Mar 142015
 

By J Iddhis Bing, 99GetSmart

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Thursday, March 12, 2015. Photo by Iddhis Bing.

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Thursday, March 12, 2015. Photo by Iddhis Bing.

 

Alex Tsipras and ministers of his government – among them, the Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations, Euclid Tsakalotos, and a certain Minister of Finance, name of Varoufakis – were in Paris on Thursday for a wide- ranging series of talks with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). After the discussions Tsipras gave a short press conference followed by a speech to OECD member nations and the press. The OECD announced a number of joint initiatives with the Greek government in areas such as job creation, public finance and spending, taxation and, intriguingly, “disrupting oligarchies and cartels.” The organization’s Secretary-General, Angel Gurria, was careful to note that “The OECD is not replacing any other institution that the government works with. We are involved because we were asked by one of our founding member countries to offer help and advice on their reform program.”

Regular readers here will pardon the pro-forma above. I snuck in the OECD’s side door and took notes. I looked pretty good, considering that my hands were covered with bloody scratches courtesy of a cat I met the day before. Events at places like the OECD in the opulent 16th are interesting theatre, at least the first time around. They are rigorously controlled affairs, so you have to lean in if you want to glimpse the human beast.

The Greeks need friends in Europe. They’re looking everywhere, and the trip to Paris can be seen as part of the continuing charm offensive. They need public statements of support and not quiet murmurs of assent such as François Hollande dispenses. (Not too loud, Angela might hear.) They have confidence in what looks like a lonely fight but they seem to be still hoping that the tide will turn, that Europe will join them in replacing the Austerity Drones. That’s one explanation for their presence. But it leaves a lot out.

… The plush little theatre where the press conference takes place is crammed with journalists. In the first two rows, a swirling crowd that speaks only Greek and is constantly hopping in and out of their seats, as if they were making policy decisions at the last second. The camera men are set up with their ridiculous foot-long lenses, the facilitators line the aisle, we’re all waiting. Do my co-workers expect anything new to be said? There’s no bar down here in the basement of the OECD – I haven’t found one anyway. Just fruit juice. It’s nice to be healthy but a drink helps when you have to listen to politicians for a few hours, and without a bar there’s no fraternity. Journalists these days are a quiet lot and far too many of them are staring at the portables on their laps like zombies getting the feed.

And then – swoosh. The doors open and one buzz replaces another as Tsipras and cohorts glide in. The photographers order anyone in their way to sit down. What jerks.

Tsipras and Gurria take the platform. Gurria grips the lecturn like he’s maybe going to pull it out of the floor and hurl it at us, or maybe a bit like a sea captain staring off into the mist on a stormy night. Tsipras’s body language is patient, deferential, waiting his cue. He’s willing to play the game. I wonder if he can understand a word Gurria is saying.

He’s a fast talker this Gurria. Six languages or so the official bio claims. Brooklyn is full of guys like him, always on the up and up, everything positive, always shaking people’s hands, aways trying to sell you something – an idea maybe. (People in Brooklyn have ideas.) They come at you fast on the sidewalk and it’s always too late to avoid them. They’re not so bad, it’s just that they’re always brimming. Well, Gurria has the right, he’s head of the OECD, unofficially known as the “world’s club for the richy-rich.” Readers with memories of old columns will recall that Luxembourg is a member too and that they simply choose to “exercise the privilege” of not signing the organization’s tax avoidance mandates, which they had every right to do. It’s called taking care of business properly.

So Gurria is finishing up, he says again and again that “Syriza has only been in power a few weeks,” and underlines that the OECD is not replacing any other organization at least twice. Who could that be refering to, I wonder? Greece will take help anywhere it can. As the poet Roque Dalton observed, “The drowning man doesn’t ask which way the boat is headed.”

Tspiras is not so nice. The Troika is his voodoo doll: if you bring it on stage, you have to stab it – at least twice. And he obliges. Syriza remains committed to its social program in all its aspects, he says, as well as the Memorandum of reform they signed in mid-February. But he stresses that it is reform their way and not what the Central Bank and the IMF think change looks like. Watch a few videos of the Euro group President Jeroen Tijsselbloem, read his body language as he says, “We are still waiting to see evidence of reform by the Greeks.” (My paraphrase.) The two parties are speaking different languages. In a video after Syriza’s election he talks about how much his organization helped Greece with interest delays and other bookkeeping sleights of hand (heroic acts). Tijsselbloem is a human in functionary drag, passenger on a boat going the wrong way. He is the kind of man who says “water” before he lifts the glass to his lips. It’s a policy statement.

Gurria smacks down a journalist who dares to ask a pointed question about Spain and deficits, and the journalist takes it. It’s a regular love-fest in here, Gurria seems to be saying. Let’s not let reality interrupt.

