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Showing posts from March 18, 2014

Ottawa Not Bound To Soldiers Social Contract, Federal Lawyers Argue

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[It takes unmitigated gall for Harper to make political hay from spouting patriotism, dressing up in military garb for the press (though he has never served in the military), and glorifying Canadian military history, then to treat our actual soldiers with total contempt, even as they return from battle, all the while still planning a photo-op tribute to the Afghan military mission. *RON*]

By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press, 03/18/2014

OTTAWA - Federal lawyers say Ottawa has no special obligation to those who've fought wars on behalf of Canada and that it's unfair to bind the Harper government to promises made nearly a century ago by another prime minister.

The assertion is spelled out in black and white in a statement of defence filed by the Justice Department in a class-action lawsuit by Afghan veterans who claim a 2006 overhaul of benefits is discriminatory under the charter of rights.

The court papers, filed in January, were made …

Joe Oliver To Be Named Finance Minister Wednesday

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[Harper's front bench is light weight - Oliver had never been an MP prior to two years ago. As Minister in charge of resources he's been a Harper puppet, simply spouting the talking points he's been provided. The position of Finance Minister has traditionally been seen as that of the "heir apparent" but it looks like Harper chose someone who is no threat to replace him, which may say something about Flaherty's departure. See also Joe Oliver 'An Embarrassment' As Finance Minister, Tom Mulcair Says *RON*]

Huffington Post Canada, 03/18/2014


Joe Oliver has been tapped to be Canada’s next finance minister, CBC News reports.

CTV News also mirrored news of the appointment, saying Oliver is expected to be named finance minister in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Oliver, the MP for the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, was elected to the House of Commons in May 2011. He was appointed the Natural Resources portfolio in the same month…

A Breakdown Of S&P 500 Company Costs Since 1994

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[Corporate profit margins are right at record highs. ("Operating income" being Wiesel-spracht for gross profits.) *RON*]
Sam Ro , Business Insider, Mar. 18, 2014

Coming out of the financial crisis, fattening profit margins have helped corporate profits surge despite lackluster revenue growth.

"Firms have enjoyed a secular increase in the productivity of labor and capital as well as technological innovations such as real-time inventory management, reducing both fixed and variable costs," said Goldman Sachs' Amanda Sneider in a new research note. "Low inflation in terms of commodity inputs and labor costs have been tailwinds. Taxes and interest rates have never been more favorable for the profitability of firms."

Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate

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[Scariest climate change report yet from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. *RON*]

Justin Gillis, New York Times, March 18, 2014

Early in his career, a scientist named Mario J. Molina was pulled into seemingly obscure research about strange chemicals being spewed into the atmosphere. Within a year, he had helped discover a global environmental emergency, work that would ultimately win a Nobel Prize.

Now, at 70, Dr. Molina is trying to awaken the public to an even bigger risk. He spearheaded a committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, which released a stark report Tuesday on global warming.

The report warns that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing.

“The evidence is overwhelming: Levels of greenhouse gases in t…

Why ExxonMobil's Partnerships With Russia's Rosneft Challenge the Narrative of U.S. Exports As Energy Weapon

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[The Ukraine is about corporatocracy as much as it is about geopolitics. "The clout, reach, and mission of ExxonMobil mean that it runs what amounts to its own foreign policy, raising the question of how that policy relates to the foreign policy of the United States." On the complex relationships among the oil and gas industry, Ukraine, Russia and the US. *RON*]
 Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog, March 17, 2014.

In a long-awaited moment in a hotly contested zone currently occupied by the Russian military, Ukraine's citizens living in the peninsula of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to become part of Russia.

Responding to the referendum, President Barack Obama and numerous U.S. officials rejected the results out of hand and the Obama Administration has confirmed he will authorize economic sanctions against high-ranking Russian officials.

"As I told President Putin yesterday, the referendum in Crimea was a clear violation of Ukrainian constituti…

5 Reasons to Consider a No-Strings-Attached, Basic Income for All Americans

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[This is something I would dearly like to see tried and evaluated as a series of pilot projects around the world. *RON*]
By Lynn Stuart ParramoreAlterNet, MArch 17, 2014

An idea whose time has finally come.

What if you could receive a guaranteed basic yearly income with no strings attached? Didn’t matter how much money you made now, or in the future. Nobody would ask about your job status or how many kids you have. The check would arrive in the mailbox, no matter what.

Sounds like a far-fetched idea, right? Wrong. All over the world, people are talking guaranteeing basic incomes for citizens as a viable policy.

Half of all Canadians want it. The Swiss have had a referendum on it. The American media is all over it: The New York Times’ Annie Lowrey considered basic income as an answer to an economy that leaves too many people behind, while Matt Bruenig and Elizabeth Stoker of theAtlantic wrote about it as a way to reduce poverty.

New York probes high-speed trading

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[Once again -- fictive free markets. “Each of these services offers clients a timing advantage... that allows high-frequency traders to make rapid and often risk-free trades before the rest of the market can react. As a result, these traders guarantee themselves enormous revenue and force large investors to develop complicated and expensive defensive strategies to conceal their orders from parasitic traders.” There are no comments on this article on the Financial Times; possibly none of their readers see why this should be a problem. *RON*]

By Kara Scannell and Arash Massoudi in New York, Financial Times, March 18, 2014

New York’s top securities regulator has opened an investigation into US stock exchanges and other trading platforms to determine whether certain services they provide give high-speed traders an unfair advantage, people familiar with the matter said.

Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney-general, in a speech on Tuesday called for “t…

The Average Big American Company Hasn't Paid The Statutory Tax Rate In At Least 40 Years

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[Perpetual corporate complaints are fairy tales about a fictive tax rate. *RON*]
Sam Ro, Business Intelligence, Mar. 18, 2014

We've heard it hundreds of times: the U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world.

Combining the federal and weighted average state corporate income tax rates gives U.S. companies a 39% statutory rate.

However, companies don't really pay that.

Income Inequality (30): A Primer on Inequality and Economic Growth

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[Sparse commentary, interesting graphs, includes links to many interesting studies. *RON*]
Filip Spagnoli, P.A.P.-Blog, March 16, 2014

Countries that are more equal in income terms are also richer:

(SOURCE)

A Record Year of Oil Train Accidents Leaves Insurers Wary

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[As the author says in the final sentence, "The question is, are those costs worth paying, especially when renewable energy sources grow more viable every year?" Meanwhile, partisan political bickering stymies progress with making helpful legal changes. *RON*]
 Sharon Kelly, DeSmogBlog, Tue, 2014-03-18 06:00

Spurred by the shale drilling rush that has progressed at breakneck speed, the railroad industry has moved fast to help drillers transport petroleum and its byproducts to consumers. Last year, trains hauled over 400,000 carloads of crude oil, up from just 9,500 carloads in 2008, according to railroad industry estimates. Each carload represents roughly 30,000 gallons of flammable liquids, and some trains haul over 100 oil cars at a time.

But with this fast expansion has come some astounding risks — risks that have insurance companies and underwriters increasingly concerned.

Ideological thinking over thinking-based policy in 'independent, non-partisan' think-tanks

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[Yet it is eleven environmental nonprofit groups that are being investigated by the Harper government for being too politically partisan. *RON*]
BY Stephen Kimber, rabble.ca, March 18, 2014

Why is it that all those stats-stuffed, footnote-filled, soberly sincere public policy backgrounder research reports published by inevitably "independent, non-partisan" yet somehow transparently ideological think-tanks and authored by multi-award-winning senior fellows and/or professors emereti are so… well, pedantically, ploddingly predictable?

Energy East Pipeline Not A Boon To Canadian Refineries, Says New Report

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[It's obvious that all of this was known ahead of time, therefore, it's obvious that the oil company proposal was a conscious lie. *RON*]

By Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press, 03/18/2014

CALGARY - The proposed Energy East pipeline won't be the boon to Eastern Canadian refineries that supporters claim because the vast majority of the oil in it would be bound for export markets, environmental groups argue in a report being released Tuesday.

The $12-billion project would likely use the lion's share of its 1.1 million barrel per day capacity to send unrefined oilsands crude to markets like India, Europe and possibly the United States, says the report, penned by The Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence and Equiterre.

Wireless Price Hike Strangely Similar Across All 3 Major Telcos

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[Free markets are a myth; such obvious oligopolistic collusion is illegal; where is "get tough on crime" Harper now? *RON*]

The Huffington Post Canada, 03/17/2014

Canada’s big three wireless carriers all raised the prices for their monthly plans this weekend. All of them raised prices by $5, and all the base plans cost the same.

The price hikes apply to all of Canada except Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the CBC reports, with a smartphone plan with 500 MB of data monthly costing $80 at all three carriers.

And it’s not just Bell, Rogers and Telus customers; those who have wireless service with Big Three sub-brands like Koodo (Telus) and Fido (Rogers) saw their services shoot up in price over the past few days as well.