Showing posts from September 11, 2015

Get Ready to Entrust Your Retirement to a Bot

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[Depending on the cost this probably won't get you any worse advice than what you'd get from a warm-blooded financial advisor. You're still better off buying a well-rounded collection of bargain basement index funds using a cheap do-it-yourself investment account. *RON*]
Julia Greenberg, Wired, 11 September 2015

COMPANIES LOOKING TO offer retirement plans will soon have a new alternative. Automated investment adviser Betterment said today that it will soon offer a 401(k) platform for employers. In other words, your retirement fund may one day be run by code.

The wealth management startup has made a name for itself in the past few years for its so-called robo-adviser services. Investors hoping to do more with their money, but who might not be able to afford the hefty fees that come with financial advice from a human, have turned to companies like Betterment, Wealthfront, and FutureAdvisor for help. The startups pride themselves in provi…

Petronas, the Malaysian energy giant with big plans in B.C., faced ‘catastrophic’ safety issues

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[On the lethally poor operational practices employed by Petronas, our best buddy and the financial savior of BC according to Christy Clark. They're not even maintaining fundamental health and safety standards. The issues identified include four described by the auditors as being "almost certain," if not fixed, to lead to "catastrophic" events, i.e., incidents resulting in "multiple fatalities," "extensive damage" to the facility, "massive" harm to the environment, and a "major" international blow to the company’s reputation. See also, the concerns about Ottawa's plans to pass oversight on LNG to Christy's gang. Critics of the plan fear the B.C. watchdog will not have the authority or capability to ensure the safety of the LNG industry. *RON*]

Peter O’Neil, Postmedia News, Financial Post, 11 September 2015

OTTAWA — Petronas, the Malaysian state-owned global energy giant at the…

‘Black Mamba’ female rangers awarded for anti-poaching efforts

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[Brave women, literally putting their lives on the line for wildlife! *RON*]

By Larisa Epatko, PBS News, 10 September 2015
A mostly female anti-poaching unit known as the “Black Mambas” in South Africa won the United Nations’ top environmental prize this week.

Named for a ferocious snake in Africa, the team patrols the Balule Private Game Reserve in western South Africa at night when poachers come after rhinoceros and other endangered species. They face dangers, not only from poachers hoping for a lucrative catch, but from the park’s other wild beasts.

“I don’t know when I am going to face a lion,” said one of the Black Mambas Siphiwe Sithole on the PBS NewsHour.

“At first I was scared, but each and every time when you go out, I get used to it, and I’m loving it,” said another member of the unit.

Era of low interest rates fails to generate expected growth

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[This being the Financial Times, they omit all discussion of the obvious. Cheap money has been used, not to invest in the real economy (i.e., investing in corporations and in jobs), but in stock buy-backs, jacking up the markets and creating huge bonuses for CEOs. *RON*]

Sam Fleming, Financial Times, 10 September 2015

In a world characterised by flagging growth, the US is leading the transatlantic economies from their deepest post-second world war recession thanks in large measure to the Federal Reserve’s historically unprecedented stimulus policies.

But nearly seven years after the central bank cut rates to near-zero, policymakers from the Fed’s crisis-era response team say low rates and quantitative easing have failed to generate the vigorous economic bounceback they expected.

Deepening the conundrum over whether to raise rates from their historic lows, inflation figures have stayed moribund even as the economy hits what the Fed believes is full …

Climate change denial is over, Alberta environment minister says

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[More good news! This is the thing that has totally escaped Harper and the industry itself: "In order to remain competitive, ensure market access for our energy products, Alberta must and will improve our environmental performance." Shannon Phillips tells conference: "Alberta must and will improve our environmental performance." *RON*]

CBC News, 9 September 2015

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says a globally credible climate policy is important to the province's future, and now is the time to take action.

"There is a great appetite for action on climate change in our province, and the days of denial are over," Phillips said in a keynote address at a climate summit in Edmonton hosted by the Pembina Institute.

Phillips, appointed to the cabinet of NDP Premier Rachel Notley in May, is currently overseeing the development of a climate change policy to take to the United Nations Climate Change conferen…

Travelling to work 'is work', European court rules

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[It's been a while now since we've seen workers' rights being given much consideration. It will be interesting to see if this idea gains traction in North America, which is geographically far larger than Europe. *RON*]

BBC News, 10 September 2015
Time spent travelling to and from first and last appointments by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

This time has not previously been considered as work by many employers.

It means firms including those employing care workers, gas fitters and sales reps may be in breach of EU working time regulations.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said it could have a "huge effect".

"Employers may have to organise work schedules to ensure workers' first and last appointments are close to their homes," he added.

Scott Morrison says Christians will be focus of Australia's refugee intake

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[Because Christians are _______________. Try filling in that blank with anything that isn't repulsive. Social services minister joins Eric Abetz in urging religious focus as Muslim and Christian leaders raise concerns that it would foster discrimination. *RON*]
Shalailah Medhora and Michael Safi, The Guardian, 10 September 2015
A second senior government minister has reiterated that Christians will be the focus of the government’s 12,000 humanitarian intake from Syria, as the prime minister, Tony Abbott moves to reassure the community that all persecuted minorities will be considered for resettlement.
On Wednesday, Abbott announced that Australia would resettle 12,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and Iraq, on top of the existing 13,750 humanitarian intake.

The social services minister, Scott Morrison, said Christian Syrians would make up the bulk of the intake.

“Middle Eastern Christians have been run out of town in the Middle East now…

Justice Department Sets Sights on Wall Street Executives

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[Crime and the corporatocracy. Good - more than good. But once again, if you or I committed a crime, would the police "put pressure" on us to provide evidence, or would they demand it, or simply take it? The banks were handed a mighty weapon with the concept of too big to fail. *RON*]

By Matt Apuzzo and Ben Protess, New York Times, 9 September 2015

WASHINGTON — Stung by years of criticism that it has coddled Wall Street criminals, the Justice Department issued new policies on Wednesday that prioritize the prosecution of individual employees — not just their companies — and put pressure on corporations to turn over evidence against their executives.

The new rules, issued in a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide, are the first major policy announcement by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch since she took office in April. The memo is a tacit acknowledgment of criticism that despite securing record fines from major corporations, the Justic…