Showing posts from November 16, 2014

Voter turnout climbs across Salish Sea municipalities: candidates elected on promises to oppose crude oil, thermal coal exports

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[It warms the cockles of my heart to think about how much money Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson must have spent on TV ads that tried to swing the municipal vote in this election! I wonder if he's making a K-M face today? *RON*]
Lyndsey Easton, Dogwood Initiative, 15 November 2014

Municipal candidates vowing to oppose Kinder Morgan’s oil sands pipeline project will form a majority on council in Vancouver, Burnaby, Victoria and Esquimalt, all places where Dogwood Initiative teams worked to get supporters out to vote on the issue. Candidates taking a stand against U.S. thermal coal exports in New Westminster also came out on top.

Overall voter turnout increased in six out of seven key municipalities where Dogwood volunteers knocked on doors and telephoned supporters.

Reminiscent of the Kitimat plebiscite in April, citizens in the coastal community of Sooke voted 70 per cent to 30 against increased oil tanker traffic past their homes. First…

Why Work Is More and More Debased

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[An excellent article. One tool of the corporatocracy is outsourcing - which lowers working conditions and puts the corporation at one or more steps of remove when things go sideways, and workers sue or are injured or killed. It's also another aspect of wealth inequality. *RON*]
Robert Kuttner, New York Review of Books, 23 October 2014

The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad For So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It by David Weil

Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street by Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt

In mid-May, The New York Times reported on appalling labor conditions in the construction of NYU’s new satellite campus in Abu Dhabi. NYUsaid it had a commitment from both the government of Abu Dhabi and the contractor, the BK Gulf corporation, that workers would be treated decently. But the Times found that migrant workers from South Asia were crammed fifteen to a room, paid as little as $272 a month for an e…

(Fiscally) Bleeding Kansas

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[The deterioration in Kansas state finances not only continues unabated — it is seemingly accelerating. My favourite part is the statement that eliminating or delaying tax cuts "has not been discussed." *RON*]

By Menzie Chinn, Econ Browser, 12 November 2014

Figure 1 presents the evolution of estimates of Kansas state general fund receipts.

As the Kansas budget blog observes, FY 2015 approved spending plus additional costs required to pay for Medicaid and school finance totals $6.427 billion. That means that even after completely draining the reserves in the state bank account, $279 million must still be cut from already approved spending just to keep the state solvent.

From the Wichita Eagle:
The state of Kansas will not have enough money to pay its bills through June unless it cuts $279 million in spending, according to updated revenue estimates. Just a week after being re-elected, Gov. Sam Brownback is staring down a budget crisis, a…

Would You Protect Nazi Torturers And Their Superiors?

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[Interesting piece. *RON*]

Patrick Durusau, Another Word For It, 15 November 2014.

If you answered “Yes,” this post won’t interest you.

If you answered “No,” read on:

Senator Mark Udall faces the question: “Would You Protect Nazi Torturers And Their Superiors?” as reported by Mike Masnick in:

Mark Udall’s Open To Releasing CIA Torture Report Himself If Agreement Isn’t Reached Over Redactions.

Mike writes in part:
As we were worried might happen, Senator Mark Udall lost his re-election campaign in Colorado, meaning that one of the few Senators who vocally pushed back against the surveillance state is about to leave the Senate. However, Trevor Timm pointed out that, now that there was effectively “nothing to lose,” Udall could go out with a bang and release the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report. The release of some of that report (a redacted version of the 400+ page “executive summary” — the full report is well over 6,000 pages) has bee…

The war on ISIS already has a winner: The defense industry

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[War and the Corporatocracy. “You’ve got the Europeans worried about what the Russians are doing in their backyard; we’ve got our hands full right now in Iraq; you’ve got the Israelis with their hands full in their region; and then you have the Chinese and Japanese in the South China Sea. As an investor, with this much regional conflict in the world, at least from a sentiment point of view, that can’t be bad.” *RON*]

by Tory Newmyer, Fortune, 13 September 2014
Makers of munitions and unmanned aircraft top the list of private-sector beneficiaries.
It’s far too soon to tell how the American escalation in the sprawling, complex mess unfolding in Iraq and Syria will play out. But this much is clear: As our military machine hums into a higher gear, it will produce some winners in the defense industry.

New fights mean new stuff, after all. And following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan—and the belt-tightening at the Pentagon imposed by steep…

Report Funded by Big Business Explains to Small Businesses What's Best for Them

[Big corporations trying to pretend that small businesses will gain from free trade agreements, when all experience and evidence says otherwise. In the process they conveniently ignore the data that they themselves have collected, cherry picking comments that support their views. See also 176 Million Workers Call to Stop TPP Negotiations. *RON*]
Ben Beachy, Public Citizen, 14 November 2014

The Atlantic Council has just released another report cheerleading the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), the controversial U.S.-EU deal under negotiation, also known as TTIP.

The report pitches the deal as a gift to small businesses.

It was financed by FedEx, the 64th largest corporation in the United States.

Why did the Atlantic Council need to call on big business to try to persuade us that TAFTA would be good for small businesses?

The report itself provides the answer: “Those [small and medium enterprises, or SMEs] that have heard of the negotiations tend to believe that TTIP is designed …

WTO breakthroughs fail to mask serious structural problems

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["Members need to discuss reforms that will avoid paralysis." A good indication of how little interest there actually is in "free" trade. Instead what we have is nations pushing one another around to ensure the protection of corporations, even when this comes at a cost to the well being of the national population. *RON*]

Shawn Donnan, Financial Times, 16 November 2014

When India and the US last week ended a dispute that had paralysed the World Trade Organisation, it drew cheers from business groups: multilateralism is back.

Together with another deal struck with China a few days earlier to unlock negotiations on updating the rules on trade in IT products, the deal in India seemed to put things back on track at the WTO.

But is that really the lesson the corporate world should take from the events of the past week?

There is another side to the story and it is not as optimistic. What this breakthrough really illustrated is how even …

Anti-austerity protests erupt across Italy

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[Italy is back in a recession and demonstrators have taken to the streets in many Italian cities to protest against the government's labor and social reforms. "In Rome, protestors bombarded the German embassy with eggs and paint." *RON*]
Reuters / Deutsche Welle, 14 November 2014

Italy was marred by nationwide protests on Friday as unions, students and migrants staged strikes and rallies against the government's overhaul of job protection rules.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had pledged labor reforms that would make it easier for companies to hire and fire workers, but had also promised more generous benefits for the unemployed.

Italian trade union USB said protests were also against recent anti-austerity measures led by "Europe's troika" - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - the three institutions responsible for imposing budgetary requirements.

Demonstrators and rio…

Getting the word out: Oilsands study slow to gain traction until celebrities got on board

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[We're under a regime where ideology overrides evidence, and everything favours the big corporation. It's kind of cool that the quality of the research was improved by the insights of the First Nations involved. It's notoriously hard to prove causation for cancer clusters. *RON*]

By Alexandra Paul, Winnipeg Free Press, 15 November 2014

A tailings pond at the Syncrude oilsands facility is seen from a helicopter near Fort McMurray, Alta., in July 2012. A new report says some of the world's costliest energy projects are in Alberta's oilsands and many could be cancelled without higher oil prices.

A groundbreaking study traces toxins from Alberta's oilsands to northern Alberta's wildlife, vegetation and a cluster of cancer cases among First Nations in the region.

Never heard of it? That's no surprise.

What the U of M scientist's report on the tar sands found:

High concentrations of cadmium, methylmercury, selenium and a…