The Archbishop is not pleased with the global banking industry.
For weeks, protesters have been camped out on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, trying to call attention to economic injustices like those caused by the financial practices of the nearby London Stock Exchange. These Occupy London Stock Exchange demonstrators found a new ally tonight: Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.
[Williams] urged David Cameron and George Osborne to drop their opposition to a European-wide tax on financial transactions, which is expected to be formally proposed by France and Germany at the G20 summit of world leaders starting tomorrow. “The demands of the protesters have been vague. Many people are frustrated beyond measure at what they see as the disastrous effects of global capitalism; but it isn’t easy to say what we should do differently. It is time we tried to be more specific,” Dr Williams said.
“The objections made by some who claim it would mean a substantial drop in employment and in the economy generally seem to rest on exaggerated and sharply challenged projections – and, more important, ignore the potential of such a tax to stabilise currency markets in a way to boost rather than damage the real economy,” continued Williams.
The G20 will be meeting in the coming days and a possible financial transactions tax is expected to be on the agenda.
The Good News: Killing The Pipeline Could Strand the Tar Sands Oil for Years
The Bad News: TransCanada Says a Delay in Pipeline Approval to 2012 May Not Kill It
Protesters against the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline demonstrate before the arrival of President Obama on October 25 in San Francisco.
Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to pass the buck on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline decision, saying, “This is a decision that will be made by the State Department.”
Today, in an interview with Omaha station KETV (video here), Obama (aka The Decider) walked that back entirely:
The State Department’s in charge of analyzing this, because there’s a pipeline coming in from Canada. They’ll be giving me a report over the next several months, and, you know, my general attitude is, what is best for the American people? What’s best for our economy both short term and long term? But also, what’s best for the health of the American people? Because we don’t want for examples aquifers, they’re adversely affected, folks in Nebraska obviously would be directly impacted, and so we want to make sure we’re taking the long view on these issues.
We need to encourage domestic oil and natural gas production. We need to make sure that we have energy security and aren’t just relying on Middle East sources. But there’s a way of doing that and still making sure that the health and safety of the American people and folks in Nebraska are protected, and that’s how I’ll be measuring these recommendations when they come to me.
Well, the long view is that dirty fossil fuels, like the tar sands, are not merely an unsustainable source of jobs, but they are essentially fatal to efforts to protect the health and well-being of Americans (see James Hansen slams Keystone XL Canada-U.S. Pipeline: “Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts”).
The reporter asked Obama about “the potential for jobs, does that play into the equation at all?” The President answered:
It does, but I think folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves, “We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means that our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health or rich land that’s so important to agriculture in Nebraska are being adversely affected” because those create jobs, and you know when somebody gets sick that’s a cost that the society has to bear as well. So these are all things that you have to take a look at when you make these decisions.
This certainly sounds like the president is giving himself rhetorical room to delay the decision (to do a better environmental impact statement or examine alternative routes) or kill the pipeline outright.
Canada’s National Postreports that the “worst-case scenario” of killing the pipeline would be “stranded oil sands — for years”:
Graham: Cutting Off Funds To U.N. Orgs Isn’t ‘In Our Near-Term Or Long-Term Interest’ |
Foreign Policy reports that a number of senators from both parties are predicting that the United States will “cut funding or even withdraw from several other international organizations the Palestinians seek to join” in the wake of UNESCO granting Palestinian membership this week. A ’90s-era law requires that the U.S. cut funds to any U.N. agency that admits the Palestinians. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted that withdrawing or cutting funds from more international organizations “would be a great loss” and “catastrophic for the U.S.-U.N. relationship,” and admitted, “I don’t think that’s in our near-term or long-term interest.” So while Graham acknowledges that abandoning these international organizations is not good for the United States, he doesn’t think American law or policy is the problem. Instead, Graham blames the United Nations: “The world has to make a decision. … If the U.N. is going to be a body that buys into Palestinian statehood…then they suffer. It’s a decision they make,” he said.
Labor Board Alleges Target Illegally Intimidated Workers Before Union Vote |
Over the summer, workers at a Target store in New York state elected not to make their store the first Target location to be unionized. Target is notoriously anti-union — showing new hires a video warning that unionizing will mean less flexible hours and fewer promotions — and immediately after the vote, the United Food and Commercial Workers alleged that the company illegally intimidated workers into voting against the union. Today, the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees federal labor law, said it “has found additional evidence that Target illegally threatened to close its store in Valley Stream, L.I., if workers unionized.” The NLRB also alleges “that supervisors interrogated workers about their union activity.” The charges, if proven, could lead to the election result being nullified.
I skipped my five-year high school reunion, but I’m pretty sure I’ll go back for the 10-year next spring. Here’s hoping it’s less full of sexual harassment and general misogyny than this one appears to be! And I’m pretty sure all of us look too old to try to ingratiate ourselves with high schoolers of any age by pretending to love the Twilight books:
For the fourth year in a row, a survey conducted by independent pollster Kelton Research shows that 89% of Americans think it’s important for the U.S. to develop solar.
That’s nothing new. The last three surveys have showed the exact same thing. But this year’s poll comes at a time of severe political backlash against clean energy subsidies after the bankruptcy of solar manufacturer Solyndra.
Even with the rancorous politics around federal investments in clean energy, the poll shows that 82% of Americans think incentives like tax credits are necessary to help build the industry.
Another one for the “parks are for people” files, the Tour St Jacques is a cool-looking tower surrounded by a little garden. And in the garden, a playground:
I think hell will freeze over before the National Park Service installs playground equipment in the shadow of the Washington Monument. But it’s a good idea. People with kids want to go places. Kids like to play.
Former Bush administration officials are eager to attribute Obama’s foreign policy successes to the previous administration. But on Fox News this morning, Karl Rove distilled this viewpoint down to a few broad, if at times grossly inaccurate, generalizations:
Where president Obama has embraced the Bush world view things have gone well. Where Obama has not embraced the Bush worldview, it has not gone as well.
But the reality is that Bush actually embraced Obama’s view on Iraq, and the current president has had many foreign policy successes when doing the exact opposite of what Bush did.
While Rove attacks Obama for failing to reach an agreement for an extension of the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and a lengthier U.S. troop presence in Iraq, it was the Bush administration that set the withdrawal deadline for the end of 2011. And at that time, it was then-Senator Obama who was campaigning for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. So Bush was actually embracing Obama’s view.
Libya, which Rove fails to address, stands as a striking departure from the Bush administration’s propensity for military action and ground troops. Over the course of 227 days, the U.S., along with an international coalition, implemented U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. The multilateral military campaign proved successful in unseating Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi and no U.S. military service personnel were killed.
While GOP hawks continue to complain that the White House should have committed more military forces sooner, the Obama administration was successful in Libya without endangering U.S. soldiers or damaging relationships with allies. Rove would find it difficult to argue that Obama’s Libya strategy was either an extension of Bush administration policy or a failure.
Fox’s Brian Kilmeade does admit that Obama “has some headlines” with his successes in Libya and killing Osama Bin Laden, but Rove chooses to overlook the number of instances in which Obama’s successful policy dramatically differed from the Bush administration’s. Indeed, Bush had publicly stated in 2006 that capturing or killing Bin Laden was “not a top priority use of American resources.” Obama had made the capture or killing of Bin Laden a top priority and ordered intelligence resources dedicated to tracking the Al Qaeda leader.
The arguments expressed by Rove will, no doubt, be repeated in the days leading up to the Republican Presidential Primary debate on November 12. But Rove’s selective list of Obama’s foreign policy accomplishments underscores the administration’s relative success in foreign policy compared to the George W. Bush administration’s mismanagement of two wars and inability to capture Bin Laden.
The congressional fiscal super committee that is tasked with crafting a deficit reduction package of at least $1.5 trillion met today with the architects of the Bowles-Simpson and Rivlin-Domenici deficit reduction plans. Both Democrats and Republicans have recently released their initial offers to the super committee, which seems no nearer to cutting a final deal than it did when it was first formed.
As Igor Volsky noted earlier this week, the plan that the Democratic members of the super committee released is well to the right of bipartisan plans like Bowles-Simpson or the plan crafted by the Senate’s Gang of Six (both of which included unnecessary cuts to vital programs). In fact, the Democrats’ plan has about six dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in new revenue (while Bowles-Simpson had a two to one ratio).
The Republicans, meanwhile, released a “deficit reduction” plan that, depending on the revenue baseline assumed by both Bowles-Simpson and the Gang of Six, would cut taxes to the tune of more than $800 billion over 10 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
The new Republican plan provides for slightly more than $3 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years, relative to a current-policy baseline that assumes extension of all the 2001-2003 tax cuts. (See Table 1.) Of that amount, only about 1 percent of the deficit reduction ($40 billion) stems from revenue increases. And, compared to the “plausible baseline” that the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission and the Senate’s Gang of Six used, which assumes expiration of the upper-income tax cuts, the latest Republican plan actually provides for tax cuts of more than $800 billion over ten years.
Overall, “the Republican plan would produce $1 trillion less deficit reduction than the Democratic offer, relative to any baseline.” The Republicans, in their zeal to indiscriminately reduce taxes regardless of the country’s ability to afford it, evidently believe that no deficit reduction plan is complete without blowing a new hole in the federal budget.
In Early September, I was sitting hand-cuffed in the back of a police paddy-wagon with two-dozen other guys. Everybody was in a good mood. We had all just been arrested in front of the White House, as part of a large-scale, peaceful civil disobedience action in which, over the course of two-weeks, more than 1200 people were sent to the DC city jail. Our intent was to convince President Obama to veto the construction of a pipeline that would bring oil from the tar sand deposits in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Houston, with much of the oil destined for export to China.
I was there out of concern that construction of this pipeline would lock in intensive development of these intensely polluting oil deposits, feed global fossil fuel dependency, and make our critical intergenerational work to stop global warming much harder. The protest was effective. The pipeline went from being a non-issue to the focus of serious national discussion, and the President has been forced to take notice.
There was a wide range of ages in the paddy-wagon, and a couple of the younger men were saying: “Come up to Wall Street next month—it is going the be huge”. I gave them a knowing smile. “Sure it will,” I thought. In 1980, some friends of mine tried literally to help shut the NY Stock Exchange down as part of an anti-nuclear protest—protesters encircled the doors, the cops busted it up, and nothing much happened.
I am, today, happily eating crow. It is a wonderful feeling when cynicism of the middle-aged is undercut by the accomplishments of the young. While small groups of determined people don’t always change the future, they are, as Margaret Meade famously noted, the only force that ever has.