BURNING ISSUES: HIDDEN WEALTH AND THE RIGGED FINANCIAL SYSTEM...

May 2, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Burning Issues Video VIA AMERICANS FOR A SAFE FUTURE The Panama Papers, which opened a window into the world of secret bank accounts and money flows, help reveal the extent to which the global financial system is rigged to favor the wealthy and powerful, says Eryn Schornick, policy adviser at Global Witness, in this Burning Issues segment. While much of the attention has been focused on overseas tax havens, Schornick notes that “the U.S. is one of the easiest places in the world for a corrupt politician or a criminal to create a company and hide the fact that they own it.” These corporations can then outbid legitimate, transparently created companies for government contracts, take advantage of investors and customers and, of course, deprive governments of needed tax revenues. Legislation pending in Congress...

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LEAKED TTIP DOCUMENTS CAST DOUBT ON EU-US TRADE DEAL...

May 2, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Greenpeace says internal documents show US attempts to lower or circumvent EU protection for environment and public health Protesters wear masks of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel as they demonstrate against TTIP free trade agreement. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters Arthur Neslen in Brussels  AMERICANS FOR A SAFE FUTURE     Talks for a free trade deal between Europe and the US face a serious impasse with “irreconcilable” differences in some areas, according to leaked negotiating texts. The two sides are also at odds over US demands that would require the EU to break promises it has made on environmental protection. President Obama said last week he was confident a deal could be reached. But the leaked negotiating drafts and internal positions, which were obtained by Greenpeace and seen by the Guardian, paint a very...

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25 IMAGES OF MARKETS “REGULATING THEMSELVES”...

Apr 30, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] By David Akadjian   Daily Kos Classics When economists talk about how a market “regulates itself,” what they mean is that markets reach an equilibrium between supply and demand. This says nothing about whether or not this equilibrium will be a good thing for society. It simply states that if consumers choose what to buy and producers choose what to sell and how to produce it, the market settles on a product distribution and prices. Lately, many people I know have argued that “free markets” mean something more. They see markets as ethically right or ethically moral, meaning pursuit of profit always somehow leads to a greater good. Unfortunately, morality isn’t built into markets. Markets were fine with child labor and slavery. Both were viewed simply as cheap sources of labor. It wasn’t...

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WARNING: TPP REARING ITS UGLY HEAD...

Apr 27, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Dave Johnson  AMERICANS FOR A SAFE FUTURE The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) went dormant in Congress after election season began. It became clear that the public despises our country’s corporate-dominated “trade deals” that let companies just lay people off and close factories here to take advantage of conditions in countries that allow people and the environment to be exploited. Candidates who could sense which way the wind was blowing told voters they oppose TPP, and Congress dropped it — for now. But now people who follow these things are hearing more and more talk behind the scenes that indicate corporate America is going to try to push TPP through in the “lame duck” Congressional session after the elections. This is a session in which the old Congress consisting of the ones who might have...

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THIS INDUSTRY IS LITERALLY MAKING A KILLING...

Apr 25, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   By Rebecca Green, OtherWords | Op-Ed The 2016 presidential elections are proving historic, and not just because of the surprising success of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders, the lively debate among feminists over whether to support Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump’s unorthodox candidacy. The elections are also groundbreaking because they’re revealing more dramatically than ever the corrosive effect of big money on our decaying democracy. Following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision and related rulings, corporations and the wealthiest Americans gained the legal right to raise and spend as much money as they want on political candidates. The 2012 elections were consequently the most expensive in US history. And this year’s races are predicted to cost even more. With the general election still six months away, donors have already sunk $1 billion into the presidential race — with $619 million...

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KANSAS GOVERNOR JUSTIFIED KICKING 15,000 PEOPLE OFF FOOD STAMPS...

Apr 25, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] by Alan Pyke THINK PROGRESS CREDIT: AP Photo/John Hanna) Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS)   For over five years now, Kansas has served as an economic policy experiment for anti-tax, small-government conservatives. Their lab work is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars, crippling public service budgets, and making life harder for low-income families without reducing the state’s poverty rate at all. With his political star beginning to tarnish, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) came to Washington on Wednesday to discuss his poverty policies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. At one point, the embattled governor justified his policy of forcing people off of food stamps if they can’t find a job by likening low-income and jobless people to lazy college students. The event was convened around a policy he pioneered: Reinstating a rigid...

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DAYS OF REVOLT: WALL STREET CRIMINALS AND THE FUTURE OF OUR ECONOMY (VIDEO)...

