Showing posts from June 16, 2015

Walmart’s black mark

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[Following standard 'Communications' tactics, WalMart will first not respond, then say, "We knew nothing about this," "WalMart cares deeply about the welfare of our contractees," "We are going to look into this closely," or "we have already fixed this," then we will never hear about it again until the next similar story comes out, when they will repeat all of the above. *RON*]

Alice Cuddy and Mom Kunthear, Phnom Phenh Post, 16 June 2015

Cambodian workers producing garments for global retail giant Walmart say they are subjected to a slew of workplace abuses ranging from forced labour to sexual harassment.

Employees at numerous Walmart supplier factories across the country have made the allegations, which were compiled in a recent study exposing the brand’s “heinous abuses” in three of the major countries in its Asian supply chain – Cambodia, India and Indonesia.

The study into Walmart, which was publ…

The Texas town that banned fracking (and lost)

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[After the local municipal government in Denton, Texas voted overwhelmingly to ban fracking in their community, the oil industry had this overthrown by successfully arguing that "the rights of those families, mineral owners,... were being denied access to their property which is protected under the US constitution." Not only that; they also ensured that such rampant democracy will never happen again anywhere in Texas. *RON*]

By Aleem Maqbool, BBC News, 16 June 2015

When a Texas town voted to ban fracking inside city limits, it was a shock to the oil-friendly state. But the response from the Texas legislature and energy firm has residents questioning what power they have left.

The hydraulic fracturing has started again in Denton, and so too have the protests.

Months ago, the town became the first in Texas to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in their area.

Fracking is a method of shale gas extraction that uses large amounts of water…

The going rate for a boatload of asylum seekers

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[In Australia, the commodification of human lives has become a policy issue in which political points are won and lost. In so doing, the government has entered (and is actively encouraging) the very industry it claims to despise; human trafficking. "What is astounding is the government feels it does not need to offer an explanation to what could amount to the payment of bribes that may breach both domestic and international law." See also Australia is hostile and contemptuous to asylum seekers, says UN rights chief. *RON*]

Anneliese Mcauliffe, Al Jazeera, 16 Jun 2015

Days after allegations were first made that Australian officials paid people smugglers to turn a boatload of asylum seekers away from Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott seems to be basking in the swirling media storm.

Despite withering condemnation from the international community, an urgent "please explain" from the United Nations and a further escalation of t…

US to eliminate trans fats from food supply over heart disease concerns

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["US Food and Drug Administration to remove partially hydrogenated oils more than a year after it said it would and after decades of lobbying by health advocates." Actually, the phrase used below is "all but eliminate." Canada has nothing like this (we have 'suggested limits'). The Canadian and US supply chains are so tightly inter-woven that I suspect it will come here willy-nilly, for which, no doubt, the Canadian government will claim credit as a bold move on their part. *RON*]
Jessica Glenza, The Guardian, 16 June 2015

The US Food and Drug Administration will all but eliminate partially hydrogenated oils from the food supply by 2018, it was announced on Tuesday, almost a year and a half after the FDA first announced its intention to do so.

“The FDA’s action on this major source of artificial trans fat demonstrates the agency’s commitment to the heart health of all Americans,” said the FDA’s acting commissioner Steph…

Minister's "world-leading" spill response plan gets skeptical reception

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['World class' means industry standard means 'just as bad as every place else.' The two biggest gaps identified are that: "spill response is one thing, but ensuring spill prevention is even more critical," (Andrew Weaver), and the federal government's role is not mentioned at all, which is crucial since land-based spills will almost invariably involve streams, many of which are salmon-bearing. *RON*]

Elizabeth McSheffrey, Vancouver Observer, 15 June 2015

After two years of stakeholder and community engagement, the provincial government has announced plans to build a “world-leading” response regime for land-based spills.

At a press conference on Monday, Environment Minister Mary Polak committed to developing a streamlined spill response system to address the increasing amount of hazardous material crossing B.C. by land.

Key elements of the regime include a certified, industry-funded response team, tight legislative r…

Trudeau Aims To Put PMO, Ministers' Offices Under Access To Information Act

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[I had no idea that the PMO and Minister's Offices were not already covered by the Access to Information Act. Minister's Offices, especially, should automatically be subject to public scrutiny and accountability. The size of the PMO should be drastically limited. Harper has around a hundred people working for him; Lester Pearson had three. *RON*]
Althia Raj, Huffington Post, 16 June 2015

OTTAWA — The Prime Minister’s Office and federal ministers’ offices will be brought under the Access to Information Act if a Liberal government is elected next fall, Justin Trudeau is expected to announce Tuesday morning.
The Huffington Post Canada has learned that more accountability for public office holders is only one plank of the Liberal leader’s major announcement on “fair and open” government.
If Trudeau is elected and his party forms the next government, the promise could prove politically costly and embarrassing for the new Liberal prime minister.

IMF Concerned Over Widening Income Inequality

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[Increasing the wealth of the poor is good for the economy; increasing the wealth of the already rich actually hurts it. "...a one percent increase in the income of the richest 20 percent corresponded to a nearly one percent decline in GDP growth over a five year period. In contrast, an increase in the income share of the poorest 20 percent corresponded to a more than one-third percent increase in GDP growth." *RON*]

Xiao Xun, Voice of America, 16 June 2015
Income inequality is hurting the potential for growth worldwide, and the best way to tackle that is through helping the poor and the middle class, according to a new study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Widening inequality is hardly a debated issue,” Kalpana Kochhar, Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy and Review Department at IMF said on Monday.

“The gap between the rich and the poor is at the highest level in decades in advanced countries, and inequality is also rising in…

As oilpatch downturn continues, job seekers wrestle with career change

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[So much for oil and gas industry promises of thousands of new, great careers. Likewise, in Canada: More Oilsands Job Losses Incoming. *RON*]

Ian Bickis, Canadian Press / National Observer, 12 June 2015

CALGARY — Eight months into his search for a new job in the oil and gas industry, Rashad Bayramov says he's open to switching industries.

But it's not so simple.

"There are some perceptions from employers," said Bayramov, who previously worked in cost control. "They prefer people with experience in the specific field. It's not easy to change, even if you wish so."

Bayramov was one of close to 2,000 people who showed up at the Global Energy Career Expo in Calgary that ran this week. But with only about a quarter of the number of companies looking to hire compared to last year, job offerings were slim.

"The oil and gas market is so down," said Tarang Jain, a 25-year-old finishing up his master's degree …