Showing posts from April 9, 2014

Big business weakens its tax-reform case with hokey numbers

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[Canadian Council of Chief Executives report spells out some relevant numbers, but you will only find them if you get past the bumf. *RON*]

By Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun, April 8, 2014

VANCOUVER — Big business does its case for tax reform no favours with a misleadingly structured and oddly spun report that purports to document the tax burden shouldered by 63 of Canada’s largest companies.

The report by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives does spell out some relevant numbers, but you will only find them if you persist long enough to get past the bumph — much of it in headline type — that implicitly tries to give these companies credit for taxes that are in fact paid by their employees.

Jailing of Mentally Ill Has Turned US Prisons into 'Inhumane' Asylums: Study

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[Ten times as many severely mentally ill persons in US jails and prisons than in state psychiatric hospitals. *RON*]
by  Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams, April 9, 2014

As state psychiatric facilities shut their doors, people with severe mental illnesses are being locked in U.S. prisons and jails, finds report

There are ten times more people with severe mental illnesses in U.S. jails and prisons than in state psychiatric hospitals, and conditions of incarceration—including abuse and denial of care—are causing the health of this vulnerable population to decline even further.

This is according to a damning study, The Treatment of Persons With Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails (PDF), released Wednesday by the Treatment Advocacy Center—a non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate barriers to mental health care.

Koch Brothers Received Millions In Obamacare Subsidies

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[No comment required. *RON*]

By Igor Volsky,, April 9, 2014

Charles and David Koch may have spent millions of dollars opposing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but that didn’t stop them from benefiting from the law. The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Koch Industries received $1.4 million in subsidies from a $5 billion program established by the Affordable Care Act to help employers and states maintain coverage for individuals 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare.

ThinkProgress first noticed that Koch applied for the program in August of 2010, along with other critics of the law, including state-run programs in Texas and more than a dozen members of the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent millions to support Republican causes.

Fox News Hails Doctor Who Said Gay Rights Lead to Child Molestation

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[Meet the right's new anti-Obamacare hero. *RON*]

—By Tim Murphy, Mother Jones, Wed Apr. 9, 2014
On Fox News, Dr. Steven Hotze is a hero. "He's the doctor fighting to let you keep your doctor," declared Neil Cavuto, who recently ran a segment on Hotze's lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. Hotze is challenging the health care law on a technicality: All taxation bills must originate in the House, and part of the law was first introduced in the Senate. The case, which is currently before the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, stands a real chance of heading to the Supreme Court.

Conservatives, desperate for another opportunity to kill the law, have embraced Hotze. He has appeared alongside Texas lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to promote the lawsuit and been a mainstay in conservative media. But while many of Hotze's high-profile fans have portrayed him as an average doct…

An “Army of Lobbyists” Is Quietly Fighting for Budget-Busting Corporate Tax Breaks

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[Lobbyists appeared “12,378 times in quarterly lobbying reports in the period studied – each report representing from one to dozens of contacts with members of Congress and their staffs during the quarter it was filed.” *RON*]
by Joshua Holland, Moyers & Company, April 3, 2014

An army of corporate lobbyists is trying to push a huge package of tax cuts through Congress without drawing public attention.

The 55 cuts, known on Capitol Hill as “extenders,” expired at the end of 2013 but in the past have been renewed retroactively on a bipartisan basis with little fanfare. Altogether, according to the Congressional Budget Office, they could cost the federal government $46 billion in revenues in 2014 and as much as $700 billion over the next 10 years. While some of the breaks would help working people, 90 percent of them would benefit the bottom lines of large, US-based multinationals.

A report released on Monday by Americans for Tax Fairness and Publ…

Why hasn’t democracy saved us from inequality?

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[More on the splash being made by Piketty's analyses of inequality, newly translated from the original French. Click over to the original article to scan and savour some of the 100+ comments. *RON*]

By Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage, Washington Post, April 7, 2014

Joshua Tucker: The following is a guest post from political scientists Kenneth Scheve(Stanford) and David Stasavage (New York University).

