Showing posts from February 21, 2016

US election 2016: Jeb Bush drops out of Republican race

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[I went to sleep early last night and missed this -- you can bet they're partying hearty in Iraq! ;-) See also: Wealthy donors drawn to Rubio White House bid after Bush drops out. Of course, this is as well as, gulp: Trump wins South Carolina primary, opening clear path to nomination. *RON*]

BBC World News, 21 February 2016

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has dropped out of the Republican race for US president after failing to rank high in the first three state contests.

He came a distant fourth in Saturday's South Carolina vote, which was won by billionaire estate mogul Donald Trump.

"Today I am suspending my campaign," an emotional Mr Bush told his supporters.

Once a favourite mainstream candidate for the Republicans - and brother and son to two US presidents - Mr Bush saw his campaign flag in recent months.

Arbitration as Wealth Transfer

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[So long, rule of law, it's been good to know ya. Arbitration clauses in contracts are the latest step toward creating a banana republic and are part of the general crapification of life under the corporatocracy. They bind the parties to seek resolution outside of the courts, thus basically nullifying our entire system of laws. *RON*]

Deepak Gupta and Lina Khan, American Constitution Society Issue Brief, 18 February 2016.

ACS is pleased to release “Arbitration as Wealth Transfer” by Deepak Gupta, Founding Principal of Gupta Wessler PLLC and former Senior Counsel at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Lina Khan, J.D. Candidate at Yale Law School and Fellow at New America.

The trend toward circumventing courts in favor of arbitration, abetted by increasingly consolidated corporate power and a business-friendly Supreme Court, is literally taking money from the pockets of the middle class and working poor. That’s the conclusion Gupta a…

The Kochs Are Plotting A Multimillion-Dollar Assault On Electric Vehicles

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[Squaring off against Elon Musk: a new group could spend $10 million a year on the campaign. See also: The Koch Brothers’ New Brand at the NY Review of Books . *RON*]
Peter Stone, Huffington Post, 19 February 2016

The oil and gas industry may have thought it had killed the electric car, but sales -- boosted by generous government subsidies -- rose dramatically between 2010 and 2014, and energy giants are worried the thing may have come back to life.

Time to kill it again.

A new group that's being cobbled together with fossil fuel backing hopes to spend about $10 million dollars per year to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles, according to refining industry sources familiar with the plan. A Koch Industries board member and a veteran Washington energy lobbyist are working quietly to fund and launch the new advocacy outfit.

‘Black Sludge’ Pours Out Of Texas Town’s Faucets Days After FBI Arrests Nearly Every City Official

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[Banana Republic; collapse of empire; unseemly obfuscation. Take your pick. *RON*]

By Alex Zielinsk, Think Progress, 19 February 2016
Oily black liquid is coming out of residential faucets in the rural Texas town of Crystal City, and no one is sure who to alert. That’s because twelve days ago, the FBI arrested all but one the top elected officials in town for their involvement in an illegal gambling ring and immigrant smuggling.

The murky water force local schools to close early on Thursday, a decision made by the school district Superintendent Imelda Allen.

“There’s not really anyone in charge to oversee and to make people aware of the condition of the water. So I wasn’t going to wait for anyone to call me from City Hall. I know that leadership is not present at the time,” Allen said.

This ship is bigger than an aircraft carrier and has as much power as 900 cars

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[If you ever get the time try reading Rose George's (2013) Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate. It's quite the eye-opener. *RON*]

William Fierman, Business Insider, 19 February 2016

The largest container ship to ever call at a United States port, the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, just pulled into Long Beach, CA for its second visit to the US.

It's big: longer than an American aircraft carrier and more than 20 stories tall, the ship is capable of carrying 18,000 twenty-foot containers.

According to the French shipping company's website,the ship has a latest-generation engine "as powerful as 900 Ford Focus cars[,] and her 21 knots thrust is equivalent to that of 11 Boeing 747-400 engines."

Military’s counter-intelligence unit considered Valentine’s Day MMIW vigils source of potential ‘extremism’

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[As a book-end to the piece on Aboriginal people in Canada's criminal justice system. There's a link to the full report below, though about 90% of it is censored out. *RON*]

Jorge Barrera, APTN News, 19 February 2016

Read a related report on military surveillance of Akwesasne

The Canadian military’s counter-intelligence unit considered the yearly Valentine’s Day vigils for murdered and missing Indigenous women as a potential source for “extremism” and “civil unrest,” according to a document released to APTN National News.

The heavily redacted, seven-page counterintelligence report compiled by the Canadian Forces National Counterintelligence Unit was obtained under the Access to Information Act.

The Threat information Collection report focused on a time frame from Jan. 6 to Feb. 5, 2015, included Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta as its geographical coverage area and used information from 27 sources.

The report was compiled “i…

Canada’s prisons are the ‘new residential schools’

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[A depressing and discouraging litany. A months-long investigation reveals that at every step, Canada’s justice system is set against Indigenous people. *RON*]

Nancy Macdonald, Macleans, 18 February 2016

Canada’s crime rate just hit a 45-year low. It’s been dropping for years—down by half since peaking in 1991. Bizarrely, the country recently cleared another benchmark, when the number of people incarcerated hit an all-time high. Dig a little further into the data, and an even more disquieting picture emerges.

While admissions of white adults to Canadian prisons declined through the last decade, Indigenous incarceration rates were surging: Up 112 per cent for women. Already, 36 per cent of the women and 25 per cent of men sentenced to provincial and territorial custody in Canada are Indigenous—a group that makes up just four per cent of the national population. Add in federal prisons, and Indigenous inmates account for 22.8 per cent of the total inc…

Five Things to Look Out for When You Fly With Air Koryo, the World's Worst Airline

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[Just struck my funny bone! The mystery-meat burger!! :-) *RON*]

Bloomberg News, 18 February 2016

Change is in the air in North Korea. After years of being ranked by Skytrax as the world's worst airline, national carrier Air Koryo is undergoing a revolution, according to interviews with passengers and travel agents.

New planes, new in-flight entertainment options, smart new uniforms for the cabin attendants, even business class. It's all part of supreme leader Kim Jong Un's effort to boost tourist numbers 20-fold to 2 million by 2020 and supplement the nation's meager foreign exchange.

Here are five reasons to book your ticket now, before the thrill of flying the world's only one-star airline vanishes forever. (And as long as you don't mind helping fund Kim's nuclear-weapons program.)