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Showing posts from November, 2014

Alberta Pipeline Spills 60,000 Litres Of Crude Into Muskeg, Says Energy Regulator

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[It's all in how it's presented. They come out once or twice a week, announce a spill, say "Oh it wasn't that big, and besides, it's in the middle of nowhere." Where is the discussion about cumulative impacts, the total spillage per annum? *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 29 November 2014


RED EARTH CREEK, Alta. - The Alberta Energy Regulator says close to 60,000 litres of crude oil have spilled into muskeg in the province's north.

An incident report by the regulator states that a mechanical failure was reported Thursday at a Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSX:CNQ) pipeline approximately 27 kilometres north of Red Earth Creek.

The report says there are no reports of impact to wildlife and that a cleanup has begun.

Red Earth Creek is over 350 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

Carrie Rosa, a spokeswoman for the regulator, says officials have been delayed reaching the scene due to poor weather in the last …

Environment Canada Study Reveals Oilsands Tailings Ponds Emit Toxins to Atmosphere at Much Higher Levels than Reported

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[1,069 kilograms of cancer causing toxins are released into the air each year from oilsands tailing ponds. *RON*]
Carol Linnitt, DeSmog Canada, 28 November 2014
There are more than 176 square kilometres of tailings ponds holding waste from oilsands development in the area around Fort McMurray, Alberta. According to new research released from Environment Canada, those tailings ponds are emitting much higher levels of toxic and potentially cancer-causing contaminants into the air than previously reported.

As the Canadian Press reports, Environment Canada scientist Elisabeth Galarneau is the first to conduct field studies in the region and her research confirms that previous estimates of chemical release into the air have been massively underestimated.

“We found that there actually does appear to be a net flow of these compounds going from water to air,” Galarneau told the Canadian Press. “It’s just a bit under five times higher from the ponds than w…

Fracking could be as damaging as thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos, government's Chief Scientific Adviser warns in new report

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[Speaks for itself. *RON*]
Lewis Smith, The Independent, 28 November 2014

Fracking has the potential to be as controversial and as damaging as thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos, a report from the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser warns.

The technology has been developed to help oil companies extract gas trapped in shale rock but, the report fears, it could prove to be another innovation that takes society in the wrong direction.

Drawing a direct comparison with fracking technology chief scientist Mark Walport’s annual report said: “History presents plenty of examples of innovation trajectories that later proved to be problematic — for instance involving asbestos, benzene, thalidomide, dioxins, lead in petrol, tobacco, many pesticides, mercury, chlorine and endocrine-disrupting compounds, as well as CFCs, high-sulphur fuels and fossil fuels in general.

“In all these and many other cases, delayed recognition of adverse effects incurred not only se…

Austerity - take your pick

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Thousands gather in Montreal, Quebec City for anti-austerity demos (May well hurt Trudeau's election chances.)Thousands Take Part in General Strike Over Greek Austerity Measures (This was actually a general strike that brought Greece to a halt but this is, after all, the Wall Street Journal.)Spaniards protest against austerity cuts (More than 250,000 people from nearly 100 different organisations.)The north hits back at Osborne’s austerity: ‘it’s devolution or bust’ (Newcastle takes a page from the Scots in talking about devolving tax power to regions/municipalities.)

"Eat-what-you-kill capitalists" should care about income inequality too

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[Still quite soft-pedaled; but at least the topic has made it into the pages of Business in Vancouver. A Vancouver economist argues that Canada's tax system needs an overhaul. Note that the BIV editors assume - probably quite rightly - that their readers have not read Piketty. *RON*]
By Jen St. Denis, Business in Vancouver, 26 November 2014

A Vancouver economist is arguing that Canada’s tax system is in serious need of reform to rein in growing income inequality and spur investment in the economy.

“I’m concerned about growing inequality and increasing income concentration, but I know that not everyone shares that concern,” Kevin Milligan, a professor at the University of British Columbia, told Business in Vancouver.

“The goal here is for me to convince people who are even eat-what-you kill capitalists that it’s important for them too.”

In a report published November 26 by the C.D. Howe Institute, Milligan calls for several changes, including tax…

Time for government to address income inequality, TD report says

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[All in all, a light tap on the wrist for austerity supporters. Even at that, go to the original article and read the comments if you want a sample of the abysmal ignorance of Edmonton Journal online readers. *RON*]

By Sheila Pratt, Edmonton Journal, 27 November 2014

EDMONTON - Alberta’s strong oil economy and the housing boom are helping to keep income inequality from getting worse in Canada, says a new report by TD Economics.

Even with those positive trends, it’s time for government to address the issue, as too much inequality will hurt economic growth, says Craig Alexander, TD vice-president and chief economist.

“Alberta’s resource economy has really meant a lot of demand for middle-skilled workers,” Alexander said in an interview Thursday. “But if the oil boom slows, so will middle-class job creation.”

Canada’s income inequality worsened in the 1990s when governments were cutting spending and slashing deficits and it has not recovered, according…

Should Putin fear the man who ‘pulled the trigger of war’ in Ukraine?

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[Interesting new information on the role of Russia in the Ukraine and the "separatist commander" Igor Strelkov. *RON*]
By Lucian Kim, Reuters, 25 November 2014

The official Kremlin narrative on the war in eastern Ukraine is clear and simple: after seizing power in February, a Western-backed “junta” in Kiev sent neo-Nazi gangs – then tanks and warplanes – to stamp out peaceful protests by the Russian-speaking community. The locals who took up arms are freedom fighters, and the only help they get from Russia is humanitarian aid. For the past six months, Russian state television has carpet-bombed its viewers with this message, day in and day out.

Now one of the leaders of the rebellion in eastern Ukraine has turned the Kremlin storyline on its head. Igor Girkin, a retired Russian special ops officer also known as Igor Strelkov or simply “Strelok” (Shooter), was the military commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic before g…

'Being homeless is better than working for Amazon'

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[The corporatocracy in full stride. Circulate this one widely if you have the opportunity. Nichole Gracely has a master’s degree and was one of Amazon’s best order pickers. Now, after protesting the company, she’s homeless. *RON*]

Nichole Gracely, The Guardian, 28 November 2014

I am homeless. My worst days now are better than my best days working at Amazon.

According to Amazon’s metrics, I was one of their most productive order pickers – I was a machine, and my pace would accelerate throughout the course of a shift. What they didn’t know was that I stayed fast because if I slowed down for even a minute, I’d collapse from boredom and exhaustion.

During peak season, I trained incoming temps regularly. When that was over, I’d be an ordinary order picker once again, toiling in some remote corner of the warehouse, alone for 10 hours, with my every move being monitored by management on a computer screen.

Superb performance did not guarantee job security. …

Working for Walmart Is Even Worse Than You Think

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By Alyssa FigueroaAlterNet, 26 November 2014

[Life for the 99%: Victoria Alvarez explains why she and other Walmart workers nationwide are striking today, despite Walmart's attempts at silencing them. *RON*]

When I met Victoria Alvarez, 50, at a café after her shift at Walmart, I didn’t notice her knee brace. Instead I noticed her dark eyes and glittery nail polish, which in some ways is a great metaphor for Alvarez. She’s hurting, but her bold personality still dominates.

Within seconds of meeting her, you can tell she’s the type of person who's fun to be around; she talks with her hands, speaks her mind and doesn’t take anyone’s shit. Alvarez was born and raised in Mexico and immigrated to the United States more than 20 years ago. Her heavily accented voice is confident and captivating, and she had a lot to say.

She applied to work at Walmart during the 2009 recession. After a few months of work in Arizona, she transferred to a store i…

11 Stupid Reasons That White People Have Rioted

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[Lest we forget: White people riot all the time. Here's a look at some of the dumbest reasons. *RON*]

By Kali HollowayAlterNet, 27 November 2014

There is a long and storied history of behaviors being depicted through the prism of people's skin color. During Hurricane Katrina, as people of all races desperately searched for provisions, the media reported that white people “found” food, while black people “looted.”

A similar phenomenon can be seen in the response to protests sparked by the murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown and a grand jury’s recent decision not to indict his killer, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. In discussing riots that occurred in the aftermath of both events, the media and conservative pundits have displayed far too great a willingness to chalk up the destruction to black pathology without looking at longstanding policies that support and maintain white supremacy in the U.S. What’s more, they also c…

Gun Sales Spike During Black Friday

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[The corporatocracy and violence: "The FBI processed three background checks for gun purchases every second on Friday.... in the U.S., there are already nine guns for every 10 people, and someone is killed with a firearm every 16 minutes." *RON*]

By Igor Volsky, Think Progress, 29 November 2014

The FBI processed three background checks for gun purchases every second on Friday, as more than 144,000 shoppers were expected to buy firearms on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, an FBI spokesperson told CNN that the agency had already processed “more than 94,000 transactions, on pace to surpass last year’s 144,758.” Approximately 3,000 checks or 2 percent will not be completed as a result of insufficient information, 71 receive instant approvals, and approximately 1.1 percent of purchasers fail the check. If the government cannot complete the background check in three business days, the buyer is allowed to purch…

Tories Slammed Over Report Stating $200 Million For Veterans To Be Spread Over 50 Years

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[Deceitful, manipulative, pathological liars who repeatedly fail to learn from experience: they just met about half the diagnostic criteria for psychopaths. "the immediate $19.1-million investment will actually be spread out over the next six years and... the remaining $140.1 million will be paid out as needed until the last veteran who is currently in an operational stress-injury program no longer needs funding. With many Afghanistan vets in their 20s, she reports, the last of funding might not be spent for another five decades." *RON*]
By Ryan Maloney, The Huffington Post Canada, 28 November 2014

Opposition MPs are accusing Conservatives of deceiving Canadians by not disclosing that a $200-million investment to help veterans deal with mental health issues will reportedly be paid out over 50 years, not six.

On Friday, New Democrats and Liberals hammered Tories in question period after astory from The Globe and Mail's Gloria Galloway

The Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

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[Obama has caved in to high tech corporate bosses, maintaining their access to temporary foreign workers simply to help them keep costs down - not because of any mythical worker shortage. "They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I’m not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV." *RON*]
By Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 24 November 2014
Along with temporary deportation relief for millions, President Obama’s executive action will increase the number of U.S. college graduates from abroad who can temporarily be hired by U.S. corporations. That hasn’t satisfied tech companies and trade groups, which contend more green cards or guest worker visas are needed to keep tech industries growing because of a shortage of qualified American workers. But scholars say there’s a problem with that argument: The tech worker shortage doesn’t actually exist.

“There’s no evidence …

Argentina charges HSBC with aiding tax evasion via Swiss accounts

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[Pretty clearly, until some bankers go to jail nothing about their behaviour will change. *RON*]
Maximiliano Rizzi, Walter Bianchi, Sarah Marsh, Reuters, 27 November 2014

(Reuters) - Argentina has charged HSBC with aiding more than 4,000 clients to evade taxes by stashing their money in secret Swiss bank accounts, the country's AFIP tax authority said on Thursday.

AFIP said it received the information on the secret accounts from France, which last week placed HSBC's Swiss private banking arm under formal investigation for possibly aiding tax evasion.

"We denounce the existence of an illegal platform created by three banking entities (of HSBC) that are operating in Argentina," Ricardo Echegaray, the head of Argentina's AFIP tax agency, told a news conference.

"Its managers have intervened actively with the sole aim of helping Argentine citizens avoid paying their taxes."

HSBC Argentina rejected the charges in an emailed…

On pipelines, politicians are just listening to the people

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[Project approval by Harper's Federal puppets on the National Energy Board appears to mean less and less as time goes by and the People, and First Nations, and Civil Society, and the Provinces, and the Municipalities all push back against the oil and gas corporatocracy. Interesting to read this kind of story in the Globe & Mail for that matter. *RON*]

Gary Mason, The Globe and Mail, 28 November 2014

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of desperation in the voice of Alberta Premier Jim Prentice when he talks about the Energy East pipeline. One doesn’t have to concentrate quite as hard to detect the same anxiety in the words of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

Both were taken aback when Ontario and Quebec announced seven conditions for granting approval to the pipeline. One of those includes an assessment of the project’s upstream greenhouse gas emissions – which would appear to take into account the source of the crude moving throug…

The Pipeline Follies: From the "Take Your Pick" Department

Conservatives Will Hate This: Proof That Government Spending Cuts Hurt Economic Growth

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[See the original Financial Times article for more graphs. And an answer to Edwin Starr's 1969 question: "War, what is is good for?" *RON*]

Jim Edwards, Business Insider, 27 November 2014

It's the oldest battle in politics: Whether cutting government spending helps or hurts economic growth.

The Financial Times has done everyone a favour by publishing a series of charts on how US government spending contributed, or detracted from, GDP growth. And the conclusion is pretty severe:
...austerity subtracted about 0.76 percentage points off the real growth rate of the economy between the middle of 2010 and the middle of 2011. If real government spending had remained constant at mid-2010 levels and everything else stayed constant, (yes we know these are big assumptions) the US economy would now be about 1.2 per cent larger. There's a secondary conclusion, too: War is good (economically), it turns out.

Conditions in First Nations, Metis and Inuit Communities are Canada's National Shame

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[Whether you agree with it intent or not, Harper's "Transparency" legislation, which will force public accountability for First Nations spending, is being rammed through by actually threatening to cut off funds for the problems that Suzuki describes here. Why isn't the public more aware of this? How would Canadians react if they heard someone was cutting off the water in some developing nation as a way of bullying their political 'final solutions' through? See also: Stephen Harper and the myth of the crooked Indian. *RON*]
David Suzuki, Huffington Post, 26 November 2014

Canada is among the world's wealthiest nations, but our wealth is not equitably distributed. Many communities, particularly northern and Aboriginal, suffer from poor access to healthy and affordable food, clean water, proper housing and other necessary infrastructure. An ironic example of this disparity is at Shoal Lake, about two hours east of Winnip…

Anti-terror bill C‑44: Pushing the limits of Canadian rights

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[Our surveillance state hard at work attacking the Canadian constitution. As usual this will almost certainly be thrown out by the Supreme Court but, as usual, the Conservatives will simply ride this through the legal system at taxpayer expense to see how far it will get them. A nice way to go when, having received only a minority of votes, you can serve your ideology and it doesn't cost you anything personally. *RON*]
 By Shelina AliPro Bono, rabble.ca, 27 November 2014



On October 29, 2014 the government introduced Bill C‑44, an Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other (related) Acts, cited in short form as the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney statedthat the amendments put forward under Bill C‑44 are required to keep Canadians safe from terrorism and to protect and uphold the privacy of confidential informants. However, in achieving the government's stated goals…

The Wealth of the Walton Family

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[Twitter tweet from Bernie Sanders. *RON*]


Donation of Prize Money by Canadian Activist Spurs Flood of Dollars to Tar Sands Fight

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[Civil society and democracy rocks! And this Canadian author is an extremely cool role model. 'Quebec, hand in hand with First Nations, must not renounce to being master on its own land,' declares Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. *RON*]

By Sarah LazareCommon Dreams, 26 November 2014

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, recipient of a prestigious Canadian literary prize, announced this week he is donating the $25,000 award to a grassroots coalition against TransCanada Corporation's "Energy East" pipeline.

His challenge to people across Canada and the world to double his contribution to the group Coule Pas Chez Nous (Don’t Let it Flow in Our Backyard) has resulted in a flood of donations totaling at least $326,000 (in Canadian currency), with more money continuing to pour in.

Nadeau-Dobois achieved a high profile as an organizer of Quebec's "Maple Spring" student movement in 2012. In October of this year, he took part in a large protes…

A Thieves’ Thanksgiving

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[I'm going to plod by with drug store magnifying glasses until I can get my prescription lenses from Costco... Happy Thanksgiving to all the corporate criminals who are not in jail and who enjoy their holiday feast by sucking on the blood of war victims! (Dick Cheney, are you listening?) *RON*]
Charles Simic, New York Review of Books, 26 November 2014
It’s never been such a good time to be a crook. In what other country of laws does one enjoy so much freedom to defraud one’s government and fellow citizens without having to worry about cops showing at the door? Small-time crooks sooner or later end up in the slammer, but our big-time con artists, as we’ve come to learn, are now regarded as the untouchables, too well-heeled and powerful to lock up. Not only that, the most famous among them are widely admired, not just by their peers and politicians on the take, but even by our president, who, six years after the worst financial crisis since the…

Erdogan slams US 'impertinence' over Kobane

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[Erdogan is pretty well lost as a Western ally and, in any case, has no more feet left to put in his mouth. Turkish leader criticises Washington for pushing for help over Kobane when US earlier stood by amid Assad "massacres." *RON*]
Source: Agencies, Al Jazeera, 26 November 2014
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed US "rudeness" over the Syrian conflict, exposing the extent of strains between Washington and Ankara just days after the Turkish president met with US Vice President Joe Biden.

Ties have soured in recent months over the reluctance of Turkish leaders to intervene militarily in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State In Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters, who have taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Erdogan accused the US of being "rude" for pressuring it to help save the ISIL-besieged Syrian town of Kobane, which is within sight of the Turkish border.

Walmart Still Avoiding Paying $7000 Fine For Worker Killed By Black Friday Shoppers In 2008

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[And from the front lines of the class war... *RON*]
By Kate Cox, Consumerist, 25 November 2014

In 2008, a Walmart employee was killed when a mob of deal-desperate Black Friday shoppers tore the store’s doors from their hinges and stormed inside, trampling him to death. The chain was eventually fined $7000 for their role in the employee’s death — but six years and $2 million later, the world’s largest retailer has yet to pay up.

The fine was the result of an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which found that Walmart did indeed put employees at risk by failing to put “reasonable and effective” crowd management in place. When the fine — the maximum possible — was levied in May of 2009, Walmart had 15 days either to pay or to appeal.

The chain, which brought in over $475 billion in revenue last year, chose to appeal the $7000 fine. A year later, in 2010, they’d spent more than $2 million on the appeal. Their ar…

The Onion: Heavy Police Presence In Ferguson To Ensure Residents Adequately Provoked

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[As usual with The Onion, funny-ish and painfully close to the unspoken truth. *RON*]
The Onion • ISSUE 50•47 • Nov 24, 2014


FERGUSON, MO—Ahead of a grand jury’s decision over whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, police in the city of Ferguson have reportedly heavily increased their presence this week to ensure residents are adequately provoked. “We’ve deployed additional officers throughout Ferguson in order to make absolutely certain that residents feel sufficiently harassed and intimidated,” said St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, assuring locals that officers in full riot gear will be on hand to inflame members of the community for as long as is necessary. “It’s absolutely essential that the people of Ferguson have full confidence that law enforcement is committed to antagonizing them every step of the way.” At press time, the Missouri National Guard was on standby with t…

Europe’s German Ball and Chain

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[That low, grinding noise you hear is the sound of the worm slowly turning... Merkel's response is to pimp for more free trade. *RON*]
Daniel Gros, Project Syndicate, 24 November 2014

Daniel Gros is Director of the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies. He has worked for the International Monetary Fund, and served as an economic adviser to the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the French prime minister and finance minister. He is the editor of Economie Internationale and International Finance.
BRUSSELS – A storm-tossed ship near dangerous cliffs needs a strong anchor to avoid finishing on the rocks. In 2012, when a financial storm engulfed the eurozone, it was Germany that kept the European ship off the shoals of financial disaster. But now Europe’s anchor has become a brake, hindering forward movement.

Of course, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acted in 2012 only when she could tell her domestic constituency that …

Keynes Is Slowly Winning

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[I, too, believe the worm is turning, albeit at a geologic pace. *RON*]
Paul Krugman, New York Times, 26 November 2014

Back in 2010, I had a revelation about just how bad economic policy was about to get; I read the OECD Economic Outlook, which called not just for fiscal austerity but for interest rate hikes — 350 basis points on the Fed funds rate by the end of 2011! — because, well, because.

Now, the OECD is calling for fiscal and monetary stimulus in Europe. It’s not the same people; the OECD has a new chief economist, Catherine L. Mann, whose excellent research has always been pragmatic in orientation (and who wrote her dissertation, way back when, under Rudi Dornbusch and yours truly.) But by selecting Ms. Mann the OECD was making a statement, and my sense is that the ground is shifting all around the world.

It has taken a while. In early 2013, with the infamous growth cliff at 90 percent debt and the case for expansionary austerity collapsing,…

Could a corporation use CETA investor-state to challenge the consequences of its criminal actions?

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[Our current and proposed international trade agreements may make it illegal for the Canadian government not to hire criminals for Public Works contracts, corporations are claiming, since this would constitute an unreasonable restriction on trade. *RON*]
By Brent Patterson, rabble.ca, 26 November 2014


This past March, the Harper government adopted federal procurement "Integrity Framework" regulations that state that companies convicted in Canada or internationally for offences such as fraud, bribery and extortion would be disqualified for a 10-year period from bidding on Public Works contracts. While the list of convictions in the legislation was reportedly expanded, a Public Works spokesperson also acknowledged that the old rules called for a permanent ban.

But now the Globe and Mail reports, "The authors [of a Canadian Council of Chief Executives report] warn that the Canadian rules could open the door to lawsuits by the companies,…

Fight for a $15 minimum wage in B.C. or for better job training?

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[Take your choice. Does raising the minimum wage = job losses?Higher minimum wage? Small business doesn't mind, A minimum wage hike could help employers too, 5 Right-Wing myths about raising the minimum wage, debunked. Although, if you go to the original article and read the comments, I'm pretty sure that Province readers don't want their equilibrium disturbed by the facts. *RON*]

By Sam Coopers, The Province, 26 November 2014

The BC Federation of Labour held a rally today to launch the Fight For $15 campaign to increase the minimum wage.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says calls to raise B.C.’s minimum wage by 50 per cent will actually hurt low-income workers and small businesses.

On Tuesday the B.C. Federation of Labour launched its “Fight For $15” campaign, urging the provincial government to increase B.C.’s minimum wage from $10.25 to $15 per hour.

Supported by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and First Nations lead…

OECD warns against austerity in the eurozone

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[Who is left supporting this outside of London and Berlin? The OECD joins the IMF in criticising austerity. See also The State of the Troubled Eurozone. *RON*]

EurActiv.com, 26 November 2014

The OECD has thrown its weight behind the argument for relaxing budgetary policy, a position championed in the eurozone by France and Italy. The European Commission is due to publish its judgements on the member states' budget bills on 28 November.EuActiv France reports.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published its Economic Outlook on 25 November, in which it supports the position shared by Paris and Rome, just days before the European Commission's assessment of the budgets.

The international organisation painted a dark picture of the effects of austerity policies on the economic growth of the eurozone, warning of their limitations at a time when the recovery of the eurozone is still in the balance.

Budget consolida…

Darren Wilson Wasn’t the First: A Short History of Killer Cops Let Off the Hook

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[An overview of similar cases in modern times of police killings of black men that were not pursued by the US legal system. See also in The Nation, Why it is Impossible to Indict a Cop and Slate, Justifying Homicide. *RON*]
By Flint Taylor, In These Times, 24 November 2014

The U.S. has a long history of allowing police to walk free after vicious racist violence.

The pre-ordained failure of a biased local prosecutor to obtain an indictment against Darren Wilson should not surprise us. But the movement for justice for Michael Brown has brought widespread attention to the nationwide problem of systemic and racist police violence and highlighted the movement that has come together to battle against it.

The Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown is heartless but unsurprising. But it is important to place the case in context with the history of polic…

Harper has abolished First Ministers meetings

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[Our democracy at work. A good illustration of how Canada's Sun King plays the game. *RON*]
By Geoffrey Stevens, rabble.ca, 24 November 2014


Back in the olden days, when prime ministers still deigned to speak to provincial premiers, they would hold gatherings called First Ministers' conferences. This happened fairly often, perhaps once a year, depending on what was happening in the country at the time.

The prime minister would invite his provincial counterparts to Ottawa to talk about the economy, the Constitution, the state of the federation, pensions, medicare or even that old chestnut, the reform of the Senate. The premier of Ontario always sat on the PM's right, the premier of Quebec on his left, with the others placed around the table in the order of entry into Confederation.

If he was in a good mood, which he often was, their genial host would invite his guests home for drinks and dinner. They might pose for a group photograph, th…

Harper Earmarks $5.8B For Federal Infrastructure

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[As an election ploy, Harper is simply re-announcing his 2014 budget as though it represents new spending. *RON*]
By Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 25 November 2014


LONDON, Ont. - Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled a $5.8-billion menu of federal infrastructure improvements Monday in an announcement one political rival immediately described as a batch of recycled promises.

The funding, Harper said, would go to projects expected to create jobs and deliver quick results, most of it over the next three years.

The bulk of the spending — $2.8 billion — would go to improvements to historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas.

"We are ahead of track in terms of balancing the federal budget next year," said Harper, who made the announcement at a research facility in London, Ont.

"This gives us flexibility to make additional investments ahead of schedule in a wide range of necessary federal infrast…

Is it time for Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino to be replaced?

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[Fantino is simply one of the most egregious, and he does his master's bidding. The entire government must go; anything else is just shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. *RON*]
 David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen, 24 November 2014
No one seems to be happy with Julian Fantino’s recent announcement that the Conservative government will spend $200 million on mental health initiatives for soldiers/veterans.

