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Cowichan Conversations: Canada-EU trade deal threatened by EU lawmakers

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Every once in awhile commonsense and decency trumps greed and avarice, not often, but it is news when it happens.

Our PM Steve Harper has polished up an apple for the corporate world in an attempt to pave the way to huge profits through yet another crippling trade deal. This time with the European Union. (EU)

Looks as if he has hit a few bumps as he tries to set the terms and position the US to follow in with a sweetheart deal that would further entrench the corporate world at the cost of local authorities and (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Calling the bluff on "we must compete in the global marketplace"

The soul-numbing mantra “we must compete in the global marketplace” is much heard these days. Conservative politicians and business groups toss it out tirelessly as an argument to reduce taxes, and weaken labour and environmental laws. Unfortunately, their argument is valid. Trade agreements have so reduced the ability of national governments to tax and to provide legislative protection for

CuriosityCat: David Cameron turning on the Spitzenkandidaten

David Cameron and the Spitzenkandidaten

Remember The Cullen Plan for pre-election electoral cooperation between the NDP and Liberals? He advocated a deal which enabled one candidate to run against the sitting Conservative MP, rather than splitting the vote and letting the Tory win, which is the reason Harper is in power right now. In the election of the European Parliament held yesterday, we saw a somewhat similar electoral cooperation pact between certain parties, resulting in what is called the selection of Spitzenkandidaten, to maximize the chances that groups of parties with similar policies will have a better chance of having (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Ukraine: One possible Russian-driven solution

Bill Clinton: Ukraine Saviour?

Ukraine is in turmoil, with positions apparently hardening on all sides, since the Geneva Agreement outlining a method of resolution was agreed upon a short while ago. The level of support for the anti-Kiev position in eastern Ukraine is unclear at the moment: Armed men have seized public buildings in a string of towns in the Donbas region. It is unclear how much support they have. Polls suggest that two-thirds of people in the south and east want to stay part of Ukraine and not be annexed by Russia, as Crimea was in March. Even (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: The Great Game—did Putin outplay the West in Crimea?

In the 19th century, the British and Russian empires’ strategic rivalry for supremacy in Central Asia was referred to as the Great Game. The game has never really ended as Russia has continued to vie with Western powers for influence and control in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. And in recent days, the Russians may have just outplayed the West in Ukraine.

Influence in Ukraine has see-sawed

CuriosityCat: Ukraine: Russia advances its creeping-federalization agenda

Ukraine: Doors open for Putin

Today, much to the surprise of some, a public agreement was announced by the US, Russia, EU and current Ukraine government, dealing with concrete steps to move the matter forward. The following is the full text of that agreement, with the most important part (in my view) bolded:

Geneva Statement of April 17, 2014The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Ukraine: Russia advances its creeping-federalization agenda

CuriosityCat: Ukraine: Some Commensense on Dealing with Russia

Putin’s Push: Reality versus Rhetoric

Congratulations to Thomas Graham, a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute, who was the senior director for Russia on the US National Security Council staff 2004-2007. He has shrewdly analyzed the Russian push under Putin, in its historical context, and outlined the steps that the West has to take to deal with Putin. Visa denials and economic sanctions, while nice sound bytes, are pretty meaningless. His views:

The way to stymie Russian expansion is not by denying visas and freezing assets of Russian officials and their business associates, the West’s current approach. Nor will (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Ukraine: Some Commensense on Dealing with Russia

Political Eh-conomy: Diagnosis, or into the privatization matrix (Canada Post, Part 1)

There is little doubt that Canada Post’s recently-announced plan to eliminate home delivery, raise prices and lay off thousands of workers is not aimed solely at streamlining operations, but is likely a prelude to future privatization of postal delivery in Canada. Canada Post is ripe for the picking: it is a profitable, socially-useful public enterprise with n updated, nation-wide infrastructure of retail outlets, other properties, vehicles and IT systems. One bad year in 2011, when the post office recorded a loss due in part to rotating strikes and a 2-week lockout, has been used to create an image of unsustainability (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Americanized Labor Policy Is Spreading in Europe – NYTimes.com

Americanized Labor Policy Is Spreading in Europe – NYTimes.com.

