Showing posts from October, 2016

Iceland’s Prime Minister Resigns, After Pirate Party Makes Strong Gains

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[Iceland has a strong anti-establishment streak to its politics. The PM was ultimately cut down by the Panama Papers scandal, but the Pirate Party also wants to redistribute wealth and increase the government’s anti-corruption powers. "We want to see trickle-down ethics rather than make-believe trickle-down economics." *RON*]

By Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, New York Times, 30 October 2016

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Iceland’s prime minister announced on Sunday that he would resign, as the insurgent, anti-establishment Pirate Party capitalized on a wave of anger over corruption to come in second place in the country’s general election.

The prime minister, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, announced his departure on national television after his center-right Progressive Party’s share of seats in the 63-seat Parliament collapsed to eight from 19 in the previous election, in 2013.

'Think of the Bunker Right Before Hitler Killed Himself': Insiders Say Trump's Campaign Is Imploding

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Trump’s inability to discipline himself as a candidate has ultimately been his undoing. See also: The Final Days of Trump’s Unmanageable, Unrepentant, and Unprecedented Campaign. *RON*]
By David FergusonRaw Story / AlterNet, 30 October 2016

In a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the chaotic Donald Trump campaign, insiders describe a floundering operation with a feckless egomaniac at its helm who has no grasp of how badly things are spinning out of control.

“Think of the bunker right before Hitler killed himself,” said one anonymous campaign staffer to New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman. “Donald’s in denial. They’re all in denial.”

The mood in Trump Tower, Sherman reported, has vacillated between gloom, rage, denial and then brief glee on Friday when the FBI reported that the agency is reviewing new materials in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.

There Is an Epidemic of Assassinations Targeting Human Rights Defenders in Latin America

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[Latin America is the real front line of environmentalism. New Oxfam report finds expansion of extractive industries is tied to rise of killings in Latin America: "When the state fails to fulfil its role and allows the rights of some to be violated while increasing the economic and political power and impunity of others and granting them privileges, it appears that government institutions have been captured for the benefit of economic elites." See also today's: Honduras: Son of Human Rights Leader Assassinated. *RON*]

By Sarah LazareAlterNet, 30 October 2016

On October 18, human rights defenders José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio were murdered after they left a meeting of peasant farmers in the Bajo Aguán region of Honduras. Both were organizers with the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), whose former president Johnny Rivas said “death squads chasing peasant families fighting for land rights" were behind the …

The Real Living Wage? $17.28 an Hour -- at Least

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[No state has a living wage for a single adult of less than $14.50 per hour. In some states it is almost $22 per hour. This does not factor in the $1.3 trillion in student debt in the US. *RON*]

By Julie Chinitz, Campaign for America's Future / Truthout, 31 October 2016

Fifteen dollars shouldn't be too much to ask -- or demand.

In almost every state, a worker needs more than $15 an hour to make ends meet. Add in student debt, and the minimum living wage shoots up to $18.67 an hour nationally. A family with children needs significantly more.

That's according to new research from People's Action Institute, which calculates the national living wage at $17.28. A living wage is the pay a person needs to cover basic needs like food, housing, utilities and clothing, along with some savings to handle emergencies.

AT&T Requires Police to Hide Hemisphere Phone Spying

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[Why does anyone hide anything they do? Because they're scared of how the public will react when they can see their behaviour in broad daylight. AT&T is corrupting both democracy and justice. *RON*]

By Adam Schwartz, Electronic Frontier Foundation / Truthout, 31 October 2016

AT&T built a powerful phone surveillance tool for police, called Hemisphere. Every day, AT&T adds four billion call records to Hemisphere, making it one of the largest known reservoirs of communications metadata that the government uses to spy on us. Law enforcement officials kept Hemisphere "under the radar" for many years -- hidden from courts, legislators, and the general public -- until The New York Times exposed the program in 2013. EFF sued federal and state law enforcement officials to obtain records about Hemisphere, in part to better understand how and why police kept such a massive spying database secret for so long.

New documents published…

300 Million Children Breathe Highly Toxic Air, Unicef Reports

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[Seven million deaths are linked to air pollution, 600,000 of them children under 5. Air pollution is linked to one in 10 deaths of children under 5. Beyond the children living in the most toxic air, two billion children in the world, the vast majority, live in places where air pollution exceeds the level considered unhealthy. *RON*]

By Geeta Anand, 30 October 2016

MUMBAI, India — About 300 million children in the world breathe highly toxic air, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a report on Monday that used satellite imagery to illustrate the magnitude of the problem.

The vast majority of these children, about 220 million, live in South Asia, in places where air pollution is at least six times the level that the World Health Organization considers safe, Unicef said.

The agency said the children faced serious health risks as a result.

“Children are uniquely vulnerable because their lungs are still developing,” said Nicholas Rees, the aut…

Reviving middle class key to saving global trade

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["Too many middle class workers have been left behind in the free trade sweepstakes and its time for politicians to find solutions for them or they risk destabilizing the global trading system." It's quite something when a conservative strategist gets published in the Toronto Star saying 'Just possibly, the ideological spin we've been putting on free trade has been a bit much!' *RON*]

By Jaime Watt, Toronto Star, 30 October 2016
On Nov. 21, 1988, after a rigorous debate over free trade with the United States, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s government was re-elected with a solid majority mandate. Canadians had declared themselves free-traders.

The notion that free trade would kick-start job creation and economic growth gained currency in the late 1980s. Since then trade pacts signed by nations across the world have proliferated. Canada itself — under both Liberal and Conservative governments — has expanded its trade oppor…

Renewables just passed coal as the largest source of new electricity worldwide

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[Coal causes about a quarter of US CO2 emissions. See also: Bad Week for Exxon: Outlook Plunges as NY Court Says Climate Criminal Must Comply; and Rapidly Warming Mediterranean Headed for Desertification, Study Warns. *RON*]

Samantha Page, ThinkProgress, 25 October 2016

It’s been a long run, coal, but your reign is over.

Renewable energy sources have passed coal as the largest new source of electricity in the world, according data released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The transition of the world’s energy sources is critical for avoiding a 2°C rise in global temperatures. Coal, for instance, represented about a quarter of U.S. CO2 emissions in 2012.

North Dakota pipeline activists say arrested protesters were kept in dog kennels

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[And, in case you missed it, Thousands of Wild Bison Appear At Standing Rock Out Of Nowhere! A Sign From Mother Earth? *RON*]
Sandy Tolan, Los Angeles Times, 28 October 2016
After a night of chaotic clashes with police on the front lines in a months-long protest, Native American activists complained about the force wielded to drive protesters from the path of a pipeline they contend will desecrate tribal lands and put their lone source of drinking water at risk.

Protesters said that those arrested in the confrontation had numbers written on their arms and were housed in what appeared to be dog kennels, without bedding or furniture. Others said advancing officers sprayed mace and pelted them with rubber bullets.

Aboriginal and Environmental Groups Hope to Use Enbridge Precedent to Stop $36 Billion LNG Project

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[Consultation = you speak, we ignore. What is needed is consent, not consultation. *RON*]

Oil & Gas 360, 26 October 2016
Groups plan to file lawsuits to stop BC LNG
First Nations groups are planning to sue the federal government and the majority stake-owner of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, Petronas, in order to halt the project on British Columbia’s northern coast.

The $36 billion project includes a pipeline and terminal, and was conditionally approved by Canada’s federal government last month after a three-year environmental assessment. The conditional approval included 190 conditions.

The approval is a major test for Canada’s Liberal Party, which is juggling the concerns of an energy industry suffering from low oil prices, and environmental groups which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau courted during last year’s election. The legal challenge also presents another major obstacle for the project, which has continued forward despite the fall…

They Don’t Care About Us

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[The Podesta emails show that Democratic power brokers won’t reward labor’s unwavering loyalty or record contributions. Nowadays all we have are hard-line economic neoliberals and 'social-for-show' neoliberals. *RON*]
by Micah Uetricht, Jacobin Magazine, 28 October 2016
Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase, the latest title in the Jacobin series, is out now. Get a six-book subscription for just $49.95.

After the 2012 presidential election, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka told labor journalist Josh Eidelson that the union federation “won’t be taken for granted” by the White House and the Democratic Party. Fast forward to a recent Wall Street Journal article: union contributions to politicians (almost entirely Democrats) are up 38 percent, with the AFL-CIO chipping in $11 million and SEIU over $30 million.

It’s possible, I suppose, that unions have devised a secret method for holding Democrats accountable behind closed doors whi…

Iceland may become first nation ruled by 'pirates'

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[Iceland Rocks! :-) Pirate Party vowing to root out government corruption and bring radical change is projected to win upcoming election. See also: Why Iceland Should Be In The News, But Is Not. *RON*]
Micah Garen & Marie-Helene Carleton, Al Jazeera, 29 October 2016
Reykjavik, Iceland - The small island nation of Iceland may soon be the first modern country ruled by pirates.

