Showing posts from April 16, 2015

Global property bubble fears mount as prices and yields spike

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[Bubble? What bubble? Deja-vu all over again. Two-bedroom home measuring just 8ft wide goes on market for £750,000. What you might call a narrow niche market! That exquisitely sensitive, perpetually self-correcting mechanism, The Free Market, hard at work. *RON*]

Kate Allen & Anna Nicolaou, Financial Times, 16 April 2015

Fears of a renewed global property bubble are rising as prices and yields hit records last seen before the financial crisis, according to new data.

The pricing of real estate around the world had become “increasingly aggressive”, research company MSCI said. This is particularly the case in the US, where investors’ returns from rental income are now lower than before 2008, when a crash in massively overleveraged property triggered an international banking slump.

Globally, property generated total average returns of 9.9 per cent in 2014 thanks to rapid capital value appreciation, MSCI found — the best performance since 2007 an…

Apple refuses to answer questions over 'homophobic' Russian Siri

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[The corporatocracy in Russia. What will Apple Corp. do to make a rouble? Russian voice-assistant for iPhones and iPad accused of answering questions with homophobic responses, while company dismisses issue as ‘a bug.’ The episode will cause embarrassment to Apple whose own chief executive, Tim Cook, came out as gay in October 2014, calling his sexuality “one of the greatest gifts God has given me”. *RON*]
Hannah Jane Parkinson, The Guardian, 16 April 2015 Apple is refusing to explain how and why the Russian language version of its voice-controlled virtual assistant, Siri, provided homophobic answers to queries relating to gay or lesbian topics.

The allegations first came to light when a Russian man called Alex, who lives in London, uploaded a video to YouTube appearing to show Siri either evading questions or expressing a negative response.

Alex asked questions such as: “Are there any gay bars around me?”, “tell me about gay marriage?” and “how do …

Vatican Announces Major Summit On Climate Change

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[Pope Francis keeps getting better and better! *RON*]

By Jack Jenkins, Think Progress, 15 April 2015

Catholic officials announced on Tuesday plans for a landmark climate change-themed conference to be hosted at the Vatican later this month, the latest in Pope Francis’ faith-rooted campaign to raise awareness about global warming.

The summit, which is scheduled for April 28 and entitled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity. The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development,” will draw together a combination of scientists, global faith leaders, and influential conservation advocates such as Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is slotted to offer the opening address, and organizers say the goal of the conference is to “build a consensus that the values of sustainable development cohere with values of the leading religious traditions, with a special …

Even the World Bank Has to Worry About the Competition

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[The corporatocracy as 'foreign developers.' If you believe what they are saying - that competition from unscrupulous foreign development banks has forced the World Bank to turn a blind eye to its promises to deal with the human rights fall-out of its own development projects - I have a watch and a bridge I would like to sell you. *RON*]

—By Clint Hendler, Mother Jones, 16 April 2015

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has just published a deep look into the World Bank's track record of ensuring that the projects it sponsors don't end up harming local communities.

Since 2004, more than 3.4 million people have been economically or physically displaced by Bank projects, according to the report's analysis of the lender's data. And while the Bank has policies requiring it to reestablish and resettle such communities, the ICIJ's investigation found that they were falling short, operating under a troublin…

Five Corporations That Probably Didn't Pay Taxes This Year

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[Most not only pay no tax but receive tens and hundreds of millions in welfare payments from government to maintain their CEOs in the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. *RON*]
By Kevin Mathews, Care2 / Truthout, 16 April 2015

While the average American taxpayer tends to dread April 15, not every person needs to get upset about Tax Day. These people (or, well, "people"), better known as corporations, have found that the existing tax rules actually work in their favor. Why bother stressing when you know that, in addition to making millions in profits, the U.S. government is going to be giving you a rebate?

To be clear, we don't yet know what specific corporations are paying this year until that information becomes public. However, if filing reports from recent years are any indication, these five companies know some clever accounting tricks that will help them wriggle out of having to pay federal taxes.

1. General Electric…

Why Europe’s most powerful man got covered in confetti

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[The EU corporatocracy gets a paper shower. The unelected puppets of Big Banking continue to rule over Europe's ostensibly democratic governments. "A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of more confetti." :-) *RON*]

By Matt O'Brien, Washington Post, 16 April 2015  Sometimes confetti-wielding protesters have a point, even if they struggle to make it themselves.

That was the case during the the European Central Bank's otherwise sleepy press conference on Wednesday, when 21-year old protester Josephine Witt, who was clad in a t-shirt emblazoned with the words "End the ECB ***-tatorship," jumped onto the stage and showered ECB chief Mario Draghi with confetti and a manifesto decrying the "overwhelmingly powerful external environment of the ECB's monetary policy." She was quickly carried off, and taken into custody before being released without charges.

But what did she want? Well, her manifesto wasn'…

Fight for $15 swells into largest protest by low-wage workers in US history

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[60,000 workers in more than 200 cities walked out on jobs or joined protests bankrolled by organized labor Wednesday in latest bid to raise minimum wage. See also Mother Jones' As Cities Raise their Minimum Wage, Where's the Economic Collapse the Right Predicted? and PBS' Would $15 save employees and break employers? *RON*]

Steven Greenhouse & Jana Kasperkevic, The Guardian, 15 April 2015

Workers in Atlanta, Boston, New York, Los Angeles and more than 200 cities across the US walked out on their jobs or joined marches and protests on Wednesday during what organisers claimed was the largest protest by low-wage workers in US history.

Some 60,000 workers took part in the Fight for $15 demonstrations, according to the organisers. The protests are calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour in the US, more than twice the current federal minimum of $7.25.

By late afternoon on the east coast no arrests had been reported, a marked contrast…

Five Seriously Disturbing B.C. Political Donations

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[The BC corporatocracy in action. What issue do you care about? Kinder Morgan? Enbridge? Site C dam? Waste disposal in Metro Van? Press freedom? They're all implicated in the these five political donations. *RON*]

Emma Gilchrist, DeSmog Blog Canada, 15 April 2015

The 2014 financial reports from B.C.’s political parties are out and my face hurts from all of the eyebrow raising.

Donations to political parties from corporations are banned federally, but here in B.C. — the wild west of political donations — the corporate cash is free-flowing.

Here are the Top 5 disconcerting revelations from this year’s disclosures. (Thanks to Integrity BC for drawing my attention to many of these.)