Showing posts from July 28, 2014

Money Talks: Learning the language of finance.

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[A good article on the importance of teaching yourself some of the basics of economics and finance. Ignorance is a form of consent. *RON*]

By John Lanchester, The New Yorker, August 04, 2014 issue

The most important mystery of ancient Egypt concerned the annual inundation of the Nile floodplain. The calendar was divided into three seasons linked to the river and the agricultural cycle it determined: akhet, or the inundation; peret, the growing season; and shemu, the harvest. The size of the harvest depended on the size of the flood: too little water, and there would be famine; too much, and there would be catastrophe; just the right amount, and the whole country would bloom and prosper. Every detail of Egyptian life was shaped by the flood. Even the tax system was based on the level of the water, which dictated how successful farmers would be in the subsequent season. Priests performed complicated rituals to divine the nature of that year’s flood…

Corporate Profit Margins Are Getting Ever Fatter

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[Corporate profits continue to grow at record rates while costs are cut to the bone. As I've said before, virtually free money allows companies to borrow freely, buy back their own stocks, thus raising the stock values and CEO bonuses, while not investing back into capital expenditures or job creation. The mythical free lunch, which isn't supposed to exist. *RON*]
Sam Ro, Business Insider, 28 July 2014
Profit margins are still getting wider.

"With earnings growth (6.7%) rising at a faster rate than revenue growth (3.1%) in Q2 and in future quarters, companies have continued to discuss cost-cutting initiatives to maintain earnings growth rates and profit margins," said FactSet's John Butters on Friday.

This comes at a time when profit margins are already at historic highs.

Ever since the financial crisis, sales growth has been weak. However, corporations have been able to deliver robust earnings growth by fattening profit margi…

Wishful Thinking About Natural Gas: Why Fossil Fuels Can’t Solve the Problems Created by Fossil Fuels

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[Describes some of the key ways in which natural gas is being spun as a "clean" fuel and debunks them. *RON*]
Posted Naked Capitalism on July 28, 2014 by Yves Smith

Yves here. We’ve featured a series of post by Gaius Publius (see here, and here) on why Obama’s climate change plan is a huge headfake, since it fails to induce the methane emitted during the fracking of natural gas. Naomi Oreskes, a professor at Harvard who has previously posted at Naked Capitalism on fossil fuel divestment campaigns, raises more doubts about the “clean” natural gas party line.

By Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at Harvard University, and co-author, with Erik Conway, of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. She is also a co-author of Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction published by the Council of Canadian Academies in 2014. Her new book with Erik Conway is Th…

Woman Sentenced to Prison for Photographing a War Protest

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[This is not happening in North Korea; it's in Syracuse, New York. ‘We are losing a generation because of drones’ says activist Mary Anne Grady Flores. *RON*]
By Alyssa FigueroaAlterNet,

Warplanes have long been based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY. But in 2009, something new arrived: MQ-9 Reaper drones that were flown remotely over Afghanistan, dropping missiles and bombs and unleashing terror.

Organizers in Upstate New York started protests soon after the drones arrived and foundedUpstate Drone Action in 2010. In 2011, one longtime activist and member of the Catholic Worker movement, Mary Anne Grady Flores, 57, joined the struggle. As part of the “Hancock 38” in April that year, she was arrested for protesting at the base’s main entrance by participating in a die-in to illustrate the indiscriminate killing of civilians overseas by drones.

She was arrested again in October 2012 for another act of “civil resistance,” …

On International Issues, Harper Commits Selective Morality

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[At times with Harper, as was also true of George W. Bush, it is impossible to tell the extent to which he truly means many of the things he says or whether much of what he says is simply performance art for his voter base. *RON*]

Murtaza Haider, Huffington Post, 27 July 2014

If Russia were to follow the American lead, it should decorate the officer who shot down the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17.

Grotesque as it may sound, but this is exactly what the U.S. did. On July 3, 1988, Captain William C. Rogers III, the commanding officer of USS Vincennes, shot down an Iranian Airbus over the Iranian airspace, killing all onboard. On his return to the US, Captain Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service, which included the unprovoked murder of 290 civilians and crew onboard Iran Air Flight 655.

In a Globe and Mail op-ed this Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has articulated a strong stance against Russia citing the attack on…

What the Fraser Institute's Numbers Actually Show, Minus the Spin: Alberta has a Revenue Problem, Not a Spending Problem

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["...there’s something almost admirable about the sheer chutzpah of it. As the figures cited in the fine print by the Fraser Institute clearly show, our government spending is too low, not too high. In other words, as a few voices in the wilderness have been crying out for several years now, when it comes to the Deadly D-word – Deficit – Alberta has a revenue problem, not a spending problem." *RON*]

by David Climenhaga, 28 July 2014

If the Fraser Institute told the whole truth, or if the mainstream media did its job, here’s the what the first sentence of the Edmonton Journal’s story about the institute’s most recent “report” could have said:
“Alberta’s finances are in better shape than other energy-producing provinces and states, says a report released Thursday by the Fraser Institute…”

Instead, the Journal, having been led successfully down the garden path by the Fraser Institute’s undeniably skillful press-release writers, stated the…