Posts tagged Politics

Have you watched this 20-minute interview of Paul Krugman on Bill Moyers yet? It’s about Thomas Piketty’s - of the Paris School of Economics - thesis on inequality, particularly in American and French contexts. Piketty’s hypothesis is that we are drifting back to oligarchy that was so hard fought against (democratisation).

What I felt Krugman neglected to focus on was the global context, which Moyers picked up a little on in his ‘final thought’ through an American-lens, of course, is the issue of tax havens. For American scholars the comparison is so convenient, to idealise the ‘European tradition’ of taxing the wealthy. However, what they neglect is exactly Piketty’s point: the wealthy are so wealthy, we don’t even realise the extent of their wealth; they are invisible. Yes, footballers in the UK have up to 40% of their earnings taxed, but footballers aren’t the 1%. The 1%, the inherited capital that Piketty is talking about, are more clever, and this is what makes inherited wealth and oligarchy so dangerous.

Not only are the 1%, as individuals, almost invisible to ‘normal people’ because of the scope of their wealth, but their wealth, ever extensive in its reach, is hidden from authorities that, even if willing to tax them at a rate of 40%, would not be able to identify the true scale of their wealth. Such that, the world’s 1%, using their unlimited resources, are invisible as both entities of power but also as taxable capital.

globalvoices:


i still don’t understand how boko haram abducted 200 girls from a school

In recent weeks, an Islamic jihadist terrorist group has slaughtered innocent and hapless Nigerians.
Jihadist Boko Haram Intensifies Its Deadly Campaign in Nigeria 

My deskmate’s dad and wife have just left their home in Nigeria because the conflict is intensifying. We wonder how long the strongest GDP in Africa can withstand this pressure and fear the external security contractors that will likely be brought in to help ‘quell’ the conflict.

globalvoices:

i still don’t understand how boko haram abducted 200 girls from a school

In recent weeks, an Islamic jihadist terrorist group has slaughtered innocent and hapless Nigerians.

Jihadist Boko Haram Intensifies Its Deadly Campaign in Nigeria

My deskmate’s dad and wife have just left their home in Nigeria because the conflict is intensifying. We wonder how long the strongest GDP in Africa can withstand this pressure and fear the external security contractors that will likely be brought in to help ‘quell’ the conflict.

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progressiveauspol:

This sculpture by Issac Cordal in Berlin is called “Politicians discussing global warming.”

progressiveauspol:

This sculpture by Issac Cordal in Berlin is called “Politicians discussing global warming.”

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ifnotyouwhoelse Sweet baby unicorns … no.

Look, I’m against the TPP, but this is just inaccurate. Do.not.engage in fear-based learning.

Fast track is an executive power of the president of the USA to move trade deals through more quickly than if they were debated in Congress. By the time the TPP has reached his desk, corporations have already drafted the TPP, and they have been, for years now. Fast track is not the issue here; a lack of transparency in FTAs (free trade agreements - outside the WTO’s ‘transparency’ mechanisms) is the issue; yes corporate control is particularly disgusting in the TPP, particularly with regard to generic medicines and intellectual property rights, but this has NOTHING TO DO WITH FAST TRACK.

Fast track has been an executive power since the World Wars; this isn’t a new power. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about fast track; some argue fast track improves ratification (formalisation) of trade deals because it bypasses debate in Congress where lobbyists and special interest groups hijack the discussion, making it about their own interests, then the trade deal doesn’t pass, and international trade suffers. And I’m not JUST talking about ‘liberal’ economic trade; I’m talking about development in LDCs and NICs as well. Even the ‘logic’ of this narrative is faulty; if these 3 Senators are silencing dissent then how would opposing a power of the executive ‘solve’ this silencing? It wouldn’t because this person is clearly confused about what fast track is.

Tumblr, international trade is very complicated and intricate. I’m not saying you have no idea what you’re talking about, but in this case, you are, in fact, wrong - empirically. There are many reasons to oppose the TPP; pick up one of many of those and run with it. This isn’t it.

L J White, University of Manchester.

(Source: jcalanthe)

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Of all women over 50 in work, average pay is £15,000 a year; for women over 60 it is £11,000. The gender pay gap is also higher than for any other decade of life, with average full-time hourly earnings for women 18.4% below those of men.

The TUC says this is because women are still being penalised, in terms of pay, for having children. “Women in their 50s are effectively still paying the price for having taken time out of the labour market and having worked part time. Many of these women now find themselves still juggling low-paid, part-time work with caring responsibilities – those that no longer have dependent children may be doing regular care for their grandchildren, elderly parents or a sick or disabled partner.”

The report adds: “Many returned to work after having children and struggled to combine work with childcare at a time when few employers offered flexible working. The fact that this generation of women earns a fifth less than their male counterparts and less than any other age group of women should set alarm bells ringing.”

