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Showing posts from April 2, 2015

Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab 'arrested over tweets'

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[Torture and other human rights violations in Bahrain tend to go completely unremarked in the news, particularly in North America. Why? Because this is strategic location is home to the US Naval Forces Central Command and the US Fifth Fleet. In return the Bahraini government behaves as it wants to with apparently complete impunity. *RON*]

BBC News, 2 April 2015
Prominent Bahrain human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been arrested over tweets about torture practices in a prison, his wife says.

Sumaya Rajab said that more than 20 police vehicles had been sent to detain him.

The activist has served several prison sentences since setting up the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in 2002.

Human Rights First said the arrest was an "alarming setback" to hopes for easing the nation's political crisis.

Bahrain's Sunni Muslim rulers forcibly quelled a 2011 uprising which had been triggered in large part by unrest among the Shia Muslim majority.

Indiana woman jailed for “feticide.” It’s never happened before.

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[The witch-hunts are back, especially for poor women and ambitious prosecutors. "Indiana should not join these countries where young pregnant girls are committing suicide at alarming rates; pregnant women are avoiding medical care for fear that any problem in pregnancy will be reported to law enforcement; and mothers are not only going to jail for having abortions, but also for suffering miscarriages and stillbirths." And, just in case you thought this was all that is wrong with Indiana: Senator Says Critics Of Indiana Should Get ‘Perspective,’ Be Thankful State Doesn’t Execute Gays. *RON*]

By Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post, 1 April 2015

When Purvi Patel showed up in the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center’s maternity ward, bleeding and showing a protruding umbilical cord, Dr. Kelly McGuire immediately knew something was wrong.

“There should have been a baby at the end of the umbilical cord,” he testified in an Indiana court room.

McGuir…

Poor and under pressure: the social impact of Europe's fiscal consolidation

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[An excellent 16-page analysis of the social impacts of austerity in Europe from Bruegel, a European economic think-tank. *RON*]

by Zsolt Darvas and Olga Tschekassin, Bruegel Policy Contribution 04/2015, 1 April 2015

Europe faces major challenges related to poverty, unemployment and polarisation between the south and the north, which impact adversely the current living conditions of many citizens, and also negatively impact medium- and long-term economic growth.Fiscal consolidation exaggerated social hardship. In vulnerable countries there was no alternative to fiscal consolidation, but in most EU countries and at aggregate EU level, consolidation was premature when the cyclical position of the economy was deteriorating.Spending on social protection was shielded relative to other spending categories, but public bank rescue costs were high. While the changes in the tax mix favoured job creation, the overall tax burden become more regressive.There i…

What Austerity Looks Like Inside Greece

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[The gyrations continue. See also, on the one hand, Updated reform list still not enough to unlock aid, and Greek defiance mounts as Alexis Tsipras turns to Russia and China, on the other. *RON*]
By Anand Gopal, New Yorker, 31 March 2015

Not long after the election victory, in late January, of the Greek anti-austerity party Syriza, I visited a crowded café in central Athens. The new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, was unveiling his party’s program that day, and the café’s owners had wheeled in a television so that patrons could watch. A crowd of ill-shaven, chain-smoking men wedged themselves around the screen. As Tsipras reeled off one reform after another—from rehiring laid-off public-sector workers to raising the minimum wage—they broke into wild applause.

For many, Syriza represented the first real hope in years that Greece could climb out of economic crisis. Most of the patrons, including Panos Alexopolous, a welder by trade, had long been ou…

Senator’s complaint of cold Camembert accidentally sums up Senate’s problems

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[No comment required.
*RON*]
Campbell Clark, Globe and Mail. 1 April 2015

Let them eat cold Camembert. Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth certainly won’t, as she explained to reporters yesterday.

The auditor-general’s team of bean-counters has been picking through senators’ expenses and, as the good senator noted, finding fault with those who expensed a separate breakfast when they could have eaten on that morning’s flight.

“Well, those breakfasts are pretty awful,” she told reporters. “If you want ice cold Camembert with broken crackers, have it.”

Broken crackers! Imagine! At a time when Stephen Harper’s government is hunkering down for a potential drip-drip-drip of revelations from Mike Duffy’s trial, this comment, be assured, was not among the PMO-approved talking points for Conservative senators.

Somehow, Senator Nancy Ruth accidentally summed up the Senate expenses scandal quite neatly: the problem, she seemed to be suggesting, is that the rigi…

Harper defends plan for $7.5-million ad blitz on pre-election budget

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[Yet somehow, the Conservatives put an unseemly look of surprise on their faces and feign indignation when the Senators behave as though they can spend any amount of public money on their personal ends. Joe Oliver has also let us know that, despite the oil drop, the budget will be balanced. As usual, we can't afford our federal information watchdog, or spend money to ensure the safety of oil and gas transport by rail or tanker, or guarantee clean drinking water for Aboriginal people, or health services for refugees, or guarantee benefits to veterans, or erase our shameful record on child poverty. Yet somehow we cobble together the money for wars, bank bail-outs, tax cuts for the rich, subsidies for giant oil companies, Chinese pandas and, of course, free advertising for the Conservative Party of Canada. But ignore all that because we have a surplus (really, we do!), and we're smiling, so vote for us because we're financially responsi…

Heiltsuk Will Fight to Protect Central Coast Herring

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[Just out: BREAKING: Heiltsuk celebrate as fishing boats forced to leave traditional waters. Powerful words from Heiltsuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett. See also Heiltsuk Will Fight to Protect Central Coast Herring. The 2014 Tshilqot'in decision by the B.C. Supreme Court gives First Nations a say about what happens on their land and in their waters. This includes the Heiltsuk First Nation. FACT: All the commercial herring fishing boats harvesting in Heiltsuk waters are owned by one man: BC billionaire Jimmy Pattison. *RON*]


Limiting climate change could have huge economic benefits, study finds

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[Harper's climate failure is holding us back from prosperity, jobs and better health. Stopping global warming at two degrees would create nearly half a million jobs in Europe and save over a million lives in China, analysis of emissions pledges says. *RON*]
Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 31 March 2015

Major economies would boost their prosperity, employment levels and health prospects if they took actions that limited global warming to 2c, according to the first analysis of emissions pledges made before the UN climate summit in Paris later this year.

Europe has promised a 40% emissions cut by 2030, compared to 1990 levels – and the report says this will bring real benefits, including 70,000 full-time jobs, the prevention of around 6,000 pollution-related deaths, and a €33bn cut in fossil fuel imports.