Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

the indigenous, living in the past

2016-09-11

Those who have survived extirpation, in a few instance thrive. Otherwise for the majority of Native Americans, even of the US, it remains a struggle for survival – with the US government a not-insignificant contributor to that struggle. A recent example is the constructing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). (more…)

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Britain and its colonies

2016-09-02

The Guardian continues with its series, The Long Read – here, Uncovering the brutal truth about the British empire The story has its roots in thwarted attempts to discredit the research of a US scholar, and a feisty female one at that. (more…)

Dying for a better life, and suddenly a violent death

2016-08-14

What a maligned lot those Central American immigrants to the US. As the saying would go: But for luck there go I? For many, at great personal sacrifice many of their dreams fulfilled; for most, dreams frustrated, and wretched lives do often ensue. Which brings us to those on the streets whose existence we barely notice, despite their increasing prevalence: the homeless, the vagrant.

And that brings us to the brief life, and sudden, brutal death of a Central American immigrant to the US, in the city of San Francisco. The Guardian, which has focused attention on a problem ignored by most US media, that of deaths of US citizens occasioned by its police, now turns its attention to ‘the invisible’ on the streets of the US. Its story, The life and death of Luis Góngora: the police killing nobody noticed,  is compelling and recommends re-telling. A sample, its dramatic start, to the brief life and violent death of a young Mayan from the village of Teabo in the Yucatán, Mexico. (more…)

A journey into useful economics

2016-05-28

Prof John Quiggin progresses along with his ‘Economics in Two Lessons’. The intended text, while much more substantive, is still aimed at the general reader. Its title, as is known, is a take-off on that of ‘Economics in One Lesson’ of Henry Hazlitt, which was rather popular in the US.

Quiggin posts his drafts for comment and critique over at the crooked timber blog, then tidies up his draft as he goes along. His current offering is a timely one, Intellectual property: Extract from Economics in Two Lessons (expanded and amended)

This chapter is quite useful to also better appreciate the arguments against the secretly negotiated, corporate-friendly ‘free trade’ agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), under which the role of the state would be subordinate to that of the multinational/transnational corporations (MNCs/TNCs), especially of the US. (In essence, the corporate control will be reside in the US, with the power of its government and military).

Another element of the proposed ‘free trade’ deals, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism would represent another concession to the MNC, where the MNC can sue the state, but not the other way around, and even for potential loss of earnings. Thanks to citizen activism, continuing leaks and information secured through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests in the US have tended to strengthen the arguments against the trade deals.The deterioration in the economic fortunes of the average citizen since the 80s will increase, as those of the MNCs and their sponsors increase.

The draft Intellectual Property (IP) chapter should help shine a brighter light on the reliability, the credibility of media reports and pronouncements of politician advocates for such ‘free trade’ deals.

Haiti, and luck

2016-04-25

Place of birth, and station in life, and opportunities. Which brings us to Haiti.

Briefly, throughout its history the country has seemed benighted. Since its independence in 1804 its economic and social development has lagged far behind others of the region. In fact, it is the poorest in the Latin America and Caribbean region, with a literacy rate of some 61 percent and life expectancy of 63 years. (more…)

A Sunday read: Cuba, its struggles for its dignity

2016-04-17

Today, 17April, is yet another day in the history of the United States and its involvement in the affairs of weak countries, especially those of the region.

As is known, Cuba was the country run by a very corrupt dictator, Fulgencio Batista, a country where the criminal organisation, the Mafia, had the run of the land. Cuba’s poor, and in their millions, were of no consequence as their social and economic situation continued to worsen – until Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries came along. That surrogates of the US should be so unceremoniously dispatched would be an affront that would not be allowed to go unpunished. (more…)

The ghost of Berta Caceres walks abroad

2016-04-03

What in times past would have been unavailable to the general public is now almost instantaneously available – thanks to new digital media and the blogs. The likes of NYT or WaPo or US cable news no longer dictate what inconvenient truths should be hidden from the public.

That attempt to glorify the farcical US initiative ‘Partnership for Prosperity’ that would comprise Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras is a glorious failure. In Guatemala, its recent President and Vice-President have found themselves in a spot of bother, La Línea and all that. El Salvador has its hands full with rampant violence and criminal gangs. And Honduras, aside its President JO Hernández and that Social Security business, also has to contend with widespread violence and murder.These three countries are among the poorest of the region, but each with a handful of rich and powerful landowners.

