Ukraine’s economy: Broken down

By Robin Wigglesworth and Roman Olearchyk – Financial Times

The country’s finances have worsened, raising pressure on the International Monetary Fund

Into the buffers: conflict in the east has damaged infrastructure and will damp growth prospects

Plumes of smoke darken the sky above a sunflower seed crushing factory outside Donetsk, the largest stronghold of the Russian-backed separatists surrounded by Ukraine’s advancing army. “It was hit by Grad missiles,” says a rebel waving his machinegun as he guards a checkpoint next to a bullet-riddled bus.

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Immigrant Rights Groups Push Obama for Bolder Executive Action

Zoë Carpenter – The Nation

Sometime in the next month President Obama is expected to announce changes to immigration enforcement policies, potentially relieving the fear of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants. Specifics aren’t clear, but press reports and immigrant rights advocates close to the discussions indicate that reforms on the table include widening the group of people temporarily allowed to remain and work in the US; carve-outs for tech and agricultural interests; and changes to the way immigration authorities enforce the law in the field.

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Is America on the Brink of Another Iraq War?

The Editors – The Nation

President Obama must seek authorization for any further military action from both the UN Security Council and Congress.

The United States is now at war with the Islamic State, the ruthless jihadi organization that controls much of eastern Syria and western Iraq. The air drops of humanitarian supplies to tens of thousands of besieged Yazidis, who are threatened with genocide by the fanatics of the IS, has justifiably earned widespread support. But those air drops, combined with US airstrikes against IS forces advancing on Iraq’s Kurdish region, mean that less than three years after the departure of ground troops, American armed forces—including at least 1,000 military advisers—are back in Iraq.

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“The Industry of Ideas”: Measuring the Impact of Think Tanks

Andrew Mayersohn – Boston Review

Investigating money in politics is a little like studying dark matter: we have to make inferences about what we can’t detect from the behavior of things that we can see. While the “visible” universe of money in politics—mandatory disclosure of campaign contributions, some types of election spending, and lobbying—is sizeable in its own right, it represents only a fraction of the money spent on influencing government. Ken Silverstein’s recent e-book Pay to Play Think Tanks: Institutional Corruption and the Industry of Ideas (PDF) delves into the invisible world, demonstrating that influencers have plenty of other, less transparent tactics at their disposal.

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No Victors or Vanquished in Brutal Gaza Conflict

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 2014 (IPS) – As the dust – and the gunpowder – settles after the month-long devastating conflict in Gaza, there were apparently no victors or vanquished.

Israel, despite its high-tech military force and so-called “pinpoint bombings”, failed to achieve its ultimate objective: annihilate the militant group Hamas.

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The New Cold War and the Necessity of Patriotic Heresy

Stephen F. Cohen* – The Nation

US fallacies may be leading to war with Russia.

I prepared the text below for remarks to the annual US-Russia Forum in Washington, DC, on June 16. Though held in the Hart Senate Office Building, and well attended, the event was privately organized, without any official auspices. In order to fit the time allocated to speakers, I had to abridge my text. I have restored the deletions here and spelled out a number of my impromptu comments. In addition, I refer to a few subsequent developments to illustrate some of my themes. I have not, however, significantly revised words written to be spoken into the prose I prefer for published articles. —SFC

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Summer Rerun: Attack of the Blob – How Professional Democrats and Professional Republicans Ran America Into the Ground

by Lambert Strether – Naked Capitalism

Inevitable! Indestructible! Nothing can stop it!

This is a review of the new book by former Senate staffer and super-lobbyist Jeff Connaughton, Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins. The review is written by Matt Stoller, who writes for Salon and has contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller

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If the Nobel Peace Prize can be handed to Obama, why not hand it to the Israeli Defence Force?

By Robert Fisk – The Independent

One of Netanyahu’s most trusted advisers thinks Israel should be awarded for its ‘unimaginable restraint’

Now I know that the Israeli Defence Forces are famous in song and legend. Humanitarian, courageous, self-sacrificing, restrained, willing to give their own lives for the innocents among their enemies, etc, etc.

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Toward an Inclusive TPP Trade Pact

By Dr. Harsha Vardhana Singh*

NEW YORK, Aug 2014 (IPS) – The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations have been hitting headlines recently, but not for all the right reasons.

The media provides an incomplete picture of its implications, focusing mainly on its process and pre-occupations of the main parties to the negotiations. These negotiations, including the most recent meetings that took place in Ottawa, Canada, in July 2014, have been criticised by Canadian and international media for being veiled in secrecy.

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WTO: West’s Smoke & Mirror Tactics

By Ranja Sengupta* – BusinessWorld, India.

The WTO Bali deal is ultimately a battle between food for the poor and trade for the rich

he current global uproar at India’s refusal to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the WTO Bali Declaration is a classic example of how meticulously orchestrated media hype and misdirected “expert opinions” attempt to pressurise developing countries into submission at global negotiations.

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What’s Behind the Media’s Ebola Sensationalism?

Leslie Savan – The Nation

CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all treated the return of Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted Ebola in Liberia, as if he were riding to the hospital in a white Ford Bronco. Chopper cams and speculative commentary trailed his ambulance Saturday through the streets of Atlanta with the kind of excited intensity usually reserved for police car chases and killers on the lamb.

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Henry Siegman, Leading Voice of U.S. Jewry, on Gaza: “A Slaughter of Innocents”

Democracy Now!

U.S. Jewish Leader Henry Siegman to Israel: Stop Killing Palestinians and End the Occupation

Given his background, what American Jewish leader Henry Siegman has to say about Israel’s founding in 1948 through the current assault on Gaza may surprise you. From 1978 to 1994, Siegman served as executive director of the American Jewish Congress, long described as one of the nation’s “big three” Jewish organizations along with the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. Born in Germany three years before the Nazis came to power in 1933, Siegman’s family eventually moved to the United States. His father was a leader of the European Zionist movement that pushed for the creation of a Jewish state. In New York, Siegman studied the religion and was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi by Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, later becoming head of the Synagogue Council of America. After his time at the American Jewish Congress, Siegman became a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He now serves as president of the U.S./Middle East Project. In the first of our two-part interview, Siegman discusses the assault on Gaza, the myths surrounding Israel’s founding in 1948, and his own background as a German-Jewish refugee who fled Nazi occupation to later become a leading American Jewish voice and now vocal critic of Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories.

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