Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Peoples News 130

Page 1

Lies and damned lies

Page 3

Failed TPP talks vindicate concerns on medicines and investor rights

Page 3

People’s Movement on Facebook

Page 4

Building the EU Core

Page 6

Christine Lagarde, Greece and the American military-industrial complex

Page 6

Meanwhile in Greece

Page 7

More of the same

Page 9

The power of lobbyists in Brussels

Page 11

Ireland’s standard of living below EU average

Page 11

German organisations unite to oppose TTIP and CETA

Page 12

ECB “disappointed”with lack of convergence - a failure of the euro project

Page 13

“Whatever it takes”fails to deliver

Page 14

TTIP would reward American companies without any recriprocal benefit
for Europeans

Page 15

“Neutral”Ireland’s arms industry is making billions

Page 16

Greasing the wheels of German trade with Greece

Page 17

Iceland and Ireland: who’s recovering better?

Page 19

“Helping”David Cameron

Page 20

Goldman Sachs hires Fogh Rasmussen as adviser

Page 20

Ryanair and Dublin’s role undermining labour

Lies and Damned Lies!

Rory Hearne, Lecturer in Political and Economic Geography, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
The government is misleading the Irish people and the EU about the reality of austerity and the debt crisis in Ireland so as to avoid admitting that they took the wrong approach with austerity, and their failure to get a meaningful debt deal. The truth is that austerity is based on flawed economics and it hasn’t worked in either Ireland, Greece or for the EU, and Ireland’s debt is unsustainable.
Austerity has devastated Irish society. For most people recovery is just a word being spoken by politicians and the media. The Central Bank and ESRI have highlighted that the much-lauded growth figures do not reflect the true health of the Irish domestic economy, because they are artificially inflated by multinational and financial activities that do not take place here.
Austerity has resulted in 1.4 million people, almost 31 per cent of the population, suffering from deprivationwhich is up from 14 per cent in 2008; 37 per cent of children suffer deprivation (up from 18 per cent in 2008). The legacy crises are multiple, including mortgage arrears, rent, homelessness, child care, hospitals, and community services.
Unemployment figures are largely reduced, because of emigration and the use of unpaid- jobs schemes. Domestic demand remains static, and working-class communities, small towns and rural areas are devastated.
Austerity has not worked for the low- income and working people of Ireland. At the European level the euro area is mired in stagnant growth of 0.8 per cent, mass unemployment of 11 per cent, and a ratio of debt to GDP that that has risen from 72 per cent in 2009 to 92 per cent today.
The calculation of the economists Reinhart and Rogoff that austerity was required to reduce government debt levels below 90 per cent in order to return to growth was also found to be incorrect. The IMF has also admitted that it underestimated the negative impact of austerity’s higher taxes and spending cuts on economic growth and unemployment.
The government continues to peddle the myth that our national debt is manageable and sustainable. It is assuring the international markets that the Irish people will continue to pay all the debt accumulated from the crisis and bailing out the banks, irrespective of its impact. But why are we immiserating and impoverishing our population, and depressing our economy, in order to pay back this illegitimate debt?

