Showing posts from March 27, 2014

Corporate Profits Hit A New Record High Last Year

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["On the whole, corporate profits have grown 20 times faster than workers’ incomes since 2008." *RON*]

By Bryce Covert, ThinkProgress, March 27, 2014

After-tax profits for American corporations hit another record high last year, rising to $1.68 trillion.

As this chart from Quartz shows, profits have been on a roll for some time, more than fully recovering what was lost during the recession:

4 Shocking Examples of Police Militarization in America's Small Towns

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[Police departments are militarizing even far from urban centers. *RON*]

Aaron Cantú, AlterNet, March 26, 2014

For nearly half a century, the general trend within America’s police precincts has been toward greater militarization, a transformation initiated by the culture wars of the 1960s and facilitated by the war on drugs, fear of inner-city crime, and anxieties over the threat of terrorism.

Fear of drugs, crime and terrorism have been used to justify the expansion of SWAT programs and the acquisition of military grade weaponry and vehicles in America’s smaller towns. Citing previous work, investigative journalist Radley Balko writes that the number of SWAT teams in municipalities with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 “increased by more than 300 percent between 1984 and 1995,” and that 75% of all of these towns had their own SWAT teams by the year 2000. Small precincts acquired wartime weaponry and a warrior culture was engendered among c…

Bank of America in $9.5bn settlement

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[Bank of America agrees to pay $9.5bn to settle charges it misled US mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the housing crisis in 2008. If your reaction is "Oh well, ho-hum" then big banks have succeeded in turning crime into business as usual. I also note that the BoA CEO is banned from working in a public company for three years -- this wouldn't stop him from becoming an Obama adviser! :-) *RON*]

BBC News, 27 March 2014

Bank of America agreed to pay $9.5bn (£5.7bn) to settle charges it misled US mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the housing crisis in 2008.

The bank will pay $6.3bn in cash and buy back $3.2bn in mortgage securities.

Harper Government Under Fire Over $482 Million In Outside Legal Fees

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[“They closed Veterans [Affairs]’ district offices and saved $5 million bucks, [but] over the past eight years, they’ve spent half a billion on outside lawyers. It’s pretty stark.” I wonder if any government in Canadian history has been: a) sued as often by its own people, and b) had its legislation defeated by the Supreme Court as often for being unconstitutional? *RON*]
Althia Raj, Huffington Post, 03/27/2014

OTTAWA – The Conservative government has spent $482 million on outside legal fees since it came to power in 2006. And more than $447,045 to defend the Prime Minister, his staff and ministers, according to documents tabled in the House of Commons.

“It’s just a shocking number,” Liberal MP Sean Casey told The Huffington Post Canada Wednesday.

“They closed Veterans [Affairs]’ district offices and saved $5 million bucks, [but] over the past eight years, they’ve spent half a billion on outside lawyers. It’s pretty stark.”

B.C. pitches separate land zones in reserve and value added for farmers

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[He's saying that he'll dictate changes to the mandate of the Commission to suit his political friends and allies, but "the land commission will remain a fully independent tribunal and decision-maker" on how to apply the now-changed mandate. *RON*]

CP in Huffington Post, 03/27/2014

VICTORIA - Major changes are being proposed for British Columbia's Agricultural Land Commission for the first time since land protection laws were put in place decades ago.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett announced the proposed changes today in the legislature that would allow farmers to add value to their land, including adding options such as food processing.

The proposed changes are part of the Liberal government's core review of government spending, which Bennett is leading.

Rick Mercer Inks Deal To Return To CBC For 3 More Seasons

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[Stephen Harper must be spitting up blood. *RON*]

CBC on Huffington Post, 03/26/2014

Political satirist and television host Rick Mercer announced Wednesday he has signed a three-year deal with the CBC, extending his show, "Rick Mercer Report," through the 2017 season.

Mercer made the announcement on CBC's "The National," saying the contract was made official secretly several weeks ago.

This is the first time Mercer's show, currently in its 11th season, has inked a deal for more than a single season.

"We've only ever gone from year to year. This is a big deal for us," Mercer said. "Signing a three-year agreement is a three-year deal to do my dream job."

The deal is set to begin at the start of the 2014 season, which will be the 12th season of "Rick Mercer Report."

The head of CBC's English-language services, Heather Conway, approached Mercer with the idea to sign him for three years, …

Natural Resources Minister dodges questions on personal assets in energy sector

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[Canada's Natural Resources Minister has at least a half-million dollars in a hedge fund that has heavy holdings in the resources that are impacted by the decisions he makes. But he says he's discussed this all with the Ethics Commissioner and everything is hunky-dory. This is the same Harper-selected Ethics Commissioner who decided that it was hunky-dory for the head of the intelligence services oversight committee to be an oil-industry lobbyist. *RON*]
Matthew Millar, Vancouver Observer, Mar 27th, 2014

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford – who was sworn into the portfolio late last week – was defiant in answering questions over his personal investments in an energy sector hedge fund, according to conflict of interest disclosures.

Rickford has investments in Waratah One Trust Limited Partnerships – a privately managed investment fund administered by Waratah Advisors in Toronto. The Fund maintains approximately 22.5 per cent of its i…

Inuit Go Hungry More Than Any Other Indigenous Group

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["For the folks up north, I think they're going to say 'Yeah, I'm glad you recognize this. For the folks in the South, I hope they're shocked and I hope they're embarrassed." *RON*]

CBC, on Huffington Post, 03/27/2014

A new study released Thursday says people in Nunavut have the highest food insecurity rate for any indigenous population in a developed country at 68 per cent.

The report by the Council of Canadian Academies says 35 per cent of Inuit households in Nunavut do not have enough to eat. It also says 76 per cent of Inuit preschoolers skip meals, while 60 per cent have gone a day without eating.

None of this comes as a surprise to Northerners.

13 examples of the Harper government's anti-democratic abuses

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[Illustrations of Harper's ignoring the rule of law and parliamentary customs. *RON*]
By Phil Elder,, March 27, 2014

Recently, it has not been a good time for the Harper government and they have also shown a disturbing pattern of illegal and anti-democratic abuses.

Here is a baker's dozen of examples with two highly unsettling themes: (1) ignoring the rule of law and (2) flouting the traditional processes of parliamentary democracy.

1. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Harper government's legislation making retroactive changes to parole eligibility breaches the Charter of Rights and is thus unconstitutional.

2. The same court held that the government's appointment of Justice Nadon to the Supreme Court was void because he doesn't meet the Supreme Court Act's requirements for eligibility. Furthermore, amendments to change that Act's requirements, contained in an omnibus bill rammed through the Houses of P…

Canada should be doing more to fight income inequality

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[The poorest 20% of Canadians got 15% poorer from 1999 to 2012, while the richest 20% got 80% richer. Middle class wages rose by only $1 between 1993 and 2007. The chances of a middle-income family moving into the upper class is low. The tax system was progressive from 1976 to 1994 and now is actually slightly regressive. *RON*]

By Rick Goldman, Montreal Gazette, March 17, 2014

Are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer in Canada?

As Sarah Palin might put it: You betcha!

According to Statistics Canada’s recently released Survey of Financial Security, the total net worth of the poorest 20 per cent of families actually decreased by 15 per cent between 1999 and 2012. In fact, collectively, they now have a negative net worth (i.e. debts exceeding assets) of more than $10 million.

On the other hand, the richest 20 per cent of Canadian families saw their net worth grow by more than 80 per cent between 1999 and 2012. They captured about two-thi…