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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: People and Klatsch
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by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Living on the Planet
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the first known resident of the city with the [Ebola] virus is on the run after her family forcibly removed her from a hospital
so the whole family will be dead within a fortnight?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on
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In story: Do we want free movement of capital in Europe?

Re: Do we want free movement of capital in Europe?
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This is mainstream neoclassical NAIRU bullshit. Read this revised methodology for calculating output gaps [PDF] and weep.

Also, Noahpinion has a guest post on How important was the "structural balance" screw-up in driving European austerity? (October 05, 2013) describing what's wrong with the European Commission's econometrics.

The European Commission uses a production function methodology for calculating potential growth rates and output gaps (see here). It features a simple Cobb Douglas specification where potential output depends on TFP and a combination of factor inputs (potential labor and capital). Importantly for what follows, potential labor input is calculated as:

Working age Population x Participation rate x Average hours worked x (1 - NAWRU)

It's important to focus on potential labor input since the bulk of the revisions applied between 2008 and 2010 to potential GDP arose because of revisions to labor input.

And note the use of NAWRU rather than NAIRU. If you use NAIRU (non-accelerating-inflation rate of unemployment) you're using unemployment as a policy lever to achieve an inflation policy target. But if you use NAWRU (non-accelerating-wages rate of unemployment) you're using deliverately using unemployment to depress wages, but hiding that under a supposedly objective econometric model.

It really is criminal.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on
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In story: Do we want free movement of capital in Europe?

Re: Do we want free movement of capital in Europe?
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Europe's current calculations about how much of the deficit is structural and how much is caused by the downturn in the business cycle assume much of the budget deficits seen in the bloc's weakest economies are built-in, meaning they will persist even after the economy has returned to full strength. If a deficit is structural, rather than cyclical, more austerity measures--spending cuts or higher taxes--are required.

I am trying to figure out what formal school of economics would lead to this conclusion. Austrian? The prescription seems to be 'if the patient is ill, amputate. Still not well? More Amputation.' The economics of cannibalism.

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on
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In story: Friday Open Thread

Re: Friday Open Thread
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Perhaps foolishly went past Colman's good advice about not installing the OS X beta on my boot drive, but so far, so good.  Everything works.  And works a hell of a lot better than the previous version.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Living on the Planet
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The Ebola outbreak in western Africa has hit the major cities.  Which is major bad news.  And this:

... in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the first known resident of the city with the [Ebola] virus is on the run after her family forcibly removed her from a hospital. The country's overstretched health authorities believe that dozens of people who have tested positive for the disease may now be unaccounted for.

means the chances for a pandemic have risen sharply.  And it means the Ebola virus will encounter more easily spread viruses, e.g., influenza, increasing the chances for a mutation into something more easily contracted.

by ATinNM on
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And it looks like the US is pushing it:

Washington Is Escalating the Orchestrated Ukrainian "Crisis" to War -- Paul Craig Roberts - PaulCraigRoberts.org

Title III deals with military and intelligence assistance for Ukraine, putting Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova on a NATO track, expediting US natural gas exports in order to erase European and Eurasian energy dependence on Russia, preventing recognition of Crimea as again a part of Russia, expanding broadcasting (propaganda) into Russian areas, and again "support for democracy and civil society organizations in countries of the former Soviet Union," which means to use money to subvert the Russian federation.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on
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They might indeed, but they have missed the boat. I can't see Russia agreeing to disarm the Federalists if there is still a chance of Ukraine joining NATO.

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on
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There are plenty of East-European nations who joined NATO as rapidly as they could, and to Moscow's chagrin - exactly because NATO got these nations a little further away from the sphere of Russian influence. I heard much in the same vein during my visit to Lithuania past December.

Considering Russia's aggressive expansionary actions the past decade, it wouldn't be surprising when the Ukraine governments who favour close ties to the EU might also just favour joining NATO.

by Bjinse (bjinsedankert at gmail dot com) on
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2 is going to be the sticking point, since this is where somebody has to start making credible security guarantees.

And given the involved parties' history, they really can't credibly guarantee that water will be wet.

As a minimum, you'll need to revisit the military command structure, to ensure that all minority groups (except the fascists) are sufficiently well represented across all levels and chains of command that the military cannot be captured by one faction or another. Oh, and you'll need to disarm the fascists, both in the military and out.

