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[ 61 ] August 4, 2014 |

At the same time that U.S. courts are limiting the ability of foreign citizens to sue American corporations for their malfeasance abroad, they are facilitating U.S. banking companies to collect debts from poor developing world nations, as Saskia Sassen explores. Elliott Associates essentially goes after poor nations and their debt, taking a no holds barred approach to collect that debt with no concern for long term economic growth in those countries, the poverty it creates, or international relations. Essentially, Elliott Associates is capitalism at its purest and least acceptable, a system that exists only for shareholders and to hell with the rest of the world. Obviously, this should be stopped and Elliott Associates’ assets expropriated and returned to the nations it has devoured.

Given all this, it makes sense that Argentina would just default on its debt. Good move.

Okay, that’s not entirely fair. After all, it’s been 13 years since the last time it did. That’s not bad for Argentina, which has now defaulted eight times in its 200-year history. But this latest one was certainly its strangest. Argentina didn’t default because it couldn’t pay its bondholders. It defaulted because a New York judge wouldn’t let it pay its bondholders—not unless it also paid the hedge funds that were holding out for a better deal on its old defaulted debt.

That’s where Elliott Associates comes in. I hope the company never receives a peso.


The Trip North

[ 15 ] August 4, 2014 |

Alfredo Corchado has a powerful story of the plight of Central American migrants trying to move through Mexico to get to the United States. Heartbreaking stories about people we should be welcoming into the United States.

The Wages of the Industrial Food System

[ 11 ] August 4, 2014 |

The obscene use of fertilizer and chemicals leads to algae blooms that make the water supply of Toledo undrinkable. The problem is exacerbated by the non-native zebra mussels that eliminate animals that eat the algae to create a perfect storm of 21st century environmental disaster.


[ 88 ] August 3, 2014 |

When Republicans want to send children back to Central America, this is the horror they want to send them back to. In the 2010s, we often look at U.S. immigration policy toward Jews in 1930s Germany, refusing to allow them in even though it was clear their lives were on the line, as an immoral and horrible period in American history defined by racism and fear of a people not like “us.” I don’t see much difference between that and not allowing children to escape rape and murder in Central America because they are brown and speak Spanish and don’t have proper papers.

How Republican Judges Are Facilitating Corporate Exploitation Abroad

[ 27 ] August 3, 2014 |

Right-wing judges have consistently narrowed the use of American courts in recent years to crack down on corporations who engage in extremely egregious behavior abroad that violates human rights. Such is the case in the recent decision by a Reagan-appointed judge to throw out a lawsuit against Chiquita (formerly United Fruit) for paying Colombian paramilitary organizations. The company claims it was extorted by the paramilitaries, the Colombian people behind the lawsuit hold Chiquita responsible for the at least some of the deaths caused by the paramilitaries. In any case, it is quite clear that Chiquita knew it was violating U.S. anti-terrorism statutes in making these payments and didn’t care, which certainly makes one suspicious of its claims throughout not the case (not to mention its own history in violating the civil rights of millions of Latin American citizens over the decades).

The same principle of right-wing judges shielding American corporations from the consequences of their actions abroad also then applies to the violation of labor rights and environmental degradation. The American court system could and should be used to hold these corporations responsible for their global behavior, but for the judges of a political party that doesn’t want corporations held responsible for the domestic behavior, obviously that’s a non-starter, allowing the Thomas-Alito views to win.

Today in Rich Liberal NIMBY Hypocrisy

[ 79 ] August 3, 2014 |

Shorter residents of luxury Brooklyn Heights condos: “We love the idea of affordable housing, but if it affects our view, send them to Newark.

A Sunday Morning Quiz

[ 103 ] August 3, 2014 |

From the Ladies Home Journal, May 1957:


After taking this quiz, act appropriately. Whatever that may be.

Today in Republican Minority Outreach

[ 65 ] August 3, 2014 |

Steve King threatens that if Obama delays deporting undocumented immigrants, Republicans will impeach him.

Oh please Rep. King, don’t do that. Combining impeachment with your war on brown people surely will destroy the Democratic Party, what with the rapidly shrinking percentage of white voters in this country. I am so, so scared.

It’s Hard Out There For the 1 Percent

[ 365 ] August 1, 2014 |

The Daily Capitalist urges us to understand the plight of the wealthy and how a visa glitch makes life so hard:

In Washington, D.C., Mira Edmonds said her au pair’s arrival from France, which was scheduled for last Sunday, has been indefinitely delayed. Ms. Edmonds, who is a lawyer, and her husband work full-time and depend on child care for their two children, ages 3 and 6. “I don’t know how we’re going to cope if she isn’t here soon,” Ms. Edmonds said.

Shed a tear, my friends, shed a tear.

And the Winner of Satan’s Favorite Earthling Is…..

[ 3 ] August 1, 2014 |

ALEC has an award for its favorite legislator. This is like, I don’t know, winning the award for the most horrible human being on the planet or something. Anyway, the winner, not surprisingly is an Art Pope lackey in North Carolina.

