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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

NAFTAthoughts

Unrepresented Canadians,

Trump made a bilateral trade deal with Mexico, and scrapped NAFTA. It's reportedly pretty similar, and Canada can take it or leave it. Taking it will be a little worse, and not taking it will be considerably worse.

Chapter 19 of NAFTA got eliminated. This gives the US the upper hand in all disputes.
Chapter 19 has provided an effective mechanism for exporters and importers subject to AD or CVD measures imposed by trade regulatory bodies (in the U.S., the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, and in Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal) to seek review from  a binational NAFTA panel. These panels are comprised of trade experts from the two countries involved in the dispute, with a mandate to re-evaluate the legal basis for imposition of such measures. For both Canada and Mexico, Chapter 19 was a critical component of NAFTA that ensured U.S. law could not be applied in a protectionist manner, particularly by the U.S. Department of Commerce, to block fairly traded goods. Since the implementation of NAFTA, the U.S. has been the target of most cases brought before Chapter 19 panels, with 43 of the 71 matters heard by the panels being directed against the U.S. Canada’s success rate under Chapter 19 has been positive. Without Chapter 19, Canadian companies would need to rely on U.S. courts to conduct reviews of U.S. measures, where the success rate has been limited.  

Canada’s NAFTA negotiator, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, is cutting short a trip to Europe to fly to Washington on Tuesday to try to restart talks.  

​Defanging the dollar:
"With Germany, we are determined to work on an independent European or Franco-German financing tool which would allow us to avoid being the collateral victims of U.S. extra-territorial sanctions," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday during a meeting with press association AJEF. “I want Europe to be a sovereign continent not a vassal, and that means having totally independent financing instruments that do not today exist.”
The discussions, which also involve the U.K., are a signal that European powers are trying to get serious about demonstrating a greater level of independence from the U.S. as President Donald Trump pursues his “America First” agenda.

“Foreign specialists” have arrived in Syria and may stage a chemical attack using chlorine in “the next two days,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. This will be filmed for international media to frame Damascus forces.
Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the operation is planned to unfold in the village of Kafr Zita in Syria’s northwestern Hama Province in “the next two days.”
Konashenkov said that “English-speaking specialists” are already in place to use “poisonous agents.” While a group of residents from the north has been transported to Kafr Zita and is currently being prepared “to take part in the staging of the attack” and be filmed suffering from supposed “‘chemical munitions’ and ‘barrel bombs’ launched by the Syrian government forces.”
The groups of residents will be used to assist “fake rescuers from the White Helmets.” They will be filmed apparently suffering from the effects of chemical weapons and then be shown in “the Middle Eastern and English-language media.”


“On August 28, 1980, the three-car motorcade of John Gunther Dean, the American Ambassador to Lebanon, was attacked on the motorway by several assailants armed with automatic rifles as well as light anti-tank weapons or LAWs. The ambassador and his wife escaped unscathed...  “Over the years Ambassador Dean has repeatedly argued that Israel was behind the August 1980 attempt on his life. In an interview for the Oral History Project in September 2000, he explained how the Lebanese Intelligence services had managed to retrieve the empty canisters of two of the light anti-tank weapons (LAWs) that had been used during the attack on his motorcade and, during raiding a house by the intersection where the assault had taken place, found 8 more. Dean collected the numbers on the 10 missiles & sent them to Washington to be traced... “The LAWs had been manufactured in the US and ‘were sold and shipped to Israel in 1974.’... “In 1979, [Rafael] Eitan and [Meir] Dagan [both brass in the Israel Defense Forces] created the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners, and ran that fictitious group from 1979 to 1983. In 1981 and 1982, Ariel Sharon used that Front to conduct a series of indiscriminate car bombings that killed hundreds of civilians. “The objective of this massive ‘terrorist’ car bombing campaign was to ‘sow chaos’ amongst the Palestinian & Lebanese civilian population” and, in 1981-82, to provoke the PLO into resorting to ‘terrorism,’ thus providing Israel with an excuse to invade Lebanon... “Bergman himself does not mention the assassination attempt against Dean. But we know that the FLLF took credit for this attack at the time. That Dean’s own investigation pointed to Israel & to its Lebanese proxies. And we now know that the FLLF was CREATED and RUN by Israel.

​Becoming Serfs, Chris Hedges:
Income inequality in the United States has not been this pronounced in over a century. The top 10 percent has 50 percent of the country’s income, and the upper 1 percent has 20 percent of the country’s income. A quarter of American workers struggle on wages of less than $10 an hour, putting them below the poverty line, while the income of the average CEO of a major corporation is more than 300 times the pay of his or her average worker, a massive increase given that in the 1950s the average CEO made 20 times what his or her worker made. This income inequality is global. The richest 1 percent of the world’s population controls 40 percent of the world’s wealth. And it is getting worse.

​The "nightmare" of unmowed lawns. What happens to America when you can't just import wage slaves from Mexico in the summer and send them back in late September? Horror of horrors, Americans are not used to doing this kind of summer work! (I was. A lot of us were. Those jobs for American teenagers and college students went away. I wonder if there is any fixing that.​ Could they do it? My friend Randy has all American workers, even here in Austin.)
To sum up, small businesses across the country are faced with a shortage of temporary American workers because of the Trump administration’s limits on hiring foreign workers. Many of these companies have tried to source local labor but it turns out Americans do not want low wage jobs. President Trump has touted his “America First” agenda at rallies and at White House events. As a candidate, he often spoke on the campaign trail about his desire to prioritize American workers over immigrants seeking jobs.  

​Permanent Serfs; Debt Prisoners forever: Yanis Varoufakis writes...  
 Mrs Merkel’s aides informed her that, just like the German banks, the over-indebted Greek state was finding it impossible to roll over its debt. Had it declared its bankruptcy, Italy, Ireland, Spain and Portugal would follow suit, with the result that Berlin and Paris would have faced a fresh bailout of their banks greater than €1tn. At that point, it was decided that the Greek government could not be allowed to tell the truth, that is, confess to its bankruptcy.
To maintain the lie, insolvent Athens was given, under the smokescreen of “solidarity with the Greeks”, the largest loan in human history, to be passed on immediately to the German and French banks. To pacify angry German parliamentarians, that gargantuan loan was given on condition of brutal austerity for the Greek people, placing them in a permanent great depression.
Ridiculously high VAT and small business tax rates will, of course, continue, as will fresh pension cuts and new punitive income tax rates for the poorest that have been scheduled for 2019. The Greek government has also committed to maintaining a long-term budget surplus target, not counting debt repayments (3.5% of national income until 2021, and 2.2% during 2022-2060) that demands permanent austerity, a target that the IMF itself gives less than 6% probability of ever being attained by any eurozone country.
In summary, after having bailed out French and German banks at the expense of Europe’s poorest citizens, and after having turned Greece into a debtor’s prison, last week Greece’s creditors decided to declare victory. Having put Greece into a coma, they made it permanent and declared it “stability”: they pushed our people off a cliff and celebrated their bounce off the hard rock of a great depression as proof of “recovery”. To quote Tacitus, they made a desert and called it peace.

​Greeks of all ages are having higher death rates under austerity; lower life expectancy. Whatever the medical indicator measured, it's worse. No surprise.

Refugees unprotected in open air prisons on Greek islands, waiting forever to be "processed", never having a shower or a safe wink of sleep, want to die, rather than keep existing there; women, children and men. This is not the work of Greeks, either. 
One refugee explained: “Whatever your disease, you will get the same medicine which is a painkiller only.”
​Prisoner without recourse​

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