Showing posts from March 20, 2016

The Indisputable Role of Credit Ratings Agencies in the 2008 Collapse, and Why Nothing Has Changed

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[Regulatory capture in the corporatocracy. There have been plenty of stories on this subject, and plenty of nothing is being done about it. Just like the banksters they are being given fines for misrepresentation that have simply become part of their cost of doing business. All of it gets passed along to investors. *RON*]

By Deena Zaidi, Truthout, 19 March 2016
A scene from the Oscar-nominated movie The Big Short depicts the important role of credit ratings agencies during the Great Recession. It shows Melissa Leo as an employee of Standard & Poor's (one of the big three credit ratings agencies) explaining to Steve Carell (who plays a hedge fund manager) why S&P continues to give AAA ratings to mortgage-backed securities (consisting of junk loans). The answer given by her is: "They'll just go to Moody's."

During the 2008 financial crisis, a lot of worthless mortgage-related securities were given AAA ratings: the high…

Prince Rupert LNG terminal could become largest source of GHG emissions in Canada, environmental group warns

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[Despite foot-dragging on the part of Trudeau's Liberals, their new guidelines now include upstream emissions, so this ought to spell trouble for this proposal. In fact it now looks like the Feds are going to extend the review period: B.C. LNG approval deadline next week 'premature' as feds review documents. And yet, the evidence of regulatory capture by the oil and gas industry is still strong: They told me to take money and run, says pipeline whistleblower*RON*]

by Travis Lupick, The Georgia Straight, 17 March 2016

An environmental organization has called attention to new numbers for potential air pollution associated with the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal proposed for Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.

Environmentalists deconstruct B.C. Liberals' new rules for LNG emissions, argue it's all about optics
B.C.’s LNG industry unlikely to offset coal and will only hasten climate change: report
Calls for B.C. to dro…

The EU's grubby and dangerous deal with Turkey

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["This abrogation of responsibilities will cost Europe dearly in terms of credibility and international standing. How do you remind the autocrats and dictators of this world of human rights or democratic values, when the example set by the EU through this refugee deal is so pitiful and assailable? The European Union will lose two of its most valued political assets: soft power and credibility. And the reason for this sorry spectacle is the incapacity to overcome national egotisms and the fear of the populist right." *RON*]

Barbara Wesel, Deutsche Welle, 18 March 2016

The agreement with Ankara is a kind of political success for Angela Merkel. It gives her much-needed room to maneuver within Germany, particularly after the rise of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Her approval ratings have already risen and she can now counter all attacks by pointing out that the flow of refugees into Germany will have effectiv…

Oil Sands Are 'Hemorrhaging Red Ink,' Doomed to Shutter

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[As long as it has been a nation, Canada has shunned the (high value-added and high-wage) processing and manufacturing industries and taken the lazy/cheap way out to be an exporter of raw materials. As long as this is true, it will continue to ride the roller coaster of the waxing and waning market for these goods. See also: A wave of bankruptcies from American oil companies won't be enough to trigger a recession. *RON*]

By Mychaylo Prystupa, 18 Mar 2016,

The oil sands are downsizing. Alberta's Big Oil CEOs are talking to environmentalists. And proposed oil pipelines are in serious trouble.

Those were the takeaways from a trio of experts who spoke in Vancouver Wednesday at a "Carbon Talks" event hosted by Simon Fraser University with the David Suzuki Foundation and the Centre for International Governance.

And the reasons for them have a lot less to do with vocal activist opposition or the Trudeau government's cli…

Ontario's Minimum Wage Will Rise To $11.40 An Hour Starting Oct. 1

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[Note here that BC has the second-lowest minimum wage in Canada, next to New Brunswick: Minimum Wage by Province. Note here that the living wage rate for Metro Vancouver is $20.68/hour, for the Greater Victoria area $20.05/hour and the Fraser Valley area $17.27/hour: Living Wages in BC and Canada. Then note that 2017 is an election year. *RON*]
By The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 18 March 2016

TORONTO — Ontario's minimum wage will increase from $11.25 an hour to $11.40 an hour starting Oct. 1.

The minimum wage for liquor servers will increase by 10 cents to $9.90 an hour in the fall.

The minimum wage for students under 18 working less than 28 hours a week will increase to $10.70 per hour from $10.55 at the same time.

People who work in their own homes for an employer will see their minimum wage increase from $12.40 to $12.55 an hour.

The province announces the new minimum wage before April 1 each year to give businesses time to adjust be…

Russia's Syrian campaign showcases weaponry, maybe 'even profitable,' Kremlin backer says

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["Everybody could see how well the Russian weaponry is, and as a result …Russia's military industrial complex" has — he motions with his fist as if knocking on a door — billions worth of interest from other countries. "Some big advertising of Russian weaponry, of course, is not the main goal," says Markov, "but it means it's not costly, even profitable" to have taken on this campaign. *RON*]
By Susan Ormiston, CBC News, 18 March 2016
Surprise is clearly Russian President Vladimir Putin's favourite tactic.

He pulled it out of his strategic arsenal again this week when announcing, with astonishing speed, a partial military pullout of Russian troops from Syria.

He then followed that up with the warning Thursday that, "if necessary, literally within a few hours, Russia can build up its contingent, and use the entire arsenal of capabilities at our disposal."

What these unexpected manoeuvres mean for th…