Showing posts from August 10, 2014

Imperial Metals' Political Gifts to BC Liberals Total $234,000

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[Corporations and politicians are not-so-strange bedfellows in the corporatocracy. Watchdog group IntegrityBC wants correspondence between firm and government released. See also: Major Imperial Metals shareholder held private fundraiser for Clark's re-election bid*RON*]

By David P. Ball,, 9 August 2014

As authorities scramble to clean up one of Canada's worst industrial disasters following the Mount Polley mine breach, cuts to mine and dam inspections since 2001 combined with Imperial Metals Corporation's at least $233,710 in BC Liberal Party donations since 2003 is adding insult to injury for some.

The campaign donations are slightly less than the $300,000 in fines the B.C. government has threatened the company with if it fails to comply with conditions for cleaning up the breach, which caused 10 million cubic metres of water and five million cubic metres of tailing solids to spill into the Cariboo region watershed on M…

The Opposite of Stagflation

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[Decreasing inflation + increasing unemployment = a demand-side problem. *RON*]

Paul Krugman, New York Times, 9 August 2014

One of the truly amazing (and disheartening) things about the Great Recession and its aftermath has been the continuing insistence of many economists that it’s somehow a supply-side slump, driven by the evils of Obamacare or something. This tends to come from people who view stagflation in the 1970s as having permanently refuted all things Keynes.

So I guess it’s worth pointing out repeatedly that the recent slump shows all the hallmarks of a demand-side shock; in particular, rising unemployment has been associated with falling inflation — the opposite of stagflation. Here’s an international comparison I happen to have produced for other purposes, comparing the change in unemployment from 2007 to 2013 with the change in inflation over the same period:
An interesting point: if you fit a linear equation to these points, the s…

Cure a moral ailment that allows Ebola to fell the poor

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[Good short article illustrating the complex interplay among some of the ethical, legal, cultural and economic issues involved. One topic of interest to me is this - is this an example of market failure? Should the pharmaceutic industry be forced at times by government to produce economically non-viable products on humanitarian grounds? *RON*]

By Clive Cookson, Financial Post, 8 August 2014

Until last week media coverage of the growing Ebola epidemic in west Africa, which the World Health Organisation has declared an international emergency, stated simply that there was no vaccine and no treatment for the disease, with its 60 per cent mortality rate.

All that could be done for patients, we were told, was to keep them well hydrated while making sure no one came into contact with their body fluids. That is arduous work for the hospital staff struggling to contain the outbreak with inadequate protection in poorly equipped clinics. The virus has inf…

The CIA Is Getting Away With Keeping Every Important Secret About Torture

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[A definitive Senate report about one of America’s darkest periods continues to be withheld. *RON*]

By Trevor Timm, AlterNet, 9 August 2014

At this point, is there anything the Central Intelligence Agency thinks it can’t get away with?

To recap: the CIA systematically tortured people, then lied about it. Destroyed evidence of it, then lied about that. Spied on the US Senate staffers investigating the agency for torture, then lied about that. Now, after somehow being put in charge of deciding what parts of the Senate’s final report on that torture should be redacted, the CIA has predictably censored the key evidence of the litany of all of those transgressions.

The agency’s black marker has reportedly censored – at different points in the report – already-public, embarrassing and criminally culpable information. By doing so, the CIA has rendered it, as one Senator noted, “incomprehensible”. So while the Senators and Langley fight it out behind close…

7 Reasons Why the Rent Is Too Damn High

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[The housing crash brought a flood of renters back into that market. By the law of supply and demand rental costs rose, but renters' incomes have been steadily decreasing over the same period. This is hurting poor people the worst, non-whites more than whites. At the same time, austerity policies have led to a drop in housing support programs. *RON*]
By Erika Eichelberger and AJ VicensMother Jones, 7 August 2014

More Americans than ever before are unable to afford rent. Here's a look at why the rent is too damn high and what can be done about it.

Part of the problem has to do with simple supply and demand. Millions of Americans lost their homes during the foreclosure crisis, and many of those folks flooded into the rental market. In 2004, 31 percent of US households were renters, according to HUD. Today that number is 35 percent. "With more people trying to get into same number of units you get an incredible pressure on prices,&qu…

Why a $16 Billion Fine Is Chicken Scratch for a Big Bank: Spare your sympathy for somebody who deserves it.

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[Settlements do not require banks to provide principal relief for these underwater homeowners. They don't ask banks to return homes that they wrongfully took from their owners. They don't ask banks to forfeit every penny of earnings received through forgery or perjury. They don't even ask them to restore the credit ratings of defrauded customers. The fines are peanuts compared with what the people in the general economy lost as a result of the banks' actions, little of the money will go toward helping the people that the banks actually hurt (most of it goes into government coffers for unspecified purposes), the banks will wiggle out of paying much of it anyhow, and the fines have not worked as an effective deterrent. *RON*]
By Richard Eskow, AlterNet, Curbing Wall St. Project, 9 August 2014

Preliminary reports say that a $16 to $17 billion settlement will soon be announced between the Justice Department and Bank of America. That …