Labor - Global

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Global Corporations Undermining Democracy Worldwide

Isolda Agazzi, Inter Press Service, May 7, 2012 Geneva - In a world where governments are increasingly subservient to global finance capital, multinationals are gaining ground in the fight against state regulations that aim to protect the environment, public health or social policies. According to the most recent data released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the number of lawsuits brought against governments by companies evoking clauses in bilateral investment treaties (BITs) was 450 at the end of 2011. These are only the known cases; most are kept secret. ... Global

Those Revolting Europeans

Paul Krugman, New York Times, May 6, 2012 The French are revolting. The Greeks, too. And it’s about time. Both countries held elections Sunday that were in effect referendums on the current European economic strategy, and in both countries voters turned two thumbs down. It’s far from clear how soon the votes will lead to changes in actual policy, but time is clearly running out for the strategy of recovery through austerity - and that’s a good thing. Needless to say, that’s not what you heard from the usual suspects in the run-up to the elections. It was actually kind of funny to see the apostles of orthodoxy trying to portray ... Those

Amid Europe's Crisis - A Surge from the Left

Carl Bloice, Black Commentator, May 2, 2012 Rest assured. The specter of socialism is not haunting Europe right now. Francois Hollande is "hardly a rabid socialist" say the editors of the Financial Times. The New York Times chimes in that he is a "cautious moderate on most issues, and certainly not a socialist in the historic meaning of that term." And, we are informed by Thomas Klau of the European Council on Foreign Relations, that Hollande "is neither a demagogue nor a revolutionary firebrand." But Socialist or not, the Financial Times editors conclude that the French Socialist Party presidential candidate "would channel the government's taxing and spending power ...

France's Left Front hopes to ‘reinvent’ left

The far-left alliance has never before competed in a presidential race, but is helping forge a new European alternative. Yasmine Ryan, Al Jazeera, April 30, 2012 Paris - The bid of Jean-Luc Melenchon for the French presidency, while ultimately unsuccessful, has given the Left Front, an alliance of far-left parties, massive visibility in France. The Left Front's candidate won fewer votes than was widely expected, after opinion polls suggested he could sway as many as 16 or 17 per cent of voters. Nonetheless, with the leftist coalition's candidate's score of 11.1 per cent, placing him in fourth place out of some ten candidates, the far-left has managed to reassert itself ... France

May Day 2012: Remembering Why

The story of May Day begins with the struggle to make the eight-hour workday the legal and economic norm for wage workers. In the older industrial countries, this struggle was largely successful, though, as we have seen the last thirty years of apparel work has brought old abuses back. Here in the United States we work more annual hours than almost all of our Western European counterparts, according to the OECD. It makes sense to think about this history carefully.

The US Labor Movement and China

A Time for Honest Self-Reflection. Alberto C. Ruiz, CounterPunch, April 27, 2012 The statistics are chilling. In a country where workers have no real right to organize a union, they face an ever falling standard of living. The workers’ attempts to organize independent unions are faced with repression – 25% of the companies illegally fire workers who try to organize; active union supporters indeed have a 1 in 5 chance of being fired; over half of the companies threaten to have undocumented, foreign laborers deported during organizing campaigns ... Of course, this country is not China, but rather, is, according to the AFL-CIO, the United States. ... The

Crisis and the People in Greece

"They are not frightening us, they are just making us furious!" Stavros Panagiotidis, Transform! February 16, 2012 The so-called negotiations between the Greek Government and the Troika (European Union - International Monetary Fund - European Central Bank) have come to the prescribed result. A cut on the minimum wage of 22% (and up to 40% for the rest), which means that people in Greece will have to live on a 400 Euro monthly income, combined with a 15% cut on the already extremely low pensions and the dismissal of 150.000 public servants, has been decided. The announcement of the governments' intentions created waves of rage in Greece ... Crisis

The Imperial Way: American Decline in Perspective, Part 2

Noam Chomsky, Tomgram, February 15, 2012 In the years of conscious, self-inflicted decline at home, “losses” continued to mount elsewhere. In the past decade, for the first time in 500 years, South America has taken successful steps to free itself from western domination, another serious loss. The region has moved towards integration, and has begun to address some of the terrible internal problems of societies ruled by mostly Europeanized elites, tiny islands of extreme wealth in a sea of misery. They have also rid themselves of all US military bases and of IMF controls. A newly formed organization, CELAC, includes all countries of the hemisphere apart from the US and Canada. ... The

