Showing posts from June, 2017

Today's Trumpery


Canada Ponders an Unusual Drug Problem: a Shortage of Marijuana

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[Ontario finance minister warns of looming pot supply crunch. Trudeau team favors low tax rate to undercut black market. *RON*]
Josh Wingrove & Jen Skerritt, Bloomberg, 23 June 2017
The biggest challenge for Justin Trudeau’s forthcoming legal recreational marijuana market is a shortage of pot, the finance minister of Canada’s most-populous province says.

Ontario’s Charles Sousa said a supply crunch was discussed during a meeting with provincial and federal counterparts this week. Canada is aiming to legalize recreational pot in the next 12 months, the first major economy to do so. One analyst said he’s concerned the government could use a supply shortage as an excuse to delay rolling out the program.

“Ultimately the biggest problem that appears after today’s discussion is one of supply,” Sousa said in an interview this week. Finance ministers were told demand is “quite high” for marijuana already in Canada, he said. “So we want to make certai…

One politician’s solution to the overdose problem: Let addicts die

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[The sweet humanity of American politics. Probable second degree murder couched as 'out of the box thinking.' This seems to me to be a far more effective way of destroying the US government than a few fake election stories out of Russia. *RON*]

Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, 28 June 2017

Under a plan by a city council member in Ohio, people who dial 911 seeking help for someone who's overdosing on opioids may start hearing something new from dispatchers: “No.”

In response to the opioid epidemic that swept the nation — including the small city of Middletown,population 50,000 — council member Dan Picard has floated an idea that has been called more of “a cry of frustration” than a legitimate solution.

At a council meeting last week, Picard proposed a three-strikes-style policy for people who repeatedly overdose: Too many overdoses and authorities wouldn't send an ambulance to resuscitate them.

Picard told The Washington Pos…

Helicopter Drops Grenades On Venezuelan Supreme Court

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[Just a short bit from National Public Radio. No one really knows what this is about yet. But some government critics suspect that President Maduro faked the attack to give him an excuse for a military security crackdown: Venezuela hunts rogue helicopter attackers, Maduro foes suspicious. *RON*]

Rachael Martin, National Public Radio, 28 June 2017
In Venezuela, a helicopter dropped grenades on the Supreme Court building in the latest wave of turmoil to hit the country.


The chaos in Venezuela now extends to the skies over the capital. Yesterday a helicopter appeared over Caracas. Someone inside allegedly opened fire on a government building, and people took cell phone video as the pilot dropped what appeared to be hand grenades.



All of this happened on an afternoon when pro-government protesters surrounded the National Assembly. Tanks were spotted driving around the presidential p…

Canada's big banks admit they overcharged customers — what went wrong?

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[Banksters. All of them claim it was just a big mistake and no senior managers had any idea it was happening; yet every single one of them was routinely overcharging. Do you believe that? See also: Is your bank ripping you off? Would you even know? *RON*]
Sophia Harris, CBC News, 28 June 2017
On Tuesday, Royal Bank was the last of Canada's five big banks to get slapped with a multi-million dollar penalty for charging customers excess fees for investment products like mutual funds. In some cases, clients were unknowingly overcharged for more than a decade.

The bank will reimburse affected customers $21.8 million worth of investment fees and pay $975,000 to the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to cover the investigation and other charges.

'Every [big] bank was doing it.'— Robb Engen, financial adviser

"We sincerely regret these errors. When we became aware of them, we quickly notified the OSC and took immediate steps to ensu…

B.C. NDP to form government after confidence vote

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["The new premier and his cabinet will likely be sworn in by the end of July." Thank goodness for that! Another election this soon would have been a widely disliked waste of time and money. See also: Only 15% of B.C. residents want a new election. 55% want NDP and Green Party to form government. It is even true that only a minority of Liberals wanted another election: Just over one-quarter of British Columbians want a snap election: poll. *RON*]
James Keller, Justine Hunter & Mike Hager, Canadian Press / The Globe & Mail, 29 June 2017
The NDP and Greens joined forces to vote down British Columbia’s Liberal government, placing the fate of the legislature in the hands of the Lieutenant-Governor

British Columbia’s Lieutenant-Governor has asked the New Democrats to form government, ending 16 years of Liberal rule after a confidence vote in the legislature.

Premier Christy Clark’s resignation ends the political uncertainty that has h…

Today's Trumpery

[Welcome to the monkey house. A daily pastiche of Trumpisms and responses thereto. *RON*]

Seymour Hersh: Trump Ignored Intel Before Bombing Syria, Naked Capitalism ["I had a hell of a time getting it published."]
 Naomi Klein: Kill the Trump Within, The Nation
The Constitution vs. Trump, Al Jazeera
Trumpcare would devastate LGBTQ health, Think Progress
Trump's Russia lawyer faces conflict-of-interest questions over $296m Kushner deal, The Guardian
Bill Moyers: All of Donald Trump's Lies, AlterNet

B.C. leading rise in private school enrolment across Canada

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[Class wars, literally and figuratively. Enrollment is highest in BC where 16 years of cutbacks and politically-induced labour strife has seen private school enrollment jump. And on the heels of the decimation of the public education system, Mike de Jong ecstatically announces B.C. Liberals tout $2.8B surplus, reduced debt on eve of expected defeat. If that impresses you, I have a watch I'd like to sell you. *RON*]

CBC News, 27 June 2017
More parents across Canada are choosing to send their children to private or independent schools, according to a new study from the Fraser Institute.

The study found that every province recorded a decline in total K-12 enrolment between 2000–2001 to 2014–2015, except Alberta, which had an increase of 11.6 per cent.

But despite the falling number of students across Canada, every province saw enrolment in private or independent schools grow over the study period — except New Brunswick, which saw a decline of 12.…

Ontario commits $85 million to clean up ‘gross neglect’ at Grassy Narrows

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[Generations sickened by mercury poisoning from a paper plant prompt province to agree to fund cleanup. How can the politicians possibly just be figuring this out fifty years later? *RON*]

David BruserRobert BenzieJayme Poisson, The Star, 27 June 2017

The Ontario government is committing $85 million to finally clean up the mercury-contaminated Wabigoon River that has poisoned the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and nearby Whitedog First Nation for generations.

The “comprehensive remediation action plan” will also involve finding all contaminated sites that could be leaking mercury into the river.

At Queen’s Park, Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray did not mince words.

“If you ask me when would I like to have done this? Fifty years ago,” Murray said in an interview Tuesday. “I have never seen a case of such gross neglect. I am embarrassed as a Canadian that this ever happened and I can’t understand how people for 50 years s…

Southern Co. Suspends Kemper "Clean Coal" Project, Warns Investors It May Recognize Losses up to $3.4 Billion

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["Clean coal" was always an oxymoron and bound to fail. I wonder if Fanning and Southern Company can be sued for fraud? *RON*]

Sharon Kelly, DeSmog Blog, 28 June 2017

In a major blow to proponents of “clean coal” technology, Southern Co., parent company of Mississippi Power, announced in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing today that it's throwing in the towel on efforts to generate electricity from coal and will instead use only natural gas at its flagship Kemper County, Mississippi power plant.

The project, which relied on a “gasifier” to turn a cheap and common grade of coal into fuel, is over, at least for now, Southern said.

“On June 28, 2017, Mississippi Power notified the Mississippi PSC that it is beginning a process to suspend operations and start-up activities on the gasifier portion of the Kemper IGCC.”

Further, Southern warned that it may record a $3.4 billion loss for the project in the second quarter of 2017, depe…

A million bottles a minute: world's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change'

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[Refuse plastic bottles! Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising oceans, coastlines and other environments. *RON*]

Sandra Laville and Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, 29 June 2017
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.

New figures obtained by the Guardian reveal the surge in usage of plastic bottles, more than half a trillion of which will be sold annually by the end of the decade.

The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water and the spread of a western, urbanised “on the go” culture to China and the Asia Pacific region.

More than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from ab…

Canada 150 Protesters Try To Erect Teepee on Parliament Hill, Nine Arrested

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[There's a good deal of push-back from the Aboriginal community to the whole concept of Canada 150. *RON*]
CTV News, Red Power Media, 29 June 2017

Demonstrators looked to stage a peaceful protest by erecting a teepee on Parliament Hill Wednesday night, as the city gears up for Canada Day events.

A group of roughly 80 people carrying poles for a teepee tent were stopped by RCMP, Ottawa Police and Parliament Hill security at about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Police held on to the poles in an attempt to stop the group from entering the Parliament Hill grounds.

Activists told reporters they wanted to have a sacred fire for four days on the Hill, and were looking to protest the Canada 150 celebrations.

“This discrimination, this stereotyping and dehumanization of our people needs to stop,” said Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail, one of the protest organizers.

The group has refused to leave and asked police, “Do you want another Oka?” in reference to the Oka Crisis, a land…

The Rise of the Thought Leader: How the superrich funded a new class of intellectual

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[A review of Dan Drezner’s book The Ideas Industry (I bought a copy after reading this), which skewers a new class of public intellectuals, the "thought leaders", who typically earn large sums of money from institutions funded by the super-rich, to promote superficial ideas which glorify wealth. Examples include Thomas Friedman, Parag Khanna, Niall Ferguson. "Thought leaders all share a core view that extreme wealth and the channels by which it was obtained are not only legitimate but heroic." *RON*]

David Sessions, New Republic, 28 June 2017
Writing in one of Mussolini’s prisons in the 1930s, the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci jotted down the fragments that would become his theory of intellectuals. New classes, like the European bourgeoisie after the Industrial Revolution, he proposed, brought with them their own set of thinkers, which he called “organic intellectuals”—theorists, technicians, and administrators, who became …