Showing posts from June 17, 2015

Walmart Accused Of Using Its Charitable Foundation To Build More Walmarts

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[There is a slight problem with thinking that the private sector can step up and fill some of the gaps left by government austerity policies. "The senior Walmart executives involved with the Foundation benefit financially in their for-profit jobs from the work they do through the Foundation, alleges the complaint, which says this is a violation of the prohibition against private inurement' and 'private benefit' at tax-exempt charities." *RON*]
By Chris Morran, Consumerist, 16 June 2015

There are more than 4,500 Walmart stores in the U.S., but the nation’s largest retailer continues to expand. The company, once associated with rural communities, has recently made pushes into urban markets. And a new complaint to the IRS accuses Walmart of wrongfully using its tax-exempt Walmart Foundation charity to get a foothold in those cities.
In a lengthy and detailed complaint [PDF] to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about the Walmart Fou…

New NASA data show how the world is running out of water

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["...Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers — in locations from India and China to the United States and France — have passed their sustainability tipping points, meaning more water was removed than replaced during the decade-long study period" See also: North Korea says it faces worst drought in a century. *RON*]

By Todd C. Frankel, Washington Post Blogs, 16 June 2015

The world’s largest underground aquifers – a source of fresh water for hundreds of millions of people — are being depleted at alarming rates, according to new NASA satellite data that provides the most detailed picture yet of vital water reserves hidden under the Earth’s surface.

Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers — in locations from India and China to the United States and France — have passed their sustainability tipping points, meaning more water was removed than replaced during the decade-long study period, researchers announced Tuesday. Thirteen aq…

Hundreds of Nigerians illegally trafficked to UK, says anti-slavery chief

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[The flow of potential modern slavery victims for sexual exploitation or domestic servitude is targeted as the influx from African country rises by third. A stellar illustration of why truly free markets cannot be allowed to exist. *RON*]
Press Association, The Guardian, 17 June 2015
Hundreds of people from Nigeria are being illegally trafficked to the UK, where they face sexual exploitation or being forced into domestic servitude.

The anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland, said tackling the flow of people from the African country was one of his main priorities and promised to oversee work bringing together law enforcement agencies in Nigeria and Europe to get to grips with the problem.

Official figures show that more than 2,000 potential trafficking victims were referred to the authorities in 2014 – 244 of whom were from Nigeria, a 31% increase from the previous year.

The National Crime Agency statistics show the number of victims from Nigeria wa…

Global conflicts 'cost 13% of world GDP'

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["...if global violence were to decrease by 10%, it would effectively give the world economy an additional $1.43 trillion - more than six times the amount needed to wipe out Greece's debts, and three times more than the total earnings of some 1.1bn of the world's poorest people." *RON*]

BBC World News, 17 June 2015

Conflicts around the world cost $14.3tn (£9.1tn) last year, 13% of world GDP, says a survey on global peace.

That amount is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, the report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said.

The divide between the most peaceful and the least peaceful nations was deepening, the annual report added.

Iceland is the world's most peaceful nation, whilst Syria is the least.

Dismantling Democracy: Stifling debate and dissent in Canada

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[Democracy and realpolitik, Harper-style. All this has been reported previously, but this report (from Voices-Voix, a coalition of 200 organizations, including Amnesty Canada and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, and 5,000 individuals) gives a nicely documented summary that should be read by all Canadians before the upcoming federal election. *RON*]
Voices/Voix, 16 June 2015.

Since 2010, we have published more than 110 case studies that ‘connect the dots,’ showing a pattern of actions by the federal government to silence critics, stifle debate, diminish knowledge, and dodge accountability.

In Dismantling Democracy: Stifling debate and dissent in Canada, we document the abuse of parliamentary rules, the intimidation of public servants, and the defunding and intimidation of organizations that hold views at odds with the government.

The report documents where the federal government has gutted the capacity of its own departments an…

How the Budget Bill Quietly Reshapes Canadian Privacy Law

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[Somewhat wonkish, but important in showing that Harper has no intention of bounding his intrusions into Canadian's privacy with Bill C-51, but continues to attempt to expand his surveillance powers, once again, by burying his changes in an omnibus bill. Quite a lot of this sounds like more cannon fodder for the Supreme Court. You have to wonder what makes him hate democracy so much. *RON*]
Michael Geist,, 15 June 2015
A budget implementation bill is an unlikely – and many would say inappropriate – place to make major changes to Canadian privacy law. Yet Bill C-59, the government’s 158-page bill that is set to sweep through the House of Commons, does just that.

The omnibus budget bill touches on a wide range of issues, including copyright term extension and retroactive reforms to access to information laws. But there are also privacy amendments that have received little attention. In fact, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada was…

Austerity ‘had huge impact’ on suicide

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[Five years of economic recession and austerity in Ireland have had a dramatic negative impact on the male suicide rate (up by 57%) and the self-harm rate among men (up 31%) and women (up 22%). This is "a stark reminder of the tragic human costs of policy failure in economic management by governments and other institutions at national and international level." Also, of course, McGill University is in Canada, not the US! :-) *RON*]
By Catherine Shanahan, Irish Examiner, 17 June 2015
In fact, the male suicide rate at the end of 2012 was 57% higher than what would have been expected had the pre-recession trend continued, with close to 500 extra deaths between 2008 to 2012.
The findings come ahead of the launch next week of the Government’s new five-year suicide strategy which Mental Health Minister Kathleen Lynch has said will receive no new funding.
Paul Corcoran, who led the research behind the new study, said their findings provide “a sta…

Military sexual misconduct due to 'biological wiring,' Gen. Tom Lawson tells CBC News

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[They could make a good start at changing military rape culture by firing this man instantly. Shameful. *RON*]
CBC News, 16 June 2015

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Sexual harassment is still an issue in the Canadian Forces because people are "biologically wired in a certain way," Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson told CBC News on Tuesday, drawing outrage from opposition politicians and on social media.

After CBC aired excerpts of his comments, Lawson quickly backpedalled and apologized for what he called an &quo…