Tag Archive: Europe

Apr 25 2018

Syria, Sanctions and Tariffs

We are aware that Donald Trump does not take advice from anyone in his cabinet or inner circle. But when it comes to sanctions, tariffs and red lines, it appears he takes his cues from Russian president Vladimir Putin, Fox & Friends and the voices in his head. When Trump tweeted that he was going …

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Feb 13 2013

The High Cost For Bad Internet Connection In The US

Recently the Federal Communications Commission announced that it wanted to create a free super Wi-Fi network across the country, virtually eliminating a monthly internet bill.  Naturally, the telecommunication giants and the lawmakers in Congress who protect them are opposed.  In Europe, internet users enjoy inexpensive, high speed access to a broadband, phone, and cable TV package for as little as $40 a month.  The phone service has unlimited local calling and a lot of free international calls.

Bloomberg View contributor and  visiting professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School, Susan Crawford notes that Americans pay a high price for slow and bad internet connections at a time when “the internet has taken the place of the telephone as the world’s basic, general-purpose, two-way communication medium“.  In the article, she describes how a city in Louisiana brought cheaper, high speed internet to its community despite opposition from the telephone and local cable companies:

Terry Huval is a large, friendly man with a lilting Southern accent who plays Cajun fiddle tunes in his spare time. He is also the director of utilities in Lafayette, Louisiana. “Our job is making sure we listen to our citizens,” he says.

In 2004, the Lafayette utilities system decided to provide a fiber-to-the-home service. The new network, called LUS Fiber, would give everyone in Lafayette a very fast Internet connection, enabling them to lower their electricity costs by monitoring and adjusting their usage.

Push-back from the local telephone company, BellSouth Corp., and the local cable company, Cox Communications Inc., was immediate. They tried to get laws passed to stop the network, sued the city, even forced the town to hold a referendum on the project — in which the people voted 62 percent in favor. Finally, in February 2007, after five civil lawsuits, the Louisiana Supreme Court voted, 7-0, to allow the network.

From 2007 to mid-2011, people living in Lafayette saved $5.7 million on telecommunications services.

Prof. Crawford joined Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company to discuss why U.S. internet access is slow, costly and unfair

Susan Crawford, former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology and innovation, and author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, joins Bill to discuss how our government has allowed a few powerful media conglomerates to put profit ahead of the public interest – rigging the rules, raising prices, and stifling competition. As a result, Crawford says, all of us are at the mercy of the biggest business monopoly since Standard Oil in the first Gilded Age a hundred years ago.

“The rich are getting gouged, the poor are very often left out, and this means that we’re creating, yet again, two Americas, and deepening inequality through this communications inequality,” Crawford tells Bill.

Jan 20 2013

Austerity, Triple Dip Recessions and Economic Crisis by NY Brit Expat

Sitting there looking vainly at the growth, or lack of it to be more precise, of the British economy quarter by quarter following the introduction of austerity measures is a dubious use of time. So rather than sit there each quarter and discuss a dismal economy, I think the first step is to understand that we are in a world-wide economic crisis of the capitalist system. We also need to understand that the policies being introduced are actually not only extending the current crisis, but given that they are leading to increased income and wealth inequality, they will have a devastating impact upon the working classes in the countries introducing these measures. Moreover, the impact of austerity is not accident, it is being introduced specifically to create the economic contraction and  the increased wealth and income inequality in the hope that private sector will take over the state sector services being undermined.

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Triple-dip recession?

We need to understand that the introduction of austerity in an economic crisis does not lead to economic growth contrary to the absurd pronouncements of Prime Minister, David Cameron.  Essentially, following a slight blip caused by the Olympics, I suspect we will be witnessing rather bad news. The combination of “beggar thy neighbour” low corporate taxation (to supposedly encourage investment in Britain) and cuts to public spending, services and benefits is not leading to a reinvigoration of the economy; rather the opposite is occurring.

Quite simply, the fall in service sector activity (which accounts for 75% of British economic activity) for the first time in two years (note that it was not in great shape beforehand) means that the economy is contracting.

Apr 02 2012

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Emergency Alert-OWS Occupies the US. Congress

Reprinted from: Daily Kos

In an unprecedented move, we are delaying the publication of our regular Anti-capitalist meet-up diary to bring you a special report.  Four hours ago, several hundred US citizens and residents, reportedly members of OWS (Occupy Wall Street), occupied both chambers of the United States Congress.

Corporate media sources have refused to report the event until control can be reestablished by authorities. However, according to Al Gazeera, who just started running a live stream an hour ago, the occupiers entered both houses and forced the Senate into the House of Representatives Chamber for a joint session.  We can only speculate whether the occupiers used guns to force the Senators into the Chamber or simply took over using the force of their numbers. We understand they dismantled the microphones in the chamber and began a General Assembly using the human microphone.

Jun 22 2011

Greece: Saving the Banks, Destroying A Country

What Atrios said:

The people who run the world agree that ordinary people need to suffer so that the banksters don’t lose on their bets.

The people who run the world are awful people.

Shitpile is an understatement.

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning that a full-scale restructuring of Greek debt would have “completely uncontrollable”consequences on the financial markets.

Merkel said Wednesday that imposing a so-called haircut on Greek debt – reducing the amount to be repaid – would not only endanger banks and other creditors who hold Greek bonds, but also institutions that sold insurance policies against a default.

Merkel told a parliamentary committee that those credit default swaps have a higher face value than the debt itself.

But protect those bankers they no matter that they’ve destroyed Greece’s economy by the skin of the average Greeks’ teeth

ATHENS – Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece won a crucial vote of confidence early Wednesday, with all 155 lawmakers of the Socialist Party expressing their support for his beleaguered government, above the absolute majority of 151 votes required by Greece’s 300-seat Parliament. . . .

He defended the country’s foreign creditors, who have become a lightning rod for popular fury, saying, “They are giving us a helping hand in difficult times.”

But tens of thousands of people gathered outside Parliament, many voicing rage at foreign lenders, whom they see as a kind of occupying power, and at a government they blame for Greece’s financial crisis.

“They destroyed the country,” said Terpsichore Theofili, 23, a history student, as she stood in the crowd in Syntagma Square outside Parliament. “They should pay, not us,” she added.

David Dayen said it,

No, they’re saving their creditors.

In other words, a Greek default event would break the banks and the financial wizards who sold default insurance. This is all about protecting them, not the Greek people. . . .

Mohamed El-Erian of Pimco still thinks Greece will default. And maybe they will. Maybe the Parliament will succumb to the pressure of the street and refuse to institute more pain and suffering. Maybe this latest plan will just kick the can down the road, and default will be an inevitable future event. But Greece should have the power to set the terms here. It’s like the old joke: “If I lend you $100 and you don’t pay it back, you have a problem. If I lend you $1 trillion and you don’t pay it back, I have a problem.” Greece could hold that over their creditors, but so far their political leadership has been cowed.

Oct 06 2010

People Power: European Activism & Constitutional Crises

All across Europe recently there have been wave after wave of co-ordinated general strikes and massive demonstrations showing a solidarity and a unity across unions representing different kinds of workers in different countries, different levels of skill, against austerity proposals by governments, that put to shame the levels of public street activism in the US and Canada.

Fresh off a summer lecturing in Greece and France, economist, author, and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Richard D. Wolff, well-known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology and class analysis, Yale University Ph.D. in Economics, and Professor at The New School University in New York City, gives his analysis on the massive European mobilizations and strikes. He also compares the US movement to the European one, and find the European workers to be much more advanced in their struggle.

This extraordinary unity is all built around a central demand which can be conveyed by their chief slogan: we are the working people who produce the profits, the goods, and the service of the capitalist economy; we are not going to pay for its crisis. And that’s really the central demand, that if the banks and the corporations and the speculations produced a crisis that working people had no role in-and I want to remind viewers that in Europe they didn’t even have the mortgage kind of crisis in European countries that we had here; it was a crisis of the banking sector, the financial, large corporations, and so on-the demand of the people is, we are not going to be made to pay. You’re not going to solve this economic crisis by having the government borrow money, throw the money at the banks and the big corporations, bail them out, and then make the mass of people pay by cutting government payrolls, by cutting government services, all those things called austerity.



Real News Network – October 05, 2010

European Workers Distance from US Through Action

Richard Wolff: European workers say they won’t pay for crisis while US counterparts talk of ‘One Nation

(transcript below)