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Showing posts from June 19, 2014

The US/EU Financial Deal You've Never Heard Of

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[Draft of US/EU trade deal revealed by Wikileaks would not only eliminate the modest regulatory gains made in the financial sector since 2008, it would blow things even further open, creating a vitual Wild West of deregulation for banks and Wall Street. See also Secret trade agreement covering 68 percent of world services published by WikiLeaks*RON*]
Published on Thursday, June 19, 2014 by Common Dreams, 19 June 2014

Wikileaks published a previously tightly-held and secretive draft of a trade document on Thursday that, if enacted, would give the world's financial powers an even more dominant position to control the global economy by avoiding regulations and public acccountability.
Known as a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), the draft represents the negotiating positions of the U.S. and E.U. and lays out the deregulatory strategies championed by some of the world's largest banks and investment firms.

Post-Crash Economics

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[On post-austerity economics, "mainstream economics is a pitifully thin distillation of historical wisdom on the topics that it addresses. It should be applied to whatever practical problems it can solve; but its tools and assumptions should always be in creative tension with other beliefs concerning human wellbeing and flourishing. What students are taught today certainly does not deserve its imperial status in social thought." *RON*]
Robert Skidelsky, Project Syndicate, 18 June 2014

LONDON – In last month’s European Parliament election, euroskeptic and extremist parties won 25% of the popular vote, with the biggest gains chalked up in France, the United Kingdom, and Greece. These results were widely, and correctly, interpreted as showing the degree of disconnect between an arrogant European elite and ordinary citizens.

Less noticed, because less obviously political, are today’s intellectual rumblings, of which French economist Thomas …

Austerity Causes Euro-Zone Consumption Gap to Widen: Consumption Declines in Bailed-Out Countries and Italy

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[Pray tell, oh wise Troika guys: if the Portuguese citizenry is consuming goods and services at just 76% of the Eurozone average, how will this lead to an economic recovery? *RON*]

By Paul Hannon, Wall Street Journal, 18 June 2014

The gap between individual consumption in Germany and those euro-zone countries pursuing austerity programs continued to widen last year, according to figures from the European Union's official statistics agency Wednesday.

Within the currency area, individuals in Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Cyprus suffered relative declines in consumption of goods and services in 2013, while their counterparts in Germany, Belgium and Estonia saw their relative consumption increase, the data from Eurostat showed.

The euro zone's twin government debt and banking crises have eased since mid-2012, and the currency area's economy returned to growth in early 2013. But growth remains very weak, unemployment is near record…

Against Intervention in Iraq

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[American military involvement would inflame, not ease, Iraq’s sectarian divisions. See also Where Is The Accountability in On Iraq? A.k.a. how many times do the Neocons get to be wrong before we stop asking them what to do in Iraq? Also, see ISIS, Blackwater, and the Billion-Dollar Boondoggle. Also Pundits and Partisans Are Up to Old Tricks in Iraq*RON*] 

The Editors , The Nation, 18 June 2014
The stunning military advance into cities in northern and central Iraq by an Al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—backed by some of Iraq’s Sunni tribal paramilitary forces and a militia tied to remnants of the deposed Baath party—compounds Iraq’s long-running tragedy. For thirty-four years—through the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88), the Gulf War (1990–91), the brutal US-led sanctions against Iraq (1990–2003) and the devastation that followed the US invasion in 2003—Iraq’s people have suffered unspeakably. Now the ISIS-led offensive is adding t…

Argentina says next bond payment 'impossible', default looms

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[US courts and hedge funds continue to hold the Argentinian government hostage. See also Democracy Now's Argentina Alleges Extortion After Supreme Court Sides With Vulture Funds Preying on Sovereign Debt. *RON*]

By Hugh Bronstein and Joseph Ax, Reuters, Jun 19, 2014
(Reuters) - Argentina threatened to default on its debt on Wednesday when the government called it "impossible" to pay bond service due on June 30, citing a U.S. court decision earlier in the day that increased pressure on the economically ailing country.

Buenos Aires is locked in a 12-year legal fight with creditors who refused to participate in two restructurings that followed Argentina's 2002 default on $100 billion in bonds.

