Category Archives: Economy

Headline of the day: What evading taxes gets you


From BBC News, rewards for the head of the company that deftly avoids taxes, both at home and abroad [though at least one country has taken action]:

Google boss becomes highest-paid in US

The chief executive of Google, Sundar Pichai, has been awarded $199m (£138m) in shares, a regulatory filing has revealed.

Map of the day: Jobless rates, above/below average


From the Bureau of Labor Statistics [PDF], the latest map of metropolitan areas where jobless rates are above and below the national average:

BLOG Jobs

Birgitta Jónsdóttir: Headed for Iceland’s top post?


A 2011 self-portrait by Birgitta Jónsdóttir

A 2011 self-portrait by Birgitta Jónsdóttir

esnl‘s long been partial to Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Iceland’s poet, artist, Internet activist, publisher, hacker, and best-known science fiction fan.

She came to international prominence as a Wikileaks activist at a time when half the world’s cops and spooks wanted to shut the site down, and her activism led her into the national legislature as a member of the Pirate Party, a movement she helped found.

The anger spurring her move into the political arena came from the national government’s capitulation of the banksters who had brought the country to near-ruin.

But now she stands on the brink of yet another major change.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir could become the nation’s next prime minister.

From a 28 January post from the Reykjavik Grapevine:

The Pirate Party is currently polling at 42%, remaining the top party in the country for the past year now. Support for the party exceeds that of both parties in the ruling coalition combined.

These results come from a new poll conducted by Stöð 2 and Fréttablaðið, where the Pirates have polled at over 30% for the past 12 months.

At the same time, support for the Independence Party is now at 23.2%, which is a record low for the party for this poll. Their partners in the ruling coalition, the Progressive Party, are currently slightly above 10%. This puts support for the Pirates alone almost 10% greater than that of both parties in the coalition.

So what would this remarkable activist do in office?

From a 22 January Backchannel profile:

Stubbornly, Birgitta follows the Pirate Party guidelines: horizontal leadership, power rotation, liquid democracy. She votes in Parliament according to the majority will collected on the Píratar web platform. Birgitta is a captain with no title or privileges. Yet she leads.

With only three parliamentarians, Pirates have surged into first place for the next legislative elections. (With 38 percent of voter intention, they are ahead of both traditional parties combined.) “People are really fed up,” she comments. Birgitta could become prime minister. She rolls her big eyes and says, “That is my worst nightmare.”

Birgitta isn’t a rebel but a hacker. Complaining and pointing fingers is a waste of time. She has a goal, a plan: Birgitta wants democracy to work again. Being in charge is the price to pay. Yet she imposes her conditions: She wants her hands free. If in power, Birgitta’s action plan is clear: apply the new constitution; implement IMMI to make Iceland a safe haven for freedom of expression and data; hold a proper debate on joining the European Union, followed by a referendum; conduct a six-month policy assessment of every ministry; and turn the recommendation into a government plan. After that, Birgitta would step down to force new elections to have this plan supported across the board. A true pirate, she would leave her seat as soon as she is done. Power destroys souls. It has worn her out already.

So what does she believe?

From Julian Correa, a video of a talk she gave on freedom of information [and much more] at the November 2014 CopyCamp, a Warsaw gathering on copyright law:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir

And here’s an interview from We Are Change Rotterdam:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir: “We have to help the system to collapse”

Program notes:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a politician (poetician) and an activist member of the Althing, the Icelandic parliament, formerly representing the Citizens’ Movement and The Movement, but now representing the Pirate Party. We Are Change Rotterdam got a chance to talk to her about revolution, Icelandic politics, the new Icelandic constitution and much more. Utrecht, 2014

We suspect life is about to get very interesting in Iceland.

Her blog is here, she also posts on Facebook and on Twitter.

Map of the day: The Trans Pacific Partnership


A look at the people and financial clout of the member states of the massive and highly controversial just-signed trade agreement of Pacific Rim nations, via Agence France Presse:

BLOG TPP

Headline of the day II: More sex and politics


Following up on our earlier headlines, via News Corp Australia:

Flying penis slaps-down NZ MP Steven Joyce in Trans Pacific Partnership protest

New Zealanders have a unique way with expressing themselves through protest: This time, it features an Economic Development Minister — and a flying dildo.

And the video, from BBC News:

New Zealand politician hit in face with sex toy by protestor

Program notes:

A New Zealand politician has been hit in the face with a sex toy after a protestor took issue with his decision to sign a trade deal.

Economic Minister Steve Joyce was leaving commemorations for Waitangi Day with Maori leaders this morning when he was struck by the pink rubbery object.

“That’s for raping our sovereignty,” the female protester said, in response to the New Zealand government signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) trade agreement.

The unnamed woman was then led away by police.

Mr Joyce said he hopes the protest is not the only thing he is remembered for in NZ politics.

“I was amused. Genuinely. When somebody throws something like that at you, what else are you going to be? I was surprised and then amused,” he told NewsTalk.

“I’d rather hope that I’ve done a few things that made a contribution to New Zealand, and this will be just one of the little background things.”

Labour leader Andrew Little said he did not condone the protest but understood the reasons behind it.

“The connection between sexual devices and sovereignty is not immediately apparent to me, but I think we shouldn’t underestimate the fact that people are very hot under the collar about TPPA,” he said.

Critics of the TPP believe the deal will cause the cost of medicines skyrocket and crush freedom of speech through onerous copyright laws.

Map of the day: 90-day economic growth changes


From the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank, the latest map of economic changes over the previous three months [ending in December 2015]:

The coincident indexes combine four state-level indicators to summarize current economic conditions in a single statistic. The four state-level variables in each coincident index are nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index (U.S. city average). The trend for each state’s index is set to the trend of its gross domestic product (GDP), so long-term growth in the state’s index matches long-term growth in its GDP.

The coincident indexes combine four state-level indicators to summarize current economic conditions in a single statistic. The four state-level variables in each coincident index are nonfarm payroll employment, average hours worked in manufacturing, the unemployment rate, and wage and salary disbursements deflated by the consumer price index (U.S. city average). The trend for each state’s index is set to the trend of its gross domestic product (GDP), so long-term growth in the state’s index matches long-term growth in its GDP.

More from the Fed:

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released the coincident indexes for the 50 states for December 2015. In the past month, the indexes increased in 39 states, decreased in seven, and remained stable in four, for a one-month diffusion index of 64. Over the past three months, the indexes increased in 41 states, decreased in seven, and remained stable in two, for a three-month diffusion index of 68. For comparison purposes, the Philadelphia Fed has also developed a similar coincident index for the entire United States. The Philadelphia Fed’s U.S. index rose 0.3 percent in December and 0.8 percent over the past three months.

The two biggest losers, North Dakota and Wyoming, are both major energy producers and presumably took hits because of the sharp declines in oil, gas, and coal prices [North Dakota has a booming fracking industry; Wyoming is a major coal producer and also produces oil and gas]

Cancer: Another reason to loathe the TPP


The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multinational Pacific Rim trading pact, negotiated in secret under the sway of corporate lobbyists and signed today in New Zealand, must be approved by Congress in order to take effect.

Hillary Clinton loves it, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren  don’t.

There are many reasons to loathe the TPP, including its secret tribunal capable of fining nations huge sums for enacting environmental, public health, and other barriers to protect citizens from unalloyed corporate rapacity.

Now comes another good reason, cancer.

From RT’s The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann:

What Today’s TPP Signing Means

Program notes:

Melinda St. Louis, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch & Zahara Heckscher, Writer/Educator/Social Justice Advocate join Thom. Representatives from 12 countries are gathering in the world’s most remote capital to finally sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership. What effect will this have on the effort to block the deal here in the US?