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AlterNet Comics: Tom Tomorrow On GOP Alternatives to Obamacare

November 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Tom Tomorrow, AlterNet

Behind the unhinged Republican solutions to healthcare reform.


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Source: ALTERNET

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Is It Even Legal to Not Pay Interns?

November 22, 2013 in Blogs

By AlterNet

A new documentary digs into the murky legality of this exploitative industry.


Humiliated, degraded and force to work long hours without any pay. That is the harsh reality for the majority of college-educated, unpaid interns, according to a new documentary, ‘Position: Unpaid’.

The film exposes the hard truths and questionable legality of unpaid internships. In the process, it sheds light on the contractual loopholes that allow employers to mistreat interns and reveals how this whole industry may, in fact, be unlawful.

Watch the documentary and educate yourself.

h/t Upworthy.

Position: Unpaid from Low Card on Vimeo.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Police Beat Up College Student for Riding Bicycle on Sidewalk (Video)

November 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Alyssa Figueroa, AlterNet

A new video shows the 20-year-old student screaming in pain after cops attacked him.


Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk — that’s the crime that left 20-year-old City College student D’Paris Williams battered after he was attacked by the San Francisco police.

Last Friday, Williams was riding his bicycle down the sidewalk on the street where he lived. He was coming back from the Make a Wish Foundation’s Bat Kid festivities when two plainsclothes officers approached him. Uptown Almanac, a blog about San Francisco culture, described the scene:

The officers said something to DJ about riding his bicycle on the sidewalk as he was pulling up to his home in the complex. It is unclear whether the officers identified themselves or not, but did proceed to get out of their car, grab DJ from behind as he was entering the home and beat him for no apparent reason. A police search uncovered a cupcake and juice that DJ had just purchased from the corner store. … He was immediately taken to S.F. General Hospital for treatment, and then to the 850 Bryant police station. … Furthermore, three residents came to DJ's aid when they saw officers beating him up, only to find themselves also under attack by officers. By this time, uniformed backup had arrived on the scene. Including DJ, a total of four individuals were beaten and arrested by officers.

Williams’ family said that Williams could not hear the officers because he was listening to music through his headphones. Williams sister, who was carrying a newborn, witnessed the scene. She was also pushed by officers when she approached the door where her brother was assaulted. After officers shoved Williams’ head in his door, they dragged him to continue the beating.

Williams neighbors poured into the street, and initially, this video was released of the scene. But a new video emerged on Tuesday showing Williams screaming in pain after the cops’ attack:

Uptown Almanac reported that one of the people jailed with Williams said he “looks like he was in a bad car accident.”

The SFPD claimed that after violating a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Meet the Top Five Worst Polluters

November 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Jodie Gummow, AlterNet

New research reveals which companies are to blame for global warming.


A new study from Climate Accountability Institute has 'named and shamed' at least 90 corporations which it says are responsible for almost two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions,The Guardianreported.

The companies range from investor-owned firms to state-owned and government-run firms with data collected from public records and the US Department of Energy. 

Analyses of the findings confirm that the majority of those responsible are in the business of producing either oil, gas, or coal, with half of the emissions released in the past 25 years.

Climate change experts said the research was the most ambitious so far to hold individual carbon producers responsible, Grist reported. Former Vice President Al Gore welcomed the report and said it was a “crucial step forward.”

So, who are the top 5 corporate offenders?

1.     ChevronTexaco  

Unsurprisingly, Chervon Texaco is the top emitter of man-made carbon emissions among investor-owned companies. The multinational energy corporation is active in more than 180 countries and is one of the world’s largest corporations.

2.     ExxonMobil

Oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil comes in close second among investor-owned companies. In the past, ExxonMobil has been accused of downplaying the global warming threat as well as funding groups that refute climate change.

3. Saudi Aramaco

Third place goes to state-owned Saudi Aramco. Owned by Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aramco holds the world’s largest oil field and is estimated to be one of the world’s most valuable companies.

4.     BP

Oil tycoon company BP comes in fourth place. Ironically, the corporation was one of the first to come out and publicly support scientific consensus on climate change.

5.     Gazprom 

Russia’s Gazprom, a state-owned company, rounds out the top five dirtiest polluters. The company is the one of the largest extractors of natural gas. It most recently was the target of an action by Greenpeace activists protesting Russia’s oil drilling in the Arctic.

