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October 7, 2008 Weblog:

Tories on the Ropes?

Could Conservative fortunes have run out?

The impending economic problems in the US have caused many Canadians to turn to other parties. While the Conservatives are still leading nationally, they are behind the 8-ball in Ontario for the first time in months. The Liberals are leading by nearly nine percent.

In Quebec, the Conservatives have slipped to third, just two percent ahead of the NDP. The Bloc are leading.

In BC, the Tories are in a dead heat with the NDP.

October 4, 2008 Weblog:

Xstrata Faces Strike and Credit Crunch

Bad month for Xstrata, one of the worlds biggest mining groups.

First, CAW Local 599 goes on strike in Timmins, Ontario at the Copper Kidd Metallurgical mine.

Then it's pitch to take over Lonmin, an Anglo-African platinum mine company , fails because of the Credit Crisis.

Xstrata took over Canadian mining company Falconbridge in 2006.

October 4, 2008 Weblog:

Indian Farmers Beat Back Tata

Farmers in West Bengal, India have pushed Tata Motors off agricultural land.

"The West Bengal government acquired 1,000 acres of land for the Nano project in 2006.

"At least 10,000 farmers accepted compensation for their land, but approximately 2,000 of them rejected it as inadequate and demanded 400 acres of land be returned.

"'You cannot run a plant with police protection, you cannot run a plant when bombs are being thrown, you cannot run a plant when workers are being intimidated,' Tata said."

October 4, 2008 Weblog:

Canadian Economy Better than US?

Harper during the debates:

"We are not in the kind of economic crisis we have in the US."

Merrill Lynch Canada Inc.:

"Households in this country are so indebted that it's only a matter of time before we see a major downturn here as well."

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver:

"The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says the number of residential property sales declined 42.9 per cent in September from a year earlier."

September 29, 2008 Weblog:

"Jihad Prevention Act" Introduced in US House

This little gem of insanity was recently introduced by Republican Tom Tancredo.

The Jihad Prevention Act will, among other things, "require aliens to attest that they will not advocate installing a Sharia law system in the United States as a condition for admission."

It will also allow anyone advocating the installation of a Sharia Law system to have their visa and/or naturalization paper's revoked.

September 29, 2008 Weblog:

Ontario Crown Drops Multiple Charges Against Shawn Brant

Shawn Brant has had 7 of the charges against him dropped by the Ontario Crown.

He has plead guilty to 3 of the other charges against him and according to CBC will "receive a sentence of time already served in pretrial detention, plus a 90-day conditional sentence to be spent on his reserve."

A presentation made in August of this year in Napanee, Ontario by Brant's lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, warned that Brant was going to expose police actions if taken to trail including alleged illegal wire tapping by the OPP and the reversal of previously granted immunity.

The crown was seeking a 12 year jail sentence for Brant.

*Correction: In the original edit of this posting, Peter Rosenthal was incorrectly said to have made a presentation in Caledonia. The presentation was in Napanee.

September 29, 2008 Weblog:

An Open Letter From rock-band "Heart" To John McCain

Heart Mcain.jpg

Hat Tip: shmeen from livejournal

September 26, 2008 Weblog:

Inside the Deal to Save the US Economy

A strange and incredible amount of information is flowing from the Guardian about the inner workings of the $700 billion deal between Republicans and Democrats to bail out the US economy.

It's tough to judge what is real and what is fake but there some incredible stuff coming out.

According to one report, a deal had been reached by all parties until a group of hard-right, free-market Republicans met privately with McCain and threw a new "free-market" proposal into the mix.

Their behaviour at the meeting was a study in contrasts, according to press accounts. Obama, granted deference by his fellow Democrats, led off the debate.

Then [Republican minority house leader] Boehner made his move, throwing down a plan that differed wildly from the one under discussion. McCain, asked for his opinion, stayed silent - and that, according to those at the meeting, was taken by his fellow Republicans as a sign of his support for the Republican revolt.

Ironically, a Republican on the Senate banking committee, Richard Shelby, was doing his best to paraphrase the thesis of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine; that in a state of crisis the ideas lying around are the ones which get used:

"They're trying to push this in an emotional state, saying the sky's falling on our heads," he said. "Every time we have rushed to judgment in the past, we have paid for it."

September 25, 2008 Weblog:

Buzz Hargrove joins the NHL!

Former labour leader Buzz Hargrove has ignored retirement and joined the advisory board of the NHL Players Association.

According to Hockeybuzz.com: "Buzz Hargrove (Toronto, Ontario) served as the national president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union since his acclamation in 1992 until he recently retired in September 2008. Hargrove has been one of Canada’s top labour leaders and has extensive collective bargaining experience."

Let's hope the players don't mysteriously lose the right to strike!

September 23, 2008 Weblog:

Missing Election Issues: Housing

The Liberals released their election spending plan on Monday with promises on health care, education, infrastructure, environment and aboriginal affairs.

But what about housing?

Though housing concerns have been major in certain parts of the country, the Grit plan was mum on the word.

But surprisingly this might be the norm. According to Howard Tessler of the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations (of which this author is an employee) none of the parties have released any sort of housing plan to date.

"It's one of the most important issues for all Canadians", he said. "There's nothing."

September 23, 2008 Weblog:

American Investment Industry Vanishes

wall street.jpg

With the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the sale of Merrill Lynch and the subsiqent transformation of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the titans of Americas investment industry has now been wiped off the map.

