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Showing posts from September, 2016

Health of more than 90% of world’s population affected by air pollution ‘emergency’, WHO says

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['Air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, and affects economies and people’s quality of life – it is a public health emergency.' Now see also: Chart of the year: ‘Incredible’ price drops jumpstart clean energy revolution, and Trudeau just failed another climate test, don’t let him fail us on Kinder Morgan. *RON*]
Ian Johnston, The Independent, 27 September 2016

More than nine out of every 10 people on the planet live in areas where air pollution breaches official safety limits – and millions of people are dying as a result, according to new research by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

An interactive map produced by WHO shows vast areas of the world are bathed in tiny particles from pollutants such as sulphate, nitrates and black carbon, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and beyond, leading to an array of deadly diseases. China, India, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa are among the worst affected regions.

McConnell threatens shutdown to keep corporate political spending secret

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[Mass corruption, US style. "Most Americans are worried about too much secret corporate money in politics, and this week, Republicans in Congress seem to be doing everything in their power to justify those fears." *RON*]

By Lisa Gilbert, The Hill, 26 September 2016


Most Americans are worried about too much secret corporate money in politics, and this week, Republicans in Congress seem to be doing everything in their power to justify those fears.

In the midst of a close national election, Senate Republicans are risking a government shutdown at midnight on Oct. 1 for two reasons: to keep the citizens of Flint, Michigan from getting long-needed federal aid and to keep corporate political spending hidden from the voters.

As Congress and the White House negotiate over the final details of a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is demanding the inclusion of a poison pill policy…

Drop the farcical obits, Shimon Peres was no peacemaker

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[The Palestinian leadership's biggest failure was trusting the likes of Shimon Peres. See also: Shimon Peres: Man of peace or war criminal? *RON*]

By Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera, 29 September 2016
It is infuriating to read, listen and watch the western coverage of the death of former Israeli prime minister and president, Shimon Peres.

As leaders and representatives of the "peace process" industry express sadness, as they pay their final respects to one of their own, a fanciful and farcical narrative about the "tireless peacemaker", the "political philosopher", and a "brave statesman" has dominated the airwaves and the newspapers.

I get the idea that when paying one's "respects" to the dead one needs to be positive, and well, respectful. But that's not the role of a journalist or an intellectual. Unless of course you're an American celebrity journalist, like Barbara Walters, whose drea…

Foreign aid helps Canadian corporations dominate the global mining industry

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[Significant sums in Canadian "aid" are spent promoting international mining initiatives. These corporations, in turn, are some of the worst corporate citizens on earth. *RON*]
By Yves Engler, rabble.ca, 28 September 2016


In a press release last week, Ontario-based Carube Copper said it acquired "over 500 square kilometres of the most prospective ground in Jamaica based on historic showings, the work completed and reported in 1993 by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)."

Canadian aid has facilitated similar work elsewhere. Researching Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation, I discovered examples of Ottawa funding the collection of geological data in Tanzania, Angola, Cameroon, Niger, Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere. Long time West Africa-based freelance journalist, Joan Baxter, describes a chance encounter with Canadian geologists in her 2008 book Dust From Our Eyes: An Unblinkered Look at Africa:

"…

Studies Link Cancer Patients' Survival Time To Insurance Status

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[The glories of privatization; under-coverage = death. *RON*]

Michelle Andrews,  / National Public Radio, 16 September 2016

Privately insured people with cancer were diagnosed earlier and lived longer than those who were uninsured or were covered by Medicaid, according to two recent studies.

In one study, researchers examined data from more than 13,600 adult patients who had glioblastoma multiforme, the most common type of malignant brain tumor, between 2007 and 2012. The other study analyzed data from more than 10,200 adults who were diagnosed with testicular cancer between 2007 and 2011.

Both studies, published online in the journal Cancer in August, relied on data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program.SEER tracks cancer incidence and survival in the United States.

How to counter the deadly effects of sitting down all day

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[For all of us who sit reading too much news every day! The latest studies find we underestimate how much exercise will be enough to save our lives. *RON*]

By Charles Wallace, Financial Times, 28 September 2016

In the 1940s, a British doctor named Jeremy Morris noticed something strange about London Transport workers. Men who drove buses, and thus were sitting most of the day, had much higher rates of heart disease than their colleagues, the conductors, who constantly climbed up and down stairs on those classic double-decker buses.

Morris, a fitness buff who died in 2009 six months shy of his 100th birthday, later expanded his studies to include British postal workers and civil servants. His pioneering research launched a quest in epidemiology that continues today: to understand the harmful effects of sedentary lifestyles such as sitting at an office desk all day, and how exercise might counteract them.

