Showing posts from March, 2017

Today's Trumpery


Asset sales plan secures EU backing for $130 billion Dow, DuPont merger

Click here to view the original article.

[How on earth is this not an anti-trust case? Because we live in a corporatocracy. *RON*]

Foo Yun Chee, Reuters, 27 March 2017

Dow Chemical and DuPont won the blessing of the European Union for their $130 billion merger on Monday by agreeing to sell substantial assets including key research and development activities.

The European Commission had been concerned that the merger of two of the biggest and oldest U.S. chemical producers would leave few incentives to produce new herbicides and pesticides in the future. The deal is one of a trio of mega mergers that will reshape the industry and consolidate six companies into three.

Asset sales would ensure competition in the sector and benefit European farmers and consumers, the Commission said.

"We need effective competition in this sector so companies are pushed to develop products that are ever safer for people and better for the environment," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vesta…

Special prosecutor appointed to B.C. campaign fundraising probe

Click here to view the original article.
[David Butcher QC will advise the RCMP and its investigation into alleged campaign fundraising violations. Note that this is the same impartial investigator who was assigned to investigate Clark's multicultural 'quick wins' scandal, and who resolved that to Christy's great satisfaction by throwing one staffer under the bus while ignoring the political bosses who gave the orders. *RON*]

Karin Larsen, CBC News, 30 March 2017
David Butcher QC has been appointed special prosecutor to provide legal advice to the RCMP in its investigation into indirect political contributions and other alleged contraventions of the B.C. Election Act.
Earlier this month Elections BC announced it would investigate alleged campaign fundraising violations after media reports of lobbyist contributing to the B.C. Liberal Party as individuals, and then being reimbursed by a client of company.

Elections BC referred the investigation to the RCMP to ensure it wou…

Want to solve income inequality? Simple: pay workers more

Click here to view the original article.

[Count on the Irish to get to the heart of things. We accord the 'dismal profession' too much respect and listen to too much of its baloney. *RON*]
Chris Johns, Irish Times, 28 March 2017

Economic forecasts aren’t what they were. Not much attention has been paid to them since the crystal ball gazers failed to spot the global financial crisis. Forecasts of an immediate recession in the UK after last June’s Brexit vote were wide enough of the mark to shred what little respect is left for the dismal profession. It is almost anachronistic to see headlines proclaiming the latest forecasts of the likes of the IMF and the OECD. Who pays attention to this stuff any more?

If, indeed, nobody listens to forecasters, then the harm that they can do is probably minimal. Their work is, at most, an academic curiosity. To the extent that they are needed, forecasts feed into corporate and government planning cycles: budgets need projections of revenues an…

Drought doesn't cause famine. People do.

Click here to view the original article.

[Deaths by famine are eminently preventable if the situation is acted upon early, and the warning signs are well known. During the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII, what has stopped such early action is politics. *RON*]

Sophie Chou, Public Radio International, 27 March 2017

The United Nations announced this month that more than 20 million people in four countries are teetering on the edge of famine, calling the situation “the worst humanitarian crisis” since the end of World War II.

The key for avoiding the worst outcomes? Political will, experts say.

Modern famines are different from those the world faced 60 to 70 years ago. In the past, with less warning and less international support, more people died from hunger. In the early and mid-20th century, famines killed millions in Europe and Asia, in areas with much larger populations than areas which suffer from food insecurity today.

According to estimates from the World Peace Foundation, the dea…

The All-Male Photo Op Isn’t a Gaffe. It’s a Strategy.

Click here to view the original article.

[A good piece. Many people have limited access to the New York Times, so I'll occasionally post some of their stories separately, even when they are Trump pieces, so they can be accessed by everyone in full. *RON*]

Jill Filipovic, New York Times, 27 March 2017

During the great Republican health care debacle, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with the far-right congressional Freedom Caucus to discuss, among other things, stripping out requirements for insurance companies to cover maternity, newborn and pregnancy care. After the meeting, Mr. Pence tweeted a photo of two dozen men sitting around a table. Kellyanne Conway was reportedly in the room, but in the picture the vice president circulated, there was not a woman in sight.

For liberals, the photo seemed like an inadvertent insight into the current Republican psyche: Powerful men plotting to leave vulnerable women up a creek, so ensconced in their misogynistic world they don’…

Today's Trumpery

[A daily pastiche of Trumpisms and responses thereto. *RON*]

Trump Eases Combat Rules in Somalia Intended to Protect Civilians, New York Times
Behind Trump’s Bloody War in Yemen: A Saudi Offensive Against Iran, AlterNet
I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations, The Guardian
BREAKING: Donald Trump Doesn't Care About Science, Mother Jones [Chief Technology Officer is a vacant position and the staff in the office is down to one person.]
Trump administration seeks mainly modest changes to NAFTA: WSJ, Reuters [Minor? He wants beefed up arbitration panels and a 'free trade agreement' that permits tariffs!?]

