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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Said& Done: Harry Redknapp, Fifa, plus Neymar on disrespect

Category : Business

The week in football – Harry’s window, PR news, Nepal’s baddest president, plus Neymar on disrespect

Prudence: man of the week

Harry Redknapp – easing up on his pre-window pledge to stay frugal and stop QPR owner Tony Fernandes “having his pants taken down” on wages. Harry said QPR’s £25m package for Loïc Rémy and £28m for Christopher Samba, with no relegation pay-cut clause, show how: “Tony deserves a lot of credit. He’s worked ever so hard.”

• Harry’s wider pre-Christmas message: a nod to the Portsmouth experience: “You shouldn’t be paying these wages when your stadium only holds 18,000.” Harry said if QPR were still struggling in January, he’d tell Fernandes not to spend. “What’s the point? What are you going to do – load yourself with more big wages?”

Also in the window

1) September, Didier Drogba on life in China: “I have no regrets, I’m really happy here, really happy, so I have no reasons to leave. I don’t want to leave.” Jan: Leaves.

2) 24 Jan: Roberto Mancini: “No it is not true, Balotelli is staying here. He has three years left on his contract. We don’t have enough players, so we won’t sell any.”

3) 29 Dec: Carlo Ancelotti, PSG manager: “I know Beckham’s leaving Los Angeles, but no – we’re not interested.”

Other news: transparency

Last week’s top Fifa stories:

Jérôme Valcke, Fifa’s general secretary, denying a conflict of interest after documents published in Brazil showed he worked for their 2014 World Cup bid for three months in 2007 – paid $100,000 for “commercial advice”. Valcke took the role two months after being sacked as Fifa’s marketing director when a court ruled he had “lied repeatedly” to sponsors. Sepp rehired him eight months later.

• Finance head Julio Grondona, 81 – “feeling tired” after 36 years of denying corruption allegations as head of Argentina’s FA, but staying on for the good of the game. “My term lasts until 2015. I will meet it. If I didn’t have such a mandate, I would leave right now.”

• And former Fifa media director and chief marketing officer Guido Tognoni, asked by France Football reporters investigating allegations around the Qatar 2022 bid, all of which are denied, to describe how Fifa operates internally: “Just like a little mafia.”

Elsewhere: PR news

£1,000: Prize on offer this month to a community sports volunteer – part of Premier League sponsor Barclays’ “global commitment to use sport to tackle key social issues”. £1m: Bonus waived by Barclays’ chief executive Antony Jenkins last week due to the bank’s global commitment to Libor rigging, PPI misselling and tax avoidance in 2012.

Also giving back

From Chelseafc.com: “The first team squad helped raise more than £71,000 during a charity event at Audi City London last night. David Luiz said: ‘It’s important we always help people who need it and it was good to raise a lot of money … it makes me happy to do that.’”

Racism latest: more slurs

Israel: Beitar Jerusalem say fans protesting against the signing of two Muslim players were just a “small minority of uneducated people”.

• Last year’s best clarifications from Beitar’s PR department: 1) reacting to being docked points for repeated racist incidents by calling the FA “discriminatory”; 2) describing footage of 300 Beitar fans attacking Arab shopping centre staff while chanting “Death to Arabs” as “nothing to do with Beitar” and “not about racist violence”; 3) attacking Hapoel Tel Aviv player Toto Tamuz for reacting to racist abuse by putting his finger to his lips in a hush gesture as “provocative behaviour” – part of an ongoing attempt “to vilify the Beitar fans”.

Manager news

Last week’s movers:

December, Granada president Enrique Pina on coach Juan Antonio Anquela: “I say this to the fans: if you must scream, scream at me, not him. He’s honest and hard-working; he has my complete faith.” Feb: Sacks him.

24 Jan, Roberto Larrossa, president of Brazilian club Pelotas: “Listen, Beto Almeida is the coach of Pelotas. Nothing changes.” 31 Jan: Something changes.

