Author Archive

Hollywood does Orwell

December 22, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders  

"When you see videos of Hollywood celebrities -- like the latest with Martin Sheen, Debra Messing and Bob Odenkirk -- earnestly telling Americans how to live up to their brand of liberal politics by rejecting the GOP, the first question you have to ask yourself is: Why? I still ask myself that after watching the latest pitch under the Orwellian hashtags #UniteForAmerica (the ad hoc group's disingenuous name) and #SupportTheElectors. A montage of stars sotto voce urges 'Republican members of the Electoral College' to vote their conscience -- that is, against their own fellow citizens' considered election choice." (12/18/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/12/18/hollywood-does-orwell-n2261066  

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National Fraternal Order of Police expects Trump to honor state marijuana laws

December 22, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle Smell the Truth    

"States with legal marijuana laws in place might not be altered under the new administration, law enforcement officials expect. In a statement released on their website last month, the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) listed a number of proposals they believe president-elect Trump will address within his first 100 days in office, which includes the possibility of leaving state marijuana laws alone, reports the Denver Westword. The FOP’s list of potential executive orders or actions includes a decision to 'direct federal law enforcement agencies to not pursue violations of Federal drug laws even in States which have passed legislation legalizing the use, manufacture and possession of marijuana.'" (12/21/16)

http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2016/12/19/national-fraternal-order-of-police-expects-trump-to-honor-state-marijuana-laws  

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Public infrastructure as stealth privatization

December 22, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Donald Cohen  

"Donald Trump hasn’t released an infrastructure plan but has given a good sense of the direction his administration will take. His proposal will likely use giant tax breaks to spur a massive increase in private control of public infrastructure in what David Dayen called a 'privatization fire sale.' Trump will be able to say the plan will both mean no new taxes and guaranteed profits for investors for decades. It’s too good to be true. There’s no doubt America needs a massive infrastructure upgrade. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates nearly $4 trillion in needs including decades of deferred maintenance of our drinking and waste water systems, our roads and bridges and more, as well as new infrastructure such as light rail and broadband communications needed respond to 21st century challenges and opportunities." [editor's note: Were it actual privatization and not crony-corp cartelism, this would not be a bad thing - SAT] (12/21/16)

http://prospect.org/article/public-infrastructure-stealth-privatization  

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Puerto Rico will have a blind man as Secretary of Transportation

December 22, 2016
posted by

Fox News    

"Puerto Rico's governor-elect Ricardo Rossello made history Tuesday by appointing a blind man as the new Secretary of Transportation and Public Works. Carlos Contreras, an accomplished engineer with vast experience in public office, will also serve the position of executive director of the Roads and Transportation Authority 'His appointment constitutes a historical precedent, being the first person blind to occupy the secretariat of the Department of Transportation and Public Works,' said Rossello during the press conference. 'It is a source of great satisfaction that Engineer Contreras Aponte has agreed to join our administration and make available to Puerto Rico his abilities and his commitment to the public service.'" (12/21/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/12/21/unprecedented-puerto-rico-appoints-blind-man-as-secretary-transportation.html  

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California’s birth rate falls to lowest level ever

December 22, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"California's birth rate dropped to its lowest ever in 2016, according to data released by the state's Department of Finance. Between July 2015 and July of this year, there were 12.42 births per 1,000 Californians. The last time birth rates came close to being that low was during the Great Depression, when they hit 12.6 in 1933. The current low birth rate is part of a years-long downward trend that likely stems from Californians increasingly attending college and taking longer to graduate, said Walter Schwarm, a demographer at the Department of Finance. When they do complete their schooling, they're interested in taking some time to pursue their careers or other goals, he said. 'Eventually you think about having a child and by this point in time you're in your early 30s,' he said. Because that's also when women's fertility begins to decrease, they end up having fewer children than if they'd started in their 20s, he said." (12/21/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/californias-birth-rate-falls-to-lowest-level-ever-new-data-show  

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The growing movement for marijuana amnesty

December 22, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Megan Carpentier  

