Showing posts from January, 2015

Greece will no longer deal with ‘troika’, Yanis Varoufakis says

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[This kind of blunt statement is simply not made publicly - it is a real bombshell. *RON*]

Kerin Hope and Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times, 30 January 2015

Greece will no longer co-operate with the “troika” of international lenders that has overseen its four-year bailout programme, the country’s finance minister said.

Yanis Varoufakis also said Greece would not accept an extension of its EU bailout, which expires at the end of February, and without which Greek banks could be shut off from European Central Bank funding.

“This position enabled us to win the trust of the Greek people,” Mr Varoufakis said during a joint news conference with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, who was visiting Athens for the first time since a leftwing government came to power this week.

Mr Dijsselbloem countered by rejecting the government’s call for an international conference that would consider writing off part of Greece’s deb…

It's Time To Rethink B.C.'s Medical Services Plan Tax

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[Hear, hear! Andrew Weaver is virtually the only calm, well-informed and reasonable voice left in the BC legislature. This tax provides welfare for the 1% and increases income inequality. *RON*]
Andrew Weaver, MLA, Huffington Post, 30 January 2015

In just two weeks, the B.C. Legislature will sit once again. The government will deliver a speech from the throne and table the next B.C. budget. In anticipation of the ensuing budget debate, it's time to start a conversation on Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums, a regressive tax that unfairly burdens low and fixed income British Columbians along with small business owners and the self-employed.

Currently in British Columbia, individuals who earn more than $30,000 must pay a monthly flat fee of $72. This means that someone who earns $30,000 per year pays the same MSP premium as a person who earns $3,000,000 per year. MSP premiums are perhaps the most regressive form of taxation in B.C.

Progressive ta…

Thousands expected at rally for Spanish anti-austerity party

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[Public opinion and public interest continue to play catch-up with ideology in Europe. Anti-austerity party Podemos has quickly become a prominent player in Spanish politics as regional, municipal and general elections approach. See also: Europe’s Greek lesson: Austerity has failedAngela Merkel must accept that her austerity policy is now in tattersAnti-austerity looks less cartoonish by the day. *RON*]
Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian, 31 January 2015
Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in Madrid on Saturday in support of the anti-austerity Podemos party, less than a week after Greeks elected the eurozone’s first anti-establishment government.

As Podemos prepares to formally launch its election campaign, 260 buses are expected to bring supporters to the capital from across Spain, with hundreds of locals signed on to host travellers, the party said on Friday.

The Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, said when he announced the …

Study reveals wide gaps in opinion between scientists and general public

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[On the eroding boundary between church and state and the crapification of the public education system. Science is having a hard time holding its own against the combined effect of religion, ideology, corporate spin, bought and sold politicians and bought and sold journalists. *RON*]

By Luara Santhanam, PBS News Hour, 29 January 2015
Scientists and the public agree on very little when it comes to climate change, childhood vaccine requirements and more, but both groups feel more pessimistic about the direction of science, according to a new study released today from the Pew Research Center.

In fact, when Pew staff looked for overarching patterns that helped to explain why scientists and the public share some opinions but not others, they couldn’t find any, said Lee Rainie, director of Internet, science and technology at Pew Research Center.

“What was really striking about this is that you really had to go issue by issue. There were no really broad …

Kinder Morgan drops multimillion-dollar civil suit against protesters

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[Jason Gratl's observations on the timing of events makes sense but, since everyone involved is busy taking credit for the outcome, it's hard to know what Kinder-Morgan's real motives were for dropping the case. In any case it's clear that K-M totally fails to understand that having people arrested who disagree with them destroys their social license. But Harper and the NEC have made it transparently clear that K-M doesn't need to care about this. *RON*]

Jennifer Moreau, Burnaby Now, 30 January 2015

Kinder Morgan is dropping its multimillion-dollar civil suit against all five Burnaby Mountain protesters and is willing to pay their court costs.

Kinder Morgan announced its latest legal move in a Friday-afternoon press release stating the company has filed a "unilateral discontinuance" of the suit that's been hanging over the heads of five protesters.

