Sunday, 2 July 2017
Weather Modification Programmes in Greece
Who is behind the programmes?
Weather on Demand?
ELGA does weather modification programmes with 3D planes, there were the most hailstorms fall and weather modification is what they call the programmes that can increase rainfall and snow, ensure fog is diluted and hailstorms can be magnified or reduced. It reminds one of the mafia which offers protection, from itself! Who actually provokes climate change and which interests are hidden behind these? Small and large planes with big and large interests. The end result is that instead of Greece having a surplus of agricultural products it can export as well it becomes dependent on imports, whilst farmers face the threat of their land being taken away from them. The responsibilities of the politicians is massive as massive as the pockets of 3D who doesn’t want to leave a single part of Greece not being sprayed. These programmes do not benefit farmers and their animals or the population which relies on this food to survive.
D S.A. is a Greek private company founded in1976 in Thessaloniki. The company provides custom made services and applications covering all major contemporary activities in Greece and abroad and since 1981 has been actively involved in several Weather Modification Programs (rain/snow enhancement and hail suppression). 3D S.A. offers a distinguishing range of services that rightfully makes it unique in Europe and one among the four most recognized companies worldwide specializing in Weather Modification Applications
Reading their website one sees that the govt body which is responsible for farmers OGA (Organisation of Farmers in Greece) has handed out contracts to this company for weather modification. Initially it would have been about protecting crops from adverse weather conditions but as Greece joined the EU in 1981 and 27% of the economy was agricultural now it has become something totally opposite as according to EU regulations farming in Greece had to fall below 10% which it has. Food security was turned into its opposite ie food insecurity.
The weather modification programme was implemented in Central Greece (big agricultural areas) in Imathi a, Pellas, Pieria and Thessaloniki region occupying an area of 2.350.000 acreas during the months April to September. So if these regions are allegedly being protected why do we have such toxic weather in these months which destroy the crops? A group previously called SaveGeaGroup had been involved in questions regarding these topics and have also demonstrated against the company involved. But to no avail as these programmes continue unabated at a great economic and social cost as the climate is beind damaged and agricultural production destroyed.
Joanna Charalompoulou a member of KEP and a manager in charge of agriculture did an impact study of this years hailstorms and looking at the report it is truly disheartening. “From 2013 onwards apart from Spring and during the summer months June-July-August we have many storms and hailstorms in Greece””What is also illuminating is that these storms affect mostly areas where we have large agricultural production and because in the last few years we have been bombarded with reports that we are being met by bigger heatwaves – every year – we are being attacked in our judgements and we are asking: summer in our country is only two months, but we have scenes of collapse every now and again. With one or two mini heatwaves we end up having the lowest temperatures in Southeast Europe? Its the period where we lived through the ‘hottest summers’? Does it correspond fully with what we have collated? How can it fit with the theory of hottest summers and at the same time hailstorms that destroy agriculture when the weather modification programmes are allegedly there to protect agriculture?
Saturday, 1 July 2017
Conspiracy or Conspirac(ia)y?
Almost every night in the newsnetworks we have a massive attempt by many to disassociate individual terrorism from every and any connection from secret services and every type of imperialist centres of the bourgeois state. Whoever has adopted to alibi the secret services attack every opposite view as ‘mad hatter conspiracists’…
Rizospastis with the alleged uncovering of ‘17thN’ alleged terrorist group has from 2002 investigated and studied interesting elements in relation to how they terrorists were manufactured who made them and who gains from them.
When the CIA plants bombs.
As is noted in the book ‘The hidden springs of international terrorism (L Zamoiski, (L Zamoiski ‘Current era’) the barrage of terrorist activities which had as a result the death of 16 and 100 injured in Milan and Rome in December 1969 for which the Left was blamed 10 years later after it was revealed they were organised by (neofascist) terrorists collaborators of the CIA...
It is also considered a given that behind the terrorist attack with the train with 12 dead in Bologna (August 1980) with 80 dead we found the Masonic P2. The head of it Litso Tseli was a personal friend of Regan and a known agent of the CIA.
To the question ‘why’ the CIA was involved in terrorist attacks which cost more than 200 dead against an allied USA country of Italy and instead of a response we will note what the head of Italy’s spy agency Janamello Malleti said in La Republica in the 1970’s decade:
The German station of the CIA in Germany – admitted Maletti – provided far right groups with weapons and explosive devices and worked as a link amongst the far right groups in Italy and Germany whilst parallel he underlined their type of action’
The aim of the CIA and Maletti was to ‘block the terrorist contribution of the far Right and the turn of society in both Italy and Germany towards the Left...’
What was written in 1970 by the military strategists of the USA was noted that ‘if the friendly (towards the USA) governments show the incapacity towards a communist insurrection…’ then we have the ‘stabilisation’ programme kicks in.
In July 1981 the revelation of the secret document creates international mayhem. The title is illuminating:
‘Manual for the secret services. Stabilisation activities, spying’...
As for the ex director of the CIA Colby in his memoirs he was also revealing’ There were there was a communist organisation we funded and supported an anticommunist one’....
The aim of the stabilization programme was the intervention of special agents of American secret services who start violent actions and other activities ‘under the control of American secret agencies’. In the case of these it is added the use of far left organisations can lead to the desired aim’!
A very interesting fact was the connection of the CIA with ‘left terrorism which is the murder of the PM of Italy A, Moro by the ‘Red Brigades’. What did they do then these ‘Red Brigades’? What did they achieve?
The conclusions of the secretary of the Christian Democratic Party Pikoli but also the secretary Jamberleti was clear:
Moro they said in the periodical Panorama 8.8.1978 paid with his life the attempt to disentangle Italy from the control of democracy by the USA and because he refused to preclude the entrance of the Italian Communist Party from the government majority despite the pressure of the Pentagon and the State Department’
In the book with the title ‘Il delitto infinito’ which circulated in Italy from 2002 and is signed by two members of the permanent Italian crossparty committee on terrorism reveals that:
The ‘hidden’ caches of the ‘Red Brigades’ where Moro was held hostage until his murder was owned by the secret service agencies of Italy.
International Terrorism – Gladio
According to revelations by the US News world Report; only between 1961 and until 1976 the CIA organized around 900 big terrorist activities in all the world!
But let us come to our home turf:
In the 1950s decade the CIA organized on a pan European level an unbelievable terrorist – parastate operation against the …’communist threat’. This operation in Italy was known and had the codeword ‘Gladio’. The Greek part is baptised as ‘Red Beard’...
For the Greek Gladio which is considered one of the toughest units of NATO was set up in 1955 with General Papagos and the the CIAs General Traskot, the periodical ‘Spiegel’ wrote in November 1990:
“Over 800 hideouts with arms, radios and other military equipment in caves, basements of public buildings and in covered drains even under Greek churches in the countryside. The secret group which had placed the arms numbered 1.500 men and in case of war would reach 3.500’!
The ‘Pike Committee’ and 17th November
For years now within the framework of the US Congress we have the ‘Pike Committee’ and it is attempting to investigate ‘weird’ murders of CIA cadres which occurred in all the world in the middle of the 1970’s.
The ‘Pike Committee’ affirmed a tremendous coincidence: More than 200 agents of the CIA which ‘served’ from Europe and South America till East Asia “were removed during the 1974-76 period during the period when the new head of the CIA Bush had undertaken to “erase American footprints” from Nixon’s dirty deeds the world over.
Whoever has studied the articles of the committee end up with a interesting observations (as is noted in the book Terrorism by K Griva) “CIA cadres were murdered by their own who were dressed as terrorists”...
Let us watch two elements
First Wells the station chief of the CIA in Greece, was murdered from the first appearing 17th November precisely during that period. How strange was it that 17th November started its first steps and it appeared to be involved in some form of internal account settling for the CIA and to be involved in a high level manouevring which imposes a connection at least with high level centres providing information….
Seccondly as reported in Vima newspaper 14.04.2002 there is a report by the Police with which the bullets used in the murder of Ambassador Wells came from a section of arms ordered by NATO for an Italian company! Hrisohoidis who was then a Minister of Interior under PASOK never tried to provide an explanation to the report. Then we never received adequate explanation how 17th November knew about the activities of British Ambassador Saunders in Sierra Leone or for the movement of Turkish diplomats or with older cases of the relationship with KYP (Greek MI5) with the so-called orphan bombs etc.
After all the above what can the conclusion be?
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
How Greece Became A Guinea Pig For A Cashless And Controlled Society
By Michael Nevradakis | June 21, 2017
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A man makes a transaction at an automated teller machine (ATM) of a Piraeus Bank branch in Athens, Greece. (AP/Yorgos Karahalis)
A man makes a transaction at an automated teller machine (ATM) of a Piraeus Bank branch in Athens, Greece. (AP/Yorgos Karahalis)
ATHENS (Analysis)– Day by day, we’re moving towards a brave new world where every transaction is tracked, every purchase is recorded, the habits and preferences of everyone noted and analyzed. What I am describing is the “cashless society,” where plastic and electronic money are king, while banknotes and coins are abolished.
“Progress” is, after all, deemed to be a great thing. In a recent discussion, I observed on an online message board regarding gentrification in my former neighborhood of residence in Queens, New York, the closure of yet another longtime local business was met by one user with a virtual shrug: “Who needs stores when you have Amazon?”
