Leftnews.org | News and Views from the Left

by Editors — last modified 2017-07-05T10:43:19-04:00
Contributors: Faiz Ahmed, JBB, Graham H. Cox, R. Dubois, JA Cox
The best of the political left-wing from around the web.

Chilcot: Tony Blair was not 'straight with the nation' over Iraq war | The Guardian

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Jul 06, 2017 01:17 PM
"Chilcot’s report, published in July last year, found that the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat” at the time of the invasion of his country in 2003, and the war was fought on the basis of “flawed” intelligence. It found that the cabinet’s decision to invade was made in circumstances that were “far from satisfactory”."

Trump and the State of the Union

by JBB — last modified Jul 05, 2017 05:22 PM
By Noam Chomsky and George Yancy | Source: New York Times (via Znet) | "Of course, ridicule is not enough. It’s necessary to address the concerns and beliefs of those who are taken in by the fraud, or who don’t recognize the nature and significance of the issues for other reasons."

Reasons for Corbyn | London Review of Books

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Jul 05, 2017 03:18 PM
"Blairites complain that Corbyn offers simple solutions to complex problems. (They used to complain that he had some plausible policies but was unelectable: it seems that the charge-sheet has now been inverted.) But one of Corbyn’s solutions is difficult to argue with – namely, the resurrection of fiscal policy as a central tool of social and economic transformation, following 25 years in which both parties were paranoid about being tagged as ‘tax and spend’ fanatics. For the last ten years central bankers have pleaded with politicians to use fiscal policy more liberally in order to relieve the macroeconomic burden on monetary policy, but their call has fallen on deaf ears, especially in Europe. Coming in the wake of quantitative easing, one of the most technically obscure economic policies ever devised, the return of fiscal policy is welcome, both economically and politically. Corbyn has forced the Conservatives’ hand on this, turning austerity into a toxic political issue."

Infrastructure bank a jackpot for corporations | Canadian Union of Public Employees

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Jul 05, 2017 12:22 PM
"The federal government will finance the bank with an initial $35 billion, but it will rely mainly on much higher‑cost private financing. Effectively all the projects the bank finances will be privatized, with minority public financing and ownership through the bank. The Liberals say the bank will finance “revenue‑generating infrastructure” like toll roads and bridges, public transit, rail lines, water and wastewater systems, and electrical grids and utilities. ... The bank will be entirely controlled by private finance and Bay Street representatives, with no seats on the board for federal or any other government representatives."

Bashar al-Assad appears on Syrian banknotes for the first time ever | The Washington Post

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Jul 05, 2017 11:27 AM
"The introduction of the new 2,000-pound bill might seem to suggest economic weakness. The note is the highest denomination yet for the Syrian pound, a recognition that since the conflict in the country began, the value of the Syrian currency has dropped from about 47 pounds to the dollar in 2011 to more than 500 pounds to the dollar this year. ... Yet counterintuitively, the government portrayed the new bill as a sign of stabilization. According to the official Syrian Arab News Agency, the Central Bank governor, Duraid Dergham, told reporters on Sunday that the plan for the 2,000-pound bill had actually been approved years ago but implemented only recently after exchange-rate fluctuations slowed down. ... Steve Hanke, an economist at Johns Hopkins University who has closely followed Syrian inflation over the years, noted last month that the relatively stable pound suggested that Assad was in “control” of the country and its economy. Much of this economic stabilization has come over the past year, as the government made considerable gains in the war with the backing of its Russian and Iranian military partners and key economic areas such as Aleppo returned to government control."

Russia Deploys a Potent Weapon in Syria: The Profit Motive | The New York Times

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Jul 05, 2017 11:24 AM
"So far, only two Russian companies are known to have received contracts under the new policy, according to the reports: Evro Polis, which is set to receive profits from oil and gas wells it seizes from the Islamic State using contract soldiers, and Stroytransgaz, which signed a phosphate-mining deal for a site that was under militant control at the time. ... The deal is distinct from the common practice of oil majors and other corporations outsourcing security in hot spots in the Middle East and elsewhere. Under the contract, the wells are not just to be guarded, but to be captured first, the article said."

A schism among Syrian rebel fighters threatens to slow down the battle against Islamic State | The Los Angeles Times

by Faiz Ahmed — last modified Jul 05, 2017 11:20 AM
"[M]any Arab Free Syrian Army fighters in the area are from Dair Alzour, and came to help free not just Raqqah, but their city too ... Their faction of the Free Syrian Army is not part of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The regular Syrian army has been fighting in Dair Alzour, with support from Iran and Russia ... if the regime advance[s], the alliances will change."
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