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Showing posts from April 17, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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Why is April 15 such a big deal in North Korea?

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[Much of this article depends on the work of Blaine Harden, who's book The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot: the true story of the tyrant who created North Korea and the young lieutenant who stole his way to freedom is one of the best reads on the modern history of this weird and wonderful nation. See also: North Korean missile 'blows up' on test launch as Pence heads for South. *RON*]

Anna Fifield, Stuff New Zealand / Washington Post, 15 April 2017

North Korea says the US is pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula "to the brink of war" as an American naval fleet nears the region.

Expectations are running high that North Korea will do something provocative in the next few days - even if it's just a military parade where they show off mock-ups of missiles - to mark the biggest day of the year on the North Korean calendar.

April 15 is officially known in North Korea as "The Day of the Sun" and marks the…

France in the End of Days

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[Marine Le Pen’s road to victory is clear enough. Can a pragmatist stop the extreme right? Emmanuel Macron may be France's only hope against their terminal case of inferiority pouting. *RON*]

Roger Cohen, New York Times, 14 April 2017
Paris — For some time France has been a country that does not like itself. Somewhere on the road from its humiliation in World War II to its disappointment with European integration to its discomfort with globalization, France slid into moroseness. High-speed trains purred; France pouted. Grumbling became a way of life, the response to lost grandeur. Now France seems ready to vent this slow-ripening anger in an election that could see the extreme right return to power for the first time since the 1940s and Europe revert to a turbulence not seen since that epoch.

If Marine Le Pen of the National Front wins, she says she will take France out of the euro, the shared European currency, and restore the franc. Exit f…

'How crazy is it that undocumented people are paying for their own deportation?'

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[On the billions of dollars in taxes paid by immigrants without legal status in the US. *RON*]

Joyce Hackel, Public Radio International , 12 April 2017

Many immigrants without legal status pay taxes.
Lots of taxes. Last year, undocumented workers handed over $26.3 billion in federal taxes to the US Internal Revenue Service.

Those filings came in all sorts of income categories. Youth organizer Greisa Martínez first visited a tax preparer in Dallas, Texas, with her father about a decade ago when she was 17 years old and working odd jobs. Both she and her dad were undocumented, but they wanted to file returns. It wasn't long afterward that her father was deported back to his native Mexico. She hasn't seen him since then.

"How crazy is it that in some ways undocumented people are paying for their own deportation and detention?" asks Martínez, who received a work permit under what's known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arriva…

Is It Too Late for Turkey’s Democracy?

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[Democracy devolving into tyranny; it's straight out of Plato's Republic. Erdogan will have to go before there will be democratic progress again in Turkey. The problem lies in how effectively he has co-opted the military and government bureaucracy. His huge numbers of hangers-on therefore support him adamantly and are happy to grant him increasingly tyrannical powers in order to maintain their own positions. *RON*]

Elmira Bayrasli, New York Times, 12 April  2017

Turkish democracy is on life support. On April 16, Turks will vote on 18 amendments to their country’s Constitution, including whether to abolish the office of the prime minister and transfer its powers to the president.

Pushing for a “yes” vote is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A presidential system would not only give Mr. Erdogan more authority to appoint judges and ministers, and control budgets, but also allow him to rule for two more terms — until 2029 — and it would solid…

No, wealth isn’t created at the top. It is merely devoured there

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[On the rentier class, and welfare for the rich. Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they’re sucking the rest of us dry. *RON*]
Rutger Bregman, The Guardian, 30 March 2017

This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state.

Capitalism simply isn't working and here are the reasons why

These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have “made it”. By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world.

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded – the philosophy of the left is that the strongest shoulders should bear the heavie…