Archive | July 19th, 2015

Greece, Neoliberalism and Politics by Other Means



Politics by Other Means

One of the challenges in writing about politics is that economics, as Marx identified, is politics by other means. This is occasionally made clear through ‘trade’ agreements that create explicit bridges between the two like ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) clauses that are used to grant corporate control over civil governance. The long-running theoretical dispute between Keynesians and market fundamentalists (neoliberals) can be placed in a political frame as economics differentiated by domestic versus foreign policy considerations. Vaguely Keynesian economics guided domestic U.S. policies from the end of WWII through the early 1970s even as U.S. ‘advice’ to client states more closely resembled the neoliberal policies of the present.

Friends, acquaintances and people unrelated have been writing policy prescriptions since 2008 that would have been constructive if fixing capitalism were the policy goal of the powers that be. However, as has been made abundantly clear, those deciding policy have had these prescriptions available to them and have chosen differently. Mainstream economists have felled large forests proclaiming their prescriptions to be correct when they have had no policy impact and show no signs of having any in the current epoch. And it isn’t that the policies that were implemented were randomly chosen; they fit alternative ‘models’ of explanation. If ‘reform’ economics is about economics and not out-of-favor politics, why hasn’t it had an impact?

Left out of mainstream consideration is that the best explanation of the policies of the last forty years is applied self-interest with corporate executives joining capitalists in determining state policies for their own benefit. Highly skewed economic distribution was achieved through ‘negative’ policies like reducing taxes on the rich and ‘positive’ policies like the use of quasi-state resources like banks for economic plunder. The millennia-old convention that lenders bear the loss when borrowers can’t repay loans has a rationale— lending is the expertise of lenders. The shift to borrower liability emerged from national accounts machinations a century ago that became official IMF policy in the 1960s to then be codified in Federal lending standards in the U.S. since the 1980s.

As metaphor for the power relations at work in the rise of global finance, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was conceived during the (Bill) Clinton administration and was implemented in the midst of the largest epoch of fraudulent lending by global bankers in world history. The increase in borrower liability for fraudulently made loans that was codified in the bill is what German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls ‘moral hazard’ when applied to the debt of the European periphery. This became the charge against the poor and vulnerable by bankers using state institutions for global plunder. The moralistic tenor of current German threats against Greece extends this perversion of liability.


A question of current relevance is: how likely is it that a preponderance of the Greek people could calculate what repayment of the Greek national debt would entail? Next: how would the Greek people adjust their collective effort, assuming that such a thing exists in relevant form, to meet the terms of repayment? The questions are nonsensical in that they aren’t posed by the Greek people, they are imposed from above. The contrived illusion that the Greek people owe any debt to the Troika is politics— it is imperialism waged under cover of ‘economics.’ What mechanism of political reach retains the nation-state frame while overriding the sovereignty it is theorized to represent? Conversely, if sovereignty can be overridden, how can the population be held accountable for ‘national’ obligations?

This paraphrased list of typical IMF ‘conditionalities’ is aggregated here:

Typical stabilization policies:

1. balance of payments deficit reductions through currency devaluation

2. budget deficit reduction through higher taxes and lower government spending, also known as austerity

3. restructuring foreign debts

4. monetary policy to finance government deficits (loans from central banks)

5. raising food prices to cut the burden of subsidies

6. raising the price of public services

7. cutting wages

8. reducing domestic credit.

Long-term ‘structural adjustment’ policies usually include:

1. liberalization of markets to guarantee a price mechanism

2. privatization, or divestiture, of all or part of state-owned enterprises

3. creating new financial institutions

4. improving governance and fighting corruption

5. enhancing the rights of foreign investors vis-à-vis national laws

6. focusing economic output on direct export and resource extraction

7. increasing the stability of investment (by supplementing foreign direct investment with the opening of domestic stock markets).

The European Currency Union was designed to preclude independent currency devaluations favoring what the economic mainstream calls ‘internal devaluation,’ the privation economics that reduces living standards in approximate order of social vulnerability. Otherwise, IMF ‘stabilization’ policies are austerity boilerplate, the same policies forced on ‘developing” nations by the IMF from about the 1960s to today. The ‘structural adjustment’ policies are likewise neoliberal boilerplate, Western imperialism dressed in academic garb that represents the ‘best thinking,’ as well as the political content, of establishment economics departments and ‘think tanks.’ The Keynesian / market fundamentalist divide largely relates to ‘stabilization’ policies. The key terms of ‘structural adjustment’ can be found in the ‘trade’ agreements currently being pushed by U.S. President Barack Obama and put forward by leading liberal economists.

‘Liberalization of markets to guarantee a price mechanism’ infers infinite fungibility, markets everywhere, all of the time for everything. This is the economic takeover of the world, the reordering of social life to serve a particular ideological conception of ‘the good.’ ‘Privatization’ means private ownership of the public realm. Banks create and allocate money meaning that Wall Street and ‘private’ investors use the public grant of money creation to further private ends. ‘Enhancing rights of foreign investors’ ties a half-century of imperialist IMF policies to the intended purpose of Barack Obama’s ‘trade’ agreements. The policies are clearly designed to affect the political takeover of nominally sovereign states through the misdirection that economics aren’t ‘political.’

It is a mistake to see the Troika’s treatment of the Greek people as either an outlier or an unintended consequence. The policies being implemented through degrees of coercion are standard IMF fare. The only ‘innovation’ being brought by the EC (European Commission) and the ECB (European Central Bank) is the pseudo-hard money of the currency union. The contention from Western liberals that the inability to devalue its currency is the overarching problem that Greece faces ties currency devaluation to austerity when the IMF doesn’t see it that way. IMF stabilization policies (above) recommend currency devaluation and austerity separately, the point being that even in cases where currency devaluation is possible austerity is still ‘recommended’ by the IMF.

The imperialist position embodied by the IMF’s structural adjustment policies is largely invisible to its proponents, and dare I say most in the West, in the first because its comes in the guise of economic prescriptions rather than explicitly political acts and secondly because it is posed as actions guided by knowledge of the natural order of the world rather than as self-interested opinions. The IMF’s policies have developed economic theories behind them— the same capitalist economics that, with the exception of a few quibbles, are the canon of Western economic liberalism. The division between ‘stabilization’ policies for the short run and ‘structural adjustment’ policies for the long run parses a temporal divide, not a conceptual one.

History Takes a Holiday

Modern Westerners don’t tend to be philosophically inclined, possibly because many of the relevant issues have been consigned by ideology to individual resolution. The premises of democracy and capitalism support local determinations (‘choices’) that lead to global indeterminacy. Paradoxically neoliberalism, as can be seen in the idea of infinite fungibility, is a theory of global determinacy posed as an accumulation of local determinations. The Germans occupied Greece militarily in WWII and through the ‘soft’ occupation of neoliberalism today are furious that total submission by the Greek people hasn’t yet been ‘self-chosen.’ The Greeks borrowed money and now they must pay it back goes the logic, never mind that the Greek people exist wholly apart from ‘the Greeks’ who borrowed the money. What more historical a process might one need to begin to gain ontological clarity?

Adding to this confusion are divergent ideas of class— historically circumscribed ‘objects’ of social ontology like ‘Black,’ ‘White,’ ‘rich’ or ‘Christian’ versus taxonomical objects set apart from history like ‘consumers,’ ‘voters’ and ‘entrepreneurs.’ When presented in context history nods heavily in the direction of the Marxist view of historical / social circumscription. Genocide wasn’t committed against the indigenous population of the U.S. as an aggregation of individuals; it was committed against a socially circumscribed ‘other’ as a totality. Kidnapped Africans forced into slavery didn’t become slaves through individual choices— slavery was an institution that relied on social power to systematically determine who was a slave and who wasn’t.

The ‘flattening’ at work in the (Platonic / Cartesian) ontology of neoliberalism poses commensurability through the willing away of history. ‘Markets’ are an envelope of commensurability where ‘prices’ act as the metric of conversion that makes commensurability possible. Infinite fungibility is the lunatic fantasy that equates a murdered child with a toaster oven with yesterday’s news through the metric of price. It is also the conceit that holds neoliberalism together. The ratio of that with a price to that without one is the vanishing point required for ‘markets’ to be more than historical artifact. Economists are quick to admit that most of what has value has no price while they busy themselves building a world where everything has a price. (Carbon credits anyone? Anyone)?

