Showing posts from August 2, 2015

Greeks apologise with huge horse

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[An oldie but a goodie from my friend Harry. This also serves as a good reminder of how long all this has been dragging along. *RON*]

The Daily Mash, 15 May 2012

THE nation of Greece said sorry to the European Union with a present of an enormous wooden horse.

Left outside the European Central Bank in the dead of night, the horse has now been moved into the ECB’s central lobby where it is proudly on display.

A gift tag attached to the horse, which is surprisingly light for its size and has small holes along the length of its body, suggested that it should be placed in the bank’s vaults overnight to avoid it being targeted by thieves.

Mario Draghi, President of the ECB, said: “How nice of the Greeks to acknowledge the trouble we’ve been put to on their behalf with this wonderful horse, handmade and so large it could hold a dozen double-decker buses.

“The card with it, which had a teddy bear dressed as a hobo on the front, explained that Greece made us t…

Who Really Benefits From Bailouts?

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[Uhm, Big Banksters? You have to love the final line: "This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners." *RON*]
By Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg View, 29 July 2015
I always find it amusing whenever someone expresses surprise that the financial bailouts for Greece haven't benefited Greek citizens. "Bailout Money Goes to Greece, Only to Flow Out Again" in the New York Times is just the latest example. "The cash exodus is a small piece of a bigger puzzle over why — despite two major international bailouts — the Greek economy is in worse shape and more deeply in debt."

Unfortunately, this is a feature of bailout, not a bug.

A plethora of financial rescues during the past decades has proven quite convincingly that this isn't an aberration. Follow the money instead of following the headlines. That's how you learn who profits from a bailout.

Look around the wor…

Conservative donor Koch urges end to 'corporate cronyism'

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[Oy! This is so "meta" that I don't really know what to make of it. Unless the whole idea is to pull the ladders away now that he's clawed his way to the top? *RON*]

By Julie Brkowicz, Yahoo! News, 1 August 2015

DANA POINT, Calif. (AP) — Billionaire industrialist and conservative political donor Charles Koch welcomed a group of roughly 450 like-minded fundraisers to one of his twice-annual conferences Saturday by challenging them to advocate for ending "corporate cronyism" - even if those policies help their businesses.

Koch, who along with brother David has long pressed for a federal government that collects fewer taxes and issues fewer regulation, said cutting back special treatment for business is the first step to ending a "two-tiered society" and encouraging "principled entrepreneurship."

"Where I believe we need to start in reforming welfare is eliminating welfare for the wealthy," Koch…

Why Conservatives Are So Desperate to Debunk One Hillary Clinton Chart

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[A detailed rebuttal of Robert Lawrence's analysis: I'd posted a commentary on this in the story American Capitalism Isn't Broken After All. The story title here is clickbait to some degree; it is not a "Hillary Clinton chart" it's been around for a long time, though she evidently uses it a lot in her speeches. *RON*]

By David Dayen, Fiscal Times, 31 July 2015

In 1994, economists Larry Mishel and Jared Bernstein of the liberal Economic Policy Institute (EPI) met with the head of President Clinton’s National Economic Council, Robert Rubin. Mishel told that they asked Rubin how the administration planned to increase median wages, a critical failing in the Reagan/Bush years. Rubin replied, “deficit reduction.” He explained how this would reduce interest rates and boost productivity, and that wages would naturally follow.

Mishel and Bernstein pulled out a chart. It showed that, for the prior two decades, increases in produc…

Does Zimbabwe Really Need Trophy Hunting?

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[The 1% go a-hunting in a corrupt Africa. The arguments made by the hunting industry are specious. 'If it's expensive enough it will aid conservation.' How, exactly? And, as pointed out, the money does not trickle down, it sticks at the top, in politicians' pockets. It would be helpful to consumers if someone published the wildlife hunting license policies of each East and South African nation. *RON*]
By Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 31 July 2015

The death of Cecil the lion, who largely lived in a protected game reserve, will likely turn out to have been a case of illegal poaching. But, had the thirteen-year-old black-maned lion lived a few miles away, and had the proper paperwork been in order, it would have been completely legal for an American tourist to behead him. Given the international outrage that the case has stirred, the alleged poachers will likely face criminal charges, but it’s the controversial policy of selling permits t…

"Under the Surface" update tells backstory of NY fracking ban

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["The Home Rule movement eventually established a community’s right to determine land use over New York State’s authority to permit shale gas development.... Is it possible that residents of small towns appealing to their town-board have more influence in directing the course of the shale gas juggernaut than the federal government?" Canadian municipalities obtain their charters from Provincial governments, which can revoke them (with the exception of a handful of the largest cities in Canada). I wonder what the comparable arrangement is in the US? But, in this case, the state governor supports the moves being made by municipalities, whereas in most of Canada the opposite is true for our premiers. *RON*]
Tom Wilber, Shale Gas Review, 30 June 2015

On July 23, 2008, New York Governor David Paterson signed a bill authorizing his Department of Environmental Conservation to adjust regulations to accommodate shale gas wells in New York.

The bill…

Federal Election 2015: Wynne Rails Against Harper For Anticipated Early Election Call

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["If the rumours are true, it would be unusual, it would be unnecessary, and it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars," Wynne said. Recent changes by the Conservative government allow candidate and party spending to increase by as much as $675,000 for every day the campaign extends past 37 days. See also: Canada PM Harper calls general election for 19 October and Stephen Harper 'gaming the system' with early election call, says former Elections Canada head. *RON*]
By The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 1 August 2015

PENETANGUISHENE, Ont. — One of Canada's most prominent politicians is lambasting the idea of an early federal election call as "unnecessary" and an affront to taxpayers who will foot the bill.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Saturday that it would be "unfortunate" if the federal Conservatives drop the writ early as expected this weekend.

She made the comments during a news conference in P…

BREAKING: Harper gov’t appoints Kinder Morgan consultant to NEB

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[Is it that he knows he's got one foot out the door or does he simply have the hubris to believe that he can get away with anything? *RON*]

By Mychaylo Prystupa, National Observer, 1 August 2015
The Harper government chose the Friday afternoon of a long weekend, just before an expected federal election, to appoint a paid Kinder Morgan consultant to the National Energy Board (NEB) in a timed press release that critics say was an attempt to bury the news.

Conservative Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford issued a Friday 12:30pm EST news release announcing that Calgary-based petroleum executive Steven Kelly will become a full-time board member of the federal agency that helps cabinet decide if oil and gas pipelines go forward.

Mr. Kelly's consulting firm was hired by Kinder Morgan two years ago to prepare an economic analysis justifying the $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Mr. Kelly himself, in his capacity of vice presid…