IFS: Austerity will continue during next Tory, Labour or Lib Dem parliament

Larry Elliott reports for The Guardian:

‘George Osborne’s plans to balance the government’s books will require additional tax increases, spending cuts or welfare cuts worth more than £37bn in the first three years of the next parliament, according to Britain’s leading experts on the public finances.

In an assessment of the budget plans of the three biggest Westminster parties, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that austerity would continue under a Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat chancellor, but that Osborne had by far the toughest approach to fiscal policy.’


London transport chief warns city could face riots as transport crisis looms

Rose Troup Buchanan reports for The Independent:

‘London’s transport commissioner has warned the city could face riots again unless more trains and buses are available at affordable fares for the poorest communities.

Many of the poorest communities are no longer based in the inner-city but instead on the outskirts of London, according to Sir Peter Hendy. They rely on buses, whose fares have risen by 50 per cent over the past six year, to get them to work.

Sir Peter, head of Transport for London (TfL), said unless transport capacity is increased and fares stabilised there would be serious problems.’


“We’re here for your f*king freedom”

Game Theory + Market Democracy

Giant Corporations Want to Control All of Your Beer

Benjamin Dangl writes for CounterPunch:

Beer Brand Brands‘The variety of the craft-brewing wave sweeping the US makes drinking beer more fun than ever. Maine’s Flying Dog Brewery brews a beer from local oysters, and the Delaware-based Dogfish Head uses an ancient beer recipe they dug up from 2,700-year-old drinking vessels in the tomb of King Midas.

But as this trend spreads, there’s another revolution going on that’s concentrating most of the world’s beer into the hands of just a few mega-corporations. These kings of beer are riding the wave of craft brewing enthusiasm, buying up smaller breweries, and duping customers along the way.’


‘Great Job’: Obama Praises Secret Service After Series of White House Security Breaches

Eddie Scarry reports for Mediate:

Uniformed Secret Service officers walk along the lawn on the North side of the White House. (Source: AP)‘President Barack Obama is offering words of support for the Secret Service in light of a double security breach at the White House.

[...] Over the weekend, two separate men jumped the White House gate and ran across the lawn. One of them was armed with a knife and actually made it inside the White House before he was apprehended by authorities.

Earlier in September, a third man rushed the White House lawn and was detained by the Secret Service.’


The Lobbying Act: Money Still Buys Influence

From The Morning Star:

Lobbying Act: Condemned by the NUJ‘David Cameron warned before the last general election that lobbying was “the next big scandal waiting to happen.” It was during his concerted offensive to persuade us that the Tory leopard had changed its spots and that decency, fairness and honesty rather than greed and self-interest now dictated its policies. “It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long — an issue that exposes the far too cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money,” he went on.

[...] According to the provisions of the Lobbying Act that came into force yesterday, such easy at-a-price access to ministers poses less of a threat to democracy than the transparent campaigning of trade unions, charities and single-issue groups. Lobbyists for powerful corporate vested interests will be free to enjoy confidential meetings with ministers while people seeking to hold government to account will be frustrated. Trade unions, charities and single-issue campaigns will have unreasonable limits imposed on the amount of finance they can devote to activity during an election period even though the sums they raise are puny in comparison to the funds raised directly by business for the Tories or the wall-to-wall propaganda deployed by pro-Tory media’


CIA Reportedly Restricts Spying on ‘Friendly Governments’ in Western Europe

Kevin Gosztola reports for Firedoglake:

‘The Associated Press reports the CIA has decided to restrict “spying on friendly governments in Western Europe in response to the furor over a German caught selling secrets to the United States.” The revelations on top secret NSA surveillance from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have also played a role in the CIA’s decision.

“Current and former US officials,” who were granted anonymity to discuss this development “because it’s illegal to discuss classified material or activities,” informed AP that this “pause” had been “ordered by senior CIA officials through secret cables.”

This stand-down period is apparently occurring so that CIA officers may examine whether they are “being careful enough and to evaluate whether spying on allies is worth running the risk of discovery.”’


‘Soccer moms’ to sue FIFA over concussion risk to children playing football

Ian Johnston reports for The Independent:

‘A group of American families is suing football’s governing body Fifa for putting children who head the ball at risk of concussion, according to a report. The lawsuit, filed in California, accuses the sport’s administrators of acting “carelessly and negligently”.

It is not seeking financial compensation, but wants to see a limit on the number of times young players are allowed to head the ball among a number of other rules designed to protect children, according to The Daily Telegraph. Ben Pepper, a personal injury lawyer at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said the case might prompt people in the UK to consider legal action.’


FIFA accused of cover up as it emerges World Cup bid report to be kept secret

Tom Whitehead reports for The Telegraph:

Fifa badge‘Fifa is facing accusations of a cover-up after it emerged a report in to allegations of corruption in two World Cup bids will never be published. The two-year investigation into the bidding around the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has resulted in a 350-page report and 200,000 pages of evidence.

But Hans Joachim-Eckert, the chairman of Fifa’s ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber, has said only he and his deputy will ever see report. Sepp Blatter, president of football’s governing body, and his 27 executive members will not even see it. Fifa was under pressure to publish the report and be more transparent, including demands from the author of it, investigator Michael Garcia.’


Amnesty warns some Euro 2020 host cities may use tournament for image laundering

World Soccer reports:

‘Some of the cities chosen to stage knockout matches at Euro 2020 may use the tournament for image laundering, Amnesty International has warned… It is the choices of Baku in Azerbaijan and St Petersburg in Russia that have caused concern for the human rights organisation.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty UK, said: “The European Championship is the second highest grossing football tournament in the world and one of the most prestigious on the planet. But some of the winning cities are in countries with appalling human rights records which could well use the prestige of Euro 2020 as a means of image-laundering through the world’s media, a way of diverting attention from some of the uglier things going on. And it can get very ugly.”‘


Fifa member breaks ranks to claim 2022 World Cup will not be in Qatar

Dominic Fifield reports for The Guardian:

‘The Fifa executive committee member Theo Zwanziger has broken ranks to claim that, in his opinion, the 2022 World Cup finals will not be held in Qatar because of extreme temperatures in the Gulf state.

While those on the Qatari organising committee have consistently stated a summer tournament is viable thanks to the development of cooling technologies to be used at grounds, sentiments their general secretary Hassan al-Thawadi reiterated on Monday, there is still widespread concern for the health of players, officials and supporters.

[...] Fifa has been quick to point out that Zwanziger, who had been speaking to Sport Bild, was expressing a personal opinion rather than reflecting the views of the governing body. As a result, it declined to comment on his specific observations.’


Here’s what German football journalist Raphael Honigstein had to say about Zwanziger:


Yemen deal signed after Houthi rebels seize government HQ, premier quits

AFP reports:

‘Rival groups in Yemen signed a U.N.-brokered peace deal Sunday after Shiite rebels seized the government headquarters and the prime minister resigned in the face of raging violence… President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi, United Nations envoy Jamal Benomar and representatives of Yemen’s political factions, including the Houthi rebels, attended the signing ceremony, it reported. In a speech, Hadi said: “We have reached a final deal with which we can overcome this crisis.”

Benomar said the agreement calls for the formation of a government of technocrats within one month. Under the deal, Hadi will also appoint advisers from Houthi movement and southern separatists within three days, Benomar said at the signing ceremony broadcast on state television. The rebels earlier Sunday swooped on key institutions across Sanaa, including the government headquarters and military sites, after an apparent surrender by security forces. And Prime Minister Mohammad Basindawa resigned, accusing Hadi of being “autocratic,” according to the text of his resignation letter released by the council of ministers.’


Blackwater Founder: We Could Stop ISIS

Asawin Suebsaeng reports for The Daily Beast:

Erik Prince has a message for ISIS: You’re lucky Blackwater is gone. On Friday night, the controversial founder of the private military company had plenty to say about what the organization he once ran could be doing in the fight against the so-called Islamic State—and also why Republicans need to stop being such losers.

“It’s a shame the [Obama] administration crushed my old business, because as a private organization, we could’ve solved the boots-on-the-ground issue, we could have had contracts from people that want to go there as contractors; you don’t have the argument of U.S. active duty going back in there,” Prince said in an on-stage discussion featuring retired four-star Gen. James Conway. “[They could have] gone in there and done it, and be done, and not have a long, protracted political mess that I predict will ensue.”’


U.S. Veteran Commits Suicide After Obama’s War Announcement

Alexander Reed Kelly reports for Truthdig:

‘U.S. veteran communities are reportedly grieving at news of the suicide of Jacob George, a three-tour veteran of America’s last decade-plus of war, after he failed to find relief from physical and mental injuries he sustained in battle. In a clip from a veterans event last year, he spoke of his experience with various types of therapy and performed his original song, “Soldier’s Heart.”

George’s suicide occurred after President Obama announced new war plans against the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.’


El-Sissi: Had I stood by, radical Islam would have sparked Egypt civil war

Hamza Hendawi, Ian Phillips, and Lee Keath report for The Associated Press:

‘Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told The Associated Press on Saturday he is prepared to give whatever support is needed in the fight against the Islamic State group but called for a “comprehensive strategy” to tackle the roots of extremism across the region

In his first interview with a foreign media outlet since taking office in June, el-Sissi sought to present himself and Egypt as at the vanguard of confronting militancy, citing it as the reason for his ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president more than a year ago — a move that brought international criticism and strained ties with top ally the United States.

He told AP that Egyptians had realized the danger of “political Islam” and that if he had not acted, the Arab world’s most populous nation would have faced “civil war” and bloodshed now seen in Iraq and Syria.’


Military-Grade Drone Can Be 3D Printed Anywhere

Jordon Golson reports for Wired:

‘We have 3-D printed keys, guns and shoes—now a research team at the University of Virginia has created a 3D printed UAV drone for the Department of Defense.

In the works for three years, the aircraft, no bigger than a remote-controlled plane, can carry a 1.5-pound payload. If it crashes or needs a design tweak for a new mission, another one can be printed out in a little more than a day, for just $2,500. It’s made with off-the-shelf parts and has an Android phone for a brain.’


CIA brags about press manipulation and more in newly declassified journal articles

Cora Currier reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - The CIA’s Secret Journal Articles Are Gossipy, Snarky, and No Longer Classified‘The CIA has declassified a trove of articles from its in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence. Ostensibly a semi-academic review of spycraft, Studies emerges in the pieces, which date from the 1970s to the 2000s, as so much more, at turns mocking excessive secrecy and bad writing, dishing on problematic affairs, and bragging about press manipulation.

Of course, there is plenty of self-serious material in the journal too, including scholarly reviews, first-person memoirs, interviews and intellectual ruminations on everything from maps to “How We Are Perceived” and “Ethics and Clandestine Collection.”

The CIA posted the hundreds of declassified articles to its FOIA site… The documents include a 2004 interview with current CIA director John Brennan and a 2000 interview with Michael Hayden, then head of the NSA. “Everything’s secret,” Hayden tells Studies. “I mean, I got an email saying, ‘Merry Christmas.’ It carried a Top Secret NSA classification marking.” He also describes how the NSA had begun on a media offensive, to “put a human face on the agency.”’


Capitalism and Climate Change Redux

Rob Urie writes for CounterPunch:

uriecapclim1‘[...] Today the ‘logic’ of capitalism is fully instantiated in the West with privatization of public resources, the granting of extra-personal rights to corporations, the diminution of local and regional governance in favor of corporate privilege and rights and heavily militarized public-private police forces used to enforce corporate ‘rights’ and to protect the privilege of the wealthy. But it is corporate globalism that makes political resolution in any dimension, including environmental issues like global warming, so intractable. Even if local and regional political control could be recovered the ability of large corporations to shift production to areas more fully under corporate-state control means that global issues must be dealt with globally.

The large scale dislocations likely to be caused by global warming, by dead and dying oceans and by ‘private’ control over crop seeds, arable land and water supplies, suggest that current circumstance and trajectory are dire. They also suggest that global warming is only one of a host of related environmental issues in need of rectification. Even without the overwhelming evidence that already exists that environmental degradation and destruction are radically altering the world basic prudence would argue for dramatic measures toward environmental reconciliation. The challenge for / to climate change deniers is that if they are wrong ‘the world’ in any form recognizable to us will no longer exist. The risks of doing nothing versus something to resolve environmental destruction are wildly asymmetrical.’


How the People’s Climate March Became a Corporate PR Campaign

Arun Gupta writes for CounterPunch:

‘Environmental activist Anne Petermann and writer Quincy Saul describe how the People’s Climate March has no demands, no targets,and no enemy. Organizers admitted encouraging bankers to march was like saying Blackwater mercenaries should join an antiwar protest. There is no unity other than money. One veteran activist who was involved in Occupy Wall Street said it was made known there was plenty of money to hire her and others. There is no sense of history: decades of climate-justice activism are being erased by the incessant invocation of the “biggest climate change demonstration ever.” Investigative reporter Cory Morningstar has connected the dots between the organizing groups, 350.org and Avaaz, the global online activist outfit modeled on MoveOn, and institutions like the World Bank and Clinton Global Initiative. Morningstar claims the secret of Avaaz’s success is its “expertise in behavioral change.”

That is what I find most troubling. Having worked on Madison Avenue for nearly a decade, I can smell a P.R. and marketing campaign a mile away. That’s what the People’s Climate March looks to be. According to inside sources a push early on for a Seattle-style event—organizing thousands of people to nonviolently shut down the area around the United Nations—was thwarted by paid staff with the organizing groups.’


Breakthroughs Unlikely at Upcoming UN Climate Summit: Interview with Patrick Bond

Naomi Klein on Capitalism vs. the Climate

New ‘zero waste’ store in Berlin may be supermarket of future

CTV reports:

‘A packaging-free supermarket has opened in Berlin, targeting eco-minded consumers by positioning itself as a “zero waste” store.

The concept of “Original Unverpackt” is simple: there is none of the usual superfluous supermarket packaging which either requires extreme levels of urban recycling or results in waste.

Instead, customers bring their own containers (tubs and recycled bags can be bought at the store) and help themselves to dry goods and non-foodstuff items which are stored in giant bins and dispensers.’


Study: Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists

Jennifer Golbeck, Ph.D. reports for Psychology Today:

‘In this month’s issue of Personality and Individual Differencesa study was published that confirms what we all suspected: internet trolls are horrible people.

Let’s start by getting our definitions straight. An internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.

What kind of person would do this? Canadian researchers decided to find out.’


Trust in Mainstream Media Hits All-Time Low in US: : Interview with Chris Chambers

45% of Russians Believe Shadowy Group Controls Humanity

The Moscow Times reports:

‘”The world is run by some sort of overarching entity that pulls the strings in governments around the globe” is a statement nearly half of Russians would agree with, a state-run pollster revealed Wednesday.

The Russian Public Opinion Research Center found that 45 percent of Russians believe in the existence of an omnipotent force that lords over state governments, controlling the affairs of humanity. Only one-third of the population expressly rejects this hypothesis, while another 23 percent of Russians remain undecided, according to the survey.

The research center also revealed that individuals with higher levels of education and enviable salaries were more likely to embrace such theories than their less-educated, lower-earning counterparts.’


Editor’s Note: Perhaps it’s important to understand this poll in the context of the kind of environment that Russians have lived in for so many years, with a virtually unaccountable central authority ruling over the population throughout much of its history. From the Tsarist days, through the Soviet Union, to today under Vladimir Putin, Russians have lived under a state that has greatly feared foreign entities of some kind. A similar situation could be said about the United States as well, whose population also has its own fascination with conspiracies. The U.S. government, like its Russian counterpart, also likes to hype the threat from outsiders, mainly to the benefit of its military power. You only have to turn on CNN or Fox to hear about the latest great threat against America, the same goes for much of Russian state TV. There are some links below about conspiracy theories below, it’s up to you what you make of them. 

Mikhail Khodorkovsky breaks political silence, saying he would lead Russia

AFP reports:

‘The former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in jail after challenging the Kremlin, says he would be ready to lead Russia if called upon. Khodorkovsky’s statement, at the launch of an online movement called Open Russia, appears to break his promise to steer clear of politics, which he made after being pardoned by president Vladimir Putin in December.

“I would not be interested in the idea of becoming president of Russia at a time when the country would be developing normally,” he was quoted as saying by Le Monde newspaper. “But if it appeared necessary to overcome the crisis and to carry out constitutional reform, the essence of which would be to redistribute presidential powers in favour of the judiciary, parliament and civil society, then I would be ready to take on this part of the task.”’


Cartoon: War on Terror

More Than 5,000 Dead in Central African Republic Since December

Krista Larson reports for The Associated Press:

‘More than 5,000 people have died in sectarian violence in Central African Republic since December, according to an Associated Press tally, suggesting that a U.N. peacekeeping mission approved months ago is coming too late for thousands.

The AP found at least 5,186 people were killed in fighting between Muslims and Christians, based on a count of bodies and numbers gathered from survivors, priests, imams and aid workers in more than 50 of the hardest-hit communities. That’s more than double the death toll of at least 2,000 cited by the United Nations in April, when it approved the mission. There has been no official count since.’


The Namibia Legacy: Germany’s African Genocide

Andre Vltchek writes for CounterPunch:

‘How outrageous, how heartbreaking, how truly grotesque! Windhoek City – the capital of Namibia – is, at one extreme full of flowers and Mediterranean-style villas, and at the other, it is nothing more than a tremendous slum without water or electricity.

And in between, there is the town center– with its Germanic orderly feel, boasting ‘colonial architecture’, including Protestant churches and commemorative plaques mourning those brave German men, women and children, those martyrs, who died during the uprisings and wars conducted by local indigenous people.

The most divisive and absurd of those memorials is the so-called “Equestrian Monument”, more commonly known as “The Horse” or under its German original names, Reiterdenkmal and Südwester Reiter (Rider of South-West). It is a statue inaugurated on 27 January 1912, which was the birthday of the German emperor Wilhelm II. The monument “honors the soldiers and civilians that died on the German side of the Herero and Namaqua ‘War’ of 1904–1907’”.

That ‘war’ was not really a war; it was nothing more than genocide, a holocaust.

And Namibia was a prelude to what German Nazis later tried to implement on European soil.’