Showing posts from November 3, 2014

Public opposition has cost tar sands industry $17bn, says report

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[Your good news for the day - democracy in action! :-) Protests helped stymie three major tar sands projects this year, as the industry is beset with transportation problems. *RON*]

Arthur, 3 November 2014
Anti-tar sands campaigns have cost the industry a staggering $17bn (£11bn) in lost revenues, and helped to push it onto the backfoot, according to a study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), and Oil Change International.

Another $13.8bn has been lost to transportation bottlenecks and the flood of cheap crude coming from shale oil fields, says the Material Risks report, which presents the first quantification of the impact that environmental campaigners have had on the unconventional energy business.

“Industry officials never anticipated the level and intensity of public opposition to their massive build-out plans,” said Steve Kretzmann, Oil Change International’s executive director. “Legal…

Journalism, Independent and Not

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[Corporations and media ARE the 1%. It's not sufficient that corporations like the Washington Post (owned by Amazon's corporate CEO Jeff Bezos) soften the language around theft by corporations like AT&T - see the following article. After all, WaPo still inconveniently points their criminal behaviour out to the buying public as news. So corporations like Verizon are creating their own websites to bring us their version of the "news" on technology. It seems that alternatives are possible, however. *RON*]

David Carr, International New York Times, 2 November 2014

Last week, I read an interesting article about how smart hardware can allow users to browse anonymously and thus foil snooping from governments. I found it on what looked like a nifty new technology site called SugarString.

Oddly enough, while the article mentioned the need for privacy for folks like Chinese dissidents, it didn’t address the fact that Americans might wan…

Consumers wasted at least $300 million paying for AT&T’s ‘unlimited’ data

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[Why not simply say it as it is, WaPo? AT&T steals hundreds of millions of dollars from its highest-paying customers? *RON*]
By Brian Fung, Washington Post, 31 October 2014 By now, you've probably heard that the Federal Trade Commission is suing AT&T for how it treats its unlimited data customers. Despite paying for an unlimited plan, these subscribers had their mobile Internet slowed to dial-up speeds, or "throttled," once AT&T decided they had surfed the Web too much. If that sounds nonsensical to you, you're not alone: Tens of thousands of consumers have complained about the practice, saying "unlimited" should mean just that — without limits.

Just how big a deal is this? At the very least, we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in potential losses to consumers. Although federal regulators haven't disclosed how much they're seeking in damages from AT&T, we can do some math to p…

The New Loan Sharks

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[On the commodification of poverty under the corporatocracy. The dependence of the poor on payday loans is neither natural nor inevitable. It is the result of neoliberal policies. Debtfare joins workfare and prisonfare in the armamentum. *RON*]
by Susanne Soederberg, Jacobin, 29 October 2014

Before World War I, American wage earners who couldn’t make ends meet before their next paycheck relied on an insidious form of loan sharks known as salary lenders. These predators lent money at an illegal rate of interest and without collateral. They often charged annual interest rates in excess of 1,000 percent. State sanctions against salary lenders were not rigorously imposed, and the industry thrived not through the threat of physical violence, but the illusion of a legal obligation.

Fast-forward one hundred years, and salary lending has expanded, but under a different name: payday lending, a wildly lucrative industry that occupies more storefronts than M…

We Are All Confident Idiots

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[I've just started reading Pacific Standard magazine ("The Science of Society") and they always seem to have interesting articles, in this case some humbling psychological research. Here's a sample so you can try them out! *RON*]
By David Dunning, Pacific Standard, 27 October 2014

The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise. A leading researcher on the psychology of human wrongness sets us straight.

Last March, during the enormous South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! sent a camera crew out into the streets to catch hipsters bluffing. “People who go to music festivals pride themselves on knowing who the next acts are,” Kimmel said to his studio audience, “even if they don’t actually know who the new acts are.” So the host had his crew ask festival-goers for their thoughts about bands that don’t exist.

“The big buzz on the street,” said one of Kimmel’s…

Stoking the fire of Iraq’s sectarian conflict

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[Amnesty International adviser provides evidence that Kurdish troops are ethnically cleansing Northern Iraq villages of Sunnis. *RON*]

Donatela Rovera, Annahar, 1 November 2014

History has turned the tables once again on the Kurds and the Sunnis in Iraq. But Donatella Rovera warns the KRG must act now to stamp out any revenge attacks against Sunni Arabs in Iraq which may constitute war crimes

Unlike in nearby villages recently captured by the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), not a single villager has returned to Barzanke. As I go from house to house, it becomes clear why. There is nothing for the residents to return to; virtually all the houses have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

Some were seemingly bombed from the air by US forces, others may have been struck by the Peshmerga as they tried to dislodge the IS fighters who had seized the area last August, but…

A number is never just a number: Minimum wage mythology

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[Modelled after the Harper's Magazine Index, Trish Hennessy of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provides a Canadian version every month. *RON*]
Henessy's Index, Trish Hennessy, 3 November 2014

Number of decades that the average of provincial minimum wages in Canada has remained unchanged in real terms. (Source)
The average of all provincial minimum wage rates in Canada in 2013 -- about the same value as the 1975 average of minimum wage rates ($10.13 expressed in 2013 dollars). (Source)

Hourly minimum wage gain for Canada's lowest-paid workers over the past four decades: a single red penny. You know, that currency we thought so useless it's no longer issued? (Source)

UN climate change report offers stark warnings, hope

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[Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its 4th, final climate assessment volume: experts urge deep emission cuts. Yet something about our discourse needs to change when nothing at all happens after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says "Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side." Just read the comments under the original story to see that denialism is alive and well. *RON*]

The Associated Press / CBC, 3 November 2014

Climate change is happening, it's almost entirely man's fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the United Nations' panel on climate science said Sunday.

The fifth and final volume of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's giant climate assessment didn't offer any surprises, nor was it expected to since it combined the findings of three earlier reports released in the…

Energy Executive Blasts Kinder Morgan Review As “Fraudulent,” Quits

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[A scathing indictment of the NEB review process from former BC Hydro CEO and 40-year veteran of Canada's energy sector, Marc Eliesen. This veteran energy executive quits the Kinder Morgan pipeline review, calling the federal process fraudulent, biased, undemocratic and a waste of time. See also the Let BC Vote link here and at the bottom of this posting. *RON*]
by Marc Eliesen, Dogwood Initiative Website, 2 November 2014

Marc Eliesen has withdrawn as an intervenor in the federal government’s review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker expansion project, detailing his reasons for quitting in a scathing 1,500 word letter to the National Energy Board.

Eliesen is the former CEO of B.C. Hydro and the former Chair of Manitoba Hydro. A deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments, Eliesen has forty years’ executive experience in the energy sector, including as a board member at Suncor.

Here is the full…