Scientists find 414 million pieces of plastic debris on remote islands. That’s even worse than it sounds.

Plastics are threatening ocean life. As a result. the ocean is now producing 20% less oxygen. If people continue to ignore the difference between what they want (fueled by our shopping addiction) and what they need, the threat to the very source of life on earth will play out inevitably, resulting  in planetary ecocide.

Lead author Jennifer Lavers looks out at the plastic debris covering a Cocos (Keeling) Island beach
Lead author Jennifer Lavers looks out at the plastic debris covering a Cocos (Keeling) Island beach.Silke Stuckenbrock

The extraordinary haul means we may have underestimated the scale of the world’s plastic problem.

The amount of plastic pollution previously thought to exist around the world may be a dramatic underestimate — because the vast majority of plastic pollution may actually be below the surface.

That’s the takeaway from a survey of plastic pollution on the beaches of Australia’s Cocos Islands, made up of two coral atolls.

An estimated 414 million pieces of debris are now littering the remote islands, and the vast majority of that waste is buried below the surface, according to a new study. But even that is likely an underestimate, a group of researchers reported May 16 in the journal Scientific Reports.

What’s more, because most of this plastic is buried below the surface, and most global surveys don’t look below the surface, the amount of plastic pollution worldwide may be way more than we previously thought, they reported. [In Images: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch]

Roughly 93 percent of the debris found, most of it tiny micro-debris, was actually buried below the surface. But because they only dug 3.94 inches into the sand, and couldn’t access some beaches that are known to have a lot of debris, these numbers are likely conservative, lead author Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at the University of Tasmania, said in a statement.

“Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume of plastic debris now circling the globe,” Lavers said. MORE


America’s Dopamine-Fueled Shopping Addiction


Sperm counts are on the decline – could plastics be to blame?

Premier Doug Ford cancels retroactive cuts that have hit public health, child care and other municipal services

The Ford government’s penchant for retroactive legislation without prior consultation of any kind, provokes unintended consequences and result in public support tanking.

Bowing to pressure from Mayor John Tory, Ford made the announcement Monday.

Bowing to pressure from Mayor John Tory, Premier Doug Ford is cancelling retroactive cuts that have hit public health, child care, and other municipal services.

Ford announced Monday that he was rethinking the change that the city maintains has cost civic coffers $177 million.

The moves comes as his popularity has plunged in five recent public-opinion polls.

While the province disputes city hall’s math on the scope of the cuts, Ford is mindful his in-year changes unveiled in the April budget were unfair to municipalities across the province that had already locked down their spending plans.

Monday’s capitulation came after Tory spent Saturday canvassing the riding of Progressive Conservative MPP Robin Martin (Eglinton-Lawrence).
The mayor, who has been campaigning against the cuts for weeks, was warning residents that Martin’s government had hurt the city. MORE

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that they wanted to work with municipal mayors and that retroactive cuts on public health and other municipal services would not go forward this year.

Tory goes door to door in campaign against Ford government’s city budget cuts
Councillor Stephen Holyday blasts Ford for ‘half-truths’ on city audit process

‘You disappointed us’: Why is Canada opposing more transparency in drug prices?

Why was the Trudeau government fighting the international effort to force drug companies to commit to transparency about R&D costs, information that  is needed to evaluate what is a reasonable price for drugs?  If you believe something doesn’t smell right, you are justified.

Pharma industry says high prices are necessary to cover costs. Some nations want to see the data

Delegates to the World Health Assembly are expected to consider a transparency resolution demanding the pharmaceutical industry release confidential data about the costs of R&D, the outcomes of clinical trials and the actual prices that countries pay for drugs after secret negotiations and rebates. (L. Cipriani/WHO)

Behind closed doors at the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva this week, health officials from around the world began hammering at the black box of secrecy surrounding the pharmaceutical industry.

As the debate in the room heated up, observers were surprised that Canada was among the countries that seemed to be trying to weaken that effort.

The fact that transparency is even on the agenda for government health officials at the WHA is evidence of the mounting international frustration over high drug prices. The meeting sets priorities for the World Health Organization (WHO), which is already grappling with the global impact of drug prices on public health.

The WHA’s transparency resolution would demand unprecedented disclosure by drug companies about how much they spend on R&D, including the cost of clinical trials.

The resolution would also call for a system for countries to compare the true prices they pay for individual drugs. Right now, no country knows what another country is paying for the same drug. That’s because companies hold secret negotiations with individual governments, forcing officials to sign non-disclosure agreements preventing them from revealing any price discounts that they were able to negotiate.

But battle lines quickly appeared in the meeting room, with Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and several other countries, including Canada, proposing changes to the wording that would soften the resolution and protect industry secrecy.

“You disappointed us this week, Canada,” Love told CBC News. “You guys are supposed to be the good guys, right?”

Love described several examples where Canada requested changes that softened the resolution. MORE


Jagmeet Singh: NDP Will Bring In Universal Pharmacare In 2020

Corporate Canada’s Pile of Cash in Offshore Tax Havens Has Hit $353 Billion For the First Time in History

Take Action: “Government clearly hasn’t fixed its multi-billion-dollar problem of tax haven use. We clearly need tougher both tougher enforcement and tougher laws.” —Toby Sanger, Canadians for Tax Fairness


Luxembourg, Barbados and Bermuda are three of Canada’s top five destinations in the world for corporate cash

To put that sum of money into context, Luxembourg has now become Canada’s third top destination for corporate investments in the world, trailing only behind major G7 trading partners like the United States and the United Kingdom.

Notably, at the same time as Canadian companies send $90 billion to Luxembourg, companies in Luxembourg are sending $56 billion back to Canada — something that may seem odd for a country with a population of only 500,000 people.

Meanwhile, CRA has faced scrutiny over how aggressive the tax agency has been in auditing or prosecuting wealthy tax dodgers named in the 2016 Panama Papers leak.

To date, CRA has recovered $14.9 million in taxes and penalties, but no criminal charges have yet been laid. MORE


Time to lift the veil on anonymous companies

Canada now has an international reputation for being the “Maytag of the North”: a place where it is “as easy as pie” for someone to launder their dirty money through anonymous corporations and real estate.

Greta Thunberg’s words speak to larger truths about humanity


Photo of Greta Thunberg from twitter

A Swedish teenager goes from country to country in Europe, aiming salvos of scientific truth about climate crisis at the world’s recalcitrant  political and corporate leaders, most of whom are working very hard to pretend that there is no global climate crisis.

There is a broad and trenchant symbolism embedded in her words and actions, that reaches into the very soul of humanity.

“If we ignore, neglect or marginalize her, we are symbolically doing the same to every young person who stands up and enunciates truths, especially when those truths are firmly articulated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If we negate Thunberg, we negate one of our most sophisticated and independent systems for understanding the world and communicating our best insights about it.

Such a negative response is particularly heinous when we all know that this young person will be alive long after most of the dominant figures in the corporate and regulatory sector will be dead, and thus will have to deal tomorrow with the results of their inaction.

In my view, we need to take the concerns of youth like Thunberg seriously, take their words into our hearts and minds, and then broadly and firmly act on them. Our common humanity depends upon it.” MORE