Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for June 4th, 2015

Obama’s TPP Betrayal

Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2015

Michael Wessel, Politico:

“You need to tell me what’s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago,” a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He’s right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design—anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.

I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.

Via Avedon.

Posted in abuse of power, Obama Administration, TPP | 4 Comments »

Red Cross funds for Haitian relief have gone missing

Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2015

(Via Eschaton)

Laura Sullivan, NPR:

When a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, millions of people donated to the American Red Cross. The charity raised almost half a billion dollars. It was one of its most successful fundraising efforts ever.

The American Red Cross vowed to help Haitians rebuild, but after five years the Red Cross’ legacy in Haiti is not new roads, or schools, or hundreds of new homes. It’s difficult to know where all the money went.

NPR and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and found a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success, according to a review of hundreds of pages of the charity’s internal documents and emails, as well as interviews with a dozen current and former officials.
NPR and ProPublica

The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six.

The organization, which in 2010 had a $100 million deficit, out-raised other charities by hundreds of millions of dollars — and kept raising money well after it had enough for its emergency relief. But where exactly did that money go?

Ask a lot of Haitians — even the country’s former prime minister — and they will tell you they don’t have any idea.

“Five hundred million in Haiti is a lot of money,” says Jean-Max Bellerive, who was prime minister until 2011. “I’m not a big mathematician, but I can make some additions. It doesn’t add up for me.”

On a recent day, Bellerive was sipping coffee in his living room, high above Port-au-Prince, with Joel Boutroue, who was the United Nations deputy special representative in Haiti before the earthquake and an advisor to the Haitian government afterward. Boutroue says he can’t account for where the nearly $500 million went either.

They considered the Red Cross’ claim on its website and press releases: That all the money went to help 4.5 million Haitians get “back on their feet.”

“No, no, not possible,” Bellerive says. “We don’t have that population in the area affected by the earthquake.”

The charity’s own documents, however, give some insight: Much of the money never reached people in need.

The Red Cross gave much of the money to other groups to do the hands-on work, resulting in additional fees.

First the Red Cross took a customary administrative cut, then the charities that received the money took their own fees. And then, according to the Red Cross’ records, the charity took out an additional amount to pay for what it calls the “program costs incurred in managing” these third-party projects.

In one of the programs reviewed by NPR and ProPublica, these costs ate up a third of the money that was supposed to help Haitians.

Posted in abuse of power, capitalism as cancer, Haiti | Comments Off on Red Cross funds for Haitian relief have gone missing

The offensive spring

Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2015

The Guardian:

A major battle has erupted on the western edge of the main separatist rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine, leaving more than a dozen people dead and threatening to tip the country back into full-blown war.

Rebels in the city of Donetsk reported 15 dead on Wednesday, some civilians and some combatants, in territory under their control.

The Ukrainian interior ministry said at least one person was killed in Marinka, the government-held town where fighting was centred. Ukrainian presidential adviser Yury Biryukov cited the Ukrainian general staff as saying two Ukrainian soldiers died in combat and that another 30 were wounded.

Each side is blaming the other for sparking this round of unrest. The general staff said in a statement that rebels deployed around 1,000 fighters and dozens of tanks and self-propelled artillery systems in a major offensive that started before dawn.

Maryinka is roughly six miles to the southwest of the very center of Donetsk, one of the two major “Novorussian” towns. It’s very difficult for me to believe that this is not within the rebel zone of control, but so says Oliver Carroll of The Independent. Certainly, there’s no way that Ukrainian tanks or artilleru can legally be in Maryinka, whoever controls the town.

It looks like the spring offensive may have begun.

More to come.

Posted in Russia, Ukraine | Comments Off on The offensive spring

 
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