Italy

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Emboldened Opposition and a Galvanised Movement: What the End of Roe v Wade Means for Abortion Around the World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/06/2022 - 6:00pm in

The overturning of the seminal 1973 ruling by the US Supreme Court has been met with a mixed reaction by pro-abortion activists globally, reports Sian Norris

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“The decision to overturn Roe v Wade is extremely grave in the impact it will have across the US,” Leah Hoctor, senior regional director for Europe at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, told Byline Times. “The retrogressive nature of the decision is completely unprecedented in the global arena, in terms of the move to remove a constitutional right for abortion that has existed for 50 years.”

The announcement that the US Supreme Court had decided to overturn Roe v Wade – the 1973 case that allowed for nationwide access to safe, legal abortion – sent shockwaves around the world.

Since the decision was published, nine states have implemented abortion bans and a total of 26 states with a female population of 64 million are expected to ban or severely restrict abortion in the coming months. 

In the decades since Roe v Wade, 55 countries have introduced policies improving abortion access, including Spain, Ireland, Argentina, Kenya, Romania, Nepal and South Korea. Only four have introduced new restrictions on abortion in that time – the fourth being the US. 

The implications of the decision go beyond US borders.

Since Roe v Wade was introduced, America has occupied a dual role of being both a beacon of progress and freedom, and a world-leader in opposing access to safe, legal abortion – with opposition groups using their wealth and influence to attack reproductive healthcare in the US and around the world.

“The decision overturning Roe v Wade opens the home front in the US and Europe to autocracy’s war on democracy,” Monique Camarra, co-host of the Kremlin File podcast, told this newspaper.

The unprecedented nature of this decision now risks undermining progress on abortion across the globe. But there is a flipside too. The renewed focus on the fragility of human rights – with women and girls’ rights often a canary in the backlash coalmine – could galvanise progressive movements and law-makers to take positive action to protect abortion rights from further attack.

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An Emboldened Opposition 

When news of Roe v Wade being overturned hit the headlines, anti-abortion groups and think tanks celebrated.

Heartbeat International – a crisis pregnancy service accused of spreading disinformation about abortion – called it the moment it “had been praying for”. Radical-right think tank The Heritage Foundation, which has multiple links to the UK Conservative Party, said it gives states “the power to fix America’s extreme abortion laws and enshrine protections for the unborn in law”. 

Across the Atlantic, extremist anti-abortion group CBR UK said “the UK is next” and Right to Life UK called it the “overturning of an unjust law”. 

“The main impact we are going to face is an emboldened opposition,” Martin Onyango, associate director of legal strategies for Africa at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, told Byline Times. “And an emboldened opposition movement is dangerous anywhere in the world. The opposition groups are getting bolder and braver. We expect them to intensify trying to influence other countries, including in Africa.”

In Kenya, where Onyango is based, abortion is protected as a constitutional right but is only permitted when there is a recognised threat to the mother’s life or health, or in emergency situations. It remains restricted by colonial era laws in the penal code. A recent constitutional court case, won by Onyango and his colleagues at the Centre, saw the High Court affirm the right to abortion under the constitution. The case involved a minor and a healthcare worker in the town of Malindi being arrested, after the healthcare worker provided post-abortion care. 

That the US was able to overturn abortion as a constitutional right after 50 years concerns Onyango, not least because the means that the anti-abortion movement used to win its battle could potentially be replicated elsewhere.

Roe v Wade as a judicial precedent and the setting up of abortion as a constitutional right has been used by Kenya and other countries,” he said. “In the Malindi case, we brought in the same principle reasoning that supported Roe v Wade – that forcing women to carry an unwanted pregnancy amounts to a violation of their rights including right to privacy.

"So when Roe v Wade falls, it means the reasoning for constitutional positions in countries like Kenya has fallen. That opens up a direct challenge to those constitutional provisions – although in our case, a referendum is required to change the constitution.”

In Europe, there are fears that opposition groups, including from the US, will use the overturning of Roe v Wade to push forward their own agendas. Between 2009 and 2018, US anti-abortion groups spent at least $81.3 million in Europe

“For decades, we've seen US fundamentalist organisations and the Christian-right working in the European region,” said Leah Hoctor. “There are active anti-abortion organisations in the European region who will seek to capitalise on this, and who will seek to grow support for their beliefs and their anti abortion activism.”

The majority of countries in Europe allow women access to safe, legal abortion, but there are exceptions.

Last January, Poland extended its already draconian abortion bans to include a ban on terminations in cases of foetal anomaly, while in Malta the procedure is banned in all cases. In Italy, where abortion is permitted, there has seen a concerning backlash against a woman’s right to choose, with increasing numbers of doctors refusing to perform abortions and populist leaders such as Matteo Salvini blaming abortion for causing a “demographic winter”. 

Room for Hope

While the overturning of Roe v Wade will embolden anti-abortion actors, the global trend when it comes to reproductive rights is a positive one. 

In June, Germany overturned a Nazi-era law that had prohibited the advertising of abortion services. France, the Netherlands and Spain have also taken steps to improve access to reproductive healthcare – despite fervent opposition from Christian fundamentalists. 

"The decision out of the US Supreme Court could actually galvanise the potential for even increased progressive reform across European countries,” Leah Hoctor told Byline Times. “We are calling on European leaders that support reproductive rights to put this support into action now, and to really take steps to bring European laws and policies into line with World Health Organisation guidance.”

Progress on reproductive rights is also happening in the Global South. In Kenya, the Malindi case was “a great milestone, because gradually we are chipping away at the restrictions we have, when it comes to abortion care in this country,” said Onyango.

Meanwhile, in Latin America, more and more states are liberalising abortion laws in what has become known as the 'green wave' movement due to the green scarves, flags and sashes worn by pro-abortion activists.

In 2020, Argentina legalised abortion, while abortion is now available on request to any woman up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy in Mexico City and the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Colima, Baja California, Sinaloa, Guerrero and Baja California Sur. Colombia legalised abortion on demand up to 24 weeks in February, while Chile is planning a referendum on making abortion a constitutional right. 

“The green wave across Latin America is a movement that has had so much impact in terms of systemic change in that region,” Hoctor added. “It's very important to underline that the global picture is a very hopeful one, and a very progressive one.” 

Additional reporting by Heidi Siegmund-Cuda

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Europe’s debtors must pawn their gold for Eurobond Redemption

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/04/2022 - 4:09pm in

Tags 

ECB, france, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK

And their central banks can buy unlimited amounts to support the price.

Not that they would do that…

Europe’s debtors must pawn their gold for Eurobond Redemption

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

May 29 (Telegraph) — The German scheme — known as the European Redemption Pact — offers a form of “Eurobonds Lite” that can be squared with the German constitution and breaks the political logjam. It is a highly creative way out of the debt crisis, but is not a soft option for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and other states in trouble.

The plan is drafted by the German Council of Economic Experts and inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s Sinking Fund in the United States — created in 1790 to clean up the morass of debts left by the Revolutionary War. Flourishing Virginia was comparable to Germany today.

Chancellor Angela Merkel shot down the proposals last November as “completely impossible”, but Europe’s crisis has since festered, and her Christian Democrat party has since suffered crushing defeats in regional elections.

The Social Democrat opposition supports the idea. The Greens say they will block ratification of the EU Fiscal Compact in the German Bundesrat — or upper house — unless Mrs Merkel relents.

“The Redemption Pact cleverly combines the advantages of lower interest rates through joint European borrowing with a reduction of debt,” says Green leader Jürgen Trittin. “Joint liability would be limited in both time and scale.”

The plan splits the public debts of EMU states. Anything up to the Maastricht limit of 60pc of GDP would remain sovereign. Anything over 60pc would be transfered gradually into the redemption fund. This would be covered by joint bonds.

Italy would switch €958bn, Germany €578bn, France €498bn, and so forth. The total was €2.326 trillion as of November but is rising fast as Europe’s slump corrupts debt dynamics. The sinking fund would slowly retire debt over twenty years, using designated tithes akin to Germany’s “Solidarity Surcharge”.

In effect, Germany would share its credit card to slash debt costs for Italy, Spain and others. Yet it is the exact opposition of fiscal union. While eurobonds are a federalising catalyst, the fund would be temporary and self-extinguishing. “The fund is a return to the discipline of Maastricht with sovereign control over budgets,” said Dr Benjamin Weigert, the Council of Experts’s general-secretary.

The ingenious design gets around the German constitutional court, which ruled in September that the budgetary powers of the Bundestag cannot be alienated to any EU body under the Basic Law — the founding text of Germany’s vibrant post-War democracy.

The court warned that open-ended liabilities are unconstitutional. The Bundestag may not establish “permanent mechanisms which result in an assumption of liability for other states’ voluntary decisions, especially if they have consequences whose impact is difficult to calculate,” it ruled. Chief Justice Andreas Vosskuhle said that any major step towards EU fiscal union would require “a new constitution” and a referendum.

The fund implies a big sacrifice for Germany. Its interest costs on joint debt would be much higher than today’s safe-haven rate of 1.37pc on 10-year Bunds. Jefferies Fixed Income says it would cost 0.6pc of German GDP annually. The Council of Experts — or `Five Wise Men’ — argue that this would be modest compared to the growth adrenaline of rescusitating monetary union.

Yet it is not charity either. One official said a key motive is to relieve the European Central Bank of its duties as chief fire-fighter. “We have got to get the ECB out of the game of distributing money, and separate fiscal and monetary policy. Germany has only two votes on the ECB Council and has no way to control consolidation,” he said.

Germany would have a lockhold over the fund, able to enforce discipline. Each state would have to pledge 20pc of their debt as collateral. “The assets could be taken from the country’s currency and gold reserves. The collateral nominated would only be used in the event that a country does not meet its payment obligations,” said the proposal.

This demand could enflame opinion in Italy and Portugal. Both states have kept their bullion, resisting the rush to sell by Britain and others. Italy has 2,451 tonnes of gold, valued at €98bn in March.

Alessandro di Carpegna Brivio, a gold expert at Camperio Sim in Milan, said Italy should treat such proposals with care. “Everything being done at a European level is in the interests of Germany and France, to save their banks. It is not in the interest of Italy,” he said.

“We should use our gold to take care of our own debt, collateralizing bonds above 100pc of GDP. That would be a far more targeted approach,” he said.

v
David Marsh, author of books on the euro and the Bundesbank, said Germany is not yet ready for the redemption fund. “The Germans have to do something, but I don’t think it will happen before the elections next year. Spain will have to go through storm first,” he said.

Ultimately, a sinking fund cannot tackle the root cause of the eurozone crisis. It may cap debt costs but it does not alter the intra-EMU currency misalignment between North and South, or help the Latin states close the chasm in labour competitiveness.

The South would still face the long grind of “internal devaluation” — or wage deflation — breaking societies on the wheel. Yet the Redemption Pact is at least a first step back from Purgatory.

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The post Europe’s debtors must pawn their gold for Eurobond Redemption appeared first on Mosler Economics / Modern Monetary Theory.

Vaccines, Lockdowns and Covid Passes: The Pandemic Goes On But So Does the Class Struggle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/02/2022 - 10:13am in

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Italy

image/jpeg icongreen-pass.jpg

The article which follows comes from the November Annual General Meeting of our Italian affiliate, the Internationalist Communist Party (Battaglia Comunista). It reiterates what all the affiliates of the Internationalist Communist Tendency have said from the beginning of this pandemic; that the virus is not only the result of developments within capitalism but that the capitalists, by putting profits before people’s lives, have also vastly increased the death rate.

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Italy: The Lions of Piacenza Have Been Caged

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/02/2022 - 3:22am in

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Italy

image/jpeg iconsi-cobas.jpg

The FedEx workers’ struggle in Piacenza ended on 10 January.

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Italy: Capitalist Dilemma over Citizens' Income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/02/2022 - 11:49pm in

Tags 

Italy

image/jpeg iconeuros.jpg

Ever since the capitalist mode of production came into the world, the bourgeoisie has always oscillated between two "visions" on how to manage the workforce and get it to submit to working for a wage, in other words, that of Malthus or De Mandeville. Either by the threat of starvation, but with the risk of sudden outbursts of anger, controllable with open violence, or through a "compassionate" management of hunger, which convinces, so to speak, workers to suffer exploitation and domination by the employers.

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Lagarde: A Rookie Mistake?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/03/2020 - 5:51am in

So the ECB has spoken in response to the Coronavirus crisis, and it was a problematic response to say the least. I watched Christine Lagarde’s Q&A with journalists, which as usual was the most interesting part of the press conference. But boy, I wish today it had not taken place…

The bottom line is that Lagarde made a huge misstep in stating that the ECB is not going to close the spreads. I hope it is just a communication misstep, otherwise Italy (and probably other countries) will pay a heavy price.

