Showing posts from November 23, 2015

Northern white rhino dies in US, leaving only three alive

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[Horribly sad. The markets are driven by buyers in China and Saudi Arabia, for the most part. There are efforts to step up the arrest of poachers, e.g., elephant ivory poachers in Tanzania (see: Tanzania arrests Africa's most wanted ivory trafficker, and Most wanted elephant poacher and ivory trafficker in Tanzania arrested), but this is obviously not nearly enough (see: Tanzania's elephant catastrophe: 'We recalculated about 1,000 times because we didn't believe what we were seeing'). Prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, many African nations had been able to get away with this more so, by playing the "if you bug us, we'll go communist" card. Now there are greater efforts being made to tie foreign aid payments to action in these areas. *RON*]

BBC World News, 23 November 2015
One of the world's last four remaining northern white rhinos has died in a zoo in the United States.

The condition of Nola, a 41-year-…

Tax transparency: full list of exempt companies revealed as Senate battle looms

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[See the original article for the full list of companies. The private companies that were given a historical exemption from filing annual financial reports are run by a who’s who of corporate Australia, including prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. When have corporations ever struggled to keep their information secret for reasons involving the public good? *RON*]
Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 23 November 2015

Private companies associated with Australia’s business elite, including prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, are on a list of entities not required to publish tax information under an historical secrecy provision that will continue if the Senate caves in on its demand that the government introduce new tax transparency rules.

Guardian Australia can reveal the full list of 1,498 companies that were – as of 2011 – exempted from filing annual financial reports with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic) under a deal done by the Keati…

Pfizer to buy Allergan in $160 billion deal

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[Both an offshoring tax dodge ("tax inversions") and further consolidation in an industry that is already a tight oligopoly. See also: Pfizer's $155bn takeover of Allergan set to prompt tax row. *RON*]

By Ransdell Pierson and Bill Berkrot, Reuters, 23 November 2015

Pfizer Inc on Monday said it would buy Botox maker Allergan Plc in a record-breaking deal worth $160 billion to cut its U.S. tax bill by moving its headquarters to Ireland.

The acquisition will create the world's largest drugmaker, with combined annual revenue of about $64 billion. It is also the biggest-ever tax inversion deal, an increasingly popular and controversial maneuver aimed at helping U.S. companies lower their taxes by reincorporating overseas.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called inversions unpatriotic and has tried to crack down on the practice. To avoid potential restrictions, the transaction was technically structured as smaller Dublin-based Allergan…

Most of Britain's major cities pledge to run on green energy by 2050

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[Municipalities have often been more in the forefront of alternative energy than their provincial/state or federal counterparts. I suppose this is because they have less influence over large corporations and so are less beholden to them. "Leaders of more than 50 Labour-run councils sign pledge to eradicate carbon emissions ahead of Paris climate talks." *RON*]
Rowena Mason, The Guardian, 23 November 2015
Most of Britain’s major cities will be run entirely on green energy by 2050, after the leaders of more than 50 Labour-run councils made pledges to eradicate carbon emissions in their areas.

In a highly significant move, council leaders in Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Glasgow and many others signed up to the promise ahead of the crucial international climate talks that will take place next month in Paris. Labour said this would cut the UK’s carbon footprint by 10%.

The pledge, coordinated by Lisa Nandy, t…

University yoga class suspended over 'cultural appropriation' dispute

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[Via my friend Harry. The craziest thing is the spinelessness of administrators and faculty in the face of political correctness (Harry asks, Does this mean technology is a cultural appropriation from the West?), as against the fact that so many universities let their young women be raped with impunity. *RON*]
Rachael Pells, The Independent, 23 November 2015

Yoga has become the latest victim of political correctness on university campuses, after a free class was cancelled because of complaints that the lessons were an unaceptable “cultural appropriation” of a non-Western practice.

Jennifer Scharf, a yoga practitioner who has offered free weekly sessions to students at the University of Ottawa in Canada since 2008, said she was shocked to receive an abrupt message telling her the classes were to be suspended.

“I’d been in touch to prepare for the new semester’s classes when, out of nowhere, I received an email telling me there were some issues in te…

America’s inconvenient SUV boom

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[Gas-guzzling models are back in vogue in the US, so why should poorer nations cut emissions? "Even if China continues to build new coal plants at its current rate, the average American pumps out three times more carbon every year than the average Chinese and more than 10 times the average Indian." *RON*]

 Edward Luce, Financial Times, 22 November 2015

Rumours of the death of American car culture have been greatly exaggerated. The US is on course this year to post its largest vehicle sales since the start of the 21st century. The surge is being led by the return of the sport utility vehicle, which accounts for a higher market share than ever before.

More than one in three US vehicle sales is an SUV. Though discontinued by General Motors, demand for second-hand Hummers is at an 11-year high. With numbers like these, President Barack Obama will have a tough sell in Paris next week. More than all its non-binding pledges, the global warming s…

Doomed Harper government made 49 “future” patronage appointments

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[One last twist of the knife! The National Energy Board is included on the list! *RON*]
By Elizabeth Thompson,, 23 November 2015

Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet quietly stacked government agencies and Crown corporations with dozens of “future appointments,” and early appointment renewals in the dying days of its regime, many of which were only scheduled to go into effect long after the Conservatives were defeated, iPolitics has learned.

While some had been due to come up for renewal in November and December, others were renewed up to a year in advance of when they had been scheduled to expire and made effective the date the appointees’ current term was due to end.

For example, Mark O’Neill’s term as director of the Canadian Museum of History wasn’t scheduled to expire until June 2016. Last June, Harper’s cabinet renewed his $212,700 to $250,200 a year job for five years, effective June 2016.

John Badowski’s ap…

A 26-year-old MIT graduate is turning heads over his theory that income inequality is actually about housing (in 1 graph)

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[I ran across this while looking for something else. I've never heard of this fellow, and hadn't seen anyone talking about his thesis. When I looked I found this piece by an economist from Berkeley: Discussion of Matthew Rognlie: "Deciphering the Fall and Rise in the Net Capital Share." My sense, and this is something the Berkeley prof more or less says too, is that housing might be a key factor during the current bubble, but Piketty is probably right in the long run. Of course we'll have to wait for the long run to see if this is true. I wonder why there hasn't been more discussion of Rognlie's work though? *RON*]
Greg Ferenstein,, 25 March 2016

Wealthy tech founders and the automation of middle-class jobs are often blamed for increasing concentrations of wealth in fewer hands. But, a 26-year-old MIT graduate student, Matthew Rognlie, is making waves for an alternative theory of inequality: the problem is…