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mother earth

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“we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but we will say that heroes fight like Greeks”

Payback Time 04.08.151:36 PM ET

Even as Greek PM Schmoozes Putin, He Demands Germany Pay Its Nazi Debt

The attempt to claim reparations from Berlin may be an act of desperation, but it reminds Greeks of the desperate times they survived as heroes during WWII.

“Our allies the Greeks, have seen off the Italian army,” said Winston Churchill near the height of the Second World War. “Hence,” he declared, “we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but we will say that heroes fight like Greeks.”

Those words live on in Greece’s national imagination.

The war irretrievably scarred the country. Some figures estimate that almost one in ten Greeks died fighting the Nazis—and it wasn’t in vain. Greek resistance at the Battle of Crete on May 20, 1941, caused the Germans more loss of life in a single day than the Wehrmacht had experienced up until that point. Even more importantly, Greek resistance delayed the German invasion of the USSR by almost two months, dramatically changing the outcome of the war.

But Greece paid heavily for its bravery. Entire villages were massacred in retaliation for the actions of resistance forces that continued to fight on after the Germans had conquered the country. The Greeks suffered pervasive war crimes, looting and heavy damage to property as well as a €10.3 billion occupation loan that the Bank of Greece was forced to pay the Nazis.

It is these issues—and the wounds they have left—that Greece’s new hard left governing party Syriza is now seeking to exploit in its ongoing battle with the International Monetary Fund and European Union led by Germany, to which it owes hundreds of billions of euros.

The E.U. is demanding payment of its loans; the Greek government is doing its best to renegotiate the terms. In the latest rhetorical blow in this ongoing saga Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has demanded that Germany pay—literally—for the destruction it visited on his country almost 70 years ago.

After only a few months in power, and desperately trying to stave off bankruptcy, the new government’s general accounting office has found the time to calculate (for the first time in Greece’s history) that Germany owes it nearly €279bn ($303bn) in reparations.

The Germans reject the claim, pointing to a payment of 115 million Deutschmarks they made to Greece in 1960, and consider the matter closed. This didn’t stop Tsipras bringing the demand up in a recent meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

It’s a typical Syriza move: deeply populist and somewhat cynical as it seeks to distract from the vast sums Greece owes to its creditors—most immediately an outstanding €450m loan from the IMF due this week—and to build on widespread anti-German sentiment across Greece at the same time.

“The Germans are trying to take over Europe again,” is a comment I’ve heard in various forms over the past few years in Greece as bitterness at the harsh, German-led austerity reforms that successive Greek governments have been forced to impose on their people in exchange for massive cash bailouts has grown. Greeks have seen their standard of living plummet as salaries and pensions have been slashed and unemployment risen to around 25 percent of the population.

Syriza was elected on a platform that promised to end the austerity measures. Its rhetoric was aggressive and confrontational—promising Greek voters a Syriza government wouldn’t bend to E.U. demands. But so far it has been forced to backtrack because its still needs E.U. funds in order to avoid going bankrupt. The fighting rhetoric has so far not been matched by deeds.

So the rhetoric continues.

“The demand for war reparations shows a reinvigorated determination by the new government in Athens to press the issue of war reparations and the forced loan,” says Jens Bastian, an independent economic advisor for Southeastern Europe based in Athens. “This issue has been raised before, most recently by the previous Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, but he never put a specific number on the amount to be claimed, nor did he threaten to confiscate certain institutions such as the Goethe Institute owned by Germany in Greece.”

“This has a lot to do with domestic politics,” continues Bastian. “It is to show to the electorate and the general public that Syriza means business and that it will stand up to Germany.”

The issue is certainly emotive. Many in Greece still feel that Nazi Germany’s crimes in the country have received scant attention compared to its atrocities elsewhere. The question is: will it work? It seems unlikely in the extreme that Germany will be paying Greece close to €300 billion any time soon and Bastian believes that Greece would be ill-advised to use the war reparations as leverage in any attempts to negotiate the restructuring of its accumulated sovereign debt.

More fruitful might be repayment of the forced loan. “The interesting thing is that it [the loan] is based on a contract,” says Bastian, “and it included a timetable for repayment including interest that would accrue. In this case it is much more difficult for Germany to say the matter is legally and politically closed.”

Whether or not any claim succeeds, Syriza continues to show its displeasure with the E.U. and is keen to show its European “partners” that it has options. Tsipras has just flown to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At issue as far as he is concerned will be any possible financial assistance that Russia might be able to offer Greece. For his part, Putin will be more than happy to try to further divide the E.U.

But Russia has its own problems. With oil prices collapsing and its war in Ukraine emptying it of cash and men, Moscow is unlikely to offer Greece anything of real help.

In the meantime, Greece and the E.U. grow farther and farther apart, the consequences of which could reverberate across the continent for many years to come.

Posted by mother earth | Wed Apr 8, 2015, 07:54 PM (2 replies)

Youth of SYRIZA: More Radical on Debt, Grexit and Redistribution in Greece TRNN

Aris Spourdalakis, member of the Youth of Syriza, speaks out on the debt management and the opportunity for democracy and redistribution in Greece - April 7, 2015

Aris George-Baldur Spourdalakis has been a member of SYRIZA Youth since 2007. He attends the University of Athens, where he is a student of physics and an activist.


SPOURDALAKIS: Well, I would say on a political level we would be against exiting the euro. However, the main slogan that we remain true to is the slogan which states that we won't have any more austerity simply to save the euro. Therefore, even though a Grexit may not be something that we would aspire to, it might prove to be necessary in the coming months or years of the negotiation.

PERIES: Now, SYRIZA committed to more than--no new austerity. They promised to roll back austerity of the previous government. And I imagine that the supporters of SYRIZA, when they voted for SYRIZA, was with the understanding that that's what they were going to get from SYRIZA. But clearly that's not what they're able to deliver, given the current financial situation. What is the discussion about that?

SPOURDALAKIS: Well, I think there's an understanding that the negotiation isn't over and that in order to make such a big change within an international system, which is so much rigidly in favor of neoliberalism and of austerity, there has to be some time and there have to be major changes.

However, what I think is important also to keep in mind is despite the fact that SYRIZA was voted in for the reason that you said, mainly to oppose austerity and to roll back the measures that were taken in the past five years, the majority of the population is also in favor of the euro and remaining within the European Union and the Eurozone. Therefore this is also important to take into account, that SYRIZA didn't have, wasn't elected in order to take the country outside the euro on the first sign of trouble.

PERIES: Now, the assumption that most of SYRIZA and Greeks don't want to exit the euro has been contested by some polls that were done actually by the European Union, according to somebody we had interviewed earlier this month by the name of Michael Nevradakis, who actually challenged that some polls actually indicate that Greeks actually do not mind leaving the euro if that's what it comes down to. What are your feelings about that?

SPOURDALAKIS: Well, I think that the main question is the question of policy. The main question is if we want neoliberal reforms and austerity or if we want to roll back austerity and we want democratic reforms in the state. And this isn't a question of currency. It's a question of politics, both internal and external. Therefore I think that it's very difficult to go forward with this program when the international situation is so much against us, regardless of whether we're within the Eurozone or not.

So I think that there is a crucial amount of people who understand this. And I also think that if the negotiation proceeds and if the European Union proceeds with a very rigid line--continue the negotiation--we might come to a Grexit. And I think that people will support the government if it chooses to take this road.

However, it's still going to be very difficult. I don't think it'll change the core problem, which is the fact that both inside Greece and internationally the political situation is very much against the program that we want to implement.

PERIES: And if Greece takes this path, I understand some plans are underway in terms of plotting a path to an exit within the party. What does that look like?

SPOURDALAKIS: There's really no--there's no defined outline on what that would mean. There's no--there hasn't been big preparation, there haven't been big preparations about this plan B. And I guess each person or each tendency you talk to who might support exiting the Eurozone has a slightly different view of this.

PERIES: So, Aris, in terms of the broader politics and the other issues that are being debated, for example privatization, restoring the labor and public employees that were fired by the previous government, and other issues that are immediately at hand at SYRIZA, what are some of the other issues that the youth front is advocating? And is that more radical than the position that SYRIZA is hoping to implement right now?

SPOURDALAKIS: Well, I would say that both SYRIZA and the youth wing are more radical, at least in their positions, than the government is. For example, the youth wing has opened the issues of human rights, the issues of immigration, the issues of equal rights for the LGBT community, and so on. And these are issues which are not popular in the Greek society. And, therefore, the government's positions, I would say, are less radical than those of the party or those of the youth. And what we're trying to do is both [incompr.] pressure and check the government into implementing this kind of policy, but also trying to create a movement which will change the view that the society has on these issues.

PERIES: And what are some of the issues that are really at heart for the youth movement?

SPOURDALAKIS: Well, I would say that a very important issue is, of course, privatizations and stopping the privatizations that are going on right now, for example the mining operation in northern Greece, which has been temporarily stopped, but it hasn't been brought back entirely. It's the issue of the concentration camps that were created by the previous government for immigrants and shutting them down. And it's also the issue of--also the issue of human rights, [human] rights of prisoners. And then, of course, also the LGBT issue of civil union for gay couples.

And these are all issues that the government has made some promises on but that remained to be quite--they're still quite unpopular with the society. The society still is quite conservative on these issues.

So what we're trying to do is create a movement that will both pressure the government into more progressive positions, but will also create sort of a social consensus to back these changes.

PERIES: So, other countries, when they're in this kind of situation of not having very much money in their public treasury to stimulate the economy, has come up with certain economic development plans to develop the local economy by its people with the limited resources it has. Is there any economic plan of that sort being discussed or developed by SYRIZA?

SPOURDALAKIS: The program does include cooperative forms of economy and investment. Also, there is, at least in theory, the encouragement for workers to take over closing factories, which--this has already taken place in Thessaloniki in a factory. This has been going on for at least two or three years now. And the program is to support these kind of measures. So I guess the main answer to this question would be sort of cooperative and solidarity type economics, we call it, which is more of a social kind of economics. It's not a public sector, not private sector, but sort of a cooperative type of investment.

Full Transcript:
Posted by mother earth | Wed Apr 8, 2015, 03:08 PM (0 replies)

War on Terror kills 1.3 million people: Report

Kabul- The U.S.-led "war on terror" in Afghanistan has left about 220,000 people killed, following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, according to a new finding of investigators.

The report has found that a total of around 1.3 million people, directly or indirectly, have lost their lives in the U.S. wars on terror including one million people killed in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan.

The report has been jointly prepared by the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

According to the report, the figure "is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs."

However, the report which is titled Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the "War on Terror" has noted that it was a conservative estimation, and the total number killed in the three countries "could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely."

"At a time when we're contemplating at this point cutting off our removal of troops from Afghanistan and contemplating new military authorization for increasing our operations in Syria and Iraq, this insulation from the real impacts serves our government in being able to continue to conduct these wars in the name of the war on terror, with not only horrendous cost to the people in the region, but we in the United States suffer from what the budgetary costs of unending war are," said Dr. Robert Gould, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-author of the forward to the report.

The U.S.-led war on terror in Afghanistan was started after September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States that left close to 3,000 people dead.

The report came only days after the U.S. President Barack Obama announced to slow the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, maintaining the current posture of 9,800 soldiers until the end of 2015.

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, from the same conference:

At the Hofstra Conference on the George W. Bush Presidency, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman says one million died over the last decade in a country that the Bush administration said they were going to save


TRNN: Only Appropriate Public Event for Bush is War Crimes Trial

Institute for Policy Studies Fellow Phyllis Bennis speaks at the Conference on the George W. Bush Presidency about why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan violated international law - March 27, 2015

Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. She is the author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis , Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.

Full transcript:

USAWatchdog: Warren Pollock-War Is the Greatest Expression of Failure There Can Be

We Are Headed for War Because There Is No Truth-Warren Pollock

By Greg Hunter On March 11, 2015

Wall Street analyst Warren Pollock said six months ago that the “damage control (about the bad global economy) was going to start to wear off in 2015.” What are the signs the spin is wearing off? Pollock says, “Go to your super market, and that is a sign the damage control is wearing off. Prices are going up, and the quality of food is going down. The numbers of ounces on each package are going down . . . This is the damage control wearing off. A lot of people don’t have that purchasing power, and they won’t have that purchasing power in deflation or inflation. When framing an issue, why do we even frame it as inflation or deflation? Why not just talk about purchasing power? Ask our government, how come my purchasing power has gone away. Why do I have to take a seven year loan to buy a car?”


USAWatchdog: Alasdair Macleod on AIIB, Implications for USD, EU, Global Debt

Published on Mar 24, 2015
When will the Chinese make their next big move? Financial expert Alasdair Macleod says, “Their style is not to go in and disrupt markets. They act very, very quietly. You would hardly know they are there. This is certainly how they have handled their acquisition of gold. I don’t think they would want to be blamed for destabilizing western capital markets. What could happen is if we set a chain of events going that would lead to our own demise, then the Chinese would protect themselves. There is so little gold left in western vaults now . . . anything that changes the really sunny outlook for bonds equities and all the rest of it . . . and for people to realize that people don’t have any gold, that could drive the price sharply higher because there is not enough gold for us to buy. The stocks are very, very low, and anybody who comes into the market is going to have to bid it up to get it.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-one-One with Alasdair Macleod of GoldMoney.com.


An excellent interview that lays out the global economy including the newly formed AIIB and just where it all seems to be leading to. Much of what seems to be playing out may be upon us come the Fall, and with Spain's election later this year, the perfect storm seems to be brewing. Where this all leads is anyone's guess, but we do have the history of the Great Depression to draw from, one thing is certain, the new normal is a definite deterioration and I wonder if this is the foremost reason for our gov't rush to try to fast track TPP, as a last ditch effort.

Amy Goodman: Flush the TPP (TPP was started under GW)


Posted on Mar 20, 2015

By Amy Goodman

President Barack Obama and the Republicans in Congress are united. Yes, that’s right. No, not on Obamacare, or on the budget, or on negotiations with Iran, or on equal pay for women. But on so-called free-trade agreements, which increase corporate power and reduce the power of people to govern themselves democratically, Obama and the Republicans stand shoulder to shoulder. This has put the president at loggerheads with his strongest congressional allies, the progressive Democrats, who oppose the TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the most far-reaching trade agreements in history. TPP will set rules governing more than 40 percent of the world’s economy. Obama has been negotiating in secret, and the Democrats are not happy.

The battle lines are being drawn over the TPP and TPA. If you are confused, well, that is exactly what many of the most powerful corporations in the U.S., and around the world, are counting on. Trade policy is arcane, complex and long the domain of economists and technocrats. But the real-world implications of these dry texts are profound. President Obama wants to pass the TPP, which is a broad trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. In order to expedite the process, President Obama is seeking the second acronym, TPA, or Trade Promotion Authority, also called “fast-track.” Fast-track gives the president authority to negotiate a trade deal, and to then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. A growing coalition is organizing to oppose TPP and the president’s request for fast-track. The outcome of this conflict will reverberate globally for generations to come.

The TPP negotiations have been held in secret. Most people know what little they do because WikiLeaks, the document disclosure and whistle-blower website, released several chapters more than a year ago. Members of Congress also have been given limited access to briefings on the negotiations, but under strict secrecy rules that, in at least one instance recently, include the threat of imprisonment if details leak.

The TPP would be an expanded version of earlier trade agreements, like NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, involving the U.S., Canada and Mexico. NAFTA went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994, and was so harmful to the culture and economy of the indigenous people of Chiapas, Mexico, that they rebelled on that very day, in what is known as the Zapatista Uprising. Attempts to create a global trade deal, under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, provoked one of the largest protests against corporate power in history, in Seattle in late 1999. Thousands of protesters locked arms and literally blocked delegates from getting to the ministerial meeting. As unexpected solidarity between union members and environmentalists flourished in the streets, despite widespread police violence, the WTO talks collapsed in total failure.

The TPP, if passed, would implement trade rules that make it illegal for governments to create and enforce regulations on everything from environmental standards, to wage and labor laws, to the duration of copyrights. A law prohibiting the sale of goods made in sweatshops in Vietnam could be ruled illegal, for example, as a barrier to trade. Or certification requirements that lumber not be harvested from old-growth forests in Malaysia could be overturned.

Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch program is one of the leading critics of TPP:

“It’s a delivery mechanism for a lot of the things [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and the Republicans like. So, for instance, it would increase the duration of patents for Big Pharma and, as a result, give them windfall profits but increase our medicine prices. It could roll back financial regulation on big banks. It could limit Internet freedom, sort of sneak through the back door the Stop Online Piracy Act, SOPA,” Wallach explained. “It would give special privileges and rights for foreign corporations to skirt around our courts and sue the U.S. government to raid our treasury over any environmental, consumer health law that they think undermine their expected future profits, the so-called ‘investor-state’ enforcement system. Plus, it would have the NAFTA-style rules that make it easier to offshore jobs, making it easier to relocate to low-wage countries.”

The TPP, she went on, “was negotiated with the assistance of 600 corporate advisers, official corporate trade advisers in the U.S. The agreement has been the initiative of the Obama administration. It was started by [President George W.] Bush, but instead of turning it around and making it something different, the Obama folks picked it up and, frankly, have made it even more extreme.”

Grass-roots activists are organizing against the TPP and fast-track. They work on diverse issues ranging from human rights and Internet freedom to fair trade, labor rights and the environment. The moneyed interests in Washington have the ear of the president, so they need only whisper. Now people must raise their voices, in unison, and demand to be heard.


It's interesting that this was started under GW, yet somehow some still believe we are not under corporate rule.

Part 2, The ECB's Trillion Euro Plan to Keep The Banks Afloat

The European Central Bank's Trillion Euro plan to make the economy grow will only help keep the banks afloat - March 11, 2015

Taken from full interview at above:
So, in that sense quantitative easing and the refusal of central banks to fund governments, but only to fund commercial banks, is a new kind of class war. And it's not the old kind of class war, which was simply between employers and their workforce over what wages will be. It's by the financial sector trying to take over the economy, and especially to take over the public sector, to take over the public domain, to take over public utilities, to take over whatever assets a government has, and to force governments to--essentially, if governments cannot borrow from central banks, they have to begin selling off property.
PERIES: Michael, this is exactly what's happening in Greece right now. The SYRIZA government is somewhat forced to continue privatization as a part of the agreement of the loans that they have been given by European banks. What could they do in this situation?
HUDSON: Well, this is really a scandal, because most privatizations are corrupt. In Greece, they're almost as corrupt as they are the United States--well, nothing could be that corrupt. But the SYRIZA Party coming in said, wait a minute, the privatizations that have been done are by a governmental people to their own cronies at a giveaway price. How can we balance the budget if we're giving away the public utilities instead of getting a fair price for them? The European Central Bank said, no, no, you have to give away privatization to cronies at pennies on the dollar just like Russia did under Yeltsin, just like the United States did with the railroad giveaways of the 19th century.
And remember, the American privatization [incompr.] cronies created essentially the ruling class of the 20th century. It created the stock market. Well, the same thing's happening in Greece. It's told, create a new oligarchy, endow a new kind of a feudal lord--although in the case of some monopoly lord, by giving them away, these privatization giveaways--and if you don't do that, we're going to bankrupt the banking system. Well, Varoufakis went back to the party congress in Parliament and said, will you approve this? Well, so far, the left wing in Greece has said, no, we won't approve the giveaways. This is crazy. The pretense is that privatization is to make money. But the European central bank is really saying, no, no, you can't make money; you have to give it away to your cronies, who are our cronies, and it's all one happy financial family. This is escalating financial warfare.

Understanding Quantitative Easing & Why Only The l% Are Thriving

Michael Hudson says quantitative easing is a pretext for assisting banks to make even more profit - March 11, 2015

Part 1 of 2

Michael Hudson, the president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He is a Research Associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. He is the author of Super Imperialism, The Bubble and Beyond and Finance Capitalism and its Discontents. His upcoming book is titled Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy.

Killing The Host, Michael Hudson
“The financial sector has succeeded in depicting itself as part of the productive economy, yet for centuries banking was recognized as being parasitic. The essence of parasitism is not only to drain the host’s nourishment, but also to dull the host’s brain so that it does not recognize that the parasite is there.

This is the illusion that much of Europe and the United States suffer under today. The aim of this book is to pierce this illusion and replace junk economics with economics based on reality. In Killing the Host, Michael Hudson argues that financial crises will continue unless we radically transform our economic and political structures, and reclaim the best ideas of classical economics.”

Full interview at link:
its cover story is it's supposed to help employment. And the pretense is an old model that used to be taught in textbooks 100 years ago. The pretense is that banks lend money to companies to invest and build equipment and hire people. But that's not what banks do. Banks lend money to real estate. They lend money to corporate raiders. They lend money to buy assets. They don't lend money for companies to invest in equipment and hire. Just the opposite. They do lend money to corporate raiders, and when they take over companies, they outsource labor, they downsize labor, and they try to squeeze out more from the labor force, and they try to grab the pensions.
So the Fed was pretty open in what quantitative easing is supposed to do since 2008. It's supposed to lower the interest rates, which raises bond prices, and it inflates the stock market. And since 2008, they've had the largest monetary inflation history--$4 trillion of quantitative easing by the Fed. But it's all gone into the stock market and the bond market.
So what has this done? Well, it's helped stock and bond holders get richer. And who are the stock and bond holders? They're the 1 percent and they're the 10 percent. And people are wringing their hands and saying, why isn't the economy getting richer? Why is it since 2008 economic inequality and the distribution of wealth have worsened instead of gotten closer together? Well, it's because of quantitative easing. It's because quantitative easing has increased the value of the stocks and the bonds that the 1 percent or the 10 percent hold, and it hasn't helped the economy at all, because the Fed is really concerned with its constituency, which are the banks.
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