Italy's referendum: a vote against neoliberalism and authoritarianism

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Soon-to-be-former Italian PM Matteo Renzi just lost a referendum he called on a set of reforms to Italy's constitution, promising to resign if he lost, which he did; many of Italy's far-right, trumpist and berlusconian elements latched onto the No side of the referendum and pitched it as a kind of Italian version of Brexit, a poll on whether Italy would be another stronghold of gamergate-inflected neo-fascism. Read the rest

Giving companies more money (loans, tax-breaks) only increases investor payouts, not expansion

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Before the deregulation bonanza of the 1980s, corporations were expected to use debt and the public markets as the capital of last resort: they would pay "normal" dividends, then use the left over money to increase pay and fund expansion; but after the birth of "shareholder management," companies have acted like homeowners before the financial crisis: borrowing heavily to pay investors, at the expense of expansion and wages -- but unlike homeowners, corporate management gets to duck the bill when it comes due. Read the rest

Trump and Brexit are retaliation for neoliberalism and corruption

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Glenn Greenwald frames what I've been trying to articulate: as neoliberalism and its handmaiden, corruption, have swept the globe, making the rich richer, the poor poorer, and everyone in the middle more precarious; as elites demonized and dismissed the left-behinds who said something was wrong; as the social instability of inequality has been countered with increasingly invasive domestic "war on terror" policing, millions of people are ready to revolt, and will support anyone who promises no more business as usual. Read the rest

The Ice Bucket Challenge did not fund a breakthrough in ALS treatment

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Yesterday's science-by-press-release announcement that a research team had made a "breakthrough" in treating ALS thanks to funds raised in last year's viral ice-bucket challenge turns out to be vaporware: the gene identified was already known to be implicated in ALS, but only affects 3% of cases, and the new refinement in the research suggests some avenues for further work, but has no immediate therapeutic value. Read the rest

America's infrastructure debt is so bad that towns are unpaving roads they can't afford to fix

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Since the Reagan years, infrastructure spending has been so politically unpopular in America that the nation's roads, ports, power grid and other hallmarks of an advanced society are crumbling, sometimes beyond repair. Read the rest

Neoliberalism, Brexit (and Bernie)

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John Quiggin (previously) delivers some of the most salient commentary on the Brexit vote and how it fits in with Syriza, Podemos, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders (etc) as well as Trump, French neo-fascists, and other hypernationalist movements. Read the rest

Banks confront negative interest rates with plans to store titanic bundles of money on-site

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The world's central banks, freaked out about huge leverage by financial institutions and borrowers and unwilling to engage in economic stimulus themselves, have been moving interest rates lower and lower, until now, many banks are offering negative interest rates, meaning that buying $100 worth of treasury bills today will return $99 in cash tomorrow -- hoping that this will incentivize banks to issue enough loans to make up for politically impossible governmental fiscal stimulus. Read the rest

After a coup, a judgment: Brazil's "interim president" barred from holding office for 8 years

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Last month, a controversial political machination at the top levels of Brazil's government saw the removal of its elected left-wing president, Dilma Rousseff, and her replacement with an appointed, neoliberal "interim president" President Michel Temer, who has now been convicted of committing election fraud and barred from holding elected office in Brazil for 8 years. Read the rest

What is neoliberalism?

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As recently as a couple years ago, using the word "neoliberalism" here on Boing Boing would inevitably provoke an outraged comment from someone who wanted to know why we were "liberal-bashing." Though the term was a little more widely used in Europe than in the USA, it still pretty obscure there. That obscurity is the ideology's strength. Read the rest

STUCK: Public transit's moment arrives just as public spending disappears

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More Americans are riding public transit than ever before, and not a moment too soon, because between oil's direct and indirect costs, climate change, the expense of roadworks, and the scaling problems of private cars, the increasingly urbanized nation needs something to keep its cities from imploding under the logistical challenge of getting everyone everywhere. Read the rest

Watch: tone-deaf manager announces layoffs to 1400 Carrier Air Conditioner workers whose jobs are moving to Mexico

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In this video, employees at the Carrier Air Conditioner factory in Indianapolis are gathered together by a manager who explains that the company's profit-margins dictate that all 1400 of them will lose their jobs as their factory is moved to Mexico. Read the rest

Austerity Robin Hood: a billionaire who takes from "scroungers" and gives to "hardworking people"

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A beautiful essay in the London Review of Books traces the twists and turns of the Robin Hood story over time, to the era of austerity, where "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor" takes on a completely different complexion. Read the rest

Australia, the driest country on Earth, eliminates basic climate science research

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Virtually all the climate scientists working at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation -- Australia's answer to NASA -- have been fired or moved out of climate research. Read the rest

Michael Moore: Flint needs a revolution, not bottled water

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Michael Moore, perhaps Flint, MI's most famous son, has written an open letter to people who are heartsick at the thought of a whole generation of mostly poor, mostly black children being given permanent brain damage through lead poisoning, thanks to the deliberate indifference of the state's Republican administration and the greedy people who elected them. Read the rest

The surveillance business model goes to war against the FTC

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You may have noticed a surge of articles criticizing the Federal Trade Commission for its innovation-stifling, headline-chasing, out-of-control attacks on business. The timing of these articles, op-eds and jeremiads isn't an accident. Read the rest

Australian PM Tony Abbot ousted in own-party coup

Australia's Liberal Party voted out its own leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and replaced him with Malcolm Turnbull. Read the rest

BBC fires UK government's Meterological Office, opens up weather prediction to global firms

It's a complex story -- partly about the Beeb facing privatisation and being required to bid out its work; partly about the Met having made some spectacular recent blunders in providing the weather. Read the rest

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