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Showing posts from January 31, 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…