Showing posts from January 6, 2016

Activists in Pacific Northwest Face Off Against Largest Oil-By-Rail Terminal in North America

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[Not this Vancouver, the other one! *RON*]

By Martha Baskin, Truthout, 6 January 2016
Vancouver, Washington - Stand on the banks of the mighty Columbia River, and in the foggy mist of a Pacific Northwest winter, you may miss the rail tracks that lie on both of its banks. The panoramic vista will give you a sense of why front-line communities have long vowed to protect it from being expanded into a high-volume fossil-fuel corridor, years before Congress lifted the ban on US crude oil exports in late 2015.

The Columbia, which rises in the Canadian Rockies and flows on a long southern journey before it empties into the Pacific Ocean, has been central to the region's culture and economy for thousands of years. Its salmon runs were sacred to Columbia River basin Indigenous tribes. Its scenic beauty has been protected in national parks and wildlife refuges. Its energy has been captured for hydropower, irrigation and shipping. The first railroad cam…

Trudeau offers an email address to hear from you on the TPP

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[Democracy or corporatocracy? Everything is not coming up roses on the Trudeau front. *RON*]
By Brent Patterson,, 6 January 2016

On Oct. 5, during this past federal election, Justin Trudeau issued a statement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) promising, "If the Liberal Party of Canada earns the honour of forming a government after October 19th, we will hold a full and open public debate in Parliament to ensure Canadians are consulted on this historic trade agreement."

The Council of Canadians has stated that this should mean a full public review including a comprehensive and independent analysis of the TPP text by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (that would assess the deal's impact on human rights, health, employment, environment and democracy), public hearings in each province and territory, and separate and meaningful consultations with First Nations. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has highlighted that, …

Some of the most conservative states rely most on federal government aid

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[Like angry teenagers rebelling against all parental constraint except their allowances. *RON*]

By Niraj Chokshi, Washington Post, 6 January 2016

They staunchly oppose federal meddling, but conservative states are among the most reliant on federal funding for revenues.

US Corporate Media Amplifies Saudi PR Machine

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[The Intercept's Zaid Jilani says the Saudi Arabian government has been able to present its point of view free of any challenge in the western mainstream media. See also: The Nation That Executed 47 People In 1 Day Sits On The U.N. Human Rights Council. *RON*]

Sharmini Peries and Zaid Jilani, Real News Network, 5 January 2016

Saudi Arabia's execution of 47 people, including prominent Shia cleric and dissident Nimr al-Nimr, has flared up a diplomatic crisis in the region. But then here in the United States, a well-funded Saudi public relations apparatus moved in quickly to shape how it was being covered in the United States. This included expert analysis provided for us by major publications such as the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and Politico; essentially, that some of their commentators were cited without disclosing their ties to the Saudi government, says the Intercept in an article titled After Executing Regime Critic, S…

Oil prices crash to 11-year low

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[Jitters over global overproduction take toll on benchmark Brent crude, fuelling a third successive day of losses. Chinese demand is dropping even faster than expected, "while producing countries continue to pump crude flat out." *RON*]
Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 6 January 2016
The price of North Sea oil has crashed to its lowest level in 11 years as traders fretted about global overproduction.

The benchmark Brent blend traded down 2% at $34.83 a barrel, bringing a third day of losses but lower potential petrol costs for motorists.

Gloomy economic news from China has soured expectations about stronger oil demand while producing countries continue to pump crude flat out.

Analysts believe the value of oil is likely to fall further. This is despite fresh political tensions in the Middle East involving Saudi Arabia and Iran, which would usually push up prices.

“With the lack of a strong upward catalyst on the horizon, we are not out of the…

Composer Pierre Boulez dies at 90

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[The generation of conductors I grew up with (Boulez was also a composer) is very nearly extinct. *RON*]

BBC World News, 6 January 2016
French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez has died at the age of 90.

His family said the world-renowned musician died on Tuesday at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany.

"For all those who met him and were able to appreciate his creative energy, his artistic vigour... will remain alive and strong," they said.

As well as being a world-famous composer and conductor he was a prolific writer and pianist and head of the music venue The Paris Philharmonic.

Boulez was also the founder and former director of the Paris based Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique and was famed for his work alongside leading experimental composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Olivier Messiaen.

Refugee influx helps halt decline in Germany's population

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[Germany's population is growing again although longer-term trends still point to a decline – and the need for continued high levels of immigration. *RON*]
Alberto Nardelli, The Guardian, 6 January 2016
Germany’s population is no longer shrinking. Four consecutive years of increasingly high net migration have outpaced the country’s birth deficit, taking the country’s population to nearly 82 million people – a level last seen in 2009.

North Korea says it carried out H-bomb test; experts cast doubts

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[Pop go the weasels. "An estimated explosive yield of 6.0 kilotons and a quake with a magnitude of 4.8 (the U.S. reported 5.1) were detected... Even a failed H-bomb detonation typically yields tens of kilotons... A miniaturized H-bomb can trigger a weak quake, but only the U.S. and Russia have such H-bombs, " *RON*]
Foster Klug, Associated Press / CTV News, 6 January 2016

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- Soon after the ground shook around its nuclear testing facility, North Korea trumpeted its first hydrogen bomb test -- a powerful, self-proclaimed "H-bomb of justice" that would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

Pyongyang's announcement Wednesday was met with widespread skepticism, but whatever the North detonated in its fourth nuclear test, another round of tough international sanctions looms for the defiant, impoverished country.

The test likely pushed Pyongyang's scientists and …