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Showing posts from 2017

Today's Trumpery

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Clearing Out The Excess Baggage

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Record Amazon fires stun scientists; sign of sick, degraded forests

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[Because of a large increase in forest fires, the Amazon forests are now, for the first time, releasing more carbon than oxygen into the atmosphere. *RON*]
by Sue Branford and Maurício Torres, Monga Bay, 11 October 2017

With the fire season still on-going, Brazil has seen 208,278 fires this year, putting 2017 on track to beat 2004’s record 270,295 fires. While drought (likely exacerbated by climate change) worsens the fires, experts say that nearly every blaze this year is human-caused.
The highest concentration of fires in the Amazon biome in September was in the São Félix do Xingu and Altamira regions. Fires in Pará state in September numbered 24,949, an astonishing six-fold increase compared with 3,944 recorded in the same month last year.
The Amazon areas seeing the most wildfires have also seen rapid change and development in recent years, with high levels of deforestation, and especially forest degradation, as loggers, cattle ranchers, agribu…

Is There a Constitutional Right to Cash in on the Poor?

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[From a month ago, but so appalling that it's worth a look. One Arkansas county takes on a private probation company. *RON*]
Andrew Cohen, The Marshall Project, 11 September 2017
In “Case in Point,” Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character that sheds light on the criminal justice system. An audio version of Case in Point is broadcast with The Takeaway, a public radio show from WNYC, Public Radio International, The New York Times, and WGBH-Boston Public Radio.

They elect local judges in Craighead County, Arkansas, and two men decided two years ago to run for the bench there with a clear mission statement: if elected they would rein in a private probation company called The Justice Network and the local judge and prosecutor they said had countenanced its work. The company, they claimed during their aggressive campaign, made its money by ensuring that the citizens of the county consigned to probation for petty crimes were trapped in a “de…

China’s richest 2,130 people have as much money as Britain

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[Evergrande Group chairman Xu Jiayin leaps to top of China’s rich list, displacing Wanda Group’s Wang Jianlin. *RON*]

Alun John, South China Morning Post, 12 October, 2017





Chinese President Xi Jinping may have launched a war on poverty in China, but the wealth effects of the nation’s growth have had profound effects among the upper echelon, as a group of 2,130 individuals now have fortunes equivalent to the economy of the UK, according to the Hurun Report’s 2017 rich list.

At least 74 individuals joined the group with fortunes of more than US$300 million in this year’s list, adding to the 2,056 who made last year’s list, bringing their combined assets to US$2.6 trillion, roughly the same size as the GDP of the UK, the world’s fifth largest economy.

There was also substantial change at the top of the rich list.

Xu Jiayin, chairman of real estate developer Evergrande Group, has emerged as China’s richest man with assets worth US$43 billion.

Last year’s …

How the world’s greatest financial experiment enriched the rich

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[Western governments have printed trillions of dollars to boost their economies. While the asset-rich have reaped the benefits of QE, millennials and the poor have lost out. *RON*]
Christopher Thompson, New Statesman, 8 October 2017 “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws” –attributed to Mayer Amschel Rothschild The most powerful place in Europe is not the boardroom of its biggest company, the trading floor of its richest bank, or even the Bundestag chambers of Angela Merkel. It is a nondescript room on the seventh floor of the European Central Bank (ECB) that, overlooking a former wholesale meat market, resembles a suburban call centre: bare walls painted dull white, floor-to-ceiling windows and open-plan desks littered with headsets, computer monitors and little else. Secrecy is paramount: there are no mobile phones, all telephone conversations are recorded and notepads are not permitted to be taken outside. Nick…

Is He Ever At Home?

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[Why, yes I am! But I happen to be going away again for a few days, to Toronto. I'll be attending a conference on Modern Stoicism, which I hope will be worth spending four days in a city that bores me half to death. (My apologies in advance to any Torontonians out there!) I'm leaving today, and the blog should be up and running again on Wednesday October 18th. Cheers, *RON*]

Today's Trumpery

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Weed killer for breakfast

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[Regulatory capture by the corporatocracy. "'Americans are consuming glyphosate in common foods on a daily basis.' The United States allows among the highest levels of glyphosate residues, which critics say underscores the level of influence Monsanto has with regulators." *RON*]

Carey Gillam, Environmental Health News, 11 October 2017

Editor's note: The below piece is excerpted from Carey Gillam’s new book Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, published by Island Press.


For many people, a toasted bagel topped with honey might sound like a healthy breakfast choice. Others might prefer a bowl of oatmeal or cornflakes or a hot plate of scrambled eggs. Few would likely welcome a dose of weed killer that has been linked to cancer in their morning meal.

Yet that is exactly what private laboratory tests in the United States started showing with alarming frequency in 2014: residues of the world’s…

FACTBOX-Obesity medical bill could "reach $1.2 trillion" a year by 2025

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[Simultaneous under-nutrition and obesity results from the fast food culture, and disproportionately impacts the poor and non-whites. Globally it is growing fastest in the developing world. At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. *RON*]
Alex Whiting, Reuters, 10 October 2017



ROME, Oct 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Obesity worldwide is escalating and without urgent action to prevent and treat it, the annual medical bill for dealing with its consequences could reach $1.2 trillion by 2025, the World Obesity Federation said ahead of World Obesity Day on Wednesday.

Here are some facts about the rising problem:

* Obesity worldwide has doubled between 1980 and 2014, and most people live in countries where being overweight and obese kills more people than being underweight

* At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese

* Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public h…

Manslaughter charge sought against top Michigan medical executive in Flint water crisis

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[A horrifying case. "Wells is one of 15 people to be charged criminally in connection with the Flint water crisis." Better than nothing, though such investigations never get to those most responsible at the top. Prosecutors are going to file an involuntary manslaughter charge. *RON*]
Elisha Anderson, Detroit Free Press / WZZM, 9 October 2017


FLINT, MICH. - New charges of involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office are being sought against the state’s top medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells, in connection with the Flint water crisis.

Todd Flood, the special counsel handing the case for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office, made the announcement today in a Flint courtroom.

After the brief hearing, Flood said he is seeking the new charges now “based on new review of other documents and testimony that came out last week.”

He said “some revelations came up … that assisted us” during the preliminary examination of Nick Lyon, …

Made in America

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[The crapification of labour. On the growing market for reproductive workers birthing babies for China: making America great again! "If you do the math, the standard surrogacy fee works out around $5 per hour for the duration of the pregnancy. Zhang seems to have grasped the fundamental truth about Trump’s America. 'In the end,' he says, 'money talks.'" *RON*]

Moira Weigel, New Republic, 10 October 2017


The New Hope Fertility Center occupies two floors in a sleek office building across from Central Park, a block from the Trump International Hotel. Upstairs, couples who want children but are struggling to conceive sit in a well-appointed waiting room. On the wall, an LCD monitor cycles through a presentation of the clinic’s specialties: in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, genetic testing. Some of the couples, though, are pursuing a different and controversial reproductive service: surrogate pregnancy.

One flight down is a…