The long impasse in the U.S. courts has kept the country from accessing international capital markets as its economy stagnates, inflation soars and central bank reserves fall.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by A…

Sri Lanka moderate monk critical of anti-Muslim violence beaten

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[You know there's something really wrong with the world when you have murderous hate attacks by "hard line Buddhists." *RON*]

BBC News, 19 June 2014 A moderate Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka who is highly critical of an extremist Buddhist group has been found beaten and unconscious near Colombo.

Wataraka Vijitha Thero was found undressed and with numerous cuts on his body in the district of Panadura.

He is a vocal critic of the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Brigade), whose rally in a southern town triggered deadly anti-Muslim riots on Sunday night.

Four people have died in the sectarian violence, Sri Lanka's worst in years.

Read and vote: Does Harper have a sensible foreign policy?

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[A good example of an intelligent civil debate about the difference between the Conservative and Progressive perspectives on, in this case, foreign affairs. This is part of the Globe and Mail's Global Debate Faceoff. Canadian politics has become so divided along American ideological lines that it is hardly possible to hold a reasonable public conversation about political topics. Kudos to the G&M for sponsoring this style of article. Here John Ibbotson defends the Conservative approach to foreign affairs and Andrew Reddie defends the traditional style in which Canada has managed international relations. *RON*]

John Ibbotson and Andrew Reddie, Globe and Mail, Jun. 18 2014

Some say the government’s foreign policy is insignificant - all sound and fury. Others say it is a new, well-defined approach to the world built on solid principles of conservatism.

The Debate “The Harper government’s per…

Shift Emerges in Europe on Focus on Austerity

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[The left-leaning governments of France and Italy -- two of Europe's larger economies -- are pushing back on the European Union's austerity-driven budget targets. *RON*]

By James Kanter, New York Times, 18 June 2014

BRUSSELS — France and Italy, still struggling to meet the euro zone’s tough budget targets, may be gaining support for an effort to relax the rules.

The effort, backed by Socialists in the newly elected European Parliament, could color discussions in Luxembourg on Thursday and Friday, when the bloc’s finance ministers gather for their monthly meetings.

The European Union is finally emerging from a six-year economic crisis that threatened to destroy the euro currency. The crisis set off a fierce debate about whether rigid belt-tightening was the correct course of action — or an impediment to growth.

Left-leaning governments and leaders who are skeptical about that austerity drive are seeking to reopen that debate.

“It looks as…

Canadian Income Inequality Likely Much Worse Than Advertised: Study

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[This is certainly true in Canada, where pretty well all physicians (among the wealthiest of Canadians) are corporations. This means they are not counted as "individual" income and so are not included in calculations of income inequality. *RON*]
By Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post, 06/16/2014

Canada’s income inequality may be much worse than statistics suggest, because Canada’s biggest earners are hiding their actual incomes by incorporating themselves, says a new study.

Recent measures of income inequality have shown an increase in Canada over the past few decades, but not nearly to the same extent as in the U.S.

According to StatsCan’s analysis of National Household Survey data, the average income among Canada’s top one per cent of earners was $381,300 in 2010.

But that number is actually closer to $500,200, according to a new study to be presented at a tax conference at the University of Waterloo this week.

The study, from University of Ott…

Four arrested at "No Enbridge" protest at Conservative MP's office

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["If ordinary citizens like me are willing to risk arrest to stop this project, Harper can expect blockades that will make Clayoquot look like a picnic. Be brave, stand up, express yourself and throw the Harper government out in 2015. You owe it to your children". *RON*]
Jenny Uechi, Vancouver Observer, Jun 18th, 2014
"It was calm and peaceful but it was also emotional and scary -- it was a big step for me to do it," said Jackie DeRoo a mother and retired businesswoman who was among four arrested at a No Enbridge sit-in at Industry Minister James Moore's office today.

A group of 12 citizens staged a peaceful sit-in at Moore’s office since 10:30 this morning to express opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, which the federal government approved via a news release yesterday.

The pipeline would bring 520,000 barrels of diluted bitumen from Alberta's oil sands across northern BC to a terminal in Kitimat. Res…