Ukraine Navy remainder drills with US Navy

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

“US trains in Black Sea with Ukraine’s depleted navy” – France24.com:

The United States is co-hosting drills in the Black Sea with what is left of Ukraine’s devastated navy, which lost about two thirds of its sailors and ships after Russia seized Crimea last year.
[…]
Ukraine’s naval force was eviscerated when Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March 2014. Moscow snatched much of the fleet moored in strategic ports, and convinced thousands of sailors to jump ship.

 
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Remembering an earlier refugees crisis

In light of recent events in Europe, The New York Times tweeted out a public scan of two articles from late March 1939, about 5 months before World War II officially began in Europe. The (long and descriptive) headlines read:

REFUGEE TIDE RISES AS HITLER EXPANDS; Increasing Problem Presented to Other European States– Relief Groups Are Active MANY RECEIVED BY BRITAIN But Her Rules for Admittance Are Severe–Hundreds Enter Belgium Weekly in Secret

 
You can read the full articles easily online and read the opening right here:

Click to continue reading. (New York Times)

Click image to continue reading 1939 article. (New York Times)

The short version? For six years, by then, Europe had grappled with hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees secretly crossing their borders to escape Nazi Germany and its pre-war annexed territories. Many countries (such as Belgium) responded by turning people away or sending them back. Britain had very tight rules, usually requiring entrants to a have a job lined up or proof of plans to move on to a different country from there.

It’s worth remembering these stories and how bad they look in hindsight, as countries today consider turning people away — as they flee Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea — and suggest these refugees are dangerous outsiders or only migrants trying to take jobs from citizens.

Fortunately, as the article above also demonstrates, sometimes civil society actually does step up when the government balks. We saw that again this week in Iceland when 11,000 citizens volunteered to open their homes to refugees of the Syrian Civil War after the Icelandic government claimed there was only room for 50 people. But much more than that will be needed all across Europe.

Sept 2, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 141

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: A vital ruling by the National Labor Relations Board; the European refugee crisis; Lebanon’s capital protests lack of trash collection. People: Bill, Kelley, Nate. Produced: August 30th, 2015.

Episode 141 (56 min):
AFD 141

Discussion Points:

– Workers’ rights: Major U.S. corporations will no longer be able to shield themselves on labor issues by subcontracting and franchisees will have to face unions.
– Refugees: Is the European Union doing enough to deal with the refugee crisis? Is the world prepared for mass climate refugee situations?
– Lebanon: The people rise up in Beirut as trash goes uncollected for weeks on end.

Related Links

– Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “NLRB ruling could be boost for contract and franchise employees”
The Guardian: “Syrians fleeing war find new route to Europe – via the Arctic Circle”
“Why Al Jazeera will not say Mediterranean ‘migrants'”
AFD: “Real world costs when the Left sells out immigrants”
AFD: Beirut’s Garbage Uprising
AFD: “Lebanon gov’t hastily builds concrete wall, then tears it down”

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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video game blog of our announcer, Justin.

TG: “Turkey and EU’s Self-Righteousness”

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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Soli Özel on European Union countries mishandling and misrepresenting their relations with Turkey:

A current question often raised in the European debate is this: What will happen if Turkey becomes more authoritarian? The background of the question is usually to push Turkey further onto the European sidelines. It also belittles the vitality of the political debate inside Turkey and the vitality and creativity of its civil society.

To make my point, let me ask what will happen to Hungary, an existing EU and NATO member, if it goes more authoritarian than it already has?
[…]
When France decided in 2005 — and much more aggressively after 2007, when Nicolas Sarkozy became President – to ditch Turkey and stop it on its route to EU membership, it came on the heels of the referendum on the European Constitution. Meanwhile, in Germany, Angela Merkel came to power and that country’s position changed as well.

Mind you, those years were not a time when Turkish democracy was being questioned. Between 2002 and 2007/08, if anything, Turkish democracy was improving by leaps and bounds. The idea often presented in the European debate — that Turkey was ditched because it was not sufficiently democratic or democratizing — is not true.

In fact, as if to add insult to injury, when things started to go wrong in Turkey between 2009 and 2011, the EU Commission wrote the lamest – repeat: lamest! – annual reports on the country’s progress.

Read the full essay.

The origin story of minimum wage laws, part 2

Part 2: Why did some industrialized nations wait so long to get a minimum wage? When did the UK, Germany, and France get minimum wage laws? Why do some industrialized nations still not have legal minimum wages? || This original research was produced for The Globalist Research Center and Arsenal For Democracy.

Why did some industrialized nations wait so long to get a minimum wage?

From a historical perspective, minimum wage laws were implemented first in countries where trade union movements were not strong. Countries such as the UK that traditionally had strong labor unions have tended to be late adopters on minimum wage laws.

In those countries, powerful unions were able to bargain collectively with employers to set wage floors, without needing legislative minimums.

The early gold standard guideline for government participation in wage setting was the International Labor Organization’s Convention No. 26 from 1928 – although many industrialized countries never adopted it.

The convention said that governments should create regulatory systems to set wages, unless “collective agreement” could ensure fair effective wages. This distinction acknowledged that, by 1928, there was already a major split in approaches to creating effective wage floors: leaving it to labor organizers versus using statutes and regulators.

When did the UK, Germany, and France get minimum wage laws?

Much like pioneers New Zealander and Australia, the United Kingdom did adopt “Trade Boards” as early as 1909 to try to oversee and arbitrate bargaining between labor and management. However, its coverage was far less comprehensive than Australian and New Zealand counterparts and cannot be considered a true minimum wage system. Instead, UK workers counted on labor unions to negotiate their wages for most of the 20th century.

The Labour Party introduced the UK’s first statutory minimum wage less than two decades ago, in 1998, when it took over the government following 18 years of a Conservative government that had focused on weakening British unions. The country’s current hourly minimum wage for workers aged 21 and up is £6.50 (i.e. about $8.40 in purchasing power parity terms), or about 45% of median UK wages.

Despite opposition to minimum wages in some quarters, The Economist magazine noted recently that studies consistently show that there is little impact on hiring decisions when the minimum wage level is set below 50% of median pay. Above that level, some economists believe low-level jobs would be shed or automated, but this is also not definitively proven either.

In fact, not all countries with minimum wages above that supposed 50% threshold — a list which includes at least 13 industrialized economies, according to the OECD — seem to have those hypothesized problems. True, some of them do, but that may indicate other economic factors at work.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, only adopted a minimum wage law after the 2013 federal elections. Previously, wages had generally been set by collective bargaining between workers’ unions and companies.

As a result of the postwar occupation in the western sectors, Germany also uses the “codetermination” system of corporate management, which puts unions on the company boards directly. This too encourages amicable negotiations in wage setting, to ensure the company’s long-term health, which benefits the workers and owners alike.

The new minimum wage amounts to €8.50 per hour ($10.20 in PPP-adjusted terms), or more than 45% of median German pay.

However, in some areas of Germany, the local median is much lower. There, the minimum wage affords significantly more purchasing power. In eastern Germany, the minimum is about 60% of median wages.

In France, where unions have long had a more antagonistic relationship with management, a minimum wage law was adopted much earlier – in 1950. It is now €9.61 per hour (about $10.90 in PPP-adjusted terms), or more than 60% of median French pay.

N.B. Purchasing-power currency conversions are from 2012 local currency to 2012 international dollars rounded from UN data.

Why do some industrialized nations still not have legal minimum wages?

Because of their generous social welfare systems, one might assume that the Nordic countries were early adopters of minimum wage laws. In fact, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland all lack a minimum wage, even today.

Instead, wages in these countries are virtually all set by collective bargaining in every sector – conducted between workers’ unions, corporations, and the state. (This is known as tripartism.) Non-union workers generally receive the same pay negotiated by the unions.

A prevailing minimum or average lower-end wage can usually be estimated, but there is no law. In U.S. dollar terms, Denmark’s approximate lowest wage level is higher than almost every minimum wage in the world. Mid-level wages are even higher. Even McDonald’s workers in Denmark reportedly make the equivalent of $20/hour.

 
Missed part one? New Zealand, Australia, Massachusetts, the New Deal, and China: How governments took an active role initially, and how they balance economic variability now.

AP: “Hungary puts inmates to work on border fence”

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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Last month from AFD: “Border fence politics comes to the EU”

Yesterday, Associated Press: “Hungary puts inmates to work on border fence to bar migrants”

Using materials prepared by inmates in Hungarian prisons, 900 soldiers will build a fence along Hungary’s border with Serbia by December to stem the torrent of migrants, officials said Thursday
[…]
Prime Minister Viktor Orban says Hungary does not want any migrants from outside Europe. But over the past months, 80 percent of the refugees requesting asylum in Hungary have come from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Most leave within days to richer EU countries like Germany before their asylum claims are settled.

The government’s anti-immigrant billboard campaign and a questionnaire sent to voters linking migration with terrorism have been criticized by the U.N.’s refugee agency, among others.

 
Orbanism Rising.

Good ways to ensure Brexit

Pardon the Tory-friendly sourcing, but I stumbled across this news and was startled enough to remark upon it.

The Telegraph: “EU demands Britain joins Greek rescue fund”

Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, discards David Cameron’s deal that spares Britain from Eurozone bailouts

 
Is the European Commission entirely filled with fools? The Conservatives in Britain just got re-elected on a platform bragging about how they had legally firewalled UK from liability for eurozone bailouts (which makes sense since the UK isn’t part of the eurozone and doesn’t have any major connection to crises there), and they’ve got a difficult referendum coming up on whether or not to leave altogether.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker screwing over Prime Minister Cameron and using UK funds for bailouts (against the written agreement) is an excellent way to ensure the Conservative Party’s voting base goes very hard against continued EU membership, whether or not Cameron tries to campaign in favor of remaining inside the EU.

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