Showing posts from January 20, 2015

How the 1% fly to Davos

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[Davos in a nutshell: 2500 people fly in 1700 private jets to a forum on "decarbonizing the global economy." *RON*]

By Alanna Petroff, CNN, 19 January 2015

Look to the skies this week in Switzerland and you'll see the heavens are cluttered with private jets.

Billionaires and world leaders from across the globe are flying en masse to the annualWorld Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland -- and they insist on traveling in style.

Roughly 1,700 private flights are expected over the course of the week, which is twice as many as normal, according to WINGX Advance, a tracking firm. Traffic is expected to rise 5% compared to last year's event.

Private jet companies have warned clients to plan ahead, as securing spots for landing, take-off and parking can become a logistical nightmare.

"Because last year was so busy, private jet customers know ... that they have to book in advance," said Adam Twidell, CEO of the online jet booki…

The Great Leap Rightward

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[On the bonds between economics, totalitarianism and racism. An insightful piece on the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece. Some Greeks have embraced the far right despite having long leftist family traditions or relatives killed by the Nazis. There seems to be two kinds of people in the world. Those who respond to scarcity by banding together and sharing and those who respond by pushing apart and hating. *RON*]

Kostas Kallergis Distomo, Balkan Insight, 16 January 2015
Below the green slopes of Mount Parnassus in central Greece, the small town of Distomo is unusually full of people. The visitors have come to mark the 70th anniversary of the Distomo massacre, one of the worst Nazi atrocities in the country in which more than 200 civilians were executed.

On a hill where a memorial to the victims stands, Greek and German high school students present the “Children of War”, a theatrical ode to peace. Photographs of Nazi troops on the Athens Acropolis and re…

Plunge in world oil prices means $4.9-billion surplus Conservatives promised for 2015 election year has 'eroded to nothing,' say economists

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[Hence the magically disappearing budget announcement. Will this be enough to push Harper into announcing an early election - just to avoid speaking to the effect of putting all of Canada's economic eggs in a single, fragile basket? All the proposed tax cuts are going to continue. *RON*]
By Tim Naumetz, The Hill Times, 19 January 2015

PARLIAMENT HILL—The calamitous effect of the dramatic plunge in world oil prices on government revenues means a $4.9-billion surplus the Conservatives promised for the 2015 election year has “essentially eroded to nothing,” says a senior economist with the Conference Board of Canada.

“The way we see things with our oil price assumptions—essentially oil prices climbing back but still taking a big, big hit this year of about 40 per cent—we’re looking at essentially a $4.5-billion reduction in government revenues,” Pedro Antunes, the Conference Board of Canada’s deputy chief economist, told The Hill Times on Monday…

How Is it That Norway Is Rich and We Are Not?

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["In half the time, and with less than one-third the starting capital, Norway has created more than 50 times the value for its citizens." Critics come up with quibbles about the comparison between Alberta and Norway, but surely a difference of this magnitude still makes a crucial point and good and bad governance? In what way can Alberta be said to have been promoting the common good? *RON*]

John McKay, MP, Scarborough-Guildwood, Liberal Party of Canada Environment Critic, Huffington Post, 19 January 2015

Norway (nôr′wā′):
1. A small nation of about five million people nestled in the northwest corner of Europe.
2. Historically, Norway was the poor cousin of Sweden and Denmark, but is no longer.
3. Either in this year or next, Norway's sovereign wealth fund will crest a trillion dollars.
4. Eighteen years ago the sovereign wealth fund sat at a mere $200 million.

Alberta (ăl-bûr′tə):
1. A small province of about four million people nestle…

Canada Revenue Agency's Text Message Destruction Should Be Probed: NDP

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[Another nail in the coffin of the public's right to know what its government is doing. How does this serve the greater good? *RON*]
By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 19 January 2015

OTTAWA - A New Democrat MP is raising the spectre of a political coverup in asking the federal information watchdog to investigate the Canada Revenue Agency's systematic deletion of employee text messages.

Charlie Angus, the party's access to information and ethics critic, also wants information commissioner Suzanne Legault to look into whether other federal agencies are doing the same thing.

The Toronto Star reported last month that the federal revenue agency had destroyed all text message records of its employees and stopped electronically saving such messages.

The newspaper cited documents released under the Access to Information Act that said Shared Services Canada — the federal organization responsible for information technology ser…

Taseko Mines Sues Wilderness Committee For Defamation

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[Taseko Mines is an especially aggressive corporation; they also have a history of fighting government on the environmental impact of their projects. Between this company and Kinder-Morgan, there is a rise in SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) lawsuits in BC. Do corporations really believe this will improve their public image and social license? Plus, if it turns out to be illegal to created "inferential meaning that would be conveyed to the average, ordinary reader as a matter of impression," this would certain render all of TransMountain's and Kinder-Morgan's numerous TV advertisements criminal. *RON*]
By Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 20 January 2015

VANCOUVER - Criticism of a proposed mine by an environmental group and allegations of defamation by the project's owner have landed both parties in British Columbia Supreme Court.

Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX:TKO) launched the lawsuit afte…

Low-Hanging Fruit: the show trial of the Holy Land Foundation

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[There is no room for geopolitics and ideology in the justice system. If this story is 100% factually true, my opinion of the US legal system has dropped to a new low. Via my friend Harry. *RON*]

Francis FitzGibbon, London Review of Books, Vol. 37 No. 2 · 22 January 2015

Zakat, the Quranic obligation on Muslims to give alms for the relief of poverty, is one of the five pillars of Islam. The Holy Land Foundation (HLF), founded in 1988 by American citizens of Palestinian heritage, raised money for distribution by zakat charitable committees in Gaza and the West Bank. Most of it went to buy food, clothes and education for children. Between 1992 and 2001 the foundation raised at least $56 million. On 3 December 2001 the US Treasury Department decreed that the HLF was a ‘specially designated global terrorist’ (SDGT), and the next day, without informing the foundation of this decision, the FBI closed down its offices. Five staff members and the HLF itse…