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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Tax havens have no justification, say top economists, calling for their abolition

More than 300 economists, including Thomas Piketty, are urging world leaders at a London summit this week to recognise that there is no economic benefit to tax havens, demanding that the veil of secrecy that surrounds them be lifted.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to host the summit nearly a year ago, but the event is in danger of simply turning a spotlight on how the British government has failed to persuade its overseas territories to stop harbouring secretly stored cash.

British officials are locked in negotiations with the crown dependencies and overseas territories, trying to persuade them to agree to a form of automatic exchange of information on beneficial ownership of companies. So far the overseas territories have only agreed to allow UK law enforcement agencies access to a privately held register of beneficial ownership, but the automatic exchange agreement would give a wider range of countries access to information on the ownership of shell companies.

Many overseas territories including the Cayman Islands are resisting the idea, and their attendance at the summit is in doubt.


Judge OKs U.S. extradition of Mexican drug boss 'El Chapo' Guzman

Source: Reuters

A Mexican judge has ruled that drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman can be extradited to face charges in the United States, the country's federal court authority said on Monday, days after he was moved to a prison on the U.S. border.

Early on Saturday, Guzman was moved to a high security prison in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez on the U.S. border, and a senior Mexican security official said the kingpin's extradition was in motion and would happen by mid-year.

Guzman, boss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, was for years the world's most wanted drug trafficker until his capture by Mexican Marines in February 2014. He then embarrassed the government by escaping from prison through a tunnel last July.

The government recaptured him in January and President Enrique Pena Nieto said soon afterwards that he had taken steps to ensure Guzman was extradited as soon as possible.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-guzman-idUSKCN0Y01SP

Nestlé Wants to Sell You Both Sugary Snacks and Diabetes Pills

Matthew Campbell

Corinne Gretler

Nestlé is by far the largest food company in the world. Its 335,000 employees produce more than 2,000 brands, manufactured in 436 factories across 85 countries. It’s Europe’s most valuable corporation, worth $240 billion, comfortably more than oil giant Royal Dutch Shell. Among the world’s 195 nations, it sells in 189.

Nestlé’s impact on the history of how we eat is almost impossible to overstate. Sweets as we know them wouldn’t exist without Henri Nestlé, the company’s founder, who in the late 19th century supplied condensed milk for the world’s first milk chocolate, made by a neighbor in Vevey, Switzerland. Nestlé scientists created the first instant coffee, Nescafé, just in time for World War II rations. Nestlé chocolate was in the first chocolate chip cookie.

The Nestlé food and drink empire, including San Pellegrino water and Stouffer’s frozen dinners, is built on a foundation of sugar. Butterfinger, Cookie Crisp, KitKat, and Oh Henry! are all Nestlé products. So are Drumstick sundae cones, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, and Nesquik chocolate milk. In 1988, Nestlé even bought the life-imitates-art candy brand that makes Laffy Taffy and Nerds: Willy Wonka.

The company’s headquarters, on Vevey’s Avenue Nestlé, is far from a psychedelic sugarscape out of Roald Dahl. The building, the biggest in town, is a high-modernist pile of aluminum and green-tinted glass that resembles an upscale hospital or a midsize intelligence agency. Up a spiral staircase of gleaming metal, offices have fairy-tale views of sparkling Lake Geneva and the mist-shrouded Alps beyond. The perspective testifies that for a century and a half, sugar has been sweet. It isn’t anymore. Sugar is joining tobacco and alcohol in the club of products in which governments have taken an interest. In March the U.K. followed Mexico in imposing a tax on sugary drinks in an effort to cut obesity. Saudi Arabia may follow. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is weighing far tougher rules for sugar labeling, and the latest edition of U.S. dietary recommendations contained the strictest guidance on sugar yet.

much more

California Berners: If you registered to vote at the DMV, check again

If you’ve visited the DMV in the last few weeks, you may have noticed that you can now complete your voter registration at the same time you renew your driver’s license — without having to fill out a separate form.

But it's a little more complicated than that.

Unless voters also stop to answer questions at a computer terminal in another room, they will be registered as having no party preference. Voter advocates say this two-step process could disenfranchise thousands of voters, especially those who still want to vote in the Republican Party's closed presidential primary.

Since the terminals were rolled out April 1, the Department of Motor Vehicles has registered more than 14,000 voters in its offices statewide. Of those, 4,747 people — more than one-third — did not complete questions posed at the touch screens.

The machines, located in a separate room and typically used to administer written driver's tests, now ask several optional questions, including language preference, if a person wants to be a permanent vote-by-mail voter and party preference.

“We really think people are going to slip through the cracks here,” says Lori Shellenberger, voting rights director for the ACLU of California, which last year threatened to sue the DMV over voter registration issues.



Monday Toon Roundup

Monday Bernie Group Toons

Bride won’t sign prenup, throws ‘wedding party’ for poor kids instead

Yiru Sun was radiant in bridal white Saturday — even though she had called off her wedding at the last minute, instead turning her reception into a feast for the poor.

The pretty Manhattan insurance executive was supposed to tie the knot in a lavish Upper East Side wedding Saturday. But after balking at the proposed prenup, she turned her heartbreak — and her non-refundable $8,000 reception deposit — into something beautiful: a luncheon for 60 needy kids and their families.

“I should have been the bride. It was canceled,” Sun told her guests at the elegant Harold Pratt House at East 68th Street and Park Avenue. “Initially I felt frustrated,” said Sun, a vice president at New York Life Insurance, declining to dish about her former betrothed, not even to name him.

“I don’t want to sign things I don’t feel comfortable with,” is all she’ll reveal of the prenup dust-up.

“Three weeks later, I woke up with this idea,” Sun, herself a single mom of a 6-year-old daughter, told her guests, who were chosen with help from The Salvation Army and Inwood House.



Officer in fatal shooting accidentally fires into baby's crib during routine parole visit

A San Diego police officer who killed a man in a 2015 shooting in the Midway District that is now the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit accidentally fired his gun into a crib during a probation check in February.

Officer Neal Browder was with other officers on Bayview Heights Place about 8:40 a.m. on Feb. 20 when the shooting happened, said San Diego police Lt. Scott Wahl. He said police conducted an investigation, but he declined to give more details.

Residents at the apartment, located Friday by San Diego Union-Tribune Watchdog, described the accidental shooting.

“If my son had been in that crib, he wouldn’t be here today,” said Kimberly Espinoza, 17, who lives in the apartment with her son, Isaac, then 11 months old, her 54-year-old grandmother, and a 30-year-old uncle who was the subject of the routine probation check.

“And if he was in it, and it had missed my son, he would still be traumatized,” she said.


Starfish babies return in droves following massive die-off

Droves of baby starfish are returning to California's shores after a wasting disease decimated whole populations of the creatures over the past two years along the West Coast.

Data collected by Oregon State University researchers show an unprecedented number of baby starfish, or sea stars, survived the summer and winter of 2015.

"Most of the adults—the larger animals—were gone, or at least a large fraction of them," Bruce Menge, an Oregon State marine biology professor who co-authored the report told KPCC. "And what we saw sort of in their place was literally thousands to probably millions of baby sea stars."

Menge believes the surge is due to the lack of adults. Fewer grown-up starfish means less competition for the limited food supply. Now that juveniles are gorging themselves, many more of them are living into the spring.


Sunday Bernie Group Toons

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