Harper urges voters to avoid 'risk' of NDP or Liberals in power

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is warning voters that a victory by the New Democrats or Liberals in this fall’s election would bring European-style economic calamity to this country and open the door to an increased security threat from jihadist terrorists.

In a highly partisan speech delivered Saturday evening to supporters at a Conservative barbecue, Harper predicted voters will opt to return his party to power with another majority.

“I’m confident that this October, Canadians will choose security over risk.”

But with no guarantees in politics, Harper also unveiled some of the key themes he will bring on the road to persuade voters in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 19 election.

In particular, he spent much of his time portraying his party as the only one seeking votes that is truly prepared to protect Canadians from terrorists.

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The news that the United States government reached an $18.7 billion settlement with the British oil giant BP for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will surely remind Indians of a certain industrial disaster in Bhopal.

The terms “largest” and “biggest” apply to both accidents, except in the case of the BP oil spill, they also describe the compensation, fines and penalties. For the abandoned people of Bhopal, they still only mean the magnitude of the calamity that befell them on the night of December 2-3, 1984 as toxic gas spewed from a Union Carbide plant.

Not for a minute can successive Indian state and central governments escape responsibility for their pitiful prosecution of the case in US courts and continued criminal negligence – the toxic waste in the plant is still not cleaned up and has seeped through soil and water. But the role of the US government was no less bleak. In fact, it is difficult to decide whose conduct was more appalling vis-à-vis the people of Bhopal.

The BP rig explosion on April 10, 2010, which led to the death of 11 crew members, spewed roughly 4 million barrels of crude oil into the water. The potential damage to the environment is unknown but a serious clean up effort was underway within days of the accident. The government machinery cranked up to bring BP to book to say nothing of the massive power of the media campaign.

The victims were American – fish and human – their protector the American government and the perpetrator a British corporation. The value of life and loss was calculated on a shared scale.

By contrast, in Bhopal the perpetrator was a US corporation, the victims Indian and their protector a bumbling Indian government. The value of life and loss was calculated on a different scale.

The Rajiv Gandhi government settled out of court in 1989 on the advice of a US law firm it had hired to represent the victims of the world’s biggest industrial disaster. The firm Robins&Kaplan lists “Bhopal” as one of its achievements even though it barely gave a fight.

The settlement figure was decided not by the enormity of the suffering but by what insurers of the company were willing to pay Union Carbide – thus $470 million was deemed enough for lives lost, injuries sustained and future birth defects. There was no admission of guilt and Union Carbide to this day claims the gas leak was “sabotage.”

India decided to settle also because of continuous and enormous pressure from the US government then under one of Obama’s Republican predecessors, Ronald Reagan. The message from successive US ambassadors was plain – if you fight, US investments in India would dry up. It’s not good for business. The US government refused to extradite Anderson to face charges in India.

Cut to the United States and the BP oil spill. Within days of the spill, the oil giant had set up a compensation fund of $20 billion for immediate help. The settlement reached on Thursday was in addition to the $20 billion.

BP shares jumped 5 percent, dubbed “a realistic outcome” by CEO Bob Dudley since it “provides clarity and certainty for all parties.” The words will sting Bhopal survivors just like the gas 30 years ago.

(via Scroll)
In rural Greece, quiet resilience in the face of economic calamity
In one small village's café, those who back membership in the eurozone sit at one table; those opposed sit at another.

Ilias Mathes has protection against bank closures, capital controls and the slashing of his pension: 10 goats, some hens and a vegetable patch.

If Greece’s financial crisis deepens, as many believe it must, he can feed his children and grandchildren with the bounty of the land in this proud village high in the mountains of the Arcadia Peloponnese.

“I have my lettuce, my onions, I have my hens, my birds, I will manage,” he said. He can no longer access his full pension payment, though, because of government controls imposed six days ago.

“We will manage for a period of time, I don’t know, two months, maybe three months, because I also want to give to our relatives,” said Peloponnese. “If they are suffering, I cannot leave them like this, isn’t that so?”

Mundo moderno, as pessoas não se falam. Ao contrário, se calam, se pisam, se traem, se matam
—  Racionais Mc’s.