Showing posts from July 31, 2017

Today's Trumpery


Why Corrupt Bankers Avoid Jail

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[Class wars. Prosecution of white-collar crime is at a twenty-year low. *RON*]

Patrick Radden Keefe, New Yorker, July 31, 2017 Issue

In the summer of 2012, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate released a report so brimming with international intrigue that it read like an airport paperback. Senate investigators had spent a year looking into the London-based banking group HSBC, and discovered that it was awash in skulduggery. According to the three-hundred-and-thirty-four-page report, the bank had laundered billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels, and violated sanctions by covertly doing business with pariah states. HSBC had helped a Saudi bank with links to Al Qaeda transfer money into the United States. Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which is responsible for tens of thousands of murders, deposited so much drug money in the bank that the cartel designed special cash boxes to fit HSBC’s teller windows. On a law-enforcement wiretap, one drug lord extoll…

Inequality is not inevitable, it's a policy choice. For proof, look at Namibia

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["Don’t despair that the huge gaps between rich and poor cannot ever be bridged. As our new index shows, some countries are taking steps to reduce inequality" *RON*]
Max Lawson, The Guardian, 19 July 2017

When you hear eye-watering statistics like the fact that eight men own the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of humanity, the first reaction is often shock and anger. For many people, this is accompanied by a feeling of despair that such huge divides cannot be bridged; that the inequality crisis we face, which keeps millions of people trapped in poverty, is simply too big for us to change.
This sense of fatalism is fuelled by arguments that current levels of inequality are due to the seemingly immutable forces of globalisation or technological change. These are undoubtedly powerful trends, of course – but they are in no way the full story. Inequality is not inevitable. It is a policy choice.

For proof, look at Namibia. Here is a…

Too fat to stand and their flesh rots while they're alive: The REAL reason America's 'Frankenchickens' have to be washed with chlorine as US industrial farming practices are exposed ahead of possible post-Brexit trade deal

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[The possibility of US chickens being sold in Britain sparked a huge Cabinet row. Whistleblower farmers have revealed the full horror of chickens' lives in US. Purely repulsive. *RON*]

Michael Powell & Daniel Bates, The Mail, 30 July 2017
The disturbing prospect of chlorine-washed chickens from the US going on sale in British shops in a post-Brexit trade deal last week sparked an explosive row at the heart of Government.

But beyond the politics lies the story of why American poultry needs such drastic chemical treatment – and of the horrendous conditions at the farms where they are bred and reared.

Now whistleblower farmers have revealed the full horror of the suffering to The Mail on Sunday, including how:
Tens of thousands of super-sized 'Frankenstein' birds are crammed in vast warehouses.The chickens, which weigh up to 9lb, often buckle under their weight and must live without natural sunlight.Chickens frequently die before they r…

How much of the world's wealth is hidden offshore?

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[No one knows for sure, but it is probably in the range of 8-10% of total global wealth, or somewhere around $25 trillion. *RON*]
Tim Harford, BBC World Service, 31 July 2017

Would you like to pay less tax? Make a sandwich: specifically, a "double Irish, Dutch sandwich".

Suppose you're American. You set up a company in Bermuda and sell it your intellectual property. It then sets up a subsidiary in Ireland.

Now, set up another company in Ireland: it bills your European operations for amounts resembling their profits. Now, start a company in the Netherlands.

Have your second Irish company send money to your Dutch company, which immediately sends it back to your first Irish company. You know, the one headquartered in Bermuda.

Are you bored and confused yet? If so, that's part of the point.

Tax havens depend on making it, at best, very difficult to get your head around financial flows, and, at worst, impossible to find out any facts.


The Louisiana Environmental Apocalypse Road Trip

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[Parts of the US are like living in one of the 'Istans'. Louisiana serves as a terrifying example of what can become of a state that shortchanges science and environmental regulations to boost industry and infrastructure. *RON*]
Justin Nobel | Longreads | July 2017 | 16 minutes (4,000 words)
This story was funded by Longreads Members
If you’re visiting New Orleans and want to see something truly amazing, take your beer or daiquiri to-go and walk a few blocks past the Superdome—you’ll find a school being constructed on an old waste dump.

“All the toxins from the landfill are still there,” says toxicologist Wilma Subra. These toxins include lead, mercury, and arsenic, exposure to which can lead to reproductive damage, and skin and lung cancer. Even more astonishing, Subra says hundreds of schools across Louisiana have been built on waste dumps. Why? Dumps represent cheap land often already owned by a cash-strapped town or city, plus serve as …