Not swashbuckling bandits with eye patches, but political pirates bent on rooting out corruption and transforming society through direct democracy.

Their brand of politics is hacktivism meets revolution. Dominated by young people, the Pirates have grown from their founding in 2006 as a small Swedish movement battling restrictive copyright law into a quasi-mainstream political force.

Liberalism and capitalism have hollowed out society – so where do we turn now?

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[Is the world ready to hear about politics and virtue in the same breath? Can we afford not to? I'm going to see if I can download a sample chapter. *RON*]
Rowan Williams, The New Statesman, 18 October 2016

The Politics of Virtue: Post-Liberalism and the Human Future by John Milbank and Adrian Pabst is published by Rowman & Littlefield International (£24.95, 418pp)

There are crises and there are “meta­crises”: a system may stagger from one crisis to another but never recognise the underlying mechanisms that subvert its own logic. We may never even get to the “final” crisis that some analysts predict; but so long as the inner contradictions are not named, the story will always be one of cyclical failure.

This is a book about metacrises. Capitalism, democracy, nation-state politics, modern culture and education – all of these are living out a metacrisis of some sort. All of them are grounded in illusion and contradiction, whether it be the si…

'Terrifying': AT&T Spying on Americans for Profit, New Documents Reveal

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[Corporatocracy = surveillance state = police state = the 1%. 'If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future.' They're not being forced to reveal information. They developed a new product to sell your information to police. See also: AT&T developed a "product" for spying on all its customers and made millions selling it to warrantless cops. And, while you're at it, how about: Police departments are thinking about using drones armed with stun guns. *RON*]

Nadia Prupis,Common Dreams, 25 October 2016

Telecommunications giant AT&T is spying on Americans for profit and helped law enforcement agencies investigate everything from the so-called war on drugs to Medicaid fraud—all at taxpayers' expense, according to new reporting by The Daily Beast.

The program, known as Project Hemisphere, allowed state and local agencies to conduct warrantless searches of trilli…

Thousands of Canadians raise their voices against TPP

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["The Standing Committee on International Trade has set a deadline of Monday, Oct. 31 for public comment. To send your message to them and the Prime Minister, please click here." See also: Citizen’s guide to Trans-Pacific Partnership now available. *RON*]
Brent Patterson,, 27 October 2016

Council of Canadians delivered 20,000 petitions against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to Parliament Hill.

"It’s difficult to imagine a world where Canada would turn its back on [the Trans-Pacific Partnership given it includes] three of its top five trading partners. We established very clearly during the campaign that we’re a pro-trade party," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.

The Council of Canadians delivered the petition Wednesday to voice the objections of 20,000 people from across this country that can imagine a world where fair trade is prioritized over corporate rights agreements like the TPP.

Nomi Prins: Hillary Clinton Will Continue the Big Bank Protection Racket

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[See also: Waking Up in Hillary Clinton's United States: Wall Street in the SaddleElizabeth Warren Tells Hillary Clinton Not To Hire Wall Street Donors; What a Hillary Clinton Presidency Means for Your Financial Future - Hint: It’s not looking good; and Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street Speeches Have Leaked. No Wonder She Didn’t Want Them to Get Out. *RON*]
By Nomi Prins, posted by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 28 October 2016

Yves here. It’s hardly a secret that the Clintons are deeply loyal to Wall Street. Bob Rubin and his numerous well-heeled followers are a powerful, arguably dominant, faction in the Democratic party, and they are tightly aligned with the Clintons.

Nomi Prins gives a useful overview of how Hillary has attempted to blame the financial crisis on everything but the deregulation that her husband supported and the reckless behavior that resulted and how her anti-bank noises, like her criticism of Wells Fargo, is tepid and lat…

US Votes 'No' As UN Adopts Landmark Resolution Calling to Ban Nuclear Weapons

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[Canada voted against it as well! Co-sponsored by 57 nations, L41 calls for a 2017 conference 'to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.' *RON*]
Lauren McCauley,Common Dreams, 27 October 2016

The United Nations on Thursday adopted a landmark resolution calling for the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Resolution L.41 (pdf) was accepted by a vote of 123-38, with 16 member nations abstaining. The vote was held during a meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with disarmament and international security matters.

"For seven decades, the UN has warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons, and people globally have campaigned for their abolition. Today the majority of states finally resolved to outlaw these weapons," said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN).