This last quote is, of course, indicative of the brick-and-mortar store, at least in its familiar form. In December 2016, Amazon launched a checkout-free convenience store in Seattle—largely free of employees, but also free of cash transactions, as purchases are automatically charged to one’s Amazon account. “Progress” is therefore cast as the abolition of currency, and the elimination of even more jobs, all in the name of technological progress and the “convenience” of saving a few minutes of waiting at the checkout counter.
Still insist on being old-fashioned and stuck behind the times, preferring to visit brick-and-mortar stores and paying in cash? You may very well be a terrorist! Pay for your coffee or your visit to an internet cafe with cash? Potential terrorist, according to the FBI. Indeed, insisting on paying with cash is, according to the United States Department of Homeland Security, “suspicious and weird.”
The European Union, ever a force for positive change and progress, also seems to agree. The non-elected European Commission’s “Inception Impact Assessment” warns that the anonymity of cash transactions facilitates “money laundering” and “terrorist financing activities.” This point of view is shared by such economists as the thoroughly discredited proponent of austerity Kenneth Rogoff, Lawrence Summer (a famed deregulator, as well as eulogizer of the “godfather” of austerity Milton Friedman), and supposed anti-austerity crusader Joseph Stiglitz, who told fawning participants at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year that the United States should do away with all currency.
Logically, of course, the next step is to punish law-abiding citizens for the actions of a very small criminal population and for the failures of law enforcement to curb such activities. The EU plans to accomplish this through the exploration of upper limits on cash payments, while it has already taken the step of abolishing the 500-euro banknote.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which day after day is busy “saving” economically suffering countries such as Greece, also happens to agree with this brave new worldview. In a working paper titled “The Macroeconomics of De-Cashing,” which the IMF claims does not necessarily represent its official views, the fund nevertheless provides a blueprint with which governments around the world could begin to phase out cash. This process would commence with “initial and largely uncontested steps” (such as the phasing out of large-denomination bills or the placement of upper limits on cash transactions). This process would then be furthered largely by the private sector, providing cashless payment options for people’s “convenience,” rather than risk popular objections to policy-led decashing. The IMF, which certainly has a sterling track record of sticking up for the poor and vulnerable in society, comforts us by saying that these policies should be implemented in ways that would augment “economic and social benefits.”
The IMF’s Greek experiment in austerity
These suggestions, which of course the IMF does not necessarily officially agree with, have already begun to be implemented to a significant extent in the IMF debt colony known officially as Greece, where the IMF has been implementing “socially fair and just” austerity policies since 2010, which have resulted, during this period, in a GDP decline of over 25 percent, unemployment levels exceeding 28 percent, repeated cuts to what are now poverty-level salaries and pensions, and a “brain drain” of over 500,000 people—largely young and university-educated—migrating out of Greece.
Protesters against new austerity measures hold a placard depicting Labour Minister George Katrougalos as the movie character Edward Scissorhands during a protest outside Zappeion Hall in Athens, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. The placard reads in Greek"Katrougalos Scissorhands".
Protesters against new austerity measures hold a placard depicting Labour Minister George Katrougalos as the movie character Edward Scissorhands during a protest outside Zappeion Hall in Athens, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. The placard reads in Greek”Katrougalos Scissorhands”.
Indeed, it could be said that Greece is being used as a guinea pig not just for a grand neoliberal experiment in both austerity, but de-cashing as well. The examples are many, and they have found fertile ground in a country whose populace remains shell-shocked by eight years of economic depression. A new law that came into effect on January 1 incentivizes going cashless by setting a minimum threshold of spending at least 10 percent of one’s income via credit, debit, or prepaid card in order to attain a somewhat higher tax-free threshold.
Beginning July 27, dozens of categories of businesses in Greece will be required to install aptly-acronymized “POS” (point-of-sale) card readers and to accept payments by card. Businesses are also required to post a notice, typically by the entrance or point of sale, stating whether card payments are accepted or not. Another new piece of legislation, in effect as of June 1, requires salaries to be paid via direct electronic transfers to bank accounts. Furthermore, cash transactions of over 500 euros have been outlawed.
In Greece, where in the eyes of the state citizens are guilty even if proven innocent, capital controls have been implemented preventing ATM cash withdrawals of over 840 euros every two weeks. These capital controls, in varying forms, have been in place for two years with no end in sight, choking small businesses that are already suffering.
Related: Greece’s Neoliberal Wolves In Anti-Austerity Sheep’s Clothing
Citizens have, at various times, been asked to collect every last receipt of their expenditures, in order to prove their income and expenses—otherwise, tax evasion is assumed, just as ownership of a car (even if purchased a decade or two ago) or an apartment (even if inherited) is considered proof of wealth and a “hidden income” that is not being declared. The “heroic” former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had previously proposed a cap of cash transactions at 50 or 70 euros on Greek islands that are popular tourist destinations, while also putting forth an asinine plan to hire tourists to work as “tax snitches,” reporting businesses that “evade taxes” by not providing receipts even for the smallest transactions.
All of these measures, of course, are for the Greeks’ own good and are in the best interest of the country and its economy, combating supposedly rampant “tax evasion” (while letting the biggest tax evaders off the hook), fighting the “black market” (over selling cheese pies without issuing a receipt, apparently), and of course, nipping “terrorism” in the bud.
As with the previous discussion I observed about Amazon being a satisfactory replacement for the endangered brick-and-mortar business, one learns a lot from observing everyday conversations amongst ordinary citizens. A recent conversation I personally overheard while paying a bill at a public utility revealed just how successful the initial and largely uncontested steps enacted in Greece have been.
In the line ahead of me, an elderly man announced that he was paying his water bill by debit card, “in order to build towards the tax-free threshold.” When it was suggested to him that the true purpose of encouraging cashless payments was to track every transaction, even for a stick of gum, and to transfer all money into the banking system, he and one other elderly gentleman threw a fit, claiming “there is no other way to combat tax evasion.”
The irony that they were paying by card to avoid taxation themselves was lost on them—as is the fact that the otherwise fiscally responsible Germany, whose government never misses an opportunity to lecture the “spendthrift” and “irresponsible” Greeks, has the largest black market in Europe (exceeding 100 billion euros annually), ranks first in Europe in financial fraud, is the eighth-largest tax haven worldwide, and one of the top tax-evading countries in Europe.
Also lost on these otherwise elderly gentlemen was a fact not included in the official propaganda campaign: Germans happen to love their cash, as evidenced by the fierce opposition that met a government plan to outlaw cash payments of 5,000 euros or more. In addition, about 80 percent of transactions in Germany are still conducted in cash. The German tabloid Bild went as far as to publish an op-ed titled “Hands off our cash” in response to the proposed measure.
Global powers jumping on cashless bandwagon
Nevertheless, a host of other countries across Europe and worldwide have shunned Germany’s example, instead siding with the IMF and Stiglitz. India, one of the most cash-reliant countries on earth, recently eliminated 86 percent of its currency practically overnight, with the claimed goal, of course, of targeting terrorism and the “black market.” The real objective of this secretly planned measure, however, was to starve the economy of cash and to drive citizens to electronic payments by default.
Indians stand in line to deposit discontinued notes in a bank in Jammu and Kashmir, India,, Dec. 30, 2016. India yanked most of its currency bills from circulation without warning on Nov. 8, delivering a jolt to the country's high-performing economy and leaving countless citizens scrambling for cash. (AP/Channi Anand)
Indians stand in line to deposit discontinued notes in a bank in Jammu and Kashmir, India,, Dec. 30, 2016. India yanked most of its currency bills from circulation without warning on Nov. 8, delivering a jolt to the country’s high-performing economy and leaving countless citizens scrambling for cash. (AP/Channi Anand)
Iceland, a country that stands as an admirable example of standing up to the IMF-global banking cartel in terms of its response to the country’s financial meltdown of 2008, nevertheless has long embraced cashlessness. Practically all transactions, even the most minute, are conducted electronically, while “progressive” tourists extol the benefits of not being inconvenienced by the many seconds it would take to withdraw funds from an ATM or exchange currency upon arrival. Oddly enough, Iceland was already largely cashless prior to its financial collapse in 2008—proving that this move towards “progress” did nothing to prevent an economic meltdown or to stop its perpetrators: the very same banks being entrusted with nearly all of the money supply.
Other examples of cashlessness abound in Europe. Cash transactions in Sweden represent just 3 percent of the national economy, and most banks no longer hold banknotes. Similarly, many Norwegian banks no longer issue cash, while the country’s largest bank, DNB, has called upon the public to cease using cash. Denmark has announced a goal of eliminating banknotes by 2030. Belgium has introduced a 3,000-euro limit on cash transactions and 93 percent of transactions are cashless. In France, the respective percentage is 92 percent, and cash transactions have been limited to 1,000 euros, just as in Spain. Outside of Europe, cash is being eliminated even in countries such as Somalia and Kenya, while South Korea—itself no stranger to IMF intervention in its economy—has, similarly to Greece, implemented preferential tax policies for consumers who make payments using cards.
