Yesterday, the Joe Biden administration announced that it was going to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to mom-and-pop meat processors via grants, loan guarantees, and reduced inspection fees. The idea behind this splash of money is to promote competition in the meatpacking industry and ultimately achieve a redistribution of money from meatpackers to farmers, in the form of higher prices, and consumers, in the form of lower prices.
Four large meat-packing companies control 85 percent of the beef market. In poultry, the top four processing firms control 54 percent of the market. And in pork, the top four processing firms control about 70 percent of the market. The meatpackers and processors buy from farmers and sell to retailers like grocery stores, making them a key bottleneck in the food supply chain.
When dominant middlemen control so much of the supply chain, they can increase their own profits at the expense of both farmers — who make less — and consumers — who pay more.
The explanation of the problem makes a lot of sense. On its journey to the consumer, meat starts with a farmer, travels through a meatpacker, and then finds its way to a retail store. If the meatpacking part of the value chain is clamped down by a few players that are colluding with one another, they can grab an outsize share of the meat revenue.
But the offered solution to this problem — some grants and loans to smaller processors — seems both inadequate to solving the problem and needlessly indirect. Frankly, this is true of most of the ideas that come out of the competition policy community.
If there are four companies that control the meatpacking market, and the government thinks that they are colluding in a way that generates superprofits at the expense of adjacent market players, then the government should simply buy one of the four companies and run it properly. You don’t need yearslong efforts to maybe increase competition through subsidizing new firms. Simply nationalizing one of the big players would allow you to increase competition and bust up collusion in a few months.
I'm on board.
This is C.I.'s ''Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:
Tuesday, January 4, 2022. Another attack on US forces in Iraq, War Criminal Tony Blair inspires more outrage, Mexico's president offers asylum to Julian Assange, and much more.
Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONA) reports, "US troops in western Iraq shot down two drones on Tuesday morning, Iraqi and US-led international coalition officials said." And before you think, "Wait, that was covered in yesterday's snapshot -- No. This is anothe drone attack. Two days in a row. Cameron Jenkins (THE HILL) explains:
A second attempted drone attack on U.S. forces in Iraq was foiled on Tuesday after Iraq's air defenses shot down armed drones that were headed toward a U.S. air base west of Baghdad.
So let's again raise the important question: Are US forces in Iraq getting combat pay? They are in a war zone, so they should; however, US Presidnet Joe Biden is so bound and determined to claim 'combat' troops are gone, they may not be.
Moving from one War Criminal to another, as 2021 drew to a close Tony Blair became a knight. Yes, the royal family of England took time out from embracing the rapist Prince Andrew to embrace Was Criminal Tony. John Pilger Tweets:
Andrew Feinstein Tweets:
Desmond Tutu refused to share a platform with Tony Blair, describing him as a war criminal who shud stand trial. Blair is also a war profiteer, having made 10s of millions personally from the invasion of Iraq & his corrupt arms trade links.C ‘The Shadow World’ book for references
Tony Blair's final act as a human wrecking ball could well bring down the British monarchy following the controversial decision by Queen Elizabeth II to award him a knighthood. Not just any old knighthood, you understand; he has been made a member of the Order of the Garter, the country's oldest and most prestigious order of chivalry.
As the world's longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth's many admirers have lavished her with praise for the way she has steered the ship of state for nigh on seventy years by avoiding any embroilment in hot political issues. It wasn't always like this, though. In 1997, the death of Princess Diana exposed fault lines within the monarchy which revealed Britain's royal family to be out of touch with the British people. It was the Queen's then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his "peoples' princess speech" which apparently turned public opinion and softened republican murmurs.
Such murmurs are being revived now, though, following her controversial decision to honour the 68-year-old former Middle East envoy in this way. So much so, that "Sir Tony" could well be the undoing of the monarchy. It really is that serious.
Blair's knighthood has also been greeted with bewilderment and outrage around the world, especially in the Middle East where conflict and turmoil continue today as a result of the 2003 war in Iraq which brought untold death, misery, injury and hardship to millions. Blair, of course, hung on the coat tails of US President George W Bush and sold the invasion of Iraq on blatant lies regarding "weapons of mass destruction" in the oil-rich country.
And ARAB NEWS reports:
More than half a million people have called on the British government to rethink the award of a knighthood to former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Sir Tony, who served as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, was named a knight companion of the most noble order of the garter — the highest accolade possible — in the queen’s honors list for 2021.
An online public petition calling on the government to push the queen to rescind the honor has accrued over 550,000 signatures.
The petition says: “Tony Blair caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation’s society. He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives … in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes.”
The anger over Mr Blair’s knighthood comes from his decision to send UK Armed Forces into Iraq and Afghanistan following 9/11 – which led to the deaths of more than 600 British military personnel and tens of thousands more civilians.
The war with Iraq began in 2003 with the invasion of the country by a US-led coalition of forces, and ended with the withdrawal of US forces in 2011.
At the time, the then PM built the case for military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime by saying there appeared to be evidence mounting of weapons of mass destruction that could be used within 45 minutes.
However the subsequent Chilcott Inquiry – which looked into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war – concluded in 2016 that the former Labour leader overplayed the ‘flawed’ intelligence about the dictator’s weaponry and ignored peaceful means to resolve the issue.
And TRT WORLD notes:
The anti-apartheid hero archbishop Desmond Tutu who recently passed away, was even more scathing.
In an opinion piece almost a decade ago, he wrote, "the immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history."
Yet while he has been held generally held in contempt in the public realm, Blair has raked in tens of millions of dollars mingling with some of the world's more corrupt and despotic regimes.
If Tony Blair was worried that his post-prime ministerial career would shudder to a halt given the hate he inspired, he didn't show it.
His first major contract was with the US banking giant JP Morgan, who gave him a five-year contract of $4 million per year.
Tony Blair was also appointed as a Middle East Peace Envoy, at a cost of more than $13 million, a role he held between 2007 and 2015.
For many, that the man who had helped trigger so much war and destruction in the Middle East should be appointed to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, smacked as a cruel joke for those living in the region.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tony Blair resigned in 2015, not having brought peace to the Middle East.
However, by this time, Blair had brought a measure of peace and prosperity for his family, amassing a string of houses in central London worth millions of dollars. His net worth is estimated to be around $60 million.
As revelations of Blair's dealings with the super-rich and authoritarian regimes have periodically trickled into the press, his stature has fallen in equal measure with one British paper calling the former prime minister a "political embarrassment".
Meanwhile journalist John McEvoy Tweets:
As TELESUR reports in the video above, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the Presidnet of Mexico, has again offer Julian Assange political asylum in Mexico. REUTERS notes:
López Obrador reiterated the asylum offer he had made for Assange a year ago, and said that before Trump was replaced as President by Joe Biden last January, he had written him a letter recommending that Assange be pardoned.
Mexico did not receive a reply to the letter, López Obrador told a regular government news conference.
“It would be a sign of solidarity, of fraternity to allow him asylum in the country that Assange decides to live in, including Mexico,” López Obrador said.
The world watches as Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange.
The following sites updated: