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Established 1973 — Last updated: Monday, September 26, 2016, 9:31 AM
Aggregated news for a better world
Today's posts in bigger type—>
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Clarity requires effort
Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on bloated health care spending compared with the 2013 OECD per capita average of advanced countries, which becomes extra cost overhead on U.S. exports—resulting in offshoring manufacturing and jobs. Let's end price gouging and adopt efficient practices instead of cutting Medicare and Medicaid coverage as part of some "Grand Bargain"
In 2013 US total per capita health care spending was $8713, $4589 more per person than in France—acclaimed as having the 'best' healthcare—and $5260 above the OECD average without better results. (Ref. 2011, 2009, 2007, selected 2007 with avg. doctor visits showing we're least cared for for the money, 2003 and 1998.)

Lastly, importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

Carbon dioxide doesn't kill climates; people do. And the world would be better off with fewer of them.

That's a glib summary of a serious and seriously provocative book by Travis Rieder, a moral philosophy professor and bioethicist at Johns Hopkins University.

When economists write about climate change, they'll often bring up something called the Kaya identity—basically a multiplication problem (not an espionage novel) that helps economists estimate how much carbon dioxide may be heading into the atmosphere. The Kaya identity says the pace of climate pollution is more or less the product four things:

  • How carbon-heavy fuels are
  • How much energy the economy needs to produce GDP
  • GDP per capita
  • Population
Eric Roston | Bloomberg
Meanwhile, new research discovers soil may not be trapping carbon as fast as we hoped

The planet could pass the critical 1.5°C global temperature threshold in a decade—and is already two-thirds of the way to hit that warming limit, climate scientists warned on Thursday.

Speaking at a University of Oxford conference this week, led by leading U.K. climate researcher Richard Betts, scientists said global greenhouse gas emissions are not likely to slow down quickly enough to avoid passing the 1.5°C target.

The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C was agreed to in the landmark Paris agreement negotiated by 195 nations last year.

But the planet is continuing to experience unprecedented heat month after month, setting 2016 on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. In fact, the scientists said, Earth is currently on a trajectory to hit at least 2.7°C in global temperature rise.

Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams
Republican presidential candidate's comments at industry conference show he "would be a belligerent catalyst of catastrophic climate change if he were elected president."
Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams
Expansion of fossil fuel extraction amounts to ‘climate denial’, says thinktank Oil Change International, but observers argue some additional oil and gas could be safe. Climate Home reports

The world’s working coal mines and oil and gas fields contain enough carbon to push the world beyond the threshold for catastrophic climate change, according to a report released on Thursday.

If all the existing fuel were to be burned, projects currently operating or under construction could be expected to release 942Gt CO2, said the report by US-based thinktank Oil Change International (OCI).

This exceeds the carbon limits that would most likely warm the world 1.5C and even over 2C above the pre-industrial average. These were limits agreed at last year’s climate conference in Paris.

It has been established for some time that the enormous unworked reserves claimed by fossil fuel companies contain vastly too much carbon to ever be burned safely. But OCI said that this was the first time an analysis had been done of how much greenhouse gas is stored in projects already working or under construction.

Karl Mathiesen / Climate Home | The Guardian
Non-binding vote for 55% cut in CO2 emissions will require closure of remaining five plants and ensure country meets its Paris climate commitments
Arthur Neslen | The Guardian
Letters | The Guardian

Federal documents obtained this year by the Center for Biological Diversity revealed that the Obama administration approved more than 1,200 offshore fracks in 630 different wells in the Gulf from 2010 to 2014. The fracking took place off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — with no public involvement or site-specific tests done beforehand to evaluate the environmental impact.

Given that it takes millions of gallons of water to frack a single well, and that on its way into the earth to force out oil or gas reserves the water becomes contaminated with radioactive elements, heavy metals and other toxic compounds, you might wonder: Where is all that offshore fracking wastewater going?

Directly into the Gulf, as it turns out.

A Center analysis found that oil companies operating in federal waters off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana discharged more than 76 billion gallons of fracking wastewater into the Gulf of Mexico in 2014 alone — and now the Obama administration is considering whether to allow the dumping to continue.

Sue Sturgis | Common Dreams

Our new [Canadian] government has adopted the utterly inadequate targets of the last government. Alberta has a climate plan that would allow tar sands emissions to increase by 43 per cent, wholly incompatible with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

And the push for new pipelines – often sold as “nation building” – continues to tear us apart.

