The forgotten origins of Greece’s crisis will make you think twice about who’s to blame

Ana Swanson reports for The Washington Post:

[…] In the mid-1990s, even before it came into existence, markets made a huge bet that the euro would be a reality. Specifically, investors, many in northern Europe, bet that interest rates in northern and southern Europe would converge. At the time, interest rates in southern Europe were much higher than in northern Europe, simply because people thought investing in countries like Greece was much riskier than investing in countries like Germany.

In anticipation of the euro zone, investors put lots of money in the cheap, high-yielding bonds of southern Europe. That helped to drive down yields and fueled borrowing and an economic boom in southern countries.

Ultimately, investors were right – Greek interest rates on 10-year bonds fell from around 20 percent in the early 1990s to only 3 percent in 2002. “They made a lot of money in the north betting against higher interest rates there. That fueled the boom, before the euro came, that overheated these economies.”

As economies overheated, it’s not a surprise that their competitiveness suffered, says Matthijs [co-editor of The Future of the Euro].

In short, many in the north pushed for a financial regime that didn’t fit the Greek economy, because they personally stood to benefit. Many rightly blame the Greeks for its current crisis, but some of the blame belongs farther north as well, he argues.’

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How Europe Played Greece

Alex Andreou writes for Common Dreams:

[…] Faith in European Institutions is thin on the ground. Lines have been crossed. At times of financial strain, a country’s currency issuer, its central bank, should act as lender of last resort and prime technocratic negotiator. In Greece’s case, the European Central Bank, sits on the same side as the creditors; acts as their enforcer. This is unprecedented.

The ECB has acted to asphyxiate the Greek economy – the ultimate blackmail to force subordination. The money is there, in our accounts, but we cannot have access to it, because the overseers of our own banking system, the very people who some months ago issued guarantees of liquidity, have decided to deny liquidity. We have phantom money, but no real money. There is a terrifying poetry to that, since the entire crisis was caused by too much phantom money in the first place.

EU Institutions are now openly admitting that their aim is regime change. A coup d’état in anything by name, using banks instead of tanks and a corrupt media as the occupiers’ broadcaster. The rest of Europe stands back and watches. Those leaders who promised the Syriza government support before the election, have ducked for cover. I understand it. They sympathise, but they don’t want to be next. They are honourable cowards. They look at the punishment beating being meted out and their instinct is to protect their own. ‘

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Joseph Stiglitz: How I would vote in the Greek referendum

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, writes for The Guardian:

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the radical left main opposition party Syriza, greets supporters after a rally of the party in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, January 2015. […] In January, Greece’s citizens voted for a government committed to ending austerity. If the government were simply fulfilling its campaign promises, it would already have rejected the proposal. But it wanted to give Greeks a chance to weigh in on this issue, so critical for their country’s future wellbeing.

That concern for popular legitimacy is incompatible with the politics of the eurozone, which was never a very democratic project. Most of its members’ governments did not seek their people’s approval to turn over their monetary sovereignty to the ECB. When Sweden’s did, Swedes said no. They understood that unemployment would rise if the country’s monetary policy were set by a central bank that focused single-mindedly on inflation (and also that there would be insufficient attention to financial stability). The economy would suffer, because the economic model underlying the eurozone was predicated on power relationships that disadvantaged workers.

And, sure enough, what we are seeing now, 16 years after the eurozone institutionalised those relationships, is the antithesis of democracy: many European leaders want to see the end of prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist government. After all, it is extremely inconvenient to have in Greece a government that is so opposed to the types of policies that have done so much to increase inequality in so many advanced countries, and that is so committed to curbing the unbridled power of wealth. They seem to believe that they can eventually bring down the Greek government by bullying it into accepting an agreement that contravenes its mandate.’

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Presidents, Bankers, the Neo-Cold War and the World Bank

Editor’s Note: Nomi Prins is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and a former senior managing director at Bear Stearns. I would HIGHLY recommend reading her latest book, “All The Presidents’ Bankers“. You can check out more of Nomi’s great work at her website.

