Showing posts from September 3, 2014

Austerity debate flares as Europe recovery fades

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[The EU prescription is to do a little bit less of exactly the same things that have gotten them into this mess to begin with. *RON*]
David McHugh and Lori Hinnant, AP / USA Today, 1 September 2014
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe's recovery is in danger. Governments are under pressure to save it, but struggling with political obstacles and disagreement among themselves over what to do.

Instead, the region is pinning its hopes — once again — on the European Central Bank, which is expected to launch new stimulus measures if the economy gets any worse.

Europe's lack of growth is looming larger and larger, however, and the ECB says it can't save the economy alone.

For more than five years since the eurozone hit turbulence over too much debt in 2009, governments' answer has been to raise taxes and restrain spending. And there's been some progress. Deficits have shrunk, and countries that needed bailout loans are slowly getting their …

The secret life of a food stamp

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[An older article, but a good one. Walmart brings in more food stamp revenue than any other company, and much of it comes from their employees. *RON*]
by Krissy Clark, Marketplace, 1 April 2014

Last night, as the clock struck 12:01 on the first of the month, some lines of computer code triggered a series of financial transactions that have a profound effect on the American economy. In that instant, hundreds of millions of dollars—taxpayer dollars—were automatically downloaded onto debit cards tucked into wallets and purses of people across America.

Depending on what state you live in, the same thing will happen at different midnights throughout the month, until 47 million Americans living near the poverty line have received their monthly allotment of food stamp dollars—on average, about $130 per person. Once they get that money, some people will start spending it within minutes.

It was 12:30 a.m. and snowing when I met Yolanda Ballard and her 8-yea…

SPIKED: Harper visits, ignores North

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[Ask not what Harper can do for, but what you can do for Harper. *RON*]

Anonymous, Canadaland, 2 September 2014

EDITOR'S NOTE: from time to time, CANADALAND will post stories filed by journalists but spiked by their editors. CANADALAND has verified the identity of this article's author, a National Affairs reporter with a major Canadian news agency that refused to run this piece. Submissions of spiked items can be sent to

Now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has wrapped his ninth consecutive summer tour of Canada’s North, do you feel more informed about the issues facing the region and its people?

During this year’s pilgrimage to the territories, Harper visited the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories over six days, on the public’s dime. His office did not respond to a request for the full costs of either this recent trip or any of his previous eight.

During this year’s iteration, Harper made announcements about …

What's Behind The Malaise With B.C.'s Local Elections?

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[BC municipalities are among the least accountable to their electorate in Canada; we are in great need of tighter controls on both accountability, lobbying and election spending. *RON*]
Dermod Travis, Exec Dir, IntegrityBC, Huffington Post, 2 September 2014

Taken aback by complete strangers walking up to you this summer to shake hands? Well, that's because they're back: Candidates on the hustings for a city hall near you.

And despite their enthusiasm, it's not a passion shared by most voters if past elections are any indication.

Even though local governments in B.C. oversee more than $7 billion in annual spending, some communities may only see one in five voters go out and cast a ballot this November.

What does that mean in real terms? In Vancouver, it meant that less than one in five eligible voters re-elected Gregor Robertson in 2011. In Victoria, less than one in six re-elected Dean Fortin. In Nanaimo, Kamloops, and Prince George, les…

Executive pay rises again at TransLink

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[On the much-touted efficiencies of privatization. *RON*]

by Jeff Nagel - Surrey North Delta Leader, TriCity News, 2 September 2014

Top TransLink executives were all paid more overall in 2013 despite recent claims that the transportation authority had frozen management salaries and ended bonuses.

TransLink's financial information filing shows CEO Ian Jarvis received total compensation of $468,015 in 2013, an increase of seven per centfrom 2012.

In addition to $83,700 from two types of bonuses paid to him in 2013, Jarvis got a three per cent raise in base pay to $319,244 to partly compensate him for the elimination of his long-term bonus plan.

The long-term incentive plan, a condition of his contract when he took over in 2009, promised him a bonus of up to 20 per cent based on his performance over the three years from 2010-2012.

As with Jarvis, other TransLink executives got a lift in base pay of 2.4 to 6.4 per cent at the start of 2013 to c…