Austerity exists in history, witness the last half-century of human misery that is its product, but it isn’t ‘historical’ in the sense that it is put forward. Privation isn’t ‘austerity’ unless it is socially induced— its ‘fact’ exists in economic theory, not in its effect in the world. In a similar sense ‘Greece’ can be held accountable for debt that the Greek people had no part in accruing. Debt that could be wiped away with a few keystrokes from an ECB clerk is held forward as a fact of nature, the associated conditions of which condemn a generation or more of Greek people to ‘self-chosen’ subjugation that wasn’t chosen. In what sense can neoliberalism be a system of individual choice when both its central protagonists and its objects are aggregations— the Troika, ‘Greece,’ the European ‘periphery’ etc.?

In contradiction to the Americanism, re-introducing history as opposition is to remove agency from no one, it is to place it in context that can’t be willed away. Capitalists and their agents have an interest in paying you less while you have an interest in being paid more. With large corporations as the major employers in the West, ‘agency’ is socially circumscribed as the interests of labor against those of capital. The individualist argument found in ‘freedom to work’ laws supports capital in this opposition. Labor leaders working in concert with corporate managers toward corporate goals support capital and diminish the power of labor. The ‘constituent service’ that elected representatives perform has them serving the rich against the interests of everyone else when campaign contributions determine who gets and stays elected. And against the canard of ‘human nature,’ each of these oppositions emerged from social life lived historically.

The Same Old Same Old, Only New

The view that the Marxist left exists on a political spectrum fundamentally misreads the oppositional / antithetical / historical context that Marx took from Hegel. This matters because of the role that the spectrum plays in the social apologetics that surround political economy. Syriza, as ‘the Party of the Radical Left’ (its meaning in Greek), either exists in opposition to neoliberalism, as embodied in Troika policies, or it has emerged from a muddled liberal ‘spectrum’ conception that embraces a paradoxical ‘compassionate’ capitalist imperialism against the whole of history. For the uninitiated, compassion is ‘inefficient’ in capitalist theory as surely Wolfgang Schaeuble (or Charles Dickens) could explain to Mr. Tsipris.

The circumstance of Greece at present isn’t that unusual in the broader history of capitalist imperialism. German intransigence, with tinges of nationalistic loathing and racism thrown in for good measure, adds drama to this ordinary, if deeply tragic, history. A large part of the European North’s complaint against the periphery is an economic tautology as former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has repeatedly pointed out. In the aggregate trade surpluses and deficits add to zero. This is arithmetic, not complicated theory. What complicates Greece’s circumstance is debt denominated in a currency that it does not control. This is the lever that Germany holds over Greece. The only real tradeoff available to the Greek leadership is the timing of induced catastrophe— now or later.

The Greek leadership, certainly soon to have little to no representation from Syriza, will do what it will do. The broader question is: given the willful pushing forward of the neoliberal project by the U.S. and the European North, what possible good outcome is there for the rest of us? The peoples of the West face the conundrum of the Greeks by degree. The central change that neoliberalism has produced is the conscious redefinition of the realm of the political. Barack Obama’s euphemistically called ‘trade’ agreements are politics by other means. Most of his major ‘political’ accomplishments can be undone through the transfer of political power to economic interests contained in them. If you think he doesn’t understand this, revisit the structural adjustment program of the IMF provided above.

This tendency is nothing new— globalization as theories of transnational interests is the ideology of imperialism. Imperial battles over economic resources are the backstory of two World Wars and a substantial proportion of the local and regional conflicts of the last three centuries. Left unconsidered, except through largely unrelated ideology, is under what configuration of circumstances will social and environmental resolution come about? How long will the Greek people, and those from the rest of the European periphery, stand idly by and watch their circumstances decline, or more accurately be diminished, before they rebel? And the lot of the American periphery is directly related through its being so delegated by the leadership of the global North. Bankers in New York have been handed trillions in public largesse as the citizens of Detroit are squeezed by privatized water utilities. The fight is here every bit as much as it is in Athens.

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Obama’s Prison Charade



The list of Barack Obama’s crimes is a long one, but one of the worst is his refusal to even attempt a dismantling of the mass incarceration state in America. In criminal justice as in other issues, Obama fakes left while actually moving to the right. He is suddenly interested in “reform” and is on a cross country marketing blitz meant to burnish his image and fool uninformed people.

The White House recently announced that the president would commute prison sentences for “dozens” of federal prisoners who were convicted of non-violent drug related offenses. There are 208,000 federal prison inmates and 48% of them were convicted of narcotics violations. Approximately 100,000 people are under federal jurisdiction who could be given some consideration if narcotics sentencing laws were changed.

The slap in the face was worse than expected when a grand total of 46 people had their sentences commuted. Obama perfected the art of political marketing, which like all advertising makes lies appear to be true. In 2013 the president had an opportunity to free at least 5,000 black people from federal prisons. They were all imprisoned before the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act which reduced the powder/crack cocaine sentences from a 100:1 ration to a 18:1 ratio. The act did nothing for those sentenced prior and the White House successfully appealed a federal court ruling which would have given those persons the right to request resentencing.

The appeals court ruled in the Obama Justice Department’s favor, but no one knows that except for readers of Black Agenda Report. Formerly well respected organizations such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund lamented the decision without mentioning that the president supported it and took an active role in keeping their clients in prison.

Obama is a master of appearing to do what he doesn’t do. That is not all marketing skill; he also relies on a compliant corporate media and a spineless black misleadership class to fool nearly all of the people all of the time. His sudden desire to look like the Great Emancipator is an ongoing publicity junket. On July 16, 2015, he is scheduled to visit the El Reno medium security federal prison in Oklahoma. His trip will be part of VICE news documentary scheduled for broadcast on the HBO television network.

It is important to remember that Obama is still a duplicitous back stabber, not the lesser evil but the more effective evil. He has the power to prosecute killer vigilantes like George Zimmerman and the police who murdered Eric Garner and Michael Brown yet he refuses to do so. Despite the hoopla surrounding the commutations for 46 people, he falls short of the pardons given by his predecessors. He has yet to use any of the powers at his disposal to bring justice to black people. Of course he will show up at El Reno and use black people as a propaganda back drop, but those people can expect little else from him. It is insulting in the extreme for the president to talk about incarceration as some knotty problem he can’t quite figure out when he could have given thousands of people the right to seek their freedom.

Obama is able to play the same game over and over because he is enabled by his idol worshipping defenders. They never met an Obama lie they didn’t like and they are happy to help him appear powerless when it suits him. The president can claim and exercise a right to assassinate American citizens without charge or trial, exact regime change in Libya, or give billions to Ukraine but suddenly claims to be impotent if black Americans need help for any reason.

After the meager justice dispensed for 46 people, Obama took his phony show on the road at the annual NAACP convention. The once august organization is a leader among the misleaders, giving Obama cover in exchange for access and money. There was no better arena for the president to give an appearance of substance when he really offers only illusion.

“Mass incarceration makes our country worse off and we need to do something about it,” was but one of the meaningless platitudes the president uttered. If the president wanted to make a dent in the federal prison population he could have used Democrat majorities in Congress in 2009 and 2010 to do that and more. Of course neither he nor other Democrats sought to raise the minimum wage at that time either. Curiously, anything that Obama and the Democrats didn’t change when they had the chance is now open for discussion after the opportunities have disappeared.

Obama doesn’t really have a problem with mass incarceration. After all it keeps Cousin Pookie locked up. As far as the president is concerned, black America deserve nothing more than to stay behind bars.

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My Night in the Tombs


Mr. President, You Don’t Have to Make a Mistake to Go to Jail



President Obama is to be commended for tackling the country’s satanic criminal justice system, but he seems to believe that those in prison are there because they have made a mistake. I would suggest that probably half of those in jail are there because of lying cops and their partners, corrupt prosecutors and judges. I spent a night in a New York jail, the notorious medieval Tombs. It wasn’t because I had made a mistake.

In nineteen sixty four I was walking down Avenue B with my friends, Calvin Hernton, whose book Sex and Racism in America was about to be published by Doubleday. Duncan Roundtree, III, another friend, was with us. I saw a policeman exit from a bar called The Annex. He was carrying a brown bag. Said more in jest than indignation, I whispered to my friends, “The Times is right, they’re taking bribes in low places.” In June and July of that year there had been a spate of articles about the ties of some policemen to gamblers.

One of the policemen overheard me. Next thing I knew, he was swooping down on us in a patrol car. He and a burly white officer, packed us into the police car and took us to the 9th Precinct. I was separated


from Calvin and Roundtree, taken into a room where the policeman who overheard me began punching me. Afterwards, the police took us to the Tombs.

That afternoon, the policeman who had assaulted me visited me in my cell. In contrast to the manic behaving character who’d encountered us earlier that day, he was now calm and even polite.

He said that if I pled guilty I’d just spend the weekend in Riker’s Island. I told him that I was going to hire a lawyer. When we appeared before a judge, we repeated our intention. Our friends came and bailed Calvin and me out. The bail was one hundred and fifty dollars and we were charged with “disorderly conduct.” Duncan Roundtree, who didn’t say anything about cops taking bribes, spent the weekend in jail. I raised the money to bail Roundtree out.

It was months before we went to trial. The case was postponed, and on other occasions the officer didn’t show up. I had just been laid off from my job as a researcher for the Tri State Transportation Corporation and was home writing and collecting unemployment checks, while seeking another job. (I finally got a job as editor of a Newark community newspaper).

On the day of the trail, I dressed in my only suit, a three-piece pinstriped number, and went to court with my lawyer, Attorney Green. I took the stand and gave my account of what had happened that day. Behind me were a number of police who’d come to court as a result of one of the early anti-war demonstrations. The two cops sat in the audience, alternately glaring and smirking at me. They weren’t smirking for very long. I let it all out, while some of the Puerto Rican and black members of the audience gave me support. All of the anxiety that had been building up came gushing out in words. I mentioned the arrest and my treatment once we arrived at the 9th Precinct. I challenged the lies that appeared in the policeman’s report. When I finished, I was prepared for anything that would happen to me. I was relieved. Calm. My lawyer and I stood, waiting for the verdict. The judge pronounced me guilty and left the courtroom without sentencing me. My lawyer said he’d never seen anything like it. The great Civil Rights lawyer and feminist Florence Kennedy was in the audience. She introduced herself and she my lawyer and I had coffee.

To this day, I wonder why the judge left the courtroom without sentencing me. I also wonder what would have happened to me if I had been sent to Riker’s Island. And I wonder about the fate of those who didn’t have my kind of backup, those who accept shoddy plea bargains even though innocent as a way of moving on with their lives.

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Greece’s Lesson For Russia



Greece’s debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far.”

— International Monetary Fund

Greece’s lesson for Russia, and for China and Iran, is to avoid all financial relationships with the West. The West simply cannot be trusted. Washington is committed to economic and political hegemony over every other country and uses the Western financial system for asset freezes, confiscations, and sanctions. Countries that have independent foreign policies and also have assets in the West cannot expect Washington to respect their property rights or their ownership.  Washington freezes or steals countries’ assets, or in the case of France imposes multi-billion dollar fines, in order to force compliance with Washington’s policies. Iran, for example, lost the use of $100 billion, approximately one-fourth of the Iranian GDP, for years simply because Iran insisted on its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Russian journalists are asking me if Obama’s willingness to reach a deal with Iran means there is hope a deal can be reached over Ukraine.  The answer is No. Moreover, as I will later explain, the deal with Iran doesn’t mean much as far as Washington is concerned.

Three days ago (July 14) a high ranking military officer, Gen. Paul Selva, the third in about as many days, told the US Senate that Russia is “an existential threat to this nation (the US).” Only a few days prior the Senate had heard the same thing from US Marine commander Joseph Dunford and from the Secretary of the Air Force. A few days before that, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff warned of a Russian “hybrid threat.”

Washington is invested heavily in using Ukraine against Russia. All the conflict there originates with Washington’s puppet government in Kiev. Russia is blamed for everything, including the destruction of the Malaysian airliner. Washington has used false charges to coerce the EU into sanctions against Russia that are not in the EU’s interest.  As Washington has succeeded in coercing all of Europe to harm Europe’s political and economic relationships with Russia and to enter into a state of conflict with Russia, certainly Washington is not going to agree to an Ukrainian settlement.  Even if Washington wanted to do so, as Washington’s entire position rests on nothing but propaganda, Washington would have to disavow itself in order to come to an agreement.

Despite everything, Russia’s president and foreign minister continue to speak of the US and Washington’s EU vassal states as “our partners.”  Perhaps Putin and Lavrov are being sarcastic. The most certain thing of our time is that Washington and its vassals are not partners of Russia.

The Wolfowitz doctrine, the basis of US foreign and military policy, declares that the rise of Russia or any other country cannot be permitted, because the US is the Uni-power and cannot tolerate any constraint on its unilateral actions.

As long as this doctrine reigns in Washington, neither Russia, China, nor Iran, the nuclear agreement not withstanding, are safe.  As long as Iran has an independent foreign policy, the nuclear agreement does not protect Iran, because any significant policy conflict with Washington can produce new justifications for sanctions.

With the nuclear agreement with Iran comes the release of Iran’s $100 billion in frozen Western balances.  I heard yesterday a member of the Council for Foreign Relations say that Iran should invest its released $100 billion in US and Europe companies.  If Iran does this, the Iranian government is setting itself up for further blackmail. Investing anywhere in the West means that Iran’s assets can be frozen or confiscated at any time.

If Obama were to dismiss Victoria Nuland, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power and replace these neoconservatives with sane diplomats, the outlook would improve. Then Russia, China, and Iran would have a better possibility of reaching  accommodation with the US on terms other than vassalage.

Russia and China, having emerged from a poorly functioning communist economic system, naturally regard the West as a model.  It seems China has fallen for Western capitalism head over heels.  Russia perhaps less so, but the economists in these two countries are the same as the West’s neoliberal economists, which means that they are unwitting servants of Western financial imperialism. Thinking mistakenly that they are being true to economics, they are being true to Washington’s hegemony.

With the deregulation that began in the Clinton regime, Western capitalism has become socially dysfunctional. In the US and throughout the West capitalism no longer serves the people.  Capitalism serves the owners and managers of capital and no one else.

This is why US income inequality is now as bad or worse than during the “robber baron” era of the 1920s.  The 1930s regulation that made capitalism a functioning economic system has been repealed.  Today in the Western world capitalism is a looting mechanism.  Capitalism not only loots labor, capitalism loots entire countries, such as Greece which is being forced by the EU to sell of Greece’s national assets to foreign purchasers.

Before Putin and Lavrov again refer to their “American partners,” they should reflect on the EU’s lack of good will toward Greece. When a member of the EU itself is being looted and driven into the ground by its compatriots, how can Russia, China, and Iran expect better treatment? If the West has no good will toward Greece, where is the West’s good will toward Russia?

The Greek government was forced to capitulate to the EU, despite the support it received from the referendum, because the Greeks relied on the good will of their European partners and underestimated the mendacity of the One Percent. The Greek government did not expect the merciless attitude of its fellow EU member governments.  The Greek government actually thought that its expert analysis of the Greek debt situation and economy would carry weight in the negotiations. This expectation left the Greek government without a backup plan.  The Greek government gave no thought to how to go about leaving the euro and putting in place a monetary and banking system independent of the euro.  The lack of preparation for exit left the government with no alternative to the EU’s demands.

The termination of Greece’s fiscal sovereignty is what is in store for Italy, Spain, and Portugal, and eventually for France and Germany. As Jean-Claude Trichet, the former head of the European Central Bank said, the sovereign debt crisis signaled that it is time to bring Europe beyond a “strict concept of nationhood.” The next step in the centralization of Europe is political centralization. The Greek debt crisis is being used to establish the principle that being a member of the EU means that the country has lost its sovereignty.

The notion, prevalent in the Western financial media, that a solution has been imposed on the Greeks is nonsense.  Nothing has been solved. The conditions to which the Greek government submitted make the debt even less payable. In a short time the issue will again be before us. As John Maynard Keynes made clear in 1936 and as every economist knows, driving down consumer incomes by cutting pensions, employment, wages, and social services, reduces consumer and investment demand, and thereby GDP,  and results in large budget deficits that have to be covered by borrowing. Selling pubic assets to foreigners transfers the revenue flows out of the Greek economy into foreign hands.

Unregulated naked capitalism, has proven in the 21st century to be unable to produce economic growth anywhere in the West. Consequently, median family incomes are declining. Governments cover up the decline by underestimating inflation and by not counting as unemployed discouraged workers who, unable to find jobs, have ceased looking. By not counting discouraged workers the US is able to report a 5.2 percent rate of unemployment.  Including discouraged workers brings the unemployment rate to 23.1 percent. A 23 percent rate of unemployment has nothing in common with economic recovery.

Even the language used in the West is deceptive. The Greek “bailout” does not bail out Greece.  The bailout bails out the holders of Greek debt. Many of these holders are not Greece’s original creditors.  What the “bailout” does is to make the New York hedge funds’ bet on the Greek debt pay off for the hedge funds. The bailout money goes not to Greece but to those who speculated on the debt being paid.  According to news reports, Quantitative Easing by the ECB has been used to purchase Greek debt from the troubled banks that made the loans, so the debt issue is no longer a creditor issue.

China seems unaware of the risk of investing in the US. China’s new rich are buying up residential communities in California, forgetting the experience of Japanese-Americans who were herded into detention camps during Washington’s war with Japan. Chinese companies are buying US companies and ore deposits in the US.  These acquisitions make China susceptible to blackmail over foreign policy differences.

The “globalism” that is hyped in the West is inconsistent  with Washington’s unilateralism. No country with assets inside the Western system can afford to have policy differences with Washington. The French bank paid the $9 billion fine for disobeying Washington’s dictate of its lending practices, because the alternative was the close down of its operations in the United States.  The French government was unable to protect the French bank from being looted by Washington.

It is testimony to the insouciance of our time that the stark inconsistency of globalism with American unilateralism has passed unnoticed.

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Did Hasidic Neighbor Start Sex Abuse Reign of Terror on September 11?


Frimet Goldberger

A testified that he suffered years of child sexual abuse after visiting a respected member of his upstate New York Hasidic community for comfort on the day of the September 11 terror attacks.

Laiby Stern told a court that he was sexually molested for five years from 2001 until his bar mitzvah by Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld, whom he described as one of “the most powerful men” in his Skverer Hasidic-dominated Rockland County community of New Square.

Stern told a packed courtroom that Taubenfeld first molested him when the boy sought reassurance after after hearing about the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

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				Laiby Stern<br /><br />

Laiby Stern

“He called me into his office, closed the door and told me to pull my pants and underpants down,” Stern, now 22, recounted multiple times during his testimony, pausing regularly to regain his composure.

Taubenfeld then allegedly proceeded to rub the boy’s penis. “He then told me to lay flat on the desk and inserted a finger in my anus,” he told the rapt courtroom.

The abuse occurred regularly, every few weeks at first, then escalating to once every few days, Stern testified.

When asked by Steve Moore, an assistant Rockland County district attorney, why he continued to go to Taubenfeld’s home, the alleged victim simply said he was too shocked to do anything else.

“I didn’t know what to think,” he said.

Taubenfeld, 55, who denies the accusations, kept his eyes downcast throughout most of the proceedings, and prayed during breaks. He faces a charge of second-degree course of sexual conduct, a felony. He faces up to 7 years in prison.

Supporters of the accused man, who has 20 children and once worked as a premarital counsellor, said they don’t believe the alleged victim’s account.

“He’s lying,” one of the New Square men there to support Mr. Taubenfeld said in Yiddish during a brief recess, referring to Stern.

On Friday morning, Stern was back on the witness stand for cross-examination by defense attorney Gerard Damiani.

The defense’s line of inquiry seemingly intended to demonstrate that the accuser is mentally unfit to recall the details of the abuse, given his depression and use of psychiatric medicine after the abuse had ended in 2006, as well as his recent brief hospitalization.

“Didn’t you say you wanted to make millions of dollars suing Taubenfeld?” Damiani asked Stern towards the end of his cross-examination. ‘

“No,” he answered.

Stern gave several impassioned statements to wrap up his testimony, saying that New Square is not concerned about the molesters in their midst.

The alleged victim was interviewed about corruption and abuse in the community for a story in the Forward , which has since won a major journalism award.

The trial is scheduled to resume on July 20.

Read more:

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The NAZI army wants to know what you’re saying about the boycott


An investigation by +972’s Hebrew site, Local Call, revealed that NAZI Military Intelligence is contracting private tech companies to monitor what citizens say on Facebook and other social media platforms.

A former employee of one of the tech companies explained how NAZI army asked them to flag words like “protest” and “boycott,” and wanted to know the identities of people using those terms — in both public and private settings.

Although the NAZI authorities are monitoring social media use both in Hebrew and Arabic, the way they use that data is overtly discriminatory. A separate investigation found that NAZI police are only arresting and indicting Arabs, not Jews, for incitement on Facebook.

As a result, several members of  NAZI Knesset started asking tough questions of the NAZI Defence Ministry. “This is a severe violation of our democratic principles and civil rights,” Meretz MK Michal Rozin said. The story was picked up Zionist by Haaretz and international news outlets.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on The NAZI army wants to know what you’re saying about the boycott

Russia Vetoes Genocide

Global Research

I love Russia’s vetoes. Sparse, strong, hard hits, they mark the limits of the Empire’s power. They said “No”, and Zimbabwe remained at peace, its old maverick Robert Mugabe still alive and kicking and proposing Obama his hand in marriage. They said “No”, and Burma could grow at its own pace. They said “No”, and Syria… well, Syria still suffers immensely, but it was not destroyed by the Sixth Fleet. All US vetoes are similar, – usually for Israel; Russia’s vetoes are fewer and evenly spread. The recent Russian veto (last week) stopped misuse of this terrible cliché “genocide”, and this is a good thing. It would be good to ban this word altogether.

‘Genocide’ is a nasty invention. Just think of it: mankind lived for thousands of years, through raids of Genghis Khan and Crusades, through extermination of Native Americans, slave trade and WWI, happily butchering each other in millions, without being encumbered by the G word. This term was invented (or updated from Jewish traditional thought) by a Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish lawyer, in the wake of Holocaust, in order to stress the difference between murdering Jews and killing lesser breeds. The word is quite meaningless otherwise.

The best flower of Europe, a million of the youngest and brightest were killed at Verdun – sad, but that’s not G. Young and old, women and men were incinerated in millions in the fiery furnaces of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, Hiroshima – sorry, old chum, that’s not G. Millions starved to death in the brutal siege of Leningrad – well, you understand by now, that’s not G. It goes without saying that killing of five million Vietnamese or a million Iraqis were just “war is hell” business as usual.

In Israel, killing of five Jews by Palestinians has been qualified as G: the poor soldiers were murdered just because they were Jews. But killing of Palestinians by Jews is collateral damage. They were in the wrong place, in the wrong time, bad luck!

If so, why should one bother with G? This term was, and is a chosen weapon of war propaganda. Not surprisingly, Lemkin was a Cold War warrior, and he accused the USSR of multiple genocides: by providing Russian language education to natives of the Baltic states or by serving alcohol in a Muslim republic. No American misdeed would amount to G according to Lemkin, and according to the US reading of the G Convention, unless in an unlikely case of the US agreeing that it is guilty. European states say the US is not a participant to the G convention, for its many caveats amount to non-participation. However, the US speaks of G more often than most participants, usually in order to justify its intervention. The Big G became a mighty stick to unseat rulers and undermine regimes.

The G word is likely to cause more bloodshed, for a sad, rarely stated reason. If a victim of the crime is a nation, a tribe or an ethnic group, so is the criminal. Germans killed Jews, Turks killed Armenians, Hutu killed Tutsi etc. The moment you recognise G, you encourage the G of revenge. As the Jews considered themselves being the victims of G (this is an idea deeply ingrained in the Jewish tradition, though quite foreign to Christian thought) they tried to take revenge by poisoning millions of Germans. (They failed but never apologised).

Armenians provide another example of people seriously disturbed by G politics. Lemkin used the 1915 atrocities to dissimulate the purely Jewish idea of G, and the Armenians eventually embraced it. As the idea of G took its place in the law of the nations, the Armenian fighters began to seek and extract revenge from Turks – after fifty years at peace. G propaganda produced a terrible fruit in 1990-1992, when tens of thousands of Azeri (deemed “Turks” by their Armenian neighbours) were massacred and exiled “in revenge for the 1915 G”. A new generation of Armenians was poisoned by victimhood and revenge feelings, thanks to Lemkin and his followers.

A Genocide is not about past. It is about future. Innocent people will die, and die, and die, whenever this term is applied. Without the term, the Lethe will cover all. A good example is provided by Greeks. They suffered probably more than Armenians during the WWI, but as nobody applied the term G to “their” atrocities, they are not obsessed with revenge and live rather peaceably with their Turkish neighbours.

In Africa the concept of G was applied most vigorously by the Western neo-colonisers. You will not be surprised that no Westerner has ever been tried for G despite impressive results. Millions of chopped off hands and heads, but like in Raymond Chandler’s LA, “only darkies are tried.” Now Africa prepares to leave the ICC, the main dealer of the G politics. “Despite having received almost 9,000 formal complaints about alleged war crimes in at least 139 countries, the ICC has chosen to indict 36 black Africans in eight African countries.” – wrote David Hoille, a leading international lawyer.

No less authority than Christopher Black, the eminent international lawyer, proved beyond a shade of doubt that the familiar story of Rwanda genocide of Tutsi by Hutu was not only false, but had led to terrible revenge massacres of Hutu by Tutsi. And this story was utilised by Samantha Power and the interventionists of her ilk to bomb all over the world.

It is good that the nasty concept of genocide took a hit from the Russian veto. And now we can consider the particular case of Srebrenica.

The last thing I want and shall do it to tire you, my reader, with tedious Balkan stories of who slaughtered whom and where. If you want to know the gruesome details, read Diana Johnstone. I am sure they all tried their beastly best.

There is no reason to single out one party – that is, no good reason. The Yugoslav war, the war fought by Clinton against the Serbs, was a large social experiment: how do you sow discord among brothers (Proverbs, 6) and turn a multi-ethnic state into a warren of quarrelling communities. The result was satisfactory, for Clintons. The biggest US military base in Europe came into existence. A wealthy independent socialist state was broken into many miserable statelets; all of them applied for a place in the EU; Russia has lost its potential foothold on the Balkans.

The politics of genocide were played to its utmost extent in the Balkans, deligitimising one of the sides in the internal conflict. The Slavs were subjected to an international tribunal of total dishonesty and bias. Their leaders died in jail. No accusation of real genocide has ever been proven, but the West’s right to judge and decide has been affirmed.

There was a nice extra profit. The West asserted that its will for justice is stronger than its religious solidarity with Christians, right? Now every Muslim should remember that the West will side with Muslims, if they are persecuted, right? Wrong. The Eastern Orthodox Christians (such as Serbs, Russians, Bulgarians, Greeks) do not belong to the Western civilisation. They are as foreign to the Westerners as the Muslims are. Indeed, when the Crusaders fought for the Holy Land, they killed the local Christians, too, saying: “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” So there was no hindrance to side with Muslims against Christians as long as they are Eastern Christians, but by sleigh of hand, the Muslims could be tricked into believing in the Western objectivity.

This feature has been used now. The vetoed draft was a clever and mischievous trap. Such drafts rarely get to the stage of a vote, as the powers (P5, the Big Five, or Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, choose the name) usually do not use the unique power of UNSC resolutions for propaganda purposes. Otherwise, they could vex the US with drafts calling for Gaza freedom. Being prudent, P5 avoid such brownie points. Now they did it, anyway. The result was predictable: Russia could not let the Christian Serbs being singled out in the “You are the Villain” competition. This Russian veto has been presented as “Russia is the enemy of Islam”, with the explicit intention to send the Daesh beasts down the Russian trail and undermine internal Russian cohesiveness.

Russia is not an enemy of Islam. Muslim steppe riders were the co-founders of Russia, together with Viking warriors, Slav ploughmen, Finn forest dwellers. The Muslim Kazan gave its title to the Russian crown. Tatars and Kazakhs are the mainstay of Russia. Russians proved themselves as benevolent rulers, good advisers, reliable friends to Muslims of Central Asia and Caucasus. They had build schools, educated native engineers, modernised these countries.

However, Russia considers its duty to protect the Eastern Christians. In a way, they inherited this responsibility from the Byzantines. For this reason Russia heavily invested in the Holy Land and in Greece, liberated Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia from the Turkish yoke.

In the terms of realpolitik, this policy has been extremely disappointing. Almost all the “liberated Eastern Christian” states eventually sided with Russia’s enemies, while the once-conquered Muslim states remained loyal to Moscow. Muslim Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and once-rebellious Chechnya are friends of Russians; so are Turkey and Iran.

The veto in the UNSC was supposed to protect Serbia from Western pressure, not to poke the Muslims. Remember that during the war, Russia was too weak to interfere and save Yugoslavia. Now Russia made its amends for 1999.

Hopefully, the Muslims will understand the Russian point. After all, the Turks and Azeris understood the Russian position on Armenia. In the recent commemoration of 1915 in Yerevan, Armenia, Putin was the only important guest – his French counterpart M Hollande made a brief appearance and flew away to Baku (to “Azeri Turks”, in Armenian parlance). Putin went there soon after an important and fruitful visit to Turkey, after an agreement with Erdogan. Visit to Armenia jeopardised this achievement, but Putin still did not shrink from the trip. Armenia for Russia is like Israel for the US. There is a very important Armenian diaspora in Russia, and the neighbours accept this reality like Israeli Arab neighbours accept the reality and inevitability of American support for Israel.

The Armenians and the Azeri soldiers marched together, one after another, on the Red Square on May 9 this year, approving the Russian position of the mediator and protector in the area. Perhaps it is a liability for Russia, but nobody promised them a rose garden.

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Greece: We are Going to Collapse your Banks


Greek Government Insider Lifts the Lid on Five Months of Financial Blackmail

‘We Underestimated Their Power’:

Global Research

In this interview with Mediapart, a senior advisor to the Greek government, who has been at the heart of the past five months of negotiations between Athens and its international creditors, reveals the details of what resembles a game of liar’s dice over the fate of a nation that has been brought to its economic and social knees. His account gives a rare and disturbing insight into the process which has led up to this week’s make-or-break deadline for reaching a bailout deal between Greece and international lenders, without which the country faces crashing out of the euro and complete bankruptcy. He describes the extraordinary bullying of Greece’s radical-left government by the creditors, including Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s direct threat to cause the collapse of the Hellenic banks if it failed to sign-up to a drastic austerity programme. “We went into a war thinking we had the same weapons as them”, he says. “We underestimated their power”.

A senior member of Greece’s negotiating team with its European creditors agreed to a meeting last week in Athens with Mediapart special correspondent Christian Salmon. Speaking on condition that his name is withheld, he detailed the history of the protracted and bitter negotiations between the radical-left Syriza government, elected in January, and international lenders for the provision of a new bailout for the debt-ridden country.

The almost two-hour interview in English took place just days before last Sunday’s referendum on the latest drastic austerity-driven bailout terms offered by the creditors, and opposed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and which were finally rejected by 61.3% of Greek voters.

While the ministerial advisor slams the stance of the international creditors, who he accuses of leading a strategy of deliberate suffocation of Greece’s finances and economy, he is also critical of some of the decisions taken by Athens. His account also throws light on the personal tensions surrounding the talks led by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who resigned from his post on Monday deploring “a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my ‘absence’ from its meetings”.

The advisor cites threats proffered to Varoufakis by Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem, warning he would sink Greece’s banks unless the Tsipras government bowed to the harsh deal on offer, and by German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who he says demanded: “How much money do you want to leave the euro?”

The interview follows below and over the following three pages presented in a continuous series of extracts (editor’s notes appear in italics within hard brackets):

From early on I disagreed that it was only a negotiation – we give this, you give that, you come closer. Because what happened was they had some negotiations, some details about fiscal policy, about conditions, et cetera. So, through these discussions it was the government that was coming, coming – coming close to the Troika, without them making any move towards us, and never discussing the debt: debt restructuring, debt sustainability, and also, you know, financing. We are going to get some new financing, is the ECB [editor’s note: European Central Bank] going to lift all these caps, all these restrictions, these limits on how much the banks can borrow, the state can borrow from the banks? Because we can’t borrow.

We used to. Up until February, we could still issue treasury bills. Short-term, three-month fixed bonds, mostly one-year. But this government was never allowed to do that because it was finished. No more treasury bills […] You see, the problem with treasury bills, [is that] it is the Greek banks who buy it. And the ECB said: “No more treasury bills”. So the state could not borrow from the banks.

So, from March, April onwards, we started economizing from the state, pulling together all the cash reserves from different branches, agencies, local authorities, things like that, in order to manage to pay the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. We paid once, we paid twice, and [we had] to pay wages as well. We paid wages from earnings, from tax receipts. But it’s not enough to pay the IMF. We have a problem with the primary surplus, we couldn’t pay the IMF, so we had to scrape around.

So basically this has created a domestic shortage of liquidity, liquidity in cash. Banks, export companies, good companies, could not borrow, people could not pay back their debts, they couldn’t get any extensions to their credits and basically the credit system started to disintegrate, to not function. Of course, the banks themselves had some security reserves, but when they reached the point they said the banks can’t even borrow even from the ELA [Emergency Liquidity Assistance fund] at all, they had to shut down, because they would deplete their reserves.

[…] Companies who do not pay their employees through bank accounts cannot pay cash to the employees – and there are many. Also they say “look, we don’t have any revenues so I give you 500 euros instead of 800 euros and we’ll see what happens after the banks reopen”. So we have a situation which is escalating into a chain reaction […] like having a heart attack. A heart attack if you view cash liquidity as the blood of the economy. On the weekend when the ECB stopped, we had the heart attack. Now we are having its after effects. Different organs are getting numb. Some stop working, others are trying but they don’t have enough blood.

On former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis:

Unable to see eye-to-eye: Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem (left) and Yanis Varoufakis meeting in Athens in February.Unable to see eye-to-eye: Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem (left) and Yanis Varoufakis meeting in Athens in February. © Reuters.

People are asking why he is supposed to be so unpopular with the Eurogroup and the people in power, why they don’t like him. And a lot of people say they don’t like him because he appears to be lecturing them, because of being arrogant. He thinks this is an academic issue, an economic issue or a technical issue. But what I think is that all these people – especially people in politics, in power, the Eurogroup, fellow ministers – they have seen a phenomenon that is much more different than anything they have encountered in their circle, from those elected, in the normal process of politics.

Because you have a man that has his own style of dressing, he is very self-confident, at the same time he is very friendly, very open, very honest. You know, you ask him a question and he doesn’t spin around, he doesn’t change the subject, and so this creates difficulty, both to the politician and the journalist, [to] the media. These are two things that show that Varoufakis doesn’t fit, but on the other hand he is a celebrity and he creates clashing emotions. You hate him or you love him.

On the grave immediate crisis facing the Greek banks:

The reserves were not to the amount. We are in a situation where normally the liquidity in the market, the money that circulates in the market, is around 10 billion euros, but now with all that is happening, [with] people keeping money under the mattress, it is around 50 billion. 50 billion euros of cash circulate, and the ECB has stopped [its emergency funding of Greek banks]. So this means that people who have bank accounts, say [with] 2-3-4-5 thousand [euros], they can only get 60 euros per day, and if you have more accounts, OK, you can get more per day. But what about the people who have no account, who expect to live off their salary? At the end of every month they are broke until the paycheck comes […] From yesterday they were only giving 50 euros. Only smaller banks, like post office banks, which have fewer customers, can still give 60 euros. But the big four [banks] – National, Piraeus, Alpha and Eurobank – have run out of [notes of] 20s, so they can only give 50. So from 60 euros it has fallen to 50.

A security guard delivers cash to a bank in Athens, June 28th.A security guard delivers cash to a bank in Athens, June 28th. © Reuters.

But the security reserves which they have kept, they run out of it. If all the people go and get 60 euros – even if they don’t need it, but just to save something – there will come a time they [the banks] will have no cash [left]. And that’s where the problem starts. And in that case, if we don’t have an emergency liquidity supply from the ECB, we have no option but to start issuing some kind of [parallel] money. Of course, that would be the end of the economy because already there is fear, there is panic, that even if the banks open again, they will still need to be re-capitalised. Up to now, they have been solvent.

They were borrowing from the ELA, they should have been able to borrow from the ECB as well, but the ECB said “No, from now on we don’t accept your collateral. You have to borrow more expensively from the ELA”. That’s another of those caps limits the banks have. But if they run out of reserves, the state paid about 40 billion to replenish the capital which the banks lost after the [2012] haircut of the old Greek bonds.

The part of the second programme of the agreement of 2012, after the haircut of the PSI [Private Sector Involvement], which was about 170 billion euros, 50 billion out of that was for the recapitalisation of the banks. Of course, there was another problem. From the PSI, the public funds suffered losses almost, if not more, in their own reserves. Why? Because they were forced under the law to save their cash reserves with the Bank of Greece, and the Bank of Greece had the right to use these funds to buy bonds on their behalf.

For me it was a big scandal because apparently what happened was a lot of politicians, bankers, a lot of people went and gave – they had bonds that they had bought 20% – they went and they gave it to the Greek Central Bank, Bank of Greece, 100%, they got their money and then the haircut comes to the public.

Basically, what they were forced to do was to use their cash reserves, social security funds, pension funds, in order to buy government bonds that were going to be cut in real terms around 70% in present value. So the funds right now, the pension funds, are facing a bigger problem than the banks are facing. The pension funds have to plan 15 to 20 years ahead to be able to pay pensions, when the aging population is increasing and the working population is decreasing. They also have to pay unemployment benefits and so on. So, all these debt locks came to the front now.

[…] Already from the end of February and certainly by the middle of March it was obvious that the creditors were not going to honour the February 20th agreement, which says that Greece proposes reforms, the Troika – “the Institutions”, as it is now called – evaluates and agrees and the reforms go on. Nothing like that happened. The institutions were continuously rejecting reforms without looking. “No, they are too generous” and Varoufakis was telling them: “Please, let us complete four to five reforms on which we all agree and view as necessary and let us implement them and you can evaluate and make an assessment of them”.

[The Institutions said] “No, no, we need a comprehensive agreement before we implement these reforms, because if you implement these reforms that would be a unilateral action. We haven’t approved them yet, ok, we agree, but we still haven’t determined the primary surplus”. So we are unable to do anything while at the same time they wanted to see our books because they didn’t trust our numbers. “We want to go to the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Greece” et cetera, and Varoufakis was saying: “No, let’s start from the agreement of February 20th under which you are not supervising the Greek economy anymore and you are not assisting us or the creditors to assess the viability of the economy so as to gradually return to growth. That’s the objective of the February 20th agreement, an extension of the existing programme. We amend, evaluate and complete the programme in four months. June 30th, programme finished”.

But they pulled the plug on the banks and on Tuesday June 30th the programme finished, so we are not in a programme.

All the money they owe us… about 17 billion euros, [of which] 10 billion [is] from the remainder of the 50-billion-euro [HellenicFinancial Stability Fund which, under the February 20th agreement, we would have to give back. We have not received any money from June last year, so for 12 months we have been paying around 10 billion euros to the creditors from our resources without getting a single euro from them, which they had agreed to give, of course under conditions. It was obvious they were not going to cooperate and that we needed growth and these were two problems going side by side. They didn’t want to finance the money we were entitled to in order to pay the debts.

On the ‘maze of pseudo-negotiations’, and the ‘character assassination’ of Varoufakis:

All the loans we have received, 240 to 250 billion euros, go for the servicing of the debt, back to the creditors. The first bailout was a bailout of the banks to the state. We didn’t get any finance in order to pay them, we couldn’t borrow short-term and we couldn’t facilitate the liquidity of the economy because the ECB was putting one restriction after the other. So you have the liquidity problem and at the same time you have a financing problem. The two of them are connected in what I called from the beginning ‘credit asphyxiation’.

In the middle of March, finally, some Brussels sources said to the correspondents in Brussels that “yes, the institutions – the EBD, IMF, European Commission, are using credit asphyxiation in order to force the government to comply, accept the reforms, do it quickly, et cetera.”. For me it was an admission that they were using the worst king of economic blackmail to the country. The worst kind of economic sanctions. If we [take] Iraq, and instead of doing a trade embargo they said “we cut all your assets, your banks have no money, no dollars, no anything, you have to rely on printing money, you’re going to have an exposure”. But they didn’t do that in Iraq. It was a trade embargo, not a financial or credit asphyxiation. Because at any moment, gradually, there comes a time you die. You can’t survive this much longer. Varoufakis has even called it “waterboarding”, financial and fiscal waterboarding.

The assumption is that by pulling the plug, they pull the plug of the whole world. This has not happened and I am sorry. I was following how the euro was going, how it was reacting, because they did experiments. [German finance minister Wolfgang] Schäuble and Berlin are clever, they enforce artificial crises into the negotiations now and then: “Oh, the Greeks are not cooperating, they haven’t understood what to do, they are not giving any figures”. And instead of falling, the euro is going up. The same with European stock exchanges.

[…] Only in the last week they [the Greek government] realised it, and Varoufakis made a couple of statements, that we go to the European Court of Justice. When you reach the explosion of the crisis, legal arguments are not valid anymore, they can’t help.

I said let Tsipras go to the European Parliament and say that this is how we were treated the last months. Also, refuse to implement these harsh measures. They [the Greek government] prefer to lose the elections [rather than] to enforce those measures. But every time they try political negotiation they [have been] fooled by them [the creditors]: twenty times with Merkel and five more with Schäuble. And how many Eurogroup [meetings] where they said “go back to the technical teams, go back to the Troika”. The [Greek government] said “no, we want a political decision” [but they were told] “Our political decision is to go back to the technical decision, you can’t have a political decision without a technical decision”.

A Syriza party poster during the July 5th referendum campaign urging a &quot;No&quot; vote &quot;for democracy and dignity&quot;.A Syriza party poster during the July 5th referendum campaign urging a “No” vote “for democracy and dignity”. © Amélie Poinssot

[…] At every point they were trying to undermine the prestige that the Greek [Syriza] government had won during the first months of negotiation. At the time people said “a new hope for Europe… a new hope for Germany, Spain… the Greeks are giving us the lead”. If [the Institutions] said from the beginning “It’s finished, we don’t agree, no more negotiations” – which they said indirectly, for example [Dutch finance minister andEurogroup president Jeroen] Dijsselbloem – then it’d be clear and we would be in a clash: “We are elected, have prestige and authority. You are wrong etc”. But they didn’t do that […] They created a maze of pseudo-negotiations, time wasted, and it was on their side. All the time they were carrying negative propaganda against Varoufakis. Character assassination, and Varoufakis keeps saying that. But what did he expect?

So here we are, having lost all the economic ground of negotiating in real terms, of finding a new agreement, and also lost the credibility to force them to negotiate with us. The government, Tsipras, says that when they presented us the ultimatum “take it or leave it” [it was] with worst measures than they had presented to the previous government, the right-wing government […] the ECB tells the parliament “You take the measures or on Monday you have no banks”. But our banks were alright. So instead what [the Greek government] did, and it was correct as a move, they went for the referendum, which means that they would have to do what they did in Cyprus for a week. They believed the situation would bring them closer to a deal. They didn’t want a crisis.

But they don’t have enough of a global or a European crisis, or a collapse. Yes the stock exchanges fall, yes there are fluctuations, the pound is rising. But, in the end, the Europeans are not forced to come closer.

[…] Varoufakis and Tsipras say that in case of a “No” [vote in the July 5th referendum], our bargaining position is strengthened. That’s why they say “No”, and not to an agreement that is not on the table anymore. “No” to any kind of agreement that doesn’t deal with the debt restructuring or fiscal adjustment. The amount that is left for [the European institutions) to pay, 17 billion euros – plus another 16 or 20 billion from the IMF – are lost. The programme is finished and you need a new agreement. Basically what you do is beg the Europeans for an emergency funding through the ECB. But they say that to do that they have to go back to parliaments et cetera. But you need recapitalization in order to re-enter a process of economic functioning that would allow for dealing with a new programme.

Behind the scenes with ‘king’ Schäuble, and when Dijsselbloem threatened to sink the Greek banks:

Of course, even to discuss Grexit is illegal since there is no legal provision in the Treaties to do that. […]There is no safeguard that a Grexit can happen in an orderly, negotiated, peaceful manner instead of disorderly, with people running to the foodstores. If you don’t have a process of exit from the euro, then exit is a weapon of mass destruction. If you threaten someone with Grexit, you push him to the limit of the banking system’s ability to withstand pressure. Then you destroy the banking system quickly and then you start from scratch to create new currency, which takes months to form.

Instead of saying that Grexit is illegal, they [the creditors] say that it’s as destructive and disastrous for us as it is for you. That was wrong. First, I don’t agree with this position because it’s blackmail – “Be careful, I’m going to blow my brains out” – and it allows others to accuse us of blackmail. It’s ridiculous for the others to accuse a country destroyed over five years of blackmail. But anyway, it’s the wrong argument. The correct argument is that a Grexit and all the other measures that the Greeks have suffered are illegal under international law, under labour law, under the European treaties, the European Convention on Human Rights, European declaration of labour rights [contained in the European Social Charter].

The funny thing is that in early 2014, the European Parliament and all of them started attacking the Troika, with statements that it is illegal, unaccountable, is following measures that are destroying human rights, labour rights. Of course, we had a [conservative] government that didn’t want to hear about this, because it wanted to attack the opposition and not the creditors. It failed to see that this was the greatest weapon we had.

For the weak side, there are only two methods. One is the law – an appeal for legitimacy – and the other is an appeal for the truth – who is right and who is wrong in the arguments, and in terms of human rights.Under the law, everybody is equal. […] So, if you appeal to the European Court of Justice and say “I am not treated equally as a member of the EU, NATO” et cetera, they won’t be able to dismiss it. Especially if you have a fair period of time to make your case.

Alexis Tsipras arriving at the Greek presidential office for talks with the country&#039;s political leaders, July 6th. Alexis Tsipras arriving at the Greek presidential office for talks with the country’s political leaders, July 6th. © Reuters

If you go through the legal route – and I’m not saying to do that – you must aim [to establish the creditor institutions’] political delegitimisation. Let the whole world know the eurozone is committing a crime against humanity. Prove it in ten years, I don’t mind. But you make a case for the courts to say “until we examine the case, these measures must stop”.

Today it’s too late. It is a matter of political and ideological hegemony. Varoufakis alone, with his appeal and arguments, managed to turn public opinion in Europe, even in Germany. The Eurogroup people stood back. In the beginning of February, [Dutch finance minister and Eurogroup president Jeroen] Dijsselbloem told Varoufakis “You either sign the memorandum that the others have signed too, or your economy is going to collapse”. How? “We are going to collapse your banks”. He had said that. In his last interview to ERT, the national [Greek public] TV [channel], two days ago, Varoufakis said: “I didn’t denounce that then, because I was hoping that reason would prevail in the negotiations with all of the Eurogroup”. So he went on with the numerous agreements. And credibility as well as money was lost.

[…] The Eurogroup is not a proper democratically-functioning body. They [the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras] discovered that, again, very late, when they [the Eurogroup] wanted to throw Varoufakis out after the referendum announcement. Which was basically a gesture to humiliate. Varoufakis says “Who decides that?” Dijsselbloem says “I decide”. Shouldn’t there be a vote, shouldn’t there be unanimity? Yes but it’s not necessarily recorded, there are no minutes taken. He was taping, others too. Why? Because there are no minutes taken. So there is nothing formal.

