It is the first Sunday in December, the year has gone by so damn fast. There has been all sorts of juicy items in the news, and I’ve got plenty of articles to share with you this morning.
Let us start of with several links on foreign policy, Hillary Clinton has been extremely busy in her final leg as Secretary of State.
The recent UN decision to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state has sparked another confrontational response from Israel. After the UN vote was announced an Israeli official made a statement that included the government backed settlement and construction of 3,000 new West Bank units.
The Daily Beast/Newsweek has a post up, Explaining Israel’s Reaction to the U.N.’s pro-Palestinian Vote
Israel’s leaders stayed surprisingly calm last week. In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s vote on upgrading the Palestinians’ U.N. membership, a few senior Israeli officials drafted a position paper focusing on how the government should respond. The U.N. move, the writers warned, threatened to “severely damage” Israel’s credibility and undermine the Jewish state’s position in future peace negotiations. But more than that, they added, the initiative could open the door to war-crimes prosecutions against Israelis at the International Criminal Court. The five-page paper, dated Nov. 12 and obtained by Newsweek, advised that if the vote went ahead, Israel should “exact a heavy price” from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—a price to include dismantling his Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. “A softer approach would amount to waving a white flag and admitting that the Israeli leadership is unable to rise to the challenge,” the writers concluded.
The upgrade, which the General Assembly approved last week by a huge majority, is a bitter pill for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It includes not only a boost in the Palestinians’ status from (U.N. jargon alert!) “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state,” but also a recognition of their right to all of the West Bank and Gaza, including territory that Israelis have settled since 1967. Even some dovish Israelis have problems with the resolution’s sweep. And yet Israel’s response—a dismissive statement from the prime minister and the floating of plans to build thousands of new housing units in the West Bank—fell well short of the threats to topple Abbas. “This is a meaningless resolution that won’t change anything on the ground,” Netanyahu said in a handout just before the vote.
Clinton has made it clear that she was not pleased with Israel’s decision to expand settlements further into the West Bank. New Israeli Settlements Set Back Peace, Clinton Says
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Israeli plans for new settlements near East Jerusalem do not help efforts to bring about a two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis.
Clinton told Israeli officials in Washington that plans for new settlements abutting East Jerusalem “set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”
“We all need to work together to find a path forward in negotiations that can finally deliver on a two-state solution. That must remain our goal,” Clinton said.
Clinton continued her remarks,
“President Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week,” Clinton said. “We opposed his resolution. But we also need to see that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank still offers the most compelling alternative to rockets and permanent resistance.”
She says Palestinian Authority leaders deserve credit for real achievements on the ground — making their streets safe, overhauling governing institutions and cooperating with Israel to help enhance Israeli security.
“At a time when religious extremists claim to offer rewards in the hereafter, Israel needs to help those committed to peace deliver for their people in the here and now,” Clinton said.
When Israeli and Palestinian leaders are ready to return to direct negotiations, Secretary Clinton says President Barack Obama will be a full partner.
She says the United States stand ready to help Israel make more permanent its cease-fire with Hamas forces in Gaza. But that requires the continued cooperation of the new Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
“We look to Egypt to intensify its efforts to crack down on weapons smuggling from Libya and Sudan into Gaza,” Clinton said. “I am convinced that if more rockets are allowed to enter Gaza through the tunnels, that will certainly pave the way for more fighting again soon.”
After Clinton made this statement she was joined in agreement by the British Foreign Secretary William Hague: Clinton and Hague attack Israel decision to build new settlements both,
…have launched attacks on an Israeli decision to build fresh settlements on occupied territory in the West Bank.
The Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s decision to approve the construction of 3,000 new homes is widely seen as a response to the United Nations vote earlier this week that recognised a Palestinian bid to be a “non-member observer state”.
The US, with Israel, strongly opposed that move, while Britain abstained in the vote. But now both countries have criticised the Israeli settlement decision, saying it hurts the chances of a two-state solution and the search for peace in the troubled region.
Hague’s comments were the following.
Hague said he was “extremely concerned” at the plans, which have been reported in the Israeli press as including a four-square-mile area just east of Jerusalem that is seen as vital to keeping open a viable land corridor between the city and any future Palestinian state.
Hague asked Israel to reverse the decision and said the prospect of a successful two solution was receding. “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties,” he said in comments Saturday. “If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve.”
Hague added: “They would undermine Israel’s international reputation and create doubts about its stated commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians.”
Sticking with Foreign Policy, I thought this was an interesting piece written by Stephen M. Walt. Never underestimate the power of confusion
If you read this blog, you’ve probably heard about the various “isms” in the field of international relations. There’s realism, of course, but also liberalism, idealism, and social constructivism. And don’t forget Marxism, even though hardly anybody claims to believe it anymore. These “isms” are essentially families of theory that share certain common assumptions. For example, realists see power and fear as the main drivers of world affairs, while liberals place more weight on human acquisitiveness and the power of institutions.
But there’s another major force in world affairs, and sometimes I think it deserves an “ism” all its own. With tongue in cheek and apologies to a famous Chinese sage, I’ll call it “Confusionism.” For Confusians, ignorance and stupidity are the real key to understanding state behavior, not fear, greed, ideals, class interests, or any of those other things that people think drive world affairs. When Confusians seek to explain why states act as they do, they start by assuming that leaders do not understand the problems they face, have only a vague sense of where they want to go, and no idea at all about how to get there. Instead of starting with the rational actor assumption beloved by economists, realists, and most liberals, Confusians hone in on all the reasons why humans typically get things wrong.
Hmmm, “isms” (aren’t those the things right-wing southern secessionist dislike?)
Confusionism is the opposite of the assorted conspiracy theories that you often read about. Some people believe that the world is run by a shadowy network of elites (e.g., the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, etc.). Other people think everything is ultimately the product of some secret Zionist conspiracy, or the machinations of oil companies and the military-industrial complex. Islamophobes are convinced there is some sort of well-oiled Muslim plot to infiltrate Europe and America, impose Sharia law, and stick all our young women in harems. If you read enough Robert Ludlum, watch The Matrix too often, or spend enough time patrolling the nether regions of the blogosphere, you might find yourself thinking along similar lines. If that happens, get help.
Okay, that is the first three paragraphs, just go read the whole thing will ya?
There is one thing I am grateful for these last four years, and that is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I will miss her tremendously when she retires at the start of Obama’s second term, and personally, I would feel more comfortable with John Kerry as SoS…but that is another story. Anyway, Clinton’s replacement will reveal new US foreign policy direction
With the imminent retirement of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, much speculation has arisen in Washington concerning her replacement. No matter whom the president chooses to nominate for the post, the political process of confirmation by the US Senate is sure to reveal much about the mindset of Republicans and Democrats entering Obama’s second term, and will certainly indicate the direction of US foreign policy in coming years.
Following President Barack Obama’s reelection, it was widely believed that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice would be the president’s nominee to succeed Clinton.
With impeccable academic credentials, and experience as an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton White House, Rice is more than qualified. Rice is known for her direct and idealistic style of negotiation, and her less conciliatory, more confrontational style would likely take the practice of US foreign policy in a different direction than that charted by Clinton’s more pragmatic approach.
A greater and more direct US role in Middle Eastern affairs, and more emphasis on the role of foreign governments in human rights abuses and issues of social justice would likely mark the tenure of Rice.
Supposedly, there are rumors that Hillary is not thrilled with the prospect of Susan Rice replacing her at the Department of State. According to Michael Sneed: Hillary Clinton no fan of Susan Rice, prefers Kerry for State
The big question: Who would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton like to get her job?
It ain’t embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is dealing with the way she handled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Sneed is told if Hillary had to choose between Rice and U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who is head of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, she would prefer Kerry.
“Hillary is not close to Rice, who is tough — but is not the friendliest person,” said a top White House source. “And Hillary’s brief comment recently that Rice had done ‘a great job’ was considered underwhelming and tepid,” the source added.
Yes, that bit of gossip is followed by a story on Kate Middleton, but it does go along the lines of how I think many of us perceive the situation…that Kerry would be a better fit after Clinton.
Okay, enough on Foreign Affairs and Policy, before we go on to other stories…take a quick look at this from Tommy Christopher: Persistent Romnesia: Former Mitt Romney Chief Strategist Says ‘Nobody Liked Romney Except Voters’
If the recent fiscal cliff/Susan Rice piñata party news doldrums have got you down, take a break with what has to be the first published example of a resignation letter from every future job. Former Romney campaign chief strategist Stuart Stevens has penned the most deluded piece of writing since Norma Desmond filled out an order for new headshots. In a hilarious op-ed for The Washington Post, Stevens explains, among other things, that “Nobody liked Romney except voters.”
I know that BB wrote a great post on the “delusions” of the GOP and Romney’s camp, but anything that can make a reference to Sunset Blvd is too good to ignore.
And when it comes to the GOP, not only are they delusional…they are cruel. How One GOP Plutocrat Helped Make 20,000 Kids Homeless
Homelessness in New York has skyrocketed, thanks in part to years of conservative policy predicated on right-wing ideology.
There are 20,000 kids sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City, according to the city’s latest estimate, a number that does not include homeless kids who are not sleeping in shelters because their families have been turned away. Up to 65 percent of families who apply for shelter don’t get in , and their options can be grim.
“Some end up sleeping in subway trains,” Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless, tells AlterNet. “Some go to hospital emergency rooms or laundromats. Women are going back to their batterers or staying in unsafe apartments.”
Families that make it into shelters are taking longer to leave and move into stable, permanent housing. Asked by reporters why families were staying 30% longer than even last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “… it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.”
“Is it great?” He elaborated a day later in response to outcry over his comments. “No. It’s not the Plaza Hotel … but that’s not what shelter is supposed to be and that’s not what the public can afford or the public wants.”
The above alternet story has many pages, it is important that you read them all. I have one more story related to the homeless. Winter problem: More homeless are living in cars
Phil Bell sleeps under three sleeping bags and two blankets in the back seat of his 1998 Buick. He parks outside truck stops and stores that are open 24 hours and rarely turns on his engine.
“You can’t leave the car running because it calls attention to you and burns too much gas,” he explains. “Being in the car is better than being outside or in a tent, but it gets really cold.”
Bell, 39, has been homeless since September. He was laid off by a Detroit auto parts maker and couldn’t pay his rent. He loaded his possessions into his car and took off. He made it this far and is looking for work here.
“I’m lucky,” Bell says. “At least I’ve got the car. Most people out here on the streets don’t have anything.”
I know these are long reads…if you can’t read them all in one shot, book mark them for later.
Now let’s get on with the easy Sunday reads, after the jump.
I rarely violate fair use and copy something in its entirety having been well schooled in that as a professor. However, Common Dreams has this great set of numbers that needs to be reprinted. We don’t profit from anything so hopefully, they’ll be forgiving. Also, I’m actively plugging the work they do so, they do have a subscribe button and a donate button. Also, please notice I’ve recognized the author of this great set of numbers too. So, forgive me but this is wonderful and here it is in its entirety. It also includes a great looking Banksy-like graphic.
Published on Monday, November 19, 2012 by Common Dreams
Ten Numbers the Rich Would Like Fudged
The numbers reveal the deadening effects of inequality in our country, and confirm that tax avoidance, rather than a lack of middle-class initiative, is the cause.
1. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.
According to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds. (photo: withayou via flickr)
2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.
In a world listing compiled by a reputable research team (which nevertheless prompted double-checking), the U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland.
3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.
The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. With Americans making up 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, that’s $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places.
Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.
4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.
After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.
U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They’ve passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.
5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.
That’s enough to pay the salaries of over a million nurses or teachers or emergency responders.
That’s enough, according to 2008 estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN’s World Food Program, to feed the 870 million people in the world who are lacking sufficient food.
For the free-market advocates who say “they’ve earned it”: Point #1 above makes it clear how the wealthy make their money.
6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.
Another stat that required a double-check. Based on research by the Tax Policy Center, tax deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes), which largely benefit the rich, are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion.
Other sources have estimated that about two-thirds of the annual $850 billion in tax expenditures goes to the top quintile of taxpayers.
7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.
The Insight Center for Community Economic Development reported that median wealth for black and Hispanic women is a little over $100. That’s much less than one percent of the median wealth for single white women ($41,500).
Other studies confirm the racially-charged economic inequality in our country. For every dollar of NON-HOME wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.
8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped significantly over the past 15 years, serving only about a quarter of the families in poverty, and paying less than $400 per month for a family of three for housing and other necessities. Ninety percent of the available benefits go to the elderly, the disabled, or working households.
Food stamp recipients get $4.30 a day.
9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.
21- to 35-year-olds: Your median net worth has dropped 68% since 1984. It’s now less than $4,000.
That $4,000 has to pay for student loans that average $27,200. Or, if you’re still in school, for $12,700 in credit card debt.
With an unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds of almost 50%, two out of every five recent college graduates are living with their parents. But your favorite company may be hiring. Apple, which makes a profit of $420,000 per employee, can pay you about $12 per hour.
10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.
That’s about the same amount of money made by America’s richest 10% in one year. But we all paid for the bailout. And because of it, we lost the opportunity for jobs, mortgage relief, and educational funding.
Bonus for the super-rich: A QUADRILLION DOLLARS in securities trading nets ZERO sales tax revenue for the U.S.
The world derivatives market is estimated to be worth over a quadrillion dollars (a thousand trillion). At least $200 trillion of that is in the United States. In 2011 the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reported a trading volume of over $1 quadrillion on 3.4 billion annual contracts.
A quadrillion dollars. A sales tax of ONE-TENTH OF A PENNY on a quadrillion dollars could pay off the deficit. But the total sales tax was ZERO.
It’s not surprising that the very rich would like to fudge the numbers, as they have the nation.
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.
Thank you Paul Bucheit and Common Dreams for making this available. Facts should speak louder than Republican memes.
I know everyone here has probably heard about the Bain-owned company Sensata Technologies, which is currently in the process of shipping all of its jobs to China. Mitt Romney has significant financial holdings in Sensata and in other Bain-connected Chinese Companies. Sensata workers have reached out to Mitt Romney repeatedly, begging him to use his influence to save their jobs, but he has ignored their pleas. Workers have now set up a tent city they call Bainport (see photo), and today they held a rally with workers who were laid off by a Bain-owned Samsonite plant in France. Here is the Bainport website.
FREEPORT, Ill. — French Samsonite workers who were laid off and robbed of their severance pay by Bain Capital will join Freeport Sensata workers for a rally at “Bainport” in Freeport, Ill., at 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13.
The rally is in protest of Bain’s decision to close the Freeport, Ill., Sensata Technologies plant and outsource 170 jobs to China. The plant is set to close in November.
“We’re coming to Bainport to show our support for American workers fighting against the same economic model that destroys good jobs likes ours in France,” said Samsonite worker Brigitte Petit. “The struggle to save these Sensata jobs from outsourcing is a struggle on behalf of good jobs across the globe.”
Sensata Technologies, 2520 S. Walnut Road, Freeport, which was created by Bain Capital in 2006, develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls for major auto manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.
Despite rising profits, the company plans to institute the final layoffs in November. The workers are training their Chinese replacements, who have been flown to Illinois by the company.
During the retraining, the American flag flying over the Freeport, IL plant was removed and replaced by the Chinese flag.
Romney has significant investments in Sensata as well as in other corporations in China; and he has gotten tax breaks from outsourcing jobs to China–including the Sensata jobs. Yet, during his debate with President Obama on October 3, Romney had the nerve to claim he didn’t know the U.S. gives tax breaks to outsourcers.
I simply can’t understand why the Obama campaign isn’t using this scandal to hammer Romney unmercifully. There has been some coverage of the issue in the corporate media, but not enough to reach all those low information voters out there. Ed Shultz has been talking about the issue over the past couple of days, and perhaps that will have an effect.
Although Romney didn’t make the decisions that led to the crisis in Freeport, he is still closely tied to Bain and does have influence over the company he founded. From the NYT, July 18, 2012:
There’s a plant in Freeport that makes sensors and controls for cars and airplanes. It’s owned by Sensata Technologies, a company that Bain bought in 2006, somewhere between four and seven years after Mr. Romney left the company. Last year, Sensata announced that it was moving the plant to China at the end of 2012 and laying off all 170 workers, and now those workers are asking Mr. Romney to intervene with his colleagues to save their jobs.
“If he wanted to, all he needs to do is call up the management of Bain Capital and say, ‘Look, don’t do this,’ ” one worker, Tom Gaulrapp, told Reuters.
Mr. Romney had nothing to do with that decision…. Nonetheless, Mr. Romney remains deeply tied to business decisions like this. As Bain’s founder, he established its business model, which is to wring the maximum efficiency from a company for the benefit of Bain’s investors, even if that means closing plants, shipping jobs to China, and laying off American workers. That’s how private equity often works, and Bain has done it many times before, sometimes to the benefit of a company’s workers, and sometimes to their detriment.
If Romney is elected president, I expect we’ll see a lot more of these kinds of stories. Jesse Jackson wrote an op-ed about Sensata and the Romney economic model a couple of days ago: A taste of the Mitt Romney economy
Mrs. Dot Turner has worked at what is now Sensata Technologies in Freeport, Ill., for 43 years. The company does sophisticated work creating sensors for automobiles. It enjoyed record profits last year. But not enough for its owner — Bain Capital — which is moving the jobs and the machinery to China….
The Sensata workers called on Mitt Romney — an investor in Sensata through his Bain holdings — to intervene. A group went to Iowa during the primaries to ask him to come to Freeport; they met with no success. Another group went to the Republican convention to ask him to come to Freeport; they had no success, either.
So, with the open support of Freeport’s mayor and City Council, the workers set up a “Bainport” encampment in the Stephenson County Fairgrounds right across the street from the plant. “Welcome to Bainport, a taste of the Romney economy,” reads one sign. “Romney does have a jobs plan; too bad it’s for China,” reads another. And Mrs. Turner and others began to make their voices heard.
“We are suffering from the Bain model of capitalism,” Mrs. Turner said. “This is the way Bain works. They take over good companies, and then ship their jobs to China to make even more money.
“So when I hear Romney talking about creating jobs, he’s saying one thing and we are experiencing another. He’s creating jobs, but the jobs are in China, not here. And now under Bain, Sensata plans to give the managers and the supervisors their golden parachutes, but not the workers. I’ve been here 43 years, and they offer a lump sum payment for 26 weeks of salary. And the lump sum means taxes will take a big part of it.” Probably a bigger part than Romney pays in taxes on his income.
“We’re getting the shaft all the way,” Mrs. Turner continued. “And we’re not going to take it quietly. We can fight for our jobs. We may not win, but we are in their face. You may roll over me, but I’m not going to shut my mouth while you do it.”
The United Steelworkers Union has just released a video about what is happening in Freeport.
A few more resources on the Bain-Sensata story:
Democracy Now covered the story last Wednesday: As Bain Ships Jobs to China, Bainport Protesters Arrested for Blocking Illinois Factory’s Closure
Campaign for America’s Future: Is This Why Romney Won’t Talk To Sensata Workers Whose Jobs Are Being Shipped To China?
Crooks and Liars: ‘When I Hear Mitt Romney Speak it Makes Me Sick to My Stomach’
NY Daily News: Romney’s ‘Bain’ in the Neck
Please spread the word about this in any way you can. I’ll have another post on Romney’s China connections soon. Use the comments to discuss this story or anything else related to the 2012 election campaign. Thank you for reading this post!