Showing posts from November 21, 2014

Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor

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[The old joke is that, in an Egg McMuffin, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. Where austerity policies are concerned, the rich are involved, but the poor are seriously committed piggies. Study shows gains for wealthier half of population, delivering a blow to George Osborne’s claims on fairness. "We're all in this together - sort of." And, the transfer of money from the poor to the rich did nothing to reduce national debt. *RON*]
Daniel Boffey, Guardian The Observer, 15 November 2014
A landmark study of the coalition’s tax and welfare policies six months before the general election reveals how money has been transferred from the poorest to the better off, apparently refuting the chancellor of the exchequer’s claims that the country has been “all in it together”.

According to independent research to be published on Monday and seen by the Observer, George Osborne has been engaged in a significant transfer of income from…

Senate Spars With Goldman Sachs Over Commodities

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[Perhaps you remember the days when banks used to loan money to corporations so they could run their businesses; how banks simply run everything, inside-trading with themselves (and complain bitterly if anyone has the gall to bring this up). *RON*]
By Nathaniel Popper, New York Times, 20 November 2014
Updated, 7:25 p.m. | WASHINGTON — Goldman Sachs executives spent Thursday locked in a testy public face-off with members of Congress, fighting suggestions that the bank had taken too large a role in the commodities market.

In a hearing in Washington, Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, hammered away at Goldman’s ownership of aluminum warehouses in Detroit, coal mines in Colombia and a uranium trading company in London, which he said put the firm in position to influence the prices of commonly used commodities. The hearings also touched on the large commodities businesses run by JPMorgan Chase and…

Court rules Michigan has no responsibility to provide quality public education

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[This profoundly anti-democratic austerity argument cannot be allowed to catch on: public education as warehousing the poor. Against the argument that there is a "broad compelling state interest in the provision of an education to all children," the appelate court said "the state has no constitutional requirement to ensure schoolchildren actually learn fundamental skills such as reading — but rather is obligated only to establish and finance a public education system, regardless of quality." *RON*]
Posted by The Michigan Citizen, 13 November 13 2014

DETROIT — In a blow to schoolchildren statewide, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 7 the State of Michigan has no legal obligation to provide a quality public education to students in the struggling Highland Park School District.
A 2-1 decision reversed an earlier circuit court ruling that there is a “broad compelling state interest in the provision of an education to all …

Drug Bust

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[Interesting article. The development costs for generic drugs are zippity, nada. For 30 years, generic medications helped make health care cheaper. Why is their cost surging? Manufacturers stop making the generics because they are less profitable. Then the market shrinks until there is just one or a few manufacturers, who have the market cornered and jack their prices up. See also: Soaring Generic Drug Prices Spark Backlash. *RON*]
By Jeremy A. Greene, Slate, 20 November 2014

Earlier this fall, a gathering of Washington politicians and wonks celebrated the birthday of a piece of paper: the Price Competition and Patent Extension Act of 1984, also known as the Hatch–Waxman Act. When the bill was signed into law 30 years ago, it streamlined the approval process for bioequivalent generic drugs as soon as the patent expired on the original medication. The subsequent expansion of the generic drug market, from less than 3 out of 10 prescriptions in 198…

Health-care activists snubbed by Joe Oliver's constituency office staff

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[Democracy, Harper style. "We let the staff know we would be coming to drop off an open letter signed by 160 community organizations. Unfortunately, in response, they decided to lock the door which speaks to the complete disregard for public opinion." *RON*]
By John Bonnar,, 20 November 2014

On Tuesday morning Health for All, along with representatives from other signatory organizations, tried to deliver a letter to Finance Minister Joe Oliver's constituency office in Toronto.

"We let the staff know we would be coming to drop off an open letter signed by 160 community organizations," said Ritika Goel, a member of Health for All, in an email interview.

"Unfortunately, in response, they decided to lock the door which speaks to the complete disregard for public opinion."

Health for All joined 160 organizations in signing an open letter to Joe Oliver in opposition to provisions in Budget Bill C-43 that would …

Foreign Affairs Lets $125M In Aid To Poor Countries Lapse

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[Contempt of Parliament again? This money has been approved for expenditure by Parliament for the poorest people in the world. Canada only budgets 0.3% of GDP on foreign aid, less than half of the 0.7% minimum set by the United Nations. Now the poorest of the world's poor are paying for Harper's surplus in the hope that it will get him re-elected. *RON*]
By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 20 November 2014

OTTAWA - Almost 14 per cent of the money that Canada's newly amalgamated Foreign Affairs Department planned to spend alleviating poverty in poor countries in the last year has been returned, unspent, to the Finance Department.

Foreign Affairs managed to spend just shy of $792 million on aid to low-income countries in 2013-14, but had $917 million available, leaving more than $125 million in lapsed funding.

The figures are contained in the recently released performance report for Foreign Affairs, the first since t…

B.C. First Nations Crowdfund Over $200K To Oppose Northern Gateway

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[Is it that the Federal and Provincial governments are unaware of the level of public support for opponents of pipelines and tankers, or are the simply so arrogant that they don't think public opinion matters to them? *RON*]
Carol Linnitt, DeSmog Canada, 20 November 2014

Some of the strongest legal challenges against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline come from B.C.'s First Nations, and supporters from across B.C. are digging into their pockets to help ensure those are a success.

Pull Together, a grassroots campaign to raise funds for the legal challenges of six First Nations, has been so successful that organizers are bumping their goal from $250,000 up to $300,000 by December 31.

On Thursday the Haidi Nation announced they would join the initiative alongside the Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Kitaxoo/Xai'xias, Nadleh Whut'en, and Nak'azdli Nations to carry legal challenges forward against Enbridge's project.

"The Pull Together…

First the Harper government attacked refugee health; now, it's welfare

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[The Harper government has introduced legislation to cut welfare for refugees in the sneakiest, most carefully hidden manner possible. *RON*]
By Karl Nerenberg,, 21 November 2014

The Harper government has big problems with refugees.

We have reported on that baffling but unavoidable fact in this space frequently over the past three-plus years.

It started when former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney launched a rhetorical campaign against what he called "bogus" refugees from friendly, safe Western democracies such as Hungary.

When pushed, Kenney might begrudgingly admit that the people he was talking about -- the Roma of Europe -- do face great difficulties.

Kenney might agree that the Roma are victims of massive and systemic discrimination -- discrimination which arises out of widespread and deeply ingrained prejudices against the hated "Gypsies." Indeed, the former Immigration Minister once even condemned "nutbar&quo…