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Showing posts from April 4, 2015

The Madre of All Bubbles

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[Soltas' analysis suggests that: a) there was nothing much wrong with the Spanish economy before the housing bubble hit, b) the bubble was induced by the venality of banks, c) the actual recession was caused by Spaniards slamming the brakes on personal spending when their mortgage costs zoomed out of control (not to inherent flaws in the eurozone system). *RON*]
Evan Soltas, economics & thought, 3 April 2015

Why is Spain in the terrible position it is? A quarter of its workforce is unemployed. It is producing much less than it did in 2008. Tens of thousands are protesting in the streets against the status-quo political order.

One explanation might be fiscal recklessness. Yet this explanation simply doesn't work. Spain's government had run large primary budget surpluses for the decade leading up to the crisis. And, if you look at the so-called "structural" budget deficit -- which takes into account the effects of booms and …

This Woman Is Building A Sperm Bank For Coral Reefs So We Can Revive Them Once They Die

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[Why take a chance when one of the world's most vital ecosystems is already disappearing? *RON*]

Ben Schiller, Fast Company, 3 April 2015


As it stands, things don't look good for the world's coral. We've lost 40% of the world's reefs already, and every forecast shows the situation getting worse. As well as traditional threats like overfishing and coastal development, corals now have to contend with climate change, which not only warms the water but also makes it more acidic.

That's why Mary Hagedorn thinks we need to move beyond traditional conservation efforts to something more radical: artificial reproduction. Hagedorn, a marine scientist with the Smithsonian Institution, is building the world's largest repository of coral sperm (and soon coral eggs and embryos) in hopes of one day reconstructing species from scratch and replacing what we've lost.

To some, that might seem like an ambitious and perhaps unnecessary un…

Osbornia Revisited

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[No matter how many yards of baloney the Austerians crank out, the graphs of austerity-vs-GDP always look the same. Throttle back the oxygen on the economy and it shrinks - no surprise there. The 1 percent-ers who push for austerity, thinking this will grant them an ever-growing piece of the pie, consistently ignore or disbelieve the fact that, by their very actions, they are causing the total size of the pie to shrink. *RON*]

Paul Krugman, New York Times, 1 April 2015

As I think I've mentioned, as part of a longer-term project I’m doing some more work on British austerity — the reality, and, even more important, the perception. It’s a strange story. For the most part, as we look across the advanced world, the intellectual arguments behind the great 2010 turn to austerity have collapsed — you don’t see people invoking invisible bond vigilantes to warn of imminent crisis unless you slash spending, you don’t see them invoking the confidence fa…

The mobile-home trap: How a Warren Buffett empire preys on the poor

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[I haven't heard of anything as bad as this since the worst days of the housing bubble. And as is made perfectly clear from this in-depth report, Mr. Warren 'We must do something about income inequality' Buffett profits from this venality at every step. "Kirk and Patricia Ackley, of Ephrata, said they pleaded with 21st Mortgage for the interest rate they’d been promised for their mobile-home purchase so they could keep their home. They were baffled by the reply: 'We don’t care. We’ll come take a chainsaw to it — cut it up and haul it out in boxes.'" *RON*]
By Mike Baker & Daniel Wagner, The Center for Public Integrity, Seattle Times, 3 April 2015
Billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett controls a mobile-home empire that promises low-income borrowers affordable houses. But all too often, it traps those owners in high-interest loans and rapidly depreciating homes.

EPHRATA, Grant County — After years of living in a…

Racist Emails by Ferguson Officials Released

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[It would be interesting to see what kind of employment they find after leaving Ferguson. Also see San Francisco Police Officers to Be Dismissed Over Racist Texts. *RON*]

By John Eligon, New York Times, 3 April 2015

The City of Ferguson, Mo., responding to Freedom of Information requests, has released the full contents of racist emails circulated by the chief court clerk and two police supervisors that were disclosed by the Justice Department in a report last month.

The report called on the city to overhaul its criminal justice system. The full disclosure of the emails give further detail of the back-and-forth between the clerk, Mary Ann Twitty; Richard Henke, a police captain; and William J. Mudd, a sergeant, on government email accounts. The three have since left the government.

In one message sent from Ms. Twitty to the two police officials in December 2011, she forwarded a list of “insensitive one-liners.” One of them spoke of a man being devast…

B.C. Chief Ron Giesbrecht Re-Elected After Million-Dollar Payday Controversy

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[It's hard to see this as different from what John Baird is doing right now. It was the Federal government itself that set up the incentives that enabled Giesbrecht to take home this huge bonus for brokering local development deals, which is why you don't hear Harper screaming about it. Also, this is a weird aberration. This information may help balance the picture: "The average salary of a First Nations leader is $36,845, about $10,000 below the average Canadian wage." Michael Harris (2014) Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada's Radical Makeover, p. 305. Toronto: Viking. *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 3 April 2015


COQUITLAM, B.C. - A controversial First Nations chief in British Columbia has won re-election despite drawing widespread criticism last year for accepting a nearly $1-million paycheque.

Ron Giesbrecht has won a new mandate to lead the tiny Kwikwetlem (kwee-kwet-lum) First Nation in the Vancouv…

Tackling a sustainable industry for Atlantic salmon farming

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[The debate continues over whether farming salmon in tanks on land is a viable economic alternative. One would like to see the recommendations of the 2012 Cohen Commission implemented, which called for a moratorium on more ocean-based salmon farms until 2020 and until more scientific evidence on harms was available. However, Harper has steadfastly ignored this entire report. *RON*]

Wendy Stueck, Port McNeill, BC, Globe and Mail, 3 April 2015


In a clearing near Port McNeill, an experiment is underway. Inside an unassuming steel-clad building, thousands of Atlantic salmon swim in circular tanks.

When those fish are big enough – in about 12 months, when they have grown from 100-gram smolts to between three to five kilograms in weight – they will be harvested, having never touched the ocean. Their waste will be processed into garden soil. Water, almost all of which is recirculated, comes from nearby wells and the plant is highly automated.

“Our three ma…