"With an estimated $7 billion in sales in 2016 and potentially exponential growth due to recent ballot initiatives on recreational use, the legal marijuana industry has a lot of businesses seeing green. But as is so often the case in this country, there’s a darker side to this story and it splinters on the lines of race. For decades, the war on drugs has disproportionately targeted black and brown users for arrest and incarceration, and legalization efforts have until recently not addressed what happens to people who have been put in prison for possessing a substance that voters have since opted to make legal. The American Civil Liberties Union found in a 2013 report that, between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession, as opposed to intent to distribute. These arrests accounted for 46 percent of all drug arrests in the United States at that time. And though studies suggest that African-Americans and whites use marijuana at similar rates, African-Americans were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana crime." (12/21/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139443/growing-movement-marijuana-amnesty  

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“Scientology” program accuses church leader David Miscavige of physical abuse

December 22, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"Scientology adversaries, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder headed to Seattle, Wash. and Los Angeles, Calif. in Tuesday’s episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which focused on founder L. Ron Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige. Former parishioners Remini and Rinder met with ex-Scientologists Jeff Hawkins, Tom DeVocht and Ron Miscavige, father of the current leader, in part four of the A&E docu-series. Hawkins and DeVocht discussed weighty allegations of physical abuse in Seattle, while Ron described his experiences at the Church’s international headquarters, dubbed 'Gold Base' near Hemet, CA." (12/21/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2016/12/21/leah-remini-scientology-and-the-aftermath-episode-4-/95689966  

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Trump hotels reach deal with unions, ending labor board cases

December 21, 2016
posted by

Reuters    

"Hotels in Las Vegas and Washington owned by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday they have entered into collective bargaining agreements with more than 500 workers, who will drop claims that the hotels violated federal labor law. The four-year contracts effective Jan. 1 will provide food and beverage and housekeeping employees at Trump International hotels in those cities with annual raises and pension and healthcare benefits, Trump Hotels and four unions said in a joint statement. Under the agreement, one of the unions, Unite Here Culinary Workers Union Local 226, will withdraw a series of cases filed with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board against the Las Vegas hotel, union spokeswoman Bethany Khan said." [editor's note: Negotiation instead of government edict; what a concept! - SAT] (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-hotels-unions-idUSKBN14A1PW  

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Yes, 2016 was bad, but next year could be worse

December 21, 2016
posted by

Reuters
by Peter Apps  

"The killing of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday evening might have prompted knee-jerk comparisons to the 1914 assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, but it almost certainly won’t spark a World War One-type conflict. The lethal truck attack that killed 12 in Berlin a few hours later, however, could ratchet up the prospect of yet another political shock in Europe. 2016 looks set to keep throwing out unexpected, often brutal surprises right to its end. If 1989 (the year the Berlin wall fell) was the point at which globalization, liberal democracy and the Western view of modernity was seen to triumph, the year now concluding might yet be seen as when the wheels came off. That may be a dramatic overstatement. However, the electoral surprises of the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump (as well as dozens of other examples across the globe) are stark reminders of just how much consensus has unraveled. The next year could see a step back towards moderation. But it could equally see things spiral further out of control." (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-apps-2016-commentary-idUSKBN14A1K0  

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Title IX: “Bureaucratic sex creep” gone wild

December 21, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds  

"If you want to see how the federal bureaucracy can mess things up, and create huge new areas of overburdening regulation, just look at what it has done with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX simply reads: 'No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.' That’s all. But from this small, simple statement (there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex) has been created a regulatory Tower of Babel governing sports teams, student discipline and even, and most dubiously, sexual consent." (12/20/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/19/title-ix-federal-bureacracy-campuses-glenn-reynolds-column/95585446  

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Waging class war in comfort

December 21, 2016
posted by

Sam Pizzigati Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati  

"In a typical corporate board of directors meeting, what do CEOs see when they look out across their richly lacquered boardroom tables? They see . . . lots of other CEOs. That’s no accident. CEOs today purposely pack their corporate boards with their pals, who often turn out to be current or former chiefs at other corporations. Everybody who’s anybody just feels more comfortable that way. The most powerful corporate executive in 1950s America, GM's Charlie Wilson, served as defense secretary and paid three-quarters of his income in taxes. The most powerful corporate executive in 1950s America, GM’s Charlie Wilson, served as U.S. secretary of defense -- and paid three-quarters of his income in taxes. President-elect Donald Trump, a big-time business chief himself, certainly seems to want to feel comfortable, too. No other President-elect has ever packed his cabinet with more business bigwigs." [editor's note: Although there are also a lot of Congressthugs in that list, at least some of the corporati chosen might be seen as tough overseers of their departments, who know how to make things run effectively, cut costs ... Just sayin' - SAT] (12/19/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161219/waging-class-war-in-comfort  

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FL: Orlando shooting relatives sue social media giants

December 21, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The families of three men who were killed in the Orlando nightclub massacre have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google (YouTube) alleging that the firms provided 'material support' to the so-called Islamic State. In their lawsuit, relatives of Juan Ramon Guerrero Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Juan Ramon Guerrrero, assert that the user-generated platforms aided in the radicalisation of gunman Omar Mateen. Mateen pledged allegiance to IS before he attacked Pulse, a gay nightclub in June - 49 people were killed, in what has been described as the worst mass shooting in recent US history. " (12/21/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-38392718  

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Tillerson could shine as Secretary of State

December 18, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Armand V Cucciniello III  

"President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as the next secretary of State has caused another post-election panic attack. Looking beyond Tillerson’s engagement with Russia, however, reveals someone with a distinguished education, a notable leadership record and substantial foreign affairs experience. It's a fact that Tillerson is a businessman with a history of looking out for corporate interests such as access to energy, growth, sustainability and profit. But assessing his candidacy on that basis would be akin to saying the president of the United States should be judged for a business position on a record of looking out for the American people, national security and the U.S. economy. In both cases, the leaders have their organization’s top priorities and strategic goals in mind. The assertion that Tillerson has no diplomatic experience is myopic." [editor's note: Check out the competence and skills required for this position, not the political offices one has normally held - SAT] (12/16/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/16/tillerson-could-shine-secretary-state-column/95443982  

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Putin’s dangerous fan club

December 18, 2016
posted by

Reuters
by John Lloyd  

"A clutch of leaders who will certainly or likely be in power next year have made clear their admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. It may not last; we should hope it doesn't. Donald Trump, leader-elect of the leaders of the free world, has repeatedly said that he likes the Russian autocrat’s governing style, and that he has always 'felt fine' about Putin. 'He's a strong leader. He's a powerful leader.' As Russia commentator Masha Gessen observed, the two are strikingly similar in their disregard for the facts. 'It’s not just that both Putin and Trump lie,' writes Gessen, 'it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose: blatantly, to assert power over truth itself.' In France, both the main presidential challengers from the right also regard Putin, and Russia, with fondness. National Front Leader Marine Le Pen, who benefited from the generosity of one of Russia's state banks after taking a $9.8 million loan to help fund her run for the Elysee Palace, has expressed her admiration of Putin’s 'cool head' when faced with 'the West's new Cold War.'" (12/16/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lloyd-putin-commentary-idUSKBN1451QW  

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British values oath proposed for public office holders

December 18, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Civil servants and other holders of public office should swear an oath to British values, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has said. Writing in the Sunday Times, Mr Javid said people could not play a 'positive role' in public life unless they accepted basic values. These included democracy, equality and freedom of speech, he said. Mr Javid's intervention comes after a report by Dame Louise Casey warned of increasing ethnic segregation. Mr Javid's proposals would mean every new recruit in the public sector, including councillors, school governors and civil servants would be expected to commit to the oath, which may have to be read out loud before starting the role." (12/17/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-38355373  

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NC: New law pushes the partisan envelope

