By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 2015 (IPS) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has criticised member states for ‘cherry-picking’ human rights – advocating some and openly violating others – perhaps to suit their own national or political interests.
Nick Butler – Financial Times
The borders drawn by Churchill and other politicians in the aftermath of the First World War have shaped the Middle East for almost 100 years. Now, however, sectarian upheaval combined with the US withdrawing from day-to-day engagement suggests that those boundaries could be redrawn as a result of the shifting balance of power on the ground. That process has started in northern Iraq and won’t stop there. The redrawing of the maps will have profound implications for the energy business.
By Timothy Wise* – Naked Capitalism
Et Tu, National Geographic?
Since when is the safety of genetically modified food considered “settled science” on a par with the reality of evolution? That was the question that jumped to mind when I saw the cover of the March 2015 National Geographic and the lead article, “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?”
By James Surowiecki* – The New Yorker
As soon as the battle between Greece and its creditors ended, with the two sides agreeing to a four-month extension of Greece’s financial bailout, the battle over who had won began. Wolfgang Schäuble, the hard-line German finance minister, declared that the new Greek government, led by the leftist party Syriza, had been forced into a “date with reality.” Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, called the agreement a “decisive step” that would help end austerity and lift the Greek economy from its deep depression, and the Greek public seemed largely pleased with the deal.
By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 2015 (IPS) – As the call for the decriminalisation of drugs steadily picks up steam worldwide, a new study by a British charity concludes there has been no significant reduction in the global use of illicit drugs since the creation of three key U.N. anti-drug conventions, the first of which came into force over half a century ago.
Paul Krugman* – The New York Times
Last week, after much drama, the new Greek government reached a deal with its creditors. Earlier this week, the Greeks filled in some details on how they intend to meet the terms. So how did it go?
By A. D. McKenzie
PARIS, Feb 26 2015 (IPS) – Providing women with greater access to mobile technology could increase literacy, advance development and open up much-needed educational and employment opportunities, according to experts at the fourth United Nations’ Mobile Learning Week conference here.
John Gapper – Financial Times
To anyone who witnessed its rise to become a global bank, the entire thing is baffling
Stuart Gulliver’s crisp explanation this week of why he once held his annual bonuses in a Swiss private bank account via a Panamanian company was plausible yet somehow more puzzling than if he had been evading tax.
David Kortava – The Nation
An interview with Jeffrey Sachs on the 2015 Paris negotiations, sustainable development and the profound threat facing our planet.
In December 2015, world leaders will gather in Paris to negotiate a binding agreement to reduce global carbon emissions. It will be the twenty-first major UN climate summit since 1992. Two decades of conferences have coincided with mounting emissions and rising temperatures. Indeed, the World Meteorological Organization has pronounced 2014 as the warmest year on record for the planet. And the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns that—short of a “substantial and sustained” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions—we will experience more frequent heat waves, droughts, storm surges, shocks to the world food supply and other extreme weather-related events.
Martin Wolf -Financial Times
Huge increases in private sector credit preceded many financial crises
Balance sheets matter. This is the biggest lesson of the financial crises that have rolled across the world economy. Changes in balance sheets shape the performance of economies, as credit moves in self-fulfilling cycles of optimism and pessimism. The world economy has become credit addicted. China could well be the next victim.
By Yanis Varoufakis – The Guardian
Before he entered politics, Yanis Varoufakis, the iconoclastic Greek finance minister at the centre of the latest eurozone standoff, wrote this searing account of European capitalism and and how the left can learn from Marx’s mistakes
In 2008, capitalism had its second global spasm. The financial crisis set off a chain reaction that pushed Europe into a downward spiral that continues to this day. Europe’s present situation is not merely a threat for workers, for the dispossessed, for the bankers, for social classes or, indeed, nations. No, Europe’s current posture poses a threat to civilisation as we know it.
Alfred W. McCoy – The Nation (*)
How Washington gave itself a global get-out-of-jail-free card
“The sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation’s leader can defy the law to serve the greater good. Though Schmitt’s service as Nazi Germany’s chief jurist and his unwavering support for Hitler from the night of the long knives to Kristallnacht and beyond damaged his reputation for decades, today his ideas have achieved unimagined influence. They have, in fact, shaped the neo-conservative view of presidential power that has become broadly bipartisan since 9/11. Indeed, Schmitt has influenced American politics directly through his intellectual protégé Leo Strauss who, as an émigré professor at the University of Chicago, trained Bush administration architects of the Iraq war Paul Wolfowitz and Abram Shulsky.
Analysis by Jessica Faieta*
NEW YORK, Feb 23 2015 (IPS) – Recent new data show a worrying picture of Latin America and the Caribbean. Income poverty reduction has stagnated and the number of poor has risen — for the first time in a decade — according to recent figures from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Mary Dejevsky – The Guardian
Ever since the roadmap for peace in Ukraine was agreed last week, the prevailing mood in western capitals has been pessimism laced with cynicism. In the unlikely event that the ceasefire somehow takes hold, this will be interpreted as proof positive that the terms favoured Russia. Whatever happens, Russia – or, more specifically, President Putin – will be to blame.
By WILLIAM D. CARRIGAN* and CLIVE WEBBFEB*
The recent release of a landmark report on the history of lynching in the United States is a welcome contribution to the struggle over American collective memory. Few groups have suffered more systematic mistreatment, abuse and murder than African-Americans, the focus of the report.
By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 2015 (IPS) – A rash of sex discriminatory laws – including the legalisation of polygamy, marital rape, abduction and the justification of violence against women – remains in statute books around the world.
By Héctor Vega*
What is the existing data related to the Greek debt? Debt payment conditions as per the Troika –the European Central Bank (ECB), IMF and European Community– place a stranglehold on the Greek government rather than assisting towards a possible solution. How does this come about? First of all, this reminds me of what happened with Germany after the First World War when the victorious powers settled on war reparations of up to 40% of its GDP –, in the end only half of this was paid.
George Irvin* – Social Europe
Is Frau Merkel forcing Greece’s departure from the Eurozone (EZ)? As Eurogroup ministers met again in Brussels on 16thFebruary, a solution to the present crisis could not be found. Although the much-favoured option involves de facto cancellation of part of the Greek debt, what SYRIZA was asking for at the moment was only a short-term ‘bridging loan’ to give the country some breathing room; i.e., to ensure the Greek central bank does not run out of money in the coming week.
The author analyses the current stage in history, marked by a lack of global governance. There is little hope of achieving this in the short term as we are undergoing a period of transition.
This text, that sets out to unravel the world’s chaos, describes some eight gaps to be filled. On this path towards global governance, international relations has emerged as a new and significant reality.
It is unlikely that global governance will be achieved in the short-term. The only viable long term plan is to encourage a discussion to establish common values shared by most of humankind.
Ultimately, the author proposes that if we are to achieve real and lasting global governance, the debate will have to revert to core values on which to base our coexistence.
Vijay Prashad* – The Hindu
In the cases of Muammar Qadhafi and Saddam Hussein, opportunities to allow them to surrender were squandered. It was as if the new dispensations in Iraq and Libya could be created from scratch. Rather than disappear, the older currents would reappear in ways unforeseen in western and Gulf Arab capitals.