Showing posts from March 15, 2015

Workers Behind Ruthless and Effective Grassroots Campaigns Are Now on Trial for Racketeering

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[In the Through the Looking Glass world of a criminal corporatocracy, naturally enough, labour organizers who succeed are charged as racketeers. *RON*]
Michelle Chen, The Nation, 13 March 2015

Until recently, the Laundry Workers Center United’s claim to fame was a rabble-rousing protest encampment on Times Square, a self-fashioned “Worker Justice Café” erected by workers as part of a unionization campaign at a Hot and Crusty bakery. Back in 2012, their foolishly brave, Occupy-inspired tactics proved successful in challenging their employer’s power. Now the LWC is facing its own challenge in court, accused of illegally “conspiring” to protest against a boss.

According to a complaint brought by the LWC’s latest campaign target, the Liberato restaurant in the Bronx, the LWC isn’t a humble worker center, agitating on behalf of low-wage immigrant workers, but a racketeering enterprise, waging class warfare against a local business.

The allegations of ga…

All You Need to Know About Income Inequality, in One Comparison

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["...the sum of Wall Street bonuses is roughly twice the total amount paid to all full-time workers paid minimum wage" *RON*]

Justin Wolfers, New York Times, 13 March 2015
The Wall Street bonus pool for last year is roughly double the total earnings of all Americans who work full time at the federal minimum wage.

That claim, which comes from a new report from Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies, is one of the more striking sound bites I have heard in quite some time. And so I thought it worth digging in to the data to see if it checks out. Short answer: It does, although given the uncertainty in these sorts of calculations, the precise ratio could easily be a bit higher or lower.

Let’s start with the Wall Street bonuses. The New York State Comptrollerreported on Wednesday that the size of the bonus pool paid to securities industries employees in New York City was $28.5 billion. Dividing this total among 167,800 workers yiel…

New Zealand used NSA system to target officials, anti-corruption campaigner

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[New Zealand uses NSA system to help cover up government corruption. *RON*]
By Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept, 14 March 2015
New Zealand’s eavesdropping agency used an Internet mass surveillance system to target government officials and an anti-corruption campaigner on a neighboring Pacific island, according to a top-secret document.

Analysts from Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, programmed the Internet spy system XKEYSCORE to intercept documents authored by the closest aides and confidants of the prime minister on the tiny Solomon Islands. The agency also entered keywords into the system so that it would intercept documents containing references to the Solomons’ leading anti-corruption activist, who is known for publishing government leaks on his website.

XKEYSCORE is run by the National Security Agency, and is used to analyze billions of emails, Internet browsing sessions and online chats that are collected from some 150 differ…

How Long Before Cash is Banned?

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[Ongoing tax evasion in the PIIGS. *RON*]
Mike Shedlock, Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis, 15 March 2015

A regular reader who I trust 100% has been traveling in Italy for a month. She has this report on cash vs. credit cards.
Hi Mish I've been in Italy for a month. It's quite amazing how many places ask you to pay cash. Even at hotels, they would like you to pay your €1000+ bills in cash. And people 'wonder' why these countries always get into trouble. CNA Cards Not Appreciated
In essence, CNA just confirms two things we already know.
Italy, Greece, and other club-med states want to crack down on rampant tax evasion.Businesses resist. What's the Real Problem?

Is the problem really tax evasion, or is the problem that taxes are so freaking high on so many things, in so many ways, that everyone hides income every chance they can?

There are already limits on cash transactions. I wonder ... How long will it take for cash tran…

Sensing threat, utilities put squeeze on solar-roof industry

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[Nothing new here, just continually discouraging. "It's not about profits; it’s about protecting customers." Hah! *RON*]
By Joby Warrick, Washington Post / Buffalo News, 15 March 2015

Three years ago, the nation’s top utility executives gathered at a Colorado resort to hear warnings about a grave new threat to operators of America’s electric grid: not superstorms or cyberattacks, but rooftop solar panels.

If demand for residential solar continued to soar, traditional utilities could soon face serious problems, from “declining retail sales” and a “loss of customers” to “potential obsolescence,” according to a presentation prepared for the group. “Industry must prepare an action plan to address the challenges,” it said.

The warning, delivered to a private meeting of the utility industry’s main trade association, became a call to arms for electricity providers in nearly every corner of the nation. Three years later, the industry and its …

B.C. Finance Ministry Fact Sheet Pulls Classic Bait And Switch

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["B.C. may very well have some of the lowest personal income tax rates in Canada, but that doesn't mean the lowest tax bill. So doing that 'lowest personal income tax' thing is a cute trick, but at the end of the day it's a trick. And not a particularly empathetic one." *RON*]
Dermod Travis, Executive Director, IntegrityBC / Huffington Post, 15 March 2015

When something changes from one week to the next for no apparent reason, it sparks some curiosity, as is the case with the B.C. finance ministry's "Keeping taxes low for B.C. families" fact sheet posted to its website only a week after the provincial budget.

It favours spin right from the top. The first two lines, classic.

"B.C. families generally have one of the lowest overall tax burdens in Canada including income taxes, consumption taxes, property taxes, health care premiums and payroll taxes."

In certain circles that's called the bait.

The se…

Demonstrators across Canada protest Bill C-51

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[Happy Ides of March! "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America [or Canada!] dies with it." ― Edward R. Murrow See also Thousands protest Bill C-51 across Canada and Anti-Terror Bill: 10 Powerful Photos From The #StopC51 Protests. *RON*]
Michael Shulman,, 14 March 2015

Thousands of demonstrators gathered across the country on Saturday to rally against the Conservative government's proposed anti-terror legislation, which seeks to expand the powers of police and spy agencies.

The government, which introduced Bill C-51 in January, insists that it provides law-enforcement authorities with the vital tools needed to stamp out terror plots before they unfold.

But critics say the bill lacks appropriate oversight, and could compromise Canadians’ personal liberties.

Demonstrations attracted protesters to some 55 locations from coast to coast, where organizers called S…