Trump administration sought to block Sally Yates from testifying to Congress on Russia, Washington Post

How Low-Paying Jobs and Weak Safety Nets Reduce Innovation and Productivity

Click here to view the original article.
[Seems darned obvious once you say it, but it's counter to the current 'spin' so it's not top-of-mind for anyone: Low labour costs discourage investments in labour-saving technology, potentially reducing productivity growth.. And, given the structure of our social safety net, automation tends to increase poverty and inequality rather than unemployment. *RON*]

Ryan Avent, Evonomics, 25 March 2017

People are worried about robots taking jobs. Driverless cars are around the corner. Restaurants and shops increasingly carry the option to order by touchscreen. Google’s clever algorithms provide instant translations that are remarkably good.

But the economy does not feel like one undergoing a technology-driven productivity boom. In the late 1990s, tech optimism was everywhere. At the same time, wages and productivity were rocketing upward. The situation now is completely different. The most recent jobs reports in America and Britain tell t…

The Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard of

Click here to view the original article.
[Never heard of 'em, though I've seen a video on ARGUS. How President Trump might turn an all-seeing spy apparatus on innocent American citizens. *RON*]
James Bamford, Foreign Policy, 20 March 2017

On a heavily protected military base some 15 miles south of Washington, D.C., sits the massive headquarters of a spy agency few know exists. Even Barack Obama, five months into his presidency, seemed not to have recognized its name. While shaking hands at a Five Guys hamburger restaurant in Washington in May 2009, he asked a customer seated at a table about his job. “What do you [do]?” the president inquired. “I work at NGA, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency,” the man answered. Obama appeared dumbfounded. “So, explain to me exactly what this National Geospatial…” he said, unable to finish the name. Eight years after that videotape aired, the NGA remains by far the most shadowy member of the Big Five spy agencies, which include the CIA and…

North Dakota pipeline spill larger than previously thought

Click here to view the original article.

[Oil companies lie about the size of spills - say it ain't so! Couldn't happen here though. An initial appraisal of the Belle Fourche Pipeline spill in December estimated that 176,000 gallons of oil had been released from the leaking pipe. But now, officials are saying that number was actually about three times larger – 529,839 gallons of leaked oil. *RON*]

Weston Williams, Christian Science Monitor, 26 March 2017

Last December, the Belle Fourche Pipeline in western North Dakota ruptured. At the time, the company estimated that 176,000 gallons of oil had been spilled before the pipeline was shut down.

But according to an updated estimate, the amount of oil that leaked from Bell Fourche was significantly higher, making it one of the largest pipeline spills in the state's history.

According to North Dakota's spill investigation program manager Bill Suess, the new estimate is that 529,839 gallons (or 12,615 barrels) of oil that have le…

Clark Liberals siphoning millions of dollars in WCB funds that should go to injured workers, and improved workplace safety measures, says BCFED

Click here to view the original article.
[Corporate welfare queens vs. worker rights and public health. Another one that didn't make it into our oh-so-unbiased local media. BC ELECTION 2017!!! *RON*]

BC Federation of Labour, 29 March 2017 | News Release

Vancouver - Premier Christy Clark’s plan to siphon tens of millions of dollars in funds for injured workers and gift it to employers is an outrageous political move and comes at a time when more needs to be done to keep workers safe on the job and fairly compensate those who are killed or injured, charges BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger.

The move on WCB funds was announced late this morning and would take effect after the May 9 provincial election.

“The money that the government and employers are appropriating should instead be used to improve benefits for workers killed and injured on the job that were slashed by the BC Liberals,” Lanzinger says.

“On the job, workers’ daily experience is that government and employers …

Europe’s biggest banks register €25 billion profit in tax havens

Click here to view the original posting.
[I haven't seen this story being covered elsewhere. Tax evasion is lucrative business for banksters - surprise! *RON*]
Oxfam International, 27 March 2017

Europe’s 20 biggest banks are registering over a quarter of their profits in tax havens – well out of proportion to the level of real economic activity that occurs there, according to a new report by Oxfam and the Fair Finance Guide International today.