Aside from policy changes, practical everyday examples also exist in abundance. Just try to purchase an airline ticket with cash, for instance. It remains possible—but is also said to raise red flags. In many cases, renting an automobile or booking a hotel room with cash is simply not possible. The aforementioned Department of Homeland Security manual considers any payment with cash to be “suspicious behavior”—as one clearly has something to hide if they do not wish to be tracked via electronic payment methods. Ownership of gold makes the list of suspicious activities as well.
Just as the irony of Germany being a largely cash-based society while pushing cashless policies in its Greek protectorate is lost on many Greeks, what is lost on seemingly almost everyone is this: something that is new doesn’t necessarily represent progress, nor does something different. Something that is seemingly easier, or more convenient, is not necessarily progress either. But for many, “technological progress,” just like “scientific innovation” in all its forms and without exception, has attained an aura of infallibility, revered with religious-like fervor.
People queue in front of a bank for an ATM as a man lies on the ground begging for change, in Athens. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)
People queue in front of a bank for an ATM as a man lies on the ground begging for change, in Athens. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Combating purported tax evasion is also treated with a religious-like fervor, even while ordinary citizens—such as the two aforementioned gentlemen in Greece—typically seek to minimize their outlays to the tax offices. Moreover, while such measures essentially enact a collective punishment regardless of guilt or innocence, corporations and oligarchs who utilize tax loopholes and offshore havens go unpunished and are wholly unaffected by a switch to a cashless economy in the supposed battle against tax evasion.
This is evident, for instance, in the case of “LuxLeaks,” which revealed the names of dozens of corporations benefiting from favorable tax rulings and tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg, one of the original founding members of the EU. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, formerly the prime minister of Luxembourg, has faced repeated accusations of impeding EU investigations into corporate tax avoidance scandals during his 18-year term as prime minister. Juncker has defended Luxembourg’s tax arrangements as legal.
At the same time, Juncker has shown no qualms in criticizing Apple’s tax avoidance deal in Ireland as “illegal,” while having been accused himself of helping large multinationals such as Amazon and Pepsi avoid taxes. Moreover, he has openly claimed that Greece’s Ottoman roots are responsible for modern-day tax evasion in the country. He has not hesitated to unabashedly intervene in Greek electoral contests, calling on Greeks to avoid the “wrong outcome” in the January 2015 elections (where the supposedly anti-austerity SYRIZA, which has since proven to be boldly pro-austerity, were elected).
He also urged the Greek electorate to vote “yes” (in favor of more EU-proposed austerity) in the July 2015 referendum—where the overwhelming result in favor of “no” was itself overturned by SYRIZA within a matter of days. In the European Union today, if there’s something that can be counted on, it’s the blatant hypocrisy of its leaders. Nevertheless, proving that old habits of collaborationism die hard in Greece, the rector of the law school of the state-owned Aristotle University in Thessaloniki awarded Juncker with an honorary doctorate for his contribution to European political and legal values.
Cashless policies bode poorly for the future
Where does all this lead though? What does a cashless economy actually mean and why are global elites pushing so fervently for it? Consider the following: in a cashless economy without coins or banknotes, every transaction is tracked. Buying and spending habits are monitored, and it is not unheard of for credit card companies to cancel an individual’s credit or to lower their credit rating based on real or perceived risks ranging from shopping at discount stores to purchasing alcoholic beverages. Indeed, this is understood to be common practice. Other players are entering the game too: in late May, Google announced plans to track credit and debit card transactions.
Claudia Lombana, PayPal's shopping specialist, stamps a guest's passport as he visits the travel section of PayPal's Cashless Utopia in New York (Victoria Will/AP)
Claudia Lombana, PayPal’s shopping specialist, stamps a guest’s passport as he visits the travel section of PayPal’s Cashless Utopia in New York (Victoria Will/AP)
More to the point though, a cashless economy doesn’t just mean that financial institutions, large corporations, or the state itself can monitor all transactions that are occurring. It also means that the entirety of the money supply—itself now existing only in “virtual” form—will belong to the banking system. Not one cent will exist outside of the banking system, as physical currency will simply not be in circulation. The banking system—and others—will be aware not just of every transaction, but will be in possession of all of our society’s money supply, and will even have the ability to receive a percentage of every transaction that is taking place.
So what happens if your spending habits or your choice of travel destinations raises “red flags”? What happens if you run into hard times economically and miss a few payments? What happens if you are deemed to be a political dissident or liability – perhaps an “enemy of the state”? Freezing a bank account or confiscating funds from accounts can take place almost instantaneously. Users of eBay and PayPal, for instance, are quite aware of the ease with which PayPal can confiscate funds from a user’s account based simply on a claim filed against that individual.
Simply forgetting one’s password to an online account can set off an aggravating flurry of calls in order to prove that your money is your own—and that’s without considering the risks of phishing and of online databases being compromised. Many responsible credit card holders found that their credit cards were suddenly canceled in the aftermath of the “Great Recession” simply due to perceived risk. And if you happen to be an individual deemed to be “dangerous,” you can be effectively and easily frozen out of the economy.
Those thinking that the “cashless revolution” will also herald the return of old-style bartering and other communal economic schemes might also wish to reconsider that line of thinking. In the United States, for instance, bartering transactions are considered taxable by the Internal Revenue Service. As more and more economic activity of all sorts takes place online, the tax collector will have an easier time detecting such activity. Thinking of teaching your child to be responsible with finances? That too will have a cost, as even lemonade stands have been targeted for “operating without a permit.” It’s not far-fetched to imagine that particularly overzealous government authorities could also target such activity for “tax evasion.”
In Greece, while oligarchs get to shift their money to offshore tax havens without repercussion and former Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis has been acquitted for failure to submit a declaration of assets, where major television and radio stations operate with impunity without a valid license while no new players can enter the marketplace and where ordinary households and small businesses are literally being taxed to death, police in August 2016 arrested a father of three with an unemployed spouse for selling donuts without a license and fined him 5,000 euros. In another incident, an elderly man selling roasted chestnuts in Thessaloniki was surrounded by 15 police officers and arrested for operating without a license.
Amidst this blatant hypocrisy, governments and financial institutions love electronic money for another reason, aside from the sheer control that it affords them. Studies, including one conducted by the American Psychological Association, have shown that paying with plastic (or, by extension, other non-physical forms of payment) encourage greater spending, as the psychological sensation of a loss when making a payment is disconnected from the actual act of purchasing or conducting a transaction.
But ultimately, the elephant in the room is whether the banking system even should be entrusted with the entirety of the monetary supply. The past decade has seen the financial collapse of 2008, the crumbling of financial institutions such as Lehman Brothers in the United States and a continent-wide banking crisis in Europe, which was the true objective behind the “bailouts” of countries such as Greece—saving European and American banks exposed to “toxic” bonds from these nations. Italy’s banking system is currently teetering on dangerous ground, while the Greek banking system, already recapitalized three times since the onset of the country’s economic crisis, may need yet another taxpayer-funded recapitalization. Even the virtual elimination of cash in Iceland did not prevent the country’s banking meltdown in 2008.
Should we entrust the entirety of the money supply to these institutions? What happens if the banking system experiences another systemic failure? Who do you trust more: yourself or institutions that have proven to be wholly irresponsible and unaccountable in their actions? The answer to that question should help guide the debate as to whether society should go cashless.
Thursday, 15 June 2017
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: ‘Traitor of the Year’ | by James Petras
Despite the stiff competition from other infamous leftist traitors around the world, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wins the ‘Global Traitor of the Year’ award.
Tsipras deserves the label of ‘Global Traitor’ because:
1) He made the quickest and most brutal turn from left to right than any of his venal competitors.
2) He supported Greece’s subjugation to the dictates of the Brussels oligarchs privatization demands, agreeing to sell its entire national patrimony, including its infrastructure, islands, mines, beaches, museums, ports and transports etc.
3) He decreed the sharpest reduction of pensions, salaries and minimum wages in European history, while drastically increasing the cost of health care, hospitalization and drugs. He increased VAT, (consumer taxes) and tax on island imports and farm income while ‘looking the other way’ with rich tax evaders.
4) Tsipras is the only elected leader to convoke a referendum on harsh EU conditions, receive a massive mandate to reject the EU plan and then turn around and betray the Greek voters in less than a week. He even accepted more severe conditions than the original EU demands!
5) Tsipras reversed his promises to oppose EU sanctions against Russia and withdrew Greece’s historic support for the Palestinians. He signed a billion-dollar oil and gas deal with Israel which grabbed oil fields off the Gaza and Lebanon coast. Tsipras refused to oppose the US -EU bombing of Syria, and Libya – both former allies of Greece.
Tsipras, as the leader of the supposedly ‘radical left’ SYRIZA Party, leaped from left to right in the wink of an eye.
The first and most revealing indication of his turn to the right was Tsipras’ support for Greece’s continued membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO during the formation of SYRIZA (2004).
SYRIZA’s ‘left’ mouthed the usual platitudes accompanying EU membership, raising vacuous ‘questions’ and ‘challenges’ while talking of ’struggles’. None of these ‘half pregnant’ phrases made sense to any observer who understood the power of the German-led oligarchs in Brussels and their strict adherence to ruling-class imposed austerity.
Secondly, SYRIZA had played a minor role, a best, in the numerous trade union general strikes and worker and student led direct action in the run-up to its electoral victory in 2015.
SYRIZA is an electoral party of the lower middle and middle class, led by upwardly mobile politicos who had few if any ties to shop-floor factory and agrarian struggles. Their biggest struggles seemed to revolve around internal factional wars over seats in Parliament!
SYRIZA was a loose collection of squabbling groups and factions, including, ‘ecology movements’, Marxist sects and traditional politicos who had floated over from the moribund, and corrupt PanHellenic Socialist Party (PASOK). SYRIZA expanded as a party at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis when the Greek economy collapsed. From 2004 to 2007 SYRIZA increased its presence in Parliament from 3.5% to only 5%. Its lack of participation in the mass struggles and its internal squabbles led to a decline in the 2009 legislative elections to 4.6% of seats.
Tsipras ensured that SYRIZA would remain in the EU, even as its self-styled ‘left wing’, the Left Platform, led by ‘Marxist academic’ Panagiotis Lafazanis, promised to “keep an open door to leaving the EU”. Alexis Tsipras was first elected to the Athens city council, where he publicly attacked corrupt and demagogic rightwing colleagues while taking private lessons in power from the oligarchy.
In 2010, the rightwing PASOK and far right New Democracy agreed to an EU dictated debt bail-out leading to massive job losses and the slashing of wages and pensions. SYRIZA, while outside of power, denounced the austerity program and gave lip-service to the massive protests. This posturing allowed SYRIZA to quadruple its representation in parliament to 16% in the 2012 election.
Appeal of the British Left Unity to the European Left
Tsipras welcomed corrupt ex-PASOK members and financial advisers into SYRIZA, including Yanis Varoufakis, who spent more time motorcycling to upscale bars then supporting the unemployed workers in the streets.
EU ‘memorandums’ dictated the privatization of the economy, as well as deeper cuts in education and health. These measures were implemented in shock waves from 2010 through 2013. As an opposition party, SYRIZA increased its seats 27% in 2013 … a scant 3% behind the ruling rightwing New Democracy. In September 2014, SYRIZA approved the Thessalonika Program promising to reverse austerity, rebuild and extend the welfare state, restart the economy, defend public enterprises, promote tax justice, uphold democracy (direct democracy no less!) and implement a ‘national plan’ to increase employment.
The entire debate and all the resolutions turned out to be a theatrical farce! Once in power, Tsipras never implemented a single reform promised in the Program. To consolidate his power as head of SYRIZA, Tsipras dissolved all factions and tendencies in the name of a ‘unified party’ – hardly a step toward greater democracy!
Under ‘Dear Uncle Alexis’ control, SYRIZA became an authoritarian electoral machine despite its left posturing. Tsipras insisted that Greece would remain within the EU and approved a ‘balanced budget’ contradicting all his phony campaign promises of public investments to ‘extend the welfare state’!
A new EU bailout was followed by a jump in unemployment to over 50% among youth and 30% of the entire labor force. SYRIZA won the January 25, 2015 parliamentary elections with 36.3% of the electorate. Lacking a single vote to secure a majority in parliament, SYRIZA formed an alliance with the far-right ANEL party, to which Tsipras gave the Defense Ministry.
Immediately upon taking office, Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras announced his plans to renegotiate Greece’s bailout and ‘austerity program’ with the EU oligarchy and the IMF. This phony posturing could not hide his impotence: Since SYRIZA was committed to staying in the EU, austerity would continue and another onerous ‘bailout’ would follow. During ‘internal meetings’, members of SYRIZA’s ‘Left Platform’ in the Cabinet called for leaving the EU, reneging the debt and forging closer ties with Russia. Despite being totally ignored and isolated, they stayed on as impotent ‘token leftist’ Cabinet Ministers.
With Tsipras now free to impose neo-liberal market policies, billions of Euros flowed out of Greece and its own banks and businesses remained in crisis. Both Tsipras and the ‘Left Platform’ refused to mobilize SYRIZA’s mass base, which had voted for action and demanded an end to austerity. The media’s gadfly, Finance Minister Varoufakis, put on a sideshow with grand theatrical gestures of disapproval. These were openly dismissed by the EU-IMF oligarchy as the antics of an impotent Mediterranean clown.
Superficial as ever, the Canadian, US, European left-wing academics were largely unaware of SYRIZA’s political history, its opportunist composition, electoral demagogy and total absence from real class struggle. They continued to blather about SYRIZA as Greece’s ‘radical left’ government and attended its PR functions. When SYRIZA flagrantly embraced the EU’s most savage cutbacks against Greek workers and their living standards affecting everyday life, the highly paid, distinguished professors finally spoke of SYRIZA’s ‘mistakes’ and ladled the ‘radical left’ from this stew of opportunists! Their grand speaking tours to Greece were over and they flitted off to support other ’struggles’.
As the summer of 2015 approached, Prime Minister Tsipras moved ever closer to the entire EU austerity agenda. ‘Dear Alexis’ dumped Finance Minister Varoufakis, whose histrionics had irked Germany’s Finance Minister. Euclid Tsakalotos , another ‘radical’ leftist, took over as Finance Minister, but turned out to be a malleable lieutenant for Tsipras, willing to implement any and all EU-imposed austerity measures without the antics.
They keep lying while they argue about how to proceed with destroying Greeks: IMF, Germany and EU
By July 2015, Tsipras and SYRIZA accepted a harsh austerity program dictated by the EU. This rejected SYRIZA’s entire Thessalonika Program proclaimed a year earlier. The entire population, and SYRIZA’s rank and file members grew angrier, demanding an end to austerity. While approving a ‘belt tightening’ austerity program for his electoral mass base throughout the summer of 2015, Tsipras and his family lived in luxury in a villa generously loaned by a Greek plutocrat, far from the soup lines and hovels of the unemployed and destitute.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras implemented policies earning him the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’. His was a duplicitous strategy: On July 5, 2015, he convoked a referendum on whether to accept the EU’s bailout conditions. Thinking his ‘pro-EU’ supporters would vote ‘Yes’, he intended to use the referendum as a mandate to impose new austerity measures. Tsipras misjudged the people: Their vote was an overwhelming repudiation of the harsh austerity program dictated by the oligarchs in Brussels.
Over 61% of the Greek people voted ‘no’ while merely 38%voted in favor of the bailout conditions. This was not limited to Athens: A majority in every region of the country rejected the EU dictates – an unprecedented outcome! Over 3.56 million Greeks demanded an end to austerity. Tsipras was ‘admittedly surprised’ . . . and disappointed! He secretly and stupidly thought the referendum would give him a free hand to impose austerity. He put on his usual grin as the voting results were announced.
Less than a week later, on July 13, Tsipras renounced the results of his own referendum and announced his government’s support for the EU bailout. Perhaps to punish the Greek voters, Tsipras backed an even harsher austerity scheme than the one rejected in his referendum! He drastically slashed public pensions, imposed massive regressive tax hikes and cut public services by $12 billion euros. Tsipras agreed to the infamous ‘Judas memorandum’ of July 2015, which increased the regressive general consumer tax (VAT) to 23%, a 13% food tax, a sharp increase in medical and pharmaceutical costs and tuition fees, and postponed the retirement age by five years to 67.
Tsipras continued on his ‘historic’ rampage over the suffering Greek people throughout 2016 and 2017. His regime privatized over 71,500 public properties, including the historic patrimony. Only the Acropolis was spared the auction block…. for now! The resulting unemployment drove over 300,000 skilled and educated Greeks to migrate. Pensions slashed to 400 Euros led to malnutrition and a three-fold rise in suicides.
Despite these grotesque social consequences the German bankers and the regime of Angela Merkel refused to reduce the debt payments. Prime Minister Tsipras’ groveling had no effect.
Sharp tax hikes on farm fuels and transport to tourist islands led to constant marches and strikes in cities, factories, fields and highways.
By January 2017 Tsipras had lost half of his electorate. He responded with repression: gassing and beating elderly Greeks protesting their poverty pensions. Three-dozen trade unionists, already acquitted by the courts, were re-tried by Tsipras’ prosecutors in a vicious ’show trial’. Tsipras supported the US-NATO attacks on Syria, the sanctions against Russia and the billion-dollar energy and military agreements with Israel.
Short of the Nazi occupation (1941-44) and Anglo-Greek civil war of (1945-49), the Greek people had not experienced such a precipitous decline of their living standards since the Ottomans. This catastrophe occurred under the Tsipras regime, vassal to the Brussels oligarchy.
European, Canadian and US leftist academic tourists had ‘advised’ SYRIZA to remain in the EU. When the disastrous consequences of their ‘policy advice’ became clear… they merely turned to advising other ’struggles’ with their phony ’socialist forums’.
Survey records complaints of doctors, nurses in Greece’s cash-strapped hospitals
The betrayals by ‘Leftist’ and ‘radical leftist’ leaders are partly due to their common practices as politicians making pragmatic deals in parliament. In other cases, former extra-parliamentary and guerrilla leaders were faced with isolation and pressure from neighboring ‘left’ regimes to submit to imperial ‘peace accords’, as in the case of the FARC. Confronting the massive build-up of the US supplied and advised armies of the oligarchs, they folded and betrayed their mass supporters.
The electoral framework within the EU encouraged leftist collaboration with class enemies – especially German bankers, NATO powers, the US military and the IMF.
From its origins SYRIZA refused to break with the EU and its authoritarian structure. From its first day of government, it accepted even the most demonstrably illegal private and public debts accumulated by the corrupt right-wing PASOK and New Democracy regimes. As a result SYRIZA was reduced to begging.
Early on SYRIZA could have declared its independence, saved its public resources, rejected its predecessors’ illegal debts, invested its savings in new jobs programs, redefined its trade relations, established a national currency and devalued the drachma to make Greece more flexible and competitive. In order to break the chains of vassalage and foreign oligarch imposed austerity, Greece would need to exit the EU, renounce its debt and launch a productive socialist economy based on self-managed co-operatives.
Despite his electoral mandate, the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras followed the destructive path of Soviet leader Michel Gorbachev, betraying his people in order to continue down the blind ally of submission and decay.
While several leaders offer stiff competition for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’, Alexis Tsipras’ betrayal has been longer, more profound and continues to this day. He broke more promises and reversed more popular mandates (elections and referendums) more quickly than any other traitor. Moreover nothing short of a generation will allow the Greeks to recover left politics. The left has been devastated by the monstrous lies and complicity of Tsipras’ former ‘left critics’.
Greece’s accumulated debt obligations will require at least a century to play out – if the country can even survive. Without question, Alexis Tsipras is the ‘Traitor of the Year’ by unanimous vote!!!
Εxcerpt from an article by James Petras about international Left. You may read all the article here
* James Petras is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, Temps Moderne, Le Monde Diplomatique. He is winner of the Career of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association’s Marxist Sociology Section, the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book, 2002, and the Best Dissertation, Western Political Science Association in 1968. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America.
Thursday, 4 May 2017
Greece: 7 Years of IMF Hell
The EU’s Whipping Boy
Originally arriving to save Greece from bankruptcy, the IMF bankrupted Greeks. On all socio-economic indicators they are much worse than before the medicine was applied. Every year after an electoral cycle or another, a boom is arriving and none ever arrives. The permanent status of micromanagement from the Troika and constant inspections serves the purpose of 24/7 propaganda that eventually turned Greece into a full blown debt colony whereby anything that is government property would be sold off, but not necessarily to the highest bidder.
The revelations subsequently that on fraudulent figures Greece entered the Eurozone and on false statistics it allowed the IMF in only highlight the absolute and mercenary corruption of all the posts assigned to all government appointments, leadership positions of political parties and all major institutions from the IMF, to the ECB and the Eurogroup. The absolute venom and class hatred by a decomposing ruling class is such that they only talk about primary budget surpluses whilst at the same time presiding over more than 2m unemployed, 500k emigres and endless cases of schoolchildren fainting in school.
The Whipping Boy of the EU
An EU Internal Colony for a Two Tier Europe
From the moment the breach occurred by the US born Papandreou and the IMF arrived in Greece for the demands of US/EU dollar parity with the Euro a massive 24/7 propaganda blitz occurred by the worlds corporate media and its internal supporters on both fake Left and Right. Greeks were allegedly the most corrupt and lazy people on earth who couldn’t organise a stag do in a bar. They were so useless that they should be penalised with a permanent overseer in the form of the Troika which became the ‘Institutions’ under Syriza.
There has been no let up under Syriza of continued privatisations, labour deregulation and pension cuts. They have continued as before. Pensioners have been beaten up and teargassed, ministers have refused to meet social groups under attack, farmers have been vilified and dragged through the capitalist courts, the unemployed have been humiliated lining up in queues to not claim social welfare assistance, the disabled have had their benefits cut. Before it was the evil right, or the corrupt socialists from PASOK, now it’s the ‘first time Left’. The circus continues, politics becomes a farce and life invariably gets worse and worse.
But there is humanitarianism in neoliberalism. They care about the ‘refugee and migrant’. They are the only ones we only ever hear about. Whether they are freezing in the winter, whether they are being fed. Whether their children can go to Greek schools. All other social issues have been resolved. Syriza has seen to that. Unemployment has gone way way down. Homelessness has evaporated, suicides are down and the hospitals and medicine are modern marvels and school kids are over moon for the non-existent free school meals enjoying many times fainting in class due to food insecurity.
The beauty of the situation is that only a party that originated on paper from the Left but is governing with a breakaway of the Right (when we say Right in Greece we mean the pro-cold war ex-3rd Reich Quisling Right) could have achieved what it has. It instituted what the ECB wanted (capital controls and electronic forms of bank seizures for bad debts) without even the small businessman kicking up a stink as they could sell it as a measure ‘against capital’ ie …communism. The selling point as always was Greeks have lived beyond their means and there is no money in the state coffers. So it’s always better to live with less and less accept cut after cut to avoid …bankruptcy. The future is always worse than the present even when you are faced looking down from a fifth floor balcony or the barrel of a gun.
There are many dangers always lurking round the corner: Turks are about to invade and have been invading almost weekly, the Eurogroup is about to cut our lifeline, Golden Dawn is rampaging the streets chasing the oh so lovely migrant arrivals who are a paragon of decent behaviour. In a nutshell we have to stay cowed and hidden to ensure all functions well, taxes are paid as it’s a moral duty and we are a hospitable nation. After all as a recent MP (Dimitri Kammenos) from the ruling coalition said ‘our pensioners shouldn’t support their unemployed relatives they should accept another Euro 100 pension cut’ Being scum is now synonymous with being in government and it wasn’t long ago another MP said we have to crush our shit to survive on an MPs Euro 8,000 salary when 1/3 of pensioners have to survive on… Euro 500. Beating up pensioners, teargassing the old is now a firm Syriza tradition after stopping them from getting their money alleging under Varoufakis the EU imposed restrictions on cashflow.
Hence under Syriza we have handed over the nations railways to the bankrupt state operator from Italy for less than the price of a large yacht (E45m), we handed over 14 regional airports to a company (Frapport German state owned) with borrowed money from one of our ECB controlled banks so they can refurbish some toilets (as our state sector wasn’t up to the task), we have leased all state assets for 99 years to a debt fund set up by the Troika and we recently sold the state owned armaments factory ELVO for less than the price of house in Kensington, England and 40% of the electricity company is going private to ensure we no longer produce our own energy but import everything so even more people live in the dark. The beauty of it all is, we are handing over everything at below firesale prices and we call it …development. Broken lives, shattered families a constant feeling of despair has destroyed all hope and once hope is destroyed a society starts to unravel. A wing of society wants wages and pensions to fall further below Bulgarias and fall below Bangladeshis and the government wants to just replace all Greeks with another society, one that is globalised and they see this happening by supporting all new arrivals financially, economically and via the medium of MSM with the fake Left parties adding their ‘crocodile tears’.
As with everything this is a fundamental contradiction. If capitalism is to replace all jobs with robots who will they sell the products to? The few that make and service robots? If they ship in 3m people they label as refugees who will support them and sustain them? By cutting pensions down from Euro 500 to 100 or basic wages from E500 to 100? It’s patently beyond parody and ridiculous as no society would function, it would cease to, the law of the jungle would replace all human interactions and not enough propagandists exist in the existing political formations to sustain such an outcome. But that is the trajectory taken and with it a great political and social impasse.
Fake Union Resistance
The fake resistance by the union leaders during endless one day strikes without any real political objectives or purpose achieved what they set out to do. Demobilised the resistance and led eventually to despair. It’s now become fashionable by those who previously limited all their actions to just letting off some steam to criticize the people for choosing the governments they deserve. In other words it’s the people’s fault they are in this predicament.
This is a continuation of the garbage one hears daily that people don’t want to work, jobs exist and the public sector is overbloated. When PASOK-ND was in power the fake union leaders paid lip service to strikes, now they have a majority they have zero strikes. Of course not everything always works to their angle. One cannot list all the situations where the ruling elites were caught offguard nor when they had to mobilise all the forces at their disposal but we need to list a couple.
When Samaras came to power the KKE called off the Steelworkers strike which had gained national prominence and when they had done everything in their power of not allowing all the factories to shut down by enlisting Golden Dawn to this cause (a systemic organization that duly obliged) and when Syriza came to power (2nd time) the KKE helped derail the farmers protest which had gained national prominence. They system obviously has safety valves the extent of which cannot always be known beforehand. But the mere fact that they need Syriza in power and have kept them for so long indicates they haven’t to date got a future safety valve in the making. They seem to have burnt all their bridges with society.
Syriza thought they could ride roughshod over society in its mass replacement migration programme. It origins are from the fake Left and it could sell solidarity and economic hardship of the multitudes of so-called refugees that arrived. It decided to park them in open ‘reception centres’ on the islands it selected and in many parts of Athens. It did not expect armed resistance in Kos or parents conflict over busing migrants into schools. Not enough propaganda could curtail peoples actions nor could it blame everyone as being Golden Dawn (who after all in every serious social disturbance has sided with the government by either demobilizing popular reaction or going into self-imposed hiding.)
The People are Always at Fault
It’s become fashionable to argue that we are at fault, we borrowed the money, we were the tax evaders, that we are lying on the couches that we are being led by the MSM that we are justly being penalized as we are quislings because we are from the Balkans, dumb and stupid, half educated as the enlightenment never arrived, and how could the other nations achieve a breakthrough with the Troika eg. Cyprus or Ireland. That we are first in corruption and as embourgeoisiefied individuals who produce nothing are pointless.
A previous refrain was that people never hit the streets. When they did in a mass way in the city occupations of 2011 which by 2014 had become indefinite strikes in various occupation which were then court martialed back to work using a junta era law, there wasn’t a lack of militancy but there was no leadership as one section of the fake Left (KKE) did not want or seek power and the other (Syriza) wanted to be voted in precisely to use the elections as a way to implement neoliberalism and they took that a step further using a Referendum to produce the mother of all sellouts
The individuals and organisations who espouse these views are the same ones who in a previous period alleged we only vote for PASOK and ND that we vote only for corruption, in other words whilst life moves on we remain stood still. If the provisional acceptance of Syriza in power is the beginning and end of all social and political activity in Greece and the guarantee for a new 99 year Troika occupation of Greece by the banksters then we have history in the making. What the 3rd Reich didn’t achieve the 4th did. If things were that simple then the issue of the return of the Drachma would never hang over the whole political class or the issue of the fragmentation of the EU, in particular with political developments in the UK, France and Italy let alone Hungary.
The mere fact that all the political forces currently in Parliament have to come out and support the Euro and the EU project (KKE in its 20th Congress stated that the re-introduction of the Dracha would essentially be a national calamity).
Having put paid to rest the populists of the ‘Left’ (Syriza) it is now fashionable to do the same with the populists of the ‘right’ eg Austrian, Dutch and possibly France. In other words no one can break out of the straightjacket of the EU. The extreme globalist centre always wins. The theory would apply if capitalism had actually resolved its insoluble contradictions and if it had actually moved away from its mass population replacement agenda, its chronic and systemic unemployment and the precarious work situation. But what is happening is that certain issues are now going mainstream when before they were isolated. The issues which led to the revolt of the periphery have now hit the centre eg. Brexit and the discussions on Frexit. This has created to a certain extent a stalemate which will be resolved one way or another as the capitalist crisis isn’t going on holiday.
1st May 2017
Sunday, 9 April 2017
Greece’s New Deal From European Lenders Delivers More Neoliberalism
By Michael Nevradakis | March 28, 2017
Protesting tax office workers hang a banner from the finance ministry in Athens on Monday, March 20, 2017, that reads: "Reduction of tax free limit means new cuts to salaries and pensions. Stop Austerity." Greece's left-led government is in negotiations with bailout creditors on further budget cuts and reforms required for the release of a new rescue loan installment. (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Protesting tax office workers hang a banner from the finance ministry in Athens on Monday, March 20, 2017, that reads: “Reduction of tax free limit means new cuts to salaries and pensions. Stop Austerity.” (AP/Thanassis Stavrakis)
GREECE– The Greek government recently reached a new agreement with the so-called “troika” of lenders—the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund—on new reforms that are slated to go into effect in 2019.
The SYRIZA-led Greek government touted this agreement as a major success that signifies the end of austerity. According to the Greek government, austerity will be averted via the enactment of “equivalent measures” that will offset cuts. But even if this is the case, the agreement is contingent on Greece fulfilling harsh fiscal targets and austerity measures from now until 2019.
What does this agreement really mean for Greece? Is it the best solution for the country and its economy? Are these targets even realistic? To provide insight into these and other relevant questions, MintPress News recently spoke with Greek economist Dimitris Karousos, a member of the political directorate of Greece’s United Popular Front, a small political party that has advocated in favor of a Greek departure of the eurozone and the EU. In an interview that originally aired on Dialogos Radio in March, Karousos discusses the recent agreement, talk of “Grexit” and other pertinent economic matters.
MintPress News: Let’s begin by discussing the recent deal that was reached between the Greek government and its European lenders. The Greek government has engaged in a big PR show, portraying this new agreement as one that will not deliver even one euro’s worth of new austerity measures as a result of the so-called “equivalent measures” that will be adopted. This raises the question: if the net sum of these new measures is zero, then why enact them? And what does the new agreement actually entail and mean for Greece?
Dimitris Karousos (DK): As we now find ourselves in Oscar season, it is clear that the Oscar for best director should go to the communications team of the Greek government, as their new dogma that claims that “one plus one equals zero” is one of the most absurd things that the Greek people have heard yet. Indeed, “professor” Tsipras [referring to Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras], by claiming that one plus one equals zero seems to be reinventing the rules of mathematics. In other words, the government is attempting to claim that for every euro of austerity measures and cuts that will be enacted, there will be one euro in equivalent measures to offset those cuts. This, of course, is a blatant lie, because if there will indeed be no impact, these measures would not be needed.
The Greek government is lying; this can be demonstrated in three ways. First, the troika—meaning the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund—is not discussing the possibility of cuts in the special property tax and the value added tax. It is not even allowing these issues to be brought to the negotiating table.
Second, the troika, instead of tax cuts, is insisting on the enactment of the so-called Juncker growth package, named after President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. This package is essentially the European Union’s Partnership Agreement, known as ESPA, but this is not a true replacement because Greece already qualifies for funds from this agreement regardless. Therefore, somebody needs to explain how low wage-earners who are now faced with a lower tax-free threshold and will be forced to pay taxes, or how pensioners who will face further cuts to their pensions, will benefit from the European Union’s Partnership Agreement, which in the first place has nothing to do with this group of people, since it concerns only entrepreneurs and supposedly offsets these cuts.
Third, whatever “equivalent” measures are agreed upon will only begin to be enforced if and when Greece has fully and successfully enacted new cuts to wages and pensions, as foreseen in the new austerity package, with 3.6 billion euros worth of cuts.
MPN: The deal that was recently reached foresees the achievement of a primary budget surplus of at least 3.5 percent of the Greek GDP in 2019. We are also hearing that Greece’s primary surplus for the month of January surpassed targets. Is this a good thing? Are primary surpluses a positive thing for a country like Greece, with the economy in the state that it is in?
DKHere, we should first make it clear that no economy that has found itself in a condition similar to that of Greece has been able to recover through the enforcement of strict austerity and the pursuit of surpluses.
The economists Barry Eichengreen and Ugo Panizza, in a study of theirs, examined 235 countries and found that there were only 36 cases in countries were able to maintain, for a five-year period on average, a primary budget surplus of at least 3 percent of their GDP, representing 15 percent of the total sample. In the same study, they found that there were only 17 cases in which countries maintained a primary budget surplus of at least 3 percent of their GDP over an average of eight years, representing just 9 percent of total cases. There were only 12 cases in which countries maintained a primary budget surplus of at least 3 percent of their GDP over a ten-year period. It should be noted that Germany, the strongest economy in Europe, was not one of these countries.
In other words, they are asking Greece to achieve something that not even an economy at the level of Germany’s has ever been able to achieve. It should also be added that Eichengreen and Panizza noted that extraordinarily strict fiscal policies—austerity, in other words—with the goal of achieving a high primary budget surplus may in fact achieve the opposite result, leading to recession and to political and social turmoil. These policies, in other words, may lead to the opposite outcome from that which is intended.
MPN: With this new agreement, do you believe that the risk of a so-called Schäuble-style Grexit, named after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, has been averted, or does it remain a distinct possibility? And continuing on that frame of thought, what would this German-proposed Grexit, which would include the imposition of a dual or parallel currency, mean for Greece?
DKNot only has the threat of a Schäuble-style Grexit and the imposition of a dual or parallel currency not been surpassed, but I believe it remains the plan that will be put into place. I believe that the following will happen: once the Greek government completes the so-called “troika review” of its finances with an agreement for new austerity measures totaling 3.2 to 3.6 billion euros, the troika will break up the next installment of so-called “bailout” funds into sub-installments. Once the German elections have occurred, a fake “crisis” between Greece and its creditors will be orchestrated, and that is when the Schäuble plan, named of course after the German finance minister, will be imposed. This plan would entail Grexit and the imposition of a dual or parallel currency within Greece.
The circulation of a dual or parallel currency will mean an even more rapid internal devaluation and will signify the immediate impoverishment of the Greek populace. There will be one currency used for internal transactions, such as the payment of salaries and pensions, while whatever euros are still in circulation will be collected and used towards the payment of the national debt, which will continue to be denominated in euros.
This would be a terrible development for Greece, as this dual or parallel currency will face constant devaluation versus the euro, as it will not be hard currency and nobody will want it. If you go to the grocery store or the bakery, for instance, they might accept the dual currency at an exchange rate far lower than the official peg set by the government. The black market for euros will flourish and the economic catastrophe will be total and complete. The introduction of what will essentially be an IOU, or script, will not only completely destroy the Greek economy, but it will also discredit the idea of a national domestic currency in the eyes of the populace.
MPN: Something that is not frequently discussed by analysts or the mass media is the difference between a dual or parallel currency on the one hand and a national domestic currency on the other hand. What is the distinction and why is one better than the other?
