Showing posts from October 11, 2015

Just 158 Families Dominate U.S. Presidential Campaign Contributions

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[Welcome to the plutocracy. *RON*]
By Chas Danner, New York Magazine, 10 October 2015

After looking at the donations made to the current crop of presidential candidates, the New York Times reports that $176 million, roughly half of all the money contributed during the first phase of the campaigns, came from only 158 families and the companies those families control. The demographic details about these donors, all of whom gave $250,000 or more, will not likely come as a surprise: The majority are conservative, with 87 percent supporting Republican candidates, and the majority are also white, male, concerned about their privacy, and most of their money has not been made via inheritance or more established American corporations, but has been self-made from risky endeavors in the finance and energy industries. In addition, most of the donors lived near just nine U.S. cities, often as neighbors. One family who earned billions in the recent natural-ga…

Huge rally in Berlin says ‘No’ to EU-US trade deal

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[Another hopeful sign: "This is the biggest protest that this country has seen for many, many years." *RON*]
EuroNews, 10 October 2015

Organisers are hailing a huge success, claiming that 250,000 people marched in Berlin on Saturday to protest against proposed free trade deals between Europe and both the United States and Canada.

“This is the biggest protest that this country has seen for many, many years,” Christoph Bautz, director of citizens’ movement Campact told protesters in a speech at the rally, spearheaded by an alliance of environmental groups, charities and opposition parties.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she wants the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Washington finalised before President Obama leaves office.

Turkey is in shock – but many will have seen this attack coming

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[Unbelievably twisty-turny. But, basically, Turkey reaps what it sows. But, in the rush to condemn their government, people forget that they are simply taking a page from the US foreign policy handbook. Bomb the crap out of people who threaten your strategic interests, then feign shocked anger when they respond with 'terrorist' attacks, then double-down on your repression. *RON*]

Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, 10 October 2015

The blame for the horrific bomb attacks in Ankara that killed 86 people at a rally involving Kurdish peace activists is likely to fall on Islamic State terrorists operating across Turkey’s long border with Syria and Iraq. But the proximity of Turkish general elections, due on 1 November, is certain to raise suspicions among opposition parties that dark forces supportive of the hardline government led by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may be involved.

Isis‎ is in open conflict with Kurdish nationalist fighters in both n…

West of Scotland 'got austerity 40 years earlier than anyone else'

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["Scotland's poor health as we see it now is fundamentally a reflection of the health of the poor." More support for the well-known finding of a direct connection between poor health, early death and income inequality, as fostered by policies of austerity. This was most famously documented in Wilkinson & Pickett's (2011) The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. But see also Stuckler & Basy (2013) The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills. *RON*]

Staff, Belfast Telegraph, 11 October 2015

Social changes in Scotland caused a "spectacular widening in inequality" that Scotland's former top doctor likened to the impact of the UK Government's austerity programme.

Sir Harry Burns said that the "the west of Scotland got austerity 40 years before anyone else" with the loss of heavy industry, closure of the ship yards and housing changes

The result of that is "communities and jobs…

Canada adds 12,000 jobs — but weakness lurks under the surface

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[Headlines matter in the spin-cycle. Not many headlines say "62,000 full-time jobs lost!" or emphasize that the unemployment rate rose (in this story, that fact is buried in the very last line) - certainly none in the mainstream media. Like this one and one in The Hamilton Spectator, they all say Canada adds 12,000 jobs in September. *RON*]
By Staff, Global News, 9 October 2015

The economy cranked out a slightly better-than-expected number of jobs in September, Statistics Canada said Friday, with the number of workers holding down a job growing by 12,000.

The consensus call from economists was for a gain of 10,000 jobs in the month, and for the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7.0 per cent.

Yet the gains were concentrated in part-time and self-employed work, which saw large increases that more than offset a drop of 62,000 full-time jobs last month, the federal statistical agency said.

Stephen Harper, a prime minister we can't trust: Danny Williams

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[The former Conservative Newfoundland premier on what he learned working alongside the 'divisive' Conservative leader. "Simply put, I don’t like Stephen Harper. Now, we don’t need to like our prime minister, but we darn well deserve to have one we can trust." See also: Danny Williams says Stephen Harper's tactics are borderline racist. *RON*]

Danny Williams, The Star, 11 October 2015

People sometimes ask about my “grudge” with Stephen Harper. The fact is that I hold no grudge at all. My views simply reflect my first-hand experience in my former capacity as a premier of a province I love, in a country I love.

Having dealt with other former prime minsters, I was accustomed to disagreements and differing viewpoints. But I was also accustomed to working with leaders from all parties who demonstrated integrity, concern for the country and genuine intentions. Stephen Harper, by direct contrast, represents none of these things. Ra…

Monsanto's Stock Is Tanking. Is the Company's Own Excitement About GMOs Backfiring?

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[ *RON*]
By Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, 9 October 2015

Pity Monsanto, the genetically modified seed and agrichemical giant. Its share price has plunged 25 percent since the spring. Market prices for corn and soybeans are in the dumps, meaning Monsanto's main customers—farmers who specialize in those crops—have less money to spend on its pricey seeds and flagship herbicide (which recently got named a "probable carcinogen" by the World Health organization,spurring lawsuits).
Monsanto's CEO hinted that the company may be too invested in high-tech seeds, and underinvested in old-fashioned pesticides.

Wikileaks release of TPP deal text stokes 'freedom of expression' fears

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[From the Even Worse Than We Feared Department. Intellectual property rights chapter appears to give Trans-Pacific Partnership countries greater power to stop information from going public. I'm still hopeful that it will get sunk in the US Congress, where Democrats hate it on substantive grounds and Republicans hate it because Obama. *RON*]

Sam Thielman, The Guardian, 11 October 201515 Wikileaks has released what it claims is the full intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the controversial agreement between 12 countries that was signed off on Monday.

TPP was negotiated in secret and details have yet to be published. But critics including Democrat presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders,unions and privacy activists have lined up to attack what they have seen of it. Wikileaks’ latest disclosures are unlikely to reassure them.

One chapter appears to give the signatory countries (referred to as “pa…