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Last updated: Sunday, December 17, 2017, 10:11 AM
News & opinion that matter
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Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on bloated health care spending compared with the 2013 OECD per capita average of advanced countries, which becomes extra cost overhead on U.S.exports—resulting in offshoring manufacturing and jobs. Let's end price gouging and adopt efficient practices instead of cutting Medicare and Medicaid coverage as part of some "Grand Bargain"
In 2015 US total per capita health care spending was $9451 – $5044 more per person than in France without better results.

Lastly, importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

A new scheme aims to lighten the lives of millions who live without electricity, with the promise of a possible 6% return

....Currently 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity. For example, in Uganda, the figure is just 7% of rural families. Many use traditional energy sources such as kerosene lamps, candles and batteries for their energy needs – but these can be extremely hazardous, as well as costly. Lamps and candles have been responsible for many house fires, while soot and fumes can cause health problems. Having a solar system can transform people’s lives in so many ways – allowing children to read and study in the evening, enabling families to charge their mobile phones, or enabling a stallholder to install a fridge so they can sell cold drinks.

Energise Africa is an initiative that provides working capital to businesses that sell solar home systems, the result of a link-up between Ethex, a UK-based ethical investment platform, and Lendahand, a Dutch-based crowdfunding platform. It was “soft launched” in the summer and is also being backed by Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group.

Rupert Jones | The Guardian
The unprecedented downpour and severe flooding was also 15% more intense due to climate change, which is making weather more violent around the world

....The researchers said their new work shows global warming is making extreme weather events worse right now and in the US. The cost of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey has been estimated at $190bn (£140bn), which would make it the most costly weather disaster in US history, more than Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined.

....Hurricane Harvey made first landfall on 25 August and then stalled over Texas, with torrential downpours dumping a year’s worth of rain on Houston and surrounding areas in a few days. In east Harris County, a record 132cm (52 inches) of rain fell over six days, the highest storm total in US history.

The WWA scientists used both historical rainfall records and high-resolution climate models to determine the influence of global warming. “This multi-method analysis confirms that heavy rainfall events are increasing substantially across the Gulf Coast region because of human interference with our climate system,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and lead author of the new study published in Environmental Research Letters.

“It was very a rare event – they were very unlucky,” said van Oldenborgh. But the research shows the chance of it happening was raised threefold by climate change.

The team also estimated that, even if the world limits warming to the internationally agreed 2C limit, the likelihood of such extreme downpours will triple again. “But, if we miss those targets, the increase in frequency and intensity could be much higher,” said Karin van der Wiel, also at KNMI.

“The link between global warming and more extreme weather is nowhere more obvious than in the US. Even if Donald Trump isn’t seeing the picture, many others are,” said Richard Black at the ECIU.

Damian Carrington | The Guardian
Fidel Sandi’s Achuar community has been plagued with oil contamination for decades – but he is now able to collect and gather evidence for his claims
Dan Collyns | The Guardian
Scientists have identified 2 million species of living things. No one knows how many more are out there, and tens of thousands may be vanishing before we have even had a chance to encounter them.

....Although insecticides have been blamed for the declines in Europe, Erwin thinks the ultimate culprit is climate change. The location he has been observing in Ecuador is pristine, virgin rainforest. “There’s no insecticides, nothing at all,” he said. But gradually, almost imperceptibly, in the time he has been there, something has changed in the balance of the forest. Studying the data, Erwin and his collaborators have found that over the past 35 years, the Amazon rainforest has been slowly dying out. And if the forest goes, Erwin tells me, “everything that lives in it will be affected”.

If this trend were to continue indefinitely, the consequences would be devastating. Insects have been on Earth 1,000 times longer than humans have. In many ways, they created the world we live in. They helped call the universe of flowering plants into being. They are to terrestrial food chains what plankton is to oceanic ones. Without insects and other land-based arthropods, EO Wilson, the renowned Harvard entomologist, and inventor of sociobiology, estimates that humanity would last all of a few months. After that, most of the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals would go, along with the flowering plants. The planet would become an immense compost heap, covered in shoals of carcasses and dead trees that refused to rot. Briefly, fungi would bloom in untold numbers. Then, they too would die off. The Earth would revert to what it was like in the Silurian period, 440m years ago, when life was just beginning to colonise the soil – a spongy, silent place, filled with mosses and liverworts, waiting for the first shrimp brave enough to try its luck on land.

Jacob Mikanowski | The Guardian
As America is battered by climate-intensified weather disasters, Republican politicians are trying to slash climate research funding
Click for bigger image. Billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the US in 2017. Illustration: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

....Extreme weather fueled by human carbon pollution is occurring around the world. But in the midst of this, President Trump and many Republican elected officials want to decrease our spending on climate science. In the United States, we have flagship organizations like Nasa and Noaa that are our eyes and ears on the climate. But throughout the year, Trump has worked to get Nasa to sharply reduce or even stop climate research. Nasa has two main missions. One mission is exploration – going to Mars, the moon, and sending exploration satellites that look outward. The other part of Nasa’s mission is to look inwards, at our own planet. To do this, they use many instruments, including satellites to measure what is happening on Earth.

Trump and his administration want to jettison the Earth research portion of Nasa’s mission. This obviously isn’t to save money; the amount we spend on Earth-focused missions is very small. Rather, it is to halt research into the Earth’s climate. The following chart compares the cost savings from budget cuts with the extreme weather costs just this year in the USA.

Climate scientists have won the war on the facts. We know it is warming, we know how fast it is warming. We know what is causing the warming. And, we know what to do about it. Since Trump (and sadly the Republican Party as a whole) have lost that battle, they have decided to blind us so we just won’t know what is happening.

We should be investing in science and the instruments that scientists need (satellites, airplanes, computers, other sensors). And we should invest in the people. Without funding and jobs in climate science, how will we encourage the next generation of bright minds to enter this field?

...It is so sad that an entire political party has become branded as anti-science. It is sad, but their actions justify the branding.

John Abraham | The Guardian

....A lack of regulation on drug sales can be owed to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry in U.S. politics. The pharmaceutical industry has reportedly spent $2.5 billion in the past decade lobbying politicians, the most of any industry. Only 3 U.S. Senators have not taken donations from “Big Pharma” and only 1 out of 10 members of the House; the industry also employs 2 lobbyists for every member of Congress to ensure they are protected from regulations. The Pain Care Forum, an industry-funded interest group, spent $740m over a decade lobbying state and federal lawmakers against enacting limits on painkiller prescriptions.

staff | teleSUR
  • Sea ice also melting at fastest pace in 1,500 years, US government scientists find
  • ‘The Arctic is a very different place than it was even a decade ago’ – author
Associated Press | The Guardian
English rivers polluted by powerful insecticides, first tests reveal [Are similar tests of U.S. waters conducted by the EPA anymore? We think not...]
Neonicotinoids, banned on flowering crops, were found in nearly all rivers tested, increasing concerns over their impact on fish and birds

Evidence is growing that neonicotinoids – the world’s most widely used insecticide – harm other species, such as songbirds. Neonicotinoids have been in use since the early 1990s and now contaminate landscapes around the world. But very little monitoring of their concentration in soils or water is done, a failing recently condemned by a UK government chief scientific adviser.

The first systematic testing of neonicotinoids in rivers in Britain was mandated by EU water regulations and conducted in 2016. The results, obtained by the conservation charity Buglife, show that half of the 16 rivers tested in England had either chronic or acute levels of contamination. Of the 23 rivers tested across Britain, neonicotinoids were not detected in six.

Damian Carrington | The Guardian
Partners in Health wants to rebuild entire countries’ medical systems, and bring health care to some of the poorest people on earth.

....Recently, Ophelia Dahl was in Rwanda, speaking to a group of graduate students at the University of Global Health Equity, which was opened in 2015 by Partners in Health, an aid organization that Dahl co-founded when she was very young. “For the first time in a lecture like that, I included my father as an example of the suggestion that you can transcend your training. Don’t do this thing where you say, ‘Well, I don’t know that that can be done.’ You have to keep pushing. You don’t say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not an inventor, I’m a writer.’ I think it’s connected to feeling entitled in the right way: ‘Fuck it. I’m not going to stand for that.’ You push. You push, push, push.”

In the final version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Willy Wonka exhorts Grandpa Joe, “You mustn’t despair! Nothing is impossible!” On the Partners in Health Web site, the organization’s stated purpose is to bring the benefits of modern medical science to some of the poorest people in the world. (The group operates in Haiti, Peru, Mexico, Siberia, the Navajo Nation, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Lesotho, and Liberia, in addition to Rwanda.) But Partners in Health also aspires to do something more amorphous, more imaginative, and more improbable: “to serve as an antidote to despair.”

