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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
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Fort McMurray exodus widens as fires rage: A lot of people are ‘working to get you out’

CONKLIN, Alta. — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, May 05, 2016 5:30AM EDT
Last updated Thursday, May 05, 2016 10:57AM EDT

• Evacuation order widened

• More oil sands projects cut production

• Emergency operations centre moved 300 km south

The growing wildfires consuming Fort McMurray have forced officials to vastly widen a mandatory evacuation order to neighbouring communities and move the city’s emergency operations centre for the second time in one day.

An aerial look at the Fort McMurray wildfire (CP Video)

The fires have also forced a handful of oil sands companies to halt bitumen production and shutter facilities.

The Fort McMurray fire: Here’s how you can help, and receive help

Officials ordered people to leave Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, and Fort McMurray First Nation late Wednesday. Anzac’s recreational centre, which is nearly 50 kilometres southeast of Fort Mac, was housing hundreds of evacuees from the embattled city prior to the most recent evacuation order.

Buses were expected to begin ferrying away residents covered by the widening evacuation order at midnight on Wednesday – only two hours after the mandatory evacuation orders were published.

Municipality moves emergency centre

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which encompasses the region, said late Wednesday it was moving its emergency operations centre to Lac La Biche, Alta., nearly 300 kilometres south of Fort McMurray.

Officials were previously stationed in Fort McMurray, but packed up the command centre when the fire made it unsafe. The operations centre was moved out of Fort McMurray Wednesday afternoon – a shift that was short-lived.

“Take comfort tonight knowing that your friends and family are safe,” the municipality said via Twitter early Thursday.

Lac La Biche is only 220 kilometres north of Edmonton. The original Fort McMurray evacuation order covered about 90,000 people.

Full article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/fort-mcmurray-exodus-swells-as-fires-rage-a-lot-of-people-are-working-to-get-you-out/article29883034/

More Than 1,000 Detained in Shocking Conditions at Counterterrorism Centers in Anbar in Iraq

Amnesty International
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 11:45am

Ameriyat al-Fallujah - More than 1,000 detainees, including some as young as 15, are being held without charge in horrendous conditions at makeshift holding centers in Anbar governorate, west of Baghdad, said Amnesty International today.

A delegation led by the organization’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, gained access on April 30 to a center run by Anbar’s counterterrorism agency (Mukafahat al-Irhab) in Ameriyat al-Fallujah, where 683 male detainees are held without charge.

The detainees are cramped into several rooms within a complex of disused warehouses being used as a detention and interrogation facility.

“The detainees are squeezed into a space of less than one square meter each, sitting in a crouching position day and night, unable to stretch or lie down to sleep and are rarely allowed outside for fresh air,” said Shetty.

“It was a truly shocking sight – hundreds of human beings packed together like sardines in a tin and held in inhumane and degrading conditions for months on end.”

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2016/05/03/more-1000-detained-shocking-conditions-counterterrorism-centers-anbar-iraq

What a horrible, sad mess.

Democracy Needs Transparency

Published on
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
by Greenpeace Blog

by Annie Leonard

'We need an open, transparent debate about these deals that puts people and the environment ahead of corporate interests.' (Image: Greenpeace)

I believe democracy needs transparency.

That’s why I was so excited when I heard that Greenpeace Netherlands was releasing to the public secret documents from the United States’ current trade negotiations with the European Union. The deal is called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP for short) and once it’s agreed upon it will govern the U.S.-European economic relationship for years.

You can check out the documents obtained by Greenpeace Netherlands here.

And what these leaked documents tell us is that right now it’s not looking like a good deal for the environment, democracy, or the public in general.

It’s also clear that U.S. negotiators have been consulting with industry behind closed doors. These secret negotiations for the TTIP put corporate interests ahead of the public and undermine basic principles of transparency and open debate that are fundamental to our democracy — just like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) did.

What are the first conclusions from the documents?

