Showing posts from July 25, 2015

Fossil fuel companies impose more in climate costs than they make in profits

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[A classic economic externality, which is when the price of a good does not include a full accounting of the costs involved in producing it, particularly the costs that are borne by society at large. Like the big banks, oil and gas companies are purely extractive in both senses of the word. *RON*]

David Roberts, Vox, 24 July 2015
It is fairly well understood by now that releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere imposes an economic cost, in the form of climate change impacts. In most cases, however, those responsible for carbon emissions are not required to pay that cost. Instead, it's borne mainly by the world's poor and low-lying countries, and of course by future generations, as many of the worst impacts of climate change will emerge years after the emissions that drive them.

People sometimes refer to the unpaid cost of carbon pollution as a subsidy, or an "implicit subsidy," to polluting businesse…

Trade agreements and modern-day slavery

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[The corporatocracy, TPP and human trafficking. "So does the president obey the law he signed by tossing Malaysia from the list of most favored nations? Does he somehow make Malaysian leaders crack down on slavery? No. Instead, Obama plays golf with the Malaysian prime minister in Hawaii and, Reuters reports, has his State Department rewrite the record to say Malaysia doesn't really have such a bad slavery problem after all." *RON*]

By Curtis Ellis, The Hill, 24 July 2015

The media have been preoccupied with the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of slavery that cannot be tolerated. Politicians of both parties jump on the bandwagon to stuff the offending piece of cloth down the memory hole.

Once again, image triumphs over substance: Elected officials pose as Great Emancipators for purging the Confederate battle flag from TV reruns, but turn their back as slavery thrives in the real world.

The Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia is noto…

Gold is doomed

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[A good piece on gold. "It almost makes you feel bad for the goldbugs, until you remember that some substantial number of them are just trying to scare seniors out of their money. But the ones who aren't really thought the 1970s showed that gold went up when inflation did, so the fact that gold was going up now meant inflation couldn't be far behind. They didn't understand that the price of gold doesn't depend on how much inflation there is, but rather on how much inflation there is relative to interest rates." See also: Hedge funds have never hated gold this much. *RON*]

By Matt O'Brien, Washington Post, 25 July 2015

A little less than four years ago, the world looked like it was about to end and gold hit an all-time high of $1,895 an ounce.

The United States had manufactured a debt crisis, and Europe hadn't been able to manufacture a solution to its actual debt crisis, so panicky investors sought safety in the…

Foreign criminals use London housing market to launder billions of pounds

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[Corporations, usually based in offshore tax havens, are sometimes used by buyers keen to hide ownership of assets, says National Crime Agency spokesman. I wonder if we have any of this going on in Vancouver? *RON*]
Damien Gayle, The Guardian, 25 July 2015
Foreign criminals are using the London housing market to launder billions of pounds, pushing up house prices for domestic buyers, a senior police officer has warned.

Donald Toon, the director of economic crime at the National Crime Agency, spoke after a spike in receipts from a tax on homes bought up by companies, trusts and investment funds rather than individuals.

Such corporations, usually based in offshore tax havens, are sometimes used by buyers keen to hide ownership of assets from their own countries’ tax authorities. The secrecy they offer can equally be used to squirrel away ill-gotten gains.

Toon told the Times: “I believe the London property market has been skewed by laundered money. Pr…

Everything you need to know about the net-zero housing revolution

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[When you go to complete the BC climate action consultation survey - you are going to do this, aren't you? - you can mention net-zero housing in your comments. Micheal Sawyer is president of Net-Zero Structures Ltd., a sustainable home development company based in Smithers. Sawyer worked for 25 years as an environmental consultant in Calgary before moving to B.C., where he has built 25 net-zero homes since 2010. *RON*]
Elizabeth McSheffrey, Vancouver Observer, 24 July 2015

Research released by the Pembina Institute and Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) on July 23 revealed that net-zero buildings could help pave the way in achieving B.C.'s climate change targets. Net-zero structures produce as much renewable energy on-site as they consume using features like solar panels, triple-glazed windows, and extra-insulated walls.

The question remains, should the province and municipalities make firmer commitments towards net-zero home c…

BC evolving away from Creationism

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[It's just interesting to me to see what the local statistics are, compared with the US. It's what you'd expect: belief in creationism is lower in BC compared with the US, a bit higher in Alberta, and higher among older people, and people in remote and rural parts of the province. *RON*]
Mario Canseco, Vancouver Observer, 23 July 2015

Almost four months have passed since James Lunney, the Member of Parliament for Nanaimo—Alberni, decided to quit the Conservative Party caucus due to what he described as “a deliberate attempt to suppress a Christian worldview” at the “senior levels” of politics.

Lunney followed his March 31 interview with the Globe and Mail with a website statement, titled “Evolution Controversy” (intriguingly posted on April 1) where he ascertains, in 4,712 words, that freedom of religion in Canada is being undermined.

Lunney will not run for re-election this year. His constituency will not exist after this year’s federa…

Puerto Rico debt crisis: austerity for residents, but tax breaks for hedge funds

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[Living the neoliberal dream. There's nothing left in Puerto Rico but the very poor and the very rich. A mutual support network of corrupt and incompetent feather-bedding politicians, and predatory capitalists. The Caribbean territory has courted some of Wall Street’s richest citizens, selling its debt and offering inducements while local people face high taxes and cuts. They essentially have no economy other than being a tax haven and catering to extreme wealth. But this isn't going to help Puerto Rico, per se: UBS’s Puerto Rico Bond Funds Implode, "Collateral Value" Drops to Zero, Investors Screwed. *RON*]

Alan Yuhas, The Guardian, 25 July 2015

Caught between the demands of billionaires, pro-bankruptcy activists and more than three million people plagued by unemployment, poverty and government debt, who would you choose? As Puerto Rico confronts the quagmire of its $72bn financial crisis, it has come up with an answer: humouri…