....William Easterly, the economist, pointed to a fundamental difficulty with P.I.H.’s approach. “If you’ve said, ‘There’s a right to health care,’ you haven’t said whose obligation it is to provide it,” he told me. “From an economist’s point of view, that’s kind of fatal. That is the major flaw of positive rights: Who is to blame if they’re not met?” A moral imperative is not the same as a financial solution. Regan Marsh, who spent four weeks wearing spacesuit-like protective gear to treat Ebola patients, said that, as P.I.H. was getting involved in Sierra Leone, Dahl handled government agencies with trepidation: “Ophelia was sitting with people saying, ‘O.K., we will do this, but we are not a disaster-relief program. We will come only if you say that you are going to stay.’ Everyone said, ‘Yes, yes, we will be your partner to put a health system in here.’ And then, as soon as Ebola appeared to be stabilized, the money evaporated.” Dahl told me that you could “hear the sucking sound” as aid was pulled out of West Africa in the wake of the disease. “But, without an effective health-care system, it’s a matter of time before it resurfaces.”

It was crucial, Dahl said, that during crises people could count on organizations like Médecins Sans Frontières—“I mean, thank God for M.S.F.”—to set up self-contained triage units. But it was frustratingly difficult to persuade donors that long-term solutions are as necessary as emergency intervention. M.S.F. receives more than a billion dollars a year from donors, whereas P.I.H. takes in about seventy million. (Both organizations have four-star ratings, the highest, from Charity Navigator.) P.I.H. Sierra Leone started with an annual budget of seventeen million dollars, which has declined to five million, as donations have trailed off. “I wish we had more money,” Dahl said. “The idea that we’re constrained because we can’t find enough money, and not because we’ve failed to adapt. . . . But that’s what money forces you to do: make a series of terrible tradeoffs.”

Ariel Levy | The New Yorker
Kittiwakes and gannets are among seabirds that have joined endangered species on IUCN red list as food stocks dwindle, says study

....“Birds are well studied and great indicators of the health of the wider environment. A species at higher risk of extinction is a worrying alarm call that action needs to be taken now.”

The study found that overfishing and changes in the Pacific and north Atlantic caused by climate change have affected the availability of sand eels which black-legged kittiwakes feed on during the breeding season.

This has caused “disastrous chick survival rates”, it says, with nesting kittiwake numbers plummeting by 87% since 2000 on the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and by 96% on the Hebridean island of St Kilda.

Globally, the species is thought to have declined by about 40% since the 1970s, justifying its move from the “least concern” category to “vulnerable” on the Red List.

“The alarming decline of the black-legged kittiwake and other North Atlantic and Arctic seabirds, such as the Atlantic puffin, provides a painful lesson in what happens when nations take an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to conservation,” said Marguerite Tarzia, European marine conservation officer for BirdLife International.

Matthew Taylor | The Guardian
"The internet has given ordinary people more power than ever before. We're going to fight tooth and nail to make sure no one takes that power away."
Jake Johnson, staff writer | Common Dreams
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'
BOB SOMERBY in The DailyHowler | EVERY DAY
Sexual violence against women of color in the 40s went largely unpunished and a new film aims to shed light on one of the most courageous figures from the era
Molly Redden | The Guardian

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Poverty in US set to increase due to Donald Trump's policies, says UN official [oligarchy-controlled countries are wonderful for the very rich]
Already dismal poverty rates in the US are set to worsen under President Donald Trump, a top UN official has said. Currently, one in eight people in the US lives in poverty. Related:

A United Nations expert slammed the alarming levels of poverty in the US on Friday, saying that the situation is likely to get worse under US President Donald Trump.

Official US figures show that more than one in eight Americans live in poverty, but the UN official warned that the numbers are likely to rise under the Republican's new tax reform plan.