The report finds that half of the women in work are part-timers, many of whom want to work longer hours.

From the Guardian/Observer today on women 50 and over in the work force (from the Politics editor).

vicemag:

vicenews:

Pussy Riot Getting Whipped in Sochi

VICE News was with Pussy Riot in Sochi when group of uniformed Cossacks attacked members of the protest group with pepper spray and horse whips. Just moments earlier, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alyokhina, and a handful of other members headed out of a cafe toward the Sochi seaport, where they prepared to perform. As they were putting on their neon ski masks, about a dozen Cossacks descended on the group, thrashing them with whips, throwing them to the ground and kicking them as police officers stood by. The police allowed the mini-pogrom to continue for about ten minutes.

Read more about Pussy Riot and the events surrounding the attack

Everything about this video is upsetting and insane, but the moment when a mascot in a giant dog costume accosts and then shames Pussy Riot is especially surreal.

Anyone can be Pussy Riot.

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descentintotyranny:

Caracas Chronicles — The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep At the Switch
Feb. 20 2014
Dear International Editor:
Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.
What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.
Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and  storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting. People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street. And that’s just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitants has been taken off the internet amid mounting repression, and this blog itself has been the object of a Facebook “block” campaign.
What we saw were not “street clashes”, what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.
After the major crackdown on the streets of major (and minor) Venezuelan cities last night, I expected some kind of response in the major international news outlets this morning. I understand that with an even bigger and more photogenic freakout ongoing in an even more strategically important country, we weren’t going to be front-page-above-the-fold, but I’m staggered this morning to wake up, scan the press and find…
Nothing.
Read More

descentintotyranny:

Caracas Chronicles — The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep At the Switch

Feb. 20 2014

Dear International Editor:

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and  storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting. People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street. And that’s just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitants has been taken off the internet amid mounting repression, and this blog itself has been the object of a Facebook “block” campaign.

What we saw were not “street clashes”, what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.

After the major crackdown on the streets of major (and minor) Venezuelan cities last night, I expected some kind of response in the major international news outlets this morning. I understand that with an even bigger and more photogenic freakout ongoing in an even more strategically important country, we weren’t going to be front-page-above-the-fold, but I’m staggered this morning to wake up, scan the press and find…

Nothing.

Read More

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Trolling the GATT archives and finding surprises

Ugh, archival work is awful. Not only does the stark white background kill against the defiant black typewriter face, but the endless scrolling for relevancy just makes me want to scream or give up, which ever.

BUT, two interesting things have come of this.

First, have you ever heard of the former state of Nyasaland? Nope, me either. I have, of course, heard of Rhodesia, a former British colony that became Zimbabwe, but not it’s dual federation with Nyasaland. Nyasaland, on the other hand, was also a former British colony which became Malawi. And now we know; queue: ‘AND KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!’ (zombie Foucault)

Second, sometimes you just have funny feelings about things you run across that MUST be investigated further. In this chapter I’m currently writing I’m linking WTO history to my theoretical framework, which sees a dialectical relationship between structure and agency. Reviewing a note from the GATT Executive Secretary, before the title was changed to Director-General, there was to be a ‘panel of experts’ to review the future of international trade. Contracting Parties gave a list on where these ‘experts’ should be ‘fished’ from, and the Executive Secretary Eric Wyndham-White would select 3 members for the panel. Shortly after Wyndham-White released his 3 choices an addendum was released with a fourth member.

I’m tracking how executive heads use their agency to affect organisational structure, and something feels ‘funny’. I google the 4th ‘expert’ who was added without notice or approval from the Contracting Parties - very rare for that time - and a quote from a book by the WTO Secretariat comes up. Just so happens I have this book right beside me on the floor, so I turn to the page, and read an argument about how ‘elite’ US and UK economists played a strong role in shaping the organisation of the GATT (structure). This guy, the 4th ‘expert’ added so haphazardly, is listed as a British economist who so shaped the GATT, along with his well-known American counterpart, Clair Wilcox. HOW INTERESTING!

In sum, trolling archives is shit work, but you really do find some amazing stuff to make your ‘puzzle’ that much ‘richer’. And hey, who knew about Nyasaland!?

They are, you might say, making right Kants of themselves.
Possibly the best (British) pun of all time from the curmudgeony Charles Nevin on ‘Politicians’ incessant use of the expression ‘the right thing to do” on his list of 13 things to forget in 2014.

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US Congresswoman and Chief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette is pretty ace

I often post about my Congresspeople/MPs, as someone who ‘lives’ in two countries I get to :-).

Quick post to say Diana Degette, my representative in Colorado, is ace. She sent out an email survey asking for her constituents’ opinions on political priorities for 2014. To my knowledge, this is the only email like this I’ve ever received.

So, you know, well done, Congresswoman. Thanks for asking.

Ah, and that reminds me, we received a holiday card from our MP. So thanks, buddy Kaufman, for that lovely sentiment. Maybe that’s why he’s one of the longest serving MPs… naw, it’s probably just low voter turnout and the power of incumbency.


Caption: Katy Perry wearing her trademark false eyelashes. The singer endorses a line of fake lashes that are produced by Eylure using the PT Royal Korindah factories in Indonesia.

Photo: PictureGroup/Rex Features
EXCELLENT photojournalism from the Guardian on the working conditions in Purbalingga in Central Java, Indonesia, the ‘international hub’ of fake eyelash manufacturing. Some of these women are paid 2 cents per pair they make with one woman averaging 32 pairs a day in a ‘satellite workshop’, outside of the ‘factory’ labour line where legal wage standards don’t apply. 
See also this article on the controversy of the Victoria and Albert Museum of fashion acquiring a pair of Katy Perry’s brand of eyelashes after information about the labour conditions was released.

Caption: Katy Perry wearing her trademark false eyelashes. The singer endorses a line of fake lashes that are produced by Eylure using the PT Royal Korindah factories in Indonesia.

Photo: PictureGroup/Rex Features

EXCELLENT photojournalism from the Guardian on the working conditions in Purbalingga in Central Java, Indonesia, the ‘international hub’ of fake eyelash manufacturing. Some of these women are paid 2 cents per pair they make with one woman averaging 32 pairs a day in a ‘satellite workshop’, outside of the ‘factory’ labour line where legal wage standards don’t apply.

See also this article on the controversy of the Victoria and Albert Museum of fashion acquiring a pair of Katy Perry’s brand of eyelashes after information about the labour conditions was released.

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Happy Saturday: Ding-dong Doha’s dead - but in a good way, if I’m being unclear

With Mandela’s death dominating headlines, as it should, there are few words to capture the sense of elation I feel at the news that the WTO has produced a ‘Bali package’, concluding the 12-year Doha Round.

Like many, I’ve spent years of my life ‘investing’ in the WTO, not just as a judicial forum, but as a policy-making mechanism for international trade. I BELIEVE in the WTO. I BELIEVE in multilateralism, and I BELIEVE in consensus and the single undertaking - the WTO’s thorny decision-making mechanism. Despite criticism coming out, the fact of the matter is ‘Doha-lite’ is done; Doha has ended, and this is the single greatest piece of news to come out of the WTO, perhaps since the transition from the GATT. It’s the greatest news because it means the WTO, as a legislative forum, will survive - for the time being - and when you’re invested in an organisation that has failed to survive as the ITO and the GATT, these things aren’t taken for granted. Rather than begrudge ‘Doha-lite’ or the weak rewards for developing nations - which, in my view, is still up for debate; every ministerial, developing nations advance their veteran-status in the machinery that comprises global trade rules (formal and informal) - we should congratulate the ministers, ambassadors, governments, unions, NGOs, and, particularly, the WTO staff who made the conclusion of Doha a reality that seemed almost impossible as late as Thursday night. Job well done, everyone.

And let’s not forget Director-General Azevedo … because as my friend at ECIPE knows, I, correctly, predicted the conclusion of Doha at Bali using the framework for analysis of executive leadership I developed in my doctoral research. So, you know, …go, me. :-) And go, Director-General Azevedo; I’m absolutely certain your leadership matters.

reuters:

It’s time to show the crimes committed against the Amazon forest, writes Reuters photographer Nacho Doce.

reuterspictures:

Deforestation of the Amazon: From Paradise to inferno

Photography by Nacho Doce and Ricardo Moraes

Time is not on my side at the moment, and so instead of simply neglecting my tumblr I’m reblogging things that currently strike me sans commentary.

Brain has, thusly, exploded.

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For many of you 1914 probably seems like a long time ago but I’ll be 91 next year, so it feels recent. Today, we have allowed monolithic corporate institutions to set our national agenda. We have allowed vitriol to replace earnest debate and we have somehow deluded ourselves into thinking that wealth is wisdom. But by far the worst error we have made as a people is to think ourselves as taxpayers first and citizens second.

Next year, I won’t wear the poppy but I will until my last breath remember the past and the struggles my generation made to build this country into a civilised state for the working and middle classes. If we are to survive as a progressive nation we have to start tending to our living because the wounded: our poor, our underemployed youth, our hard-pressed middle class and our struggling seniors shouldn’t be left to die on the battleground of modern life.

Excellent, excellent read from the 91-year-old Harry Leslie Smith.

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