Brazil Senate Approves Austerity Package To Freeze Social Spending For 20 Years

Protesters hold placards reading ‘Temer Out’ during a demonstration against austerity measures in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

By Dom Phillips for The Guardian – Brazil’s senate has passed a controversial spending cap that will limit public spending to inflation for the next 20 years, despite protests across the country against the measure. The spending cap, known as PEC 55, will now be signed off on 15 December. Its approval was seen as vital for the beleaguered government of centrist President Michel Temer who took over from the leftist Dilma Rousseff, after a divisive, eight-month impeachment process was concluded in August. Temer has staked his government’s credibility on measures to reduce public spending…

Newsletter: Elections Expose the Oligarchs

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The 2016 presidential election has shown how the duopoly, the two parties that represent big business interests and the wealthiest, are corrupted in ways that prevent the people’s voices from being heard, their necessities being met and the planet being protected from human greed. During the campaigns, leaks have given people a behind-the-scenes look at how the parties operate and research on the candidates shows their personal failures. They give voters an image of elites who behave as if the law does not apply to them and who put themselves ahead of the public interest. Last Friday was a day of embarrassment for both the Republican and Democratic Parties. A tape showing Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault in lewd ways has gotten the bulk of attention, but Wikileaks also released thousands of pages of The Podesta Emails, 2,060 emails and 170 attachments. John Podesta is the ultimate insider.

Protests Against 'Colonial' PROMESA Debt Plan Rock Puerto Rico

A protester against the first seminar of PROMESA tries to prevent an attendee from entering the conference in San Juan, Aug. 31, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

By Staff for Telesur. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in San Juan Wednesday to block the first scheduled conference on the installation of a financial control board to remedy Puerto Rico’s crippling debt crisis but slammed by critics as an anti-democratic, neo-colonial policy that will redistribute wealth from the island nation to Wall Street. Demonstrators formed protests lines and blocked roads with rocks and bricks to disrupt the conference at San Juan’s Condado Plaza Hilton. They carried signs and shouted slogans against the federal control board, whose authority will supercede that of Puerto Rico’s democratically-elected governor, effectively handing budgetary decision-making over to unelected appointees, many of them bankers. The U.S. law creating the control board, known by its acronym PROMESA, grants the oversight panel the power to cut pensions, labor contracts with civil servants, and social services, to restructure its US$73 billion debt load. Despite lines of riot police and occasional use of pepper spray, the protests managed to block conference-goers on their way to the venue and forced organizers to re-arrange the meeting agenda, local media reported.

How Globalization Divides Us

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By Kristen Steele for Local Futures. United Kingdom – When I woke up on June 24th and checked the news, I cried. Along with millions of people around the world. I’m a diehard believer in independence, freedom, democracy, and strong local economies. For some, the Brexit result represented those things. If that had been the reality, I would’ve supported it too. But like every other choice offered in the global economy these days, Brexit was a false one. Getting out of Europe does nothing to address the real problems in UK society—or the world. We’re still headed down the same destructive path together, but now more fractious and divided than ever. My colleague Lawrence Bloom[1] summed it up perfectly: the referendum was like choosing between cabins on the Titanic.

The Silence Of The Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity And The TTIP

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By Michael Hudson for Counterpunch. The media in the United States have treated the British vote against remaining in the European Union (EU) as if it is populist “Trumpism,” an inarticulate right-wing vote out of ignorance at being left behind by the neoliberal economic growth policy. The fact that Donald Trump happened to be in Scotland to promote his golf course helped frame the U.S. story that depicts the Brexit vote as a “Trump vs. Hillary” psychodrama – populist anger and resentment vs. intelligent policy. What is left out of this picture is that there is a sound logic to oppose membership in the EU. It is Nigel Farage’s slogan, “Take Back Control.” The question is, from whom? Not only from “bureaucrats,” but from the pro-bank, anti-labor rules written into the eurozone’s Lisbon and Maastricht treaties. The real problem is not merely that bureaucrats are making the laws, but the kind of laws they are making: pro-bank, anti-labor austerity. Tax and public spending policy has been taken out of the hands of national governments and turned over to the banking centers. They insist on austerity and scaling back pensions and social spending programs.

Newsletter: The Real History Of July 4th Builds Our Power

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. Official holidays in the United States tend to reinforce false historical narratives. The Fourth of July is one of those holidays and what the official story misses is the reality that must be told. During the decade before the Revolutionary War, colonists ran one of the most effective nonviolence resistance campaigns against corporate power in history. Rivera Sun describes this campaign of nonviolent actions by showing that many of the tactics people attribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other modern activists were used in an effective campaign by the colonists including boycotts of British goods, replacing them with their own goods; refusing to cooperate with unjust laws, non-payment of taxes, the development of parallel governments and local assemblies as well as rallies, petitions, marches and protests.

Newsletter: Brexit Backlash Against EU, A Revolt Against Elites

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The globalized economy is not working for most people of the world. International trade agreements and new government structures like the European Union serve corporate power and put the people and planet aside to ensure profits continue to come first. They undermine democracy and national sovereignty, leaving people feeling more powerless. By pushing austerity and commodification of public services, people are now more economically insecure with less wealth and lower incomes. The response of many is anger. Some protest austerity, others blame people of a different skin color, heritage or ethnicity. The surprise vote in the UK to leave the European Union is the latest, and perhaps the biggest, example of the blowback economic and political elites are getting for their actions. Brexit shows we have our work to do to educate people that this is not about racism and anger at ethnic groups, but is really the battle between the people and the elites. It is a conflict over whether we the people will have the power to decide our futures, whether we can create a fair economy that serves more than the 1% and whether we can act in ways that are consistent with the needs of the environmental crisis we face.

From ‘Merci Patron’ To ‘Nuit Debout’

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By Raphael Godechot for thekashmirwalla.com. On 24 February 2016, journalist François Ruffin released his first film, ‘Merci Patron’ (Thanks Boss). A refreshing documentary in which he takes on the challenge to bring financial reparation to a couple of factory workers from North of France. Both were dismissed after the textile factory they were working for got relocated to Poland, in order to find cheap labour. His plan is to get the CEO of the group, the billionaire Bernard Arnault, who owns the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy textile company, to compensate them. The film takes a comic tone to a sadly common issue of exploited and easily replaceable under-qualified low-paid labour. After numerous upheaval, the couple wins. The company agrees to give them 40,000 euros and a permanent contract is even offered at a supermarket to the man of the couple. However, there is a special condition.

Food Banks Brace For Long Lines As Thousands Lose Benefits

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By Brynne Keith-Jennings for Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. United States – Across the country, food banks and other organizations that serve the needy are preparing for long lines as childless adults begin losing SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits due to the return in over 20 states of a three-month time limit for able-bodied adults. Federal law limits adults aged 18-49 who aren’t raising minor children to three months of SNAP out of every three years unless they’re working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a job training program at least 20 hours a week. More than half a million people will lose SNAP over the course of the year due to the time limit. The time limit is “going to increase hunger among some of the most vulnerable Mississippians,” says Matt Williams of the Mississippi Center for Justice.

The Zombie Doctrine

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By George Monbiot. It’s as if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name.

‘Ditch Dodgy Dave’: 150,000 In Anti-Austerity Protest In London

Anti-austerity demonstration in central London on April 16, 2016. Photograph by Stefan Rousseau for PA

By Common Dreams Staff. A protest calling on David Cameron to resign has brought more than 150,000 people onto the streets of London on Saturday afternoon. The March for Health, Homes, Jobs and Education was organized by activist group the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. The demonstrators called for an end to austerity, and demanded that David Cameron quit over the Panama Papers revelation that he profited from his father’s offshore investment fund. People’s Assembly National Secretary Sam Fairbairn said: “The Tories are increasingly out of touch with the reality of life for most people. Every time they say ‘we all in it together’ it’s another slap round the face of millions of people. The revelations that have unfolded with the ‘Panama Papers’ show the super-rich hiding their wealth in tax havens on an industrial scale. This means they avoid taxes that would pay for all the social benefits that are currently under attack and people are understandably angry.”

A Great National Sick-Out – It’s Past Time

AntiiAusterity Billboard in London. Photo by Michael K. Donnelly, flickr, cc

By Laura Flanders for the Laura Flanders Show. The teachers sent out pictures of something that’s had a hard time getting seen: the social cost of austerity.The teachers secured attention from at least one national candidate – Hillary Clinton who pointed out such conditions wouldn’t be tolerated in more affluent places. Majority Republicans in Michigan’s Legislature threatened new laws to make it easier to crack down on protesting workers. We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, it’s worth reviewing how the Detroit schools got into such a fix. The system wasn’t always broke. According to analysis by the Citizens Research Council, a Michigan based policy group, the Detroit schools were enjoying a surplus in the 1990s. Now, 41 cents of every dollar appropriated for students is being spent on servicing city debt.

Puerto Rico Students Shut Down University Over Austerity Cuts

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By Staff of Tele Sur – The students are calling for people all over the country to join the protest against “unpayable debt” and austerity. Thousands of college students from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) approved a three-day, full-campus shutdown Tuesday to protest recent austerity measures, which they say endanger the higher education system. The students held a general student assembly, after which they marched through the university and closed all entrances to the campus.

Argentina Protests Macri as He Threatens More Austerity Schemes

Argentine President Mauricio Macri waves ahead of the opening of a session of the country's Congress in Buenos Aires, March 1, 2016. | Photo: Argentine Presidency

By Staff of Tele Sur – The Argentine president was met with widespread protests during his visit to the city of Rosario as he pushes for a deal with U.S. vulture funds. Argentine President Mauricio Macri suggested that without a deal with U.S. hedge funds, commonly referred to as vulture funds, the country is in store for further austerity or hyperinflation. “Austerity or hyperinflation. There is no alternative,” President Macri told an Argentine TV outlet Monday.

Chicago Teachers Rally Ahead Of Mass Action

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By Madeline Wensel for In These Times. Activists from across Chicago gathered in downtown Chicago last night at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple to demonstrate a united front in the face of continuing budget cuts and austerity measures proposed by state and city officials and a potentially impending strike of the Chicago Teachers Union. Organized by the Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign, a group of community activists dedicated to supporting the union, many sitting in the pews wore the CTU’s bright red t-shirts. But onstage, representatives from transit workers union ATU 308, AFSCME Council 31, the Black Youth Project (BYP) 100, University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100 and the Chicago Student Union joined CTU President Karen Lewis in calling for solidarity across unions and non-union groups.