Frances Haugen | I Blew the Whistle on Facebook. Europe Just Showed Us the Next Step. – The New York Times

Ms. Haugen is a former Facebook product manager who focused on combating misinformation and espionage.

“Elon Musk’s deal to take Twitter private, which has spurred questions about power, censorship and safety for the future of the platform, happened just days after the European Union reached a landmark agreement to make social media less toxic for users. The new E.U. standards, and the ethic of transparency on which they are based, will for the first time pull back the curtain on the algorithms that choose what we see and when we see it in our feeds.

In Europe’s case, the dryly named Digital Services Act is the most significant piece of social media legislation in history. It goes to the heart of what I’ve tried to do as a whistle-blower who worked inside Facebook: make social media far better without impinging on free speech. Today, Facebook’s poorly implemented content moderation strategies leave those most at risk of real world violence unprotected and only consistently succeed at one thing: angering everyone.

Last October, I came forward a with a simple message: Facebook knew it was cutting corners to make more money, and the public was paying the price. In over 20,000 pages of documents that I disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to Congress, the public learned what Facebook already knew — its products were spurring hate and divisionleading teenagers into rabbit holes of self-harm and anorexia, leaving millions of users without basic safety systems for hate speech or violence incitement and, at times, were even used to sell humans across the platform.”

Oleg Ustenko | Europe Must Stop Buying Russian Oil and Gas – The New York Times

Mr. Ustenko is an economic adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

“President Biden’s trip to Belgium and Poland this week could not come at a more critical time for Europe. If our shared ideals of democracy and freedom are to prevail, the United States and its European allies must do more to stop funding Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Western sanctions have so far targeted Russia’s financial sector and prominent individuals, and the United States has prohibited the import of Russian oil and gas. This effort is laudable, but unfortunately it has failed to stop the Russian military from murdering innocent people every day.

The best way to stop Mr. Putin’s war machine is to cut off his daily inflow of hard currency. And the best way to do that is for Europe to stop handing over cash for Russian oil and gas. The United States should also impose secondary sanctions, which could prevent anyone from legally shipping and financing Russian oil.”

Paul Krugman  | What Europe Can Teach Us About Jobs – The New York Times

“Americans have a hard time learning from foreign experience. Our size and the role of English as an international language (which reduces our incentive to learn other tongues) conspire to make us oblivious to alternative ways of living and the possibilities of change.

Our insularity may be especially damaging when it comes to countries with whom we have a lot in common. Western Europe is our technological equal; labor productivity in northern Europe is just a little below productivity here. But Europe’s policies and institutions are very unlike ours, and we could learn a lot by looking at how those differences have played out. Unfortunately, any suggestion that Europe does something we might want to emulate tends to be shouted down with cries of “socialism.”

“. . .  Finally, let me offer a speculative hypothesis: Perhaps one reason Europeans aren’t engaging in an American-style Great Resignation is that they don’t hate their jobs quite as much.

Anecdotally, one factor behind Americans’ unwillingness to return to their old jobs is that enforced idleness during the pandemic gave many people a chance to reconsider their life choices — and a significant number may have realized that low-paying jobs with lousy working conditions weren’t worth having.

Of course, Europe is by no means a worker’s paradise. But some jobs that are grueling and poorly paid here are less awful on the other side of the Atlantic. Famously, in Denmark McDonald’s pays more than $20 an hour and offers six weeks of paid vacation each year. That may be an exceptional case, but the U.S. does stand out among wealthy countries for having a low minimum wage, for offering very little vacation time and for failing to offer parental and sick leave. Maybe the poor quality of U.S. jobs is one reason so many American workers are reluctant to return.

Which brings me to an under-discussed aspect of the current economic scene: Europe’s comparative success in getting workers idled by the pandemic back into the labor force.”

David Lindsay.   Amen.  Here are the two top comments at the NYT:

Times Pick

How can we possibly learn anything from France, the socialist dump? Have you ever been there? It’s terrible, all they have is great food and beautiful parks, amazing museums, walkable cities with excellent public transit, and a culture that values time with friends and family.

9 Replies724 Recommended
Socrates commented November 29

Downtown Verona, NJ Nov. 29

Europeans understand inherently that they are part of society. Many Americans fail to grasp the concept of society, preferring the catastrophic and ludicrous myth of “individualism” that has produced moral, intellectual and economic poverty for tens of millions of Americans. They pretend that millionaires and CEOs built companies all by themselves and they fall for that nonsensical myth and they blindly worship “individual” success. No doubt that there are many talented CEOs and business owners who were the driving forces behind their company’s successes, but they all needed a staff and government infrastructure and a stable society to build that success. But Americans have tolerated the broad daylight highway robbery transfer of wealth from worker wages to CEO and executive wages for fifty years now, aided and abetted by the marketing of largely unregulated “capitalism” and greed to the great detriment of workers, who increasingly are relegated to poverty wages. CEO compensation in the USA grew 940% from 1978 to 2019 while typical worker compensation rose just 12% during that time. CEO’s and executives are not gods or superheroes; they’re just people. The federal minimum wage in the USA has been frozen at $7.25 per hour since July 2009, thanks in large part to America’s vulture capitalist culture feverishly peddled to Americans by billionaire right-wing profiteers. America’s vulture capitalists need to be regulated and taxed back to civilization and a decent society.

21 Replies695 Recommended

Thomas Piketty has wise words on German hypocrisy and how to solve the Greek debt crisis –

from Marty Stock’s fb page, Thomas Piketty on Germany and Greece:
“Piketty: When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: what a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations.

…after the war ended in 1945, Germany’s debt amounted to over 200% of its GDP. Ten years later, little of that remained: public debt was less than 20% of GDP. Around the same time, France managed a similarly artful turnaround. We never would have managed this unbelievably fast reduction in debt through the fiscal discipline that we today recommend to Greece… Think about the London Debt Agreement of 1953, where 60% of German foreign debt was cancelled and its internal debts were restructured.”

I am not too favorably inclined towards Greece, since I learned they have outrageously generous pensions for state employees that they cannot afford. We have that problem in Hamden, CT, where our taxes go up and up to pay town pensions most of us never met in the private sector.

“The history of public debt is full of irony.”|By Kabir Chibber

Krugman at NYT. in “Greece Over the Brink,” says they should jump out of the Common Market.

Catherine Lindsay left Greece the other day, and the banks immediately closed in a national emergency. Watch out for this young lady.
Paul Krugman argues for Greece to pull out of the common market and give up the Euro.
He starts, “It has been obvious for some time that the creation of the euro was a terrible mistake. Europe never had the preconditions for a successful single currency — above all, the kind of fiscal and banking union that, for example, ensures that when a housing bubble in Florida bursts, Washington automatically protects seniors against any threat to their medical care or their bank deposits.” This is a key idea in his argument, and I hope he expands and explains it more fully. He did explain perhaps a year ago, that the nation states would not give up control of their economic powers to a federal authority. Without federal powers, the European banking institutions have little power to help member states.Krugman predicted such failures years ago.
Ever-harsher austerity has been a dead end, and those who demand more of it have been wrong every step of the way.|By Paul Krugman

Who was behind the Nato involvement in The War in Bosnia, 1992–1995

“MILESTONES: 1993–2000

The War in Bosnia, 1992–1995

In 1991 and 1992, Yugoslavia disintegrated under the pressures of ethnic conflict, economic issues, and the demagoguery of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. The secessions of Slovenia and Croatia triggered warfare in both new nations, with the United Nations inserting a peacekeeping force, the U.N. Protective Force (UNPROFOR), in mid-1992 to stabilize the situation. The U.N. further imposed an arms embargo on the region, seeking to dry up the flow of arms to the combatants. Serbian forces executed widespread “ethnic cleansing” in occupied areas, creating horrific scenes of refugees and concentration camps that seemed unthinkable in modern Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Central Intelligence Agency)

Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Central Intelligence Agency)

Bosnia’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1992 raised the violence to a new level, triggering a war that lasted over three years and exemplified the complexities of the “post-Cold War” strategic environment. The population of Bosnia-Herzegovina was comprised of three ethnic groups: Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim. Initially, Croats and Serbs expanded their territorial control at the expense of the Bosnian state, with the Serbs, supported by Serbia and the Yugoslav National Army (JNA), eventually controlling about 70% of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Shifts in territorial control were accompanied by widespread ethnic cleansing.

While the situation in Yugoslavia was a constant subject of discussion at the highest levels of the Bush Administration, President George H. W. Bush and his advisors considered the situation in the Balkans to be primarily a European issue, to be addressed by the European Union. The lack of U.S. response became an issue in the 1992 presidential campaign, as candidate Bill Clinton advocated a “lift and strike” policy—lifting the arms embargo, which was operating at the disadvantage of the Bosnian Muslims and Croats, and conducting airstrikes against Bosnian Serb forces.

Following Clinton’s electoral victory, the new administration set to work quickly with Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright to shape a more active U.N. role in the conflict. In early January 1993, during the final days of the Bush Administration, the United Nations and the European Union had agreed upon the Vance-Owen Peace Plan (VOPP) for Bosnia. A month later, the U.N. Security Council established a war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the United States initiated night airdrops of food to the Muslim enclaves. By March the U.N. authorized enforcement of a no-fly zone in Bosnia, implemented by the United States Air Force in Operation Deny Flight, the first armed engagement of U.S. forces in the former Yugoslavia. Following the Bosnian Serbs’ rejection of VOPP, the U.N. declared the Muslim enclaves of Sarajevo, Bihac, Tusla, Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde to be “safe areas.” The Security Council did not, however, provide for the defense of these areas.

On May 1 President Clinton sent Secretary of State Warren Christopher to consult with the major NATO allies and with Russia in order to gain support for the “lift and strike” strategy. This effort failed, exposing issues that would hamstring NATO’s actions in the conflict for another two years. Alliance members participating in UNPROFOR were concerned that their troops, lightly armed and widely dispersed, were likely to be taken as hostages and did not share Washington’s enthusiasm for an air campaign. Wide divergence between the alliance’s national perspectives on the conflict and very little European domestic support for armed intervention added to the Administration’s problems. NATO’s inability to reach consensus on an effective response to the atrocities called into question the future of the alliance in post-Cold War Europe.

via  US Department of State, Office of the Historian

Gridlock in the alliance was mirrored by gridlock in the U.S. interagency policy process. The Department of Defense was very reluctant to commit to a role in the Balkans, concerned as it was about a protracted occupation or guerrilla warfare. Ambassador Albright was active in promoting a western response but she had little influence on the overall administration policy. There was also little domestic support in the United States for intervention in the Balkans, though the violence, documented by cable television news, kept the issue in the public eye.

In June 1993, Serb attacks on the Srebrenica “safe area” led the U.N. Security Council to authorize the use of air power “to support UNPROFOR in the performance of its mandate.” The resolution established a “dual key” arrangement between the U.N. and NATO in control of tactical air power responding to Serbian attacks. This arrangement proved difficult for Washington, as the U.N. was extremely reluctant to authorize any effective combat action on the part of NATO.

On February 5, 1994, a mortar shell exploded in the Markala marketplace in Sarajevo, killing 69 civilians. The attack led to the declaration of a 20-kilometer weapons exclusion zone around Sarajevo. A confrontation with the Bosnian Serb forces was averted through Russian mediation.

In early April, Bosnian Serb forces launched an offensive against Gorazde. Following the killing of a UNPROFOR soldier by Serbian artillery, NATO launched an air strike. In turn, Bosnian Serbs surrounded a contingent of UNPROFOR soldiers, and their commander, Ratko Mladic, threatened that none would survive if NATO repeated the air attacks. In the immediate aftermath, the United States led the formation of a Contact Group to spearhead policy toward the conflict. The group agreed on a set of principles for any peace settlement: Bosnia would remain a single state, comprised of the Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb entity, and these entities would be linked by constitutionally-agreed principles. The group further agreed to a map of Bosnia-Herzegovina where the Muslim-Croat federation controlled 51 percent of the territory and the Serbian entity controlled 49 percent. While the Bosnian Croats and Muslim groups signed a cease fire between their forces under the terms of the 1994 Washington Agreement, the Bosnian Serbs rejected the plan. The military balance also began to equalize, as Serbia cut off support to Bosnian-Serb forces while Croatia and Bosnian-Muslim forces built up via an increasingly porous arms embargo. The year closed with a four-month truce negotiated by former President Jimmy Carter.

The spring of 1995 brought renewed combat, with Muslim and Croatian forces now on the offensive in western Bosnia-Herzegovina. Without logistical support from Serbia, Bosnian Serb forces retook U.N.-secured weapons, brushing aside UNPROFOR guards. When NATO responded with air strikes, the Serbs took UNPROFOR troops hostage, using them as human shields. NATO deployed a combat-ready Rapid Reaction Force to Bosnia to reduce the vulnerability of the widely scattered UNPROFOR units.

In July, the Bosnian Serb commanders launched an offensive against the eastern enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa; they massacred over 7,000 men in Srebrenica. The mass killing served as a tipping point to western resolve to bring a decisive end to the conflict. Convening in London on July 21, NATO agreed on the effective end of the “dual key” policy for controlling air strikes, with authority for strikes delegated to UNPROFOR and NATO commanders in the field. The alliance further agreed that any future attacks on safe areas would result in a sustained air offensive.

On August 1, Croatian and Bosnian forces launched a powerful offensive, Operation Storm, against Bosnian Serb-held territory in western Bosnia. The offensive rolled eastward, displacing many thousands of Serb refugees and steadily moving the territorial balance toward the 51/49 balance called for by the Contact Group. The new Assistant Secretary of State for Western Europe, Richard Holbrooke, had seized a major role in policy toward the Balkans, and sought to orchestrate a cease-fire and negotiated settlement. When a mortar shell exploded in the Markala marketplace in Sarajevo on August 25, NATO executed Operation Deliberate Force, an intense two-week series of attacks on Serb military positions.

The combination of the ground offensive, NATO’s air campaign, and Holbrooke’s tireless diplomacy yielded a cease-fire by the end of September. On November 1, negotiations among the three parties opened at Dayton AFB, OH. The parties reached a hard-fought agreement on November 21 and the Dayton Accords, formally the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were signed in Paris on December 14. The NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) deployed into Bosnia-Herzegovina on December 20.”

Paul Krugman: Greece on the Brink!


For retirees, who are dependent on the market, these dark clouds are worth paying attention to. There appears here, a sad echo between the damaging austerity climate in Europe, and the devastation caused by debtor’s prison in the US over traffic tickets and child support which has decimated the black male population.

Just as a workable economic compromise should be possible, a new government is wary of Europe’s intentions.|By Paul Krugman

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Kosovo is reeling from over-population! (and lack of investment?)

Having a new pen pal in Bosnia, pushed me to look up Kosovo on a map, and read the entire article below. Kosovo is between northern Albania and Macedonia, under Serbia. It sounds like another — this time very small — country reeling from over-population and under investment. “Adding to this brew of troubles is the economy. In a region plagued by aging demographics, it is Europe’s youngest territory, with 27 the average age of its two million citizens. Kosovo would need an impossible 7 percent annual economic growth to offer work to the 25,000 to 30,000 youths the government says finish school each year. ”
The population has quadrupled since 1923, from 500,000 to about 2 Million.
400% / 92 years is and annual growth rate of 4.35. Or is it only a 300% increase, and 3.26% growth rate?

Population of Kosovo (1921-2015).png

A disastrous economy, static politics and a newly created opening in the border with Serbia have enticed tens of thousands of Kosovars to leave their troubled land.|By ALISON SMALE

We need a little more Greece in the European economy.

 Paul Krugman ends his column: “Meanwhile, the first real debtor revolt against austerity is off to a decent start, even if nobody believes it. What’s the Greek for “Keep calm and carry on”?”

Why all the negative analysis about the debt deal that has actually done the rest of Europe a favor?|By Paul Krugman

Greece needs debt reduction.

PKFP. Paul Krugman for president. I just saw the movie, The Imitation Game, about a team of Britsh code breakers during World War two, which was excellent and fascinating, and recommended to 13 and above — a 9/10. Krugman here is begging for European leaders to lighten up on Greece, to avoid collapse and possible mayhem in Greece. He makes a cogent argument based on how leaders often draw the wrong lessons by filtering history poorly. If the Germans don’t lighten up, Greece should probably leave the European Union, so they they can float down the value of their currency and grow their economy.

Greek debt and the lessons of history.|By Paul Krugman