Showing posts from October 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Take on Banks Won't Hold Up

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[Matt Taibbi is a public hero in my opinion; I just wish more people read his stuff. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, is counting on America's ignorance about the 2008 crash, which is, sadly, probably a pretty safe bet. "Break up dangerous banks. An idea isn't automatically bad just because it's simple." *RON*]
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 14 October 2015

The inaugural Democratic debate Tuesday night was a strange show. It felt like two different programs.

One was a screwball comedy starring red-faced ex-Marine Jim Webb and retired Keebler elf Lincoln Chafee, whose Rhode Island roots highlighted the Farrelly brothers feel of his performance. The latter's "I voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act because it was my first day at school" moment was the closest thing I've seen to a politician dissolving into his component elements on live television.

Huckabee Suggests Poor People Should Be Sold Into Slavery For Stealing

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[In case things haven't been weird enough for you lately. This is believed to be "the first time in modern history that a credible presidential candidate has joined the fringe call to reinstate slavery." *RON*]

By Scott Keyes, Think Progress, 15 October 2015
The United States criminal justice system could be improved if we sell poor people convicted of crimes into slavery, according to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

The former Arkansas governor weighed in on our nation’s current criminal justice system during an appearance yesterday on Mickelson in the Morning, a leading Iowa radio program.

Host Jan Mickelson began by bemoaning that the “criminal justice system has been taken over by progressives.” In order to fight back, he argued, conservatives should look to the biblical Book of Exodus. “It says, if a person steals, they have to pay it back two-fold, four-fold,” Mickelson explained. “If they don’t have anything, w…

Why hasn't the US eradicated the plague?

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[A fascinating, macabre bit of epidemiological trivia: to this day, there is an average of seven cases of the black plague every year in the US. And why can we soon expect this disease to be eradicated? "The plague has been classified as a category A bioweapon... An average of seven cases of plague per year is one thing, but the risk of biological warfare, even if it's a remote one, is quite another." *RON*]
By Vanessa Barford, BBC News, 15 October 2015

It's nearly 50 years since the US landed men on the moon, but Americans are still dying from a disease that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages. Why hasn't the US eradicated the plague?

The Black Death caused about 50 million deaths across Africa, Asia and Europe in the 14th Century. It wiped out up to half of Europe's population.

Its last terrifying outbreak in London was the Great Plague of 1665, which killed about a fifth of the city's inhabitants. Then there was a…

Stephen Harper: master manipulator

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["Despite several scandals worthy of Watergate over the past decade, Stephen Harper could win a fourth Canadian election next week. Can the master manipulator work his dark magic?" An excellent lengthy dissection of the Harper misrule. *RON*]

Nick Davies, The Guardian, 15 October 2015
An unkind cartoon this summer showed the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, kneeling before the statue of another politician, asking: “What now, O Great One?” That in itself would not be unkind. The punchline is that the statue is clearly labelled as that of Richard Nixon, famed above all for his attempts to corrupt democracy.

As Harper tries for a fourth term in office at the Canadian federal election next week, he is trailed by an extraordinarily long list of allegations. In the Watergate scandal, all the president’s men were accused primarily of breaking the law to get Nixon a second term in the White House. In Canada, some of the prime minister’s…

Obama Announces Halt of U.S. Troop Withdrawal in Afghanistan

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[An unconscionable waste of lives and money. I'm also trying to think of just when Afghanistan was used as a safe haven to attack America? *RON*]

By Matthew Rosenberg and Michael D. Shear, New York Times, 15 October 2015

WASHINGTON — The United States will halt its military withdrawal from Afghanistan and instead keep thousands of troops in the country through the end of his term in 2017, President Obama announced on Thursday, prolonging the American role in a war that has now stretched on for 14 years.

In a brief statement from the Roosevelt Room in the White House, Mr. Obama said he did not support the idea of “endless war” but was convinced that a prolonged American presence in Afghanistan was vital to that country’s future and to the national security of the United States.

“While America’s combat mission may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people continues,” said Mr. Obama, flanked by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his…

Tom Mulcair: Bad Blood Between Trudeau And I Means Co-operation Will Be Tough

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[Thin-skinned egoists. Why Harper continually wins. *RON*]
By Murray Brewster, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 13 October 2015

OSHAWA, Ont. — Stark policy differences and personal bad blood with Justin Trudeau makes potential co-operation between either a Liberal — or NDP — minority government difficult, Tom Mulcair said Tuesday.

The NDP leader also dismissed appeals to stop vote-splitting in the run-up to Monday's election, saying only his party has the strength and credibility to defeat the governing Tories.

Mulcair bobbed and weaved around renewed questions over the breadth and depth of possible co-operation between the Liberal and NDP leaders, who've both made it clear in no uncertain terms that they would defeat a Conservative minority at the first opportunity.

Last weekend, Mulcair vehemently ruled out propping up a Stephen Harper-led minority government under any circumstances. He said Tuesday that he would vote against a Conservativ…

TPP faces hurdles to ratification in the U.S. and Canada

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[A few things we can still pin our hopes on... *RON*]
By Brent Patterson,, 15 October 2015

With negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) now completed, what hurdles does it face in the ratification process?Globe and Mail columnist Barrie McKenna notes, "The TPP could take a long time to become a reality, perhaps as long as years. And there is a not-insignificant chance that the agreement will die altogether."

He highlights, "The biggest hurdle facing the TPP is in the U.S. President Barack Obama narrowly secured a mandate from Congress to negotiate the deal -- so-called trade promotion authority. With slightly more than a year left in office, Mr. Obama must now roll the dice again to get Congress to ratify it. Already, several key members of Congress, who gave Mr. Obama a mandate to negotiate, say they don't like the looks of the deal he negotiated. A swing of just a handful of votes could torpedo ratificati…

Oil Sands Boom Dries Up in Alberta, Taking Thousands of Jobs With it

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[An interesting illustration of the sunk-cost fallacy: "construction persists on projects that began before the price fell, largely because billions of dollars have already been spent on them." The frank comments of the anonymous oil executive are important to read. *RON*]

By Ian Austen, New York Times, 12 October 2015

FORT McMURRAY, Alberta — At a camp for oil workers here, a collection of 16 three-story buildings that once housed 2,000 workers sits empty. A parking lot at a neighboring camp is now dotted with abandoned cars. With oil prices falling precipitously, capital-intensive projects rooted in the heavy crude mined from Alberta’s oil sands are losing money, contributing to the loss of about 35,000 energy industry jobs across the province.

Yet Alberta Highway 63, the major artery connecting Northern Alberta’s oil sands with the rest of the country, still buzzes with traffic. Tractor-trailers hauling loads that resemble rolling p…