Trudeau heading to Brussels to sign CETA; fate of key section still in doubt

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[Obviously a pretty fluid story. The key thing today is that the "investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.... does not take effect right away and may never take effect... If one country votes to reject the investor court, it will not form part of the Canada-EU deal." The original Canadian articles complained that CETA would drive up prescription drug prices here: this is the story we'll be waiting to see as this progresses. See also: We can thank Walloons for seeing CETA’s naked truth. *RON*]

Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, 28 October 2016

Justin Trudeau is heading to Brussels this weekend to sign the massive Canada-European Union free trade deal after the EU finally approved it on Friday, but the fate of the accord’s most contentious chapter – a court where businesses can sue governments – remains in serious doubt and may not be resolved for years.
The European Council, representing all 28 member-state governments, reached the ne…

Liberal government decides low-income children will receive $500 less than originally promised

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[He lied his way into office. Now it's only $6.50 more than Harper offered. This is how Trudeau lifts Canadian children out of poverty: "We are at a loss to explain why the federal Liberal government would make such significant progress in assisting lower-income families with children and then quietly unravel much of the improvement they were so proud to announce." *RON*]
Press Progress, 26 October 2016
Get ready for change – to one of the Liberals' big campaign promises.

The Liberal government has quietly announced it's tweaking the Canada Child Benefit, a change that will cause low-income families to see their CCB cheques lose close to $500 in value (per child) over the next four years.

The Geniuses Who Brought You the Iraq War Are at It Again

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[It's not as though Hillary will take much convincing in the first place. Start excavating your bomb shelters. Washington’s bipartisan foreign-policy elite are pushing for renewed influence in the next administration. *RON*]

By Robert L. Borosage, The Nation, 26 October 2016
The “Blob”—the epithet Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes used to scorn Washington’s inbred, vainglorious, bipartisan foreign-policy elite—is striking back. In a series of foreign policy reports designed to influence the incoming administration, Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post reveals, the Blob will publicly criticize Obama’s “reluctance” to exercise America’s military prowess and call for a more “muscular,” “interventionist,” assertive policy, from the South China Sea to the Russian border, but particularly in the Middle East. They are pumping for more war.

60 percent of global wildlife species wiped out

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[Oh. My. God. Unprecedented rate of decline of animals because of human activity causing a "global mass extinction", new report says. *RON*]

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies, 27 October 2016
About 60 percent of the world's fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have been wiped out over the past four decades, largely because of human activity, researchers say.

The Living Planet Report 2016, released on Thursday, blamed deforestation, pollution, overfishing, and the illegal wildlife trade for "pushing species populations to the edge".

According to the report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in a collaboration with other international environmental advocacy groups, the five main drivers of wildlife decline are habitat loss, overconsumption, pollution, invasive species and disease.

"For the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we face a global mass extinction of wildlife," said Mike…

Oregon militants acquitted of conspiracy in wildlife refuge seizure

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[The racism is palpable. Cf. Dakota Access Pipeline: 141 Activists Arrested in Tense Clash With Police, and "A Shameful Moment for This Country": Report Back on Militarized Police Raid of DAPL Resistance Camp. Also: Clinton Breaks DAPL Silence With Statement That Says 'Literally Nothing'*RON*]

By Scott Bransford, Reuters, 28 October 2016

A federal court jury delivered a surprise verdict on Thursday acquitting anti-government militant leader Ammon Bundy and six followers of conspiracy charges stemming from their role in the armed takeover of a wildlife center in Oregon earlier this year.

The outcome marked a stinging defeat for federal prosecutors and law enforcement in a trial the defendants sought to turn into a pulpit for airing their opposition to U.S. government control over millions of acres of public lands in the West.

Bundy and others, including his brother and co-defendant Ryan Bundy, cast the 41-day occupation of the…

Justin Trudeau continuing proud Liberal tradition of betraying Indigenous peoples

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[Trudeau's breaking of his election promise to adopt UNDRIP is what allowed him to approve the LNG project over clear Aboriginal objections. *RON*]
Russell Diabo,, 28 October 2016
In the late 1980s, because of my Indigenous policy background, I was convinced by a close friend to get involved in efforts to create an Aboriginal Peoples' Commission within the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal Party already had a Women's and Youth Commission so the model to change the Liberal Party's constitution was already there.

I agreed to get involved because the Mulroney era was a disaster. In 1986, a secret federal Cabinet document was leaked called the "Buffalo Jump of the 1980s," which recommended -- like the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy -- the termination of Indigenous rights through various policy measures including off-loading federal responsibilities for "status Indians" onto the provinces.

