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marmar

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Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 70,184

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Swiss Voters Approve Limits on ‘Fat Cat’ Executive Pay


(Bloomberg) Swiss voters approved some of the world’s toughest limits on executives’ pay in a referendum, a move critics say could make Switzerland less attractive to multinational corporations.

The initiative against “fat cats,” proposed by Thomas Minder, head of a herbal toothpaste company, was backed by 67.9 percent of the voters today, the government said on its website today. The turnout was 46 percent. Polls, including one by gfs.bern, had signaled that outcome as probable.

The proposal gives shareholders an annual ballot on managers’ pay. It eliminates sign-on bonuses, as well as severance packages and extra incentives for completing merger transactions. The initiative also includes rules punishing executives who violate the terms with as long as three years in jail.

“I’m glad the long battle is over,” Minder, who started the campaign in 2006, told Swiss television. “It’s a powerful sign, this proportion above 60 percent.” .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-03/swiss-voters-set-limits-on-ceo-paychecks-sf1-projections.html



NY: The Basics Of Sunday's MetroCard Fare Hike




from the Village Voice:


The Basics Of Sunday's MetroCard Fare Hike
By John Surico Fri., Mar. 1 2013 at 7:00 AM


On March 3rd, the MTA will seek budgetary revenge on straphangers. Sorry, it's happening. And we're being service-y because it's the only thing left to do before this fare hike takes effect on Sunday.

So here's what you should keep in mind before you swipe your life away.

1. The Permanent Basic Fare: $2.25 -> $2.50

2. The Weekly: $29 -> $30

3. The Monthly: $104 -> $112

4. That Bonus You Get When You Put A Few Dollars On Your Card: 7% -> 5% .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/03/the_basics_of_s.php



SF Bay Guardian: Public broadband works; why not here?


Public broadband works; why not here?
02.28.13 - 1:59 pm | Tim Redmond


There's a fascinating new map that the Institute for Local Self Reliance has put together that shows how 342 communities around the United States are now offering publicly owned, cheap, reliable broadband and cable service to local residents and businesses. Check it out here. Then check out why the fastest networks in the nation are built by local governments:

"It may surprise people that these cities in Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana have faster and lower cost access to the Internet than anyone in San Francisco, Seattle, or any other major city,” says Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR’s Telecommunications as Commons Initiative. “These publicly owned networks have each created hundreds of jobs and saved millions of dollars.”


Then sit back and ask yourself why you're paying so much money every month for the rotten service you get from Comcast and AT&T. Ask your friends, ask around work; is anyone really happy with their broadband service? Do you think you're getting a good deal for the price?

When I saw the map I called Mitchell, and he told me that every one of the cities and towns on his map has been successful with public ownership. "Within five years, everyone is either making money for the general fund or breaking even and offering really low rates," he said. "The real benefit is lower prices, which leaves residents with more money in their pockets, which tends to get spent in their communities where it helps local business."

Most of the cities that have muni broadband (and cable TV!) also have municipal electric power systems, which makes the whole thing easier. But Santa Monica did it bit by bit, installing fiber every time one of the streets was torn up for plumbing, sewers, etc. and gradually building out a network that so far only connects businesses but can be expanded as the money comes in. San Francisco streets are torn up all the time, and will be torn up regularly as water and sewer lines are replaced. The biggest expense of laying cable is cutting open and repaving streets; the cable itself is fairly cheap. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/02/28/public-broadband-works-why-not-here



Black and Bengali: A new book traces the hidden story of a mixed-race community


from In These Times:


Black and Bengali
A new book traces the hidden story of a mixed-race community.

BY Fatima Shaik


The federal census taker comes every 10 years and, for most people in the United States, this has little consequence. But not where I lived, in New Orleans, just outside the historic district of Tremé. There, people talked to each other about whether to lie to the census taker and which lie to tell, and that conversation produced stories about who had disappeared from us and who had stayed, and what was more important: loyalty or money.

That was the mentality in Creole New Orleans from as far back as I can remember—that is, the 1950s—until recently. The lying, the disappearing, the money and lack of it had everything to do with race.

