The Global Land Grab (jdargis)
This is a global humanitarian crisis. An unprecedented worldwide scramble for land—predominantly for agriculture—has spurred a new era in the “geopolitics of food scarcity,” according to Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute. That scramble escalated dramatically with the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent rise in food prices. Countries that export food began to limit how much they would sell. Countries that import food “panicked,” Brown writes, and started buying up or leasing other countries’ cheap land on which to produce their own food. Hardest hit were poor countries like Cambodia, where the elite eat abundantly and the poor already struggle to feed themselves.
The Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron explained, “It’s obvious to all of us that a story of this magnitude was going to need a lot of ‘lawyering,’ and was going to need a lot of careful thought about how to balance the risks of disclosure with the necessity of bringing big policy decisions before the public.”
“There’s so much sensitive material in there, we’ve been much, much more controlled,” said Gellman.
Cuts would also be made in school security, nurses, transportation, administration and maintenance, officials said. They are also seeking cost savings from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. The $2.49 billion budget does not include the $96.2 million, but school principals have been instructed to assume that the money will be found, although they have also been warned that staff cuts will be necessary if it is not, Dr. Hite said.
Who Will Watch The Watchers? (jdargis)
Far fewer people have viewed the video of Arévalo’s killing, though both incidents raise the same essential questions about how lethal force is being used along the border, especially with respect to incidents of alleged rock-throwing attacks on agents. Border Patrol agents and CBP officers both work for an agency called Customs and Border Protection, which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. Official CBP policy allows agents to use lethal force when they feel their lives are in danger, and while the agency for years has declined to make public the details of this policy, senior officials have long maintained that the agency considers rock-throwing attacks (or “rockings,” as agents refer to the incidents) to be potentially life-threatening situations. Rockings can be dangerous, T. J. Bonner, the former president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents agents, told Homeland Security Today magazine in 2011, not just because of the damage a thrown rock could cause but also because of what could happen after an agent was incapacitated by a rock. “What’s to stop one of these people,” he said, “from then taking the agent’s firearm and executing him?”
Private equity firms have been ruthlessly taking advantage of that “insatiable demand.” And they have a special self-serving trick up their sleeve: Their junk-rated overleveraged portfolio companies issue new loans, but instead of using the funds for expansion projects or other productive uses, they hand them out through the back door as special dividends. It’s one of the simplest ways PE firms use to strip cash out of their portfolio companies. It loads even more debt on the already highly leveraged portfolio company without adding productive capacity. And those who end up holding this debt – for example, the mutual fund in your portfolio – have a good chance of losing it all.
Separately, the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has issued a lengthy analysis rejecting the surveillance court’s view that a provision of the Patriot Act — which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records that are relevant to an investigation — can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing bulk collection. The board issued its report after the phone company made its challenge, and neither it nor Judge Collyer’s ruling addressed that issue.
By the time Harper hung up, according to people with knowledge of the episode, he had sized up the potential economic calamity for Canada and its oil ambitions. Western Canada’s land-locked Alberta oil sands hold roughly 168 billion recoverable barrels of heavy crude known as bitumen. America gobbles up almost all of Canada’s oil exports. An energy research group in Calgary had run the math: If Keystone died, it could cost Canada C$632 billion ($573 billion) in foregone growth over 25 years — 94 percent of it from the economy of Alberta, the province Harper calls home.
7 Badass Farm Trucks (jdargis)
These trucks didn't need cheesy country music and slow-motion to sell, they worked when they needed to, and hey, if they broke down, you could probably fix them with a kick, some choice words and a ball-peen hammer. Thanks to the extensive archives of the Library of Congress we can still enjoy the timelessness of these hard working machines.
Gold & Silver
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