December 18, 2016
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"Forty years ago, North Carolina’s newly-elected Democratic governor, Jim Hunt, did something that might sound suspiciously familiar today. He fired 169 Republican staffers in what came to be known as the 'Christmas Massacre.' On Friday, the state’s Republican-majority legislature and its outgoing governor, Republican Pat McCrory, went several steps further. In a brazen political power play, they used a special legislative session to strip power from the governorship before Roy Cooper, a Democrat, takes over Jan. 1. The package reduces the number of appointments the governor makes from 1,500 to 300, it makes cabinet picks subject to Senate approval, and it ends the governor’s power to make appointments to the state’s powerful University of North Carolina boards of trustees and the state school board." (12/17/16)

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2016/1217/North-Carolina-s-new-law-pushes-the-partisan-envelope  

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“Corruption” then and now

December 18, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"Remember how the 'news' media was going on and on about the Clinton Foundation -- at least when they weren’t going on and on abut Hillary Clinton’s emails, or airing entire Trump rallies for free? Media 'coverage' of the 2016 campaign was almost entirely devoid of discussion of the important issues. Climate change? Housing policy? Instead it consisted of media coverage of anything Donald Trump said (including repeatedly giving free time to air entire Trump rallies) insinuations about the activities of the Clinton Foundation and insinuations that Clinton did something illegal with her emails. (Even FBI Director Comey got in on that game.) What were voters to think? The 'corruption' accusation was that Clinton was 'selling access' by having meetings with people who had donated money to the Clinton Foundation charity. That was called a 'criminal enterprise.' That was then this is now." [editor's note: This "column" is "disappointing;" Mr. Johnson usually sees through this kind of bullshit - SAT] (12/16/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161216/corruption-then-and-now  

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New Zealand: New leader names his cabinet, changes inner circle

December 18, 2016
posted by

Reuters    

"New Zealand's new prime minister Bill English announced his cabinet on Sunday, introducing four new faces and rejigging his inner leadership group. After popular leader John Key's surprise resignation, the National Party had a chance to refresh its line-up of senior politicians as the government prepares to battle for a fourth term in an election due around September 2017. English, former deputy premier, was confirmed as prime minister on Dec. 12, one week after Key announced he was stepping down after eight years. The prime minister told reporters his 'refreshed' cabinet builds on Key's success and 'provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.' The new line-up sees three incumbent ministers (Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Jonathan Coleman) brought into the inner kitchen cabinet.'" (12/17/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-newzealand-politics-cabinet-idUSKBN14703L  

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Canada: Trudeau sees first big drop in polls

December 18, 2016
posted by

Aol News    

"Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's approval rating has dropped 10 percentage points in the last three months amid rising dissatisfaction with the economy and concern about pipeline approvals, a public opinion poll released on Friday showed. Still, Trudeau remained far more popular than his two political opponents and more popular than any recent prime minister, with 55 percent of Canadians expressing confidence in his performance, the Angus Reid poll showed. That was down 10 points from the 65 percent approval rating Trudeau enjoyed in September, according to the survey, which carried the headline 'Is the honeymoon ending?' ... 'While this level of approval may well be the envy of prime ministers past and future, it also represents the lowest approval he has recorded at any point since his Liberal Party won a majority mandate in last October's election,' Angus Reid said in the poll." (12/16/16)

http://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/12/16/canadas-trudeau-sees-first-big-drop-in-polls/21629777  

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Rogue One: The most leftist Star Wars film yet

December 18, 2016
posted by

In These Times In These Times
by Kate Aronoff  

"If you're conscious and over 17, you probably have pretty clear expectations for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: a flashy, well-made and not terribly intricate action movie featuring a young hero with a tragic and/or mysterious past, a multitude of Easter eggs for die-hard fans, and -- more than likely -- some sort of nefarious infrastructure project. Rogue One makes good on those expectations. The surprising thing is that this, the eighth film in the franchise, might be the most politically substantive yet." [editor's note: This review is making me want to see the film, after all, to see where she interpreted it right and where she missed it entirely - SAT] (12/16/16)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19744/the-rogue-one-may-be-the-most-leftist-star-wars-film-yet  

