Showing posts from February 4, 2016

Compared With Other Rich Countries, the United States Is Pretty Bad at Fighting Poverty

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[It's not a bug, it's a feature. *RON*]
By Jordan Weissmann, Slate, 3 February 2016.
The United States has been wrestling with how best to eliminate poverty ever since the days of Lyndon Johnson. The solution, however, isn't really all that complicated: If people don't have money, you give it to them. The U.S. cut elder poverty by about half in the late 1960s and early 1970s by expanding Social Security. And today, in the richer corners of Europe and the English-speaking world, governments use straightforward redistribution to keep their poverty levels well below ours.

Here's an illustration of that point, based on 2010 Luxembourg Income Study dataincluded in the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality's most recent “State of the Union Report.” If you only measure by market incomes—earnings before taxes and government benefits, shown in blue—the U.S. has a slightly lower poverty rate than most other similarly wealthy nati…

Why are Americans so angry?

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[Notice how this article defines non-Whites as "migrants." As though White people are never migrants and non-White people always are, by definition somehow. *RON*]
By Vanessa Barford, BBC News, 4 February 2016

Americans are generally known for having a positive outlook on life, but with the countdown for November's presidential election now well under way, polls show voters are angry. This may explain the success of non-mainstream candidates such as Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders. But what is fuelling the frustration?

A CNN/ORC poll carried out in December 2015 suggests 69% of Americans are either "very angry" or "somewhat angry" about "the way things are going" in the US.

And the same proportion - 69% - are angry because the political system "seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington," according to a NBC/Wall …

Morocco to switch on first phase of world's largest solar plant

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[Time to stop saying "It can't be done." Desert complex will provide electricity for more than 1 million people when complete, helping African country to supply most of its energy from renewables by 2030. See also Paul Krugman's Going Green, For Real*RON*]

Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 4 February 2016 Morocco’s king will switch on the first phase of a concentrated solar power plant on Thursday that will become the world’s largest when completed.

The power station on the edge of the Saharan desert will be the size of the country’s capital city by the time it is finished in 2018, and provide electricity for 1.1 million people.

Noor 1, the first section at the town of Ouarzazate, provides 160 megawatts (MW) of the ultimate 580MW capacity, helping Morocco to save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

“At around 2pm, the king will press a button, the parabolic mirrors will start turning, the heat will begin t…

Great Bear Rainforest Hunting Negotiations To Cost BC First Nations Millions

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[Which do the Liberals hate more, Aboriginals or wildlife? I hate to say "I knew it!" but, I knew it! "Effectively, she announced nothing," said Pacific Wild co-founder Ian McAllister. "She wished non-profits like ourselves and the Coastal First Nations good luck with purchasing the remaining licences. It's unaffordable. This really should be coming from the province." *RON*]
By Dirk Meissner, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 4 February 2016
VICTORIA — New information reveals ending the trophy hunt for grizzly bears in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest will cost millions of dollars, and in the meantime hunters will still be able to set their sights on the bruins.

Premier Christy Clark announced a landmark deal earlier this week to limit logging and end the commercial grizzly hunt on the central coast, which is home to rare, white spirit bears and 1000-year-old cedar forests.

First Nations, environme…

Three months into the Trudeau Era, how can progressives best fight for a better Canada?

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[Quite an excellent bit of strategic thinking. *RON*]
By Dru Oja Jay,, 3 Feburary 2016

A quarter of a year ago, the Canadian electorate managed to dump the Conservatives, delivering a dramatic victory to the Liberal party. While the choruses of "give him a chance" haven't quite faded away and significant opposition has yet to mount, it's a good moment to take stock of the Trudeau-led government's mode of operation and objectives, and what that means for hopes for progressive policies to address climate change and wealth inequality in the 3.75 years remaining in the current term.

Trudeau's intentions are unknowable. Depending on our perspective, what's going on in Trudeau's mind can be anything: from a blank slate onto which we project our desires to a Jesus complex. His values could be anything between a somewhat progressive down-to-earth man of the people trying his best and a nefarious elitist agent of …

Liberals open to consulting -- and ignoring -- Canadians on TPP

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[This excellent video originally appeared in the Toronto Star. See also: Canada caves on controversial trademark infringement extension in TPP, as well as Why I still worry about auto job losses under a TPP. *RON*]
By Scott Vrooman,, 3 February 2016

Trade minister Chrystia Freeland announced that Canada will sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, but made clear that it would not come into force until it was ratified in Parliament. They'll say their vows, but they won't say "I do" until Canadians get a chance to speak up or forever hold their peace.
But they can only speak up with a yes or no because the Liberals said they won't renegotiate this deal that the Conservatives negotiated in secret. So it's like having a ballot with only two options, except it's different than a ballot in that nobody has to count it.

B.C. First Nations Health Authority Is Flawed: Auditor General

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[Disappointing but not surprising. Unemployment is high and nepotism is deeply ingrained in Aboriginal culture. "While the health authority had established an accountability and governance model, the report said it didn't meet its own requirements... A policy requiring staff to disclose whether they had conflicts of interest involving personal or family relationship was not followed even though such disclosure was a condition of employment, the report said." *RON*]
By Camille Bains, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 2 February 2016
VANCOUVER — The First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia has numerous problems with executive hiring, compensation and conflict of interest, a report by Canada's auditor general says.

Michael Ferguson's office was conducting a study of the health authority in the fall of 2014 when it received an anonymous letter outlining several allegations including workplace misconduct by senior offi…

Violence breaks out at Athens protest over pension reforms

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["...tens of thousands marched to the Greek Parliament during a general strike called to protest planned pension reforms... Dozens of hooded anarchists threw petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades... Overall, police said about 40,000 people took part" See also: Greece's Economy Is Getting Crushed Between Austerity And The Refugee Crisis. *RON*]

Associated Press, CTV News, 4 February 2016

ATHENS, Greece -- Sporadic clashes broke out in central Athens Thursday as tens of thousands marched to the Greek Parliament during a general strike called to protest planned pension reforms that are part of the country's third international bailout.

Dozens of hooded anarchists threw petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Police said a journalist was attacked by rioters and taken to hospital but was not in serious condition.

Overall, police said about…