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Showing posts from January 1, 2016

From cattle raiders to heavy rains: Kenya’s displaced families under threat

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[Many articles have been written predicting how climate change will lead to escalating global violence, but these have largely been poo-pooed as 'alarmist.' Here is an illustration of how this is already happening. See also: Had enough meteorological mayhem? Sorry, thanks to El Niño, things are likely to get even worse. *RON*]
by Rachel Muthoni, African Arguments, 31 December 2015

In Baringo country, the impacts of climate change have been devastating. Droughts have exacerbated cattle raiding, while now heavy rains threaten to wash away makeshift homes.

Travelling from Nairobi to Baringo county in Kenya’s Rift Valley may seem a smooth journey to begin with. The roads are decent and flanked by beautiful scenes of lakes and hills. But on reaching Baringo South, the landscape changes dramatically, demonstrating the harshness of Mother Nature and the devastating effects of climate change on this vulnerable region.

2015 has been another dry y…

Entire Florida Police Dept Busted Laundering Tens of Millions for International Drug Cartels

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[Happy New Year everyone, from the War On Drugs... "They were like bank robbers with badges." Mafia organization or police department? Hard to tell. *RON]
By Justin GardnerThe Free Thought Project / AlterNet, 31 December 2015

Bal Harbour, FL – The village of Bal Harbour, population 2,513, may have a tiny footprint on the northern tip of Miami Beach, but its police department had grand aspirations of going after international drug traffickers, and making a few million dollars while they were at it.

The Bal Harbour PD and the Glades County Sheriff’s Office set up a giant money laundering scheme with the purported goal of busting drug cartels and stemming the surge of drug dealing going on in the area. But it all fell apart when federal investigators and the Miami-Herald found strange things going on.

The two-year operation, which took in more than $55 million from criminal groups, resulted in zero arrests but netted $2.4 million for the p…

U.S. Oil Prices End 2015 Down 30% for the Year

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[Ongoing self-inflicted market failure. Oil prices actually went up a wee bit, but the stupidly-maintained supply glut continued to cap gains. Of course the US business reader comments are priceless and predictable: "Its just nice being able to turn the radio off, put my foot on the pedal and listen to my V-8." And, of course: More job cuts expected for oil workers in 2016. *RON*]

By Nicole Friedman, Wall Street Journal, 31 December 2015

NEW YORK—Oil prices capped a second year as one of the worst-performing commodities, as a global glut of crude continued to weigh on the market.

After plunging from more than $100 a barrel to nearly $50 a barrel last year, U.S. oil prices fell 30% in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 35% to $37.28 a barrel.

U.S. prices posted a second straight annual loss for the first time since 1998. Brent prices fell for a third straight year.

Robust production from U.S. shale-oil fields pus…

On "On Inequality": Where Does Inequality Come From?

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[Margarik argues well that inequality has been bolstered by 'centrist progressives' who have shifted the political dialogue away from equality to poverty reduction - a little like the 'leave oil in the ground' versus adaptationist debates among environmentalists. *RON*]


Raphael Magarik, Los Angeles Review of Books, 23 December 2015

WHEN ASKED TO NAME her proudest accomplishment, former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher quipped, “New Labour.” She was right. The Thatcherite revolution of the 1980s not only physically but also ideologically dismantled the British social welfare state. In particular, centrist liberals jettisoned their party’s goal of economic equality in favor of the more modest goal of alleviating poverty. Tony Blair changed the infamous Clause IV of the British Labour party constitution, with its aspiration “to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equi…

Hillary Clinton was told Angela Merkel is against 'Obama phenomenon'

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[Characteristically, Clinton's long-hidden emails get released on New Year's Eve to garner minimal attention. Note that this still isn't everything that was demanded by year's end: State Department misses court-ordered goal on Clinton email release. Some interesting bits and pieces in general. Merkel appears to dislike the showmanship around Obama's public presentation, and she herself, not just her advisers, really does seem to be a strong neoliberal ideologue. And Clinton doesn't travel in FUBAR circles! :-) *RON*]

David Smith, The Guardian, 1 January 2016

Hillary Clinton was informed that German chancellor Angela Merkel is hostile to the “Obama phenomenon” and finds it “contrary to her whole idea of politics”, according to a newly released batch of emails from her time as secretary of state.

Sidney Blumenthal, a former White House official and close confidante of the Clintons, sent her a memo on 30 September 2009 about …

Peter Munk, Barrick Gold Corp. Founder, Admits Donating More Than Legal Limit To Tories

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[The corporatocracy and the Conservatives: no surprise here. While this is a criminal offense, Munk basically signs an agreement with Elections Canada to not get caught in future. *RON*]
By Stephanie Levitz, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 31 December 2015

OTTAWA — Mining magnate and philanthropist Peter Munk has admitted he donated more than the legal limit to the Conservative party three different times.

Munk, the founder of mining giant Barrick Gold Corp., signed a compliance agreement with Elections Canada earlier this month, acknowledging that in 2008, 2010 and 2012 his donations exceeded the maximum allowable contributions in those years.

In total, he donated $2,950 more than the law allowed to riding associations in Ontario and Quebec represented by Conservative cabinet ministers as well as to a Conservative candidate's campaign in Toronto.
While breaking election donation limits could lead to criminal charges, Munk will not be charged…

The new history of slavery and capitalism

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[On slavery and the corporatocracy: slavery’s legacy can be seen plainly in the annual reports of corporate entities whose stock prices depend on the number of black people in prison. *RON*]

Joshua D Rothman, Aeon, 31 December 2015

Dr. Rothman is a professor of history and the director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama. His latest book is Flush Times and Fever Dreams: A Story of Capitalism and Slavery in the Age of Jackson (2012).

​Questions about the relationship between slavery and capitalism in the United States have animated historians for nearly a century, and they have never really been resolved. Where some scholars have argued that profit motives, entrepreneurialism and market relations defined American slavery, others have insisted just as emphatically that the slave society of the southern states lacked a truly free labour market and precluded the cultivation of bourgeois valuesand the develo…

Turkish presidency says Erdogan's Hitler comments misconstrued

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[Global Trump-ism is in the rise evidently. *RON*]

By Asli Kandemir & Nick Tattersall, Reuters, 1 January 2016

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The Turkish presidency said on Friday comments by President Tayyip Erdogan about the system of governance in Hitler's Germany had been misinterpreted and that he had not suggested it was an example of an effective presidential system.

Asked on his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia late on Thursday whether an executive presidency was possible in Turkey while maintaining the unitary structure of the state, Erdogan said: "There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler's Germany.

"There are later examples in various other countries," he told reporters, according to a recording broadcast by the Dogan news agency.