That last one is gonna be a sticking point as well, given that the fascists are quite well represented in the Kiev government.

- Jake

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on
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Ukraine is not exactly a jewel in the crown for either the EU or Russia but is capable of being a major headache for both.  So it is not beyond the capabilities of the adults in the room - in this case Putin and Merkel - to come to an agreement as to it's future status, and then knock heads together as required at local level. From my limited knowledge the shape of such an agreement could look something like this:

  1. All sides guarantee the territorial integrity of Ukraine (minus Crimea)

  2. Russia agrees to disarm the federalists in return for an degree of autonomy for eastern provinces and security/economic/minority rights guarantees.

  3. A long term agreement on gas prices and transit fees.

  4. A three way trade deal covering other, non military trade.

  5. No encroachment by NATO.

  6. Whatever other sweeteners in the form of bribes, aid, industrial development, investment etc. as are required to buy off any key players not happy with the above.

A huge amount of trust isn't really required to make this work once the major players decide it's in their interest to make it work. Russia gets its annexation of Crimea formally recognised, an end to sanctions, and a long term trade agreement and "special relationship" with the EU. Germany gets trade and investment opportunities in a more stable environment as well as more energy security. Ukraine gets a degree of peace and stability and the means to enforce same. Everybody gets to cut busybody neocons out of the picture.  It's not easy, but pretty standard peacecraft.

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on
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In story: Friday Open Thread

Re: Friday Open Thread
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EU, the Grand Coalition and austerity. Where does Italy's Renzi stand? | Revolting Europe

That this line continues to be pursued by the most extreme wing of the German establishment is beyond doubt. This is demonstrated by the criticism of Matteo Renzi in Strasbourg by European Popular Party chief  Manfred Weber (member of the Bavarian CSU), who reaffirmed the rejection of any "flexible" interpretation of European rules. To Weber, Renzi has done well to recall that Germany had been allowed in 2003 to exceed the 3% deficit rule to support reforms.

He might have added that Italy from 2008 to 2012 was the only eurozone country that has only implemented restrictive fiscal policies (with a negative impact on gross domestic product equal to 5 percentage points), while Germany during the same period has implemented expansionary policies, with a positive impact on GDP equal to 6 percent, thanks to 69 billion of incentives to enterprises and 259 billion of public money spent to bail out the German banks (and if you include guarantees  that would reach the astounding figure of 646 billion). [3]

Even the president of the Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, speaking at the Economic Council of the CDU (not really a point in favour of the autonomy of the German central bank ...), is allowed to make fun of Renzi's  . speech to the European Parliament  as Italy took over the EU's revolving presidency. He got the answer he deserved: "We respect the status and mandate of the Bundesbank, but it must stay out of the Italian political debate," said Renzi; He added, "We are not going to investigate the activities of supervision of the Landesbanken and Sparkassen". This is a barely concealed hint at the failings in banking supervision of the Bundesbank, which proved beyond reasonable doubt that money from German taxpayers was used to save their banks, and in particular the regional banks, the Landesbanken.



by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on
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Ukraine is really not in a position - economically, politically or geographically - to play Hong Kong to the EU and Russia, nor do the hooligans currently running the show display any of the skills required to successfully do so.

Which means Ukraine is going to end up in one power or the other's orbit.

Further, the problem with a comprehensive peace plan for a unified Ukraine suffers from the serious problem that the Kiev regime has every reason to believe that Russia will refuse to honor any outcome it does not like, and the federalists have been given plenty of reasons to believe that the Kiev regime will not honor any agreement consistent with the continued existence of the eastern oblasts as functioning industrial societies. And nobody in their right mind would believe a single word out of Bruxelles, Berlin or Washington at this point.

These issues, as well as the fact that both sides view their counterparts as fundamentally illegitimate, are potentially solvable issues. It's been done before, after all, with sides were the mistrust was far more entrenched and reasonable.

But it'll require considerable legwork before you can even start arranging the conference room, let alone have people sit down and talk.

- Jake

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on
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In story: Through MIT's Nuclear Goggles

Re: Through MIT's Nuclear Goggles
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...Renewable energy is about harvesting natural energy flows. In order for this to actually be the primary source of your electricity, you need substantial reliable energy flows to harvest. It is, in other words, all about the physical geography and climate of your nation. Switzerland has substantial hydro resources. Those have been harnessed.