The report, ‘Opening the Vaults,’ suggests the discrepancy may have arisen because some banks are using tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of tax, to facilitate tax dodging for their clients, or to circumvent regulations and legal requirements.

The research was made possible by new EU transparency rules that require European banks to publish information on the profits they make and the tax they pay in every country they operate. The report finds:
Tax havens account for 26 percent of the profits made by the 20 biggest European banks …

B.C. must unlock environmental information

Click here to view the original article.

[BC ELECTION 2017!!! Secrecy serves the hidden interests of the Liberals and the corporatocracy. See also: B.C.'s students serve notice to Kinder Morgan and Premier Clark for provincial election. *RON*]

Calvin Sandborn & Vincent Gogolek, Victoria Times Colonist, 26 March 2017.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said: “Access to information is essential to democracy.”

It is a fundamental democratic principle: The public must be able to see government’s environmental decisions. Yet for far too long, the B.C. government has kept such information under lock and key — which has endangered both the environment and public safety.

For example, in 2010, a dam near Oliver collapsed, unleashing a mudslide that destroyed several houses. The Environmental Law Centre subsequently discovered that government had inspection reports warning of danger — but had failed to alert the public. In 2013, the information commissioner agreed with our argument that t…

US Senate votes to let internet providers share your web browsing history without permission

Click here to view the original article.
["Pure bad news," just what no consumer asked for. "This resolution is a direct attack on consumer rights, on privacy, on rules that afford basic protection against intrusive and illegal interference with consumers' use of social media sites and websites that often they talk for granted." *RON*]
Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, 29 March 2017

The US Senate has voted to overturn consumer-friendly internet privacy rules that would have prevented internet providers from sharing your web browsing history without permission.

The privacy rules, passed last year by the FCC, required internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to get each customer’s permission before sharing personal information like which websites they visit. But internet providers want to be able to sell that data and use it to target ads, so they’ve been vocal about opposing the rules since around the time President Trump took office.

This vote uses the Co…

Analysts predict the YouTube advertiser boycott will cost Google $750 million

Click here to view the original article.

[Estimates vary widely, but some are now putting Google's anticipated losses in the range of a billion dollars. *RON*]

Julien Rath, Business Insider, 27 March 2017

Google could lose up to $750 million from the advertiser boycott related to ads appearing next to extremist content like videos, according to a note from analysts at Nomura Instinet.

According to the note, Google-owned YouTube, which relies on big brands' advertising, could take a 7.5% hit to its revenues, which are estimated to be $10.2 billion for 2017.

Five of the top 20 US advertisers have frozen their advertising with Google, as have dozens more around the world. Those five companies make up 7.5% of US ad spend, according to the note.

Traditional TV companies will likely look to capitalize on the boycott during the upfronts — when networks try to sell the bulk of their advertising — which run from March to May and emphasize the view that advertising on TV guarantees brand saf…

Did Putin put out a contract on a Russian whistleblower and critic?

Click here to view the original article.
[Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko: "The despicable murder of Denis Voronenkov ... is an act of state terrorism by Russia, [a country] he was forced to leave for political reasons. Russia's special services were involved in it."]

Traci Tong, Public Radio International, 23 March 2017

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko did not mince words about neighboring Russia following the assassination of an outspoken Kremlin critic in Kiev.

Denis Voronenkov, 45, was gunned down in broad daylight in front of a luxury hotel in the center of the city Thursday. He was a former member of the Russian parliament before he renounced his citizenship and emigrated last October to Ukraine where he became a citizen.

While in Kiev, Voronenkov was openly critical of President Vladimir Putin and other pro-Russian leaders. Correspondent Anna Nemtsova, with Newsweek and The Daily Beast, remembers the last time she spoke to Voronenkov.

"Just imagi…

Liberal Plan To Legalize Marijuana Has Some Provinces Worried

Click here to view the original article.

[I thought the Provinces' biggest concern would be how to divvy up the massive tax windfall. *RON*]

Kristy Kirkup, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 28 March 2017

OTTAWA — The federal government's plan to make Canada the first G7 country to legalize marijuana is creating political friction domestically, amid fears it will be the latest bone of contention between some of the provinces and Ottawa.

A number of provincial governments are expressing concern in the wake of signals that federal legislation to legalize pot will be introduced the week of April 10 — just 10 days before annual "Weed Day" celebrations held across the country.

Quebec's outspoken Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said Tuesday that Ottawa tossed out a date for the proposed legislation without warning.

"It's not normal for a national government to address its partners in this way," he said in Quebec City. "For a government that often has the w…

Today's Trumpery