Showing posts from July 1, 2015

Stephen Harper's hostile greeting for new Canadians

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[See also Canadians blessed to live in best country, says Harper. *RON*]

by Stephen Fuhr, Georgia Strait, 30 June 2015

While Canada Day is usually a time to celebrate the swearing in of new citizens, this year will be the first time that their citizenship will be marked with an asterisk, thanks to Stephen Harper’s passage of Bill C-24.

Bill C-24 lawsuit claims no legislation can strip Canadians of citizenship
Immigration bill C-24 decried as path to two-tiered Canadian citizenship
If Bill C-24 passes, Canadian citizenship will be harder to get and easier to lose

The new law threatens dual citizens and immigrants to Canada with revocation of their citizenship. Now, citizenship can berevoked by a citizenship officer without a live hearing, without opportunity for appeal, without a judge, and for reasons other than a fraudulent application.

Canadians convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying may have their citizenship re…

When does an interview become free consulting?

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[This sort of thing goes on constantly nowadays. I get emails (often via LinkedIn) from a student or a recent student who is doing an internship (=free slave labour), who wants to interview me for a 'project' they're working on for free for some organization. The job is invariably one that the organization would normally hire a contractor to do, so the whole thing is a farce. *RON*]
Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe, 30 June 2015

I recently had a weird and negative experience applying for a job.

I went for standard the day-long interview, and answered a bunch of questions, and met a bunch of people, maybe 9. In one of the interviews, they asked me how I would approach some of the data questions they were working on, and I gave them some spur-of-the-moment advice. In one case I exactly outlined the approach they were actually taking. All this is fine, and to be expected. In fact I felt like the interview had gone well, and I had liked and been…

An Epidemic of Reason?

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["Perhaps the planet has just gone through a few anomalously thoughtful weeks, or perhaps rational thought is making a desperately needed comeback." *RON*]
By Michael Specter, New Yorker, 1 July 2015

For most of the past decade, only a delusional man could have believed the following sentences:
The Pope, in a hundred-and-eighty-page encyclical addressed to “every single person on the planet,’’ described climate change as one of the world’s most pressing moral, ethical, and religious challenges.In California, which last year registered its largest number of measles cases since 1995, and the worst rate of pertussis since 1958, the state legislature Monday passed the strictest mandatory vaccination law in the country—which, pending the governor’s signature, will eliminate all exemptions other than those based on medical need.Despite more than fifty Congressional attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court last week upheld

Climate change a security risk second only to terrorism, says defence report

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[Defence white paper consultation report flags consequences of environmental pressures as a significant security risk for Australia. *RON*]
Katharine Murphy and Daniel Hurst, The Guardian, 1 July 2015

The Abbott government’s energy white paper made headlines for its curious reluctance to mention climate change – but the looming defence white paper may prove to be a different story.

A report on community consultations associated with the defence white paper flags the consequences of climate change, extreme weather events and environmental pressures as a significant security risk for Australia – second only to the risks posed by terrorism.

“Many people suggested [climate change] would lead to an increased need for humanitarian and disaster relief activities, including by armed forces,” the report released on Wednesday said.

“Some people also noted that climate change and resource stresses, such as food and water shortages, could drive unregulated cros…

U.S. Chamber Fights Smoking Laws While Hospitals and Insurers Sit on Its Board

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[That's the problem with being a corporatocrat while pretending to be in a 'helping' profession. *RON*]

By Danny Hakim, New York Times, 1 July 2015

Anthem, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, wants its members to stop smoking.

It reimburses those who enroll in smoking-cessation programs or who buy products, like nicotine patches, intended to help people quit. It has even offered to arrange sessions with a coach who talks smokers through the process of quitting.

“Smoking is an unhealthy habit,” the insurer proclaimed in one of its publications. “It’s a smart business decision to urge your employees to quit smoking.”

But Anthem’s executive vice president, Wayne S. DeVeydt, serves on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is engaged in a worldwide campaign to block antismoking laws. These include taxes on cigarettes in the Philippines, graphic health warnings on cigarette packs in Jamaica and Nepal, a plan to prohibit the …

US police killings headed for 1,100 this year, with black Americans twice as likely to die

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[A Guardian investigation finds 547 people killed by law enforcement so far in 2015 as Obama’s call for ‘appropriate oversight’ continues to go unheeded. In the 14 years since 9/11, self-proclaimed jihadists have killed 26 Americans. See also: Americans Are as Likely to Be Killed by Their Own Furniture as by Terrorism. *RON*]

Oliver LaughlandJon Swaine and Jamiles Lartey, The Guardian, 1 July 2015

Of the 547 people killed by police according to The Counted, 478 were shot and killed – and more than 20% were unarmed. Link to video (All figures in this video are as of 29 June 2015.) Click here to join our Reddit AMA on police killings in the US.

Police in the United States are killing people at a rate that would result in 1,100 fatalities by the end of this year, according to a Guardian investigation, which recorded an average of three people killed per day during the first half of 2015.

The Counted, a project working to report and crowdsource names …

New research suggests nature walks are good for your brain

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[Get out for a hike! :-) It's cooler in the forest as well... *RON*]

By Chris Mooney, Washington Post, 29 June 2015
In the past several months, a bevy of studies have added to a growing literature on the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors. That includes recent research showing that short micro-breaks spent looking at a nature scene have a rejuvenating effect on the brain — boosting levels of attention — and also that kids who attend schools featuring more greenery fare better on cognitive tests.

And Monday, yet another addition to the literature arrived — but this time with an added twist. It’s a cognitive neuroscience study, meaning not only that benefits from a nature experience were captured in an experiment, but also that their apparent neural signature was observed through brain scans.

The paper, by Stanford’s Gregory Bratman and several colleagues from the United States and Sweden, was published Monday in the Proceedin…

It’s not just Cabinet ministers jumping ship: Conservative exodus ahead of election largest in 20 years

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["Harper is also the first Canadian prime minister since St. Laurent to have a dropout rate above 25 percent and still lead his party into the next campaign. In other cases, rates that high include the prime minister among the departures." *RON*]

Josh Wingrove and Erik Hertzberg, Bloomberg News / National Post, 30 June 2015
Stephen Harper is losing incumbent lawmakers at one of the highest rates in decades, and history suggests that weighs heavily on the Canadian Prime Minister’s chances of winning another term in power later this year. Of 166 Conservatives elected to the House of Commons during Harper’s first majority in 2011, at least 46 are not running for the party this fall. It’s the third-highest dropout rate since the Second World War and the highest since 1993, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Polls show a tight three-way race heading into the Oct. 19 election as Harper seeks to become the first Canadian prime minister in…