In June 1990…

Tentative deal puts CETA back on track as text reveals countries can opt out of dispute court

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[And back and forth! Very significantly, if this should go through (still a big "if"), it would allow any European state the choice of opting out of the investor-state mechanism for resolving disputes. I.e., the binding kangaroo court of corporatist lawyers who inevitably come down on the side of business. This would set a great precedent for future such negotiations. *RON*]

Steven Chase & Paul Wade, The Globe and Mail, 27 October 2016
A tentative deal has been reached to put the massive Canada-EU free trade deal back on track for approval by European leaders, but negotiations in Belgium have revealed that the most contentious part of the accord – a court where businesses can sue another country’s government – has an uncertain future.
Belgium was the lone holdout to signing the deal because its regions can veto international treaties. But, on Thursday, Belgian politicians reached an accommodation with the local governments that objec…

What is the gender pay gap and is it real?

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[A crushingly thorough piece on how women are paid less than men and why it can't be explained away. See also: The gender pay gap will not close until 2186; and Gender pay gap: women earn £300,000 less than men over working life.*RON*]
Elise Gould, Jessica Schieder & Kathleen Geier, Economic Policy Institute, 20 October 2016

Download PDF

Working women are paid less than working men. A large body of research accounts for, diagnoses, and investigates this “gender pay gap.” But this literature often becomes unwieldy for lay readers, and because pay gaps are political topics, ideological agendas often seep quickly into discussions.

This primer examines the evidence surrounding the gender pay gap, both in the literature and through our own data analyses. We will begin by explaining the different ways the gap is measured, and then go deeper into the data using hourly wages for our analyses,1 culling from extensive national and regional surveys of …

Britain, U.S. sending planes, troops to deter Russia in the east

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[Rumours of world war rumble on. See also: Putin’s Military Buildup in the Baltic Stokes Invasion FearsIf Russia Started a War in the Baltics, NATO Would Lose — Quickly; and Moscow accuses Canada of bringing back the Cold War. *RON*]
By Robin Emmott and Phil Stewart, Reuters, 26 October 2016

Britain said on Wednesday it will send fighter jets to Romania next year and the United States promised troops, tanks and artillery to Poland in NATO's biggest military build-up on Russia's borders since the Cold War.

Germany, Canada and other NATO allies also pledged forces at a defense ministers meeting in Brussels on the same day two Russian warships armed with cruise missiles entered the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Denmark, underscoring East-West tensions.

In Madrid, the foreign ministry said Russia had withdrawn a request to refuel three warships in Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta after NATO allies said they could be used to target c…

Schaeuble says monetary policy has reached its limits

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[Short but sweet. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that Germany has come out against the EU economic party line. Watch this story go nowhere fast in the mainstream press. But is the worm turning? See also: "Should We Rethink Fiscal Policy?" *RON*]
Reuters, 25 October 2016
There is a growing international consensus that monetary policy has reached the limits of its possibilities, German Finance Wolfgang Schaeuble told a group of government officials in Berlin on Tuesday.

Schaeuble also said that he believed that there was an excess of liquidity and excess of indebtedness internationally.

(Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Andrea Shalal)

Mainstream Economics Has Become a Celebration of the Wealthy Rentier Class

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[The previously two postings tidily explained. *RON*]

By Michael Hudson, Evonomics, not dated.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, everyone complains about inequality, but nobody does anything about it.

What they do is to use “inequality” as a takeoff point to project their own views on how to make society more prosperous and at the same time more equal. These views largely depend on whether they view the One Percent as innovative, smart and creative, making wealth by helping the rest of society – or whether, as the great classical economists wrote, the wealthiest layer of the population consist of rentiers, making their income and wealth off the 99 Percent as idle landlords, monopolists and predatory bankers.

Economic statistics show fairly worldwide trends in inequality. After peaking in the 1920s, the reforms of the Great Depression helped make income distribution more equitable and stable until 1980.[1] Then, in the wake of Thatcherism in Britain and Reag…

New evidence that politics, not economics, drives inequality

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[Sort of. What drives inequality are the interests of the 0.1% rentier class, who have captured the political machine with dark money. See also: Political Road Map: How unlimited cash gets funneled into legislative campaigns. *RON*]

Ohio State University, EurekAlert! / AAAS, 26 October 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio - One of the biggest surprises about rising income inequality in the United States may be that economic factors aren't the biggest cause, a new study suggests.

Sociologists at The Ohio State University found that political factors, along with increases in college-educated adults, provided the best explanations for the rise in income inequality in the United States between 1978 and 2011.

But even higher education levels became less important after the 1980s, said David Jacobs, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State.

