Showing posts from August 24, 2015

Stephen Harper protecting the environment? (Oh yes, and my mother was a sumo wrestler…)

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[Or "Stephen Harper thinks you are unbelievably stupid." *RON*]

By Warren Bell, National Observer, 24 August 2015

He just can’t stop.

Stephen Harper has been stalking around Vancouver Island playing his carefully prepared political role.

In Campbell River last Friday, he spun his latest tall tale.

Voice measured and expression grave, Stephen Harper announced that he was going to spend $15 million to improve wild salmon habitat.

Stephen Harper helping wild salmon.

Harper helping wild Stephen salmon.

Salmon Harper helping Stephen wild.

Wild salmon Harper helping Stephen.

Sigh….it’s simply impossible to put those five words in the same sentence and make sense, no matter what order they’re in.

Stephen Harper’s record on protecting environmental values is about like Attila the Hun’s history of winning over enemies with great cooking and polite banter.

Never happened.

Crude oil collapses to a stunning new low

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[And, in my neighbourhood at least, they still can't bring the price of gas down by more than a few cents. *RON*]
Myles Udland, Business Insider, 24 August 2015

Along with almost all other assets, crude-oil prices are collapsing.

In early trade on Monday morning, the price of West Texas Intermediate was down about 5.7% and traded as low as $38.13 a barrel, a new post-financial-crisis low for the commodity that has been getting hacksawed this year.

WTI prices are down about 60% against a year ago, and after finding some stability earlier this year, oil prices have been rolling over again.

Crude oil has been getting hammered along with the entire commodity complex, but crude is also battling oversupply from the continued pumping of OPEC members such as Saudi Arabia and from the fracking that has production in the US near multidecade highs.

Here's the latest leg lower in WTI.

10 Reasons to Vote for Anyone but Harper

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[A good 'starter' list of reasons to vote against Harper. *RON*]

Sarah Miller, Huffington Post, 24 August 2015

As the longest federal election in Canadian history kicks off and the mud starts flying, I want to take a look at the overwhelming need for a new government in our country. Over the course of Harper's reign of terror we have faced attacks on Canadian values, freedoms and rights and we have endured a constant stream of lies and deceit. To keep this list to 10 will be a challenge but here we go:

Bill C51. In my mind this is the biggest reason to not vote for Harper, or anyone who supports this bill. Experts representing indigenous people, human rights and civil liberties groups, Muslim Canadians, environmental organizations, the legal community, the country's privacy watchdog, immigrants and refugees, the labour movement, former judges and politicians and others have spoken out against C51. There have been country-wide protes…

Document Raises Questions About Harper Retirement Policies

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["In 2010, Canada spent 5.0 per cent of GDP on public pensions (OAS/GIS and C/QPP), which is low compared with the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) of average of 9.4 per cent." Canada's public pensions "replace a relatively modest share of earnings for individuals with average earnings" compared with the OECD average of 34 countries; that is, about 45 per cent of earnings compared with the OECD's 54 per cent." *RON*]
By Dean Beeby, CBC News, 24 August 2015

Canada scores poorly among developed countries in providing public pensions to seniors, according to an internal analysis of retirement income by the federal government.

And voluntary tax-free savings accounts or TFSAs, introduced by the Harper Conservatives in 2009, are so far unproven as a retirement solution and are largely geared to the wealthy.

Those are some highlights of a broad review of Canada's retirement income system or…

The ugly reality of Canadian aid to Haiti

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[A couple of good foreign policy pieces by Yves Engler showed up in my Feedly feed today. *RON*]
By Yves Engler,, 21 August 2015

Reading the comments below a recent Toronto Star op-ed reminded me of an important, if rarely mentioned, rule of Canadian foreign policy: the more impoverished a nation, the greater the gap is likely to be between what Canadian officials say and do.

In a rare corporate daily breakthrough, solidarity activist Mark Phillips detailed a decade of antidemocratic Canadian policy in Haiti. But, a number of readers were clearly discomforted by the piece titled "Hey Canada, stop meddling in Haitian democracy."

"Money pumped into this dysfunctional country, is money down a rat hole," read one. Another said, "Yes — let's stop 'meddling' and while were at it -- let's stop sending them our hard-earned money!!!!."

While these statements ought to be c…

Harper government helps mining companies plunder Africa

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[Harper has never seen a mining company he didn't love. "Canadian mining companies have been accused of bribing officials, evading taxes, dispossessing farmers, displacing communities, employing forced labour, devastating ecosystems and spurring human rights violations. But the mining industry contributes little to sustainable economic development. Instead it is a prime part of a vast vacuuming up of resources to benefit wealthy people, only a very few of whom live in Africa." *RON*]
By Yves Engler,, 23 August 2015

Canadian policy in Africa can be summed up in nine words: Do what is good for Canadian-owned mining companies.

Despite rhetoric about aid to the poorest people in the world, the Harper Conservatives have worked assiduously to ensure that Canadian corporations profit from Africa's vast mineral resources.

Even widespread criticism of their operations has failed to dampen the Conser…

America’s Income Inequality Calls Nation into Question

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[The founder of the Institute for New Economic Thinking talks about income inequality in America and his ideas for improvement. "...if [wealth] is really that concentrated, how can our politics be representative of the people unless we can make marked reforms in reducing the role of money in electoral politics?" *RON*]
By Valentin Schmid and Robert Johnson, Epoch Times, 23 August 2015
On the face of it, Robert Johnson’s career looks like the stereotypical case of somebody who has made it in finance.

Having been educated at the country’s elite schools of Harvard and MIT, having worked as a managing director at George Soros’ Quantum Fund in the 1990s, and having held a prominent role in Washington, his resume could not be more established.

However, Johnson never took his achievements for granted and always kept pushing further, looking for the real reasons behind the facades of modern finance and politics.

As a result, he has produced an Os…

Global markets plunge following China sell-off

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[China sneezes and the rest of the world gets pneumonia. It's also pretty clear that things there will get worse before they get better: China's leaders look powerless against destructive market forces. See also the Wall Street Journal: Canada Stocks to Watch: Oil, Mining, Bank Stocks. *RON*]

Patrick McGee and Jamil Anderlini, Financial Times, 24 August 2015

Global equities saw their sharpest falls since the 2008 financial crisis as a rout in Chinese shares unleashed alarm across markets from the US to Asia and stoked mounting fears of a China-led global economic slowdown.

The S&P 500 fell 5.2 per cent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 1,000 points, or 6.5 per cent in early trading. Those moves echoed dramatic falls in Europe where the FTSE Eurofirst 300 slid 7 per cent, and the FTSE 100 fell 5.5 per cent, its sharpest decline since March 2009.

Why China can rattle global markets in four charts