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Showing posts from October 24, 2015

Portugal's Socialists threaten minority government plan

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[Ah, democracy, thou are a bitch! :-) Portugal has a history of having an extremely entrenched right-wing government. This is the main reason the nation has been, seemingly, so accepting of harsh austerity, even while its citizens have been committing suicide when being put out of their homes. Would it be impolite, therefore, to ask which government it was that created a debt that is 130% of GDP? Obviously, it will be a major turn-around if the Socialist Party can succeed in putting together a leftist coalition, which Merkel is already growling about. *RON*]

by Olivier Devos, France 24, 23 October 2015
LISBON (AFP) -

Portugal's Socialist Party on Friday rejected plans for a new centre-right minority government which outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has been asked to form, insisting they could assemble their own coalition.

Passos Coelho's ruling bloc took more than 38 percent of votes in the October 4 election despite overseeing…

How the Global Financial Crisis Drove Down Collective Bargaining

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[The problem of dwindling union membership is caused by government and can only be reversed by government. Of course if you elect crypto-Conservative Democrats, you wind up with them saying things like this: "Mr. Obama said America’s collective-bargaining laws have made it too hard to unionize." Duh. Like that has nothing to do with the President of the United States. *RON*]
By Melanie Trottman, Wall Street Journal, 23 October 2015

The U.S. isn’t the only country where collective bargaining has come under pressure. The global financial crisis put a widespread dent on it in recent years, a new analysis of 48 countries shows.

Between 2008 and 2013, the share of employees covered by collective-bargaining agreements fell an average of 4.6% in the 48 countries assessed, while union density dropped an average 2.3%, according to the International Labor Organization study.

Paul Ryan as Speaker: A Preview of the Fights He Will Face, in Plain English

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[Judging by the tone of their questions, one bright light is that it looks like the Republicans will be far too busy fighting among themselves to be much of a force against the Democrats. Republicans on the far right are demanding from Paul Ryan that, if he wants their support for him to become Speaker, he essentially has to give up most of his power as Speaker and become their rubber stamp. *RON*]

By Kevin Quely and Carl Hulse, New York Times, 23 October 2015

Not acquiesce to a continuing resolution TRANSLATES TO → Shut down the government

Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin appears to have rounded up sufficient support to become the next speaker of the House. But the tensions that plagued House Republicans under Speaker John A. Boehner are unlikely to disappear under Mr. Ryan.

One sign of those of tensions came Wednesday, when the Freedom Caucus, the hard-right group that helped topple Mr. Boehner, stopped short of giving Mr. Ryan its formal …

Germany Welcomes Trudeau Participation On Climate Change, Diplomacy

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["We used to say, 'it's a waste of time in Ottawa as long as Harper is around'," the diplomat said. More broadly, the diplomat said, "the traditional voice that Canada has had at the UN has been missed...." That said, there has been no permanent damage done to the "brand" of Canada, the diplomat added. "The values are still the same." *RON*]
By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 23 October 2015

OTTAWA — Germany hopes that the advent of a Trudeau Liberal government means Canada will play a more positive role at the upcoming Paris climate summit.

Werner Wnendt, the German ambassador, also says his country welcomes Justin Trudeau's post-election declaration to the world that Canada is "back."

Wnendt says he hopes it is a sign that Canada will play a bigger role again in international multilateral institutions such as the United Nations than was the case under the Ha…

B.C.'s premier delivers order to save emails after blistering privacy report

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[Since it is already the established practice of the Clark government to only speak to one another, not to keep notes or write emails - as was also established in the Information and Privacy Commissioner's report - this is meaningless. As she well knows. But it gives the illusion that she's acting swiftly to take corrective action. *RON*]

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press / Vancouver Observer, 24 October 2015


VICTORIA — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark ordered her cabinet ministers and all political staff Friday to save their emails after a stinging report criticized the government's access to information practices.

Clark's directive comes after Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she identified major information failures in the premier's office and two of her government ministries.

"I thought, we thought, that everything was being done properly," Clark said in a telephone interview from Mer…

Keynes Comes to Canada

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[As Krugman notes, so far Trudeau has talked the talk. Will he now walk the walk? In the best case scenario, in true Canadian fashion, he will partly succeed, partly fail, on balance look rather "boring," and still succeed in outperforming the US economy at lower risk. *RON*]

Paul Krugman, New York Times, 23 October 2015

Canada has a reputation for dullness. Back in the 1980s The New Republic famously declared “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative” the world’s most boring headline. Yet when it comes to economic policy the reputation is undeserved: Canada has surprisingly often been the place where the future happens first.

And it’s happening again. On Monday, Canadian voters swept the ruling Conservatives out of power, delivering a stunning victory to the center-left Liberals. And while there are many interesting things about the Liberalplatform, what strikes me most is its clear rejection of the deficit-obsessed austerity orthodoxy that has …

How Texas Teaches History

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[Some subtle, and not so subtle, ways in which the Texas school system down-plays slavery in teaching US history to children. I wonder: is this only in Texas? Aren't many of the textbooks used in the US used nation-wide? *RON*]

By Ellen Bresler Rockmore, New York Times, 21 October 2015

A TEXAS high school student and his mother recently called attention to a curious line in a geography textbook: a description of the Atlantic slave trade as bringing “millions of workers” to plantations in the American South. McGraw-Hill Education, the publisher of the textbook, has since acknowledged that the term “workers” was a misnomer.

The company’s chief executive also promised to revise the textbook so that its digital version as well as its next edition would more accurately describe the forced migration and enslavement of Africans. In the meantime, the company is also offering to send stickers to cover the passage.

But it will take more than that to fix …

Iceland Just Jailed Dozens of Corrupt Bankers for 74 Years, The Opposite of What America Does

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[The prosecution of the Icelandic bankers represents an accountability that does not exist in America. *RON*]
By Jay SyrmopoulosThe Free Thought Project / AlterNet, 22 October 2015

In stark contrast to the record low number of prosecutions of CEO’s and high-level financial executives in the U.S., Iceland has just sentenced 26 bankers to a combined 74 years in prison.
Photo Credit: c/o The Free Thought Project

Reykjavík, Iceland РIn stark contrast to the record low number of prosecutions of CEOs and high-level financial executives in the U.S., Iceland has just sentenced 26 bankers to a combined 74 years in prison.

The majority of those convicted have been sentenced to prison terms of two to five years. The maximum penalty in Iceland for financial crimes is six years, although hearings are currently underway to consider extending the maximum beyond six years.

The prosecutions are the result of Iceland’s banksters manipulating the Icelandic financia…