When was the last time a 700-page tome of economic history outranked the ”10 Day Detox Diet” on the Amazon top sales list? After receiving widespread attention in his native France, Thomas Piketty’s ”Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has received even greater attention on this side of the Atlantic, and deservedly so. It offers a stark and depressing picture for those who believe that some combination of democratic politics and economic growth can protect us from rampant inequality. If Piketty is right, then we are instead faced wit…

Neoliberalism, the Revolution in Reverse

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[Excellent article on the neoliberal legacy following the disaster of 2008, and how "the placid certainties of neoliberal ideology rattle on as though nothing has happened." *RON*]
By Chris Lehmann, The Baffler No. 24, 2014

By any reasonable measure, the neoliberal dream lies in tatters. In 2008 poorly regulated financial markets yielded a world-historic financial collapse. One generation, weaned on reveries of home ownership as the coveted badge of economic independence and old-fashioned American striving, has been plunged into foreclosure, bankruptcy, and worse. And a successor generation of aspiring college students is now discovering that their equally toxic student-loan dossiers are condemning them to lifetimes of debt. Both before and after 2008, ours has been an economic order that, largely designed to reward paper speculation and penalize work, produces neither significant job growth nor wages that keep pace with productivity. …

Heartland Institute NIPCC Climate Denier Craig Idso: “Climate Change Is Good For You”

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[On the Idsos family, ALEC, and a history of climate change denial. *RON*]
Kert Davies, DeSmogBlog, 2014-04-08
This is a guest post by Kert Davies, cross-posted with permission from Climate Investigations Center.

This week the Heartland Institute will release another chapter of its NIPCC, the “not the IPCC” document that will tell you the opposite of the main message that’s been coming from the prestigious IPCC, namely that climate change is a threat to security, food and mankind and especially a threat to the world's poor, along with ecosystems worldwide including coral reefs, polar regions, and the wildlife and myriad of creatures these ecosystems support.

Heartland Institute on the other hand, in its NIPCC “Climate Change Reconsidered II: the Biological Impacts” document, will say that climate change is good for the world, will have a net benefit for both plants and human health. This is the latest line run by right wing think tanks like He…

Alberta government not planning to investigate Fort Chipewyan cancer cluster

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[It's taken the Conservative government nearly a decade simply to get to the point of publicly ignoring the problem. See also Andrew Nikiforuk's Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent*RON*]

By Marty Klinkenberg, Edmonton Journal, April 9, 2014
EDMONTON - Alberta’s chief medical officer has confirmed statistics released two weeks ago show that a cancer cluster exists in Fort Chipewyan, but says government has no plans to identify possible causes.

That is alarming to a biochemist who reviewed a 2009 Alberta Cancer Board study that suggested an investigation be undertaken if any further incidences of a rare bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma occurred.

“If anybody crunches the numbers for Fort Chipewyan, no matter how they are massaged, they wouldn’t show anything but a cancer cluster,” said John Dennis, an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary who government enlisted to conduct a peer-review of the previous st…

Pipelines in parks? Welcome to Super, Fracktural BC!

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[Lorne Craig is the president of Unicycle Creative, a marketing company “dedicated to moving environmental and socially sustainable business forward”. He also publishes the green briefs blog. *RON*]
Lorne Craig, Green Briefs, April 7th, 2014

An open letter to BC Premier Christy Clark – April 7, 2014

Dear Christy

May I call you Christy? It seems appropriate, given your warm, woman-of-the-people style of governing. I’m a soccer parent too, so that puts us on the same sidelines, wouldn’t you say?

Anyhow, it’s about this Bill 4 thing. You know, the amendment to the BC Parks act brought in by your government on March 24th, 2014. The one that now allows industrial activities within BC’s Provincial Parks.

I would understand if you missed it. After all, the legislation was rapidly passed without any meaningful consultation or dialogue. Maybe you were at a game with young Hamish at the time.