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Showing posts from May 19, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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NAFTA Renegotiation Gets Official As U.S. Triggers 90-Day Consultation Window

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[The New Three Amigos are, apparently, Trump, Putin and Assad. *RON*]
Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 18 May 2017
WASHINGTON — The United States has officially indicated its desire to renegotiate the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, triggering a 90-day consultation window before formal talks begin.

The clock was set ticking this morning in a letter from U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he is putting Congress and trading partners on notice that "free and fair" trade is the new standard in the U.S.
"With this letter, we intend to notify not just Congress, but all our trading partners, that free and fair trade is the new standard for U.S. trade deals," the statement read.

He says the U.S. manufacturing industry has been decimated by NAFTA, a deal the White House considers deeply unfair.

"Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories …

Investigation Reveals That Walmart and Lowe's Have Direct Links to Slave Labor

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[Holy crap. Logging camps in Brazil are committing one of the worst crimes of humanity. *RON*]
André Campos, AlterNet, 17 May 2017

This story is the third in a four-part series on slave labor practices at logging camps in Pará, Brazil, produced by Repórter Brasil. Read the first, second and fourth parts on Mongabay.

Products derived from timber extracted by workers living in conditions analogous to slave labor in Brazil are connected to a complex business network linked to the U.S. market—possibly reaching the shelves of large retailers and being used in renovation of landmarks —according to a new investigation conducted by Brazilian news outlet Repórter Brasil. After purchasing from suppliers held liable for that crime by the Brazilian government, local traders exported timber to companies like USFloors, which supplies the retail chain Lowe’s, as well as Timber Holdings, which supplied timber for construction projects at Central Park and Brooklyn …

A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising.

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[I recommended this book to my library so I can read it. Refrigerant management, family planning and educating girls?! A chat with Paul Hawken about his ambitious new effort to "map, measure, and model" global warming solutions. *RON*]

David Roberts, Vox, 10 May 2017

By now, the looming dangers of climate change are clear to anyone who’s been paying attention, covered extensively in both academic literature and the popular press.

But what about solutions?

For all the hand-wringing on climate change over the years, discussion of solutions remains puzzlingly anemic and fractured. A few high-profile approaches, mainly around renewable energy and electric cars, dominate discussion and modeling. But there’s been no real way for ordinary people to get an understanding of what they can do and what impact it can have. There remains no single, comprehensive, reliable compendium of carbon-reduction solutions across sectors.

At least until now.
I…

Home Capital woes spark fears on Canada property market

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[Non-bank mortgage lender has battled to stem outflow of deposits
Ben McLannahan, Financial Times, 17 May 2017
A fight for survival at Home Capital Group, Canada’s biggest non-bank mortgage lender, is sparking fears of a broader meltdown in the country’s super-heated property market. 
Shares in Home Capital came under pressure last month after Ontario’s securities regulator said it had failed to promptly disclose possible fraud among some of its mortgage applicants. The company has since battled to stem an outflow of deposits despite agreeing to tap a high-interest credit line to shore up its finances. 
Stephen Poloz, governor of the Bank of Canada, said in an interview over the weekend that Home Capital’s problems were “idiosyncratic”, and that he saw no sign of broader contagion. 
But the reality of vanishing deposit funding — down about $600m this month, from about $13.5bn at the end of April — has prompted parallels with New Century, the se…

Iran Has Its Own Hard-Line Populist, and He’s on the Rise

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[Hard-line lunacy leads to even greater hard-line lunacy in response on the global stage. *RON*]

Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times, 18 May 2017

TEHRAN — For months now, a black-turbaned cleric from eastern Iran has been campaigning in provincial cities, presenting himself as an anticorruption hero as he rallies support among the poor and the pious in an underdog effort to win the presidency in Friday’s election.

While the candidate, Ebrahim Raisi, 56, a hard-liner who made his career in Iran’s judiciary, seems to have come out of nowhere, he is seen as a favorite and possible successor to Iran’s 78-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Winning the presidency, many analysts say, could be a major step in his ascent to that all-powerful position.

“When he speaks I hear our leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei,” said Hadi Seifollah, 32, who runs a shop selling prayer mats, religious rings and the white-and-black checkered scarves worn by Iran’s…