Ghost Dog's Journal
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Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 12:59 PM
Number of posts: 14,220
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 12:59 PM
Number of posts: 14,220
Brit gone native. Cooperative member. Ecology. Cartography. Programming. Music production.
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Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister
Friday 10 July 2015 19.25 BST
Greece’s financial drama has dominated the headlines for five years for one reason: the stubborn refusal of our creditors to offer essential debt relief. Why, against common sense, against the IMF’s verdict and against the everyday practices of bankers facing stressed debtors, do they resist a debt restructure? The answer cannot be found in economics because it resides deep in Europe’s labyrinthine politics...
... The euro is a hybrid of a fixed exchange-rate regime, like the 1980s ERM, or the 1930s gold standard, and a state currency. The former relies on the fear of expulsion to hold together, while state money involves mechanisms for recycling surpluses between member states (for instance, a federal budget, common bonds). The eurozone falls between these stools – it is more than an exchange-rate regime and less than a state.
And there’s the rub. After the crisis of 2008/9, Europe didn’t know how to respond. Should it prepare the ground for at least one expulsion (that is, Grexit) to strengthen discipline? Or move to a federation? So far it has done neither, its existentialist angst forever rising. Schäuble is convinced that as things stand, he needs a Grexit to clear the air, one way or another. Suddenly, a permanently unsustainable Greek public debt, without which the risk of Grexit would fade, has acquired a new usefulness for Schauble.
What do I mean by that? Based on months of negotiation, my conviction is that the German finance minister wants Greece to be pushed out of the single currency to put the fear of God into the French and have them accept his model of a disciplinarian eurozone.
Comment ( sacco ):
"Based on months of negotiation, my conviction is that the German finance minister wants Greece to be pushed out of the single currency to put the fear of God into the French and have them accept his model of a disciplinarian eurozone."
That was my conclusion in February when you were elected, Yanis. That, and to assign the maximum possible blame to SYRIZA and avoid the IMF and most powerful EZ leaders accepting any.
Merkel's (and Schäuble's) role in this fiasco is that, even as the most powerful leader in the Eurozone, she has consistently avoided presenting any hint of the realities of life in a curreny union (i.e. transfers or surplus recycling) to her electorate (even though the success of the Euro has been vastly to Germany's profit), seemingly for fear of losing ground in the opinion polls and worry about how any hint of realism might be exploited by AfD. (German friends tell me that this is rather typical of her lack of courage and initiative on difficult matters — that she usually prefers to wait until somebody else appears who can catch the blame; David Cameron has certainly been a sucker for this punishment in the past.)
Of course, though, the longer she persists and the more acute the Greek crisis becomes, the more costly any eventual admission of the facts of life might be: through her persistent avoidance of actually doing anything to manage the issue she has allowed her self to be pushed into a corner from which there is no easy or cheap escape. Thus Greece must now be sacrificed in an orgy of blame in order that none of the actors with any power to alter the course of events need accept any fault: "we were always right and all the blame for everything lies with the profligate and unreasonable Greeks." Of course, the failure of the overwhelmingly powerful parties to guide the situation to a less completely catastrophic resolution (and the horribly expensive drag it continues to impose on European economies) gives the lie to this position but, sadly, it can still be retailed in the superficial politics of the national media, especially because the facts of how the Greek economy was 'managed', particularly during 2004–09, provide the kernel of truth to lend credibility to the misleading, facile, and short-sighted narrative assembled around it. Horribly short-sighted —to allow narratives of national virtue, vice and morality to develop— given the well-known historical trope that whenever currency union has been tried without mechanisms for transfers of surplus recycling it has provoked resentment and the rise of far-right nationalist populism in both the stronger and the weaker regions! ...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Fri Jul 10, 2015, 03:55 PM (2 replies)
Speaking at a event for the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), of which he is a patron, the prince complained that “the irresistible power of ‘business as usual’ has so far defeated every attempt to ‘rewire’ our economic system in ways that will deliver what we so urgently need”.
He said: “Yet if we are to limit climate change, conserve resources and keep ecosystems functioning, while at the same time improving the health and wellbeing of billions of people – including the several billion who are projected to be added later this century – then we will need to see profound changes.”