From an environmental and consumer protection point of view, four aspects are of serious concern:

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/05/03/democracy-needs-transparency

EPA Using Industry-Funded Research to Determine if Glyphosate Causes Cancer

Published on
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
by Common Dreams

A since-deleted analysis posted the agency's website shows it is relying on unpublished reports from groups linked to biochem industry

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

"Industry has been manipulating this process for years." (Photo: Anztowa/flickr/cc)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used industry-funded research to conclude that the herbicide chemical glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans—contradicting findings by the World Health Organization (WHO)—according to an analysis the EPA posted to, then swiftly removed from, its website on Friday.

"EPA's determination that glyphosate is non-carcinogenic is disappointing, but not terribly surprising—industry has been manipulating this process for years," said Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). "The analysis done by the World Health Organization is more open and transparent and remains the gold standard."

The agency's since-deleted analysis (pdf), which includes an October 2015 memorandum from its Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC), states:

The epidemiological evidence at this time does not support a causal relationship between glyphosate exposure and solid tumors. There is also no evidence to support a causal relationship between glyphosate exposure and the following non-solid tumors: leukemia, multiple myeloma, or Hodgkin lymphoma.

Groups cited in the analysis include private biochemical firms like Inveresk Research International, Nufarm, and Arysta Life Sciences.

WHO reported the exact opposite in a groundbreaking March 2015 study, which prompted a wave of measures against the use of the chemical. California placed it on the state's public 'cancer list' in September, while workers around the country lined up to sue Monsanto for conducting what they called a "prolonged campaign of misinformation" to convince farmers, consumers, and the government that its Roundup line of products was safe to use.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/03/epa-using-industry-funded-research-determine-if-glyphosate-causes-cancer

Getting People out of Prison Is Just the Start to Solving America's Incarceration Crisis


Angela Davis and asha bandele: Getting People out of Prison Is Just the Start to Solving America's Incarceration Crisis

Millions of people's lives are still controlled in racist and dehumanizing ways after they leave prison.

By April M. Short / AlterNet May 3, 2016

The United States is locking up and dehumanizing its people at extraordinary rates. Just over 4 percent of the world’s population lives in the U.S., yet we hold captive within our borders a whopping 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. This gives the U.S. the largest prisoner population in the world. And that population is growing, though not for any noble reason, like “crime is on the rise” (au contraire). It’s growing because of the same sleaze that’s behind most of our country’s problems: giant corporations are incentivizing, and profiting from the expansion of the prisons industry.

Over that gaping wound that is mass incarceration, we’re pouring a noxious vinegar called racism, which is distilled from the most putrid seeds that sprouted our nation: slavery. Our bloated prisons are disproportionately full of poor men and women of color, and it’s no accident. Nor is it a coincidence that as smartphones have turned us all into vigilante documentarians, able to capture injustice on our streets, some cops are caught murdering black men, and seldom forced to answer for their crimes.

These issues are all linked. They are part of a perpetual motion set off a couple hundred years ago with this nation’s shameful beginnings on the backs of stolen and imported humans. This is the crux of a powerful argument that activist, author and scholar Angela Davis threw down in a recent public phone conversation about the prison-industrial complex with asha bandele of the Drug Policy Alliance.

“It would seem to me that the recent emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement causes us to reflect on the connection between our lives in the second decade of the 21st century and the history of slavery, and particularly the failure to entirely abolish the consequences of slavery. We are still living with those consequences today. I like to think of racism also as a way of acknowledging the fact that we continue to be haunted by the institutions connected with slavery,” Davis said.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/angela-davis-and-asha-bandele-getting-people-out-prison-just-start-solving-americas?akid=14220.44541.sQoamH&rd=1&src=newsletter1055776&t=6

All Decent Things

By Noam Chomsky

April 29, 2016

This Q&A was transcribed from the Z Video “What Went Wrong.” The questions came from the 35 ZMI student activists in a 90-minute class at Z Media Institute in Woods Hole, MA, 2010. It covers many issues relevant to 2016, particularly some of the contentious issues raised during the election campaign.

