Showing posts from January 29, 2016

Will the 2016 Primaries Be Electronically Rigged?

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[The article has a somewhat breathless, paranoid tone - but they provide a great deal of data. Also, follow the link they provide to the extremely interesting article demonstrating that "Over many decades, US elections have been quietly outsourced to a small group of private voting machine companies, some with extreme partisan ties and criminal records." *RON*]

By Victoria Collier and Ben Ptashnik, Truthout, 28 January 2016
"You've heard the old adage 'follow the money.' I follow the vote, and wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to ... make bad things happen." — Steve Stigall, CIA cyber-security expert, in remarks to the US Election Assistance Commission Primary election rigging in the coming weeks and months is all but assured if American voters and candidates don't take steps to prevent it now. Evidence that US voting system…

Long Before Helping Flint, Michigan Officials Were Shipping Clean Water to Their Own Workers

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[This, according to newly released emails that "blow a hole in the governor's timeline for when they knew or started to have concerns about Flint water. They were helping state employees while telling everyone else that there was nothing to worry about." *RON*]

—By Julia Lurie, Mother Jones, 28 January 2016

According to newly discovered emails, Michigan officials were trucking clean water to a state building in Flint in January 2015, long before they acknowledged to residents that the city had a contamination problem.
One of the emails, which were obtained by the group Progress Michigan, was sent from the state Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. It reads, "While the City of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and wi…

Trudeau's Handling Of The Saudi Arms Deal Will Define His Legacy

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["The fact remains that the government has not once explained how the Saudi deal satisfies the human rights safeguards of the existing export control regime." An official statement from Foreign Affairs stated: "Should we become aware of reports that would be relevant to Canada's export control regime, the government can consider whether existing permits should be suspended or cancelled." "Yet there are at least a dozen existing relevant reports." *RON*]
Cesar Jaramillo, Huffington Post, 28 January 2016

In an apparent and welcome reversal, Ottawa seems to be reconsidering its position on the $15-billion contract for Canadian-made military equipment with Saudi Arabia -- one of the worst human rights violators in the world.

Only days after Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion seemed to signal the irreversibility of the contract, declaring emphatically that "what is done is done," an official statement from…

Goodbye longstanding Canadian cultural policy, hello TPP regulations

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[Do take a look at the series on the Trouble with the TPP if you want more information on this truly terrible so-called trade deal. "Why did Canada depart from longstanding cultural policy in the TPP? I asked Global Affairs Canada for answers several times over the past week, but did not receive a response" *RON*]
By Michael Geist,, 28 January 2016

Problems? Oh, the Trans-Pacific Partnership has a few! Read about them all in the new series The Trouble with the TPP.

Culture and the TPP has yet to garner much attention, but that is a mistake. The TPP departs from longstanding Canadian policy by not containing a full cultural exception and creates unprecedented restrictions on policies to support the creation of Canadian content. The Canadian position on trade and culture has been consistent for decades with successive governments requiring a full exemption for the cultural industries. The exemption, which is found in ag…

Riverview real estate job is posted: MLA questions gov’t intentions

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[Why, on a matter as large and important as the Riverview grounds, is it considered acceptable for neither the Minister responsible nor the CEO for BC Housing to be available for comment? *RON*]

Gary McKenna, Tri City News, 28 January 2016

Consultations may still be underway for the future of the Riverview Hospital lands but that’s not stopping BC Housing from hiring a project co-ordinator to “manage the real estate development activities” for the 244-acre site.

According to the job description posted on BC Housing’s website last month and again on on Jan. 23, the successful applicant will provide expertise on the development of multi-unit residential social housing, supportive housing and affordable rental housing.

The closing date for applications is Feb. 14 — two days after the deadline for public feedback on a draft plan for the site entitled A Vision for Renewing Riverview.

And the posting has a local NDP MLA asking questions.

“I …

NDP to release new energy royalty framework at week's end -- brace yourself for Apocalypse Friday!

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[Zee poop is about to hit zee fan. I suspect we'll see what Climenhaga predicts: a framework that will allow royalties to increase when oil prices rise again. There will, of course, be some who are more than ready to go to war over even this. *RON*]
By David J. Climenhaga,, 28 January 2016

Brace yourself for a storm of hostility from many of the usual suspects on Friday when Premier Rachel Notley finally releases the province's new royalty framework, based on the report and recommendations of the Royalty Review Advisory Panel headed by Dave Mowat, CEO of Crown-owned ATB Financial.

The panel was announced last June by Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, not quite two months after the election of a New Democratic Party majority government, in fulfillment of an election promise.

Since then, the Wildrose Opposition led by Brian Jean has fought a bitter rear-guard action against the idea of any change to Alberta's royalty str…

Portugal's Government Hangs Tough on Ending Austerity

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[The pressure is on the Mediterranean governments, and they are caught between Berlin and their own voters. See also: Portugal workers stage strike for quicker end to austerity. *RON*]

By Barry Hatton, Associated Press / ABC News, 29 January 2016

Portugal's prime minister said Friday he will seek to accommodate European authorities' concerns about his government's spending plan for this year, but won't give up his promise to end austerity in the country.

Antonio Costa told Parliament his government will be "constructive" in talks with the European Commission. At the same time he said he will "stay faithful" to his recent election pledge of switching the government's focus from debt reduction to economic growth and job creation.

European authorities want Portugal to keep cutting spending. The aim is to reduce the debt burden that forced Portugal to ask for a 78 billion-euro ($85 billion) bailout in 2011. In ret…

It’s not just Flint: Poor communities across the country live with ‘extreme’ polluters

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[Major polluters pitch their tents in poor communities of colour, where they are most likely to get away with it. *RON*]

By Chris Mooney, Washington Post, 27 January 2016
As national attention focuses on Flint, Mich. — where lead-contaminated water flowed for over a year to a relatively poor, minority community — new research suggests that across the U.S., communities like these are more likely to be exposed to some of the most intense pollution.

In a new paper just out in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters, sociologist Mary Collins of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and two colleagues from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and the University of Maryland examined what they term “hyper-polluters”: Industrial facilities that, based on EPA data, generate disproportionately large amounts of air pollution. Then, they cross-referenced the location of these facilities with…