Showing posts from September 30, 2015

How Much of Big Pharma's Massive Profits Are Used to Influence Politicians?

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[We have so little public information and reporting on the specifics of campaign contributions in Canada! Yet Harper is so heartily behind TPP, which will make a fortune for pharmaceutical companies, that one cannot help but suspect the political support there must be strong. *RON*]

By Mike Ludwig, Truthout, 30 September 2015

Whenever it's called out for charging too much for drugs or outright price gouging, the pharmaceutical industry's standard defense is to assure the public that its profits will be used to develop even better drugs in the future. Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli clung to that defense in late September when asked to explain his sudden decision to hike the price of a longstanding anti-parasitic drug by more than $700, prompting a collective eye roll among medical experts and an outraged public.
In reality, a good chunk of pharmaceutical "research and development" comes from the subsidized labs at univ…

UK and Saudi Arabia 'in secret deal' over human rights council place

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["Riyadh has sanctioned more than a hundred beheadings so far this year – more, it is claimed, than Islamic State." Leaked documents suggest vote-trading deal was conducted to enable nations to secure a seat at UN’s influential body. *RON*]
Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 29 September 2015
Britain conducted secret vote-trading deals with Saudi Arabia to ensure both states were elected to the UN human rights council (UNHRC), according to leaked diplomatic cables.

The elevation of the Saudi kingdom to one of the UN’s most influential bodies in 2013 prompted fresh international criticism of its human rights record.

This week, a new diplomatic row has erupted over a Shia activist, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who faces death by crucifixion after being convicted at the age of 17 of joining an anti-government demonstration.

Riyadh has sanctioned more than a hundred beheadings so far this year – more, it is claimed, than Islamic State.

No long-term future in tar sands, says Alberta's premier

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[Rachel Notley, drawing a clear line in the sand, supports a switch to clean energy to help Canada’s biggest oil-producing province move beyond fossil fuels within a century. I guess she just fell off Christy Clark's Christmas card list. *RON*]
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 30 September 2015
The leader of Canada’s biggest oil-producing province has declared she sees no long-term future in fossil fuels, predicting Alberta would wean itself off dirty energy within a century.

In an early reveal of her forthcoming new energy policy, Alberta’s Rachel Notley said she would fight climate change by cleaning up the tar sands, shutting down coal-fired power plants, and converting to wind and solar power.

Notley also forecast an eventual future beyond fossil fuels – a dramatic change for Alberta - and a track that has put her on a collision course with Canada’s conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper.

The Alberta leader is due to unveil the new pol…

Princess Michael of Kent puts animals in their place

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[Yes, the royalty is such a grand institution and a great tradition. I can't understand why anyone would not want to spend endless sums of taxpayer money to maintain that Jewel in the Crown mentality. The royal who lived rent-free in a palace for 23 years says animals don’t have rights – after all, they don’t vote or pay taxes. But it’s not the first time she’s shared a controversial opinion … *RON*]

The Guardian, 30 September 2015 [Evidently this kind of piece gets submitted anonymously!]

Name: Princess Michael of Kent.

Age: 70.

Appearance: A slightly more clueless Cruella de Vil.

This is definitely going to be a member of the royal family saying something stupid, isn’t it? Oh boy, you have no idea.

Amazing. Hit me with it. OK, brace yourself. “I’m a great animal lover and I’m involved in a lot of conservation, but animals don’t have rights. They don’t have bank accounts. They don’t vote.”

Elizabeth Warren lobbying query leads Brookings Institution fellow to quit

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[No one else would step up to do this; thank goodness Warren is around. "Warren said the lack of disclosure raises 'significant questions about the impartiality of the study and its conclusions.'" The Massachusetts senator accused Robert Litan of failing to fully disclose industry funding for a study criticizing a government plan to regulate brokerages. Please note, also, that Litan is a former top official in the Clinton administration! *RON*]

Reuters, The Guardian, 30 September 2015

The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has prompted the resignation of a high-profile Brookings Institution fellow after accusing him of failing to fully disclose industry funding tied to a study that criticized the US Labor Department’s plan to regulate brokerages.

Tuesday’s resignation of Robert Litan came just one day after Warren, a Democrat, sent Brookings’ president a letter demanding to know more about the thinktank’s policies on financia…

Russia carries out air strikes in Syria

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[This can only heighten tensions and escalate violence. Now Russia will be an ISIS target, and the "holy battle" language being used by the Russian Orthodox Church returns us to the era of the Crusades. Russian bombs target positions, vehicles and warehouses that Moscow believes belong to ISIL, defence minister says. *RON*]

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies, 30 Sep 2015
Russian military jets have carried out airstrikes in Syria for the first time, the defence ministry has said.

The airstrikes targeted positions, vehicles and warehouses that Russia believes belong to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies.

US Secretary of State John Kerry complained to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov after the airstrikes.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Kerry told Lavrov that the Russian move "runs counter to their stated efforts of deconfliction an…

Debate on bulk water exports to U.S. resurfaces despite recent droughts in Canada

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[The conservative, corporatocratic perspective is that anything that can be made into a commodity should be made into a commodity, period, end of story. The psychopathic, suicidal short-sightedness of it is maddening. *RON*]
By Emma Lui,, 29 September 2015

Recent articles in the Globe and Mail, Yahoo News and the Vancouver Sun signal that the debates on bulk water exports are resurfacing; and not only because of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's comments as environment minister in Quebec.

The article in the Globe and Mail states, "..the country's most valuable resource of all -- water -- is the least discussed and most misunderstood. Even acknowledging water's potential economic value has become taboo for politicians and policy-makers... The notion of exporting water is a political no-go zone. Ottawa and most provinces have banned bulk exports."

In 2012, the federal government passed Bill C-…

Trending: Harper is a stealer of dreams, Blue Rodeo protest song says

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[Canadian entertainers Blue Rodeo, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Donald Sutherland, and Rachael McAdams have all joined in protesting the Harper government. *RON*]

By News Staff,, 29 September 2015

Popular Canadian band Blue Rodeo is jumping into the federal election campaign with a modern day protest song against Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

The song Stealin’ All My Dreams attacks the Conservatives over many different issues from their economic and environmental record to Aboriginal rights and government scandals.

“Blue Rodeo does not always speak with one voice,” singer-songwriter and guitarist Jim Cuddy says on the band’s website. “However we feel collectively that the current administration in Canada has taken us down the wrong path.”

“We do not seem to be the compassionate and environmentally conscious nation we once were. As respectful as we are of the variety of opinions held by our audience, we felt it was time to speak up an…