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Journal Archives

Distrusting Both Iran and U.S., Europe Urges 'Maximum Restraint'


BRUSSELS — Speaking of the attacks this week on fuel tankers in the Gulf of Oman, President Trump said flatly on Friday that “Iran did do it.” European governments may also think that Iran is probably to blame, but their distrust of the Trump administration and its hawkish policy toward Tehran have led them to measure their words, and call for de-escalation and “maximum restraint.”

Mindful of Washington’s exaggerations and outright misrepresentations of intelligence leading up to the Iraq war, European leaders are asking the Trump administration for hard evidence. The last thing they want is to be asked to support another American war in the Middle East that would be highly unpopular with voters.

Europeans are no fans of the Iranian government or its policies in the Middle East, but they are concerned by what they see as the Trump administration’s policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran — thus their use of maximum restraint. Many critics believe Mr. Trump is succeeding only in creating maximum pressure among hard-line factions in Iran to respond with carefully calibrated attacks that send a message, like those against tankers in a vital passageway for global oil supplies.

Germany wants a careful investigation of the attacks, insisting that “a spiral of escalation must be avoided.” The European Union, in the words of the spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic, has “said repeatedly that the region doesn’t need further escalation, it doesn’t need further destabilization, it doesn’t need further tension.” Ms. Kocijancic said that European foreign ministers would discuss Iran and other issues at a regular meeting on Monday.

In the absence of hard intelligence, with American agencies notably quiet, European governments — with the possible exception of Britain — are wary about blaming Iran. They are reluctant to accept the White House’s claims at face value, and do not want to provide Washington with any pretext for war.


UK rights advocate co-owns firm whose spyware is 'used to target dissidents'


A leading human rights campaigner and head of a prestigious London art gallery is the co-owner of an Israeli cyberweapons company whose software has allegedly been used by authoritarian regimes to spy on dissidents, the Guardian can reveal.

Yana Peel, the chief executive of the Serpentine Galleries and a self-proclaimed champion of free speech, co-owns NSO Group, a $1bn (£790m) Israeli tech firm, according to corporate records in the US and Luxembourg. NSO is the subject of multiple ongoing lawsuits and has been criticised by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which has asked Israel’s ministry of defence to revoke the company’s export licences.

However, Peel, who has declared the Serpentine a “safe space for unsafe ideas” and served as a judge for international freedom-of-expression awards, defended her stake in NSO, which she has held since February. She described criticism of the company as “misinformed”. Human rights groups, activists, and surveillance experts have accused NSO of licensing its powerful Pegasus software to countries, including Saudi Arabia, that have used it to target individuals, hack into their phones, and monitor their communications.

Lawsuits against NSO allege the technology was used to target dissidents and their associates, including a friend of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.


How to tax Corporations in the 21st Century? (Johannes Becker)

Social Europe
Published on Jun 13, 2019

How can tax avoidance by corporations be tackled? What are the possible reforms that could make sure that companies pay their fair share of taxes? What can we do to shut down tax havens? What changes will the digital economy bring to the way we conceive of taxation and calculate taxes? These are just some of the questions that Social Europe Editor-in-Chief Henning Meyer discusses with Johannes Becker.

Johannes Becker is Professor of Economics and Director of the Institute of Public Economics at the University of Münster. He is a widely acclaimed expert on corporate taxation and international tax competition.

You might also find our regular articles, blogs and other written publications of interest. Just visit our website https://www.socialeurope.eu/ to read our latest output. If you want to stay up-to-date with all things Social Europe just sign up to our regular newsletter. You can do so on our website.


Buttigieg's black agenda roll-out..... 'We'll call it the Douglass Plan for Black America'

from an official e-mail


Yesterday I wrote an op-ed in the Charleston Chronicle (posted below) calling for bold investment in racial equity, as ambitious as the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. We’ll call it the Douglass Plan for Black America, in honor of Frederick Douglass, who called America to better live up to its promise.

Next week, our nation will celebrate Juneteenth, which marks the day when enslaved Black people in Texas learned – almost two years after the fact – that the Emancipation Proclamation had granted them freedom. It is a fundamentally American occasion: a celebration of freedom, but also an acknowledgement of freedom delayed.

Black Americans are not yet fully free when Black unemployment is almost twice the national average, when the average Black eighth grader reads at a level far below their white peers, and when Black mothers are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.

We lack true freedom when so many schools are almost as segregated as they were before Brown v. Board of Education, and when identical resumes with stereotypically white or Black names lead to wildly different chances of being hired.

This is just the beginning. I’ll have much more to say about the Douglass Plan in the coming weeks, but for now I invite you to read my op-ed and share it with your friends, family, and community.

As Frederick Douglass once noted, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” So let’s work together to implement these ideas and bring greater freedom, security, and democracy to the communities that need it most. Doing so will enrich not just Black America, but all Americans.

