|Economics & Politics|
|ON March 24 the Portuguese
prime minister, Jose Socrates,
resigned after all the opposition
parties rejected his austerity
plan, which included slashing
pensions by more than €1,500 a
month and more cuts in tax benefits.
His government´s collapse triggered an
election, which could not take place for
another two months. During the interim
Socrates stayed on as acting prime
minister and reached an agreement
with the European Union and the
International Monetary Fund for a
€78bn bailout. The terms? Almost
exactly the same as those proposed by
him and rejected by the Portuguese
parliament six weeks earlier.
When the elections finally took place
the political class could sense a certain
degree of cynicism. The Portuguese
president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, warned
voters they could not complain about
|CASH CON BY
|WATCHING the evolution
of economic discussion
Washington over the
past couple of years
has been a disheartening experience.
Month by month, the discourse
has gotten more primitive;
with stunning speed, the lessons
of the 2008 financial crisis have
been forgotten, and the very ideas
that got us into the crisis - regulation
is always bad, what´s good
for the bankers is good for
America, tax cuts are the universal
elixir - have regained their
And now trickle-down economics
- specifically, the idea that
anything that increases corporate
profits is good for the economy -
is making a comeback.
On the face of it, this seems
bizarre. Over the past two years
profits have soared while employment
has remained disastrously
high. Why should anyone believe
that handing even more money to
corporations, no strings...
British PM’s Afghan trip marred by soldier’s death
BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to scrap part of a visit to Afghanistan intended to hail improved security after a soldier went missing and was later found dead.
The soldier’s mysterious death in Helmand province, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility, overshadowed Cameron’s announcement that security had improved enough for Britain to soon withdraw a small number of troops.
Cameron arrived in Helmand on Monday morning on a surprise visit but decided to abandon a planned trip to the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, one of a handful of towns earmarked for an early handover to Afghan forces.
The trooper went missing from a checkpoint in Helmand in the early hours of Monday and the defence ministry in London later announced, after a huge international manhunt, that his body had been found with gunshot wounds.
“His exact cause of death and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death are currently under investigation,” Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said in a statement.
There was no immediate reaction from Cameron on the soldier’s death, but he earlier told reporters travelling with him that he had cancelled his trip to Lashkar Gah after hearing of the ‘very worrying’ disappearance of the soldier.
“I was just very clear that you’ve got something like that absolutely urgent taking place, where you want to concentrate all the assets and ability that you have to try and find this person and bring it to the right conclusion.” “It’s just absolute common sense that the military should concentrate on the most important requirement of all which is to help and find this person rather than to bother flying me around.” Instead, Cameron met Helmand provincial governor Gulab Mangal and senior British commanders at Camp Bastion, the main British and US base in Helmand, on the first day of a two-day visit to Afghanistan.
Afghan police said the man had been kidnapped in the Gereshk area of Nahri Sarraj district.
The Taliban claimed that its fighters had kidnapped and killed a British soldier in Helmand, but there was no independent confirmation and the militia is known to routinely exaggerate its claims.
Lashkar Gah was one of seven areas in Afghanistan identified by foreign forces for an initial handover of security ahead of a full transfer of responsibility across the country and the withdrawal of all Western combat troops by the end of 2014.
After years of Taliban violence Lashkar Gah was seen as the most unlikely candidate among those chosen for early transition.