Showing posts from December 8, 2016

Is Humanity Screwed?

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[On the seeming doom of the Syrian people - and what that says about the rest of us. "The big fear? Eager to execute a 'reset' in relations with Russia, Trump, the ultimate deal-maker, will, with the apparatus of the state at his disposal, rush a through a flawed deal that will grant Putin a guaranteed sphere of influence in exchange for a peace deal with Syria." *RON*]
Michael Bociurkiw, Huffington Post, 30 November 2016

Recently I muttered something -- to a British television correspondent -- that I've never said before: 'There's a temptation to say that we are screwed as humanity.'

We'd just attended a session at the annual Halifax International Security Forum on Syria that included as speakers Sen. John McCain, retired General John Allen and Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Minister of Defence. Their prognosis was as bad as it gets -- news just came in that all hospitals in eastern Aleppo had been knocked ou…

Your Filter Bubble is Destroying Democracy

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[Stop getting your news from Facebook! See Alex Carey (1995) Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty. *RON*]
Mostafa M. El-Barmaway, Wired, 18 November 2016

ON NOVEMBER 7, 2016, the day before the US election, I compared the number of social media followers, website performance, and Google search statistics of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I was shocked when the data revealed the extent of Trump’s popularity. He had more followers across all social platforms and his posts had much higher engagement rates. I noticed that the second most popular article shared on social media in the last six months with words “Donald Trump” in the headline, “Why I’m Voting For Donald Trump”, had been shared 1.5 million times. Yet that story never made it into my Facebook newsfeed. I asked many of my liberal New York friends, and they all said they never seen it.

The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters

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Paul Street, Counterpunch, 2 December 2016

[From Occupy Wallstreet to Ferguson to Standing Rock... to Vancouver? *RON*]

Soft Power, Hard Power

I’ve long been taken aback by the readiness of some leading left intellectuals to downplay the role of state violence in the enforcement of social hierarchy and class rule inside the United States. Perhaps you know the argument: thanks to the relative strength of the free speech tradition, outwardly democratic politics, and the related heroic struggles of activists from the abolitionists of the 19th century through the trade union and Civil Rights militants of the last century, the American power elite relies less on force than on “the manufacture of consent” to keep to the citizenry down. It’s called “taking the risk out of democracy” through the “soft power” of propaganda, spectacle, messaging, diversion and illusion: thought control. It comes with a great and brilliant irony: free speech, “democracy” – …

Climate change will stir 'unimaginable' refugee crisis, says military

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[By botching the response to both these issues, Trump pushes the world toward further destabilization and, potentially, war. Unchecked global warming is greatest threat to 21st-century security where mass migration could be ‘new normal’, say senior military. *RON*]
Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 1 December 2016
Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of “unimaginable scale”, according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the “new normal”.

Why proportional representation is doomed

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[PR will fail in Canada because centralized power politics is the default position when parties form government, especially regarding foreign affairs. *RON*]
Christopher Dunn, Policy Options, 7 December 2016

Proportional representation (PR) at the federal level in Canada is doomed. This is because national leadership in North Atlantic triangle countries (Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States) tend to centralize power, especially where external affairs are concerned. Electoral reform, at least in the direction of PR or semi-PR systems, tends to decentralize it. This elemental contradiction is potentially fatal to the PR reformers in Canada. Where external relations are concerned, centralized power is the default stance for politicians once they gain power. The ability to speak with one voice internationally would be compromised by successive coalition governments, which PR tends to produce. This point is generally ignored. It shou…

Western North Dakota oil pipeline shut down after spill

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[A crude oil pipeline in western North Dakota, 200 miles from the Water Protectors in Standing Rock, has been shut down following a leak that spilled oil into a creek. One report estimates more than 20,000 barrels have ben released, covering an area the size of seven football fields. *RON*]
By Reuters Media, Deleuth News Tribune, 6 December 2016

The size of Monday's leak and extent of the spill were not yet known. It occurred as Native Americans, climate activists and other protesters camped about 200 miles away, at the site of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline project over concerns a leak there could contaminate the water supply.