Showing posts from January 23, 2016

The Pentagon Has No Clue How Many Weapons It Has Lost to ISIS

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[That's just great: Iraq as a black hole for American arms. What an outstanding mess. Now let's send Trudeau over there to train them to use them. *RON*]

By Max J. Rosenthal, Mother Jones, 22 January 2016

For more than a decade, the United States has supplied huge quantities of weapons and military hardware to the Iraqi government—and a large chunk of that equipment has disappeared and landed in the hands of ISIS fighters and members of Iranian-backed Shiite militias responsible for massacring civilians. Everything from M-16s and bullets to Humvees and tanks have been lost. But neither the US nor Iraqi governments can say how much US-supplied materiel has been diverted to militant groups or how it's ending up there.

Losing weapons to extremists and insurgents has long been a problem for the US military and the Iraqi army, but it became more urgent after ISIS seized chunks of Iraq in 2014, overrunning Iraqi troops and sweeping up their …

The grand illusion of empowerment

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[Outside of purely silly places like Facebook (where people think they can "Like" their way to a better world), I don't strongly buy into the central thesis: "The internet gives people the impression that they have a voice but in most countries power remains firmly in the hands of the elite." People get it. That's why there is more protest; that's why no one votes. No one outside a small circle even used the word 'elite' 20 years ago. *RON*]

Gillian Tett, Financial Times, 22 January 2016

As the global elite converged on Davos this week, there were lots of eye-popping charts and statistics in circulation. To my mind, one of the most thought-provoking was to be found at the back of a World Economic Forum global risks report entitled “World Protest Intensity”.

This purports to show the level of social protest across the world. And while the chart is jagged (unsurprising, given the nature of political conflict), …

Who Poisoned Flint, Michigan?

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["It's amazing how hard they had to work to leave people in harm's way and all the lies they told." Shocking stuff. "General Motors announced it was discontinuing use of Flint water in one of its plants... So while the state was saying the water was still safe to drink, GM was saying it wasn't safe to be used on car pistons." A writer returns home to find a toxic disaster, giant government failure and countless children exposed to lead. *RON*]
By Stephen Rodrick, Rolling Stone, 22 January 2016

In Flint, Michigan, the feds and the state are investigating what one water expert calls one of the greatest American drinking-water disasters he's ever seen.

Mom moved my two sisters and me to the appropriately named town of Flushing on the outskirts of Flint, Michigan, in 1980. My dad had just been killed in a plane crash, and she reasoned my Flint uncle would serve as a surrogate father. That didn't happen; he was a …

‘Too Big to Fail’ Banks Thriving a Few Years After Financial Crisis

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[Near-record profits, less competition than ever, 'manageable' regulation despite their incessant growling and whining, and no one goes to jail. *RON*]

By William D. Cohan, New York Times, 22 January 2016

Nearly eight years after the onset of the financial crisis, its unintended consequences continue to startle and amaze.

For instance, who would have thought that many of the big European banks – among them Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS – would have new chief executives, two of whom are American, and be more or less in retreat from the global investment banking business?

Who would have thought that the big banks would pay nearly $200 billion in fines and other considerations to various branches of federal and state governments and that not a single top Wall Street executive would be held responsible for perpetrating the wrongdoing represented by those huge fines?

(The lone related exception is Kareem Serageldin, a former senio…

Right-wing newspapers take over media markets in four more cities

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[Is there hope for Canadian media? Canada ranks at first place among the G8 for the concentration of media ownership (i.e. oligopoly). If you have the option, please donate to support places like and the Vancouver Observer. The media should not be permitted to speak solely on behalf of the corporatocracy and the 1% *RON*]
By David Molenhuis,, 21 January 2016


First, the Halifax Chronicle Herald management locked out its workers. Then we learned that Global News is being sold to a company that specializes in children's entertainment. And now Postmedia, Canada's biggest news chain, has announced mass layoffs and a newsroom merger that puts Sun News editors at the helm of several respected local newspapers.

The free press in Canada is under attack.

Layoffs, lockouts and the forced resignations of many respected reporters, editors and photojournalists in recent days should be alarming. But you won't he…

B.C. Health Ministry Review Still Bogged Down, Four Years In

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[More on the shocking, highly politicized, lack of physician oversight in British Columbia. BC docs have been having things their own way since forever in BC, in exchange for strong Liberal political support, and they don't intend to see this change. *RON*]

Dermod Travis, Exec. Dir, Integrity BC, Huffington Post, 22 January 2016

Proving it's easier to announce an action plan than implement one, parts of the B.C. health ministry's 2011 plan "to strengthen physician hiring and oversight and enhance public confidence" remain bogged down to this day in consultations.

Following the plan's release, the ministry engaged KPMG "to conduct a review of systems and processes for the licensing, credentialing, privileging and performance management of all physicians across the province."

KPMG retained Toronto-based law firm Osborne Margo to undertake a legislative and regulatory review.

They detailed a litany of ills ailing the …

‘Public hearing minus the public’: Kinder Morgan review met with continued resistance

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[There's another rally today should you have the time, at The Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre, 4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby, at 1:00pm. The good people from the Dogwood Initiative are there every day during the hearings from 8:30am to 3:30pm. *RON*]
Byron Peters, The Mainlander, 22 January 2016

As part of a wave of anti-pipeline actions across BC this week, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) organized a march and rally on Tuesday outside the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre. Inside the hotel the National Energy Board (NEB) continued its review of Texas-based oil-giant Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline.

As the final oral arguments in the NEB hearing process began, the hotel’s ballroom was littered with empty chairs for an excluded populace. Outside the hotel, speakers included Grand Chief Stewart Phillip from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Audrey Siegl of the Musqueam Na…

Undoing the Tories: A complete guide to all the Harperisms that the Liberals might or have killed

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[There are actually many more issues than just these. It will take a long time to undo what Harper did and to repair the damage already done, but Harper was a man with a mission. *RON*]
Alexandra Heck, National Post, 21 January 2016
In the 79 days Justin Trudeau has been in office, his government has announced plans to revoke or change many of the policies of his predecessor, Stephen Harper. So far, the Liberals have reversed at least four “Harperisms.” The latest to fall is Canada’s tougher pardons system. On Thursday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced he would reverse changes that made getting a pardon for a criminal offense much more difficult.

Here is a list of the Harperisms Trudeau has targeted:
Changes to the Criminal Pardons system. The Harper government made changes to the system almost four years ago that made it significantly harder to get a pardon. The fees nearly quadrupled and applicants had to wait much longer to apply.