Stephen Collis, Lynne Quarmby, Alan Dutton, Mia Nissen and Adam G…

Arctic Ocean edging towards ice-free for first time in millennia

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["We have to phase out fossil fuels or we’re going to go places we don’t want to go." 20 per cent chance 2015 will see ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer, rising to 70% by 2020. All Harper sees are oily and metallic dollar signs. Plus a swell opportunity for military deployment. *RON*]

Avery Zingel, Vancouver Observer, 28 January 2015

A group of scientists are flagging the possibility of a profound change to the Arctic ecosystem this year — one that has not likely been seen for 21,000 years, before the last ice age's deep chill took hold.

The Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) states there’s a 20 per cent probability the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free during the summer of 2015. The probability of this occurring rises to 70 percent by 2020, said Paul Beckwith, one of the group’s scientists.

Global warming is being blamed.

“Within about a decade the accelerated warming could keep the ocean ice-free year round," said Beckwith, a pa…

NAFTA votes against investigating oil sands tailings ponds

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[When Harper is selling a so-called trade agreement (they are actually corporate protection acts) to Canadians he trumpets the existence of these Potemkin 'safeguards.' Once they are in place he shows his true colours by fighting all environmental safeguards tooth and nail. *RON*]
Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, 30 January 2015

NAFTA's environmental watchdog voted unanimously not to investigate oil sands tailings ponds pollution, despite recommendations from staff to launch a probe.It's the third time a NAFTA probe has been blocked by the Canadian government, pending a decision on Canada's controversial Keystone XL oil sands pipeline proposal.

"It sounds pretty political to me," said Dale Marshall of Environmental Defence, one of the groups that requested an investigation. "It's possible [Keystone XL] has something to do with it. It's clear that Canada's environmental record is being put into the bal…

FCC's new broadband internet target leaves Canada behind

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[U.S. says broadband internet downloads must hit 25 Mbps, while Canada still aims for 5 Mbps. A good example of Canada as corporatocracy. Harper supports whatever corporations want, even when this means that the public gets screwed. The links to additional stories, below, are also good. Via Harry. *RON*]

By Emily Chung, CBC News, 30 January 2015
Internet speed now has to be a lot faster in order to qualify as advanced broadband in the U.S. — five times faster than high-speed broadband in Canada.

The U.S. telecommunications regulator announced this week that in order to meet its new "broadband benchmark," an internet service now has to be able to support downloads of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads of 3 Mbps.
Why internet upload speed in Canada lags behind world average
Why do Canadian broadband rates vary so much?

The Federal Communications Commission uses the definition to measure the proportion of Americans who have access to…

Fact-Checking Obama's Top Trade Official: Ten Tall Tales on Trade

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[International trade = the global corporatocracy. US Trade Representative tells multiple, abject lies to Congress about pending so-called trade deals. *RON*]

by Ben Beachy, Counterpunch, 29 January 2015

Yesterday was a difficult day for U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman. He had to go before Congress and explain how the administration’s plan to expand a trade model that has offshored U.S. manufacturing jobs and exacerbated middle class wage stagnation fits with President Obama’s stated “middle class economics” agenda.

Inconveniently for Mr. Froman, it does not.

That did not stop Froman from trying to paint the last two decades of Fast-Tracked, pro-offshoring trade deals – and the administration’s plan for more of the same – as a gift to the middle class.

The facts he cited to support this depiction actually sounded great. They just didn’t have the added advantage of being true.

Here’s a rundown of the top 10 fibs and half-truths that Fr…

We came, we saw, he died

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[A pungent, potent piece on Her Royal Clinton and the Democratic Party: "The intellectual bankruptcy of the Democratic Party is nowhere more evident than in the looming presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Assumptions of the inevitability of her candidacy tend to ignore policy matters, focusing instead on her gender and her twenty years as a Washington insider. Many usually thoughtful people can find nothing more substantial to say in her favour than 'it’s her turn.'" *RON*]
Jackson Lears, London Review of Books, Vol. 37 No. 3, pages 8-11, 5 February 2015
Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton, Simon and Schuster, 635 pp, £20.00, June 2014, ISBN 978 1 4711 3150 9
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by Jonathan Allenand Amie Parnes, Hutchinson, 440 pp, £20.00, February 2014, ISBN 978 0 09 195448 2

The rise of identity politics in America was a tragic necessity. No one can deny the legitimacy or urgency of th…

Harper Government Spends $700,000 Fighting Veterans Class-Action Lawsuit

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[Harper clearly hates the members of the Canadian armed forces who die so he can pound his chest and look tough in front of the press. But he will throw anyone under the bus who gets in his way. *RON*]
By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 28 January 2015

OTTAWA - The federal government has so far spent nearly $700,000 fighting a disgruntled group of wounded Afghan veterans in court— a revelation that on Wednesday rekindled a political controversy the Conservatives had hoped was behind them.

