You are browsing the archive for 2015 August 07.

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Worker Participation Rate Falls to 37-Year Low in July

August 7, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Worker Participation Rate Falls to 37-Year Low in July

August 7, 2015

Here are some graphs to help analyze the continuing fall in labor force participation rates. 

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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9 Industries That Are Cashing In as Our Planet Heats Up

August 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Larry Schwartz, AlterNet

Big Oil, Monsanto and Wall Street are all cashing in on climate change.


Despite the fact that 98% of climatologists accept manmade climate change as a fact, almost a quarter of Americans still believe that climate science is junk science and that global warming is a grand hoax. Major oil companies have poured a lot of money into fueling climate skepticism. But while Big Oil wants to keep the public fooled, the major players in the industry, like Exxon and Shell, know better. They also stand to profit handsomely from a hotter planet. And they are not the only ones. Manmade climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting widespread emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, may be a catastrophe for most humans and non-human species, but for a select group of industries, global warming represents just another opportunity to make money. 

Here are nine industries that will profit at the expense of the planet.

1. Big Oil

Its website pretty much says it all: “ExxonMobil believes that it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the risks to society associated with increasing [greenhouse gas] emissions.” That doesn’t exactly sound like a company denying the fact of climate change. Similarly, Shell Oil, as far back as the 1980s, began planning for the end of the fossil fuel era. “It seemed inevitable that we would decarbonize for many reasons, climate among them,” said Peter Schwartz, who was head futurist at Shell at the time. In 1998, after an in-house study, Shell actually set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 10% within four years. Ten years later it even advocated a carbon tax rather than a cap-and-trade strategy, which it deemed more damaging to company profits.

Now the warmer world has presented Big Oil with new ways to make more money. Exxon has partnered with Russia to look for more places to drill for oil in the Arctic seas. With the sea ice rapidly melting, summers are getting longer and it is easier to search for more fossil fuel in the formerly frozen wastelands. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Texas Judge Orders Young Man to Marry Girlfriend and Write Bible Verses to Avoid Jail Time

August 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

“You know, as a part of my probation, you’re going to have to marry her within 30 days,” said the judge.


Texas man facing jail time for getting into a fight with his girlfriend’s old boyfriend was given two choices by an East Texas judge: go to jail or marry his girlfriend in  30 days, reports KLTV.

Josten Bundy stood before Smith County Judge Randall Rogers in mid-July on misdemeanor charges of assault after getting into a fight with the ex-boyfriend of his girlfriend at the time, Elizabeth Jaynes. According to Bundy, the judge gave him a choice: 15 days in jail or marry his girlfriend within thirty days as part of his probation.

Bundy said that he got into the fight because her ex was being “disrespectful” to her, telling the judge, “I took matters into my own hands and I know that’s wrong.I know I was raised better, but it happened.”

“Is she worth it?” Judge Rogers asked Bundy, according to court transcripts.

“I said, well to be honest, sir, I was raised with four sisters and if any man was talking to a woman like that,” Bundy stated, “I’d probably do the same thing.”

That was when Rogers laid down the terms of his release.

“You know, as a part of my probation, you’re going to have to marry her within 30 days.” the judge said, telling him the alternative was 15 days in jail.

“He offered me fifteen days in jail and that would have been fine and I asked if I could call my job [to let them know],” said Bundy. “The judge told me ‘nope, that’s not how this works.’”

According to Jaynes, who was in the courtroom at the time, the judge then embarrassed her by making her stand up.

“My face was so red, people behind me were laughing,” said Jaynes. “[The judge] made me stand up in court.”

“It just felt like we weren’t going to be able to have the wedding we wanted,” she explained. “It was just going to be kind of pieced together, I didn’t even have a white dress.”

The couple got a marriage license …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Is the Planned Parenthood Sting Already Backfiring on Republicans?

August 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Joan Walsh, Salon

The Cleveland debate made it clear: the 2016 GOP candidates are turning themselves into the anti-choice extremist.


Those infamous Planned Parenthood “sting” videos, deceptively edited and perhaps illegally obtained, were the years-long project of some of the most extreme, even violent figures of the anti-abortion world. They were designed to “ACORN” Planned Parenthood – that is, take a long-demonized element of progressive Democratic politics out of the game for good.

But the hoax perpetrated by the Campaign for Medical Progress, to dishonestly claim Planned Parenthood “sells” fetal tissue after abortions, may have backfired on the right, judging from the anti-choice pyrotechnics that erupted on stage in Cleveland Thursday night. CMP intended to hurt Planned Parenthood and Democrats in the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign. But they seem to have hurt the GOP, by tricking the 2016 candidates into believing there’s more revulsion at both abortion, and at the respected women’s healthcare provider long attacked by conservatives, than there actually is.

The anti-abortion one-upmanship at the debate showed how the candidates are misreading the political opportunities and turning themselves into Todd Akin, the Republican who challenged Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2012. Akin, you’ll recall, was disputing the need for a rape exception to an abortion ban when he told an interviewer that in cases of “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body magically has a way to “shut that whole thing down.” His idiocy helped not only McCaskill but President Obama that year. (Three quarters of Americans believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape, by the way.)

Nobody said anything quite that crude and stupid about women’s bodies Thursday night, but some of the answers were equally crazy. Debate “winner” Marco Rubio disavowed his own past support for abortion bans that included a rape and incest exception, and came out for personhood legislation. Gov. Scott Walker, who personally asked Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature to write a 20-week abortion ban without any exceptions, refused to squirm when Megyn Kelly asked “Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion?”

Mike Huckabee, who has refused to rule …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Narco-Submarine Carrying 8 Tons Of Cocaine

August 7, 2015 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

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Narco-Submarine Carrying 8 Tons Of Cocaine

August 7, 2015

How the war on drugs actually brings about less security and stability in the Western Hemisphere

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Some "Mainstream" Writers Coming to Terms with the Value of Austrian Business Cycle Theory

August 7, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Some “Mainstream” Writers Coming to Terms with the Value of Austrian Business Cycle Theory

August 7, 2015

This must have been very painful for Noah Smith. So painful, in fact, that he felt the need to hurl half a dozen guilt-by-association charges at the Austrian School before admitting that it’s the Austrian concept of …

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Three Ideas to Improve Legal Immigration

August 7, 2015 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

The Republican presidential debates this week marked the first serious start to the election cycle. Immigration dominated the first debate with each candidate scrambling to condemn illegal immigration more than the other. The bland bromides of support for “securing the border” and more immigration enforcement are out of date in 2015. The changing facts of immigration and our dynamic economy require an update.

You wouldn’t know it from the rhetoric, but the illegal immigrant population has stopped growing. The numbers have been between 11 and 11.5 million since the Great Recession, because many are leaving and fewer are coming. In 2013, the number of illegal immigrants apprehended on the border and returned was 306,000 — about the same as in 1970. In 2006, that number stood at 1 million.

Mexicans are still a majority of all illegal immigrants living in the United States, but they are not the majority of new immigrants, legal or otherwise. In 2014, more non-Mexican immigrants entered the country illegally than did Mexican immigrants — for the first time. Fewer Mexicans are coming because it’s harder to find a job here in the sectors where they can work, opportunities in Mexico are greater and the population of Mexicans seeking to immigrate has moderated.

America needs an immigration system for the future. Here are some good ideas to get the ball rolling.”

Asian immigrants are taking their place. Since 2009, new Asian immigrants have outnumbered new Hispanic immigrants. By 2013, both the new Chinese and Indian immigrants outnumbered new Mexicans.

The American economy demands immigrants of every skill level, but Indian and Chinese immigrants are more educated than Mexican immigrants. Up to 71.6 percent of Indian immigrants have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 53.4 percent of Chinese immigrants do. Only 10.1 percent of Mexican immigrants are as educated. Whereas Mexican immigrants were mostly less educated than Americans, Indian and Chinese immigrants are much more skilled.

This shift from lower-skilled immigrants to higher-skilled ones makes reforming our immigration laws even more urgent. Fortunately, there are at least three new ideas that could significantly improve legal immigration.

The first idea is a new merit-based green card category that was introduced in 2013. A merit-based system would issue up to 250,000 new green cards a year, half of them set aside for mid-skilled workers and the rest for those possessing myriad skills like English or computer programming.

The second new idea …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Don't Dismiss Trump: He's Surging in the Polls in Key States, and More Republicans Say They'd Consider Voting for Him

August 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Think this whole thing is a joke? Think again.


The Donald Trump phenomenon has much of the country scratching their heads. Everyone's asking, is this for real? Many people wonder if his rise is simply the result of high name recognition, or a sort of summer fling with GOP voters.

It will take a few days to see how his performance in the first televised Republican debate will affect his status, but early returns point to more success. An analysis of where Trump stands in polling across the country suggests his support is both real and deep, unable to be easily dislodged the way many in the media predict. 

Here's an overview:

Nationally: In the Huffington Posts's aggregation of national polls, Trump is at 25.5 percent, while his closest opponent Jeb Bush is at 12.9 percent. Scott Walker is at 10.7 percent.

Iowa: Huffington Post has Trump at an average of 18.4 percent in Iowa, barely behind Scott Walker's 19.5 percent.

New Hampshire: Huffpo's aggregation puts Trump at 25.6 percent in New Hampshire, with Jeb Bush trailing at a meager 13.2 percent.

