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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 12, 2019

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by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

Trump, Tax Cuts and Terrorism
Why has the Republican Party become a systematic enabler of terrorism?
Paul Krugman [New York Times, via DailyKos 8-6-19]

But racism isn’t what drives the Republican establishment…their exploitation of racism has led them inexorably to where they are today: de facto enablers of a wave of white supremacist terrorism.

The central story of U.S. politics since the 1970s is the takeover of the Republican Party by economic radicals, determined to slash taxes for the wealthy while undermining the social safety net.

With the arguable exception of George H.W. Bush, every Republican president since 1980 has pushed through tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the 1 percent while trying to defund and/or privatize key social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

This agenda is, however, unpopular. Most voters believe that the rich should pay more, not less, in taxes, and want spending on social programs to rise, not fall.

So how do Republicans win elections? By appealing to racial animus. This is such an obvious fact of American political life that you have to be willfully blind not to see it….
In effect, then, the Republican Party decided that a few massacres were an acceptable price to pay in return for tax cuts. I wish that were hyperbole, but the continuing refusal of G.O.P. figures to criticize Trump even after El Paso shows that it’s the literal truth.

If You Only Read One Thing Today, Read Paul Krugman: “Trump, Tax Cuts and Terrorism”
xaxnar [DailyKos 8-6-19]

One wonders why John Hickenlooper is still warning of the dangers of extreme leftist socialism. One wonders why Joe Biden still thinks the GOP will come to its senses if Trump is gone. One wonders when Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership will realize we have a bigger problem than just Trump.

If you are prepared to read more than one thing, read Kevin Drum, who spelled this out a year ago at Mother Jones.
Today, the Republican Party exists for one and only one purpose: to pass tax cuts for the rich and regulatory rollbacks for corporations. They accomplish this using one and only method: unapologetically racist and bigoted appeals to win the votes of the heartland riff-raff they otherwise treat as mere money machines for their endless mail-order cons.

The Myth of Welfare Dependency
Rema Hanna, August 9, 2019 [Project Syndicate, via Mike Norman Economics]

In most countries, rich and poor people alike worry that social programs for low-income households end up weakening work incentives and create an underclass of indigents. In fact, recent research suggests just the opposite: the longer families receive stable and predictable support, the better they and their children do….

“Welfare helps people work” may sound like a strange and counterintuitive claim to some. But it is perfectly obvious when the word people in that sentence refers to low-income children in poor households. Poverty and lack of access to health care is a physical, psychological, and vocational burden for children. Poverty is a slow-motion trauma, and impoverished children are more likely than their middle-class peers to suffer from chronic physiological stress and exhibit antisocial behavior. It’s axiomatic that relieving children of an ambient trauma improves their lives and, indeed, relieved of these burdens, children from poorer households are more likely to follow the path from high-school graduation to college and then full-time employment.

The economy begins to stumble under Trump

“U.S. agricultural exports to China plummeted more than 50% last year to $9.1 billion as tariffs raised the cost of American soybeans, pork and other farm products. The exports dropped another 20% in the first six months of this year. The pain is rippling through agricultural supply chains. One forecast says tariffs could cost the sector as many as 71,000 jobs over the next two years” [Wall Street Journal, via DailyKos 8-7-19]

David Rosenberg: Signs of a looming U.S. recession are building, if you look beneath the surface
[Financial Post (Canada), via DailyKos 8-6-19]
• Container port shipments (Long Beach): -16.6 per cent

• Global semiconductor sales: -14.6 per cent

• Intermodal railroad traffic: -7.4 per cent

• Coal production: -6.3 per cent

• Cass freight shipping index: -6.0 per cent

• Lumber production: -5.6 per cent

• Electricity output: -3.7 per cent

• Railway carloadings: -3.5 per cent

• Corrugated paper production: -3.3 per cent

Heavy-Truck Orders Collapse Stunning 81%. Lowest Since 2010
Wolf Richter,Aug 3, 2019 [Wold Street]

Orders for Class 8 trucks – the iconic trucks that haul part of the economy’s goods across the country – collapsed by 81% in July compared to July last year, to 9,800 units, the lowest since 2010, according to FTR Transportation Intelligence on Friday. It was the ninth month in a row of year-over-year declines. But “declines” is not the right word. This year so far, these year-over-year “declines” ranged from -52% to -81%, which makes for a stunning collapse of the historic boom last year:

Orders for truck freight trailers have also collapsed, according to ZeroHedge:

A Decline in Capital Investment Reveals the False Promise of Trump’s Tax Bill

[The New Yorker, via Naked Capitalism 8-6-19]

The Global Economy Lives in Wonderland Now

Adam Tooze [Foreign Policy, via Naked Capitalism 8-5-19] . Well worth a read.

The Failure of Establishment Neoliberal Economics

Mark Blyth’s Incisive Post-Crisis Takedown: “A Brief History of How We Got Here and Why”
[Naked Capitalism 8-5-19]

Blyth argues that the world has been through three policy regimes, using computers as an analogy and arguing that like computers, capitalist systems all have the same major components and economic ideology is the “software”. The regime first was the gold standard, which allowed for international capital mobility without inflation, favoring capital over workers. That regime worked from roughly 1870 to World War I. As academics like Peter Temin described in detail, after the Great War, European economies tried to restore the gold standard, and Temin argues that those efforts produced the Depression. The Depression ushered in policy changes which eventually produced the next era, which started after World War II. The policy objective of this era was full employment. Cross-border capital flows were restricted, countries were more autarky-like than now, and governments were economic activists. Blyth quips that no one knew who central bankers were back then.

This era broke down with the 1970s inflation. But Blyth argues that the trigger was that the share of GDP going to labor had become intolerably high to businesses and investors. Inflation also favors labor over capital by eroding the real value of debt. The answer to that was the capital-favoring, globalist, inflation-hostile neoliberal era.

Blyth stresses that what happened after the 2008 financial crisis, which resulted from the failings of the neoliberal regime, the effort to restore the old system, is an unnatural response which will only lead to intensification of the underlying stressors, like rising levels of private debt, greater income inequality, and even more financialization.

 

I also highly recommend Blyth, but he commits one serious error of omission. Which is: Blythe accepts the “common wisdom” that the stagflation of the 1970s was caused by wage-push inflation. In fact, the far more important cause of inflation at the tine was the tripling and quadrupling of energy prices initiated by the Arab oil embargoes. Blythe thus misses the crucial underlying dynamic of our industrial economies having been designed and built — for over a century — to run on cheap energy supplies. But it WAS labor that was blamed. 

Thus Blythe also misses — as does almost everyone else — the USA response of Kissinger’s negotiated agreement with the Saudis and others to recycle their dollars into purchases of US paper, thus creating the petrodollar market. If I recall correctly, this agreement is discussed by John Perkins in his bombshell book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Inflated Bond Ratings Helped Spur the Financial Crisis. They’re Back. 

[Wall Street Journal, via The Big Picture 8-8-19]

Neoliberalism: Political Success, Economic Failure
Robert Kuttner [Prospect, via Avedon’s Sideshow 7-29-19]

“The invisible hand is more like a thumb on the scale for the world’s elites. That’s why market fundamentalism has been unmasked as bogus economics but keeps winning politically. Since the late 1970s, we’ve had a grand experiment to test the claim that free markets really do work best. This resurrection occurred despite the practical failure of laissez-faire in the 1930s, the resulting humiliation of free-market theory, and the contrasting success of managed capitalism during the three-decade postwar boom. Yet when growth faltered in the 1970s, libertarian economic theory got another turn at bat. This revival proved extremely convenient for the conservatives who came to power in the 1980s. The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism—from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries. […] Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. Enterprise has been richly rewarded, taxes have been cut, and regulation reduced or privatized. The economy is vastly more unequal, yet economic growth is slower and more chaotic than during the era of managed capitalism. Deregulation has produced not salutary competition, but market concentration. Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration.”

Actually, neoliberalism is no longer a political success:

“Is ‘Bernie or Bust’ the Future of the Left?”

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

Report on the DSA convention.

“The zombie neoliberalism of the Wall Street Democrats created this crisis with their free trade, their austerity budget cuts,” Ms. Svart said in her opening speech, “and they are complicit in Trump’s shock doctrine against our communities.”

Restoring balance to the economy

Why We Need To End Banks and Shadow Banks
Ian Welsh August 8, 2019 [IanWelsh.com]

Banks have the ability to create money in exchange for doing something: they decide who should get to do things. They give permission.

If a bank lends you 50 million, that’s the right to command 50 million dollars worth of other people’s labor: to hire them, or to buy the goods created by them. You get to choose what those people do.

Resources, especially people, aren’t infinite. Banks choose who gets to use them. The deal, spelled out is, “give us the right to create money, and we’ll choose the people who do the most good with society’s resources to control those resources.”
And they’ve failed. Over and over again they’ve failed. They don’t even, actually, make their returns (see 2007/8), let alone actually make good choices about how we should use our resources of people and other limited resources. I trust I don’t need to spell all of this out: look at ecological collapse, climate change and so on.

New PBI video captures the momentum of the public banking movement as it spreads nationally

[Public Banking Institute 8-9-19]

Denver’s City Council, Led by Democratic Socialist, Stuns For-Profit Prison Operators by Nuking Contracts

[The Intercept 8-8-19]

TWO FOR-PROFIT prison companies have lost major contracts in Denver over their work in immigrant detention, as backlash to President Donald Trump’s immigration policy continues to mount.

The stunning $10.6 million rebuke to the two firms, CoreCivic and the GEO Group, was led by newly elected city council member Candi CdeBaca, who won in June on a radical platform backed by the Democratic Socialists of America. CdeBaca’s stand on Monday against the firms was her first major effort since being sworn in, and she expected to be a lone vote of dissent.

Instead, moved by the plight of those kept in camps run by CoreCivic and the GEO Group, and galvanized by opponents — organized by CdeBaca — at the public meeting, the council delivered an unexpected 8-4 rejection, ending the firms’ contracts to run halfway houses on behalf of the city.

Economics in the real world

Germany is in Serious Danger of Losing its Automobile Industry
[DailyKos 8-5-19]

As if the Diesel Scandal wasn’t costly enough to German automakers, the rapid rise of the electric vehicle maker Tesla, which first overtook the German big three in sales of large luxury cars in the U.S. market with its Tesla Model S, is now heavily cutting into sales of German automakers both in the U.S. and in Europe with the more affordable Tesla Model 3, which is now in full production. Despite the warning signs being clearly visible for numerous years, German auto executives completely dropped the ball and their companies are now lagging approximately five years behind Tesla in EV technology development and related industrial infrastructure.

German automakers aren’t just under pressure from Tesla, however.

China’s 2017 decision to introduce a California-style quota for electric vehicles left German Automakers in a bind, as they currently just plain do not have the capacity to produce the 10% quota of electric vehicles required by Chinese law.

America’s Indefensible Defense Budget
[NYRB, via Naked Capitalism 8-4-19]

Predatory Finance

Malaysia Indicts 17 of the “Untouchables” at Goldman Sachs
Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 9, 2019 [Wall Street on Parade]

This morning, the Attorney General in Malaysia stunned Goldman Sachs with an indictment of 17 of its former and current executives. That came on the heels of criminal charges filed last December by Malaysian authorities in the same matter against three Goldman Sachs subsidiaries and two former Goldman employees, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng.

Indictments announced this morning included charges against Richard J. Gnodde, Goldman’s top international banker in London and former Goldman executive J. Michael Evans, who is currently president of Alibaba.

The charges stem from a Malaysia state development fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) for which Goldman Sachs underwrote $6.5 billion in bonds in 2012 and 2013. Goldman made an outsized $600 million in fees on the deals. According to prosecutors, $4.5 billion in 1MDB funds have gone missing, of which at least $2.7 billion was stolen according to prosecutors.

How Lava Jato Destroyed Brasil’s Future
[Brasilwir, via Naked Capitalism 8-4-19]

The so-called corruption of the political system, while real and deserving of all the authorities’ commitment to its elimination or alleviation, is far from the main problem related to embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. International studies show that the primary cause of the misuse of public money lies in the tax evasion mechanisms practiced largely by big business, especially financial capital and multinational corporations. According to World Bank estimates, corruption by public officials, through bribery and other mechanisms, drains between $ 20 billion and $ 40 billion a year from developing countries. It sounds like a lot, but it is only a small fraction of what these countries lose from illicit financial flows and the tax evasion or tax avoidance mechanisms practiced mostly by big corporations.

According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a US institute dedicated to studying these illegal financial flows, around $ 1 trillion leaves developing countries every year into tax havens or banks in developed countries, without paying taxes. Corruption by public agents in developing nations, including politicians, only represents about 3% of this flow.
It is noteworthy that such an estimate is conservative and partial, as it does not include the so-called legal tax evasion mechanisms, whereby large capital minimizes the payment of taxes due, based on the loopholes and omissions in national and international tax laws. Studies by economist Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley, show that, based on a very conservative estimate, tax havens concentrate about $ 8.7 trillion, or 11.5 percent of the World’s wealth. According to Zucman, US multinationals alone avoided paying about $ 130 billion in taxes in 2016 thanks to “legal” financial transactions involving tax havens and offshore banks.

Significantly, Lava Jato has completely ignored the actions of multinational corporations in Brazil – even those that had contracts with Petrobras – and their movements in the national and international financial system.

Private Equity LBOs Make More Companies Go Bankrupt, Research Shows 

[Institutional Investor, via The Big Picture 8-9-19]

Healthy companies acquired by private equity firms through leveraged buyouts see their probability of defaulting on loans increase ten-fold, new research shows.

According to researchers at California Polytechnic State University, roughly 20 percent of large companies acquired through leveraged buyouts go bankrupt within ten years, as compared to a control group’s bankruptcy rate of 2 percent during the same time period….

Researchers Brian Ayash and Mahdi Rastad studied $50 million-plus deals in which U.S.-based publicly traded companies were acquired by private equity firms in leveraged buyouts between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 2006. In total, the sample comprised 467 leveraged buyout transactions, as well as a control group of companies that remained publicly traded during that time period.

“Our results show a sharp contrast between the bankruptcy rate of the LBO target firms and the control firms: approximately 20 percent of large LBOs go bankrupt within 10 years, while the matched control firms experience a bankruptcy rate of two percent,” the research said.

Zombie debt: How collectors trick consumers into reviving dead debts.
[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 8-9-19]

How Trump’s political appointees thwarted tougher settlements with two big banks 
[The American Banker, via Naked Capitalism 8-5-19]

Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid 
[ProPublica, via The Big Picture 8-5-19]

Health Care Crisis

Capitalism gone wrong: how big pharma created America’s opioid carnage 
[The Guardian, via The Big Picture 8-5-19]

How an epic legal battle brought a secret drug database to light 
[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 8-5-19]

Climate and environmental crises

Mekong River at its lowest in 100 years, threatening food supply Thmey Thmey Media, via Naked Capitalism 8-5-19]

‘People are dying’: how the climate crisis has sparked an exodus to the US
[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 8-5-19]

 

Big Money Starts to Dump Stocks That Pose Climate Risks

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

 

The Oil Giants Might Finally Pay for Pulling the Biggest Hoax of All

 

[Esquire, via Naked Capitalism 8-8-19]

On October 23, in a federal court in New York, opening arguments will be heard in one of the most important corporate malfeasance cases of the modern era, rivaled only by the tobacco litigations of the 1990s. The state of New York is suing ExxonMobil on charges that the energy goliath consistently misled its investors about what it knew concerning the climate crisis—essentially lying to them about what it might eventually cost the company in eventual climate-related financial risks, because the company knew better than practically anyone else what those risks were.

New Models Point to More Global Warming Than We Expected

[Weather Underground, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

 

Challenges to natural and human communities from surprising ocean temperatures

[PNAS, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

 

17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World’s Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress

[World Resources Institute, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

The United States is #71 on the list, but averages conceal. AZ, CA, CO, NM, and UT are all High or Extremely High stress.

Climate Could Be an Electoral Time Bomb, Republican Strategists Fear 

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 8-9-19]

In conversations with 10 G.O.P. analysts, consultants and activists, all said they were acutely aware of the rising influence of young voters like Mr. Galloway, who in their lifetimes haven’t seen a single month of colder-than-average temperatures globally, and who call climate change a top priority. Those strategists said lawmakers were aware, too, but few were taking action.

“We’re definitely sending a message to younger voters that we don’t care about things that are very important to them,” said Douglas Heye, a former communications director at the Republican National Committee. “This spells certain doom in the long term if there isn’t a plan to admit reality and have legislative prescriptions for it.” ….

President Trump has set the tone for Republicans by deriding climate change, using White House resources to undermine science and avoiding even uttering the phrase. Outside of a handful of states such as Florida, where addressing climate change has become more bipartisan, analysts said Republican politicians were unlikely to buck Mr. Trump or even to talk about climate change on the campaign trail at all, except perhaps to criticize Democrats for supporting the Green New Deal….

The polling bears out Mr. Heye’s prediction of a backlash. Nearly 60 percent of Republicans between the ages of 23 and 38 say that climate change is having an effect on the United States, and 36 percent believe humans are the cause. That’s about double the numbers of Republicans over age 52….

Alex Flint, executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions, a conservative nonprofit group that advocates for a carbon tax, hit play on a video of 11 Trump voters around a hotel conference table in Florida discussing climate change. Government can’t be trusted to solve climate change, the focus group agreed. But like Mr. Bagley, they also all agreed that climate change is real. “Republican orthodoxy is changing,” Mr. Flint said. “You’re safe saying you acknowledge climate change…. It’s a matter of honesty,” he said. “Voters believe it is happening, at the very least, they want their politicians to acknowledge reality.”

Information Age Dystopia

Amazon Is Coaching Cops on How to Obtain Surveillance Footage Without a Warrant
[Vice, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

“When police partner with Ring, Amazon’s home surveillance camera company, they get access to the ‘Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal,’ an interactive map that allows officers to request footage directly from camera owners. Police don’t need a warrant to request this footage, but they do need permission from camera owners. Emails and documents obtained by Motherboard reveal that people aren’t always willing to provide police with their Ring camera footage. However, Ring works with law enforcement and gives them advice on how to persuade people to give them footage. Emails obtained from police department in Maywood, NJ—and emails from the police department of Bloomfield, NJ, which were also posted by Wired—show that Ring coaches police on how to obtain footage. The company provides cops with templates for requesting footage… Ring suggests cops post often on Neighbors, Ring’s free ‘neighborhood watch’ app, where Ring camera owners have the option of sharing their camera footage.”

“Australia Strips Google/Facebook to Their Underwear” 

Matt Stoller [Big, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

“The [Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)]’s most important contribution to the debate is to say, unvarnished, that Google and Facebook have exceptional amounts of market power and the incentive to use it to manipulate and exploit publishers, businesses, and users. Over the past fifteen years, Google and Facebook have become, as Sims put it in his press conference, “essential gateways for consumers and businesses.” The consequences of this shift are the killing of the free press and the mass manipulation of users….”

Lambert Strether adds: “… Stoller’s post is well worth a read for the wealth of detail and clarity of exposition.”

Creating new economic potential – science and technology

A Deluge of Batteries Is About to Rewire the Power Grid

[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 8-5-19]

From first light on this Southern Hemisphere autumn day, a bank of 33 rooftop solar panels has been capturing the sun’s energy. At times, the electricity is directed back to the local grid. But mostly it’s funneled into the garage and stored in Powerwall units, in the same type of rechargeable cells that fuel the automaker’s vehicles. The batteries—as tall as refrigerators, as thin as flat-screen TVs—will power this unusually energy-hungry villa deep into the evening.

But not all night. The solar array and batteries meet just half of Amileka’s average energy needs. So after a few hours, the 25-acre, $1,160-a-night miniresort that Tesla Inc. uses to promote its products must tap into the local electricity grid….

By 2050 solar and wind will supply almost half the world’s electricity, bringing to an end an energy era dominated by coal and gas, according to forecasts by BloombergNEF, Bloomberg LP’s primary research service on energy transition.

It can’t happen without storage. The switch from an electricity system supplied by large fossil fuel plants that run virtually uninterrupted to a more haphazard mix of smaller, intermittent renewable sources needs energy storage to overcome two key hurdles: using power harvested during the day to supply peak energy demand in the evening and ensuring there’s power available even when the wind drops or the sun goes down.

“We think storage can be the leapfrog technology that’s really needed in a world that’s focused on dramatic climate change,” says Mary Powell, chief executive officer of Green Mountain Power Corp., a utility based in Colchester, Vt., that’s worked with Tesla to deploy more than 2,000 residential storage batteries.

Asia is the right place for a US ‘Green New Deal’

[Nikkei Asian Review, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

 

Deloitte: 75% of companies have renewables procurement targets

[Forbes, via American Wind Energy Association 8-5-19]
Seventy-five percent of businesses in the US have targets for renewables procurement and many want to use such energy sources to both reduce their energy consumption and environmental footprint, according to Deloitte. The trend, in part, is due to consumer demand, with 67% of consumers reporting they’re concerned about climate change and the environment.

House bill seeks more than $1T for infrastructure, green energy
[Transportation Today, via American Wind Energy Association 8-9-19]

A bill reintroduced in the House proposes channeling more than $1 trillion toward renewing infrastructure and developing clean energy while imposing a carbon-pollution tax. Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., says funding in his America Wins Act would be spread over 10 years and would cover “all types of needed infrastructure, from transportation to clean water, while also dedicating significant funding to clean energy and climate change-related programs.”

US wind poised to surpass hydro by year’s end
[Power Technology, via American Wind Energy Association 8-8-19]

Wind will likely surpass hydro to become the nation’s leading source of renewable energy by the end of 2019, says the Energy Information Administration. The wind industry is expected to generate 335 billion kilowatt-hours of energy in 2020, up from 295 billion kWh in 2019.

Q2 market report: American wind power nears 100 GW

[Into the Wind blog, via American Wind Energy Association 8-7-19]

Everyone likes a nice, round number, and American wind power is approaching a big one: 100 gigawatts of installed capacity. AWEA’s just-released US Wind Industry Second Quarter Market Report shows record-breaking, continued growth for the US wind industry. The country added 736 megawatts of wind capacity to the grid as developers commissioned four new wind farms in the second quarter.

Fund, workers union launch renewables apprenticeship program

[North American Windpower online, via American Wind Energy Association 8-6-19]

The Power for America Training Trust Fund and Utility Workers Union of America have launched a new apprenticeship program to prepare workers for jobs in offshore wind, land-based wind, solar and battery storage. “These are the jobs of the future, and if we’re going to remain on the cutting edge of the energy industry, the skills we teach must reflect those of the ever-changing energy industry,” P4A Executive Director Jon Harmon says.

Global wind industry employed 1.1M people in 2018
[CNBC, via American Wind Energy Association 8-7-19]

More than 1.1 million people worked in wind jobs worldwide in 2018, with most jobs coming from the US, China and Germany, according to International Renewable Energy Agency data. Renewables employed 11 million people last year, IRENA says.

Company Uses NASA Technology to Make Healthy Food ‘Out of Thin Air’ Using Only CO2, Water, and Solar Electricity
[goodnewsnetwork.org, via Naked Capitalism 8-9-19]

The engineers at Solar Foods have succeeded in making a protein powder using only CO2, water, vitamins, and renewable electricity. The powder, which they have called Solein, was created using technology that was developed by NASA. It reportedly looks and tastes just like wheat flour, except it is made up of 50% protein.

Since the single-cell protein can be produced in an indoor environment, it is completely independent of weather and land conditions.

“Conventional food production wastes water at unsustainable and unreasonable levels. We wanted to fix that,” reads the Solar Foods website.

“Solein is 100 times more climate-friendly than any animal or plant-based alternative. Unlike conventional protein production, it takes just a fraction of water to produce 1 kilogram of Solein,” it continues. “As with water use, the same game-changing effect applies to land use efficiency as well, with Solein being 10 times more efficient than soy production by a metric of usable protein yields per acre.”

National Labs Explore Hydrogen and its Reactions with Metals and Polymers
[Machine Design Today, 8-8-19]

The United States produces about 10 million metric tons of hydrogen every year, primarily for refining petroleum and making ammonia. But the use of hydrogen is growing in the transportation field where thousands of fuel cells power forklifts and other vehicles….

A common problem for industries that use hydrogen is that the metal structures that store or transfer it—such as valves, pumps, fuel tanks, and storage vessels—must be made of expensive alloys of aluminum and steel. Hydrogen damages these alloys given enough exposure. To avoid unexpected failures, metal components exposed to hydrogen are routinely inspected and taken out of service after a set number of years. But the actual mechanisms of interactions between hydrogen and metals at the nano and microscale levels are not well understood, so component lifetimes are challenging to estimate. Even less is known about how hydrogen affects polymers, which are used in plastic pipes and rubber seals that get exposed to hydrogen.

To get a better understanding of how hydrogen reacts with materials, researchers at Sandia and Pacific Northwest national laboratories will work together in the Hydrogen Materials Compatibility Consortium (H-Mat). It will focus on how hydrogen affects polymers and metals used in various industrial sectors, including fuel-cell transportation and hydrogen infrastructure. Researchers at Oak Ridge, Savannah River, and Argonne national laboratories, as well as in industry and academia, will also be included in the consortium. The effort supports DoE’s H2@Scale initiative, which aims to advance hydrogen use for energy production and storage as well as industrial processes.

Public Transit Projects Cheaper Than Uber’s $5.2 Billion Q2 Losses, Ranked
[Jalopnik, via Naked Capitalism 8-9-19]

Uber announced a $5.2 billion loss last quarter, bringing the company’s total losses to $16.2 billion since 2016. In completely, totally unrelated news, here are some public transportation projects currently under construction in the United States that cost less than $5.2 billion individually:

  1. Chicago Red and Purple Line Modernization Project ($2.1 billion)
  2. Los Angeles Regional Connector ($1.76 billion)
  3. LA Metro Purple Line Extension Phase 1 ($3.2 billion)
  4. Minneapolis Southwest Corridor/Green Line Extension ($1.86 billion)
  5. Seattle East Link rail extension ($2.8 billion)
  6. Washington, D.C. Purple Line ($2.1 billion)
  7. Seattle Lynnwood Link ($3.07 billion)

Combined, these seven major public transportation projects are projected to cost $16.89 billion, or about four percent more than Uber’s cumulative losses since 2016.

Organized Labor

CWA’s Morton Bahr Was A Labor Icon
[LaborPress.org 8-5-19]

Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Emeritus Morton Bahr passed away. Bahr was an iconic leader in the American labor movement whose innovation and dedication will be felt for many years to come…. Bahr’s tireless efforts on behalf of working people led to his election as president of CWA in 1985, becoming only the third president in the union’s history. He would win re-election to the position and remained president for 20 years. During this time, he also became an AFL-CIO vice president and Executive Council member.

The year before he was elected, the AT&T Bell System was broken up and the shakeup meant the telecommunications industry was in turmoil. Bahr created new bargaining and campaign strategies to help workers survive the turbulent times. One major strategy was to expand beyond telecommunications to include high technology, media, the airline industry, electronics, manufacturing, public service and more.

Bahr became an expert on the nexus of technology and the workforce, and he championed groundbreaking education and training programs that would help transform the labor movement.

“Labor Puts Candidates On Notice: ‘Let’s Be Honest About The Democratic Party’s Record’”

[Huffington Post, via Naked Capitalism 8-6-19]

“Trumka went on, ‘More often than not, the Republican Party is bad for workers. This president is bad for workers. But let’s be honest about the Democratic Party’s record.’ He singled out the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as Democrat-backed trade deals that were tilted against the working class.” [With Perez in the audience.]

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 8-6-19]

Some of us remember how Obama failed to deliver on the one real promise he made to unions when he had the power to do so:

Noam Scheiber@noamscheiber

 

Also, Biden just said the reason the Obama admin couldn’t pass the Employee Free Choice Act, the pro-unionization bill labor has been trying to pass for years, is because the GOP had taken over the House. But it was introduced in 2009, when Dems controlled both houses of Congress


443

1:54 PM – Aug 3, 2019

Disrupting mainstream politics

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-19]

Zaid Jilani@ZaidJilani

In the year 2000, Congress voted to grant China upgraded trade status, helping it become world’s most powerful dictatorship.Bernie Sanders voted against. He stood next to Pelosi at Dem presser and blasted Bill Clinton. “Let me tell you where he got his money,” Sanders intoned.

Embedded video2,209

9:27 PM – Aug 6, 2019

 

“Here Are The Democratic Presidential Candidates With The Most Donations From Billionaires”

[Forbes, via Naked Capitalism 8-6-19]

“As of the last filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission on July 15th, 67 billionaires — including spouses and members of billionaire families — had donated to the 20 Democratic candidates that debated in Detroit last week.”

#1 Pete Buttigieg: 23 billionaire donors
#2 Cory Booker: 18 billionaire donors
#3 Kamala Harris: 17 billionaire donors
#4 Michael Bennet: 15 billionaire donors
#5 Joe Biden: 13 billionaire donors
#6 John Hickenlooper: 11 billionaire donors
#7 Beto O’Rourke: 9 billionaire donors
#8 Amy Klobuchar: 8 billionaire donors
#9 Jay Inslee: 5 billionaire donors
#10 Kirsten Gillibrand: 4 billionaire donors
#11 John Delaney: 3 billionaire donors
#12 Elizabeth Warren and Steve Bullock: 2 billionaire donors each
#13 Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson: 1 billionaire donor each
#14 Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Bill De Blasio, and Tim Ryan: 0 billionaire donors

The Overlooked Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren:
[The Nation, via Avedon’s Sideshow 7-29-19]

It’s their approach to party politics—not policy—that truly sets the progressive senators apart. […] There’s only so much a Democratic majority could accomplish as long as the party’s institutions are ridden with hedge fund managers, defense contractors, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and other actors whose interests are in diametric opposition to the progressive reforms that Sanders and Warren champion. In the two years since Trump’s inauguration, the leadership of the Democratic Party has invested far more time and energy into curbing potential opposition from its left than it has to resisting the total acquisition of America’s political institutions by the far right. Sanders intimately understands this. Warren, irrespective of her personal beliefs, does not operate as if she does, and that could prove a major impediment to achieving her policy goals.”

The Dark Side

Meet The Right-Wing Consultant Who Goes From State To State Slashing Budgets
[Talking Points Memo, via The Big Picture 8-4-19]

Business Group Spending on Lobbying in Washington Is at Least Double What’s Publicly Reported
Andrew Perez, Abigail Luke, Tim Zelina [The Intercept 8-8-19]

Billions of dollars are being spent in the dark on “advocacy,” “consulting,” “contributions,” “coalitions,” “consortiums,” “government affairs,” “communications,” and “memberships.”

The Emerging Republican Majority, 50 Years Later

[Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism 8-8-19]

Mississippi’s path was instructive: While GOP nominees had won less than 25 percent of the state’s vote in 1956 and 1960, Goldwater took a whopping 87 percent in 1964….

Kevin Phillips studied these returns obsessively, concluding that many white voters in the Southwest and in the suburbs shared with the white voters of the South an uneasiness with civil-rights advances and growing African American political power. The “principal cause of the breakup of the New Deal coalition,” according to Phillips, was the “Negro problem.” If Republicans could capitalize on that racial tension, their party would profit.
Phillips called for uniting the South and West, as Goldwater had hoped, while also appealing to another group: the growing suburban electorate. The key to wooing white voters in the Sun Belt, according to Phillips, was taking advantage of “group animosities” and exploiting racial tensions—once again, knowing “who hates who” and acting on it. “Ethnic and cultural animosities and divisions exceed all other factors in explaining party choice and identification,” Phillips observed….

Phillips used his research to frame a Goldwater-like strategy that indirectly appealed to racial resentment through criticism of the federal government and an emphasis on law-and-order politics. “The fulcrum of re-alignment is the law and order/Negro socioeconomic syndrome,” Phillips wrote in one 1968 campaign-strategy memo. “[Nixon] should continue to emphasize crime, decentralization of federal social programming, and law and order.”
….
The administration deliberately “furnish[ed] some zigs to go with our conservative zags,” the domestic-policy chief John Ehrlichman reminded the president. He pointed to the administration’s support for affirmative action in the “Philadelphia Plan” as an example. On the surface, Nixon’s support seemed out of step with his campaign promises; the Philadelphia Plan stemmed from one of LBJ’s most aggressive civil-rights policies. But Nixon’s aides saw it as a way to fracture the New Deal coalition by pitting civil-rights organizations and labor unions against each other. “Before long,” Ehrlichman later chuckled, “the AFL-CIO and NAACP were locked in combat over one of the most passionate issues of the day, and the Nixon administration was located in the sweet and reasonable middle.”

Right‐to‐Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A Comprehensive Assessment Using Panel Data and a State‐Level Synthetic Control Analysis

[Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, via Naked Capitalism 8-6-19]

Abstract This article uses more complete state panel data (through 2014) and new statistical techniques to estimate the impact on violent crime when states adopt right‐to‐carry (RTC) concealed handgun laws. Our preferred panel data regression specification, unlike the statistical model of Lott and Mustard that had previously been offered as evidence of crime‐reducing RTC laws, both satisfies the parallel trends assumption and generates statistically significant estimates showing RTC laws increase overall violent crime. Our synthetic control approach also finds that RTC laws are associated with 13–15 percent higher aggregate violent crime rates 10 years after adoption. Using a consensus estimate of the elasticity of crime with respect to incarceration of 0.15, the average RTC state would need to roughly double its prison population to offset the increase in violent crime caused by RTC adoption.

Trump quietly used regulations to expand gun access: His administration has mostly focused on expanding gun access through little-noticed regulatory moves. 

[Politico, via The Big Picture 8-8-19]

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Epstein’s Death Must Be the Start, not the End, of the Investigation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/08/2019 - 1:33am in

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There are a number of royal palaces and grand residences of former Presidents and Prime Ministers where the inhabitants have a little bit more spring in their step following the death of Jeffrey Epstein. The media is rushing to attach the label “conspiracy theory” to any thought that his death might not have been suicide. In my view, given that so many very powerful people will be relieved he is no longer in a position to sing, and given that he was in a maximum security jail following another alleged “suicide attempt” a week ago, it would be a very credulous person who did not view the question of who killed him an open one.

There has been a huge amount of obfuscation and misdirection on the activities of Epstein and his set. To my mind, the article which remains the best starting point for those new to the scandal is this one from Gawker.

Two days ago a federal court unsealed 2000 pages of documents related to the allegations against Epstein. Of these the most important appears to be a witness statement from Virginia Giuffre alleging that while a minor she had sex at Epstein’s direction with Senate Majority leader George Mitchell and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, plus a variety of senior foreign politicians.

Epstein’s sexual activities and partying with young girls were carried out in full view of key friends, his domestic and office staff, his pilots and of course the participants. There is no shortage of potential witnesses. Several of these really ought to be taking great care – though if I were them I would certainly eschew any protection involving US security services or law enforcement. Ghislaine Maxwell might take heed of her father’s fate and avoid swimming for a few years.

(I am probably not the only one old enough to compare the many similarities between Robert Maxwell’s asset stripping career and that of Philip Green. The progress of society after thirty years of Thatcher, New Labour and returned Tories meaning that Green by contrast got no criminal charges and much bigger yachts.)

In the UK, Ms Giuffre’s alleged relationship with Prince Andrew has been mentioned in the media. In fact the evidence that she had a relationship with Prince Andrew of some sort is overwhelming. Here is some of the actual evidence from the court documents.

The age of heterosexual consent in England is 16 and there is no indication that Prince Andrew is doing anything illegal in this photograph in which Ms Giuffre is 17. Nor is the photo in itself evidence of sex, though it certainly is intimate. The notion however that Ms Giuffre was “lent out” to Andrew may have legal implications as she was flown into the country, allegedly for the purpose.

No satisfactory alternative explanation has been offered as to what might have been happening here, as Ms Guffre’s lawyers noted.

No further details appear in the documents to amplify Ms Giuffre’s claim that she was forced to have sex with a “well known Prime Minister”, other than to repeat the claim. But what is plain is that her tale is not entirely invention. Just how much more did Epstein know, and who might he have taken down with him?

The truth is that sexual abuse by the rich and famous transcends all political boundaries. Bill Clinton was very frequently on Epstein’s plane and Epstein joins the very long list of those connected to the Clintons who died in dubious circumstances.

Two coincidences – the first being the bruise marks on the neck sustained in Epstein’s first “suicide attempt” in jail – remind me of the case of John Ashe, the senior official very close to the Clintons who died with bruise marks on his neck, when he accidentally dropped his barbell on his throat while bench-pressing alone at home.

Ashe was charged and awaiting trial for receiving corrupt funds from businessman Ng Lap Seng while Ashe was serving in the USA’s turn as President of the UN General Assembly. Ng Lap Seng, a six time visitor to the Clinton White House, had previously been accused of making very large illegal donations to Clinton campaign funds, and was subsequently arrested while entering the USA with over US $4 million in cash. Unlike the Clintons, Ashe was charged with taking Seng’s money and rather like Epstein may have had an interesting song to sing while going down, had he not conveniently dropped the barbell on his throat.

I said that the first thing that jogged me to link the Epstein/Clinton and the Ashe/Clinton cases was the bruise marks on the throat. The second is that both stories have been debunked by self-proclaimed “conspiracy-busting” website Snopes – in a manner which shows that Snopes has no regard for the truth whatsoever.

In the case of John Ashe, Snopes wrote an utterly tendentious piece of “myth-busting” which stated that it was a myth that Ashe’s death occurred shortly before his trial and that he was not due to testify against the Clintons. Snopes failed to mention that Ashe, a very senior Clinton appointee, was charged with taking corrupt money from precisely the same man who had been very widely accused of giving corrupt money to the Clintons. And while it was true his trial was not imminent, his pre-trial deposition was.

In the Epstein/Clinton case Snopes wrote a piece debunking the notion that this is a photograph of Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private jet.

Snopes sets out to prove that this is not Epstein’s private jet but that of another billionaire, and that the girl is not Rachel Chandler. For the sake of argument I am prepared to accept what they say on both counts. But is the sensible reaction to that photo to say “Oh that’s OK it’s another billionaire’s jet” or to say “Why is Bill Clinton on a billionaire’s private jet in an intimate pose with a worryingly young female”? As with the Prince Andrew photo, although it has been circulating for years no alternative innocent explanation is on offer.

And the fact that this is another billionaire’s plane should open again the much wider question of networks of the rich and the powerful indulging each other’s passion for sexual exploitation of the young. It is a great shame that in the UK, the Establishment has been able to characterise the falsifications of Carl Beech as discrediting the entire notion of historical child sexual abuse. It is as though one person making up stories about a Bishop would mean there was never child exploitation in the Catholic Church.

The deeper question is why such a significant proportion of the rich and powerful have a propensity to want to assuage their sexual desires on the most vulnerable and powerless in society, as opposed to forming relationships among their peers. I suspect it is connected to the kind of sociopathy that leads somebody to seek or hoard power or wealth in the first place.

It is not necessary to develop that idea further, to understand that the Epstein case had given us a glimpse of criminal sexual behaviour which beyond doubt involves many powerful people. It is essential that the threads that can be grasped are now worked on assiduously to uncover the entire network.

I am afraid to say I suspect the chances of that actually happening are very slim indeed.

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The post Epstein’s Death Must Be the Start, not the End, of the Investigation appeared first on Craig Murray.

A família Bolsonaro quer um engavetador-geral de estimação para comandar o Ministério Público

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/08/2019 - 8:48pm in

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Em 1995, Fernando Henrique Cardoso nomeou Geraldo Brindeiro como procurador-geral da República. A escolha contrariou a Associação Nacional de Procuradores, a ANPR, mas o então presidente a justificou dizendo que queria um Ministério Público mais técnico, “menos politizado”. A atuação de Brindeiro foi marcada pelo completo alinhamento aos interesses do governo, o que fez o ex-presidente reconduzi-lo ao cargo outras três vezes.

O apreço pelo seu trabalho era tanto que FHC o renomeou mesmo após Brindeiro ser pego usando jatinho da FAB para viajar de férias com a família em Fernando de Noronha. Brindeiro engavetou o inquérito do escândalo da pasta rosa, engavetou a denúncia da compra de votos da emenda da reeleição e mais uma infinidade de corrupções foram  para a gaveta. O histórico de arquivamento o fez ganhar a justa alcunha de “engavetador-geral da República”.

Insatisfeitos com a atuação de Brindeiro, procuradores passaram a realizar uma eleição interna para escolher uma lista com nomes para apresentar ao presidente da República. A primeira eleição foi em 2001, ainda durante o governo FHC, e Brindeiro apareceu apenas em 7º lugar. FHC, beneficiado pelo engavetamento em série, o reconduziu ao cargo mesmo assim. A partir de então, todos os presidentes passaram a levar em conta as sugestões do Ministério Público. O presidente não é obrigado a escolher um nome da lista, mas escolher um dos três primeiros colocados virou uma importante tradição republicana. É um rito que indica o respeito do governante à autonomia da instituição.

Você sabe o que um Bolsonaro quer dizer com “sem viés ideológico”. Significa: “com o meu viés ideológico”.

Bolsonaro, que não cumpre nem as obrigações do cargo, rejeitou essa tradição. Não se esperaria nada de diferente de quem tem transformado o estado em uma empresa da família. O presidente tem usado o poder do cargo para se vingar de críticos, fazer estatais romperem contratos com desafetos, ameaçar jornalistas e nomear parentes para cargos importantes. O desprezo pela eleição da ANPR está dentro do padrão bolsonarista de destruição da democracia. A escolha do próximo PGR, portanto, atenderá unicamente aos critérios particulares da família que se apossou do Brasil.

A tradição da lista tríplice não é uma mera firula democrática, mas um meio importante para, entre outras coisas, combater a corrupção na política de forma independente. Isso não seria bom para quem tem um vasto currículo no ramo da “rachadinha” e do funcionalismo fantasma. Esse é um dos objetivo óbvios para a escolha de um PGR alinhado ao bolsonarismo. Afinal de contas, é preciso blindar aqueles que sugaram R$ 65 milhões dos cofres públicos desde 1991 — distribuindo empregos para amigos, familiares, e até para parentes de chefe do crime organizado do Rio de Janeiro.

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Foto: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

O senador Flávio Bolsonaro, cheio de denúncias de corrupção nas costas, nem disfarçou ao anunciar que a PGR será aparelhada:

“Acho que essa vai ser uma decisão das mais importantes que o presidente vai tomar porque o Ministério Público, como fiscal da lei, pode interferir em diversas áreas que, para nós, são importantes que não sejam dominadas por pessoas que ideologicamente são contra o que a gente pensa. (…) A gente vai ter no Ministério Público pessoas que vão compreender não o resultado da eleição apenas, vão agir dentro da lei, vão agir sem o viés ideológico.”

Você sabe o que um Bolsonaro quer dizer com “sem viés ideológico”. Significa: “com o meu viés ideológico”. Não bastará ser um procurador de direita, mas um de extrema direita disposto a proteger o projeto de dilapidação da democracia. A família Bolsonaro quer um engavetador-geral de estimação.

Desde a semana passada, o presidente já recebeu quatro candidatos à sucessão de Raquel Dodge, mas fez questão de deixar de fora os três eleitos pelos procuradores. Ele tem conversado apenas com candidatos indicados por bolsonaristas. Quem desponta como favorito na imprensa é Augusto Aras, um subprocurador que, no passado, apoiou o ex-presidente Lula, defendeu ideias progressistas, já fez críticas à Lava Jato e há três anos acusou a direita radical de explorar a “doutrina do medo”. O nome contraria o discurso de Flávio Bolsonaro e fez a militância bolsonarista iniciar campanha contra sua indicação nas redes sociais. Como bom bolsominion que é, Sergio Moro também não gostou do nome e fez chegar o seu incômodo aos ouvidos do presidente.

O subprocurador-geral da República Augusto Aras.

O subprocurador-geral da República Augusto Aras.

Foto: Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress

Aras foi indicado por um amigo que ele tem em comum com o presidente, o deputado Alberto Fraga (DEM-DF). O ex-coronel, que é da bancada da bala e está envolvido em denúncias de corrupção, é bastante próximo de Bolsonaro e desfruta da sua confiança. O compadrio é o grande trunfo de Aras, e o seu suposto perfil progressista não parece ser tão sólido assim.

A ex-procuradora, ex-líder do Revoltados Online e atual deputada federal de extrema direita do PSL do Distrito Federal Bia Kicis tem feito campanha pelo nome do subprocurador-geral Paulo Gonet, que foi sócio de ninguém menos que Gilmar Mendes (o nêmesis da Lava Jato no Supremo) no Instituto Brasiliense de Direito Público, o IDP. Kicis, que sugeriu que Bolsonaro poderia ordenar uma intervenção militar no STF, tem participado das reuniões do seu indicado com o presidente. Segundo a deputada, Gonet “prometeu que não irá atrapalhar” o governo. A promessa era pra ser um escândalo, mas como estamos no Brasil em 2019, Bia Kicis contou à imprensa como se fosse algo corriqueiro.

Quantos casos envolvendo políticos bolsonaristas terão um desfecho justo nas mãos de um PGR que foi escolhido apenas por ser bolsonarista?

Ailton Benedito, o procurador que espalha fake news e reacionarismo nas redes sociais, também está entre os cotados, mas publicamente tem feito campanha para Gonet. Ele está desanimado porque teve seu nome vetado pelo MPF para um cadeira na Comissão Especial de Mortos e Desaparecidos Políticos.

Outro candidato forte é o procurador regional Lauro Cardoso, que conta com apoio dos militares e da bancada do PSL. Antes de se tornar procurador, Cardoso foi capitão do Exército e delegado de polícia. Após a Vaza Jato, Cardoso ignorou todas as ilegalidades cometidas por seus colegas da Lava Jato. Segundo ele, “o que foi obtido é prova ilícita” e não “pode ser usada contra os colegas”, que “merecem todo apoio institucional do Ministério Público Federal”. Ou seja, esse candidato a chefe do MP aprova integralmente que procuradores atuem como foras da lei.

O procurador regional e ex-militar Lauro Cardoso.

O procurador regional e ex-militar Lauro Cardoso.

Foto: Wilson Dias/ABr

A independência é a razão de ser do MP. O órgão existe para fiscalizar o poder, e por isso não tem vínculos com Judiciário, Executivo e Legislativo. Subordinar o órgão é torná-lo inútil. Quantos casos envolvendo políticos bolsonaristas terão um desfecho justo nas mãos de um PGR que foi escolhido apenas por ser bolsonarista?

A indicação do presidente deverá ser anunciada nesta semana e ainda precisa ser aprovada pelo Senado. Será um bom teste para avaliar o quanto a casa está disposta a enfrentar o aparelhamento das instituições promovido pela extrema direita. Por enquanto, a única certeza que se tem é a de que Bolsonaro pretende transformar a PGR em uma extensão do governo federal, um puxadinho da Advocacia-Geral da União.

Se FHC tinha o seu “engavetador”, Bolsonaro agora pretende ter o seu Coveiro-Geral da República.

The post A família Bolsonaro quer um engavetador-geral de estimação para comandar o Ministério Público appeared first on The Intercept.

Asymmetric radicalization of Leavers and [most other] Remainers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/08/2019 - 7:29pm in

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A striking feature of the post Referendum period is the radicalization of Leavers.   Amongst leading protagonists, many supported remaining in the EU’s single market during the campaign.  Subsequently, the focus shifted towards leaving the single market and customs union in order to fulfil a revised definition of true Brexit by enabling an independent trade policy.  Now, control of the Governing party rests with a faction that openly embraces leaving the European Union without a deal, outriders deployed to dissemble about constructs like ‘managed no deal’, or ‘WTO deal’.

The radicalization has not just been on the part of the Leaver oligarchy.  Polling suggests that about 40% would choose no deal over Remaining in the EU.

There has been no parallel radicalization on the Remain side.  The initial position on the Remain side was to preserve the status quo of our membership with the European Union, subject to some largely cosmetic modifications to freedom of movement negotiated by Cameron in the 2015/2016 pre-referendum period.   There is no popular movement for entrenching our membership in the EU by dropping our exemption from the process of ever closer political union, for example;  there is no movement for taking the UK into the Euro and foregoing independent control over monetary policy.

What accounts for this asymmetric radicalization?

Two explanations I can think of are that the radicalization is more apparent than real.

The first is that, at least on the part of the Leaver oligarchy, they always wanted the more radical Brexit options.  Appearing to want the softer Brexit options was a charade to attract moderate voters in the referendum.  Once the referendum was won, these moderate voters could be dispensed with.

A second possibility is that the radicalization reflected the unravelling of sincerely sought, but inconsistent features of Brexit.  Brexit itself was about the confronting of a series of demands, with an offer from the EU.  That process revealed what was and was not going to be feasible.  The kernel of Leave was always underpinned by a desire to leave at all costs if necessary, and this kernel was revealed by the process of the EU explaining to us what was not going to be possible.

For my own part, I have undergone something that one might describe as radicalization.  The UK polity has shown itself to be far more fragile than most would have thought possible before 2016.  Both major parties are siezed by different varieties of racism and economic populism,  and regularly dissemble to the public about Brexit and other matters.  [Viz Labour’s offer of a ‘jobs first Brexit’;  the Tories early and lately embraced mantra of ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’].  The approaching deadline of October 31 has thrown up ambiguities in our informal constitution over the powers of Parliament, the Courts and the executive, which are being actively exploited by the latter.

In light of this, slowly depriving ourselves of autonomy by submitting to ever closer political union seems like a good thing.  If autonomously wielded policy levers are going to be pulled for ill, better not to be able to pull them.

I would even suggest that joining the European Monetary Union looks more attractive than a few years ago.  The problems with the euro are well documented.  The conservative biases and inflexibility built into the monetary policy mandate and policy deliberation;  the lack of fiscal union and the bias against counter-cyclical fiscal policy, both in major states like Germany and the instituion of the Stability and Growth Pact.  However, if the UK were embedded in this union, it would raise the costs of extricating ourselves from the EU greatly and make it less likely [caveat – it would of course politically antagonise the leave constituency].

These are versions of the arguments used by some constituents of the former Communist bloc in Eastern Europe for accession into the EU and the euro.  Unable to generate healthy institutions domestically, they could free-ride on the stability conferred by the imperfect and unwieldy coalition of Western European countries.  Before this, similar arguments were of course used to argue for membership by the ‘peripheral’ countries of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal.   Those countries had been plagued by decades of monetary and financial mismanagement, and joining in with the EU’s political and monetary integration was about tying the hands of domestic policymakers so that they could not continue this mismanagement.

The UK has to be seen in the same light now.  Old analyses of otherwise well functioning polities conducting independent versus Euro monetary policy miss the new larger picture:that Euro membership would involve a swap of worse monetary and fiscal policy for some measure of basic institutional stability that we otherwise will lack.  Seen this way, this is not ‘radicalization’, but figuring out a new optimal solution for the UK subject to a revised view of us being less able to function independently.

The changing calculus of Scottish Independence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/08/2019 - 6:01am in

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Much was made of the first poll in favour of Scottish independence.  The calculus is changing.  I would argue that for a variety of reasons, independence is now more attractive.

Relative to 2014, the first benefit is removing Scotland from the influence of two polar opposite, but pernicious political offerings, from Labour and the Tories.  During the 2014 referendum, major parties in the UK all pretty much lived within the rules of acceptable discourse, and were led by groups with different, but relatively pragamatic visions for ther UK.

This is no longer the case.  Both major parties are infested with varieties of racism;  Labour, antisemitism, and the Tories, Islamophobia.  Both parties are led by cabals of ideologues.  The Labour leadership is held by a faction of anti Western Marxists, held somewhat in check by an unhappy and beseiged more moderate Parliamentary Labour Party.   The Tories are run by national populists, shadowing the ever more extreme agenda of the far right, now in the form of the Brexit Party.   There is a sensible faction, but this is a much weaker rump than the sensible faction of Labour.

The second benefit follows from the first.  Both major UK parties economic offerings depart from sound economic policy.   Scottish independence potentially offers a respite from alternating Marxism and economic populism.

Further benefits require us taking the perspective of the former UK unit.   One relates to part of the calculus that has worsened since 2014.

At that time, leaving the UK would not have meant any significant change in trading relationships with the rest of the UK and Europe.  Now, on the plausible assumption that Scotland would be accepted as a member of the EU, Scotland would swap avoiding Brexit, and retaining continuity of membership of the EU single market, for breaking its single market with the UK.

However, conditional on leaving, and if Northern Ireland or, more remotely, even Wales were ultimately to leave, this would increase the economic pressure on the UK to stay within the customs and regulatory orbit of the EU.  [Because trade with those in the EU single market would form a larger percentage of Egland’s trade than it does with the current UK as a whole].  Of course a caveat to that is that if Northern Ireland leaves, then the current impasse over the backstop would be sorted, and the England/Wales rump UK, or England alone, would be politically free at least to pursue FTAs with the EU and other countries.

Continuing with the idea of taking the perspective of constituent parts of the UK as a whole, not just Scotland, it strikes me that if the Union were to be dismembered entirely, this would not, as before, be a tragic weakening of a potentially positive force in the global economy and polity.  By contrast, beset by the economic and political evils offered by either of the current major parties, the England or England/Wales rump would be defanged somewhat and able to wreak less harm.  The ideal outcome, taking on board the assumptions made thus far, would be for the separate and weakend parts all to be embedded within the EU.  Scotland leaving the UK would be the first step along that route.

There are other costs and benefits of independence, of course, but they are as they were before.  The issue of Scotland’s currency, post independence, and whether it could set up a credible independent central bank, and whether it would ultimately be coerced into joining the Euro.  Scottish public finances once the subsidy from the rest of the UK is withdrawn.  And questions about the health of politics north of the border given the current hegemony of the SNP.

 

The New Cold War Against China

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/08/2019 - 1:35am in


August 6, 2019 Fred Goldstein
Lowwagecapitalism.com

During the Cold War and the struggle that put the USSR and China on one side and imperialism headed by Washington on the other side, revolutionaries used to characterize the conflict as a class war between two irreconcilable social systems.

There was the socialist camp, based upon socialized property, economic planning for human need and the government monopoly of foreign trade on the USSR-China side, and capitalism, a system of production for profit, on the other.

That the two systems were irreconcilable was at the bottom of the conflict dubbed the Cold War. In light of the current sharpening economic, diplomatic, political and military conflict between U.S. imperialism and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it is time to revive the concepts that were applied during the height of the Cold War.

Of course it is necessary to make modifications in these formulations with respect to socialism in China, with its mix of controlled capitalism and guided socialism.

Nevertheless, the conflict between imperialist capitalism, headed by Washington, Wall Street and the Pentagon, and the Chinese socialist economic system, which has state-owned industry at its core and planned economic guidance, is becoming much sharper, and imperialism is growing more openly hostile.

U.S. imperialism’s long-standing effort to overthrow socialism in China, Chinese capitalism notwithstanding, has been concealed beneath sugary bourgeois phrases about so-called “common interests” and “economic collaboration.”  But this kind of talk is coming to an end.

Washington’s first campaign to overthrow China — 1949-1975

This struggle has been ongoing since 1949, when the Chinese Red Army drove U.S. puppet Chiang Kai-shek and his nationalist army from the mainland as it retreated to Taiwan under the protection of the Pentagon.

The conflict continued through the Korean War, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the U.S. high command drove the U.S. troops to the Chinese border and threatened atomic war. Only the defeat of the U.S. military by the heroic Korean people under the leadership of Kim Il Sung, with the aid of the Chinese Red Army, stopped the U.S. invasion of China.

The struggle further continued with the U.S. war against Vietnam. The war’s strategic goal was to overthrow the socialist government of Vietnam in the north and drive to the border of China to complete the military encirclement of the PRC. Only the world-historic efforts of the Vietnamese people under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh stopped the Pentagon in its tracks.

The Pentagon’s plans for military conquest failed

With the rise of Deng Xiaoping and the opening up of China to foreign investment beginning in December 1978, Wall Street began to reevaluate its strategy. The U.S. ruling class began to take advantage of the opening up of China to foreign investment and the permission for private capitalism to function, which could both enrich U.S. corporations in the massive Chinese market and at the same time penetrate the Chinese economy with a long-range view to overturning socialism.

U.S. multinational corporations set up operations in China, hiring millions of low-wage Chinese workers, who flocked to the coastal cities from the rural areas. These operations were part of a broader effort by the U.S. capitalists to set up low-wage global supply chains that integrated the Chinese economy into the world capitalist market. The U.S.’s recent sharp turn aimed at breaking up this economic integration with the Chinese economy, including the witch hunt against Chinese scientists and the U.S. Navy’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea (called the Eastern Sea by Vietnam), is an admission that the economic phase of the U.S. attempt to bring counterrevolution to China has failed.

China is now a growing counterweight to Washington in international economics, high technology, diplomacy and regional military might in the Pacific, which the Pentagon has always considered to be a “U.S. lake” ruled by the Seventh Fleet.

The attack on Huawei

A dramatic illustration of the developing antagonisms is the way the U.S. had Meng Wanzhou, the deputy chairwoman and chief financial officer of Huawei, arrested in Canada for supposed violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran — an outrageous example of imperialism exercising extraterritoriality. The Trump administration has also leveled sanctions against Huawei electronics, the world’s largest supplier of  high-tech operating systems in the world. Huawei employs 180,000 workers and is the second largest cell phone manufacturer in the world after the south Korean-based Samsung.

The sanctions are part of the U.S. campaign to stifle China’s development of the latest version of data-transmission technology known as Fifth Generation or 5G.

The Trump administration has barred U.S. companies from selling supplies to Huawei, which has been using Google’s Android operating system for its equipment and Microsoft for its laptop products — both U.S.-based companies. Huawei is contesting the U.S. ban in court.

Meanwhile, as a backup plan in case Washington bans all access to Android and Microsoft, Huawei has quietly spent years building up an operating system of its own. Huawei developed its alternative operating system after a 2012 finding by Washington that Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese giant cell phone maker, were in criminal violation of U.S.“national security.” ZTE was forced to shut down for four months. (South China Morning Post, March 24, 2019)

But the conflict is about more than just Huawei and ZTE.

The new ‘red scare’ in Washington

The New York Times of July 20, 2019, carried a front page article entitled, “The New Red Scare in Washington.” A few excerpts give the flavor:

“In a ballroom across from the Capitol building, an unlikely group of military hawks, populist crusaders, Chinese Muslim freedom fighters and followers of the Falun Gong has been meeting to warn anyone who will listen that China poses an existential threat to the United States that will not end until the Communist Party is overthrown.

“If the warnings sound straight out of the Cold War, they are. The Committee on the Present Danger, a long-defunct group that campaigned against the dangers of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, has recently been revived with the help of Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, to warn against the dangers of China.

“Once dismissed as xenophobes and fringe elements, the group’s members are finding their views increasingly embraced in President Trump’s Washington, where skepticism and mistrust of China have taken hold. Fear of China has spread across the government, from the White House to Congress to federal agencies.”

The Trump administration has opened up a tariff war against the PRC, imposing a 25-percent tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese exports and threatening tariffs on another $300 billion. But there is much more to Washington’s campaign than just tariffs.

The FBI and officials from the NSC (National Security Council) have been conducting a witch hunt, continues the Times article, “particularly at universities and research institutions. Officials from the FBI and the National Security Council have been dispatched to Ivy League universities to warn administrators to be vigilant against Chinese students.”

And according to the Times there are concerns that this witch hunt “is stoking a new red scare, fueling discrimination against students, scientists and companies with ties to China and risking the collapse of a fraught but deeply enmeshed trade relationship between the world’s two largest economies.” (New York Times, July 20, 2019)

FBI criminalizes cancer research

According to a major article in the June 13, 2019, Bloomberg News, “Ways of working that have long been encouraged by the NIH [National Institutes of Health] and many research institutions, particularly MD Anderson [a major cancer treatment center and research institute in Houston], are now quasi-criminalized, with FBI agents reading private emails, stopping Chinese scientists at airports, and visiting people’s homes to ask about their loyalty.

“Xifeng Wu, who has been investigated by the FBI, joined MD Anderson while in graduate school and gained renown for creating several so-called study cohorts with data amassed from hundreds of thousands of patients in Asia and the U.S. The cohorts, which combine patient histories with personal biomarkers such as DNA characteristics and treatment descriptions, outcomes, and even lifestyle habits, are a gold mine for researchers.

“She was branded an oncological double agent.”

The underlying accusation against Chinese scientists in the U.S. is that their research can lead to patentable medicines or cures, which in turn can be sold at enormous profits.

The Bloomberg article continues, “In recent decades, cancer research has become increasingly globalized, with scientists around the world pooling data and ideas to jointly study a disease that kills almost 10 million people a year. International collaborations are an intrinsic part of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot program, the government’s $1 billion blitz to double the pace of treatment discoveries by 2022. One of the program’s tag lines is: ‘Cancer knows no borders.’

“Except, it turns out, the borders around China. In January, Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen, quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. Wu’s resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese-American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions. … The collateral effect, however, is to stymie basic science, the foundational research that underlies new medical treatments. Everything is commodified in the economic cold war with China, including the struggle to find a cure for cancer.”

Big surprise. A world famous Chinese epidemiologist, trying to find a cure for cancer, collaborates with scientists in China!

Looking for the ‘reformers’ and the counterrevolution

For decades, the Chinese Communist Party has had changes of leadership every five years. These changes have been stable and managed peacefully. With each changeover, so-called “China experts” in the State Department in Washington think-tanks and U.S. universities have predicted the coming to power of a new “reformist” wing that will deepen capitalist reforms and lay the basis for an eventual full-scale capitalist counterrevolution.

To be sure, there has been a steady erosion of China’s socialist institutions. The “iron rice bowl” which guaranteed a living to Chinese workers has been eliminated in private enterprises. Numerous state factories and enterprises have been sold off to the detriment of the workers, and in the rural areas land was decollectivized.

One of the biggest setbacks for socialism in China and one which truly gladdened the hearts of the prophets of counterrevolution, was the decision by the Jiang Jemin CCP leadership to allow capitalists into the Chinese Communist Party in 2001.

As the New York Times wrote at the time, “This decision raises the possibility of Communists co-opting capitalists — or of capitalists co-opting the party.” (New York Times, Aug. 13, 2001) It was the latter part that the capitalist class has been looking forward to and striving for with fervent anticipation for almost four decades.

But on balance, this capitalist takeover has not materialized. Chinese socialism, despite the capitalist inroads into the economy, has proved far more durable than Washington ever imagined.

And, under the Xi Jinping leadership, the counterrevolution seems to be getting further and further away. It is not that Xi Jinping has become a revolutionary internationalist and a champion of proletarian control. But it has become apparent that China’s status in the world is completely connected to its social and economic planning.

China’s planning and state enterprises overcame 2007-2009 world capitalist crisis

Without state planning in the economy, China might have been dragged down by the 2007-2009 economic crisis. In June 2013, this author wrote an article entitled, “Marxism and the Social Character of China.” Here are some excerpts:

“More than 20 million Chinese workers lost their jobs in a very short time. So what did the Chinese government do?”

The article quoted Nicholas Lardy, a bourgeois China expert from the prestigious Peterson Institute for International Economics and no friend of China. (The full article by Lardy can be found in “Sustaining China’s Economic Growth after the Global Financial Crisis,” Kindle Locations 664-666, Peterson Institute for International Economics.)

Lardy described how “consumption in China actually grew during the crisis of 2008-09, wages went up, and the government created enough jobs to compensate for the layoffs caused by the global crisis,” this author’s emphasis.

Lardy continued: “In a year in which GDP expansion [in China] was the slowest in almost a decade, how could consumption growth in 2009 have been so strong in relative terms? How could this happen at a time when employment in export-oriented industries was collapsing, with a survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture reporting the loss of 20 million jobs in export manufacturing centers along the southeast coast, notably in Guangdong Province? The relatively strong growth of consumption in 2009 is explained by several factors.

“First, the boom in investment, particularly in construction activities, appears to have generated additional employment sufficient to offset a very large portion of the job losses in the export sector. For the year as a whole the Chinese economy created 11.02 million jobs in urban areas, very nearly matching the 11.13 million urban jobs created in 2008.

“Second, while the growth of employment slowed slightly, wages continued to rise. In nominal terms wages in the formal sector rose 12 percent, a few percentage points below the average of the previous five years (National Bureau of Statistics of China 2010f, 131). In real terms the increase was almost 13 percent.

“Third, the government continued its programs of increasing payments to those drawing pensions and raising transfer payments to China’s lowest-income residents. Monthly pension payments for enterprise retirees increased by RMB120, or 10 percent, in January 2009, substantially more than the 5.9 percent increase in consumer prices in 2008. This raised the total payments to retirees by about RMB75 billion. The Ministry of Civil Affairs raised transfer payments to about 70 million of China’s lowest-income citizens by a third, for an increase of RMB20 billion in 2009 (Ministry of Civil Affairs 2010).”

Lardy further explained that the Ministry of Railroads introduced eight specific plans, to be completed in 2020, to be implemented in the crisis.

According to Lardy, the World Bank called it “perhaps the biggest single planned program of passenger rail investment there has ever been in one country.” In addition, ultrahigh-voltage grid projects were undertaken, among other advances.

Socialist structures reversed collapse

So income went up, consumption went up and unemployment was overcome in China — all while the capitalist world was still mired in mass unemployment, austerity, recession, stagnation, slow growth and increasing poverty, and still is to a large extent.

The reversal of the effects of the crisis in China is the direct result of national planning, state-owned enterprises, state-owned banking and the policy decisions of the Chinese Communist Party.

There was a crisis in China, and it was caused by the world capitalist crisis. The question was which principle would prevail in the face of mass unemployment — the rational, humane principle of planning or the ruthless capitalist market. In China, the planning principle, the conscious element, took precedence over the anarchy of production brought about by the laws of the market and the law of labor value in the capitalist countries.

Socialism and China’s standing in the world

China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. According to a United Nations report, China alone is responsible for the global decline in poverty. China’s universities have graduated millions of engineers, scientists, technicians and have allowed millions of peasants to enter the modern world.

Made in China 2025

In 2015, Xi Jingping and the Chinese CP leadership laid out the equivalent of a ten-year plan to take China to a higher level of technology and productivity in the struggle to modernize the country.

Xi announced a long-range industrial policy backed by hundreds of billions of dollars in both state and private investment to revitalize China. It is named “Made in China 2025” or “MIC25.” It is an ambitious project requiring local, regional and national coordination and participation.

The Mercator Institute for Economics (MERICS) is one of the most authoritative German think tanks on China. It wrote a major report on MIC25 on Feb. 7, 2019. According to MERICS, “The MIC25 program is here to stay and, just like the GDP targets of the past, represents the CCP’s official marching orders for an ambitious industrial upgrading. Capitalist economies around the globe will have to face this strategic offensive.

“The tables have already started to turn: Today, China is setting the pace in many emerging technologies — and watches as the world tries to keep pace.”

The MERICS report continues, “China has forged ahead in fields such as next-generation IT (companies like Huawei and ZTE are set to gain global dominance in the rollout of 5G networks), high-speed railways and ultra-high voltage electricity transmissions. More than 530 smart manufacturing industrial parks have popped up in China. Many focus on big data (21 percent), new materials (17 percent) and cloud computing (13 percent). Recently, green manufacturing and the creation of an “Industrial Internet” were given special emphasis in policy documents, underpinning President Xi Jinping’s vision of creating an ‘ecological civilization’ that thrives on sustainable development.

“China has also secured a strong position in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), new energy and intelligent connected vehicles. …

“Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) continue to play a critical role for the development of strategic industries and high-tech equipment associated with MIC25. In so-called key industries like telecommunications, ship building, aviation and high-speed railways, SOEs still have a revenue share of around 83 percent. In what the Chinese government has identified as pillar industries (for instance electronics, equipment manufacturing, or automotive) it amounts to 45 percent.”

Breakup of U.S.-China relationship inevitable

The tariff war between the U.S. and China has been going back and forth. It may or may not be resolved for now or may end up in a compromise. The Pentagon’s provocations in the South China Sea and the Pacific are unlikely to subside. The witch hunt against Chinese scientists is gaining momentum.

The U.S. has just appropriated $2.2 billion for arms to Taiwan. National Security Adviser and war hawk John Bolton recently made a trip to Taiwan. The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, made a recent stopover in the U.S. on the way to the Caribbean and is scheduled to make another one on the way back.

All these measures indicate the end of rapprochement between Beijing and Washington. This breakup between the two powers is not just the doing of Donald Trump. It flows from the growing fear of the predominant sections of the U.S. ruling class that the gamble they took in trying to overthrow Chinese socialism from within has failed, just as the previous military aggression from 1949 to 1975 also failed.

High technology is the key to the future

Since as far back as the end of the 18th century, the U.S. capitalist class has always coveted the Chinese market. The giant capitalist monopolies went charging in to get joint agreements, low wages, cheap exports and big superprofits when China “opened up” at the end of the 1970s.

But the stronger the socialist core of the PRC becomes, the more weight it carries in the world and, above all, the stronger China becomes technologically the more Wall Street fears for its economic dominance and the more the Pentagon fears for its military dominance.

The example of the stifling of international collaboration on cancer research is a demonstration of how global cooperation is essential not only to curing disease, but also to the development of society as a whole. International cooperation is needed to reverse the climate disaster wrought by private property — none of this can be carried out within the framework of private property and the profit system. Only the destruction of capitalism can bring about the liberation of humanity.

Marxism asserts that society advances through the development of the productive forces from primary communism, to slavery, feudalism and capitalism. Marx wrote: “The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist.” (“The Poverty of Philosophy,” 1847) And now the revolution in high technology lays the basis for international socialism.

The bourgeoisie knows that the society that can advance technology to the highest degree will be triumphant in shaping the future. This is why imperialism, headed by the U.S., imposed the strictest blockade of the flow of technology to the Soviet Union, as well as the Eastern Bloc and China. This was done by COCOM, an informal organization of all the imperialist countries, which was created in 1949 and headquartered in Paris.

The main targets were the USSR and the more industrialized socialist countries, such as the German Democratic Republic, the Czech Republic, etc. Detailed lists were drawn up of some 1,500 technological items that were forbidden to export to these countries.

Marx explained that developed socialist relations depend upon a high degree of the productivity of labor and the resulting abundance available to the population (“Critique of the Gotha Program,” 1875).

However, as Lenin noted, the chain of imperialism broke at its weakest link in Russia — that is, the revolution was successful in the poorest, most backward capitalist country. The result was that an advanced social system was established on an insufficient material foundation. This gave rise to many, many contradictions. The countries that revolutionaries correctly called socialist, were in fact really aspiring to socialism. Their revolutions laid the foundations for socialism. But imperialist blockade, war and subversion never allowed them to freely develop their social systems.

The great leap forward in technology in China today has the potential of raising the productivity of labor and strengthening the socialist foundations. It is this great leap forward that is fueling the “new cold war” with China and the real threat of hot war.

Rick Rozoff presents: Russia Hysteria Amid a New Cold War and the End of the Missile Control Regime

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Join Open University of the Left on Saturday August 17 at 2:30 pm at the Lincoln Park Public Library 1150 W. Fullerton Ave. Chicago (cross street Sheffield), free parking, wheelchair accessible (Red Line: Fullerton, Bus route: 74 Fullerton)

As the U.S. becomes further embroiled in a combination of spy hunt and witch hunt targeting alleged Russian activity a crisis rivaling if not exceeding the depths of the McCarthy period sees a new Cold War between the two nations that is worsening by the day.

The expanding accusations of being “Russian assets” or “agents” against prominent American elected or appointed officials, scholars, former and current presidential candidates and others is occurring as two key missile-control treaties have been scrapped with the remaining ones in real danger of meeting the same fate.

The current situation has been described by Russian Studies scholar Stephen Cohen as being more dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis. The title of his most recent book is War with Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate. This is a title well worth reflecting on as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty expired earlier this month and the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), anti-ballistic missile treaty and even the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty may follow suit.

Rick Rozoff has been an anti-war analyst and activist for fifty years. Ran the Stop NATO website and published over 200 articles on international affairs there.
Has appeared regularly on TV and radio programs in the U.S. and abroad, including RT, Press TV, the BBC and Sputnik.
His articles have appeared in several world politics anthologies in the U.S. and Russia.
In 2012 he participated in the only debate held ahead of a NATO summit, that in Chicago in 2012:

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August 10: Piña Colada Day

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Do you like Piña Coladas? Do you like getting caught in the rain? Then you’re in luck, because while I can’t speak to the possibility of precipitation in your region, it is Piña Colada Day. Ever had one? They’re actually quite tasty, though it is one of those sweeter, heavier drinks that makes it hard to choke down more than eight or ten in a row. Now, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero says he invented the Piña Colada in Puerto Rico in 1954, but it’s a pretty good bet that rum, pineapple juice and coconut milk found their way into the same cup before then. In fact, the earliest, half-believable origin story finds Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí motivating his crew with a rum, pineapple and coconut beverage in the early 19th century. So go ahead. Try one. I think you might dig it.

Sete conservadores nada parecidos com supremacistas brancos. Nada.

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Homem usa um boné “MAGA” durante o Western Conservative Summit, em Denver, em 12 de julho.

Homem usa um boné “MAGA” durante o Western Conservative Summit, em Denver, em 12 de julho.

Foto: Denver Post/Getty Images

Na esteira do massacre de El Paso, o famoso comentarista Ben Shapiro – conhecido como o filósofo dos jovens conservadores” – usou o Twitter para repreender aqueles que ousam fazer qualquer tipo de ligação entre o presidente Donald Trump, o Partido Republicano e os conservadores norte-americanos de um lado e os terroristas nacionalistas brancos do outro.

Então agora temos dois colunistas do New York Times argumentando que todos os conservadores são basicamente supremacistas brancos violentos, mas um pouco mais sutis. Deixe-me falar isso de um jeito educado: vão se f****.

Ele continuou:

Eu venho lutando contra esses monstros supremacistas brancos há anos. Há dois meses, o FBI prendeu um supremacista branco que ameaçava a mim e à minha família. Eu era o alvo online número um deles em 2016, de acordo com a ADL. Tenho segurança 24 horas por dia por causa deles.

Sua fusão de todos os conservadores com monstros da supremacia branca que desprezam princípios conservadores reais – você sabem, como a aplicabilidade universal e não racial dos princípios da civilização ocidental – é cínica, deliberada e nojenta.

Entendeu? A “fusão” é “cínica, deliberada e nojenta”.

O próprio Shapiro é judeu e tem sido visado por terroristas nacionalistas brancos. Seria, portanto, uma insanidade – para usar uma palavra apreciada por Shapiro – sugerir que ele tem algo em comum com os intolerantes cheios de ódio que estão tentando matá-lo, certo? Seria uma loucura colocar um comentarista que disse que os árabes “gostam de bombardear as coisas e viver em esgoto a céu aberto” e previu que “a próxima guerra racial virá não de brancos racistas, mas de negros racistas e hispânicos” no mesmo saco de nacionalistas e supremacistas brancos. Seria loucura relacionar Shapiro – cujo feed do Twitter foi visitado pelo atirador da mesquita de Quebec 93 vezes no mês que antecedeu o ataque – com terroristas domésticos.

Tô errado?

Aqui estão outros seis conservadores que nada têm a ver com o nacionalismo branco. Nada, nadica, niente.

Tucker Carlson

O fato de que o apresentador de um dos programas de maior audiência da TV a cabo tenha entrado ao vivo na noite de segunda-feira, após os assassinatos de El Paso, para dispensar preocupações sobre o nacionalismo branco como sendo uma “teoria da conspiração” e uma “farsa”, não faz dele um nacionalista branco. Nem o fato de ele ter argumentado que os imigrantes estão tornando os Estados Unidos “mais pobres e mais sujos”, acusado os democratas de pressionar pela “substituição demográfica” através de uma “inundação de ilegais”, e se referido a uma “invasão” da Europa por parte de refugiados que estão “modificando profundamente a demografia” do continente.

Nem o fato de que os neonazistas são fãs do seu programa porque “ele está falando sobre os pontos levantados pelos nacionalistas brancos melhor do que eles próprios e eles estão tentando conseguir algumas ideias sobre como promovê-los”.

É tudo uma “farsa”, lembra?

Donald J. Trump

O presidente dos Estados Unidos declarou que “nossa nação deve condenar o racismo, o fanatismo e a supremacia branca” em um discurso na segunda-feira. Então, como ele pode ser um nacionalista ou supremacista branco? Que evidência há de que o atirador de El Paso tem algo em comum com Trump (além dos fatos de que tanto ele quanto o presidente denunciaram uma “invasão” de imigrantes, de que ambos acusaram o Partido Democrata de “traição”, de que ambos se referiram à mídia como “fake news”; e ambos aprovaram os gritos de “mande-a de volta”)?

Que prova existe que o terrorista de Christchurch, na Nova Zelândia, se inspirou no presidente dos EUA (além de sua descrição de Trump como “um símbolo de identidade branca renovada”), ou que neonazistas aprovam suas políticas (além do fundador do site neonazista Stormfront dizer que “Trump está nos libertando”)?

Lembre-se: Trump é “a pessoa menos racista do mundo”.

Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller, assessor sênior do presidente dos Estados Unidos, é judeu. Então, como ele pode ser um nacionalista branco? O fato de que seu próprio tio e rabino o rejeitou por conta de suas opiniões linha-dura sobre imigração não deveria nos incomodar. O fato dele ter sido amigo do líder neonazista Richard Spencer na faculdade ou de Spencer tê-lo elogiado como “extremamente competente” não deveria nos preocupar. O fato de que ele foi um dos arquitetos da proibição à entrada de muçulmanos do governo Trump e das políticas de redução de admissões de refugiados, cortando a imigração legal pela metade e separando as crianças de seus pais na fronteira… não significa que ele tenha um problema com pessoas pardas.

Porque você pensaria isso?

Laura Ingraham

A apresentadora da Fox News, Laura Ingraham, disse a seus espectadores que os democratas “querem substituir você, os eleitores americanos, por cidadãos recém-anistiados e um número cada vez maior de migrantes em cadeia”. Ela disse ao vice-governador texano, Dan Patrick, no início deste ano, que o estado dele foi “completamente inundado por essa invasão ilegal” e que “chamar isso qualquer coisa menos do que uma invasão é simplesmente não ser honesto com as pessoas”.

Substituir? Invasão? Por que isso faria você pensar que ela é uma nacionalista branca?

Ah, e o fato de que Ingraham foi flagrada fazendo o que parece uma saudação nazista na Convenção Nacional Republicana em 2016 é pura coincidência.

Candace Owens

Como pode uma conservadora negra estar ligado ao nacionalismo branco? Não é como se ela tenha sido elogiada por um terrorista nacionalista branco (bem, mais ou menos) ou use uma linguagem que pareça semelhante ao conteúdo do manifesto de um terrorista nacionalista branco (bem, talvez).

Candace Owens, na fronteira sul, diz que “querem importar criminosos” e uma “nova classe de eleitores vítimas”

Owens, na verdade, quer desconectar o nacionalismo (bom) do nacionalismo branco (ruim). “Se Hitler apenas quisesse fazer a Alemanha ótima e que as coisas ficassem bem… tudo bem”, ela disse, depois de ter sido questionada sobre a palavra “nacionalismo” em um evento em Londres. O problema, ela explicou, “é que ele tinha sonhos fora da Alemanha. Ele queria globalizar. Ele queria que todos fossem alemães.”

Tá, tudo bem. Mas, sem contar tudo isso: por que você pensaria que ela está na extrema direita?

John Cornyn

E daí que o veterano senador do Texas gosta de citar Benito Mussolini? Quem entre nós não citou Il Duce?

E daí que Cornyn, desde o massacre de sábado em seu estado natal dedicou mais tweets e retweets a atacar o presidente da bancada hispânica do Congresso do que a atacar o terrorista nacionalista branco que perpetrou os assassinatos?

E daí que, apenas algumas semanas atrás, ele tenha tuitado estatísticas sugerindo que os hispânicos estão “substituindo” os brancos no Texas?

O Texas ganhou quase nove residentes hispânicos para cada residente branco adicional no ano passado

Isso não parece como algo que um nacionalista branco diria, certo?

Qual é, vamos ser justos com republicanos e conservadores. Vamos parar com a fusão. Não vamos imaginar, nem inventar, conexões entre eles e a extrema direita branca nacionalista. É tudo coisa da nossa cabeça.

Tradução: Cássia Zanon

The post Sete conservadores nada parecidos com supremacistas brancos. Nada. appeared first on The Intercept.

Econometric illusions

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from Lars Syll Because I was there when the economics department of my university got an IBM 360, I was very much caught up in the excitement of combining powerful computers with economic research. Unfortunately, I lost interest in econometrics almost as soon as I understood how it was done. My thinking went through four […]

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