It is not a good place for solar. It isn't a very good place for wind. So that nuclear phase out?

Zwentendorf 2.0 Now with extra oh my goddess no, dont do that, because we have seen it before.

And it is very likely to result in Dürnrohr 2.0 - by which I mean, a one for one replacement of nuclear with coal.

Is that really what you want? Because it is very consistently the result every time your desired policies get implemented.

by Thomas on
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In addition, if the government does something actually effective to bring down the cost of housing - and there are straightforward things that could be done, this isn't rocket surgery, it's urban planning, it would cause house prices to fall. And since that is the bulk of the equity of the average tory voter...
by Thomas on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Living off the Planet
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Parched West is using up underground water: Study points to grave implications for Western U.S. water supply -- ScienceDaily

A new study by University of California, Irvine and NASA scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.

The research team used data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin, which are related to changes in water amount on and below the surface. Monthly measurements in the change in water mass from December 2004 to November 2013 revealed the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet (65 cubic kilometers) of freshwater, almost double the volume of the nation's largest reservoir, Nevada's Lake Mead. More than three-quarters of the total -- about 41 million acre feet (50 cubic kilometers) -- was from groundwater.

"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out," said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at UC Irvine and the study's lead author. "This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking."



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Living off the Planet
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Fact or Fiction?: The Sixth Mass Extinction Can Be Stopped - Scientific American
The most famous mass extinction came from space, but the biggest might have been because of carbon dioxide. Cataclysms, whether the asteroid that ended the dinosaurs' reign or the volcanism that may have caused the Great Dying, drove the first five mass extinctions in Earth's history, in which 75 percent of more of the planet's life died out. The sixth mass extinction may now be beginning--and the apocalypse this time is us.
 
During the last several centuries we have burned through eons worth of fossilized sunshine, changing the climate for our fellow species. We use more than half of the planet's unfrozen land for cities, logging or food, eliminating the habitats of our fellow animals and plants. Before we even achieved civilization, we had already helped hunt the biggest, fiercest animals--woolly mammoths, giant kangaroos and giant sloths--to extinction.
 
Biologists and paleoecologists estimate that humans have driven roughly 1,000 species extinct in our 200,000 years on the planet. Since 1500 we have killed off at least 322 types of animals, including the passenger pigeon, the Tasmanian tiger and, most recently, the baiji, a freshwater dolphin in China. Another 20,000 or more species are now threatened with extinction according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which keeps a list of all the known endangered plants and animals on the planet. The population of any given animal among the five million or so species on the planet is, on average, 28 percent smaller, thanks to humans. And as many as one third of all animals are either threatened or endangered, a new study in Science finds.


by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Living on the Planet
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Alternative Fusion Technologies Heat Up - Scientific American

To reach one of the world's most secretive nuclear-fusion companies, visitors must wind their way through a suburban office park at the foot of the Santa Ana Mountains, just east of Irvine, California, until they pull up outside the large but unmarked headquarters of Tri Alpha Energy.

This is as close as any outsider can get without signing a non-disclosure agreement; Tri Alpha protects its trade secrets so tightly that it does not even have a website. But the fragments of information that have filtered out make it clear that the building houses one of the largest fusion experiments now operating in the United States. It is also one of the most unconventional. Instead of using the doughnut-shaped 'tokamak' reactor that has dominated fusion-energy research for more than 40 years, Tri Alpha is testing a linear reactor that it claims will be smaller, simpler and cheaper -- and will lead to commercial fusion power in little more than a decade, far ahead of the 30 to 50 years often quoted for tokamaks.

That sounds particularly appealing at a time when the world's leading fusion project, a giant tokamak named ITER, is mired in delays and cost overruns. The facility, being built in Cadarache, France, is expected to be the first fusion reactor capable of generating an excess of energy from a sustained burn of its plasma fuel. But it looks set to cost as much as $50 billion -- about 10 times the original estimate -- and will not begin its first fuelled experiments before 2027, 11 years behind schedule.