You can’t say “I went to the Eurogroup and Italy said that, Cyprus said that” et cetera. So everybody can come out and say anything they like. No-one can say: “Are you sure you said that? Let’s look at the minutes”. There are no minutes. Of course, nobody can come out with a tape recorder. Varoufakis said that of course he kept the minutes of his own, because he was to report to the prime minister, and the others do it too. And the others came shouting “Oh! Varoufakis admitted this, and that”.

The other countries in such a set-up had to think [German finance minister Wolfgang] Schäuble is the king, he controls the others, he can raise his voice and say “no”. Varoufakis has described incidents that show really how the Eurozone is completely undemocratic, an almost neo-fascist euro dictatorship. You cannot rely on what the others are saying. Varoufakis says that if he could negotiate with one at a time for an hour, the deal would be struck in a day. But you can’t do that because each one has different priorities and different people telling him “no”.

You cannot argue too much with Schäuble. It would be dangerous, because you won’t get finance, German banks will want their money back, and so on. So it’s a institution where you cannot make your voice heard, so what’s the point in encountering [them]? There was no-one else but Varoufakis talking straight. Schäuble has said “How much money do you want [in order] to leave the euro?” He doesn’t want Greece in the euro at all. He was the first to raise the issue of a Grexit back in 2011.

We went to a war thinking we had the same weapons as them. We have underestimated their power […] It’s a power that enters the very fabric of society, the way people think. It controls and blackmails. We have very few levers. The European edifice is already Kafkaesque.

Posted in GreeceComments Off on Greece: We are Going to Collapse your Banks

The Brutality of European Migration Policy


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Not Everyone Is Allowed to Have a ‘Good Life in Germany’

Global Research

Image: Angela Merkel consoles 14-year old Reem Sahwil after bringing her to tears when explaining Germany’s need to deport asylum seekers. (Photo: Gut Leben/Newsweek Europe)

Since a video went viral yesterday showing the German Chancellor Angela Merkel getting questioned from school kids as part of the government’s programme “Gut Leben in Deutschland” (Good Life in Germany), the brutality and hardship of European migration policy became a little more visible by what one of these kids had so say.

The PR-disaster was caused by Reem, a Palestinian girl who fled a refugee camp in Lebanon with her family four years ago and now faces deportation.

She told Merkel in fluent German

: “As long as I don’t know how long I can stay here, I don’t know what my future will be. I really want to study in Germany. It is really unpleasant to look on how others can really enjoy life while oneself can’t enjoy it with them.”

Whereas Merkel replied:

“I understand, however, I have to… politics is sometimes hard. You’re a very nice person but you know that there are thousands and thousands of people in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and if I say ‘you can all come,’ (…) we just can’t manage that.”

After she continued defending the government’s asylum policy, Reem burst into tears and got stroked by Merkel, what has gone viral on Twitter as #merkelstreichelt (Merkel strokes) and her apparent lack of empathy got slammed and criticized since.

Reem’s family had only been granted temporary right of asylum and since Lebanon is not regarded a country at civil war by German authorities, it is lawful to deport them back.

Unfortunately, the entire German news coverage is leaving out the fact that this refugee camp Reem is supposed to be sent back to is not her home. At least some newspapers think it is worth mentioning that she is originally Palestinian. And her story is one out of 1.5 million (and that is only one-third of registered refugees according to UNRWA statistics) stories of Palestinians who have been displaced and are currently living in refugee camps all over Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as Syria, partially under degrading and cruel conditions. Conditions Ms. Merkel can – judging from her reaction – not even imagine.

But no matter how much one can criticize Merkel’s behaviour, it is nevertheless an honest one.

The scene reflects a perfect microcosm of Germany’s rigid migration policy and the Ivory tower European leadership is talking down from. Reem is, as was pointed out, just one of thousands and thousands of refugees and one of millions of displaced Palestinians – an issue the German government fails to deal with since it conflicts with the Chancellor’s raison d’état.

It might not only be time to rethink German asylum policy, but also to take the country’s gridlocked position on foreign affairs into reconsideration which contributes to the situation people find themselves in.

Posted in Europe, GermanyComments Off on The Brutality of European Migration Policy

Hillary Clinton: War Goddess, Corporate Shill, Anti-Populist

Global Research

All US presidential cycles are money controlled corrupted processes with no legitimacy whatever. Voters have no say despite believing otherwise. 

They naively think electing new bums replacing old ones improves things. Their choices are among an array of long ago bought and paid for candidates supporting what most harms them. 

The late Gore Vidal said “(b)y the time a (candidate) gets to be presidential material, (he or she has) been bought ten times over.”

“There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party (with) two right wings: Republican and Democrat,” he explained.

Hillary Clinton perhaps represents the worst choice among an array of aspirants looking more like a police lineup. Previous articles explained her warmongering lust for endless conflicts. She’s unabashedly hawkish.

As first lady, she urged husband Bill to bomb Belgrade. Yugoslavia’s rape and pillage followed. As a New York senator, she supported Bush’s war on Afghanistan. As Secretary of State, she urged escalating it.

She backed lawless aggression on Iraq based entirely on Big Lies. Her supportive Senate remarks included baseless fabrications about Saddam “continu(ing) to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and (efforts) to keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.” She got the war she wanted.

She backed military intervention to topple Libya’s Gaddafi. She urged more extensive drone bombings. She promoted war to oust Syria’s Assad.

She favors nuclear weapons use. She calls them peacekeeping deterrents. She wants US-dominated NATO used more aggressively.

Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk contributed at least $8.6 million to the Clinton Global Initiative – involved in “moderniz(ing) Ukraine” to harden fascist rule.

She’s hostile to Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and other independent countries.

She urges more heavily arming Kiev fascists than already for continued war on Donbass freedom fighters wanting democratic governance everyone deserves.

As first lady, New York senator and Secretary of State, she’s been ideologically hardline – pro-war, pro-business, anti-populist, anti-labor.

As presidential aspirant, she’s selling a different image. Whether enough people buy it to get her nominated and elected remains to be seen. It’s a long time to November 2016. A lot can happen between now and then to derail her outsized ambitions.

On June 13, she launched her campaign in New York – at Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park, wrapping her candidacy in FDR’s New Deal.

As first lady, she supported so-called welfare reform signed into law by husband Bill – gutting social safety net protection for families with dependent children established in the 1930s.

Her rhetoric belies her hardline agenda – the same one duopoly power in Washington espoused for decades, notably post-9/11.

Days earlier at the New School for Social Research in New York, she sounded more Republican than self-styled populist saying:

“I want to be the small business president, and I mean it. And throughout this campaign I’m going to be talking about how we empower entrepreneurs with less red tape, easier access to capital, tax relief and simplification.”

Like Washington’s bipartisan criminal class, she favors stimulating economic growth by corporate tax cuts and other business friendly measures.

She has no program to address mass unemployment, underemployment or reduce poverty. Nothing to stop  continued offshoring of US jobs to low-wage countries. Nothing to help ordinary Americans most in need.

Monied interests can feel safe in her hands – her underlying message despite its pseudo-populist rhetoric. As president, socialism for the rich and powerful contrasted with neoliberal harshness for most others will be the centerpiece of her agenda – along with continued endless war of aggression for wealth and dominance.

She shamelessly calls corporate tax cuts, credits and other handouts “the best anti-poverty program” – creating the illusion they stimulate jobs creation. They don’t. They’re used for self-serving interests.

Clinton exclusively supports Wall Street, war profiteers and other corporate favorites at the expense of serving everyone equitably and fairly – wrapped in disingenuous pseudo-populist rhetoric, pure demagoguery masking her business as usual agenda.

She urges gutting Medicare and Social Security – bedrock retirement programs financed by payroll taxes saving millions of seniors from deep poverty, deprivation and despair, including being unable to afford vital healthcare when most needed.

“It’s time to stop having debates over the small stuff and focus on how we’re going to tackle the big stuff together,” she blustered – code language for waging war on social justice.

She’s against a minimum living wage, job protections, helping America’s most disadvantaged, programs to lift them out of poverty and other measures real populists support.

Electing her next year assures worse than ever business as usual – a toxic agenda most people everywhere deplore.

Posted in USAComments Off on Hillary Clinton: War Goddess, Corporate Shill, Anti-Populist

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