The Opioid Crisis, Made in the U.S.A.


11-01-19 03:42:00,

Writer Chris McGreal and host Robert Scheer zero in on the book American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts in this week’s episode of Scheer Intelligence.

Scheer and McGreal, the book’s author and a correspondent for The Guardian and other news sources, discuss how the opioid addiction crisis is largely an American epidemic. As McGreal notes. “85 percent of the world’s prescription painkillers are consumed in the United States, which has five percent of the world’s population.”

Scheer and McGreal discuss how these legally prescribed drugs are so destructive and arrive at “another unique American aspect” in play, which is that in the U.S., “healthcare is an industry… in which patients are not seen as people but as clients.”

Big pharma looms large in this crisis. According to McGreal, the pharmaceutical industry “persuaded the medical establishment that everybody needed access to these drugs, and so they got them inserted into hospitals through a program called “Pain as the 5th Vital Sign.” And then there’s the FDA, which has lost sight of its stated mission of protecting consumers.

These and other factors—such as insurance companies cutting corners to cut costs, as well as patients conditioned to see themselves as clients and to follow a “pill for every ill” mentality—have exacted an immense cost, whether gauged in terms of health or wealth, in the blatant pursuit of profit. All the symptoms point to a sick system with the drug industry, free from anything resembling effective interventions from government or consumer sectors, at its heart.

Listen to McGreal’s conversation with Scheer or read a transcript of their conversation below:

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, it’s Chris McGreal, who’s written a really provocative book called American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts. And I want to broaden the significance of your title, American Overdose. I think in many ways, we can look as a culture, at ourselves as having a culture that overdosed. What is powerful about your book is you have brought the insight, the wisdom, the world of experience, of a major correspondent, international correspondent for The Guardian;

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Depopulation Crisis – When Numbers Don’t Add Up, You’ve been Cheated | New Eastern Outlook


06-01-19 05:28:00,


The population of the Earth today is just over 7.6 billion people. Up until the 1970s, the world’s population would grow in accordance with a hyperbolic formula discovered by the Austrian physicist Heinz von Foerster.

Most recently, as sociologists were bracing for a demographic record, birth rates have suddenly come to a stall. Since the 90s, there’s been a noticeable slowdown in the growth of the population of the planet. Previously, it was predicted that by 2015 the world’s population would exceed 9.3 billion people, but in reality it barely reached 7.5 billion people. The UN would regularly issue forecasts titled World Population Prospects, with the latest of them stating that by 2030 the world’s population may reach 8.6 billion people, closing to 9.8 billion mid-century.

One can observe a noticeable decline in birth rates even in those regions of the world where one couldn’t expect it to occur at all, that is Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean. In turn, the United States, Canada, and all of Europe has been in the negative for decades, facing grim depopulation prospects. Over the past 15 years, in many countries, the traditional large families would be replaced by the so-called statistical average, that is families that have no more than 6-7 kids per family today, would have 12–14 children born two decades ago.

These days, one can come across all kinds of articles written by so-called futurologists that explain that the globalization process has come to a close, thus arguing that the planet doesn’t need as many workers as it used to, as one machine would replace ten people. Therefore, they argue, dropping birth rates is nothing but a natural process.

However, such assessments do nothing to encourage Europe, especially against the background of the skyrocketing migration rates that occur against the backdrop of a massive decline in birth rates across the Old World. Thus, the EU is facing an impending identity change in the coming years.

In order to try and increase the birth rates, a country can use a complicated set of tactics and tools. Among them are educational plans and financial benefits that are provided to the growing families. In Northern Europe, for example, governments would try to boost birth rates by allowing erotical content to enter the mass media back in the 80s.

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10 jaar na de financiële crisis | Pakhuis de Zwijger


14-12-18 01:46:00,

Arno Wellens en Thomas Bollen van Follow the Money nemen je mee langs de donkerste uithoeken van de bankbalansen. Zij vergelijken de staat van onze banken met 2008, het begin van de crisis. Daarbij gaan ze in gesprek met Wim Boonstra (RaboResearch), Mark Sanders (Universiteit Utrecht) en Pieter Omtzigt (Tweede Kamerlid CDA).

Meer informatie? Lees ons artikel: De markt wantrouwt de Europese banken (en met reden)

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Onderzoekt als financieel econoom de ‘economische religie’ om nuttige inzichten van dogma’s te scheiden.

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The Deepening Crisis of the West | New Eastern Outlook

The Deepening Crisis of the West | New Eastern Outlook

26-10-18 06:38:00,


Almost every day, now, we are seeing new evidence of the increasingly serious problems and challenges faced by the West, and the very concept of “the West” as a united entity is increasingly open to discussion. The disputes between the USA and Europe have gone beyond trade wars, and are becoming evident in many other areas.

And within the US itself increasingly serious disagreements among the ruling elites are causing surprise and dismay in other countries, who fear the tensions may break out into some kind of civil conflict.

In Western Europe, the EU is essentially unable to cope with the problems caused by this situation, and more and more political observers are of the opinion that the disintegration of the EU is only just beginning. The Times of London recently published an article claiming that the “European political class is splitting at the seams” It is interesting to note that the European Parliament recently voted, for the first time in its history, to impose sanctions under Article 7 of the Lisbon Agreement on an EU member state, after publishing a report describing “large scale corruption in Hungary”.

In a recently published article a BBC observer noted that the crisis has its roots in society’s lack of trust in government and financial institutions, as the wealth gap between the rich and the poor is continually increasing.

Few can now deny the obvious truth: that in the absence of a counterweight, in the form of the USSR, the rich have cast aside all caution and that as a result the globalization process has led to great inequality, with the poor countries getting poorer while the rich ones get richer. Moreover, social divisions have intensified even in developed economic powers, although the main losers are developing countries. In those parts of the world, the economically active population, aware that things will never go well in their own country, are focusing their efforts on moving somewhere where “the good life” is a reality and not just a promise. Both the wave of migration that is sweeping through Europe, and the emergence of the self-styled Islamic State and other similar groups, are symptoms of a push against inequality by those who have not benefited from the fruits of globalization.

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Crisis in Democracy – We Have Crossed the Line | Armstrong Economics

Crisis in Democracy – We Have Crossed the Line | Armstrong Economics

25-10-18 07:35:00,

COMMENT: Mr. Armstrong; You are striking a cord out there. A lot more people are paying attention.


REPLY: The best thing is for people to understand the trend in motion. There is nothing we can do to PREVENT this crisis. The only thing we can do is prepare for it to survive for ourselves and our family. Even a family member may disagree with you right now. That will change. People as a whole are passive-aggressive. That means they are indeed like sheep and those in power know that. They keep pushing until we reach the breaking point. At that moment, your family members who thought you were wearing tinfoil hats at night will suddenly see the light. Unfortunately, this is simply why this erupt politically at the end. We take it and take it until we cannot any longer. Politicians are befuddled because they have been robbing the treasury for so long they cannot grasp that now you are suddenly angry at that practice. To them, you never complained before.

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“Time To Prepare For The Next Crisis”: One Of China’s Largest Funds Is Getting Ready To Dump Stocks

“Time To Prepare For The Next Crisis”: One Of China’s Largest Funds Is Getting Ready To Dump Stocks

23-10-18 03:45:00,

A few days after we reported that the investment vehicle of Sweden’s most powerful family, the Wallenbergs, has begun preparations for the next global crisis, concerns about the future have spread to one of China’s largest state-backed asset manager which runs about HK$139 billion ($18 billion) in assets, and which said it was preparing to sell shares in as many as 30 stocks on concern that valuations worldwide have peaked.

There are 20 to 30 companies in China Everbright’s global portfolio that are ripe for exit after they went through initial public offerings, Chief Executive Officer Chen Shuang said in an interview in Hangzhou on Tuesday according to Bloomberg. And alhough he didn’t specify which stocks Everbright would sell out of, Chen said the company is planning to make its exits “as soon as possible.”

“We will be actively disposing of assets and be prudent about new investments,” Chen said. “Global markets including the U.S. have peaked. We should be prepared for the next round of financial crises and turmoils.”

Chen also said Everbright raised more funds overseas after it became “very difficult” to do so in China. According to Bloomberg, new rules on the asset management industry slowed the increase of fundraising for private equity firms to 8% this year from an average annual rate of 20% in the past five years, he said. “Most of our new funds this year were raised from overseas,” he said.

Everbright, which has invested in more than 300 companies worldwide, has joined a wave of pessimism rippling through markets recently.  The Hong Kong-listed firm, part of China Everbright Group, counts electric-car maker NIO and Netflix-like streamer iQiyi both of which went public in the U.S. this year, within its portfolio.

Earlier today, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was on the verge of a bear market as Asian stocks tumbled on rising geopolitical tensions, receding optimism over U.S. stocks, including a possible slowdown in earnings and economic growth.

It is likely that Chen will be punished for his bearish remarks: his comments come in direct refutation of an unprecedented jawboning campaign by various heads of Chinese financial regulators and Vice Premier Liu He making statements last week pledging increased support for private companies and the markets.

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Tien jaar na de crisis: de noodzaak van een terugkeer naar de basisbeginselen

Tien jaar na de crisis: de noodzaak van een terugkeer naar de basisbeginselen

10-09-18 10:21:00,

Dezer dagen valt er niet naast te kijken: 10 jaar gelden startte een spiraal van bancaire en economische rampspoed over de hele wereld: een kettingreactie met zware naschokken: van de crisis in Griekenland, over besparingen ten allen kante en de vergroting van de kloven tussen arm en rijk, bij ons en wereldwijd. Een aantal preventieve maatregelen mogen dan al zijn uitgevaardigd om de risico’s in de toekomst te verkleinen, ten gronde blijft de kanker aanwezig.

We zijn haast vergeten dat enkel massale financiële injecties vanuit de overheid, ons heeft kunnen behoeden van een fataal instorten van de wereldeconomie. Rechtstreeks en onrechtstreeks betaalden we er allemaal voor, en nog steeds hangen talrijke zwaarden van Damocles boven ons hoofd. Zoals bijvoorbeeld de miljarden aan slechte leningen die bij Dexia zijn geparkeerd: uit het zicht en doorgeschoven naar de volgende generaties. 

Een langzame paradigmaverschuiving

Over de achtergronden van de clash is al veel inkt gevloeid. Over hoe het misliep in de Verenigde Staten met de hypotheken en de huizenmarkt: Hoe kwalijke producten geniepig werden verpakt in allerlei financiële producten die door niemand nog werden begrepen maar door ratingbureaus als Standard & Poors toch met hoge waarderingen werden begiftigd. En hoe die herverpakte rommel aan Europese bankiers werd gesleten die in de val trapten van snel geldgewin.  
Maar er was meer aan de hand. Zo financierden de VS voor 2008 een paar dure oorlogen in het Midden-Oosten. Dat leidde uiteindelijk tot stijgende interestvoeten die op hun beurt mee aan de oorsprong lagen van de crash van de hypothekenmarkt in de VS. 

De vraag diende gesteld of uit de existentiële crisis wel lessen zouden getrokken worden. Zoals na een oorlog ‘nooit meer oorlog’ klinkt: nooit meer bankencrisis?
Toen, 10 jaar geleden, kon je al aanvoelen dat een paradigma-shift er niet zat aan te komen, dat de kanker niet radicaal zou worden aangepakt. Zelfs evidente maatregelen werden door de bankenlobby vakkundig in de kiem gesmoord, zoals de scheiding van zakenbanken en banken die voor het groot publiek werken. Of een ander voorbeeld: ook nu blijft de realiteit dat slechts een 3 procent van alle valutatransacties te maken hebben met de reële economie. Flits-trading werd niet aan banden gelegd, een praktijk waarbij op microseconden enorme hoeveelheden geld worden ingezet, puur speculatief.  

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“This Crisis Is Created By America”: Turks Blame Trump For Economic Collapse

“This Crisis Is Created By America”: Turks Blame Trump For Economic Collapse

10-08-18 09:32:00,

Turkey’s economy may be in freefall with soaring inflation, a plunging currency, sliding stocks and a gaping current account deficit, but don’t dare tell the locals that it is president Erdogan’s fault for keeping interest rates low and preventing an even greater crisis: according to Serap, a 23-year-old clerk at a clothes store in central Istanbul, there is only one entity to blame for the precipitous slide in Turkey’s lira currency.

“This crisis is created by America,” she said.