President of the week

Nepal: Madhyapur president Upendra Man Singh, reacting to his players “manhandling a referee” during on-pitch fighting by “joining in”, provoking a full pitch invasion. Local press say the ground was cleared after 40 minutes by a police baton charge; the FA say Singh is banned for a year. “What a shameful day.”

Product of the week

Brazil: Corinthians – launching a new replica shirt tribute to ex-player Zé Maria, who played on in the 1979 Paulista Championship final despite suffering a bad facial cut. Corinthians say the new shirt, covered in fake blood, “immortalises and honours” Zé Maria.

Best apology

Neymar, reacting after Botafogo’s Nunes accused him of disrespect – taunting him with “too many stepovers … I wanted to nail him. It’s graceless the way he belittles you.” Neymar: “I laugh at that. Whoever has a mouth can say what he wants. I just play my game.”

Plus: model news

Brazil: Nicole Bahls, turning her back on “metrosexual” footballers after leaving defender Victor Ramos. “In general they spend too long talking about diet and makeup and discussing their face creams. It’s not for me. I prefer something more uncouth.”

‘Blind marking’ urged to raise exam score of pupils from ethnic minorities

Category : Business

Lib Dems want banks to carry out racial profiling of customers to encourage lending

Ministers are seeking to introduce “blind marking” of pupils’ schoolwork by teachers as part of a push to tackle a history of underachievement among black and ethnic minority groups, while banks will be required to carry out ethnic monitoring of people to whom they lend money.

Under the proposals, the identities of pupils would not be a factor when teachers mark work, and banks could be held accountable for the racial profile of their customers.

The controversial plans are part of a package of policies being examined as part of the government’s integration strategy, designed to reduce inequalities between races.

The coalition has previously been accused of allowing a row between David Cameron and Nick Clegg, over whether multiculturalism has failed, to stymie its efforts to tackle the problem. The government’s strategy, which was unveiled in February by the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, provides more money for English classes, for community music days and in support of youth groups such as the Scouts.

It was savaged by 19 charities, who claimed that it did little to address racial inequalities. They highlighted a lack of concrete solutions to deal with problems revealed by statistics that show that almost half of young black people and 31% of young Asians are unemployed. Figures also reveal that while Chinese boys are among the highest-performing groups in schools, they can expect to earn 25% less than white graduates.

It is understood that the Liberal Democrat communities minister, Andrew Stunell, with support from Clegg, wants to introduce a series of radical policies in the coming months, despite the opposition of some of their government partners.

A senior Whitehall source said: “We waited a long time to get the integration strategy out the door, but we’re now keen to get on with the job of implementing it. A lot of the projects supported by the integration strategy have slipped by under most people’s radars, but Andrew is keen that we turn up the volume and speak out much more often and much louder on race issues.”

As a first step, Liberal Democrat ministers will give prominent support to two reports set to be published this summer. Last November, speaking at the Scarman memorial lecture, Clegg announced that Stunell would lead a government inquiry into the barriers preventing black and ethnic minority groups from accessing loans and other financial services.

While an increase in ethnic monitoring by banks is likely to face a backlash from groups concerned about privacy, it is now seen as a crucial step. Recent evidence from the Black Training and Enterprise Group suggests black Caribbean and African people are much more likely to consider starting a business, yet only 6% are self-employed or own their own business, compared with 15% of white people. Stunell is set to endorse proposals in a report to be published soon by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece on race, including the introduction of anonymous marking across all student assessments.

A study by Ofsted in 1999 showed that students with a typically African or Asian-sounding name were likely to be given up to 12% lower marks in institutions where anonymous marking was not in place. However, Leeds University found that after changing its system to introduce anonymous marking, the scores of black minority ethnic students and women rose by up to 12%.

A source said the Lib Dems believed that similar changes to other assessment procedures would ensure that everyone was marked fairly. A spokesperson added: “Some, including [education secretary] Michael Gove, believe policy should be colour-blind. But that is not the reality of what is happening in schools.”