Many have argued that GOP voters don't see Trump as viable and will ultimately hand their votes to someone else. That's possible, but the polling shows they see him as more and more viable enough to receive their votes, as NBC News notes:

     March 2015 NBC/WSJ poll: 74% of GOP primary voters said theyy couldn't see themselves backing Trump. couldn't see themselves backing Trump.

     June 2015 NBC/WSJ: 66% of GOP primary voters said they couldn't see themselves backing Trump.

     July 2015 NBC/WSJ: 49% of GOP primary voters said they couldn't see themselves backing Trump.

We don't know how Trump will do in the upcoming primaries (that is, if he doesn't pull out). But given these numbers, he will be a serious contender in the race.

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End State Licensing of Physicians

August 7, 2015 in Economics

By Shirley Svorny

Shirley Svorny

The just-released White House report, “Occupational Licensing: A Framework for Policymakers” takes on an important labor market issue. But like many other reviews of licensing, it exempts physician licensing from its critiques. The exception is based on the premise that physician licensing “plays an important role in protecting consumers and ensuring quality.” This is not true.

The benefits of state licensing are overstated. Licensing authorities verify education and training, but little else. State licenses do not indicate an individual physician’s specialty-specific skills. Specialty certification is the purview of medical specialty boards, which are private.

State boards fail to identify and sanction the majority of physicians who put patients at risk. The boards have been criticized for protecting physicians by keeping investigative findings from the public and for long delays in resolving investigations, during which physicians continue to practice. State licensing does not assure quality, just ask a medical malpractice insurance professional who insures “hard-to-place” doctors.

Eliminating licensing of medical professionals would remove one formidable barrier to innovations that would make healthcare more accessible, affordable, and valuable to consumers.”

Consumers are protected by an interdependent system of private oversight motivated by concerns over reputation and liability. The participants in this system include hospitals, health maintenance organizations, health insurance providers, medical malpractice insurance companies, and private certification organizations.

Before they associate with, hire, reimburse, or insure medical professionals, these private entities verify a professional’s education, training, credentials, and certification. The oversight includes a review of prior sanctions (loss of hospital privileges, Medicare fraud, etc.), malpractice judgments, an individual’s criminal background, and more. Unlike state licensing, it is an on-going process that doesn’t stop once a relationship has been established.

Hospital privileging assesses a physician’s current skills and defines the boundaries of what a physician is allowed to do in a hospital. When new procedures are introduced, malpractice insurance companies assess the relevance of a physician’s training. Where appropriate, liability insurers limit an individual physician’s practice or dictate evidence-based standards of care that must be met for coverage to apply. Malpractice insurers work with high risk physicians to reduce their practice risk.

Just as the benefits of state licensing of medical professionals are overstated, the costs are, perhaps dramatically, understated. Unlike other sectors of the economy, where innovation has led to significant changes in industry structure and the delivery of goods and services we purchase, health care remains mired in a regulatory straight jacket …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s “Know-Nothingism” Shows GOP Has Gone Off Deep End

August 7, 2015 in Blogs

By Scott Eric Kaufman, Salon

“Modern Republicans can't be serious,” he said, “not if they want to win primaries or have a future in the party”


The New York Times’ Paul Krugman used his Friday column to analyze the appeal of the candidates who participated in last night’s GOP debate — in particular, he analyzed the way in which Donald Trump’s obvious absurdity calls attention to the fundamental unseriousness of the candidates with whom he shared the stage. 

The conventions of political reporting and commentary, Krugman argued, prevents people from saying “the obvious — namely, that one of our two major political parties has gone off the deep end.”

Not that it’s completely journalists’ fault, though, as “modern Republicans can’t be serious — not if they want to win primaries and have any future within the party.” They have little choice but to accept “crank economics, crank science, [and] crank foreign policy” as their gospel, because the currently radicalized Republican base won’t shuffle them into the general election if they don’t.

The GOP is simply “a party that has no room for rational positions on many major issues” anymore, larded as it is with proud proponents of “know-nothingism” like Trump, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio.

Republicans have generally tried to preserve a facade of respectability, helping the news media to maintain the pretense that it was dealing with a normal political party. What distinguishes Mr. Trump is not so much his positions as it is his lack of interest in maintaining appearances. And it turns out that the party’s base, which demands extremist positions, also prefers those positions delivered straight. Why is anyone surprised?

Remember how Mr. Trump was supposed to implode after his attack on John McCain? Mr. McCain epitomizes the strategy of sounding moderate while taking extreme positions, and is much loved by the press corps, which puts him on TV all the time. But Republican voters, it turns out, couldn’t care less about him.

Can Mr. Trump actually win the nomination? I have no idea. But even if he is eventually pushed aside, pay no attention to all the analyses you will read declaring a return …read more

Source: ALTERNET