Showing posts from September 7, 2015

Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out

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[A simple, brilliant concept! Let's see demand for this spread. *RON*]

Maria L. La Ganga, John KitzhaberKate Brown, LA Times, 17 March 2015

Instead of opting in, prospective voters must opt out of registering in Oregon

Americans are required to register if they want to vote; as of this week, Oregonians will have to register not to.

In front of a packed and cheering audience Monday, Gov. Kate Brown signed a first-in-the-nation bill to automatically register all eligible Oregonians to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license or state identification card.

Those who are registered through the new process will be notified by mail and will be given three weeks to take themselves off the voting rolls. If they do not opt out, the secretary of state’s office will mail them a ballot automatically 20 days before any election.

When Brown signed House Bill 2177 into law, she was building on the Beaver State’s history as a ballot-box innovator, …

The States With The Most Gun Laws See The Fewest Gun-Related Deaths

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[Obvious stuff but it's worth getting the information out. And yet there’s still little appetite to talk about more restrictions. *RON*]

Libby Isenstein, National Journal, 28 August 2015.

As of the fi­nal days of Au­gust, the United States has seen more than 200 mass shoot­ings in 2015. The murder of WD­BJ re­port­er Al­is­on Park­er and cam­era­man Adam Ward on Wed­nes­day dur­ing an on-air broad­cast brought the is­sue of guns back to the fore­front of the polit­ic­al de­bate.

Hours after the in­cid­ent, 2016 pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Hil­lary Clin­ton tweeted her sup­port for the im­me­di­ate tight­en­ing of gun laws. Across the aisle, Re­pub­lic­an con­tenders also ex­pressed sym­pathy and grief, but dis­missed the call for stricter gun le­gis­la­tion, cit­ing oth­er factors—men­tal health, poor law en­force­ment—as the causes of Amer­ica’s gun vi­ol­ence prob­lem. One can­did­ate asked, “What law in the world could have pre­ven­ted him…

Dear Prime Minister: Time for electoral reform, says Rafe Mair

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[In addition to proportional representation, what is needed are strong controls over campaign financing. *RON*]

Rafe Mair, Commonsense Canadian, 6 September 2015

To: The Rt. Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

Most issues we face today we’ve faced before.

For an older person like myself there is a strong sense of déjà vu. We’ve been through deficits and surpluses; prosperity and recessions; government overspending and government parsimony; and there’s always a list of special issues to be replaced by new special issues in time for the next election.

The sign of a great leader is one who takes a very large, seemingly insoluble problem and deals with it in the interests of the nation. Not many have done that in our history – mostly we just muddle along, watching the United States and the UK, and keeping our heads down.
Canada stingy on constitutional reform

We’ve been shockingly inattentive to our corporate make up, or …

Welcome to Australia, where we greet refugees with open arms and hot drinks. Oh wait, that's Austria

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[A rising tide of xenophobia. "In Austria, refugee children are given toys and shelter. In Australia, they are sent to indefinite detention on tropical islands." Ironically, this cartoon, decrying the xenophobia of the anti-refugee policies of Australia, and praising the generosity of Austria, appears the same day as this story: Austria to tighten controls on flow of refugees and this Migrant crisis: Austria 'to end emergency migrant measures'. *RON*]

The Guardian, First Dog on the Moon, 7 September 2015

We say when we are overrun and the circumstances in which we will be overrun. Illustration: First Dog on the Moon for the Guardian

Denmark launches anti-refugee ad campaign

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[A rising tide of xenophobia. Doing what they can to keep refugees from coming to Denmark. *RON*]

IANS, Business Standard, 7 September 2015

The Danish government on Monday launched an advertising campaign in foreign newspapers aimed at deterring refugees from coming to the country.

According to the Danish Immigration Service, the first advert that publicises Denmark's recent welfare cuts was published in four different Lebanese newspapers, Xinhua news agency reported.

The advert, entitled "Denmark has decided to tighten the regulations concerning refugees in a number of areas", lists seven measures refugees and migrants should take into account if they decide to head for Denmark, including the new cut in social benefits, no possibility of family reunification during the first year and quick repatriation of rejected asylum seekers.

Apart from meeting the language requirements, foreign nationals can be granted a permanent residence permit…

Sarah Palin tells immigrants to speak 'American'

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[A rising tide of xenophobia. Former vice-presidential candidate criticises Republican candidate Jeb Bush for speaking in Spanish at a rally. *RON*]

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies, 7 Sep 2015
Former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been criticised after telling immigrants to the country to speak "American".