Hussein-Ece’s report will also focus on apprenticeships and call for the introduction of ethnic monitoring in this area too, particularly in relation to application success rates, and a focus on increasing the numbers of under-represented groups on apprenticeship schemes. Only 7% of apprenticeships in England in 2009-10 were undertaken by a person from a BME background, even though 14% of the working-age population comes from an ethnic minority background. The most recent figures on completed apprenticeships show no significant improvement, with only 8% of 16- to 24-year-olds who completed an apprenticeship between August 2011 and January 2012 coming from a BME background, even though BME groups account for 16% of this age group.

A source indicated that Hussein-Ece’s report will also include a rebuke of the Tories.

The report is expected to say: “Liberal Democrats do not believe that ‘multiculturalism is dead’, as some in the media and other political parties would have us believe. While it is important to unite around the many things we have in common, it remains important to celebrate our different cultures and embrace diversity, not smother it.”

Public transportation: ‘Don’t like the cuts? Take a hike’ | Daniel Denvir

Category : Business

The old consensus that mass transit drives the economy is gone: austerity-crazed Republicans aim to run it into the ground

Americans have since the second world war built an entire way of life around the automobile. It turns out, however, that our faith was an unsteady one and, in the face of high gas prices and young people’s increasing preference for urban living, we are heading back to subways, trains, buses and trolleys in droves. In the first quarter of this year, we took an additional 125.7m trips on mass transit compared with the same time period last year – an increase of 5%.

Yet, Republican-led austerity is pushing public transit, like most everything public, into severe fiscal and physical crisis. All at the very moment when we want and need it the most. Nationwide, 80% of mass transit systems either did move to boost fares and cut services or considered doing so in 2010, according to the most recent report from the American Public Transportation Association.

Fare hikes and service cuts may be coming to Philadelphia, home to the nation’s sixth largest transit system – and the subject of a report I wrote for Thursday’s City Paper. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) projects a $36m deficit beginning in July 2013 and already lacks the funds necessary to fix crumbling, century-old bridges and electrical equipment.

Boston’s MBTA proposed “massive fare increases and widespread cuts” to close a $160m deficit in January. On Tuesday, the Massachusetts legislature came through with last-minute funding. The one-year fix, however, ensures that the fiscal crisis will soon return.

Political and popular will, however, can still make big projects happens. In Los Angeles, local sales tax hikes have funded an impressive expansion of light-rail lines. But the Metropolitan Transit Authority has also cut more than 650,000 hours of bus service in recent years, a major hardship for the working poor who depend on buses to commute across the sprawling and car-dominated metropolis. The Bus Riders Union accused the agency of having “knowingly discriminated against bus riders of color”; the Federal Transit Administration, which undertook a civil rights investigation, called the cuts “disturbing”.

Shifting to mass transit is not only critical to staving off an ecological crisis, it is also key to getting out of our economic one: the expansion of rail and bus lines drives development, creating jobs while making it easier for the rest of us to get to our existing ones. The reverse is also true. The dismantling of mass transit has, like cuts to other public services, erected a massive roadblock on the path to economic recovery: 706,000 public sector jobs have been eliminated since the stimulus topped out in April 2009, according to a Wednesday report in the New York Times. While the private sector adds jobs, public sector austerity is driving the American economy off the tracks.

Pittsburgh, which is set to cut about half of its bus lines, is a case in point. DialAmerica delayed plans to open a new 150-person call center in the city because the company, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, says they are concerned that employees wouldn’t be able to get to work.

Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who signed Grover Norquist’s tax pledge during his 2010 campaign, has refused calls from labor and business leaders to raise revenue to deal with the state’s infrastructure needs – estimated by his own transportation commission to be $3.5bn in necessary work. When I asked what the governor planned to do about the crisis in Philadelphia, I was told that we were on our own.

“It is incumbent upon SEPTA,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters told City Paper, “to meet operational and safety requirements.”

