Showing posts from February 1, 2016

G20 Countries Must Improve Credibility of Their Paris Climate Pledges, Report Warns

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[Certainly true of Canada. *RON*]

By Kyla Mandel, DeSmog Blog, 1 February 2016
The credibility of countries’ climate pledges agreed in Paris in December particularly those of the G20 nations must be strengthened, warns a new report out today.

While much attention has been given to scrutinising the level of ambition of each country’s intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, less focus has been paid to exactly how credible these pledges are.

In December 2015 more than 180 countries agreed an historic deal to limit global warming to “well below 2C” and to make every effort to keep temperature increase to 1.5C.

However the report, published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the ESRC Centre for Climate change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics (LSE), argues that countries should strengthen the credibility of their climate pledges in order to build confidence in the…

Too poor to retire and too young to die

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[An amazing article on life nowadays. *RON*]
By John M. GlionnaPhotos By Francine Orr, LA Times, 29 January 2016

At the wise age of 79, Dolores Westfall knows food shopping on an empty stomach is a fool’s errand. On her way to the grocery store last May, she pulled into the Town & Country Family Restaurant to take the edge off her appetite.

After much consideration, she ordered the prime rib special and an iced tea — expensive at $21.36, but the leftovers, wrapped carefully to go, would provide two more lunches.

The problem, she later realized, was that a big insurance bill was coming due. How was she going to pay it? Was she going to tip into insolvency over a plate of prime rib?

“I thought I could handle eating and shopping,” she said, “but lunch put me over the top.”

Westfall — 5 feet 1 tall, with a graceful dancer’s body she honed as a tap-dancing teenager — is as stubborn as she is high-spirited. But she finds herself these days in a p…

Nestlé admits slavery in Thailand while fighting child labour lawsuit in Ivory Coast

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[Slavery and the corporatocracy. The CEO of Nestlé is such an unrepentant jerk that I have to assume their admission about Thailand was a bit of strategic realpolitik. In any case, the company has won plaudits for its admission of forced labour in the Thai seafood industry but much of the supply chain remains hidden. *RON*]
Annie Kelly, The Guardian, 1 February 2016
Supported by: Mondelez

It’s hard to think of an issue that you would less like your company to be associated with than modern slavery. Yet last November Nestlé, the world’s largest foodmaker and one of the most recognisable household brands, went public with the news it had found forced labour in its supply chains in Thailand and that its customers were buying products tainted with the blood and sweat of poor, unpaid and abused migrant workers.

By independently disclosing that Nestlé customers had unwittingly bought products contaminated by the very worst labour abuses, the company said…

'An alternative exists': the US citizens who vowed to flee to Canada – and did

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[I'm wondering what my friend Richard thinks, as one of the 'early escapees'! :-) "It happens every election cycle: Americans threaten to move if the wrong person gets elected. We asked those who headed north if the grass really was greener." *RON*]
Jordan G Teicher, The Guardian, 1 February 2016
In November 2004, David Drucker and his wife Pam were at home listening to NPR when they heard the news that would change their lives: George W Bush had been re-elected as president of the United States.
In the lead-up to election day, the couple had made a pact: if John Kerry won, they would build their dream house in Vermont; if he lost, they would move to Canada. A year later, they were on their way to Vancouver to start their new lives.

“It’s been a little over a decade now. We have clear eyes about what we did. We have no intention of going back,” Drucker said.

The Druckers were not alone. On election day in 2004, a record-setti…

Canada failed to advance tech sector through TPP side agreements

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[Harper did little to consult with the technology sector on TPP and nothing to advance its interests. *RON*]
By Michael Geist,, 1 February 2016

The Trouble with the TPP series this week has focused on issues such as the failure to obtain a full cultural exception and the weak e-commerce rules that do little to assist online businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises. Yet the Canadian digital failure goes even further. While other countries saw the opportunity to use the TPP to advance their domestic online sector through side agreements, Canada remained on the sidelines. Indeed, as some leading critics such as Jim Balsillie have noted, the Canadian government did little to even consult with Canada's technology sector.

Consider a side letter on online education between Australia and Vietnam. The side letter opens the door to technical assistance and pilot programs for online education between the two countries, provid…

Corporate Crime Runs Rampant Thanks to 'Rigged' System: Elizabeth Warren

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[This will never stop as long as politicians are part of the corporatocracy. She's not saying anything we don't know, but at least she's saying it. "Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars." —Sen. Elizabeth Warren. *RON*]

By Deirdre Fulton. Common Dreams, 29 January 2016

"Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct."

This is the damning verdict of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) report released Friday,Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy(pdf).
Described as "the first in an annual series on enforcement," the 12-page booklet "highlights 20 of the most egregious civil and criminal cases during the past year in which federal settlements failed to require meaningful accountability to deter fut…

These are the 16 most corrupt countries in the Western world

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[The title is somewhat misleading. This is a list of corrupt nations within the OECD. Russia and Venezuela, for example, do not belong to this group. *RON*]

Will Martin, Business Insider, 27 January 2016

Every year, Transparency International, the global anti-corruption coalition, releases its Corruption Perceptions Index, a survey into the countries people perceive as the most corrupt on earth.

As Transparency International notes, there is no hard and fast way "to assess absolute levels of corruption in countries or territories on the basis of hard empirical data." This is basically because, by its very nature, corruption is usually hidden from the public.

But it creates a ranking based on several other corruption studies, and gives 168 countries a ranking out of 100, where 100 is the least corrupt and 0 is most corrupt. This helps to give a pretty good idea of where in the world is most corrupt.

The countries seen as most corrupt tend to…

Cheap cab ride? You must have missed Uber’s true cost

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[Uber loses money hand over fist. It burns through billions in cash that sits in the offshore tax havens of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, in the effort to undercut the competition. (Money that cannot be used as taxes by the government.) If their strategy works, prices must skyrocket once they bash their way in. *RON*]
Evgeny Morozov, The Guardian, 1 February 2016

To understand why we see so few genuine alternatives to US technology giants, it’s instructive to compare the fate of a company like Uber – valued at more than $62.5bn (£44bn) – and that of Kutsuplus, an innovative Finnish startup forced to shut down late last year.

Kutsuplus’s aspiration was to be the Uber of public transport: it operated a network of minibuses that would pick up and drop passengers anywhere in Helsinki, with smartphones, algorithms and the cloud deployed to maximise efficiency, cut costs and provide a slick public service. Being a spinoff of a local university that op…