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Showing posts from January 12, 2016

Russian Shares and Ruble Fall as Oil Prices Continue to Tumble

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[Might be a good time to take a vacation in Russia! Take your pick between this article and the Washington Post's China’s slowdown, financial mayhem cast long shadow across world. *RON*]

By Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 11 January 2016
MOSCOW — Russia’s main stock indexes plummeted on Monday, the first day of trading after a lengthy winter holiday here, as the drop in oil prices cast a pall over the country’s energy-dependent economy.

The retreat for Russian shares was in line with declines on other exchanges around the world in the first week of the year, when financial markets in Moscow were closed for the Eastern Orthodox Christmas holiday.

One broad index of Russian stocks, the Micex, closed 3.75 percent lower on Monday. Another index, the RTS, which prices Russian shares in dollars and therefore reflects changes in the exchange rate as well as in the stock market, fell 4.9 percent.

The ruble dropped sharply at the opening of trading to …

Bully for Neurotoxins

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[Like one of Pavlov's dogs, the corporatocrats at the Wall Street Journal automatically foam at the mouth at the mere mention of regulation. *RON*]
Paul Krugman, New York Times, 12 January 2016

The Wall Street Journal has a remarkable editorial titled The Carnage in Coal Country, accusing President Obama of destroying jobs through his terrible, horrible, no good regulations on coal: “According to the National Mining Association, 40,000 coal jobs have been lost in the U.S. since 2008.”

That’s a bigger number than the BLS figure, but never mind; you might want to put that in perspective by remembering that the US economy has added 14 million private sector jobs since 2010. You might also want to note that coal has been declining for a long time, of which more in a second.

But what really struck me were two things. First, the editorial sneers that we’re “still waiting for all those new green jobs Mr. Obama has been promising since he arrived in…

Father of Koch Brothers Helped Build Nazi Oil Refinery, Book Says

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[Totalitarianism and the corporatocracy. New book 'Dark Money' documents that Fred Koch's firm provided engineering plans and began construction on an oil refinery near Hamburg which help fuel the war machine including the Nazis infamous Luftwaffe air fleet. The Washington Post also reports that the Kochs links to Nazi Germany went beyond mere business: "For example, Mayer writes that the family patriarch, Fred Koch, admired German discipline so much in the 1930s that he hired a fervent Nazi as a governess for his eldest boys. 'Dark Money' suggests that the experience of being toilet trained by a Nazi may have contributed to Charles Koch's antipathy toward government today." *RON*]

By Nicholas Confessore, New York Times, 11 January 2016
The father of the billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch helped construct a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany that was personally approved by Adolf Hitler, according to a new …

B.C.'s bump in homeowner grant threshold is not the good deal suggested

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[Austerity double-speak. The increased threshold for the homeowner grant still means that fewer people are eligible now than were able to benefit in 2013. *RON*]
By Keith Reynolds, rabble.ca, 12 January 2016

Last week British Columbia's provincial Finance Minister announced a $100,000 (9.1 per cent) increase in the threshold for the province's homeowner grant, raising it to $1.2 million. There is more to this story than has been reported in the press release or the media. What looks like "tax relief" to homeowners has actually in recent years been a big increase in taxes aimed at communities with high property values.

The Home Owner Grant offers a rebate of all or a portion of the residential property tax charged by the province. The government news release reported that: "The Home Owner Grant provides modest property tax relief to those who need it most. Last year this program returned nearly $800 million to B.C. residents.…

Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion opposed by B.C. government

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[TransMountain may well remain confident that "it will be able to satisfy B.C.'s five Conditions by the time the regulatory process is complete." But I say, "Mistah Kurtz – he dead." *RON*]
By Alyse Kotyk, rabble.ca, 12 January 2016

With National Energy Board (NEB) hearings next week January 19-29, the Province of B.C. has released a statement saying that it does not support Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion project at this time.

The proposed project would expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton, A.B. and Burnaby, B.C. by installing nearly 1,000km of new pipeline. It would also include new and updated facilities such as tanks and pump stations, while also reactivating pipeline segments that currently aren't in use.

Since 2012, B.C.'s government has remained firm in its five requirements it needs Kinder Morgan to meet in order to gain provincial support. While preparing its final…

6 Cities Designing for Health

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[Just to show that there are good ideas and good thing happening here, there, and everywhere. From Detroit to Edinburgh, these cities are helping residents live more healthful and equitable lives. *RON*]

Anna Clark, Yes! magazine, 11 January 2016

Houston
Restore the bayous for connection

While long dependent on the oil and gas industry, Houston is increasingly investing in sustainability. The city’s $480 million Bayou Greenways Initiative, a massive public-private project, will connect 10 bayous and creeks across the city and its periphery. In the past, bayous were straightened out and paved over to control flooding. Now, Houston is bringing these low-lying rivers back to their natural life: slow, gleaming waterways full of fish and bordered by wildflowers, grasses, and native trees. The city is also adding 4,000 acres of new and equitably distributed green spaces that will improve water quality. And it’s providing an alternative to high-traffic stree…

Here's What America Would Look Like If Trump Actually Won

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["He did say Kim was a 'total nut job' but it's fairly obvious Trump doesn't see that as much of a problem. 'He's the boss' and 'he kept control' and that is what Trump sees as true leadership. He figures that just as he would get along well with Putin, he and Kim Jong Un could forge and understanding. They all have a lot in common." *RON*]

By Heather Digby PartonSalon, 11 January 2016
Back in August I wrote a piece here in Salon about Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and how it was a mistake for liberals to laugh too much about them. At the time, we were mostly concerned with his signature plan to deport over 11 million people and build his “big beautiful wall” with a “big beautiful door” and have Mexico pay for it. His rhetoric was crude and demeaning, as he theatrically accused undocumented workers of being violent criminals constantly referring to the murder of “beautiful Kate” and the rape and …

Claims in Porter Ranch gas leak could cost utility billions of dollars

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[This is now looking like another BP Gulf of Mexico scenario. *RON*]

Ivan Penn, LA Times, 12 January 2016
With ailing residents, displaced neighborhoods and a potential decline in property values, the leak at Southern California Gas Co.'s Aliso Canyon storage facility could cost the utility billions of dollars, some legal experts say.

So far, the gas company has spent more than $50 million combating the leak that began Oct. 23, according to a securities filing Thursday. More than 25 lawsuits have been lodged against the utility; "the cost of defending the lawsuits, and any damages, if awarded, could be significant," the filing stated.

The utility has told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it had "at least four types of insurance policies that it believes will cover many of the current and expected claims, losses and litigation … associated with the natural gas leak at Aliso Canyon," which has forced thousands …