Showing posts from November 25, 2015

A shocking number of Americans don't have a toilet

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[In The Land of the Free it's "War For All, Toilets For Some!" *RON*]

Brian Patrick Byrne, Vocativ / The Week, 24 November 2015

Did you celebrate World Toilet Day? The recent holiday is a good reminder to rejoice as you read this article on your phone, maybe even while sitting comfortably on a modern, porcelain toilet, which flushes with water so crystalline clean you could, in hard times, drink it without too much fear of dying. (We do not recommend doing that, by the way.)

Going to the toilet wasn't always such a pleasant, risk-free experience for everyone, and even today, many people in America still go without proper sanitation. As recently as 1990, the rural stereotype of dropping trou in a shack out back was a reality for more than 1.1 million American households. If you think that's a lot of people, here's a little math for you. That represented 0.04 percent of the U.S. population back in 1990. Right here in 2015…

Hang Onto Your Wallets: Negative Interest, the War on Cash and the $10 Trillion Bail-In

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[The banksters at hard at work, rooting around in your pocket! *RON*]
By Ellen Brown, The Web of Debt Blog / TruthOut, 23 November 2015
Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned "Let your money work for you"? Or the scene inMary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into "all manner of private enterprise," including "bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . . ."?

That may still work if you're a Wall Street banker, but if you're an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.

Four European central banks - the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden's Riksbank, and Denmark's Nationalbank - have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussi…

Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year

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[This sea-change in the way police departments do business is a direct result of austerity and has a disproportionately adverse effect on minorities. *RON*]

By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, 23 November 2015

Here's an interesting factoid about contemporary policing: In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week.

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

Brussels ‘Revolving Door’ Keeps Relationship Cozy Between Big Energy and EU Decision Makers

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[The same regulatory capture as in the US, but not talked about. "As the planet faces a looming catastrophic climate crisis, we need strict rules and a major change of culture to tackle the hothouse of energy industry lobbying, privileged access for polluters, and ever-spinning revolving doors that are so prevalent in key EU institutions." *RON*]

By Kyla Mandel, DeSmogBlog UK, 24 November 2015

The Brussels ‘revolving door’ has allowed Big Energy to remain close to European climate and energy decision makers ahead of December’s Paris COP21 climate talks, a new report shows.

The report, by transparency campaigning and research group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), highlights the easy and frequent flow of EU public servants and elected representatives into corporate jobs linked to the fossil fuel industry, or those who represent them, and vice versa.

Major industry players such as Saudi Aramco, ExxonMobil, and energy lobby consultancy Fl…

UK to ban import of lion trophies if hunting industry doesn't reform

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[It's all about the money, so this is all it would take if developed nations banded together on this. The ban would be effective from 2017 if industry and the African countries involved don’t improve practices, says environment minister. *RON*]
Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, 25 November 2015
The UK will ban imports of lion trophies by 2017 unless the hunting industry cleans up its act, environment minister Rory Stewart has said.

The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by a US dentist sparked an international outcry over trophy hunting this summer, leading to calls by politicians and conservationists for a ban on their import to the EU and US.

Last week, France became the first European country to ban the import of trophies such as lion paws and skins, which campaigners said would put pressure on the UK to follow suit.

On Tuesday, Stewart told an audience at Westminster Hall that: “Unless there is a significant improvement in the performance of th…

Overdose deaths could be reduced if more B.C. doctors used database: report

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[It's a no-brainer that integration of doctors' existing computer systems with this database should be automatic. *RON*]
The Canadian Press, Vancouver Observer, 25 November 2015

VANCOUVER — Overdose deaths could be reduced in British Columbia if more doctors used a provincial database to track prescriptions for painkillers, a new report says.

The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS said in its report that opioids such as oxycodone are increasingly being overprescribed to patients who become addicted to the medication.

It said only 30 per cent of B.C. doctors are enrolled in the PharmaNet program, which allows physicians to see if patients are abusing opioids by getting prescriptions elsewhere.

"(That) means that over 70 per cent of B.C. physicians may be writing opioid prescriptions without knowing if the patient in front of them is already prescribed opioids from multiple other practitioners," the report said.

"This is a ve…

These 7 simple airplane fixes could cut carbon emissions in half at little to no cost

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[Air travel accounts for the equivalent of the carbon emissions of Germany every year. "If all 14 of these policies are instituted, they could reduce passenger airline emissions by a whopping 50 percent by 2050 when compared to 2012 levels." *RON*]

By Nsikan Akpan, PBS Newshour, 23 November 2015
This week, millions of Americans will travel by airplane to spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones, and those flights come with a major consequence: air pollution. Global passenger air travel accounts for 2.5 percent of fuel combustion-related carbon dioxide emissions. If that percentage seems like a drop in the bucket, it’s not. It’s equal to the emissions created by Germany each year.

Plus, as rapidly developing countries expand their airlines and fleets, the rate of carbon dioxide emissions from passenger flights is growing twice as fast as that of total carbon emissions.

A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change outlines 14 …

Exhaustion of austerity meets maxed-out monetary policy

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[The worm has turned. Now, we're in the vanguard: "Economists at the firm cited changes of direction such as the infrastructure spending platform that helped the new Liberal government in Canada to power last month... 'With interest rates close to all-time lows, other governments should join Canada and shift to a more growth-friendly spending mix,' SLI said. 'In the process, they might even find that the higher spending pays for itself.'" It's even influencing Osborne: George Osborne plans to breach Treasury welfare spending cap*RON*]
By Mike Dolan, Reuters Blogs, 25 November 2015

There won't be any press conferences, fireworks or tears to mark its passing, but the latest wave of austerity worldwide may well have had its day.

While that may sound peculiar to Greeks still struggling to meet stiff budget targets set by creditors or even Britons faced with another round of spending cuts by finance minister Ge…