Showing posts from January 30, 2016

Has The Gig Economy Reached A Tipping Point?

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[Mister Market has the hiccoughs. *RON*]

By Lauren C. Williams, Think Progress, 20 January 2016
Uber announced this week that it was slashing prices by 15 percent in New York City to entice more riders to use the service. The move will drop the average fare from $8 to $7, but hopefully attract enough business to boost drivers’ pay.

But while Uber’s price-cutting is partly an attempt to undercut its top competitor, Lyft, it could be a sign the market is struggling to find the right balance between paying workers fairly and making sure there are enough of them to meet demand.

In a perfect world, contract workers would meet consumer demand head-on with the perfect number of drivers or personal shoppers available for every request, while getting the same pay and benefits as full-time staff. In reality, contractors who once gravitated to the flexibility and the extra money that comes from working for a company like Uber have become disenchanted with the…

France considers recognition of a Palestinian state

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[I hope this works out well. The cynical part of me, realizing that France is one of the world's biggest arms dealers, thinks that Palestine will be a much better customer if it is formally a nation state. *RON*]
The Associated Press, Al Arabiya, 30 January 2016
France will recognize a Palestinian state if its efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at an international conference fail, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Friday.

He told French diplomats that the conference will aim to bring together the two parties and their American, European and Arab partners in order “to make happen a two-state solution.”

If this attempt faces a deadlock, Fabuis said, France will have to recognize a Palestinian state.

France’s Socialist government supports the idea of two states, but had previously argued that it was too early for outright recognition of a Palestinian state.

Fabius’ announcement comes as the Palestinians, buoyed by the successful I…

Swiss say $4bn may be missing from Malaysia state fund

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[No concept of what a modern democracy means. The poor fool didn't understand that all he had to do was pass legislation enabling Super-PACS. Investigators believe funds earmarked for social development projects could have been stolen as scandal deepens. *RON*]

Agencies, Al Jazeera, 30 January 2016

Swiss prosecutors have asked Malaysian authorities for help investigating the possible disappearance of about $4bn from a state-owned company at the centre of a corruption scandal.

Investigators believe the funds - earmarked for economic and social development projects - may have been stolen.

"A small portion" of the cash was transferred into Swiss accounts held by former Malaysian officials as well as current and former officials from the United Arab Emirates, the Swiss attorney general's office said in a statement on Friday.

"To date, however, the Malaysian companies concerned have made no comment on the losses they are believ…

Canada Just Announced A Major Pipeline Reform

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[At this juncture I don't see this story in the major Canadian news outlets. When it does appear I suppose it will come as a series of "guest pieces" all declaring that the sky has fallen. It's exciting that, initially, the indications were that this new criterion would not be applied retroactively to already proposed projects. *RON*]

By Katie Valentine, Think Progress, 28 January 2016
Oil and gas pipelines now have a new hurdle to clear before they’re approved in Canada.

Pipelines and natural gas export terminals proposed in the country will now be subject to a climate test, which will seek to determine how the project will impact greenhouse gas emissions, Canadian officials announced Wednesday. That test will take into account the “upstream” impacts of a project — meaning the emissions from the extraction of the oil or gas that the pipeline would carry or the gas the terminal would store — as well as the emissions created from …

How America’s Gun Manufacturers Are Quietly Getting Richer Off Taxpayers

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[Political bluster flowed after Sandy Hook — and so did millions of dollars in subsidies. And do not forget that, although this article focuses on Republicans, before she started attacking Bernie Sanders on guns, Hillary was Annie Oakley. *RON*]

By Josh Harkinson, Moyers & Company, 29 January 2016

This post originally appeared at Mother Jones.

In January 2013, a month after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the state of New York passed gun control legislation that included a ban on the retail sale of assault weapons. Soon after, Remington Outdoor Company, the maker of the Bushmaster assault rifle used in the massacre, announced it would lay off workers at its 200-year-old factory in Ilion and move production to Huntsville, Alabama. Then CEO George Kollitides explained in a letter to New York officials that the move was brought on by “state policies affecting use of our products.”

The gun lobby crowed about political payback: “W…

Sanders surge panics Washington establishment

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[Plutocracy or democracy? The Hillary-Wall Street-Washington-Corporate Media Axis is in full panic mode over Bernie's success, and prepared to fight as dirty as a rabid raccoon. *RON*]

By Brent Budowsky, The Hill, 28 January 2016

Virtually the entire Washington and Wall Street establishments are now in a state of panic about the possibility of a Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) victory in the Iowa Democratic caucus next Monday.

The Sanders revolution of young people, which includes a growing number of young women, independent workers in some labor unions that refuse to go along with the establishment, and liberal populists and idealists of all varieties, is now within striking distance of stunning the political world with upset victories in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

In response, the virtual bedlam that has been behind the scenes in the Washington establishment in recent weeks is now coming into the open. It is a sight to behold!

In th…

100% of Donors to 'Black Americans for a Better Future' SuperPAC Are White Conservative Men Who Love Ted Cruz

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[Who's behind the nominally African-American Super PAC? "...all their donors are conservative white men and 96% of the money comes from one man, Ted Cruz-loving billionaire Robert Mercer himself." Meanwhile: Fox News Caught Ted Cruz Lying Again. *RON*]

By Adam JohnsonAlterNet, 28 January 2016

Jon Schwarz at The Intercept helped uncover a rather amusing FEC filing composed of Ted Cruz-loving billionaire Robert Mercer: he founded an ostensibly African-American Super PAC that has literally no African-American donors. New SEC filings from a Super PAC "Black Americans for a Better Future” reveal that all their donors are conservative white men and 96% of the money comes from one man, Mr. Mercer himself.

You can see from the chart below, Black Americans for a Better Future is whiter than the Oscars:

What you need to know about the Bank of Japan and negative interest rates

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[It's not quite what it sounds like. It means that if banks sit on more money than the reserve required by regulators (instead of loaning it to people for productive uses), they will have to pay for the privilege. It's actually a good idea for stimulating the economy. The banksters, it goes without saying, hate it and have declared the beginning of the end of the world. *RON*]

By William Watts, Market Watch, 30 January 2016

The Bank of Japan brought the thunder Friday, shocking investors and economists after it pushed a key interest rate into negative territory in its latest attempt to reinflate the country’s economy.

Here’s what you need to know about negative rates and the Bank of Japan:
The rate cut

The Bank of Japan announced it had cut the rate on excess reserves to minus 0.1%, meaning institutions will have to pay the central bank for the privilege of parking reserves that exceed those required by regulators. The rate on most exist…