Open Newswire

United Nations Commission: Cancel Debt for Ebola-Impacted Countries; West Africa Needs Debt Relief to Address Economic Challenges
7 hours 27 min ago
Communications

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) released a report calling for debt cancellation for Ebola-impacted countries. The new report, "A Case for External Debt Cancellation for Ebola-Affected Countries," calls on multilateral institutions and governments to cancel Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea's debts. The report argues debt relief would provide necessary "breathing space" to address the region's economic challenges. All three countries are ranked in the bottom 15 in the United Nations' Human Development Index.

 "West Africa needs debt relief," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the debt relief organization Jubilee USA. "Debt relief will not only fight Ebola, it will also provide a long-term investment in healthcare for the countries."

UNECA first called for debt relief in December. In November, the United States government called for $100 million in debt relief and took its plan to the G20. At the request of the G20, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is currently considering a $300 million financing package that could include debt relief. In January, Guinea President Alpha Conde called for IMF debt relief. Guinea, where the outbreak began, spent more money on debt than on public health in the year before the epidemic began. All three countries have poverty rates above 50%.

"There is growing consensus for action," noted LeCompte, who serves on UN expert groups on debt. "Debt relief can provide additional financing the countries need."

Greek Anti-Austerity Party Vows to Halt Austerity
3 days 13 hours ago
Communications

The Syriza party won 149 seats in Greece's Parliament and formed a coalition government with the conservative Independent Greeks who won 13 seats. Syriza campaigned on promises to cease austerity measures and renegotiate some of Greece's debt.

"A third of all Greeks live below the poverty line and this was the reality they brought to the voting booths," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious financial reform group, Jubilee USA Network.

Syriza opposes austerity measures that were part of the 2010 $147 billion loan deal during the Greek crisis. Since the deal, unemployment more than doubled and today, youth unemployment is at nearly 50%. The Greek economy contracted for five years in a row and Greece lost 400,000 jobs in 2012. Greece's debt burden is the largest in Europe and trails only Japan among developed nations. Syriza has proposed an international debt conference to renegotiate the length of payment terms and reduce the amount of Greek debt.

"The new Greek government is looking at innovative solutions to deal with debt and austerity policies that trap people in poverty," noted LeCompte who serves on debt expert working groups to the United Nations. "The question at hand is will the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union be willing to negotiate."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org

Syriza Party Poised to Win Greek Elections on Platform of Canceling Austerity and Renegotiating Debt
1 week 7 hours ago
Communications

The anti-austerity Syriza party leads in polls heading into Greece's national elections Sunday. Syriza says if elected it will renegotiate some of Greece's debt and halt austerity policies. Syriza also calls for a European debt conference similar to the 1953 London Conference that relieved German debt and allowed the country to extend debt payments. The 1953 accord led to such incredible economic growth for post World War II Germany that the period is referred to as the "Wirtschaftswunder" or the "economic miracle."

"It's interesting that Syriza calls for a debt conference," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the debt relief organization Jubilee USA. "It certainly worked for Germany in 1953 and can be a model for heavily indebted countries today."

Greece is the third most heavily indebted country in the world and the most heavily indebted country in Europe. It owes more than $360 billion in total debt. Current polls give Syriza a 4 to 6 percentage point lead over current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy Party.

"The Greek election is now a referendum on austerity and debt," noted LeCompte who sits on United Nations debt expert groups.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Union and European Central Bank negotiated a $147 billion Greek bail out plan in 2010. The loan package included a number of austerity measures that sparked protests in Greece. From 2010 to 2015, unemployment rose from 12% to 26%, the economy contracted five years in a row and wages fell. The country's debt burden also grew. A group of economists released an open letter this week calling for the IMF and European Central Bank to cancel Greek debt and asserted that austerity is "crushing economic activity."

34 countries, 17 states represented "100,000 Tweets for Oscar" Campaign Reaches over 500,000 people
2 weeks 4 days ago
alejandrom@bori...

Argentina Debt Resolution Possible As Contract Clauses Expire; Concerns Continue Over Global Impacts of Debt Dispute
4 weeks 3 days ago
Communications

An Argentina bond contract clause expires on December 31 raising the possibility that hold-out hedge funds and Argentina could settle a long running debt dispute. After defaulting in 2001, Argentina restructured its debt with 92% of its bondholders and put in place the Rights Upon Future Offers or RUFO clause. The RUFO clause gives restructured bondholders the right to a higher settlement if Argentina settles at a higher level with another Argentine bondholder. When the clause expires midnight on Wednesday, Argentina and hold-out funds could reach a settlement that would not leave Argentina open to RUFO clause litigation.

"However this dispute is resolved, we're still concerned about the global implications of this case," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. In the spring, Jubilee USA filed a US Supreme Court Amicus Brief to inform the high court of the case's impacts on developing economies. "Even if Argentina settles with the hold-outs, this extreme behavior is legitimized." 

Assata Shakur : An Open Letter To The Media
4 weeks 5 days ago
tina braxton

All Independent Media outlets have been asked to publish the following letter, from Assata Shakur.  --editor--

 

My name is Assata Shakur, and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.

I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.

In 1978, my case was one of many cases bought before the United Nations Organization in a petition filed by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, exposing the existence of political prisoners in the United States, their political persecution, and the cruel and inhuman treatment they receive in US prisons. According to the report:

Countries Affected by Ebola Lose $1.4 Billion Annually to Debt, Corruption and Tax Evasion; Outflows Dwarf Money in Health Care and Prevention Budgets
5 weeks 9 hours ago
Communications

New reports show that the Ebola-affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone lose an average of $1.4 billion each year to corruption, debt payments and tax evasion. Global Financial Integrity (GFI) calculates the three countries lost about $1.3 billion per year to corruption and tax evasion in the decade leading up to the Ebola outbreak. New World Bank data indicates the countries spent over $80 million on debt payments in 2013, the year the outbreak began. According to the World Bank, the countries spent a total of $270 million on public health in 2012.

"Debt, corruption and tax evasion are part of why people die in West Africa," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development coalition. "The money was there to contain Ebola and save more people from preventable diseases."

Building a Truly Human Society
16 weeks 5 days ago
imhodenver

The International Marxist-Humanist Organization (IMHO) Denver Chapter invites you to a lively discussion on Building a Truly Human Society. A link for downloading the reading is below.

Time & Location:

Time:
Tuesday, October 28 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Location:
Denver Public Library - Warren-Ford Branch
Community Room 2
2825 High Street,
Denver, CO 80205

(The library is an easy walk from the 30th & Downing Light Rail Station: Line D. There are bike racks and ample parking at the library).

Agenda:

6:30 to 6:45 p.m. Introductions and Announcements

6:45 to 7:00 p.m. Chapter Discussion

Discussion/vote on a proposal to start a reading group in January, 2015 on Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism by Peter Hudis.

7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Reading Discussion: Building a Truly Human Society

Reading for discussion: “Private Property and Communism” from Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 http://bit.ly/imhoreading1. If you don’t have time to complete the reading, we’ll catch you up :)

Join us afterwards for drinks and more conversation at The Whittier Pub (2000 E. 28th Ave, Denver, CO 80205), one block from the library.

Website:

http://marxindenver.wordpress.com/

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/imhodenver

About the IMHO:

Banks and Investors Call for New Debt Rules In Wake of Argentina Hedge Fund Case
22 weeks 14 hours ago
advocacy

The International Capital Market Association (ICMA), a group of banks and investors, will call Friday for reforms aimed at preventing repeats of the Argentina/NML Capital debt dispute. The ICMA's plan would reduce the ability of hold-out creditors to litigate and undermine debt restructurings, in part by using contract clauses to bind all bond-holders to debt restructurings that 75% of all holders agree on.Additionally, the plan will argue that the "pari passu" or parity clauses in existing bond contracts should always mean that hold-out funds should always receive the same restructured bonds that the majority of investors agree on.

"This is a step in the right direction and we really applaud the US government's leadership on this," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt relief organization Jubilee USA. "I am concerned that this won't do enough to prevent litigation against poor countries in the next decade. We still need a statutory approach."

The Argentina/NML case could soon impact other countries facing creditor litigation. Last month, a US judge in New York ordered the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to pay $68 million to two hedge funds that acquired the country's debt on the secondary market and then sued. The award included nearly $50 million in interest on loans dating back to the early 1980's. According to the United Nations, the DRC is the world's second-poorest country. Meanwhile, the Import-Export Bank of Taiwan is suing the Caribbean nation of Grenada, making an identical legal argument to the one used against Argentina. The case is currently on hold as Grenada attempts to resolve its debt situation.

"The Argentina case has a global impact and we need a global solution," said LeCompte. "We need an international bankruptcy process to make default less likely and force hold-outs to sit at the table."

Great Zine On Collective Housing Strategies and Tactics
22 weeks 1 day ago
X

 

Hey Folks!

We have just finished writing a zine on living in an activist collective intentional community. It was written as a practical guide with tools and references to assist in achieving a more sustainable approach to strategies and tactics for reaching goals. We approach this work from the experience in our shared collective narrative in an effort to ground much of the theory in our practice. This is written from an understanding of the context of white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy.

We've been working on this zine for almost a year now and are in the process of self distribution and thought this material relevant to many on the IMC network. We live in the neighborhood of Grant Hill in the city of San Diego and think this would be an amazing resource for existing and potential housing collectives locally and far beyond.

Please take a look at our link to view the zine! anthillzine.wordpress.com

We would appreciate inclusion in any zine libraries or info-shops as a means to making this information accessible for those looking to engage in similar projects. We are attempting to keep track of any libraries and info-shops that are potential hubs for distribution. Feel free to contact us with any questions about the zine or its distribution going forward.

Thank you for taking the time to check it out.

Love, Peace and Solidarity,
Former Members of the Ant Hill Collective

Argentina Braces For Default
26 weeks 3 days ago
Communications

Argentina is likely to default barring a last-minute breakthrough in negotiations with hold-outs or a court order. Argentina's grace period to pay bonds restructured after its 2001 default expires July 30th. United States District Judge Thomas Griesa ruled Argentina cannot pay the 92% of restructured bond holders unless Argentina also pays hold-out predatory hedge funds in full.

