Author Archive: mrdsk

Can the Scots Blaze a Trail of Economic Sovereignty? A Public Bank Option for Scotland

Ellen Brown writes for Web of Debt:

‘Arguments against independence include that Scotland’s levels of public spending, which are higher than in the rest of the UK, would be difficult to sustain without raising taxes.  But that assumes the existing UK/EU investment regime.  If Scotland were to say, “We’re starting a new round based on our own assets, via our own new bank,” exciting things might be achieved. A publicly-owned bank with a mandate to serve the interests of the Scottish people could help give the newly independent country true economic sovereignty.

I wrote on that possibility in December 2012, after doing a PowerPoint on it at the Royal Society of Arts in Edinburgh. That presentation was followed by one by public sector consultant Ralph Leishman, who made the proposal concrete with facts and figures.  He suggested that the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) be licensed as a depository bank on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. I’m reposting the bulk of that article here, in hopes of adding to the current debate.’

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The EU was supposed to end nationalism, but it gave it new life instead

‘From this corner of the world, the European Union always looked a dreary German project, one that was badly anti-democratic. The way the EU made nations vote over and over again on rejected treaties until it got the answer it wanted seemed unseemly in execution and Soviet in spirit. To an American conservative, Brussels appeared to be a locus of anti-nationalism, or post-nationalism.

And that was the intent. But looking at the events of 2014, I am starting to wonder if the EU isn’t the mother of a 21st-century nationalism.;

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German voters reject establishment parties in state elections

Dietmar Henning reports for WSWS:

Germany cia wfb map.png‘The large-scale rejection of all established parties was the common factor in the state elections held in Thuringia and Brandenburg last Sunday. Twenty-five years after the demonstrations for free elections which ushered in the end of the Stalinist German Democratic Republic, only half of those entitled to vote did so in the two eastern German states. The turnout in both states—48 percent in Brandenburg and 53 percent in Thuringia—was an historic low.

In both states the newly founded Alternative for Germany (AfD) was able to enter parliament with double-digit figures. The party was formed one and a half years ago. At the centre of its program is rejection of the joint European currency, the euro, and the demand for the return to the Deutschmark. Although this issue was not up for debate in the regional elections, the AfD was able to win 12.2 percent of the vote in Brandenburg and 10.6 percent in Thuringia on the basis of its right-wing populist slogans. Following its recent success in Saxony the AfD is now represented in three East German state parliaments.’

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A free and independent Free State of Bavaria?

Dagmar Breitenbach reports for DW:

‘A 2011 study by the Hanns-Seidel Foundation, which is affiliated with the Christian Social Union – the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, found that more than 20 percent of Bavarians questioned were pro-independence, and 16 percent could at least imagine independence. Weber conceded that he has his work cut out for him to convince a majority of Bavarians of the virtues of a separate state.

Conservative, prosperous Bavaria might not mind keeping the billions of euros in subsidies it is required to transfer to German federal states that are not as well off. Geographically, it is Germany’s largest federal state and in 2012, Bavaria had the second-strongest economic performance in Germany after populous North-Rhine Westphalia. Adidas, Audi and BMW are internatioanally-renowned Bavarian brands.’

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Flemish nationalists tread cautiously on Scottish independence vote

Philippe Siuberski reports for AFP:

‘Scotland’s independence vote inspires Flemish nationalists with hope but, with negotiations under way on forming a new Belgian government, they also have their reasons to tread carefully, analysts say.

Born in 1830 as an independent state to act as a buffer between France and Germany, Belgium is an uneasy mix of a Flemish-speaking, more conservative north critical of a French and left-leaning south.

Those differences have become even more pronounced in recent years, with Flemish nationalist sentiment more powerful than ever.’

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Spanish PM Rajoy warns independence votes “torpedo” the foundations of Europe

Reuters reports:

A woman brandishes a placard on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes during celebrations of Catalonia National Day (Diada) in Barcelona on September 11, 2014. (AFP Photo/Quique Garcia)‘Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired a last-minute broadside on Wednesday against Scotland’s independence referendum, warning that such events “torpedo” the foundations of Europe and wreak economic recessions.

Rajoy’s center-right government has been trying to quell calls in the northern Spanish region of Catalonia for a similar vote on breaking away, denouncing such a move as illegal.

With the regional government in Barcelona – which has penciled in a consultation on independence on November 9 – set to potentially give such a vote a green light on Friday, the spotlight could turn to Catalonia’s drive to cut ties with Spain a day after Scots are due to vote on whether to stay in Britain.’