Thank you,


Buttigieg’s Message Ahead of BET Black Economic Alliance Forum


A week from now, our nation will celebrate Juneteenth. It marks the day when enslaved Black people in Texas learned–almost two years after the fact–that the Emancipation Proclamation had rendered them free people. It is a fundamentally American occasion–a celebration of freedom, but also an acknowledgement of freedom delayed. As we observe this day, we must be honest that the hopes stirred almost 160 years ago have still not been fully realized.

Black Americans are not yet fully free when Black unemployment is still almost twice the national average, when the average Black eighth grader reads at a level far below their white peers, and when Black mothers are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. We lack true freedom when so many schools are almost as segregated as they were before Brown v. Board of Education. And, we cannot have freedom when identical resumes with stereotypically white or Black names lead to wildly different chances of being hired. These persistent inequalities have compounded over hundreds of years. They hold back our economy and corrode the American soul.

Replacing racist policies with neutral ones will not be enough to deliver equality. We must actively work to reverse these harms, which is why I propose that we invest in equity with a plan as bold as the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. Let’s call it the Douglass Plan for Black America, in honor of Frederick Douglass, who called America to better live up to its promise. Such a plan could help heal the deep wounds of America’s original sin and supercharge economic growth for every American.

Like my campaign, the plan is structured around three values: freedom, security, and democracy.

When it comes to freedom, America–with only about 5% of the world’s population–is home to nearly 25% of the world’s incarcerated population, and this population is disproportionately Black. We would be a safer and more just country if we did not harshly penalize the poor, or young people who’ve made missteps. By reducing sentencing disparities and ensuring that every returning citizen can reintegrate into society, I commit to using every tool possible to end unnecessary and discriminatory incarceration, with the result of reducing the number of Americans incarcerated by 50 percent. This is not a random target, but the hard math on how many Americans should not be locked up in the first place.

True security means being able to provide food, shelter, and a livelihood. Yet today–as a direct result of slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing discrimination large and small–for every $100 in wealth a white family has, the average Black family only has $5.04. To combat this wealth gap and encourage greater economic security within the Black community, America should triple the number of entrepreneurs from underserved areas–particularly ones of color–within ten years. This would create over 3 million new jobs and more than $660 billion in new wealth for Black communities and our country, through a number of policies to support this goal. For example, I’m proposing a federal fund–modeled on a Maryland program–that would co-invest in entrepreneurs of color, particularly in low-income communities.


Jonathan Pie - The Race to NUMBER 10

NYT: 'We Either Buy Insulin or We Die' (Video)

The high (and rising) cost of insulin is forcing diabetics to risk their lives to get the drug.


Insulin has become so unaffordable that Type 1 diabetics are pushed to take risks, like rationing and buying from strangers online. The video Op-Ed above reveals the lengths to which they go to get a nearly century-old drug and how Americans are dying from a perfectly manageable autoimmune disease. Patent laws and existing regulations allow the top three manufacturers to continuously increase prices without consequences.

Colorado has recently capped insulin co-payments, and Congress is actively investigating why the price of insulin is so high. Eli Lilly, one of the top three insulin makers, has also announced a half-price alternative to its top-selling product. But this is not enough: Insulin must be affordable and accessible to prevent more unnecessary deaths.

Robin Cressman is a Type 1 diabetic and created Liberate Insulin. Nicole Smith-Holt (@NSmithholt12) lost her son, Alec Smith, to insulin rationing in 2017 and is an activist with T1International. Laura Pavlakovich is also diabetic and founded You’re Just My Type (@yourejustmytype1), a diabetes nonprofit. Paulius Podziunas is a Type 1 diabetic.

The 15 Can't-Miss Queer Events Happening in the US This Summer


This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and while cities around the world are going knee-deep in celebrating Pride Month, the festivities don’t end in June. It’s 20-bi-teen and we’re celebrating the full spectrum of the LGBTQ community with more than just parades and marches, until it’s too cold to wear a crop top or short shorts. From queer music festivals to street fairs and multi-cultural arts festivals, Pride doesn’t have to stop at the end of the parade route. Don your best drag, glitter, and colorful clothing and keep the rainbow bright all summer with these fun LGBTQ events.

The Woods in Lehighton
All summer long
Lehighton, Pennsylvania

With events all summer long, including a special Pride weekend June 7-9, The Woods campground in rural Pennsylvania is an LGBTQ-specific, clothing-optional campground. Exclusively for the 18+ crowd, The Woods includes 161 acres of forest, campsites, a lake, and streams. A relaxing getaway with various themed weekends and accessible for all members of the LGBTQ community.

Criminal Queerness Festival
June 13 - July 6
New York City, New York

According to a 2017 study from OutRight International, 72 countries continue to criminalize same-sex relationships, including eight countries that employ the death penalty against LGBTQ people. With this in mind, nonprofit National Queer Theater is shining a spotlight on global homophobia with plays from Egypt, Tanzania, Pakistan, China and others -- countries where the stories by queer playwrights would never see the light of day. In association with World Pride and the backdrop of Stonewall’s 50th anniversary, the Criminal Queerness Festival challenges audiences to engage and reflect upon the status of civil rights in the United States in order to better support LGBTQ people abroad.

Trans March
June 28
San Francisco, California

The largest transgender event in San Francisco (and one of the largest around the world), the annual Trans March takes place the same weekend as San Francisco Pride but actively seeks to include and feature trans and gender non-conforming attendees. Now in its 15th year, the volunteer-run event features performances from the full spectrum of the LGBTQ community with speeches, a resource fair, a special brunch, live music, art performances and after-parties.

June 28 - June 29
Brooklyn, New York

Taking place over World Pride weekend in NYC, LadyLand is the 2nd annual queer music festival from local promoter Ladyfag, a nightlife queen famous for producing some of the hottest LGBTQ events and parties in the city. LGBTQ performers Gossip and Honey Dijon headline the two-day event, with special guests Pussy Riot, Mykki Blanco and other international performers taking the stage.

Invasion of the Pines
July 4
Fire Island, New York

For nearly four decades, hundreds of visitors flood to Fire Island (just outside of NYC) for the Fourth of July weekend for an unofficial event called “Invasion of the Pines.” Back in 1976, a group of drag queen activists donned their most glamorous wigs to protest being refused service at one of the bars at the time. The tradition continues today more as a celebration, making it one of the most colorful weekends on the popular LGBTQ-friendly island getaway.

Outfest LGBTQ Film Festival
July 18 - July 28
Los Angeles, California

Outfest is one of the world’s most important LGBTQ film festivals. Operating since 1982, the festival regularly premieres the best of LGBTQ cinema alongside important panel discussions, meet-and-greets, and parties with actors, directors and writers. Over 150 films will be screened in less than two weeks, attracting nearly 40,000 cinephiles.


more at the link

Big Data and its enclosure of the commons

Digital dystopias are overdone but inequality is rising. The answer lies in treating data as a commons and Big Data as a collective-action problem.


The fear of the machine is back. Dystopian views of a world without jobs abound as autonomous vehicles, humanoid robots and super computers are thought to replace human workers. Recent progress in artificial intelligence has been stunning: machines are taking phone calls, understanding questions and suggesting solutions—often much faster than a human call-centre worker.

Nevertheless, so far, there is no evidence job loss is mounting. Among the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, unemployment rates are at their lowest since 2006. What has increased is income inequality. The digital economy demands new policy approaches to address this.

Job polarisation

Inclusive growth is threatened in three ways. First, automation due to smart machines and computers is no longer confined to manufacturing but affects jobs—mostly middle-class—in services as well. Entry-level legal services, accounting, logistics and retail will see many tasks replaced by machines which require little oversight or maintenance by employees. Experience suggest that, rather than become unemployed, a growing number of those displaced will compete downwards, leading to further job polarisation

Secondly, the exponential increase in energy consumption induced by complex algorithms suggests that new applications of artificial intelligence will be geared more towards capital-saving and factor-enhancing innovations. Network management—for instance, electricity grids or traffic-control systems for ‘smart’ cities—as well as expert systems in research, agriculture or health care will likely dominate pure automation innovations. This will lead to a further rise in skill-biased technological change, a trend observed over past decades.

Last but not least, digital companies concentrate profits and wealth as they collect and exploit vast amounts of data for their algorithms to individualise prices and product offers. The underlying network externalities allow innovative first movers to gear up, leaving new entrants little chance to compete for market shares or profits. And algorithmic biases—the tendency of machine decisions to replicate the discrimination deeply engrained in the historical data on which these routines are run—compound the inequality challenge.


Pete: America & the World: National Security for a New Era -Video of his Foreign Policy speech today


Pete: America & the World: National Security for a New Era -Video of his Foreign Policy speech today

The program starts at 24:00. Pete comes on at 35:45

Pete Buttigieg just gave his first foreign policy speech. He offered 5 clear proposals.


Pete Buttigieg is the first Democratic presidential candidate to actually articulate foreign policy proposals beyond general themes and ideas.

In a high-profile address on Tuesday at Indiana University, the South Bend mayor used the opportunity to lay out his worldview, hewing closely to progressive tentpoles like combating climate change, challenging authoritarianism, and renewing America’s economy. That put him in the same company as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who have released like-minded visions.

What separated Buttigieg from that crowd, though, is that he put some meat on the conceptual progressive skeleton. Specifically, he said he would:

“Repeal and replace” the 2001 congressional authorization that the US military still uses to this day to fight terrorism and engage in foreign wars around the world

Recommit the US to the Iran nuclear deal

Withhold some US taxpayer money from Israel if it annexes parts of the West Bank

Rejoin the Paris climate accord

Increase investment in renewable technologies to reverse environmental degradation

“Not only must America do this in order to prosper,” Buttigieg told the friendly crowd, “but the world also needs America to do these things.”


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