How bad is it and what does it mean?

A couple of US Congress members who had a nice little chat with the US Fed Chairmen and the US Treasury Secretary had this to say last Friday:

"We’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally. Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words. We have never heard language like this."

But is it all a smoke-screen designed to give the Fed and Treasury complete control over bail-out money? According to economist Paul Krugman:

"Mr. Paulson insists that he wants a "clean" plan. "Clean," in this context, means a taxpayer-financed bailout with no strings attached — no quid pro quo on the part of those being bailed out. Why is that a good thing? Add to this the fact that Mr. Paulson is also demanding dictatorial authority, plus immunity from review "by any court of law or any administrative agency," and this adds up to an unacceptable proposal."

September 18, 2008 Weblog:

Anti-Capitalists on the Sub-Prime Crisis

Many popular anti-capitalists are interviewed in the Guardian regarding their view on the current sub-prime crisis.

Chris Harman - Socialist Workers Party

"The whole system is unwinding; the other day we saw the biggest nationalisation in the history of humanity and that still wasn't enough.

"This could be a big moment for the left. But we really need to stand up and use the "c" word, say this is a crisis of capitalism and that people are suffering."

Sheila Rowbotham - Socialist feminist

"The problem now - unlike in the 1880s, when people discovered the ideas of socialism, and in the 1930s, when it seemed that communism was the solution - is that the left doesn't have a coherent alternative vision."

Hari Kunzru - Novelist

"In New York apparently, 12,000 jobs went, just like that, and Wall Street represents 20% of the city's jobs and something like 90% its tax base. So there's a definite sense here of systemic crisis.

"This will only genuinely become a crisis of capitalism if people generally become aware that much of the growth and prosperity produced by capitalism is a fiction."

September 14, 2008 Weblog:

Subprime Crisis Claims Another Major Bank

First a series of mortgage companies. Then UK bank Northern Rock. Then Bear Sterns, followed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Now another major US bank, Lehman Brothers, is about to crumble under the weight of disastrous decision making in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis and ensuing credit crunch.

Lehman Brothers controls almost $700 billion in assets. According to the Guardian, the US authorities have authorized emergency trading of Lehman's shares should it file for bankruptcy.

Though the US bailouts of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were supposed to prevent a 'domino effect' of US banks collapsing, it appears banks are failing anyways.

Should Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest bank on Wall Street collapse "it will be one of the biggest failures in Wall Street history"...again.

September 14, 2008 Weblog:

BC forestry industry "in a tail spin"

BC finance minister, Colin Hansen, has just released a report showing that forestry revenues in BC are down by 36 per cent.

Hansen was quoted in the Tyee's new election blog "The Hook" as saying: "The downturn we are seeing in the forest sector is unprecedented. Since 1993 it has never even come close to being that low."

The pine beetle, sub-prime crisis, high dollar and a series of forestry strikes in BC have all contributed to the downturn which the NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston characterized the industry as being "in a tail spin".

September 11, 2008 Weblog:

Bush praised, Rio Tinto tossed in Norway

It was a busy 24 hours for a Norwegian Socialist Finance Minister.

Kristin Halvorsen, the head of the Socialist Left Party in Norway and Finance Minister in the coalition government banned government investment in mining giant Rio Tinto and said George W. Bush "showed good social-democratic tendencies".

Halvorsen was referring to the US governments decision to bail out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Norwegian government, which operates a massive surplus-fund, invested heavily in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and suffered major losses recently as a result.

On the same day, Halvorsen also reported that the same surplus fund would no longer be investing in Rio Tinto due to environmental concerns. "Wal-Mart, British arms manufacturer BAE Systems and US defense firm Lockheed Martin have also been blacklisted" in the past, according to the BBC.

The surplus-fund is Europe's biggest investor and holds nearly 1% of Europe's listed shares.

September 7, 2008 Weblog:

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae "Nationalized"

Over $5 trillion in troubled mortgages have been taken over (read: nationalized) by the US government. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the two largest mortgage providers in the US) have been put into "conservatorship" in order to stop them from collapsing.

This is the biggest government bailout in US history and comes on the heels of Royal Bank chief executive Gordon Nixon saying that the global financial system has been "pushed to the brink".

September 6, 2008 Weblog:

Conservative Image Problem

An anonymous "award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker and screenwriter" shows the Conservative Party of Canada why it might be a problem to cut $44 million in arts funding before an election.

August 12, 2008 Weblog:

International Union of Sex Workers

Ian Sinclair at the Morning Star (the so-called UK's only Socialist Daily) did an interesting interview with "Catherine, a prostitute, dominatrix and activist with the International Union of Sex Workers International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW)."

It's a good read and though definitely controversial to some, it has a good analysis. Excerpt:

"Getting to the nub of their position on prostitution, the IUSW's website argues that "there is nothing inherently exploitative or degrading about consensual sexual behaviour regardless of its motivation." This isn't to say they ignore the darker side of prostitution. "There is abuse and exploitation and rape and coercion. It would be obscene to say that doesn't happen", Catherine admits. But, she argues "the history of the left shows, we didn't go out and rescue the miners, take them away and give them a wash, and say ‘come and do this you will be much happier'. We gave them rights, we gave them bargaining power. And that is the solution to exploitation - to give them rights and resources, not to rescue and redeem them.""

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