One of the most repugnant features of international trade agreements, from TPP to TTIP to CETA, is the "Investor State Dispute Settlement" (ISDS) clause, which gives corporations the power to sue governments to repeal health, safety, and environmental laws if they interfere with the company's profits.
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Behold, the glory of the compound noun: Fernweh ("the feeling of wanting to be elsewhere, anywhere but where you are at this moment"); Weltschmerz ("the state of weariness one feels at the state of the world"); Fuchsteufelswild ("a state of unfiltered, primal rage"); and of course, the indispensable Backpfeifengesicht.
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Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen -- Chinese nationals who live in Singapore -- own a global property speculation and development empire whose US branch is called American Pacific International Capital Inc. They followed a recipe set out in a memo by Charlie Spies, a top Republican lawyer, in order to funnel $1.3M to Jeb Bush's PAC, then Tang offered a reporter for the Intercept $200,000 not to mention that he had been investigated for smuggling, tax evasion and bribery by the Chinese government. Read the rest
When Amazon decided to allow Chinese sellers to direct-list their products on the service (rather than going through domestic importers), it was seen as a defensive move against Alibaba, their deep-pocketed Chinese rival and vendor of everything from legit gadgets to crime supplies. Read the rest
It's his 30th consecutive closing address to the attendees of SXSW Interactive, and as always, Bruce delivers: an overarching, everything-in-the-world tour of everything weird, dystopian, screwed up, hopeful and ugly in the year 2016. Read the rest
Mergers and acquisitions mania: not just for banks, oil companies, publishing, movie studios, airlines, cable, phone companies, retail chains and family restaurants anymore. For years, the booze industry has been quiety homogenizing, as hedge-fund-fueled megafauna gobbles up smaller firms and even huge rivals, leaving behind a landscape where your "Mexican" tequila, "Irish" whiskey, "Scotch," "Puerto Rican" rum, and other bar standbys are all owned by a "British" company that claims it makes all its profits in The Netherlands. Read the rest
Those bowtie-shaped "motorized self-balancing two-wheeled scooters" you see in the windows of strip-mall cellphone repair shops and in mall-kiosks roared out of nowhere and are now everywhere, despite being so new that we don't even know what they're called. Read the rest
South Korea has a Confucionist tradition of children supporting their elderly parents in South Korea whose existence meant that the country never had to develop an advanced social safety net for caring for the aged. Read the rest
The promised returns from globalization just aren't there: poor countries don't have as much to spend, corrupt governments undermine foreign multinationals, domestic rivals hack trade secrets out of multinationals foreign offices and doing business all over the world is complicated and expensive. Read the rest
A four-part series in the LA Times explores the corrupt labor conditions in Mexico's biggest farms, where the produce, destined for American grocers like Walmart and Whole Foods, is treated with infinitely more care than the workers, who are subject to illegal, inhumane treatment, including indentured servitude. Read the rest
As businesses start retaining and investing larger cash-reserves, they're turning into banks. Banks, meanwhile, need to find another line of work: they become asset traders. Meanwhile, your wages have been stagnant for decades, which means that in order to survive, you must become a debtor. Read the rest
Joly sez, "On October 10 2014 UK activists, concerned about EU-US TTIP and EU-Canada CETA agreements that could make it possible for corporations to sue governments for banning fracking, invoked Article 61 of the Magna Carta to temporarily seize control of Glastonbury Town Hall. They claim that the 1215 Magna Carta's Article 61 - the Lawful Rebellion clause, which some say was later was later revoked in 1297, was validated by 25 Barons in 2001. A full video, including negotiations with the police, is posted on Youtube." Read the rest
Under the terms of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, approved by PM Harper on Friday, China can sue Canada in secret tribunals to repeal national and provincial laws that interfere with Chinese investments, including laws limiting construction of the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. Read the rest
The Guardian's John Harris looks at the battle taking place in the Devon town of Totnes, a kind of counterculture/hippie haven on the "English Riviera," where residents are furious at the plan to open an outlet of the Costa Coffee chain. Harris paints a picture of Totnes as the kind of place that would be pretty nice to live in: they issue their own currency that only works with local businesses, have a record store that puts the best music shops in Manhattan to shame, and have dozens of nice coffee shops where skilled baristas ply their trade -- like Portland, OR crossed with an English seaside village.
For Harris (and the Totnes residents with whom he speaks), the fight to keep Costa out of town is a microcosm for the fight against global capitalism, and the triumph of profits and shareholder value over local community and mutual aid.
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Totnes's local economy looks to be in reasonable health, which is surely down to the fact that it is about as far from being what we now call a "clone town" as could be imagined. The local record shop, Drift, is mind-bogglingly great: the kind of place that you'd think was amazing if you found it in New York. The quality and diversity of restaurants is amazing. Most pertinently, the town has 42 independently run outlets that serve coffee, and – so far – not a single branch of any of the big caffeine-selling multiples.
Now, though, Costa – whose most visible slogan remains "Saving the world from mediocre coffee" – is on its way, as part of programme of expansion that will look either worryingly aggressive or admirably ambitious, depending on your point of view.
In the Guardian, Paul Harris reports from Freeport, IL, where a profitable, competitive auto-parts plant has been bought out by Bain Capital, who have literally shipped the factory to China, and who have extended the "kindness" to the American workers who will lose their jobs of a few extra weeks' worth of work training their Chinese replacements. Mitt Romney owns millions of dollars' worth of equity in the Bain fund that is shipping good jobs overseas, and stands to make a tidy profit from this.
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"I understand business needs to make a profit. But this product has always made a ton of money. It's just that they think it is not enough money. They are greedy," said Tom Gaulraupp, who has put in 33 years at the plant and is facing the prospect of becoming jobless at the age of 54.
Mark Shreck, a 36-year-old father-of-three, confessed he was one of the few workers not surprised at the layoffs, as this is the second time his job has moved to China. "I feel this is what companies do nowadays," he said.
Freeport mayor George Gaulrapp
The Freeport workers have appealed to Bain and Romney to save their plant. The local town council, several Illinois politicians and the state's Democratic governor have all rallied to their cause. "This company is competitive globally. They make a profit here. But Bain Capital decided to squeeze it a little further. That is not what capitalism is meant to be about," said Freeport mayor George Gaulrapp, 52, pictured.