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This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy

This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy
Remember that referendum about whether we should create a single market with the United States? You know, the one that asked whether corporations should have the power to strike down our laws? No, I don't either. Mind you, I spent 10 minutes looking for my watch the other day before I realised I was wearing it. Forgetting about the referendum is another sign of ageing. Because there must have been one, mustn't there? The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. The mechanism through which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. The Australian government, after massive debates in and out of parliament, decided that cigarettes should be sold in plain packets, marked only with shocking health warnings. These companies (along with hundreds of others) are using the investor-state dispute rules embedded in trade treaties signed by the countries they are suing.

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What Snowden says Edward Snowden is the man who has been "spilling America's political secrets." Or at least, that is how I just heard him described on a cable news program. Since the former NSA contractor outed himself, I've heard him called many names by people from both official and "unofficial" spokespeople of Washington - the pundits, paid thinkers and writers who are part of that well-groomed group. For those unlucky people who can't experience the joy of watching domestic television, allow me share a few of the descriptions I've heard and read. Snowden has been called "a traitor, high school dropout, loser, slacker, and a man with messianic aspirations."

Participatory Economics: An Alternative to Capitalism Churchill is often misquoted as having said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. A similar sentiment is sometimes expressed about capitalism: 'Socialism was tried in Russia and look what happened there'. It is no longer acceptable to make idealistic utopian claims about how wonderful life would be without capitalism. Anyone proposing an alternative now must say why their idea would work, and address legitimate fears about totalitarianism. Participatory Economics (shortened to parecon, which can also mean a participatory economy) is one such alternative, invented by Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel in around 1990. As well as proving mathematically that parecon is efficient, they gave good reasons why Russian communism failed and why parecon would not.

The democratic clock turned back Financial markets rallied last week when the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, announced he was dropping plans for a referendum on the terms of his country's bailout. Bond dealers liked the idea that the government in Athens could soon be headed by Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy think Papademos is the sort of hard-line technocrat with whom they can do business. Silvio Berlusconi's long-predicted departure as Italy's prime minister will no doubt be greeted in the same way, particularly if he is replaced by a government of national unity headed by another technocrat, Mario Monti.

Blow for citizens as EU court backs privileged corporate access to EU trade talks Skip to main content Blow for citizens as EU court backs privileged corporate access to EU trade talks June 4th 2015 Managed expectations in the post-employment economy - Opinion On March 4, Olga Khazan, the new editor of the Global section of the Atlantic, sent an email to Nate Thayer, a veteran journalist covering Asian political affairs. Khazan had seen an article Thayer had written about North Korea and liked it. She wanted to know if he could "repurpose" it for the Atlantic website. "We unfortunately can't pay you for it," she wrote Thayer. "But we do reach 13 million readers a month." Thayer was appalled.

The Economist Has No Clothes The 19th-century creators of neoclassical economics—the theory that now serves as the basis for coordinating activities in the global market system—are credited with transforming their field into a scientific discipline. But what is not widely known is that these now legendary economists—William Stanley Jevons, Léon Walras, Maria Edgeworth and Vilfredo Pareto—developed their theories by adapting equations from 19th-century physics that eventually became obsolete. Unfortunately, it is clear that neoclassical economics has also become outdated. The theory is based on unscientific assumptions that are hindering the implementation of viable economic solutions for global warming and other menacing environmental problems.

There Was a Class War. The Rich Won It. Real 1982 goods producing wage earner hourly wage What happens if there’s a class war and only one side bothers to show up and fight it? That’s what happened over the last thirty years. There was a class war, and the rich won. Period. What MEPs voted today on TTIP - North East Labour Jude gives an update on today's TTIP vote in the Trade Committee of the European Parliament. We just had an important vote on TTIP in the trade committee of the European Parliament. I am writing this post to explain what was voted on today, and how this fits in the overall TTIP negotiations.

Safety as freedom - Opinion The Delhi gang-rape of Dece­m­ber 2012 bro­u­ght to the streets the deep and growing concern about violence ag­ainst women and the demand for women's sa­fety. The movement is the voice of women re­claiming their right to safety and freedom, through resistance to all forms of patriarchal power and celebration of women's peaceful power and energy. Commodification, ap­pro­priation and control over women's bodies and the resources of the earth are one aspect of the threat to safety. Im­po­sition of hazardous te­c­­hnologies that we do not need is another aspect.

Neo-liberal capture of the policy making process in Europe Mainstream macroeconomics has mounted a range of arguments over the years to argue against any discretionary involvement by governments or regulators in the economy. The claim is always that the ‘market’ will self regulate and weed out bad players and produce the best outcomes with the least resources each period of activity. Various fancy terms are introduced into textbooks that make these arguments seem to have scientific weight. In narratives, there is often claims that left-wing groups blurred as trade unions have too much influence on political processes, particularly when a non-conservative party is in power. Rarely, is there any discussion of the way governments (of all political persuasions) become captured by the financial and industrial capitalist elites and become meagre conduits for capitalist rule. ALTER-EU was formed in 2005.

What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you - Comment The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. As a bi-lateral trade agreement, TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations. It is, as John Hilary, Executive Director of campaign group War on Want, said: “An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.” Since before TTIP negotiations began last February, the process has been secretive and undemocratic. This secrecy is on-going, with nearly all information on negotiations coming from leaked documents and Freedom of Information requests. But worryingly, the covert nature of the talks may well be the least of our problems.

London boroughs plan housing for homeless families outside the capital Local authorities in London are preparing to send thousands of homeless families to live in temporary homes outside the capital, in defiance of ministerial demands that people should continue to be housed locally. Councils are acquiring properties in Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Sussex and further afield to cope with an expected surge in numbers of vulnerable families presenting as homeless as a result of welfare cuts from next April. They say rising rents in London coupled with the introduction next April of stringent benefit caps leave them in an impossible position, with no option but to initiate an outflow of poorer families from the capital by placing homeless households in cheaper areas, often many miles from their home borough. Draft guidance issued by ministers in May says councils must "as far as is reasonably practicable" offer accommodation for homeless families within the borough. All but four of the 33 London local authorities responded to the Guardian survey.

(Economic) Freedom's Just Another Word for...Crisis-Prone By John Miller This article is from the September/October 2009 issue of Dollars & Sense: Real World Economics available at This article is from the September/October 2009 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine. In a period of slowing economic growth in many parts of the world, popular pressure for governments to act to fix the situation can be enormous. In responding to such pressure, it is vital that leaders understand the real causes of negative economic developments and undertake actions that will fix them rather than exacerbate them. If intrusive government regulation has contributed to an economic problem, it is unlikely that still more government regulation will cure it.

Global capitalism and 21st century fascism The crisis of global capitalism is unprecedented, given its magnitude, its global reach, the extent of ecological degradation and social deterioration, and the scale of the means of violence. We truly face a crisis of humanity. The stakes have never been higher; our very survival is at risk. We have entered into a period of great upheavals and uncertainties, of momentous changes, fraught with dangers - if also opportunities. I want to discuss here the crisis of global capitalism and the notion of distinct political responses to the crisis, with a focus on the far-right response and the danger of what I refer to as 21st century fascism, particularly in the United States. Facing the crisis calls for an analysis of the capitalist system, which has undergone restructuring and transformation in recent decades.