You are browsing the archive for 2014 October 24.

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Big Ag Spending Millions to Defeat GMO Labeling Campaigns

October 24, 2014 in Blogs

By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

Industry giants spend more than $25 million to defeat mandatory labeling ballot initiatives in Oregon and Colorado.


Biotech and supermarket giants are spending more than $25 million to defeat ballot initiatives in two western states that would require labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms. In Colorado, DuPont and Monsanto food companies are outspending supporters of mandatory labeling by 22-1 ahead of the 4 November vote, according to state campaign finance records.

In Oregon, meanwhile, industry is outspending supporters of the ballot measure by about 2-1.

The heavy industry spending resembles the last-minute infusions of cash for television ads, direct mail, and campaign staff that helped defeat earlier campaigns for mandatory GM labeling in California andWashington state.

“It is like David vs Goliath,” Larry Cooper, director of Colorado’s Right to Know campaign said.

He said the pro-labeling campaign had raised $625,000 by Thursday afternoon. Cooper’s opponents, meanwhile, amassed $14 million, after DuPont this week gave an additional $3 million to the campaign, and were advertising heavily on local television.

“Why they put $14 million in Colorado to keep us in the dark really doesn’t make sense to me,” Cooper said. “The bottom line is that we really don’t know what is in our food. We are shopping blindly.”

Monsanto alone has spent $4.7 million to defeat the measure. Other top donors to the campaign to defeat pro-labeling Proposition 105 read like a grocery shopping list. They include: PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, General Mills, Hershey Company, Coca-Cola and Kellogg, and Flower Food, according to Colorado state campaign finance records.

The spending is much less lopsided in Oregon where opponents of the state’s Measure 92 labeling initiative have raised $11 million while supporters have $6 million.

Monsanto is a major force in both states. “We oppose state-by-state mandatory labeling laws like Measure 92 in Oregon and Proposition 105 in Colorado,” a company spokeswoman said in an email. “The reason we don’t support them is simple. They don’t provide any safety or nutrition information and these measures will hurt, not help, consumers, taxpayers and businesses.”

Unlike Colorado, labeling advocates in Oregon have attracted some big donors to their side, including $1 million from …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Looking for Introductory Materials on Austrian Business Cycle Theory?

October 24, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

SS466

Michael Pollaro, Mark Thornton, and I went looking for some good introductory materials to help newcomers understand Austrian Business Cycle Theory.

Pollaro posted this helpful article over at Forbes, noting:

Indeed, we would say that without ABCT investors are at a competitive disadvantage, for it is only through ABCT that one can truly understand what is underpinning the economies and financial markets of today.

And he links to several resources including this journal article by Joseph Salerno, and this very easy breakdown by John Cochran.

There are many other resources, Mark and I might point you to as well.

For starters, there is Rothbard’s Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure, and Richard Ebeling’s collection of essays, including works by Hayek, Mises and Garrison.

Other resources include:

This survey of ABCT on the Mises Wiki.

Manipulating the Interest Rate: a Recipe for Disaster by Thorsten Polleit

Austrian Business Cycle Theory: A Brief Explanation by Dan Mahoney.

And several videos including:

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Inside the Fascinating and Terrifying Science of Ebola

October 24, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Scientists are racing to find a cure, a vaccine and an answer to the question of how Ebola mutates.


By now, educated people in America know more about Ebola than they ever thought they would. While fearmongers have tried to terrorize the whole country into thinking it is on the verge of catching Ebola, cooler heads have largely prevailed. Bottom line, while Ebola is a devastating epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, most Americans are at virtually zero risk of getting it. The exception is truly heroic healthcare workers, like the two Dallas nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan as he lay dying of the disease in Dallas, both of whom are now clear of the virus. And now there is Craig Spencer in New York, a physician with Doctors Without Borders who was infected while treating Ebola patients in Guinea. 

In the October 27 issue of the New Yorker, Richard Preston delves deeply into the fascinating science behind the virus, and how genomics research may help to contain the outbreak. Preston asks Ebola researchers all the questions everyone wants to know; most notably, could the Ebola virus mutate and become airborne, and how far away is a vaccine or a cure?

Here are five fascinating tidbits from that investigation into the frontlines of Ebola research. 

1. How infectious is Ebola?

In a fatal case, a droplet of blood the size of the “o” in this text could easily contain a hundred million particles of Ebola virus. Experiments suggest that if one particle of Ebola enters a person’s bloodstream it can cause a fatal infection.

Richard Preston explains that this could account for why many healthcare workers who contract Ebola cannot remember having made any specific mistake in protocol that would have exposed them. It also explains why the disease is so dangerous for healthcare workers and why even highly trained ones are at a high risk for getting the disease when they care for patients.

2. Is Ebola mutating?

Mutations, Preston explains, are errors in the genetic code that occur as a virus multiplies. As you read this and go about your business, the Ebola virus’ code …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Web Camming Is Transforming the World of Internet Porn

October 24, 2014 in Blogs

By Nandita Raghuram, AlterNet

Web cam models enjoy all sorts of job benefits that aren't available to traditional sex workers.


Alice* spent a month and a half working at a BDSM dungeon in New York City. During her first solo session, a 70-year-old male client requested that she dress up as a dentist and administer an oral injection of lidocaine, a common anesthetic that causes numbness. Then she used tools and sounds to imitate teeth removal. But this was far from the strangest experience she had during her stint at the dungeon. People asked her to perform everything from golden showers to fisting to different forms of cock and ball torture. One client requested she blow cigarette smoke into his mouth for two hours while they watched gay porn and listened to music he had recorded.

“You never really know what you're going to get into unless they are your regular client and you've built a relationship with them,” Alice, 23, told AlterNet via email.

Unusual requests aside, Alice says she wasn’t explicitly threatened while working in the dungeon. Each room had a panic button, and she only met with clients who had been previously vetted by other women. Still, she concedes she never felt entirely safe because management did little to protect the women. “The money outweighed the girls’ safety a lot of the time and I didn’t like that,” she said in a phone interview. Eventually, Alice left the dungeon because the work left her with a wealth of negative feelings. Some of the acts she performed fell into a legal gray area, and some acts the other girls performed were downright illegal, which still put her in jeopardy with the law, even if she wasn’t doing anything wrong. “I felt like I was suffocating under that pressure.”

These feelings of pressure began to transcend the legal issues as her experiences at the dungeon bled into her personal life. “I went there one day and I realized how much I didn’t want to be there and how much it was draining me. I was consenting to things that I normally wouldn’t do …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Money Doesn’t Measure Value

October 24, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

gold2

Mises Daily Friday by Robert Murphy:

Robert Murphy, contra Real Clear Markets and Forbes, explains why money is not like a ruler and doesn’t measure value.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Consumers Win as WTO Condemns Protectionist Meat Labels

October 24, 2014 in Economics

By K. William Watson

K. William Watson

In the guise of informing consumers, U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations are being used to protect a small number of cattle growers from competition at the expense of everyone else. This week, a World Trade Organization dispute panel found that the program violates U.S. trade obligations for unjustifiably discriminating against foreign cattle. With the threat of trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico looming, the loss at the WTO strengthens domestic opponents of COOL and makes it more likely that Congress will finally act to end this shamefully protectionist boondoggle.

Under current U.S. COOL rules, retailers selling beef and pork must include labels stating what country the animal was in when it was born, raised, and slaughtered. This information might be interesting to a curious shopper, but it is completely useless in determining the quality or safety of meat. The same U.S. food safety standards apply regardless of where the animal came from.

Ending the protectionist country-of-origin labeling regime is good policy because the law harms U.S. consumers and businesses.”

Consumers are, of course, welcome to care about things that don’t really matter, and generally, more information is a good thing to have. Sometimes, though, the cost of providing that information is greater than its value. Mandating that companies provide consumers with information will overcome that hurdle by removing the low-information option and forcing consumers to pay the higher price. Making labels mandatory also introduces opportunities for rent-seeking by companies looking to shift costs onto their competitors.

That’s exactly what’s happening with the COOL regulations, and is the crux of the WTO complaint. Canada and Mexico are not complaining that American consumers, armed with their dinner’s travel itinerary will eschew immigrant cattle. Rather, they point out that complying with the rules imposes huge costs on U.S. meat processors who buy cattle that once lived across the border. If a slaughterhouse buys any cattle that rode on a truck traversing the 49th parallel, it must segregate those animals and their meat through the entire production and delivery process.

The arbitrary burdens imposed by COOL regulations create a strong incentive for meat packers to purchase only cattle that was born and raised in the United States in order to avoid segregation costs. The labeling rules create artificial demand for domestic cattle while increasing the cost of beef for all American consumers.

