Showing posts from February 7, 2015

A kick in the teeth from the ECB

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[A good piece for understanding that the current situation in Greece is not simply or solely attributable to some lazy sense of entitlement and corruption among Greeks - the decision to 'socialize' the costs of bad bank investments (banks, it should be added, largely controlled outside of Greece) by dumping them on the Greek government was central to creating the ruin that their economy has become. The troika was also willing to take great risks with national economies in order to promote their neoliberal, corporatocratic policy of slashing the welfare state. *RON*]

By Mark Weisbrot*,, 7 February 2015

On Wednesday the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it would no longer accept Greek government bonds and government-guaranteed debt as collateral. Although Greece would still be eligible for other, emergency lending from the Central Bank, the immediate effect of the announcement was to raise Greek borrowing costs and …

Researcher responds to study claims that cancer risk is a matter of luck

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[I tend to agree with Dr. Gotay that these authors over-state their case when they claim that most cancers are simply due to bad luck, but from a public good perspective it would be nice to address the issue definitively, since the study also shakes up a great many vested interests. *RON*]
The journal Science published a statistic-laden research article last month that garnered far more attention than most such pieces usually do. In it, the authors made a provocative claim: two-thirds of the variation of cancer risk among different types of tissues can be attributed to random mutations – in other words, "bad luck." That meant that the other two major drivers of cancer—heredity and environment—account for only one-third of the variation.

Carolyn Gotay, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC and the Canadian Cancer Society Chair in Cancer Primary Prevention, take issue with the findings. Gotay and her colleagues, …

6 charts that show renewable energy is getting cheaper

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[Chipping away at the remaining objections. This article contains a lot to absorb in one quick sitting, but the end-message is simple: it is no longer true that renewable energy is "too expensive" compared with fossil fuels and that it only survives on government subsidies. BTW, it eventually gets defined, but CSP = concentrated solar power! *RON*]
By David Roberts, Grist, 3 February 2015
Things are changing very quickly in the world of renewable energy. The conventional wisdom — that renewables are expensive, that they depend on subsidies, that it’s too costly to integrate them into the grid — is rapidly being rendered anachronistic, though no one seems to have told U.S. policymakers and pundits.

So let’s check in on the real cost of renewables. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental research organization, recently released its latest report, “Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014,” and it’s chock fu…

People hate Goldman Sachs more than they hate cable companies

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[Lloyd Blankfein with that typically puzzled/irritated, "Laws? What are you talking about? Go away!" expression. *RON*]
Portia Crowe, Business Insider, 6 February 2015

People really don't like Goldman Sachs.

They like it less than the Koch brothers, Monsanto, BP and Exxon Mobil. They like it less than all the airlines and cable companies – not to mention the other banks.

Goldman Sachs is so hated that it ranked last place in Harris Poll's annual corporate reputation survey.

The poll ranked the 100 "most-visible" companies across all industries, based on feedback from more than 27,000 US-based respondents. The respondents also chose which companies should be considered visible and included in the list.

Scores range from excellent (80+) to poor (50-64 points). This year, Goldman Sachs scored 55.07.

Fracking-induced earthquake puts B.C. gas bonanza on shaky ground

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[Stephen Harper has never seen a resource extraction corporation he didn't love. In BC, premier Christy Clark is rolling out a red carpet for multinational gas company proposals. But fracking has been under a partial moratorium in Quebec since 2011. In December 2014 New Brunswick put a moratorium in place until five conditions are met: a process to consult with First Nations, a plan for waste water disposal and credible information about the impacts fracking has on health, water and the environment. There has been some public opposition in BC. However, with the recent precipitous drop in oil and Asian LNG prices, companies are at least temporarily losing interest in us. *RON*]
Derek Leahy, Vancouver Observer, 5 February 2015

The small town of Fox Creek in northern Alberta may have broken the world’s ‘fracking earthquake’ record with the 4.4-magnitude shaker that hit last month.

The most probable cause, according to Alberta’s energy regulator, …

Andrew Weaver, Canadian Climate Scientist, Wins Defamation Suit Against National Post

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[Andrew Weaver has been one of very few voices of sanity in the BC Legislative Assembly. This was an egregious overstepping of boundaries by The Post, and I'm glad to see the system worked in this case. *RON*]
The Huffington Post B.C. | By Andree Lau, Huffington Post, 7 February 2015

A leading Canadian climate scientist and current B.C. MLA has been awarded $50,000 in a libel suit against The National Post newspaper.

Andrew Weaver sued the Post over four articles published between December 2009 and February 2010. He alleged that the stories aimed to destroy his international reputation.

In a B.C. Supreme Court decision on Thursday, Justice Emily Burke agreed that the defamatory articles would lead a reasonable person to conclude that Weaver is an incompetent, inept, and unethical scientist and professor.

“I conclude the defendants have been careless or indifferent to the accuracy of the facts,” Burke wrote in her ruling. “As evident from the te…

No Veterans Should Have to Repeatedly Prove They've Lost Limbs

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[The Conservatives are actually capable of a passable simulacrum of shame, but only during an election year. Here is Paul Franklin's response to the Minister, and Rick Mercer's video. See also If Anyone "Distrusts" The Military It's Harper.
Erin OToole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Huffington Post, 6 February 2015

I would like to thank Paul Franklin for his blog post and sharing his personal story with Canadians, including frustrations related to access to service and benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

Paul is an outstanding Canadian and an inspirational veteran. His participation in the Soldier ON Relay that culminated on Parliament Hill on the National Day of Honour last year was a testament to his continued passion and drive as a proud Canadian, but more importantly, his accomplishments in the face of adversity serve as an example to other veterans and Canadians as they struggle with their own physical or…