Showing posts from December 4, 2015

Why fast-track trade deals, but not climate agreements?

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["The message is: you have a right to profits but no rights to clean air or a decent wage, no rights to have clean drinking water." *RON*]
By Sujata Dey,, 4 December 2015

Maude Barlow and I are in Paris to participate in events surrounding the Paris Climate Change Conference after spending the last month touring Europe to warn Europeans about CETA, the Canadian-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Based on Canada's almost 30 years of experience with free trade with the U.S. and Mexico, we have experiences to share.

New Studies: Do ‘Competitive’ Corporate Tax Cuts Boost Growth?

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[An excellent review of evidence. Corporate tax cuts lead to cash hoarding, leading to lower economic growth, leading to fewer jobs. *RON*]
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 2 December 2, 2015

Yves here. Nicholas Shaxson summarizes a very important study, which finds that corporate tax cuts lead to cash hoarding, which lower growth. Moreover, this cash hoarding started in the 1990s, which is just before the famed Bernanke “saving glut”. We’ve disputed his claim that it played the role he suggested in the global financial crisis (the best debunking of that idea is in a paper by Claudio Borio and Petit Disyatat of the Bank of International Settlements, Global imbalances and the financial crisis: Link or no link?” (see Andrew Dittmer’s translation for laypeople here). However, we’ve been calling attention to corporate dis-saving, as in liquidation rather than investing, since 2005, and cash hoarding and stock buybacks are part of this pattern.

By Nicho…

America Has a Hidden Climate Denial Network and New Research Maps It Out

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["...a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaire, and baby" Paul Simon, The Boy in the Bubble. *RON*]

by John Light, Moyers & Company, 1 December 2015

Here’s a story we all now know well: A small number of groups backed by the fossil fuel industry have for decades shed doubt on the science of climate change, even as the actual scientific community consensus on the issue — that greenhouse gas pollution posed a significant threat to our climate — remained strong and continued to grow stronger.

This week, Justin Farrell, a professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, released a comprehensive report in Nature Climate Change detailing just who these people opposing climate action are, where their funding comes from, and how the groups they work through are interrelated. Eric Roston reports for Bloomberg:
A loose network of 4,556 individuals with overlapping ties to 164 organizations do the most to dispute cl…

Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years, scientists say

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[Experts point to damage caused by erosion and pollution, raising major concerns about degraded soil amid surging global demand for food. *RON*]

Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 2 December 2015

The world has lost a third of its arable land due to erosion or pollution in the past 40 years, with potentially disastrous consequences as global demand for food soars, scientists have warned.

New research has calculated that nearly 33% of the world’s adequate or high-quality food-producing land has been lost at a rate that far outstrips the pace of natural processes to replace diminished soil.

The University of Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, which undertook the study by analysing various pieces of research published over the past decade, said the loss was “catastrophic” and the trend close to being irretrievable without major changes to agricultural practices.

The continual ploughing of fields, combined with heavy use of fertilizers, has d…

Uruguay makes dramatic shift to nearly 95% electricity from clean energy

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[While North American oil and gas corporatocrats shout from the rooftops that it can't be done, that it will destroy the economy, the rest of the world just gets on with it. In less than 10 years the country has slashed its carbon footprint and lowered electricity costs, without government subsidies. Delegates at the Paris summit can learn much from its success. *RON*]
Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 4 December 2015
As the world gathers in Paris for the daunting task of switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy, one small country on the other side of the Atlantic is making that transition look childishly simple and affordable.

In less than 10 years, Uruguay has slashed its carbon footprint without government subsidies or higher consumer costs, according to the country’s head of climate change policy, Ramón Méndez.

In fact, he says that now that renewables provide 94.5% of the country’s electricity, prices are lower than in the past relative…

Why Do We Humanize White Guys Who Kill People?

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["...when the statues are of white men, the buildings and cities and bridges and schools are named after white men, the companies are run by white men and the movie stars are white men and the television shows are about white men and the celebrated authors are white men, the only humanity that is presented as comprehensible — the kind that succeeds and fails, that comprises strength and weakness, that feels love and anger and alienation and fear, that embodies nuance and contradiction, that can be heroic and villainous, abusive and gentle — is the humanity of white men. The repercussions of this kind of thinking? Well, maybe they explain some of what we see on the evening news." *RON*]
By Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine, 2 December 2015.

On Friday, November 27, a 57-year-old white man named Robert Louis Dear allegedly injured nine people and killed three in a shooting spree at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Among …

The tax-avoiding Facebook mogul and an act of charity that reeks of hypocrisy

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[Noblesse oblige. The Zuckerbergs enjoy the protections and services of the state while engaging in massive tax avoidance, then decide that they, personally, should decide who is worthy of benevolent giving, rather than leaving this decision to democratic processes. See also: How Mark Zuckerberg’s Altruism Helps Himself. *RON*]

By Ian Birrell, The Daily Mail, 3 December 2015
Once, it was enough to put a notice in the newspaper when your child was born. But Mark Zuckerberg, the multi-billionaire founder of Facebook, likes to do things differently.

So he welcomed his newborn daughter, Max, into the world with an open letter on his social media site, in which he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged to donate almost all their £30 billion fortune to charity during their lives.

The happy couple talked rather smugly about how their first child gave them cause to reflect on the future, saying they were inspired by their desire to build a better world a…

Portuguese parliament approves anti-austerity Socialist programme

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[It sounds like a shaky coalition; we'll see how much economic good they can do for Portugal before they fall apart. See also: Greeks Strike to Protest Latest Austerity Measures, and Sisters Uncut Decries Austerity Measures With ‘Funeral Protest’. *RON*]

By Sergio Goncalves, Reuters, 3 December 2015

Portugal's parliament approved the new Socialist government's programme on Thursday with the backing of far-left allies, who stressed to the Socialists that they have high expectations of reversing austerity.

The approval is the last formal step in a drawn-out political drama that started with an inconclusive Oct. 4 election and raised fears that a nascent economic recovery could come under threat.

Lawmakers voted 122 to 107, with one abstention, to approve the programme of the government, which was sworn in last week. With the vote, the government gains full powers.

Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa came to power after he joined for…