DKThe differences are as follows. By definition, a parallel or dual currency means that there is one currency in use for domestic transactions and another that is used for external transactions. A national or domestic currency, on the other hand, is a currency that is issued by a nationalized central bank, such as the Bank of Greece, that would be completely state-owned. With a domestic currency, Greece would not be borrowing the currency that it will put into circulation, it will instead mint the currency itself. It is a wealth instrument, not a debt instrument. Furthermore, a national or domestic currency means that the state itself, because it mints its own currency, does not borrow it from any other central bank.
MPN: Explain for us the steps that Greece could follow in order to undertake an orderly departure from the Eurozone and return to a true domestic currency. How could the various dangers that we keep hearing about, such as the risk of hyperinflation or a catastrophic devaluation of the new currency or a difficulty in importing goods, be averted?
DKThe political party that I am a part of, the United Popular Front, also known as EPAM, has described, in detail, 12 necessary steps that are required in order for a smooth transition to take place toward creating a new national domestic currency.
Every step in this process is absolutely necessary and no steps can be skipped, as it will impact the entire transition to a domestic currency. The most important of these steps are as follows:
First, disputing the legality of the debt and declaring an immediate stoppage of payments.
Second, declaring the immediate cancellation of all of the memorandums and associated legislation that have completely altered the legal and political status of the Greek state and imposed the troika-led occupation.
Third, departure from the European Union and the Eurozone.
Fourth, the imposition of a national domestic currency.
Fifth, the nationalization of the Bank of Greece, the country’s central bank.
Sixth, the imposition of capital controls in order to prevent money from leaving the country.
Seventh, the liquidation of Greece’s four major banks while they remain in operation.
Eighth, enacting measures to ensure that transactions are able to take place smoothly during the period of transition to the new currency.
Ninth, ensuring the adequate supply of goods in the marketplace.
Tenth, protecting consumers and vigorously policing the marketplace and the prices of goods.
Eleventh, immediately restoring wages and pensions to pre-memorandum levels.
Finally, the implementation of “seisachtheia,” an ancient Greek precedent that refers to the forgiveness of the debts of households, as well as small- and medium-sized businesses.
MPN: How has Greece’s membership in the European Union since 1981 and in the Eurozone since 2002 impacted Greece’s productive and industrial capacity? As a second part to this question, is there any possibility of Greece’s agricultural or productive or industrial capacity increasing within the European Union and within the Eurozone?
DKThere is absolutely no chance of recovery for the Greek productive sector and Greek industry as long as the country remains within the European Union and the Eurozone, especially when harsh austerity and memorandums are being imposed. How can industry recover when taxes and pension fund contributions surpass 60 percent of a corporation’s revenue? How can the Greek economy recover when its biggest industry, tourism, is saddled with the highest tax rate in the Mediterranean region? How can the Greek economy recover when there is so much bureaucracy and political uncertainty?
The end result of all of this is that Greece’s competitiveness has dropped to 86th place worldwide, despite all of the austerity measures, the memorandums, the economic “growth” that has repeatedly been promised and the constant “fiscal adjustment” policies and “reforms” that have been enacted. Despite all of this, Greece now ranks lower in competitiveness than countries such as Namibia, Tajikistan, Albania and Guatemala.
MPN: You have spoken about the balance of goods and services in Greece and about Greece’s foreign currency reserves. What do these statistics show and what would they mean for Greece in terms of a potential departure from the Eurozone and the EU and a return to a domestic currency?
DKThere is no possibility that there will be shortages of imported goods. This is the case because Greece’s balance of goods and services, after so many years of economic depression and as a result of the internal devaluation that has taken place, is close to being balanced. In very simple terms, this means that Greece, from its exports, tourism, and shipping sectors, earns all of the necessary foreign currency it needs to pay for its imports. Therefore, it follows that there will be no shortage of imported goods.
In addition, according to the most recent figures available from the Bank of Greece from the third quarter of 2016, the central bank has foreign currency in its reserves totaling approximately 31.5 billion euros. At the same time, Greece’s banking system has, among its assets, a long-term foreign bond portfolio totaling 55.7 billion euros. This totals almost 87 billion euros, which could be used as foreign currency reserves in the immediate aftermath of the departure from the Eurozone. Therefore, it is easy to understand that there is no chance of there being any shortages in the marketplace and that Greece’s needs would be met for several years to come.
MPN: There is also the Greek public debt to contend with. Is this debt sustainable to begin with? What would you propose regarding dealing with the debt, and what does international law and international legal precedent have to say regarding what actions Greece could take regarding its debt?
DKThe Greek people have been purposefully led to believe that an “unsustainable” debt is one which is very difficult to repay, but which can, at some point and after the enactment of very strict measures, be repaid. This is absolutely false. We have been led to believe this because first of all, it has been necessary to maintain the hope that Greece, by enforcing these harsh austerity measures, will be able to repay its debt and will, as a result, accept these difficult measures.
In reality, an unsustainable debt is a debt which, no matter what a country does, cannot ever be repaid or even reduced, no matter how many measures are enforced. With mathematical certainty, such a debt will simply increase over time. This is the case in Greece. When Greece received its first so-called “bailout,” the public debt was 122 percent of GDP. From 122 percent it increased to 129 percent, then 148 percent, then 170 percent. It has since reached 177 percent and is projected to increase to 188 percent and later 200 percent of GDP if we continue down this path.
The first loan agreement that Greece signed in 2010 and which, it should be stressed, was not ratified by the Greek Parliament, was a product of fraud and coercion. Articles 48 through 52 of the UN’s Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties allow for the cancellation of a treaty or agreement when it is a product of deceit or threats. This would permit Greece, with a written statement delivered to the UN General Assembly via the UN’s Secretary General, to announce to the international community that it is denouncing its illegal public debt.
In addition, the official report of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights harshly criticizes the Greek government for its methodical and repeated violations of human rights, and specifically the individual, political, economic, social and cultural rights of Greece’s people.
MPN: You have previously spoken about the recapitalization of the Greek banking system, which most recently took place in early 2016. In what condition does the Greek banking sector find itself in today? Are we headed toward yet another recapitalization and what would such a development mean?
DK I would argue that the Greek banking system now finds itself in worse shape than in the beginning of 2016, if we take into consideration something that the mass media and most analysts typically neglect to tell us — namely, that the deferred tax accounts for 40 percent of the equity of Alpha Bank, 71 percent of the equity of the National Bank of Greece, 75 percent of the equity of Eurobank and 58 percent of the equity of Piraeus Bank. This alone means that a new recapitalization is coming.
Another negative and tragic aspect is that, from the beginning of this year, 1.5 to 1.7 billion euros’ worth of new high-risk loans have been added to the banking system. These loans include mortgages, consumer loans and business loans. Eighty percent of these loans have been refinanced.
In addition, 2.7 million loans, totaling almost 100 billion euros, are at the risk of default, as payments towards those loans have not been made in over three months. This is a ticking time bomb for the financial system. While this is happening, the deposits of households and individual depositors in Greece have dipped below 100 billion euros for the first time since 2003!
It is therefore clear to me that we will soon see a new recapitalization of the Greek banking system totaling 7 to 10 billion euros.
MPN: How has the British economy performed since the referendum result in favor of Brexit this past summer, and how do you believe the British economy will perform if and when the process of exiting the European Union is completed? Do you believe the widely-held fears of adverse economic impacts will be proven to be correct, or do you believe the opposite will be true?
DKEven though it is surely too soon to draw a definite conclusion, what we can say from now is that in contrast with the various “Cassandras” who foresaw the total collapse of the economy of Great Britain, what we are seeing is that the British economy grew by 0.6 percent in the final quarter of 2016, exceeding expectations.
In fact, the Bank of England once again revised its growth projections for the British economy for 2017, raising its projection of 1.4 percent of GDP, initially forecast in November 2016, to a growth rate of almost 2 percent of GDP. The higher projection is largely a result of increased consumer spending, which has occurred despite the fear-mongering that the British public faced as a result of the Brexit vote.
Two additional aspects that are important and which should also be noted are the reduction of the public deficit by 400 million pounds and the increase in average weekly wages for British workers by 2.8 percent on a year-to-year basis.
MPN: The new president of the United States, Donald Trump, seems to have taken a position in favor of Brexit and against the Eurozone, stating a preference for reaching bilateral trade agreements with individual countries, rather than large-scale trade deals with the Eurozone as a whole. On a domestic basis, Trump has promised the return of domestic jobs, factories, corporations and businesses that have left the country. How do you view the economic policies and promises of the Trump administration and what would they mean for the European and global economies?
DKThe turn inward being undertaken by the United States will gradually lead to the repatriation of U.S. dollars. As a result, it is likely that countries whose national debt is in large part denominated in U.S. dollars, as is the case with Turkey, where 65 percent of its debt as a percentage of GDP is in dollars, as well as developing countries whose major public- and privately-owned industries have outstanding loans in U.S. dollars, will face increased difficulties from upward pressure on the dollar in international financial markets.
In addition to all of this, we need to take into consideration the ongoing trade battle between the United States and China and the efforts of the United States to achieve energy autonomy, especially the elimination of dependence on OPEC nations. This means the replacement of approximately three million barrels of oil per day that are currently imported. They’ll have to be replaced by domestic energy sources. It is easy to understand that this will hurt countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in particular.
As for Trump’s domestic economic policy, the jury is still out. We will just have to wait and see.
Thursday, 23 March 2017
With the recent 'attack' of the 17th November on the German Embassy (and the subsequent 'murder' of a British defence attaché - translators note) with rockets various leftist commentators considered it their obligation to pre-judge public opinion condemning the true terrorists: the State, imperialism which blows up Embassies as a whole and murders innocents in Yugoslavia.
Their reaction is just and honest if we consider it to apply to events. If in other words the position of the Establishment suffices,that the 'mystery organisation' is truly a left-wing organisation subscribing to methods of individual terrorism.
The other view is also well known which is sometimes aired publically that terrorist organisation are only fronts for secret services, local and foreign, in their provocatory roles.
If this second case is real it becomes evident that every left fighter is obliged to confront the issue in a totally different manner: To condemn the state conspiracy, instead of supporting with pointless articles state lies, which a cover up of a campaign of provocation's continues for two and a half decades now and whose aims are clear beyond doubt.
The belief of the official version, which occurs by some, has surpassed the boundaries of ignorance and it should maybe become an issue for social psychology.
They tell us that if we blame terrorism on the security services we fall on to police explanations of social phenomena, something unattributed to marxist thought.
Truly the activity of secret services and provocations cannot exist in the sphere of sociology. It's very good for the State to attribute attacks to it to writers of police fantasies. On the contrary we would add that true terrorism as an example of revolutionary opportunism belongs in the realm of fantasy, as a phenomenon it is totally unexplainable from whichever serious sociological analysis.
Historically terrorism appears when the masses feel endless hatred. In an era when the peoples are suffering under absolutist regimes, military dictatorships or they have kneeled after great upheavals. For example it is understandable from sociological laws the action of Alexandros Panagoulis to place bombs on the road of the dictator Papadopoulos. But it is totally ridiculous to believe that young 'panagoulides' may appear just as the dictatorship is collapsing and hundreds of thousands of people are on the streets daily demanding their rights inside a climate of hope and newfound enthusiasm. But in these conditions the unexplainable and weird first act of terrorism that we witnessed. The chief of the CIA Wells was killed (his body was never shown) and the torturers of the junta Malios and Babalis...
The phenomenon of terrorism is in opposition not only with the known framework of social conditions but with every type of logic. How can it be possible for a quarter of a century, for civil servants and known citizens be murdered in broad daylight during rush hour and the perpetrators always remain free. Nothing analogous exists for the whole of world history. There is no reason to deal with the arrest of the 'known-unknowns' (Greek phrase meaning security agents) which occur every now and again by the hopeless attempts (which always fail) to manufacture conspiracies, to manufacture terrorists. Up until today all these actions never supported the official line but made it have holes in it.
A terrorist organisation like 17th November with such ardour and constant activity, responsible for acts, which are penalised with the highest sentences, could not recruit young new members, which it must educate as professional killers. If we assume that the organisation remained uncatchable because it remained in its original nucleus, which obviously had good military training would have been retired two and a half decades later! But according to live witnesses the 'terrorists' are always young, able to climb motorbikes and they disappear.
Anyway a typically terrorist group would aim for targets that would provoke confusion in the state mechanism. Politicians whose disappearance would unsettle the fragile balance of forces, state organs that were morally responsible for crimes and attacks against peoples.
Instead of that we see people being killed who are totally irrelevant (e.g. Momferatos) and actions to occur which the state needs the time it needs them. That is the reason why the terrorist attacks have ended up being totally predictable.
People who can play hide and seek under the noses of the Greek security forces, of the FBI and the CIA can not be coincidental and let us not add that for 25 years now their terrorism only damages the popular struggle and only the State gains from it as it appears to be in legal defence, providing it with the necessary excuses so as to advance and strengthen itself continuously its own terrorism.
The official view of terrorism cannot be acceptable without stepping on all the laws of logic. In contrast provocation is a totally justified and explainable practice of the ruling classes in today's conditions. Capitalism achieves a greater centralisation of forces of the political means of deceit and provocation, during the rise of its class strategy, the moment it is threatened the most. The great social disturbances, which the insoluble economic crisis provokes, the dreadful consequences of the wars it itself unavoidably provokes make the class instinct of self-preservation immensely delicate. We must not forget that it is a class that has dominated the world scene for half a millennium. It has accumulated a massive political experience, which is in the blood and bones of the ruling circles. It mobilises all its forces to remain at all costs in power. It mobilises all its forces so as to remain at all costs in power. It acts with such craftiness in such an unbridled manner, the clearer it becomes to its leaders the dangers threatening them.
In eras of great social convulsions provocation becomes one of its most brilliant weapons. It serves the need for a fantastic threat, which allows capitalism to bring together and mobilise all its forces at the opportune moment. To prepare for the true threat. It needs lightning bolts of fake revolutions so as to legalise and launch its own counterrevolution.
Up until a few years ago the communist threat served it well. In Greece they spoke about a northern threat. The EAM-Bulgarians who remained armed to enter our northern borders. Once this 'danger' collapsed the ruling class needed a new invisible threat. As one didn't exist one needed to be invented. The international general staffs uncovered terrorism. In the name of wiping it out the bourgeois state became armed to the teeth. It made anti-terrorist laws. It created Special Forces. It justified the arrival of 'special US teams'. It filled the streets with fully armed Rambos. It set up
roadblocks. It created an undeclared state of emergency, which in other eras no junta could have even dreamed of!
With terrorism, state and citizens for the first time appear to have a common enemy. For the crushing of the common enemy they must use 'blind violence' placing in danger the lives of innocent civilians, all state and citizens, must unite! State repression if it isn't supported becomes acceptable as the lesser evil. Anyone who goes against this automatically becomes a collaborator and supporter of terrorism.
This isn't a Greek phenomenon or a Greek invention. As we all realise imperialism has a need for 'terrorism' as a measure of international relations. Whole countries enter the black list. They are labelled terrorist states, as if they support terrorism or put up with it. With this excuse they are threatened, bombed or condemned to the genocide of the embargo. It is a clearly orchestrated campaign directed from Washington. An international campaign of lies, deceit and violence.
It is true that the imperialist wouldn't have been able to carry it out with success if the collapse of the USSR hadn't predated it. The opposite pole in the realms of propaganda has gone. Without the USSR the 'left' and 'democratic' parties in the western world have given up. Hand in hand with the mass media they are surrendering to the fantastic scenarios of terrorism. They support the lies of the state security agencies. All their gargled and irresponsible conspiracies.
In Greece, no party, not even the KKE ever dared to condemn the secret services and the State as the true organiser of terrorism.
The scenarios, which the state creates, are so provisional, so badly manufactured and they would have collapsed years ago if the extreme left had exposed them. But in this belong the eternally stupid, whom the State uses so it can become believable. In this one finds people who with enthusiasm fall in the trap of terrorism. From 'revolutionary' duty!
Accepting the official myths, they believe they are gaining a section of the 'glory' of the 'terrorists'. As stalinism condemned every revolutionary act as a provocation, the extreme left feels they become legal if they portray every provocation as a revolutionary act. Stalinism survived many decades unearthing everywhere 'counterrevolutionaries'. But they forget that the bourgeois State specialises in finding everywhere 'revolutionaries'. They aren't bothered by the fact that the stalinists for the first time are seeing real terrorists, their where they previously say only 'police spies'.
In conclusion the working class and its most advanced sections confront with deep skepticism the official myths. The issue is to undertake a conscious and courageous campaign to uncover the terrorist conspiracies. So the conspirators remain naked and nothing to stand on. To uncover their aims and their criminal methods. This becomes even more urgent, as the threat of new strangleholds appear on the horizon against the Greek people and to see new dirty games which are being manufactured on both sides of the Atlantic under the excuse of fighting a war on terrorism
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
Book Review: Special thanks....from VN Gelis
Vast movements of people have to be organised. The British Empire organised massive population movements, through the slave trade, forced emigration to Australia, and the forced movement of indentured labour from India to Africa.
The vast movements into Greece of people coerced by poverty and misery are privatised, outsourced, to Chinese mafia gangs and Albanian smugglers. The Chinese mafia demands 10,000 euros for every immigrant they bring into Greece from China, Thailand and Pakistan.
A Greek minister, and major employer, said, “Immigrants are God’s blessing, we need them because they work with one third of a Greek worker’s wages, because they cannot go on strike, they cannot form unions, they can do nothing.” The ‘no borders’ anarchists ally with the employing class, denouncing all who disagree with them as racists, driving people into the arms of Golden Dawn. As ever, the ultra-left and the far right are locked in each other’s arms.
Schengen is supposed to defend the EU’s borders from illegal immigrants, but Greece does not prosecute or deport them, instead it legalises them, breaking its own laws. This raises the suspicion that there is some secret EU-Greek government deal to allow this breach of Schengen.
A former MP of the New Democracy party said, “the issue was raised of supporting Albania by showing tolerance in the issue of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, because the neighbouring country had made a definitive turn to the west and should be supported in this course.”
As Marx wrote in 1866 of employers’ recruitment of workers from Europe to defeat a strike in Britain, “The purpose of this importation is the same as that of the importation of Indian coolies to Jamaica, namely, perpetuation of slavery.