We were part of a mixed-race community of immigrants and Louisiana natives, and there was no place for us in the data tables of the census or in the mind of a black-and-white America. And yet we existed, for generations. Now, in a thoroughly researched new book, Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America, Vivek Bald traces one vein of our lineage, from a most distant country.

Bald follows Muslim peddlers and, later, ship workers who journeyed from India to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. As local Indian markets for fabrics lost value in the 1880s, Muslim Bengali men began traveling abroad to find customers for “Oriental” wares—silk and cotton, handkerchiefs, bedspreads and tablecloths, and rugs. They found an eager appetite in the United States, where styles from the East were becoming fashionable, furnishing sitting rooms across the nation, from the homes of Northern socialites to New Orleans’ bordellos. Later, in the northeastern United States, Bengali mechanics arrived, often by jumping ship to escape the terrible working conditions in the furnace rooms of British steamers. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/14588/black_and_bengali/



Student Debt Tripled in Eight Years


Salon / By Natasha Lennard

Student Debt Tripled in Eight Years
A new report from the New York Fed shows the explosion of total student loan debt, which shows no sign of stopping

March 2, 2013 |


A new report from the New York Federal Reserve further confirms what many commentators have been long saying — student debt is the bubble that just keeps expanding. Total student debt has nearly tripled in the past three years.

Total student debt stands at $966 billion as of the end of 2012, with a 70 percent increase in both the number of borrowers and the average balance per person. The overall number of borrowers past due on their student loan payments has also grown, from under 10 percent in 2004 to 17 percent in 2012.

Noting the N.Y. Fed report, HuffPo pointed out that the proliferation of indebted students and their families has knock on effects on other areas of the economy:

Fewer people with student loans are buying homes, according to data in the report. Of borrowers ages 25 to 30 who are taking out new mortgages, the percentage of those with student debt has fallen by half, from nearly 9 percent in 2005 to just above 4 percent in 2012.

The fed report sees a connection, stating, “The higher burden of student loans and higher delinquencies may affect borrowers’ access to other types of credit and the performance of other debt.”


Crucially, however, the student debt bubble can’t be construed in the same way, say, as the housing bubble. Student debt will (and already does) have crippling effects on millions of Americans, but it’s a bubble with no promise of burst. As Malcolm Harris has long pointed out, since most student loan debt is government backed and can never be discharged, the type of meltdown the student loan explosion could precipitate will take a different shape than the mortgage crisis, with the victims (student borrowers) already in place and struggling: ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/student-debt-tripled-eight-years



The Swiss are ready to put fat cats on a diet


(Bloomberg) The Swiss vote today on whether to give shareholders some of the world’s strongest powers to determine the pay of top executives. Approval looks probable.

Nearly two thirds of voters plan to back the so-called anti-fat cat initiative in the referendum that would allow a binding annual shareholder vote on executive compensation for listed companies and block big payouts for new hires and for managers when they leave. Executives who break the rules could face fines and jail.

Voting will end at noon local time and results are expected later today. Most Swiss will have cast their ballots by mail.

Governments across Europe are considering limits to manager compensation after using taxpayer money to aid banks and corporations during the financial crisis. If successful, the measure would make Swiss shareholders among the most powerful in determining the bosses’ paychecks, among them Novartis (NOVN) AG Chief Executive Officer Joe Jimenez and Nestle SA (NESN) CEO Paul Bulcke. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-02/swiss-go-to-polls-on-fat-cat-pay-as-approval-probable.html



El Paso Vice: When Drug Cops Become Criminals


from Der Spiegel:


The war on drugs has become so intense that the line between criminality and law-enforcement has blurred. Salvador Martinez, an undercover officer at the Mexican border, ended up in prison after he went too far.

Salvador Martinez began his career with 150 grams of heroin. He met the dealer in the Texan city of El Paso in a diner with large windows during the lunch rush. More witnesses reduce the risk of execution, Martinez calculated. Both of them drank iced tea, he recalls. Martinez wanted dark heroin, La Negra, as the Mexicans say.

"Where is the money?" the dealer asked.

"Around the corner," Martinez said.

He had learned to remain vague, never saying where the money was hidden or giving precise information about amounts and people. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/failing-drug-war-when-cops-become-criminals-a-886441.html



El Paso Vice: When Drug Cops Become Criminals


from Der Spiegel:


The war on drugs has become so intense that the line between criminality and law-enforcement has blurred. Salvador Martinez, an undercover officer at the Mexican border, ended up in prison after he went too far.

Salvador Martinez began his career with 150 grams of heroin. He met the dealer in the Texan city of El Paso in a diner with large windows during the lunch rush. More witnesses reduce the risk of execution, Martinez calculated. Both of them drank iced tea, he recalls. Martinez wanted dark heroin, La Negra, as the Mexicans say.

"Where is the money?" the dealer asked.

"Around the corner," Martinez said.

He had learned to remain vague, never saying where the money was hidden or giving precise information about amounts and people. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/failing-drug-war-when-cops-become-criminals-a-886441.html



New Book Digs up the Dirt on Processed Foods


from Civil Eats:




New Book Digs up the Dirt on Processed Foods
By Andy Bellatti on February 26, 2013


You’ve heard of pink slime. You know trans fats are cardiovascular atrocities. You’re well aware that store-bought orange juice is essentially a scam. But no matter how great of a processed-food sleuth you are, chances are you’ve never set food inside a processing plant to see how many of these products are actually made.

Writer Melanie Warner, whose new expose-on-the-world-of-processed-foods book, Pandora’s Lunchbox, is out this week, spent the past year and a half doing exactly that. In her quest to explore the murky and convoluted world of soybean oil, milk protein concentrates (a key ingredient in processed cheese), and petroleum-based artificial dyes, she spoke to food scientists, uncovered disturbing regulatory loopholes in food law, and learned just how little we know about many of the food products on supermarket shelves.

After reading Pandora’s Lunchbox, I sent Melanie some burning questions via e-mail.

The term “processed food” is ubiquitous these days. The food industry has attempted to co-opt it by claiming canned beans, baby carrots, and frozen vegetables are “processed foods.” Can you help explain why a Pop-Tart is years away from a “processed food” like hummus?

You have to ask yourself, could I make a Pop-Tart or Hot Pocket at home, with all those same ingredients listed on the package? I don’t know anyone who could do that in their home kitchen. How would you even go about procuring distilled monoglycerides and BHT, for instance? These are highly processed food products loaded up with sugar and sodium, subjected to abusive processing conditions, and assembled with a litany of additives, many of which nobody ever consumed prior to a hundred years ago.

Yet it is possible to make your own black beans at home by soaking and then cooking them. You could even attempt a rudimentary canning operation to preserve them. You can also make hummus by grinding chickpeas with a few other ingredients like lemon juice. The same goes for frozen vegetables and even baby carrots, though homemade baby carrots wouldn’t look as pretty as the ones you buy at the story. The “processing” these foods go through is minimal and not disfiguring. The end result still looks like a food that once grew on a farm. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://civileats.com/2013/02/26/new-book-reveals-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-processed-foods/#sthash.0oacZy9b.dpuf



Toronto: 66% would pay more to cut their trip to work or school, new poll finds




from the Toronto Star:


By: Tess Kalinowski Transportation reporter, Published on Sat Mar 02 2013




Six out of 10 Toronto area residents believe that building more public transit is the route to reducing regional traffic congestion. But their preferences on how to pay and how much they’re willing to contribute vary dramatically, according to a new poll from Forum Research.

The survey of 1,750 residents, believed to be among the largest studies of transit issues in the Toronto region, shows that many residents are persuaded they will have to pay something toward transit expansion. Results based on the total sample are considered accurate plus or minus 2%, 19 times out of 20.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents said they would pay an additional 10 cents on their transit fare as long as the money was dedicated to reducing the commuting time that saps family life and leisure.

Even among those earning $20,000 per year or less, half said they would pay the extra fare. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/03/02/commuting_and_transit_66_would_pay_more_to_cut_their_trip_to_work_or_school_new_poll_finds.html



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