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Showing posts from January 19, 2015

Oil Industry Withdraws From High Cost Areas

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[Will Stephen Harper and Christy Clark ever awaken long enough to smell the coffee? This year, Saudi Arabia only had to dip into 5% of its surplus funds, even though they increased their national budget by 10%. *RON*]

By Nick Cunningham, OilPrice.com, 17 January 2015

The oil industry is pulling back from some marginal areas of operation, slashing jobs and spending, and retrenching in the face of the ongoing slump in oil markets.

Signs of a shrinking footprint are beginning to pop up across the globe. Norway’s Statoil has let three of its exploration licenses expire in Greenland, an acknowledgement that exploring in frontier lands no longer makes sense with oil at $50 per barrel. Not too long ago, Greenland was hyped as an unexplored and pristine new oil region. The excitement was enough to fuel a bit of an independence movement within Greenland to pull away from Denmark.

However, drilling in Greenland would be highly technical, expensive, and wo…

The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle

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[A must-read in my view: "It’s a stunning approach with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions." I found it hard to believe that some people who made comments on the original article had even read it. Here's one: "If there was any doubt in your mind about Snowden, this should confirm he did Harm to America and helped its enemies. This information should be top secret!" *RON*]

By Jacob Appelbaum, Aaron Gibson, Claudio Guarnieri, Andy Müller-Maguhn, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Leif Ryge,Hilmar Schmundt and Michael Sontheimer, Der Spiegel, 17 January 2015

Normally, internship applicants need to have polished resumes, with volunteer work on soc…

Fed Testimony in AIG Bailout Trial: If It Walks Like Perjury and Quacks Like Perjury…

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[A lengthy piece, but worthwhile. Eye-popping, bald-faced lying by the Fed in giving testimony at the AIG bailout trail, with apparent impunity. *RON*]
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, January 19, 2015

One of the most striking things about the testimony in the AIG bailout trial is the degree to which Fed officials play fast and loose with the truth. And I don’t mean the normal CEO version of having no memory of events that are inconvenient and very detailed recollections of things that boost their case. I mean statements that are flat out false.

Two key examples come at the very top of the trial, namely, Scott Alvarez, the general counsel of the Board of Governors, and Tom Baxter, the general counsel of the New York Fed. They are also the most important government witnesses, given the plaintiffs’ strategy, that of Hank Greenberg, via Starr International and the class of AIG shareholders that Starr represents. Their case hinges on the legality of th…

The Scale Of The Chinese Real Estate Crash Is Terrifying

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[Governments succeed in pushing away their debt through programs of austerity, which does not succeed in stimulating the global economy, so the debt settles on the backs of private individuals. *RON*]
Tomas Hirst, Business Insider, 19 January 2015

We hear a great deal about the credit binge in advanced economies that helped lay the foundation for the 2008 financial crisis and is also widely blamed for holding back the pace of the recovery. Well, while the West has been unwinding some of this excess borrowing in recent years, emerging markets have been seeing their own credit boom.

And it's a huge risk — particularly in China, where growth has normally pushed along the economies of several other countries.

Growth is slowing in China and its debt overhang is growing as a result. That's a problem because countries ought to be able to grow their way out of debt. But that era may be coming to an end. And now China has a developing real estate cra…

Our Politicians Are Failing Us. Here's What We Need to Do

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[Some good ideas here, to which I would add: throw your support behind civil society groups that keep the pressure on elected representatives once they are in office, for example, Democracy Watch. *RON*]
Deborah Coyne, constitutional lawyer, activist, Huffington Post, 18 January 2015

2015 is an important year for Canadians. Sometime before the end of the year we will have a general election to elect a new Parliament and Government of Canada.

Yet, more and more Canadians, especially younger ones, dismiss politics as a boring and outdated struggle amongst elite political operatives seriously out-of-sync with the rhythm of modern times.

I can understand the skepticism, and outright cynicism, that people feel about national politics. Our democracy is under siege, not just from the current Conservative government, but also from the extreme consolidation of executive power that will continue - whatever the outcome of the next election -- unless Canadians …

Report says richest 1% will control most wealth by 2016

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[By 2016, % of people will possess more wealth than everyone else in the world. "in 2014 there were 1,645 people listed by Forbes as being billionaires and that around 30% of them (492) are from the USA. One-third of billionaires on this list started from a position of wealth, with 34% of them having inherited some or all of their riches. Some 85% of these people are aged over 50 and 90% of them are male." *RON*]
Kim Hjelmgaard, USA Today, 19 January 2015

ZURICH —The world's richest 1% will soon amass wealth that represents more than the entirety of that owned by the rest of the people on our planet, a new report released Monday by the British anti-poverty charity Oxfam claims.

The study, published ahead of this week's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, suggests that by 2016 the gap between the world's rich and poor will widen to the extent that those at the top of the income pile will control o…

The Limits of Satire

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[A good, thoughtful piece on Charlie Hebdo and the function of satire, via my friend Harry. "In raising the question of the usefulness or otherwise of a cartoon, rather than remaining fixated on the question of freedom of speech, [Joe Sacco] reminds us of the essentially pragmatic nature of satire. However grotesque and provocative its comedy, its aim is to produce an enlightened perspective on events, not to start riots." See also the very good Charlie and Theo*RON*]
Tim Parks, New York Review of Books, 16 January 2015

What does satire do? What should we expect of it? Recent events in Paris inevitably prompt these questions. In particular, is the kind of satire that Charlie Hebdo has made its trademark—explicit, sometimes obscene images of religious figures (God the father, Son, and Holy Spirit sodomizing each other; Muhammad with a yellow star in his ass)—essentially different from mainstream satire? Is it crucial to Western culture…