But let’s see what happened today.

First, there is an attempt to put on the Eurozone governments’ shoulders most of the burden of reacting to a shock that will be “significant even if temporary”. Lagarde said clearly, towards the end of the press conference, that what she fears most is insufficient fiscal response coming out from the Eurogroup meeting next Monday:

It is hard to disagree with this approach. To target firms’ liquidity problems one cannot count on banks alone, (especially in countries where they have still not completely recovered from the sovereign debt crisis). As a side note, I welcome the provisions contained in the Italian €25bn package, such as the temporary lifting of short-term businesses obligations towards the government (VAT, social contributions, taxes). These seem to be the right measures to ease short term liquidity constraints.

But let’s look into what the ECB itself commits to do. Besides technicalities that I did not study yet, there will be two sets of measures:

  1. The first set concerns (continued) provision of cheap liquidity to banks, in order to ensure continuing supply of credit to the real economy. This will be ensured through a new and temporary long-term refinancing scheme (LTRO), together with significantly better terms for the existing targeted loan programs. This amount to a large subsidy to banks. Loans conditions will be more favorable for banks lending to Small and Medium Enterprises, which are the ones more likely to become strapped for liquidity in the current situation. Furthermore, as a supervisor, the ECB engages in operational flexibility when implementing bank specific regulatory requirements, and to allow full utilization of the capital and liquidity buffers that financial institutions have built. I am unclear on how much this will work in order to keep the flow of credit flowing, but overall, my sentiment is that on cheap and easy financing to banks and (hopefully) to firms, there is little more ECB could do.
  2. The second set of measure is a ramping up of QE, with additional €120bn (until the end of the year). Lagarde seemed to suggest that the ECB could use flexibility to deviating from capital keys, the quota of bonds the ECB can buy from each country. This means that maybe more help will be given to countries like Italy, and the ambiguity was probably on purpose.

But then came the Q&A, and with it, disaster. At a question by a journalist on Italian debt and yields, Lagarde replied the following:

This also made it on the ECB twitter feed:

This simple sentence was a reversal of Mario Draghi 2012 “whatever it takes“. Mario Draghi, in 2012, had basically announced that the ECB would act as a crypto-lender of last resort (conditional, way too conditional, but still), and since then the scope for speculation has been greatly reduced. Spreads have been much less variable since then (I wrote a paper with Roberto Tamborini, on that, that just came out).

Protection from the ECB against market speculation is what countries like Italy would need most. Fiscal policy is the tool that can be better targeted towards supporting the supply side of the economy and preventing liquidity problems from evolving into bankruptcies. Lagarde herself stated it many times in the past few days, and again today.

So, governments should be put in the conditions not to worry, at least for a while, of market pressure. Lagarde should have said the exact opposite: “we commit to freezing the spreads for n months so that governments can focus on supporting their productive sector, and restoring more or less normal aggregate demand conditons”. Lagarde said the opposite. And here is the effect of that on Italian ten year rates. Look what happened at around 3pm, when she answered the question:

The yields Other Eurozone peripheral countries had similar behaviours. Why did Lagarde say that? Maybe Because she wanted to appease fiscal hawks ahead of the Eurogroup meeting of next week, so that they are more willing to agree on a fiscal stimulus? Or because she was afraid to be accused to be too soft on Italy? Or to actually care about one single country, which is what the ECB is not supposed to do? Or was it simply a communication misstep? A rookie mistake? Whatever the reason, it is clear that Lagarde made a huge mistake, and even apparently she partially backpedaled in a NBC interview shortly thereafter, this is what remain of today’s press conference.

So, my assessment of today’s ECB move is mixed. It was as good as it gets on financing the banking sector, and we just have to cross finger that this is enough to keep credit flowing.

But it is disappointing on the support of expansionary fiscal policies. All the more disappointing that the ECB and Lagarde have insisted on the need for a fiscal response “first and foremost”.

My only hope is that that was a misstep, or just lip service to fiscal responsibility. If market pressure prevents governments from supporting their firms, and if liquidity problems evolve into solvency problems, a “significant but temporary” shock will become a permanent hit to long-term growth capacity. And let’s not forget that the Eurozone economy is today more diverse and less resilient than it was in 2008.

Brace yourself

ps. You can find my live tweeting during the Q&A (a bit confused at times. Live tweeting is not my thing!) here: