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Showing posts from November 18, 2015

Under new voucher system, Seattle voters get $100 to donate to political candidates of their choice

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[An interesting experiment; I'd like to know how it works out. People in Seattle voted to have themselves taxed $3 million a year for vouchers they can sign over to the local political candidate of their choice. The law also puts limitations on where else the politicians are allowed to raise money from, and defines some expectations for the politicians (e.g., participation in a minimum of 3 debates. *RON*]

By Gene Johnson, Associated Press / PBS News, 18 November 2015
SEATTLE — Many voters don’t have the money to donate to political candidates or don’t care enough to bother. But what if the government gave them $100 to dole out as they saw fit?

That’s the experiment underway in Seattle after voters this month adopted the nation’s first voucher system for campaign contributions. The idea is to get those who don’t normally donate more involved in politics as a way to counteract the influence of big corporate donors and wealthy individuals.

“We’re…

Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say

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[On the Republican side it's Carson or Trump. Which hand would you prefer to have poised above the nuclear button? Not with a whimper, but a bang. How on earth did Carson become a noted neurosurgeon? One could well doubt his mental competence. Of course, with this quality of staffing: Ben Carson’s campaign made a U.S. map and put a bunch of states in the wrong place. *RON*]

By Trip Gabriel, New York Times, 17 November 2015

Ben Carson’s remarks on foreign policy have repeatedly raised questions about his grasp of the subject, but never more seriously than in the past week, when he wrongly asserted that China had intervened militarily in Syria and then failed, on national television, to name the countries he would call on to form a coalition to fight the Islamic State.

Faced with increasing scrutiny about whether Mr. Carson, who leads in some Republican presidential polls, was capable of leading American foreign policy, two of his top advisers …

$1.4tn a year needed to reach global goals for world's poorest

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["Ambitious targets set by sustainable development goals to better the lives of the poorest 700 million people by 2030 come with big price tag, says UN." Oh my God - that can never be done! Oh, wait a minute... See: Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study (and may add up to more than $6 trillion when all is said and done), and US Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq to Cost $6 trillion. Fed person = friend. Bombed person = enemy. *RON*]
Mark Anderson, The Guardian, 18 November 2015
It will cost $1.4tn (£920bn) a year to end extreme poverty for 700 million people and meet the other ambitious targets enshrined in the world’s new development agenda, the UN says.

The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), agreed by world leaders in September, also include aims to stabilise climate change, achieve gender equality, bring about food security, boost access to energy and give everyone clean water and sanitation.

To meet these targets, more than $1…

Discontent rife in Afghanistan: 40% of people keen to leave, survey says

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[40%!! "The two main reasons for the widespread discontent were insecurity and unemployment, followed by corruption, a bad economy and frustration with the government." Annual survey shows Afghans less optimistic about their country’s future than at any point during the past decade, shedding light on why so many flee to Europe. *RON*]
Sune Engel Rasmussen, The Guardian, 18 November 2015
Afghans are less optimistic about their country’s future than at any point during the past decade, according to a survey that also sheds light on why so many young people are risking dangerous journeys to Europe.

In a survey of the national mood in Afghanistan, released on Tuesday by the Asia Foundation, 36.7% of respondents thought the country was moving in the right direction, down from 54.7% in 2014. In addition, 40% said they would leave the country if they had the opportunity.

Nigeria's Dasuki 'stole $2bn' from anti-Boko Haram fight

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[Nigeria is a hot steaming mess. See also today's story: Blast at market in northeastern Nigeria's Yola kills 32. And, from just one minute ago: Suicide blasts rip through Nigerian mobile phone market (more than 30 dead, many injured). *RON*]

BBC News, 18 November 2015
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the arrest of his predecessor's security adviser, for allegedly stealing some $2bn (£1.3bn).

Sambo Dasuki is accused of awarding phantom contracts to buy 12 helicopters, four fighter jets and ammunition. He denies the allegations.

The equipment was meant for the fight against Boko Haram Islamist militants.

Soldiers have complained that despite the military's huge budget, they were ill-equipped to fight.

Mr Dasuki reacted to the order by saying he had never been invited to appear before the weapon procurement investigative panel, which made the allegations.

He was already under house arrest when the president issu…

Canada's House Prices Are Making Children 'A Financial Luxury': Survey

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[Life in Canada for the 99%. Raising a child costs an average of $245,000. Meanwhile the average house price in Canada is $454,000. As a result, Canadians are changing their minds about the size of the family. *RON*]
By Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post, 17 November 2015


Double-digit house price gains may be great for boomers whose retirement looms, but for younger generations, they are becoming an impediment to starting a family.

Some 56 per cent of respondents in a new survey from RateSupermarket said their ability to start or expand their family has been impacted by house prices in their region. Among millennials, that rises to more than 72 per cent.

“The pitter patter of little feet around the family home is becoming a financial luxury,” the survey’s authors wrote.

A scary link between life spans and income inequality

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[Life itself is literally being reduced by income inequality. For men born n 1930, the life expectancy gap at age 50 between the top fifth and the bottom fifth of lifetime earnings was 5.1 years. For men born in 1960 this gap increased to 12.7 years. For women it was even worse. Their gap went from 3.9 years to 13.6 years. See also: For Women, Income Inequality Continues Into Retirement, stretching lower incomes over a longer life-span. *RON*]
By Steve Vernon, CBS MoneyWatch, 18 November 2015

The gap in expected life spans between low and high U.S. wage earners has been growing in recent decades. This finding, in a recent study from the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, is sure to add fuel to the debate over the impact of growing income inequality in America and will likely have policy implications for popular public programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

The study examined two groups of 50-year-olds: those born in 1930, and thos…

Uber Is Not the Future of Work

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[Uber is a pestilence. The gig economy is just a new way to rip off labour. Drivers have zero rights, they don't get paid enough, they are unable to organize, and their jobs are by definition insecure. *RON*]
Lawrence Miscel, The Atlantic, 16 November 2015
The rise of Uber has convinced many pundits, economists, and policymakers that freelancing via digital platforms is becoming increasingly important to Americans’ livelihood. It has also promoted the idea that new technology—particularly the explosion of platforms enabling the gig economy—will fundamentally alter the future of work.

While Uber and other new companies in the gig economy receive a lot of attention, a look at Uber’s own data about its drivers’ schedules and pay reveals them to be much less consequential than most people assume. In fact, dwelling on these companies too much distracts from the central features of work in America that should be prominent in the public discussion: a…