Showing posts from January 23, 2015

'American Sniper' Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize

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[Almost. Taibbi hated on this movie a little more than I did, but I was pleased, at least, to see someone sharing the negative reaction I had -- what is the point of a movie in which all that happens is that people blow each others brains out until, finally, the hero dies? *RON*]
By Matt Taibbi, 21 January 2015

I saw American Sniper last night, and hated it slightly less than I expected to. Like most Clint Eastwood movies – and I like Clint Eastwood movies for the most part – it's a simple, well-lit little fairy tale with the nutritional value of a fortune cookie that serves up a neatly-arranged helping of cheers and tears for target audiences, and panics at the thought of embracing more than one or two ideas at any time.
It's usually silly to get upset about the self-righteous way Hollywood moviemakers routinely turn serious subjects into baby food. Film-industry people angrily reject the notion that their movies have to be about anythin…

Oil drop ‘disastrous’ for anti-Isis fight

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[It's a bad week for destabilization in the Middle East in general. In the case of this story, the drop in the price of oil has greatly lowered Iraqi revenues, meaning they will have a hard time keeping their end up in the fight against ISIS (not that this has amounted to much). In Yemen, both the President and the Prime Minister have abdicated and the local branch of al-Qaeda is loving the idea of stepping into the political vacuum. And, however low one's opinion is of the Saudi government, the death of the king will also be destabilizing - the kings was locally beloved while the crown prince is despised. *RON*]

Sam Jones, Defence and Security Editor, Financial Times, 22 January 2015

The collapse in the oil price has had “disastrous” consequences for the fight against Isis, Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, has warned world powers.

Western leaders meeting Mr Abadi in London on Thursday have promised to increase shipments of ammuni…

7 Keys to Understanding the Greek Elections

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[However it turns out, the results of the election in Greece on Sunday will be important for the Eurozone and the world at large. A bit of background will help you understand what the outcome means. *RON*]
Pavlos Tsimas, Huffington Post, 22 January 2015

On Sunday at 7:00 p.m. in Greece when the ballots are closing and the first exit polls are released in Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, London, Frankfurt and New York, all the political and financial decision-makers -- and people who assist in making such decisions -- will be staring at their computer screens, ready to read and interpret those numbers.

The upcoming elections in Greece are undeniably a global event, whose importance transcends Greece's borders. The importance lies in the fact that these elections are part of a series of critical elections in Europe, from the British elections in May to Spain's elections in November.

Greece was the very first country within the Eurozone that went thro…

Helping Our Northern Neighbours Explodes With Offers To Pitch In

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[How Canadians are, despite their government. *RON*]
By Sara Harowitz, Huffington Post, 22 January 2015

The B.C. woman behind a campaign that sends food care packages to Canada's remote north says she's been blown over by the flood of people wanting to help.

Outraged when she heard about the astronomical grocery prices in the north, Jennifer Gwilliam began the Facebook group Helping Our Northern Neighbourslast summer to organize food shipments for families in need. But what began with humble dreams and 2,000 members has quintupled in less than a week afterGwilliam's efforts were first featured on The Huffington Post B.C.

The response has left an overwhelmed (albeit excited) Gwilliam working 16-hour days just to keep up.

"It's amazing because the response we've had from all across the country, and to every media article and everything, has been so positive," the Vancouver Island woman tells HuffPost B.C. "It's ju…

Target's package for ex-CEO matches package for all 17,600 Canadian workers

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[The value of Gregg Steinhafel's 'walk-away' package is estimated at $61M. The fact that he presided over a business failure of historic proportions apparently doesn't enter into the picture at all. And Target does this while they claim bankruptcy and file to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes and benefits. Via my friend Harry. *RON*]
CBC News, 22 January 2015
Social media readers had some snarky comments Thursday about reports that the former CEO of Target got a total severance and other benefits package worth about the same as the total amount being offered to all 17,600 of the chain’s Canadian employees who will soon be out of work as the company winds down its presence in Canada.

Target’s "employee trust" package for its Canadian workers, announced last week, amounts to $70 million ($56 million US). It’s designed to provide each worker with 16 weeks of pay.

Depending on who’s doing the calculation, the g…

Here’s a tax-reform plan for Alberta

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[There are plenty of good tax models that would work better than the ones we have. BC should absolutely eliminate MSP premiums and roll these costs into the general tax base, like the rest of Canada does. Expert advice for Jim Prentice: two tax rates, plus (gulp) a sales tax. *RON*]

Rhys Kesselman, Macleans, 22 January 2015

Alberta’s public finances are at a crossroads. Sharply declining prices for crude oil are taking a large swath out of provincial revenues and will force difficult decisions on both the spending and taxing sides of the ledger. But this situation also offers a chance for the province to reassess how it pays for public services.

Reform is already in the wind. Premier Jim Prentice has acknowledged that the time may be ripe to consider departing from the province’s flat-rate income tax and instituting a provincial sales tax. The Alberta Medical Association’s president has suggested that maintaining health care budgets in the face …