Showing posts from August 25, 2015

Banks Get Credit for Helping the Poor — By Financing Their Evictions?

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[On the many shady practices used by banksters to wiggle around the stipulations of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, and how the regulatory system does little to nothing to prevent this. *RON*]
David Dayen, First Look/Intercept, 24 August 2015

In 1977, Congress wanted to make sure commercial banks fulfilled their commitment to serve all communities in America, regardless of income level. “A public charter conveys numerous economic benefits,” said William Proxmire, then head of the Senate Banking Committee, “and in return it is legitimate for public policy and regulatory practice to require some public purpose.”
Under the Community Reinvestment Act, banks are periodically examined for how well they provide lending and investment to low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods where they take deposits. Since its enactment, 97 percent of all banks examined have received a “Satisfactory” or “Outstanding” grade, according to the Congressional Re…

Why Biden Would Be a TERRIBLE President

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[You can't envy the Americans their political choices, any more than they can envy us for ours. *RON*]
Posted on August 24, 2015 by WashingtonsBlog

With Hillary Clinton falling on her face (thank goodness!), Joe Biden has become a real contender for the Democratic party nominee.

Problem is, he’d be a terrible president.

For example, Biden:
Drafted the core of the Patriot Act in 1995Voted for the war in IraqIs one of the keypoliticians inflaming the Ukraine crisis and provoking Russia … and his son stands to profit handsomely from the chaosFalsely claimed there was “no doubt” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on its own people … when the facts were otherwiseIs the consummate insider, defending Wall Street bailouts and the Trans Pacific Partnership, persecutingwhistleblowers, trying to outlawencryption and privacy, and backing other corrupt policiesCan’t keep his hands off married women … even on national television Postscript: …

The Same People Who Pushed for the Invasion of Iraq Now Want to Scrap the Iran Deal

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[The only shocking thing is the number of people who don't see this, or refuse to believe it. Even if the agreement is signed into law, Iran hawks will keep lobbying for a president who will abandon it. *RON*]

By David Bromwich, The Nation, 24 August 2015
David Addington, the legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, made that declaration to Jack Goldsmith of the Office of Legal Counsel in the months after September 11, 2001. Goldsmith would later recall that Cheney and Addington were the first people he had ever met of a certain kind: “Cheney is not subtle, and he has never hidden the ball. The amazing thing is that he does what he says. Relentlessness is a quality I saw in him and Addington that I never saw before in my life.”

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Goldsmith did not consider himself an adversary of Che…

Air pollution kills an average of 4000 people every day in China, 17% of all China’s deaths

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[Pollution is now the #1 cause of political unrest in China. "When I was last in Beijing, pollution was at the hazardous level; every hour of exposure reduced my life expectancy by 20 minutes. It’s as if every man, women, and child smoked 1.5 cigarettes each hour." *RON*]

Michael Graham Richard, TreeHugger, 24 August 2015
Air pollution in China is one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in the world today, no doubt about it. We've been covering the issue for years, yet considering the scale of the damage that is being done to hundreds of millions of people as well as to large ecosystems, the issue is probably still under-reported (despite now being the #1 cause of social unrest in the country). A new study by Berkeley Earth shows just how bad things have gotten there, despite some positive steps in the right direction lately: The new study shows that air pollution kills an average of 4000 people every day in China, 17% of all…

How the Harper government's census strategy keeps us in the dark

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[Shocking levels of non-response in the public surveys. "Beware of those who are trying to shoot out the lights on the public interest. Private interests are ready to shine the light on theirs." *RON*]
By Armine Yalnizyan,, 25 August 2015

What we don't know about Canada might hurt us. That's the title of a great article (with a cool gif!) from American economist and blogger Ben Casselman about what happened when the Harper Conservatives cancelled the mandatory long-form Census in June 2010 and replaced it with a voluntary National Household Survey in 2011. What Canadians don't know about ourselves could hurt us too.

The long-form census -- about 60 questions, mailed out to one in five Canadians, on a range of demographic, social and economic subjects -- provides information that helps the public sector plan for and evaluate services for health, transit, housing and schooling. It guides…

Five reasons not to expect an economic recovery this year

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[Despite what Stephen Harper says, "...let's not fool ourselves into thinking this is a mild recession as if it is undeserving of our attention." An important point is made about how people dropping out of their job searches distorts the unemployment statistics. *RON*]
By Louis-Phillippe Rochon,, 25 August 2015

With news of economic turmoil in China and other emerging economies, repercussions for Canada will be quite "atrocious." Expect the recession to continue beyond the second quarter of 2015.

This raises questions about the supposed recovery in the second half of 2015. Currently, Canada is in recession. Most pundits are predicting that it is a mild recession, and that Canada will fully recover in the third and fourth quarters of 2015. But those predictions are surely wrong and are based on faulty economic logic.

Just like back in February, when I predicted we were headed towar…

Where is our Responsibility to Protect the North Korean People?

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[Sovereignty vs. human rights. 'Responsibility to protect' is one of those terms we see bandied about a lot these days. For this author it means that "Rather than being paralyzed by the political complexities of the region, R2P can offer solutions outside of military intervention." To the UN and to most civil society groups, R2P has the specific meaning of attempting diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means of influencing failed governments, but leaving collective use of force open as an option, subject to approval by the UN Security Council. Others (not to name names, US and Canada) have taken this policy to mean we can invade a country we don't like first, and ask for a gloss of UN approval after the fact. In any case for a range of perspectives see also: Fulfilling our responsibility to protect in YemenResponsibility to Protect: an opportunity for Cambodia, and Do we have a responsibility to protect victims of…

The global stock market crash, explained

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[Good 'explainer' of the recent flash-crash from Vox. *RON*]

By Timothy B. Lee, Vox, 25 August 2015

Stock markets around the world plunged on Monday. The carnage began with an 8.5 percent drop in China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index. Markets in Japan, South Korea, and Australia followed suit. That sparked selloffs in European markets and then the United States. The Standard and Poor's index of 500 large US stocks fell by nearly 4 percent on Monday, adding to losses last week.

The media did not take the news calmly. CNN's homepage was fairly representative:

Get your guns, get your ammo.