Showing posts from October 20, 2014

Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K.

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[Paul Krugman comes out swinging, slamming the retail giant Amazon for exerting undue market power and essentially being the Standard Oil of the online books business. He notes that Amazon is not playing the role of monopolist (being the sole seller and raising prices) but rather the role of monopsonist (being the sole buyer and squeezing booksellers). He specifically keys off of Amazon's hardball tactics against the publisher Hachette. *RON*]
Paul Krugman, New York Times, 20 October 2014, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.

O.K., I know that was kind of abrupt. But I wanted to get the central point out there right away, because discussions of Amazon tend, all too often, to get lost in side issues.

For example, critics of the company sometimes portray it as a monster about to take over the whole economy. Such claims are over the top — Amazon doesn’t dominate overall online …

Purchase of Election by Chevron Shows We Have 'Oligarchy, Not Democracy': Sanders

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[Call it post-democracy, the corporatocracy, rule by The 1%, or what-have-you - but democracy it isn't. According to estimates, fossil fuel company is on track to spend $3 million in attempt to gain control of city council in Richmond, California. "It isn’t fair. But it is legal, so this election will be a real test of the power of money in our democracy." *RON*]
By Jon QueallyCommon Dreams, 17 October 2014

The Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders was in the city of Richmond, California on Thursday and said local elections in the city have become prime examples of how U.S. politics, at all levels, have become corrupted by the unlimited amount of money wealthy corporations and individuals can spend on campaigns.

So far, the oil giant Chevron—which has a major refinery in Richmond and has been in a battle with city officials and residents over safety at the facility following a large fire in 2012—has pumped an estima…

Quarter of new Canadian oil projects vulnerable if oil falls below US$80: IEA

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[If there's anything the oil industry really hates, it's looking weak. So it's no surprise that mainstream media has carried so few stories about the tumbling price of oil and the impact this is having on both the industry itself and the petro-Loonie. *RON*]

Financial Post Staff and Reuters, The Financial Post, 14 October 2014
One in four new Canadian oil projects could be vulnerable if oil prices fall below US$80 per barrel for a extended period of time, according to the International Energy Agency.

The Paris-based agency said that “…in terms of production with breakevens exceeding $80/bbl, Canadian synthetics projects have the highest percentage of production of the types examined here (about 25%) that would fall into a negative net present value if there were to be an extended period of prices below that level.”

While oil sands projects benefit from longevity and “predictable output,” new projects will have to make a careful forecast…

German companies tread unfamiliar territory with job cuts

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[As they say, denial ain't just a river in Egypt. *RON*]

Chris Bryant, Financial Times, 20 October 2014
When the flow of containers began to slow at the docks in Duisburg a few months ago, workers at the world’s largest inland port got an early indication that Germany’s export machine had begun to falter.

Container volume at Duisburg, which sits at the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers, is still expected to grow strongly this year. But the outlook for the docks – as with the rest of German business – is suddenly looking less certain.

German exports tumbled 5.8 per cent in August compared with July – the biggest drop since the peak of the global financial crisis in January 2009. The economy now risks slipping into recession in the third quarter, and the government has already lowered its growth forecasts for 2014 and 2015.

Those developments are unsettling a Germany corporate sector that has been a robust counterweight to the gloom in much …

Inquiry Into Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women Gains Support From Public Health Association

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[Harper stands alone on this one. Who agree with him? *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 19 October 2014

OTTAWA - The Canadian Public Health Association is joining a growing chorus of calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

In a statement to be released publicly on Monday on its website (, the organization is also calling on the federal government to assess any actions taken as a result of previous inquiries, reports and investigations into missing and murdered native women.

It also urges the Conservatives to heed a call from the World Health Organization to develop and implement an integrated action plan for violence prevention that addresses its root causes.

Those efforts should be led by First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners and engage all levels of government and civil society, the association says.

The Canadian Public Health Association is a 104-year-old organization founded by a s…

Did Austerity Bring On the Ebola Crisis?

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[A conversation with Terry O'Sullivan, an expert in the dynamics of catastrophic disease outbreaks, on the high human cost of cutbacks to public-health funding. "Joshua Holland: Yeah, we say austerity kills... The head of the National Institutes for Health said last week that we would probably have an Ebola vaccine by now, had it not been for cuts to that agency's budgets." *RON*]

Joshua Holland, The American Prospect, 20 October 2014

Licensed clinician Hala Fawal practices drawing blood from a patient using a dummy on Monday, October 6, 2014, in Anniston, Alabama. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed an introductory training course for licensed clinicians. According to the CDC, the course is to ensure that clinicians intending to provide medical care to patients with Ebola have sufficient knowledge of the disease.

Terry O'Sullivan is a professor of political science at the University of Akron. H…

Europe Faces Anti-Austerity Mutiny as Crisis Looms

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[Merkel continues to say Germany will not soften its strict budget stance. *RON*]

By Patrick Smith,The Fiscal Times, 20 October 2014

The running theme at the meeting of European Union leaders in Milan last week was, “The toolbox is empty. Nobody knows what to do next to get Europe’s economies out of the ditch.”

News reports from Milan correspondents told a different story. Quite a lot was done, and it is potentially big stuff.

First, standing again on the cliff overlooking Recession Valley now prompts a fundamental realignment among the European powers. When François Hollande and Matteo Renzi, the leftist leaders of France and Italy, make common cause against Germany and the E.U.’s budgetmeisters in Brussels, it looks awfully like the start of a potentially widespread revolt among the worst hit nations in the eurozone.

Related: Europe’s New Recession Is One Just One of the West’s Problems

Second, Paris and Rome are openly challenging the neoliberal ec…