Behavioral economist on why Americans freak out when you attribute their success to luck

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Cornell economist Robert Frank drew the ire of the nation's business press when he published an article that said something most economists would agree with: hard work and skill aren't enough (or even necessary) to succeed; but luck is. Rather than back down from the angry reception, he's expanded the article into a book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, which came out last month. Read the rest

Chelsea Clinton's husband shuts down vulture fund after losing 90% of his investors' money

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Chelsea Clinton's husband Marc Mezvinsky is a Goldman Sachs alumnus; in 2014, he founded Hellenic Opportunity, a hedge fund that raised $25M to bet on distressed assets from Greece's collapsed economy, wagering that the country's investors would force it to make deeper cuts to finance payments on the debts. Read the rest

NZ Prime Minister John Key ejected from Parliament over Panama Papers rant

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John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, was ejected from the country's parliamentary debating chamber yesterday when he repeated ignored the Speaker of the House's calls to yield the floor, continuing to rant even after his microphone had been cut off. Read the rest

300 prominent economists call on world governments to end tax haven secrecy

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Oxfam has published an open letter signed by hundreds of respected economists, including Thomas Piketty, which describes tax havens as "serving no useful economic purpose." Read the rest

McClatchy newspapers' CEO pleased to announce that he's shipping IT jobs overseas

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Between 120 and 150 IT workers will be fired from the McClatchy newspaper syndicate (Scramento Bee, Miami Herald, etc), after they have trained IT contractors from India's Wipro to do their jobs. Read the rest

America's prisons are replacing vital in-person visits with expensive, nonfunctional video calling

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A new documentary, "(In)Securus Technologies: An Assault on Prisoner Rights", tracks the rise of for-profit video "visitation" programs, which are being rolled out across America's unimaginably huge prison system, replacing the in-person visits that have been shown to be vital for prisoners' successful rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Read the rest

Data-driven look at America's brutal, racist debt-collection machine

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In 1996, New Jersey's courts heard 500 debt-collection cases; in 2008, they heard 140,000 cases, almost all against black people, almost all of whom were not represented by lawyers. The cases were filed by vulture capitalists who bought the debt for pennies on the dollar and employed "attorneys" who filed up to 1,000 cases a day, "reviewing" each one for about four seconds. Read the rest

Amid education funding emergency, Washington State gives Boeing, Microsoft $1B in tax breaks

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Jeff writes, "Combined, Washington State is providing Microsoft and Boeing $1 billion annually in tax breaks. Cumulatively, Microsoft's state tax has saved its shareholders $8.6 billion in costs. While the company quietly surpassed $1 trillion in all time revenue, its home state faces emergencies in education funding, homelessness, heroin addiction and escalating crime." Read the rest

Greenpeace dumps TTIP documents that show USA arm-twisting the EU

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Greenpeace has handed newspapers 240 pages of current negotiating documents from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a secretly conducted trade deal between the USA and the EU, which has run in parallel with the notorious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Read the rest

Norway's titanic sovereign wealth fund takes a stand against executive pay

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When Norway -- historically one of the poorest countries in Europe -- struck oil in the North Sea, the country put the proceeds into a "sovereign wealth" fund that invested it in other industries and used the returns to pay for an extensive welfare state that has given Norwegians one of the highest standards of living in the world. Read the rest

TSA lines grow to 3 hours, snake outside the terminals, with no end in sight

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The TSA gambled on millions of wealthy Americans opting out of its pornoscanner-and-shoe-removal process and signing up for its Precheck policy, which allows travellers to pay for the "privilege" of walking through a metal-detector with their shoes on, while their laptops stay in their bags. Read the rest

Inside a Supreme Court case on cheerleader uniforms, a profound question about copyright

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Copyright protects creative expression, but not utilitarian forms: that's why the silkscreened art on your t-shirt is copyrightable, but the t-shirt's design itself is not. Read the rest

Forget the one percent, it's the 0.1% who run the show

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The wealthiest one out of 1,000 US families -- the 0.1 percent -- comprise about 115,000 households whose net worth starts at $20M, and goes up and up from there, accounting for at least as much wealth as the poorest 90 percent of US households. Read the rest

Podcast explains the corrosive effects of tax havens

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Nicholas Shaxon, author of Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens (previously) appeared on The Foreign Desk podcast (MP3) this week to discuss the nature of tax havens, how they hollow out both their host countries and the countries whence their hidden riches comes. Read the rest

No, tax-havens aren't good for society (duh)

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As the Panama Papers story unfolds and we learn more about the systematic world-scale corruption of offshore tax-havens, the usual suspects have mounted a charm-offensive top defend anonymous offshore bank accounts as critical to democracy and a check against the rise of fascism (no, really). Read the rest

High profits mean capitalism is cooked

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From The Economist to the White House Council of Economic Advisers to Goldman Sachs itself, the staunchest supporters of capitalism are worried about the consistently high profit margins in key industries, especially finance. Read the rest

Heads of UK's tax havens to Her Majesty's Government: go fuck yourself

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When the premiers of the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands (British Overseas Territories that are notorious tax-havens) visited the UK last year, Tory government ministers sent formal letters asking for meetings with them to discuss tax evasion. The premiers never answered the letters. Read the rest

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