Showing posts from May 6, 2015

Drought kills 12 million trees in California's national forests

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[But let's keep on frackin' *RON*]

By Veronica Rocha & Hiley Branson-Potts, LA Times, 5 May 2015

Rangers in the San Bernardino National Forest call them “red trees.”

Instead of the typical deep green color, large swaths of pine trees now don hues of death, their dehydrated needles turning brown and burnt-red because of the state’s worsening drought.

“Unlike back East, where you have fall colors, here it’s because the trees are dying,” said John Miller, a spokesman for the San Bernardino National Forest.

Years of extremely dry conditions are taking a heavy toll on forest lands across California and heightening the fire risk as summer approaches.

“The situation is incendiary,” William Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The Times recently. “The national forest is stressed out.”

A new study by the U.S. Forest Service tried to assess the scope of the problem. Researchers estimated that the drought has killed off at…

U.S. Ranks Worst Developed Country for Maternal Health

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[More on the glories of fully privatized health care and health insurance. *RON*]

Eliana Dockterman, Time, 5 May 2015

A woman in the United States faces a one in 1,800 risk of maternal death, according to an annual report by the charity Save the Children, the worst of any developed country in the world. What’s more, they’re more than 10 times as likely to die from a cause related to pregnancy as those in Belarus, Poland and Austria.

The State of the World’s Mothers 2015 report, a global index that ranks the best and worst places to be a mother based on the latest available data on indicators like political status, economics, education, children’s well-being and maternal health, ranks the U.S. at No. 33 of 179 surveyed countries—down two spots from last year.

The U.S. ranked No. 42 on children’s well-being, No. 61 on maternal health and No. 89 for political status—or the participation of women in national government. Among the other statistics, the r…

Suppressing Science For Monsanto? Groups Demand Investigation of USDA

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["It is imperative that the USDA maintains scientific integrity and does not allow for harassment, censorship or suppression of findings that counter the interests of industry," say farmworker, environmental, and food safety groups. *RON*]
by Sarah LazareCommon Dreams, 5 May 2015

More than 25 farmworker, environmental, and food safety organizations sent an open letter on Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture demanding that the agency investigate reports that its scientists are facing retaliation and suppression of their research on controversial neonicotinoid insecticides that pose a danger to pollinator and human health.

"It is imperative that the USDA maintains scientific integrity and does not allow for harassment, censorship or suppression of findings that counter the interests of industry," states the letter, whose signatories include Farmworker Justice, Food & Water Watch, and Center for Biological Diversity…

Hillary Clinton Isn't Ready to Disclose Who's Funding Her Campaign

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[Her campaign isn't saying whether it will reveal the bundlers who are raising huge sums of money. *RON*]

—By Patrick Caldwell, Mother Jones, 6 May 2015

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has been pushing hard to overhaul of the country's broken campaign finance system. "We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccounted money out of it, once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment," Clinton said during one of her first official speeches in Iowa last month.

Clinton's campaign finance rhetoric appears to be aimed at super PACs, the quasi-independent organizations that bolster campaigns by buying ads. But when it comes to the major funders behind her own presidential campaign, the Democratic front-runner has yet to answer questions about how transparent she's willing to be. WhenMother Jones questioned the Clinton camp about whether it will disclose the names and fundraising totals…

Despite Civil Liberties Uproar, Canada Set to Ram Through Mass Surveillance Bill

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["This is about the soul of the country and a question of whether we understand what Canada stands for." Last chance to visit Stop Bill C-51. *RON*]
by Nadia PrupisCommon Dreams, 5 May 2015

Canada's House of Commons on Tuesday is poised to pass Bill C-51, a so-called "anti-terror" law, despite widespread outcry from civil liberties advocates who say the legislation would allow law enforcement to spy on civilians and violate Canadians' constitutional rights with little or no accountability.

The bill, introduced by the Conservative Party and backed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, would give up to 17 government agencies access to Canadian citizens' private information, including their financial status, medical history, and religious and political beliefs. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service would also be authorized to spy on Canadians and foreign nationals living in the country, while the Royal Canadian Moun…

Remember those killed by Tory austerity when you cast your vote on Thursday

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By Ros Wynne Jones, The Mirror, 5 May 2015

[Ros Wynne-Jones says this election is the story of how ordinary people who had nothing to do with causing the financial crisis have paid for the recovery in blood. Maybe the time has come for a turn-around? *RON*]

When you vote on Thursday , do so remembering the names of austerity’s dead.

David Clapson. Stephanie Bottrill. Sheila Holt. Linda Wootton. David Coupe. Brian McArdle...

A list dozens of names long.

All people who desperately needed the support of the welfare state, but who were treated with brutality, incompetence or indifference.

Over the past two years, this column has shared the sad, shocking stories of their deaths.

What the Debate on Inequality Is Missing

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["...the share of national income going to the entire bottom 99 percent of workers has shrunk by 15 percentage points since 1980." There is nothing natural or necessary about our current levels of inequality. Inequality only continues to grow if government allows, or encourages, it to do so. It can be reversed through political will. *RON*]

Eduardo Porter, New York Times, 5 May 2015

The United States economy is one of the most effective on earth in terms of generating new wealth. But for all the wealth it generates, it does an exceptionally dismal job at sharing it broadly among Americans.

Is this the best we can do?

Over the last four decades the debate in Washington about poverty and inequality has been bogged down in a somewhat pointless, often surreal debate about the size of government and the amount spent on behalf of the poor.

Over that same period, the earnings of workers in the bottom half of the income pile have progressed lit…

Left turn in Canada's oil-rich Alberta leaves investors reeling

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[This is roughly equivalent to Bernie Sanders winning the governor's race in Texas. Harper will be needing a change of pants today. Big change in store for Albertans. "The election sparked the immediate resignation of Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice as party leader. He also quit his legislative seat. The decimation of the party in Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's home province also cast doubt on Harper's hopes for re-election in October's federal election" See also Pinch me! Am I dreaming? Canada's 'most conservative' province elects an NDP majority and Alberta delivers harsh message to Harper Conservatives. *RON*]

By Scott Haggett and Nia Williams, Reuters, 6 May 2015

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A seismic political shift in Canada's oil-producing heartland of Alberta has left voters, investors and oil executives braced for change as a rookie left-wing government promises major…