The study found that presidential administrations that were sympathetic to employers but unfavorable…

Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal doomed, ex-PM Brian Mulroney predicts

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[I don't think anyone opposes actual free trade, which is a win-win proposition. But these are packages designed to ensure corporatocratic rule for the 0.1% rentier class, masquerading under the name of free trade. *RON*]

Canadian Press, CBC News, 26 October 2016
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney says the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is doomed to fail because of hostility in the U.S. Congress and widespread antipathy to trade initiatives in general.

Mulroney made the prediction Wednesday when he was asked about Hillary Clinton's opposition to the 12-nation accord, which the Democratic presidential nominee says benefits drug companies and does not address currency manipulation.

"The TPP is not going to fly anyway," Mulroney said after taking part in a ceremony to formally announce plans for the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at his alma mater, St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.

PRIVATE EYES: The Little-Known Company That Enables Worldwide Mass Surveillance

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[In case, like me, you've ever wonder whether New Zealand actually does anything for the Five Eyes alliance. *RON*]
Ryan GallagherNicky Hager, The Intercept, 23 October 2016
IT WAS A POWERFUL piece of technology created for an important customer. The Medusa system, named after the mythical Greek monster with snakes instead of hair, had one main purpose: to vacuum up vast quantities of internet data at an astonishing speed.

The technology was designed by Endace, a little-known New Zealand company. And the important customer was the British electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

Dozens of internal documents and emails from Endace, obtained by The Intercept and reported in cooperation with Television New Zealand, reveal the firm’s key role helping governments across the world harvest vast amounts of information on people’s private emails, online chats, social media conversations, and internet browsing…

Indiana officials are trying to block almost 45,000 black citizens from voting

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["They saw that there was a very successful voter registration drive happening, and this was an attempt to shut it down." *RON*]
Kira Lerner, Think Progress, 26 October 2016
Roughly 45,000 newly registered voters in Indiana — almost all of whom are black — may not be allowed to vote next month after state police targeted the state’s largest voter registration drive, forcing it to shut down its operation.

Police raided the Indiana Voter Registration Project (IVRP) offices on October 4, seizing documents and equipment and forcing the group to cease its get-out-the-vote efforts one week before the end of the state’s registration period. Bill Buck, a spokesperson for the liberal nonprofit Patriot Majority USA which runs the IVRP, told ThinkProgress that IVRP could have registered about 5,000 more voters in that additional week.

Gord Downie Was Wrong About Justin Trudeau

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["Following through on Indigenous issues is politically inconvenient, especially for a leader who relies on his charm to secure support, and hopes that charm will soften the blow when he doesn't deliver... Trudeau campaigned on a promise of a 'renewed relationship' with Canada's Indigenous communities. The government said they would not allow energy companies to break ground unless detailed environmental assessments were conducted and supported by native populations impacted by development. But without warning, the Trudeau government approved BC Hydro's construction of the Site C Dam.... The most egregious slight came when Trudeau's government refused to meet two compliance orders by the Human Rights Tribunal pertaining to the welfare of Indigenous children. Documents proved the Trudeau government had determined what it would spend on child welfare long before the tribunal ordered it to increase funding, ignoring its…

Hail Wallonia!

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[Maybe we can hire Wallonia to torpedo the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well! *RON*]
Humberto DaSilva,, 26 October 2016

You can view this on YouTube as well.
The Canada-EU trade agreement has met its Waterloo in Wallonia. Turns out CETA -- the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement -- which the Harper regime said was a done deal, may indeed be done. Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland's dream of a done deal has been laid to ruins by Wallonians.

Thanks, Wallonia. Canada owes you one.

As Aging Population Increases, Elders and Allies Fight for Social Supports

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[Some good ideas and models are out there. I can imagine full-out class warfare if the Boomers don't get a fair deal. *RON*]
Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout, 26 October 2016

According to a spring 2016 report released by the Older Women's League, men in the top 1 percent live 15 years longer than those in the bottom 1 percent. The gap for women is 10 years. And it's getting worse. As the league's annual study, "Aging in Community," notes, "The inequality of life spans between rich and poor has widened from 2001 to 2014."

