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

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

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

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

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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