Showing posts from August 20, 2014

Italian’s Apology for German Austerity Diktats Lasts 24 Hours

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[Berlin's austerity demands are taking down the entire EU; it is just affecting the PIIGS worse than the rest. *RON*]
By William Black, New Economic Perspectives, August 20, 2014

On August 13, 2014, the International New York Times printed an op ed by Beppe Severgnini attacking Matteo Renzi, Italy’s Prime Minister. Severgnini offered readers this classic question and answer.
“So why is Italy’s economy, the eurozone’s third largest, the only major one in Europe currently flatlining? Last week Istat, the national statistics bureau, reported that it had contracted in two successive quarters for the third time since 2007, plunging us into a triple-dip recession. How did we pull that one off? Plenty of plausible explanations blame the feckless government of Silvio Berlusconi, or the acquiescent administrations of Mario Monti and Enrico Letta that followed, the latter two having imposed the European Union’s — or rather, Berlin’s — belt-tightenin…

Researchers Easily Slipped Weapons Past TSA’s X-Ray Body Scanners

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[Oh, great! *RON*]
By Andy Greenberg, Wired, 20 August 2014

Two years ago, a blogger named Jonathan Corbett published a YouTube video that seemed to show a facepalm-worthy vulnerability in the TSA’s Rapiscan full-body X-ray scanners: Because metal detected by the scanners appeared black in the images they created, he claimed that any passenger could hide a weapon on the side of his or her body to render it invisible against the scans’ black background. The TSA dismissed Corbett’s findings, and even called reporters to caution them not to cover his video.

Now a team of security researchers from the University of California at San Diego, the University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins plans to reveal their own results from months of testing that same model of scanner. And not only did they find that Corbett’s weapon-hiding tactic worked; they also found that they could pull off a disturbing list of other possible tricks, such as using teflon tape to…

The truth about corporate taxes -- in a single chart

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[The size of the corporate cash hoard in Canada now surpasses the size of the federal debt. *RON*]
By David MacDonald,, 19 August 2014

Corporate Canada has reached a milestone in 2014. For the first time ever, it is now hoarding more cash than the national debt. What that means is that in one fell swoop, Canada's corporations could pay off our entire national debt with just the cash sitting in their banks accounts, nevermind their other assets.

Corporate cash hoarding really ramped up as corporate tax rates were slashed in half from 31 per cent in 1997 to 16 per cent today. Corporate Canada argued in the late 1990s that they'd use that extra cash to build more factories, train more workers and make Canada more productive. Turns out...not so much.

Instead we dutifully cut social programs to pay for Corporate Canada to stuff those tax cuts under their gold rimmed mattresses (with memory foam). So far they've hoarded $630 billion …

Ten ways our government failed us in Lac Mégantic

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[Death and destruction are the end result of a "profit at all cost" government. Also see The Guardian's piece, Lac-Megantic oil train disaster inquiry finds string of safety failings: "Poor safety culture at train company and lax government supervision blamed for Quebec blast that killed 47." *RON*]
By Bruce Campbell,, 19 August 2014

My report, Willful Blindness?, released today, summarizes the regulatory failures behind the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. The federal government has so far not acknowledged any culpability or responsibility for the accident. On the contrary, the Minister has blamed the accident on the negligence of individuals and not on gaps in the regulatory regime.

In reality, there were multiple regulatory failures. It is one thing if there was just one or two, but the many failures contributing to the accident begs the question: was this a case of willful blindness?

My report comes the day before the …

Kinder Morgan Doesn't Need City's Permission To Access Burnaby Mountain: NEB

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[A fundamental stand-off between the rights and authority of municipalities versus the National Energy Board. *RON*]
By Dene Moore, The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 19 August 2014

VANCOUVER - The National Energy Board has sided with Kinder Morgan in a dispute with the City of Burnaby over access to Burnaby Mountain.

The company can proceed with necessary studies of its preferred pipeline route through the mountain without the city's consent.

In a decision released Tuesday, the National Energy Board confirmed that under federal legislation the company doesn't need permission to access the land that is home to Simon Fraser University and a vast nature preserve.

"It would not be logical that the Board be required to recommend approval or denial of a project without all necessary information before it," the board said in a decision posted online. "This would not be in the public interest."

Kinder Morgan would prefer to bore…

Don't Believe the Crocodile Tears Over High Corporate Tax Rates

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[Corporations, sitting on trillions of dollars of cash, want to hang on to it. They don't want to invest it and they don't want to pay taxes on it. *RON*]

By Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 19 August 2014

The US corporate tax code is inefficient, distortive, and staggeringly complex. Almost no one defends it on those grounds. But US multinational corporations, who have recently been engaged in a wave of tax inversions, have a different complaint: our tax rates are just flatly too high. They make American corporations uncompetitive compared to their foreign peers, and that's why they're being forced to relocate their headquarters to other countries with lower tax rates.

Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California and a former chief of staff to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, says this is nonsense. Firms that are entirely (or almost entirely) domestic do indeed pay high…

The Disease of American Democracy

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[People need to become involved to work toward addressing the power imbalance that has emerged between the general population and corporations. Frederic Douglass said, "If there is no struggle there is no progress.... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass. *RON*]

by Robert Reich, Moyers & Company, 19 August, 2014

This post first appeared at Robert Reich’s blog.

Americans are sick of politics. Only 13 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, a near record low. The president’s approval ratings are also in the basement.

A large portion of the public doesn’t even bother voting. Only 57.5 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election.

Put simply, most Americans feel powerless, and assume the political game is fixed. So why bother?

A new study scheduled to be published in this fall by Princeton’s Martin Gilens and Northwestern University’s Benjamin Page c…