Showing posts from August 23, 2015

Corporate Welfare is Ravaging American Taxpayers: This loophole must be closed

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[An illustration of the kind of tax loophole that protects corporations from actual market competition, and which should be eliminated in any meaningful tax reform effort. *RON*]

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog / AlterNet, 20 August 2015

Corporate welfare is often camouflaged in taxes that seem neutral on their face but give windfalls to big entrenched corporations at the expense of average people and small businesses.

Take a look at commercial property taxes in California, for example.

In 1978 California voters passed Proposition 13 – which began to assess property for tax purposes at its price when it was bought, rather than its current market price.

This has protected homeowners and renters. But it’s also given a quiet windfall to entrenched corporate owners of commercial property.

Corporations don’t need this protection. They’re in the real economy. They’re supposed to compete on a level playing field with new companies whose proper…

North Sea oil revenues fall by 75% in the first three months of 2015

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[This figure is for Scotland, and blows a seriously hole in the SNP's promises for an independent Scotland: "Whichever way you look at it, and with the best will in the world, there is just no way an independent Scotland could survive on this. We knew the price of oil was volatile and that this would be a risk. But to see such a radical drop is alarming." Although, where the US is concerned, see Oil ends down more than 2 percent as U.S. drilling points to glut. *RON*]

BBC News, 23 August 2015

The Scottish government's quarterly national accounts show that the amount received in tax receipts between January and March was £168m.

This was down from £742m oil revenues in the final three months of 2014.

Finance Minister John Swinney said oil was a bonus - not the basis of the economy.

The industry has suffered from the collapse of global oil prices, which have tumbled sharply since June last year.

Foreign “Smart Money” Frets about Turmoil at Home, Flees, Plows into US Housing Bubble 2, Thinks it’s a “Safe Haven”

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[Capital flight. This should sound awfully familiar to people living in the Lower Mainland: wealthy, nervous Chinese yanking their money out of China and pouring it into foreign real estate. *RON*]
By Wolf Richter at Wolf Street, posted on Naked Capitalism by Lambert Strether23 August 2015

Lambert: Just what we need; more 1%-ers. And if turmoil in emerging markets keeps up, we’ll have more of ’em, as conditions “at home” sharpen.

Wealthy, very nervous foreigners yanking their money out of their countries while they still can and pouring it into US residential real estate, paying cash, and driving up home prices – that’s the meme. But it’s more than a meme as political and economic risks in key countries surge.

And home prices are being driven up. The median price of all types of homes in July, as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) sees it, jumped 5.6% from a year ago to $234,000, now 1.7% above the totally crazy June 2006 peak of the prior…

Will 5G Kill Free WiFi?

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["5G-for-all presents the opportunity to kill free WiFi and instead charge users for every data packet they send or receive, no matter which of the integrated communications technologies is used." Between the fact that Telus now caps my use of the Internet and charges by the byte beyond that limit, and this, my blog might not be around for long. Surely this becomes a political question at some point, of democratic access to information? *RON*]

By Michael Byrne, Vice Motherboard, 22 August 2015

At the Intel Developer Forum 2015 last week, the hardware overlord took the opportunity to clarify its vision of the 5G future. It's not about speed, it's about integration. All wireless services will eventually (if not soon) become a seamless unified meta-network where Wi-Fi, cellular, and centimeter- and millimeter wavelength bands all join forces to offer the user "5G," which won't so much represent the "cloud" as…

Anti-privacy unkillable super-cookies spreading around the world – study

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[And there's nothing you can do about it, other than change carriers. "At least nine telcos around the world are using so-called super-cookies to secretly monitor citizens' online behavior." The article provides a link to a website so you can find out if you are being tracked. *RON*]
Iain Thomson, The Register, 17 Aug 2015

At least nine telcos around the world are using so-called super-cookies to secretly monitor citizens' online behavior, according to a new study.

A super-cookie is a token unique to each subscriber that is injected into every HTTP request made through a telco's cellphone networks. They can't be stripped by the user: every time a subscriber visits a website from his or her smartphone, the telco's system places the super-cookie in the HTTP headers, so that the site's servers can identify the visitor.

This super-cookie allows ad networks and media publishers to follow people across the internet ev…

MIT, Harvard find 'master switch' behind obesity

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[Good news, I suppose; will it do anything to prevent Type II diabetes, though? Notice that it appears in a business journal; this will probably make the high fructose corn syrup industry happy. *RON*]

Jessica Bartlett, Boston Business Journal, 20 August 2015
Doctors may have found a way to override the body’s evolutionary habit of storing fat with a discovery of a master switch for the body’s metabolism.

According to a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School discovered a new genetic pathway that controls human metabolism by prompting fat cells to store or burn away fat.

“Obesity has traditionally been seen as the result of an imbalance between the amount of food we eat and how much we exercise, but this view ignores the contribution of genetics to each individual’s metabolism,” said senior author Manolis Kellis, a professor of compu…

Migrants Rush Across Border in Macedonia

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[The issue of the global haves and have-nots is increasingly what our problems and crises are about. See also: Italy rescues thousands of refugees stranded off Libya and The European Union’s migrant ‘emergency’ is entirely of its own making, which argues that "In short, our 'emergency' response has become a self-fulfilling prophecy as arrivals grow, fatalities rise and the smuggling business gets stronger.". *RON*]

By Aleksandar Disihkovskiaug, New York Times, 22 August 2015

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Hours after several hundred migrants bypassed a line of baton-wielding police officers on Saturday to enter Macedonia from Greece, nearly all those remaining on the Greek side of the border were allowed in, according to video footage and human rights activists at the scene. By Saturday evening, only around 200 people were left behind a fenced area on the line that separates the two countries.

Some of the people who entered continued thei…

Majority disagree Harper is telling the truth on Duffy

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[Two thirds say Harper knew about the check. "It clearly has caught the popular imagination, and is making serious inroads into the brands of both the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party. It has always been assumed that the credibility of the leader is the lynch pin on which a party’s electability hangs, and when that is gone, little but promises remain." And for an interesting slant on this kind of data, see also Groups of People Spot Lies More Often Than Individuals Do*RON*]
Lorne Bozinoff, Forum Research 22 August 2015
TORONTO August 20th, 2015 -In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1473 Canadian voters, among the two thirds who are following the Senator Mike Duffy trial in the media (68%), two thirds insist Prime Minister Harper knew about the personal cheque for $90,000 paid by former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright to Senator Mike Duffy to cover his improperly incurred expenses (68%). This view…