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  • An extract from Against Austerity | openDemocracy about 7 hours ago
    • There is one criticism of austerity politics that is both true and, simultaneously, flatly false: that it is ideological. This claim is ambiguous and needs to be unpacked.
    • Yet Labour’s cuts, though slower and a little less deep, would in any other circumstances be considered a scandal. During George Osborne’s emergency budget in 2010, the chancellor was able to remark that he had inherited from Labour plans for cuts averaging 19 per cent across all departments. (Osborne had ‘merely’ increased the planned cuts to an average of 25 per cent across all departments). This was why canny Labour right-wingers had urged colleagues to calm down the anti-cuts talk, knowing that a Labour government would implement similar policies.
    • But those dismissing austerity as ideological mean precisely that there is a purely technical, non-ideological means of crisis-resolution. In this sense, the criticism of austerity as ideological is obviously in bad faith. It simply says, ‘their cuts are stupid, ours are going to be super-clever’.

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  • AFRICOM Goes to War on the Sly - FPIF about 20 hours ago
    • Fast forward a few weeks and Captain Rick Cook, the chief of U.S. Africa Command’s Engineer Division, was addressing an audience of more than 50 representatives of some of the largest military engineering firms on the planet — and this reporter. The contractors were interested in jobs and he wasn’t pulling any punches. “The eighteen months or so that I’ve been here, we’ve been at war the whole time,” Cook told them. “We are trying to provide opportunities for the African people to fix their own African challenges. Now, unfortunately, operations in Libya, South Sudan, and Mali, over the last two years, have proven there’s always something going on in Africa.”
    • Last year, AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson confirmed to TomDispatch that the U.S. was conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, drone operations from Base Aérienne 101 at Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey, the capital of Niger. In the months since, air operations there have only increased. In addition, documents recently obtained by TomDispatch indicated that the Army Corps of Engineers has been working on two counter-narco-terrorism projects in Arlit and Tahoua, Niger. So I told Gatz what I had uncovered. Only then did he locate the right paperwork. “Oh, okay, I’m sorry,” he replied. “You’re right, we have two of them… Both were actually awarded to construction.”
  • New Statesman | Michael Oakeshott, conservative thinker who went beyond politics about 21 hours ago
  • TPC Events | piketty capital book release on 2014-04-16
  • The Eye Newspaper: Striking Mbororos Threaten to Seek Boko Haram Protection over Disputed Land with Catholic Church on 2014-04-16
  • Occupy was right: capitalism has failed the world | Books | The Observer on 2014-04-14
    • He adds that the very rich are not usually hurt by inflation – their wealth increases anyway – but the poor suffer worst of all with a rising cost of living. A progressive tax on wealth is the only sane solution.
    • One of the most penetrating of these is what he has to say about the rise of managers, or "super-managers", who do not produce wealth but who derive a salary from it. This, he argues, is effectively a form of theft – but this is not the worst crime of the super-managers. Most damaging is the way that they have set themselves in competition with the billionaires whose wealth, accelerating beyond the economy, is always going to be out of reach.
    • Piketty effectively rips apart one of the great lies of the 21st century – that super-managers deserve their money because, like footballers, they have specialised skills which belong to an almost superhuman elite.

      "One of the great divisive forces at work today," he says, "is what I call meritocratic extremism. This is the conflict between billionaires, whose income comes from property and assets, such as a Saudi prince, and super-managers. Neither of these categories makes or produces anything but their wealth, which is really a super-wealth that has broken away from the everyday reality of the market, which determines how most ordinary people live.

  • The World Bank, the PFI hospital and the destruction of a nation's healthcare system | openDemocracy on 2014-04-13
    • The World Bank promised and advised that to build a Public-Private Partnership hospital in the capital would cost no more than the old public hospital it replaced.
    • It now costs Lesotho's govenrment $67 million per year, or at least three times the cost of the old public hospital. The hospital is reported by the IFC to be delivering better outcomes in some areas. But the biggest concern is that as costs escalate for the PPP hospital in the capital, fewer and fewer resources will be available to tackle serious and increasing health problems in rural areas where three quarters of the population live.
    • And despite a significant body of evidence highlighting the high risks and costs associated with health PPPs in rich and poor countries alike, similar IFC-supported health PPPs are now well advanced in Nigeria, and in the pipeline in Benin.

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  • Can indigenous operators cope after foreigners’ exit? - The Nation on 2014-04-08
    • Mutiu Sunmonu, Managing Director of SPDC, said the divestment of his company’s assets was a deliberate measure to encourage indigenous participation in the upstream oil and gas industry.

       

      His words: “We want to create a new set of indigenous players in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry within the next 10 to 20 years from now, while the IOCs concentrate on more difficult issues and also allow us focus on material oil and gas fields.”

       

      The divestments are seen by some industry watchers as representing the single largest opportunity for Nigerian operators with the requisite expertise and capital to emerge as major upstream players.

    • Akabogu added: “Local content in the oil industry is supposed to be a long term thing; it is supposed to be implemented in a gradual manner because the enabling environment is not there. The ideal thing would have been to retain the IOCs by addressing the issues that necessitated their divestment.” He said the IOCs were merely shifting their risks to the local operators who would now deal with issues of oil bunkering and theft.
    • To renowned environmental expert and coordinator of Oil Watch International, Mr. Nnimmo Bassey, the development is hardly surprising. According to him, divestment is a business strategy by the IOCs to cut losses and maximize profits. “You will notice that they are divesting mostly from onshore and swamp fields that intersect with communities that they have massively polluted and abused. Their aged facilities in those locations will certainly bring on more resource ownership and social conflicts. So, if local companies are happy to step in and take the flak that means ‘good’ business for the IOCs,” he observed

    4 more annotations...

  • The Kamikaze Economics and Politics of Forcing Austerity on the Ukraine | New Economic PerspectivesNew Economic Perspectives on 2014-04-08
    • austerity dogma trumps – simultaneously – good economics, good domestic politics in the U.S. and the Ukraine, and U.S. national security.  That’s how insanely powerful the failed dogma of austerity has become.  The CEOs who run the banks that loan money to the Ukraine are more powerful than the Pentagon and our State Department.
  • Counterpoint: Good Americans should pay their debts, thank Sallie Mae | Savage Minds on 2014-04-07

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