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Living on the Planet
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Newly discovered gut virus lives in half the world's population -- ScienceDaily

Odds are, there's a virus living inside your gut that has gone undetected by scientists for decades. A new study led by researchers at San Diego State University has found that more than half the world's population is host to a newly described virus, named crAssphage, which infects one of the most common types of gut bacteria, Bacteroidetes. This phylum of bacteria is thought to be connected with obesity, diabetes and other gut-related diseases.

The research appears today in Nature Communications.

Robert A. Edwards, a bioinformatics professor at SDSU, and his colleagues stumbled upon the discovery quite by accident. Working with visiting researcher and corresponding author on the study Bas E. Dutilh, now at Radboud University Medical Center in The Netherlands, the researchers were using results from previous studies on gut-inhabiting viruses to screen for new viruses.

In the DNA fecal samples from 12 different individuals, they noticed a particular cluster of viral DNA, about 97,000 base pairs long, that the samples all had in common. When Edwards and his colleagues checked this discovery against a comprehensive listing of known viruses, they came up empty.



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Living on the Planet
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Concerns Grow over Damage to Wheat Crop Quality - Scientific American

PARIS (Reuters) - Europe is heading toward a large wheat harvest this year but concerns are mounting that much of it could only be fit to feed animals after heavy rain earlier this month.

Damage levels are unclear for now with farmers and analysts still assessing the state of crops as harvesting resumes in many countries, but there is little doubt there be will less wheat meeting milling standards than initially thought.

"In light of the good yields expected we can still hope to see a good milling wheat output but we are certainly heading toward a lower quality than average," Benoit Fayaud from analysts Strategie Grains said, adding it was too early to have a clear picture of the European crop's quality.



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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USA Discounters hooks some service members with credit before springing the debt trap - The Washington Post

Army Spc. Angel Aguirre needed a washer and dryer.

Money was tight, and neither Aguirre, 21, nor his wife had much credit history as they settled into life at Fort Carson in Colorado in 2010.

That's when he saw an ad for USA Discounters, guaranteeing loan approval for service members. In military newspapers and magazines, on the radio, and on TV, the Virginia-based company's ads shout, "NO CREDIT? NEED CREDIT? NO PROBLEM!" The store was only a few miles from Fort Carson.

"We ended up getting a computer, a TV, a ring, and a washer and dryer," Aguirre said. "The only thing I really wanted was a washer and dryer."

Aguirre later learned that USA Discounters' easy lending has a flip side. Should customers fall behind, the company transforms into an efficient collection operation. And this part of its business takes place not where customers bought their appliances, but in two local courthouses just a short drive from the company's Virginia Beach headquarters.



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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Fifteen civilians shot dead in Afghanistan - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

uspected Taliban gunmen stopped two vehicles in central Afghanistan and shot dead 15 passengers at the side of the road, police in Ghor province have said.

Only one man escaped after the gunmen held up two vehicles on a road in the province and shot dead 10 men, four women and one child, police said.

"Armed gunmen stopped two vehicles and shot dead the passengers," Abdul Hai Khatibi, spokesman for the governor of Ghor province, told the AFP news agency.

"They ordered all passengers to stand in one line, and then they shot them dead one by one.



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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Hollande: 'No survivors' in Air Algerie crash | News | DW.DE | 25.07.2014

French President Francois Hollande has said that nobody survived the Air Algerie plane crash in Mali. He said rescue staff had recovered one of the plane's 'black box' flight recorders.

"Alas, there is not a single survivor, I share the families' grief," Hollande said at the start of an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace.

The MD-83 plane, bound for Algiers from Ouagadougou, crashed near Mali's border with Burkina Faso and was thought to be carrying 116 people. According to an Air Algerie representative in Burkina Faso, 51 French citizens and four Germans were on the passenger manifest.



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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Iraq: Isis warns women to wear full veil or face punishment | World news | theguardian.com

slamic State (Isis), the al-Qaida offshoot that seized large swathes of northern Iraq last month, has warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment.

The Sunni insurgents, who have declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and have threatened to march on Baghdad, also listed guidelines on how veils and clothes should be worn, part of a campaign to violently impose their radical brand of Islam.

"The conditions imposed on her clothes and grooming was only to end the pretext of debauchery resulting from grooming and overdressing," the group said in a statement.

"This is not a restriction on her freedom but to prevent her from falling into humiliation and vulgarity or to be a theatre for the eyes of those who are looking."



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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'He had a bright future, and now he's gone' - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Qalandia, occupied West Bank - Mohammad Al Araj turned 17 on Thursday, with a bright future ahead of him and hopes of studying to be a hotel manager. A day later he was buried in Qalandia, having been shot by an Israeli soldier during protests against the invasion of Gaza.

Amid angry chants and a sea of Palestinians and Palestinian flags, the body of Araj was whisked through the streets of Qalandia on Friday to its final resting place in the camp's cemetery.

Araj was shot dead as he marched with thousands of Palestinians from Al Am'ari, a refugee camp in Ramallah, to the Qalandia checkpoint that separates the West Bank city from Jerusalem.

Palestinian medics and officials said the boy was shot by live fire, amid what Palestinians have described as the largest protests the West Bank has seen since the Second Intifadah, sparked in 2000. 



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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Gaza violence spreads to West Bank with six Palestinians reportedly killed | World news | theguardian.com

he violence of the Gaza conflict has spread to the West Bank where six Palestinians have reportedly been killed and scores wounded in the past 24 hours in the biggest clashes with Israeli forces for several years.

The Israeli military was put on high alert in the West Bank on Friday, which has been declared a "day of rage" by Palestinian factions.

Three Palestinians were shot dead in the occupied West Bank in separate incidents involving both the Israeli army and a civilian who appeared to be a Jewish settler, medics and witnesses said.

In the first incident, 46-year-old Hashem Abu Marieh was killed in the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar near the flashpoint southern city of Hebron by Israeli soldiers, medical sources said.



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Economy and Finance
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Amazon posts losses despite revenue spike, shares suffer | Business | DW.DE | 25.07.2014

Online retail giant Amazon has reported a remarkable boost in sales for the second quarter, but still posted a nine-figure net loss. The company cited investment for the future, shareholders responded skeptically.

Shares in Amazon.com took a 10-percent tumble in after-hours trading after the e-commerce retail giant reported some rather counterintuitive second quarter figures.

The Seattle-based firm posted a net loss of $126 million (93.5 million euros), or 27 cents per share, for the quarter, compared to $7 million in the same period last year. Simultaneously, Amazon reported a 23-percent year-on-year bump in revenue, to $19.34 billion.



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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In story: 26-27 July 2014

Re: Economy and Finance
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Google pays £21.6m tax in UK, where revenues are $5.6bn - FT.com

Google's UK operation paid £20.4m of corporation tax on its profits in 2013, according to accounts filed at Companies House on Thursday. Documents published by the parent company this year showed that the country accounts for $5.6bn of revenues.

The £20.4m charge is an increase of more than 75 per cent compared with last year but that is unlikely to placate critics who say Google pays too little tax in the UK.

The company's annual filing saw Google UK's overall tax charge fall to £21.6m in 2013, from £30.8m in 2012. But this was because in 2012 the company made an extra £24m provision for taxes on shares awarded to employees from 2005 to 2011



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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Ed Miliband: if you want a PM who looks good in a photo, don't vote for me | Politics | theguardian.com

Ed Miliband tried to reframe the unflattering debate about his personal leadership by presenting himself as a man of principle who is liable to lose out to David Cameron at the next election if the campaign is about image rather than ideas.

In a confessional speech about the general election, Miliband said: "If you want the politician from central casting, it's not me, it's the other guy. If you want a politician who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, then don't vote for me."

The speech, held in London on Friday, was risky, since it is almost an explicit admission that his negative personal ratings may be a barrier to Labour's election next year. His team believes the electorate can be persuaded to think that the more thoughtful, consensual talents he may possess are more important to modern political leadership.

"I believe that people would quite like somebody to stand up and say there is more to politics than the photo op," Miliband said



by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on
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News and Views

 26-27 July 2014

by dvx - Jul 25, 32 comments

Your take on today's news media

 24 July 2014

by dvx - Jul 23, 59 comments

Your take on today's news media

 Friday Open Thread

by Helen - Jul 25, 4 comments

Climb your favourite apple tree, try to catch the sun

 Thursday Open Thread

by Helen - Jul 24, 9 comments

A Discussion on the Common Wealth

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