And a crisis it is: prices are soaring as a result of the collapsing currency – which this year has lost more than 35% against the dollar, and has overtaken the Argentine Peso for the worst performing currency of 2018 – with food, rents and fuel prices in Turkey surging, and the country’s pipeline operator raising the price of natural gas for electricity production by 50%.

But when one asks the local population who is responsible for this economic inferno, the answer is surprising.

Serap’s sentiments about the causes of the crisis are shared by many Turks and hint at why support for President Tayyip Erdogan, who after surviving a fake military coup in the summer of 2016, won re-election in June with super-charged presidential powers, looks untouched, at least for now. Erdogan’s loyal supporters see the currency sell-off as a U.S. attempt to undermine their country and president according to Reuters.

That’s also known as the Maduro defense: blame all domestic problems on “shady” foreign actors, usually involving the US. But while the US certainly has its history of intervening in foreign events, this time the crisis is entirely home grown, although predictably, Erdogan would be the last to admit it.

“If they have their dollars, we have our people, our God,” Erdogan said in a speech on Friday morning, casting the lira’s slide as a campaign against the nation.

His comments were all the rage, in some cases literally, across Turkey’s overwhelmingly pro-government media on Friday. Newspapers and TV stations have cast the lira crisis as a political assault, spiraling out of U.S. sanctions imposed on two Turkish ministers last week in a row over the detention of a U.S. evangelical pastor, Andrew Brunson.

“They issued a scandalous decision last week about our ministers,” said Serap,

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The Refugee Crisis – Germany Can’t Find 50% of those They Now Want to Deport | Armstrong Economics

The Refugee Crisis – Germany Can’t Find 50% of those They Now Want to Deport | Armstrong Economics

30-07-18 07:15:00,

Merkel’s nightmare is simply beyond description. Now that Europe is trying to at least deport some of these pretend “refugee” migrants from North Africa, the shocking reality is starting to surface. Now 50% of the “refugee” migrants cannot be deported from Germany because nobody can find them. According to a report, every second person to be deported is simply not found. By the end of May, of the about 23,900 announced repatriations, Germany could only find about 11,100 who were actually deported. Around 12,800 deportations that the government attempted could not be completed because the people could not be found. They have permanently infiltrated Europe and are not embedded deeply in the underground economy.

The entire movement in Britain where they called anyone who was against allowing wholesale “refugee” migrants into Britain were labeled “racists” and horrible people. There is now absolutely no way to even deport half of the migrants when the governments are absolutely clueless as to their whereabouts. These can be more than just rapists, now you have within this group the clear distinction of possible terrorists just waiting for the right moment.

The images of cute children were used to open the doors to Europe. But more than 70% were not families, but young men. Photos of boats from North Africa of migrants clearly show the lack of women and children. You would think that if this was a legitimate refugee operation, the people would have been limited to Syria and that ONLY families should have been allowed to enter. Was it really that hard to use a little common sense?

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The Root Of The Crisis: Every $1 Of Debt Generates Just 44c Of Economic Output

The Root Of The Crisis: Every $1 Of Debt Generates Just 44c Of Economic Output

10-07-18 09:34:00,

Authored by Simon Black via,

Exactly ten years ago, in the middle of the summer of 2008, the world was only two months away from the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression.

At the time, the size of the US economy as measured by Gross Domestic product was around $14.8 trillion– by far the largest in the world.

And the US national debt back then was about 64% of GDP– roughly $9.5 trillion.

Fast forward a decade and take a snapshot of the same numbers:

The debt-to-GDP ratio in the United States is now 106%, meaning that the national debt is larger than the size of the entire US economy. Yet the debt keeps growing. Rapidly.

Now, debt isn’t really the problem here.

The problem is the way that it’s been used.

Debt (affectionately referred to as ‘other people’s money’) can actually be a great way to enhance investment returns when used wisely and judiciously.

Private equity fund managers use debt to acquire businesses through what’s known as a ‘leveraged buy-out’, where they’ll put up a portion of the cash they need, and borrow the rest.

I did this a couple of years ago, for example, when I purchased an Australian-based business for $6 million.

A local bank offered to finance most of the acquisition with a $4.5 million loan at around 5.75%.

That meant I only needed to write a $1.5 million check for a business that was earning nearly $2 million annually.

It was a no-brainer, because I knew there would be more than enough money to make the loan payment (less than $500k annually) and still generate a substantial return on investment.

Real estate investors do the same when they purchase property.

If you have, say, $1 million, you could pay cash for a single property that costs $1 million… or you could use that money as a down payment and buy a $5 to $10 million property.

If the investment is a good one, the cash flow will more than cover the loan payments, and you’ll end up making a lot more money.

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Agrarian Crisis and Climate Catastrophe: Forged in India, Made in Washington | Asia-Pacific Research

Agrarian Crisis and Climate Catastrophe: Forged in India, Made in Washington | Asia-Pacific Research

09-07-18 07:43:00,

India is under siege from international capital. It is on course not only to be permanently beholden to US state-corporate interests but is heading towards environmental catastrophe much faster than many may think.

According to the World Bank’s lending report, based on data compiled up to 2015, India was easily the largest recipient of its loans in the history of the institution. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the World Bank exerts a certain hold over India. In the 1990s, the IMF and World Bank wanted India to shift hundreds of millions out of agriculture. In return for up to £90 billion in loans, India was directed to dismantle its state-owned seed supply system, reduce subsidies, run down public agriculture institutions and offer incentives for the growing of cash crops to earn foreign exchange.

The plan for India involves the mass displacement of people to restructure agriculture for the benefit of powerful corporations. This involves shifting at least 400 million from the countryside into cities. A 2016 UN report said that by 2030, Delhi’s population will be 37 million.

Quoted in The Guardian, one of the report’s principal authors, Felix Creutzig, says:

“The emerging mega-cities will rely increasingly on industrial-scale agricultural and supermarket chains, crowding out local food chains.”

The drive is to entrench industrial farming, commercialise the countryside and to replace small-scale farming, the backbone of food production in India. It could mean hundreds of millions of former rural dwellers without any work given that India is heading (or has already reached) ‘jobless growth’. Given the trajectory the country seems to be on, it does not take much to imagine a countryside with vast swathes of chemically-drenched monocrop fields containing genetically modified plants or soils rapidly turning into a chemical cocktail of proprietary biocides, dirt and dust.

The WTO and the US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture are facilitating the process. To push the plan along, there is a deliberate strategy to make agriculture financially non-viable for India’s small farms and to get most farmers out of farming. As Felix Creutig suggests, the aim is to replace current structures with a system of industrial (GM) agriculture suited to the needs of Western agribusiness, food processing and retail concerns.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers in India have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt,

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Crisis of the U.S. Dollar System | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

Crisis of the U.S. Dollar System | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

24-06-18 08:23:00,

Ongoing Crisis of the US Dollar: Text of William Engdahl‘s incisive presentation at an international conference held in Feldkirch, Austria in September 2003. Tremendous foresight and analysis.
It’s accepted wisdom that the United States, despite recent problems, is still the strongest growth locomotive for the world economy, the pillar of the global system. What if we were to discover that, instead of being the pillar, that the United States was, in fact, the heart of a dysfunctional economic system, which is spreading instability, unemployment, and depression globally?

No other nation on earth comes near to the commanding US military superiority in smart bombs, military IT, or in sheer force capabilities. The US position in the world since 1945, and especially since 1971, has rested on two pillars, however: The superiority of the US military over all, and, the role of the dollar as world reserve currency. That dollar is the Achilles heel of American hegemony today.

In my view, the world has entered a new, highly dangerous phase since the collapse of the US stock market bubble in 2001. I am speaking about the unsustainable basis of the very Dollar System itself. What is that Dollar System?

How the Dollar System works

After 1945, the US emerged from war with the world’s gold reserves, the largest industrial base, and a surplus of dollars backed by gold. In the 1950’s into the 1960’s Cold War, the US could afford to be generous to key allies such as Germany and Japan, to allow the economies of Asia and Western Europe to flourish as a counter to communism. By opening the US to imports from Japan and West Germany, a stability was reached. More importantly, from pure US self-interest, a tight trade area was built which worked also to the advantage of the US.

That held until the late 1960’s, when the costly Vietnam war led to a drain of US gold reserves. By 1968 the drain had reached crisis levels, as foreign central banks holding dollars feared the US deficits would make their dollars worthless, and preferred real gold instead.

In August 1971, Nixon finally broke the Bretton Woods agreement, and refused to redeem dollars for gold. He had not enough gold to give.

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Affordability Crisis: Low-Income Workers Can’t Afford A 2-Bedroom Rental Anywhere In America

Affordability Crisis: Low-Income Workers Can’t Afford A 2-Bedroom Rental Anywhere In America

17-06-18 01:06:00,

The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) annual report, Out of Reach, reveals the striking gap between wages and the price of housing across the United States. The report’s ‘Housing Wage’ is an estimate of what a full-time worker on a state by state basis must make to afford a one or two-bedroom rental home at the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) fair market rent without exceeding 30 percent of income on housing expenses.

With decades of declining wages and widening wealth inequality via the financialization of corporate America, and thanks to the Federal Reserve’s disastrous policies (whose direct outcome is the ascent of Trump), the recent insignificant countertrend in wage growth for low-income workers has not been enough to boost their standard of living.

The report finds that a full-time minimum wage worker, or the average American stuck in the gig economy, cannot afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S.

According to the report, the 2018 national Housing Wage is $22.10 for a two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 for a one-bedroom rental. Across the country, the two-bedroom Housing Wage ranges from $13.84 in Arkansas to $36.13 in Hawaii.

The five cities with the highest two-bedroom Housing Wages are Stamford-Norwalk, CT ($38.19), Honolulu, HI ($39.06), Oakland-Fremont, CA ($44.79), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($48.50), and San Francisco, CA ($60.02).

For people earning minimum wage, which could be most millennials stuck in the gig economy, the situation is beyond dire. At $7.25 per hour, these hopeless souls would need to work 122 hours per week, or approximately three full-time jobs, to afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD’s fair market rent; for a one-bedroom, these individuals would need to work 99 hours per week, or hold at least two full-time jobs.

The disturbing reality is that many will work until they die to only rent a roof over their head.

The report warns: “in no state, metropolitan area, or county can a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week.”

The quest to afford rental homes is not limited to minimum-wage workers.

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The Gaza Crisis, Explained in Eight Graphics | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

The Gaza Crisis, Explained in Eight Graphics | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

26-05-18 08:21:00,

1. Where is Gaza?

Gaza is home to almost two million Palestinians, the majority of whom are long-term refugees (a further 3.25 million Palestinians live in the West Bank). It’s been run by Hamas since elections in 2007: the group is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and the EU among others. The West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Authority, which is currently controlled by Fatah, rivals of Hamas.

2. The event that changed Palestinians

The dominant event for Palestinians in Gaza during the past century has been the Nakba of 1948, when hundreds of thousands were driven from, or else fled, their homes in what is now modern-day Israel as the state came into existence. The right of return to ancestral homes (or “Haq al-Awda”) is the over-riding long-term priority for many Palestinians: it forms part of United Nations resolution 194.

3. Palestinians recall what was lost

Palestinian houses and cinemas, shops and mosques, train stations and markets were all lost in 1948. Tarek Bakri, a researcher and archivist based in Jerusalem, started to collect archive photography which documented these losses. The image below slides left and right: MEE has published more examples.

Above: Israelis looting houses in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Musrara in Jerusalem. Musrara is one of the oldest neighbourhood built outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls in the 1860s. 

4. Gaza since 1948

The seven decades after the Nakba have been ones of turmoil and crisis for the residents of Gaza, including occupation, uprisings and Israeli military operations.

5. Daily living

Long-term living conditions in Gaza are some of the worst in the Middle East. A report by the UN in 2015 noted that the economic well-being of Palestinians living in Gaza was worse than in 1995 and that it may be “uninhabitable” by 2020;

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The Crisis of Social Democracy: From Norway to Europe | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

The Crisis of Social Democracy: From Norway to Europe | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

23-02-18 11:42:00,

The crisis of social democracy is being debated throughout Europe. Several of the historically strong labour parties have almost been wiped out in elections while others seem unable to recover from defeat. In the last few years, a number of social democratic parties have ended up with only one-digit election results (Greece, Ireland, Iceland, The Netherlands, France), while others have experienced major setbacks. The Norwegian Labour Party, for example, has experienced two of its worst elections – 2001 and 2017 – since the 1920s. Significant parts of the trade union movement believe that the party made serious blunders in what should have been an easy victory during last year’s parliamentary elections.

There is no doubt that social democracy is in a deep international crisis, although conditions vary widely between different countries. In Norway, this is neither about the deputy leader Trond Giske’s sexual abuse case, nor about the party leader Jonas Gahr Støre’s class background, nor about the army of party bureaucrats that has increasingly taken on roles as political actors in the party. These cases may be understood as symptoms of the crisis facing the party, but nothing more. If we really want to understand the crisis of the Labour Party, or more generally, of social democracy, we will have to go a little deeper into the current historical juncture.

Class Compromise at the Root of the Crisis

The dominant role of social democracy in much of 20th century Europe can hardly be understood without an analysis of how the economy and class relations developed during this period. Most important in this connection is the shift from confrontation to compromise in the relationship between the trade union and labour movement on one side and the employers/right-wing forces on the other. This historic compromise between labour and capital was the result of comprehensive class struggles that shifted the balance of power in favour of labour. [Ed.: see “The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State.”] Employers viewed such a compromise as a tactical step in order to dampen and counteract the radicalism of a strong and growing trade union movement. The compromise developed over time, but in Norway it was formalized through the first Collective Basic Agreement between the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO in Norwegian) and the Norwegian Employers’ Association in 1935.

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Humanitaire crisis in Griekenland: “Het is geen reddingsoperatie, het is een boetedoening”

Humanitaire crisis in Griekenland: “Het is geen reddingsoperatie, het is een boetedoening”

05-02-18 09:01:00,

De Griekse crisis loopt teneinde. De economie groeit, maar daar merkt een groot deel van de Griekse bevolking niets van. Vooral in de gezondheidszorg blijft de crisis enorm voelbaar.

Het gaat goed met Griekenland. De economie groeit en in augustus zou het land terug op eigen benen kunnen staan. Althans, dat is wat we lezen in de kranten en wat Grieks premier Alexis Tsipras zegt. Maar wanneer ik door de straten van Athene dwaal met het idee dat het goed gaat met de economie, voel ik me bedrogen. Neergedaalde rolluiken en graffiti domineren het straatbeeld. Niets duidt erop dat het beter gaat, integendeel. Veel Grieken denken dat ik een grapje maak wanneer ik hen zeg dat de crisis teneinde loopt. “Het wordt niet beter, het wordt enkel slechter”, klinkt het.

Griekenland leeft al acht jaar onder het Trojkabeleid: het land gaat leningen aan bij de Europese Unie die gekoppeld zijn aan strenge voorwaarden, waaronder ‘het beperken van publieke voorzieningen en een versobering van de uitkeringen’. De bezuinigingen zijn enorm voelbaar bij de Griekse bevolking. Sommige gepensioneerden verloren meer dan de helft van hun pensioen en moeten nu leven van een schamele 400 euro per maand. Volgens statistieken van de Europese Commissie is bijna een vierde van de bevolking werkloos en leeft meer dan een derde in armoede. Wekelijks zijn er protesten en stakingen van burgers die de voortdurende besparingen beu zijn en het aantal zelfdodingen blijft stijgen. Volgend jaar zullen de pensioenen nogmaals dalen en in 2020 zullen de belastingen opnieuw verhoogd worden.

De groeiende economie is dus niet terug te vinden in het dagelijks leven van de Grieken. Sociale voorzieningen, zoals de gezondheidszorg, zijn enorm hard getroffen door het besparingsbeleid. Volgens een rapport van de OESO zijn de overheidsuitgaven voor gezondheidszorg met bijna een derde gedaald tussen het begin van de crisis en 2015. In 2011 werd de Nationale Organisatie voor de Voorziening van Gezondheidsdiensten opgericht: de EOPYY. Bijna alle ziekenfondsen werden verenigd in de EOPYY. Het doel was om het zorgsysteem te vereenvoudigen, maar dit zorgde er ook voor dat het aantal voordelen waarop de verzekerde recht heeft, verminderde. Bepaalde dure onderzoeken die vroeger gedekt werden, moeten nu volledig uit eigen zak betaald worden. Ook heel wat geneesmiddelen die voor 2011 terugbetaald werden, worden nu niet meer vergoed.

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