Joseph Stiglitz: Historical amnesia threatens Europe’s ruination

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2015/08/25/joseph_stiglitz_historical_amnesia_threatens_europes_ruination_partner/

The famed economist examines Greece’s debt crisis and the lessons of World War II Germany has resolutely ignored


Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015

On August 18, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz joined Harper’s Magazine deputy editor Christopher Beha at Book Culture in New York to discuss the Greek financial crisis. In Stiglitz’s view, the latest bailout not only ensures that the country’s depression will worsen, but undermines the entire European project.

Bad economic ideas inflict untold human suffering. When they come cloaked in a fog of Orwellian obfuscation, their poison and effects can spread with little hindrance. The public is misled. Power plays are hidden from view.

In Greece, where suicide rates have risen sharply in the wake of austerity measures, people lose hope.

Joseph Stiglitz, who has been following the Greek crisis closely and is recently returned from Athens, sets himself to the task of cutting through the fog. His plain English and fearless use of moral language to expose the ugliness behind economic and political abstractions lend clarity to a situation that is not just bringing a nation to its knees, but threatening to destroy the European project and bring on a future of conflict and hardship.

In discussing Greece’s Third Memorandum of Understanding and its draconian terms, Stiglitz observes that the MoU is really a “surrender document” that eclipses the country’s economic sovereignty and ensures that Greece’s depression — already deeper than America’s Great Depression — will get worse. An economy that is seeing youth unemployment reaching up to 60 percent is likely to lose another 5 percent in GDP. That is over and beyond the 25 percent plunge in GDP the country has suffered since the imposition of austerity measures.

Socially conservative Germans, Stiglitz warns, are doubling down on the discredited notion that austerity policies help economies recover in times of crisis. In reality, the insistence on keeping wages down, stripping bargaining power from workers, forcing small business owners to pay taxes a year in advance, and cutting pensions will only hamper demand and lead to a deepening spiral of debt. (Stiglitz emphasizes that hardly any of the money loaned to Greece has actually gone to help the Greeks themselves, but rather private-sector creditors, namely German and French banks).

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2015/08/25/joseph_stiglitz_historical_amnesia_threatens_europes_ruination_partner/

I’m tired of being kind to creepy men in order to stay safe

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/20/sexual-harassment-women-curfew?CMP=fb_gu

To avoid sexual harassment I’ve imposed my own curfew, and try to be in bed by 11pm. I can’t believe women have to live like this in 2015


Thursday 20 August 2015

My Mum once told me her biggest regret was that she’d brought her daughters up to be so polite. It happened after one of my little sisters came home in tears. A “friendly” man at the train station had started making comments about her legs and asking if she had a boyfriend. “I really wanted to ignore him, but I didn’t want to be rude! I didn’t know what to do!” she wept. She was 14 at the time.

There’s obviously something about a quiet coach and a station buffet that encourages pervy passengers. British Transport Police have just announced that the number of sexual offences on trains and at stations has gone up by 25% in the past year, and is now at record levels. Any travelling woman who has ever sunk down in her seat and opened her book, only to be tapped on the shoulder and asked “What are you reading, then?” will be surprised that the numbers aren’t higher.

We’ve all been bothered by persistent guys who pester us relentlessly, believing themselves to be entitled to our company and more. We’re under pressure to be polite and manage their expectations. Ignored men are angry men, and it’s horrible to sit silently while a man shouts at a packed carriage: “She thinks she’s too good to talk to me!”

When it comes to responding to harassers, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t – and sometimes it gets to the point when dealing with entitled idiots is so exhausting that you feel safer staying at home.

When I was a student, I lived on a safe, central road in York right between the city centre and the university campus. For a while I was happy to walk up and down the road on my own, earphones in, handbag stuffed full of unread translations of Beowulf. Then one day, in the early afternoon, a large man grabbed my elbow and removed an ear bud. “What’s your name?” he asked. I was so stunned that it took me a full five seconds to realise that his hand was down his trousers. I stammered and stuttered, and he repeated the question. The two men who worked in the greengrocer across the street were laughing. “Oh, don’t worry! It’s Bill! He doesn’t mean any harm,” chuckled one, as Bill released me and set off in search of fresh female elbows.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/20/sexual-harassment-women-curfew?CMP=fb_gu

I’m Too Old for This

From The new York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/fashion/im-too-old-for-this.html

Police Shootings Are About Class as Well as Race

Do you accept the Police version of the “Biker Gang War in Waco”?  What if I were to tell you there is evidence that most if not all of the killings were committed by Police armed witM4 assault weapons (the actual definition of assault weapon includes the ability to fire bursts or fully automatic.)

I know members of a couple of clubs involved who claim the police did all the shooting.

In the US we are trained from infancy to think of ourselves as a class free society.  In reality class oppression is every bit as real as racism.  Also our society is rigidly class segregated.

When was the last time you described someone as “white trash”?  Or “trailer park”?

Martin Luther King was murdered one year to the day after he started talking about class oppresion along side of racial oppression.

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-jesse-jackson/police-shootings-are-about-class-as-well-as-race_b_7972218.html

The New Climate “Normal”: Abrupt Sea Level Rise and Predictions of Civilization Collapse

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32131-the-new-climate-normal-abrupt-sea-level-rise-and-predictions-of-civilization-collapse

By Dahr Jamail
Monday, 03 August 2015

We know things are a bit “off” when a rainforest is on fire.

Over 400 acres of the Queets Rainforest, located in Olympic National Park in Washington State, nearby where I live, have burned recently, and it is continuing to burn as I type this. Fires in these rainforests have historically been rare, as the area typically receives in excess of 200 inches of rain annually.

But this is all changing now.

The new normal is that there is no longer any “normal.”

The new normal regarding climate disruption is that, for the planet, today is better than tomorrow.

Another perfect example of this is a crucial recent study led by James Hansen, the former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The study, authored by Hansen and more than a dozen other scientists and published online, warns that even staying within the internationally agreed goal of keeping the planet within the 2-degree Celsius temperature warming limit has already caused unstoppable melting in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. The study shows that this will raise global sea levels by as much as 10 feet by the year 2050, inundating numerous major coastal cities with seawater.

As if that’s not enough, Hansen’s study comes on the heels of another study published in Science, which shows that global sea levels could rise by at least 20 feet, even if governments manage to keep global temperature increases to within the agreed upon “safe” limit of 2 degrees Celsius. The study warns that it is quite possible that 75 feet of sea level rise could well already be unstoppable given current carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and recent studies that show how rapidly Greenland and several Antarctic ice sheets are melting.

Disconcertingly, another new “normal” this month comes in the form of huge plumes of wildfire smoke over the Arctic. At the time of this writing, well over 12 million acres of forest and tundra in Canada and Alaska have burned in wildfires, and the smoke covering the Arctic sea ice is yet another anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) amplifying feedback loop that will accelerate melting there. The additional smoke further warms the atmosphere that quickens the melting of the Arctic ice pack.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32131-the-new-climate-normal-abrupt-sea-level-rise-and-predictions-of-civilization-collapse

Two women earn Ranger Tabs in a first for the Army

From The Army Times:  http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/2015/08/17/two-women-earn-ranger-tabs-first-army/31889239/

By Michelle Tan, Staff writer
August 18, 2015

The Army on Monday announced two women and 94 men met the standards of the course’s third and final phase, also known as the Swamp Phase.Two women will graduate from Ranger School on Friday, becoming the first women to earn the Ranger Tab.

Their graduation ceremony will take place on Victory Pond at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The women are part of the Army’s gender-integrated assessment of the grueling two-month Ranger School.

The assessment has drawn a high level of scrutiny, with many questioning whether the Army is lowering its standards for the elite school — which until now was open only to men — while many others have cheered on the female students.

Army officials insisted the standards were not changed in any way.

“Congratulations to all of our new Rangers,” Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement. “Each Ranger School graduate has shown the physical and mental toughness to successfully lead organizations at any level. This course has proven that every soldier, regardless of gender, can achieve his or her full potential.”

McHugh added: “We owe soldiers the opportunity to serve successfully in any position where they are qualified and capable, and we continue to look for ways to select, train, and retain the best soldiers to meet our nation’s needs.”

The women, both officers, started the Swamp Phase on Aug. 1 after three tries at the school’s first phase, known as the Darby Phase, at Fort Benning, Georgia, and one try at the second phase, known as the Mountain Phase, in Dahlonega, Georgia.

Continue reading at:  http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/2015/08/17/two-women-earn-ranger-tabs-first-army/31889239/

See Also: Washington Post: History made: Army Ranger School to graduate its first female students

Republicans Against Retirement

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/opinion/republicans-against-retirement.html?_r=1

Paul Krugman
August 17, 2015

Something strange is happening in the Republican primary — something strange, that is, besides the Trump phenomenon. For some reason, just about all the leading candidates other than The Donald have taken a deeply unpopular position, a known political loser, on a major domestic policy issue. And it’s interesting to ask why.

The issue in question is the future of Social Security, which turned 80 last week. The retirement program is, of course, both extremely popular and a long-term target of conservatives, who want to kill it precisely because its popularity helps legitimize government action in general. As the right-wing activist Stephen Moore (now chief economist of the Heritage Foundation) once declared, Social Security is “the soft underbelly of the welfare state”; “jab your spear through that” and you can undermine the whole thing.

But that was a decade ago, during former President George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize the program — and what Mr. Bush learned was that the underbelly wasn’t that soft after all. Despite the political momentum coming from the G.O.P.’s victory in the 2004 election, despite support from much of the media establishment, the assault on Social Security quickly crashed and burned. Voters, it turns out, like Social Security as it is, and don’t want it cut.

It’s remarkable, then, that most of the Republicans who would be president seem to be lining up for another round of punishment. In particular, they’ve been declaring that the retirement age — which has already been pushed up from 65 to 66, and is scheduled to rise to 67 — should go up even further.

Thus, Jeb Bush says that the retirement age should be pushed back to “68 or 70”. Scott Walker has echoed that position. Marco Rubio wants both to raise the retirement age and to cut benefits for higher-income seniors. Rand Paul wants to raise the retirement age to 70 and means-test benefits. Ted Cruz wants to revive the Bush privatization plan.

For the record, these proposals would be really bad public policy — a harsh blow to Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution, who depend on Social Security, often have jobs that involve manual labor, and have not, in fact, seen a big rise in life expectancy. Meanwhile, the decline of private pensions has left working Americans more reliant on Social Security than ever.

And no, Social Security does not face a financial crisis; its long-term funding shortfall could easily be closed with modest increases in revenue.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/opinion/republicans-against-retirement.html?_r=1

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