Showing posts from October 13, 2015

Canada's Biggest Political Scandal You Never Heard Of

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[A perfectly despicable tale. "'The whole case shows clearly that [the] prime minister didn't care about the ethics of who worked for him as long as he thought they could help him win and stay in power,'... Big oil, taxpayers' millions, call girls and a 'mechanic' named Bruce Carson." The hidden corporatocracy is alive and thriving under Stephen Harper. *RON*]
By Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, 12 October 2015

It's probably the biggest political scandal you've never heard of.

The tale involves Big Oil, millions of taxpayer dollars, call girls and someone the RCMP describes as "one of the prime minister's longest serving advisors": Bruce Carson.

And it largely took place at Stephen Harper's alma mater: the University of Calgary between 2009 and 2011 with a cast of industry CEOs as well as several Harper ministers and aides, including Nigel Wright. 

The 1989 L…

The Most Important Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton: Wall Street

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["The only way to contain the Street’s excesses is with reforms so big, bold, and public they can’t be watered down – busting up the biggest banks and resurrecting Glass-Steagall." Which Hillary refuses to do. See also: After 1,000 Palestinians Wounded, 24 Killed, Hillary Clinton Laments Only Israeli Deaths. *RON*]
By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog / AlterNet, 13 October 2015

Giant Wall Street banks continue to threaten the wellbeing of millions of Americans, but what to do?

Bernie Sanders says break them up and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated investment from commercial banking.

Hillary Clinton says charge them a bit more and oversee them more carefully.

Most Republicans say don’t worry.

Thailand bans film over depictions of Buddhist monks

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[Buddhism as actually practiced in Thailand and Myanmar has become totally meaningless. *RON*]

AFP, Al Jazeera, 13 Oct 2015

A Thai horror film about Buddhist monks has been banned over fears it could "destroy" the kingdom's majority faith, authorities say.

The culture ministry on Tuesday objected to certain parts of the film Arbat, including a kissing scene and one where a monk is shown taking drugs.

The clergy have long been revered in overwhelmingly Buddhist Thailand but in recent years have been rocked by scandals, including gambling and prostitution, as well as corruption at the increasingly wealthy temples propped by donations from the faithful.

"The movie has some scenes that will destroy Buddhism. If it is shown, people's faith in Buddhism will deteriorate," Somchai Surachatri, spokesman for Thailand's National Office of Buddhism, told AFP news agency.

Not my job to protect borrowers from 'bad choices,' Stephen Poloz says

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[The whole point of policy is to influence behaviour. He's saying that your behaviour doesn't matter, just the behaviour of the Banksters. In other words, this isn't a democracy, it's a corporatocracy. *RON*]

Michael Babad, The Globe and Mail, 13 October 2015

Protecting us from ourselves

In case you missed it, Stephen Poloz says it’s not his job to stop people from making dumb choices.

At the end of the day, the Bank of Canada governor said on the weekend, borrowers and bankers “bear the ultimate responsibility for their own decisions.”

It was an interesting speech from the central banker, who acknowledged that ultra low interest rates have helped drive consumer debt burdens to unprecedented levels and house prices in Vancouver and Toronto to record heights.

Consumer debt levels in Canada are a concern, he added, but there are other things to look at behind the debt-to-income ratio that has caused such angst and now stands at more than…

Rising Rates of Male Suicide Across Eurozone Connected to Austerity Measures

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[" of all ages committed suicide in increasing numbers in the eurozone's poorest countries as a direct result of austerity measures brought in across Europe following the 2009 recession... every one percent fall in growth rate of GDP in these countries correlated with an average 0.9 percent increase in suicide rates in men across all ages, equating to over 6,000 male suicides in total over the period 2011-12 in these five countries... the male population most heavily affected is those between the ages of 65 and 89, with 2,325 men in this age bracket having committed suicide due to spending cuts between the years 2011 and 2012." *RON*]
By Felicity Capon, Newsweek, 13 October 2015

New research suggests that men of all ages committed suicide in increasing numbers in the eurozone's poorest countries as a direct result of austerity measures brought in across Europe following the 2009 recession.

A study published in Social Scie…

Afghan Taliban’s Reach Is Widest Since 2001, U.N. Says

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[There was an excellent comment by a reader of this story: "h0cus_P0cus • Just to put this in perspective, in 2001 the Taliban were 30-45k in number. So after we spent 1Trn (Est) committed 130k troops and 100k+ Contractors with 700 bases, over 200k bombs dropped, 30k civilian deaths, 3500 coalition military deaths, and an unknown number of civilian contractor deaths, we are left with 45k taliban fighters again in 2015. We could theoretically have given $22.2m per Taliban to simply go away in 2001 and we'd have been better off." *RON*]
By Rod Nordland and Joseph Goldstein, New York Times / CNBC News, 11 Oct 2015

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban insurgency has spread through more of Afghanistan than at any point since 2001, according to data compiled by the United Nations as well as interviews with numerous local officials in areas under threat.

In addition, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan over the past two weeks h…

New tool can identify soldiers most likely to commit violent crimes, study shows

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[This seems like a generally good idea. You'd want to know what the false-positive rate is, then compare the costs of the added interventions to the costs of the crimes involved. If it has a good cost-benefit ratio, though, I'd definitely like to see the approach applied to the police. *RON*]

Alan Zarembo, LA Times, 6 October 2015

In the science fiction thriller “Minority Report,” a police force known as PreCrime uses mutated human psychics to identify criminals before they act.

The U.S. Army is working toward a similar goal — not by reading minds but by crunching data.

Using the military records of all 975,057 soldiers who served during a six-year period, researchers have developed an algorithm they hope can help prevent severe, violent crimes by identifying those at greatest risk of becoming perpetrators.

They would not be pre-arrested, but rather given counseling or other interventions aimed at heading off violence.

Pierre Poilievre, Democratic Reform Minister, Skips Ottawa Candidates Debate

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[Because, obviously, Members of Parliament (and, particularly, Cabinet members in charge of overseeing democratic reform) don't need to let you know where they stand on your local issues or hear your concerns. *RON*]
Zi-Ann Lum, Huffington Post, 6 October 2015

The Conservative Party failed to send a candidate to an election debate Monday organized by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson — not even Pierre Poilievre, the top Tory who serves as both minister for democratic reform and regional minister for the National Capital Region.

Local issues were at the forefront of the night’s agenda in a city where the federal government is the area’s largest employer. Poilievre, running again in the riding of Carleton, had earlier declined an invitation to participate.

Still, the event brought approximately 200 residents to city hall.

Watson shared a picture of the empty lectern that was reserved for a Conservative representative in case the party changed its mind.
At fe…