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unhappycamper

unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
December 3, 2013

"Thinking Globally, Acting Locally" In the Minimum Wage Fight

http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/richard-eskow/52951/thinking-globally-acting-locally-in-the-minimum-wage-fight

"Thinking Globally, Acting Locally" In the Minimum Wage Fight
by Richard Eskow | December 2, 2013 - 9:13am

Something is happening. It's beginning to look as if the fight for a livable minimum wage might - just might - alter our political future.

Makes sense, when you think about it. The minimum wage struggle is occurring at the intersection of powerful forces. It's taking place at a time of growing economic inequality, the erosion of working people's rights, and the globalization of an economic oligarchy whose scope of power is unprecedented in modern times.

And now it appears to be applying an old maxim from the early days of the environmental movement: Think globally, act locally.

~snip~

The idea is gaining ground in state and local legislatures as well. County councils in Montgomery County and Prince George's County in Maryland voted to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour by 2017. Democrats in Illinois are pushing for a minimum wage increase to $10 per hour. California's minimum wage rise to $10 per hour by 2016. Similar initiatives are being pushed in a number of other states, either as legislation or is ballot initiatives.
December 3, 2013

Peter Buffett: Big Philanthropy and Philanthro-Feudalism

http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/laura-flanders/52952/peter-buffett-big-philanthropy-and-philanthro-feudalism

Peter Buffett: Big Philanthropy and Philanthro-Feudalism
by Laura Flanders | December 2, 2013 - 9:28am

Dollars that are donated to stop hunger, curb the spread of HIV/AIDS or teach young girls to read and write are often praised, especially by those who are doing the donating. But the reality is that the billions of dollars - $316 billion in 2012 - which are given away by large nonprofit, philanthropic organizations are doing very little to change the long-term structural issues that affect the people on the receiving end of the well-intentioned funds.

In a recent article in Dissent Magazine journalist Joanne Barkan writes that philanthropic organizations were set up legally and financially to last forever. GRITtv guest Peter Buffett, musician, philanthropist and son of Warren Buffett, says that foundations should be trying to put themselves out of business, especially foundations that address the social ills of a society.

“You certainly don’t get up in the morning and say, how can I lose my job? And that’s what you should be doing.” Buffett says.

In an article written for The New York Times titled “The Charitable Industrial Complex” Buffett explains the situation this way: “As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.”

December 3, 2013

6 Signs Our Culture Is Sick With Greed

http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/richard-eskow/52954/6-signs-our-culture-is-sick-with-greed

6 Signs Our Culture Is Sick With Greed
by Richard Eskow | December 2, 2013 - 9:46am

~snip~

1. There’s still no public shame in profiting off Wall Street fraud.

This week a self-styled financial advisor on the investment website Seeking Alpha celebrated the investment opportunities created by the wave of criminality and fraud which has overtaken JP Morgan Chase. The bank’s epidemic of internal fraud has led to tens of billions in fines during the tenure of CEO Jamie Dimon.

~snip~

2. Greedy CEOs still have credibility in the media.

It’s not just Dimon, of course. Having shattered the middle class through their accumulation of wealth, the devastation they inflicted on the global economy, and their mistreatment of employee pension funds, Wall Street CEOs apparently still have enough credibility in some quarters to be treated as experts in fiscal responsibility.

~snip~

3. Executives are now trained to rip people off.

This writer spent a number of years in the business world during the 1980s and 1990s, as corporate America was transforming itself from a customer-driven set of industries to a greed-driven and conscienceless wealth extraction machine for the investor class.

~snip~

5. Insight and spirituality are being commercialized ….

As I wrote in “Buying Wisdom” for Tricycle magazine, even ancient spiritual traditions like Buddhism are being co-mingled with idealized visions of what it means to be a billionaire. From TED talks to mindfulness conferences like the Wisdom 2.0 conference, the search for individual and collective insight is becoming increasingly identified with the desire to accumulate wealth.
December 3, 2013

Seattle WTO Collapsed 14 Years Ago: Lessons For Today

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/12/03



Seattle WTO Collapsed 14 Years Ago: Lessons For Today
by David Solnit
Published on Tuesday, December 3, 2013 by PopularResistance.org

December 3, 2013 – Today government officials and corporate lobbyists will meet for the 9th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial. It is exactly 14 years after the global 1%’s “plan A” to use the WTO further concentrate their power in wealth collapsed on Dec 3, 1999 amidst a “state of emergency” suspending basic rights, teargas in and National Gaurd troops in the streets and jails full of hundreds of people (and surrounded by hundreds more supporters) from North Americas emerging global justice movement.

The WTO negotiations had collapsed in failure as a result of the combination of a week of a mass direct action shutdown of the entire opening day of the WTO on November 30 and continued street heat through the week together with the refusal of government officials from poorer global South countries–under pressure from strong movements at home–to submit with the manipulation of the rich countries. Two years later and their every-two-year meeting in the “no-protest” dictatorship of Quatar, the rich elites did mange to take a first step toward their dystopian corporate ruled world with the with the “Doha Round,” but in the 12 years since then they have failed to move it forward. Because social movements defeated the global 1%’s “Plan A” of the using the WTO to impose their policies on the entire world, they have had to resort to a piecemeal “Plan B” of bilateral (nation to nation) and regional trade pacts, like the US-Colombia trade Agreement and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership)

Deborah James of the global civil society Our World Is Not For Sale (OWINFS) network, wrote last week that, “WTO talks towards an agreement [in Geneva] in advance of the 9th Ministerial [in Bali] ended in an impasse today.” in a statement signed by hundreds of organizations, Our World is Not for Sale network critiqued the policies that the WTO seeks to further:

"After more than three decades of experience with a corporate-led model of globalization, it is clear that this particular model of globalization has failed workers, farmers, and the environment, while facilitating the vast enrichment of a privileged few. The emergence of the global financial and economic crises of the last five years have exposed many negative impacts of policies, such as: deregulation of the financial sector resulting in financial collapse and job loss; commodification of the agricultural markets resulting in food price volatility and hunger; ’race to the bottom’ liberalization policies for production leading to deadly calamites, such as the collapse of the factory in Bangladesh where more than 1000 textile workers perished; intellectual property monopolies limiting global access to life-saving medicines; and corporate-trade-expansion (rather than trade-for-development) policies exacerbating the climate crisis. Despite this incredible harm, these liberalization, deregulation, and corporate monopolization policies form the backbone of the current global trade system, consolidated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995.”
December 3, 2013

UN to Investigate 'Unqualified Secrecy' of US, UK Spy Agencies

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/12/02-5



UN special rapporteur Ben Emerson: NSA and GCHQ 'are swimming against the international tide'

UN to Investigate 'Unqualified Secrecy' of US, UK Spy Agencies
- Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Published on Monday, December 2, 2013 by Common Dreams

Ongoing revelations regarding the vastness of the U.S. and U.K.'s international surveillance apparatus, made public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, are cause for grave international concern says a United Nations special adviser who announced Monday the launch of a special investigation by the world body.

Announced in a Guardian editorial, UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights Ben Emerson said he will be launching a full investigation into the surveillance powers of both the NSA and GCHQ, assessing issues of privacy and national security he says are at the "apex of public interest concerns," to determine whether or not they surpass international law.

(Emerson writes: ) There are at least five legal and political issues arising out of Snowden's revelations on which reasonable opinion is divided. These include whether Snowden should enjoy the legal protection accorded a whistleblower who reveals wrongdoing; whether his revelations have weakened the counter-terrorism apparatus of the US or the UK; whether, conversely, they show the need for an overhaul of surveillance powers on both sides of the Atlantic (and even an international agreement to protect partners like Germany); whether parliament has been misled by the services about the extent of intrusive surveillance; and whether the current system for parliamentary oversight of the intelligence and security services is sufficiently robust to meet the international standards laid down by my predecessor at the UN, Martin Scheinin.

~snip~

Emerson adds that he will be seeking a "detailed explanation" from leaders of the spy organizations regarding claims that the leaks have threatened national security saying, "When it comes to assessing the balance that must be struck between maintaining secrecy and exposing information in the public interest there are often borderline cases. This isn't one of them."
December 3, 2013

(TPP) Free Trade Is a Serious Threat

http://watchingamerica.com/News/227275/free-trade-is-a-serious-threat/

The U.S. plans to impose its reactionary position on intellectual property in the pharmaceutical industry.

Free Trade Is a Serious Threat
Bolpress, Bolivia
By Xavier Caño Tamayo
Translated By Patricia O'Connor
22 November 2013
Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Despite the lack of public comment or disclosure, the U.S. and member governments of the European Union are secretly negotiating a free trade agreement. Newspapers and radio and television news are being left in the dark. Only the governments and multinationals know what is cooking.

The limited amount of information that has been leaked refers only to the “big advantages of the agreement” including a 1 percent increase in the European Union’s gross domestic product as well as new tax revenues of 110 billion euros for Europe and $95 billion for the U.S. Such macroeconomic calculations do not consider any negative impacts on labor, social issues or the environment.

In the 1990s, the U.S. wanted to set up a free trade zone with Central and South America. Repeating the free trade mantra that wealth would flow everywhere, the free trade agreement, which was never signed, would have imposed the neoliberal policies developed by the Washington Consensus — policies that would have benefited economic and financial elites.

But the U.S. proceeded to sign bilateral agreements with Colombia, Peru and Chile as well as one with Mexico and Canada. Newspaper archives show that the agreement with Mexico and Canada had a devastating impact on Mexican agriculture and industry. It spurred intense and abundant migration to the U.S. and it arrested Mexico’s development potential. Things were not much better in Peru, Colombia and Chile; they all have watched inequality grow without a decrease in entrenched poverty.
December 3, 2013

How safe is our world?

http://www.arabnews.com/news/486566

How safe is our world?
Published — Tuesday 3 December 2013

Barack Obama’s deals with Iran and Syria may protect us for now, but US pragmatism does not bode well for tomorrow, argues Peter Foster

~snip~

But the question remains whether a world where America sends out such mixed signals about its leadership will be safer in the longer term.

It is a commonplace of Washington conversation that George W. Bush was “all leadership and no analysis” and Obama “all analysis, and no leadership.” What US allies, including the British, have been advocating is something in between.

The US and Britain may be safer, but for citizens of Middle Eastern countries, the world is less safe.
December 3, 2013

Has Abe overreached on China's ADIZ?

http://atimes.com/atimes/Japan/JAP-01-031213.html



Has Abe overreached on China's ADIZ?
By Peter Lee
Dec 3, '13

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has cleverly exploited the China's unilateral announcement of its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in order to assert Japanese impunity in military flights equal to that of the United States, a key element of Japan's ambitions to act as the local hegemon in oceanic East Asia.

That's something that won't please China, of course; but it may also displease the United States as another demonstration of Japan's aspirations to status as an independent peer - and not a tractable ally - in the US "pivot to Asia".

But Prime Minister Abe, either as part of his strategy to muddy the waters or in an ill-advised spasm of nationalist elan, seriously overreached with his unprecedented call to Japanese civilian carriers to defy the PRC requirement to file flight plans before entering the ADIZ.

On the civilian flight issue, the Abe administration has crawled off on a long, skinny branch and invited the US and the PRC to saw it off for him.
December 3, 2013

Americans are 5% of World Population, consume 1/4 of its Energy (infographic)

http://www.juancole.com/2013/12/americans-population-infographic.html

Americans are 5% of World Population, consume 1/4 of its Energy (infographic)
By Juan Cole | Dec. 3, 2013

December 3, 2013

Top 10 Ways the US is the Most Corrupt Country in the World

http://www.juancole.com/2013/12/corrupt-country-world.html



Top 10 Ways the US is the Most Corrupt Country in the World

Top 10 Ways the US is the Most Corrupt Country in the World
By Juan Cole | Dec. 3, 2013

~snip~

1. Instead of having short, publicly-funded political campaigns with limited and/or free advertising (as a number of Western European countries do), the US has long political campaigns in which candidates are dunned big bucks for advertising. They are therefore forced to spend much of their time fundraising, which is to say, seeking bribes. All American politicians are basically on the take, though many are honorable people. They are forced into it by the system. House Majority leader John Boehner has actually just handed out cash on the floor of the House from the tobacco industry to other representatives.

~snip~

2. That politicians can be bribed to reduce regulation of industries like banking (what is called “regulatory capture”) means that they will be so bribed. Billions were spent and 3,000 lobbyists employed by bankers to remove cumbersome rules in the zeroes. Thus, political corruption enabled financial corruption (in some cases legalizing it!) Without regulations and government auditing, the finance sector went wild and engaged in corrupt practices that caused the 2008 crash. Too bad the poor Afghans can’t just legislate their corruption out of existence by regularizing it, the way Wall street did.

3. That the chief villains of the 2008 meltdown (from which 90% of Americans have not recovered) have not been prosecuted is itself a form of corruption.

4. The US military budget is bloated and enormous, bigger than the military budgets of the next twelve major states. What isn’t usually realized is that perhaps half of it is spent on outsourced services, not on the military. It is corporate welfare on a cosmic scale. I’ve seen with my own eyes how officers in the military get out and then form companies to sell things to their former colleagues still on the inside.

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