The prince also attacked what he characterised as the wastefulness of modern society. “The challenge now is to go much further and much faster, progressively eliminating waste by developing a circular economy that mimics nature’s loops and cycles, rather than perpetuating our largely unsustainable and linear way of doing things,” he said...
... At the event, the prince unveiled a report from the CISL. It argued the world’s current course revealed “a monumental market failure” and that “there seems to be a strategic chasm between where the world agrees it should be headed and the direction of the economy”. The report made a series of recommendations that would affect business, include raising green taxes, requiring companies to reveal their environmental impacts and ending the damage caused by short-term profit-seeking...
(The good read is the report linked from the article (the 'Prince Charles' trademark used here to call media attention, you'll notice) - more direct link: http://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/publications/rewiring-the-economy-ten-tasks-ten-years
Despite many business leaders engaging with their peers, politicians and policymakers to turn sustainability ambition into practice, inequality is still rising, ecosystems are being degraded, resources depleted and greenhouse gas levels are climbing. These trends are detrimental to environments, communities, businesses and long-term economic performance.
For economies to overcome these challenges there is a clear need to tilt operating conditions in favour of sustainable business practice.
Rewiring the Economy is the University of Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (CISL)’s ten-year plan to lay the foundations of a sustainable economy. It is built on ten interconnected tasks, delivered by three key groups of leaders: government, finance and business. These tasks are not unique to the plan. Rather, Rewiring the Economy shows how they can be tackled co-operatively over the next decade to create an economy that encourages sustainable business practices and delivers positive outcomes for people and societies.
Clearly these fundamental tasks will need to be sensitive to very different institutional and geographic contexts around the world. It is our ambition to work with leaders from across our global network to explore how best to reflect this, through our focus areas of leadership development, business model innovation, sustainable finance and a just transition to a low carbon economy. Beyond our network, we would like the plan to become a strategic compass bearing for governments, businesses and finance leaders around the world, inspiring new collaborations and enabling a fundamental change in how the global economy is harnessed for social and environmental good.
Posted by Ghost Dog | Fri Jul 3, 2015, 07:07 AM (11 replies)
Source: The Guardian
... Our fight goes on to protect our communities, to defend the vulnerable, to expose spivs and speculators and tax avoiders...
... Supporters of Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos have attended the march in solidarity, joining a handful of people showing their support for similar movements in Greece. Andrea, a 34-year-old Spanish protestor living in London, is part of the Podemos group. “What is happening here now happened four years ago in Spain,” she said. “In 2011, protestors from the ‘indignados’ movement stayed for days in public squares like this. It showed the need for change in Spain. You should do the same!’...
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/jun/20/anti-austerity-demonstrations-live
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Jun 20, 2015, 09:55 AM (12 replies)
... When postwar growth ended in the late 1960s, the functional needs of capital accumulation began gradually to push aside the social needs whose institutionalized recognition had been the condition for workers being prepared to live with capitalism. More and more “capital controls,” in a broad sense, were removed while one promise after the other that had been made to buy labor in after 1945 was withdrawn. Such promises included a steady increase in living standards, progressive de-commodification of labor through an expanding welfare state, politically guaranteed full employment, “industrial democracy,” an encompassing regime of collective bargaining and trade union rights, a broad public sector providing citizens with social services as well as with stable employment, equal access to education and social advancement, a moderate and certainly not growing level of social and economic inequality, and the like. All of these disappeared or were “reformed,” often beyond recognition. The almost four decades since the end of postwar prosperity were a long series of defeats for labor, and of successful attempts on the part of capital gradually to re-establish its hegemony, with market justice pushing social justice to the sidelines of the political economy. It was not the logic of democratic claim-making or social citizenship or even democratic political opportunism that undercut the postwar social compact, but the historical reassertion of the logic of capital accumulation that had for a limited period been contained and overruled by democratic politics – just as the fiscal crisis of today was not caused by ordinary people demanding more than they were entitled to, but by the winners of the market first refusing to pay for their social license to enrich themselves, and later blackmailing governments to save them from the fallout of their own recklessness.
Right now it is democracy itself that is about to be rescinded – at the national level, which is where it came to be located under democratic capitalism, without replacement at the supranational level, where it should today move but nobody knows how. Increasingly democracy is turning into an empty shell, a formal ritual, not just in the United States but also in Europe. In the camp of the Indignados at the Puerta del Sol in July 2011, I saw a hand-painted sign asking: ¿Como se puede hablar de democracia si no se puede cambiar el sistema económico en las urnas? (How can one speak of democracy if one cannot change the economic system at the ballot box?)...
