuck in dreams of empire. *RON*]

Steve LeVineQuartz / Defense One, 15 January 2015

While Moscow continues to be hammered by low oil prices and western-led sanctions, it is doubling down on hard-edged political and financial retribution: Russia is preparing to absorb a province of neighboring Georgia, and delivering an ultimatum to Europe that it could lose much of the Russian gas on which it relies.

Ten months after annexing Crimea and igniting his current standoff with the west, Russian president Vladimir Putin will as early as this week take control of South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia, with which he has a long, sour relationship. He is to sign a little-publicized accord that will hand over foreign policy, border control, and security to Moscow.

“Effective annexation is the word,” Tom De Waal, an expert on the Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment, wrote in a comment on Facebook. As with Russia’s Crimean adventure, …

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you've never heard of

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Mary Catherine O'Connor, The Guardian, 27 October 2014

[In 2011, an ecologist released an alarming study showing that tiny clothing fibers could be the biggest source of plastic in our oceans. The bigger problem? No one wanted to hear about it. *RON*]
Ecologist Mark Browne knew he’d found something big when, after months of tediously examining sediment along shorelines around the world, he noticed something no one had predicted: fibers. Everywhere. They were tiny and synthetic and he was finding them in the greatest concentration near sewage outflows. In other words, they were coming from us.

In fact, 85% of the human-made material found on the shoreline were microfibers, and matched the types of material, such as nylon and acrylic, used in clothing.

It is not news that microplastic – which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines as plastic fragments 5mm or smaller – is ubiquitous in all five major ocean gyres. And numerous …

Je suis unavailable: Obama and the decline of U.S. soft power

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[From the Imperial Collapse Watch: "In a world marred with human rights violations, battles against authoritarianism whether in the form of oppressive governments or terrorist groups, the Obama administration is seen as a spectator whose indifference is coming at expense of U.S. stature and influence.... It is hard to envision the kind of discussion that Obama's aides undertook while deciding to miss the Paris rally." *RON*]

Joyce Karam, Al Arabiya, 15 January 2015

“Showing up is 80 percent of life” remarked filmmaker and writer Woody Allen in 1977, a quote that if taken to heart could have saved the Barack Obama administration lot of woes and embarrassment in the way it approaches policy and politics across the globe. Obama’s failure to show up or send the vice or an ex-president to Paris’ massive rally on Sunday in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech, vividly illustrates the decline of U.S. soft power and absence of…

Looking for the roots of terrorism

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[Interesting short piece from Nature about an anthropologist, Scott Atran, who has done extensive field interviews with would-be and convicted terrorists. *RON*]
Sara Reardon, Nature, 15 January 2015

In the wake of terrorist attacks last week on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Paris supermarket, the world has struggled to understand the combination of religion, European culture and influence from terrorist organizations that drove the gunmen. Scott Atran, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, studies such questions by interviewing would-be and convicted terrorists about their extreme commitment to their organizations and ideals. Atran recently returned from Paris, where he talked with members of the shooters’ communities. He spoke with Nature about what he discovered.

What sociological and cultural factors are behind the Paris attacks?

Unlike the…

Why Are Gas Prices So Low?

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[The Onion has spoken - nothing more need be said! :-) :-) *RON*]
The Onion, INFOGRAPHICOilNewsISSUE 51•02 • Jan 15, 2015

The average price of a gallon of gas is at its lowest level since April 2009, giving rise to speculation about why the cost of oil continues to drop and how long consumers can expect the trend to last. Here are answers to common questions about the low price of gas:

Why are gas prices so low?

Jesus, why can’t you just enjoy this for a minute and not worry about that?

How long will gas prices remain low?


Who benefits from the price drop?

Anyone who’s alive to enjoy low prices but dead before the full consequences of fossil fuel usage are felt.

Where does oil come from?

The decomposing remains of long-dead environmental regulations.

BBOT report raises issues with Kinder Morgan pipeline

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[When not even Boards of Trade can get behind your project, it's time for Kinder-Morgan to wake up and smell the coffee. *RON*]

Jacab Zinn, Burnaby Now, 14 January 2015

After nine months of analysis, the Burnaby Board of Trade has released its review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, raising concerns with environmental safety, tax revenue and communication.

UPDATE: Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson has issued a formal response to the BBOT’s report:
“We appreciate the effort the Burnaby Board of Trade has taken to research and develop a report. They have highlighted many of the key issues we continue to work on, including maximizing local benefits and minimizing risk. We agree wholeheartedly with the need for strong relationships with local stakeholders, and we remain hopeful for a constructive relationship with Mayor Corrigan and the City of Burnaby. However, we stand by the fact that the Project will deliver sig…

Opinion: EU must end austerity and restructure debt

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[The same conversation, with the same diagnosis and recommendations, is being made all over the world. See also Rejecting Austerity: "Austerity is not a short-term disruption to balance the books. It is the controlled demolition of the welfare state - transforming Britain from a social democracy into a corporate state." *RON*]

By Nacho Alvarez, Special to CNN @CNNMoney 16 January 2015

Spain has come full circle: In the years before the financial crisis we were a model of growth and job creation, now we're the poster child for European austerity and painful reform.

When the economy was booming, no one seemed to care about the price of that success: the huge, unsustainable debts that tipped us into the deepest crisis the country has seen since the 1930s.

Today, Spain is held up as an example of the positive impact of policies demanded by the European Union, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund…