Category Archives: Class

The TTIP pact leaks drop like a digital bombshell


German Greenpeace activists project the leaked TOOIP documents on the walls of the Reichstag building in Berlin.

German Greenpeace activists project the leaked TPIP documents on the walls of the Reichstag building in Berlin.

The one thing the Internet does extremely well is to provide citizens of the world a first-hand look at documents the powerful try desperately to keep secret, documents we should all known about if we are to make uniformed choices about our lives.

And the latest online bombshell [previously] comes from the Netherlands, it’s subject the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — the largest trade agreement in history, negotiated in secret by representatives of corporations, banks, and national and regional governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

From Greenpeace Netherlands:

Today Greenpeace Netherlands releases secret documents of the EU-US TTIP negotiations. On www.ttip-leaks.org the documents will be made available for everyone to read, because democracy needs transparency.

“These documents make clear the scale and scope of the trade citizens of the United States and the European Union are being asked to make in pursuit of corporate profits. It is time for the negotiations to stop, and the debate to begin.

Should we be able to act when we have reasonable grounds to believe our health and wellbeing is at risk, or must we wait until the damage is done?

Were our governments serious in Paris when they said they would do what was necessary to protect the planet, and keep climate change under 1.5 degrees?

Environmental protection should not be seen as a barrier to trade, but as a safeguard for our health, and the health of future generations.

We call on citizens, civil society, politicians and businesses to engage in this debate openly and without fear. We call on the negotiators to release the latest, complete text to facilitate that discussion, and we ask that the negotiations be stopped until these questions, and many more have been answered. Until we can fully engage in a debate about the standards we and our planet need and want” – Sylvia Borren, Executive Director Greenpeace Netherlands.

A report from RT offers some context:

While the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and Europe is set to create the world’s largest free trade zone, many Europeans worry the agreement would elevate corporate interest above national interest. TTIP opponents say that cheaper goods and services would only hurt the EU and help the US.

Europeans argue that international corporations would be given power at the expensive of small and medium-sized businesses. The secrecy surrounding the negotiations has also come under fierce criticism.

Just a day before Obama’s visit to Germany, thousands of anti-TTIP protesters hit the streets of Hanover.

According to a recent survey conducted by pollsters YouGov on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation, only 17 percent of Germans think the TTIP is a good thing, down from 55 percent two years ago. In the United States, only 18 percent of people now support the deal, compared to 53 percent in 2014.

More from Foreign Policy, including the sense of urgency driving the Obama administration in its mania to gut the European regulatory regime:

Less than two weeks after Obama made his pitch to Europe for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, documents leaked by Greenpeace on Monday are giving many European opponents of the deal further ammunition to shoot it down. The secret documents show, among other things, “irreconcilable” differences in some areas, and that the two sides are still at odds over U.S. demands that would require the EU to break environmental protection promises.

“Discussions on cosmetics remain very difficult and the scope of common objectives fairly limited,” reads an internal note by EU trade negotiators. Because of a European ban on animal testing, “the EU and U.S. approaches remain irreconcilable and EU market access problems will therefore remain,” the note says.

Proponents of the deal, which would cover more than 800 million people, scrambled into damage control mode Monday. “In that sense, many of today’s alarmist headlines are a storm in a teacup,” Cecilia Malmström, the European Union’s trade commissioner, said in a blog post.

>snip<

If the deal gets pushed to the next administration, Obama will be forced to abandon not just TTIP, but likely the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive, 12-nation Asia trade deal that covers nearly 40 percent of global GDP. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have warned the president that there are not enough votes to get it through Congress. Obama wants both deals done before he leaves the Oval Office.

European reservations on the rise

Deutsche Welle’s report on the leak notes Obama’s central role in pushing for the pact:

In April, Obama defended the necessity of the trade deal, which would currently cover roughly one-third of global trade, prior to his arrival in Hanover, where demonstrators called for the negotiations to be suspended.

“There’s still barriers that exist that prevent businesses and individuals that are providing services to each other to be able to do so seamlessly,” Obama told British broadcaster BBC. “The main thing between the United States and Europe is trying to just break down some of the regulatory differences that make it difficult to do business back and forth.”

However, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who also serves as deputy chancellor, said the trade deal would “fail” if Washington did not offer concessions.

“The Americans want to hold on to their ‘Buy American’ idea. We can’t accept that. They don’t want to open their public tenders to European companies. For me that goes against free trade” Gabriel told German business newspaper “Handelsblatt” recently.” If the Americans stick to this position, we don’t need the free trade treaty. And TTIP will fail.”

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

$an Franci$co Bay hou$ing drive$ gentrification


As housing prices soar on the shores of San Francisco Bay, those at the bottom of the increasingly steep income pyramid [esnl among them] are being forced out of the place they love.

Consider the following graphic from the results of the annual poll of the Bay Area Council, based on a survey of 1,000 residents and with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points:

BLOG Gentrify

Spain sets yet another unemployment record


The Great Recession’s impact lingers strongest in Southern Europe, with Spain and Greece especially hard hit, and with youth feeling the greatest impact.

Here’s a breakdown of first quarter unemployment numbers from the Spanish National Statistics Institute:

BLOG Spain

And the latest numbers set a record.

From El País:

Spain has just broken one of its more dubious records. The latest statistics show that the country has endured a jobless rate of over 20% for 66 straight months, or five-and-a-half years.

The previous record – of five years and three months – was set not so long ago, in the mid 1990s.

The most recent quarterly figures, released on Thursday by the National Statistics Institute (INE), show persistent joblessness, despite the fact that the job market has actually been recovering for nearly two years.

But many if not most of those new jobs aren’t good, well-paying permanent positions, as the newspaper notes:

In the last 13 months, there was a 10% increase in the number of temporary workers, from 3.4 million up to 3.7 million. The temporary employment rate is now 25%, nearly 1.5 percentage points higher than in the same period last year.

Scores ‘disappeared’ in Guerrero police action


And it happened in the same Mexican state where the 43 students from the from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College vanished after a similar violent clash with police of the night of 26 September 2014.

From teleSUR English:

Over 200 people were injured and 64 were arrested when Mexican federal police in Guerrero, where the Ayotzinapa tragedy took place, attempted to end a protest.

The dangerous southern Mexican state of Guerrero has hit the headlines once again as at least 100 people were apparently forcibly disappeared by federal police who violently evacuated hundreds of union protesters that blocked a main highway and various streets in the capital Chilpancingo, various local news outlets reported Friday.

“We have over 100 people disappeared, including two minor, over 64 people were arrested and more than 200 injured,” said community leader Maria Eugenia Salgado.

The Transport Council Union and the Union of Peoples of the Guerrero Sierra told Proceso that the Federal Police evacuated them violently and added they hold the state Governor Hector Astudillo responsible for the police brutality and the disappearance of their members.

The transportation union members, which include bus and taxi drivers, had completely blocked the main highway, Autopista del Sol which mainly links Acapulco with Mexico City, for over 12 hours until Astudillo ordered the evacuation claiming huge financial losses.

Map of the day II: European joblessness in 2015


Sorry for the poor resolution, but Eurostat’s maps have become increasingly problematic in recent months, as you can see in the original [PDF]:

BLOG Eurojobless

Quote of the day: Neoloberalism and the Clintons


From Robin Corey, writing in Jacobin:

[N]eoliberalism, of course, can mean a great many things, many of them associated with the Right. But one of its meanings — arguably, in the United States, the most historically accurate — is the name that a small group of journalists, intellectuals, and politicians on the Left gave to themselves in the late 1970s in order to register their distance from the traditional liberalism of the New Deal and the Great Society.

The original neoliberals included, among others, Michael Kinsley, Charles Peters, James Fallows, Nicholas Lehmann, Bill Bradley, Bruce Babbitt, Gary Hart, and Paul Tsongas. Sometimes called “Atari Democrats,” these were the men — and they were almost all men — who helped to remake American liberalism into neoliberalism, culminating in the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.

These were the men who made Jonathan Chait what he is today. Chait, after all, would recoil in horror at the policies and programs of mid-century liberals like Walter Reuther or John Kenneth Galbraith or even Arthur Schlesinger, who claimed that “class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination.” We know this because he so resolutely opposes the more tepid versions of that liberalism that we see in the Sanders campaign.

It’s precisely the distance between that lost world of twentieth century American labor-liberalism and contemporary liberals like Chait that the phrase “neoliberalism” is meant, in part, to register.

Children drive neighborhood income segregation


Gentrification, it’s called, and the driving factor seems to be whether or not families have children.

The presence of school age children makes school selection a decisive factor in housing choices, according to new research reported by the American Sociological Association:

Neighborhoods are becoming less diverse and more segregated by income — but only among families with children, a new study has found.

Study author Ann Owens, an assistant professor of sociology at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, examined census data from 100 major U.S. metropolitan areas, from Los Angeles to Boston. She found that, among families with children, neighborhood income segregation is driven by increased income inequality in combination with a previously overlooked factor: school district options.

For families with high income, school districts are a top consideration when deciding where they will live, Owens said. And for those in large cities, they have multiple school districts where they could choose to buy homes.

Income segregation between neighborhoods rose 20 percent from 1990 to 2010, and income segregation between neighborhoods was nearly twice as high among households that have children compared to those without.

For childless families, schools are not a priority for selecting a home, which, Owens said, likely explains the reason that they did not see a rise in the income gap or in neighborhood segregation.

“Income inequality has an effect only half as large among childless folks,” said Owens, whose study will be published online on April 27 and in the June print edition of the American Sociological Review [$36 to read the article — esnl]. “This implies that parents who have children see extra money as a chance to buy a home in a good neighborhood so that their kids may attend a good school.”

She said the increased neighborhood income segregation that her study uncovered is a troubling sign for low-income families. Studies have shown that integrated learning environments are beneficial for children of disadvantaged households, and do no harm to children whose families have higher incomes.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading