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Number of posts: 22,148
Home country: USA
Current location: nice place
Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
Number of posts: 22,148
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Posted on January 8, 2015
By William K. Black
The troika (the EU Commission, the ECB, and the IMF) are flirting with throwing the entire eurozone back into a third Great Recession and much of the periphery into the continuation of the Troika Depression. For nations like Greece, the current Great Depression is now more severe and longer lasting than the Great Depression of the 1930s. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal’s journalistic malpractice in covering the troika’s gratuitous infliction of misery upon the people of Europe has been the perfect side dish to complement the troika’s toxic economic malpractice.
Both papers are aflutter today with news that the Eurozone fell into deflation. We have been trying for months to explain that there is nothing magic about the harm caused by deflation (as opposed to very low levels of inflation). We have also been trying to explain for years that the steadily declining rate of (already inadequate) eurozone inflation is most important as a symptom rather than a cause of the harm resulting from the troika’s infliction of austerity.
The key fact to understand, which the troika, the WSJ, and the NYT have obscured for six years, is that if inflation were to rise from one percent to four percent in the course of a recovery from a recession that would be excellent economic news because it would spur growth. If inflation were to fall from one percent to one-half percent that would be terrible economic news. Well before the inflation rate becomes negative (deflation), material falls in the (already too low) inflation rate indicate that demand is seriously inadequate and that the economic recovery can be improved by fiscal stimulus. The fall in inflation is one of the symptoms that the demand is inadequate. The fall in inflation is also a problem – long before deflation – because it can further weaken the already inadequate demand for goods and services.
in full: http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2015/01/eu-deflation-arrives-troika-continues-fiddle-eu-burns.html
Posted by Jefferson23 | Thu Jan 8, 2015, 02:31 PM (8 replies)
Charlie Hebdo attack:Taking the heat out of the conflict with Assad may help to turn the jihadi tide
It was naïve to imagine that sparks from the war would not spread violence to Western Europe
Wednesday 07 January 2015
There is a feeling of inevitability about the attack in Paris.
The likelihood must be that the killers were Islamic fanatics, the murder of the journalists and police underlining the degree to which the ferocious religious war being waged in Iraq and Syria now affects all of the world. Regardless of whether or not those who attacked the Charlie Hebdo office have any direct connection with this conflict, it has provided an ideal seedbed for Islamic extremism.
It was culpably naïve to imagine that sparks from the Iraq-Syrian civil war, now in its fourth year, would not spread explosive violence to Western Europe. With thousands of young Sunni Muslims making the difficult journey to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis, it has always been probable that some of them would choose to give a demonstration of their religious faith by attacking targets they deem anti-Islamic closer to home.
One way of measuring the spread of al-Qaeda-type groups is to look at suicide bombings over the last week. Several of them have inflicted heavier casualties than at Charlie Hebdo. For instance, in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, today, a suicide bomber driving a minibus packed with explosives killed 33 police cadets. On Tuesday, another suicide bomber killed 23 Iraqi soldiers and pro-government Sunni tribesmen in a town in Anbar province north-west of Baghdad.
The day before, gunfire and a suicide bombing killed the general heading the Saudi border control force and two others on the Saudi-Iraq frontier. A week earlier, on 30 December, a suicide bomb blew up outside the internationally recognised anti-jihadi Libyan government building in Tobruk.
in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/charlie-hebdo-attack-a-ceasefire-with-syrias-president-assad-may-help-to-turn-the-jihadi-tide-9963863.html
Posted by Jefferson23 | Thu Jan 8, 2015, 09:31 AM (2 replies)
January 3, 2015
The move by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to join the International Criminal Court and give it jurisdiction to investigate allegations of Israeli and other war crimes in Palestine should be seen as a positive development that brings international law to play in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Yet I find it difficult to be enthusiastic or optimistic about this move, due to the personalized, uninstitutionalized and erratic manner in which Abbas and the current Palestinian leadership go about the business of managing statehood.
We have just witnessed the sad spectacle of Abbas deciding to take the issue of Palestinian statehood to the U.N. Security Council, and in the end discovering that he was unable to secure the nine votes needed to pass the resolution (which would have been vetoed by the U.S. in any case). The failure at the Security Council is symptomatic of the wider problem that has bedeviled the rump Palestinian leadership that remains in place under Abbas, while many Palestinians have abandoned his drifting ship and joined Hamas and other political groups.
That problem is simply that Abbas and his few advisers have consistently failed to undertake the hard work needed to succeed in political and diplomatic action, and to mobilize those assets Palestinians enjoy in the region and the world.
The hard work I am talking about is nothing magical or exotic. It is simply the hard work of spending days and weeks undertaking the basic tasks of mobilizing, consulting, negotiating, threatening, enticing and other such activities that are necessary for the success of any political campaign. This can apply to running for a judgeship in a small town in Arkansas or the presidency of France, or seeking passage of a resolution at the United Nations or any other international forum.
in full: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Columnist/2015/Jan-03/282897-time-for-serious-palestinian-leadership.ashx?utm_medium=email&utm_source=transactional&utm_campaign=Newsletter
Posted by Jefferson23 | Wed Jan 7, 2015, 03:27 PM (5 replies)
TRNN reporter Thomas Hedges takes a look at two new provisions in the 2015 spending bill that drastically increase individual limits and prohibit President Obama from using executive action to shed light on dark money in campaigns.
Transcript: THOMAS HEDGES, TRNN PRODUCER: On December 16, President Obama signed the omnibus spending bill for 2015 into law, representatives immediately decried key provisions within the bill, including one provision that serves as an insurance policy for Wall Street derivatives trading.
ELIZABETH WARREN, U.S. SENATOR (D-MA): The original bill that is being incorporated into the House's spending legislation today was literally written by Citigroup lobbyists, who, quote, redrafted the legislation.
HEDGES: But one measure that didn't get as much attention was a change to individual campaign financing rules.
JAY RIESTENBERG, RESEARCH ANALYST, COMMON CAUSE: It's supposed to be in confusing, and it's inherently confusing, so people don't understand it. And that's why it was tucked away in the fourth of the last page of the sixteen hundred bill, and it was done in the middle of the night in what some people are calling a cigar-filled bathroom. And it took a while for anyone to own up to who actually wrote it, and we still actually don't know.
HEDGES: Jay Riestenberg is a research analyst at Common Cause, which is a nonpartisan government watchdog organization. It used to be that individual contributions to party organizations in any given election cycle were limited to $259,000. Now that amount is 500 percent more, standing at $1.5 million.
in full: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12922
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Jan 6, 2015, 09:28 AM (6 replies)
January 4, 2015
Islamic State (Isis) will remain at the centre of the escalating crisis in the Middle East this year as it was in 2014. The territories it conquered in a series of lightning campaigns last summer remain almost entirely under its control, even though it has lost some towns to the Kurds and Shia militias in recent weeks.
United States air strikes in Iraq from 8 August and Syria from 23 September may have slowed up Isis advances and inflicted heavy casualties on its forces in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. But Isis has its own state machinery and is conscripting tens of thousands of fighters to replace casualties, enabling it to fight on multiple fronts from Jalawla on Iraq's border with Iran to the outskirts of Aleppo in Syria.
In western Syria, Isis is a growing power as the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad loses its advantage of fighting a fragmented opposition, that is now uniting under the leadership of Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda.
snip* The Iranians really do feel this is a war they cannot lose whatever the impact of economic sanctions imposed by the US. The balance of power between government and Isis looks fairly even in Iraq at the moment, but this is not true in Syria where Sunni Arabs are 60 per cent of the population as opposed to 20 per cent in Iraq. Above all, Isis is strengthened in Syria by the fact that the West, Turkey and the Sunni Arab states are seeking the fall of Assad, Isis's main opponent, as well as the overthrow of Isis itself.
The mutual hatreds of its enemies remain Isis's strongest card.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Jan 6, 2015, 09:11 AM (0 replies)
By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 29, 2014
As I have explained in prior articles, there is an excellent chance that the Troika’s infliction of austerity on the eurozone’s periphery could, as with the austerity inflicted under the Washington Consensus continue to produce such long-term rolling recessions that it creates a political dynamic that discredits such economic malpractice and brings to power leaders elected on the promise that they will adopt economically literate policies. The first case of this in the eurozone could be Greece. (Hollande won office on a platform of opposing inflicting austerity on France, but purged his government of those that most strongly opposed austerity and implemented policies that moved increasingly toward austerity. The French economy stagnated and Hollande’s approval ratings are dismal.)
Greece’s coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failed, in multiple tries, to garner enough support to continue to rule. The result will be national elections on January 25, 2015. The results of the election are uncertain, but the leader in the polls is the Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras, which is running on an anti-austerity platform.
The New York Times’ web version has four recent articles on Greece dated December 27-29, 2014. I’ll begin with the only one that is not a complete embarrassment, Suzanne Daley’s December 29 article titled “Greek Patience with Austerity Nears Its Limit.” While the journalist often does not select the article title, as I will show Daley either chose or inspired the title. Her title signals the central problem with the article. “Patience” has nothing to do with the issue and is most assuredly not a virtue in this context. The title suggests that if the Greeks were simply more German, more patient, all would be well. The reality is that the Greek people, as with their counterparts in much of the eurozone, have been far too patient with the economic equivalent of bleeding the patient (austerity). All other factors held constant, the longer austerity continues the slower the recovery and the greater the misery.
As Bill Mitchell always emphasizes, governments choose the level of unemployment – and the Troika and the Greek leaders who succumbed to its extortion have chosen to create catastrophic rates of unemployment in Greece that continue a full six years after the peak of the crisis. Greece is suffering from Great Depression levels of unemployment and lost GDP. Indeed, Greece suffered relatively less from the Great Depression, which reduced per capita GDP (peak-to-trough by approximately 6%). In the case of the Great Depression, Greece was able to return to pre-Depression GDP levels within four years. The troika, and the Greek leaders who gave to the troika’s threats condemned Greece to a crisis that is far more severe and far longer than was the Great Depression. No people worthy of being a Nation would be “patient” with seeing such horrors gratuitously inflicted on their fellow countrymen. They would rise up and put a stop to such depraved policies.
in full: http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/12/greece-troika-new-york-times.html#more-8942
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sat Jan 3, 2015, 09:06 AM (5 replies)
2014 was a terrible year. It was one of the cruelest and deadliest in the history of the occupation. After so much killing, devastation, pain and suffering it is natural to want to “get back to normal”. We must not get back to normal. That “normal” is morally reprehensible. It is deadly, guaranteeing the very opposite of peace and justice. For the millions of Palestinians living under occupation, that “normal” means living a practically defenseless existence in the face of a constant threat of harm. Human rights violations must never become the norm – not after 47 years, not after one hundred.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Fri Jan 2, 2015, 05:53 PM (10 replies)
A year after Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were detained, journalists around the world stage protests.
Al Jazeera Last updated: 30 Dec 2014
From London and Sydney to San Francisco and Sarajevo, journalists around the world have stopped work and called on Egypt's government to set free three Al Jazeera staff detained in Cairo last year.
It was a year ago on Monday that Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were arrested and imprisoned on false charges.
View As Slideshow >>
The arrests of Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed on December 29, 2013 sparked international outrage.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Wed Dec 31, 2014, 09:48 AM (0 replies)
World View: Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter the militants' gruesome tactics
Sunday, December 28, 2014
There is a scene in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass in which Alice meets the White Knight who is wearing full armour and riding a horse off which he keeps falling. Alice expresses curiosity about why he has placed spiked metal anklets on his horse's legs just above the hoofs. "To guard against the bites of sharks," he explains, and proudly shows her other ingenious devices attached to himself and his horse.
Alice notices that the knight has a mouse trap fastened to his saddle. "I was wondering what the mouse trap was for," says Alice. "It isn't very likely there would be any mice on the horse's back." "Not very likely, perhaps," says the Knight, "but if they do come, I don't choose to have them running all about." It's as well "to be provided for everything", adds the Knight. As he explains his plans for countering these supposed dangers, he continues to tumble off his horse.
The White Knight's approach to military procurement is very similar to that of the American and British military establishments. They drain their budgets to purchase vastly expensive equipment to meet threats that may never exist, much like the sharks and mice that menace Alice's acquaintance. Thus the Pentagon spends $400bn (£257bn) on developing the F-35 fighter (Britain is buying planes at a cost of £100m each) to gain air superiority over Russia and China in the event of a war with either power. Meanwhile, equipment needed to fight real wars is neglected, even though no answer has been found to old-fashioned weapons such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that caused two-thirds of the US-led coalition's casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A strange aspect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is that there has been so little criticism of the failure of expensively equipped Western armies to defeat lightly armed and self-trained insurgents. This is in sharp contrast to the aftermath of the US Army's failure to win the war in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. The question is of more than historic interest because the US, UK and other allies are re-entering the wars in Iraq and Syria where they are seeking to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis).
in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/war-with-isis-the-west-needs-more-than-a-white-knight-9946580.html
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sun Dec 28, 2014, 03:39 PM (0 replies)
Sunday, December 14, 2014
The CIA tortured al-Qaeda suspects because it wanted evidence that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11 in order to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The agency was under intense pressure from the White House and senior figures in the Bush administration to extract confessions confirming co-operation between the Iraqi leader and al-Qaeda, although no significant evidence was ever found.
The CIA has defended its actions by claiming that it was “unknowable” if torture had produced results, although the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, maintains torture produced nothing of value.
A second line of defence put forward by defenders of the CIA is to say that the agency was swept up in the reaction to 9/11 in the US and needed to find out quickly if there were going to be further attacks.
Telling evidence about the motives of the CIA in instituting its torture programme comes in a report on detainee abuse issued by the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2009. It cited a former US Army psychiatrist, Major Charles Burney, who had been stationed at Guantanamo Bay, as saying interrogators were compelled to give priority to one line of questioning.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Thu Dec 18, 2014, 06:25 PM (8 replies)