The King’s English

[ 239 ] July 31, 2014 |

I’m not sure Oak Ridge National Laboratory importing the ideas of Dr. Henry Higgins is such a good idea:

The rain in Spain won’t be falling mainly on the plain after all, at least not at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Tennessee-based research facility canceled what it had billed as a “Southern accent reduction” class amid employee backlash; for some staff, it came off as a little too “My Fair Lady: Appalachia.”

“Feel confident in a meeting when you need to speak with a more neu­tral Amer­i­can accent, and be remembered for what you say and not how you say it,” reads an email sent to thousands of staff members last week, advertising the new course. “In this course you will learn to recognize the pronunciation and grammar differences that make your speech sound Southern, and learn what to do so you can neutralize it through a technique called code-switching.”

The weekly course, set to run through mid-September, was offered on a voluntary basis only (with an $850 price tag). But some employees were insulted by the premise of the course and wording of the email, and complained. The lab subsequently called off the class.

David Keim, spokesman for Oak Ridge, which is the Energy Department’s biggest research facility and home to the Titan supercomputer, said the lab regularly offers accent modification classes for its many employees who are non-native English speakers. The lab employs some 4,400 people from 90 countries, as well as from across the U.S., and their work is highly technical. That makes professional development designed to help international researchers communicate more clearly and efficiently in high demand, he said.

Or Americans, especially the snotty elite classes not living in east Tennessee who are going to be interacting with ORNL employees, could just get over the idea of a proper accent and be OK with someone if their accent is from southern Appalachia, Rhode Island, Texas, or Minnesota. While obviously working with non-native speakers is a good idea that empowers the individual, embarrassing your employees because of where they are from and how they grew up makes the individual ashamed of themselves. Not everyone has to sound like they are on TV. This is real classism.

U.S. Responsibility for the Central American Child Immigrant Wave

[ 49 ] July 31, 2014 |

The reasons for the wave of child immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are complex, but as Óscar Martínez correctly states, many of them are related to the United States:

As thousands of children like Auner, Chele and Pitbull arrive at the US border, it is important to remember the role the United States has played in creating this mass migration. In the 1970s and ’80s, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were in the midst of either bloody civil wars or fierce government repression in which the United States played an iron-fisted role. Fearing the spread of communism in Latin America, the United States supported the autocratic military governments of these three countries, which in turn generated thousands of northbound migrants. Some of these migrants went on to join gangs in California. The 18th Street Gang and the Mara Salvatrucha were not formed in El Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala but in the United States. Some fifty years ago, the 18th Street Gang splintered off from Clanton 14 in Southern California. The Mara Salvatrucha formed in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. At the end of the ’80s and the start of the ’90s, the United States deported close to 4,000 gang members. When they arrived back in Central America, they found fertile conditions in which to increase their numbers: countries devastated by war and poverty, with thousands upon thousands of corruptible and abandoned children.

But it would be an oversimplification to say that the flight of children to the United States is the product of violence alone.

Rubén Zamora is currently the Salvadoran ambassador to the UN and, until a month ago, El Salvador’s ambassador to the United States. With his replacement awaiting confirmation by the Salvadoran Senate, Zamora has been left to address the international implications of the child migrant crisis. Zamora explains that there is no single cause of the surge in child migrants. In addition to gang activity, Zamora says that the improving economic conditions experienced by Salvadoran migrants to the United States have acted as a draw. “From sharing a single room with a group of people, now some migrants can pay $1,000 a month and rent a two-bedroom apartment for themselves in the suburbs,” he says. And that means “more people can pay to bring their children to the US.”

Thousands of migrants from Central America are ineligible for temporary protected status—not because they’ve violated any law but because they missed the cutoff dates. The United States offers a mere 5,000 visas for low-skilled workers every year. For many, the only chance for gaining legal status in the United States is the asylum process, and it’s a long shot. Over the last few decades, in part as a response to the wave of Central American migrants fleeing the civil wars, the United States has narrowed the definition of who qualifies for asylum. Because most of those fleeing Central America are not doing so because of their “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” they are ineligible.

I recently asked two immigration lawyers from California and North Carolina how many requests for asylum they file each week. “At least ten,” they said. They’ve lost track of how many migrants they’ve represented over the years. But the tally of those who have been successful is easy to remember: none.

“Parents don’t see any chance of bringing their children legally to the US,” Zamora says, “so what options are left for them?”

Martínez is also correct on the point that the kids are not going to stop coming. There really is nothing the U.S. can do to stop this wave. It can make lives worse for the children fleeing violence to be reunited with their parents. It can militarize the border to all get-out. It can have coyotes extradited to the U.S. The kids are still going to come until a) gang violence ends in Central America and b) there is no reason for Central Americans to migrate to the U.S. without documentation.

And it’s worth reiterating the long-term damage U.S. Cold War policy had in poor nations around the world. The actions of Dulles and Eisenhower and Reagan and North destabilized these nations, creating conditions that continue to blowback to the U.S. today.

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