Palin was speaking to CNN's State of the Union programme on Sunday when she was asked to comment on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's condemnation of fellow contender Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish in front of a Hispanic audience.

"I think we can send a message and say: 'You want to be in America? A: you better be here legally, or you're out of here. B: when you're here, let's speak American.' I mean, that's just, that's ... let's speak English," Palin said on the show.

The former governor of the state of Alaska added language should be a "unifying aspec…

Hate crimes against Muslims soar in London

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[A rising tide of xenophobia. 816 Islamophobic offences recorded across UK capital - up over 70% on last year - with women wearing veils most vulnerable. *RON*]
Press Association, The Guardian, 7 September 2015

The number of hate crimes against Muslims in London has risen by almost three quarters in a year, according to police figures, with women who wear veils particularly vulnerable.

There were 816 Islamophobic offences recorded across the city in the 12 months up to July this year, compared with 478 for the previous 12 months.

The overall rise was just over 70%, the Met said, but some boroughs reported figures more than double those of last year.

In Merton, the figure rose by 262%, from eight to 29, while in Richmond-upon-Thames nine crimes were reported, compared with just one for the previous year.

Thomas Piketty to advise Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos

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[Cool. French economist to join international committee of experts advising the party on economic policy ahead of general election. *RON]
Reuters, The Guardian, 7 September 2015
The French economist Thomas Piketty, famous for his controversial book on wealth and inequality, is to advise Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos.

The author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century has agreed to join an international committee of experts that will advise Podemos on its economic programme as the party prepares to fight its first general election in December.

Piketty will work with the leftwing party on developing policies to combat inequality, the theme of his bestselling 2013 book, and on measures to democratise the eurozone, Podemos said in a statement on Monday.

California EPA Moves to Label Monsanto's Roundup 'Carcinogenic'

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[You can bet this will be in the courts until we're all dead. *RON*]

By Sam Levin, East Bay Express, 5 September 2015

The California Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it plans to label glyphosate — the most widely used herbicide and main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup — as a chemical "known to cause cancer." The World Health Organization's research arm also recently found that the chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans, and research has also linked glyphosate to the steep decline of monarch butterflies. And as we reported this week, scientists have increasingly raised new alarms about potential negative health impacts tied to Roundup, including a recent study suggesting that long-term exposure to tiny amounts of the chemical (thousands of times lower than what is allowed in drinking water in the US) could lead to liver and kidney problems.

Today's announcement from the EPA's Office of Enviro…

What it's like to live off the grid, according to a couple who moved to a fire lookout in the middle of the Oregon forest

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[Cool story; cool life. *RON*]
Brittany Fowler, Business Insider, 6 September 2015

Retired couple Alan Colley and Dabney Tompkins have chosen a rather unconventional location for their next home.

After stumbling upon a book about the US Forest Service, Colley and Tompkins were inspired to move into a fire lookout, a 40-foot tower that was historically used to spot forest fires.

"It was a magical moment that the book sort of fell off the shelf to us," Colley told Zillow. "We called the ranger district and said why don’t we rent this thing? That was the beginning."

After renting a few fire lookouts, they decided to purchase land on Summit Prairie in Oregon, where they would build their own tower from the ground up. At that point, the couple had already downsized from a Dallas estate to a 1,400-square-foot home in Portland.

What started as a weekend getaway eventually turned into a permanent residence.

US shale industry braced for bankruptcies

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[Easy money and bad investments are coming home to roost. Dear Christy Clark, are you paying attention? Falling oil prices put groups with high costs under severe financial strain. See also: US shale oil industry hit by $30bn outflows, and T. Boone Pickens says US shale industry must cut output. *RON*]

Ed Crooks, Financial Times, 6 September 2015

The world may run on oil, but the oil industry runs on capital, and for US shale producers that capital is starting to dry up.

Earlier in the year it was still relatively easy for US exploration and production companies to raise capital by selling debt or equities, in spite of last year’s oil price crash caused by a global glut. Now those sales have slowed sharply, and the financial strain on the industry is growing.

The next turn of the screw is approaching, in the shape of another round of redeterminations of “borrowing bases”: the valuations of companies’ oil and gas reserves used by banks to secure …