The result? By the time folks reach age 75, 6.7 percent of men and 12.3 percent of women live below the poverty line: $11,880 for a single person and $16,020 for a household of two. Gender, of course, is a key variable: Women earn, on average, a lower annual income -- typically caused by wage disparities as well as breaks in employment to rear children -- resulting in smaller monthly Social Security c…

Barack Obama's Sweet Revenge Tour

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[Republicans created a toxic political climate that made his presidency hell. Now it's payback time. Perhaps Obama can help create a Republican rout in the down ticket races! *RON*]

Tim Murphy, Mother Jones, 26 October 2016

President Barack Obama's approval rating is the highest it has been in 45 months, and Republicans have taken note. In Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman is running an adboasting of his work with the Democratic commander-in-chief "to break the grip of heroin addiction." In California, Rep. Darrell Issa—who once called Obama "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times"—is sending out mailers with Obama's face on them, touting his work with the president "to protect victims of sexual assault."
How scared is an unpopular Issa that Doug Applegate will beat him? Scared enough to use a photo of Obama on a mailer— Howie Klein (@downwithtyranny) October 24, 2016 There is a…

Third hunger strike this year highlights despair of Canada's detained migrants

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[An excellent example of egregious government behaviour that Sunny Ways complained about strenuously while in opposition, but which he hasn't done sweet tweet about (and has, in fact, semi-covertly continued to support) since getting elected. *RON*]
Sophia Reuss,, 24 October 2016

On October 17, 17 immigration detainees at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario began refusing food,just two months after nearly 60 immigration detainees in two Ontario facilities ended a 19-day hunger strike protesting the indefinite detention of migrants.

The hunger strike is the third of its kind this year, and detainees' demands remain unchanged: an end to indefinite detention of migrants with a 90-day limit on detentions as an interim measure.

"We want an end to indefinite detention, we don't want to be locked up in maximum security prisons, [and] we want real access to effective legal remedies to contest our detention," …

Rockefeller gave away money for no return. Can we say the same of today’s tech barons?

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[Smiling, happy, for-profit philanthropy. At least you knew where you stood with the Robber Barons. Mark Zuckerberg has plowed funds into health and education but there’s a fine line between philanthropy and speculation. *RON*]
Evgeny Morozov, The Guardian, 16 October 2016
A world where billionaires were blunt and forthright, where they preferred pillaging the world to saving it, was far less confusing. The robber barons of the industrial era – from Carnegie to Ford to Rockefeller – did eventually commit some of their riches to charity but there was no mistaking one for the other. Oil and steel brought in the cash; education and arts helped to spend it.

Of course, the eponymous foundations were neither neutral nor apolitical. They pursued projects that were rarely at odds with US foreign policy and often shared many of its key ideological biases and presuppositions. From modernisation theory to democracy promotion, the civilising imperative behind…

Canadian Mining's Dark Heart

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[On the human cost of gold and the Canadian mining industry. I bring this topic up as often as I can find good pieces covering it. This one's a bit of an alphabet soup of acronyms but still very good. This important issue gets zero traction in the mainstream press. Yet it touches deeply on Canadians' sense of who we are as players on the global stage. "PJV is, according to its operations director, 'the de facto government in the area.'" *RON*]

Richard Poplak, The Walrus, 24 October 2016.

The Virgin Australia flight bound for Papua New Guinea departs from Brisbane bearing a full load: gigantic sun-cured men in golf shirts; neckless security hacks scribbled over by tattoo artists; inscrutable, terrifying power suits. Over a muggy sweep of brine, the plane arcs toward a nation that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and a farrago of smaller islands scattered across Melanesia. Australians, its colonial ove…

Trudeau Gets A 'C' Rating For Failing To Deliver On Promises

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[Another topic that gets ignored are things Mr. Selfie didn't make promises about, but which he criticized Harper for while in opposition and has now merrily gone on to adopt - there is a mighty long list of these items. I'd like to see an article on this as well. *RON*]

Keith Beardsley, Huffington Post, 24 October 2016
Last week when on CTV's True North Political Panel I was asked to give Trudeau a rating for his first year in office. I gave him a "C" not because I am so partisan that I can't say anything positive about him, but because the jury is still out on promises kept or not kept.

I saw one article that said he has only kept about 16 per cent of his promises to date. To be fair no government can deliver on everything in their first year. As the Trudeau Liberals are finding out, promises cost money and even free spending Liberals have to draw a line on what gets spent now and what gets pushed further down the road.…

Bella Bella Oil Spill Called 'An Environmental Disaster'

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[Because who could possibly have foreseen waves and bad weather on the Canadian coast? 'World class' my ass. *RON*]
Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 24 October 2016

BELLA BELLA, B.C. — A report says two tanks containing oil or contaminants from a submerged tug west of Bella Bella, off British Columbia's central coast, were either torn open or severely damaged when the vessel ran aground.