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The art of the infrastructure deal

December 18, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Gabrielle Gurley  

"For policy wonks, the only bright spot of the dismal 2016 election campaign was the unprecedented attention given the pitiful state of American infrastructure. It was the only area of common ground that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were able to carve out, although quality of the discussion never rose beyond a grade-school tug-of-war over who would spend the most. In the waning days of the Trump transition, hopes are dwindling that the president-elect can deliver, even though he recognizes that the country’s transportation, water, and other infrastructure assets need an historic overhaul and that innovative, new projects could use some federal juice. There are indications that infrastructure policy expectations may have to be significantly dialed back, despite the fact that transportation is the one sector where Trump’s views align with reality." (12/12/16)

http://prospect.org/article/art-infrastructure-deal  

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Trump’s pick for budget director has urged big spending cuts

December 18, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, President-elect Donald Trump's choice as his budget director, is a fierce deficit hawk with a record of pushing deep spending cuts across the federal government to balance the budget. The 49-year-old from South Carolina, just re-elected to a fourth term, is a co-founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus that pushed former Speaker John Boehner, [R-OH], from power. As director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney would be responsible for Trump's budget submissions to Congress. Those budgets are likely to address Trump's campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut taxes broadly and boost spending on public works and other projects." [editor's note: Anyone else wondering what makes this "news"? Has it really been that long since a budget considered how to stop pissing it away? - SAT] (12/17/16)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/politics/article/Trump-s-pick-for-budget-director-has-urged-big-10803239.php  

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Democrats need to oppose Trump’s cabinet picks en masse

December 18, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Eric Sasson  

"Now that President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet choices have mostly been announced—the latest being Russia BFF and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, and ready-to-run-the-agency-he-forgot-he-wants-to-abolish Rick Perry for secretary of energy—progressives are understandably apoplectic. It’s not just that Trump’s choices give new meaning to the term “radically conservative,” it’s that so many of them are either wildly inappropriate for or vehemently at odds with the respective departments they’ve been selected to run. While Trump can certainly be said to be 'shaking up' Washington with his picks, it is also true that, by nominating so many fringe candidates at once, Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) will only be able to muster up real opposition to two or three of them at most, allowing the others to slide in." [editor's note: It's this kind of blanket thinking that will doom the truly "progressive" movement; instead of looking for places where some ground has been gained (inadvertently or not, Tillerson is less likely to start "the next war with Russia" than either Bolton or Giuliani ... or Hillary for that matter), they whine on about "forces of evil" (leaving out their own "side" of course) - SAT] (12/16/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139353/democrats-stop-talking-bipartisanship-start-fighting  

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GOP electors targeted with $500k ad buy in final anti-Trump push

December 18, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"A coalition of outside groups seeking to pressure Republican members of the Electoral College to vote against Donald Trump are sinking half a million dollars into a final ad buy in all 50 states. The ad is a 30-second version of a YouTube video released earlier this week featuring celebrities, including Martin Sheen and Debra Messing. It will run on cable and satellite television Saturday and Sunday, according to information provided to USA TODAY. It features a number of celebrities quoting the U.S. Constitution, specifically the duty of electors to ensure that the presidency only goes to someone who is 'to an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.'" [editor's note: Did some of that go to Saturday Night Live for their Hillary/elector sketch? - SAT] (12/17/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/17/gop-electors-targeted-500k-ad-buy-final-anti-trump-push/95562336  

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Facebook rolls out new tools to tackle “fake news”

December 15, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Facebook has announced new features to help combat fabricated news stories on the world's largest social network. New reporting features are being rolled out, along with other changes designed to combat the spread of misinformation. Facebook was widely criticised last month after some users complained that fake news had influenced the US presidential election. The new features include the ability to flag fake stories, as well as possible future changes to Facebook's algorithm." [editor's note: Our task, if we choose to accept it, is to report every "mainstream media" propaganda piece as "it's a fake news story" - SAT] (12/15/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38336212  

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