Some veterans were calling the money, too little, too late. Others questioned whether this was a shell game, noting that Fantino’s department returned $1.1 billion to the Treasury over the years (unspent money).

Opposition MPs went after Fantino for the unspent money, which the Minister says is not “lost.”

“The minister closes regional offices to save money,” said NDP MP David Christopherson. “And yet there was hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for veterans going unspent every year?”

“Do you know what they could have done with that $1…

It's time to seriously tackle child poverty

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[We can't afford our federal information watchdog, or spend money to ensure the safety of oil and gas transport by rail or tanker, or guarantee clean drinking water for Aboriginal people, or health services for refugees, or guarantee benefits to veterans, or erase our shameful record or child poverty. Yet somehow we cobble together the money for wars, bank bail-outs, tax cuts for the rich and subsidies for giant oil companies. But ignore all that because we have a surplus, and we're smiling, so vote for us because we're financially responsible. *RON*]
By Iglika Ivanova, rabble.ca, 25 November 2014


One in five B.C. children lives in poverty. This is the sobering finding of the 2014 BC Child Poverty Report Card released on November 24, the 25th anniversary of a unanimous all-party resolution in Canada's House of Commons to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.

Child poverty is not just a big-city problem. In fact, the highest …

U.S. income gap a danger to Canada: TD

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[Because our economies are so closely integrated, Canadians companies face increasing pressure from employers in the U.S. to reduce our workers' salaries, the TD report said. *RON*]

By: Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew, The Star, 24 November 2014

The increasing gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is a danger to Canada’s economy, according to a new report from TD Economics.

“Rising income inequality in the United States is a clear and present danger to Canada because there are pressures on our economy to go in the same direction,” Craig Alexander, chief economist at TD Economics, said in an interview.

“We will probably never reach U.S.-type inequality because Canadians would never accept it, but I think there are pressures that could push us in that direction.”

As a result of those pressures, governments must take added precautions to ensure that new policies don’t make the current gulf between high and low-income earners even wider, Alexander said.

“I w…

Ferguson buildings burn to the ground in most destructive riots since Michael Brown’s death

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[What did they expect would happen? See also Race in St. Louis: Bridging the Divide. *RON*]

Associated Press and Washington Post, Reprinted in National Post, 25 November 2014


FERGUSON, Mo. — Chaos returned to the streets of Ferguson after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the death of Michael Brown — a decision that enraged protesters who set fire to buildings and cars and looted businesses in the area where the unarmed, black 18-year-old was fatally shot.

Smoke billowed from some businesses Tuesday morning and shattered glass covered the sidewalks in front of others, but the streets in Ferguson were mostly clear.

Monday night’s destruction appeared to be much worse than protests after August’s shootings, with more than a dozen businesses badly damaged or destroyed. Authorities reported hearing hundreds of gunshots, which for a time prevented fire crews from fighting the flames.

How Russia could derail US natural gas exports

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[This should be well known, but it clearly isn't to Christy Clark. US natural gas producers may be seeing their dream of substantial liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports suffer fatal injury because of Russian exports to the Chinese market, a market that was expected to be the largest and most profitable for LNG exporters. *RON*]
By Kurt Cobb, Christian Science Monitor, 19 November 2014

Russia and China have signed two large natural gas deals in the last six months as Russia turns its attention eastward in reaction to sanctions and souring relations with Europe, currently Russia's largest energy export market.

But the move has implications beyond Europe. In the department of everything is connected, U.S. natural gas producers may be seeing their dream of substantial liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports suffer fatal injury because of Russian exports to the Chinese market, a market that was expected to be the largest and most profitable for LNG …

On Keystone and the N.S.A., Clinton Remains Quiet

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[So, does this strike anyone else as an incredibly bad sign? *RON*]
By Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, 21 November 2014

On Friday, Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that has been described as “a make-work program for former Clinton hands,” and that is busy building a database of donors and volunteers that the group will eventually sell or rent to an official Clinton campaign, held an all-day meeting at the Sheraton on Fifty-third Street, in New York.

In what it billed as a National Finance Council meeting, the super PACsponsored a series of panels with well-known personalities from the Clinton world. Interspersed between seminars on politics and the media, state officials delivered testimonials before donors under the rubric “Why I’m Ready for Hillary.” Clinton was actually in town to deliver a speech a few blocks away, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, but she didn’t stop by the Sheraton. The Ready for Hillary event was like a “Star Trek” convention where…