Showing posts from December 10, 2014

FBI Files Charges Against President Of Company Behind West Virginia Chemical Spill

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[All in all a good thing. As the next step, let us not forget that Freedom Industries Has Ties to Koch Brothers. *RON*]

By Emily Atkin, Think Progress, 9 December 2014

The former president of the company that contaminated drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians this past January has been arrested on criminal fraud charges, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation complaint unsealed Monday.

Former Freedom Industries president Gary Southern was charged with bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud, and lying under oath during the company’s bankruptcy proceedings following the massive spill — a 10,000 gallon dump of a coal-cleaning chemical called crude MCHM into the Elk River. FBI Special Agent James F. Lafferty said in a sworn affidavit that Southern, in an attempt to protect his personal fortune of nearly $8 million and shield himself from lawsuits, developed a scheme to distance himself from the company and “deflect blame” to other parties.

“Shortly …

Prentice Says Low Oil Prices Punch $6-$7 Billion Hole In Alberta Budget

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[Wait a minute! When times were good we were told that this was 100% due to their incredible financial acumen. Now we're told that they are helplessly riding waves of oil prices splashed up by Saudi Arabia and the United States? ;-) Perhaps, just possibly, there's a lesson here for Ms. All-her-eggs-in-one-LNG-basket-case Clark? *RON*]
By Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 9 December 2014

EDMONTON - Premier Jim Prentice says if oil prices continue to remain low, they will blow a $6 billion to $7 billion hole in the $40-billion provincial budget and no Albertan will be spared the pain.

"A return to extremely volatile energy prices has created conditions that we cannot ignore," Prentice said Tuesday in a speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

"Tough choices are going to have to be made and they will be made."

Prentice was reacting to the price of oil that was around the US$100 barrel mark in the summer b…

Veterans Charter Touted By Tories Since 2006 Reframed As 'Liberal Policy'

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[The lies continue and are becoming more desperate. *RON*]
By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 9 December 2014

OTTAWA - The new veterans charter, a marquee deal defended and championed by Stephen Harper's Conservatives since 2006, suddenly became a "Liberal policy" Tuesday as the government weathered more demands for Julian Fantino's resignation.

The veterans affairs minister, who was on his feet constantly during the previous day's question period, rose infrequently on Tuesday in the face of an unrelenting barrage of NDP and Liberal attacks.

Instead, he was defended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who tried to put some political distance between his government and a class-action lawsuit in B.C. that argues the charter is unconstitutional and discriminatory against modern veterans.

"It's actually a court case against the previous Liberal policy," Harper told the House, prompting catcalls of …

Income Inequality Hurts Economic Growth

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[More detail here than in some other articles that have reported on this OECD study. Note also that: "The OECD said that certain types of income redistribution — specifically, high-value services like good education and healthcare — increase, and not decrease, economic growth if effectively targeted without inefficiency and waste." *RON*]
By Erik Sherman, Forbes, 9 December 2014

There’s a continuing debate as to the broader impact of income inequality. Some claim that while it hurts those who experience it, there’s not a wider effect. On the other side of the issue are the theories that with more concentration of wealth in fewer hands, there’s an impact on the economy overall.

According to a new study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the latter are right. There is and has been a reduction of economic growth because of the growing concentration of income among a smaller portion of the global population.


Down To The Bone: The Healthcare System, Post-Austerity

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[Things are not all as rosy as they have been portrayed in Iceland. *RON*]

By Gabríel Benjamin (Photos by Landspítali Althingi), The Reykjavik Grapevine, 9 December 2014

Following the economic collapse of 2008, the Icelandic State’s debts skyrocketed, reaching 126% of the country’s GDP in 2011. At the same time, State revenue sources ground to a halt, and property devalued. The consumer price index shows price levels on consumer goods increased by a whopping 18.6% from 2008 to 2009, and strict capital controls were put in place to stop funds from funnelling out of the country. In a desperate attempt to avoid national bankruptcy, the State underwent hefty austerity measures, and called in the IMF.

Although these facts are readily available, a myth persists to this day that Iceland simply let its banks fail, jailed those responsible for the collapse and took a moral stance that the rest of Europe should aspire to. Take for instance a Guardian inte…

Austerity hits lawyers as they are advised to buy champagne from Aldi

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["Let them eat cake... from Walmart!" *RON*]

Richard Hartley-Parkinson for, 10 December 2014

Lawyers living in ‘times of austerity’ are being advised to buy their festive bubbly at Aldi and Lidl.

A wine review in legal magazine Counsel – which is aimed at barristers – is offering drinks suggestions for ‘Christmas in tough times’.

Authors Dominic Regan, a Professor of Law at City University, London, and Sean Jones QC, a barrister who specialises in employment law, make no mention of top London stores when giving fellow lawyers advice on where to buy ‘bubbles’.

But their suggestions include ‘Aldi Champagne at £12.99′ and a ‘noteworthy’ half bottle of Lidl champagne for £7.

The feature begins with a quote from a recent speech by judge Lord Justice Jackson, who said: ‘I accept at once that we are living in times of austerity.’

And the authors go on: ‘Whilst we have always tried to identify the best value available we have this y…

Harper: Oil, Gas Regulations Would Be 'Crazy Economic Policy' In Time Of Cheap Oil

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[Harper has been promising these regulations since 2007, and was elected partly on the basis of those promises. If it is "crazy" to reduce emissions now that oil is cheap (and in what way does that make sense, exactly?), then what has been stopping him from keeping his promise to do so for the last 7 years? And if "nobody" is regulating their oil and gas sector, what does he think the recent US-China agreement is all about?  He used to say he wouldn't regulate in Canada until the major players did so. Now that they have done so, what is stopping him from keeping his promise? *RON*]
By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 9 December 2014

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper slammed the door on unilaterally regulating Canada's oil and gas sector Tuesday even as four provincial governments, representing almost 80 per cent of Canada's population, were pledging to go further and faster in reducing greenhouse gas emiss…

The CIA Torture Report: What You Need To Know

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[The CIA violated US values and laws, its Detention and Interrogation Program was ineffective and, in some cases, detrimental to national security, all of which was carefully concealed from the US Senate. And from The Guardian: "Only the most cynical could have guessed back then that it would take six years even for a limited official account of what happened to emerge, that it would be Obama’s own administration that stood in the way of its publication and that no one would end up taking personal responsibility for the crimes or the cover-up." *RON*]
By Sarah Childress, Priyanka Boghani and Jason M. Breslow, Frontline/PBS, 9 December 2014

Over the objections of the CIA, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the findings of a long-awaited report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, in which it subjected detainees to practices widely criticized as torture — what it called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”…