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Court of Human Rights Deals Major Blow To Israel’s War On Palestine Solidarity

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled unanimously that the French highest court’s 2015 criminal conviction of activists with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement advocating nonviolent boycotts of Israeli goods violated article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Reacting to the breaking news, Rita Ahmad from the Palestinian-led BDS movement said: This momentous court ruling is a decisive victory for freedom of expression, for human rights defenders, and for the BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. It confirms a 2016 European Union position defending the right to call for BDS against Israel to achieve Palestinian rights under international law.

Brexit And The Derivatives Time Bomb

By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt, Sovereign debt – the debt of national governments – has ballooned from $80 trillion to $100 trillion just since 2008. Squeezed governments have been driven to radical austerity measures, privatizing public assets, slashing public services, and downsizing work forces in a futile attempt to balance national budgets. But the debt overhang just continues to grow. Austerity has been pushed to the limit and hasn’t worked. But default or renegotiating the debt seems to be off the table. Why? According to a June 25th article by Graham Summers on ZeroHedge: . . . EVERY move the Central Banks have made post-2009 has been aimed at avoiding debt restructuring or defaults in the bond markets. Why does Greece, a country that represents less than 2% of EU GDP, continue to receive bailouts instead of just defaulting? Summers’ answer – derivatives: [G]lobal leverage has exploded to record highs, with the sovereign bond bubble now a staggering $100 trillion in size. To top it off, over $10 trillion of this is sporting negative yields in nominal terms. . . . Globally, over $500 trillion in derivatives trade [is] based on bond yields. But Brexit changes everything, says Summers.

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

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: Brexit Backlash Against EU, Revolt Against Elites

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.

As Support Plummets, Is EU Moving Closer To Becoming ‘TTIP Free Zone’?

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams - Intercontinental opposition to the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) continues to grow, with a new poll out Thursday showing that support for the controversial deal has "plummeted" in Germany and the U.S. over the last two years. The survey (pdf), conducted by YouGov for Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation, showed that only 17 percent of Germans believe the corporate-friendly trade agreement is a good thing, down from 55 percent in 2014. Likewise, in the United States, only 18 percent support the deal, compared to 53 percent two years ago...

EU Promised ExxonMobil TTIP Would Erase Enviro Obstacles

By Arthur Neslen for The Guardian - The European Union’s trade commissioner told the multinational oil company ExxonMobil that a major free trade deal being negotiated with the US would help remove obstacles to fossil fuel development in Africa and South America, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal. At a meeting in Brussels in October 2013, Karel de Gucht told the firm that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could address its concerns about regulations in developing countries that restrict the company’s activities.

Finally, The EU Stages An Israel Intervention

By Rachel Shabi for Al Jazeera. As the year draws to a close, relations between Israel and the European Union could not sensibly be described as rosy. In fact, they might well be at an all-time low. The simple explanation for this is that, after years of, well, basically dithering, the EU has finally labelled Israeli products that come from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Finally, because those settlements have been described by the EU (and beyond) as being in breach of international law and an obstacle to peace for decades. Now, Europe's trade agreements have caught up with the law - a bit, anyway. The EU directive is not a ban or a boycott: The labeling very simply means that consumers will know where the products are coming from, and that goods originating from Jewish settlements won't get the preferential treatment that Israeli products receive under trade arrangements with Europe. But Israel has not taken kindly to this development.

European Left Debates A ‘Plan B’ Against Austerity

By Liam Flenady for Green Left - Five key figures of the European left have launched a new initiative “for a Plan B in Europe”. A statement was jointly published on September 11 by former Die Linke (Left Party) leader Oskar Lafontaine from Germany; Italian deputy and economist Stefano Fassina, leader of France's Left Party Jean-Luc Melenchon, and former deputy and parliamentary speaker Zoe Kostantopoulou and ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis from Greece — both former members of SYRIZA who resigned after the left-wing party accepted harsh austerity measures in July. The statement calls for a summit to be held by the end of the year to develop a new common plan for the left in Europe. The signatories say the European left's “Plan A” is to build the fight in each country and across Europe to renegotiate the founding European treaties. These lock the European Union into a neoliberal paradigm. The aim is to open the path to a socially just European model of development. But the statement says this plan, while needed, is insufficient. Europe's left needs a Plan B at its disposal, which will allow any future left government in Europe to face down the blackmail from the European establishment — including threats of expulsion from the eurozone.

Newsletter: Rigged Trade Negotiations Struggle

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. For those concerned about corporate power vs. democracy; jobs, the environment, healthcare, food, water, energy, regulation of banks and more – all eyes were on Atlanta this week where 12 nations were negotiating the massive trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Atlanta meetings come after more than five years of secret negotiations, secret to the public, media and elected representatives but not to transnational corporations. No matter how Atlanta turns out, we are winning and can finish the job. Our goal: end corporate rigged trade and force governments to re-make trade with a goal of putting people and planet first and doing so by negotiating agreements with transparency so the people can participate.

Amid Protests Greece Passes Austerity Bailout

By Helena Smith and Emma Graham-Harrison in Athens, Ben Quinn, Heather Stewart and Graeme Wearden for the Guardian - Five years into the worst crisis to hit their country in decades, Greek MPs voted by a large majority in the early hours of Thursday morning to accept draconian austerity as the price of further bailout funds but at great personal cost to prime minister Alexis Tsipras. In a vote that saw tensions soar in and outside parliament, the embattled leader’s radical leftist Syriza party suffered huge losses as 40 MPs revolted against the measures. A total of 229 lawmakers voted in favour of the internationally mandated measures, 64 against and six abstained.

Greece’s Capitulation Reveals Deep Conflicts Within Eurozone

By Jerome Roos for ROAR - For the past two weeks, day-to-day life in Greece has been suspended on a political pendulum swinging violently from one extreme to the other. Between bank runs and mass mobilizations, heroic victories and inglorious defeats, financial blackmail and popular defiance, the future of this small country — and of the entire currency union of which it is a part — still hangs in the balance. It has been an emotional roller coaster throughout, with the collective heartbeat in Athens oscillating wildly between hope and desperation; between the tears of joy at Syntagma on the night of the referendum victory and the cries of agony resounding from the same square just days later, as prime minister Tsipras and his Syriza-led government prepared to capitulate. In the end, the overwhelming sensation is one of confusion and disbelief. What just happened? Was that real? The European Monetary Union is a mortally wounded animal preying blindly on its own tail. The Greek debt saga is merely the signal crisis of its eventual demise; even if it is eventually “resolved”, more intense conflicts are undoubtedly to come.

Those Who Lead Greece To Surrender Should Be Opposed

By Stathis Kouvelakis for Jacobin - A simple conclusion emerges from all this: with the moves it has made in the last week, the government has achieved nothing other than a full return to previous entrapment, from a much more unfavorable position, under the pressure of even more relentless economic asphyxiation. It has managed to squander the powerful injection of political capital from the referendum in record time, following at all points the line of those who had opposed it and who have every reason to feel vindicated, despite being trounced at the ballot box. But the referendum happened. It wasn’t a hallucination from which everyone has now recovered. Yesterday, late in the evening, it sent to all members of parliament (MPs) a hastily written, twelve-page text, written in English by experts sent by the French government and based on Tsakalotos’ request for a €50 billion loan to the ESM. This is nothing but a new austerity package — actually, a “copy and paste” of the Juncker plan rejected by the electorate a few days ago. Its core is all too familiar: primary surpluses, cuts in pensions, increase in the VAT and other taxes, and a handful of measures to give it a slight flavor of “social justice” (e.g., an increase in the corporate tax rate by two points).

“Guerrilla Warfare Against A Hegemonic Power”

By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt - Banks create money when they make loans. Greece could restore the liquidity desperately needed by its banks and its economy by nationalizing the banks and issuing digital loans backed by government guarantees to its ailing businesses. Greece could provide an inspiring model of sustainable prosperity for the world. But it is being strangled by a hegemonic power in a financial war that is being waged against us all. As reported in Zerohedge, the Greek government was prepared to pursue three “nuclear options” to protect the deposits of the Greek people: (1) nationalize the banks, (2) launch a parallel currency in the form of electronic California-style IOUs, and (3) use the Greek central bank’s printing press to issue euros.

Landslide Victory For ‘No’ Vote In Greece, Rejects Troika

By Staff for Popular Resistance. Today, the people of Greece voted in a landslide to refuse to accept the demands of austerity by the troika by a vote of 61.31% to 38.69%. The vote, along with an IMF report critical of the austerity plan, should open a new round of negotiations in the upcoming week. Syriza is now in a slightly stronger bargaining position and the EU now has to decide whether democracy matters. The people of Greece celebrated the vote despite the unclear and difficult paths ahead. There is a lot of confusion and unpredictable paths ahead. The simpliest path is a better deal from the troika with less austerity and restructured or even forgiven Greek debt, but some of the comments by EU and German finance leaders indicate that is unlikely. A more difficult path with lots of unpredictable repersussions is a Greek exit from the EU and the return to the Greek drachma currency. The choices are difficult, let's hope that the vote today is the beginning of a fresh start and much greater fairness and common sense from the troika.

1000s Rally In Hungary, Accuse Govt Of Drifting Away From EU

Thousands of people have flooded on to the streets of Budapest to protest against the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Protesters accused him of drifting away from the EU and strengthening ties with Russia. The protesters carried banners, saying “Game Over” and “Delete Viktor [Orban]”. According to AFP estimates, the demonstration gathered about 5,000 people in front of the Budapest opera house. "We condemn the parties of the last 25 years... We cannot expect the state to think for us," one of the organizers of the demonstration, Zsolt Varady, said in a speech at the rally. People said they were concerned over the country’s policy on centralization in education and public administration. They accused Orban's government of drawing Hungary further away from other European Union members.
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