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Showing posts from March 8, 2015

The month that killed the middle class: How October 1973 slammed America

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[How, during one month more than 40 years ago, the Arab oil embargo, the auto workers strike, and the impeachment of Richard Nixon all fuelled class warfare and contributed to creating a new world. *RON*]

Edward McClelland, Salon.com, 7 March 2015

Early in 1974, Don Cooper, an autoworker at an Oldsmobile plant in Lansing, Michigan, was demoted from his coveted job in the crankshaft department to the final assembly line, where he had started out as a rookie nine years earlier. Cooper hadn’t done anything wrong. Rather, he was a victim of events 6,000 miles away.

The previous October, Egypt had invaded Israel. When the United States provided military aid to the Jewish state, Saudi Arabia retaliated by cutting off oil exports to Western nations. The Arab Oil Embargo raised the price of gasoline from 36 to 53 cents a gallon — when drivers could get it. To prevent hours-long lines, filling stations sold to cars with odd-numbered license plates on Mond…

Canadian killed by friendly Kurdish fire in northern Iraq

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[A different slant from the 'train and advise' party line we hear in the Canadian press: "Canadian special operators have been among the most aggressive trainers and consultants in northern Iraq. Peshmerga officials have said Canadian troops have spent more time on the front lines than any other members of the U.S.-led coalition." *RON*]

By Mitchell Prothero, McClatchy Foreign Staff, 7 March 2015

IRBIL, IRAQ — A Canadian special operations soldier has become the first fatality among international troops deployed to counter the Islamic State, the Canadian Defense Ministry announced Saturday.

Three other Canadian troops were wounded in the Friday incident, which the defense ministry described as “friendly fire” when Kurdish peshmerga fighters mistook the Canadians’ sport utility vehicle for militants from the Islamic State. The Canadians were returning to a base at dusk in northern Iraq.

Coalition officials have stressed repeatedly …

Why the west loves a kleptocrat

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["Western countries barely even pretend to disapprove of kleptocrats any more." Because the corporatocracy and the kleptocracy are the same thing. *RON*]

Simon Kuper, Wall Street Journal, 6 March 2015
Even by the standards of oil states, Angola is laughably unfair. Oligarchs leave €500 tips in posh Lisbon restaurants, while about one in six Angolan children dies before age five — the worst rate on earth, says the United Nations. Angola has the same Gini coefficient for inequality as apartheid South Africa (though a touch better than today’s Manhattan).

Yet this little-studied kleptocracy is an accepted part of the western system. Expat western workers keep Angola ticking. Angolan oligarchs inhabit the global luxury economy of British public schools, Swiss asset managers, Herm├Ęs stores etc. In fact, argues the Oxford political scientist Ricardo Soares de Oliveira in his marvellous new book, Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola Since the Ci…

Spain's traditional parties set to suffer in Andalusia: poll

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[According to this poll, what we will mainly see in Spain is voter fragmentation as two new parties take votes away from the two traditional ruling parties, one socialist and one right wing. Generally this seems to represent a shift toward more populist, as opposed to ideological, voter concerns. This will mean more anti-austerity talk all around. Podemos will split the vote on the left, and the new, centre-right Cuidadanos Party will split the vote on the right. The general effect should be to pull the country as a whole toward a more centrist, populist focus and away from the possibility of a majority government. *RON*]
Xinhua News Agency, Global Post, 1 March 2015

MADRID, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Spain's traditional 'big two' parties - the right wing Popular Party (PP) and the Socialist (PSOE) - both look certain to suffer as a result of the growth in popularity of the recently formed political parties Podemos and Ciudadanos.

That is the…

Russia Formally Charges Two Suspects in Nemtsov Killing

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[Chechen rebels! Russia's go-to guys when you need to pin an assassination on someone. The Telegraph is more to the point: Boris Nemtsov murder: two held "may be hired hitmen". *RON*]

By Andrey Ostoukh, Wall Street Journal, 8 March 2015 MOSCOW—Russian investigators Sunday formally charged two men from the restive Caucasus region with the murder last month of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, and said three more suspects had been arrested in the case.

The string of arrests, which began Saturday, was a dramatic turn in the high-profile case, in which Western leaders have called on the Kremlin to conduct a transparent and complete probe. Officials on Sunday gave no indication of the possible motive for the killing and few details on the five suspects.

The mostly Muslim Caucasus region has been a source of violence for decades. In Chechnya, one of the largest republics there, separatists have fought two brutal wars with Russian forc…