While most of the debate over Europe’s response to the financial crisis has focused on the budget austerity enveloping the Continent, the comparatively unheralded erosion of worker protection is likely to have at least as big and lasting an impact on Europe’s social contract.

Filed under: Austerity, Europe, Exploitation, Labour, Neoliberalism Tagged: Collective bargaining, European Union, Labour law, labour relations

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Converting principles to other people’s money #nlpoli

When Premier Kathy Dunderdale spoke to a St. John’s Board of Trade last May,  she claimed the federal government had tried to tie the federal loan guarantee on Muskrat Falls to the European free trade talks.

There’s no evidence that her claim is true, at least based on the selected documents Dunderdale released last week in the House of Assembly on the negotiations.

The documents actually show something else.

(Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Canada-EU CETA trade agreement has “troubling” elements: Yves Engler [VIDEO]

Yves Engler, a Canadian activist and author of The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy, discusses the “troubling” elements in the Canada-EU CETA trade agreement.

The post Canada-EU CETA trade agreement has “troubling” elements: Yves Engler [VIDEO] appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Vale delays Long Harbour smelter… again #nlpoli

Earlier this year,  mining giant Vale was saying they’d start production at the new Long Harbour smelter in 2013, but after a meeting with Premier Kathy Dunderdale in Brazil,  the company won’t be ramping up until 2015.

That’s the news from VOCM on the weekend, although they didn’t report the actual news about the delay at Long Harbour.  VO just reported that Dunderdale met with Vale officials and that the start-up date was 2015, as if it had always been two years away.

The premier says she went down a few days early to meet specifically with Vale officials to get an update on the Long Harbour development and the Voisey’s Bay mine site.

She says Vale officials indicated that Long Harbour will start to ramp up in 2015, while they’re looking to go underground at Voisey’s Bay.

According to VOCM, the company officials are concerned about power supplies “in . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Vale delays Long Harbour smelter… again #nlpoli

LeDaro: EU foreign ministers at odds over Syria

Is U.S. going to be all alone in Syrian intervention?

The Disaffected Lib: Sure, the Iron Curtain Fell, But What’s Going Up In Its Place?

When the Berlin Wall came down it quickly led to the liberation of eastern Europe and the demise of the Soviet Union.

Western European leaders, egged on by the United States, pulled out all the stops to sign up eastern Europe into the E.U. and NATO.  America sought to drive the North Atlantic alliance right up to Russia’s borders.

It was a moment of triumphalism in Washington as Reagan and Bush Sr. were crowned with laurel wreaths for winning the Cold War.  Eastern Europe had been liberated, saved for democracy, or so we were told.  Maybe (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Five reasons Canada should NOT ratify a Canada-EU free trade agreement

By: Stuart Trew | Originally published by Troy Media, on April 26, 2013: Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of British Columbia recently wrote a column for Troy Media on the virtues of the Canada-European Union free trade deal. He listed five reasons why he thinks the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, should [...]

The post Five reasons Canada should NOT ratify a Canada-EU free trade agreement appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Disaffected Lib: English as the Official Language of the European Union?

There’s a move afoot to have English declared the common language of the European Union and it’s a German who is pushing the idea.   Here The Guardian gives a pretty clear reason why a common language might be helpful when representatives of the constituent nations sit down to parlay.

Money talks, especially in Brussels. A billion euros are usually “mil milhoes de euros” in Portuguese, or a thousand million. In Spanish, likewise, “billón” means a million million, so billion is “mil millones de euros”. Confusingly, “billion” translates as “milijarde” into Croatian, or “miljard” into Dutch. When the French talk (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Excessive corporate rights in Canada-EU CETA trade deal unacceptable to Canadians and Europeans

Transatlantic Statement Opposing Excessive Corporate Rights (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) By Trade Justice Network | Feb. 5, 2013: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM and OTTAWA, ONTARIO and MONTREAL, QUEBEC – Labour, environmental, Indigenous, women’s, academic, health sector and fair trade organizations from Europe, Canada and Quebec representing more than 65 million READ MORE

CuriosityCat: Chancellor Merkel plumps for the domino theory over the ballast theory

Merkel and dominoes …

One of the fascinating things about high level crises like the eurozone one, is the role played by the men and women who have the power or lack the power to influence events. And the key person in the past five years or so is a woman some nicknamed The Iron Lady – Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Der Spiegel has a fascinating article describing her practical approach to the eurozine crisis, which includes this:

For months, Merkel wavered over whether or not Greece should remain in the euro zone. As recently as summer, she couldn’t decide

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Chancellor Merkel plumps for the domino theory over the ballast theory

CuriosityCat: Europe takes another big step towards the United States of Europe

United States of Europe?

Financial integration is one major step along the road towards eventual political integration into one massive new federal state, the USE (United States of Europe), and yesterday a significant move was made in this direction: Europe’s finance ministers have taken another major step towards closer integration, with a significant transfer of authority from national governments to the ECB, he says.

The EU had already agreed that the ECB would act as chief supervisor of eurozone banks. But the deal gives the ECB powers to close down eurozone banks that do not follow the rules. It also . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Europe takes another big step towards the United States of Europe

The Disaffected Lib: Cyprus, the European Union’s Dilemma

Cyprus, it seems, is the Cayman Islands of the Mediterranean.  Russian oligarchs are said to use it to launder their money.   And, for the European Union, the Cypriot-Russian connection complicates efforts to bail out the financially-str… . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Cyprus, the European Union’s Dilemma

Canadian ProgressiveCanadian Progressive: The Nobel Peace Prize is slipping into irrelevance

by Brian Lee Crowley | Troy Media | Macdonald Laurier Institute My mother could have told you why giving the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union would produce such a predictable and deserved outpouring of derision. An aspiring writer, she took a creative writing course. One of the assignments was to describe a single [...]

CuriosityCat: Anglo-Franco-German ménage à trois: A Federal Europe or a confederation of Nation States?

The European Union

A struggle for the future of Europe is being waged right now by the politicians of the EU. 

Most of the fighting is being done by the leaders of France, Germany and Britain (the Big Three of Europe), with the other medium sized states putting the boot in every now and then but largely shouting encouragement from the sidelines. The big battle that is shaping up is over the contours of the future Europe. Germany: A tighter Union or Else: And the issue has been framed as a choice between two stark contracts: a move towards . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Anglo-Franco-German ménage à trois: A Federal Europe or a confederation of Nation States?

Canadian Progressive: Canadians oppose drug patent extension in Canada-EU trade deal: POLL

A new poll by Ipsos Reid, released today by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Health Coalition, shows that what would otherwise be high support for a Canada-European Union free trade deal collapses on the issue of pharmaceutical drug costs, with 69 per cent of Canadians opposing a deal that would lengthen patent protections for brand name drugs. The two organizations are asking the provinces, whose trade negotiators are in Ottawa this week for another round of Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) talks, to insist on removing patent term extension and related pharmaceutical proposals from the EU trade deal. Failing to do

. . . → Read More: Canadian Progressive: Canadians oppose drug patent extension in Canada-EU trade deal: POLL

CuriosityCat: Putin prepares for a fistfight with the EU over Gazprom gas policies: Who will win?

In this corner, we have the former head of the infamous KGB, President Vladimir Putin, he of the rugged outdoor, macho activities. And in the other corner, we have the bureaucrats in Brussels, representing 500 million Europeans. In the middle, we have Russia’s most important company, the source of the bulk of the Russian government’s income tax revenue, Gazprom. Putin collars a tiger

Seconds are out of the ring, and the bell has been rung for the first round. There is no referee. I repeat: There is no referee. And the Queensbury Rules do not apply. Ask Ukraine and Belarus, . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Putin prepares for a fistfight with the EU over Gazprom gas policies: Who will win?

CuriosityCat: The Eurozone: George Soros is dead wrong

Lead or leave. Currency speculator George Soros laid down the law for Germany: change or get out of the way:

He warned that the split between creditor and debtor countries in the euro risked becoming permanent, with debtor nations condemned to low growth because they are forced to pay a high premium for access to credit. European union was liable to fall apart under the pressure, he added. George Soros

Soros singled out Germany as the country that should take responsibility for this “class divide” in the eurozone.

“In my judgment, the best course of action is to persuade

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: The Eurozone: George Soros is dead wrong