The downward spiral of poverty

Philip Alston, the UN's special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, undertook a two-week fact-finding visit to several US states and Puerto Rico. Alston detailed several examples of poverty he found during his tour, including:

  • Hookworm, an intestinal parasite, has returned in several communities in the South
  • Wal-Mart workers who rely on government-issued food stamps
  • Children raised in poverty have little to no access to healthcare, quality nutrition or decent education
  • Poor people are often in and out of prison, making many unable to vote due to their criminal records
'Inequality will skyrocket'

In a statement, Alston called out several Trump administration policies that will lead to an increase in poverty, saying:

  • "The US Congress is trying desperately to pass a tax bill that, if adopted, would represent the single most dramatic increase in inequality that could be imagined."
  • Trump's proposed cuts to social welfare programs will damage a safety net for the poor that is already "riddled with holes" and that should the cuts become reality, "inequality will skyrocket."
  • "The American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Illusion, as the US now has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries."
  • "Poor people have no chance of having their voices heard, no chance of influencing public policy."
Staff and UNICEF Staff | Deutsche Welle
Republicans Despise the Working Class [oligarchy-controlled countries are wonderful for the very rich]

You can always count on Republicans to do two things: try to cut taxes for the rich and try to weaken the safety net for the poor and the middle class. That was true under George W. Bush, who sharply cut tax rates on the top 1 percent and tried to privatize Social Security. It has been equally true under President Trump; G.O.P. legislative proposals show not a hint of the populism Trump espoused on the campaign trail.

But as a terrible, no good, very bad tax bill heads for a final vote, something has been added to the mix. As usual, Republicans seek to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable, but they don’t treat all Americans with a given income the same. Instead, their bill — on which we don’t have full details, but whose shape is clear — hugely privileges owners, whether of businesses or of financial assets, over those who simply work for a living.

PAUL KRUGMAN OPED | The New York Times
He says Republicans may try to close the investigation by the end of the month.

....Schiff suggested in one tweet that the pressure to quickly wrap up the probe is coming from Ryan, who has himself faced pressure by President Trump and his supporters to end the Russia probe or investigate Hillary Clinton’s work as secretary of state instead. A Ryan spokeswoman did not respond to questions about whether he has pressed intelligence committee members to curtail their investigation.

DAN FRIEDMAN | Mother Jones
Millions can no longer afford to retire, and may never be able when the GOP passes its tax bill

The U.S. has a retirement crisis on its hands, and with the far right controlling the executive branch and both houses of Congress, as well as dozens of state governments, things promise to grow immeasurably worse.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Past progressive presidents, notably Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, took important steps to make life more comfortable for aging Americans. FDR signed the Social Security Act of 1935 into law as part of his New Deal, and when LBJ passed Medicare in 1965, he established a universal health care program for those 65 and older. But the country has embraced a neoliberal economic model since the election of Ronald Reagan, and all too often, older Americans have been quick to vote for far-right Republicans antagonistic to the social safety net.

ALEX HENDERSON / ALTERNET | Salon
Democratic men are 31 points more likely to say that the “country has not gone far enough on women’s rights” than Republican women.

....This September, Leonie Huddy and Johanna Willmann of Stony Brook University presented a paper at the American Political Science Association. (The paper is not yet published, but Huddy sent me a copy.) In it, they charted the effects of feminism on partisanship over time. Holding other factors constant, they found that between 2004 and 2016, support for feminism—belief in the existence of “societal discrimination against women, and the need for greater female political power”—grew increasingly correlated with support for the Democratic Party. The correlation rose earlier among feminist women, but by 2016, it had also risen among feminist men. A key factor, the authors speculated, was Hillary Clinton. A liberal woman’s emergence as a serious presidential contender in 2008, and then as her party’s nominee eight years later, drove feminists of both genders toward the Democratic Party and anti-feminists of both genders toward the GOP.

PETER BEINART | The Atlantic
The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation
Ed Pilkington | The Guardian
The nearly three-month funding lapse has raised the profile of a program that’s spent most of the year in the shadows of Republican efforts to overhaul the tax code .

Everyone in Congress claims to be a champion of children’s health.

But funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program ran out Sept. 30. And some lawmakers worry it might not be replenished until early next year.

JENNIFER HABERKORN | Politico
Estonia, the Digital Republic [Remember when America did wonderful new things? Me neither.]
Its government is virtual, borderless, blockchained, and secure. Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?

....Within this gated community lives a man, his family, and one vision of the future. Taavi Kotka, who spent four years as Estonia’s chief information officer, is one of the leading public faces of a project known as e-Estonia: a coördinated governmental effort to transform the country from a state into a digital society.

E-Estonia is the most ambitious project in technological statecraft today, for it includes all members of the government, and alters citizens’ daily lives. The normal services that government is involved with—legislation, voting, education, justice, health care, banking, taxes, policing, and so on—have been digitally linked across one platform, wiring up the nation. A lawn outside Kotka’s large house was being trimmed by a small robot, wheeling itself forward and nibbling the grass.

“Everything here is robots,” Kotka said. “Robots here, robots there.” He sometimes felt that the lawnmower had a soul. “At parties, it gets close to people,” he explained.

....“We had to set a goal that resonates, large enough for the society to believe in,” Kotka went on.

....It was during Kotka’s tenure that the e-Estonian goal reached its fruition. Today, citizens can vote from their laptops and challenge parking tickets from home. They do so through the “once only” policy, which dictates that no single piece of information should be entered twice. Instead of having to “prepare” a loan application, applicants have their data—income, debt, savings—pulled from elsewhere in the system. There’s nothing to fill out in doctors’ waiting rooms, because physicians can access their patients’ medical histories. Estonia’s system is keyed to a chip-I.D. card that reduces typically onerous, integrative processes—such as doing taxes—to quick work. “If a couple in love would like to marry, they still have to visit the government location and express their will,” Andrus Kaarelson, a director at the Estonian Information Systems Authority, says. But, apart from transfers of physical property, such as buying a house, all bureaucratic processes can be done online.

Estonia is a Baltic country of 1.3 million people and four million hectares, half of which is forest. Its government presents this digitization as a cost-saving efficiency and an equalizing force. Digitizing processes reportedly saves the state two per cent of its G.D.P. a year in salaries and expenses. Since that’s the same amount it pays to meet the nato threshold for protection (Estonia—which has a notably vexed relationship with Russia—has a comparatively small military), its former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves liked to joke that the country got its national security for free.

Nathan Heller | The New Yorker
Israeli undercover soldiers seen arresting Palestinian protesters [Palestinians need more and better weapons for a fair fight]
Footage shows officers posing as protesters before pulling out pistols and seizing stone throwers in West Bank
Peter Beaumont | The Guardian
Of more than 50,000 killings of women since 1985, nearly a third took place in last six years, official report says

....The rise in such killings coincided with Mexico’s militarised offensive against drug cartels launched in late 2006 by then-president Felipe Calderón. It also roughly tracks overall homicide trends during the period.

About 12% of homicide victims in Mexico last year were women, compared with about 10% in 1985. That was down slightly from the early and mid-2000s.

“Violence against women and girls – which can result in death – is perpetrated, in most cases, to conserve and reproduce the submission and subordination of them derived from relationships of power,” the report said.

The tiny state of Colima registered the country’s highest femicide rate in 2016, with 16.3 per 100,000. It was followed by the states of Guerrero, Zacatecas, Chihuahua and Morelos.

....Most of those are states with a heavy presence of organized crime gangs. Guerrero, in particular, is a hotspot of cartel violence. The Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco in Guerrero registered more killings of women last year than any other municipality, with 107.

Associated Press | The Guardian

Reference:
Disintermediating nation-states
Marc Cherbonnier | The Baltimore Chronicle | Ref.
Who Pays for Judicial Races? The Politics of Judicial Elections 2015-16 [desperately packing the courts at all levels to protect white power & unregulated capitalism]

Under the constitution, our courts are obliged to provide equal justice regardless of wealth, status, or political connections. But in a new report, the latest in the series The Politics of Judicial Elections, we found that the integrity of our state supreme courts is increasingly under threat from a torrent of special interest money, often from secret sources. Using data from every state supreme court election in the most recent 2015-16 cycle, the report is the only comprehensive analysis of these and other trends, and includes examples of what big spenders hope to achieve, the kinds of ads the fund, and the threats they pose to the appearance and reality of evenhanded justice.

Although Americans are optimistic about the ordinary person's ability to help fight corruption, about 70 percent believe the U.S. government is failing at it
Jessica Corbett, staff writer | Common Dreams
After passing their tax bill, Republicans plan to impose work requirements on safety net programs.

After decades of chastising the idle, Republicans are pushing a tax bill that specifically advantages rich people who don’t work. But they aren’t applying that standard for poor people. Once the tax bill passes, Republicans plan to make it easier for states to add work requirements for welfare recipients.

The Senate tax bill gives business owners nearly three times more benefits than workers with wages and salaries, according to a new analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Adam Looney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told The New York Times that if the bill becomes law it would be the first time that “wage earners were substantially penalized” by the tax code.

