Monthly Archives: October 2011

Quebec Outbreak: High Rate of Measle Infection Despite Vaccinations

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More than 50% of kids who got the measles in a recent Quebec outbreak (52 of 98) were vaccinated.

Meanwhile, we shove buckets of cash into vaccination programs without fully understanding the contents of these products and the budget implications of holding back on vaccinations.

It’s time we all started asking some serious questions about why we’re doing this to our kids.

US to Backstop $75 TRILLION in Derivatives Risk?

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Just as #occupywallstreet picks up steam, it looks like the US Federal Reserve will backstop (ie. insure against risk or exposure) the massive $75 TRILLION of notional derivatives carried by the Bank of America.

What this means is that when Europe finally implodes and banks fail, U.S. taxpayers will hold the bag for trillions in CDS insurance contracts sold by Bank of America and JP Morgan.  Even worse, the total exposure is unknown because Wall Street successfully lobbied during Dodd-Frank passage so that no central exchange would exist keeping track of net derivative exposure.

No wonder Americans are upset.

This is the Ponzi-Bingo-Lottery-Casino attitude being presented by American financial institutions and the obvious reality is that the Fed will continue to do everything it can to prevent a massive hemorrage from happening, but every time they try to block things up, everyone just gets impacted.

It’s time to let it go.  Stop treating the banks like they’re little children and make them accept their responsibility.

Follow the Money Behind Europe’s Debt Crisis

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This link offers an insightful look into the roots of the European debt crisis.

It offers some refreshing reminders as to why fake fiscal emergencies and resulting ‘austerity measures’ are nothing but a sham.

Worse, just as they did in 2008-09, governments are rushing to rescue rickety banks with public funds. That’s why the European Central Bank, the IMF and Europe’s leading powers keep bailing out ailing states like Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Again: follow the money. When debt-strapped governments receive hundreds of billions in new loans, that money is immediately sent into the coffers of private banks as payments on past loans. The whole situation, observes one writer in the Financial Times, “resembles a pyramid or Ponzi scheme” in which original lenders are paid back with new loans.

The difference is that the new loans are coming from public funds, which is another way of saying that private banks are being rescued once more by the people. Just as in the global bank crisis of 2008-09, bank profits are private, but their losses are public. Not exactly the free market. But it’s a nice deal for profligate bankers.

Any finance minister – including Jim Flaherty – that pretends there are different and more pressing issues behind this building crisis risks their credibility as people wake up to the reality that the big transfer – shifting our funds to the big banks – has to come to a quick end.

It’s important that we all resist austerity measures – fake fiscal emergencies designed to crush public services and public service – in the wake of this knowledge.

Harper Govt Says FU To Environment

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The Harper government just eliminated funding for one of Canada’s largest and most durable environmental groups, the Canadian Environmental Network.

Talk about a thrust to the jugular for the environment.

Meanwhile, several billion a year get pissed away on the Tar Sands …


What Side For Ben & Jerry’s With #occupywallstreet?

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Earlier this week, a Ben & Jerry’s store caught the attention of many #occupywallstreet protesters when they were seen to be profiting from the protest.

… But that evening, protesters expressed mixed feelings about corporations latching onto their cause. Some, like Jules Caldarera, a 20-year-old student from New Mexico, were excited to see support from a high-profile company like Ben & Jerry’s. Many didn’t realize that the ice cream was from Ben & Jerry’s. Others found it strange that any company would support an anti-corporate protest.

“It’s problematic,” says Donal Foreman, a 26-year-old from Ireland. Foreman has been attending the protests since their launch but wasn’t there to eat any of the free treats during the day on Tuesday. “Ben & Jerry’s is co-opting the movement.”

The Ben & Jerry’s board tried to show support for the movement:

Regardless, the brand has aligned itself with Occupy Wall Street’s values. In its statement, Ben & Jerry’s independent board of directors decries “the inequity that exists between classes in our country,” as well as the fact that “corporations are permitted to spend unlimited resources to influence elections while stockpiling a trillion dollars rather than hiring people.”

Of course, who can blame them for trying to elevate their brand and garner a little attention for their efforts in the community, right?

The unfortunate reality is that Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever and they are ultimately part of the problem so long as their parent company insists on using genetically modified ingredients in their foods (including Ben & Jerry’s?), pushing forward with sexist and misogynist ads for Axe and pushing for corporate tax breaks.

Sorry folks … until Ben & Jerry’s owners choose to divest themselves for corporations like Unilever, they’re part of the problem not the solution and they’re just making the situation that much more awkward.