From January 2012 but apposite today: interview with Professor Wolfgang Streeck of the Max Planck Institue for the Study of Societies, Cologne... .".. I am looking for signs of an impending cultural break with possessive individualism, competitive greed, hedonistic consumerism. This is a tall order indeed, but I feel nothing less would do. Beyond “protest” or calls for “reform,” what would be interesting to see are actual changes in people’s ways of life, some kind of separatism and recapturing of local autonomy, with people cutting themselves loose from the capitalist mainstream and becoming less dependent on it, materially and mentally: a way of life where time matters more than money, ideal goods more than material ones, and social bonds more than individual property. That may not be available without a measure of neo-romanticism or even insurrectionism. What one might hope for is a sort of cultural change that, unlike 1968 and its aftermath, would not lend itself to being transformed into a “new spirit of capitalism,” as described by Chiapello and Boltanski. At the intellectual level, I find the growing literature on low-growth, no-growth and de-growth capitalism (or perhaps post-capitalism?) intriguing and I wish one could find good reasons for believing that working for this politically would not necessarily be futile..."
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sun Oct 26, 2014, 03:02 AM (1 replies)
... Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, and Confucianism. Shandong's Mount Tai is the most revered mountain of Taoism and one of the world's sites with the longest history of continuous religious worship. The Buddhist temples in the mountains to the south of the provincial capital of Jinan were once among the foremost Buddhist sites in China. The city of Qufu is the birthplace of Confucius, and was later established as the center of Confucianism. Shandong's location at the intersection of ancient as well as modern north-south and east-west trading routes have helped to establish it as an economic center. After a period of political instability and economic hardship that began in the late 19th century, Shandong has emerged as one of the most populous (95,793,065 inhabitants at the 2010 Census) and most affluent provinces in the People's Republic of China (GDP of CN¥5.468 trillion in 2013, or USD892 billion, China's third wealthiest province)...
... Shandong ranks first among the provinces in the production of a variety of products, including cotton and wheat as well as precious metals such as gold and diamonds. It also has one of the biggest sapphire deposits in the world. Other important crops include sorghum and maize. Shandong has extensive petroleum deposits as well, especially in the Dongying area in the Yellow River delta, where the Shengli Oilfield (lit. Victory Oilfield) is one of the major oilfields of China. Shandong also produces bromine from underground wells and salt from sea water. It is the largest agricultural exporter in China.
Shandong is one of the richer provinces of China, and its economic development focuses on large enterprises with well-known brand names. Shandong is the biggest industrial producer and one of the top manufacturing provinces in China. Shandong has also benefited from South Korean and Japanese investment and tourism, due to its geographical proximity to those countries. The richest part of the province is the Shandong Peninsula, where the city of Qingdao is home to three of the most well-known brand names of China: Tsingtao Beer, Haier and Hisense. In addition, Dongying's oil fields and petroleum industries form an important component of Shandong's economy. Despite the primacy of Shandong's energy sector, the province has also been plagued with problems of inefficiency and ranks as the largest consumer of fossil fuels in all of China.
In 2011, the nominal GDP for Shandong was ¥4.50 trillion (US$711 billion), ranking third in the country (behind Guangdong and Jiangsu). Its GDP per capita was ¥42,014 (US$6,365), ranking eighth... - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shandong
Posted by Ghost Dog | Fri Sep 12, 2014, 11:56 AM (0 replies)
One of two British explorer ships that vanished in the Arctic more than 160 years ago has been found, Canada's prime minister says...
... Sir John Franklin led the two ships and 129 men in 1845 to chart the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic. The expedition's disappearance shortly after became one of the great mysteries of the age of Victorian exploration.
The Canadian government began searching for Franklin's ships in 2008 as part of a strategy to assert Canada's sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, which has recently become accessible to shipping because of melting Arctic ice...
... The find has been described as "the biggest archaeological discovery the world has seen since the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb almost 100 years ago" by a British archeologist, William Battersby, who has written extensively about the Franklin expedition...
(Edit: See also: http://www.democraticunderground.com/122832162 ; http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-14847091 )
Posted by Ghost Dog | Tue Sep 9, 2014, 07:32 PM (3 replies)
... To believe that Putin was indeed the mastermind of the crisis, you would have to think that he somehow arranged to have the EU offer the association agreement last year, then got the International Monetary Fund to attach such draconian “reforms” that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from the deal.
Then, Putin had to organize mass demonstrations at Kiev’s Maidan square against Yanukovych while readying neo-Nazi militias to act as the muscle to finally overthrow the elected president and replace him with a regime dominated by far-right Ukrainian nationalists and U.S.-favored technocrats. Next, Putin had to get the new government to take provocative actions against ethnic Russians in the east, including threatening to outlaw Russian as an official language.
And throw into this storyline that Putin – all the while – was acting like he was trying to help Yanukovych defuse the crisis and even acquiesced to Yanukovych agreeing on Feb. 21 to accept an agreement brokered by three European countries calling for early Ukrainian elections that could vote him out of office. Instead, Putin was supposedly ordering neo-Nazi militias to oust Yanukovych in a Feb. 22 putsch, all the better to create the current crisis...
... This founding false narrative was then embroidered by a consistent pattern of distorted U.S. reporting as the crisis unfolded. Indeed, for the past eight months, we have seen arguably the most one-sided coverage of a major international crisis in memory, although there were other crazed MSM stampedes, such as Iraq’s non-existent WMD in 2002-03, Iran’s supposed nuclear bomb project for most of the past decade, Libya’s “humanitarian crisis” of 2011, and Syria’s sarin gas attack in 2013. But the hysteria over Ukraine – with U.S. officials and editorialists now trying to rally a NATO military response to Russia’s alleged “invasion” of Ukraine – raises the prospect of a nuclear confrontation that could end all life on the planet...
... U.S. mainstream news media’s distortion of the Ukraine crisis is something that a real totalitarian could only dream about. Virtually absent from major U.S. news outlets – across the political spectrum – has been any significant effort to tell the other side of the story or to point out the many times when the West’s “fair and factual version of events” has been false or deceptive, starting with the issue of who started this crisis...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Tue Sep 9, 2014, 03:51 AM (13 replies)
With reference to the following influential blog article: - http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.es/2014/08/you-wanna-be-uncle-sams-bitch-pay-price.html
From main article (proofread & edited by GD):
... Russia used these sanctions to do something vital for the Russian economy. Let me explain: after the collapse of the USSR Russian agriculture was in disarray, and (Boris) Yeltsin only made matters worse. Russian farmers simply could not compete against advanced Western agro-industrial businesses which benefited from huge economies of scale, from expensive and high-tech chemical and biological research, which had a full chain of production (often through large holdings), and top quality marketing capabilities. The Russian agricultural sector badly, desperately, needed barriers and tariffs in order to be protected from the Western capitalist giants but, instead, Russia voluntarily abided by the terms of the WTO and then eventually became a member. Now Russia is using this total embargo to provide crucially needed time for Russian agriculture to invest and take a much larger share of the Russian market. Also, keep in mind that Russian products are GMO-free, and that they have far fewer preservatives, antibiotics, artficial coloring, taste enhancers, and pesticides. And since they are locally produced, they don't need to be brought in using the kind of refrigeration/preservation techniques which typically make products taste like cardboard. In other words, Russian agricultural products taste much better; but that is not enough to complete. This embargo now gives them a powerful boost to invest, develop and conquer market share...
From comments (proofread & edited by GD):
... This is bad news for suppliers in the EU and great news for suppliers in Argentina, Brazil and South Africa. Russia will be playing the Great Equalizer by selling oil and gas to the EU, China and India and redistributing the proceeds to developing countries that are able to produce food. The miles and miles of plastic covered green houses and the income they produce in Holland and Spain will simply relocate to the developing world where they can be operated more cheaply. Once cargo is loaded on board a ship the transport cost to anywhere in the world is incidental.
As US NATO sanctions take hold, redirection of markets for manufactured goods will follow. Russia will be seeking sources for manufactured goods like airliners and automobiles from Brazil and China to the detriment of suppliers in the US and EU.
