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Showing posts from February 2, 2015

Conservatives hand out millions to help disabled Canadians – in their own ridings

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[Three quarters of the money spent went to Conservative ridings and, rather than give any money to disabled Canadians in opposition-held ridings, more than one-third of the money went unspent and has been clawed back. *RON*]
By Laura Stone, Global News, 2 February 2015

OTTAWA – Of the $34.5 million the Conservative government has doled out for accessible infrastructure since 2011, almost three-quarters went to Conservative ridings, newly-released documents show.

And last year, more than a third of it – about $6.6 million – went unspent altogether, which means it just gets sent back to general government coffers.

The Liberals are calling foul over what they see as favoritism, and a failure on the Tories’ part to follow through on spending promises.

“The proportion of funded projects in each riding and region of Canada is consistent with the proportion of applications from that riding and region of Canada,” spokesman Don Macleod said in an email.But a…

Capitalism has broken free of the shackles of democracy

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[Economic models and an empty concept of 'freedom' have proved more portable than political ideas, writes Slavoj Zizek. "Many westerners sense there is something defective about this freedom... What was fascinating about the protesters in Maidan Square who demanded a new political order for Ukraine was not that they stood up for the mirage of the European way of life. It was simply that they stood up. They acted. They made things change. They were not free, and yet they had powers of agency that westerners, for all their freedom, lack." *RON*]

Slavoj Zizek, Financial Times, 1 February 2015


To whom will monuments be built a century from now? Among them, perhaps, will be Lee Kuan Yew. He will be remembered not only as the first prime minister of Singapore, but also as the creator of authoritarian capitalism, an ideology set to shape the next century much as democracy shaped the last.

It was, after all, to Singapore that Deng Xiaopi…

Justice Department Investigating Moody’s Investors Service

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["Moody’s had inadequate models and methodology to gauge the risk of subprime mortgages and exhibited a 'relentless drive' to win market share... What we found at Moody’s was very similar to the practices and conduct at Standard & Poor’s. The conduct and results were the same... The 10-member commission concluded that credit-rating firms were 'essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction.'" The reader comments in the Wall Street Journal are cranky and complaintive. *RON*]

By Timothy W. Martinu, Wall Street Journal, 1 February 2015

With its case against Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services nearing the finish, the Justice Department has turned its attention to another credit-rating firm under fire for issuing rosy grades on mortgage deals in the buildup to the financial crisis.

Justice Department officials in recent months have quietly met with multiple former executives of Moody’s Investors Service to discu…

The Global Fight Against Corporate Rule

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[Activists are challenging rules that grant corporations the right to sue governments. Not only is Harper doing nothing to reign this in, he is doing everything in his power to make it more possible for corporations to control sovereign government. *RON*]
Robin Broad and John Cavanagh, This article appeared in the February 3, 2014 edition of The Nation.

Over the past several decades, multinational corporate Goliaths have helped to write and rewrite hundreds of rules skewing tax, trade, investment and other policies in their favor. The extraordinary damage these policies have caused has become increasingly apparent to the communities and governments most directly affected by them. This, in turn, has strengthened the potential of a movement that’s emerging to try to reverse the momentum. But just like David with his slingshot, the local, environmental and government leaders seeking to revise rules to favor communities and the planet must pick their…

Tomgram: William Astore, War Is the New Normal : Seven Deadly Reasons Why America’s Wars Persist

By William Astore, TomDispatch, 1 February 2015

It was August 2, 1990, and Saddam Hussein, formerly Washington’s man in Baghdad and its ally against fundamentalist Iran, had just sent his troops across the border into oil-rich Kuwait. It would prove a turning point in American Middle East policy. Six days later, a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division was dispatched to Saudi Arabia as the vanguard of what the U.S. Army termed “the largest deployment of American troops since Vietnam.” The rest of the division would soon follow as part of Operation Desert Storm, which was supposed to drive Saddam’s troops from Kuwait and fell the Iraqi autocrat. The division’s battle cry: "The road home... is through Baghdad!”

In fact, while paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne penetrated deep into Iraq in the 100-day campaign that followed, no American soldier would make it to the Iraqi capital -- not that time around, anyway. After the quick triumph of the Gulf War, the Airborne's paratroops …

Canada Mauled by Oil Bust, Job Losses Pile Up – Housing Bubble, Banks at Risk

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[Read the comments in the original article about how the easiest money to be made in 2015 will be going short on Canada. My impression, however, is that: a) the lowering of the interest rate was mainly aimed at encouraging business investment, not at increasing consumer debt, and b) a very large chunk of those savings are going straight into the banks pockets, not to either businesses or consumers. *RON*]
by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street, 1 February 2015

Ratings agency Fitch had already warned about Canada’s magnificent housing bubble that is even more magnificent than the housing bubble in the US that blew up so spectacularly. “High household debt relative to disposable income” – at the time hovering near a record 164% – “has made the market more susceptible to market stresses like unemployment or interest rate increases,” it wrote back in July.

On September 30, the Bank of Canada warned about the housing bubble and what an implosion would do to the b…

Greece, the US and the Neo-Liberal Coup: We Are All Greeks Now

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["...it is put forward as ‘coincidence’ that fiscal policies that would benefit the poor and middle classes are ‘impossible’ because of budget constraints but finding $4.5 trillion for the Federal Reserve to buy assets to benefit the very rich is possible." See also Why the Irish political elite is terrified of Syriza. *RON*]

by Rob Urie, Counter Punch, 30 January-1 February 2015

Since the onset of economic calamity in the West beginning around 2007 ‘official’ response has been framed as modest successes with a few policy errors while the reality is of remote elites and their agents enacting punitive policies under the guise of material economic constraints. In this context the election of Alexis Tsipras and Syriza in Greece appears a radical left turn while the actual economic proposals under discussion appear to be the middle-of-the-road textbook economics that preceded the neo-liberal coup of the 1970s in the U.S. And while Mr. Tsip…