Over 100 Economists Endorse Public Financing Of Health Care In Vermont

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According to the plan, low- and middle-income families would pay much less in health care costs if Green Mountain Care was implemented. A family with an income of $50,000 per year, for example, would pay 40% less for health care costs on average under Green Mountain Care. The plan proposes taxing wealthier people’s unearned investment income in order to give a bigger break to low- and middle-income families. It also proposes implementing a graduated payroll tax that requires large employers and businesses with highly unequal salary structures to pay more than smaller and more wage-equitable businesses. The payroll tax takes into account the difference between the top 1% of wages and the bottom half of wages in each company, and lowers the tax rate for companies with more equitable wage structures.

Bankers Trump Greek Democracy In Europe

Greek protester tell troika to go to hell

The negotiations clarified what the Greek government (and any other who defies the Troika) is facing. it is only because we have now had the experience of an anti-austerity government go to the wall in an attempt to reverse austerity within the eurozone that we can now contemplate the emergence of a significant anti-euro constituency within Greece. Further, there will be opportunities to build this: every time the troika rejects a needed reform, this can and should be held up as an object lesson in what Europe means. So, Syriza helped more than the re-election of New Democracy would have to understand the true situation. This will result in a debate within Syriza: . . . there will now be a huge argument within Syriza over the acceptance of this deal, and the old slogan of ‘not one sacrifice for the euro’ will make a come back. Manolis Glezos, an iconic figure from the antifascist resistance and prominent within Syriza, is the first to have gone public with his dissent. He is calling for a campaign up and down the party not to accept this deal, and will vote against it. He will not be the last. Next week, there will be a rally in Syntagma Square, with the slogan ‘We’re not afraid of Grexit’. He concludes describing this moment as “a nodal point and not the end point in the process of Greek workers finding a solution to their dilemma.”

The ‘Corinthian 15′ Take A Stand By Calling A Student Loan Strike

(Image: Debt Collective)

Many students graduating from universities face a mountain of student loans so large, escaping its shadow seems almost impossible. But a group of former students today is taking matters into their own hands. With the help of Rolling Jubilee, a campaign that purchases student loan debt and then forgives it, 15 graduates of Corinthian College are starting a student debt strike by refusing to pay their loans. The united former students, calling themselves the Corinthian 15, are fed up with colleges, especially for-profit colleges, that take advantage of students who are simply seeking an education. The strike is the first time a group has come together to collectively refuse to pay federal student loans.

Corporate Debt To Society: $10,000 Per Household, Per Year

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Over half (57 percent) of basic research is paid for by our tax dollars. Corporations don’t want to pay for this. It’s easier for them to allow public money to do the startup work, and then, when profit potential is evident, to take over with applied R&D, often with patents that take the rights away from the rest of us. All the technology in our phones and computers started this way, and continues to the present day. Pharmaceutical companies have depended on the National Institutes of Health. The quadrillion-dollar trading capacity of the financial industry was made possible by government-funded Internet technology, and the big banks survived because of a $7 trillion public bailout. A particularly outrageous example of a company turning public research into a patent-protected private monopoly is the sordid tale (here) of the drug company Gilead Sciences.

Is Northern Gateway Quietly Being Shelved?

Enbridge is being very quiet about the Northern Gateway pipeline project. (Canadian Press)

In the earnings conference call, Guy Jarvis, Enbridge’s president of liquids and pipelines said that with the current opposition to pipelines, it’s easier to make incremental changes to the existing network to get oil flowing to U.S. ports. “All of these involve relatively small, low cost, bolt-on projects that can be staged in increments as required to meet shipper needs,” said Jarvis. The company also said in the call that it expects Keystone XL to be in operation in 2019 and for one of the West Coast pipelines to be operating in 2020. That would be either Northern Gateway or Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It’s notable that it didn’t express any confidence Gateway would be the pipeline in operation, even though it is further ahead in the regulatory process and Kinder Morgan is facing a lot of opposition of its own.

Obama’s Foreclosure Program Designed To Help Bankers

(Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr CC 2.0)

President Obama will carry several legacies into his final two years in office: a long-sought health care reform, a fiscal stimulus that limited the impact of the Great Recession, a rapid civil rights advance for gay and lesbian Americans. But if Obama owns those triumphs, he must also own this tragedy: the dispossession of at least 5.2 million US homeowner families, the explosion of inequality, and the largest ruination of middle-class wealth in nearly a century. Though some policy failures can be blamed on Republican obstruction, it was within Obama’s power to remedy this one — to ensure that a foreclosure crisis now in its eighth year would actually end, with relief for homeowners to rebuild wealth, and to preserve Americans’ faith that their government will aid them in times of economic struggle.

HSBC Files: Swiss Bank Helped Clients Dodge Taxes, Hide Millions

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The Guardian’s evidence of a pattern of misconduct at HSBC in Switzerland is supported by the outcome of recent court cases in the US and Europe. The bank was named in the US as a co-conspirator for handing over “bricks” of $100,000 a time to American surgeon Andrew Silva in Geneva, so that he could illegally post cash back to the US. Another US client, Sanjay Sethi, pleaded guilty in 2013 to cheating the US tax authorities. He was one of a group of convicted HSBC clients. The prosecution said an HSBC banker promised “the undeclared account would allow [his] assets to grow tax-free, and bank secrecy laws in Switzerland would allow Sethi to conceal the existence of the account”.

