Category Archives: European Union

This is not a new cold war but something more dangerous

Historian Robert Service writes for the Financial Times:

[…] All-out struggle between Russia and America on a cold war scale is not on the cards. What we do have, however, is a situation that is bad — and could easily worsen.

It is optimistic to expect Mr Putin to change course. For now, he gains esteem at home when bullying the neighbours. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have genuine cause for concern. In the longer term, experience suggests Mr Putin will prove a poor geostrategic thinker. He has already damaged Russian economic interests, which surely lie in securing western assistance to build up the country’s ability to cope with competition from China.

Mr Putin’s frequent diplomatic overtures for a Syrian settlement deserve serious examination. But he shows no sign of disengaging from Ukraine; and, having loosed the dogs of nationalism, he would find it hard to put them back in the kennel, even if he wanted to. This makes for a less predictable global situation than the finely tuned balance of power that prevailed during the cold war.

In some ways we now live in even more dangerous times. Sparks on distant borders can have unplanned and explosive consequences.


Flawed methodology and assumptions behind claim that business is losing Brussels lobby wars

Corporate Observatory Europe writes:

Spare a thought for big business lobbyists in Brussels. According to a blog on the website of the London School of Economics, they are supposedly “less successful than citizen groups at lobbying EU legislators”. If only. The authors of the blog (academics Andreas Dür, Patrick Bernhagen and David Marshall) make this claim off the back of their analysis of 70 European Commission proposals introduced between 2008 and 2010, which they say show business actors to be less able to achieve their desired outcomes in EU legislative decisions. Let’s examine the main assumptions, methodology, and findings from the blog to try to explain how they could have gotten Brussels’ lobbying power picture so backward.

Essentially, the blog’s conclusions can be explained by the questionable method that was used to determine lobby ‘success’. On the basis of interviews with 95 Commission staff (see page 13 of the longer underlying research article), the researchers determined a long term lobby objective for business groups and citizens groups, as well as “initial” European Commission and European Parliament positions on a scale of 0 – 100. To use computer geek slang, this seems like a case of GIGO (garbage in garbage out): “if you input the wrong data, the results will also be wrong.” The figures that the researchers used to make their elaborate calculations of lobbying success are just a numerical expression of value judgements of a group of officials who had particular responsibilities for the relevant legislative proposal. Not exactly a neutral, unbiased group! On top of this, the scale of 0 – 100 to measure lobby positions and outcomes is insufficient. Many legislative proposals have hundreds of amendments and there can be wins and losses on different elements of a proposal. Real assessments of success cannot be so one-dimensional.


Syriza Re-election Victory Sidelines Popular Unity Party: Interview with Aris George-Baldur Spourdalakis and Leo Panitch

Is the Ukraine Situation More Dangerous than the Middle East? Interview with Stephen Cohen

Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of a number of books including Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. On top of this he is a founding board member of The Committee for East-West Accord. This interview with the Thom Hartmann Show was recorded two weeks ago. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here. (Thom Hartmann Show)

Aylan Kurdi: Are We Reading Charlie Hebdo Wrong?

The Daily Vox writes:

Charlie Hebdo 1The world woke up to righteous condemnation over the latest Charle Hebdo cartoons. The French satirical magazine has been called everything from callous to disgusting to racist and insensitive.

And to be clear, they may very well be all of that, and more.

In the first drawing: “Si près du but…” or “So close to his goal.” The cartoon shows Aylan Kurdi’s body washed ashore in front of McDonalds ad, saying “Two children combos for the price of one.”

In what seems to be a rather distasteful depiction of the boy’s plight and the ongoing refugee disaster, perhaps the artists are saying something else.

Imagine what lengths the Kurdi family have gone through – the war, the hiding, the human traffickers, the trauma, and all so that they might reach a better place: a land of hamburgers and scavenger capitalism. Europe is sure as hell not all it’s made out to be.


Is Trump the American Berlusconi?

Carlo Invernizzi Accetti and Francesco Ronchi write for CounterPunch:

For a long time Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi appeared as an impenetrable phenomenon to foreign observers. He was routinely dismissed as an exotic anomaly tied to the idiosyncrasies of Italian political culture.

Today, he might not seem so unfamiliar. There are striking analogies between Italy’s former prime minister and the current front-runner in the Republican presidential nominee race — and not just that both are flamboyant billionaires and former entertainers running for office on anti-establishment platforms.

Although Berlusconi’s political fortunes now appear to be on the wane, looking back at reasons for his erstwhile success might shed light on the current fascination with Donald Trump’s US presidential bid.


French spy who sank Greenpeace ship apologises for lethal bombing

Kim Willsher reports for The Guardian:

A French secret service diver who took part in the operation to sink Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior 30 years ago has spoken publicly for the first time to apologise for his actions.

Jean-Luc Kister, who attached a mine to the ship’s hull, says the guilt of the bombing, which killed a photographer, still weighs heavily on his mind.

“We are not assassins and we have a conscience,” the former agent told investigative website Mediapart. “I have the weight of an innocent man’s death on my conscience … It’s time, I believe, for me to express my profound regret and my apologies,” Kister said.

He said he wanted to apologise to the family of the dead man, Fernando Pereira, “especially his daughter Marelle … for what I call an accidental death but what they consider an assassination”, to the Greenpeace crew aboard the ship and the people of New Zealand where the Rainbow Warrior was sunk.


The Arctic and the Next Not-So-Cold War: Interview with James Bamford

Amy Goodman talks to investigative journalist James Bamford about his recent article: “Frozen Assets: The Newest Front in Global Espionage is One of the Least Habitable Locales on Earth—the Arctic.” Bamford is the author of a number of books including Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency and The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. (Democracy Now!)

Frozen Assets: Inside the Spy War for Control of the Arctic

James Bamford writes for Foreign Policy:

Arctic Circle Map[…] Worth an estimated $17.2 trillion, an amount roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. economy, these resources have been trapped for eons under a dome of ice and snow. But now, with the Arctic warming faster than anywhere else on the planet, that dome is getting smaller and smaller. According to scientists at the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center, about 65 percent of the ice layer above the Lomonosov Ridge melted between 1975 and 2012. In layman’s terms, says Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, this means one thing: The ice cap is in a “death spiral.”

For the countries that border the Arctic Ocean—
Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Denmark (through its territory of Greenland)—an accessible ocean means new opportunities. And for the states that have their sights set on the Lomonosov Ridge—possibly all five Arctic Ocean neighbors but the United States—an open ocean means access to much of the North Pole’s largesse. First, though, they must prove to the United Nations that the access is rightfully theirs. Because that process could take years, if not decades, these countries could clash in the meantime, especially as they quietly send in soldiers, spies, and scientists to collect information on one of the planet’s most hostile pieces of real estate.

While the world’s attention today is focused largely on the Middle East and other obvious trouble spots, few people seem to be monitoring what’s happening in the Arctic. Over the past few years, in fact, the Arctic Ocean countries have been busy building up their espionage armories with imaging satellites, reconnaissance drones, eavesdropping bases, spy planes, and stealthy subs. Denmark and Canada have described a clear uptick in Arctic spies operating on their territories, with Canada reporting levels comparable to those at the height of the Cold War. As of October, NATO had recorded a threefold jump in 2014 over the previous year in the number of Russian spy aircraft it had intercepted in the region. Meanwhile, the United States is sending satellites over the icy region about every 30 minutes, averaging more than 17,000 passes every year, and is developing a new generation of unmanned intelligence sensors to monitor everything above, on, and below the ice and water.


Shocking images of drowned Syrian boy show tragic plight of refugees

Helena Smith reports for The Guardian:

Young boy washed up on the beach.The full horror of the human tragedy unfolding on the shores of Europe was brought home on Wednesday as images of the lifeless body of a young boy – one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned attempting to reach the Greek island of Kos – encapsulated the extraordinary risks refugees are taking to reach the west.

The picture, taken on Wednesday morning, depicted the dark-haired toddler, wearing a bright-red T-shirt and shorts, washed up on a beach, lying face down in the surf not far from Turkey’s fashionable resort town of Bodrum.

A second image portrays a grim-faced policeman carrying the tiny body away. Within hours it had gone viral becoming the top trending picture on Twitter under the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore).

Turkish media identified the boy as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi and reported that his five-year-old brother had also met a similar death. Both had reportedly hailed from the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the site of fierce fighting between Islamic state insurgents and Kurdish forces earlier this year.

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, said: “This tragic image of a little boy who’s lost his life fleeing Syria is shocking and is a reminder of the dangers children and families are taking in search of a better life. This child’s plight should concentrate minds and force the EU to come together and agree to a plan to tackle the refugee crisis.”


Refugee Crisis: Interview with Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration, and Dr. Chiara Montaldo of Doctors Without Borders

Amy Goodman speaks with Joel Millman, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, and Dr. Chiara Montaldo of Doctors Without Borders in the Sicilian town of Pozzallo in Italy. Dr. Montaldo provides medical and psychological care to people rescued from boats in the Mediterranean. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has reported that approximately 2,500 people have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe so far this year. (Democracy Now!)

Libya and the West’s moral bankruptcy

Ramzy Baroud writes for Arab News:

On April 26, 2011, a meeting that can only be described as sinister took place between the then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The most pressing issue discussed at the meeting in Rome was how to deal with African immigrants.

Sarkozy, who was under pressure from his right-wing and far-right constituencies to halt immigration originating from North Africa (resulting from the Tunisian uprising), desired to strike a deal with the opportunistic Italian leader. In exchange for an Italian agreement to join a French initiative aimed at tightening border control (Italy being accused of allowing immigrants to cross through its borders to the rest of Europe), France, in turn, would resolve major disputes involving a series of takeovers, involving French and Italian companies. Moreover, Italy would then secure French support for a bid by Italian economist and banker, Mario Draghi, to become the head of the European Central Bank.

Another point on the French agenda was active Italian participation in the war on Libya, initially spearheaded by France, Britain and the United States, and later championed by NATO.

Initially, Berlusconi hesitated to take part in the war, although certainly not for any moral reasons: For example, because the war was deliberately based on a misconstrued interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011. The resolution called for an ‘immediate cease-fire,’ the establishment of a ‘no-fly zone’ and using all means, except foreign occupation, to ‘protect civilians.’ The war, however, achieved entirely different objectives from the ones stated in the resolution. It achieved a regime change, the bloody capture and murder of Libyan leader, Muammar Al-Qaddafi, and resulted in a bloodbath in which thousands of civilians were killed, and continue to die, due to the chaos and civil war that has gripped Libya since then.


The Planned Destruction of Libya

John Wright writes for CounterPunch:

With talks between various political factions in Libya beginning in Geneva with the objective of forging a unity government in a country best by chaos and lawlessness, the West’s role in this process must be questioned given its culpability in the country’s destabilization.

Out of the many examples of Western military interventions in recent times, none has been more grievous or disastrous than NATO’s 2011 intervention in Libya, which only helped turn the country into a failed state.

Unleashed under the auspices of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 – a UN mandate abused to effect the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Tripoli despite its official and stated objective of ‘protecting civilians’ – NATO’s intervention in the form of airstrikes did not result in the democratic society so gushingly anticipated by those responsible and their supporters. Instead it ushered in crisis and chaos as Libyan society promptly fragmented and broke down into the tribal, sectarian, and brutal internecine conflict that has turned a once functioning state and society into a dystopia into which ISIS has gained a foothold and been able to spread its malign influence. The result has been the usual barbaric ritual beheadings of ISIS prisoners, the persecution of women and minorities, and in June the slaughter of 37 tourists in Tunisia in a terrorist attack prepared and organized across the border in Libya.


Suing the State: The Hidden Rules Within the EU-US Trade Deal

Foreign Office to face inquiry into role played by UK in Libya’s collapse

Matthew Weaver reports for The Guardian:

‘The Foreign Office is to face questions over Libya’s descent into a failed state, following the launch of an inquiry by an influential committee of MPs into Britain’s role in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and the troubled aftermath.

Launching the inquiry, the Tory chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, Crispin Blunt, told the Guardian that the intervention and subsequent breakdown of the state had proved disastrous for Libya and posed a global security threat.

He said: “It has turned out to be a catastrophe for the people of Libya. And now it is a growing problem for us, with our undoubted enemy Isis beginning to establish control of areas of Libya. Plus the migration crisis – any area where state authority collapses obviously poses problems for us all over the world.”

Blunt, a former government minister, said the inquiry will investigate Britain’s capacity to conduct the necessary post-intervention planning.’


Documents Published by WikiLeaks Reveal the NSA’s Corporate Priorities

Bill Blunden reports for Truthout:

Cyber espionage“We are under pressure from the Treasury to justify our budget, and commercial espionage is one way of making a direct contribution to the nation’s balance of payments.” – Sir Colin McColl, MI6 Chief

For years public figures have condemned cyber espionage committed against the United States by intruders launching their attacks out of China. These same officials then turn around and justify the United States’ far-reaching surveillance apparatus in terms of preventing terrorist attacks. Yet classified documents published by WikiLeaks reveal just how empty these talking points are. Specifically, top-secret intercepts prove that economic spying by the United States is pervasive, that not even allies are safe and that it’s wielded to benefit powerful corporate interests.

At a recent campaign event in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton accused China of “trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America.” Clinton’s hyperbole is redolent of similar claims from the US deep state. For example, who could forget the statement made by former NSA director Keith Alexander that Chinese cyber espionage represents the greatest transfer of wealth in history? Alexander has obviously never heard of quantitative easing (QE) or the self-perpetuating “global war on terror,” which has likewise eaten through trillions of dollars. Losses due to cyber espionage are a rounding error compared to the tidal wave of money channeled through QE and the war on terror.’


Between Berlin and a Hard Place: Greece and the German Strategy to Dominate Europe

Andrew Gavin Marshall writes:

[…] The German bet was that the EU could outrun financial markets, using the crisis as an opportunity to advance fiscal and political integration and impose their demands upon the rest of Europe, while simultaneously preventing markets from creating a crisis so severe that it threatened the euro or the economies of the more powerful nations. Without the pressure of financial markets, the EU could not force its member nations to restructure their economies and societies. Chancellor Merkel would frequently describe the European debt crisis to her colleagues as a “poker game” between financial markets and politicians. The first to flinch would lose.

In 2011, Bloomberg noted that Merkel was “turning Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis into an opportunity to reshape the euro region in Germany’s image,” concluding that she had “pulled ahead for now in her battle to restore policy makers’ mastery over the market.” A biographer of Merkel explained, “It’s policy by trial and error.”

Merkel’s powerful Finance Minister, Mr. Schauble, was one of the chief architects of the German strategy for Europe’s crisis. In March of 2010, he wrote in the Financial Times that, “from Germany’s perspective, European integration, monetary union and the euro are the only choice.” But aid comes with strings attached and harsh penalties for violations. “It must, on principle, still be possible for a state to go bankrupt,” wrote Mr. Schauble. “Facing an unpleasant reality could be the better option in certain conditions.”

The German minister believed “the financial crisis in the eurozone is not just a threat, but an opportunity,” as markets would “force the most debt-laden members of the 17-nation currency union to curb their budget deficits and increase their competitiveness.” This would pressure governments to accept further integration into a “fiscal union” defined and shaped by Germany. “We need to take big steps to get that done,” Mr. Schauble said in 2011. “That is why crises are also opportunities. We can get things done that we could not do without the crisis.”

Financial markets were happy to oblige the German-EU strategy, as the crisis would force the reforms long demanded by banks as a solution to the irresponsible spending of governments: austerity and structural reform. From 2002 to 2012, Josef Ackermann led Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank. In 2011, the New York Timesdescribed Ackermann as “the most powerful banker in Europe” and “possibly the most dangerous one, too,” standing “at the center of more concentric circles of power than any other banker on the Continent.”’


The problem of Greece is not only a tragedy. It is a lie.

John Pilger writes:

An historic betrayal has consumed Greece. Having set aside the mandate of the Greek electorate, the Syriza government has willfully ignored last week’s landslide “No” vote and secretly agreed a raft of repressive, impoverishing measures in return for a “bailout” that means sinister foreign control and a warning to the world.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pushed through parliament a proposal to cut at least 13 billion euros from the public purse – 4 billion euros more than the “austerity” figure rejected overwhelmingly by the majority of the Greek population in a referendum on 5 July.

These reportedly include a 50 per cent increase in the cost of healthcare for pensioners, almost 40 per cent of whom live in poverty; deep cuts in public sector wages; the complete privatization of public facilities such as airports and ports; a rise in value added tax to 23 per cent, now applied to the Greek islands where people struggle to eke out a living. There is more to come.

“Anti-austerity party sweeps to stunning victory”, declared a Guardian headline on January 25. “Radical leftists” the paper called Tsipras and his impressively-educated comrades. They wore open neck shirts, and the finance minister rode a motorbike and was described as a “rock star of economics”. It was a façade. They were not radical in any sense of that cliched label, neither were they “anti austerity”.’


Paul Mason on Greece: “Finance will be used in a hostile way if you flout the sovereignty of Europe”

‘Greece will have to implement the tough austerity measures demanded by its lenders, plus hand €50bn of assets to a privatisation fund, where sales will be used to pay down debt.’ (Channel 4 News)

Greece is the latest battleground in the financial elite’s war on democracy

George Monbiot recently wrote from The Guardian:

Irish famine, original illustrationGreece may be financially bankrupt, but the troika is politically bankrupt. Those who persecute this nation wield illegitimate, undemocratic powers, powers of the kind now afflicting us all. Consider the International Monetary Fund. The distribution of power here was perfectly stitched up: IMF decisions require an 85% majority, and the US holds 17% of the votes.

The IMF is controlled by the rich, and governs the poor on their behalf. It’s now doing to Greece what it has done to one poor nation after another, from Argentina to Zambia. Its structural adjustment programmes have forced scores of elected governments to dismantle public spending, destroying health, education and all the means by which the wretched of the earth might improve their lives.

The same programme is imposed regardless of circumstance: every country the IMF colonises must place the control of inflation ahead of other economic objectives; immediately remove barriers to trade and the flow of capital; liberalise its banking system; reduce government spending on everything bar debt repayments; and privatise assets that can be sold to foreign investors.’


#ThisIsACoup: Dimitri Lascaris and Michalis Spourdalakis on the Humiliating Eurozone Offer to Greece

Wikileaks Revelations Expose US Tentacles: Interview with Michael Ratner

Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and U.S. attorney for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In this interview he breaks down the latest Wikileaks revelations. (The Real News)

Capitalism and Government Debt at Odds in Greece: Interview with Michael Hudson

Michael Hudson is research professor of economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC) and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. In this interview he says that unlike personal and corporate debt, there is no legal framework for writing off government debt, so there is deliberate anarchy in place. (The Real News)

Was Tsipras’ referendum worth it? Paul Mason on the Greek debt crisis

‘The new Greek government proposals, published late last night are clearly based on those submitted by Jean Claude Juncker last Thursday, before the referendum. It’s left many Greeks frustrated, asking: what was the point of the referendum?’ (Channel 4 News)

We Voted ‘No’ To Slavery, But ‘Yes’ To Our Chains: Greg Palast On Greece

Greg Palast is an investigative reporter who has worked for the BBC and the Guardian, among others. He is the author of several books including Vultures’ Picnic and The Best Money Democracy Can Buy.

The Srebrenica Precedent

David N. Gibbs, author of First Do No Harm, writes for Jacobin:

This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, in which eight thousand people were killed in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The mass killing was the single deadliest event of the Bosnian War, and the most recognized atrocity of the post–Cold War era.

Its significance cannot be overstated: the massacre triggered a NATO bombing campaign that is widely credited with ending the Bosnian War and giving NATO a new lease on life after the fall of the Soviet Union. Ever since, the Srebrenica precedent has been invoked to justify military interventions around the globe.

In 2005, Christopher Hitchens defended the US decision to invade Iraq with an article entitled “From Srebrenica to Baghdad.” In 2011, when Guardian columnist Peter Preston advocated military intervention in Libya, his article began with the words: “Remember Srebrenica?” In 2012, a call in CNN for Western intervention in Syria appeared under the title “Syria, Sarajevo, and Srebrenica.” And a 2014 article on ISIS advances in Syria warned of a possible “New Srebrenica,” with the implication that Western military action was needed to prevent this calamity.

