canadian-flag-flaps-in-the-breezeby Don Franks

Now we know that political agitators complaining about Chinese investment in New Zealand have been chasing the wrong bus. Statistics recently released in the NZ Herald show that from January 2013 to December 2014, the biggest direct foreign investor in New Zealand was Canada on 22%. This was followed by China on 14%, USA 13% and Australia on 11%.

So combined North American investment more than doubles that of China, and it’s those nice quiet guys with the black bears and red-coated mounties with the knife deepest into our sovereignty.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fat is a class issue

Fat is a class issue

Robert Lustig, Fat chance: the hidden truth about sugar, obesity and disease, Forthestate, 2013, pp320, £8.99; reviewed by James Linney

Once upon a time, advice on how to lose weight and lead a healthy life ran something like this: ‘Eat less fat and exercise more.’ Sugar got a mention – mainly as a warning to get kids to brush their teeth – but it was certainly not the evil queen of the story.

Robert Lustig’s book about the obesity pandemic makes the case that this advice, like any fairy tale, is based partly on a distorted reality and mostly on a fantasy. The mantra of ‘Eat less, move more’, he claims, has contributed to the huge obesity problem we are facing. Today more people die of the complications of obesity than of undernutrition. In 2008 there were more than 1.4 billion overweight adults worldwide and the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled since 1990.1 In America about a third of adults are now obese and the rates show no sign of slowing down. Yet in no way is this just a US and European problem: the rates of obesity are sky-rocketing globally and the problem has no respect for borders or level of economic development.

Lustig is an American paediatrician who specialises in endocrinology and this book is the result of his years of seeing, treating and researching obese children. Such children are now commonly presenting with type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease: conditions previously only seen in adults.

In the first part of the book the author attempts to myth-bust some long and commonly held beliefs in science regarding obesity – beliefs that have been partly assimilated and echoed by the food industry.

Three myths

Myth number 1: A “calorie is a calorie” and to maintain a healthy weight you simply have to balance calories in with calories out. This is a favourite argument of the fast-food industry: it claims that its products can form part of any healthy diet, as long as the consumer’s calorie in/out levels are roughly equal. In other words, it does not matter whether you consume your 2,000 daily calories in two Big Mac meals or 100 carrots (not something I would recommend in either case, by the way): if you don’t use up the energy your body will store it – at least that is the claim.

However, studies of the effect of different food types on the metabolic processes of the body makes it clear that Read the rest of this entry »

China’s stock market plunge

Posted: August 17, 2015 by Admin in China, Economics, Limits of capitalism

small-in-a-few-hours-we-will-see-if-chinas-economy-has-slowed_art_fullby Michael Roberts

In recent weeks, the Chinese stock market has taken a massive plunge and in July shares suffered their worse month in six years, falling by 29% from the peak in June. This followed a humungous boom in stock prices since the beginning of 2015. Indeed, since August of last year, the market index in Shanghai has risen 160%. And even after the collapse in the last month the index is still nearly 80% higher than this time in 2014.

This stock market bubble is of the proportion of the US in the 1920s that led to the crash of 1929 and the subsequent great depression. Is this what is in store for the Chinese economy as well?

The recent collapse and the failure of government intervention to stop it has produced a chorus of doom-mongers about the future of the Chinese economy. But this is nothing new. As John Ross has pointed out, there are continual scare stories about the end of the ‘Chinese miracle’.1 In January 2014, the Financial Timesran an article headlined “China’s debt-fuelled boom is in danger of turning to bust”. In April, another FT headline declared: “China’s crisis is coming – the only question is how big it will be.” In October, the American Enterprise Institute announced: “An economic mess in China”.

American academic Michael Pettis is a favourite source in such articles – the US financial website Zero Hedge featured an article entitled ‘A Chinese soft landing will inevitably lead to a “very brutal hard landing”, Pettis warns’. The Financial Times carried several articles by George Magnus, former senior economic advisor to Swiss bank UBS, who predicts a coming slowdown of China’s economic growth to 3.9%.

Or take this comment more recently: the Wall Street Journalpublished an opinion piece by David Shambaugh in March arguing that “the endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun … and it has progressed further than many think”.2

Further back, in 2002 Gordon Chang wrote a book entitled The coming collapse of China. In the same year, The Economistmagazine produced a special China supplement called ‘A dragon out of puff’. This report stated: “The economy still relies primarily on domestic engines of growth, which are spluttering. Growth over the last five years has relied heavily on massive government spending. As a result, the government’s debt is rising fast. Coupled with the banks’ bad loans and the state’s huge pension liabilities, this is a financial crisis in the making.”The Economist’s conclusion in 2002 was: “In the coming decade, therefore, China seems set to become more unstable.” In reality, far from entering a crisis, China had the fastest growth ever experienced by a major economy in recorded history.

Different this time?

But maybe this time it will be different. How do we answer that question? Well, the first thing to consider is that Read the rest of this entry »

unnamed (1)by Michael Roberts

The business media is full of the meltdown of the Chinese stock market, the credit bubble and impending crash in the Chinese economy.  But less well announced is the dangerous economic slowdown and already unfolding debt crisis in ‘emerging economies’ in general.

So for the first time since the emerging market crisis of 1998, all the large so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are in trouble.  And so are the next range of ‘developing’ economies like Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Argentina, Venezuela etc.

Previously rising commodity prices in oil, base metals and food led to fast growth in many of these economies.  This in turn led to a flood of capital from advanced capitalist economies by banks and companies looking for higher profits than available in their economies.

unnamed (2)

But the commodity boom has collapsed.  Global commodity prices continue to plunge. Bloomberg’s commodity price index, tracking gold, crude oil and other raw materials, is Read the rest of this entry »

Maazouze, the mother of Mohammed Allaan, a Palestinian prisoner who is on a long-term hunger strike, holds a portrait of her son during a rally calling for his release in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva on August 9, 2015. The International Committee of the Red Cross warned on August 7 that the alleged Islamic Jihad activist, held without charge since November, was "at immediate risk" of death after fasting for 50 days. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLIAHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images

Maazouze, the mother of Mohammed Allaan, a Palestinian prisoner who is on a long-term hunger strike, holds a portrait of her son during a rally calling for his release in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva on August 9, 2015. The International Committee of the Red Cross warned on August 7 that the alleged Islamic Jihad activist, held without charge since November, was “at immediate risk” of death after fasting for 50 days. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLIAHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images

August 14, 2015:

Administrative detainee Mohammad Allan who has been on hunger strike for the past 59 days has lost consciousness this morning, Friday 14 August 2015, and was placed on life support devices by doctors in Barzilai hospital in Askalan. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association learntthat Allan’s health has deteriorated overnight and he eventually lost consciousness around 9 am this morning. Doctors reported to Allan’s mother and his lawyer that he was suffering from continuous shivering and seizures and was unable to breathe before he lost consciousness. Doctors then intervened urgently in light of Allan’s medical condition and proceeded to resuscitate him, placed him on a life supporting respirator and administered minerals and nutrients to his body. Allan remains in an unstable and critical condition.

Mohammad Allan started an open-ended hunger strike on the 16th of June 2015 in protest to the renewal of his administrative detention without trial for further six months in May. Israeli occupation authorities have refused Allan’s call, who is a lawyer himself, to be released and instead tried to coerce Allan to end his hunger strike.

Addameer condemns Israel’s actions towards Mohammad Allan and holds Israeli authorities liable for Allan’s current condition. Allan’s detention without charge or trial for the past 9 months violates Read the rest of this entry »


“A national liberation movement? Ah, you kidder!”

Below is another in our series of reprints from one of the print predecessors of this blog.  The article below appeared under the title ‘Ride my Lama?’ in issue #10 of revolution magazine, August/September 1999.

by Linda Kearns

Late last year the Christchurch chapter of the ‘Friends of Tibet’ held a screening of Martin Scorcese’s film Kundun.  The film, written by Melissa Mathison Ford, wife of actor Harrison Ford, concerns the early life of the Dalai Lama before his exile into India and follows a spate of movies on the same subject, including Seven Years in Tibet and Red Corner.

It seems that the Dalai Lama and the plight of Tibet has become very fashionable amongst the Hollywood elite and when the film had a rather muted release film critics were quick to cry ‘conspiracy’ as Disney, the company backing the movie, has economic and commercial interests in China.  The real explanation for the limited release of the movie, however, has more to do with the economics o the film industry than the politics of the Tibet issue.  As the Palace Film Distributor Tait Brady commented, “Remember, it’s a pretty heady film – Brad Pitt isn’t in it.”

Accusations of Chinese oppression of the American film industry serve to highlight how far removed these Hollywood celebrities and their portrayal of the Dalai Lama are from the real world.  Tibet, for most of these people, serves as the archetypal spiritual place where people live simply and in accordance with the religious teaching of Buddhist monks headed by the peace-loving Dalai Lama.  This imagined paradise has supposedly been trampled under the boots of Chinese communist oppression.

While I have no sympathy for the Chinese government, I find the actions of these Hollywood types and the ‘Friends of Tibet’ even worse.  In struggling to restore the Dalai Lama these Hollywood humanitarians and their liberal counterparts elsewhere are hoping to reinstall a feudal Read the rest of this entry »

Zionist settlers on the West Bank hate those they wish to displace

Zionist settlers on the West Bank hate those they wish to displace

by Tony Greenstein

On July 31, Zionist terrorists firebombed the house of the Dawabsha family in Duma, near Nablus, incinerating 18-month-old Ali and severely burning three other members of his family. As is always the case, the Israeli police failed to apprehend those responsible for what are euphemistically known as ‘price tag’ attacks.

At almost the same time, the notoriously racist Jerusalem police allowed Yishai Schlissel, an Orthodox Jew and Haredi, to repeat the stabbings he carried out against participants in the 2005 Gay Pride demonstration. Schlissel had only just been released from prison and had made his intentions clear on social media, but, as he was not an Arab, no attention was paid to him. In 2005 three people were stabbed and this time around another six people received the same treatment – one of whom, 16-year-old Shira Banki, has since died.

It is worth pointing out that despite the ‘pink-washing’ of Israel by its Zionist supporters, 47% of Israelis consider being gay an Read the rest of this entry »