During question period, Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to cast the ongoing court battle as the legacy of a flawed policy that was foisted on Parliament nine years ago by Paul Martin's Liberal government.

"The government is defending a decision of the previous government, supported by all parties in the House of Commons," Harper said, referring to the new veterans charter, which the Conservatives have championed since co…

Damage from cancelled census as bad as feared, researchers say

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[The new slogan of the Conservative Party should be "Ideology Über Alles!" So Click here to sign a petition calling for keeping the Canadian Census Long Form! *RON*]
Tavia Grant, The Globe and Mail, 29 January 2015
The cancellation of the mandatory long-form census has damaged research in key areas, from how immigrants are doing in the labour market to how the middle class is faring, while making it more difficult for cities to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely, planners and researchers say.

Statistics Canada developed a voluntary survey after Ottawa cancelled the long-form census in 2010. Many had warned that the switch would mean lower response rates and policies based on an eroded understanding of important trends. Now researchers – from city planners to public health units – say they have sifted through the 2011 data and found it lacking.

Their comments come as a private member’s bill to reinstate the mandatory long-form…

Snap Poll: How Likely Is War With Russia in the Next 10 Years?

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[Foreign Policy polled 1,000 international relations scholars about immigration, leaving Iraq, and whether the United States and Russia are on a collision course. The more of a regional expert you are, the more pessimistic you are. Also you more likely to believe a Cold War is coming is you trained during the Cold War. Meanwhile, Shells Rain on Ukraine’s Debaltseve as Envoys Wrangle Over Talks, and Russian bombers over English Channel raise stakes with Moscow: "The appearance of the warplanes forced Britain’s Royal Air Force to scramble its own jets and caused civilian air traffic to reroute." *RON*]

By Daniel Maliniak, Susan Peterson, Ryan Powers, Michael J. Tierney, Foreign Policy, 28 January 2015

When it comes to old wars, ongoing wars, and wars yet to come, international relations (IR) scholars mostly agree that leaving Iraq was a good thing. In this they share the public’s opinion.

But the latest Snap Poll of IR scholars — conduct…

End of austerity in the EU?

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[The public interest versus The 1%. Just as austerity advocates claim that reforms are bearing fruit, fears are growing in northern Europe that parties imitating Greece's Syriza may threaten the consolidation consensus. Is the EU about to reject austerity? See also: Podemos Dries Young Spaniards’ Tears Targeting Syriza-Style Win and The world is turning against austerity. Now it's Queensland's turn. And a short and savvy piece in the London Review of Books (thanks Richard!): Syriza’s Victory. Meanwhile, austerity just goes from success to success in Canada: CIBC Layoffs Affect More Than 500, Bank Calls Cuts 'Necessary' while Canadian GDP Shrinks In November, StatsCan Reports, andOttawa Reports $3.3 Billion Deficit For First Eight Months Of 2014-15 Fiscal Year.*RON*]

Christoph Hasselbach, Deutsche Welle, 29 January 2015

Many European governments see Alexis Tsipras' electoral victory in Greece as an accident - and a very …

SCC upholds Canadian workers' right to strike

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[Do you think that, just possibly, Harper regrets getting up the nose of the Supreme Court? :-) This will have repercussions in BC as well, since we also have Essential Services legislation. The RCMP have been loyal soldiers of the Conservative Party so far, so it will be interesting to see their response. *RON*]

The Canadian Press / CTV News, 30 January 30, 2015

OTTAWA -- The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down as unconstitutional a Saskatchewan law that prevents public sector employees from striking.

By a 5-2 majority, the high court granted an appeal by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour of the province's controversial essential services law that restricts who can strike.

The ruling will affect public service unions in provinces across the country. Last April, Nova Scotia enacted its own essential services law for health care workers, joining Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia as provinces that have essential services laws…

Bill for Stephen Harper’s annual Arctic trips tops $3.4M

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[Canadians paid millions, excluding apparently top secret RCMP costs, to send Stephen Harper on his annual northern sojourns, where he could wave his magical phallic turd over the land. It's all about resource extraction and the militarization of the North in order to trumpet sovereignty over said resources. Hungry Northeners who will have to bear the brunt of the inevitable environmental degradation do not enter into Harper's equations. *RON*]
By: Alex Boutilier Staff Reporter, Published on Tue Jan 27 2015

OTTAWA—The Canadian public paid more than $2.6 million — excluding security costs — to send Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his annual northern trips between 2006 and 2013.