Apr 25, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] teleSUR Parasitic capitalism is at work in the United States, according to Michael Hudson, a professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Hudson and Chris Hedges continue their discussion of the American economy in another episode of teleSUR’s program “Days of Revolt.” (To hear the first part of their discussion, click here.) Hudson, author of the new book “Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy,” worked on Wall Street for many years before he began teaching, and he explains that most politicians are reliant on Wall Street for campaign fundraising, a relationship that crosses party lines. Regardless of the particulars, “the job of the politician is to promise the nice vision, and then double-cross the constituents,” he says. On Wall Street, if you buy garbage...

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THE PANAMA PAPERS: LAUNDERING HAVENS FOR WAR BUDGETS (VIDEO)...

Apr 25, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] In mid-April, economist Michael Hudson told The Real News Network that global oil and mining industries and the U.S. State Department created Panama and Liberia for the express purpose of tax evasion.Read a full transcript of Hudson’s exchange with host Sharmini Peries below. —Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly. SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Within a week the 11 million documents called the Panama papers, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has become a household name. The documents are connected to the Panama law firm Mossack Fonsesca that helped establish offshore accounts for some of the wealthiest and most powerful leaders to launder money and evade taxes. On Tuesday the police in Panama raided the Mossack Fonseca law firm to search...

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CLINTON’S DEFENSE OF BIG MONEY WON’T CUT IT...

Apr 25, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] AMERICANS FOR A SAFE FUTURE Robert Borosage Hillary Clinton’s heated defense of the money she has raised from Wall Street and other interests won’t cut it. Her protests contradict the basic case that virtually all Democrats and reformers have made for getting big money out of politics. It is vital that voters not be misled by them. Normally, liberal politicians defend setting up super PACs, and collecting large sums from big donors, because while they pledge to curb the influence of the rich and corporations in our politics if elected, they can’t “unilaterally disarm.” Clinton repeats this argument, but it has less force against Bernie Sanders who not only has made the corrosive effect of big money contributions central to his campaign, but has demonstrated that it is possible to be competitive without...

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TIME TO GROW UP INTO A LIVING EARTH ECONOMY...

Apr 24, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] The current political chaos in the United States is a product of the failure of our economic system to fulfill the promise of the American dream: That each new generation will enjoy abundance beyond that of their parents. What most people experience instead is increasing insecurity and declining opportunity. People know something is badly wrong. Uncertain as to what or why, they are desperate for answers. Who is responsible? What can we do? Our current situation is ripe for the blame game. Blame immigrants. Blame Obama. Or blame scofflaw bankers. Years ago when I was a business school student, our professors taught us that a recurring problem is a symptom of a system failure. Don’t focus on treating the symptom, they told us, step back and look upstream to identify the source. A...

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U.S. TRADE POLICY: POPULIST ANGER OR OUT-OF-TOUCH ELITES?...

Apr 24, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Posted April 18, 2016 at 12:30 pm by Jeff Faux   This post originally appeared in The Globalist. The presidential primary campaigns of both political parties have exposed widespread voter anger over U.S. global trade policies. In response, hardly a day has recently gone by without the New York Times, the Washington Post and other defenders of the status quo lecturing their readers on why unregulated foreign trade is good for them. The ultimate conclusion is always the same—that voters should leave complicated issues like this to those intellectually better qualified to deal with them. Trade experts, according to Binyamin Appelbaum of the Times have been “surprised” at the popular discontent over this issue. Their surprise only shows how disconnected the elite and the policy class that supports it is from the way most people actually...

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ELIZABETH WARREN’S BIG WIN: THE NEW, MUCH-NEEDED RULE THAT COULD REIN IN WALL STREET SLIME...

Apr 23, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] A new Labor Department requirement is giant victory for consumer advocates over Wall Street and financial advisers Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg   SALON.COM   Are you in the market for some good news? While everyone is being told to follow the excitement of the 2016 campaign to the exclusion of all else, out of the spotlight but not far away, the Obama administration is calmly trying to enact lasting progressive change. In the Labor Department earlier this month, consumer advocates won a big battle, as the vast middle class was “gifted” with a new requirement being placed on the financial services industry. As Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren explained, a glaring conflict of interest has been resolved in the favor of people saving for retirement. No longer can investment advisers recommend funds to their...

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THIS EARTH DAY, LISTEN UP: MOTHER EARTH IS CALLING US BACK...

Apr 22, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Environment Those of us who succumbed to the false promises of Western consumerism at great cost to the planet and to ourselves are Earth’s prodigal children now returning home. By David Korten / Yes! Magazine   VIA ALTERNET Photo Credit: gletham GIS / Flickr April 22 is Earth Day 2016. Each Earth Day marks another milestone in a profound human reawakening to the truth that we are children of a living Earth who survive and prosper only as contributing members of a living Earth community. The first Earth Day, in 1970, brought 20 million people to U.S. streets, parks, and auditoriums in a massive demonstration of public support for political action to limit human harm to nature. As the first mass demonstration in defense of nature, it marked the birth of the modern environmental...

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WHY A ONCE IRON-CLAD ALLIANCE IS QUAKING – AND WHY IT TOOK SO LONG TO FALTER...

Apr 21, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] by Beenish Ahmed THINK PROGRESS CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster President Barack Obama and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman meet at Erga Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, April 20, 2016.   President Obama received a rather lukewarm reception from Saudi royals when he landed in Riyadh on Wednesday. Saudi social media commentators noted that he was met with a reception led by the city’s mayor instead of King Salman, who greeted regional leaders with a great deal more gusto right after they landed. Nor did Obama exchange kisses with the Saudi leader, as his predecessor George W. Bush once did. But the alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United States is not quite what it used to be. Tensions have reached new heights in recent weeks among suggestions that the Kingdom’s money was used...

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NUCLEAR POWER COSTS ENTER UNCHARTERED TERRITORY...

Apr 21, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   By Paul Brown / Climate News Network  VIA TRUTHDIG     Many international businesses are hoping to cash in on disposal of nuclear waste. (StefrogZ via Flickr) This piece first appeared at Climate News Network. LONDON—If you want a job for life, go into the nuclear industry—not building power plants, but taking them down and making them safe, along with highly-radioactive spent fuel and other hazardous waste involved. The market for decommissioning nuclear sites is unbelievably large. Sixteen nations in Europe alone face a €253 billion waste bill, and the continent has only just begun to tackle the problem. Among the many difficulties the industry faces is lack of trained people to do the highly-paid work. Anyone who enters the business is likely to be sought after for the rest of their...

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS SAYS SLASHING C02 QUICKLY REQUIRES NON-EXISTENT TECHNOLOGIES...

Apr 21, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   by Joe Romm CLIMATE PROGRESS CREDIT: By Koza1983 via Wikipedia Aerial photo of Spanish solar power towers.   Foreign Affairs has run one of the most confused, out-of-date and error-riddled pieces ever seen on clean energy and climate change. I will fact check it here, since the editors apparently didn’t. Despite the title, “The Clean Energy Revolution: Fighting Climate Change With Innovation,” it’s not about how the clean energy revolution of the last several years has been a game-changer for near-term climate action. Quite the reverse: It’s mostly an outdated rehashing of the oddly pessimistic “We need an energy miracle” myth, which has been debunked here and elsewhere so many times I’ve lost count. Bloomberg New Energy Finance: The “energy miracle” has arrived Indeed, earlier this month, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)...

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NOAM CHOMSKY ON ORGANIZING FOR A NEXT SYSTEM...

Apr 20, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   By Staff, The Next System Project | Interview “The human species is now at a point where it has to make choices that are going to determine whether decent survival is even possible,” says Noam Chomsky. (Photo: Syracuse Peace Council / Flickr) Philosopher, linguist, and social critic Noam Chomsky recently spoke about his experiences in campus activism and his vision of a just society to help inaugurate the Next System Project’s ambitious new teach-ins initiative taking place across the country. An initial signatory to the Next System statement, Chomsky explores the connections between culture, mass movements, and economic experiments — which in “mutually reinforcing” interaction, may build toward a next system more quickly than you may think. Next System Project: As the Next System Project engages in dozens of university campus-based teach-ins...

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THE SURPRISING TRUTH BEHIND TAX DAY: WHERE YOUR TAXES GO...

Apr 19, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] by Robin Claremont  MOYERS & COMPANY This post first appeared at the Campaign for America’s Future blog, OurFuture.org. If you groan about tax day, you’re certainly not alone. But what if tax day was something we could be proud of as members of a democracy? Would you feel differently about paying taxes if you knew they were going to support public services that you, your family and your community rely on — such as public safety, roads and bridges, schools, health care, social services and national parks? Millions of Americans file their federal income tax returns in April each year with no idea what the government actually does with all that money. This is surprising, considering that individuals are our nation’s primary bill payers. Income taxes paid by individuals account for 47 percent...

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GETTING ARRESTED TO DEMAND DEMOCRACY...

Apr 19, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Roger Hickey  PROGRESSIVE BREAKFAST On Monday I joined hundreds of others to get arrested at the U.S. Capitol building. It’s been a while since I last engaged in civil disobedience. But I am just one of millions of people in America who want to stop the growing attacks on our democracy. Organizations representing those millions have come together last week for a Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening. Before Monday, 900 people have been arrested in carefully planned acts of civil disobedience, and after Monday, that number will be much, much larger. News flash: Capitol Police just confirmed that Monday’s arrests totaled over 300. On Capitol Hill, I joined Rev. William Barber, Cornell Brooks of the NAACP and the leaders of unions, civil liberties groups, democracy defenders and allied progressive organizers, and rank-and-file folks...

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GEOGRAPHY’S ROLE IN THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF THE POOR...

Apr 18, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NYTDOT Photo Poor New Yorkers tend to live longer than other poor Americans. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times An important new study shows that the poor in some cities, like New York and San Francisco, live longer than those with similar incomes in places like Detroit and Oklahoma City. The findings could help local and state governments figure out what they can do, or do better, to help people live longer and healthier lives. Researchers long ago found that the rich tend to live longer than the poor. What’s striking about the new research, which was published last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is that where people live also makes a big difference. For example, 40-year-old New Yorkers who are in the bottom...

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HUMANITY’S FUTURE — FRAGILE OR HYPERCONNECTED, OR BOTH?...

Apr 18, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Geography By Andrew C. Revkin Photo How the lower 48 states could be realigned into seven mega-regions (larger).Credit Sources: Joel Kotkin​ (boundaries and names of 7 mega-regions)​; Forbes Magazine​; Regional Plan Association; Census Bureau; ​United States​ High Speed Rail Association; Clare Trainor/University of Wisconsin-Madison Cartography Laboratory. In an Op-Ed article this weekend, Parag Khanna, a Singapore-based analyst of geopolitical and economic trends, proposes a shift in the United States from state-focused policies and politics to regional planning:  States will continue to have an important political and regulatory function to fill. But the next president has to move beyond platitudes and implement a serious policy of leveraging new infrastructure investment from home and abroad and backing the shift toward a new urban political economy built around transportation engineering, alternative energy, digital technology and other advanced sectors....

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10 Reasons Why Homelessness Is More Common Now Than Just 20 Years Ago...

Apr 16, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Economy More Americans living in major cities are precariously close to homelessness. By Alex Henderson / AlterNet Photo Credit: wrangler Earlier this month, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released its report, “The State of Homelessness in America, 2016.” The report contained some slightly good news: according to the Alliance, “The national rate of homelessness in 2015 fell to 17.7 homeless people per 10,000 people in the general population from 18.3 in 2014.” But there was troubling news in the report as well. The Alliance found that “many poor people are at risk of homelessness,” including the working poor. And in some major U.S. cities, homelessness has been increasing: a report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in December found that homelessness had increased by 28% in Washington, DC and that homelessness was also on the...

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Is the 1% Really the Problem?

Apr 13, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Economy Unpack the numbers on America’s highest earners and there’s a stark division between the well-off and the dangerously affluent. By Lynn Stuart Parramore / AlterNet Photo Credit: Suzanne Tucker/ Shutterstock.com “We are the 99 percent” is a great slogan, but is it distracting our attention from a sinister reality? There’s strong evidence that it’s not the 1 percent you should worry about—it’s the 0.1 percent. That decimal point makes a big difference. Over the last decade, a gigantic share of America’s income and wealth gains has flowed to this group, the wealthiest one out of 1,000 households. These are the wildly exotic and rapidly growing plants in our economic hothouse. Their habits and approaches to life are far divorced from the rest of us, and if we let them, they will soon...

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WALL STREET’S FRAUD OF THE WEEK CLUB...

Apr 13, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Richard Eskow  AMERICANS FOR A SAFE FUTURE In April 2006, while Goldman was preparing an RMBS backed by Countrywide loans for securitization, a Goldman mortgage department manager circulated a “very bullish” equity research report that recommended the purchase of Countrywide stock. Goldman’s head of due diligence, who had just overseen the due diligence on six Countrywide pools, responded “If they only knew …” – Annex 1, “Statement of Facts,” Goldman Sachs/U.S. Department of Justice, April 11 2016 “In his capacity as Vice President of Credit-Risk — Quality Assurance at Wells Fargo, Lofrano executed on Wells Fargo’s behalf the annual certifications required by HUD … Moreover, Lofrano received Wells Fargo quality assurance reports identifying thousands of FHA loans with material findings — very few of which Wells Fargo reported to HUD.” – Department of...

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Paul Krugman Is Not Making Much Sense...

Apr 10, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] He needs a reality check. His screed against Sanders in the NY Times misses the boat completely. By Michael Bader, DMH / AlterNet Photo Credit: By Prolineserver (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons Paul Krugman has been a voice in the wilderness for liberals for decades.  But when he issues screeds in the Times against Bernie Sanders’ alleged lack of policy credentials and Sanders’ “petulant self-righteous” followers, he misses the boat completely. Krugman needs a reality check:  Wonkish policy details about economic reform are irrelevant.  Sanders isn’t an economist.   Neither is Clinton.  As president, his economic initiatives will have more to do with whom he surrounds himself, not with whether or not he gets it exactly right about the role of the “big banks” in the 2007 Great Recession. And Sanders is right enough.  Big banks, with...

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HOW CLINTON DEMOCRATS KILLED ROOSEVELT’S DREAM OF THE AFFORDABLE HOME...

Apr 8, 2016 Posted by

[Translate]   Nation Books By Robert Scheer Editor’s note: The following excerpt from Robert Scheer’s book “The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street” details the perversion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is particularly relevant to explain the connection between Clinton “progressives” and the 2008 housing meltdown that impoverished millions. Copyright © 2010. Available from Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, a division of PBG Publishing, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Chapter 7: Poverty Pimps When the Bush administration was forced in the fall of 2008 to bail out the “government sponsored enterprises” or GSEs, as the mortgage buying companies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are referred to, grateful conservatives finally had what appeared to be a convenient...

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WHY RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES ARE OPTING FOR COMMUNITY-SCALE SOLAR...

Apr 7, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE This is the third in a series of blog posts on RMI’s Shine program. Shine is innovating and unlocking the community-scale market. Download the insight brief.  Rural electric cooperatives (co-ops) are a large and important part of the U.S. electricity landscape. Across the U.S., 840 distribution cooperatives and 65 generation and transmission cooperatives (G&Ts) serve an estimated 42 million people. Altogether co-ops provide 12 percent of the nation’s electricity and serve nearly 80 percent of U.S. counties. These co-ops are governed by 7 cooperative principles. Principle number 6 is cooperation among cooperatives. That means that when one co-op has a successful idea they spread the word and other co-ops opt-in.  Source: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association The successful idea of the moment is community-scale solar. Rural electric cooperatives are spreading...

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CLIMATE CHANGE IS A MULTI-TRILLION-DOLLAR BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY, ACCORDING TO JOHN KERRY...

Apr 6, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] U.S. Embassy New Delhi By Rebecca Leber  GRIST These days, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is downright cheery about the economic prospects of addressing climate change. In a speech to a business-minded room at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit on Tuesday, Kerry insisted climate change presents an opportunity that could far surpass the tech boom of the 1990s: “This is a multitrillion-dollar market with billions of users worldwide.” Acting on climate change isn’t just about preserving the planet for future generations, Kerry explained, but also recognizing “that clean energy is one of the greatest economic opportunities the world has ever seen.” We just need the right policies and governance to lead the way, according to Kerry. “There are opportunities literally everywhere you look.” Kerry isn’t alone among Democrats who have increasingly framed climate change as a business...

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UNPACKING CLIMATE CHANGE’S $2.5 TRILLION IMPACT...

Apr 6, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] Shutterstock By Clayton Aldern GRIST Climate change is all about the Benjamins. Sign as many international climate agreements as you want, you’ve still got to scrounge up about $16.5 trillion for all those solar panels and seawalls. But that’s just the first row on the climate change balance sheet. Not only does the world have to front a huge amount of money to solve the climate crisis, it’s putting trillions more at risk if it doesn’t — trillions that should be sitting in your pension or retirement fund. A new study, published on Monday in Nature Climate Change, offers a new way to think about the financial risks of doing nothing. The study’s authors, based at the London School of Economics and the research firm Vivid Economics, estimate that a business-as-usual emissions path...

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Inside the Panama Papers: Massive Leak Shows Worldwide Leaders’ Corruption...

Apr 5, 2016 Posted by

[Translate] World One of the biggest leaks in history exposes how global elites and their relatives hide money in offshore tax havens. By Ben Norton / Salon   VIA ALTERNET Photo Credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com “My life is in danger,” read an anonymous message. “No meeting, ever.” “Why are you doing this?” a German newspaper asked. “I want to make these crimes public,” the whistleblower wrote. An enormous cache of documents was just released, exposing how political and economic elites from around the planet are stashing their money in secretive tax havens. The Panama Papers is one of the biggest leaks in history. Substantially larger than WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of U.S. diplomatic cables or Edward Snowden’s 2013 release of NSA files, the leak consists of 11.5 million documents from the world’s fourth-largest...

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