Jun 082012
 

 

* GREEK MP LIANA KANELLI DESCRIBES BEING HIT IN THE FACE ON LIVE TV

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2tW8gY_6Ek

—————————————————————–

* GREEK NEO-NAZI MP ASSAULTS FEMALE GUESTS IN TV DEBATE

Source: AP

Greek MP Attacks MP

Greek prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for the spokesman of the far-right Golden Dawn party after he slapped a left-wing politician in the face on live television.

Ilias Kasidiaris, who was elected to Greece’s parliament in last month’s elections, was debating with two female politicians on a chat show.

Video footage shows him throwing a glass of water at one of the women.

When Communist party MP Liana Kanelli intervened, he slapped her in the face three times.

She told the BBC’s PM programme how Mr Kasidiaris had raised his hand and “boxed” her in the face.

“He was quite provocative against my party, against the Communist party, so tension went up,” she added.

A public prosecutor ordered his immediate arrest following the incident on Thursday. […]

READ / VIDEO @ http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/06/07/greece-far-right-tv-slap-communist.html

—————————————————————–

* EUROZONE CRISIS: HOW GREECE’S ACTIONS WILL IMPACT EUROPE FOR YEARS

By Costas Lapavitasas, Le Monde

Greece is approaching the climax of its crisis, and its choices will influence the course of Europe for years. Although Greece represents only 2% of the European Union’s GDP, the impact of those choices will be wide.

The Greek crisis is fundamentally the result of its membership of the eurozone. Greece is paying the price for a belief in the ancient fallacy that possessing “hard” money puts a weak economy on a par with the strong. In reality, “hard” money is more likely to destroy a weak economy, a lesson about to be re-learned in Portugal, Ireland and Spain. Greece is heading for an exit from the euro and the rest of the eurozone periphery is likely to follow, with severe implications for the monetary union. Coping with an exit will require the reintroduction of economic controls, a major retreat from the neoliberal, pro-market approach to economic policy.

The Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is often presented as a political step in the integration of Europe, a demonstration of solidarity among Europeans. The reality is quite different. The euro is an international reserve currency that can compete against the dollar and serve, first and foremost, the interests of big banks and enterprises in Europe. It is a peculiar form of money, created from nothing by a hierarchical alliance of independent states. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/story/155792/eurozone_crisis%3A_how_greece%27s_actions_will_impact_europe_for_years/?page=entire

—————————————————————–

* THE THREAT OF QUEBEC’S GOOD EXAMPLE

By Peter Hallward, The Bullet

The extraordinary student mobilization in Quebec has already sustained the longest and largest student strike in the history of North America, and it has already organized the single biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. It is now rapidly growing into one of the most powerful and inventive anti-austerity campaigns anywhere in the world.

Every situation is different, of course, and Quebec’s students draw on a distinctive history of social and political struggle, one rooted in the 1960s ‘Quiet Revolution’ and several subsequent and eye-opening campaigns for free or low-cost higher education. Support for the provincial government that opposes them, moreover, has been undermined in recent years by allegations of corruption and bribery. Nevertheless, those of us fighting against cuts and fees in other parts of the world have much to learn from the way the campaign has been organized and sustained. It’s high time that education activists in the UK, in particular, started to pay the Quebecois the highest compliment: when in doubt, imitate!

The first reason for the students’ success lies in the clarity of both their immediate aim and its links to a broad range of closely associated aims. Students of all political persuasions support the current ‘minimal programme,’ to block the Liberal government’s plan to increase tuition fees by 82 per cent over several years. Most students and their families also oppose the many similar measures introduced by federal and provincial governments in Canada in recent years, which collectively represent an unprecedented neoliberal attack on social welfare (new user fees for healthcare, elimination of public sector services and jobs, factory closures, wanton exploitation of natural resources, an increase in the retirement age, restrictions on trade unions and so on). And apart from bankers and some employers, most people across Canada already regret the fact that the average debt for university graduates is around $27,000. […]

READ @ http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/647.php

—————————————————————–

* TELL TRINITY CHURCH: DON’T JAIL OCCUPY ACTIVISTS

Source: Faithful America

One of America’s wealthiest churches is trying to send Occupy Wall Street activists to prison.

Last year, Occupy Wall Street sought sanctuary on vacant property owned by Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church when they were  evicted from Zuccotti Park. The church’s rector, ignoring pleas from Christian leaders like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, had the occupiers arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Those arrested, including a retired Episcopal bishop, are scheduled to go on trial next week. They’re facing up to 90 days in prison, but so far Trinity’s leaders are cooperating with the prosecution and falsely claiming that the situation is now out of their control.

So a group of prominent New York City pastors is organizing a last-minute prayer vigil seeking to have the charges dropped. We’re hoping to give them a petition signed by over 10,000 people to deliver to Trinity Wall Street — will you add your name? […]

SIGN THE PETITION @ http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2518/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10738

—————————————————————–

* MEET COMMAND CENTRAL, THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF WISCONSIN VOTING MACHINES

Forty-six Wisconsin counties and 3,000 voting machines are being controlled by a two-person company operating out of a strip mall in Minnesota.

By Barbara With, Marianne M. Moonhouse and John Washburn, Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-op

Command Central is one of Wisconsin’s leading vendors of voting machines and election supplies. They are distributors for Dominion Voting Systems, a privately-owned electronic voting equipment company. Founded in Canada in 2002, Dominion is now based in Denver, CO, since their acquisitions of Premier Election Solutions, from Election Systems & Software (ES&S), and Sequoia Voting Systems.

Command Central deals directly with Wisconsin county and municipal clerks and is closely involved in their selection of voting machines, ballots, and other election supplies. Command Central does all the maintenance on the voting machines and provides tech support throughout the year, with a special “hot line” should clerks need help with glitches, etc., on election day.

In June 2011, the Wisconsin County Clerks Association held their annual summer conference in Ladysmith. Seventy-five county clerks from across the state came together to, among other things, “assist the legislators in developing sound legislation that affects county clerks and county government by providing accurate and useful information.” WCCA Legislation Committee chair at the time was Kathy Nickolaus. […]

READ @ http://wcmcoop.com/members/meet-command-central-the-people-in-charge-of-wisconsin-voting-machines/

—————————————————————–

* SENATOR SANDERS ON WALL STREET NOW: ‘INSANE GAMBLING CASINO’

Source: Current TV

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=248D_uyW1_s&feature=share

—————————————————————–

* HOW BILLIONAIRES BROKE THE SYSTEM

The US deficit reduction plan makes no sense – until you remember who’s behind the Tea Party movement.

By George Monibot, Guardian

There are two ways of cutting a deficit: raising taxes or reducing spending. Raising taxes means taking money from the rich. Cutting spending means taking money from the poor. Not in all cases of course: some taxation is regressive; some state spending takes money from ordinary citizens and gives it to banks, arms companies, oil barons and farmers. But in most cases the state transfers wealth from rich to poor, while tax cuts shift it from poor to rich.

So the rich, in a nominal democracy, have a struggle on their hands. Somehow they must persuade the other 99% to vote against their own interests: to shrink the state, supporting spending cuts rather than tax rises. In the US they appear to be succeeding.

Partly as a result of the Bush tax cuts of 2001, 2003 and 2005 (shamefully extended by Barack Obama), taxation of the wealthy, in Obama’s words, “is at its lowest level in half a century”(1). The consequence of such regressive policies is a level of inequality unknown in other developed nations. As the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz points out, in the past 10 years the income of the top 1% has risen by 18%, while that of blue collar male workers has fallen by 12%(2). […]

READ @ http://www.monbiot.com/2011/08/01/how-the-billionaires-broke-the-system/

—————————————————————–

* WHY WE NEED A STRONGER VOLCKER RULE

By Jennifer Erickson, Center for American Progress

READ / VIDEO @ http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/06/ate_erickson.html

—————————————————————-

* PRESIDENT CAT FOOD

By Rob Urie, CounterPunch

Back in the depths of the financial crisis Barack Obama put together a ‘bipartisan’ commission to balance the national budget. To promote this effort he used the stunningly misleading conflation of family and national budgets to argue that Americans need to “tighten our belts,” a euphemism for cutting the social programs that in earlier times buffered us against extreme poverty and permanent exclusion from health care. The timing of his effort coincided with the European push for ‘austerity,’ cutting social expenditure to assure that corrupt banks were repaid misbegotten debt.