That desperate, indigent parents would seek the safety and welfare of their vulnerable children by sending them unescorted on that perilous journey ‘North’ becomes understandable. Which would raise the question of why would any country aid and abet the overthrow of a duly elected President who had set about improving the lot of the downtrodden, thereby reducing the incentive to travel ‘North’? (more…)

A Dickens of a time?

2015-12-25

No time better. And US economist Tim Taylor has been the guide.

That Christmas Carol of Charles Dickens, a customary seasonal read, not to mention the essential viewing of Alastair Sim’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. Both a now a tradition.

Those impelled to follow the commercial gospel of ‘Shop till you drop!’ may have had little time to contemplate the, if not religious, spiritual significance of the season. Such, in their frenetic pursuits, will have missed life, in its various forms of emptiness and despair, around them. Of course, for some these same unfortunates their own bill may soon come due.

Thus, today is better than any to do an accounting. And we go back in time. Charles Dickens would recount a stroll with a friend one winter’s night in London, A NIGHTLY SCENE IN LONDON. One telling excerpt,

Crouched against the wall of the Workhouse,
in the dark street, on the muddy pavement-
stones, with the rain raining upon them, were
five bundles of rags. They were motionless,
and had no resemblance to the human form.
Five great beehives, covered with ragsfive
dead bodies taken out of graves, tied neck
and heels, and covered with ragswould
have looked like those five bundles upon
which the rain rained down in the public
street.

What is this! ” said my companion. “What is this!”

Some miserable people shut out of the
Casual Ward, I think,” said I.

Times have since changed. Roads are paved. Smart phones abound. And the poverty and destitution, though not as dire, ignored by policy makers, is made invisible or the victims’ fault by a cooperative corporate media that ensure that their distractions make the problem disappear.

Kindness is no sign of weakness, of human frailty.

El día internacional de derechos humanos

2015-12-10

Hoy se celebra el día internacional de DDHH. Estas imágenes cuentan el maltrato a personas en muchos paises del mundo. De TeleSUR, La humanidad reclama hoy el respeto a los DD.HH

Venezuela, elections rigged?

2015-12-07

So the results are in. And as we were warned time and time again, by officials of the US, its corporate media, and the opposition groups (some 12 comprising MUD) in Venezuela that the ruling PSUV has for years been rigging elections in its favour. Clearly such did justify the US declaring that fearsome Venezuela a threat to its existence?

As the Guardian reports, Venezuela elections: socialists dealt a blow as opposition wins landslide

Venezuela’s opposition has won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections in the oil-rich nation, which is mired in economic turmoil and violent crime.

Candidates for the centre-right opposition seized a majority in the national assembly, with most of the results in, marking a major political shift in the country, which set out on a leftist path in 1999 under the late president Hugo Chavez and his project to make Venezuela a model of what he called “21st century socialism”.

The results were not even close for control of the Assembly. And the venal, the corrupt PSUV even refused, absolutely refused to question or complain of its defeat, una derrota aplastante. Clearly, something must be afoot. Ever suspicious minds would wonder at this bit of news from the Guardian, Opec bid to kill off US shale sends oil price down to near seven-year low

A barrel of benchmark Brent crude was changing hands at below $42 a barrel after the oil cartel Opec – heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia – decided late last week to continue flooding the global market with cheap oil.
With global demand weak, traders fear that Opec’s refusal [note: more a failure to agree] to cut production despite the financial pain it is causing its members’ economies will lead to an ever-deeper world glut of crude.

Losers’ revenge? And who would this winning coalition allow to handle foreign policy for Venezuela, the US embassy? And finance, the IMF? And PDVSA, ExxonMobil?

Which brings to mind this useful comparison and learning experience illustrated by Keane Bhatt in Jacobin, A Tale of Two Elections.

Even in defeat the much vilified PSUV has given a lesson in democracy to those countries that preach but practice it only by artful misdirection. Whether the myriad parties of the MUD coalition will reciprocate is the question. (Will there be a return of ‘DameDos’?) Nothing like change to focus the mind and strengthen resolve. Of course, the coffee-with-arepa tradition still goes on, and uninterrupted.