Federal departments and agencies reported $2,650,442 in costs for the August Arctic trip, which Harper has made every year since taking power in 2006.

The total cost of the trips to taxpayers is likely much higher, however. The RCMP, which adds hundreds of thousands …

Government rejects formal request to make public cost of Iraq mission

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[I wonder where this money-maker for The Friends of the Conservative Party will be buried in the upcoming fudge-it budget? We can't afford our federal information watchdog, or spend money to ensure the safety of oil and gas transport by rail or tanker, or guarantee clean drinking water for Aboriginal people, or health services for refugees, or guarantee benefits to veterans, or erase our shameful record on child poverty. Yet somehow we cobble together the money for wars with unspecified mandates, bank bail-outs, tax cuts for the rich, subsidies for giant oil companies, and Chinese pandas. But ignore all that because we have a surplus (really, we do!), and we're smiling, so vote for us because we're financially responsible. *RON*]
Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen, 27 January 2015

The Conservative government has doubled down on its refusal to reveal the price of fighting the Islamic State in Iraq, meaning Canadians may not know the war’s …

Government Paid $180,000 To Run Empty Mining Ombudsman Office

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[You can just hear the closed-door conversation: "Uhm, Stephen, actually, human rights and environmental violation is our business model!" A corporatocratic fairy tale: "The counsellor was supposed to investigate Canadian mining companies alleged to have abused human rights or inflicted environmental damage while operating abroad. But McKay says it's a 'toothless, Potemkin office' that can only look into allegations of human rights violations if the company involved agrees to an investigation." *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 28 January 2015

OTTAWA - The Harper government spent more than $180,000 last year to run the office of a corporate social responsibility counsellor for the Canadian mining industry — even though there was no counsellor.

The government says it cost $181,600 to operate the office from October 2013 to October 2014.

However, the position of counsellor was vacant all that time and rem…

'Whose body is this?': The right to die with dignity revisited

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[Dying With Dignity Canada is one of the civil society groups that Harper has had stripped of their charitable tax status. Sorry, of course I mean to say that Canada Revenue, that bastion of arms-length independent thought, stripped this group, which coincidentally holds views abhorred by the Ayatollah Stephen Harper and his church, of its charitable tax status. *RON*]
By Pro Bono, Llauren Blumas,, 29 January 2015

Over the holiday season a story out of Winnipeg grabbed the attention of the Canadian public. The story went something like this: an elderly woman fell in the home she shared with her middle‑aged son. She was injured in the fall and left unable to get up under her own power. Her son, apparently carrying out the wishes of his mother, did not call for emergency assistance and did not move her to bed. Instead, the 62‑year-old covered his mother with a blanket where she lay and provided her with food and water until she passed awa…

Alexis Tsipras begins rolling back Greek austerity policies

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["We won’t get into a mutually destructive clash, but we will not continue a policy of subjection," said Tsipras. New prime minister says there is no time to waste, as privatisation programme demanded by EU and IMF is put on hold. See also Bank of England governor attacks eurozone austerity. A predictable response in the Wall Street Journal: "confrontation course... debt-ridden... The eurozone is unlikely to back a cut to Greek debt... investors will remain nervous." It will now be interesting to see what happens with the socialist party in the upcoming election in Andalucia. *RON*]

Helena Smith, The Guardian, 28 January 2015
In a dramatic start to his tenure in office, Greece’s new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has begun unpicking the deeply unpopular austerity policies underpinning the debt-stricken country’s bailout programme.

After storming to power on Sunday, the leftwinger said there was no time to waste. “We will cont…

Grizzly bear population at risk as B.C. Liberal government aligns with trophy hunters

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[We will need all those grizzly pelts to mop up the oil spills. The photo of Christy ("Will it buy me a vote?") Clark in the bad-guy black cowboy hat is priceless. Winner of the understatement award winner for 2015: "We make our decisions based on data and science and sometimes with the government’s policies it doesn't necessarily feel like those things are lining up." *RON*]

Third in a series investigating B.C.'s trophy hunt. Read part one and two for the whole story.