Nomi Prins writes:

At first glance, the neo-Cold War between the US and its post WWII European Allies vs. Russia over the Ukraine, and the stonewalling of Greece by the Troika might appear to have little in common. Yet both are manifestations of a political-military-financial power play that began during the first Cold War. Behind the bravado of today’s sanctions and austerity measures lies the decision-making alliance that private bankers enjoy in conjunction with government and multinational entries like NATO and the World Bank.

It is President Obama’s foreign policy to back the Ukraine against Russia; in 1958, it was the Eisenhower Doctrine that protected Lebanon from a Soviet threat. For President Truman, the Marshall Plan arose partly to guard Greece (and other US allies) from Communism, but it also had lasting economic implications. The alignment of political leaders and key bankers was more personal back then, but the implications were similar to the present day. US military might protected its major trading partners, which in turn, did business with US banks. One power reinforced the other. Today, the ECB’s QE program funds swanky Frankfurt headquarters and prioritizes Germany’s super-bank, Deutschebank and its bond investors above Greece’s future.

These actions, then and now, have roots in the American ideology of melding military, political and financial power that flourished in the haze of World War II.  It’s not fair to pin this triple-power stance on one man, or even one bank; yet one man and one bank signified that power in all of its dimensions, including the use of political enemy creation to achieve financial goals. That man was John McCloy, ‘Chairman of the Establishment’ as his biographer, Kai Bird, characterized him. The relationship between McCloy and Truman cemented a set of public-private practices that strengthened private US banks globally at the expense of weaker, potentially Soviet (now Russian) leaning countries.’

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The Fight Over Obamacare Was a Giant Political Charade

Sonali Kolhatkar writes for Truthdig:

[…] When the Supreme Court ruled to preserve the ACA, privately some Republicans expressed relief, knowing that if 6.4 million Americans relying on subsidies had suddenly lost them, the GOP would have paid a stiff political price.

The act of opposing the law at any cost has given Republicans legitimacy among their right-wing supporters for targeting Obama while ultimately getting what they want, which is a pro-corporate law. For Democrats, supporting Obamacare has given them the appearance of caring about medical bankruptcies and the plight of the uninsured. And Obama has won by achieving the seemingly impossible task of passing health care reform, while also propping up private industry. In the end, the fight over the ACA has resulted in wins for the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the health insurance industry and the president.

Among the losers are Americans who remain dependent on their employers for health insurance, and those who have bought plans from the ACA’s exchanges but pay through the nose for minimal coverage. Even plans available to those who used to be denied them because of pre-existing conditions are expensive and the deductibles extremely high.

Most unfortunate of all are the nearly 13 percent of Americans who remain uninsured.’

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National Plutocrat Radio: Corporate One-Percenters dominate NPR affiliates’ boards

Aldo Guerrero writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Corporate Affiliation on NPR Affiliate Boards‘For a public radio service, NPR is notoriously known for its lack of diversity within its staff, audience and guests invited onto their shows—problems that NPR has itself acknowledged (6/30/14).

A new FAIR study finds that NPR’s diversity problem also extends into the board of trustees of its most popular member stations: Two out of three board members are male, and nearly three out of four are non-Latino whites. Fully three out of every four trustees of the top NPR affiliates belong to the corporate elite.

FAIR studied the governing boards of the eight most-listened-to NPR affiliate stations, based on Arbitron ratings (Cision, 2/13/13). The stations and their broadcast regions are KQED (San Francisco), WAMU (Washington, DC), WNYC (New York City), KPCC (Los Angeles), WHYY (Philadelphia), WBUR(Boston), WABE (Atlanta) and WBEZ (Chicago). (Two top-rated public stations, KUSC in Los Angeles and WETA in Arlington, Va., were not included in the study because they mainly play classical music rather than having a news/talk format.) Board members were coded by occupation, ethnicity and gender.

Out of the 259 total board members, 194—or 75 percent—have corporate backgrounds. Many of these board members are executives in banks, investment firms, consulting companies and corporate law firms. Some of the elite corporations include Verizon, Bank of America and Citigroup.’

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CNN to broadcast corporate propaganda as news?

C. Robert Gibson writes for Al Jazeera America:

In a 1958 speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, veteran CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow told a roomful of TV executives, “We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent.” The anchorman, who used his position to take on powerful politicians such as former Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy and issues such as segregation, cautioned that the new medium was being used to “distract, delude, amuse and insulate” the public.

Almost 60 years later, Murrow’s warning has gone unheeded by the corporate broadcast media. On June 8, CNN unveiled “Courageous,” a new production unit and an in-house studio that would be paid by advertisers to produce and broadcast news-like “branded content.”

“This isn’t about confusing editorial with advertising,” CNN executive Dan Riess told the Wall Street Journal. But a corporation going beyond advertising on a channel and funding the network to produce PR segments made to look like news is exactly the kind of confusion Riess is referring to.

More than ever before, the American public needs reliable, impartial news outlets that report on the stories of the day honestly and objectively. And while some savvy news consumers may turn to independent, online sources for information that is free from corporate influence, the majority of Americans who work 8 to 10-hour days don’t have the time or energy to seek out these sources.’

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George Orwell, human resources and the English language

James Gingell writes for The Guardian:

George Orwell would have despised the phrase ‘annual leave’: we’re going on holiday, not fighting a war.In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of human resources’. All issues are human resource issues, and human resources itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

OK, that’s not exactly what Orwell wrote. The hair-splitters among you will moan that I’ve taken the word “politics” out of the above and replaced it with “human resources”. Sorry.

But I think there’s no denying that had he been alive today, Orwell – the great opponent and satirist of totalitarianism – would have deplored the bureaucratic repression of HR. He would have hated their blind loyalty to power, their unquestioning faithfulness to process, their abhorrence of anything or anyone deviating from the mean.

In particular, Orwell would have utterly despised the language that HR people use. In his excellent essay Politics and the English Language (where he began the thought that ended with Newspeak), Orwell railed against the language crimes committed by politicians.’

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A Look at the Inner Workings of NSA’s XKEYSCORE

Micah Lee, Glenn Greenwald and Morgan Marquis-Boire report for The Intercept:

The sheer quantity of communications that XKEYSCORE processes, filters and queries is stunning. Around the world, when a person gets online to do anything — write an email, post to a social network, browse the web or play a video game — there’s a decent chance that the Internet traffic her device sends and receives is getting collected and processed by one of XKEYSCORE’s hundreds of servers scattered across the globe.

In order to make sense of such a massive and steady flow of information, analysts working for the National Security Agency, as well as partner spy agencies, have written thousands of snippets of code to detect different types of traffic and extract useful information from each type, according to documents dating up to 2013. For example, the system automatically detects if a given piece of traffic is an email. If it is, the system tags if it’s from Yahoo or Gmail, if it contains an airline itinerary, if it’s encrypted with PGP, or if the sender’s language is set to Arabic, along with myriad other details.

This global Internet surveillance network is powered by a somewhat clunky piece of software running on clusters of Linux servers. Analysts access XKEYSCORE’s web interface to search its wealth of private information, similar to how ordinary people can search Google for public information.

Based on documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Intercept is shedding light on the inner workings of XKEYSCORE, one of the most extensive programs of mass surveillance in human history.’

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XKEYSCORE: NSA’s Google for the World’s Private Communications

Morgan Marquis-Boire, Glenn Greenwald, and Micah Lee report for The Intercept:

‘One of the National Security Agency’s most powerful tools of mass surveillance makes tracking someone’s Internet usage as easy as entering an email address, and provides no built-in technology to prevent abuse. Today, The Intercept is publishing 48 top-secret and other classified documents about XKEYSCORE dated up to 2013, which shed new light on the breadth, depth and functionality of this critical spy system — one of the largest releases yet of documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA’s XKEYSCORE program, first revealed by The Guardian, sweeps up countless people’s Internet searches, emails, documents, usernames and passwords, and other private communications. XKEYSCORE is fed a constant flow of Internet traffic from fiber optic cables that make up the backbone of the world’s communication network, among other sources, for processing. As of 2008, the surveillance system boasted approximately 150 field sites in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, as well as many other countries, consisting of over 700 servers.’

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Comcast’s New Voice-Controlled Remote Starts Marketing Movies To Your Kids

Karl Bode reports for Techdirt:

For years, broadcasters and cable operators have tried to push the boundaries of good taste and advertising revenue generation. Whether that’s trying to prevent consumers from skipping ads to patenting technology that will use cameras embedded in set tops to watch you watching TV, there’s a relentless thirst for new realms of ad revenue. As a sense of futility extends into the quest for more meaningful privacy protections in the new age of smart hardware and deep packet inspection, cable operators continue to nudge the boundaries of revenue collection ever further.

Comcast’s latest foray into this arena is its new voice-controlled remote, which lets users give some basic keywords to control the company’s set top box. Like similar services, it’s a relatively useful concept, though if it works as well as most such efforts, most people will stick with old-fashioned buttons. Meanwhile, Comcast has apparently started using the technology to strike deals that market certain films to kids

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Is Puerto Rico America’s Greece? Interviews with Congressmember Nydia Velázquez and Economist James Henry

‘Puerto Rico could be on the verge of following Greece in defaulting on its debt. Puerto Rico’s government and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority say they will miss today’s deadline for more than $1 billion in payments on a debt of more than $73 billion. This comes as Puerto Rico’s unemployment is more than twice the U.S. national rate, and its poverty level is nearly double that of the poorest U.S. state. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s healthcare system may also be on the verge of collapse. We are joined by Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, Democrat for New York and the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress.’ (Democracy Now!)

‘Economist James Henry breakdowns the hedge funds, bond holders, and wealthy individuals who have benefited from Puerto Rico’s triple tax exempt status.’ (The Real News)

World Factory: How to turn a liberal hipster into a capitalist tyrant in one evening

Paul Mason, economics editor at Channel 4 News, writes for The Guardian:

World Factory … how would you cope?[…] In Zoe Svendsen’s play World Factory at the Young Vic, the audience becomes the cast. Sixteen teams sit around factory desks playing out a carefully constructed game that requires you to run a clothing factory in China. How to deal with a troublemaker? How to dupe the buyers from ethical retail brands? What to do about the ever-present problem of clients that do not pay? Because the choices are binary they are rarely palatable. But what shocked me – and has surprised the theatre – is the capacity of perfectly decent, liberal hipsters on London’s south bank to become ruthless capitalists when seated at the boardroom table.

The classic problem presented by the game is one all managers face: short-term issues, usually involving cashflow, versus the long-term challenge of nurturing your workforce and your client base. Despite the fact that a public-address system was blaring out, in English and Chinese, that “your workforce is your vital asset” our assembled young professionals repeatedly had to be cajoled not to treat them like dirt.

And because the theatre captures data on every choice by every team, for every performance, I know we were not alone. The aggregated flowchart reveals that every audience, on every night, veers towards money and away from ethics.’

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Florida Man, Accused of Terrorism Based on Book Collection, Set Free

Murtaza Hussain reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Florida Man, Accused of Terrorism Based on Book Collection, Set Free[…] Robertson’s case attracted national attention after prosecutors attempted to argue earlier this year that the contents of his book collection constituted evidence of his connection to terrorism. Prosecutors singled out roughly 20 titles from the more than 10,000 e-books Robertson owned, highlighted a selection of controversial passages, and used that to argue that he should be sentenced as though he were a terrorist.

None of Robertson’s charges — conspiracy to file a false tax return and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon — were terrorism offenses.

In a memorandum issued along with his decision yesterday, Judge Gregory A. Presnell strongly repudiated the government’s argument that Robertson’s book collection proved a connection to terrorism. “[T]here was no evidence produced that Robertson ever accessed these particular documents, much less that he took their extremism to heart,” Presnell wrote, noting that even had Robertson read the books in question, it would not have constituted evidence of terrorism.’

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Amid Warnings of Famine, Yemeni Civilians Trapped Inside Conflict with No End in Sight

‘U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a full investigation after Saudi coalition airstrikes hit a U.N. compound in Yemen. A guard was injured when the office of the U.N. Development Programme in the southern city of Aden was hit Sunday. The United Nations has warned Yemen is one step away from famine as a humanitarian crisis intensifies. We discuss the latest with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who reported recently from Yemen.’ (Democracy Now!)

US Cheers “Reforms,” Resumes Bahrain Military Aid

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Praising the island dictatorship for its “reforms,” the State Department today announced that the US is ending all restrictions on military aid to Bahrain, though they declined to say exactly how much new military aid would be involved in this.

The US made some restrictions on its provision of military aid to Bahrain back in 2011, when the country violently cracked down on pro-democracy protesters. The US has made some sales of weapons to the Bahraini government since then, but insisted that the arms were not of the sort that could be used to suppress dissent.

Rights groups are harshly critical of the US decision, saying the Bahraini “reforms” amount to virtually nothing, and that Bahraini prisons are still filled to near bursting with Shi’ite political prisoners involved in the demonstrations calling for more representation in parliament.

Though official stats are not kept, Shi’ites are believed to be a substantial majority in Bahrain. The royal family is Sunni, however, and has historically kept Shi’ites out of positions of import. The government has accused Bahraini Shi’ite politicians of being pro-Iran, and has accused the protesters of being a “Iranian terror plot” against the royal family’s continued rule.’

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Egypt’s imprisonment of journalists is at an all-time high

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:

Journalists protest the imprisonment of Egyptian photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, or Shawkan. (AP/Amr Nabil)“We are not going to replace Islamist fascism with a civil one,” Ahmed al-Mosallamany, spokesman for the transitional president, told CPJ in August 2013, a month after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Mosallamany also promised constitutional changes that would improve press freedom in the country.

But today, almost two years later, journalists face unprecedented threats in President Abdelfattah el-Sisi’s Egypt.

A prison census CPJ conducted on June 1, 2015, found that Egyptian authorities were holding at least 18 journalists behind bars in relation for their reporting, the highest in the country since CPJ began recording data on imprisoned journalists in 1990. The threat of imprisonment in Egypt is part of an atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics. Entire outlets, such as Al-Jazeera and the Turkish Anadolu news agency, have been banned from operating or forced to close their offices, according to CPJ research.

In a February 2015 mission to Egypt, CPJ spoke to high-level officials, including the prosecutor-general and the minister of transitional justice, who denied that Egypt was holding any journalists in jail in relation to their work. But CPJ research shows that the government of el-Sisi, who was elected president in May 2014, has used the pretext of national security to crack down on human rights, including press freedom.’

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Egypt’s Power Struggle Intensifies with Killing of Prosecutor Behind Mass Jailings of Islamists: Interview with Sharif Abdel Kouddous

‘Egypt’s public prosecutor has been killed in a bomb attack in Cairo. Hisham Barakat died in hospital Monday after a remote bomb detonated next to his car outside his home as he drove to work. Eight others were also hurt in the blast. Barakat became a target of militants after he sent thousands of Islamists to trial following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. We speak with Cairo-based Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.’ (Democracy Now!)

Zero for 40 at Predicting Attacks: Why Do Media Still Take FBI Terror Warnings Seriously?

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR):

CNN: US on Terror Alert[…] As I’ve previously shown, in the media’s rush to hype the threat, the fact of FBI-manufactured—or at least “assisted”—terror plots is left out as a complicating factor altogether, and the viewer is left thinking the FBI arrested 50 actual ISIS sleeper cells.

Nevertheless, the ominous FBI (or Department of Homeland Security) “terror warning” has become such a staple of the on-going, seemingly endless “war on terror” (d/b/a war on ISIS), we hardly even notice it anymore. Marked by a feedback loop of extremist propaganda, unverifiable claims about “online chatter” and fuzzy pronouncements issued by a neverending string of faceless Muslim bad guys, and given PR cover by FBI-contrived “terror plots,” the specter of the impending “attack” is part of a broader white noise of fear that never went away after 9/11. Indeed, the verbiage employed by the FBI in this latest warning —“we’re asking people to remain vigilant”—implies no actual change of the status quo, just an hysterical nudge to not let down our collective guard.

There’s only one problem: These warnings never actually come to fruition. Not rarely, or almost never, but—by all accounts—never. No attacks, no arrests, no suspects at large.’

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter: I’m not corrupt and will go to heaven one day

Guardian Sport reports:

Sepp BlatterSepp Blatter has warned that anyone who associates him with the recent scandal at Fifa “should go to jail” and insisted that “he will go to heaven one day”.

Fourteen senior executives of football’s governing body were charged with corruption on 27 May by prosecutors in the United States over bids for major tournaments dating back 24 years.

Blatter is due to relinquish his role as Fifa president at an extraordinary congress to be held between December and March. However, after speculation that he could yet remain in his role was dampened by Fifa, Blatter is adamant that he has not committed any crime and revealed that he has been relying on his string Christian faith to help him through the crisis.

“I have a clean conscience,” he said in an interview with German magazine Bunte.’

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Study estimates sugary drinks more deadly than violent crime in Mexico

Allison Jackson reports for Global Post:

XXX WAS8734048 A HTH USA CAMexico is renowned for being one of the most dangerous countries in the world, so it might sound strange to hear that sugary drinks pose a bigger threat to life here than violent crime.

Sugar-sweetened beverages such as Coca-Cola,Gatorade and homemade drinks known as “agua fresca” kill far more people every year in Mexico than criminal gangs.

A study by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts Universityestimates a staggering 24,000 Mexicans die each year from diabetes, cancer and heart disease that are linked to sugary drinks.

Compare that figure to the roughly 15,649 murders officially recorded in 2014 and it’s clear which is the biggest killer in the Latin American country.

Worldwide, the total sugary-drink death toll is estimated at 184,000, with more than 70% of deaths caused by diabetes. The researchers said this was the first detailed global report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages.’

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British PM reaffirms there will be no “safe spaces” from UK government snooping

Glyn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

The UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, has re-iterated that the UK government does not intend to “leave a safe space—a new means of communication—for terrorists to communicate with each other.” This confirms remarks he made earlier this year about encryption, when he said: “The question is are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read. My answer to that question is: no, we must not.”

David Cameron was replying in the House of Commons on Monday to a question from the Conservative MP David Bellingham, who asked him whether he agreed that the “time has come for companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to accept and understand that their current privacy policies are completely unsustainable?” To which Cameron replied: “we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on.”‘

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19 British MPs official credit cards suspended, including DWP Secretary Ian Duncan Smith

Rowena Mason reports for The Guardian:

Iain Duncan SmithIain Duncan Smith had his official credit card suspended after running up more than £1,000 in expenses debts, it can be revealed. The work and pensions secretary was among 19 MPs subject to action by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) after failing to show spending was valid.

The details, disclosed in response to a freedom of information (FoI) request submitted by the Press Association, are likely to prove embarrassing for Duncan Smith, who has previously backed prepaid cards for benefits claimants to control what they can spend their money on.

The senior cabinet minister is responsible for identifying £12bn of welfare cuts and the benefit sanction regime, which cuts off payments for more than a month at a time for failing to meet certain criteria. It has been criticised by the Commons work and pensions committee for causing severe hardship, sometimes when people are penalised for relatively minor breaches.’

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Combinations of “safe” chemicals may increase cancer risk, study suggests

Sarah Harris-Lovett reports for the Los Angeles Times:

Lots of chemicals are considered safe in low doses. But what happens when you ingest a little bit of a lot of different chemicals over time?

In some cases, these combinations may conspire to increase your risk of cancer, according to a new report.

“Many [chemicals] have the possibility, when they are combined, to cause the initiation of cancer,” said Hemad Yasaei, a cancer biologist at Brunel University in England, one of the authors of the report. “They could have a synergistic or enhanced effect.”

This is not the way regulators typically think about cancer risk when they evaluate a compound’s safety.’

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US Hedge Funds Get Bailed Out if Greeks Pass Bailout Referendum: Interview with Bill Black and Michael Hudson

‘Foreign banks want to bleed the patient when a policy of debt cutting and tax reform would revive the Greek economy, say UMKC’s Bill Black and Michael Hudson.’ (The Real News)

The IMF defaulted on Greece a long time ago

Jerome Roos writes for ROAR Mag:

Post image for The IMF defaulted on Greece a long time agoTuesday marked the deadline for Greece to transfer a 1.6 billion euro debt repayment to the IMF. The country’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had already announced that his government could not — and would not — pay. And so, at 6pm Washington-time, 1am locally, Greece officially defaulted on the IMF.

The default is an unprecedented event in the history of finance: never before has a developed country fallen into arrears on a loan from the Fund. Unsurprisingly, the international press is already conjuring up unflattering comparisons with notorious failed states like Zimbabwe and Somalia, which are among the few countries to have gone down the same path of utter financial ignominy. With all due respect for Zimbabwe and Somalia, the implication of this media narrative is clear: Greece is about to become a hopeless basket case.

In truth, superficial parallels like these are dangerously misleading. Not only do they compare apples and oranges; they also end up obscuring the IMF’s own role in the decimation of the Greek economy, which basically made an eventual Greek default inevitable. By uncritically reproducing narratives of Greece’s “failure” to repay the Fund, many in the international media are directly overlooking the fierce internal criticism that top IMF officials have expressed about their own responsibility for the utter disaster of the Troika’s bailout programs.’

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As Greece Heads for Default, Voters Prepare to Vote in Pivotal Referendum on More Austerity: Interview with Costas Panayotakis

‘Tens of thousands of Greeks have protested against further austerity cuts ahead of a key referendum on a new European bailout. The demonstrations come as the country confirms it will not meet the deadline for a $1.8 billion loan repayment due by 6 p.m. Eastern time tonight, deepening Greece’s fiscal crisis and threatening its exit from the eurozone. Greece will hold a vote this Sunday on whether to accept an austerity package of budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for new loans. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged a “no” vote, calling the proposal a surrender. We go to Greece to speak with Costas Panayotakis, professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology at CUNY and author of “Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

British Education Secretary says homophobia may be a sign of extremism, is she going to investigate herself?

Ian Dunt reports for Politics.co.uk:

[…] When British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was asked to give an example of the kind of behaviour from a pupil which would trigger an anti-extremism intervention, she struggled. And then, out of nowhere, she found an example: homophobia.

This was an interesting example, because Morgan herself voted against gay marriage twice. Is opposition to gay marriage always homophobic? No, not really, although you could make the case. But this isn’t about what’s really the case. It’s about what’s perceived to be the case.

School children are often fond of accusing each other of being ‘gay’. Is this going to be enough to call in the anti-extremism unit? Will Catholic or Jewish faith schools face daily visits from the inspectors? Will a socially conservative teacher find themselves under investigation?

Probably not. But we know the truth: when a Muslim kid calls his friend ‘gay’ it will be treated differently to when a white kid does it. The vague language and imprecise measures of the counter-extremism strategy will allow people’s prejudice free rein.’

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Row over British police officer buying shoelaces has cost £500,000, lawyer says

Ciaran Fagan reports for the Leicester Mercury:

A complaint about a police officer buying shoelaces while on duty spiralled into a seven-year dispute costing the public an estimated £500,000.

A shopper saw the uniformed officer buying laces while on duty in the Melton area in August 2008.

The man reportedly told the officer he should not be shopping while on duty. The policeman is said to have replied that he needed the laces for his police-issue boots.

The exchange is thought to have lasted no more than one minute, but was to have long-lasting consequences for both of them.’

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U.S. drug cops took a college kid’s life savings and now 13 police departments want a cut

Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post:

In February 2014, Drug Enforcement Administration task force officers at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport seized $11,000 in cash from 24-year-old college student Charles Clarke. They didn’t find any guns, drugs or contraband on him. But, according to an affidavit filled out by one of the agents, the task force officers reasoned that the cash was the proceeds of drug trafficking, because Clarke was traveling on a recently-purchased one-way ticket, he was unable to provide documentation for where the money came from, and his checked baggage had an odor of marijuana.

Clarke’s cash was seized under civil asset forfeiture, where cops are able to take cash and property from people who are never convicted of — and in some cases, never even charged with — a crime. The DEA maintains that asset forfeiture is an important crime-fighting tool: “By attacking the financial infrastructure of drug trafficking organizations world-wide, DEA has disrupted and dismantled major drug trafficking organizations and their supply chains, thereby improving national security and increasing the quality of life for the American public.”

But the practice has become contentious, in part because agencies are generally allowed to keep a share of the cash and property they seize. In cases like Clarke’s, where local and federal agents cooperate on a seizure, federal agencies typically keep at least 20 percent of the assets, while local cops split the remainder among themselves. Critics argue that this creates a profit motive and leads to “policing for profit.”‘

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