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The US Bears Blame for the Crisis in Venezuela, and It Should Stop Intervening There E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 28 June 2016 16:47



by Mark Weisbrot

This article was published by The New York Times on June 28, 2016. If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe to CEPR's email lists.

The best thing that the United States government could do with regard to Venezuela, regardless of political outcomes there, would be to end its intervention there.


Washington has caused enormous damage to Venezuela in its relentless pursuit of “regime change” for the last 15 years. In March, President Obama once again absurdly declared Venezuela to be an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” and extended economic sanctions against the country. Although the sanctions themselves are narrow, they have a considerable impact on investment decisions, as investors know what often happens to countries that Washington targets as an unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security. The sanctions, as well as pressure from the US government, helped convince major financial institutions not to make otherwise low-risk loans, collateralized by gold, to the Venezuelan government.

Washington was involved in the short-lived 2002 military coup against the elected government of Venezuela, and the US government acknowledgedproviding “training, institution building and other support to individuals and organizations” who carried out the coup. Afterwards, it stepped up funding to opposition groups and has continued to this day to give them millions of dollars. In 2013, Washington was again isolated in the region and the world when it refused to recognize the presidential election results (even though there was no doubt about the outcome); the US thereby lent its support to violent street protests that were seeking to topple the government. Washington gave political support to similar efforts in 2014.

All this is well-documented and well-known to journalists covering Venezuela, but try finding one at a major news outlet who has the courage to write about it. It’s a bit like reporting on Ukraine and never mentioning Russia.

US intervention in Venezuela, as in other countries, has contributed to political polarization and conflict over the years, as it encouraged elements of the opposition at numerous junctures to also pursue a strategy of regime change, rather than seeking peaceful political change.

A switch to a policy of non-intervention in Venezuela would be a sea change for Washington, and would set a healthy precedent. After all, the world is awash in bloodshed and refugees as a result of the US pursuit of “regime change” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries. Why not try something different in the Western Hemisphere?


Mark Weisbrot
Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the new book Failed: What the "Experts" Got Wrong About the Global Economy(Oxford University Press, 2015).

CEPR is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives.
CEPR's Advisory Board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow andJoseph StiglitzJanet Gornick, Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Luxembourg Income Study; and Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University.


“Disturbing the Peace: The story of the Site C dam” E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Sunday, 26 June 2016 09:13


Posted on June 20, 2016 1:36 pm

 by Laila Yuile


 in BC LiberalsBC NDPBC PoliticsFederal politicsLaila Yuile,LNG/frackingSite CThe Environment // 14 Comments


Since covering the Site C stories in earnest, I’ve come to highly respect the work done by DeSmog and in particular of Sarah Cox and Emma Gilchrist, whose affinity for the issues and people they cover reminds me of my own.

Last week Sarah broke the compelling news that BC Hydro is forcing the departure of Ken and Arlene Boone from the land they own, by Christmas: http://www.desmog.ca/2016/06/15/bc-hydro-tells-farmers-fighting-site-c-dam-vacate-property-christmas


This is Arlene standing in their incredible oat crop of 2011.Yes, she’s standing up in this photo… this is how rich the land is here.


And this is the view they see from their bedroom window every day when they wake up.


BC Hydro plans to build a new highway through the part of their property that isn’t going to be flooded and if they end up expropriated, you can bet Hydro will demolish all of it during this coming winter.


I have always written with purpose, with intent to reveal,change or right a wrong if I can. I’m not a reporter, I’m a writer first and foremost, a story-teller who documents and shares the stories you often won’t find on your own,or reported in the mainstream news.

Tsleil-Waututh Launches a Second Legal Challenge of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Tanker Proposal E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 23 June 2016 11:01

The Recommendation for Approval by the National Energy Board Continues a Pattern of Unlawful Conduct


VANCOUVER, BC and MUSQUEAM, SQUAMISH and TSLEIL-WAUTUTH TERRITORY --(Marketwired - June 22, 2016) - The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the "People of the Inlet," has launched a second legal challenge of the National Energy Board's (NEB) review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion proposal (KMEX). Tsleil-Waututh has applied to the Federal Court of Appeal seeking to set aside the NEB report recommending KMEX project approval, referring to the NEB recommendation as "unlawful, invalid, or unreasonable" in its court documents.

The first legal action taken in May 2014 and still before the Federal Court of Appeal challenged the NEB failure to consult Tsleil-Waututh during the scoping process for the environmental review. The second legal action filed includes, among other things, a charge that significant adverse environmental effects associated with project-related marine shipping activities were not considered by the NEB as required under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It also includes a charge that the NEB failed to consider the landmark independent assessment of the KMEX project conducted by Tsleil-Waututh as a matter of its own law and jurisdiction.

Dominating the Skies -- and Losing the Wars Air Supremacy Isn’t What It Used to Be E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 23 June 2016 10:02

By William J. Astore

June 21, 2016

In the era of the long war on terror, Thursday, June 2nd, 2016, was a tough day for the U.S. military. Two modern jet fighters, a Navy F-18 Hornet and an Air Force F-16  Fighting Falcon flown by two of America’s most capable pilots, went down, with one pilot killed. In a war that has featured total dominance of the skies by America’s intrepid aviators and robotic drones, the loss of two finely tuned fighter jets was a remarkable occurrence.

As it happened, though, those planes weren’t lost in combat.  Enemy ground fire or missiles never touched them nor were they taken out in a dogfight with enemy planes (of which, of course, the Islamic State, the Taliban, and similar U.S. enemies have none).  Each was part of an elite aerial demonstration team, the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds, respectively. Both were lost to the cause of morale-boosting air shows.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 June 2016 14:02
The Environment: Latin America’s Battleground for Human Rights E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 23 June 2016 09:58

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

Indigenous Asheninka activist Diana Rios (centre) from the Amazon village of Saweto, Peru is the daughter of slain activist Jorge Rios who was murdered by illegal loggers in September 2014. Credit: Lyndal Rowlands / IPS.

Indigenous Asheninka activist Diana Rios (centre) from the Amazon village of Saweto, Peru is the daughter of slain activist Jorge Rios who was murdered by illegal loggers in September 2014. Credit: Lyndal Rowlands / IPS.

NEW YORK, Jun 22 2016 (IPS) - 2015 was the deadliest year on record for the killings of environmental activists around the world, according to a new Global Witness report.


The report, On Dangerous Ground, found that in 2015, 185 people were killed defending the environment across 16 countries, a 59 percent increase from 2014.

“The environment is becoming a new battleground for human rights,” Global Witness’ Campaign Leader for Environmental and Land Defenders Billy Kyte told IPS.

“Many of these activists are being treated as enemies of the state when they should be treated as heroes,” he continued.

The rise in attacks is partially due to the increased demand for natural resources which have sparked conflicts between residents in remote, resource-rich areas and industries such as mining, logging and agribusinesses.

“The murders that are going unpunished in remote mining villages or deep within rainforests are fuelled by the choices consumers are making on the other side of the world." -- Billy Kyte.

Among the most dangerous regions for environmental activists is Latin America, where over 60 percent of killings in 2015 occurred. In Brazil, 50 environmental defenders were killed, the world’s highest 

What is Missing on the Global Health Front? E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 07:03

By Martin Khor

Martin Khor

Martin Khor

Martin Khor is the Executive Director of the South Centre.

GENEVA, Jun 21 2016 (IPS) - The last World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva (23-28 May) discussed the manifold global health crises that require urgent attention, and adopted resolutions to act on many issues. We are currently facing many global health related challenges, and as such multiple actions must be taken urgently to prevent these crises from boiling over.


Martin Khor

The WHA is the world’s prime public health event and this year 3,500 delegates from 194 countries took part, including Health Ministers of most countries. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan gave an overview of some of the successes and further work needed on the global health front.


The good news includes 19,000 fewer children dying every day, 44% drop in maternal mortality, 85% of tuberculosis cases that are successfully cured, and the fastest scale-up of a life-saving treatment in history, with over 15 million people living with HIV now receiving therapy, up from just 690,000 in 2000. As a result, aid for health is now far more effective, and the issue of health has become an investment for stable and equitable societies, not just a drain on resources.

The recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks showed how global health emergencies can develop very quickly. There is a dramatic resurgence of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, which the world is currently not prepared to cope with. Dr. Chan gave three examples of the emerging global health emergencies: climate change, antimicrobial resistance, and the rise of chronic-communicable diseases as the leading causes of death worldwide.

Some doctors refused to treat emission-area residents: report E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 21 June 2016 17:18


Public hearings set to start into Peace River area emissions


EDMONTON - Some Peace River area doctors are afraid to speak out about health impacts of oil and gas activity and in some cases have declined to treat area residents who wondered if their health problems were related to emissions, says one of two independent health experts hired by the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Doctors fear negative consequences to their careers if they speak out, and in one case, one lab refused to process a test, says Dr. Margaret Sears, an Ontario expert in toxicology and health who will appear this week at a special hearing into complaints about emissions from the Baytex oilsands operation 32 kilometres south of Peace River.

Civil Society in Latin America Campaigns Against Trans-Pacific Partnership E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 21 June 2016 11:14


Activists from Chile, Mexico and Peru opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during a meeting in January in the Mexican capital, which was also attended by representatives of civil society from Canada and the United States. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Activists from Chile, Mexico and Peru opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during a meeting in January in the Mexican capital, which was also attended by representatives of civil society from Canada and the United States. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

MEXICO CITY, Jun 20 2016 (IPS) - Civil society organisations from Chile, Mexico and Peru are pressing their legislatures and those of other countries not to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The free trade agreement, which was signed in New Zealand on Feb. 4, is now pending parliamentary approval in the 12 countries of the bloc, in a process led by Malaysia. Chile, Mexico and Peru are the three Latin American partners.

The treaty will enter into effect two months after it has been ratified by all the signatories, or if six or more countries, which together represent at least 85 percent of the total GDP of the 12 partners, have ratified it within two years.

“We are seeking a dialogue with like-minded parliamentary groups that defend national interests, and we provide them with information. We want to use the parliaments as hubs, and we also want dialogues with organisations from the United States, Canada and the Asian countries,” Carlos Bedoya, a Peruvian activist with the Latin American Network on Debt, Development and Rights (LATINDADD), told IPS.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 17:17
Why Europe may ban the most popular weed killer in the world E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Monday, 20 June 2016 09:56

By Erik Stokstad


Why Europe may ban the most popular weed killer in the world

Without glyphosate, fighting weeds will get more expensive and more complicated.

ts hard to find an herbicide like glyphosate. It’s cheap, highly effective, and is generally regarded as one of the safest and most environmentally benign herbicides ever discovered. But a report last year that glyphosate could cause cancer has thrown its future into jeopardy. Now the European Union faces a 30 June deadline to reapprove its use, or glyphosate will not be allowed for sale. Here's a quick explanation of the issues.

Who uses glyphosate?

Just about everyone who hates weeds. The herbicide is widely sprayed to fight weeds along railroad tracks, in backyards, city streets, parks, and elsewhere. Many kinds of agriculture rely on glyphosate as well—and farmers are by far the biggest users. (Sales skyrocketed in the United States and Latin America after Monsanto and other companies genetically modified soybeans and other crops to withstand the effects of glyphosate. That means farmers can easily kill weeds without harming their crops.) The herbicide has done more than benefit farmers' profits; glyphosate has also curbed soil erosion by facilitating no-till agriculture, the practice of spraying fields before planting instead of plowing up weeds.

Why is it controversial?

Environmental advocates have long worried about health effects of pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate. The U.K. Soil Association, for example, wants a ban on pre-harvest spraying of wheat fields, a practice that kills green heads of wheat and allows an earlier harvest, but also leaves residues of glyphosate in the grain. Trace amounts have been found in bread and beer, causing anxiety among consumers. If you're a chemical company selling herbicides in Europe, it's very bad news to mess with the perceived purity of food.

What makes glyphosate a big issue in Europe right now?