"Argentina is hours from default," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious financial reform organization, Jubilee USA Network. "At this point, a deal seems unlikely. Argentina may decide that the cost of default is less than the cost of compliance."

P&L Printing Takes Principled Stand--All Businesses Should Do The Same
27 weeks 1 day ago
tina braxton

Dear [Name Withheld],

Thank you for contacting us regarding printing union contract books for the correctional employees of the GEO Detention Facility in Aurora, Colorado owned by the GEO Group, Inc.

Unfortunately, we will have to decline printing this job. As a print shop that stands for workers rights, we cannot in good conscience print a job that would be paid for by the suffering and imprisonment of other workers, especially imprisonment that is based solely off of the sk...in color and country of birth of those workers.

P&L Printing has always taken a strong position on the issues of border enforcement and migration, and we have always stood with migrants and their families and supporters. We cannot print a job for the GEO Group, Inc. or any of its affiliates, even a union of correctional employees, if it means in any way aiding in the process of migrant detention and dehumanization for profit. We feel that printing any job for the GEO Group, Inc. would violate everything that we believe as people fighting for a socially just and equitable society.

We thank you for the consideration, but will not be able to take on this job.

Respectfully,

Dave Strano
on behalf of the collective of worker-owners of
P&L Printing
Denver, CO

Argentina Debt Payments Blocked by US Court
31 weeks 15 hours ago
Communications

The Argentine government announced Thursday that it transferred funds to the Bank of New York Mellon to pay the 92% of bond holders who restructured after Argentina's 2001 default. Reuters reports that Judge Thomas Griesa blocked the restructured debt payments until a settlement is reached on $1.65 billion that Griesa ordered be paid to hold-out creditors.

"We are in the middle of a ping pong match between Argentina and the hold-outs," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt relief group, Jubilee USA Network. "Unfortunately, as this battle continues in the courts, Argentina faces another default."

According to Griesa's ruling, Argentina must pay all creditors on June 30th, including hold-outs who won a court ruling to be paid in full. Because of a built-in 30-day grace period, Argentina now faces a July 30th deadline to resolve its dispute with the hold-outs or face a technical default. Griesa, concerned that Argentina is circumventing his orders, demanded all parties appear in courtFriday morning.

If Argentina pays hold-out creditors the approximately $1.65 billion Judge Griesa has ordered it to pay, it would face claims from other hold-outs that would approach $15 billion, half of Argentina's reserves. If Argentina pays the hold-outs, it could also face lawsuits from the 92% of creditors who did not hold out seeking to be paid in full as well. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) noted this week that those claims would exceed $120 billion.

"Argentina's in a tough place but will likely find a way through this situation," said LeCompte, who serves on expert groups for UNCTAD. "I'm really worried about how this court precedent is promoting predatory behavior and will hurt debt restructurings for poor countries."

IMF Paper: Corporate Tax Avoidance Hurts Global Economy and Poor Countries
31 weeks 2 days ago
Communications

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a staff paper noting that corporate tax avoidance negatively impacts all economies, but hurts developing countries the most. The IMF's release comes as the G20, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and United Nations bodies seek vehicles to diminish corporate tax avoidance.

"The developing world loses more in corporate tax avoidance than it receives in aid from developed countries," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty group, Jubilee USA Network. "The paper shows that when multinational corporations shift their profits to another country to pay less taxes, we see higher levels of global inequality."

IMF Releases Paper on Ending Predatory Behavior: Paper Propels IMF Board Financial Stability Decisions
32 weeks 10 hours ago
Communications

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) officially released a major paper focused on increasing stability in the financial system and preventing predatory hold-out behavior in debt restructuring. Last Monday's ruling by the Supreme Court in NML Capital vs. Argentina has legitimized predatory behavior that the IMF, US Government and legitimate investors seek to stop. The IMF paper was the second paper that reviewed potential aspects of an international bankruptcy process for the IMF Executive Board.

"It's clear that the IMF is looking for innovative ways to thwart the predatory behavior that was just legitimized by the Supreme Court," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious financial reform coalition known as Jubilee USA Network. "You can see in the paper that long before the Supreme Court ruling, the activity of these hedge funds has been on the IMF's radar."

The IMF paper notes the problems with current approaches to deter predatory behavior and promises a stand-alone paper in the near future on restricting the practice. Primarily, the paper focuses on creating more predictability in the financial system and preventing the "contagion" that spurs regional and global financial crises. IMF staff are attempting to build consensus on a set of financial issues in a series of papers and board discussions. A third paper on creating greater predictability in the global financial system is expected from the IMF by year's end

"Greater predictability in the markets protects the vulnerable and ensures that the financial system serves all of us," noted LeCompte. "It's unclear how far the IMF can go. It's imperative that global decision makers take seriously the threat of another financial crisis. It's not a matter of if a financial crisis will strike again, it's a matter of how soon it will strike."

Read the IMF's paper: