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Showing posts from May 5, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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After-dinner mint: how ex-politicians hit paydirt with public speaking

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[Politicians are the 1%: puppets of the Deep State, one and all. Barack Obama, George Osborne and David Cameron can all now command six-figure sums for a few pithy bon mots from the podium. But what do their audiences get out of it? *RON*]

Larry Elliott and Jill Treanor, The Guardian, 4 May 2017
When Barack Obama banks the cheque for $400,000 he will receive for talking to an audience of Wall Street bankers and their most important clients in September, the former president might like to quietly thank the statesman who did so much to pioneer the idea of the celebrity political speaker: Winston Churchill.

More than 70 years ago, in March 1946, Churchill – recently ousted as prime minister – turned up at Westminster college in Fulton, Missouri to present his views on the state of the world. The audience in Fulton certainly got more than it bargained for, because Churchill used his lecture to coin the phrase that came to describe the cold war: Britai…

There are Diseases Hidden in Ice, and They Are Waking Up

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[E.g., "Scientists have discovered intact 1918 Spanish flu virus in corpses buried in mass graves in Alaska's tundra." And infectious cave crystals?! Like we had nothing else to worry about! Long-dormant bacteria and viruses, trapped in ice and permafrost for centuries, are reviving as Earth's climate warms. I sense a Hollywood horror film coming on. *RON*]

By Jasmin Fox-Skelly4 May 2017


Throughout history, humans have existed side-by-side with bacteria and viruses. From the bubonic plague to smallpox, we have evolved to resist them, and in response they have developed new ways of infecting us.

We have had antibiotics for almost a century, ever since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. In response, bacteria have responded by evolving antibiotic resistance. The battle is endless: because we spend so much time with pathogens, we sometimes develop a kind of natural stalemate.

However, what would happen if we were suddenly ex…

Selling Her Suffering

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[The Handmaid's Tale is actually 32 years old already. At least Canada's Margaret Atwood continues to give people issues worth talking about. I'm re-reading the Fagles translation of The Odyssey at the moment, which made me want to read her play The Penelopiad. *RON*]
Francine Prose, New York Review of Books, 4 May 2017
Like the 1985 Margaret Atwood novel on which it is based, the new Hulu TV series The Handmaid’s Tale has been enthusiastically acclaimed as a feminist classic: a cautionary, necessary, and relevant depiction of misogyny at its most extreme. In Gilead, the tyrannical religious dystopia in which the novel and the series are set, women have been enslaved, and are either servants, known as Marthas, or Handmaids: involuntary surrogate mothers for the children of the leaders, the Commanders whose wives have been rendered infertile by environmental pollution.

Fortunately for the show’s producers, if not for the rest of us, th…

Russia: Syria safe zones closed to US coalition planes

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[Everyone except Russia (and, of course, Assad) had been asking for something like this for years now. These 'de-escalation zones' in Syria will be closed for warplanes of US-led international coalition, and Russia will 'refrain' from entering unless they feel like it, apparently. *RON*]

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies, 5 May 2017

The safe zones that regional powers have agreed to create in Syria will be closed for military planes of the international US-led coalition, Russia's envoy to Syria talks said.

Turkey calls on US, allies to reconsider Syria no-fly zone

Turkey and Iran agreed on Thursday to Russia's proposal for "de-escalation zones", a move welcomed by the United Nations but met with scepticism from the United States and Syrian rebel groups.

Speaking from the Syria summit in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on Thursday, Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentyev said that Syrian government fighter jets are also no…

British Columbia’s Business Temptation: An Opaque Array of Tax Breaks

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[BC ELECTION 2017. Again, we have to depend on the foreign press to tell us what's going on in BC and how bad it all looks from a global perspective. *RON*]

Dan Levin, New York Times, 2 May 2017

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — British Columbia is well known for its spectacular landscape and outdoorsy living, its swanky urban real estate and bouillabaisse of cultures.

A fact not so well known? It has a sweet deal for businesses, offering them tax breaks in an unusually opaque arrangement.

Like many places, British Columbia set up a system of tax incentives to lure businesses to the far western Canadian province in the hopes of creating jobs and transforming Vancouver into a global financial center.

But if the program has been good for business, it’s been less beneficial for British Columbia.

Participating companies have created few jobs, according to government figures, while more than 140 million Canadian dollars ($106 million) have been doled out …