Showing posts from July 25, 2014

Debunking the Bogeyman: Neoliberalism, austerity and economic agenda

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[On the unelected rulers of our democratic nations' economies. *RON*]
By Joyce Nelson,, 24 July 2014

In August 2011, the U.K.'s The Independent stated that the head of sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor's (S&P) "might be the most powerful man in the world that you've never heard of." S&P had just cut the triple-A credit rating of the U.S. down to AA+, a move that "changed the financial world."

The writer noted that "...there is a direct line from S&P's rulings to the cuts that governments around the world are imposing on their citizens. You might not have heard of him [David T. Beers, now no longer with S&P], but Treasury officials and finance minister all over the world certainly have, and they fear S&P's judgement."

The link between austerity budgets being imposed across Europe and the sovereign ratings given by the Big Three credit ratings agencies (CRAs) …

Big Dairy Is Putting Microscopic Pieces of Metal in Your Food

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[Just for your information. It will be interesting to eventually - one hopes - find out what metallic nanoparticles in your food may do to you... For now, Big Ag is not required to report their presence at all, and don't seem likely to be asked to in the near future. See also Do Nanoparticles in Food Pose a Health Risk? in Scientific America for details on some potential harms. *RON*]
Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, 29 May 2014

The rapid emergence of nanotechnology suggests that size does, indeed, matter. It turns out that if you break common substances like silver and nickel into really, really tiny particles—measured in nanometers, which are billionths of a meter—they behave in radically different ways. For example, regular silver, the stuff of fancy tableware, doesn't have any obvious place in sock production. But nano-size silver particles apparently do. According to boosters, when embedded in the fabric of socks, microscopic silver parti…

Could BC become a 100% renewable energy region?

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[On the feasibility of BC going 100% renewable. *RON*]

By Guy Dauncey, BC Sustainable Energy Association, July 23, 2014

They’re doing it in Germany: 140 regions of the country have set a goal to become 100% renewable energy regions, covering 30% of Germany’s land and 26% of her people, as we learnt in the June BCSEA webinar with Beata Fischer

Could British Columbia do the same? The climate emergency warnings are dire, and the need is great. When viewed historically, it is clear that the age of fossil fuels represents only the tiniest blip of time. Deep down, we know we need to stop using them.

Here in BC, 80% of our greenhouse gas emissions—the direct cause of climate change—come from burning fossil fuels, so it’s clear that a transition is needed.

So let’s embark on a mental exercise to see what it might involve. Would the transition away from fossil fuels fatally weaken BC’s economy, as some conservative thinkers fear? Worse yet, would it drag us b…

Obama lashes out at corporate ‘deserters’

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[Even the Republicans agree that something must be done about corporate deserters but, predictably, they believe that the proper approach would be not to threaten but to kiss corporate glutei even more fervently. *RON*]

By Barney Jopson and Ed Hammond, Financial Times, July 24, 2014

Barack Obama has lashed out at “corporate deserters” that leave the US to cut their tax bills as he made the boldest call yet for a crackdown on the merger deals that let them do so.

In a speech in Los Angeles, the US president amplified a White House call for Congress to stop deals that enabled multinationals to switch their domicile to countries with lower company tax rates, as concern about the trend mounts in Washington.

“They’re technically renouncing their US citizenship,” he said. “Some people are calling these companies corporate deserters.”

Canada Revenue Agency: 'Preventing Poverty' Not Allowed As Goal For Charity

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[It is truly disgusting that Harper  hands out billions in corporate largesse yet with neither do much with our taxpayers' dollars to prevent poverty nor allow us to leverage our private funds to do so. *RON*]

By Dean Beeby, CP / Huffington Post, 24 July 2014

OTTAWA - The Canada Revenue Agency has told a well-known charity that it can no longer try to prevent poverty around the world, it can only alleviate poverty — because preventing poverty might benefit people who are not already poor.

The bizarre bureaucratic brawl over a mission statement is yet more evidence of deteriorating relations between the Harper government and some parts of Canada's charitable sector.

The lexical scuffle began when Oxfam Canada filed papers with Industry Canada to renew its non-profit status, as required by Oct. 17 this year under a law passed in 2011.

Ottawa-based Oxfam initially submitted wording that its purpose as a charity is "to prevent and relieve po…

Richest Canadians Get Way Better Deals On Housing Than The Rest Of Us

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[This does appear to be simply a good deal given to the rich. It's hard to think of significant component costs of building a house that wouldn't simply scale up as the house got bigger and fancier. Things like inspections probably wouldn't go up all that much, but they are a very small part of the cost of a home. It might actually be worse than is described here if they are using the mean (rather than the median) for their "average." Plus, if you removed Shaughnessy Heights from the Vancouver calculation then re-did it, the cost of housing would be that much higher as a multiple of income for the rest of the (non-rich) residents. *RON*]

By Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post, 24 July 2014

Canadian Business released its latest ranking of Canada’s wealthiest neighbourhoods this week, complete with average income and average house prices.

We decided to take advantage of this data to compare how house prices stack up to incomes amo…

In Harper's Canada, charities face intimidation while tax evaders go free

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[With Harper it is always a question of what does he put money into, and what does he refuse to put money into? *RON*]
By Linda McQuaig,, 24 July 2014

As its website notes, "PEN Canada envisions a world where writers are free to write, readers are free to read and freedom of expression prevails."

With goals like those, no wonder the little charity has found itself in the crosshairs of the Harper government.

Earlier this week, PEN became the latest charity to face a massive tax audit as part of a sweeping clampdown that appears aimed at intimidating groups critical of the Harper government.

PEN had the audacity to criticize the government for muzzling scientists in the civil service, and for spying on Canadian citizens alongside U.S. intelligence agencies.

But the little org, which includes iconic Canadian literary figures like Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel, insists it won't be deterred by the audit.

"I refuse to let it h…