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Showing posts from September 11, 2016

Out of the shadows

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[Fraud, dodging taxes, misleading lenders: "We have governments that are not doing their job." Loopholes and lax oversight are making it easy for a network of local and foreign speculators to play the system, and, in the process, fuel the steep rise in Vancouver home prices. *RON*]
Kathy Tomlinson, Globe and Mail, 10 September 2016
Demetre Lazos says he couldn’t just stand by and watch real-estate speculation, as he puts it, destroy his city.
Convinced that his boss, a local speculator, was dodging taxes and misleading lenders, he decided to act, approaching both the police and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to divulge what he knows. Mr. Lazos, who has built luxury homes in Vancouver for three decades, offered documented evidence of possible fraud and tax evasion.

And yet, as he tells it, both the cops and the tax men blew him off: A CRA official who met him in the lobby of the agency’s downtown office told him to write to Ottawa; at Van…

Huge Consumer Scam Results in Paltry Fines—and Little Else—for Wells Fargo

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[Banksters at play with your money. "What other business in the world could defraud a couple million customers and not be in jail?" In the Banana Republic of global capitalism, paying small government bribes to cover up fraud is now just a cost of doing business for banks. Record-breaking fine "is a rounding error compared to Wells Fargo's second quarter profits of $5.6 billion," says one observer. *RON*]

Deirdre Fulton,Common Dreams, 9 September 2016

Banking behemoth Wells Fargo, one of the world's largest financial institutions, was fined a mere $185 million by various regulators on Thursday for opening millions of unauthorized accounts that racked up fees for consumers and bonuses for employees.

The biggest fine came from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which levied its largest-ever penalty: $100 million. The Los Angeles City Attorney and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency were also party…

NEB sidelines Energy East review panel after complaints over private meeting with TransCanada

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[No regulatory capture here, nosiree. *RON*]
Canadian Press, Global News, 9 September 201

The National Energy Board has sidelined all three Energy East reviewers following complaints that two of them met privately with a TransCanada consultant last year and discussed the proposed
oil pipeline.

The Calgary-based national energy regulator says it has also limited the duties of board chairman Peter Watson and vice-chair Lyne Mercier, who will not be involved in choosing the new panel to resume the Energy East pipeline hearings at a later date.

Media reports this summer revealed that Mercier and board member Jacques Gauthier, both of whom were assigned to the Energy East hearings, met privately in January 2015 with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, who was a paid consultant for TransCanada Corp at the time.

Late last month, the federally mandated and government-appointed energy regulator suspended the fledgling hearings into the proposed, 4,500-kilome…

Why the global network of cargo ships is suddenly melting down.

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[The cargo ship industry is experiencing a classic greed-induced bubble. " How did we get here? 'Hubris and ego and insanity.' James Baker, editor of Containerisation International"  Everything about them had gone 'super.' Super-sized container cargo ships, as wide as a 10-lane highway - which is why they had to enlarge both the Suez and Panama Canals. All of them installed super-computer systems. Everything went 'super' except the market. The ship described here, by the way, finally managed to unload in LA. *RON*]

By Joshua Keating, Slate, 8 September 2016

You probably didn’t notice it while running errands last weekend, but the vast global network that moves foreign-made boxer shorts and Bluetooth headsets to your neighborhood store is experiencing a major malfunction. Last week, South Korean shipping company Hanjin, the world’s seventh-largest container line, filed for bankruptcy after failing to reach an agree…

‘It’s Just Dressed Up Slavery’: America’s Shadow Workforce Rises Up Against Prison Labor

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[I remember thinking that this must be some shadowy remnant of the past when I saw the prison work gangs on the roads in Cool Hand Luke back in 1967. Dismantling the myths that drive an exploitative multi-million-dollar industry.

 *RON*]

Carimah Townes, ThinkProgress, 9 September 2016

As soon as Stewart Anderson stepped foot inside the Lorton Reformatory, a Virginia prison, he knew he’d have to work for negligible pay in order to endure his 20-year sentence. At Lorton, prison labor was voluntary. But prison food was difficult to swallow, and Anderson wanted to supplement his diet with commissary items: peanut butter, noodles, dried fruit, and Kipper Snapper, a brand of fish in a can.


Cambodian Journalists Are Dying Trying to Save the Country's Forests

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[This is how we get the cheap products that fill our big-box stores that we're told constitute the great advantage we obtain from free trade. *RON*]

By Saul Elbein, Vice, 6 September 2016

This story appeared in the September issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

By the time his wife worked up the courage to ask him to stay, Taing Try was almost asleep. The two were lying together on a mattress beneath the mosquito nets in their one-room stilt house in the bottomlands of eastern Cambodia. Across the room, they could hear their young daughter turning in her sleep, the sound of their water buffalos breathing beneath the house, the lumber trucks speeding down National Highway 7 and carrying their clandestine cargo to Vietnam.

Taing, 49, was a journalist who covered the logging of Cambodia's forests, a black market much like the international arms or drug trades. Cheam Mom, his wife, had watched with increasing unease as he left ti…