Take America and the world down again

By Boima Rogers * – The Guardian
| 20 January 2017 | Donald Trump in the White House, the most powerful position in the world is an alarming prospect. His proposals and actions since his election are unprecedented and frightening. Never before have we seen a president-elect trying to assume power even before taking the oath of office and doing so in a manner that is totally unfit for the job.

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Right to Information Dead on Arrival at UN

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 19 2017 (IPS) – The 193-member UN General Assembly has been dragging its feet on a proposal that has been kicked around the corridors of the United Nations for over 10 years: a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) providing journalists the “right to information” in a sprawling bureaucracy protective of its turf.
Ironically, nearly 100 countries – all of them UN member states – have approved some form of national legislation recognizing the right to information (RTI) within their own borders but still seem unenthusiastic in extending it to the press corps at the United Nations.

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The Trump Team Is Hell-Bent on Threatening World Security by Escalating Against Iran

By Vijay Prashad / AlterNet
Secretary of Defense James Mattis and his National Security Advisor Mike Flynn have a bizarre obsession with Iran.
Gunfire broke out in Tehran, Iran’s capital, on Monday. A drone flew over the city and provoked anti-aircraft fire. Deputy of Air Defense Alireza Elhami said that the drone left the restricted area after the firing.
It is likely that this episode is harmless.

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Inequality (I): Half of World’s Wealth, in the Pockets of Just Eight Men

By Baher Kamal
Article I of a three-part series focuses on the alarmingly deepening inequality. Part II deals with the staggering impact of inequality on women, and Part III with the future and quality of jobs.

ROME, Jan 16 2017 (IPS) – Just eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to a major new report by an international confederation of 19 organisations working in more than 90 countries.

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62 people own the same as half the world, reveals Oxfam Davos report

Oxfam – Published: 18 January 2016

The Oxfam report An Economy for the 1%, shows that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010, a drop of 38 percent. This has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period. Meanwhile, the wealth of the richest 62 has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76tr. The report also shows how women are disproportionately affected by inequality – of the current ‘62’, 53 are men and just nine are women.
Although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality, and in September agreed a global goal to reduce it, the gap between the richest and the rest has widened dramatically in the past 12 months. Oxfam’s prediction, made ahead of last year’s Davos, that the 1% would soon own more than the rest of us, actually came true in 2015 – a year earlier than expected.

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Three Stories on Universal Basic Income

Other news brings you three perspectives on the issue of a guaranteed basic income: “Guaranteed annual income – a Big Idea whose time has yet to arrive” by Glen Hodgson in iPolitics; “An Unconditional Citizen’s Income” by Ursula Huws in Socialist Project; “Universal Basic Income and Radical Populism: Making the Link” by Jay Ogilvy from Stratfor and “Some thoughts about basic or citizenship income” by Gerry Rodgers.

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Trump, the Banks and the Bomb

By Baher Kamal

ROME, Jan 2017 (IPS) – When pro-nuclear disarmament organisations last October cheered the United Nations decision to start in 2017 negotiations on a global treaty banning these weapons, they probably did not expect that shortly after the US would elect Republican businessman Donald Trump as their 45th president. Much less that he would rush to advocate for increasing the US nuclear power.

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I was one of the only economists who predicted the financial crash of 2008 – in 2017 we need to make urgent changes

Ann Pettifor
The Independent Online

Economics is driven by ideology – it is ideology, not science, which drives them to assert that bank bailouts are tolerable but policies that protect the poor aren’t. Unsurprisingly, these flawed theories and models are a great comfort to financial elites – which is why so many economists are hired and funded by big banks, corporations and the wealthy

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Democrats can’t win until they recognize how bad Obama’s financial policies were

He had opportunities to help the working class, and he passed them up.

By Matt Stoller*
Washington Post

During his final news conference of 2016, in mid-December, President Obama criticized Democratic efforts during the election. “Where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte-sipping, you know, politically correct, out-of-touch folks,” Obama said, “we have to be in those communities.” In fact, he went on, being in those communities — “going to fish-fries and sitting in VFW halls and talking to farmers” — is how, by his account, he became president. It’s true that Obama is skilled at projecting a populist image; he beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa in 2008, for instance, partly by attacking agriculture monopolies .

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Andrei Tsygankov: “The US establishment, not the Kremlin, is undermining normalisation with Russia”

European Politics and Policy Blog

The release of an intelligence report on Russian interference in the US presidential election, alongside allegations of links between Donald Trump and the Kremlin, have strained US-Russia relations. Andrei P. Tsygankov* argues that there remains a deep-rooted fear of Russia within the American establishment, but that Donald Trump’s election provides an opportunity for the two countries to normalise their relations

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Reading Burma

By Sebastian Strangio,
Los Angeles Review of Books

THE NATION OF BURMA was born under a dark star. At 20 past four in the morning, on January 4, 1948 — the specific time was determined by astrologers — Burmese and British colonial troops assembled in the tropical gardens of the Secretariat, the headquarters of the colonial government in Rangoon. In a short ceremony, they ran down the Union Jack and hoisted in its place the new six-starred flag of independent Burma. As nearly a century of British rule came to a close, Burmese troops broke into patriotic anthems in their barracks.

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A Threat to U.S. Democracy: Political Dysfunction

Eduardo Porter

Economic Scene
The New York Times

Is American democracy broken?

There are precedents around the world for the kind of political jolt the United States experienced in November. They usually include a political firebrand who promises to sweep away a system rigged to serve the powerful rather than the interests of ordinary people. They usually end badly, when the popular champion decides to read electoral victory as an invitation to bend the institutions of democracy to the force of his will.

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