As corporate behemoths’ market power has increased, so, too, has their ability to influence America’s money-driven politics. And as the system has become more rigged in business’s favor, it has become much harder for ordinary citizens to seek redress for mistreatment or abuse. A perfect example of this is the spread of arbitration clauses in labor contracts and user agreements, which allow corporations to settle disputes with employees and customers through a sympathetic mediator, rather than in court.
Some hard-line Brexit supporters, including members of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet, think the threat of leaving without a divorce agreement is overblown. But that hasn’t stopped the government from setting aside £4.2 billion pounds ($5.5 billion) to spend on preparing for the worst.
To that end, analysts at Goldman Sachs, who have been closely chronicling the Brexit trainwreck since the referendum, have attempted to quantify the economic impact of Brexit in the two-and-a-half years since the referendum, and use it to extrapolate what might be in store not just for the UK, but for all of Europe, if Britain leaves without a deal next week.
A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy (Sparky1, LesPhelps)
The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.
Spoofing, a form of robo-calling, is increasingly common. It’s when someone makes a call from a voice-over-IP service, such as Skype, and are able to enter a host number. While a carrier must provide a number when a call is made from a cell phone or landline, any number sequence can be entered via a VoIP service, whether it’s a made up number, a number in your address book, or one from the White House. It’s so easy, anyone could do it.
Finding the right tools for that job remains a challenge. The Federal Trade Commission has had a strong track record in its 140 robocall-related suits, including a recent victory at the end of March that targeted four massive operations. Bipartisan anti-robocalling legislation is gaining traction in Congress. Apps that flag or block unwanted calls have matured and are solidly effective. And wireless carriers—in part facing pressure from the Federal Communications Commission—have increasingly offered their own anti-robocalling apps and tools for free.
Calling Racism by Its Real Name (newsbuoy)
Leaked reports showed NBC News, for one, instructing staffers otherwise (HuffPost, 1/15/19): “Be careful to avoiding characterizing [King’s] remarks as racist,” read the internal guidance, adding “It is OK to attribute to others as in ‘what many are calling racist’ or something like that.” Laugh if you will, NBC is reflecting polite society’s rule that besmirching someone—someone white, that is—with the label “racist” is worse than degrading the humanity of millions.
Even monkeys can join in the game. If you’re forecasting random binary outcomes (stocks up or down, rates high or low, etc.), a trained monkey will have a 50% batting average. The reason is that the monkey knows nothing and just points to a random result.
Random pointing with random outcomes over a sustained period will be “right” half the time and “wrong” half the time, for a 50% forecasting record. You won’t make any money with that, but you won’t lose any either. It’s a push.
Political Economics And The Weimar Disaster (newsbuoy)
The treaty of Versailles and the Weimar constitution were written in 1919 with expert advice from John Maynard Keynes and Max Weber respectively. This paper considers how advances in political and economic theory since then could help to better understand the problems of Weimar and Versailles. The Weimar constitution’s combination of a strong presidency with a proportional-representation legislature may be responsible for the breakdown of German parliamentary government, and may have facilitated the careers of extremist authoritarian politicians. The Versailles treaty’s huge reparations bill created a war of attrition that encouraged Germans to cultivate the Depression and Nazism.
Camping Out in Crazy Town (GE Christenson)
An increasing number of people approve of socialism. But many people are fleeing high-tax states that support expensive social programs. States can’t “print” dollars so someone—taxpayers—must pay for those programs. How long can an indebted state remain solvent when the high-income taxpayers are leaving and the “takers” are staying, while demanding more?
What Remains (tmn)
Geologists and park employees have been returning to Russell’s photo point — and to the glacier itself — on a more or less regular basis ever since, replicating Russell’s images to create a scientific record 135 years old and counting. Stock has been the keeper of that tradition for over a decade, making the trip through Lyell Canyon more than 20 times to check the glacier’s vital signs. He has put gauges in runoff streams to measure meltwater trickling out of openings at the toe of the glacier. He has studied data from NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory, an airplane outfitted with advanced sensing equipment that calculates the water volume in the Sierra snowpack and ice fields. Using much of the same technique that Muir did in 1871, Stock drove stakes into the Lyell to measure the downslope creep of ice that defines a glacier.
Gold & Silver
Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group
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