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Showing posts from February 28, 2015

Gates Foundation Ditches McDonald’s, Coca-Cola in Fourth Quarter

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[The Gates Foundation "doesn’t invest in companies whose corporate activity it finds to be 'egregious.'" *RON*]
By Lauren Streib, Bloomberg Business, 17 February 2015

(Bloomberg) -- The Gates Foundation Asset Trust, which manages the investments for the $42.3 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, liquidated its positions of McDonald’s Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. in the fourth quarter.

The trust sold 10.9 million shares of McDonald’s valued at $1 billion at the end of September, according to a regulatory filing. It sold 21.4 million shares valued at $914.2 million in Coca-Cola, and 8.1 million shares in Exxon Mobil that were worth $765.9 million.

The Gates Foundation focuses on fighting polio, AIDS, malaria and improving health systems in developing countries. It doesn’t invest in companies whose corporate activity it finds to be “egregious,” including tobacco stocks and investments in Sudan, according to the …

When the commodity rents stop flowing…

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[Perhaps a small ray of hope as oil prices plummet? *RON*]
Izabella Kaminska, Financial Times Alphaville, 27 February 2015

Ever wonder what the collapse of a commodity means for the hegemonic order that controls access to it?

Look no further than the sugar trade of the 1800s.

A new paper by Christian Dippel, Avner Greif, Daniel Trefler entitled The rents from trade and coercive institutions: removing the sugar coating examines the effect of the sugar price collapse on wages and incarceration rates in colonies established for sugar cane cultivation.

The paper finds that a collapse in commodity prices doesn’t always translate into lower wages or greater poverty for the workers in a commodity producing colony.

From the conclusion:
According to standard international trade theories, the 19th century collapse of world sugar prices should have reduced wages in each of the 14 British West Indies sugar colonies. It did not. In colonies that were either margin…

Chicago nears fiscal free fall with latest downgrade

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[Not much different from Russia. For the third-largest city in the United States why isn't this bigger news? *RON*]
By Karen Pierog, Reuters / Yahoo Finance, 27 February 2015

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago drew closer to a fiscal free fall on Friday with a rating downgrade from Moody's Investors Service that could trigger the immediate termination of four interest-rate swap agreements, costing the city about $58 million and raising the prospect of more broken swaps contracts.

The downgrade to Baa2, just two steps above junk, and a warning the rating could fall further still, means the third-biggest U.S. city could face even higher costs in the future if banks choose to terminate other interest-rate hedges against fluctuations in interest rates. All told, Chicago holds swaps contracts covering $2.67 billion in debt, according to a disclosure late last year.

"This is an unfortunate wake-up call for anyone still asleep over the fiscal cliff …

GOP Lawmaker: Cancer Is "Fungus" & Can Be Flushed Out with Baking Soda!

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[Little wonder they don't believe in Obamacare. *RON*]

by SemDemFollow, Daily KOS, 25 February 2015

So we had a GOP lawmaker a few days ago who tried to lecture a doctor during another anti-abortion fight right before he announced that he believed a woman's stomach was connected to her vagina. (And then proceeded to pass his anti-abortion bill).

Now we have another GOP lawmaker, tax cheat, and Cliven Bundy supporter Michele Fiore (R). If she sounds familiar, it's because just last week she suggested "hot, little girls" on college campuses have firearms or you like rape.

(The photo she likes to use of herself is on my blog, because photobucket sucks.)

But this week the GOP has collectively decided to show their ignorance of biology, so Fiore contributed by proposing a bill that would let people use drugs without the approval of the FDA. (She thinks the government is holding out on us.) She made her point by literally argui…

To fight homegrown jihadis, Germany takes lesson from battle with neo-Nazis

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[Sounds promising. Germany has turned away hundreds of neo-Nazis from violence and reintegrated them into society. Could the same approach work for German would-be jihadis? *RON*]
By Isabelle de Pommereau, Christian Science Monitor, 26 February 2015

FRANKFURT — This summer, Thomas Mücke managed a coup: he dissuaded a young German from joining the Islamic State.

The teenager, a Kurd whose family is originally from Turkey but now living in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, had landed in prison after committing a petty crime. Angry, confined, and looking to lash out, he “had pretty much given up with life and was ready to pack his bag" for Syria, Mr. Mücke says.

But Mücke, a street worker and head of the Berlin-based Violence Prevention Network (VPN) in Berlin, challenged the aspiring jihadi. Did he know that Islamic State fought against Kurds? No, the boy didn’t. In fact, he had no idea about his religion. It was a prison inmate that gave him t…

Russian opposition mourns murdered leader Nemtsov

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[The bad old days of Russia never went away. See also Boris Nemtsov’s murder is another dark sign for Russia and Shock after anti-Putin activist Boris Nemtsov shot dead near Kremlin. *RON*]

By Alexander Winning & Katya Golubkova


(Reuters) - Thousands of stunned Russians laid flowers and lit candles on Saturday on the bridge where opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead near the Kremlin, a murder that showed the risks of speaking out against President Vladimir Putin.

Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times in the back by assailants in a white car as he walked across the bridge over the Moskva River in central Moscow with a Ukrainian woman, who was unhurt, just before midnight on Friday, police said.

Police sealed off the blood-stained bridge close to the red walls of the Kremlin and Red Square for two hours overnight, then hosed it down as people came to pay tribute to one of Putin's biggest opponents over Russia's role in Ukraine.