This “only been in power a few weeks” gets on my nerves. Who’s he saying it to? He sounds like he’s trying to convince a judge in some small Texas town that his client shouldn’t hang – right away anyway. He repeats it, staring over our heads into Nowhereland. Is he addressing it to Christine Lagarde at the IMF? Did they have a spat? “Look, Angel, hang with the Greek boys on Thursday. But don’t even dream about pal-ing around over the weekend. What if you give me the disease?”

If I were a professor of institutional semantics, I’d roll it out like this: the OECD is a parallel international organization that wields power behind the scenes. Corporations are always knocking on their door demanding special privileges and they (the OECD) hold sway within the different national bureaucracies, within the mindset. Greece needs breathing room and if the OECD isn’t offering cash, it’s access, which may be more valuable. Of course they’re “enterprise-oriented.” National salvation isn’t in their tool kit. It will be up to Syriza to resist. In any case, the OECD isn’t issuing diktats.

More interesting to speculate on Gurria’s motives. Why has he so forcefully interposed the OECD between Greece and the Troika? Clearly not “replacing any other organization,” but it’s as if that Brooklyn glad-hander stepped between the bully and his victim and yelled, “Hands Off!” Whose side is he on? Impossible to say. His face is a mask, he speaks in soundbites. (Is there a school for that?) Greece in any case will be able to say to Tijsselbloem et Co., “We’re playing by OECD rules. Good enough for you?” when that all-but-inevitable departure from the Euro threatens again. Greece is playing for time. Syriza has to both implement reforms and see some positive results. In four months. Pasok had ten years to shoot their wad and blow the treasury. I don’t remember the European fright wigs complaining then.

But what! – Hey!- What’s that noise! – breaking glass – in this soft little amphitheatre. Here? It can’t be. But it is. Reality is not so nice. Reality is the Syriza snarl. Here they are showing the OECD what attentive fellows they can be – but just a day before – a bit of mayhem before they arrived in Paris. They went before the world and accused Germany of the systemic pillage of their country.

In December 2014 the Greek finance ministry published a report which calculated that Germany “owed” Greece €9.2bn for the first world war, €322bn for the second and €10bn for money Greece was forced to lend the Nazi regime in 1942.

On Wednesday Alex Tsipras weighed in before the Greek Parliament. “After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the legal and political conditions were created for this issue to be resolved. But since then, German governments chose silence, legal tricks and delay.”

Now we get to the good part of the drama, when the upstart Southerners confront the Northern behemouth. They prick them where it hurts. The worst part of it, for the Germans, is that the Greeks are trying to steal their role, that of the Great Reproover, the Clean Liver, the Prosperous. You’re thieves, the Greeks bellow. And the Greeks were being nice about it. They didn’t even mention the gold bricks the Germans took with them at the end of the Second World War, a theft that William Pfaff, the dean of American foreign policy writing, calls “a legitimate issue.”

To their immense credit there are numerous Germans, individuals and political groups, who have stood up and publicly backed the Greeks in raising the issue.

No one can seriously believe that the Syriza-led government is naïve about what the OECD represents. At the same time the fly on the conference room wall knows more than we do about the OECD’s real strategy for Greece. OECD assistance may help to cauterize the wound; looked at another way it brings Greece closer to the business establishment.

There was more to the afternoon. Tspiras had yet to give his speech. His English is nearly incomprehensible and it got worse as the speech went on. He was saying something, it was the kind of speech the OECD likes to hear, full of initiatives and targets. He did say, “We don’t want to reform Greece, we want to transform it.” For that dream, he will meet obstacles on all sides, international and domestic, not least that part of the Greek left who have already decided he’s a sellout.

In the corridors close to the centers of power, where Power takes the shape of human figures gliding down a passageway surrounded by body guards, Sub-Ministers for various offices, journo-hangers-on desperate for a quote, everything is rumor, opinion, hand-held devices pumping out new info, distraction – buzz. Very little is really known and what is known can change instantly into its opposite. That’s what Syriza is banking on.

What’s the probability that the sea of hemmed-in, shoulder to shoulder journalists, administrators and facilitators would somehow part to allow an awkward young German reporter, tall and a little stiff like he was new on the beat, to step forward and block Varoufakis’s path? Not likely in that crowd – but it happened. He had a question. Not about reparations. “Is it true, Mr. Minister, that Greece will run out of money in seven days?” A short freeze in the crowd surge. Varoufakis gives him a quick look up and down. It’s provocation with a German accent. “Can’t Buy Me Love,” Varoufakis replies softly. “Good song. Do you know it?” The crowd moves on, out of the room.

The journalist looks verklempt, augestorben - overcome, lost. Varoufakis played him. That’s game theory: change the terms of the debate. The reporter hobbles back to his computer. He didn’t get his quote, or so he thinks. Humiliated, he looks around for help.

