Showing posts from November 9, 2015

Saudi Arabia will not stop pumping to boost oil prices

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[If the US was in a position to do the same thing this would simply be the patriotic thing to do and Dick Cheney would be leading the band wagon. "For higher-cost producers, '$100 oil was perceived as a guarantee of no risk for investment', said Mr Falih. 'Now, the insurance policy that's been provided free of charge by Saudi Arabia does not exist any more.'" *RON*]
Simeon Kerr, Roula Khalaf and Lionel Barber, Financial Times / CNBC, 9 November 2015

Saudi Arabia is determined to stick to its policy of pumping enough oil to protect its global market share, despite the financial pain inflicted on the kingdom's economy.

Officials have told the Financial Times that the world's largest exporter will produce enough oil to meet customer demand, indicating that the kingdom is in no mood to change tack ahead of the December 4 meeting in Vienna of the producers' cartel Opec.

"The only thing to do now is to let th…

A decade into a project to digitize U.S. immigration forms, just 1 is online

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[Government hard at work: ka-ching! *RON*]

By Jerry Markon, Washington Post, 8 November 2015
Heaving under mountains of paperwork, the government has spent more than $1 billion trying to replace its antiquated approach to managing immigration with a system of digitized records, online applications and a full suite of nearly 100 electronic forms.

A decade in, all that officials have to show for the effort is a single form that’s now available for online applications and a single type of fee that immigrants pay electronically. The 94 other forms can be filed only with paper.

This project, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was originally supposed to cost a half-billion dollars and be finished in 2013. Instead, it’s now projected to reach up to $3.1 billion and be done nearly four years from now, putting in jeopardy efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies, handle immigrants already seeking citizenship and detect national s…

Myanmar ruling party concedes poll defeat as Suu Kyi heads for landslide

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[The persecution of Rohinga Muslims by the Buddhists in Myanmar is not mentioned once in this article, which gives me little hope that the beloved Aung San Suu Kyi will lift a finger to help them. *RON*]
By Antoni Slodkowski and Timothy McLaughlin, Reuters, 9 November 2015
Myanmar's ruling party conceded defeat in a general election on Monday as the opposition led by democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on course for a landslide victory that could ensure it forms the next government.

"We lost," Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) acting chairman Htay Oo told Reuters a day after the Southeast Asian country's first free nationwide election in a quarter of a century.

By late afternoon, vendors outside the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Yangon were selling red T-shirts with Suu Kyi's face and the words "We won".

The election commission later began announcing constituency-by-…

Warming set to breach 1C threshold

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[Earth won't particular miss humans when we're gone. *RON*]
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 9 November 2015

Global temperatures are set to rise more than one degree above pre-industrial levels according to the UK's Met Office.

Figures from January to September this year are already 1.02C above the average between 1850 and 1900.

If temperatures remain as predicted, 2015 will be the first year to breach this key threshold.

The world would then be half way towards 2C, the gateway to dangerous warming.

The new data is certain to add urgency to political negotiations in Paris later this month aimed at securing a new global climate treaty.

Rising Left Bloc in Portugal Could Threaten Austerity Drive

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[Portugal is stuck in a political muddle. The existing centre-right coalition government, poster child for German austerity, received a plurality of votes, but a rather rag-tag collection of anti-austerity leftist parties have agreed to cooperate with one another if that is what it takes to replace Prime Minister Coelo's government. It's now up to President Silva to decide who becomes the next Prime Minister. It's also starting to look like this will be a foretaste of what will happen in the upcoming Spanish elections. *RON*]

By Raphael Minder, New York Times, 7 November 2015
LISBON — Last month’s elections in Portugal were meant to deliver a clear verdict on the center-right coalition of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, whose austerity program has been held up as a model by creditors and countries like Germany that have advocated belt-tightening in Europe.

Instead, it yielded a vexing muddle, allowing both left and right to claim v…

Kiva Responds: The famed microlender replies to Hugh Sinclair’s scathing critique

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[This is, I thought, a pretty good rebuttal of the Hugh Sinclair article we posted here earlier. I'd emailed Kiva asking if they were going to respond, and they provided me with the link to this article. If the topic interests you it's worth reading the comments to the original article, as there are more ins and outs discussed there about the purpose and effectiveness overall of microlending. *RON*]

Matt Flannery and Premal Shah, Next Billion, February 2015

At Kiva, we are committed to transparency as our highest value. We constantly strive to gather and share a huge amount of data about Kiva and how it works online, so that we can get regular feedback from our community and others about ways that we can grow and improve.

Sometimes though, the data we release can be misunderstood or misinterpreted. This happened several times in a recent article on NextBillion by Hugh Sinclair. We appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight below,…

Justice Department Doesn’t Deliver on Promise to Attack Monopolies

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[This is from the WALL STREET JOURNAL?? Obama administration arrived promising a tougher stance, but few antitrust cases have been pursued in U.S. and enforcement has shifted to Europe. *RON*]
By Brent Kendall, Wall Street Journal, 7 November 2015

WASHINGTON—When Obama administration officials came to power vowing tougher antitrust enforcement, among the areas they highlighted was the behavior of dominant companies with monopoly power.

The Bush administration, which brought no monopolization cases, was “overly cautious” and adopted a policy that “advocated hesitancy in the face of potential abuses by monopoly firms,” Christine Varney, President Barack Obama’s first Justice Department antitrust chief, said in her initial public appearance in 2009.

Her comments received widespread attention and suggested the Obama team might revive the approach of the Clinton administration, which sued Microsoft Corp. It hasn’t worked out that way. Nearly seven year…