The latest investigation appeared in The L…

Animal trafficking: the $23bn criminal industry policed by a toothless regulator

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[The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species finds itself confronting powerful networks, but has no detectives, police powers or firearms. Part of an excellent, albeit bloody discouraging, series in The Guardian. See also: Revealed: the criminals making millions from illegal wildlife trafficking, and The crime family at the centre of Asia's animal trafficking network. *RON*]

Nick Davies and Oliver Holmes, The Guardian, 26 September 2016

The illegal trade in wildlife is a most attractive crime. But it is highly destructive, and its scale is threatening the extinction of some of the world’s most iconic species.

It is also grotesquely cruel: poachers slice off the faces of live rhinos to steal their horns; militia groups use helicopters to shoot down elephants for their tusks; factory farmers breed captive tigers to marinate their bones for medicinal wine and fry their flesh for the dinner plate; bears are kept for a lifetime in t…

Monetary policy isn't working, and central bankers are getting desperate

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[A good one on the failure of monetarism, a dead horse that's been heartily flogged since the Reagan/Thatcher days. When it all falls apart, "we will just have to see when and whether we get a fiscal response and how effective that response is. Monetary policy is out of bullets." See also: WTO cuts 2016 world trade growth forecast to 1.7 percent, cites wake-up call. *RON*]

Edward Harrison, Credit Writedowns / Business Insider, 26 September 2016

The last few days have made clear that monetary policy is having less and less impact as time goes along. In particular, the latest salvos from the Bank of Japan smack of desperation, as if BOJ Governor Kuroda has decided to throw everything but the kitchen sink into his grab bag of unorthodox monetary policy. Because the Bank of Japan is so far along the curve toward both secular stagnation and unorthodox policy to counteract that slowing, we should pay attention to how their experiments go.…

Guess How Much That Anti-LGBTQ Law is Costing North Carolina

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[Answer: $400 million. Investors don't like their discrimination this overt. See also: Investors blame North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law for the economic backlash. *RON*]
Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, 18 September 2016

IN MARCH, NORTH Carolina state legislators banned transgender people from peeing in the bathroom of their choosing. According to the law, HB2 or the “bathroom bill,” when you’re in public building—a government agency, a public school, whatever—the gender listed on your birth certificate is the only one that matters. You remember the initial hubbub: North Carolina and the federal government suing each other, the boycotts and the hashtags and the Bruce Springsteen concerts cancelled.

In spite of that, North Carolina’s government hasn’t repealed the law, and this week, the state lost high-profile sporting events, too, as the ACC and the NCAA pulled their championship games out of the state in protest. (If the NCAA is looking at you sideways…

California police shoot and kill unarmed, mentally ill black man

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[Witnesses say he was having a seizure. *RON*]

Carimah Townes, Think Progress, 28 September 2016

When Alfred Olango’s sister called 911 for police to assist him,she had no idea that the officers would kill him. But instead of helping Olango, who was reportedly unarmed and having a psychotic episode, officers fatally shot him, saying he was “acting erratically.”

The siblings were at a shopping center in El Cajon, California on Wednesday afternoon when Olango’s sister reached out to authorities. The 30-year-old man had a history of mental illness and was in the middle of a psychotic break. Police were informed of his mental health status, but when Olango didn’t follow commands, they shot him.

U.S. Mining Company Defends Deploying Hired Thugs Against Indigenous Farmers in Peru

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[Similar attacks on environmental defenders are mounting throughout Central and South America. *RON]
By Sarah LazareAlterNet, 27 September 2016

The Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation was hit with negative press last week following reports that its Peruvian subsidiary sent security forces to attack the prominent indigenous environmental defender Máxima Acuña de Chaupe at her remote farm in the northern Andean highlands. Now, the mining giant's latest public relations campaign to defend its use of force against the Chaupe family, including the destruction of their crops, is provoking fresh outcry from human rights and environmental organizations.

Máxima attracted international acclaim—and a Goldman Environmental Prize—for her years-long resistance against the Yanacocha mining company, which is 51.35 percent owned by Newmont and has waged a relentless campaign to transform her plot into the open-pit Conga gold and copper mine. In retaliati…

Trudeau government on defensive after approving "carbon bomb"

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[Wasting all this political good will for what? "It costs $4 or $5 per thousand cubic feet to liquefy and $2 to move it. That’s $6 that you need to subtract from the $6 or $7 you’re going to get for it when you get across to the Asian market. That leaves you $1 or $2 to get it to market, get it out of the ground, pay royalties and taxes, and the LNG tax." And Christy's simply too proud to publicly remove her foot from her mouth where LNG is concerned. *RON*]

By Elizabeth McSheffrey, National Observer, 28 September 2016

Less than 24 hours after the approval of a controversial $36-billion liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia, the Trudeau government — swooned over for its bold climate commitments in Paris last year — has found itself under attack for what critics label a major conflict between its environmental commitments and economic interests.

But while a number of critics warned the Pacific Northwest LNG project was a…

Carbon emissions are priced too cheap for climate change

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[In most of the world, 70 percent of emissions are priced at zero. See also: Clinton and Trump Spent Less Than Two Minutes on Climate Change*RON*]
Alejandro Dávila Fragoso, ThinkProgress, 26 September 2016

Most carbon emissions around the world are priced too cheap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming, according to an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report released Monday.

The report, which analyzed OECD countries responsible for some 80 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, found a major gap between current carbon pricing policies and what should be the bare minimum estimated cost for carbon given its climate impact.

According to the report, a metric ton of carbon should be priced at least 30 Euros — about $34 — to account for the damage done to the climate. Across the 41 countries the OECD analyzed, some 70 percent of emissions are priced at zero, while less than 5 percent actually meet …

Why's The Private Sector Playing Taxpayers' Foreman In B.C.?

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["How did B.C. end up in the peculiar situation of having to rely on the private sector to oversee private sector construction companies working on public sector infrastructure projects, potentially signing off on billions of tax dollars in cost overruns along the way?" *RON*]
Dermod Travis, Huffington Post, 27 September 2016

In 2009 -- with the B.C. election fast approaching -- the B.C. government went on a full-court press to get the Port Mann/Highway 1 improvement project deal signed and past the point of no return.

Now, with the 2017 election on the horizon, history is repeating itself, but this time with two megaprojects: Site C and the Massey Tunnel replacement project.

Yet, one aspect to these multibillion-dollar projects remains shrouded in mystery for most British Columbians: who's in charge?

Bills for Tri-City MPs moving through House of Commons

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[An ePetition to back a private members' bill to ban open net-cage fish farms on the west coast by Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly. *RON*]

Janis Warren, Tri-City News, 27 September 2016

An ePetition to back a private members' bill by Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly has nearly 5,000 names.

Donnelly, the NDP's critic for fisheries, oceans and Canadian Coast Guard, is gaining signatures for Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture) that — if passed — would ban open net-cage fish farms on the west coast.

Next month, at a press conference at Mossom Creek hatchery in Port Moody, Donnelly is expected to unveil the name of a Canadian celebrity who supports the planned legislation.

To sign Donnelly's ePetition, visit ow.ly/WSYA303wjT6.

Also, in the riding of Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, Liberal MP Ron McKinnon's bill received unanimous support — without amendment — from the federal health commit…

Welcome to the age of the Anthropocene

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["...the present level of carbon dioxide is unprecedented in the last 800,000 years and unprecedented in other geological evidence over the last 3 million years. The rise in carbon dioxide to today's level of 400 parts per million has mostly occurred in the last 100 years as a consequence of our use of fossil fuels and has driven Earth's average temperature up by almost 1C. The warming has produced dramatic physical changes to the surface of the Earth. The area of Arctic summer sea-ice has retreated by 50 per cent, the polar ice sheets are melting, virtually all the world's glaciers are shrinking, the ocean is warming to a depth of 4000m and sea-level has risen by 20cm." *RON*]

Stuff - Science, 26 September 2016

University of Washington scientists place a GPS system into the Greenland ice sheet in July 2013 to monitor the evolution of surface lakes and the motion of the ice as a result of climate change.

Is the "Anthropo…

The World Passes 400 PPM Threshold. Permanently

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[I sent this to both Christy Clark and Justin Trudeau. They can be reached at premier@gov.bc.ca, and justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca should you care to express on opinion on Lelu Island. *RON*]
By Brian Kahn, Climate Central, 27 September 2016

In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million.

That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists.


Because carbon pollution has been increasing since the start of the Industrial Revolution and has shown no signs of abating, it was more a question of “when” rather than “if” we would cross this threshold. The inevitability doesn’t make it any less significant, though.

Justin Trudeau approves $36-billion LNG ‘carbon bomb’ on B.C. coast

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[The massive Petronas export development threatens crucial salmon habitat; was approved in opposition to hereditary chiefs; Petronas' environmental record 'jaw-dropping'; this is a huge political risk for Trudeau. See also: Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna's Twitter mentions are a total disaster right now. *RON*]

Derrick O'Keefe, ricochet, 27 September 2016

Just a day after royals William and Kate visited and trumpeted new protections for the Great Bear Rainforest in B.C., the federal government has announced it’s giving the greenlight to a controversial fossil fuel mega-project that threatens both an ecologically sensitive stretch of the Pacific coast and any chance Canada has of meeting its international climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.

On Tuesday evening in Richmond, B.C., three members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet announced the approval of a $36-billion liquefied natural gas devel…

Japan Scrambles Jets After China Makes Show of Force in Key Strait

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[The war-like rumblings continue off the Asian coast. PLA Air Force sends 40 aircraft on ‘routine drill’ to Pacific. Japan defense ministry says 2 jets may have been fighters. *RON*]
Ting ShiIsabel Reynolds, Bloomberg, 26 September 2016


Japan scrambled jets Sunday after a fleet of Chinese aircraft flew into a strategically important strait near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Japan sent out the jets after eight of the Chinese planes crossed back and forth over waters between Okinawa’s main island and Miyako-jima island near Taiwan, the Defense Ministry in Tokyo said in a statement. Two of the planes may have been fighter jets, the ministry said.

New Study Finds Half of All the Guns in America Are Owned by Just 3 Percent of Population

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[If so few are seriously affected by gun control laws it is important to find out who these people are. Is the strength of the lobby based purely on manufacturers, or, who are these super-owners? *RON*]

By Elliot Hannon, Slate, 19 September 2016
Here’s a term you likely haven’t heard before—“gun super-owner.” The chilling descriptor comes courtesy of the Guardian and its coverage of the new, as of yet unpublished Harvard/Northeastern survey on gun ownership. The 2015 study, conducted by public health researchers, found that the majority of guns in America are concentrated in the hands of a very, very few. In fact, roughly 50 percent of the estimated 265 million guns in the U.S. are owned by just 3 percent of the adult population.

More specifically, the survey showed that the 3 percent owned 133 million guns. Each of these 7.7 million “super-owners” possess between 8 and 140 firearms for an average of 17 guns per person. For some context, most of A…

Nationwide Prison Strike Against 'Slavery in America' Rolls on—Despite Media Blackout

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[This story has legs in the alternate press; nada in the mainstream media. The strike coincides with the anniversary of the 1971 uprising at Attica. *RON*]

By James KilgoreTruthout / AlterNet, 22 September 2016

The first national prison labor strike in US history launched on September 9. Billed as a "Call to Action Against Slavery in America," the spark for the action came from the Free Alabama Movement (FAM), a prison-based organization that has been mobilizing across the state since 2012. Alabama has one of the most overcrowded prison systems in the country.

Reports from FAM's base within Holman Prison indicated a universal refusal of the population to go to work on September 9. Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, the chief outside spokesperson for FAM, speaking to Truthout on the day of the launch, said significant strike action also took place within prisons in South Carolina, Virginia and Ohio.

Campaign Money Magically Makes Lead Paint Safe Again

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["Republican leaders in Wisconsin had benefited from industry money and then acted to try to retroactively block lawsuits by children harmed by lead paint. Jesus, these people…" *RON*]

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 14 September 2016

If I recall, there was some confusion a couple of weeks back on the definition of "pay-to-play." For example, if someone contacts an aide to a prominent politician and asks for something, and then doesn't get it, that's not "pay-to-play," no matter what the "optics" make it look like in the "narrative." Of course, if, say, a state attorney general gets a campaign contribution and then calls off an investigation of a scam that the contributor may have been running, that's a little closer.

And then there's this thing, which comes out of the evidence bomb that The Guardian dropped Wednesday on the head of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, as reported by The…

Chemicals With Unknown Health Effects in America’s Drinking Water

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[The EPA does so little of even the most basic research on environmental health. *RON*]
By Tara MacIsaac, Epoch Times, 21 September 2016

America has a problem with drinking water pollution. It is not the pollution of old—massive amounts of industrial effluent pouring out of factories. It comes from far more sources, seeping into the water inconspicuously in small amounts, but adding up. And no one knows what its effects on us are.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates drinking water, has identified 126 substances (and counting) that may be pervasive in U.S. drinking water supplies which it calls “contaminants of emerging concern” (CECs) or “emerging contaminants.”

The chemicals found in American drinking water include those used in industrial production, pharmaceutical ingredients, illicit drugs, and numerous substances of modern life with largely unknown health effects.

Sugar industry sought to sugarcoat causes of heart disease

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[Payments revealed to authors of influential 1967 report touting fat and cholesterol as problems. *RON*]
By Laura Beil, Science News, 25 September 2016
Using records unearthed from library storage vaults, researchers recently revealed that the sugar industry paid nutrition experts from Harvard University to downplay studies linking sugar and heart disease. Although the incident happened in the 1960s, it appears to have helped redirect the scientific narrative for decades.

The documents — which include correspondence, symposium programs and annual reports — show that the Sugar Research Foundation (as it was named at the time) paid professors who wrote a two-part review in 1967 in the New England Journal of Medicine. That report was highly skeptical of the evidence linking sugar to cardiovascular problems but accepting of the role of fat. The now-deceased professors’ overall conclusion left “no doubt” that reducing the risk of heart disease was a ma…

Strangers Become Family at This Multigenerational Housing Project

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[This is a great idea! A unique affordable-housing community supports both foster families and elders who might be looking for a few extra grandchildren. Here's another good one that BC should be paying attention to: Facing Homelessness Emergency, Seattle Weighs Bylaw Protecting Rights of Campers. *RON*]

Kim Eckart posted Sep 25, 2016


After a long day of preschool, 5-year-old Joaquin Crowell still has energy to burn. He bounds from a TV cartoon to a magnetic fishing game, from blowing up a green balloon to listening to his favorite story,Bedtime for Frances. And 73-year-old Chris Conners is only too happy to oblige. To Joaquin, she is his oma— “grandma” in her native German. And to Conners, “He’s like my grandson. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him.”

Joaquin isn’t the only child Conners watches regularly in the comfort of her apartment. She is one of 29 senior citizens who live at Bridge Meadows in Portland, Oregon, where elders…

Goodbye, elephants

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[Incredibly sad and frustrating. A new report shows the steepest declines in African elephant populations in 25 years. I wonder what, if anything, Canada is doing in this area? I couldn't find anything specific to this on the Government of Canada web site (though I notice they've introduced the Ministry name "Environment and Climate Change Canada"). Also enlightening to note that "The United States is the world’s second-largest ivory market, after Asia." *RON*]

Samantha Page, ThinkProgress, 25 September 2016

By the time today’s children are grown adults, there may be no more wild elephants on the African continent.

With only 400,000 elephants left there, and 30,000 to 40,000 lost to poachers every year, the population’s prognosis is dire, according to the newest African Elephant Status Report.

Poaching has had a resurgence in the past decade, according to the IUCN, the international wildlife organization that produced th…

Canada subject to UNESCO expert review over threats to Wood Buffalo and indigenous communities

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[A press release about a UNESCO ten-day monitoring mission will hear from indigenous groups, scientists, and experts about impacts of hydroelectric and oil sands activities such as the Site C dam and proposed Teck Frontier Oil Sands Mine. See also: Dozens Of U.S., Canadian Tribes Unite Against Proposed Oil Pipelines, and Here Are The Major Canadian Pipelines The Oil Patch Wants Built, and Federal government’s ‘social licence’ for pipelines ‘permission’ cuts out communities, and UN Experts to United States: Stop DAPL Now. *RON*]

Montreal Gazette, 25 September 2016

EDMONTON, Sept. 25, 2016 /CNW/ - The UNESCO World Heritage Committee starts a 10-Day monitoring mission on Sunday to Wood Buffalo National Park.

This mission comes one year after UNESCO expressed concern about "… the environmental impacts on the Peace-Athabasca Delta from hydro-electric dams, oil sands development, and proposed open-pit mining in the vicinity of the property…"…

The Root Cause of Protest: Unjust Income Inequality for African Americans

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[It's shocking to think it could be shocking to point out that African Americans are heavily represented among the US poor. On the positive side, as people connect the dots there will be a growing recognition of the common enemy. See also: Black men have legitimate reason to run from police, Supreme Court rules. *RON*]

By John Komlos, Evonomics, 25 September 2016

Even conservative Republican Alan Greenspan, an ardent advocate of free markets, is beginning to see inequality as a fundamental threat to the system and admits that, “You cannot have the benefits of capitalist market growth without the support of a significant proportion, and indeed, virtually all of the people; and if you have an increasing sense that the rewards of capitalism are being distributed unjustly the system will not stand.”

Well, the system was not standing very sturdily during the days of rage in Baltimore or in Ferguson. So we need to look beyond the ugly surface mani…

Finance Is Ruining America

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[Has The Atlantic always been this conservative? I don't think so. Yet it only took eight years for this to sink in. And they can still say, "Raising tax rates on the rich might not seem particularly feasible right now." *RON*]

Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, 23 September 2016

BRIDGEPORT, Conn.—Few places in the country illustrate the divide between the haves and the have-nots more than the county of Fairfield, Connecticut. Drive around the city of Bridgeport and, amid the tracts of middle-class homes, you’ll see burned-out houses, empty factories, and abandoned buildings that line the main street. Nearby, in the wealthier part of the county, there are towns of mansions with leafy grounds, swimming pools, and big iron gates.

Bridgeport, an old manufacturing town all but abandoned by industry, and Greenwich, a headquarters to hedge funds and billionaires, may be in the same county, and a few exits apart from each other on I-95, but thei…

New Class War

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[I think he's off the mark. McCarthy's correct that today's ruling class is nothing much like the Managerial Class of the McNamara Era. But the fact that the 'insurgents' he talks about all have a common foe, 'the bipartisan establishment,' I believe, simply reflects the increasingly bipolar, class-based struggle that is a reaction to extreme neoliberalism. I don't think the fact that they appear to have a common foe has anything to do with the idea that these 'insurgents' are a nascent class in themselves. *RON*]
By Danioel McCarthy, The American Conservative, 7 September 2016

Shock gave way to relief this summer as America’s political establishment—rattled by Donald Trump’s success in winning the Republican nomination—reassured itself of his inevitable defeat come November. For a moment Trump seemed to have created a new style of politics, one that threatened to mobilize working-class voters against the e…

'Stumpf Is Lucky': Comments of the Week

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[Banksters and Crime and Punishment, US-style. *RON*]

American Banker, 25 September 2016.
On Wells Fargo chief executive John Stumpf getting grilled by lawmakers for three hours:
Stumpf is lucky. A community bank CEO having presided over a fraud proportionally this large would already have his assets frozen, be awaiting prosecution, and have been personally fined a substantial amount of money, not to mention that he would be under an order barring him from ever working at a bank for the rest of his life. Stumpf gets to keep his hundreds of millions and worst case, resign and enjoy his several homes." Related Article: 'You Should Resign': Stumpf's Rough Day on Capitol Hill

It’s strike three for Warren Buffett as Wells Fargo faces investigation

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[Interesting set of facts about "Mister Clean," Warren Buffett, in the wake of the Wells Fargo debacle. Two other incidents lead to questions about the billionaire investor's wholesome reputation. *RON*]

By Jonathan Rochford, Market Watch, 23 September 2016

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is famous for his “front-page-of-the-newspaper test.”

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, he described it, simply, as not doing anything he would be embarrassed to have written up on the front page of the newspaper. To encourage ethics over profits, he tells his managers: “Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

However, three recent incidents have brought Buffett to the front page of the newspaper, damaging his previously wholesome and folksy reputation.

Strike one is Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary Clayton Homes being profiled for predatory lending. Buffett defended …

Exclusive: Probe of leaked U.S. NSA hacking tools examines operative's 'mistake'

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[Very interesting story. "Representatives of the NSA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the office of the Director of National Intelligence all declined to comment." Notice, at the very end of the article, how weird a knot the "cybersecurity expert" is willing to tie himself into in the attempt to convince us that "the Rooskies did it!" (As opposed to they are just stupid.) *RON*]
By Joseph Menn and John Walcott, Reuters, 22 September 2016
A U.S. investigation into a leak of hacking tools used by the National Security Agency is focusing on a theory that one of its operatives carelessly left them available on a remote computer and Russian hackers found them, four people with direct knowledge of the probe told Reuters.

The tools, which enable hackers to exploit software flaws in computer and communications systems from vendors such as Cisco Systems and Fortinet Inc, were dumped onto public websites last month by a…

Your Vote For Jill Stein Is Not A Wasted Vote

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["There are differences between the two candidates and the parties. But those differences aren't enough to save your job." The Democrats aren't owed votes that go to Stein, especially when they haven't campaigned for them. Neither party should be allowed a majority; neither should be allowed to believe they have a mandate. Americans will not yet say that the first past the post system is part of the problem. *RON*]
By Kevin Gosztola, Shadowproof  / Mint, 22 September 2016


Published in partnership with Shadowproof.

When Jill Stein ran as the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, media attention to her candidacy was rare. Now, with two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in history, she has received widespread attention. There seems to be record interest in third party campaigns, including Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.

The Nation published a debate between Socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama …

How to Suffocate Your Economy: Drown it in Massive Private Debt.

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[A demand-side view of the economy, focused on the role of private debt in slowing growth. The whole world has too much private debt: history suggests this won’t end well. *RON*]
By Richard Vague, Evonomics, 24 September 2016
Why does the IMF keep badly missing its global growth forecast? And what does that have to do with the 2016 presidential election?

In the years since the 2008 global crisis, when the world’s growth rates tumbled, the IMF has dutifully printed forecast after forecast predicting rebounding growth rates. But in reality, rates have fallen well short of these predictions, as seen in Chart 1.


Your Mutual Fund Has Your Proxy, Like It or Not

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["'Mutual funds are a top-down autocracy. How can they be expected to go after the corporations they’ve invested in when there is such conformity of abuse?' Mr. Nader asked... Unfortunately, there is little that investors can do to change this dynamic. But here is an idea. If your fund company votes the wrong way on issues you care about, register your displeasure by voting against the fund’s directors in its annual election. Maybe that will get someone’s attention." *RON*]

By Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times, 23 September 2016

Do you think executive compensation is out of control or that a company should have to disclose its political contributions?

If so, you may also think that your mutual fund should vote on these and other issues in accordance with your beliefs. Good luck with that.

As investors, we are supposed to be able to sound off on corporate governance matters at the companies whose shares we own. We do so by voti…

Nestle Outbids Township That Wanted Well For Drinking Water

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[How is the not only legal, but merely shrugged at by our governments? "The Nestle well near Elora sits on the traditional territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River, 11,000 of whom do not have access to clean running water.'' *RON*]
By Keith Leslie, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 23 September 2016


TORONTO — A small but fast growing Ontario community looking for a safe drinking water supply has been outbid in its attempt to buy a well by multinational giant Nestle, which acquired the site to ensure "future business growth.''

Nestle, which can already take up to 3.6 million litres of water a day for bottling at its site in nearby Aberfoyle, Ont., bought the well from Middlebrook Water Company last month after having made a conditional offer in 2015.

A spokesman for Nestle said the company had "no idea'' the other bidder for the five-hectare site was the Township of Centre Wellington, but it waived all c…

Loss of Planet Reflectivity an Impending Catastrophe

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["…existing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is sufficient to cause unacceptable amounts of warming in the future. We no longer have a ‘carbon budget’ that we can burn through before feeling worried that we have caused massive climate change. We have burned through the budget and are causing the change now." On the Canadian political scene, see: The New Climate Denialism: Time for an intervention. *RON*]

By Robert Hunziker, Counterpunch, 19 September 2016


The planet’s air conditioning system is on the blink, working intermittently, losing its glinting, lustrous white reflectiveness, as it turns deep blue, absorbing 90% of sunlight rather than reflecting it back into outer space. The repercussions of Arctic sea ice loss are immense.

“Our planet has actually changed colour,” Peter Wadhams, A Farewell to Ice (Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books, 2016). Loss of Arctic sea ice has such an overriding powerful impact on the planet…

Armed 'AnBot' airport security droid uses electric CATTLE PROD and facial recognition technology to deter terror threats

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[The 'anti-terrorist' AnBot - which has four facial recognition cameras and a cattle prod - has begun 24-hour patrols at the Shenzhen International Airport in Guangdong.
*RON*]
By Sam Adams, The Mirror, 22 September 2016

This Acne Treatment Now Costs Almost $10,000

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[It contains two cheap and common ingredients that are "possibly effective" against acne. See also: A 93-year-old drug that can cost more than a mortgage payment tells us everything that's wrong with American healthcare. *RON*]

By Madeline Farber, Fortune, 21 September 2016

The U.S. drugmaker Novum Pharma has raised the price of two of its skin care treatments that are commonly used to treat conditions such as eczema and acne to nearly $10,000, according to figures by the Financial Times.

Last week, Novum raised the price of a 60g tube of Aloquin, which is used to treat conditions such as eczema and acne, by 128% to $9,561, the Financial Times reports. The drugmaker increased the price, Alcortin A, another skincare treatment, by the same amount. And a third ointment, Novacort, saw a $2,956 price increase from $4,186 to $7,142 for a 29g tube.

But what’s particularly baffling about the Aloquin price hike is that the two main ingredients…

Wage Gap Between Black and White Americans Is at 40-Year High

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[Unsurprisingly, income inequality is racialized. But the discrimination found in this new report is astounding. *RON*]
By Elizabeth PrezaAlterNet, 20 September 2016

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute reveals a stark disparity between the hourly pay of blacks and whites; on average, whites make 26.7 percent more than blacks, earning $25.22 an hour compared with $18.49 for blacks. Amazingly, blacks today earn less relative to their white counterparts than they did in 1979.

“The finding that stands out the most, our major result, is that the racial wage gaps were larger in 2015 than they were in 1979. That’s huge because the impression people have, in general, is we know there’s still racism in this country, but we think or at least believe that it’s getting better,” Valerie Wilson, director of EPI’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy, told the Guardian.

According to EPI, the driving force behind the pay gap is “discrimination……

To Police Unions: Stop Protecting Rotten Cops

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["Police unions are much like police chiefs. When an an officer is caught doing a very bad thing, they start to circle the wagons. 'That's their job, that's their story.' They stick to it no matter how nonsensical it is and how much it insults our sensibilities, no matter how unreasonable it is to a reasonable person." *RON*]

Joshua Ostroff, Huffington Post, 23 September 2016

People like to excuse police violence by claiming that it's just a few bad apples. Perhaps that's true, but then who is electing the police union leaders who make it their job to defend these bad apples?

See, here's the thing about bad apples -- if you don't root them out, then the whole barrel will rot.

If the police union was really protecting the police force, then they'd be the most outspoken critics of police brutality and unnecessary police-involved shootings. But they're not.

Charlotte Cops Kill Man Who Was Allegedly Unarmed and Reading in Car Setting Off Protests

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[The US needs to fire 90% of their police forces and start all over again; they're beyond redeeming. Protests erupted in the streets of the city just after the shooting. Black justice tipping point. See: Charlotte street protests prompt state of emergency. Also: Tulsa shooting: Manslaughter charge for police officer who shot black man. *RON*]
By Kali HollowayAlterNet, 20 September 2016

Police fatally shot an African-American man named Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday evening. According to the Charlotte Observer, officer Brentley Vinson, who is also African American, fired the shot that killed the 43-year-old father in the parking lot of the Village at College Downs apartment complex. Protests erupted at the site of the shooting, during which which “several dozen police officers in riot gear” fired tear gas into the crowd. Witnesses of the shooting and the officers involved give vastly different accounts of what a…

'I Will Kill All the Drug Lords'

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[On the making of Rodrigo Duterte. What a country! Who would have thought anyone could make Ferdinand Marcos look good? See also: Philippines president ordered murders and killed official, claims hitman, and Philippines: Committee Chair Ousted for Death Squad Inquiry. *RON*]
Sheila Coronel, The Atlantic, 20 September 2016
In the Philippines, the end of Ferdinand Marcos’s 20-year dictatorship in 1986 was a tumultuous time. The new government of Corazon Aquino was being challenged on all fronts: from the Right, by ambitious military factions plotting coups; from the Left, by peasant guerrillas and angry protesters demanding radical reforms. In those days, I was working as a journalist in Manila, finally able to cover the country’s problems with corruption, crime, economic stagnation, and insurgency without fear of censors.

Post office banking: an old idea getting a second look

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[Postal banking is a fabulous idea, except to banksters! The local post office could help those in poor neighborhoods and rural communities — who often rely on costly payday loans and check cashing services — more easily complete everyday banking tasks while sending packages and buying stamps. Unions in Canada have been pushing this concept for ages, to no avail. The alternative: Wells Fargo Shows Need to Break Up Banks and Wells Fargo's CEO just got grilled by the Senate, Taxpayers Subsidized Wells Fargo Executive Pay Amid Bank’s Fraud, and best of all Former Wells Fargo employees say they were fired after reporting fraudulent activity. *RON*]

By Amber Murakami-Fester, NerdWallet / Christian Science Monitor, 10 September 2016

In big cities and affluent areas, banks can seem as ubiquitous as coffee chains. Making a deposit or stopping in to talk about a loan can be about as simple as grabbing a nonfat vanilla latte with an extra shot, no foa…

Weapons Makers Hold Lavish Lovefest for Pentagon Official Who Manages Arms Sales

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[A love-fest of weapons dealers. The corporatocracy meets the military-industrial complex. *RON*]
Zaid JilaniAlex Emmons, The Intercept, 19 September 2016


HERE’S WHAT PASSES for funny in a room packed full of weapons-industry executives and lobbyists: When Vice Adm. Joseph Rixey — the man in charge of the Pentagon agency that administers foreign arms sales — said “I know you don’t go after human rights violators for potential customers.”

The line produced chuckles in the room.

Rixey was the guest of honor at a reception Wednesday hosted by the Senate Aerospace Caucus, a group of more than a dozen senators who “work to ensure a strong, secure, and competitive American aerospace sector,” according to their mission statement online. The event in a sumptuous Senate reception room was cohosted by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the lobbying group for weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.

Rixey is t…