The OECD is an interesting faction of the elite to have on your side. They can’t say you don’t play by the rules, even if you have to bend them. Everybody does, just look at Luxembourg. But I think we are nearly at the end of the epoch when Greece can be regarded as a pariah. What happened there happened with the full knowledge of the EU, the ECB and the IMF, and therefore, one could argue, with their consent. The OECD plans, I suspect, to play the role of mediator, with or without the blessing of the Troika. So far Syriza has shown that it’s one step ahead of the functionaries of Reality As Such.

Feb 242015
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

The Greek Tragedy: Some things not to forget, which the new Greek leaders have not.

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American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”

The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).

In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.

George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

Andreas Papandreou was arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou later related the following:

I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup. 1

Another charming chapter in US-Greek relations occurred in 2001, when Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street Goliath Lowlife, secretly helped Greece keep billions of dollars of debt off their balance sheet through the use of complex financial instruments like credit default swaps. This allowed Greece to meet the baseline requirements to enter the Eurozone in the first place. But it also helped create a debt bubble that would later explode and bring about the current economic crisis that’s drowning the entire continent. Goldman Sachs, however, using its insider knowledge of its Greek client, protected itself from this debt bubble by betting against Greek bonds, expecting that they would eventually fail. 2

Will the United States, Germany, the rest of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund – collectively constituting the International Mafia – allow the new Greek leaders of the Syriza party to dictate the conditions of Greece’s rescue and salvation? The answer at the moment is a decided “No”. The fact that Syriza leaders, for some time, have made no secret of their affinity for Russia is reason enough to seal their fate. They should have known how the Cold War works.

I believe Syriza is sincere, and I’m rooting for them, but they may have overestimated their own strength, while forgetting how the Mafia came to occupy its position; it didn’t derive from a lot of compromise with left-wing upstarts. Greece may have no choice, eventually, but to default on its debts and leave the Eurozone. The hunger and unemployment of the Greek people may leave them no alternative.

The Twilight Zone of the US State Department

“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop … the Twilight Zone.” (American Television series, 1959-1965)

State Department Daily Press Briefing, February 13, 2015. Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, questioned by Matthew Lee of The Associated Press. 3

Lee: President Maduro [of Venezuela] last night went on the air and said that they had arrested multiple people who were allegedly behind a coup that was backed by the United States. What is your response?

Psaki: These latest accusations, like all previous such accusations, are ludicrous. As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal. We have seen many times that the Venezuelan Government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan Government to deal with the grave situation it faces.

Lee: Sorry. The US has – whoa, whoa, whoa – the US has a longstanding practice of not promoting – What did you say? How longstanding is that? I would – in particular in South and Latin America, that is not a longstanding practice.

Psaki: Well, my point here, Matt, without getting into history –

Lee: Not in this case.

Psaki: – is that we do not support, we have no involvement with, and these are ludicrous accusations.

Lee: In this specific case.

Psaki: Correct.

Lee: But if you go back not that long ago, during your lifetime, even – (laughter)

Psaki: The last 21 years. (Laughter.)

Lee: Well done. Touché. But I mean, does “longstanding” mean 10 years in this case? I mean, what is –

Psaki: Matt, my intention was to speak to the specific reports.

Lee: I understand, but you said it’s a longstanding US practice, and I’m not so sure – it depends on what your definition of “longstanding” is.

Psaki: We will – okay.

Lee: Recently in Kyiv, whatever we say about Ukraine, whatever, the change of government at the beginning of last year was unconstitutional, and you supported it. The constitution was –

Psaki: That is also ludicrous, I would say.

Lee: – not observed.

Psaki: That is not accurate, nor is it with the history of the facts that happened at the time.

Lee: The history of the facts. How was it constitutional?

Psaki: Well, I don’t think I need to go through the history here, but since you gave me the opportunity –- as you know, the former leader of Ukraine left of his own accord.

………………..

Leaving the Twilight Zone … The former Ukrainian leader ran for his life from those who had staged the coup, including a mob of vicious US-supported neo-Nazis.

If you know how to contact Ms. Psaki, tell her to have a look at my list of more than 50 governments the United States has attempted to overthrow since the end of the Second World War. None of the attempts were democratic, constitutional, peaceful, or legal; well, a few were non-violent. 4

The ideology of the American media is that it believes that it doesn’t have any ideology

So NBC’s evening news anchor, Brian Williams, has been caught telling untruths about various events in recent years. What could be worse for a reporter? How about not knowing what’s going on in the world? In your own country? At your own employer? As a case in point I give you Williams’ rival, Scott Pelley, evening news anchor at CBS.

In August 2002, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told American newscaster Dan Rather on CBS: “We do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons.” 5

In December, Aziz stated to Ted Koppel on ABC: “The fact is that we don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry.” 6

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein himself told CBS’s Rather in February 2003: “These missiles have been destroyed. There are no missiles that are contrary to the prescription of the United Nations [as to range] in Iraq. They are no longer there.” 7

Moreover, Gen. Hussein Kamel, former head of Iraq’s secret weapons program, and a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, told the UN in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its banned missiles and chemical and biological weapons soon after the Persian Gulf War of 1991. 8

There are yet other examples of Iraqi officials telling the world, before the 2003 American invasion, that the WMD were non-existent.

Enter Scott Pelley. In January 2008, as a CBS reporter, Pelley interviewed FBI agent George Piro, who had interviewed Saddam Hussein before he was executed:

PELLEY: And what did he tell you about how his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed?

PIRO: He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ’90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

PELLEY: He had ordered them destroyed?

PIRO: Yes.

PELLEY: So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk? Why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade? 9

For a journalist there might actually be something as bad as not knowing what’s going on in his area of news coverage, even on his own station. After Brian Williams’ fall from grace, his former boss at NBC, Bob Wright, defended Williams by pointing to his favorable coverage of the military, saying: “He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn’t question if we’re spending too much.” 10

I think it’s safe to say that members of the American mainstream media are not embarrassed by such a “compliment”.

In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter made the following observation:

Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

Cuba made simple

“The trade embargo can be fully lifted only through legislation – unless Cuba forms a democracy, in which case the president can lift it.” 11

Aha! So that’s the problem, according to a Washington Post columnist – Cuba is not a democracy! That would explain why the United States does not maintain an embargo against Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt and other distinguished pillars of freedom. The mainstream media routinely refer to Cuba as a dictatorship. Why is it not uncommon even for people on the left to do the same? I think that many of the latter do so in the belief that to say otherwise runs the risk of not being taken seriously, largely a vestige of the Cold War when Communists all over the world were ridiculed for blindly following Moscow’s party line. But what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship?

No “free press”? Apart from the question of how free Western media is, if that’s to be the standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control almost all the media worth owning or controlling?

Is it “free elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have elections at municipal, regional and national levels. (They do not have direct election of the president, but neither do Germany or the United Kingdom and many other countries). Money plays virtually no role in these elections; neither does party politics, including the Communist Party, since candidates run as individuals. Again, what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be judged? Is it that they don’t have the Koch Brothers to pour in a billion dollars? Most Americans, if they gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic election, without great concentrations of corporate money, would look like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in national television debates, and be able to match the two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were the case, I think he’d probably win; which is why it’s not the case.

Or perhaps what Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system, where the presidential candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner. If we really think this system is a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for local and state elections as well?

Is Cuba not a democracy because it arrests dissidents? Many thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been arrested in the United States in recent years, as in every period in American history. During the Occupy Movement two years ago more than 7,000 people were arrested, many beaten by police and mistreated while in custody. 12   And remember: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer; virtually without exception, Cuban dissidents have been financed by and aided in other ways by the United States.

Would Washington ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known members of that organization? In recent years the United States has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States. Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.

The Ministry of Propaganda has a new Commissar

Last month Andrew Lack became chief executive of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees US government-supported international news media such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Radio Free Asia. In a New York Times interview, Mr. Lack was moved to allow the following to escape his mouth: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram.” 13

So … this former president of NBC News conflates Russia Today (RT) with the two most despicable groups of “human beings” on the planet. Do mainstream media executives sometimes wonder why so many of their audience has drifted to alternative media, like, for example, RT?

Those of you who have not yet discovered RT, I suggest you go to RT.com to see whether it’s available in your city. And there are no commercials.

It should be noted that the Times interviewer, Ron Nixon, expressed no surprise at Lack’s remark.

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Notes

  1. William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II, chapters 3 and 35
  2. Greek Debt Crisis: How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt”, Spiegel Online (Germany), February 8, 2010. Google “Goldman Sachs” Greecefor other references.
  3. U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, February 13, 2015
  4. Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List
  5. CBS Evening News, August 20, 2002
  6. ABC Nightline, December 4, 2002
  7. “60 Minutes II”, February 26, 2003
  8. Washington Post, March 1, 2003
  9. “60 Minutes”, January 27, 2008
  10. Democracy Now!, February 12, 2015, Wright statement made February 10
  11. Al Kamen, Washington Post, February 18, 2015
  12. Huffington Post, May 3, 2012
  13. New York Times, January 21, 2015
Feb 042014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

My intrepid friend, journalist James Graham (a.k.a. J. Iddhis Bing), has been living in Paris and writing about the disastrous conditions in Greece, where financial collapse has led to widespread violence and homelessness. The situation has been underreported in the mainstream press, and Jim is heading to Greece to research what’s happening and ferret out the implications for the rest of the Europe and the world.

Banking shenanigans by the 1 percent appear to be among the causes of the collapse.

He is crowdsourcing his trip and will send gifts from Greece or other alluring perks to you if you can spare a few bucks. Here’s the link:
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/greece-and-the-future-of-the-european-union

Jan 142014
 

By Iddhis Bing, 99GetSmart

I’ve been writing and reading about European politics, and Greece in particular, for a while now. Long enough, in any case, to call myself reasonably informed. But Greece is a special case. We stay up on the news and know about the Shadow Cabinet in Westminister in great detail; about Angela Merkel’s telephone and her fall on the ski slopes; about François Hollande’s midnight rides on a scooter across Paris to visit his new girlfriend – and yet, apart from sites like 99GetSmart, there’s a kind of news blackout concerning Greece. Maybe people don’t want to know. They can’t bear it. They suspect they might be next.

But Greece really is an exception, isn’t it? So the argument runs. Its ancient culture, its oligarchs, its Mediterreanan dependence on agriculture, its subterreanean ties to the ancient cults in the Near East, all of these things added together… therein lies the contradiction at the heart of what I am going to propose to you: that Greece is different culturally, that many other European states were opposed to its entry into the Union and it only got in through with the help of some imaginative book-keeping, and yet its fate and ours are now inextricably linked. The only meaningful difference being that Greece is ahead of us on line to the scaffold.

And so I got the crazy idea that I would go to Greece and report what I saw. The proposed trip is now up on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site. The goal is to write a book which gives us a sense of the human reality in a country trapped between the Scylla and Carybdis of the financiers and the politicos.

This idea is a reality because Linda Ross encouraged me, badgered me, supplied me with endless contacts in Greece – which resulted in articles here on 99 and elsewhere – and essentially wouldn’t give up until I said I was going.

I’ve been writing for 99 since it picked up one of my pieces. Actually, Linda lifted an article from another site and reposted it and I wrote her to ask her who the hell did she think she was. (Little did I know back then. I was a newbie.) I was lucky – theft is the sincerest form of flattery. And thus began a conversation that’s still chugging along fruitfully.

The economy of internet journalism is the pits. Everybody knows that. And if you’re not in the business of taking cheesy ads or innovating your way to the next time-saver app, it hurts on the publishing side as well. Nobody knows what’s coming next but Linda meanwhile plugs away and keeps a terrifically informative site currant. Hats off, says I.

You, the reader, can help out. You read 99GetSmart on a regular basis so you know better than most what’s going on in Greece and maybe you feel we should get the word out to a larger public, especially among the Anglos (as the world calls us when they aren’t inventing much kinder names). You can visit Greece and the Future of the European Union and chip in a few dollars or euros or whatever you have laying around. And you can spread the word, both about 99 and the crowdfunding project. Pass it around, post it, repost it, tweet it, let your friends know that a writer is going to Greece and will report back what he sees and hears.

Merci en avance, as they say in these parts.

Bing

Sep 222013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Source: RevolutionNews

In this video TV journalists interview Pavlos Fyssas’s mother, the mother of the 34-year old hip hop artist known as Killah P who was murdered by Neo-nazi fascists (Xrysh Avgh) in the early hours of September 18 in Keratsini, Athens.

In this video we learn that an eye witness took a video of the scene of the crime and mistakenly took it to police – and for some reason the video hasn’t been brought up at all as evidence. Pavlo’s girlfriend went to the police to ask for help before the incident, there were 12 riot cops on 6 motorbikes – they said they would not get involved with such “gomaria” (beasts). Click to view videos

After what seems like a set up to have him murdered, a car came up with the killer, who then said he would kill him – and Pavlo was stabbed in the heart and abdomen. Fyssa’s mother claims the murderer was paid [by Golden Dawn].

Video Transcript (English Version):

Interview with Pavlos Fyssas mother:

-Can you hear me?
-Yes we can.

-Please listen to me. There is an eyewitness of the murder and he took a video of it. But he made the mistake of giving it to the police. But he has it. You can see the scene and how it evolved.

- So do you mean the police has this video in their possession Mrs. Fyssa?
- Yes there is an eyewitness and he took a video. I don’t know him. He gave it to the police. He said the following: ”I’ll start from the beginning. They were watching football. Somebody who frequents the bar said something about someone who might have been a member of Golden Dawn. Don’t know exactly what. Not one of “our” kids.”

- So you say that there is video that covers the crime scene, the murder? – Yes not the conversations in the bar but the scene outside.
- My kid…. Well there was my kid, his girlfriend and another four of their friends. And because he was always in front, he was always protective, this is how he always acted, he told them to ‘get away and let me delay them so you can leave.’ Our house is not even 100m away. They got him in front of his house. But his girlfriend didn’t leave. She ran to the cops who were in total 12 “Dias” riot cops on 6 motorcycles. They were already there. And she pleaded shouting “go there, go there, something bad will happen”.

- And what did they tell her? Why didn’t they go? – They told her this, “And are we supposed to go fight these bullies?”
- And after he fought 3 of them, because you cannot imagine what kind of a kid we are talking about, he fought all three, and we all know how violent they are, a car came from the opposite direction, his murderer got out of the car and said, “I will kill you fucker “.

- Had they any previous encounters?
- No Mister. My son didn’t know the guy.

-We cannot know that. We can’t know from where the hate comes from.
- I am shouting from yesterday. Do not put labels on my son, he was a free mind and nothing else, and if you really want to know who he was LISTEN TO HIS SONGS. They were unknown to him. But how unknown can members of the Golden Dawn can be? We all know them but we are scared of their faces. He was a brave man and he wasn’t backing off. You are wrong, he didn’t have a previous problem with him. He was a paid murderer. And they told him to do that.

- So he was being targeted and he went directly to your son?
- I don’t know if.. Who is talking now?

- Kanelakis Madam.
- Well listen Kanelakis, who are you?

- I am a reporter.
- You need to understand something. Are you listening to me?
- Yes I am.

- And you won’t interrupt with bullshit?
- Madam I ask because here it says that he was targeted.

- Mister Kanelakis I ask you to respect the woman’s situation, and the fact that she is on the phone line with us and not here.
- But of course I respect her.
- Your son’s friends, did they tell you if Roupakias (the murderer) was in the bar?

- No he was informed. He was informed by someone in the bar. He is a paid murderer. And they informed him to come and kill and it happened that his victim was my son. Why? Because he protected his friends. If he had run off it one of his friends would be dead. Because his friends went off to the supermarket to buy beers and go to the house. – OK.

- Did Kanelakis understand that? – Madam have you contacted the police?

- No I haven’t. Which police are you talking about? Are you having fun with me?

- Did they say anything about the video the eyewitness gave them?
- This was on the news yesterday night. You didn’t listen to it? Why didn’t you? How did we hear it and you did not?

- You told us it was an eyewitness and I’m asking you if it helped the investigation.
- The eyewitness wanted the cops to tell Paul’s father that his son was a brave man. He didn’t get a scratch from the other three. He did not have a single scratch. Only the stab wounds. Do you understand that? Stop trying to drive us crazy. Stop it.

- We don’t have this intention Madam. —— (Talking to the reporters)
- You are the ones who gave them power. You brought them here. And you made them kill my son. You are all responsible.

- I speak to you personally, and I want to make it clear that we respect all the things you have said and we do not intend to offend your family. And we respect your pain. – You offend with the things you say. What else do you want? For my son people are organising concerts in many countries. What affairs would my kid of thirty years old have with a 50 year old murderer? Do you want to know who my son really was?

VIDEO @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCZvj3XiSaA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Jun 232013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

From StopCartel Newsdesk:

It is the first time the two major factions of the new regime are trying to live together in the most shameless manner, openly before the eyes of the People. Democracy and PASOK, have for the first time, shown their true face and the political essence of the so-called “post-dictatorship”

The faces of Greek traitors: Venizelos and Samaras

Venizelos and Samaras

The tragicomic political developments in the government camp , which sparked the case of ERT , continues unabated after the formal, but not substantial withdrawal of Tourism Services .

The New Democracy and PASOK , seeking now not only a new framework for cooperation , but also a reshuffle of the government scheme that will enable them to impart an artificial fake note “progressivism” and “renewal” in the hope that such things will extend even and for a few months , they remain in power .

It is therefore expected,  the two “mnimoniakes” factions that first time in the years of the new regime will live together without another government partner , engage in an ‘orgy’ contacts, fermentation and classification , in an attempt to appease as soon as possible , concerns of lenders and the European Union on political developments .

Amidst such, bleak landscape , the tripartite government turns into bipartisan , even pretending he is determined to exhaust the four years . A contingency in which one no longer believes , as the country has entered irreversibly on track elections .Elections, which will require a great social majority in order to put an end to austerity and the destruction of the place for aprogressive way out of the current crisis with socialist horizon.

The revision of the terms of the loan agreement that enhance the recession appears to be the main objective of the program agreement SW-PASOK, which process the partisan staffs.

In fact it is the first time that the two major factions of the new regime are trying to live together without other partners.

The new programming agreement have undertaken to formulate the Chrisanthos Lazaridis from ND and Paris Koukoulopoulos by PASOK.

The text will refer and institutional issues to be resolved, such as corruption, the fight against political money, the “breaking” of large regions, but the “hard” issues of anti-racism law and the immigration issue.

The pursuit of partisan staffs is later than T riti have completed their discussions and the final version is to the offices of Antonis Samaras and Evangelos Venizelos.

SYRIZA: Scaling of extreme austerity mnimoniakis 

“The New Democracy and PASOK looking for a new framework agreement and a new government scheme that will escalate toextreme mnimoniaki policy of austerity and authoritarianism , “said SYRIZA.

“With increasing their social isolation and their political obsolescence , as they become more plainly the impasses mnimoniakis policy, both seem more determined to dismantle every social right and every public good ‘, highlighted the announcement of Koumoundouros.

Moreover, the position that “the current government is much weaker” expressed MP SYRIZA Dimitris Stratoulis , speaking to T / T Mega.

Still appreciate that the new government scheme ‘ will apply the same mnimoniaki policy and applies it worse ”and that” in September will be forced de facto to discuss new measures and new memorandum. ”

At the same time, Mr. Stratoulis not exclude the possibility to file SYRIZA censure.