First Country In The World Divests From Fossil Fuels

“Norway made all its money on oil, but now it’s dumping its fossil fuel stocks. It’s the Rockefeller of countries,” said Bill McKibben. Photo credit: Fossil Free

Back in 2012, Bill McKibben with fellow activists including Naomi Klein, Winona LaDuke, Josh Fox and Reverend Lennox Yearwood began a nationwide tour to promotefossil fuel divestment—that is, selling off your shares in fossil fuel companies–in an effort to combat climate change. With action in Congress impossible, McKibben saw college campuses—known for being laboratories of democracy—as ground zero in the campaign for divestment. With his ‘Do the Math’ campaign in sold-out concert halls across America, McKibben and others were able to launch Fossil Free, an international network of divestment campaigns. It’s a project of the larger organization 350.org. Flash forward three years and the movement has made impressive strides.

Monsanto Earnings Fall 34% After Global Protests

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Monsanto said Wednesday its earnings fell 34% in its first fiscal quarter, as South American farmers cut back on planting corn, reducing demand for the company’s biotech-enhanced seeds. US farmers harvested record crops of soybeans and corn last year, sending prices on those food staples to their lowest levels in years. That has resulted in farmers in South America and elsewhere reducing the number of acres they dedicate to corn. Monsanto said its business was also affected by reduced cotton planting in Australia. The agriculture products company’s revenue fell more than 8% to $2.87bn in the period, on lower sales of corn seeds and herbicide. Analysts expected $2.96bn, according to Zacks. The St Louis-based company reported a profit of $243m, or 50 cents per share, down from $368m, or 69 cents per share in the same period last year.

Lummi Nation: Will Not Negotiate With Bellingham Coal

KOPYTIN GEORGY/SHUTTERSTOCK The Lummi Nation could block the proposed coal terminal in Bellingham.

A 150-year-old tribal fishing treaty could be the thing that blocks a proposed coal terminal in Bellingham. The Lummi Nation, which has a reservation in the area, says that it will not compromise with Pacific International Terminals, the company that aims to ship 54 million metric tons of goods—mostly coal—to Asia annually through Lummi fishing waters. In early January, Lummi leaders sent a letter asking the Army Corps of Engineers to block a permit for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal. Noise, pollution, and oil spill risks would compromise fishing treaty rights the tribe established in 1855, they said. A recent environmental impact study issued by the Department of Ecology found that the terminal would increase disruption of Lummi fishing activityby up to 76 percent.

Activists Tell Citigroup To Give Up Their License To Steal

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Today, Jan. 28, an activist marching band and NYC street performers delivered a petition signed by more than 100,000 consumers to Citigroup’s New York headquarters, calling on the firm to remove terms in their contracts that deny customers their right to a day in court. (Here’s the complete press release). The petition to the five biggest banks that use forced arbitration clauses – PNC, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and US Bancorp – came from a broad coalition of national consumer and citizen groups including Public Citizen,Consumer Action, The Other 98%, National Association of Consumer Advocates, and National Consumer Law Center.

The European Union May Be On Verge Of Regime Collapse

The EU needs more than pretty rhetoric and good intentions to stay glued together. (Image via Shutterstock)

And yet, for all this success, the European project is currently teetering on the edge of failure. Growth is anemic at best and socio-economic inequality is on the rise. The countries of Eastern and Central Europe, even relatively successful Poland, have failed to bridge the income gap with the richer half of the continent. And the highly indebted periphery is in revolt. Politically, the center may not hold and things seem to be falling apart. From the left, parties like Syriza in Greece are challenging the EU’s prescriptions of austerity. From the right, Euroskeptic parties are taking aim at the entire quasi-federal model. Racism and xenophobia are gaining ever more adherents, even in previously placid regions like Scandinavia.

Activists Disrupt Hearing Over Fast Track For TPP

U.S. Trade Rep chief Michael Froman does not look too happy to hear from the public.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman was greeted with protest at Tuesday’s Senate and House Hearings on Capitol Hill, as people raised concerns about the President’s trade agenda and “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority. Activists with signs and banners chanting “No TPP!” and “No Fast Track!” were escorted from the Senate Finance Committee hearing room shortly after the U.S. Trade Representative took the microphone. The legislation, which Obama requested from both parties during last week’s State of the Union address, would limit congressional oversight of the Administration’s free trade agreements and is widely opposed by hundreds of environmental, labor, public health, food safety, and faith groups nationwide.

The Prospects And Consequences Of A Possible Syriza Government

Greek opposition leader and head of radical leftist Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras (L) and Spanish Podemos party Secretary General Pablo Iglesias wave to supporters following a campaign rally in central Athens January 22, 2015. Greek leftist leader Tsipras told thousands of people gathered in Athens that an end to "national humiliation" was near after opinion polls on Thursday showed his Syriza party pulling ahead three days before an election. (Photo: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)

That said, what is the leverage that would be applied to the Greek government if it chooses to recognize this reality and take a different path? In fact the leverage available is not zero, but it’s limited to some measures that would be fairly extreme in ordinary conditions. On the one hand, there are certain parts of the debt that should ordinarily be rolled over. Since the debt is now almost all – all the significant parts of it are in the hands of public authorities, the question of whether they would roll it over is a policy question for them. In some sense they have the ability, if they were to choose, to place the Greeks in technical default, but one has to ask what happens under those circumstances, and the answer is, I would think, not very much.

Are The Frackers In Full Retreat?

Fracking United Kingdom

Fracking, so recently seen as solving our national energy crisis, will unexpectedly fight for its future in Britain next week. On Wednesday, Lancashire councillors will decide whether to endorse a surprise recommendation from their officials to prohibit the first shale gas wells in years. And two days earlier MPs from four parties will force votes on temporarily banning the practice altogether. The crisis has blown up out of the blue. And even if the industry gets through the week unscathed, there is a growing feeling that nothing will be the same again. Government sources admit that the pressure for a moratorium is “gaining traction” in parliament, while industry fears that their “window is closing”.