Despite bad weather that has complicated salvage efforts, divers were able to check the bottom of the Nathan E. Stewart on Sunday, as it rests in nine metres of water in a channel about 500 kilometres north of Vancouver.

A joint situation report issued by the American tug owner and federal, provincial and First Nations groups says divers found the lube tank torn and pumped out nothing but water on Sunday from the severely damaged bilge tank.

When the tug ran aground on Oct. 13, the lube tank contained about 2,400 litres of oil. The bilge tank was believed…

Stephen Poloz: Don't Sweat Deficits, Canada Can Handle It

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[As the graph shows, Canada's debt-to-GDP level of 33% is insignificant. No research suggests that levels under 100% can slow economic growth. Yet, in the interest of false balance (i.e., counter-factual ideological spin masquerading as fact), the author states that "others" (he doesn't say who) believe this spells trouble for the Canadian economy. *RON*]
Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post, 24 October 2016

The head of the Bank of Canada strongly suggested Sunday that he is just fine with the federal Liberals’ deficit spending plans.

“Canada is in a very good fiscal situation, so we shouldn’t be worrying about [deficits] at this time,” Stephen Poloz said in an interview with Global News on Sunday.

Poloz argued that Canada's infrastructure is falling behind, and further spending on it would be a boost to the economy.

It’s one of the clearest signs yet that Poloz is on board with the Liberals’ strategy to deficit-spend our way out …

Growing food with seawater and solar power

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[The world's first mass-scale facility that grows tomatoes without soil, fresh water, or fossil fuels launches in Australia. The counter-case, which Canadian politicians apparently think is impossible. *RON*]

Ryan Rifai, Al Jazeera, 19 October 2016
In a desert region of southern Australia is a farm that grows and supplies 15 percent of the entire country's tomatoes without using soil, fresh water or fossil fuels.

Earlier this month Sundrop Farms marked the launch of what it called the "first commercial-scale facility of this calibre in the world", which uses solar power to de-salinate seawater and operate greenhouses in order to grow more than 15,000 tonnes of the red fruit each year.

Their tomatoes are being sold in hundreds of markets across the country.

In a statement released on October 6, the company said that in comparison with conventional greenhouse farms, its "cutting-edge, sustainable technology" will save signi…

Four Harsh Truths for Canada’s Lovestruck Pipeline Politicians

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[Good piece! "A reality check for our bitumen-besotted leaders." *RON*]
By Andrew Nikiforuk,, 21 October 2016
Canadian politicians of nearly every stripe seem united, at the moment, in their adolescent professions of love for new pipelines. But love is blind, and in this case, blind to four tough truths about Canada’s dead-end relationship with bitumen.

Among leaders making their lovestruck pronouncements was Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi recently, who flew into B.C. and declared in all sincerity that pipelines shouldn’t be carrying the “sins of the carbon economy” and that we need more of them.

Major New Court Ruling Says “Even The President” Can’t Declare Torture Lawful

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[So, when can we expect charges to be laid, and against how many US presidents? Friday’s unanimous ruling by a panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates a lawsuit against the military contractor CACI. The suit charges CACI directed and participated in torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004, where it was hired by the U.S. to provide interrogation services. *RON*]

Alex Emmons, The Intercept, 21 October 2016
IN A ROBUST RULING in favor of Abu Ghraib detainees, an appellate court ruled Friday that torture is such a clear violation of the law that it is “beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful.”

The ruling from a unanimous panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates a lawsuit against a military contractor for its role in the torture of four men at the notorious prison in Iraq.

Last June, a district court ruled that a “cloud of ambiguity” surrounds the definition of tor…

Ruptured pipeline sends 55,000 gallons of gas into Susquehanna River tributary

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[But it could never happen here, right? Sunny Ways protect us, right? See also: After denying any spills, Duke Energy ordered to clean up spilled coal ash, or try Where Has the Waste Gone? Fracking Results in Illegal Dumping of Radioactive Toxins. *RON*]

Megan Trimble & Mark Scolforo, Associated Press / Chicago Tribune, 22 October 2016
WILLIAMSPORT — There has been little impact to the water supply so far from a pipeline that ruptured during a freak storm in Pennsylvania that sent nearly 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a creek tributary, officials said Saturday.

But authorities are continuing to monitor the water supplies that serve thousands of residents around Williamsport.

A storm late Thursday into Friday dumped up to 7 inches of rain on areas in western and central Pennsylvania, triggering mudslides, turning roads into rivers and sweeping away at least two homes. Hundreds more were damaged in Centre County, home to Penn State's main…