There was a time when business-minded conservatives understood that, ultimately, government did serve some purpose – if only to create an environment favorable to business. Members of both parties have for decades supported basic funding of the nation’s trains and buses. But Corbett’s counterparts in Washington now deliver that same heady combination of obliviousness and hostility. The derision of mass transit as a socialist import of European origin, which happens to be perceived also as a welfare subsidy for the black and urban poor, has now seized the entire Republican body politic. Most bizarrely, Tea Party activists around the country have attacked everything from bike lanes to high-speed trains as part of a United Nations conspiracy to create a “one-world order”.

“Federal transportation and infrastructure policy has traditionally been an area of strong bipartisan agreement,” Aaron Naparstek, a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and founder of Streetsblog.org told Salon:

“Now, it seems, Republicans want to turn cities into a part of the culture wars. Now it’s abortion, gay marriage and subways.”

Earlier this year, House Republicans proposed eliminating the 20% of transportation dollars dedicated to mass transit since Ronald Reagan first signed it into law in 1982. In response, mass transit advocates mobilized suburban Republicans, alongside big business, to oppose the move: mass transit serves as important connective tissue in the large metropolitan economies that drive the economy on a regional and national level.

Yet, long-term transit funding is still uncertain, as Republicans now insist that a new transportation bill include an unrelated amendment designed to fast-track approval for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline – together with a move that will save few dollars but sends a potent message to the base: an amendment to bar the use of federal dollars for bike lanes. The last six-year transportation bill expired three years ago, and funding has, since then, been dolled out in three- and six-month increments.

Meanwhile, the financial titans who brought us to edge of abyss are profiting from cash-strapped transit agencies, which are paying out millions of dollars every year to Wall Street, thanks to toxic derivatives. In a little-discussed but critical moment of the pre-crash deregulatory fever, transit agencies – along with school districts and city governments – agreed to esoteric “interest-rate swaps” with banks in order to protect against high interest rates on bond payments. The theory was that banks would get paid at a fixed rate, in exchange for them paying transit agencies at the variable rate. But after the financial system went into crisis, the Federal Reserve drove interest rates to rock-bottom levels. As a result, transit agencies and other public entities are now stuck owing billions in interest payments to the very same banks taxpayers had just bailed out.

A recent study by the ReFund Transit Coalition found (pdf) that in the 12 regions surveyed – including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles – agencies lose more than $529m each year to Wall Street banks.

Transit riders and workers will have to organize throughout American cities and suburbs if there is to be any hope – not only of saving mass transit, but of undertaking the large-scale expansion we need for our economic and ecological well-being. Last week, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and Good Jobs First announced plans to do just that, creating Americans for Transit to fight cuts and help organize rider groups nationwide.

“Transit is a major social justice issue of our day,” says ATU International president Larry Hanley. “Ridership is the highest in decades, but riders have suffered the worst wave of fare hikes and service cuts in post-war history.”

Public transportation: ‘Don’t like the cuts? Take a hike’ | Daniel Denvir

Category : Business

The old consensus that mass transit drives the economy is gone: austerity-crazed Republicans aim to run it into the ground

Americans have since the second world war built an entire way of life around the automobile. It turns out, however, that our faith was an unsteady one and, in the face of high gas prices and young people’s increasing preference for urban living, we are heading back to subways, trains, buses and trolleys in droves. In the first quarter of this year, we took an additional 125.7m trips on mass transit compared with the same time period last year – an increase of 5%.

Yet, Republican-led austerity is pushing public transit, like most everything public, into severe fiscal and physical crisis. All at the very moment when we want and need it the most. Nationwide, 80% of mass transit systems either did move to boost fares and cut services or considered doing so in 2010, according to the most recent report from the American Public Transportation Association.

Fare hikes and service cuts may be coming to Philadelphia, home to the nation’s sixth largest transit system – and the subject of a report I wrote for Thursday’s City Paper. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) projects a $36m deficit beginning in July 2013 and already lacks the funds necessary to fix crumbling, century-old bridges and electrical equipment.

Boston’s MBTA proposed “massive fare increases and widespread cuts” to close a $160m deficit in January. On Tuesday, the Massachusetts legislature came through with last-minute funding. The one-year fix, however, ensures that the fiscal crisis will soon return.

Political and popular will, however, can still make big projects happens. In Los Angeles, local sales tax hikes have funded an impressive expansion of light-rail lines. But the Metropolitan Transit Authority has also cut more than 650,000 hours of bus service in recent years, a major hardship for the working poor who depend on buses to commute across the sprawling and car-dominated metropolis. The Bus Riders Union accused the agency of having “knowingly discriminated against bus riders of color”; the Federal Transit Administration, which undertook a civil rights investigation, called the cuts “disturbing”.

Shifting to mass transit is not only critical to staving off an ecological crisis, it is also key to getting out of our economic one: the expansion of rail and bus lines drives development, creating jobs while making it easier for the rest of us to get to our existing ones. The reverse is also true. The dismantling of mass transit has, like cuts to other public services, erected a massive roadblock on the path to economic recovery: 706,000 public sector jobs have been eliminated since the stimulus topped out in April 2009, according to a Wednesday report in the New York Times. While the private sector adds jobs, public sector austerity is driving the American economy off the tracks.

Pittsburgh, which is set to cut about half of its bus lines, is a case in point. DialAmerica delayed plans to open a new 150-person call center in the city because the company, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, says they are concerned that employees wouldn’t be able to get to work.

Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who signed Grover Norquist’s tax pledge during his 2010 campaign, has refused calls from labor and business leaders to raise revenue to deal with the state’s infrastructure needs – estimated by his own transportation commission to be $3.5bn in necessary work. When I asked what the governor planned to do about the crisis in Philadelphia, I was told that we were on our own.

“It is incumbent upon SEPTA,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters told City Paper, “to meet operational and safety requirements.”

There was a time when business-minded conservatives understood that, ultimately, government did serve some purpose – if only to create an environment favorable to business. Members of both parties have for decades supported basic funding of the nation’s trains and buses. But Corbett’s counterparts in Washington now deliver that same heady combination of obliviousness and hostility. The derision of mass transit as a socialist import of European origin, which happens to be perceived also as a welfare subsidy for the black and urban poor, has now seized the entire Republican body politic. Most bizarrely, Tea Party activists around the country have attacked everything from bike lanes to high-speed trains as part of a United Nations conspiracy to create a “one-world order”.

“Federal transportation and infrastructure policy has traditionally been an area of strong bipartisan agreement,” Aaron Naparstek, a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and founder of Streetsblog.org told Salon:

“Now, it seems, Republicans want to turn cities into a part of the culture wars. Now it’s abortion, gay marriage and subways.”

Earlier this year, House Republicans proposed eliminating the 20% of transportation dollars dedicated to mass transit since Ronald Reagan first signed it into law in 1982. In response, mass transit advocates mobilized suburban Republicans, alongside big business, to oppose the move: mass transit serves as important connective tissue in the large metropolitan economies that drive the economy on a regional and national level.

Yet, long-term transit funding is still uncertain, as Republicans now insist that a new transportation bill include an unrelated amendment designed to fast-track approval for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline – together with a move that will save few dollars but sends a potent message to the base: an amendment to bar the use of federal dollars for bike lanes. The last six-year transportation bill expired three years ago, and funding has, since then, been dolled out in three- and six-month increments.

Meanwhile, the financial titans who brought us to edge of abyss are profiting from cash-strapped transit agencies, which are paying out millions of dollars every year to Wall Street, thanks to toxic derivatives. In a little-discussed but critical moment of the pre-crash deregulatory fever, transit agencies – along with school districts and city governments – agreed to esoteric “interest-rate swaps” with banks in order to protect against high interest rates on bond payments. The theory was that banks would get paid at a fixed rate, in exchange for them paying transit agencies at the variable rate. But after the financial system went into crisis, the Federal Reserve drove interest rates to rock-bottom levels. As a result, transit agencies and other public entities are now stuck owing billions in interest payments to the very same banks taxpayers had just bailed out.

