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America Has Become a Third World Source of Labor and Slum Landlord Ownership for Europe

Submitted by mark karlin on Tue, 05/24/2011 – 6:56am.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

What a startling contrast between the jingoistic exhortations of “American Exceptionalism” and the reality that we have become a third world source of labor and slum landlord ownership for Europe.

That’s the take of Harold Meyerson in The Los Angeles Times, who writes of a shocking reality behind the US economic decline. After describing how Deutsche Bank has become one of Los Angeles’ newest large slumlords, Meyerson drops a bombshell:

But slumming in America is fast becoming a business model for some of Europe’s leading companies, and they often do things here they would never think of doing at home. These companies – not banks, primarily, but such gold-plated European manufacturers as BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Siemens, and retailers such as IKEA – increasingly come to America (the South particularly) because labor is cheap and workers have no rights. In their eyes, we’re becoming the new China. Our labor costs may be a little higher, but we offer stronger intellectual property protections and far fewer strikes than our unruly Chinese comrades.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out the study released this month by the Boston Consulting Group, which concludes that when you compare China’s soaring wages and still-low levels of productivity with our stagnating wages and rising levels of productivity, the price advantage of manufacturing in China instead of the U.S. will shrink to insignificance by 2015. Investment in the U.S., says the group, “will accelerate as it becomes one of the cheapest locations for manufacturing in the developed world.”

As many economists have noted, despite the right-wing, think-tank characterization of American workers, labor productivity has risen in the US since the ’90s, even as remuneration has barely advanced. Of course, the compensation and bonuses for CEOs and Wall Street financiers has skyrocketed – and all the latter do is manipulate money. They don’t make a thing.

Meyerson concludes: “In the new global pecking order, the decline of American unions and the steady downward mobility of American workers are making us the destination of choice when European companies want to get the job done on the cheap.”

Normally, such a situation would be a wake-up call. But the “conservative” anti-labor and pro-corporate tilt of America’s media and right-wing backers of “think tanks” have been successfully steering the middle class into the lower class, with more to come.

Meanwhile, European workers have become the envy of American labor.

SOURCE

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Ash may hover for days over uncertain Europe

SYLVIA HUI and ANGELA CHARLTON | 04/17/10 10:25 PM | AP

PARIS — The Icelandic volcano that has kept much of Europe land-bound is far from finished spitting out its grit, and offered up new mini-eruptions Saturday that raise concerns about longer-term damage to world air travel and trade.

Facing days to come under the volcano’s unpredictable, ashy plume, Europeans are looking at temporary airport layoffs and getting creative with flight patterns to try to weather this extraordinary event.

Modern Europe has never seen such a travel disruption. Air space across a swath from Britain to Ukraine was closed and set to stay that way until Sunday or Monday in some countries, affecting airports from New Zealand to San Francisco. Millions of passengers have had plans foiled or delayed.

Activity in the volcano at the heart of this increased early Saturday, and showed no sign of abating.

“There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight,” Icelandic geologist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson told The Associated Press on Saturday. “The activity has been quite vigorous overnight, causing the eruption column to grow.”

Scientists say that because the volcano is situated below a glacial ice cap, the magma is being cooled quickly, causing explosions and plumes of grit that can be catastrophic to plane engines, depending on prevailing winds.

In Iceland, winds dragged the ashes over new farmland, to the southwest of the glacier, causing farmers to scramble to secure their cattle and board up windows.

With the sky blackened out and the wind driving a fine, sticky dust, dairy farmer Berglind Hilmarsdottir teamed up with neighbors to round her animals and get them to shelter. The ash is toxic – the fluoride causes long-term bone damage that makes teeth fall out and bones break.

“This is bad. There are no words for it,” said Hilmarsdottir, whose pastures near the town of Skogar were already covered in a gray paste of ash.

MORE HERE

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Jan Egeland, Mariano Aguirre| openDemocracy, June 17, 2009

The degrading treatment meted out to prisoners of the United States-led “war on terror” over seven years has yet to be subject to proper legal scrutiny and accountability. But the responsibility is Europe’s too, say Jan Egeland & Mariano Aguirre.

In the very heart of the western world, Europe’s major ally has tortured prisoners to death – in an operation that we Europeans too were involved in. The fourteen “techniques” authorised by the George W Bush administration include semi-drowning (”waterboarding’), confinement in cramped and dark boxes, psychological torture and deprivation of sleep for up to eleven days and nights (see Mark Danner, US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites” [New York Review of Books, 9 April & 30 April 2009]).

An undefined number of prisoners have died or committed suicide as a result of mistreatment in interrogation chambers run by the United States and its allies (the last one was a Yemeni in Guantánamo). It may be recalled that Japanese military jailors who employed these techniques during the second world war were adjudged war criminals by the US’s own military-legal experts.

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Pat Buchanan | creators.com, April 10, 2009

“No one will say this publicly, but the true fact is we are all talking about our exit strategy from Afghanistan. We are getting out. It may take a couple of years, but we are all looking to get out.”

Thus did a “senior European diplomat” confide to The New York Times during Obama’s trip to Strasbourg.

Europe is bailing out on us. Afghanistan is to be America’s war.

During what the Times called a “fractious meeting,” NATO agreed to send 3,000 troops to provide security during the elections and 2,000 to train Afghan police. Thin gruel beside Obama’s commitment to double U.S. troop levels to 68,000.

Why won’t Europe fight?

Because Europe sees no threat from Afghanistan and no vital interest in a faraway country where NATO Europeans have not fought since the British Empire folded its tent long ago.

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