Showing posts from June 4, 2014

Penny slowly dropping that austerity on its own won't work

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["Noises are now being made across Europe that a low growth, low inflation, high unemployment situation cannot be allowed to persist.... The threat of deflation is real now." *RON*]

Stephen Kinsella, The Irish Independent, 03/06/2014
Europe's leaders are in danger of copping on that austerity alone doesn't work. Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has outlined a series of tax cuts, mostly to corporate tax, and a €6.3bn stimulus package, almost half of which will be paid by the private sector.

Italy's Matteo Renzi has argued tirelessly for a relaxation of the rules governing spending at the national level while giving a tax cut to low-income earners of €1,000 a year. Noises are now being made across Europe that a low growth, low inflation, high unemployment situation cannot be allowed to persist.

In Frankfurt the ECB is getting ready to buy up assets left, right and centre in order to push cash into the system to stimulate …

Kinder Morgan could force access to Burnaby's land with National Energy Board order

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[The City of Burnaby refuses to work with the company over new Trans Mountain pipeline route; the NEB can force them to allow the work. That should certainly improve public perception of Kinder Morgan, a.k.a., Enron Corp. *RON*]

By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, 3 June 2014
Kinder Morgan is considering seeking orders from the National Energy Board to access land to test a new tunnel route under Burnaby Mountain for its Trans Mountain pipeline, a sign of how contentious the $5.4-billion project is in Burnaby.

The company announced last week the tunnel is its preferred route because recent public consultations showed it was least disruptive to residents.

However, Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said Tuesday the City of Burnaby is preventing the company from going onto city lands and doing the necessary geotechnical work to determine if tunnelling is possible.

Hillary Clinton's Goldman Sachs Problem

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[Certainly, Obama cast the Democratic Presidential mold for talking populism while hobnobbing with Wall Street. *RON*]

—By David Corn, Mother Jones, June 4, 2014

A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton delivered a much-touted policy speech at the New America Foundation in Washington, where she talked passionately about the financial plight of Americans who "are still barely getting by, barely holding on, not seeing the rewards that they believe their hard work should have merited." She bemoaned the fact that the slice of the nation's wealth collected by the top 1 percent—or 0.01 percent—has "risen sharply over the last generation," and she denounced this "throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons." Her speech, in which she cited the various projects of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation that address economic inequality, was widely compared to the rhetoric of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the un…

Tiananmen at Twenty-Five: "Victory Over Memory"

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[See also the Liao Yiwu in the Times Literary Supplement on The Tanks and The People. Also, the Think Progress article on Why You Can’t Read This Story If You’re In China TodayOn CBC AM radio yesterday they interviewed an historian who recounted the story of a young journalist who got in trouble with the authorities for publishing a commemoration of the martyrs of Tienanmen Square. Eventually he was let go; he hadn't been taking a brave moral stance -- he had never heard of Tienanmen and didn't know what it was. *RON*]
By Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, June 4, 2014

The “History of the Chinese Communist Party, Volume 1,” the first entry in the Party’s official autobiography, appeared in 2002. Its authors had the luxury of hewing to a narrative of birth, growth, and triumph, covering the years between 1921 and the revolution, in 1949. After that, history gets dicier.

Volume 2, on the period from 1949 to 1978, had to tiptoe through a chronolo…

The More Your Job Helps Others, The Less You Get Paid

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[“Spotlight on the financial sector did make apparent just how bizarrely skewed our economy is in terms of who gets rewarded.” Good piece on the current economy and "bullshit jobs." David Graeber explains why the more your job helps others, the less you get paid. *RON*]

Thomas Frank, Salon, June 1, 2014
David Graeber is an American anthropologist who teaches at the London School of Economics. He is the author of the classic “Debt: The First Five Thousand Years” and played an important role in the launching of Occupy Wall Street. Last year, he wrote a much-discussed essay asking what happened to society’s old promise of more leisure time for workers; for the tasks that have come to occupy the hours that were once promised to be ours, Graeber invented the delicate and slightly obscure label, “bullshit jobs.”

I wanted to know exactly what he meant by that, and so we discussed the matter over email. The following conversation has been light…

Plains Midstream Fined $1.3 Million After Guilty Plea In Alberta Spills

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[A $1.3 million slap on the wrist for a 4.5 million litre oil spill; a good illustration of the industry's concept of a world class system of ecological protection. This clearly provides zero incentive for the industry to avoid such spills. *RON*]

By Bob Weber, CP / Huffington Post, 06/03/2014

RED DEER, Alta. - A pipeline company has been fined after pleading guilty in two spills that sent a total of nearly five million litres of oil into Alberta rivers and wetlands.

Plains Midstream Canada faced three environmental charges in a courtroom in Red Deer, Alta., on Tuesday and was ordered to pay a total of $1.3 million for the spills, one of which was the second largest in Alberta history.

Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema said the figure represents about five hours worth of profit for Plains All American, the company that owns Plains Midstream, which has about 1,250 employees in Canada.

"A $1.3-million fine for Plains Midstream is hardly a signa…

Why is the government giving up on protecting our privacy?

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[This Trojan Horse spy bill has already been defeated once by Canadians. Here is a link to an Open Media petition where you can add your voice to that of more than 150,000 others who oppose Harper's efforts to revive this Bill which enables warrantless spying on all citizens. *RON*]
By Michael Geist,, June 4, 2014
In recent years, it has become fashionable to argue that Canadians no longer care about their privacy. Supporters of this position note that millions of people voluntarily post personal information and photos about themselves on social media sites, are knowingly tracked by Internet advertising giants and do not opt-out of "targeted" advertising from telecom companies. Yet if the past few months are any indication, it is not Canadians that have given up on privacy. It is the Canadian government.

The public response to the tidal wave of stories regarding widespread surveillance, the 1.2 million government requests t…

How to fund improvements in B.C. schools: A matter of political will

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[Assuming we don't fund this simply by slightly reducing welfare to gas and oil companies, a new tax level for all income above $200,000 - which would only affect the 1% - would pay for everything the teachers are asking for to improve the BC education system, which the Clark government insists is unaffordable. *RON*]
By Seth Klein,, June 4, 2014
If a compromise is to be reached in the current bargaining between teachers and the government, the long-standing issue of improving class size and composition must be resolved.

The government insists that there is no money to make substantial improvements in this area (notwithstanding multiple court losses telling the province that it must make good on this matter).

But is it really so hard to find the funding to reduce class sizes and ensure adequate ratios and supports for students with special needs?

In truth, it's a matter of political choice.

According to estimates from the B.C. …