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A summary of the report "Profiting from crisis"

International arbitrage and investor privileges in Greece and Spain

  by Giulia Simula

Profit from CrisisWhat do international arbitration institutions have in common with Domino’s Pizza, public transport operators, pawnbrokers, discount supermarkets, property auctioneers, and opposition politicians? Answer: all have profited from the global economic downturn. |1| In their report titled: “Profiting from injustice: how law firms arbitrators and financiers are fuelling an investment arbitration boom |2|, CEO (Corporate European Observatory) and TNI (Transnational Institute) have already denounced how corporations take advantage of investor rights in trade and investment agreements to sue governments for million of euros of compensation

If governments take policies of environmental or social protection and these happen to interfere with the profit of multinational corporations, these have the right to bring a government before an international tribunal to demand compensation, for expected revenue that did not materialise. In the current report, the two examples of Greece and Spain illustrate how banks and corporations are profiting from the current crisis through the lucrative practice of international arbitrage |3|.

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The Ukrainian Left and Maidan

 

Interview with Ukrainian socialist Denis Pilas.

UkraineAround 150 people gathered in Kiev recently to attend a conference organised by Ukrainian organisations including the Left Opposition, with support from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

The conference, entitled ‘The Left and Maidan’, discussed perspectives for the left in Ukraine. There were visitors from Russia, France, Germany, Poland and Belarus, including left members of the German Bundestag and the Russian Duma.[1]

Ben Neal spoke to Denis Pilas, one of the organisers of the event.

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University of Michigan researchers: Income inequality has been rising rapidly in China and now surpasses that of the U.S. by a large margin

SWANBROW Diane

China strikeANN ARBOR—Income inequality has been rising rapidly in China and now surpasses that of the U.S. by a large margin, University of Michigan researchers say.

That is the key finding of their study based on newly available survey data collected by several Chinese universities.

“Income inequality in today’s China is among the highest in the world, especially in comparison to countries with comparable or higher standards of living,” said Yu Xie, a U-M sociologist.

Xie, a researcher with the U-M Institute for Social Research, is co-author with U-M graduate student Xiang Zhou of an article published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers based their main analyses on data from the China Family Panel Studies, a large-scale survey project conducted by Peking University’s Institute of Social Science Survey. The project represents about 95 percent of the Chinese population in 25 provinces in mainland China. The work was started in 2010 in collaboration with U-M’s ISR (a formal partnership between the two institutes was established in 2005, with an emphasis on quantitative social science methods).

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PCF : avec ou sans le Front de gauche? – L’espérance de vie dudit Front serait-elle courte?

MARTELLI Roger*

martelliÀ une poignée de semaines des élections européennes, L’Humanité publie une double page de points de vue sur le Front de gauche [1]. Si l’on se fie à ces propos, l’espérance de vie dudit Front est bien courte.

Le premier texte (« Pour une bataille efficace du PCF ») est signé par le noyau des économistes du PCF et par Nicolas Marchand. Ces responsables ont toujours affirmé leur méfiance à l’égard de l’alliance avec Jean-Luc Mélenchon et considéré que la question de la place primordiale du PCF est la seule qui vaille considération. Leur point de vue peut être résumé en un syllogisme : la construction d’une perspective bien à gauche suppose que l’on ne soit pas seulement « contre » (l’état des choses existant) mais « pour » (un état alternatif) ; or Mélenchon (et le Front de gauche avec lui) est uniquement contre ; donc le rassemblement ne peut être efficace que s’il a en son centre le PCF qui est le seul à être franchement pour.

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Alternatives to reverse the crisis in Europe

 by Eric Toussaint

Alternatives to reverse the crisis in EuropeThis text proposes a series of concrete alternatives to counter the current crisis shaking Europe. It presents nineteen immediate measures that should be taken vis-à-vis finance in general and the banking sector in particular. In addition to these measures, it proposes to socialise the banking and insurance sectors, and to place them under citizen control. It then examines ten measures to be taken to reverse the crisis in a way that will be favourable to the vast majority of people. 1. Stopping austerity plans; 2. Repudiating all illegitimate, unsustainable, odious, and illegal public debt; 3. Cancelling all illegitimate and illegal private debt; 4. Increasing the resources of public authorities; 5. Decreasing inequalities by establishing fiscal justice; 6. Setting up legitimate government borrowing; 7. Developing and extending public services; 8. Strengthening the pension system based on intergenerational solidarity; 9. Radically decreasing working hours to guarantee jobs for everyone, and adopting an income policy that will bring about social justice; 10. Questioning the basis of the euro and taking action to build a different Europe, which would mean replacing the current treaties based on a true democratic process involving all the peoples of Europe. These are the propositions the CADTM is putting forward for discussion and debate.

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April 25, 1974 - Forty years after the portuguese Carnation Revolution

COSTA Jorge Duarte

Portugal-25 de AbrilOn the eve of April 25, Portuguese society was smouldering from contradictions accumulated in half a century of dictatorship. At the heart of these contradictions was a war that lasted thirteen years, to hold on to the African colonies of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe. This conflict conditioned the whole of national life, because of the social suffering caused by the mobilization of two hundred thousand men, a tenth of the working population (a human cost equivalent to twice that of Vietnam), because of the wave of migration driven by hunger and the war, and because of the impossibility of a military solution, the only one contemplated by the regime.

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Inde : l’élection de tous les dangers

ROUSSET Pierre

Rousset PierreLe scrutin législatif en cours revêt une importance toute particulière pour l’Inde, le favori des sondages promouvant un nationalisme agressif d’extrême droite, racial et religieux.

L’organisation d’élections générales en Inde mobilise une logistique gigantesque : 814 millions d’électrices et d’électeurs sont appelés aux urnes ; initié le 7 avril, le scrutin législatif se poursuivra ainsi pendant 37 jours. Rares sont les partis implantés dans l’ensemble du pays et les formations régionales fleurissent, si bien qu’une majorité gouvernementale exige la constitution d’alliances à géométrie variable. Dans ces conditions, les journalistes se gardent de prédictions aléatoires. Mais quelques lignes de force apparaissent, fort inquiétantes.

Le Parti du Congrès, héritier de l’Indépendance en 1947, revenu au pouvoir en 2004 après une éclipse, se trouve aujourd’hui discrédité. Rejeton de la dynastie familiale à la tête de cette formation, Rahul Gandhi, 43 ans, n’a pas l’envergure nécessaire pour redresser la situation. Cela semble la seule certitude.

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Notes on the French situation after the local elections and the 12th April demonstration

SABADO François

Sabado1) The last municipal elections represent a new worsening of the political balance of forces for the left and the labour movement. 150 cities of more than 10,000 inhabitants swung from SP or CP-led to the right or far right.
Of course, after years of social-liberalism where the SP took its distance from the labour movement, a defeat of the SP at the polls no longer automatically indicates a defeat of the workers’ movement.
These workers, who do not feel represented by the parliamentary left any more, do not feel the bankruptcy of the Socialists to be theirs, fortunately. They even abstained massively (between 50 and 60 % of the registered voters in the popular suburbs or regions).

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Les nouveaux prêts à la Grèce sont odieux, illégitimes, insoutenables et illégaux

par Eric Toussaint, Robin Delobel

2014-04-21 02 soon-all-the-greeksLe CADTM tient à apporter son soutien au peuple grec qui s’oppose aux diktats de la Troïka (Commission européenne, Banque centrale européenne, FMI). Les nouveaux prêts accordés en 2014 sont liés à un paquet de mesures antisociales qui vont dégrader un peu plus les conditions de vie de la majorité de la population grecque.

Après des mois de négociation entre la Troïka et les responsables grecs, la loi-cadre, appelée aussi loi omnibus, a été votée, comme le déclare Reuters, «  conformément aux exigences des bailleurs de fonds internationaux de la Grèce ». Ce texte vise à permettre la nouvelle tranche « d’aide » à la Grèce, un prêt de 8,5 milliards d’euros. Remise aux parlementaires à 1h30 du matin le samedi 29 mars, cette loi de plus de 800 pages a été approuvée à la hussarde avec quelques voix de majorité le dimanche 30 mars avant minuit ! Une nouvelle fois les règles démocratiques élémentaires ont été foulées au pied.

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Climate Change: IPCC recognizes inequality as a key for “climate risk”. But we must go much further than that

COSTA Alexandre

2014-04-21 01 Climate-changeLast year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change started the publication of its 5th Assessment Report (or AR5), initially showing the work by the Working Group I, which deals with the physical basis of climate change. Now, the AR5 process continued with the publication of the “Summary for Policy Makers” by the Working Group II, concerning “impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.”

It is common for the socialist left to neglect the issue of climate change. But this is a very serious mistake. We insist that seeking answers to the central question of the ecological crisis in general (and in particular the climate crisis) is crucial to the struggle of the working classes and the poor in the 21st century. After all, the fight to avoid a catastrophic outcome to this crisis engendered by capitalism is the fight to safeguard the material conditions for survival with dignity of humankind. No Socialism is possible in an isolated country. No Socialism is possible while keeping sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia. Socialism is not possible on a scorched Earth.

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Eurodad report shows how IMF lending often makes crisis countries’ situations worse

  by Eurodad

FMIAs the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prepares for its Spring meetings, new research reveals that the number of conditions it attaches to its loans are rising – and they continue to be linked to harsh austerity measures and interfere in sensitive policy areas. Conditionally Yours: An analysis of the policy conditions attached to IMF loans is the latest in a series of reports on the IMF’s lending practices produced by the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) over the past decade.

IMF loans come with conditions which are often highly controversial, for example influencing taxes and cutting spending; freezing or reducing public sector wages; and mandating cutbacks in welfare programmes, including pensions. There are also conditions on the restructuring and privatisation of public enterprises, and conditions that reduce minimum wage levels.

Although the IMF has said it has tried to “streamline” its conditional lending, Eurodad counted an average of 19.5 structural conditions per programme – a sharp increase since 2005-7 when Eurodad found an average of 13.7 conditions. The biggest loans had the heaviest conditions, with exceptionally high numbers in Cyprus, Greece and Jamaica – which totalled an average of 35 structural conditions per programme.

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Ukraine : après la chute de Ianoukovitch, quels Maidan ?

SAMARY Catherine

Samary CatherineLes élections présidentielles du 25 mai ne stabiliseront pas le pays. Il faut que la population de toutes les régions soit saisie des grands enjeux et détermine ses droit sociaux et nationaux sur la base de l'indépendance du pays.

Après la chute du président Ianoukovitch, on est passé d'une phase de mobilisation d'une population largement défiante envers tous les partis, à un gouvernement de partis discrédités parlant en son nom : d'où aussi la surreprésentation des composantes les plus organisées au sein du mouvement – la droite et l'extrême-droite, implantées principalement dans l'ouest et le centre du pays. Cela facilite la présentation réductrice de Maidan assimilée à sa droite et à son extrème-droite principalement implantées dans l'ouest et le centre du pays. Cette réduction accompagne la thèse du "coup dEtat fasciste" soutenu par l'occident contre la Russie, et menaçant les populations russophones – auxquelles Poutine vient porter secours.

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