A recent study by the ReFund Transit Coalition found (pdf) that in the 12 regions surveyed – including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles – agencies lose more than $529m each year to Wall Street banks.

Transit riders and workers will have to organize throughout American cities and suburbs if there is to be any hope – not only of saving mass transit, but of undertaking the large-scale expansion we need for our economic and ecological well-being. Last week, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and Good Jobs First announced plans to do just that, creating Americans for Transit to fight cuts and help organize rider groups nationwide.

“Transit is a major social justice issue of our day,” says ATU International president Larry Hanley. “Ridership is the highest in decades, but riders have suffered the worst wave of fare hikes and service cuts in post-war history.”

Why the eurozone crisis doesn’t spell a return to the well of nazism | Matthew Goodwin

Category : Business

Golden Dawn may be on the rise in Greece, but there are good reasons to believe we’re not seeing a repeat of interwar fascism

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”, said Marx. And so, amid the crisis in Greece, there emerges an openly neo-Nazi party that polls sufficient support to enter parliament, before denying that gas chambers ever existed and ejecting journalists from its press conference for showing its leader insufficient respect.

But putting Greece to one side, there is a broader school of thought that views recent political developments in Europe as anything but a farce. Yesterday the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, attracted attention after suggesting that the combination of economic insecurity and political paralysis that has accompanied the eurozone crisis is providing “an ideal recipe for an increase in extremism and xenophobia“. Like others, Clegg has linked the post-2008 global financial and eurozone crises with rising public support for extremists.

The argument goes something like this: the withdrawal of Greece from the euro may spark a “domino effect”, pushing Italy and Spain toward a similar exit and – as resources become increasingly scarce – cultivate a fertile breeding ground for charismatic extremists who claim mainstream politicians are to blame for the crisis, and that immigrant and minority groups are taking all of the jobs and social housing. Before too long – some fear – the European political landscape will be littered with neo-Nazi and anti-system parties. Seemingly forgetting the past 60 years, Europe will slide back into the well of nazism and xenophobia.

But there are three reasons why this argument needs modifying.

The first is that extremist parties (particularly on the right) actually commenced their electoral ascent well before the financial and eurozone crises. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, anti-immigrant and anti-establishment parties – such as the Austrian Freedom party or the Flemish Block – were rallying votes during periods of economic stability and growth, not recession.

Furthermore their supporters were not those on the very bottom step of economic ladder. Rather than the unemployed, they tended to be blue-collar workers and members of the lower middle-classes who were in employment, but who felt threatened by globalisation and the onset of mass immigration. The tendency to ignore this longer-term trend was perhaps best evident in coverage of the French presidential elections, much of which directly linked support for Marine Le Pen to the eurozone crisis. The reality, however, was that her father had been winning impressive levels of support since the mid-1980s, and achieved his strongest performance in 2002, a period that economically was like a distant planet compared to where we are today.

The second reason concerns the types of extremist parties that have prospered in Europe. The entrance of Golden Dawn into the national parliament in Greece has sparked widespread concern about the return of nazism. But, again, the reality is rather different. As academic studies have repeatedly shown, the types of extremist parties that prosper in Europe are not those that cling to the central features of neo-nazism, such as biological racism, antisemitism and hostility toward liberal democracy. Rather, it has been parties that acknowledge that these ideas are socially unacceptable to the mainstream majority, and so have achieved success only by removing themselves from the legacy of interwar Europe. The rise of Golden Dawn was a by-product of desperate protest, not an ideological endorsement of nazism. This is an important distinction, as the volatile nature of its support means a protest party is distinctly unlikely to sustain a major challenge to the dominant parties.

And when we look to the countries that some fear may suffer the same fate as Greece – Italy and Spain – there is no neo-Nazi movement waiting in the wings. The extreme rightwing Platform for Catalonia in Spain has enjoyed limited local success, but this is not the National Socialist party mark two. Meanwhile, in Italy former fascists such as Gianfranco Fini have only been allowed into the corridors of power because of their renunciation of Mussolini and antisemitism.

The third is rooted in the underlying drivers of support for these parties. Perhaps the most popular conventional wisdom about the rise of extremist parties is that they stem simply from our concerns over jobs and social housing. The argument is rooted in an older assumption that citizens who backed Hitler did so in order to protect their assets from communists, and more recent thinking in the study of politics that views voters as narrow, rational creatures who only vote to improve their material wellbeing (so-called “rational choice theory”).

But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Yes, concerns over scarce resources matter. But concerns over national culture, identity and ways of life matter more. Across Europe, and from the 1990s onward, there is now a large body of (convincing) research that those who support extremist parties at the extremes of the spectrum are motivated foremost by their perception that the cultural unity of their community, the identity of their native group and their overall way of life is under threat from immigration and – increasingly – Islam. Large numbers of citizens felt this way before they had even heard the words “credit crunch”.

The eurozone crisis may have contributed to a fertile breeding ground for these parties, but let’s not kid ourselves: populist extremists were already operating amid a perfect storm, and one that is unlikely to pass. Immigration, public anxiety over the compatibility of Islam, weakening bonds between voters and mainstream parties, and historically high levels of political disengagement and distrust have created new opportunities for parties that are distancing themselves and their discourse from interwar fascism.

So how should mainstream parties respond? Perhaps the key challenge is countering these feelings of cultural (as opposed to just economic) threat. Mainstream politicians tend only to make the economic case for immigration and rising diversity, rather than underscore the cultural contribution that immigrant and minority groups make to our national life. This is why arguments over net immigration or the allocation of jobs are unlikely to resonate over the longer term. Aside from exploring more innovative ways of addressing cultural anxieties, there are also too few voices in modern politics countering the claim by extremists that Muslims pose a specific threat to values and national cultures.

These claims are false, and are undermined by a large body of evidence that demonstrates how – contrary to the claims of far-right extremists – the vast majority of Muslims (in Britain and elsewhere) identify strongly with their respective nation state and renounce violence. Large majorities also reject practices such as honour killings and the grooming of white girls, but at present too few voices from the responsible centre are countering stories that suggest the opposite.

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Coca-Cola and PepsiCo sever ties with group behind stand-your-ground laws

Category : Business

American Legislative Exchange Council is known for helping to pass laws favoring gun owners and voter ID requirements

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have ended their partnerships with a conservative group that supports the spread of restrictive voting laws and stand-your-ground legislation.

The announcements came after campaigners urged consumers to boycott companies linked with the the the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec).

PepsiCo ended its membership in the group in January, but it was first reported by NPR on Thursday.

Coca-Cola’s announcement that it had also severed ties with the organisation came on Wednesday after Color of Change, the nation’s largest African-American advocacy group, urged its members to boycott the company and other member corporations over their links with Alec.

Alec is a nonprofit member organisation whose stated purpose is the advancement of free-market principles, limited government, federalism and individual liberty. It drafts legislation on behalf of its individual and corporate members to develop what it calls “model laws” and sends them to lawmakers.

Its critics, including Color of Change, accuse it of working to disenfranchise minority and low-income voters by supporting the co-ordinated proliferation of voter ID laws which affect these groups.

It is also accused of encouraging up to 20 other states to enact similar measures to Florida’s controversial stand-your-ground law.

Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, said it had been in dialogue with Coca-Cola since last year over the issue. He said: “We welcome Coca-Cola’s decision to stop supporting the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization which has worked to disenfranchise African-Americans, Latinos, students, the elderly, the disabled and the poor. We confirmed with Coca-Cola that they are no longer a member of Alec and no longer fund the group in any capacity.”

Robinson said that hundreds of their members began calling Coca-Cola on Wednesday morning, and “the company listened to their voices”.

“We continue to call on all major corporations to stop supporting voter suppression through Alec. Our members are prepared to hold accountable companies that continue to participate in Alec’s attack on voting rights.”

More than 85,000 members signed a petition targeting Alec’s corporate partners for their role in suppressing the black vote, and 170,000 have signed a petition calling on the department of justice to take over the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager fatally shot by a neighbourhood watch volunteer who claimed self defence, arrest his killer and review the police investigation of the case.

In a statement emailed to the Guardian, Coca-Cola confirmed it was ending its relationship with Alec.

Diana Garza Ciarlante, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said in the statement: “The Coca-Cola company has elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec). Our involvement with Alec was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our company and industry.”

On Wednesday, the Center for American Progress published a report on the proliferation of voter ID laws which it said were “hindering voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow”.

Last month, leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called on the UN human rights council to investigate the proliferation of restrictive electoral laws.

PepsiCo was a member of Alec for 10 years. In January, according to NPR, a company vice-president told Color Of Change that it would not renew its membership for 2012.

Alec did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

On its website it acknowledges that Florida’s stand-your-ground law was a basis for its model legislation but expressed scepticism that the law could apply in the Martin case.

“Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law was the basis for the American Legislative Exchange Council’s model legislation, not the other way around. Moreover, it is unclear whether that law could apply to this case at all. ‘Stand Your Ground’ or the ‘Castle Doctrine’ is designed to protect people who defend themselves from imminent death and great bodily harm.

“It does not allow you to pursue another person. It does not allow you to seek confrontation. It does not allow you to attack someone who does not pose an imminent threat. What it does is allow you to defend yourself and your family from immediate and real danger.”

‘We’re just stuck here’: Toxteth’s black youth on joblessness

Category : Business

With half of young black men available for work unemployed, Liverpool’s troubled area fears a return to dark days of the past

“There’s nothing going for us. We’re just stuck here. No job, no college, no fucking money.” Zach Jones, 21, was midway through his A-levels when, by his own admission, he “fucked up”. He started getting involved in the streets of Toxteth, the Liverpool area that saw some of the worst inner-city riots of the 1980s, and he is now jobless. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than half of young black men available for work in Britain are unemployed. Zach is one of them and he says the clock has been wound back.

“Look at the area now, Toxteth,” he says. “In 1981 there was high unemployment, loads of stuff going wrong, and right now the Conservatives have put us back in that 1981 spot even though it’s a much more advanced world. It’s 2012. It shouldn’t be the same. Everyone should be equal. Everyone should be getting opportunities.”

Jeremy Crook, director of the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), says unemployment among black youths has been ascribed historically to a shortfall in skills and academic qualifications. Now that GCSE results among black teenagers have improved (six out of 10 black youngster now leave schools with at least five GCSEs), says Crook, the latest ONS data indicates that the problem has deeper roots.

“The figures are so stark, it cannot be down to skills,” he says. “It must be other factors. I still think the perception of young black people is not a positive one in terms of giving them a job.” Talk to Crook and other influential figures in the debate over ethnic minority employment and they say the causes of joblessness among black youths are myriad, from poor inner-city education to disrupted homes. Crook says the latest data, however, should shock employers into action.

“It is going to be difficult to reduce these high levels of unemployment. We need to get employers to look at the data and see if they are doing everything they can in terms contacting colleges and recruitment processes. We need to ensure that they are recruiting fairly and transparently because we are not seeing enough of that.”

Adrian Joseph, a Google executive co-ordinating the company’s mentoring programme, is also chair of Race for Opportunity. Joseph, 48, who was born in Leeds and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, says one in four primary school children in the UK are now from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background – representing a challenge to government and businesses. “With the one-in-four figure, a lot of those children will be knocking on doors for jobs,” he says. “They are part of the fabric of British society and we need to do a better job of making sure that they have meaningful careers, that they have an equality of opportunity to get their foot in the door. The numbers make clear that is not happening at the moment.”

On the streets of Toxteth, where Zach Jones still harbours ambitions of a civil engineering degree, the consequences of isolation are deep frustration and anger. He says: “They make out that they’re giving black people a chance. There are people who just use their colour as an excuse but I’m not looking at it like that. I look at everyone as equal, we’re all the same, we’re all human beings.”