In 2009 Ireland's "general government” debt was €104 billion. This year it stands at a staggering €210 billion. In 2009 the Irish debt-to-GDP ratio, the figure used to assess the sustainability of national governments’ debt levels, was 62 per cent. This year it has risen to 108 per cent. In 2009 we paid €2.5 billion in interest on the national debt. This year we are paying three times that figure: €7.3 billion.
How is an economy that has undergone such a deep recession to be expected to pay double in debt payments what it was paying during an economic boom? That €7.3 billion debt interest is 20 per cent of all taxes taken in by the government. It is equivalent to the entire education budget. But these repayments and the debt are going to get even worse in the coming years. The national debt will be €214 billion in 2018.
So what the government really means when it continues to argue to Europe and the markets that our national debt of €215 billion is manageable is that the Irish people accept that a fifth of all taxes collected will go to debt interest repayments. The interest on this debt will be paid each year through the massive diversion of resources away from the education system, social housing, employment creation supports, disability services, etc. Rural services will remain shut, and mental health services will remain underfunded. The waiting lists of the sick to get hospital treatment will lengthen, and more children will go hungry. The domestic economy will underperform as personal taxes are diverted to debt repayments.
Ireland’s debt-to-GDP figure is also misleading in a way that hides the true size of the debt relative to the economy. Ireland’s GDP figure is inflated by multinational economic activity, some of which is not real activity taking place here in Ireland. The GDP growth figures (which are used to claim that Ireland is in recovery) are also artificially inflated in this way. This means that Ireland’s debt-to-GDP ratio should be even higher and we have even less economic capacity than our GDP figures suggest to pay back this debt.
This is worsened by the fact that corporations pay low levels of tax in Ireland, which leaves a disproportionately higher burden of the debt with the general population. This is a major downside to the way in which multinational activity and taxation is organised in Ireland that is often overlooked.
What this shows is that Ireland’s debt crisis is being ignored and played down to the detriment of the economy and public services.
Yet the Irish government is now a leading opponent of a Greek debt deal, despite the fact that we could save up to €3 billion a year on our debt interest as part of Greece’s European debt conference proposals. But the Irish government and European elite are more concerned that a deal for Greece will boost anti-austerity politics in Ireland, Spain and Portugal. So their strategy is to try to isolate Greece now and beat it into submission before it is joined by like-minded governments. If Greece gets a deal, it will show in very stark terms to the Irish people that the last two governments’ strategy of savage austerity and passively accepting Europe’s debt was wrong and unnecessary.
The other real reason that the elite don’t want to ease austerity is that they have used the debt crisis to impose policies on the bail- out countries that the financial elite, the wealthy and big business have been trying to get in during the last thirty years of neo- liberalism. That is, to reduce the surplus value (wealth or profit) that is produced in society that goes to working people and the poor and increase that going to the rich and capital.
So taxes on corporations and the wealthy are reduced, and new flat stealth taxes are introduced, low and middle-income workers’ wages are reduced, working conditions are made “flexible” (i.e. precarious, such as zero- hour contracts), funding for core public services such as health, welfare and housing is reduced, state assets are privatised to provide more opportunities for wealthy business owners, and the cost of repaying the massive credit expansion of the boom years is loaded onto households.

Austerity involved a massive transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to global capital. This has given rise to a rapid rise in inequality within Europe and the US, pointed to by the economist Thomas Picketty. But it is not an accident: it is the purpose for which the European elite are pursuing austerity capitalism.
What the European elite have not realised, however, is that something has changed for ordinary Europeans. The emergence in Greece, Spain and now Ireland of new movements and political parties opposed to this elite has given them hope and confidence to stand up to the juggernaut of austerity. Europe has blocked a deal to alleviate the debt burden and austerity on Greece, but Syriza has indicated it will start to roll back on aspects of austerity.
What is clear is that Merkel’s mantra “There is no alternative to austerity and debt slavery and impoverishment for the PIIGS” is being fundamentally challenged. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

People's News 120: 1/March 2015

Below is link to latest issue of People’s News. 
It is sent fortnightly and contains information and comment on EU developments from an Irish and democratic perspective. 

Check People’s Movement website at


for further news and views from the People’s Movement 


Page 1

The mirage of “Social Europe” laid bare again

Page 1

Ukraine, the EU and Russia

Page 3

12 million Germans are classes as “poor” claims a German welfare association

Page 4

Greece baiting seems to have become the favourite sport of the political and media elite

Page 6

Master of the universe. Michael O’Leary has never hidden his plans for world domination

Page 6

TTIP points to the demise of the public health service

Page 8

Government prepared for the collapse of euro zone

Page 8

A lacklustre defence of public services 

Page 9

Legal challenge to plain cigarette packaging

Page 10

Another EU con job

Page 12

“Greece should leave the Euro” - former French President

Page 12

Ireland continues to suffer from CFP

Page 13

TTIP and for-profit colleges

Monday, 16 February 2015

People's News 119: 15 February 2015

Download the PDF file: http://www.people.ie/news/PN-119.pdf

Table of Contents - Peoples News 119.