Claire Hume, Vancouver Observer, 27 January 2015

Dressed in a black cowboy hat, B.C. Premier Christy Clark beams at the camera as she accepts the President's Award from the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. The year is 2012, and the outfitters are gathered for their annual convention in Kelowna. Clark has just announced new regulatory changes to benefit the hunting guides to cheers and applause.

"So awesome to have Premier Clark in attendanc…

Tory Tax Relief Gives Least To Middle Earners, Documents Show

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[Wonderful photo selection! :-) Surprise, surprise - Harper's election promises amount to yet a further wealth transfer from the 99% to the 1%. Notice that these statistics had to be pried from Harper's hands using the Access to Information Act which, also unsurprisingly, received some of the biggest budget cuts across the whole of government. *RON*]
By Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 28 January 2015

OTTAWA -- Of all the families eligible for the Conservative government's controversial family tax-and-benefit measures this year, those earning between $30,000 and $60,000 will see by far the smallest windfall, internal Finance Department numbers show.

The government's own breakdown shows families within that income bracket in 2015 will receive average relief of $660, just slightly more than half the overall average of $1,140 for all eligible families -- those with children under 18.

By comparison, the figures sho…

Spain's Andalusia region to call early polls in test for Socialists

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[This is pretty much a direct response to the victory of Syriza in Greece - the worm slowly continues turning. *RON*]

By Reuters, Daily Mail Online, 26 January 2015

MADRID, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Spain's southern Andalusia region has called early elections for March 22, in a key vote for the opposition Socialist Party which runs the area and is struggling to win support as a general election looms.

The head of Andalusia's government, local Socialist leader Susana Diaz, announced the decision to bring forward the polls by a year, complaining that her leftist coalition was unstable.

The regional ballot will add to an already charged political calendar for Spain, with a new central government to be elected by year-end, municipal polls across the country in May and polls in northeastern Catalonia in September.

It will also pit the Socialists in a traditional regional stronghold against the one-year-old, anti-establishment party Podemos (We Can), whic…

Income inequality in dollars, sense

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[A response to an opinion piece on CEO compensation by the Fraser Institute. "The average worker would have to put in 330 years of work to match [RBC CEO] Nixon's one! Views about income inequality are exaggerated?" The point on 'available statistics' is excellent. *RON*]

Mark Dineen, Hamilton Spectator, 28 January 2015

Take a second look at gap in pay scale (Opinion, Jan. 24)

So the Fraser Institute — funded for years by the multibillionaire Koch brothers who've given tens of millions of dollars to projects that help fight taxes and trade unions — tells us that corporate CEOs are being unfairly maligned for making too much money.

Charles Lammam and Hugh MacIntyre — whose Aug. 28, 2014, report asserted that the more heavily the labour relations field is tilted in favour of corporate employers, the more "balanced" it is, because strong unions, fair minimum wages and plenty of public sector jobs undermine growth and…

Thanks a lot, austerity! We could have had 2014's economic recovery in 2011.

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[Notice, among other things, the monetarist argument that "high-spending fiscal policy won't boost the economy, since any increase in demand will be tamped down by the central bank." This is only true if you happen to be following neoliberal economic policies to begin with, and drive interest rates up the instant you smell anything remotely resembling inflation (and, to neoliberals, everything smells like inflation, which they fear more than the devil himself). And yet, "Only in mid-2014 do we get [government spending] back to positive territory — and hey presto! At just that time both the job market and GDP posted the best numbers in years." *RON*]

Ryan Cooper,, 28 January 2015

Last year boasted the strongest job numbers since 1999, and as a result, many commentators have concluded that left-wing critics of austerity were wrong all along. The basic case — advanced byJeff Sachs, Scott Sumner, and others — is th…

New Tory anti-terror bill will walk fine line distinguishing between free expression and inciting terrorism: Jason Kenney

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[See also - actually, see first - On Terrorism, Harper is all Talk and No Walk. In terms of whether our spy agencies already have power aplenty, see today's CSE Tracks Millions Of Downloads Daily: Snowden Documents. When Kenney himself describes it this way (and why is the Employment Minister speaking to this?), you know the trampling of rights must be egregious. Notice also how the video interview evidence will most likely not be released by the RCMP - raising the suspicion that hearing Zehaf Bibeau in person may contradict the Prime Minister's messaging on these events. *RON*]

Canadian Press in the National Post, 28 January 2015

OTTAWA — There’s a fine line between legitimate religious expression and inciting terrorism, says Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney.

