‘Charity chill’ melts under friendly government
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/01/20/charity-chill-melts-under-friendly-government-goar.html

If anyone doubts that Justin Trudeau intends to do things very differently from the Harper Government, they should take a close look at this article by Carol Goar in Wednesdays The Star.
One of Justin Trudeau’s first acts as prime minister was to disband the ill-conceived, vicious attack on Canadian charities by Revenue Canada’s anti-charity hit squad.

But he isn’t just ending the repression: In the mandate letter for Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier he has clearly stated his intention to including the clearly stated understanding that “charities make an important contribution to public debate and policy.”

Environmentalists, anti-poverty activists, human rights defenders, foreign aid advocates, church workers and altruistic citizens across the country can get on with their efforts to build a just, sustaining and sustainable Canada.

Why, on Earth should a charity be banned from “political activity” that is in the interest of our common good? To me it seemed this attack on civil society by the Harper government, more than anything else demonstrated the brooding ill will for which we will remember the oppression of the last 10 years.

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Postmedia Cuts Confirm Newspapers’ Days Are Numbered
And no one’s coming to the rescue. Let’s talk about what comes next.
By Paul Willcocks, TheTyee.ca
http://www.thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2016/01/20/Postmedia-Cuts/
As many may remember, Paul Willcocks is the outstanding journalist that Black Press replaced with Tom Fletcher, the corporate interest mouth piece who tops the Georgia Straight’s list of the most right wing journalists in Canada.
Willcocks provides as objective a glimpse into the forces behind Postmedia’s death spiral as can be offered given Postmedia’s unflinching use of its editorial powers to push its extreme rightwing views onto Canadian audiences—powers that seem a lot less powerful after the past federal election
According to Willcocks recently announced dramatic cuts at Postmedia’s newspapers clearly indicate the corporation is doomed and the “ owners and managers are focused on wringing the last cash from the operation before the doors close.”
“Overall revenues are down 45 per cent, and even digital revenues have fallen. “ However Willcocks is not gloating as the cuts will mean even poorer versions of the news.
“For readers, this week’s cuts mean poorer quality newspapers. Postmedia plans to have reporters file a single story, and then editors will create versions for the two newspapers. Short and snappy for the Province, longer for the Sun, for example. It’s not real competition, and fewer people will be available to cover the news.”
Noting that the big newspapers, even when they do a poor job, do “play a role in providing information and building a sense of shared community. Even in their diminished circumstances, they can do reporting and commentary that holds the powerful to account and builds a broad, shared understanding of issues.”
My question for discussion is “Can the internet, with its focus on events, people and ideas in a fishbowl, replace the newspapers that once informed and provided a sense of shared community?
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More plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, says Ellen MacArthur
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/19/more-plastic-than-fish-in-the-sea-by-2050-warns-ellen-macarthur
One refuse truck’s-worth of plastic is dumped into the sea every minute, and the situation is getting worse! You may not want to know about this, but what will we live on when plastic garbage has replaced all life in our oceans?
“Despite the growing demand, just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, while 40% end up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems such as the world’s oceans.”
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Why Western attempts to moderate Islam are dangerous
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/01/western-attempts-moderate-islam-dangerous-160118081456021.html
There is a lot more to this article than is apparent from the headline.
“Less than 2 percent of all politically motivated acts of violence committed in Europe are carried out by Muslims. Yet, the media narrative of a crisis with “radical Islam” and “radicalised Muslims” reaches new heights after each major attack in a Western country.
Promoted by networks of well-funded Islamophobic hate groups, the hazy logic underlying this understanding of extremism is at the centre of Western efforts to moderate Islam.”
“The development of a media and political culture that instinctively sees Islam as an ideological threat to Western liberal values, and equates its conservatism with violent extremism, is no accident, according to author and researcher Nathan Lean.”
According to Lean, “ social pressures and what researchers have referred to as the Transatlantic “Islamophobia industry”, cannot be divorced from government policies in Western countries that have actively sought to crack down on, target and control Muslim communities.”
In this 21st century McCarthism , praying five times a day, having a long beard, expressing an opinion about the Israeli occupation of Palestine are all taken as signs of incipient terrorism.
As with McCarthy, “What this is actually meant to achieve is the stifling of political, social, and economic grievances in the name of fear.
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Dark Money review: Nazi oil, the Koch brothers and a righ wing revolution
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jan/17/dark-money-review-nazi-oil-the-koch-brothers-and-a-rightwing-revolution
My gosh, this article in The Guardian will send shivers down your backbone.
“The father rightwing billionaires, Charles and David Koch, was Fred Koch, who helped the Nazis complete their third-largest oil refinery. The facility produced hundreds of thousands of gallons of high-octane fuel for the Luftwaffe, until it was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1944.
In 1938, the patriarch wrote that “the only sound countries in the world are Germany, Italy and Japan”. To make sure his children got the right ideas, he hired a German nanny. The nanny was such a fervent Nazi that when France fell in 1940, she resigned and returned to Germany. After that, Fred became the main disciplinarian, whipping his children with belts and tree branches.”
And these guys have bought out all but a few traces of democracy in the United States!
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Profiting from Misery: Are Human Rights Abuses Powering Your Smart Phone?
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/01/19/profiting-misery-are-human-rights-abuses-powering-your-smart-phone
Amnesty traces the sale of cobalt, used in batteries for cell phones and electric cars, from mines where children work in ‘perilous conditions’
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Seven Ways TPP Favours Mega-rich Foreign Investors, Not Canadians
http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/01/18/TPP-Foreign-Investors/
The TPP is incompatible with democratic governance and with the whole idea of the rule of law.
This Tyee article (highly recommended) documents the above assertion.
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Seeking a political scapegoat for plunging oil: Don Pittis
As oil tumbles conservatives in the energy sector have political opponents in their sights to take the blame
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/falling-oil-prices-politics-1.3400135
Do you remember when oil prices were strong? In those days, Conservatives ruled in both Ottawa and Edmonton.
While Conservatives and right wing punditry try to divert attention from their failure to diversify our economy or foresee the crash in oil prices, this collapsing of the oil industry from the weight of its own greed and the accompanying nose dive of the loonie actually trumpet the economic ineptitude of the Conservatives and their economic/social agenda. The whole article is worth memorizing! Trusting the free market to build a capitalist paradise where Canada is an energy superpower doesn’t seem like such a great idea when the world price of oil dips below $30 US.
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The Biggest Threat to Global Economy? Climate Change.
For the first time, environmental threat tops World Economic Forum’s survey on global risks
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/01/14/biggest-threat-global-economy-climate-change
In fact, failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change poses a greater risk than weapons of mass destruction, water crises, mass involuntary migration, and severe energy price shock, which placed second, third, fourth, and fifth on the list, respectively.
Failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change is the greatest threat facing the world’s economy in 2016, according to the “unprecedented” results of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual survey, released Thursday.
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Sanders: Michigan Governor Must Resign over Flint Lead-Poisoning Crisis
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/01/16/sanders-michigan-governor-must-resign-over-flint-lead-poisoning-crisis
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was the darling of the right when he fired Flint Michigan’s city council and appointed a cutting-cutting receiver. Now with a lead-poisoning crisis that has sickened thousands of children in Flint, Michigan surely the whole idea of cutting public services for short term economic gain is transparently a sickening idea!
The state health department in Michigan apparently knew about elevated lead levels in the blood
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Western Powers Protect Arms Markets ignoring Civilian killings
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/01/16/western-powers-protect-arms-markets-ignoring-civilian-killings
The West continues its strong political and military support to one of its longstanding allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia –- despite withering criticism of the kingdom’s battlefield excesses in the ongoing war in neighboring Yemen.

A Saudi-led coalition has been accused of using banned cluster bombs, bombing civilian targets and destroying hospitals – either by accident or by design—using weapons provided primarily by the US, UK and France.
It is troubling to see Trudeau joining in the rush to arm the Saudis!