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Deregulate!
#71
Quote:The Trump administration is delaying implementation of one of the signature policies of the Obama-era crackdown on for-profit colleges.
The Department of Education announced Monday night it was targeting the Obama administration rule aimed at holding career-training programs accountable for getting students decent jobs and earnings. To be in compliance with the regulations, career-training programs, which are largely at for-profit colleges, need to graduate students whose loan payments don’t exceed 20% of their discretionary income or 8% of their total earnings. Programs that don’t fit this criteria for multiple years could lose access to federal financial aid.

Career-training schools will now have until July 1 to file appeals to the program debt-to-earnings ratios published by the Department earlier this year, as part of the enforcement of the gainful employment (GE) rule. Originally, their appeals were due Friday, March 10. The schools will also now have until July 1 to publish disclosures about their debt-to-earnings ratio that are required by the new law. Before this decision, the programs had until April 3 to post those disclosures.

The gainful employment rules were a long fought victory for the Obama administration in its quest to crack down on for-profit colleges, which officials and advocates have accused of loading students up with high debt loads for questionable outcomes. The for-profit college industry fought the regulations in court and the Obama administration ultimately prevailed.

But the Trump administration’s embrace of an increased role for the private sector in education has had supporters of efforts to crack down on for-profit colleges worried that the new rules could be in jeopardy — and investors betting on for-profit schools. The delay is the first signal that that speculation may be correct..
Trump administration offers first friendly overtures to for-profit colleges - MarketWatch
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#72
But the free market takes care of all this, right? 

Quote:The authorities in Brazil suspended 33 government officials amid allegations that some of the country's biggest meat processors have been selling rotten beef and poultry for years. Three meat processing plants have also been closed and another 21 are under scrutiny. Much of the meat produced by the companies accused is exported to Europe and other parts of the world. Brazil is the world's largest red meat exporter. 

The investigators allege that some managers bribed health inspectors and politicians to get government certificates for their products. They accuse more than 30 companies of a number of unhygienic practices. Among them are JBS, the world's largest beef exporter, and BRF, the world's top poultry producer. Brazilian federal police said they have evidence of at least 40 incidents. Both JBS and BRF say they are co-operating with the police "They used acid and other chemicals to mask the aspect of the product. In some cases, the products used were carcinogenic," the police said. In other cases, potato, water and even cardboard paper was mixed with chicken meat to increase profits.
Brazil meat-packing giants 'exported rotten beef' - BBC News
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#73
Jeff Sessions seems very keen on starting a new war on drugs which we know is already a failure

Quote:Jeff Sessions says marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.The attorney general is a notorious weed hater. He once joked that he thought the KKK were “were OK until I found out they smoked pot,” and claimed last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Perhaps it’s no surprise then that he is gearing up to revive the war on marijuana, disparaging a recent wave of drug legalization efforts across the country. “And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful,” Sessions said in a speech on Wednesday in Richmond, Virginia. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”
Jeff Sessions says marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. | New Republic

But that war failed spectacularly:

Quote:Since 1972, the number of people incarcerated has increased 5-fold without a comparable decrease in crime or drug use.1,3 In fact, the decreased costs of opiates and stimulants and the increased potency of cannabis might lead one to an opposing conclusion.4 Given the politics of the war on drugs, skyrocketing incarceration rates are deemed a sign of success, not failure.

...

The challenges that lead a person to prison—drug addition, alcoholism, untreated mental illnesses, lack of employment opportunities—are not abated by incarceration; they are often worsened. Former inmates may have lost family and social ties. They are certainly less employable than before, because many employers do not hire convicted felons. Zero tolerance laws prohibit people with drug-related felonies from using government assistance such as public housing and federal financial aid to attend college. However, violent felons are not excluded from these programs.26 The trend away from rehabilitation in the past 20 years means that fewer people are able to get college degrees or transferable job skills while in prison.27 Three quarters of state prison inmates lack a high school diploma, and less-educated inmates are more likely than their educated peers to be recidivists.28
Who’s Using and Who’s Doing Time: Incarceration, the War on Drugs, and Public Health

The old war on drugs was fought basically by putting people into jails for fairly innocuous transgressions, and cutting their college finance, leading to:

Quote:A single variable -- having a criminal record -- is a key missing piece in explaining why work rates and LFPRs have collapsed much more dramatically in America than other affluent Western societies over the past two generations.
5 Reasons Germany Isn't Suffering in the 21st Century - Bloomberg View

However, why not start here, with the official drug pushers, enabled by the deregulation wave that allows companies to basically lie about product benefits and risks.

Quote:Now that it’s clear opioid painkillers have helped cause the worst drug epidemic in history, health experts are scrambling to figure out when dependency on these powerful prescription drugs starts — and how to prevent it.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the relationship between the number of days of someone’s first opioid prescription and their long-term use. It found that that number has a huge impact: Patients face an increased risk of opioid dependency in as few as four days of taking the drugs.

As you can see in the chart below, opioid prescriptions longer than five days in length significantly increased the likelihood of continued opioid use both one and three years later.
The risk of a single 5-day opioid prescription, in one chart - Vox

But in fact, what they're doing is this instead:

Quote:AA year earlier, around the time Pullins' relapse began, Ohio Gov. John Kasich made a decision — controversial for a Republican — that changed the lives of thousands of addicts such as Pullins. Using federal funds available to any state, Kasich chose to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, despite opposition from many on the right. Before the ACA, few Americans qualified for Medicaid, the government-run health program. Though eligibility varies from state to state, the most likely beneficiaries were pregnant women, single mothers, the disabled, and seniors with low incomes. The ACA opened Medicaid up to more than 11 million new people nationwide (a number that continues to grow), though it’s up to states to decide if they want to participate. New federal requirements established that any adult living under 138% of the federal poverty level — an income of $27,821 for a family of three in 2016 — was eligible..
For opioid epidemic and Medicaid, Obamacare repeal could be disaster - Business Insider

Quote:Trumpcare would result in millions more people going uninsured, but it would be particularly harmful for people who have substance abuse problems and depend on Medicaid expansion for treatment. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) required that Medicaid cover basic mental health and addiction services, but that requirement would be phased out in 2020. Medicaid expansion in 31 states and the District of Columbia increased access to substance abuse treatment for people addicted to opioids, since medicine to treat people struggling with the addiction is very expensive. Before expansion, Medicaid covered mostly pregnant women, poor children, and people with disabilities, and even those groups had to have very low incomes to be considered eligible. About 1.3 million people receive treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders under the expansion, according to a recent estimate from professors at New York University and Harvard Medical School.
Trumpcare would ‘cause enormous human suffering’ for people with addictions
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#74
Quote:Travis Bornstein never told his friends about his son Tyler’s drug problem. He was too embarrassed. Then, on September 28, 2014, Tyler’s body was found in a vacant lot in Akron, Ohio. The 23-year-old had become addicted to opioid pain killers after several sports-related injuries and surgeries. Unable to afford long-term treatment, he ultimately turned to a cheaper drug — the heroin that killed him. “Now I have no choice but to speak out,” the elder Bornstein, president of Teamsters Local 24 in Akron, told a crowd of thousands at the union’s convention in 2016. As he shared the unvarnished tale of how a middle-class, star athlete wound up in that vacant lot, Bornstein lit a fire under the 1.4-million-member organization.

The Teamsters pledged $1.4 million for a nonprofit organization the Bornstein family set up to expand treatment for addicts in Ohio. They’re also going after the drug industry CEOs who’ve been profiting off a national opioid problem of epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription drugs and heroin) has quadrupled since 1999. In 2015, opioid deaths in the United States hit a record-breaking 33,000. The labor union is targeting the three largest U.S. prescription drug wholesalers — McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen — for flooding hard-hit areas with the highly addictive pills. 

The companies deny any wrongdoing, pointing the finger instead at corrupt doctors and pharmacists who sell pills directly to addicts and dealers. But as West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin recently told the Charleston Gazette-Mail, “Obviously, they had to know, with a state this size, and that many pills coming in, that something wasn’t right.” The Teamsters are using their clout as pension fund investors to demand that drug wholesalers take responsibility for their role in the epidemic, conduct full investigations of their distribution practices, and hold CEOs accountable.

At AmerisourceBergen, for example, CEO Steven Collis hasn’t coughed up a penny of the tens of millions of dollars he pocketed as the firm was reaping opioid windfalls — even though the company has paid $16 million to settle a West Virginia case over their negligence. The Teamsters are demanding that some of the CEO’s pay be “clawed back,” in the same way that Wells Fargo executives involved in last year’s bogus account scandal had to forfeit some of their compensation.
Going After the Opioid Profiteers | naked capitalism

CEOs raking in the millions and getting away with murder, it's just like the financial crisis.. This is what unregulated capitalism brings, forms of predatory capitalism.
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#75
Quote:Wine Wizard From the early 2000s until 2012, a young Indonesian immigrant named Rudy Kurniawan swindled Silicon Valley socialites—including wine and art expert William Koch—out of nearly $30 million by repackaging wine in his basement and selling it for thousands of dollars per bottle. In 2014, a judge sentenced Kurniawan to 10 years in prison. Kurniawan earned his nickname "Dr. Conti" because he was known for bidding high on famously-expensive Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines at auctions.

Nine people died and thousands got sick in 2008 and 2009 after eating peanut butter contaminated with salmonella. The story's grossest detail is that the CEO of the Peanut Corporation of America, Stewart Parnell, knew the food may have been contaminated—but shipped it anyway. Parnell was found guilty in 2014 on more than 70 criminal charges and received the longest prison sentence of any food-related crime: 28 years.
5 of the Worst Criminals in Food History | Mother Jones
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#76
Another industry which produces a host of externalities. While regulation is in place in most countries, observation is quite another matter..

Quote:Lepeophtheirus salmonis, or the common salmon louse, now infests nearly half of Scotland’s salmon farms. Last year lice killed thousands of tonnes of farmed fish, caused skin lesions and secondary infections in millions more, and cost the Scottish industry alone around £300m in trying to control them.

As a result of the lice infestations, the global price of salmon has soared, and world production fallen. Earlier this year freedom of information [FoI] requests of the Scottish government showed that 45 lochs had been badly polluted by the antibiotics and pesticides used to control lice – and that more and more toxic chemicals were being used.

I last heard Staniford talk in London in 2012, when he gave a lecture at the National Geographic Society, calling fish farms “toxic toilets” and warning that diseases were rife, waste was out of control and the use of chemicals was growing fast. Not only were fish farms getting bigger, he said, they were also becoming reservoirs for infectious diseases and parasites. It was a shocking, revealing talk. I did not know that farmed salmon were fed partly on fishmeal and fish oil, often derived from ocean fish such as anchovies, herring and sardines. Despite industry claims that industrial aquaculture feeds the world’s poor, it seemed that the big farms were adding to the pressure on the depletion of the oceans.

This week I asked Staniford what had changed since then. Little, he replied, except that the farms had got bigger, the industry was spending even more heavily to control the lice, more fish were dying in appalling conditions and the pollution caused by their waste and the use of chemicals was becoming more serious. He has spent the past five years labelled an “eco-terrorist”, a “troublemaker”, an “exaggerator” and “a prophet of doom”. He has been sued by the industry for defamation, lost a high-profile Canadian high court battle, been heavily fined, been threatened many times, and been ordered never to repeat statements such as “wild salmon don’t do drugs” and “salmon farming spreads diseases”. “He is an ace troublemaker. He annoys everyone … but he uses freedom of information requests to get his data and 99 times out of 100 he is right”, says Scottish investigative journalist Rob Edwards. “I am a trained scientist. I use peer-reviewed science and use the industry’s own figures,” says Staniford. 

“What we are seeing now is a chemical arms race in the seas, just like on the land farms, where the resistance of plants to chemicals is growing. In fish farms, the parasites are increasing resistance to chemicals and antibiotics. There has been a 10-fold increase in the use of some chemicals in the past 18 months.”

The use of chemicals, especially, worries him. Last month Staniford unearthed the fact that not only was the use of the toxic drug emamectin rising fast, but also that the industry had persuaded the Scottish environmental protection agency to withdraw a ban planned for next year. Other papers showed that the levels of chemicals used to kill sea lice have breached environmental safety limits more than 100 times in the last 10 years. The chemicals have been discharged into the waters by 70 fish farms run by seven companies.

“Many farmed fish are fed largely on wild fish. To produce farmed fish such as salmon, it takes about three times the weight of wild-caught fish. This is not only unsustainable, but adds to the serious welfare concerns about how wild fish are caught and slaughtered,” said a spokesman.
Salmon farming in crisis: 'We are seeing a chemical arms race in the seas' | Environment | The Guardian
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#77
Yes, shaft pensioners too..

Quote:As things currently stand, a financial adviser helping a retiree pick investments doesn’t have to put the retiree’s interests first. Instead, the adviser can steer his client toward products that make him money but that might not be the smartest investment choice. This conflicted advice has been estimated to cost Americans $17 billion a year.

The Obama administration took action to change the rules so that advisers have to put retirees’ interests ahead of their own, otherwise known as the fiduciary duty rule. The new rules were set to go into effect this month. But now, the Trump administration is taking steps to whittle them down or do away with them altogether, allowing advisers to continue pushing clients into costly investment choices.
Trump administration attacks rule protecting retirees from getting ripped off

Quote:The same ethos, with the same justification, pervades the Trump administration. The new head of the environmental protection agency, Scott Pruitt, is seeking to annul the rules protecting rivers from pollution, workers from exposure to pesticides, and everyone from climate breakdown. It’s not as if the agency was overzealous before: one of the reasons for the mass poisoning in Flint, Michigan, was its catastrophic failure to protect people from the contamination of drinking water by lead: a failure that now afflicts 18 million Americans. As well as trying to dismantle the government’s climate change programme, Trump is waging war on even the most obscure forms of protection. For instance, he intends to remove funds from the tiny US chemical safety board, which investigates lethal industrial incidents. Discovering what happened and why would impede freedom.
Freeing up the rich to exploit the poor – that’s what Trump and Brexit are about | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
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#78
Or better still, let industry regulate itself..

Quote:Earlier government decisions to incentivise diesel vehicles, which produce less climate-warming carbon dioxide, sparked the problem but were made in good faith. The heart of the disaster is instead a giant broken promise: the motor industry said it would clean up diesel but instead cheated and dodged the rules for years. The result has been that the air people breathe in cities and towns is now heavily polluted with toxic nitrogen dioxide, causing 23,500 premature deaths a year in the UK and affecting many schools. The government, whose inadequate plans have twice been declared illegal, will come up with a new, court-ordered strategy as soon as next week.
How conniving carmakers caused the diesel air pollution crisis | Environment | The Guardian

At least they seem now onto their game:

Quote:European effort to get diesel cars off city streets in order clean up urban air continues apace. While diesel cars aren’t particularly prevalent in the U.S., they’re prized for their fuel efficiency in Europe, where pump prices are far higher. But even though they sip fuel, they also produce far larger quantities of soot and nitrogen oxides compared to gasoline-powered engines. In fact, they’re a major contributor to the declining air quality around the globe that kills over three million people each year.
Europe Is Dead Serious About Killing Off Diesel Cars - MIT Technology Review

It's not only NOX, but also fine particles:

Quote:London’s toxic air is a silent killer and is now a public health emergency. More than 9,000 Londoners die prematurely every year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution. Research shows 438 schools in the capital are in areas which exceed legal pollution levels, and that there are children growing up in inner London whose lungs are up to 10 per cent smaller than their peers.
Too many Londoners have died as a result of air pollution – so we’re doing something about it | The Independent
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#79
Not all fracking turns out to be so harmless:

Quote:In some parts of the country, people are urged to pray for rain. In Oklahoma, the governor once told people to pray for oil prices. But as oil and gas fracking continue to spread throughout the state, Oklahomans’ concern might be more about the industry’s impact on water supplies and less about the industry’s profits. report, commissioned by the Clean Water Fund and released Thursday, found there are several oil and gas wastewater wells that could be injecting into drinking water supplies in Oklahoma. In addition, there are private wells whose supply could be overlapping with wastewater disposal wells permitted by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC).

“It’s disturbing that the OCC may have permitted oil and gas wells to inject directly into potential drinking water sources, and that the agency can’t accurately point to where the drinking water is located,” John Noël, lead author of the report and national oil and gas campaigns coordinator for Clean Water Action, said in a statement. “That’s fundamental to the OCC’s job — it is the agency that is supposed to protect Oklahomans’ drinking water from the impacts of oil and gas activities. Without proper information, the OCC cannot assure that the state’s many thousands of injection wells have all been permitted safely.””
Oklahoma’s drinking water is at risk from fracking, new report finds
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#80
Yes, let them regulate themselves..

Quote:Websites that show bargain prices for flights, hotels and other travel bookings, are not giving customers accurate information, say European consumer protection authorities. The first price shown was often much lower than the final price, they said. Some offers that look too good to be true, are - because when you click to buy they aren't available. "These websites are misleading consumers," said Vera Jourova, the EU commissioner responsible. The Consumer Protection Cooperation body said the 235 websites that they had identified would be required to correct the problems.

Key findings: In one third of cases the first price shown was not the same as the final price to pay. In one fifth of cases promotional offers were not really available. In nearly one third of cases the way the total price was calculated was not clear. In one quarter of cases prompts on scarcity (eg "only 2 left") only applied to availability on that particularly website, which wasn't made clear.
Travel websites ticked off over 'misleading' claims - BBC News
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