Whole heckuva lot happenin’, including the deepening of the Greek implosion, the Chinese neoliberal revolution, Ukrainian furor, That troubles, and lots more.
We begin with global stories, starting with this headline from La Via Campesina:
The WTO pushes through bad deal in the final hours; Developed countries and TNCs are the big winners
Hailed as a victory by the WTO for unlocking the deadlocked negotiations, the Bali Package delivers a legally binding agreement on Trade Facilitation that is costly to developing countries and ensures easier access and profits for Transnational Corporations (TNCs). Trade Facilitation, or the easing of customs procedures and borders, clearly benefits only the big TNCs that already control exports and imports. As the 2013 World Trade Report data shows, “80% of US exports are handled by 1% of large exporters, 85% of European exports are in the hands of 10% of big exporters and 81% of exports are concentrated in the top 5 largest exporting firms in developing countries.”
From Kyodo News, a deadline in doubt:
TPP countries to miss year-end deadline, continue talks
Countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks will miss the pledged deadline of reaching a full agreement by year-end, failing to find political solutions on contentious issues, a source familiar with the negotiations said Monday.
Ministers from the 12 TPP countries, who are holding a four-day meeting through Tuesday in Singapore, shared a view Monday that it is impossible to solve all remaining issues during the latest session including tariffs and intellectual property rights, adding the countries will have to continue negotiations next year, the source said.
PCWorld covers the latest bombshell from WikiLeaks:
Wikileaks exposes secret, controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations
Anyone not closely connected to the talks is being kept in the dark about the exact proposals being discussed. The Australian government, for instance, refused to give the Senate access to the secret text of the draft treaty being negotiated in a final round of talks in Singapore, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Monday. The results of the negotiations will only be made public after the treaty has been signed, the Australian government said, according to the paper.
But texts of purported drafts of the treaty have been leaked to the public, most recently on Monday by Wikileaks, which published two documents said to show the state of negotiations after talks held in Salt Lake City from Nov. 19 to 24.
More from The Daily Dot:
WikiLeaks reveals every country’s negotiating positions on the TPP
They certainly show that the U.S. disagrees with other TPP countries on a number of issues. It’s the sole country to refuse to eliminate subsidies for economic exports, for example. It also stands alone in its opinion on a few issues that aren’t fully clear from the document, on subjects are varied as agreeing on a “central reserve bank” in the investment chapter, technical consultations on the “sanitary and phytosanitary” chapter, and how to settle disputes when a country violates the environmental chapter.
Techdirt has the bottom line:
Latest TPP Leaks Reveal That US Is Isolated In Its Desire To Push Through Corporate Exceptionalism
from the good-to-see dept
Wikileaks has posted its latest bombshell here.
MintPress News covers another sorry aspect of the global neoliberal agenda:
Justice Increasingly Distant for Victims of Corporate Abuse
Some countries’ legislatures have proposed laws to shield companies of liability for foreign abuses, or create obstacles to victims seeking redress.
Two years after the international community unanimously agreed to a landmark safeguards framework known as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, scholars and rights defenders are warning that governments have either failed to implement or gone backward on a key provision of this agreement.
And heading to the U.S., Gawker outFoxes:
Fox News Paid Fired Executive $8 Million to Keep Quiet
Roger Ailes’ secrets command a heavy price. Last week, the New York Times reported that Fox News had reached an out-of-court settlement with Brian Lewis, the former Roger Ailes aide who was abruptly fired in late July. A Fox News executive with knowledge of the negotiations told Gawker that Lewis was paid approximately $8 million in hush money.
While The Hill throws the jobless under the Obama bus:
Durbin: No ultimatum on jobless benefits
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate and a Republican member of the budget conference committee on Sunday strongly signaled that an emerging budget deal would not include new spending on unemployment benefits.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that he hopes extended jobless benefits will be part of the budget deal, but Democrats are not, at this point, insisting on it.
From Reuters, them that has got even more:
Household net worth hits record high in third quarter
U.S. household net worth hit a record high in the third quarter as home prices marched higher and the value of stocks and mutual funds surged, boosting the economic outlook.
The Federal Reserve said on Monday net worth increased $1.9 trillion to $77.3 trillion in the third quarter, the highest level since records started in 1945.
Bloomberg covers a bubble diagnostic:
Jumbos Surge 34% With Record ARMs Belying ‘08 Anxiety: Mortgages
Jumbo loans, both adjustable and fixed-rate, increased by 34 percent to $216 billion in the first nine months of this year, with ARMs comprising the majority of the gain, said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication in Bethesda, Maryland. Cash-rich banks, including Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp., are using ARMs as a hedge: the loans’ longer-term payments will move in tandem with the lenders’ expected increases in borrowing costs as interest rates rise, said Greg McBride, a senior analyst at mortgage-data firm Bankrate Inc.
From the London Telegraph, a warning:
World’s biggest investor BlackRock says US rally nearing exhaustion
BlackRock has advised clients to be ready to pull out of global stock markets at any sign of serious trouble
The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers a downturn:
McClatchy-Marist Poll: Obama gets worst ratings of his presidency
The American public is unusually pessimistic about the direction of the country and increasingly fed up with Washington gridlock, a sour mood reflected in the worst disapproval ratings for President Barack Obama since he took office nearly five years ago.
People give elected officials unusually low grades – 31 percent rated them “D” and 38 percent gave them an “F,” according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
CBC News merges:
American Airlines comes out of bankruptcy as No. 1 airline
$11B merger goes ahead despite challenges with consumer groups worried about higher fares
American Airlines emerged from bankruptcy protection Monday as the world’s largest airline after completing its long-awaited $11-billion US merger with US Airways.
From the London Daily Mail, more than liking:
Is ‘sympathize’ the new ‘like’? Facebook boffins come up with new emotion button for sad occasions
Users would select a negative feeling like ‘depressed’ from a set list of emotions when commenting on something. Instead of ‘like’, your status would then be changed to ‘sympathise’ instead.
Bloomberg Businessweek discovers the obvious:
Harvard Study Finds: The Rent Is Way Too High
If you can’t afford to own, you can rent. But what if you can’t afford to rent, either? Millions of Americans are in precisely that situation, according to a study released today by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The availability of apartments, especially cheaper ones, hasn’t nearly kept up with demand, and the problem has worsened since the 2007-09 recession, the study says.
“In 1960, about one in four renters paid more than 30 percent of income for housing. Today, one in two are cost burdened,” according to the study, America’s Rental Housing.
And MintPress News counts Tea Party casualties to come:
Budget Cuts Could Lead To Surge In Homeless Vets
Officials warn that the number of homeless may soon skyrocket as budget cuts negatively impact federal agencies’ ability to work to end homelessness.
While Oakland Local notes a California austerian toll:
Majority of Oakland Public School libraries are closed, FOPSL hosts community dialogue series to restore them
The nonprofit Friends of the Oakland Public School Libraries, or FOPSL, works to fill the funding void for in-school libraries that often is supplemented in more affluent neighborhoods by the PTA.
From Talk to Action, a blast from the past:
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Worked at Group Vilifying Mandela & Supporting Apartheid
On to Canada with CBC News and notable omissions:
TSB says CN Rail failed to report hundreds of derailments, collisions
Authorities first noticed discrepancies in 2005
A continuing CBC News investigation into rail safety has found that Canada’s largest freight carrier CN Rail did not report to authorities more than 1,800 derailments and accidents, including 44 on key rail arteries.
New Europe takes us across the pond:
Extreme poverty: a contemporary plague for the EU
But is homelessness a problem only in the Southern European countries, which have been criticised with contempt by politicians in the rich northern countries?
No. Even the rich northern European countries are struggling to cope with a growing army of poor and homeless.
Reuters notes the obvious:
Analysis: ‘Brussels consensus’ widens gulf with EU electorates
Call it the Brussels Consensus. A system of beliefs rooted in European Union treaties helps explain the growing gulf between policy elites and ordinary citizens that may cause a political earthquake in European Parliament elections next May.
These articles of faith are widely regarded as self-evident truths in the European Commission and the European Central Bank but are often regarded by voters as the cause of their misfortunes rather than the solution to them.
And EurActiv captures corporations acting the way corporations act:
EU losing power struggle with national telecoms bodies
The European Commission will this week issue a rebuttal against the Italian telecoms regulator for its proposed reduction of broadband fees. The move comes after several similar actions aimed at asserting EU powers against national authorities, but it risks proving ineffective.
From Reuters, bankrolling bad bank shutdowns:
Exclusive: Euro zone bailout fund should be allowed to help close failing banks – document
The euro zone’s bailout fund should be allowed to lend to help finance the closure of banks in the bloc, a proposal prepared for euro zone finance ministers showed on Monday.
European countries are seeking to reach a deal before the end of the year on how to close failing lenders, as part of an ambitious plan to create a banking framework and fix broken banks, whose problems have festered since the financial crisis.
And New Europe notes the enshrinement of yet another corporate desideratum:
Council backs unitary patent protection directive
The Justice Ministers of the EU Member States endorsed the unitary patent Directive which will establish the first European patent court (the Unified Patent Court.)
The European Commission announced that the Unified Patent Court will be specialised in solving patent protection issues, avoiding multiple litigation cases in up to 28 different national courts. This will cut costs and lead to swift decisions on the validity or infringement of patents, aiming to ensure unitary patent protection in the Single Market.
On to Britain and grim news from The Independent:
The poorest pay the price for austerity: Workers face biggest fall in living standards since Victorian era
The biggest drop in living standards since the Victorian age is seeing low and middle earners suffering an unprecedented squeeze on their incomes as austerity measures continue to bite, with women and part-time workers disproportionately affected, research reveals today.
The London Telegraph has more banksters behaving badly:
Pensioners are being ‘burgled’ by insurers on annuities
A scathing report calls for regulators to launch an unprecedented investigation into the “excessive” profits insurers are making from consumers dazed and confused by the retirement market
From the ‘Oh, poor baby’ department, via The Independent:
‘I’m experiencing austerity as well’, says Princess Michael of Kent
Princess Michael of Kent has explained how she and her husband have been hit by austerity; meaning they can no longer dine out as it’s “too extravagant”.
The Princess, who is an interior designer and author, told The Times in an interview to promote her debut novel: “I am in very austere economic times too, thank you very much!”
From Want China Times, mammon on a mission:
UK top European destination for Chinese investment
The United Kingdom has become China’s top destination for investments in Europe due to its comparatively looser labor regulations and market liberalisation.
British Prime Minister David Cameron concluded a three-day trip to China on Dec. 4, leading a group of representatives from over 130 UK businesses, with deals signed that reached ?6 billion (US$9.8 billion).
Sky News takes us to Scotland and a warning:
Independent Scots ‘Will Pay More For Food’
Supermarket bosses say the cost of doing business is higher in Scotland and they fear that burden will rise if it leaves the UK.
And the Irish Times brings us the most outrageous austerian measure yet:
Batteries not included: patients asked to bring AAs for monitors
Blood pressure machines require two batteries
It was confirmed last week that Ennis General Hospital in Co Clare had been telling patients who required to be fitted with mobile blood pressure monitors, to bring two AA batteries. The hospital has since stopped the practice under instruction from the HSE.
On to Sweden and a schooling call from TheLocal.se:
Swedes’ support for nationalization high as school choice debate rages
Over 60 percent of Swedes think schools should once again be controlled by the state amid a debate about school choice following Sweden’s poor showing in the OECD’s Pisa rankings.
Sweden’s schools are currently run at the munipality level, meaning that each of the country’s 290 municipalities take responsibility for everything from pre-school to adult education. Each municipality funds the schooling through local tax revenues, with the help of a general government grant.
DutchNews.nl notes a modest shift:
Central bank sees 0.5% growth in 2014, spending power to rise in 2015
The Dutch economy will return to modest growth of 0.5% next year after contracting 1% in 2013, the Dutch central bank said on Monday.
Growth will reach 1% by 2015, when employment will also rise for the first time since 2011, the bank said in its latest half-yearly statement.
DutchNews.nl again, this time with deception:
Graduates often keep student loan quiet in mortgage applications
Four out of 10 graduates do not tell their bank they have an unpaid student loan when applying for a mortgage, according to research by debt registration agency BKR.
Switzerland next, with a handover demand via TheLocal.ch:
Swiss banks urged to hand records to US
Three hundred or so Swiss banks had until the end of Monday to decide whether to hand over records to Washington, in a bid to skirt US legal action for assisting American tax dodgers.
“I can confirm that the deadline is this evening, at the end of the business day,” a spokesman for Swiss financial market regulator FINMA, told AFP, refusing to say how many banks had already signed up to take part in the programme.
Numbers tell the tale, via TheLocal.ch:
Expats continue hardest hit as jobless rate grows
The overall jobless rate increased in November for the second consecutive month, rising to 3.2 percent from 3.1 percent in October and the same period a year earlier, the state secretariat for economic affairs (Seco) said.
The unemployment level among foreigners jumped to 6.2 percent, up from 5.8 percent in October and 5.6 percent in September, Seco said. The rate among Swiss citizens inched up to 2.3 percent from 2.2 percent.
From TheLocal.de, a German uptick:
Record German exports exceed €99 billion
Germany exported more than €99 billion worth of goods in October, a record high – but its trade surplus shrank as imports rose faster than exports.
Federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement on Monday that exports grew by 0.6 percent compared to October 2012 to reach €99.1 billion. This pushed the figure above the previous record set in March 2012.
Although imports were down by 1.6 percent over the figure from last October, they have accelerated hugely since then, and reached a value of €81.2 billion this October – an increase of 2.9 percent since a month previously.
Contrarian indications from Europe Online:
German industrial output slows at onset of fourth quarter
German industrial output was down at the start of the fourth quarter of 2013, with a 1.2-per-cent drop recorded for the month of October, data released Monday showed.
The industrial output data comes alongside a 1.9-per-cent drop in energy production, as well as a 1.7-per-cent decrease in the construction sector. Investment goods production dropped by 3 per cent in October, while consumer goods production contracted by 0.8 per cent.
On to France and some optimism from BBC News:
Bank of France ups quarterly growth forecast
President Francois Hollande French President Francois Hollande’s government predicted economic growth of at least 0.1% during 2013
The French economy will grow by 0.5% in the final three months of the year, said the country’s central bank.
Rising industrial production prompted the Bank of France to raise its quarterly growth forecast from 0.4%.
TheLocal.fr delivers the ax:
Airbus-maker EADS set to cut 1,000 French jobs
Some 1,000 jobs are set to to be lost in France, after European aerospace giant and the maker of Airbus aircraft, EADS announced on Monday that it would be cutting some 5,800 European posts from its defence and space division.
TheLocal.fr again, this time with a grim depiction:
‘Paris is becoming like the Bronx’: ex-top cop
Just months before mayoral elections in Paris, focus has turned to the city’s crime rate, after a former French police chief-turned-election candidate caused a stir by comparing the French capital to the notorious New York borough of the Bronx.
Frédéric Péchenard, the former chief of France’s national police, and candidate for mayor of the 17th arrondissement of Paris, has caused controversy with comments comparing crime in the French capital with that of the New York borough of the Bronx, with its reputation – outdated according to some – of being a hotbed of violent crime.
On to Spain and an austerian mantra via TheLocal.es:
‘Falling wages are saving Spanish jobs’
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Sunday that falling wages had allowed Spain, which is grappling with an unemployment rate of nearly 26 percent, to save jobs.
Lower wages were “one of the keys” to overcome the economic crisis, he said in an interview with several European newspapers including Spain’s left-leaning El Pais daily.
The New York Times covers a sale:
Spanish ‘Ghost Airport’ Goes on the Block
A barely used Spanish airport that cost some 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) to build and became a symbol of the country’s wasteful spending ahead of an economic downturn has gone on sale for a minimum price of 100 million euros.
Ciudad Real’s Central airport, about 235 kilometers (150 miles) south of Madrid, opened in 2008. The airport’s operator went bankrupt last year after it failed to draw enough traffic, becoming known as one of the country’s “ghost airports.”
While El País finds banksters bemoaning:
International offensive launched against Madrid over renewable energy cutbacks
Two major investment funds take Spanish government’s decision to cut subsidies to World Bank’s arbitration agency
Investors may sue Spain over green energy subsidy cuts
From thinkSPAIN, a closure of the commons contested:
Socialists’ appeal over Canal Nou shutdown accepted by Constitutional Court
SPAIN’S Constitutional Court has accepted an appeal from the socialist party over the closure of Radio Televisión Valenciana (RTVV) which led to the region’s Channel 9 (Canal Nou) being taken off air.
The shutdown means several thousand reporters and support workers will be on the dole from February, although they will be paid up to then ‘for doing nothing’, say staff.
TheLocal.es blows smoke:
Deadly pollution ‘a threat’ to Spanish cities
The health risks of long-term exposure to air pollution are more serious than previously thought, a high-profile new study shows. The Local spoke to one of the researchers to find out what this means for Spain.
On to Portugal with another Chinese play from the Portugal News:
Renewables firm sells 49% stake to China Three Gorges
EDP Renováveis announced Friday that it had agreed the terms of sale of a 49% stake in the ENEOP – Elétricas de Portugal consortium with China Three Gorges, a key shareholder in Portugal’s EDP electricity generating company.
Renewables firm sells 49% stake to China Three Gorges
In a statement sent to the CMVM stock market authorities, EDP Renováveis said that the sale for an undisclosed amount fell under the auspices of the deal that saw China Three Gorges acquire its stake in EDP as the government sold off its remaining stake in the once state owned firm.
From the Portugal News again, this time with less drive:
Tolls down a quarter since 2008
Portugal’s largest motorway operator, Brisa, has said it had lost about a quarter of its traffic over the past five years, but there were signs that business was slowly picking up again in 2013.
On to Italy with The Independent and a search for an analogue:
Is this Italy’s Tony Blair? Meet Matteo Renzi, the rising star of Italian politics
Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) is celebrating after rising star Matteo Renzi was crowned as its secretary at the party primaries on Sunday night with a crushing 68 per cent of the vote.
The big question now is whether the charismatic, 38-year-old “post ideologue” can live up to his reputation as the new Tony Blair and finally give Italy’s centre-left – and its political system – the credibility it’s been missing for decades.
More from TheLocal.it:
Renzi leads youthful overhaul of centre-left
The new head of Italy’s Democratic Party on Monday signalled his determination to push for change as he unveiled his leadership team for the centre-left party, a key force in the coalition government.
euronews covers one protest:
Italy: ‘Pitchfork protesters’ disrupt road and rail travel in protest at state of economy
Thousands of farmers, lorry drivers, pensioners and unemployed people have taken to the streets in Italy as part of a series of protests against the government and the European Union.
Demonstrators stopped train services by walking on the tracks while striking lorry drivers disrupted traffic by driving slowly and blocking roads.
And TheLocal.it covers another:
Police clash with anti-tax protesters in Turin
Stone-throwing protesters clashed with police in the northern Italian city of Turin on Monday, in one of dozens of rallies called to demand tax cuts for small businesses, media reported.
After the jump, Greek crisis intensifies, Ukrainian turmoil, Russian media crackdown, a Venezuelan victory, Indian upsets, Thai elections, Chinese neoliberalism deepens, Jpanaese anxieties, and the latest edition of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading