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Showing posts from February 19, 2015

Lockheed aims to slash cost of F35 jets

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[A pig of an aircraft at half price would still be a pig of an aircraft. But just watch to see if Harper doesn't jump all over this one. *RON*]

Robert Wright, Financial Times, 18 February 2015

Lockheed Martin is on track to slash 30 per cent from the cost of each F-35 joint strike fighter, bringing the price of the controversial aircraft below that of previous, less capable generations of fighters, Marillyn Hewson, the company’s chief executive, said on Wednesday.

The reduction would bring the cost of each F-35A — the version for the US air force — down to less than $80m from between $110m and $115m each. Such a saving could save billions of dollars in procurement costs for the programme, currently estimated at $396bn for more than 3,000 aircraft for the US and key allies.

A sharp fall in the programme’s costs would vindicate the US defence department’s highly controversial decision to procure a single aircraft for the strike fighter needs of…

Cyprus: an island in search of a saga to learn from

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[An excellent summary reminder for Greeks of what happens when you piss off the Troika. The Troika had its plan not to support the banks in mind six months in advance of pulling the plug, in the form of telling Cyprus it was removing the ELA unless it accepted terms. The government had been fooled into accepting measures it did not understand how they would be used against deposit holders. *RON*]
By Sigrún Davíðsdóttir, Fist Full of Euros, 17 February 2015

Why do the inhabitants of an EU country prefer to keep cash amounting to ca. 6% of GDP hidden at home? Badly burnt after the banking collapse in March 2013 Cypriots neither trust their government nor banks to keep their money safe. After following from afar the events in Cyprus I recently visited the island. Many Cypriots feel that the banking collapse is now only history and no point thinking about it. But that is far from the truth: as long as neither Cypriots nor the other EU countries know t…

What’s Happening to Canada? Open letter to P.M.

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[Excellently said, Ralph! *RON*]

Ralph Nader, The Nader Page, 18 February 2015

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

Many Americans love Canada and the specific benefits that have come to our country from our northern neighbor’s many achievements (see Canada Firsts by Nader, Conacher and Milleron). Unfortunately, your latest proposed legislation—the new anti-terrorism act—is being described by leading Canadian civil liberties scholars as hazardous to Canadian democracy.

A central criticism was ably summarized in a February 2015 Globe and Mail editorial titled “Parliament Must Reject Harper’s Secret Policeman Bill,” to wit:
“Prime Minister Stephen Harper never tires of telling Canadians that we are at war with the Islamic State. Under the cloud of fear produced by his repeated hyperbole about the scope and nature of the threat, he now wants to turn our domestic spy agency into someth…

Don't Fall For Harper's Election-Year Economic Rhetoric

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[A good blow-by-blow analysis of the hogwash that's being paid for on television by our tax dollars. "No matter how you slice it, Harper has failed to lead Canada towards a sustained economic recovery from the financial crisis seven years ago. It doesn't matter how much public money he spends on ads claiming otherwise. Facts are facts." *RON*]
Colin Kenny, Senator, Huffington Post, 18 February 2015


By now, we've all seen the ads. You know the ones. Upbeat music is playing in the background. A man is busy at work in a steel mill. A woman pulls some piping hot buns out of a bakery oven. A pleasant sounding voiceover claims the Harper government is delivering "jobs, growth and prosperity" for Canadians.

But there's a problem with that narrative: it's hogwash. Let's break this down. Jobs: Canada lost 4,300 of them last December and 33,000 the month before that, according to Statistics Canada. Target's dec…

Peter MacKay Skirts Debate On Definition Of Terrorism: 'Look It Up'

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[Bill C-51 actually fits the definition by being an act that is committed for a political or ideological purpose with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security..."When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.""The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass. *RON*]


CBC / Huffington Post, 18 February 2015


Peter MacKay had a simple, gruff reply when asked by reporters what the definition of terrorism will mean in the government's latest anti-terrorism bill, C-51.

"Look it up," the justice minister said as he walked past waiting journalists on Parliament Hill Wednesday.

On the weekend, MacKay was quick to dismiss a terrorist link to the foiled alleged plot to attack a public plac…

Burnaby takes aim at NEB's decision-making record

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["Burnaby analyzed 33 of the NEB's substantial rulings and found that 80 per cent of Kinder Morgan's motions were granted, in comparison to only four per cent of intervenors' motions." No bias here. Nothing to see, folks. *RON*]

Jennifer Moreau, Burnaby Now, 13 February 2015

The City of Burnaby is taking aim at the National Energy Board's track record of decisions, alleging the board has shown bias in favour of Kinder Morgan, the company proposing to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The board, meanwhile, is defending its decisions as fair, thorough and rigorous.

Burnaby analyzed 33 of the NEB's substantial rulings and found that 80 per cent of Kinder Morgan's motions were granted, in comparison to only four per cent of intervenors' motions.

"The fact that the review process for this project is flawed and biased becomes clear when you look at National Energy Board decisions to date," said Mayor Derek…

Ottawa's lump of coal: Search for buyer of Ridley terminal drags on

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[Is it finally time for BC and Canada to move on from coal? "...what seemed like a jewel of a Crown corporation valued at more than $1-billion by industry experts 26 months ago looks more like a lump of coal today." http://dogwoodinitiative.org/beyondcoal/ *RON*]

Brent Jang, The Globe and Mail, 15 February 2015


In late 2012, Ottawa placed a prized coal export terminal up for sale in anticipation of fetching a huge sum for the federal asset in northwestern British Columbia.

While coal prices had softened from record highs in 2011, Ridley Terminals Inc.’s business prospects looked solid, with forecasts for years of rising supplies transported by train from coal producers in northeastern B.C.

But what seemed like a jewel of a Crown corporation valued at more than $1-billion by industry experts 26 months ago looks more like a lump of coal today.

Ridley is struggling through an industry slump that has seen coal prices collapse, hurt by slower-th…

Climate Change Poised to Make Infectious Disease Outbreaks More Frequent

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[New evidence that, as climate and habitat change, parasites simply jump to new species. The new species are even more susceptible, sparking epidemics. *RON*]
By Zoe Schlanger, Newsweek, 16 February 15
As the Ebola outbreak showed the world recently, the modern age of global air travel has made it far easier for disease to spread. But climate change, which is shuffling habitable zones for pathogen-carrying animals, is poised to make future outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola, H1N1 and TB worse, and more frequent.

In an article published Sunday in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, two zoologists studying parasites in drastically different environments—one in the Arctic, the other in tropical zones—relay what 30 years of research have taught them about the future of disease.

"Even though I was in the tropics and [zoologist Eric Hoberg] was in the Arctic, we could see something was happening," Daniel B…