Showing posts from June 20, 2014

Saying No to Austerity, Spain Unveils Tax Cuts

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[Slowly but surely the signs are mounting of growing resistance to austerity policies. I don't believe this will be helpful, however. By cutting taxes the Spanish government also opens the door to further cuts in government services, which will only serve to widen the wealth gap. *RON*]

By Raphael Minder, New York Times, 20 June 2014

MADRID — Turning its back on fiscal austerity, the Spanish government presented a broad package of income and corporate tax cuts on Friday that are scheduled to begin before next year’s general election.

The cuts roll back some of the tax increases that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy began putting into effect shortly after his conservative Popular Party swept to power in 2011 by winning a parliamentary majority. The next election is scheduled to take place by November 2015.

Under the plan introduced on Friday, which covers 2015 and 2016, taxpayers would pay an average of 12.5 percent less in income tax by the end …

Over half Germany’s energy now comes from solar power

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[Good to know - there had been stories in the news about a year ago which had indicated that solar was about to stall out in Germany because of the reduction in subsidies that is mentioned here. They've been an inspiration for me because whenever someone tells me that this just cannot be done, it's impractical (are you listening Christy?), you can always point to Germany and say "Where there's the will there's a way!" :-) *RON*]

By The Common Sense Canadian, June 20, 2014

Read this June 19 story from Popular Mechanics on Germany’s steady march toward a renewable energy future. The Common Sense Canadian has been documenting Germany’s green energy success story over the past several years.
Continuing its unrelenting march toward a renewable-powered future, Germany now can produce more than half of its energy from solar. The official word of this milestone comes from the Fraunhofer ISE research institute, which showed that t…

LNG bad for climate: US Dept of Energy report

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[Critical information on the house of cards that is our once-in-a-generation British Columbian all-in-one energy, employment and economic strategy. See also Fracked Gas Exports: A Climate Disaster. *RON*]

By The Common Sense Canadian, June 20, 2014

Despite all the assurances by BC Premier Christy Clark that LNG is “the cleanest fossil fuel on the planet”, the evidence paints a very different picture. Check out this June 4 Climate Progress story by Joe Romm on a new report from the US Department of Energy confirming that emissions from shale gas and LNG are higher than those from coal-fired power.
An explosive new report from the U.S. Department of Energy makes clear that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is likely a climate-destroying misallocation of resources. That is, if one uses estimates for methane leakage based on actual observations. This is the same conclusion I reached back in 2012, based on:
Emerging analyses of how even a relatively low lea…

Government of [CENSORED] censors cyberbullying docs

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[An hilarious illustration of Freedom From Information under the Harper government. The innocuous text that had been censored from this document was freely available on the Prime Minister's own web site. "In keeping with access to information procedure, the identity of the public servant who censored the document is..." you guessed it. *RON*]
By Alex Boutilier Staff Reporter, The Star, Fri Jun 20 2014

OTTAWA—The access to information system of the Government of [CENSORED] has become [CENSORED], leading some experts to worry about [CENSORED].

The Star has obtained documents related to the Conservatives’ controversial Internet surveillance bill that have been heavily censored — even blocking out the “Canada” in “Government of Canada.”

The documents, obtained through federal access-to-information law, also censor harmless lines like “anyone can be a victim of cyberbullying,” and the opinion that cyberbullying is “particularly harmful t…

Billionaire Boys Club: ‘Sons of Wichita,’ by Daniel Schulman

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[I've asked my library to buy a copy of this biography of the famously tight-lipped family of the ultimate 0.1 per cent-ers, the Koch brothers. *RON*]

By Nicholas Lemann, May 23, 2014
In 2010, two of the Koch brothers, Charles of Wichita, Kan., and David of New York, rather suddenly became the top-of-mind conservatives for American liberals. That was partly because at that moment the Democratic Party controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, so there wasn’t a dominant conservative politician to focus on; partly because of a wave of news media attention, notably an influential story on the Kochs’ political activities by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker; and partly because of the rise of the Tea Party movement, of which the Koch political apparatus was a primary backer. The conservative victories in the Congres­sional elections that fall looked like conclusive proof of the Kochs’ power. The very first television ads the Obama re-elec…

Gitga'at Nation to erect symbolic blockade to protest Northern Gateway approval

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[Three cheers again for my mom's home village! The women of Hartley Bay are crocheting a 2.5 nautical mile-long chain to string across the mouth of the Douglas Channel as a symbolic tanker blockade. *RON*]

By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 06/20/2014

HARTLEY BAY, B.C. - The women of the Gitga'at Nation of British Columbia will erect a symbolic blockade made of yarn across the Douglas Channel today to protest the federal government's approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The crochet chain will stretch 2.5 nautical miles across the opening of the narrow channel tankers will have to navigate to a marine export terminal to be built in Kitimat, on the north coast.

Seventy-year-old Lynne Hill says the protest began in the community and spread, with supporters sending in crochet links from all over Canada.

On Tuesday, the federal government granted final approval to the pipeline that will bring oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast for …

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Reforms To Target Employers Who Break Rules

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[Unaccountable baffle-gab: "cut the size and scope of the program" how much, in what ways? "impose additional sanctions on employers who abuse the program" such as what? "reduce the length of time a temporary foreign worker can stay in Canada" how much? "tighten up the rules" how? "tie the number of temporary foreign workers a company is allowed to hire to the unemployment rate" how? "require employers to pay temporary foreign workers more" how much? "the government has not been able to tell CBC News how many inspectors are charged with enforcing the rules or where they are located" the usual Freedom From Information. *RON*]

CBC /Huffington Post, 06/19/2014
The government will cut the size and scope of the program, as well as make public the names of employers who have been given the green light to hire temporary foreign workers, CBC News has learned.

The government has been on…

Why B.C.'s Murky Political Lobbying Industry Is So Troubling

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[Great topic - it needs far more coverage. Canada and BC are far more opaque than the US in terms of reporting requirements - so the corporatocracy grows apace here without our even knowing about it, and our democracy decays. More, please, Mister Travis! *RON*]

Dermod Travis, Executive Director, IntegrityBC, Huffington Post, 06/19/2014

Last year, 12,281 registered lobbyists roamed the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. -- a city that sees itself as the most powerful in the world.

Comparatively, one would imagine that British Columbia might have a few hundred or so at most. Yet, astonishingly, there were 2,717 registered lobbyists working the political backrooms in B.C. -- one for every five in D.C.

Trying to track their influence on provincial politics is a murky undertaking. The industry isn't just the suits hanging out their shingle because of who they may know or what political favours they may have performed. Today, it includes lawyers,…

More punk, less hell!

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[Good old, totally crazy Iceland! If I ever considered moving to another country it would be here. "An extraordinary political experiment took place in Iceland: anarchists governed the capital city of Reykjavik for four years – and the amateurs achieved some astonishing successes." *RON*]
By Constantin Seibt, Tages-Anzeiger, 18 June 2014

When the ballots had been counted, the Prime Minister of Iceland declared the result a «shock».
The same sense of shock was felt by almost everyone. The old guard, because it had lost. And the new party, because it had won.

There had never been such a result – not in Iceland or anywhere else. Reykjavik had long been a bastion of the conservatives. That was now history. With 34.7% of the vote, the city had voted a new party into power: the anarcho-surrealists.

The leading candidate, Jón Gnarr, a comedian by profession, entered the riotous hall full of drunken anarchists looking rather circumspect. Almos…