P1. Greeks seek to control their fate. While the new Greek Government has yet to talk of leaving the European Union or the eurozone an erstwhile high priest of free markets and former head of the US central bank, Alan Greenspan, has predicted that Greece will have to leave the eurozone.

P3. The Dáil votes against an EU debt conference! Last week, a Technical Group Motion calling for a European debt conference was defeated by 72 votes to 42 in the Dáil. 

P4. EU trade secrets proposal - a threat to freedom of speech! The European Parliament has commenced consideration of a European Commission proposal on the protection of company secrets.

P5. Not so loony! That infamous “loony of the left” Tony Benn was forecasting developments such as TTIP as far back as the early 70s.

P5. Are public services on the block at TISA talks? Another leaked paper made public last week on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) negotiations shows that there is – at the very least - ambiguity surrounding the assurances given by the EU about the protection of public services in trade agreements.


P6. French Senators reject ISDS. French Senators have unanimously adopted a draft resolution on the dispute resolution mechanism (ISDS) between the state and foreign investors foreseen by TTIP and CETA.

P7Scrap TTIP and CETA Protest. A big ‘Thank you’ to all who helped make our ‘Scrap TTIP and CETA’ Protest at the EU Parliament offices in Dublin a success.

P7. Debate: TTIP, What is it and should we be worried?


P7. What’s the difference between Iceland and Ireland – its more than one letter anyway! Iceland’s Supreme Court has upheld convictions of market manipulation for four former executives of the failed Kaupthing bank.

P7. Why not have a look at the Peoples Movement Facebook page and become a friend?  https://www.facebook.com/peoplesmovementireland

P7. Phew, that was easy! Professor John Fitzgerald got far too easy a ride when he appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis. 

P8. Another important TTIP document has been leaked and it just gets worse! This time, it’s a chapter concerning dispute settlement: ISDS. 

P10. Germany moves towards fracking. After a long debate over the use of fracking technology in Germany, the federal government issued a draft law allowing the controversial gas extraction method under certain conditions and in isolated cases.

P11. Juncker’s ideas for Eurozone integration. At last week’s European Council summit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented an ‘analytical note’ with ideas on how to strengthen integration in the Eurozone.

P11. EU – wide tax shelved - for now! Plans to increase the EU's so-called "own-resources" have been postponed.

P12. The Oireachtas is failing to control Ministers on EU issues – a complete lack of accountability!

P13. Neo-liberal Structural Reform Myths. The intellectual case against austerity is easy to make because so much empirical data is stacked up against it.






Tuesday, 3 February 2015

People's News 118

Download PDF file - http://www.people.ie/news/PN-118.pdf


Page 1

EU may take another blow to its legitimacy

Page 1

TEEU warns against corporations being given the power to dictate to Governments

Page 3

Meeting in Galway on TTIP and CETA

Page 3 

Scrap TTIP and CETA demonstration - 4th February

Page 3

Is QE another blow for euro?

Page 4 

Scary stuff

Page 4

Surely not

Page 5

Greece will not be taken for granted

Page 5

Germany's past must be confronted

Page 7

Greek election strengthens Canadian opposition to CETA 

Page 8

A roadmap to corporate plunder

Page 8

Lobbying organisations' culture of secrecy

Page 11

British politician highlights EU/Partition contradiction

Page 12

"Light" and "darkness according to Brussels

Page 13

ECB intensifies power grab

Page 14

New Greek PM at national shrine to resistance

Sunday, 1 February 2015

People's News 117

Contents PN 117

P1. Austrian Chancellor issues threat! Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has warned that Austria could file a lawsuit before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over EU’s intention to sign the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

P1. Brussels seeks to extend "economic governance" reach. During the last years of economic crisis, Brussels has moved to expand its power at the expense of the sovereignty of the member states.

P2. No decision on ISDS until the end of TTIP talks. The EU won’t decide whether to include the investor- state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) clause in TTIP until the “final phase of the negotiations” with the US.


P3. “All market and no social” – ETUC! Commenting on the European Commission’s statement on its work programme, Bernadette Ségol, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) said: “There is not a single proposal to improve worker, consumer or environmental protection.”


P3. Asia pushes ahead while Brussels dawdles. The European Commission has been desperately trying to put flesh on the bones of EU President Juncker’s flagship €315 billion investment plan to kick start EU economies.


P4. Results of Commissions TTIP on- line consultation published. Over 97 percent of submissions in an on-line consultation on TTIP conducted by the EU Commission, were opposed to the inclusion ISDS.

P5. ECJ - Draft agreement on the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is not compatible with EU law.

P6. Falling euro - a cause for concern? European manufacturers are happy with the falling value of the single currency, which allows them to export their goods more easily. But the mood is tempered by the threat of deflation

P7. Farmers protest against TTIP. In the run- up to Christmas, farmers and trade unionists were protesting in Brussels against TTIP.

P7. OMT OK! – ECJ Advocate General! The ECJ’s top legal advisor, the Advocate General of the ECJ (EU Court of Justice) has found that the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme is compatible in principle with EU law if certain conditions are met.

P8. Now online - EU negotiating texts in TTIP. A final agreement would have 24 chapters, grouped together in 3 parts.

P8. Canadian tar sands oil won’t be labelled ‘dirty’ – the hidden hand of CETA! Just before Christmas, the EU Parliament passed by just 12 votes controversial fuel quality rules that do not penalise imports of polluting tar sands oil from Canada.

P9. Another step to a banking union! The Single European Mechanism (SRM) will be launched over the next three months, with the aim of rescuing or winding up stricken banks with minimal recourse to taxpayers’ money.

P10. Lithuania joins eurozone. Lithuania has become the 19th member of the eurozone.

P11. Opposition to the euro increases in Southern Europe - anti-euro parties hold around half of the vote in Italy.

P11. The situation in Greece. With Greek elections on 25 January which see the possibility of Syriza party form the next Greek government, the debt debate rather than Greek exit from the eurozone has returned to the centre of European politics.

P13. The results of the Commission’s on-line consultation on ISDS – Infographics

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Monday, 22 September 2014

The real Phil Hogan

Criticism of the Government’s nomination of Phil Hogan as Ireland’s member of the EU Commission has tended to focus on his lobbying in 2012 to prevent a Traveller family being given access to social housing. On those grounds Nessa Childers, an independent member of the EU Parliament, reasonably described the nomination as a “step backwards for equality.”

The other main strand of criticism concerns his agreement on bloated consultancy payments for the establishment of Irish Water, an issue that Sinn Féin in particular is emphasising. Again, the criticism is legitimate and important, as is the fact that he spent the summer appointing former Fine Gael and Labour Party councillors to state boards, and that he quashed inquiries into planning irregularities, including in his own fiefdom of Co. Carlow, when he took office as minister for the environment.

An article in Irish Left Review by Andy Storey points out that the problem with Hogan goes well beyond anti-Traveller racism, the wasting of public money, the dishing out of sinecures to political cronies, and taking a relaxed approach to dodgy planning. Most politicians engage in all the above. Hogan’s real importance lies in his being a prime example of the noxious nexus between political and corporate power in Ireland.

The Moriarty Tribunal in 2011 concluded that the former minister Michael Lowry had “an insidious and pervasive influence” over the awarding of a mobile phone licence to Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone consortium; in fact the tribunal described Lowry’s conduct as “profoundly corrupt to a degree that was nothing short of breath-taking.” In July 2010 Lowry was an honoured guest at Phil Hogan’s fiftieth birthday party, and only days after the publication of the Moriarty report Hogan had an official meeting with Lowryallegedly to discuss unrelated matters.

But then, this should not be so surprising. Hogan has form here. As Jody Corcoran has reported, “Hogan was personally engaged in the extraction of at least two significant sums of money from O’Brien, or his companies or associates, for Fine Gael at or around the time of the granting of the licence.” Coincidentally, Siteserv—a company owned by O’Brien that had substantial debts owed to Anglo-Irish Bank, now owned by the state (i.e. you and me) and now written offhas won some of the contracts for installing water meterswater charges, of course, being another of Hogan’s legacies.

O’Brien, who Hogan “ran into” at the Mount Juliet Golf and Country Club in March, is not the only controversial businessman Hogan has been associated with. In the 2000s Michael Fingleton, then managing director of Irish Nationwide Building Society, personally approved a loan of €450,000 to Hogan to allow him buy a house in Dublin 4, with Hogan having to repay only the interest on the loan for a decade. Fingleton then lent him €430,000 to buy a Portuguese holiday home, on the same generous repayment terms. A report in the Irish Independent on the matter charmingly described the second loan as having been processed with “what appears to have been ... minimal paperwork.” How probable was it that we would ever have had a serious banking inquiry when a senior Government minister had personally profited from the shady practices that created the property and banking crisis in the first place?

In February 2009 Hogan declined to follow his party leader’s example and take a 5 per cent cut in his salary of €110,000, stating that “my personal circumstances don’t allow that at the moment.” (God knows how dire his personal circumstances would have been if he had been obliged to meet normal repayments on his property loans.)

In April 2012 a Kilkenny woman texted Hogan to complain of the hardship the household charge was causing her, to which Hogan responded: “Would you ever relax and feed the children.”

The man is demonstrably a hypocrite and a boor (appropriate enough qualifications for an EU Commissioner these days). Even more importantly, he is the embodiment of the crony-capitalist links between business and politics in Ireland, links that are forged and greased through political donations, personal favours and friendships, opaque meetings, and secret business dealings.

In that sense Hogan is the perfect representative of the Irish elite and an eminently apt person to fulfil that representative role in Brussels. 


Monday, 28 April 2014

Euro-zone peripheral countries lick their wounds

The peripheral countries of the euro zone will have to pay more than €130 billion this year just to meet the interest payments on mounting debts, a burden almost three times as high as the rest of the euro area.

The figurescalculated by the Financial Times from data published by the International Monetary Fundunderline the deep wounds left by the euro-zone crisis, in spite of the high demand for peripheral euro-zone debt in recent months.

Although falling bond yields have eased borrowing costs markedly during the past two years, weak economic recoveries and still- extensive budget deficits mean that the interest bill is still climbing. But, even if their debt ratios stabilise, and even start to tick down, they will remain extremely high for a long time, which means they’re very vulnerable to any further shocks.

The figures show that the debt-servicing burden of the euro-zone periphery accounts for almost a tenth of the revenue received by governments. In the other thirteen euro-zone countries the same burden averages only 31⁄2 per cent, with the difference in the debt- servicing burden between the indebted periphery and the rest of the zone forecast to rise over the next five years.

 In the 2013 budget the Government estimated that expenditure on interest reached €6.3 billion in 2012 and is expected to rise to just over €10 billion by 2015. These numbers are put into perspective when we consider that the total tax take in 2012 was €36.6 billion, with income tax accounting for €15.2 billion.

In other words, interest on the national debt in 2015 is expected to be equivalent to two-thirds of the total income tax take in 2012. This is an unacceptable and unsustainable burden, to which there can only be one answer.

Incidentally, the Irish health budget for 2013 is €13.6 billion.


Abandoning the euro

The recent call by Ming Flanagan TD, who is an independent candidate in the forthcoming EU Parliament elections, prompted us to look for a 
succinct commentary on the mechanics of abandoning the euro.

Two years ago, a team headed by Roger Bootle won the prestigious Wolfson Prize for Economics with a paper that outlines the smoothest process by which a member-state could give up the euro. We publish a summary below.

■ The most realistic scenario for the break-up of the euro is that one or more of the weaker peripheral countries will leave the euro zone, introduce a new currency, which then falls sharply, and default on a large part of their government debt. Other forms of break-up are possible, but the analysis of these will involve the same issues, although, in the case of strong countries leaving, often with the signs reversed. Accordingly, our analysis centres on the departure of a single weak member, and we then note any instance where the issues and conclusions need to be modified for other forms of break-up.

■ It will not be possible to be open about preparations to leave for more than a very short period without precipitating a damaging outflow of money, which could cause a banking collapse. Accordingly, preparations must be made in secret by a small group of officials and then acted on more or less straight away.


 recommend that the country should immediately announce a regime of inflation- targeting, monitored by a body of independent experts, adopt a set of tough fiscal rules and outlaw the indexing of wages but announce the issue of index-linked government bonds. The government should also continue with structural reforms designed to increase the flexibility of product and labour markets.

To facilitate the convenient use of euro notes and coins, to help to maintain price transparency, and to boost confidence in the new system, we recommend that the new currency be introduced at parity with the euro. Accordingly, where a price used to be 1.35 euros it would now be (for example) 1.35 drachmas. The drachma would be free to fall on the foreign-exchange markets, and indeed it is vital that it should do so.

We reckon that when any or all of the weaker members of the euro zone left, their currencies would depreciate by something like 30 to 50 per cent. This would add another 10 per cent to consumer prices, or even more, which, spread over two years, would cause the annual rate of inflation to rise by roughly half this figure. But international experience suggests that such a spike can be short-lived, and inflation can then return to something like its previous level.

Given the short time from announcement to implementation, it will not be possible to have new notes and coins available immediately. This is unfortunate, but it is not as serious as is often imagined. The authorities should allow euro notes and coins to continue to be used for small transactions; but immediately after the decision to abandon the euro has been announced they should commission new notes and coins to be produced as soon as possible.

To facilitate the convenient use of euro notes and coins, to help to maintain price transparency, and to boost confidence in the new system, we recommend that the new currency be introduced at parity with the euro. Accordingly, where a price used to be 1.35 euros it would now be (for example) 1.35 drachmas. The drachma would be free to fall on the foreign-exchange markets, and indeed it is vital that it should do so.

We reckon that when any or all of the weaker members of the euro zone left, their currencies would depreciate by something like 30 to 50 per cent. This would add another 10 per cent to consumer prices, or even more, which, spread over two years, would cause the annual rate of inflation to rise by roughly half this figure. But international experience suggests that such a spike can be short-lived, and inflation can then return to something like its previous level. 

■ Just before the changeover, some form of capital controls will be essential, including at least the closure of the banks. But after the changeover, capital controls should be avoided and, if used, should be withdrawn as soon as possible.

The government should redenominate its debt in the new national currency, and make clear its intention to renegotiate the terms of this debt. This is likely to involve a substantial defaultperhaps enough to reduce the ratio of debt to GDP to 60 per cent. But the government should also make clear its intention to resume servicing its remaining debt as soon as practically possible.

The central bank of the country should stand ready to inject liquidity into its own banking system, if necessary by quantitative easing. The monetary authorities should also announce their willingness to recapitalise the banks if necessary.

The authorities should provide as much clarity as possible on the legal issues, including the status of the country’s membership of the European Union and the effect on international contracts at present denominated in euros. Approval by the EU would also be needed for any capital controls, but this would have to be sought retrospectively. All this would require close co-operation with other EU member- states and institutions, including countries in the northern core.

Domestic economic policy may also have to adapt. Indeed policy-makers in the northern core should have more freedom once they are no longer constrained by the need to set an example for weaker countries that have left. As the value of the euro would rise, the northern core would at first suffer from a loss of domestic demand, though it would enjoy a lower rate of inflation. This combination would give it the incentive to undertake measures to boost domestic demand, especially through monetary policy and structural reforms.

■ A rebalancing of the economy away from reliance on net exports would be in the interests of the whole of the present membership of the euro zone, as well as countries outside it.

Of course, giving up the euro without breaking from the dominance of neo-liberalism would result in further significant hardship for ordinary people, as the price of imported goods, especially food, would increase. Austerity would not just go away either; so repudiating the debt would be necessary in order to force the highest possible write-down. This would allow social measures and strategic economic investment to be given priority, rather than paying the bondholders, and for the people of this country to be put first. 

European Movement officially promotes EU in schools

The “Blue Star” programme is part of the Government’s “Communicating Europe” initiative, whose aim is “to foster better understanding and knowledge among primary school children of the European Union and how the EU affects our lives.”

The invitation to tender for the post of national co-ordinator was published on the Public Procurement web site in October 2011. The European Movement (Ireland) was awarded the contract, and the scheme was subsequently renewed for a further two years. The total cost was €140,000, paid by the Department of the Taoiseach.

The scheme has grown significantly over the period of the contract, from 30 schools in twelve counties in the pilot year to 106 schools in twenty-four counties registered for this year’s programme.

Reports on the first two years are available on the web site of the Department of the Taoiseach.


Could TTIP contain an internet censorship plan?

An internet censorship plan is at present being finalised, with Barack Obama holding secret meetings with political figures and lobbyists in Asia to lock the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s internet censorship plan in place.

Leaked documents reveal that this secret plan would censor the use of the internet and strip away people’s rights.1 If completed, the plan would force internet service providers to act as “internet police,” monitoring our use of the internet, censoring content, and removing whole web sites.2 It would give media conglomerates centralised control over what we can watch and share on line, and give governments the ability to neutralise the internet for political rivals.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called a legal “blueprint” for the rest of the world.3 Once the TPP’s internet censorship plans are complete, they will be used to globalise censorshipwhich brings us back to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States, which is also being negotiated in secret and whose known components bear a striking similarity to the TPP. It would be a good bet that a similar provision is included in the TTIP, providing another reason why we should be determined in our opposition to it.

1. Wikileaks: “Secret trans-Pacific partnership agreement.”

2. Electronic Frontier Foundation: “TPP creates legal incentives for ISPs to police the internet.”

3. Inter Press Service News Agency: “US ‘bullying’ TPP negotiators amid failure to agree.” 

"Ireland is not Greece"

Speaking in Luxembourg on 4 October 2011, Michael Noonan insisted that “Ireland is not Greece.” Now, in April 2014, the graph below by David McWilliams proves that Noonan was correctto the detriment of us all.

The fact that the Greeks can raise money shows that the markets have absolutely no memory. Two years after the biggest sovereign default in history they are back at itthough it should be noted that their balance sheet is immeasurably better after the default than before.

Greece’s debt is still almost 180 per cent of GDP. But the bulk of the debt is owed to other

euro-zone governments, as a result of its two “bail-outs.” Not only do these loans pay a low interest rate of a little over 2 per cent, but Greece doesn’t need to begin repaying them until 2022, and then it has another twenty years to complete the job.

Greece shows just how quickly things can turn about. Note also that its ten-year bond yield, which hit 30 per cent after the debt default two years ago, is now 6.2 per cent.

Two of the country’s big four banksPiraeus and Alpha—have raised €3 billion of equity between them in recent weeks, and Eurobank, another big lender, is planning to follow with a €3 billion issue later this month.

So it was just more bragging from Noonan when we should have been planning to emulate the Greeks, if not surpass them, by repudiating the debt. Instead we have water charges, another austerity budget ... and so on.

Doesn’t it make your blood boil?