When supporters of military intervention cite Srebrenica, it’s often to insist on the need to dispense with diplomacy and use decisive military force in response to humanitarian emergencies. As a 2006 New Republic editorial succinctly argued, “In the response to most foreign policy crises, the use of military force is properly viewed as a last resort. In the response to genocide, the use of military force is properly viewed as a first resort.” Given the broad way that genocide is now defined, this is a call for interventions without limit.’


How Britain and the US decided to abandon Srebrenica to its fate

Florence Hartmann and Ed Vulliamy report for The Guardian:

MUSLIM REFUGEES[…] Over two decades, 14 of the murderers have been convicted at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. The Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadžic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, await verdicts in trials for genocide. Blame among the “international community”charged with protecting Srebrenica has piled, not without reason, on the head of UN forces in the area, General Bernard Janvier, for opposing intervention – notably air strikes – that might have repelled the Serb advance, and Dutch soldiers who not only failed in their duty to protect Srebrenica but evicted terrified civilians seeking shelter in their headquarters, and watched the Serbs separate women and young children from their male quarry.

Now a survey of the mass of evidence reveals that the fall of Srebrenica formed part of a policy by the three “great powers” – Britain, France and the US – and by the UN leadership, in pursuit of peace at any price; peace at the terrible expense of Srebrenica, which gathered critical mass from 1994 onwards, and reached its bloody denouement in July 1995.

Until now, it has always been asserted that the so-called “endgame strategy” that forged a peace settlement for – and postwar map of – Bosnia followed the “reality on the ground” after the fall, and ceding, of Srebrenica. What can now be revealed is that the “endgame” preceded that fall, and was – as it turned out – conditional upon it.

The western powers whose negotiations led to Srebrenica’s downfall cannot be said to have known the extent of the massacre that would follow, but the evidence demonstrates they were aware – or should have been – of Mladic’s declared intention to have the Bosniak Muslim population of the entire region “vanish completely”. In the history of eastern Bosnia over the three years that preceded the massacre, that can only have meant one thing.’


European Parliament re-brands ISDS, still wants to let companies to sue nations

Glyn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

The European Parliament today called for foreign investors to be allowed to sue the EU and member states in special new courts. This controversial proposal came as part of a non-binding set of recommendations to the European Commission on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), currently being negotiated with the US. The new investor courts would replace the old investor tribunals employed as part of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, but would function largely in the same way.

Adopting an amendment proposed by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, the European Parliament called on the European Commission to set up new ISDS courts featuring “publicly appointed, independent professional judges,” instead of corporate lawyers, as at present, and holding public hearings with an appeal mechanism. The S&D says this is “the end of ISDS in EU trade deals.”

In putting forward this compromise amendment, however, the left-wing group has implicitly acquiesced in the idea of granting foreign investors special rights not enjoyed by domestic companies—the key issue that lies at the heart of ISDS. Moreover, the new investor courts are just as one-sided as the current ISDS tribunals: although companies will be able sue the EU and member states for billions, with the public footing the bill, there is no mechanism for the EU to sue companies. The best the public can ever hope for is not to lose.’


Paul Mason on Yanis Varoufakis quitting despite Greek referendum victory

Spain’s New Security Law Meets Fierce Criticism From Rights Groups

Alissa Greenberg reports for Time:

Demonstrators with their mouths taped sit outside the Spanish parliament during a protest against Spanish government's new security law in central MadridA new law that went into effect in Spain on July 1 has much of the country, as well as many human rights organizations, in an uproar. While proponents say the new public security law will reinforce civil liberties, opponents call it the “gag law,” saying it will do just the opposite and take the country a step backward toward dictatorship.

The law covers everything from internet surfing to drug trafficking, but opponents point specifically to portions targeting illegal downloading, habitual access of websites that allegedly promote terrorism, and violent protest, as problematic, saying they include too-loose language that could be abused for political purposes and will limit freedom of speech or even prevent reports of police brutality.

Under the law, citizens can be fined the equivalent of almost $700 for insulting an officer, over $33,000 for recording and disseminating images of police officers, and more than $664,000 for participating in an unauthorized protest outside government buildings, the New York Times reports.’