Showing posts from June 26, 2015

Terrorist Attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait Kill Dozens

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[No indication these attacks were purposefully coordinated. But on Tuesday, an Islamic State spokesman had called on the group’s followers to escalate attacks during Ramadan and to turn the month into a time of "calamity for the infidels." *RON*]
By Ben Hubbard, New York Times, 26 June 2015

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Terrorists attacked sites in France, Tunisia and Kuwait on Friday, leaving a bloody toll on three continents and prompting new concerns about the spreading influence of jihadists.

In France, attackers stormed an American-owned industrial chemical plant near Lyon, decapitated one person and tried unsuccessfully to blow up the factory.

In Tunisia, gunmen opened fire at a beach resort, killing at least 27 people, officials said. At least one of the attackers was killed by security forces.

And the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in one of the largest Shiite mosques in Kuwait City during Friday prayers. The bomb …

Here’s how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill

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[Corruption and the corporatocracy. Or, the best democracy money can buy. "How can we expect politicians who routinely receive campaign money, lucrative job offers, and lavish gifts from special interests to make impartial decisions that directly affect those same special interests? As long as this kind of transparently corrupt behavior remains legal, we won’t have a government that truly represents the people." *RON*]
C Robert Gibson and Taylor Channing, The Guardian, 27 May 2015
A decade in the making, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is reaching its climax and as Congress hotly debates the biggest trade deal in a generation, its backers have turned on the cash spigot in the hopes of getting it passed.

“We’re very much in the endgame,” US trade representative Michael Froman told reporters over the weekend at a meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on the resort island of Boracay. His comments…

The Bankruptcy of America’s Elites

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[Lengthy but good discussion on how grown-ups aren't watching the store any more. *RON*]
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 26 June 2015

If someone had used the word “elites” in 2006, they would have been seen as a hair-on-fire hysteric, long on conspiracy theories and short on sober understanding of How Things Work. But as the 1% and 0.1% amass more and more of total income and wealth, so too have they come to believe their interest diverge from those of the rest of us (and in a literal sense, they often do, since in too many cases, their wealth rests at least in part on predatory conduct). And now that that gap has become obvious, it has reshaped the role of the ruling class, as in the people who are in charge of the administrative apparatus of society. While some members of these top income groups play a direct role in running powerful organizations (CEOs of large an/or strategically important businesses, for instance), it also includes much …

Fracking Linked to Increased Infant Mortality

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[Pennsylvania has issued more than 10,000 drilling permits over the past decade. Infants and children may be paying a heavy price. *RON*]
By Reynard Loki / AlterNet, 25 June 2015

A new study has linked fracking to a higher incidence in infant mortality, perinatal mortality, low-weight births, premature births and cancer in infants and children.

Funded by the Pittsburgh Foundation and written by Joe Mangano, co-founder and president of the Radiation and Public Health Project, a nonprofit educational and scientific organization that studies the relationship between low-level, nuclear radiation and public health, the study used data from state agencies to examine eight heavily fracked counties in Pennsylvania — four in the northeast and four in the southwest region of the state, counties that account for the majority of the state's natural gas drill wells and gas production. In all categories but child cancer, increases were greater in the northe…

Half of Europe’s electricity set to be from renewables by 2030

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[Yet somehow in North America we say this is simply impossible, that we cannot stop using oil and gas, and that it is slightly treasonous to say so. Leaked EU paper predicts fast renewables growth to around double current levels. Meanwhile, Bill Gates has announced he will invest $2bn in renewable technologies initiatives, yet he rejected calls to divest from the fossil fuel companies that are burning carbon at a rate that ignores international agreements to limit global warming. *RON*]

Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 26 June 2015 Europe will likely get more than half of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the next decade if EU countries meet their climate pledges, according to a draft commission paper.

A planned overhaul of the continent’s electricity grids will now need to be sped up, says the leaked text, seen by the Guardian.

“Reaching the European Union 2030 energy and climate objectives means the share of renewables is likely t…

Donald Trump refuses to release birth certificate and passport records

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[Hypocrisy thy name is Trump, and thou has a bad hair-do. The Republican presidential candidate had called Barack Obama the country’s ‘least transparent president’ for refusing to release the same documentation. See also Mexican Piñata Maker Takes Revenge on Donald Trump. *RON*]

Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian, 26 June 2015 Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has refused to release his long-form birth certificate and passport records, despite demanding the same from Barack Obama during the 2012 election.

The Guardian contacted the Trump campaign to request the birth certificate and passport records of the Apprentice host, but a spokeswoman refused to share the documents.

In October 2012, Trump, a prominent figure in the “birther movement” – a loose affiliation of people who claimed Obama was born outside the US – accused Obama of being “the least transparent president in the history of this country” for refusing to release the very details Trump is now …

Environment lawyers challenge B.C.'s Kinder Morgan pipeline conditions

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[Clark says she will not support Kinder Morgan unless it is proven to be good for BC, yet the current review process, that she supports and refuses to supplement with a BC review, isn't intended to look at this. *RON*]

The Canadian Press / Vancouver Observer, 25 June 2015

VANCOUVER — A group of environmental lawyers is calling on the British Columbia government to do its own evaluation of Kinder Morgan's proposed $5.4-billion pipeline expansion instead of deferring its questions to the National Energy Board.

Lawyers from Ecojustice say the province has signed away its responsibility to assess the impacts of the proposed expansion project by harmonizing the approval process with the NEB, and the only to ensure that the pipeline benefits B.C. residents is by withdrawing from that process.

Premier Christy Clark outlined five conditions in 2012 that the pipeline company must meet before B.C. will agree to the Trans Mountain project.

However, Ec…

Australian inequality rising as top 20% increase wealth and income – report

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[Top earners are now pulling in five times as much as those at the bottom and the wealthiest have 70 times the assets of the poorest. *RON*]
Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 21 June 2015
Australia’s rich are getting richer, and while inequality here is not as extreme as in the US or the UK, it is heading in that direction, according to a new study by the Australian Council of Social Service.

Australians earning in the top 20% of incomes receive five times as much as those in the bottom 20%. A person with accumulated wealth in the top 20% has 70 times as much as a person in the bottom 20%.

And the gap is widening, the study found, with the share of both income and wealth going to the top 20% increasing.

IMF Backs Steps to Cut Income Inequality, Boost Growth

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["You do not have to be an altruist to support policies that lift the incomes of the poor and the middle class. Reducing excessive inequality — by lifting the ‘small boats’ — is not just morally and politically correct, but it is good economics." *RON*]
By William Mauldin, Wall Street Journal, 17 June 2015

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde called on officials around the world to make changes to tax regimes, clamp down on corruption and take other steps to reduce income inequality, which she blamed for weighing on global growth.

“The poor and the middle class are the main engines of growth,” Ms. Lagarde said at a speech in Brussels on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, these engines have been stalling.”