Showing posts from June 18, 2014

How Dairy Milked by Prisoners Ends Up on Whole Foods Shelves

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[Your fancy Whole Foods cheese may be made from dairy milked by prisoners for sixty cents a day. *RON*]
Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic, 18 June 2014
For many shoppers, the fancy cheese section at Whole Foods evokes images of sweet little farms on hillsides, perhaps run by a family who has been in the same spot for generations. It does not, in all likelihood, make shoppers think about prison.

But a new piece in Fortune reports that Colorado Correctional Industries (CCi) is providing the labor for a host of products that goes beyond stereotypical prisoner products (license plates and office furniture) and includes the goat milk used by Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, carried by Whole Foods. According to Jennifer Alsever, six inmates at the Skyline Correctional Center in Canon City milk 1,000 goats twice a day. They are paid a base rate of 60 cents per day but "most prisoners earn $300 to $400 a month with incentives." The dairy is then trans…

German Labor Costs

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[Wait a minute! You mean the planet does not implode when workers are given a fair wage? :-D *RON*]
Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 17, 2014

I gather from some of the reactions to my post on innovation hype that many readers don’t know about the remarkable German export story. Here’s the key point: German labor is very expensive, even compared with the United States:

And this has been true for decades. Yet Germany is a very successful exporter all the same. How do they do it? Not by producing the latest trendy tech product, but by maintaining a reputation for very high-quality goods, year after year.

If Germany seems remarkably competitive given its high costs, the United States is the reverse; our productivity is high, but we seem consistently bad at exporting — and have all my professional life. I used to think it was our cultural insularity, our difficulty in thinking about what other people might want. But is that still plausible?

Study: Corporate Mergers Overrun By Insider Trading

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[Disregard for the law appears to be rampant in the finance industry. *RON*]
Jason M. Breslow, PBS, June 17, 2014

Watch To Catch a Trader, FRONTLINE’s examination of the government’s vast investigation into insider trading in the hedge fund industry.
On Wall Street, winning trades often come down to who has the most information — who has the most “edge.” The question is, just how often does edge cross the line into insider trading?

A jaw-dropping new study of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) suggests the problem is not only pervasive, but also rarely enforced.

According to the study, as much as 25 percent of all M&A deals from 1996 through 2012 may have involved some degree of insider trading. The typical “rogue trade,” the authors found, reaped an average profit of $1.6 million.

Finnish reasons for joining NATO 'stronger than ever': defense minister

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[Watching the news out of Ukraine the other day I was thinking exactly the opposite of what is proposed in this story. I was wishing that more former USSR and Eastern European nations would adopt the Finnish model for neutrality with Russia. I think that having more of these nations join NATO would simply be throwing gasoline on the fire. *RON*]

By Sakari Suoninen and Jussi Rosendahl, Reuters, 18 June 2014
(Reuters) - Finland should seriously consider joining NATO because of Russia's aggressive actions in Ukraine and could hold a referendum on the issue some time after its 2015 election, its defense minister told Reuters.

Opinion polls show only one fifth of Finns favor joining the Atlantic alliance but Carl Haglund said he expected that to change if Finland, which shares a 1,300 kilometer border with Russia, had an honest and open debate about NATO membership.

"I think the grounds for NATO membership are stronger than ever," Haglu…

First Nations vow to bury Enbridge Northern Gateway in court

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["We don't throw around the threat of litigation or protests lightly," said the Haida Nation president. "This is the time we will take the biggest stand of our lives." I believe this strategy stands the best chance of defeating Enbridge. See also Northern Gateway Pipeline's Next Battle Is In The Courts at Huff Post. By the way, the Gitga'at referred to below are the people who live in Hartley Bay, which was my mother Sadie's home village. *RON*]

Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, Jun 17th, 2014

Twenty-eight individual First Nation bands and three Aboriginal organizations have signed to a letter announcing its intention to fight the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal through legal battles. The federal government approved the project today, despite heavy opposition from BC.

"I've never seen a list of First Nations like that," Haida Nation president Peter Lantin (Kil tlaats’gaa) said, speaking…

Harper Accused Of 'Hiding' After Northern Gateway Pipeline Decision

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[Harper isn't hiding. His "public" only exists in back rooms. He feels no accountability to Canadians at large. *RON*]
The Huffington Post Canada, 06/17/2014

In the end, one of the biggest decisions of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's career was marked with little more than a press release.

And, this time, the words "Harper government" were nowhere to be found.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Conservative government announced its conditional approval for Enbridge Inc.'s controversial $7-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project between the Alberta oilsands and the B.C. coast.

In a statement from Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, the government announced the decision was contingent on Enbridge satisfying 209 conditions set out by a federal review panel and embarking on more consultations with affected aboriginal communities.

The project faces intense opposition from environmentalists, First Nations groups and British Co…

Job Vacancy Survey Shows More Canadians Chasing After Fewer Jobs

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[Harper has adopted the typical neoliberal policy of giving virtually free money to corporations to promote job creation and capital investment. Instead, corporations have used the money to buy back their own shares, increasing the average price per share. This means dividends for shareholders and big bonuses for CEOs. But they have not been creating jobs - the policy has been a complete failure. Also, as stated in the story that follows, the extreme labour shortage in the fast food industry only suggests that their business model is entirely dependent on abusing workers by not paying enough, by cheating staff on overtime, by not offering full-time employment, and by not offering worker benefits. We should not support this sort of business model with taxpayer dollars. *RON]

By Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post, 06/18/2014

There were 17 per cent fewer jobs available to Canadians in the first three months of the year than there were a year earlier,Sta…

Northern Gateway Is Not Alone - 5 More Pipelines To Watch

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CBC / Huffington Post, 06/17/2014

[I would add that fracking has somehow got a free ticket to ride in BC. While it's meeting with tremendous protest in the US, somehow it is simply sliding right on by the public in Canada. *RON*]

It's decision day for the Northern Gateway pipeline. In Ottawa, camera positions are being marked out, pencils sharpened and microphones tested. All eyes are fixed on the clock, waiting for markets to close, so today's announcement doesn't ruffle any financial feathers.

But Northern Gateway isn't the only pipeline that could remake the face of North America's energy supply and roil the continent's political waters. Here is a list of five more — some well-known, others not so much:

1. Keystone XL

Why it matters?
If the oilsands are going to expand by two-million barrels per day in the next eight years, the industry needs as many ways of getting it out of Alberta as possible. TransCanada's Keysto…

Temporary Foreign Worker Poll: Canadians Back Residency For TFWs, Big Fines For Companies

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[This program should be severely limited to temporary situations where project work must be done and it would take too long to train Canadians to do the work. This is how it was originally portrayed to the public -- but it turned out that the government had much more in mind (e.g., fast food restaurants) without letting us know. If there are restaurant jobs that Canadians won't apply for we should not support business models with taxpayer dollars that depend on sub-minimum wage work to succeed. If Canadians don't have the skills to fill permanent, industrial jobs in the economy we should pay for the apprenticeship programs required to meet these needs. *RON*]

CP / Huffington Post, 06/17/2014

OTTAWA - A poll commissioned by the federal government suggests Canadians would support the controversial temporary foreign workers program if it didn't take away jobs from Canadians.

The poll, obtained by The Canadian Press, emerges just as Empl…

Rent supplements or social housing: Which do we need?

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[Good article. I didn't know about the many objections to rent supplements. Initially it seemed to me to be, on the face of it, more efficient than running government-owned housing. Many of the issues identified could be dealt with -- the most serious one is that supplements do nothing to reduce the lack of rental housing -- but the government would need to commit to address them, which it has not done. *RON*]
By Jean Swanson, The Mainlander, June 17, 2014

Is it better for the province to give rent supplements to low income people than to build more social housing? This is an important question for BC residents to ask. Metro Vancouver counted 2770 homeless people in March this year, more than have ever been counted.

In addition, the Metro Vancouver report says, “We know the count underestimates the number of people who are actually homeless.” When you add in the hidden homelessness and people at risk of homelessness you get at least116,000 peop…