What I find striking is the narrowness of our public discourse – how much continues to be treated as unsayable and undoable when it comes to keeping carbon in the ground. Other countries are moving ahead with policies that begin to reflect the scientific realities. Germany and France have both banned fracking.

Even in the United States, there is a wider spectrum of debate. The new platform of the Democratic Party, for instance, states that no new infrastructure projects should be built if they substantively contribute to climate change – essentially the same position that caused all the outrage around The Leap Manifesto.

So what’s going on here? Why is it so hard for Canadian political leaders, across the political spectrum, to design climate policies that are guided by climate science?

Naomi Klein | Common Dreams
"If you're in a hole, stop digging."

Though it may not have seemed possible, climate catastrophe is even closer than previously thought, with new figures released Thursday finding that—when the wells already drilled, pits dug, and pipelines built, are taken under consideration—we are well on our way to going beyond 2°C of warming.

Lauren McCauley | Common Dreams

....They found that over the entire population, for each 7.9 microgram per cubic meter increase in soot and other particulate matter, there was a 15 percent higher rate of insulin resistance, a marker of Type 2 diabetes. (On smoggy days, levels of particulate matter typically exceed 50 micrograms per cubic meter.) For prediabetics the risk increased by almost 46 percent for each unit increase in air pollution. The researchers controlled for sex, smoking, body mass index, socioeconomic status and many other variables.

The underlying mechanism is not well understood and the findings are correlational and do not prove cause and effect, but the authors suggest that air pollution may lead to insulin resistance by increasing body-wide inflammation and levels of oxidative stress.

NICHOLAS BAKALAR | The New York Times
More than 50 tribes signed on to the historic treaty alliance, banding together for the sake of their health and planet
Lauren McCauley | Common Dreams
A new report grades fast food chains on their efforts to curb the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which kills 700,000 people worldwide each year
Alison Moodie | The Guardian
Hydrofluorocarbons, commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioning systems, could add 0.5C to global temperatures by the end of the century

A loose coalition of more than 100 countries, including the US and European nations, is pushing for an early phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a powerful greenhouse gas that if left unchecked is set to add a potentially disastrous 0.5C to global temperatures by the end of the century.

At a meeting in New York on Thursday, world leaders called for an “ambitious phase-down schedule” for HFCs, which are commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioning systems, and pledged adaptation money for developing nations where HFC use is rapidly increasing.

Oliver Milman | The Guardian
An initiative to support female salt farmers in Gujarat provides loans to help them switch to solar in the face of climate change
Katharine Earley | The Guardian
Making the accord legally binding is not enough to guarantee the world keeps warming within agreed limits. That will take much more - not least ending our reliance on fossil fuels

In a rare show of international unity, more than 30 countries this week declared their plans to translate into national laws the Paris agreement on climate change.

As a result, by the end of this year, or soon after, the accord should come into effect and become binding under international law.

This is a major step. It will be the first time since 1992 that a global agreement on climate change has been internationally accepted (the Kyoto protocol, signed by the White House in 1997, was famously stymied by the refusal of the US Congress to ratify it), and the first time in history that rich and poor countries have faced the same obligations to tackle global warming.

Fiona Harvey | The Guardian
Soil’s potential to soak up planet-warning carbon dioxide has been overestimated by as much as 40%, say scientists
Oliver Milman | The Guardian

Reference:

....Researchers, Eicke Latz at the University of Bonn and colleagues, followed up on the parents’ hypothesis and found that in mice, cyclodextrin indeed blocked plaque formation, melted away plaques that had already formed in arteries, reduced atherosclerosis-associated inflammation, and revved up cholesterol metabolism—even in rodents fed cholesterol-rich diets.

Beth Mole | ars technica | Ref.
Tests show compound, similar to that found in energy drinks, clears amyloid beta plaques, which build up in the brain in early stages of Alzheimer’s
Ian Sample | Guardian | Ref.
JOE ROMM | Climate Progress | Ref.
Phys.org | Ref.
Green buildings and better infrastructure would not only spur economic growth but also cut carbon emissions equal to India’s annual output
Suzanne Goldenberg | Guardian | Ref.

A growing body of evidence suggests pollution can do a number on the brain. The July/August Mother Jones cover story chronicled the research connecting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to the dirty air we breathe; studies have found that pollution may also age the brain prematurely. And according to new research from the University of Texas-El Paso, pollution's damage to the brain may start even sooner than was previously thought: Fourth and fifth graders exposed to exhaust emissions, researchers found, don't do as well in school as their peers who breathe cleaner air.

Gabrielle Canon | Mother Jones | Ref.
Janet Redman / Foreign Policy in Focus | Informed Comment | Ref.
Though Canada's system is the second most expensive in the world per capita, it would save America $1.3 Trillion/yr and cover everyone
OLGA KHAZAN | Atlantic | Ref.
Lesley Stahl discovers the shock and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis can be followed by a second jolt: the astronomical price of cancer drugs
[All the other OECD countries negotiate much lower drug & medical procedure costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in New York Times | Ref.
German writer Norman Ohler’s astonishing account of methamphetamine addiction in the Third Reich changes what we know about the second world war

....The book in question is The Total Rush – or, to use its superior English title, Blitzed – which reveals the astonishing and hitherto largely untold story of the Third Reich’s relationship with drugs, including cocaine, heroin, morphine and, above all, methamphetamines (aka crystal meth), and of their effect not only on Hitler’s final days – the Führer, by Ohler’s account, was an absolute junkie with ruined veins by the time he retreated to the last of his bunkers – but on the Wehrmacht’s successful invasion of France in 1940. Published in Germany last year, where it became a bestseller, it has since been translated into 18 languages, a fact that delights Ohler, but also amazes him.

Rachel Cooke | The Guardian
A new book encourages us to scale the “empathy wall” to understand a segment of Trump supporters
"An empathy wall is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs or whose childhood is rooted in different circumstances."
—Arlie Hochschild,
sociologist and author
Chuck Collins | Common Dreams
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
In recognition of the dangers inherent in the consolidation of mainstream corporate media The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel (formerly a newspaper) advances awareness of important ignored news and opinion.
The kindness of your donation would be appreciated
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Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience and courage.

In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year. A comparison like that would be an empty exercise in a race where one candidate — our choice, Hillary Clinton — has a record of service and a raft of pragmatic ideas, and the other, Donald Trump, discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway. (We will explain in a subsequent editorial why we believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.)

THE EDITORIAL BOARD | The New York Times
Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has provoked a wave of misogyny—one that may roil American life for years to come.

The reaction to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has been unconventional. The percentage of Americans who hold a “strongly unfavorable” view of her substantially exceeds the percentage for any other Democratic nominee since 1980, when pollsters began asking the question. Antipathy to her among white men is even more unprecedented. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 52 percent of white men hold a “very unfavorable” view of Clinton. That’s a whopping 20 points higher than the percentage who viewed Barack Obama very unfavorably in 2012, 32 points higher than the percentage who viewed Obama very unfavorably in 2008, and 28 points higher than the percentage who viewed John Kerry very unfavorably in 2004.

PETER BEINART | The Atlantic
MAGGIE HABERMAN and ALEXANDER BURNS | The New York Times

If a known con artist peddles a potion that he claims will make people lose 25 pounds and enjoy a better sex life, we don’t just quote the man and a critic; we find ways to signal to readers that he’s a fraud. Why should it be different when the con man runs for president?

....Our job is not stenography, but truth-telling. As we move to the debates, let’s remember that to expose charlatans is not partisanship, but simply good journalism.

OP-ED by Nicholas Kristof | The New York Times
Since 1984, the US has seen a profound shift in wealth as house values in blue states have risen far more than those in red states, researchers find

America has seldom been so divided going into a general election. And that division is showing up even in the housing markets of states that traditionally vote Democratic and those that vote Republican.

A new report issued by a real estate data company, HouseCanary, and given exclusively to the Guardian found that over the last four decades, housing prices have risen significantly higher in blue (Democratic-leaning) states than in red (Republican-leaning) states.

Since 1984, blue states have seen their house values go up from an average of $85,000 to $312,000, while red states saw an increase from $75,000 to $184,000. Blue states now account for 77% of the total value of homes in United States.

Higher housing prices in the liberal-leaning blue states might have a twofold effect on voters’ outlooks: while homeowners feel the benefits of the economic recovery, those who do not own homes are grappling with the effects of income inequality as house prices increase – often out of their reach.

Jana Kasperkevic | The Guardian

....Unlike with many previous technologies that took Americans almost by surprise, we can see what’s coming, and we have plenty of time [if we start planning NOW] to figure out a plan of action.

We could adopt a big, smart retraining program for affected drivers. Granted, in recent years, many lawmakers and laid-off workers have complained that there often aren’t enough jobs for those who’ve labored to learn new skills. Katz says the government should create public-sector jobs so these drivers are not consigned to long-term jobless purgatory.

Laid-off drivers, gas station attendants and others will need help beyond traditional unemployment insurance. Perhaps they should receive adjustment assistance just like factory workers who lost jobs because of imports.

For those wondering where all that money will come from, there’s an obvious source. Uber, Ford, Google and other companies eager to earn billions from driverless cars no doubt will press Congress to enact a law creating a nationwide green light for these cars as well as uniform national regulations. In exchange for enacting such a law — which should happen only when these cars are proved safe — Congress could levy a special tax on each driverless mile to finance programs for retraining, adjustment assistance, unemployment insurance and perhaps government jobs.

The loss of 5 million factory jobs since 2000 has devastated families and communities across the country. The nation could well lose an equal number of driving-related jobs in the next 10 or 20 years, but a similar devastation need not follow.

OP-ED by Steven Greenhouse | The Los Angeles Times

Sam's Club has recently gone live in all of its 645 U.S. stores with its new scan and go service, Walmart Vice President of Operations Transformation at Sam's Club Shawna Bowen told TheStreet. Scan and go works pretty much as it sounds. While a shopper is in a Sam's Club, they open an app and scan each item's barcode. If the item doesn't have a barcode, it could be easily looked up. The app keeps a running total of the items in the cart. A person can then checkout by paying in the app. They then show the receipt on the phone to an employee standing by the door, known as a greeter, who double checks that nothing has been lifted for free. The service closely resembles how a person checks out at an Apple retail store, with items being purchased getting scanned into handheld devices carried around by employees.

Brian Sozzi | TheStreet
Channeling Sanders, Clinton Proposes Whopping Billionaire Estate Tax [worldwide normalization of taxes—with full visibility of income and wealth for fairest taxation—must be achieved. Automation is capable of eliminating 45% of jobs NOW, and it will happen rapidly to realize profits.]
Clinton also adopted tax structure advocated by Sanders during primary campaign
Nika Night | Common Dreams
Adam Davidson | The New Yorker
The Donald’s recent remarks highlight the candidate’s bigotry, but also signal a grim future for African Americans should he be elected.
Gabrielle Gurley | Common Dreams
Teresa Dixon Murray / The Plain Dealer | Cleveland.com




Qatar always wanted to punch above its weight. In Syria, it got the chance.
Qatar always wanted to punch above its weight. In Syria, it got the chance.

....If the pipeline from Iran to Syria it could create an energy hub in Syria, and could block Qatar gas sales to Europe at a time when Qatar’s gas exports to the U.S. have dropped to zero, largely due to increasing U.S. domestic production of natural gas. Thus Qatar would be limited to the Asian LNG market as it scrapped for the EU market with Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia. And the only thing that could make it worse is happening: Europe is forecast to take more than half of U.S. LNG exports by 2020.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and their confederates are in it to win it, and the fighting in Syria has focused on the pipeline routes. Aleppo province, which would host the Qatari pipeline, is where Turkey wants to establish a buffer zone to support “moderate” rebel forces. If Turkey can control this territory, it will bolster the Qatari pipeline and ensure its own preeminence as the energy hub in southern Europe, where it would gather oil and natural gas from Russia, Central Asia, the Caspian, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East, and become less reliant on Russian gas, which accounted for over 50 percent of its imports in 2014. But Russia hasn’t been standing still: it has surrounded Turkey on three sides by occupying Crimea, sending more troops to Armenia, and deploying the S-400 air defense system to Syria, creating a no-fly zone, and maybe a “no-buy” zone for potential customers of Qatari gas.

....To succeed in its pipeline goals, Qatar will have to make serious investments in the Turkish end of its project as well as resisting political pressure from Russia. Until then, it will be limited to making LNG shipments to Europe by tanker. In the meantime, these pipeline geopolitics have contributed to serious consequences for the Middle East.

James Durso | OilPrice
Residential areas of Aleppo have borne the brunt of government air strikes | Credit: REUTERS
Residential areas of Aleppo have borne the brunt of government air strikes | Credit: REUTERS
UN chief Ban Ki-moon is "appalled by the chilling military escalation" in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo, his spokesman says.
REUTERS, etc. | BBC News
Panic sweeps Calais camp as refugees await the bulldozers [an “empathy wall” blocks acceptance of Arab children]
With demolition of ‘the Jungle’ only weeks away, the fate of some of its most vulnerable residents hangs in the balance
The number of refugee children arriving in ‘the Jungle’ continues to rise despite plans to raze it. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA
The number of refugee children arriving in ‘the Jungle’ continues to rise despite plans to raze it. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

Europe’s biggest slum – around 10,000 migrants are squeezed into a sprawl of wasteland east of Calais – will be no more in a few weeks. Bulldozers will raze an eyesore that has acquired new political significance in the run-up to next spring’s French presidential elections.

Few child refugees appear to have a fallback strategy once the Jungle is no more. As rumours circulate over when the forced eviction will happen, aid organisations in the camp have already begun distributing suitcases.

The injection of uncertainty has caused panic among the camp’s unaccompanied children. On Saturday charities said they were witnessing signs of “hysteria”. Some warn that youngsters are taking increased risks as they attempt to climb on to lorries heading into the port, fearing that their chance of reaching the UK is fading.

Mark Townsend | The Guardian

A humanitarian catastrophe is looming over northern Iraq. As many as a million people are expected to stream out of Mosul when Iraqi government forces, backed by the United States, move to retake the city from ISIS, which took control two years ago. The much anticipated military operation could begin as early as next month, but aid workers here say they do not have anywhere near the resources, money, or manpower to deal with the expected human tide.

“It’s a nightmare—a disaster heading our way,’’ Alex Milutinovic, the director of the International Rescue Committee in Erbil, told me. “The Iraqi government is determined to destroy ISIS, but it is impossible to accommodate the number of refugees the military operation is going to produce.”

Dexter Filkins | The New Yorker
Unicef says children at risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases after two pumping stations left out of action

Heavy bombardment of the rebel-held eastern area of Aleppo has left about 1.75 million people without running water, the United Nations has said.

Intense attacks on Friday prevented repairs to the city’s damaged Bab al-Nayrab pumping station, which supplies water to 250,000 people in the eastern parts of the city, according to the UN’s children’s agency, Unicef.

In retaliation, the nearby Suleiman al-Halabi station, which pumps water to 1.5 million people in the west of Aleppo, was switched off, it said.

“Nearly 2 million people in Aleppo are once again with no running water through the public network,” said Hanaa Singer, a Unicef representative in Syria. “Depriving children of water puts them at risk of catastrophic outbreaks of waterborne diseases and adds to the suffering, fear and horror that children in Aleppo live through every day.

Staff and agencies | The Guardian
"We need to show that we don't want Britain to be the most unequal country in Europe"

Larry Sanders, the older brother of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who lives in the U.K., is taking a page from his brother's book and running for the parliamentary seat left empty by former Prime Minister David Cameron.

And in keeping with family tradition, he will campaign on a platform to end social inequality and neoliberalism. The elder Sanders, who was chosen by the Green Party, opposes privatization of healthcare and, as a retired social worker, wants to highlight the impacts of austerity on public services.

"In Britain, as in the U.S., we have had an increase in inequality in the last 30 years, and that's having all sorts of consequences," he told the Guardian on Friday—comments that probably seemed familiar to some American readers. "Many people can't afford houses who you would have expected to not long ago."

"We need to show that we don't want Britain to be the most unequal country in Europe. We don't want unmet health needs to increase when we already have too few doctors, nurses, and hospital beds," he said in a separate statement. "We don't want the government to impose unworkable contracts on 50,000 precious doctors, when it is clear that the supposed reason for the contract, a seven day hospital service, can't be done at present funding."

"This is a rich, capable, and decent country," he said. "We can do better."

Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams
Tough Senate questioning of John Stumpf, led by Elizabeth Warren, tore the lid off a company that cheated ordinary Americans with the mantra ‘eight is great’

One after another on Wednesday, the members of the Senate banking committee scored bullseyes, as they peppered Stumpf with questions, demanding explanations for Wall Street’s latest banking scandal. Just why had thousands of Wells Fargo employees fraudulently opened credit and deposit accounts in customers’ names, without the knowledge of those customers?

Stumpf’s interrogation at the hands of the bipartisan panel exposed both his personal failings and those of the bank. He failed to craft the kind of articulate and convincing responses that the senators, the bank’s customers and Americans as whole had demanded.

He stumbled. He fumbled. He couldn’t remember details. He passed the buck; he promised to get back to the senators with information. He wasn’t the kind of slick advocate for his own cause that more polished debaters like Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, or even Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, have been when in similar plights.

Nor were the senators willing to extend a helping hand. This time, a big bank had finally gone too far. It hadn’t violated the trust of big institutional investors or even of homebuyers that might have over-leveraged themselves. Wells Fargo had cheated the most ordinary Americans: anyone opening a deposit account with the bank.

Wells Fargo’s mantra, in pushing its rank and file employees to cross-sell products, was “eight is great”. These workers faced pressure – up to and including threats of losing their job – to get every bank customer to sign up for eight products and services, regardless of whether they actually needed them.

The Senate banking committee clearly showed that eight wasn’t great. It also tore the lid off Wells Fargo’s toxic culture and revealed what I’ll call the eight deadly sins, as displayed by the bank and Stumpf himself.

Suzanne McGee | The Guardian
Money can be given to consumers or spent on infrastructure. Such ‘drops’ would not inflate national debt – governments would ‘owe’ money only to its own banker

Helicopter money comes in two forms, which could (and should) be dropped together. The first is to put purchasing power directly into the hands of consumers – for example, by issuing each voter or citizen with smart cards worth $1,000 each. The Swiss economist Silvio Gesell, who originally proposed a scheme of “stamped money” at the start of the last century, added a stipulation that balances unspent after a month should be taxed, to discourage hoarding.

Alternatively, helicopter money could be used to finance infrastructure spending. The advantage of such “monetary financing” is that such spending, while adding to the deficit and leading to a permanent increase in the money supply, would not increase the national debt, because the government would “owe” the money only to its own banker. This would eliminate the offsetting negative expectation of higher taxes.

Robert Skidelsky | The Guardian
Bank of England governor says more investment in green technologies could help escape low-inflation low-growth trap
Katie Allen and Phillip Inman | The Guardian
'The deal, a spiritual and practical sibling of the much-maligned TTIP and TPP free trade agreements, is designed to drive deregulation across the vast global services sector'
Nika Knight | Common Dreams

....Until this debt problem is resolved – and the only way to resolve it is to negotiate a debt write-off – European expansion (the absorption of New Europe into Old Europe) seems over. But the transition to this future solution will not be easy. Financial interests still wield dominant power over the EU, and will resist the inevitable. Gordon Brown already has shown his colors in his threats against Iceland to illegally and improperly use the IMF as a collection agent for debts that Iceland doesn’t legally owe, and to blackball Icelandic membership in the EU.

Confronted with Mr. Brown’s bullying – and that of Britain’s Dutch poodles – 97% of Icelandic voters opposed the debt settlement that Britain and the Netherlands sought to force down the throat of Allthing members last month. This high a vote has not been seen in the world since the old Stalinist era.

It is only a foretaste. The choice that Europe ends up making will likely drive millions into the streets. Political and economic alliances will shift, currencies will crumble and governments will fall. The European Union and indeed, the international financial system will change in ways yet to be seen. This will be especially the case if nations adopt the Argentina model and refuse to make payment until steep discounts are made.

....The battle lines are being drawn regarding how private and public debts are to be repaid. For nations that balk at repayment in euros, the creditor nations have their “muscle” waiting in the wings: the credit rating agencies. At the first sign a nation is balking in paying in hard currency, or even at the first hint of it questioning a foreign debt as improper, the agencies will move in to reduce a nation’s credit rating. This will increase the cost of borrowing and threaten to paralyze the economy by starving it for credit.

Michael Hudson | Defend Democracy

Reference:

The Financial Times headline is uncharacteristically dramatic: America’s Middle Class Meltdown: core shrinks to half of US homes.

YVES SMITH | Naked Capitalism | Ref.
We're tracking where taxpayer money has gone in the ongoing bailout of the financial system. Our database accounts for both the broader $700 billion bill and the separate bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
ProPublica | Ref.
SARAH ANDERSON in CounterPunch | Ref.
ANDREW HACKER in The New York Review of Books | Ref.
On the twentieth anniversary of the Machel report, the international community must draw a line and stop the war against children.
Kevin Watkins / Project Syndicate | Informed Comment
If confirmed, the claim of direct Russian involvement in the bombing that killed at least 20 people in Syria would have far-reaching consequences
Julian Borger and Spencer Ackerman | The Guardian
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