Once the flow of commerce is established between Russia and the other BRICs nations it will be next to impossible for the EU to regain their lost markets.
As the world economy shifts to the newer emerging markets world trade will likewise shift from transactions in dollars to other world currencies. As the World watches what could happen to them if they do not follow what the US dictates, the US-led sanctions against Russia will encourage trade to move away from the dollar. The US will find itself out of the loop and the dollar will lose its status as world reserve currency and the US will lose its hegemony...
Let's hope Russians (and Chinese, Brazillians, ...) will be intelligent and enlightened enough to develop localised, socially responsible and environmentally respectful and sustainable agricultural systems, and to encourage the same in the rest of the world wherever this makes environmental and social sense, sensibly regulating and limiting intercontinental trade in agricultural produce that could more sustainably be produced and consumed more locally.
Note that a similar analysis applies in the area of industrial production.
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Aug 9, 2014, 05:53 AM (1 replies)
Zoroastrianism /ˌzɒroʊˈæstriənɪzəm/, also called Zarathustraism, Mazdaism and Magianism, is an ancient Iranian religion and a religious philosophy. It was once the state religion of the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian empires. Estimates of the current number of Zoroastrians worldwide vary between 145,000 and 2.6 million.
Zoroastrianism arose in the eastern region of the ancient Persian Empire, when the religious philosopher Zoroaster simplified the pantheon of early Iranian gods into two opposing forces: Spenta Mainyu (Progressive mentality) and Angra Mainyu (Destructive Mentality) under the one God, Ahura Mazda (Illuminating Wisdom).
Zoroaster's ideas led to a formal religion bearing his name by about the 6th century BCE and have influenced other later religions including Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity and Islam...
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thus_Spoke_Zarathustra
Posted by Ghost Dog | Wed Jul 2, 2014, 02:57 PM (0 replies)
... As products of their social and cultural environments, humans raised in the West have been victims of a massive global brainwash forced into a world of duplicitous dualism to “choose” sides, of course choosing the political side of their own nation, culture, ethnicity and/or religion, conned into automatically accepting that their nation/culture/religion is far more righteous and superior in comparison to others on the opposing side...
... Fortunately over time this oversimplified, black and white rerun version of the world has been challenged and exposed as jingoistic bias and distortion of how our complicated world actually is. Many of us have intuitively known all along that as members of the same human species, the striking similarities of our common human nature that bind us together far outweigh whatever differences in culture, skin color, nationality, political ideology, global region or religion. What many of us are increasingly realizing both here in America as well as in other nations around the globe is that we have been purposely and methodically lied to and manipulated for a very long time. The education system in America is more about socializing, programming and brainwashing young people into becoming obedient, mindless, robotic adults than learning any real truth or learning to cultivate and use their critical faculties to seek the truth amidst the world of illusion.
This “us versus them,” “you’re either with us or against us” dichotomy has been forever used as an artificial manmade device to separate humans into an in-group versus out-group duality. Unfortunately it has been operating nonstop ever since cavemen first emerged from their caves and encountered other human tribes. Through human migration and modern technology of air travel and most recently internet travel, now more than at any time prior in man’s relative short history on earth, Canadian communications philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the world seen as a “global village” has shrunk the earth into a here and now everyday accepted reality.
As a result, in recent years the world view of nations and continents has become somewhat more homogenized, made more accessible by mass media technology that transcends both geography and culture. Learning and communicating with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds have brought the world closer. That said, conversely the earth today is geopolitically moving rapidly toward more fragmented polarization, driven by a single globalization economy owned, controlled and operated by a global oligarchy. Its perverse vision of a New World Order currently has much of the global population brainwashed to fear, mistrust, hate and kill each other with unparalleled potential. But not all of us are being fooled by such divisively spun projections from a shadowy elite madly pulling their deceptive spin levers cloaked behind their gold curtain. An honest look at what is actually happening now around the world exposes the oligarch agenda to purposely increase worldwide tension, division and conflict...
... By carefully orchestrated design, the US-EU-NATO alliance is obediently carrying out the oligarch high command to destabilize, polarize and militarize every continent on earth, pitting regional adversaries against each other in a global offensive with the West jabbing and baiting the East into military conflict from the Arctic to every corner of the globe...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Mon Jun 30, 2014, 05:48 AM (0 replies)