So far, this dynamic has made COOL very popular in Washington. The …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Patrick Barron: The End of the US Dollar Imperium

October 24, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Jeff Deist and Patrick Barron address the issue of monetary imperialism. How does the US use the dollar as a weapon of economic and cultural power? How long can it last? What might the unprecedented collapse of a worldwide reserve currency look like? And how do the BRIC nations and Asian central banks fight back?

Patrick Barron is a private consultant in the banking industry. He teaches in the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and teaches Austrian economics at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, where he lives with his wife of 40 years.

Also available at Stitcher and Mises.org.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Public Accommodation and Social Engineering

October 24, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

6936

Mises Daily Friday by Nicholas Freiling:

Public accommodation laws that prohibit discrimination render property rights moot and create a legal system designed to force agreement with the state’s official moral code.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Legal Victory for the IRS

October 24, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

160px-IRS.svg

With the IRS scandals of early 2014 all but a distant memory, some closure is coming to the groups that the long arm of the tax law harassed. Unfortunately the verdicts aren´t going the way the affected would like.

The IRS may have inadvertently figured out how to win its legal battles against aggrieved tea party groups: Give them what they wanted in the first place — tax-exempt status.

That was a major reason a Republican-appointed federal judge on Thursday threw out two lawsuits brought by more than 40 conservative groups seeking remedies for being singled out in the tea party targeting scandal, a victory for the IRS.

More troubling than the apparent lack of justice (we wronged you, but then later made it up to you so we don´t need to be punished?!) is the reasoning behind the Federal Judge´s decision.
Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia dismissed almost all counts brought against the tax-collecting agency in two cases, ruling that both were essentially moot now that the IRS granted the groups their tax-exempt status that had been held up for years.Walton, a President George W. Bush-appointee, also said individual IRS officials could not be fined in their individual capacity for allowing such treatment because it could hurt future tax enforcement.
I guess I missed the memo where enforcement of the law included provisos to protect the ability of the law-breaker to further break the law in the future. I mean, wasn´t the original problem that the IRS was unduly harassing certain groups? If that´s the case, and the IRS is found guilty (which it was, just not punished), shouldn´t the law try to stop such harassment from happening again.
To use an analogy, let´s say I park in of my neighbour´s lane so he can´t leave to get to work in the morning. A couple days later I move my car, and the obstruction is gone. My neighbour takes me to court, and the court agrees that I unduly blocked him, but I´ve since moved my car so it´s a moot point. My neighbour says that´s ridiculous, and wants charges against me for trespassing on his property and stopping him from leaving. The court finishes by telling my neighbour that nothing can happen to me personally because that would dissuade me from parking in his lane in the future and blocking him in.

If you think …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Record Temperatures Highlight Lack of Warming

October 24, 2014 in Economics

By Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger

Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

Recent “record high” global temperatures are more significant for what they are not than for what they are. While September was reported to be the warmest month on record averaged over the earth’s surface, it was not anywhere near as warm as climate alarmists and the climate models that they rely on projected it would be.

For those worried about climate catastrophe, the latter situation should be far more important than the former. But you’ll never catch them, or their let’s-regulate-away-fossil-fuels cheerleaders, admitting to that.

The data show that the current rate of global warming is far less than computerized climate models had projected and far less than environmental activists expected. Rather than rethink their positions against fossil fuels in light of the dearth of warming, opponents of our modern energy society dig in their heels and respond with excuses and misdirection.

Global warming is proceeding at a rate much slower than the one upon which climate alarm is built.”

All week long, headlines coming out of federal climate centers (amplified by many sympathetic media outlets) have been all about record high global temperatures, not only for the past month, but for year to date — with speculation about 2014 becoming the warmest year on record.

“Pause” deniers — folks unwilling to admit that there has been little to no reliably identifiable rise in the earth’s surface temperature for the past 18 years or so — are quick to jump on these announcements in their desperation to relight the global warming bonfire that has now burned down to a few faintly glowing embers.

But in doing so, they expose the lengths that they’ll go to hide the bigger truth — that global warming just isn’t proceeding according to (their) plan.

For example, global warming fear-mongers point out that the average global temperature so far this year is a few hundredths of a degree higher than the previous record. Yet they fail to point out that the same temperature is more than two-tenths of a degree (about 10 times as much) below where it was supposed to be based on computer model projections of climate change resulting from the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

They throw out statistics like “the 12 hottest years on record have come in the past 15 years.” And yet never mention the fact that 15 of the past 15 years are cooler than their …read more

Source: OP-EDS