A bombshell report. Like other regulatory agencies, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviews the science on pesticides and herbicides every decade or so. If the evidence still suggests that the chemical is safe enough, EFSA allows member nations to decide whether or how they want to make it available. EFSA was in the process of reviewing glyphosate, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—which independently gathers health data for the World Health Organization—declared glyphosate  a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015. Nongovernmental organizations began a vigorous campaign to prevent the reregistration of glyphosate. Meanwhile, chemical companies and agricultural trade groups defended its safety record, pointing out that every regulatory agency had given glyphosate a green light. 

Wait, why didn't the health reviews of glyphosate come to the same conclusions?

One reason is that they ask different questions. IARC evaluates the hazard of a chemical—in this case, whether it could cause cancer. It does not ask how likely that is to happen, or in how many people. Regulatory agencies like EFSA also evaluate the risk of harm, depending on factors such as the toxicity and the way people are exposed to a chemical. Given the trace amounts of glyphosate that people typically ingest, EPA and other regulators have concluded that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer or other harm. IARC noted “limited evidence” of a cancer risk to farm workers, but regulators have not been convinced that glyphosate is a danger there either.

Is that the only difference between IARC and the other reviews?

There's also an issue of transparency and trust. IARC only considers peer-reviewed scientific papers and government studies. Regulatory agencies also look at unpublished and confidential studies conducted by and for the herbicide manufacturers. Industry critics are highly skeptical of such data.

It’s not just about cancer, is it?

No. Many Europeans are worried about the environmental impact as well. And glyphosate has come to symbolize industrial agriculture and corporate control of food and farming. Europeans who value locally-owned agriculture and organic farms (which can’t use glyphosate and other synthetic agro-chemicals) are more likely to support a ban, regardless of whether glyphosate causes cancer or not. But the only “easy” legal mechanism to clamp down on glyphosate is because of its alleged human health risk.

What happens next?

So far there's been a deadlock. The decision was in the hands of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF), which is made up of representatives from the European Union's 28 member states. But PAFF has failed to reach a majority in several past meetings, even as the proposals were scaled back to ever-shorter reapproval periods for glyphosate. On 23 June, an appeals committee will vote. It may decide to renew the approval for a short period, say 1 year, to keep glyphosate available while the debate continues. Without a qualified majority deciding to renew, the approval will expire on 30 June, and the compound will have to be taken off the market in all E.U. countries.

And what would happen then?

Industry’s Glyphosate Task Force warns of dire consequences, such as rising food prices, falling exports, and crop yields dropping by 5% (for oilseed rape) to 40% (for sugar beets). Environmental advocates point to alternative strategies for weed control, including mowing, plowing, and rotating crops. Other herbicides are available, but they're not as effective. Without glyphosate, fighting weeds will get more expensive and more complicated.  

Without glyphosate, fighting weeds will get more expensive and more complicated.
Fences and Walls: A Short-sighted Response to Migration Fears? E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Monday, 20 June 2016 07:15

By José Graziano da Silva and Andrew MacMillan


José Graziano da Silva is Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Andrew MacMillan, former head of the FAO Investment Center.

Refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Idomeni. Credit: Nikos Pilos/IPS

Refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the town of Idomeni. Credit: Nikos Pilos/IPS

ROME, Jun 20 2016 (IPS) - European nations from which millions once left to escape hardship and hunger – Greece, Ireland, Italy – are today destinations for others doing the same.

Many people are on the move. The really big numbers relate to rural-urban migration in developing countries. In 1950, 746 million people lived in cities, 30 percent of the world’s population. By 2014, urban population reached 3.9 billion (54 percent).

By comparison, about 4 million migrants have moved into OECD countries each year since 2007 *. And 60 percent of Europe’s 3.4 million immigrants in 2013 came from other European Union member states or already held EU citizenship. Those from outside amounted to less than 0.3 percent of the EU’s population.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP); must have investment screens and must redefine what constitutes due diligence E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Saturday, 18 June 2016 13:29


A.    Suggestion related to rephrasing the CPP Mission statement

B.     Importance of both positive and negative screens and peremptory norms

C.     redefinition of what constitutes due diligence

D.    Conclusion

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 07:04
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