As he said, “we will see in the coming days is a weapon we have in mind. When used should be effective. ”

KKE: signaled an escalation of aggression against the people

“Changes in the government scheme and the new programming agreement SW – PASOK, with the connivance of Tourism Services , mark the escalation of aggression against the people and workers, through the new unpopular measures in the offing, “observes the KKE .

In a statement stating that “ the people have a wealth of experience to find that it can not be pinned their hopes on the control of his own harsh reality, in various disguises government or any other government that bows to capitalistic “one-way” and the EU. ”

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StopCartel TV broadcasts LIVE from Athens @ http://www.livestream.com/stopcarteltvgr

StopCartel blog in Greek and English @ http://stopcartelnews.blogspot.gr

Jun 202013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

The unprecedented decision by the government to shut down ERT – the Greek Public Broadcaster has been a heavy blow for all. Both me and my colleagues, journalists and technicians, we ran immediately at the ERT Broadcasting Center. Since the beginning, every day we are recording what we see. We just edited quickly nine minutes to not erase from our memory what happened the first day. This is our way to react. We will continue as much as we can.

This is a rough cut sequence, part of the feature-length documentary that we are filming since the beginning of the crisis, for the last three years. It is called “AGORÁ – From Democracy to the Market” and it is an international co-production of major TV networks. AGORÁ will be released in April 2014.

Best Regards
Yorgos Avgeropoulos
Documentary Filmmaker
Author & Director of Exandas Documentary Series

Main Credits:

Written & Directed by Yorgos Avgeropoulos
Producers: Yorgos Avgeropoulos, Anastasia Skoubri
Picture: Yiannis Avgeropoulos, Anna Prokou
Music: Yiannis Paxevanis
Production Manager: Anastasia Skoubri
Editing: Anna prokou, Vasilis Magos
Researchers: Georgia Anagnou, Achilleas Kouremenos, Andreas Vagias
A Small Planet production © 2013-2014 smallplanet.gr

VIDEO @ https://vimeo.com/68637086

Jun 182013
 

Photography by Giorgos Panagakis, 99GetSmart

Thousands of people outside ERT all day to show their support

Thousands of people outside ERT all day to show their support

The front entrance of ERT at night

The front entrance of ERT at night

A protester wearing a t-shirt that reads, "ERT BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE".

A protester wearing a t-shirt that reads, “ERT BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE”.

A child's sign says, "No one should be unemployed."

A child’s sign says, “No one should be unemployed.”

"ERT will be their graves!"

“ERT will be their graves!”

A message of solidarity between Greeks and Turks is expressed in a banner

A message of solidarity between Greeks and Turks is expressed in a banner

A banner at the entrance of ERT says that ERT and Taksim Square have a lot in common.

A banner at the entrance of ERT says that ERT and Taksim Square have a lot in common.

A giant banner in the front of ERT building with the image of the famous Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis.

A giant banner in the front of ERT building with the image of the famous Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis.

A musician playing violin in support of ERT employees.

A musician playing violin in support of ERT employees.

Musicians playing music at the demonstration in support of ERT.

Musicians playing music at the demonstration in support of ERT.

Protest sign made by a Greek child

Protest sign made by a Greek child

Jun 132013
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto, 99GetSmart

Greek unions organised a 24 hour strike in support of ERT - Photo by Giorgos Panagakis

Greek unions organized a 24 hour strike in support of ERT – Photo by Giorgos Panagakis

“No Signal.” That was the last message to be broadcast on June 11 at 11:00 PM (local time) by the Greek public broadcasting network ERT. Broadcasting has ended. The radical – and unprecedented – measure was taken without forewarning just as the leaders of Greece’s “Troika” creditors (EU-ECB-IMF) are in Athens.

Public broadcasting belongs to the many government entities that were to be restructured or merged under the Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and its lenders. According to the unions, in closing ERT, the government is meeting the objective imposed on it by Greece’s creditors – eliminating 2,000 public-sector jobs by the end of June – with one stroke of the pen. It is justifying its decision by citing low ratings for the public radio stations and television channels, and also their lack of financial resources, in particular from advertising.

The government did say that the public entity would re-open someday in another form, with a drastically reduced workforce. Government spokesman Simos Kédikoglou revealed the details of a proposed law on the creation of a “new Greek radio, Internet, and television” to be called Nerit S.A. and which would begin operation by the end of August, with 1,200 employees. In the meantime, the current workforce of 2,656 will receive compensation and will be allowed to apply for jobs with the new company.

“They’re saying they’ll re-open in September. But in Greece, nothing’s more permanent than ‘temporary’,” ERT radio General Manager Dimitris Papadimitriou observed.

An explosive economic measure 

The unions have called on Greeks to take to the streets to protest the shutdown. The protest is supported by certain personalities in Greek public life who are dependent on Greece’s public broadcasting – starting with Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, Primate of the Greek Church, who immediately joined the movement along with the majority of the priests. “It has to be understood that only public television and radio broadcast the Mass on Sunday morning, every day of Holy Week, the week before Easter, at Christmas and on August 15 (the feast of the Dormition or Assumption). It provided hope and comfort for those among the faithful who are unable to go to church, as well as to Greeks living abroad. Remember that there are as many Greeks abroad as in Greece itself, and the Mass broadcast was a little piece of Greece for them,” the Archbishop said.

Orthodox Catholicism is the state religion in Greece, and 90% of the country’s population, according to official figures, is Orthodox. Religious broadcasts are carried on all four public channels, including the international one.

Greeks in Venezuela, the USA, and Japan called with messages of support for the personnel. One of them said on the air, just before programming was shut down, that the national public network was the only way for him not to forget the language of his native country and be able to observe religious celebrations in his home.

Several hundred persons were still assembled late Wednesday afternoon in front of ERT’s headquarters in Athens’s northeastern suburbs. A solidarity concert was planned for Wednesday evening.

Sophie Rosenzweig / ARTE Journal

Translated by SnakeArbusto

Status of Greek public broadcasting:

ERT in figuresIts history goes back to the 1950s. With 35 broadcasting locations, ERT reaches the most remote corners of the Greek Aegean islands and employs nearly 2,700 persons, including some 680 journalists and 200 musicians and singers.ERT, via its international Greek-language radio frequency and the ERT World channel, provides a vital link to a country whose language is spoken by more than seven million diaspora Greeks scattered around the world from Egypt to Australia and including the United States.

 

Edition spéciale : ARTE Journal diffusé en grec:

ERT: On the Edge:

Thousands of Greek showing solidarity outside the ERT building in Athens:

Published: Wed. Jun 12 12:00:00 CEST 2013

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RELATED ARTICLE: 

ERT shutdown: Greeks say “This is junta!” @ http://stopcartelnews.blogspot.com.es/2013/06/ert-shutdown-greeks-say-this-is-junta.html

Mar 142013
 

By Anthony Verias, WeAreChange GREECE

 Live2 & Apset, “FaceArt”, Carpe Diem's mural program during 15th Biennial, Polytechnic area, Thessaloniki, 2011

Live2 & Apset, “FaceArt”, Carpe Diem’s mural program during 15th Biennial, Polytechnic area, Thessaloniki, 2011

By now you have probably heard of a certain UK based graffiti artist who goes by the name of Banksy, who has gained enormous fame with his politically charged works. A movie loosely based on himself was even nominated for an Oscar! So what does this all prove? That there is an ENORMOUS market for graffiti tourism, so much so that maps are made to better locate that elusive Bansky piece. One such piece is rumored to be on the Greek island of Corfu. This island as well as others have seen a sharp decline in tourism since the start of the crisis. Tourism is right at the heart of the Greek economy with jobs in that sector accounting for 1 out of 5. The high season is of course in the summer, people come for the islands and to view the ancient art of Athens. Though, a movement of modern art could be a bright spot for the future of Greece’s economy. Carpe Diem is the team that is responsible for the urban treasures popping up all over Greece, creating an artistic revitalization; the likes of which the country has not seen for decades. Albert Einstein once said that “crises bring progress” and “creativity is born from anguish”. The anguish caused by the crisis has allowed the arts and creativity to flourish in the Northern port city of Thessaloniki.

I got to witness that anguish and creativity firsthand on the way home from intense riots which occurred after protests commemorating the 1973 fall of the military Junta. As I was leaving this scene of carnage; fire and smoke hanging in the air, with my eyes still stinging from the tear gas, it was this mural which gave me hope for Greece. Hope had so quickly grown from despair. In reality, there are reasons to be optimistic about Greece’s future everywhere you look; you just need to know where to look. Fragile bar is just one of the places which gives hope to a country so desperately in need of it. Media the world over have also stood up and took notice of the cultural and artistic revival in Greece, with the NYT noting “Salonika’s youth are embracing a do-it-yourself ethos resulting in a wave of arts and night-life venues that they hope will hold up in tough times”. Fragile Bar is a prime example of Greeks coping and even persevering in the face of great adversity.

It is clear that the work of graffiti artists gives the country an esthetic boost and the expansion of this art-form has certainly grown rapidly since the start of the crisis, but can it’s presence offer Greece anything more than a “face-lift”? For this answer I turned to Kiriakos Iosifidis, organizer and founding member of Carpe Diem. Carpe Diem is the team responsible for transforming dilapidated spaces into public works of art.

Kiriakos believes that bringing some “color” into a communities everyday life can go a long way as far as lifting it’s spirits and as a citizen of Thessaloniki where his work is prominently displayed I can firmly attest to that.

Carpe Diem mural

Carpe Diem mural

SEE MORE PUBLIC WORKS OF ART here and here

TO DONATE TO CARPE DIEM THROUGH PAYPAL USE EMAIL carpediemact@gmail.com