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United States: The nonsense battle over debt Dean Baker Policy debates in Washington are moving ever further from reality as a small elite moves to strip benefits that the vast majority need and support. The battle over raising the debt ceiling is playing a central role in this effort. The United States is running extraordinarily large budget deficits. The size of the annual deficit peaked at 10% of GDP in 2009, but it is still running at close to 9% of GDP this year.
How do YOU suggest we cut Britain's deficit then? You'll be asked this if you ever oppose a cost-cutting scheme, such as merging the sewerage system with the library service or something. So here's one answer, we could pay a bit less to ATOS, a private company that receives £100 million a year from the British government for assessing who should be cut off from disability benefit.
Papua New Guinea's National Court ruled in favour of the owners of the controversial Ramu nickel mine in Madang on July 26, allowing the dumping of millions of tonnes of mine waste into the sea. The dumping will devastate the Basamuk Bay area, putting the environment and people's lives at risk. It is a key area for biodiversity and is vital for the livelihood and food security of the local community.
John Bellamy Foster, the keynote speaker at the upcoming "World At A Crossroads" Climate Change Social Change conference - to be held in Melbourne University and Victoria Trades Hall on September 30-October 3, 2011 - is the co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of a newly published book entitled What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism.
A Microsoft PR twitter account came under fire for cynically exploiting the death of British soul singer Amy Winehouse, Mashable.com said on July 25. The small PR account for Xbox tweeted: “Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Back’ album over at Zune ...” Zune is Microsoft's entertainment marketplace. Mashable.com said the tweet sparked a furore, with tweets in response such as “classy", "crass much?" and "Microsoft — failing at social media".
Another pop-music cliche came tragically true this past weekend: “Amy Winehouse, dead at 27.” The same age as Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison and Cobain. Like all of these amazing artists she has gone way too young. Like all of them, she had reams of talent, skill, and most importantly, soul. She was lucky enough in her short time to really and seriously change the way many of us view music.
A Facebook page campaigning to bring radical US-based Afro-Peruvian hip hop artist Immortal Technique to Australia has been set a target by the man himself. Immortal Technique, real name Filipe Andres Coronel, posted on the wall of the page, We want Immortal Technique in Australia, that he would agree to tour if the page received 15,000 “likes”.
Mozart’s Sister Starring Marie Feret, directed by Rene Feret In cinemas now Everyone has heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who first achieved fame as a child prodigy composer ferried around the great courts of late feudal Europe by his domineering father on a never-ending tour. Little is known of his older sister, Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia, known by her nickname, Nannerl. She was at least his equal as a harpsichordist and piano player ― and possibly his equal on the violin and as a composer.
More than 2000 workers marched to the National Assembly in Caracas on July 26 in support of increased workers’ control. Handing over a document with more than 45,000 signatures, the workers demanded that the legislative body approve the Special Law for Socialist Worker Councils and begin an immediate discussion of a “new and revolutionary” Organic Work Law (LOT). Both demands were submitted under article 240 of the Venezuelan constitution, which allows the people the right to legislate.
Venezuelan foreign affairs minister Nicolas Maduro has criticised the US government for having an “absurd and extremist” policy with regards to Venezuela. Maduro made the comments after the publication of a report in late July that outlines the US government’s tactics for dealing with transnational criminal organisations. The document cites Venezuela as a country that promotes a “permissive environment for narco-trafficking and terrorist organisations”.

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