Showing posts from December 10, 2015

Cops Fighting Mandatory Drug Tests — Claim It’s ‘Unconstitutional’ to Screen Police Urine

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[Their zeal for the right to privacy only applies to themselves — not to the public they supposedly serve. If this is allowed, it will be another step in the direction of a Myanmar-style police state. *RON*]
By William N. GriggThe Free Thought Project / AlterNet, 9 December 2015

In an unprecedented protest against the routine offenses against due process and bodily integrity carried out in the name of the “war on drugs,” the union representing Pittsburgh police officers has condemned workplace drug and alcohol testing as a violation of the Constitution. Their zeal for the right to privacy only applies to themselves, however, not to the public they supposedly serve.

NBC affiliate WPXI reports that the Pittsburgh Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police “has filed a civil rights grievance against the city, claiming officers have been order to undergo drug and alcohol testing that is in violation of their contract.” Union attorney Bryan Campbell desc…

B.C. Politics Has A 'Dark Money' Problem

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[Trade associations fly under the radar of public scrutiny for political contributions in BC. *RON*]
Dermod Travis, IntegrityBC, Huffington Post, 9 December 2015

They're the forgotten cousins of political donors, a beast that's neither corporate nor union: trade associations.

If you have a shingle to hang, there's one out there for you, even for the shingle maker.

There are associations for brewers, vinters, distillers and beverage licensees; for the owners of golf courses, apartment buildings, shopping centres, and the operators of wharfs and convenience stores.

Many are known to donate generously to political parties, particularly when they want to curry favour.

In the U.S. it's called "dark money," a way to spend big bucks on politics and remain relatively anonymous.

It doesn't have the same bad rap in B.C. yet, but it's problematic.

In tracking the donations of 116 associations over the last 10 years, 106 have dona…

Syria: Ultimate Pipelineistan War

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[Another, and perhaps the most obvious, take on the Syrian conflict. "An Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline is unacceptable in the Beltway not only because US vassals lose, but most of all because in currency war terms it would bypass the petrodollar. Iranian gas from South Pars would be traded in an alternative basket of currencies." *RON*]

by Pepep Escobar, Counterpunch, 8 December 2015

Syria is an energy war. With the heart of the matter featuring a vicious geopolitical competition between two proposed gas pipelines, it is the ultimate Pipelinestan war, the term I coined long ago for the 21st century imperial energy battlefields.

It all started in 2009, when Qatar proposed to Damascus the construction of a pipeline from its own North Field – contiguous with the South Pars field, which belongs to Iran – traversing Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria all the way to Turkey, to supply the EU.

Damascus, instead, chose in 2010 to privilege a competing proj…

The Saud Family to Select West’s ‘Moderate’ Jihadists Who Will Take Over Syria

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[Once again, this is so wrong that I don't know where to begin. *RON*]
By Eric Zuesse, Washington's Blog, 8 December 2015

The Saud family, Saudi Arabia’s royals, have called together a meeting on December 15th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, of their fellow fundamentalist Sunnis who are fighting against the secular Assad government to take over Syria, and the Sauds will announce after the conference which groups will have the West’s blessings.

The only armed group that has thus far been announced to have been invited is Jaysh al-Islam, which is a Salafist-Wahhabist fundamentalist organization, and like all Salafists and Wahhabists, is rabidly anti-Shiite. By contrast, Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, is a Shiite, and, furthermore, he has always insisted upon a strict separation of church-and-state; so, he’s considered like the devil, by the Sauds and other Wahhabists and Salafists (including the leaders of America’s other Arabic allies: Qatar, …

Justice Scalia Suggests Blacks Belong at "Slower" Colleges

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[Yes, he really said that. See also Andy Borowitz' riposte: Study: Scalia Better Off in "Less Advanced" Court*RON*]

—By Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, 9 December 2015

During oral arguments in a pivotal affirmative action case on Wednesday morning, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia raised the suggestion that African American students might belong at less rigorous schools than their white peers, and that perhaps the University of Texas should have fewer black students in its ranks.

Scalia's comments came during arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case over whether the university's use of race in a sliver of its admissions decisions is constitutional. The University of Texas-Austin is being challenged over its use of race in admissions decisions for about 25 percent of its freshman class. About 75 percent of the students at UT-Austin are admitted through what's known as the Top Ten Percent program, in whi…

Fascism Is All the Rage in Europe, and It’s Coming to America

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[Neo-fascism is on the rise in Europe, and there are echoes of it in Donald Trump's increasingly dangerous rhetoric. See also John Gray's Guardian piece from last year, The Truth About Evil. Also: Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims echoes earliest days of Nazi propaganda: expert*RON*]

By Sean IllingSalon, 9 December 2015

The spectre of fascism has loomed over Europe for several years, and it’s reached a fever pitch. In France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Greece, Denmark, and Sweden, right-wing nationalist movements are gaining steam with every election.

In 2014, when elections were held for the European Parliament, it was evident that the political winds were shifting rightward. Thane Rosenbaum summarized Europe’s “Weimar moment” well:
“In some countries, like France, where fashion always matter, the voters gave the boorish National Front the largest share of votes. Similar extreme right-wing sentiment fueled the electoral outcome in Eng…

Pandering to Plutocrats

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["So, huge tax cuts that would massively increase debt, with the benefits going to the very highest-income Americans. And this is the “responsible”, moderate candidate." *RON*]

Paul Krugman, New York Times, 9 December 2015

Jeb Bush is not going to be the Republican nominee, so it’s somewhat unfortunate that the invaluable Tax Policy Center chose to make his proposals the subject of its first analysis of candidate tax plans. Still, it’s useful, if only as an indicator of what passes for responsible, establishment policy in today’s GOP.

Most of the headlines I’ve seen focus on the amazing price tag: $6.8 trillion of unfunded tax cuts in the first decade. Even deep voodoo isn’t enough to turn that number positive; so much for any notion that Republicans cared about fiscal responsibility.

But it’s also important to realize the extent to which this is tax-cutting on the rich, by the rich, for the rich. Here’s the change in after-tax income res…

Risk Management - (Trump Persuasion Series)

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[Via my friend Harry. This provides a more sensible way of looking at Donald Trump's egregious behaviour than simply labeling him as 'evil'; which only means "very bad and I don't like it" and never accomplishes much of anything. Click also on the Master Persuader filter link - it helps with understanding the rest of this posting. *RON*]

Scott Adams, Scott Adams' Blog, 8 December 2015

I’ve been out of the loop for a few days, working on a start-up. (More on that in the coming weeks.) So I haven’t been following the news. Let’s check in on Donald Trump and see if he’s done anything newsworthy lately. Checking…


Okay, you might want to know how I would apply the Master Persuader filter to Trump’s latest call to end U.S. immigration for all Muslims, at least until – in Trump’s words – lawmakers can figure out why some percentage of Muslims hate us so much. Is this a master stroke of persuasion or just batshit racist …