 

 

 

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Banking Committee Clears the Way for Continuing Flawed Fed policies

November 22, 2013 in Economics

By Mark A. Calabria

Mark A. Calabria

Lost in Thursday’s “nuclear” attack on the Senate, the Banking Committee approved the nomination of Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve. Even without the filibuster changes, her nomination was all but guaranteed. Once confirmed she will almost surely continue the Fed’s current reckless policies.

As long as we continue to have a bank regulatory regime of unfettered discretion, who occupies the regulatory chairs matters.”

The Banking Committee approved Yellen 14 to 8, with only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), voting against her and she is likely to be voted on by the full Senate by the middle of December.

Unlike Supreme Court nominees, who generally receive days of questioning by the Senate, the Banking Committee checked its box on “advise and consent” in just over two hours. Despite that low bar, the full floor debate is likely to be even more devoid of substance.

Yet the risks to our economy demand such a debate. Prior to her service as the Fed’s Vice Chair, Janet Yellen led the San Francisco Fed from 2005 to 2010. The San Francisco district includes, in addition to California, both Nevada and Arizona. Its fair to say Yellen’s backyard was ground zero for the housing bubble, and it appears she was completely blind to it.

Looking at Yellen’s statements, and the San Francisco Beige Book reports, one is hard pressed to see any concern coming from Yellen. In fact we repeatedly see mortgage credit being described as “good” in the San Francisco reports.

At worst, she shared the widely held view that the bubble was actually a positive, because it had the appearance of creating wealth (like today’s stock market), while also appearing to do something about the labor market. This is the real danger: That rather than see the housing bubble as a “bug” to be fixed, she viewed it as a positive feature of the Fed’s monetary efforts.

Discussions about monetary policy often focus on whether current Fed policy is expansionary or contractionary. Lost in this debate is that it can be both. While the Fed has injected considerable liquidity into the banking system, it has also paid banks, via interest on reserves, not to lend. It would be nice if the Fed could at least decide upon what exactly it is trying to achieve. Unfortunately, such confusion is likely to continue under Yellen.

With the bank rescues of 2008 and the Dodd-Frank Act …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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David Stockman: ‘It’s 2007/2008 All Over Again.’

November 22, 2013 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

David Stockman, author of The Great Deformation, describes the nature of Housing Bubble II: “Bubbles are breaking out everywhere.”

Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com

It’s also significant that Cavuto refers to the current situation as “good times.” I have no doubt that is true on Wall Street, but millions of Americans, including the millions who have left the work force, the unemployed teens and twentysomethings, and millions more who are about to have their health insurance cancelled, may beg to differ.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Video: Rothbard in the European Parliament

November 22, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

In a speech in the European Parliament during a debate over the “problem” of tax avoidance in the European Union on November 21st.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Ashton Kutcher Battles Wal-Mart In Heated Twitter Face-Off Over Poverty Wages

November 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Josh Eidelson, Salon

“You should be proud of your associates, but I’m not sure if they should be proud of you,” wrote Kutcher.


Celebrity actor/producer Ashton Kutcher and retail giant Wal-Mart had a spirited Twitter debate Tuesday over Wal-Mart workers’ wages.

Kutcher (@aplusk) kicked off the dust-up by tweeting about the news that an Ohio Wal-Mart took up an employee-to-employee food charity collection “so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.”  He wrote, “Walmart is your profit margin so important you can’t Pay Your Employees enough to be above the poverty line?”

Fourteen minutes later, the company’s @WalmartNewsroom account, echoing its replies to others on the topic, tweeted back at Kutcher, “It’s unfortunate that an act of human kindness has been taken so out of context. We’re proud of our associates in Canton.” After 10 minutes, Kutcher shot back, “you should be proud of your associates but I’m not sure if they should be proud of you.”

Wal-Mart then offered Kutcher a video on “Opportunity and Benefits at Walmart,” saying, “We know you believe in opportunity like we do & we’d love to talk to you more about it.”

Kutcher quickly countered, “you had 17 billion in profits last year. You’re a 260 billion$ company. What are we missing?”

That set off a trio of tweets from Wal-Mart, starting with, “We think you’re missing a few things,” and then touting that “The majority of our workforce is full-time and makes more than $25,000/year”; that “about 75% of our store management teams started as hourly associates”; and that “every year, we promote about 160,000 people…”

Kutcher told Wal-Mart the company “does a lot of great things but it needs to be a leader on this issue as well.” In its final tweet to Kutcher – so far — Wal-Mart answered, “We know we can always get better as a company. This year we’ve made providing more opportunities for our associates a top priority.”

Kutcher returned to the topic an hour later, linking a blog post on a study estimating the cost of Wal-Mart workers’ use of public assistance, and saying, “Walmart should be the leaders not …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What to Do If and When Obamacare Collapses

November 22, 2013 in Economics

By Jim Powell

Jim Powell

It’s too soon to write an epitaph for Obamacare, but its crises are piling up so fast that one has to begin looking ahead.

Obamacare combines a government-run health care crisis, a financial crisis and a constitutional crisis.

By spending $650 million on a no-bid contract, awarded to a firm with political connections to the White House, for the problem-plagued Obamacare website — the administration made clear that it cannot handle money. The website has processed only a quarter of the meager sign-ups, with the rest handled by 14 state-run exchanges that also have problems and cost taxpayers an additional $4.4 billion.

The initial “glitches” turned out to be chronic, and the website repeatedly crashed when Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius tried to demonstrate its alleged wonders. Revelations of deeper problems continue to be reported, like the fact that important website components aren’t even developed yet. More and more people recognize that it’s reckless to fill out Obamacare applications, since they require all the personal information hackers need to steal people’s identity, and meaningful security is lacking.

Meanwhile, there’s mounting chaos as Obamacare causes millions of people to lose their individual health insurance policies, their doctors, their hospitals and even their life-saving treatments.

In 2014, we can expect to see perhaps 100 million people panic as the Obamacare employer mandate triggers more layoffs and the dumping of group health insurance plans.

So many people are suffering from sticker shock at Obamacare’s inflated premiums that they’re holding onto their money and cutting back wherever they can. Consumer holiday spending is likely to take a hit. Anxious retailers reportedly are starting to offer discounts early.

Americans have become accustomed to more freedom, more choices in just about everything, but now Obamacare is restricting our freedom. It’s all about things we can’t keep and things we must do or pay penalties. Government bureaucracies gain unlimited power over our health care, controlling some of the most intimate aspects of our lives.

Financially, Obamacare is doomed as long as young, healthy people want nothing to do with it and as long as sign-ups are dominated by older people, many with pre-existing conditions, who want free Medicaid.

Here are some guiding principles for an alternative to Obamacare and single-payer.”

Obamacare costs could explode because of expanded mental illness coverage alone. The National Institute of Mental Illness estimated that about 57 million people “suffer from a diagnosable …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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For Free Trade's Sake, Get IP Out of the TPP

November 22, 2013 in Economics

By K. William Watson

K. William Watson

The prospects for timely completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement are looking increasingly bleak. Just as the president was struggling to secure fast track trade negotiating authority from Congress, a barrage of anti-TPP sentiment erupted last week when WikiLeaks published a classified draft text of the agreement’s intellectual property rules. The text was rightly criticized for enabling Hollywood and other industries to improperly influence U.S. and foreign law in their favor.

The first instinct of trade advocates is to be defensive, but this time the criticism actually offers an excellent opportunity: Instead of mumbling unconvincingly about the political power of innovative U.S. industries, free traders should put their collective foot down and demand a stop. Imposing intellectual property rules through trade agreements has become a political liability that serves special interests at the expense of free trade.

Getting intellectual property out of the TPP would increase the agreement’s ability to open markets, improve its chances for passage in Congress, and bring the negotiations back to what they ought to be about in the first place: lowering protectionist trade barriers.

Despite being tightly wedded in the U.S. trade agenda for the last 20 years, trade policy and intellectual property policy don’t fit together very well. Trade agreements are useful because they provide an effective but imperfect way to improve U.S. trade policy. By offsetting the political power of protectionist industries with the political power of exporting industries, trade agreements offer the promise of open markets at home and abroad.

But this model doesn’t make any sense for intellectual property laws. Unlike tariff reductions, extending intellectual property rights in foreign markets does not directly benefit foreign consumers. At the same time, there is the potential for harm to U.S. consumers when international obligations make domestic intellectual property laws harder to reform or, in some cases, stricter than they would be otherwise. Using trade negotiations to set patent and copyright policy gives excessive power to industry without any justification.

Imposing intellectual property rules through trade agreements has become a political liability that serves special interests at the expense of free trade.”

Global rules already exist that prevent piracy or severe regulatory differences. The World Trade Organization imposes minimum standards for patent copyright protection and prohibits discrimination. Intellectual property rules in the TPP, on the other hand, are about things like extending copyright terms from really long to really, really …read more

Source: OP-EDS