By Alexandra Sims, Jon Stonem for the Independent. The free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States have failed, but “nobody is really admitting it”, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said. Talks over the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, also known as TTIP, have made little progress in recent years. The 14th round of negotiations between American and EU officials took place in Brussels in July. It was the third round in six months. At the time, the talks were thought to be in trouble after a number of leading European politicians expressed concern about TTIP’s effects and the US’s reluctance to accept changes to the proposed deal. In May, cracks emerged when France threatened to block the deal. President Hollande said he would “never accept” the deal in its current guise because of the rules it enforces on France and the rest of Europe – particularly in relation to farming and culture – claiming they are too friendly to US businesses. “We will never accept questioning essential principles for our agriculture, our culture and for the reciprocity of access to public [procurement] markets,” Mr Hollande is reported as saying at a meeting of left-wing politicians in Paris
By Eva Golinger for Tele Sur TV – Edward Snowden revealed to the world the 21st century spycraft in use against millions of innocent, unknowing people who now think twice about sending a text or an email. Amongst the documents obtained by Snowden were reports and details on surveillance of current and former heads of state, many of them from Latin America. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff was outraged over revelations of NSA espionage against her government, including wiretaps of her own phone and email. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was another major target of NSA operations.
By Tom Jawetz and Ken Gude for Center For American Progress – The primary victims of the violence and chaos perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, are Syrian civilians. Millions of Syrians have either fled the country or are internally displaced by the fighting between the Assad regime, ISIS, and myriad opposition groups. The enormity of the humanitarian crisis involving 4 million Syrian refugees came into focus in September when photos emerged of a young boy, Aylan Kurdi, who drowned off the Greek island of Kos in a desperate attempt to reach safer shores. That individual episode galvanized Americans across the political spectrum to demand that more be done to help resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees.
By Mark Weisbrot for The Huffington Post – In Washington, it’s just seen as the way the world works. Just as big fish eat little fish and lions prey on antelope, so there is no moral shame in the U.S. government trying to undermine, destabilize or get rid of democratically elected governments that it doesn’t like. So it is no surprise that the multi-pronged effort to delegitimize the elections for Venezuela’s National Assembly, scheduled for Dec. 6, would be reported and widely accepted here without question as merely trying to insure “credible observation” for the election. The “credible observers,” who are being portrayed as the sine qua non of a “credible result” is the Organization of American States.
For more than one in four renters in the US, housing and utility costs take up at least half of their family’s income, according to a new analysis of Census data. That number is up 26 percent since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007. Rising rents and stagnant wages are pushing more Americans into rental agreements, according to ananalysis by Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing advocate. More than 36 percent of Americans rent housing as compared to 31 percent before the recession began. The situation is nearly as dire across the nation. In Ohio, Alabama, Maine, Tennessee, Montana, and South Carolina, about 25 percent of renters dedicate half their income to rent and utilities. In fact, at least 20 percent of renters in every state, excepting Alaska, South Dakota, and Wyoming, face similar situations, according to the nonprofit’s analysis of 2013 Census figures.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “The US faces real threats to national security on many fronts and from within many countries, but there’s no evidence that Venezuela is one of them. Allegations of human rights abuses and corruption made by the US against seven Venezuelan officials should be dealt with according to the rule of law, and not trial by media. We urge both the US and Venezuela to accept the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights which was established for just this kind of situation. They should also respect the role of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.” UNASUR, the regional government grouping, has been trying to re-start dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition, with allegations of opposition efforts to mount a coup and counter-criticism of the government’s crackdown on the opposition dominating Venezuelan politics in recent months.
On the 12th of January 2010, Haiti was devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. An estimated 3 million people were affected, with upwards of 160,000 to 316,000 people killed. In the wake of this disaster a massive aid-campaign was initiated, with the United States leading the charge. However the allotted funds have not been used to help the people of Haiti, instead they have been funneled towards programs managed by USAID and Monsanto. The goals of these programs are to fundamentally restructure the Haitian economy, particularly the agricultural sectors. This is being done in order to maintain a corporate monopoly on both the import of food products into Haiti, as well as the means of food production within the country.
It has long been evident that TAFTA/TTIP is not a traditional trade agreement — that is, one that seeks to promote trade by removing discriminatory local tariffs on imported goods and services. That’s simply because the tariffs between the US and EU are already very low — under 3% on average. Removing all those will produce very little change in trading patterns. The original justification for TTIP recognized this, and called for “non-tariff barriers” to be removed as well. Those “non-tariff barriers” include regulations and standards introduced to protect the public — for example, through health and safety laws or environmental regulations. Removing those “barriers” in order to increase trade might be great for companies, but increases the social costs through weakened protection for the environment, or greater health risks.
Mexican activists were joined yesterday by solidarity protests in the United States and around the word. Under the banner of “Todos Somos Ayotzinapa – Todos Somos Ferguson,” a number of demonstrations in the States were intended to stand with Mexican organizers and the 43 students abducted, along with the U.S. community of Ferguson, Mo. Any day, a grand jury there is expected to decide whether or not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. At a rally in New York’s Union Square last Sunday, protesters held signs in Spanish saying, “Your son could be number 44” — eerily reminiscent of an earlier rallying cry: “I Am Trayvon Martin.” Protesters also called attention to the role of U.S. policy and trade agreements — including the proposed and controversial “Plan Mexico” — in fueling the drug war that has terrorized the country over the last several years, and was accelerated under the presidency of Felipe Calderon, beginning in 2006. Simultaneous protests for Ayotzinapa were held in France, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries.
PERIES: So if we could start with you, Professor Li, what’s in the accord in terms of China’s commitments? LI: Well, my understanding is that in this commitment, which the mainstream media claims to be historic, the U.S. side commits to a reduction of emissions by about 26 percent by 2025 compared to the year 2005. And China commits to an eventual peak of China’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, and as well as some commitment with respect to the growth of renewable energy. And so China is committed to have renewable energy to account for 20 percent of China’s energy consumption by 2030. Now, I just did some rough calculation. If you put U.S. and China’s emissions together, and assuming that the rest of countries will also have their equitable share of the global carbon emission project.
In response to the announcement of a negotiated deal between the United States and China on greenhouse gas reductions, Friends of the Earth U.S. President Erich Pica made the following statement: While the U.S.-China Announcement on climate change creates important political momentum internationally, it falls significantly short of the aggressive reductions needed to prevent climate disruption. The announced U.S. emissions reduction target — 26-28 percent below 2005 levels, by 2025 — is grounded in neither the physical reality of climate science nor the lived reality of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries whose lives and livelihoods are in jeopardy due to drought, flooding, fire and other extreme weather events. Simply put, the non-binding target falls miserably short of what science, justice and equity demand.
They come in kayaks and canoes to protect the bay, maintain a tent city on the beach, and hold candlelight vigils. From posters to marches, songs, and a petition expressing international solidarity, Okinawan residents have left no question about their fierce opposition to construction of a new military base for the U.S. Marines on their island. Overriding these emphatic voices, the Japanese and United States governments have begun work on a new facility at the Nago City site of Henoko—initiating offshore drilling, tearing down buildings, and bringing in construction supplies. The building of this base has broad ramifications: it will destroy local marine life, pollute natural resources, and put residents in danger. Even more disturbingly, it reflects the long-term violation of Okinawans’ democratic rights—namely, their ability to set the policies that affect their lives.
A new report from New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) finds that customers in the U.S. continue to pay higher prices for slower Internet. Building on previous research regarding the relative cost and quality of broadband Internet access, the Cost of Connectivity 2014 examines broadband prices and speeds in 24 cities in the U.S. and abroad. Looking at the price consumers pay for 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) in each city, as well as the speed they can get for $50 in each city, the report finds that Americans in major cities pay higher than average prices for 25 Mbps and get slower than average speeds for $50 when compared to their global peers. Seoul, Hong Kong, and Tokyo continue to lead the world in providing higher speeds for lower prices, each offering symmetrical one gigabit per second plans for under $40.
When it comes to this summer’s Israeli bombardment of Gaza and the slaughter of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including 500 children, it’s easy to wonder if American apologists for Israeli atrocities are living in an alternate reality. But those supporting the apartheid occupation and oppression of Palestinians and those of us opposing it do agree on one point: Israel’s occupation could not continue without the US government’s support, funding and weapons. Yet the depth of US complicity in Israeli human rights abuses can be shocking to even the fiercest critics of US aid to Israel.