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Ignored and fed up, UK regions call for Scottish-style devolution

Paul Sandle and Sarah Young report for Reuters:

‘A big gap has widened in Britain in recent decades between cities and regions at each end of the country. The ‘North-South Divide’ came about because manufacturing and mining industries in the north and midlands failed while London and the south east saw a boom in financial and media industries.

It’s a source of bitterness for many British voters, who see London as a city state increasingly detached from the rest of the United Kingdom not just economically but culturally. And analysts agree the government in Westminster has left whole areas of the rest of the country to stagnate because they don’t have the power to tailor their own growth policies.’

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Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair

Tony Paterson writes for The Independent:

‘Every meal could have been her last. And when she had finished eating the bland vegetarian dishes put before her, 25-year-old Margot Wölk and her young female colleagues would burst into tears and “cry like dogs” because they were grateful still to be alive.

Margot Wölk was no Nazi, but she was one of 15 young women who were employed at Adolf Hitler’s heavily guarded Prussian “Wolf’s Lair” headquarters during the Second World War. Her job was to taste the Nazi leader’s food before it reached his lips, to make sure it wasn’t poisoned.’

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New ‘Facebook for Rich People’ Costs Just $9,000 to Join

Chloe Albanesius reports for PC Mag:

‘Don’t you just hate it when you want to talk about is your latest all-nighter in Ibiza or how Jeeves packed the wrong Rolex for last weekend’s Hamptons excursion, but your Facebook friends are all “Help me, I’m poor!”

Not to worry, Netropolitan is here to save you from having to hob-knob with undesirable 99 percenters. And it will only cost you $9,000 a year. Netropolitan is a new social network that bills itself as “the online country club for people with more money than time.” It launched today and organizers insist that it’s not a joke.’

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Galt’s Gulch Chile: Ayn Rand’s Capitalist Paradise Is Now a Greedy Land-Grabbing Shitstorm

Adam Weinstein reports for Gawker:

Illustration: Pete Ryan‘Plenty of Rand-y acolytes have dreamed of fleeing Obama’s (and Clinton’s and Carter’s and Johnson’s and Kennedy’s) America and entering the warm, dopamine confines of their own Galt’s Gulch. Last year, one group appeared to have succeeded with a settlement in Chile—”a fully self-sustaining community” that would enable individualistic immigrants (with sufficient funds) to fully renounce “the oppression of the over-regulated, over-taxed, war-riddled and welfare-riddled society consuming the world.” They take Bitcoin and everything.

But all is not so sweet. Wendy McElroy, a “Canadian individualist anarchist” of some note, bought a 1.25-acre plot in Galt’s Gulch Chile last year, or so she thought. She wrote a blistering post Monday suggesting that the Real Men of Genius behind the settlement are grifters, or incompetents, or both.’

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Upsurge in Voter Participation and Scare-Campaigns As Scots Head To The Polls

A Yes would not only be good for Scotland but good for England

Oliver Huitson writes for Open Democracy:

‘I would personally prefer a federal Britain and I would certainly be sad to see the Scots leave. But I really hope they do. Britain is a dying imperial project, steeped in hundreds of years of anti-democratic expertise; it is not quite impervious to change but whatever changes are forced upon it from below it somehow manages to refind its shape, its control – if it is one part bulldog it is nine parts snake, unseen and untouchable. Its governing institutions are instinctively hostile to democracy and transparency. I hope it’s a Yes because I would like Scotland to be free not of the English or Welsh, but of Westminster and its unelected policy board: the City and multinational business. I would like England to be free of them too.’

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How the media shafted the people of Scotland

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian:

‘Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – that supports independence except the Sunday Herald. The Scots who will vote yes have been almost without representation in the media.

There is nothing unusual about this. Change in any direction, except further over the brink of market fundamentalism and planetary destruction, requires the defiance of almost the entire battery of salaried opinion. What distinguishes the independence campaign is that it has continued to prosper despite this assault.

In the coverage of the referendum we see most of the pathologies of the corporate media. Here, for instance, you will find the unfounded generalisations with which less enlightened souls are characterised. In the Spectator, Simon Heffer maintains that: “addicted to welfare … Scots embraced the something for nothing society”, objecting to the poll tax “because many of them felt that paying taxes ought to be the responsibility of someone else”.’

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Why an independent Scotland could become the richest country on Earth

Dominic Frisby wrote for The Independent back in January:

‘An independent Scotland could become the richest country on earth. I’m not joking. It has all the necessary ingredients. Let me explain. Each year the World Bank, the IMF and the CIA each independently publish a list of the richest countries in the world – as measured by GDP per capita at purchasing power parity. The UK sits at a rather disappointing 21st, but topping those rankings you have the likes of Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, Brunei, Norway and Switzerland.

Some of these nations have got there thanks to their oil. But oil isn’t everything – otherwise the likes of Saudi Arabia (28th), Russia (43rd) or Iran (78th) would feature. Others have got there because they are financial or commercial centres. But the same regulatory options that have enabled them to be so are open to other countries – they have just not been adopted. There is, however, one characteristic common to all the top ten ranking nations, bar one. It is that they are small. In the top five, Singapore and Norway both have around 5 million; Qatar 3 million; Luxembourg and Brunei around half a million.’

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Independence for Scotland? Interview with John Nichols

Cameron Warns of Terrorist Threat If Scotland Backs Independence

Thomas Penny reports for Bloomberg:

Scotland will be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks in a “very dangerous and insecure world” if it votes for independence on Sept. 18, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said. Being part of a union gives Scots the protective benefits of being part of a larger country, Cameron told reporters at the end of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s summit in Newport, Wales, yesterday.

“With terrorist threats and other threats, isn’t it better to be part of a United Kingdom that has a top-five defense budget, some of the best intelligence and security services anywhere in the world, that is part of every single alliance that really matters in the world in terms of NATO, the G-8, the G-20, the European Union, a member of the security council of the UN?” Cameron said. “All those networks and abilities to work with allies to keep us safe. Isn’t it better to have those things than separate yourself from them?”’

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UK’s Nuclear Missiles Could Be Headed for the US if Scotland Wins Independence

Colleen Curry reports for VICE News:

‘The UK’s nuclear weapons are housed in the southwest corner of Scotland, at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the Ministry of Defense confirmed Tuesday. The missiles, 58 of them in all, are leased from King’s Bay Naval Base in southeastern Georgia, near the Atlantic Ocean just north of the Florida border. The British have been leasing the missiles and periodically having them serviced at King’s Bay since the mid-1990s, according to the British government.

If Scotland were to vote yes on independence and no on nukes Thursday, the British would be hard-pressed to quickly find or build another place in the UK with the infrastructure to store them, according to experts. That could force the UK to ship the missiles back to the US, at least temporarily.’

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Scottish Independence Vote And The ‘Contagion’ Effect

Brett Logiurato writes for Business Insider:

‘If Scotland does vote for independence, it could be the start of a domino effect for similar situations throughout Europe, analysts say.

Other areas have been seeking to hold independence referendums — Spain, for example, is worried that Scotland’s situation could embolden separatists in the Catalonia region, though a  tentatively scheduled referendum set for Nov. 9 in Catalonia has been ruled unconstitutional by Spanish courts.

Geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, said Monday he doesn’t expect Scots to end up voting for independence. But if they pull off a shocker, there could be many reverberating effects from the vote — one being that other separatist-fueled areas will be encouraged.’

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Alex Salmond: I won’t hold a second referendum if it’s a narrow No

George Eaton reports for New Statesman:

The First Minister says he won't stage another vote. But could someone else? ‘One question that has risen with increasing frequency, as the Scottish independence polls have narrowed, is whether a narrow No on Thursday would result in a second referendum in the near future. With the SNP expected to remain the dominant force at Holyrood, the potential exists for a “neverendum” (the term coined by Canadian writer Josh Freed to describe the repeated votes on Quebec’s status).

But asked this morning on The Andrew Marr Show, whether “if it’s a No vote by a whisker”, he could come back for another “in a few years’ time”, Alex Salmond said that it was still his view that the result would stand for “a generation.”‘

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Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

James Bamford reports for The New York Times:

‘In Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.’

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John Pilger: Breaking the last taboo – Gaza and the threat of world war

John Pilger recently delivered a speech at the Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Australia:

C2t.jpg‘”There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”

For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.

The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.’

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Gideon Levy: ‘Holocaust makes Israelis think international law doesn’t apply’

Lara Marlowe writes for The Irish Times:

‘Gideon Levy is preaching in the wilderness. Week after week, the columnist for Haaretz newspaper tells his compatriots what they do not want to hear: that the siege of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank are immoral and counter-productive; that the continued seizure of Palestinian land and the construction of settlements is a “criminal enterprise” intended to foil any chance for peace.

[...] Levy is grateful to Amos Schocken, the third-generation owner of Haaretz, for standing by him. Some 2,000 readers cancelled subscriptions because of his July 14th column criticising Israeli air force pilots who bombed Gaza… During the war, Levy was threatened, heckled and spat upon. Haaretz hired bodyguards to protect him. Yariv Levin, the leader of the Likud Yisrael Beiteinu coalition in the Knesset, said he should be tried for treason, which carries the death penalty in time of war.’

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Jerusalem teachers warn of increase in racism after Gaza war

Yarden Skop reports for Haaretz:

‘Teachers in Jerusalem say they are concerned about facing more racism than ever before in the capital’s schools, especially following Operation Protective Edge. As the school year opens, the Education Ministry has published lesson plans on racism to be taught during the first two weeks, but many teachers say that is not enough.’

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Losing the Plot: Israel’s Premier to Face New Gaza Reality

Ramzy Baroud writes for The Palestine Chronicle:

‘Netanyahu’s war-turned-genocide in Gaza has backfired badly – his strategy has helped resurrect Hamas, the very movement he tried desperately to crush

Aside from being a major military setback, Israel’s war on Gaza has also disoriented the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like never before. Since the announcement of a ceasefire on 26 August, his statements appear erratic and particularly uncertain, an expected outcome of the Gaza war.’

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Netanyahu eyes big increase in Israel’s defense spending

Xinhua reports:

‘Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he supports largely increasing defense spending in the upcoming 2015 budget in opposition to the stance of the finance minister, which may lead to the collapse of his political coalition.

“The billions we’ve invested in Israel’s defense in recent years saved the Israeli economy … Due to the threats in our area we need a substantial increment of billions in the defense budget, and we must do so in a responsible way without a great deficit,” Netanyahu said at the fourth international cyber convention held at the Tel Aviv University.’

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War is a racket: $6 billion Gaza reconstruction aid will be ‘made in Israel’

EurActiv reports 

How did we miss that one? Destruction in Gaza, July 2014. Photo: Oxfam International via Flickr.‘As the world gears up to finance Gaza’s $6bn reconstruction after Operation Protective Edge, an EU source has revealed that Israel will earn billions of euros by making sure that all the steel, concrete and other materials and other aid are sourced in Israel and benefit Israeli companies.

At least 65,000 people in the Gaza Strip are homeless after the recent seven-week conflict. Infrastructure ranging from water desalination centres to power plants lies in ruins.

No formal Israeli ban prevents the import of reconstruction materials that were not made in Israel, but EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity say that in practice, Israeli security demands present them with a fait accompli.’

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The Untold Story of the Shejaiya Massacre in Gaza: A Former Israel Soldier Speaks Out

Newsweek’s Monkey Meat Ebola Fearmongering

Peter Hart recently wrote for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

newsweek-bushmeat‘It’s 2014, and a national magazine has a cover story about how African immigrants might spread a deadly virus in the United States, thanks to the peculiar and unsanitary food they eat. The cover image is a photo of a chimpanzee.

Yes, this really happened.

“A Back Door For Ebola: Smuggled Bushmeat Could Spark a US Epidemic” read the headline on the August 29 Newsweek, a profoundly shocking  image and message that immediately drew criticism.

But the problems of the piece were bigger than just the cover. The piece is built around the idea that illegally imported “bushmeat”–what we would call “wild game” if it were being eaten in the United States–could carry the deadly Ebola virus.’

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Growing Ebola Epidemic Has Been Underestimated and Ignored: Interview with Laurie Garrett

‘The World Health Organization is warning that the number of new Ebola cases in West Africa is growing faster than relief workers can manage. The organization says that thousands are at risk of contracting the virus in the coming weeks and more medical professionals are urgently needed to help contain the outbreak. So far, Ebola has claimed some 2,400 lives and continues to ravage Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It is the worst outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. Meanwhile, Sierra Leone has lost a fourth doctor to Ebola after efforts to transfer her abroad for treatment failed. The loss is a major setback for the impoverished country, which is already suffering from a shortage of healthcare workers. Since the Ebola outbreak began, approximately 144 healthcare professionals have died while serving affected populations. We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations.’ (Democracy Now!)

Will the Ebola virus go airborne? (And is that even the right question?)

Sarah Larimer writes for The Washington Post:

‘The Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,400 people during the ongoing epidemic in West Africa, spreads through contact with bodily fluids. That means you can catch it from infected blood, for example, or if you come in contact with vomit from an Ebola patient.

You can’t catch it from breathing in the same air as someone suffering from Ebola — at least you can’t right now. But as the virus continues to spread and mutate, could airborne transmission become a concern? Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, raised that possibility in a New York Times op-ed last week.’

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