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Showing posts from August 6, 2015

Texas ID Law Called Breach of Voting Rights Act

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[Despite the fact that Canadians have a constitutionally protected right to vote, the Texas ID law, described as "one of the strictest of its kind in the country" is in fact weaker than what Harper has successfully put in place for the upcoming Canadian federal election. See Federal election 2015: Voter ID rules stand, judge rules. *RON*]

By Erick Eckholm, New York Times, 5 August 2015
A federal appeals panel ruled Wednesday that a strict voter identification law in Texas discriminated against blacks and Hispanics and violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — a decision that election experts called an important step toward defining the reach of the landmark law.

The case is one of a few across the country that are being closely watched in legal circles after a 2013 Supreme Court decision that blocked the voting act’s most potent enforcement tool, federal oversight of election laws in numerous states, including Texas, with histories of rac…

Robert Conquest: Revealing the horror of Stalin

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[Having grown up in Canada in the midst of the cold war - cringing at the sound of the hydrogen bomb siren drills on my elementary school playground - and being the son of a German father, I was (in contrast to Mr. Evans) the recipient of some pretty no-holds-barred childhood opinions about Stalin. *RON*]

Stephen Evans, BBC Magazine, 6 August 2015

If you were brought up in a communist home, Robert Conquest's books really were a revelation.

In my case, two of my grandparents were members of the Party (as it was invariably called without ever needing to say which party). My father's father joined not that long after 1917's October Revolution in Russia and stayed faithful (it's the right word) through the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, unshaken by every revelation and counter-revolution.

At my grandfather's dinner table in Bedlinog, south Wales, debate was intense but futile. It was like arguing with the most devout of r…

The moment Truman announced the bombing of Hiroshima

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[A decision, the morality and necessity of which, is still being debated to this day. The moment 70 years ago when US president announced that the US had unleashed the world's first atomic bomb. *RON*]

Al Jazeera, 6 Aug 2015

On August 6, 1945, US B-29 aircraft the Enola Gay unleashed unprecedented power when it dropped the world's first atomic bomb, "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Three days later, the US dropped a second nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki.

The bombings caused unrivalled destruction and killed at least 129,000 people.

Days later, Japan surrendered and World War II was over.

The bombings remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.

An excerpt of former US president Harry Truman's announcement that the US had dropped an atomic bomb for the first time in history is shown in this video below (via Youtube).

Trans-Pacific Partnership could pose risk to public healthcare, leaked draft shows

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[This has been known for some while: pharmaceutical companies are seeking extended protection from generic manufacturers, which translates into much higher medication costs for many more years for Canadians. The new information applies this same principle specifically to what are known as biologic medicines, "a class of medications manufactured from living organisms, such as proteins, cells and tissues". Since "biologics sometimes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are used to treat serious illnesses including cancers and rheumatic diseases," delays in making generic versions available would cost us many millions of dollars. *RON*]
Melissa Davey, Guardian, 6 August 2015

The most recently leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement shows it may pose a risk to public health because of excessive intellectual property protections for medicines, according to an expert on the impact of international trade agreeme…

Short(ish) Guide to Domestic Far Right Extremism

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[Because you can't tell your White Nationalists from your Racist Skinheads without a program. *RON*]

By Joe Young and Paul Martin, politicalviolenceataglance, 6 August 2015
The recent mass shooting in Charleston has led to arguments over whether the act was terrorism or not. Lost in this definitional debate is a deeper understanding of why an individual or group would perpetrate such an act. Below, we offer a short guide to U.S.-based far right extremists. As has been argued before, this categorization is important to help understand motivations and to predict when or where these acts may take place.
Patriots/Militias and Sovereign Citizens

U.S. far right extremism can be divided into three types: (1) Patriots, Militias and Sovereign Citizens, (2) White Supremacists and Nationalists, and (3) Christian Identity/ Christian Patriots.

The first set tends to fixate on the power of the federal government. They are exemplified by the Patriot movement w…

Algae Bloom Off B.C. Coast Leads To Seafood Bans

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[The oceans provide the primary heat sink for the large majority of the effects of global warming. I.e., we'll be seeing a lot more of this kind of thing. *RON*]
By Phuong Le, Associated Press / Huffington Post, 5 August 2015


SEATTLE - A vast bloom of toxic algae off the West Coast is denser, more widespread and deeper than scientists feared even weeks ago, according to surveyors aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel.

This coastal ribbon of microscopic algae, up to 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep in places, is flourishing amid unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures. It now stretches from at least California to Alaska and has shut down lucrative fisheries. Shellfish managers on Tuesday doubled the area off Washington's coast that is closed to Dungeness crab fishing, after finding elevated levels of marine toxins in tested crab meat.

So-called "red tides'' are cyclical and have happened many t…

As U.S. adopts new federal climate policy, will Canada follow?

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[It won't happen under Harper. The ball has been in his court on any number of occasions and he always finds some new reason why regulation is 'impossible.' See also: Obama puts Harper to shame. *RON*]

 Danielle Droitsch, Switchboard, 5 August 2015

As the Obama administration announced the most significant step ever taken by an American President to implement the first-ever federal limits on dangerous carbon pollution reduction from coal-fired power plants, questions continue to linger about when Canada will address its fastest growing source of carbon pollution from the tar sands industry. The Obama administration after a lengthy consultation period has announced it would begin implementation of the Clean Power Plan which aims for a 32 percent reduction from power plants by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. This will prevent nearly 900 million tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere annually by 2030. As the U.S. moves ahead to addre…

Can genes make us liberal or conservative?

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[Interesting, but I don't see what, if anything, this is believed to accomplish, from an evolutionary standpoint. Of course it would be wild if all the friction between the political left and right simply turned out to be a genetic epiphenomenon. Via my friend Harry. *RON*]
Phys.org, 4 August 2015
Aristotle may have been more on the money than he realised in saying man is a political animal, according to research published Wednesday linking genes with liberal or conservative leanings.

Or, to be precise, a specific variant of one gene that would seem to exert greater sway over women than men.

Working with 1771 university students of Han Chinese origin in Singapore, researchers compared answers to surveys—including one tailored to hot-button issues in the city-state—with the presence of a permutation of the DRD4 gene.