It’s that line the government will be walking — carefully — in its new anti-terrorism bill, expected to be unveiled Friday.

The bill is the government’s long-awaited legis…

Fresh details of 'savage' Tiananmen massacre emerge in embassy cables

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[The cone of silence will never be raised until all who could be held accountable are long gone. In confidential embassy memos Canadian diplomats describe China's rulers as "a group of vicious elderly generals" who tried to sneak money out of the country. Via my friend Harry. *RON*]
By Tom Phillips, The Telegraph, 27 January 2015
As the 1989 Tiananmen protests shook Beijing, top Communist Party leaders approached Swiss diplomats about sending "very significant amounts of money" to bank accounts in their country, it has been claimed.

The claim appears in a trove of confidential diplomatic cables from the Canadian embassy in Beijing that has been published nearly 26 years after the deadly crackdown on protesters on June 4 1989.

The messages were obtained from Canada's national archives by Tom Korski, a former Beijing correspondent for the South China Morning Post newspaper.

One of the most explosive allegations in "tho…

Tax Haven USA: The Vortex-Shaped Hole in Global Financial Transparency

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[More on the financial crapification of the global economy by the banking branch of the corporatocracy. *RON*]
By Nicholas Shaxson, adapted from a post on the Tax Justice Network. Posted by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism, 27 January 2015.

Yves here. Nicholas Shaxson’s landmark book on tax havens, Treasure Island, described how the US was the biggest sponsor of what Shaxson called “offshore,” or tax havens and tax secrecy. He tells us how the US is working to keep it that way.
If people stash their wealth or earn income overseas, that is just fine — as long as their tax authorities get the information they need to tax that wealth or income according to the law, and as long as money laundering and financial crimes can be effectively tracked, and so on. Where there are cross-border barriers to legitimate tax collection, law enforcement and other instruments of democratic societies, then there is an offshore problem.

The only credible way to provide th…

How the federal government plans to end homelessness

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By Vicky Stergiopoulos and Sam Tsemberis, Evidence Network, undated.

[An undated article from the Manitoba-based Evidence Network. This group provides great evidence-based, non-partisan backgrounders on a large variety of (health-related) topics, often used as OpEds in major newspapers. The Housing First approach is highly effective. *RON*]
A version of this commentary appeared in the Toronto Star, Huffington Post and the Guelph Mercury

Something largely overlooked by wide media coverage of the federal government’s Economic Action Plan 2013 was that it marked a significant change in the way we will tackle homelessness in this country. The Plan includes an investment on ending homelessness by providing five years of renewed funding for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), and placing a strong emphasis on the Housing First approach.

The sizeable investment, $119M per year for 5 years, is commendable in two ways: it increases the funding cycl…

B.C. Mine Safety, Permit Process To Get $10 Million Funding Boost: Clark

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[A photo of the actual barn door Clark will be closing now that this toxic horse has already bolted: *RON*]
By Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press, 26 January 2015

VANCOUVER - A mining disaster and increased pressure to speed up the mine-review process in British Columbia has prompted Premier Christy Clark to promise more funding.

Clark told a crowd at Roundup 2015, the annual mineral exploration conference in Vancouver, that her government would hike the budget this year for B.C.'s Ministry of Mines and Energy by nearly $10 million in an effort to improve safety and efficiency.

"We're increasing resources so that we have more boots on the ground, performing more inspections," said Clark on Monday.

"(We're) making sure, in light of what's happened at Mt. Polley, that we all recognize our greater responsibility to … ensure that mining is done safely and mining is done in a way that maintains public confidence and publi…

What if First Nations (and their poverty) were counted?

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[It's not a large impact, but I had no idea that this was so. *RON*]
By David MacDonald,, 27 January 2015

Kudos to the Globe and Mailfor their front page story on Jan. 23 highlighting the fact that the official unemployment rate does not count First Nations reserves. You heard that right: First Nations reserves, some of the poorest places in the country, are not included in the official unemployment rate.

As unbelievable as that sounds, the reality is even worse. Reserves are regularly excluded from all of our regularly updated measures of poverty, wage growth, average incomes etc. The exception to this rule is during a census, i.e. every four years (and as a result of legislation making the long-form census voluntary, concerns have been raised about the future reliability of these data). Otherwise, reserves -- some of the poorest places in Canada -- are statistic-free zones: out of sight…out of mind.

As someone who works regularly wi…

Burnaby gains an unexpected ally in the fight against Kinder Morgan

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[A nice little collage of articles setting out the state of the play. Oil company CEOs might be feeling a little isolated these days. Municipalities continue to play a unexpectedly key role in the fight against pipelines in BC - see also Pipeline info inadequate, Langley Township says. Even Christy Clarke - like Harper, she is above all a political survivalist - has woken up to smell the coffee, thus Kinder Morgan needs to disclose more on safety plans, says B.C. Premier Christy Clark. Now we have SFU scientist Lynne Quarmby, recently arrested as a protester on Burnaby Mountain, running as a federal candidate in Burnaby. All of which leads to the supreme irony of Harper announcing that oil just isn't all that important to the Canadian economy. *RON*]

Justine Hunter, The Globe and Mail, 25 January 2015

Since last spring, the city of Burnaby has been trying to extract from Kinder Morgan a copy of their Emergency Response Plan.

In light of the co…

Global unrest rising over income inequality’s economic impact

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By Peter Ladner, Business in Vancouver, 27 January 2015

[Peter Ladner, co-founder of Business in Vancouver, apparently having figured it out as well, says "even Mitt Romney has figured out" that massive inequality is bad for the economy. No doubt, in his view, only very, very large inequality is necessary. But this does spell out what the 1% fears at the point - unrest. *RON*]

First came the Oxfam report that the richest 85 people in the world – who could all fit on one B-Line bus – are as wealthy as the poorest 50%. Then, shocking in a lesser and different way, the former – and possibly future – U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said reducing income inequality should be one of the pillars of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

What? Mitt Romney, the same man who in 2012 dismissed inequality concerns as “envy” and “class warfare,” now can’t deny that this has become a central issue. It’s finally getting harder to ignore …

Harper says there’s more to the Canadian economy than oil

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[With an election in the offing, and with his unrelenting support for oil and gas having dragged the economy into deficit territory, Harper does a complete 180 on his previous position expounding Canada as a booming petrostate. And yet (small wonder Harper refuses to release his budget), the Parliamentary Budget Office says the Federal Deficit Will Remain This Year If Oil Prices Stay This Low*RON*]

Bill Curry, The Globe and Mail, 22 January 2015

Stephen Harper is playing down the impact of energy on the overall Canadian economy, noting that other sectors will help keep growth strong during hard times for the oil patch.

The Prime Minister, who has previously promoted Canada abroad as an emerging energy superpower, stressed the importance of small business, manufacturing and innovation during an event in St. Catharines, one of many Southwestern Ontario communities that have lost manufacturing jobs in recent years.

“It’s obviously significant for…

On Terrorism, Harper is all Talk and No Walk

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[Politicking with terror. Good timing on this piece, with Harper scheduled to introduce his new anti-terrorism bill on Friday, which increases police-state powers (rightly described here as a vote-grabbing political wedge issue) while offering no new resources. *RON*]
Colin Kenny, Senator, Huffington Post, 25 January 2015

They say politics is show business for ugly people. And with only nine months or so until the writ is dropped, Canadians can only expect the theatrics from their government to reach new heights.

No issue, it seems, will be spared the prime minister's play-acting, not even when it comes to Canada's national security.

The two terrorist attacks in October and the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris have created a climate of fear in Canada around terrorism.

In order to assuage these concerns, the government recently announced its intention to introduce further anti-terrorism legislation. But there are two ways to stop terrorism: you…

The Mental Health Commission of Canada Is Stuck in Groundhog Day

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[It's not just a matter of committing more money; the real issue is power and politics. The changes that are needed have been known and documented for decades, but they would shake up existing power structures, so they never succeed in getting implemented. Real change requires that demands for the necessary changes be made at the political level; the bureaucracy will never make the required alterations to their own power base. *RON*]

Marvin Ross, Huffington Post, 25 January 2015

What am I missing here? The Mental Health Commission of Canada has just released the first of two reports on indicators showing how poorly we treat those with mental illness in Canada. I really have to ask why, as this is something we already know.

In May, 2006, the Canadian Senate released its study of mental health in Canada called Out of the Shadows At Last.What went into that report was based on more than 2,000 submissions, two online consultations and meeting peopl…