Showing posts from May 5, 2016

Off on vacation now...

[I shall most like resume on Monday 30 May. Cheers, *RON*]

Chronicles of a concerned citizen: three scenes to understand Venezuela

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["Sometimes I feel like a prisoner in my own country." While we can read about events in Venezuela, it's difficult to imagine what it is like living there at this time. *RON*]
Aglaia Berlutti,, 24 April 2016

I wake up in the middle of the night and it takes me a few seconds to understand why. It took a second round of gunfire for me to remember the brief shock that thrust me from a deep sleep to fear. A blank, confused fear that required effort to contain. I stay in bed, sitting very still, listening and trying not to panic. The sound of gunfire repeats for a third time.
Later, I will discover that this was a settling of accounts in the Cota 905 neighborhood, which is about three blocks from the building where I live. I will find out that two alleged muggers died, and that a father and a policeman were injured. When I woke up, it had been almost two hours since the shooting had begun. But at that moment, I only knew fear.…

Seven big banks settle U.S. rate-rigging lawsuit for $324 million

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[Risible: this is not even a slap on the wrist. "Seven of the world's biggest banks have agreed to pay $324 million to settle a private U.S. lawsuit accusing them of rigging an interest rate benchmark used in the $553 trillion derivatives market." 324 million divided by 553 trillion is .000000586. Now divide this by 7 banks. A great example of government's new 'get tough' attitude toward misbehaving banksters. *RON*]
Jonathan Stempel, Reuters, 3 May 2016

Seven of the world's biggest banks have agreed to pay $324 million to settle a private U.S. lawsuit accusing them of rigging an interest rate benchmark used in the $553 trillion derivatives market.

The settlement made public on Tuesday, which requires court approval, resolves antitrust claims against Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Barclays Plc (BARC.L), Citigroup Inc (C.N), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S), Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) an…

Kenya torches world's biggest ivory bonfire to save elephants

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[I hope this helps, but I have my doubts that this will be effective. The problem is that Kenya has no control over the laws and practices of the (largely Asian) nations who are the buyers of illegal ivory. This may simply serve to ramp up illegal hunts to bring supply back up to meet demand. See also: Leopards have lost 75% of their historical habitat. *RON*]
AFP, ABC News Australia, 30 April 2016
Eleven giant pyres of tusks have been set alight as Kenya torches its vast ivory stockpile in a grand gesture aimed at shocking the world into stopping the slaughter of elephants.

Key points:
105,000 kilograms of ivory and 1,350 kilograms of rhino horn to be torchedBonfires are the largest ever torching of ivoryThe ivory is worth about $130 million on the black market Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta — who was the first to light the semi-circle of tusks expected to burn for days in Nairobi's national park — has demanded a total ban on trade in ivory t…

Free Markets Mean Zero Economic Profit – or a 99% Profit Markup

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[An excellent illustration of the non-existence of "free markets," drawing for examples from the open sewer which is Wall Street's management of Big Pharma. *RON*]
By Bill Black, posted by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism, 4 May 2016

Yves here. Even though Bill Black correctly puts “free markets” in quotes, we feel compelled to remind readers that it is an intellectually incoherent construct. The ideology of “free markets’ pretends that markets can exist without government involvement to insure contract enforcement and certain minimum standards of conduct. We discuss at length how commerce would quickly break down if “free markets” were ever to come into being, since it would be impossible, for instance, to buy any products with any confidence where the buyer as an individual could not verify product quality on his own and he was at risk of product failure (say new car or phone crapping our very shortly after purchase).

By Bill Black, t…

Could an income for all provide the ultimate safety net?

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[A good short primer on the universal minimum income. *RON*]

Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist, 3 May 2016

‘Though the idea of a basic income is far from mainstream, it has had astonishingly broad support’

Last week, I pondered how society should protect or compensate people whose jobs have been lost to the forces of globalisation or technological change. I did not, however, discuss the most obvious idea of all: that we should simply give people money — a basic income for everyone, regardless of what they do or what they need. It’s the ultimate social safety net.

For an idea that is so far from mainstream political practice, the payment of a basic income has had astonishingly broad support, from Martin Luther King Jr to Milton Friedman. It’s on the lips of the policy wonk community too: the Freakonomics podcast recently devoted an episode to the case for a universal basic income. The Royal Society for Arts, a venerable British think-tank, has pu…

Inspection Reports From TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline Expose Risk of Future Spills

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[Trudeau still says we should buy our way out of the carbon dilemma by putting our country at this kind of risk. *RON*]
By Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog, 4 May 2016
The US government agency responsible for interstate pipelines recorded a catalog of problems with the construction of TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline and the Cushing Extension, a DeSmog investigation has found.

Inspectors at the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) observed TransCanada's contractors violating construction design codes established to ensure a pipeline's safety, according to inspection reports released to DeSmog under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Evan Vokes, former TransCanada materials engineer-turned-whistleblower, told DeSmog the problems uncovered in the reports show issues that could lead to future pipeline failures and might also explain some of the failures the pipeline had already…