“Losing” the World: American Decline in Perspective, Part 1

Noam Chomsky, Tomgram, February 14, 2012 Significant anniversaries are solemnly commemorated - Japan’s attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, for example. Others are ignored, and we can often learn valuable lessons from them about what is likely to lie ahead. Right now, in fact. At the moment, we are failing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s decision to launch the most destructive and murderous act of aggression of the post-World War II period: the invasion of South Vietnam, later all of Indochina, leaving millions dead and four countries devastated, with casualties still mounting ... Losing

The Greek Debt Crisis As Harbinger of Things to Come

Jack Rasmus, Kyklos Productions, February 14, 2012

The crisis in Greece is not a 'sovereign (government) debt' crisis. That's the surface appearance of the problem. The below the surface struggle is about how bankers, bondholders and speculators - together with their politicians in government - can offload the cost of bad assets they created onto the shoulders of the Greek people. It's all about 'who's going to pay for the bad assets created by bankers and speculators'.

"Real Despair" Sweeps Through Greece as Severe Austerity Measures Demanded by EU-IMF Cripple Nation

Democracy Now! February 14, 2012 Greece continues to face political turmoil over a sovereign debt crisis that has embroiled the country for almost two years. On Monday, the Greek government said it would hold new elections in the face of massive demonstrations against a new austerity package that was approved on Sunday in exchange for a European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout. Under the austerity deal, Greece will fire 15,000 public sector workers this year and 150,000 by 2015. The minimum wage will be reduced by 22 percent, and pension plans will be be cut. As lawmakers voted, 100,000 people protested outside the Parliament building in Athens. ... Real

Greek Left Has Most Support But is Fragmented

Kerin Hope, Financial Times, February 14, 2012 Athens - With his stylish haircut, sharp suits and BMW motorbike parked outside parliament, Alexis Tsipras cuts an striking figure in Greek politics. His defiant message underscores the reservations of Greece's triple-A rated eurozone creditors, who on Tuesday night postponed signing off on the new bail- out, fearing it would only be derailed, like its predecessor, by the country's fractious politicians and mounting social unrest. Television footage of blazing buildings in the centre of Athens, set on fire by extremists on Sunday night, served to highlight the growing instability the country faced ... Greek

Shame on Europe for betraying Greece

Capitalism is triumphant as EU states sacrifice the Greek people in a desperate attempt to appease the gods of speculation. William Wall, Guardian, February 14, 2012 The behaviour of the EU states towards Greece is inexplicable in the terms in which the EU defines itself. It is, first and foremost, a failure of solidarity. The "austerity package", as the newspapers like to call it, seeks to impose on Greece terms that no people can accept. Even now the schools are running out of books. There were 40% cuts in the public health budget in 2010 – I can't find the present figure. ... Shame

Athens Burning

Maria Margaronis, The Nation, February 13, 2012 When I was in Athens last week, many people I talked to wondered aloud why there hadn’t yet been an uprising against the austerity measures that are devastating the country. There was anger everywhere, but sullen and suppressed. Maybe there’s still some fat left in the system, they said. Maybe they’ve just brainwashed us, put us all to sleep. I took a taxi one day when the subway wasn’t working because of a suicide; the driver opined that the deceased was clearly an idiot. “He should have killed himself in Parliament,” he scoffed, “and taken five or six of those idiots down with him.” ... Athens

A Death Sentence for Greece

What's Inside the New "Austerity Measures." Mike Whitney, CounterPunch, February 13, 2012 On Sunday, the Greek parliament approved a new round of austerity measures that will further deepen the 5-year depression and sever the last fraying threads of social cohesion. In order to secure a 130 billion euro loan, Greek political leaders agreed to comply with a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) that will not only intensify the sacrifices of ordinary working people, but also effectively hand the control of the nation’s economy over to foreign banks and corporations. The Memorandum is as calculating and mercenary as anything ever written. ... A

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