Showing posts from December 8, 2015

Canada's Climate Inaction Undermines Its Words In Paris

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["I'm confused by this government right now. They seem to be governing on climate like one hand doesn't know what the other is doing.... If... Canada's ambitious words in Paris are only words, they're in for a rude awakening when they get home. If they won't take bold action, you can be sure that the people will. See also: If the NDP is Ottawa's 'true' opposition, now would be a good time for it to show up, and Canada Ups Climate Ambition, Despite Lacking Plan To Meet Goals. *RON*]
Cameron Fenton, Huffington Post, 8 December 2015

I am really confused by my government right now, because when it comes to climate action, it feels like I have two different governments. One government is in Paris, and their words on climate sound like the kind of ambition we need. The other one is in Ottawa, and its actions are looking more and more like the Harper government's on climate change.

Here's what I mean.

On the …

Painful adjustment as Canadian and American economies get out of sync

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[We lost 37,500 jobs in November, so the unemployment rate is up to 7.1%, the Canadian dollar is at its lowest since 2004, oil is at $37.63, and our trade deficit has widened to $2.8B. The problem, as always, is our 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' mentality. We grow a spud, throw it on the back of a truck to the US then buy it back for ten times more as Macdonald's french fries. *RON*]

By Don Pittis, CBC News, 8 December 2015
That wrenching sound is the economies of Canada and the United States tearing apart. Oil is plunging to recent lows. The loonie is heading to levels not seen in more than a decade.

Like plate tectonics at a continental fault line, a sudden divergence between the two economies always causes tremors. As the smaller partner in a long, close relationship, inevitably Canada feels it more.

New recent records for our currency and commodities plus two sets of data out last week, jobs and trade, are a warning the shak…

Negative interest rates an option in Canada, Stephen Poloz says

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["Central banker says Canada could follow the lead of other countries and put benchmark rate below zero." One assumes this is directed at corporations that are sitting on their cash. My personal savings account already grants me a huge 0.3% on my cash balance then deducts a small fortune in fees. *RON*]

By Pete Evans, CBC News, 8 December 2015
Canada could theoretically follow the lead of other countries that have recently gone to negative interest rates in order to stimulate the economy, central bank governor Stephen Poloz told a business audience today after yet another drop in the loonie.

Speaking to the Empire Club in Toronto, Poloz said moving its benchmark interest rates below zero is something in the Bank of Canada's monetary policy toolkit that the bank may consider down the line.

That's a departure from 2009, when the bank said its theoretical lowest-possible interest rate was 0.25 per cent because to go lower would have …

Canadian banks continue to forecast gloom while raking in record-breaking profits

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[The profits for this one bank amount to more than $19,000 per second; this amount being equivalent to what 2.5 people receive per year as single employables on welfare in BC. *RON*]
By Nora Loreto,, , 8 December 2015

On December 2, the Canadian Press reported that the Royal Bank was noticing the "first signs of oil price trouble." The headline framed the rest of the story: the stories of doom within the financial sector due to the low price of oil are finally coming true.

The Globe and Mail's lede had a similar warning: "For the first time ever, a Canadian company has broken the $10 billion annual profit barrier. But beneath the surface of Royal Bank of Canada's 2015 earnings are troubling signs that growth in the Canadian banking sector is slowing to a crawl."

The proxy warning sign is an increase in missed monthly auto and credit card payments, likely due to higher unemployment in Alberta. Mark Hughes, RBC…

Readers Choose Bernie Sanders as Hands-Down Favorite for TIME 'Person of the Year'

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[With more than 10% of the vote, Bernie Sanders received more than five times the support of either Democratic and Republican frontrunners, beating Donald Trump's 1.8% and Hillary Clinton's 1.4%. *RON*]
by Jon QueallyCommon Dreams, 7 December 2015

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders retained a previously established lead and became the hands-down winner of the readers' choice for TIME's "Person of the Year," the magazine announced on Monday, beating out all his political rivals in the U.S. as well as notable individuals from around the world by receiving nearly twice the support of the runner-up.

The results of the online poll arrived on the same day that Sanders released a sweeping action plan to deal with planetary climate change.

Banks Said to Face SEC Probe Into Possible Credit Swap Collusion

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[Crime and Punishment, 21st century style. How much proof do we require that the banksters are not only incapable of changing, but they will never even want to? *RON*]

Matt Robinson, Bloomberg Business, 4 December
U.S. regulator said to examine conduct similar to Libor caseInvestigation follows string of successful bank prosecutions U.S. regulators are examining whether banks colluded in setting prices in the derivatives market where investors speculate on credit risk, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is probing whether firms acted in unison to distort prices in the $6 trillion market for credit-default swaps indexes, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is private. The regulator is trying to determine if dealers have misrepresented index prices, the person said. The credit-default swaps benchmarks allow investors to make bets on the likelihood of de…

Just How Dangerous Is Terrorism, Really?

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[The Washington Blog posts about this periodically, but it's something we should be reminded of now and again. And with all the stories coming out about those gun-toting toddlers in the US... >8-O *RON*]
Posted on December 6, 2015 by WashingtonsBlog

You’re Much More Likely to Be Killed By Deer, Cows, Dogs, Brain-Eating Parasites, Toddlers, Lightning, Falling Out of Bed, Alcoholism, Food Poisoning, Choking On Your Meal, a Financial Crash, Obesity, Medical Errors or “Autoerotic Asphyxiation” than by Terrorists

Preface: The terror threat is greatly exaggerated. After all, the type of counter-terror experts who frequently appear on the mainstream news are motivated to hype the terror threat, because it drumsupbusiness for them.

The same is true for government employees. As former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes put it earlier this year:
If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, yo…

Suicide rate in Alberta leaps 30% in wake of mass oilpatch layoffs

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["'It says something really about the horrible human impact of what's happening in the economy,' counsellor says." It also says something about a neoliberal economy that single-mindedly shrinks government and the social safety net along with it. *RON*]

CBC News, 8 December 2015
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The suicide rate in Alberta has increased dramatically in the wake of mounting job losses across the province.

The most recent data only goes to June, but according to the chief medical examiner's office, 30 per cent more Albertans took their lives in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.
"This is staggering," said Mara G…