The diverging treatment comes from how the tax bill treats the 95 percent of businesses that are structured so that profits are taxed as individual income. Republicans portray these businesses, which are known as “pass-throughs,” as “ma and pa bakeries and family-owned salons.” In reality, most pass-through income goes to people in the top 1 percent—including the Trump family.

The House tax bill cuts the top income tax rate for pass-throughs from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, which would cost taxpayers nearly $600 billion over 10 years. About 86 percent of small business owners would not benefit because all of their income is already in the 25 percent tax bracket or lower. Republicans’ much-touted ma and pa shops usually don’t earn enough to be in the top tax brackets, which kick in at $153,000 of taxable income for couples.

NOAH LANARD AND HANNAH LEVINTOVA | Mother Jones
The United States Is Now as Unequal as Russia. And That’s Before the Tax Bill. [oligarchy-controlled countries are wonderful for the very rich]
A new report shows how the 1 percent have sucked up 39 percent of America’s wealth.

When it comes to income equality, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is probably not the company most Americans hope to keep. Nevertheless, both countries’ elites now capture roughly the same share of national wealth.

The new data comes from a comprehensive survey of global inequality released Thursday by the World Inequality Lab. The report, whose authors include renowned economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, brings together the work of more than 100 researchers. Its findings come as Republicans prepare to pass a tax bill that follows the same trickle-down philosophy that the report says is responsible for much of the rise in inequality in the United States.

The United States and Europe once had similar level of inequality, the 2018 World Inequality Report finds. Today, the United States is closer to sub-Saharan Africa than Europe in the share of income that goes to the top 10 percent. The authors explain that America’s “massive educational inequalities,” tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and surging salaries for executives are largely to blame for the shift.

The share of wealth, which includes cash [and investments] accumulated over the years, held by the top 1 percent of Americans jumped from 22 percent in 1980 to almost 39 percent by 2014. In Russia, it increased from 22 percent to 43 percent between 1995 and 2015.

The top 0.1 percent of Americans are almost entirely responsible for the increasing concentration of wealth. Between 1978 and 2012, their wealth share tripled from 7 percent to 22 percent. They now have more wealth than at any point since the Gilded Age.

NOAH LANARD | Mother Jones
EU to force firms to reveal true owners in wake of Panama Papers [what are the chances oligarchy-controlled countries (esp. America and Russia) ever agree to fight tax evasion and money landering? International agencies must all mandate common regulations as a condition for UN membership, trade agreements, world bank loans, etc.]
Anti-corruption campaigners welcome move but criticise failure to include trusts in corporate ownership requirements

Companies across the EU will be forced to disclose their true owners under new legislation prompted by the release of the Panama Papers.

Anti-corruption campaigners applauded the agreement as a major step in the fight against tax evasion and money laundering, but expressed disappointment that trusts will mostly escape scrutiny.

The revised terms of the EU’s fourth anti-money laundering directive include:

  • A requirement for companies to disclose their beneficial, or true, owners in a publicly available register.
  • Data on the beneficial owners of trusts to be available to tax and law enforcement authorities, as well as sectors with an obligation to follow anti-money laundering rules, such as lawyers.
  • A requirement for member states to verify beneficial ownership information submitted to their registers.
  • Extending anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism regulations to apply to virtual currencies, provision of tax services and those dealing in works of art.

EU member states will have 18 months to transpose the new directive into domestic legislation. As a current member of the EU, the UK will implement the legislation.

David Pegg and Hilary Osborne | The Guardian
Inequality report also shows UK’s 50,000 richest people have seen their share of the country’s wealth double since 1984
Rupert Neate | The Guardian
At the launch of their World Inequality Report, Thomas Piketty and colleagues explain the past, present and future trends of inequality around the world
Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman | The Guardian
The “Death Tax” Cargo Cult [we lack for morals and sanity in U.S. media & politics]
With its assault on the estate tax, the GOP is demonstrating that it’s not even under the thumb of the 1 percent, but the 0.2 percent.
Click for bigger image. A mansion in New York State. Arman Thanvir / Flickr (One of many properties?)
MEAGAN DAY| Jacobin
The closer Mueller gets to Trump, the likelier it is that Trump will act to try to end his investigation. That’s why he must be protected now
Max Bergmann and Max Boot | The Guardian
Who Broke the Economy? [might the recent template legislation from Koch bros.’ ALEC be implicated?]
The authors of a new book argue that government regulations have been giving an unfair advantage to those already on top.
ANNIE LOWREY | The Atlantic


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