Is It Bad Enough Yet? (jdargis)
The progress of the last 40 years has been mostly cultural, culminating, the last couple of years, in the broad legalization of same-sex marriage. But by many other measures, especially economic, things have gotten worse, thanks to the establishment of neo-liberal principles — anti-unionism, deregulation, market fundamentalism and intensified, unconscionable greed — that began with Richard Nixon and picked up steam under Ronald Reagan. Too many are suffering now because too few were fighting then.
If They Only Knew How Little You Know (thc0655)
And this is just the first month in what might — if oil keeps falling and energy-company junk bonds blow up and the eurozone falls back into recession and Greece, Italy, Spain, and France elect anti-euro leaders and emerging market governments start defaulting and some other less obvious black swans all land at once — turn out to be 2008 all over again. You barely made it to 2010 with your career and sanity intact, and now here you are again, staring into the abyss and hoping the abyss doesn’t stare back.
The Omnibus Is Done (jdargis)
Democrats also faced their own internal struggle. Members of the majority balked at the spending package over the inclusion of provisions altering the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, lifting caps on donations to political parties, and altering protections for worker pensions. The loudest voices came from the left, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. But when it became clear Saturday night that the omnibus bill would pass with a slim majority, many members in the party’s moderate wing joined in voting against the bill. Ultimately, 21 Democrats voted against the measure along with independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Making the budget fight a news story not about bailouts, but about the ambitions of Elizabeth Warren, is part of the game. And the Beltway hacks have succeeded there. Media on all sides have described last week’s episode as Warren’s political coming-out party. Former Obama aides sent a letter urging her to run for president, and Fox news said the rebellion showed Warren has the “clout” to “disrupt the best plans of the establishment.”
“This landslide victory will give Abe plenty of power to proceed with his reflationary policies,” said Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo and a former central bank official. “Even so, the low turnout reflects the view that many voters don’t accept Abenomics.”
The Global Energy Security War (Evan K.)
Concerns about energy security have shot to the top of the political agenda in Europe. But the US has no intention of letting the EU down. “The United States will be working with the EU to develop a plan for the mid- to long-term evolution of a more energy-secure future”, said US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz at a conference of the Atlantic Council in Istanbul. At this summit, top US officials and energy experts showed themselves surprisingly positive about the progress the EU has made reducing its dependence on Russia. “A few years ago, we couldn’t have solved the Ukrainian problem. Now we can.” With US LNG exports under way, the “monumental” Southern Corridor under construction, and Gazprom’s South Stream project increasingly under pressure, Europe’s position will only get stronger. Karel Beckman reports from Istanbul.
The New Food Police (jdargis)
Ensuring food safety has always been an FDA mandate, but its approach has traditionally been conservative. Lab scientists would spend years determining what was and wasn’t okay to consume. After something was determined to be iffy — like the infamous red dye #2 — it was yanked from the shelves. “We’ve always taken a very reactive approach,” says Taylor.
Then in 1993, the food safety landscape changed forever. The fastfood chain Jack in the Box served E. coli-tainted hamburgers at 73 of its West Coast stores, leaving a grim tally: more than 700 sick and 178 left with permanent kidney and brain damage, most of them younger than 10. Four children died.
Data on child labor are scarce; many growers and distributors will not talk about it. About 100,000 Mexican children under 14 pick crops for pay, according to estimates in a 2012 study by the World Bank and other international agencies. It is illegal to employ workers younger than 15.
Gold & Silver
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