Q: What is the left and what kind of language can we use to describe our movement and our positions to others?

CHOMSKY: Well, the Left is the movement that is in favor of all decent things—freedom, justice, peace. Of course we have to define it for ourselves, but traditionally it’s the movement that’s been in favor of more freedom, more justice, more equality, more participation, more control over our own lives—all decent things. That’s the Left.

Q: What form of resistance can help us stop the racist anti-immigrant sentiment that seems to be growing?

Why are Mexicans coming to the U.S.? Well, there’s something called NAFTA, which was established in 1994, rammed through by the liberals over the opposition of the American public, the Mexicans, and the Canadians. There were alternatives proposed by the labor movement, but the media wouldn’t even report them. So Clinton managed to ram through the executive version of NAFTA. If you look at the background, it’s pretty clear what it was about.

When NAFTA was established, it was understood that it was going to destroy Mexican agriculture and Mexican business. Mexican agriculture couldn’t compete with U.S. agribusiness, which is massively state subsidized under NAFTA, so, of course, it devastated the economy and people began to flee. Where are they going to flee to? They’re not going to Guatemala, so they’re going to the U.S.

What do you do about it? Clinton understood exactly what to do about it. The border between Mexico and the U.S. had been a pretty open border. It was established, of course, by conquest and pretty much the same people lived on both sides so people were mainly crossing to visit their relatives.

In 1994, the year NAFTA was passed, Clinton initiated the militarization of the border—Operation Gatekeeper. Why? Because anybody could see that the impact of NAFTA was going to be harmful and was going to lead to a flow of immigrants, which would have to be stopped by force. That’s the immigrant issue, that’s the basis for it.

The fact of the matter is that when an immigrant comes in, it leads to economic growth. They do a lot of the dirty work of society for low wages and in bad conditions. They can’t complain for obvious reasons—they’re undocumented—so they are easily exploitable. They send back remittances and they spend money, so their net effect, from an economic point of view, is beneficial to the economy—and they take jobs from no one.

Q: What can we expect from the situation in Iraq?

How this pans out depends on us. Do we want to spend millions a year to build cities in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan to ensure that we control the region along with military bases, torture chambers, and so on? That’s up to us—our choice. Do we give up? or do we push for more freedom, more justice, more equality, more participation, more control over our own lives—all decent things?


I just read this, Octafish .. I'm positive everyone here knows of all of it

- using it to kick up your great thread, anyway.

The Clintonian era which began under Bill Clinton in the 1990s was marked by the Democratic Party’s open advocacy and implementation of neoliberalism, as a continuation of the “trickle down” ideas of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The Clinton administration passed devastating policies like NAFTA, with its brutal effects on workers and the environment; the 1994 crime bill with its dramatic expansion of incarceration; and the destruction of welfare with its inhuman effects on the poor and particularly single mothers. Such laws were part of an overall agenda of attacks on social services and on the interests of the working class and people of color. Bill and Hillary Clinton were political partners in that process, as they are political partners in Hillary’s election campaign today.

As a U.S. Senator, Clinton voted for the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the Patriot Act re-authorization, for new “free trade” deals (including the 2008 Panama agreement which helped perfect it as a tax haven), for bank deregulation, the Wall Street bailouts (TARP), the 2006 border fence legislation, and the list goes on. As Secretary of State she was perhaps the administration’s most aggressive proponent for interventions in Libya and Syria that fueled the humanitarian crisis in the region. She acted as a global spokesperson for fracking, and in spite of considerable pressure from Sanders has not backed down from this environmentally devastating practice.

Hillary won the admiration of Bloomberg Businessweek for her corporate advocacy as Secretary, noting that “Clinton turned the State Department into a machine for promoting U.S. business,” and sought “to install herself as the government’s highest-ranking business lobbyist.”

How can anyone seriously argue that we can continue our political revolution by supporting one of the highest profile opponents of that revolution, who has essentially vowed that the things we’re fighting for will “never ever happen”? Hillary Clinton’s actual policies will not be rooted in whatever platform is passed at the convention, but will be based instead on her own neoliberal politics and on the influence of Wall Street and the billionaire class that have funded her campaign. In fact, the Clinton camp has already responded to Sanders, rejecting attempts to push Hillary to the left.


The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm

By Pepe Escobar
Source: Sputnik News
May 4, 2016

Major turbulence seems to be the name of the game in 2016. Yet the current turbulence may be interpreted as the calm before the next, devastating geopolitical/financial storm. Let’s review the current state of play via the dilemmas afflicting the House of Saud, the EU and BRICS members Russia, Brazil and China.

What’s left for the House of Saud is to play for time. High up in Riyadh the feeling is that relations with Washington won’t improve while Obama is president; the next president – whether Hillary or The Donald – will be a much better deal. So Plan A for now is to keep posing as essential to Washington in the “war on terra”; that means King Salman falling back on Mohammed bin Nayef, the Crown Prince, way more adept at it than the Warrior Prince, the conductor of the disastrous war on Yemen.

In parallel, Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan keeps advancing his play to take over oil in Iraqi Kurdistan, eventually diverting the whole supply to make Turkey energy independent – and thus a regional superpower. Moreover, in Pipelineistan terms, Erdogan absolutely also needs the Qatar gas pipeline through Saudi Arabia and Syria to gain energy independence from Russia. That also happens to be a major US goal. And that also portends perennial trouble for the Syria peace process.

Erdogan already has the German superpower at his feet in the shape of a groveling, begging Chancellor Merkel. Were Turkey on its way to become an energy power, Merkel would prostrate herself on that Ankara palace golden ground non-stop. The CIA intimates as much, when it analyzes how Turkey will keep “expanding its influence” in Iraq through the militias they support, at the expense of Iraq’s security and political unity.

Walking Dead Europe, meanwhile, subcontracted and/or externalized a policy of refugee repression, thus unleashing the largest mass deportation since WWII, complete with camps financed by EU taxpayers and managed by the Great Democrat Erdogan. The missing link is now in the open; everything is proceeding under control of NATO-linked think tanks.

As appalling as it may be, this is hardly new. It was already inbuilt in agreements that the EU imposes on African nations, “upgrading” their status to border Cerberuses. That’s the key mission of the Frontex agency, which is progressively delocalizing the external borders of the EU – to the east and to the south – to better repel migrants. Not a dot connected to NATO’s neo-imperial wars of choice, of course.

No wonder Noam Chomsky has noted that support for formal democracy in the West is dwindling, because they are not real democracies. All major decisions affecting the EU are taken by unelected eurocrats in Brussels. In a groundbreaking book published in Spain, Mercado-Estado-Carcel en la Democracia Neoliberal Espanola (Anthropos), Daniel Jimenez, doctor in Juridical Sociology at the University of Zaragoza, details how the new institutional local order is about de-democratization, denationalization and dependency; NATO, IMF, World Bank, the Paris club, BCE, the European Commission, the Fed, they are part of a global web of institutions, private but self-described as public or public but managed by private interests (such as the Fed). Michael Hudson, among others, has detailed how the EU never developed sustained mechanisms of transfer of capital from the wealthier economies towards poorer members.

No wonder the astonishing spread of Chinese economic power has left assorted Exceptionalists – from neocons to neoliberalcons – totally deranged. Washington has absolutely nothing to offer to nations across Asia, Africa and Latin America – to the whole Global South for that matter. They have all seen how Beijing is not in the market demanding Mob-style compound interest on sovereign debt; “support” for neo-imperial moves by NATO or the UN; one more extra-territorial hub for the US Empire of Bases; or total domination of their central banks.

On the other hand, they have seen what Washington does offer; endless war; the progressive smashing of the nation state; democracy blasted to smithereens; and technocratic governance by the 0.00001%.

Yet all this is just the calm before the storm. The Empire is already striking back. There’s serious blood on the tracks ahead.


Europe’s Border Guards

By Stathis Kouvelakis and Angelos Kontogiannis-Mandros
Source: Jacobin Magazine
May 3, 2016

Last year, the attempt of Greece’s newly elected radical-left government to resist austerity policies imposed by the European Union institutions and the International Monetary Fund put the country at the center of world attention. This battle was definitively lost when Alexis Tsipras capitulated in July to the demands of the creditors, signing up to a third memorandum only days after a referendum in which Greeks had rejected a softer EU proposed austerity package.

Since that moment, the plight of Greek society has only deepened. But it is now a silent suffering, deprived of the expectation of change and hope that had fueled the mobilizations of recent years.

But 2016 again made Greece headline news, this time for a different reason. The laboratory of neoliberal shock therapy is also Europe’s entrance gate for the millions of people leaving countries devastated by war and poverty.

According to the available figures, between 15,000 and 17,000 people died in the Mediterranean between the late 1980s and 2012, before the recent exodus from the Greater Middle Eastern area. More than 10,000 have died since, 2015 being the peak year with 3,800 deaths.

This dark side of the “European project” has been so far the least visible and debated one, except for those networks of courageous activists and researchers who have been working on the situation of migrants. The “refugee crisis” — a term which assumes that migrants and refugees pose an inherent threat to order — has at least the merit of politicizing the European project and putting it at the center of public debate. This has been the case in Greece, which found itself, once again, at the frontline of a battle of much wider proportions.

Seen from Greece, the “refugee crisis” reveals in the most brutal way the nature of the European Union as an entity for the surveillance, the policing, and the hierarchical categorization of the population. At the same time, it uncovers another dimension of an allegedly “left government” which, following its shameful surrender to the blackmail of the EU and the IMF, has aligned itself at all levels with the dominant logic of “crisis management.”

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/europes-border-guards/

Just Say No to Corporate Rule

by Ron Forthofer / April 29th, 2016

In an October 2015 article, Stiglitz and Adam Hersh added:

Imagine what would have happened if these provisions had been in place when the lethal effects of asbestos were discovered. Rather than shutting down manufacturers and forcing them to compensate those who had been harmed, under ISDS, governments would have had to pay the manufacturers not to kill their citizens. Taxpayers would have been hit twice — first to pay for the health damage caused by asbestos, and then to compensate manufacturers for their lost profits when the government stepped in to regulate a dangerous product.

According to Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, the TPP ISDS “tribunals are staffed by private lawyers who are not accountable to any electorate, system of legal precedent or meaningful conflict of interest rules. Their rulings cannot be appealed on the merits. Many ISDS lawyers rotate between roles – serving both as “judges” and suing governments for corporations, creating an inherent conflict of interest.”

Allowing trade lawyers to have the final say on cases that threaten our health and well being as well as the health of the ecosystem and its ability to support all life forms is insane! This disastrous settlement process tramples democracy and sovereignty and prioritizes profit over our health and well being as well as our ecosystem and its ability to support life. An old Cree prophecy seems relevant:

Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find money cannot be eaten.

If this corporate-designed settlement process doesn’t convince you to oppose the TPP, consider its rules for financial services. According to Public Citizen, these rules were written under the advisement of giant banks and work to undercut legislation meant to re-regulate Wall Street. Thus the TPP would expand the reach of failed policies that played a major role in creating the disastrous 2008 financial crisis. The TPP rules would also prevent nations from protecting their currencies in time of crisis. It’s as if the 2008 crisis didn’t happen.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/04/just-say-no-to-corporate-rule/
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