Showing posts from July 1, 2016

The plastic plague: Can our oceans be saved from environmental ruin?

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[On the North Pacific Gyre and microplastics: there will be more plastic than fish in oceans by 2050. *RON*]
Kieron Monks, CNN, 30 June 2016

Story highlights
An estimated eight million tons of plastic enter the oceans every yearThere will be more plastic than fish in oceans by 2050, experts say (CNN)The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has become the stuff of legend. This hotspot of marine waste, created by the spiral currents of the North Pacific Gyre, has been described as a floating trash island the size of Russia.

But when filmmaker Jo Ruxton visited the location, she found clear blue water, and a deep-rooted problem.

This Firm Avoids Taxes Abroad - And Ottawa Still Backs It

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["A Globe and Mail Report on Business profile described Gildan as the ultimate fruit of globalization. A firm that pays little tax, low wages and that employs the state to advance its reactionary international interests -- neoliberalism at its finest." *RON*]
Yves Engler, Huffington Post, 28 June 2016

Twenty-first century "Canadian" corporate capitalism is quite the racket.

Built with public subsidies, a Montréal firm can shift its "head office" to a tax haven and workforce abroad, but Ottawa will continue to use its diplomatic, economic and military might to advance the company's reactionary international interests.

As part of its coverage of the Panama Papers, the Toronto Star recently reported that Gildan Activewear paid a legally reduced 2.8 per cent tax rate on more than US$1.3 billion in declared income the last five years, and it's unclear if any of the apparel company's measly $37.9 million in tax wa…

U.S. Military White Paper Describes Wearing Hijan as “Passive Terrorism”

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[This is completely nuts. There is mounting hatred of The Other as the economy stays on the critical list, global and local inequality worsens, politics continue to polarize and everyone looks for someone to blame. See also: Ted Cruz Brings Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorist to Testify at Senate Hearing, and Sacramento Neo-Nazis Pledge to 'Defend' Trump Supporters at the Republican National Convention. *RON*]

Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, 23 February 2016

A POLICY PAPER issued by the Air Force Research Laboratory, titled Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies, includes a chapter setting forth controversial and unsubstantiated theories of radicalization, including the idea that support for militant groups is driven by “sexual deprivation” and that headscarves worn by Muslim women represent a form of “passive terrorism.”

The paper, first published in 2011, was reissued by the Air Force lab this past summer following…

Allegations of Vote Fraud Emerge in Spain

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[With such heated polarization in current politics there is a growing number of allegations of voting fraud. This story raises serious issues around the possible suppression of votes for Podemos (an anti-austerity party) in Spain. Likewise, though in the opposite political direction, we see this recent, unprecedented court order to overthrow and re-do the Austrian Presidential election: Austrian court orders do-over of presidential election. *RON*]

Posted by Mike Shedlock mishgea, Mish Talk, 29 June 2016

Exit polls in the Spanish election were not only wrong, they were wrong by mind-numbing amounts. United We Can was supposed to pick up seats. Instead it dropped by million votes.

Is this just another case of bad polls, or is something else happening?

Power to the people?

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[A worthwhile piece by Mary Beard on the EU Referendum and the long history of direct democracy. If you enjoy reading history her book SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome is thoroughly excellent. *RON*]

Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement, 29 June 2016

One of the most curious sub-plots on Referendum day was what quickly, and predictably, became known on social media as “pen-gate”. Groups of Brexit campaigners started to hand out pens in polling stations to replace the government-issued pencils with which voters are usually asked to make their cross. Their worry was that, somewhere along the electoral line, a pencil cross in the “Leave” box could easily be erased by those working on behalf of “the establishment”, and replaced with a vote for “Remain”. Police were apparently called to one polling station to investigate the potentially disruptive distribution of alternative voting instruments.

There is a tiny glimpse here of the edgy anxieties of Wester…

This Dutch town will grow its own food, live off-grid, and handle its own waste

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[It's a small-scale proof-of-concept: just 25 buildings, expanding eventually to 100. But it will prove some extremely important community-wide sustainability concepts if they pull it off. As the article says: Meet the "Tesla of eco-villages." *RON*]

Peter Dockrill, Science Alert, 26 May 2016

It's no secret that today's aggressive agricultural techniques can take a heavy toll on the environment, both on the land used for crops and livestock, and in the surrounding atmosphere.

But a new vision of a more sustainable 'integrated neighbourhood' community is being implemented in the Netherlands, with the first of a series of high-tech farm villages set to be completed next year. The project, being built just outside of Amsterdam, is the brainchild of California-based developer ReGen Villages, and after its pilot community is finished in 2017, the company plans to bring the concept to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany.

Court quashes Enbridge pipeline, slams Harper government for ignoring First Nations

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[An extremely harsh rebuke. In their ruling, the judges from the appeal court said Harper's government rushed the consultation process, with orders from the "highest level of government" directing that information of federal knowledge about the harmful impacts of the project "not be shared with any First Nation." *RON*]

By Mike De Souza, National Observer, 30 June 2016
In a stinging repudiation of former prime minister Stephen Harper's treatment of Canada's First Nations, the Federal Court of Appeal has asked the government to reconsider a 2014 decision to approve a major pipeline project to the west coast of British Columbia.

In a two to one decision made public on Thursday, the court agreed with the arguments of several First Nations, including the Gitxaala and the Haisla Nations, as well as environmental groups who triggered a legal war to block the Harper government's approval of Enbridge Inc.'s Northern…