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Showing posts from December 24, 2014

Opinion: Tories, pipeline firms growing apart

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[Interesting - I can see this now that they say it. I thought Harper was doing a strategic step back, pulling himself away from oil & gas until after the election. Now we're hearing that oil & gas is saying "Stop helping, you're doing more harm than good." It could still be some of both. In any case, the government's approach to project approval evidently works for no one. *RON*]

By Kai Nagata, Vancouver Sun, 23 December 2014

A friend of mine works at TransCanada, the company whose proposed Energy East pipeline would connect oil producers in Alberta with refineries and tanker terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick. This fall, we sat down at a bar in Calgary to catch up.

“It took the federal cabinet a while to warm up to the project,” my friend recounted, “but once they did they wanted to know everything they could do to help.” I wasn’t expecting what I heard next.

“Back off,” TransCanada executives reportedly told key m…

Bankers Brought Rating Agencies ‘To Their Knees’ On Tobacco Bonds

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[On the utter meaninglessness of ratings agencies as consumer protection. Wall Street pressed S&P, Moody’s and Fitch to assign more favorable credit ratings to their deals and bragged that the raters complied. Now many of the bonds are headed for default. *RON*]

by Cezary Podkul, ProPublica, 23 December 2014
This story was co-published with Marketplace.

When the economy nosedived in 2008, it didn’t take long to find the crucial trigger. Wall Street banks had peddled billions of dollars in toxic securities after packing them with subprime mortgages that were sure to default.

Behind the bankers’ actions, however, stood a less-visible part of the finance industry that also came under fire. The big credit-rating firms – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch – routinely blessed the securities as safe investments. Two U.S. investigations found that raters compromised their independence under pressure from banks and the lure of profits, becoming, as the governme…

U.S. to review move not to charge ex-officer in Milwaukee fatal shooting

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[Mayor Tom Barrett "said that police officers throughout the U.S. should not be demonized." Even when they behave like demons? In case you haven't been following this story, the grave offense Mr. Hamilton committed, and died for, was sleeping in a park. "In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread." ~ Anatole France. *RON*]
By Brendan O'Brien, Reuters, 22 December 2014

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice will investigate the death of a black man who was fatally shot by a white former Milwaukee police officer after local prosecutors refused to charge him, saying he acted in self-defense.

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm said on Monday he will not press charges against the former officer Christopher Manney because he acted in self-defense when he shot Dontre Hamilton 14 times during a struggle in Red Arrow Park in downto…

Who's Afraid of Shareholder Democracy?

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[Interesting piece. Not everyone who owns voting shares in corporations share the precise political views of the US Chamber of Commerce and ALEC - and they don't like that at all. *RON*]

By Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Brennan Center for Justice, Truthout, 20 December 2014
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of biggest corporate trade associations, and ALEC, one of biggest corporate lobbying groups are both startlingly hostile to shareholders. At two recent meetings in Washington DC, these two powerful groups -- who frequently hold themselves out as speaking for the business community -- grumbled about shareholders being too pushy.

In particular ALEC and the Chamber don't like that one of the top topics of shareholder resolutions over the past few years has been transparency of political spending both in elections and in lobbying expenditures. Just this year, five public firms witnessed a majority of their shareholders vote in favor of such polit…

Canada’s make-believe sanctions against Russia have deprived it a role at the negotiating table

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[There's a disconnect between the article title and its text - the story doesn't actually have to do with depriving Canada of a role in international negotiations. The point is that Harper wants to court voters with manly chest-thumping photo-ops while scrupulously avoiding actions that could harm the corporations and the 0.1% who keep him in power, proving that the whole thing is transparently a PR exercise. See also: Russia Begins A $100 Billion Debt Bailout As Its Bonds Face 'Junk' Rating. It's interesting to compare this piece with the other one posted today on how Wall Street makes the ratings agencies dance to their tune. *RON*]

Michael Byers, National Post, 23 December 2014

In 1787, Grigory Potemkin ordered fake villages built along the banks of the Dnieper River to impress Russian empress Katharine the Great. The ploy worked, and the term “Potemkin Village” entered the lexicon, meaning an artifice designed to deceive.