Mr. Obama selected the members of his deficit commission with a particular outcome in mind—to cut the social programs long derided by the right as ‘entitlements’ while maintaining tax cuts for the rich and pushing more of the same neo-liberal reforms that led to the current bifurcated economy. To be clear, with this commission Mr. Obama was not defending against the wing-nut economics of the radical right, he was straightforwardly promoting them. […]

READ @ http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/06/07/president-cat-food/

—————————————————————–

* FOOD DEMOCRACY NOW!

Join the Senate Floor Fight for a Healthy Food and Farm Bill

Every 5 years, Congress passes a Food and Farm bill that dictates food and agriculture policy for decades to come. This is the single most important piece of legislation that determines what Americans, and many people around the world, eat on a daily basis. Today, there’s a floor fight in the U.S. Senate to decide who benefits this time around: You or corporate lobbyists?

While the bill does contain important reforms getting rid of wasteful direct subsidy payments, a number of vital reforms remain a serious risk of not passing. Right now, Food Democracy Now! needs your help to make sure that the 2012 Food and Farm Bill puts healthy food, family farmers and the environment first!

We have three urgent amendments that need to pass in order to put healthy food on every plate in America and protect vital conservation and nutrition programs. Please fill out the information below to make a call to your Senators and add your name to the list of reformers standing up for a healthy Food and Farm Bill!

If you can’t reach your Senator by entering your information below, please call the Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121

READ @ http://fdn.actionkit.com/cms/sign/join_senate_floor_fight?referring_akid=565.174207.5cmYvp&source=taf

—————————————————————–

* MERCURY INJECTED INTO BABIES FOR RESEARCH

Source: youtube

Mercury injected into babies heads for research. Doctors and mothers are lining up to help with the research in which the mother actually pays for the research and is left caring for the baby afterwards with no help from the researchers.

http://www.Formula4409.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MtLliVV_8SY#!

—————————————————————–

* 5 MILLION FARMERS SUE MONSANTO FOR $7.7 BILLION

By Anthony Gucciardi, Activist Post

Launching a lawsuit against the very company that is responsible for a farmer suicide every 30 minutes, 5 million farmers are now suing Monsanto for as much as 6.2 billion euros (around 7.7 billion US dollars). The reason? As with many other cases, such as the ones that led certain farming regions to be known as the ‘suicide belt’, Monsanto has been reportedly taxing the farmers to financial shambles with ridiculous royalty charges. The farmers state that Monsanto has been unfairly gathering exorbitant profits each year on a global scale from “renewal” seed harvests, which are crops planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest.

The practice of using renewal seeds dates back to ancient times, but Monsanto seeks to collect massive royalties and put an end to the practice. Why? Because Monsanto owns the very patent to the genetically modified seed, and is charging the farmers not only for the original crops, but the later harvests as well. Eventually, the royalties compound and many farmers begin to struggle with even keeping their farm afloat. It is for this reason that India slammed Monsanto with groundbreaking ‘biopiracy’ charges in an effort to stop Monsanto from ‘patenting life’.[…]

READ @ http://www.activistpost.com/2012/06/5-million-farmers-sue-monsanto-for-77.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ActivistPost+%28Activist+Post%29&utm_content=FaceBook

—————————————————————–

* IS THIS OUR HUMAN NATURE?

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb4ZHJpMuIo&feature=player_embedded

Jun 052012
 

* DEFAULT: THE STUDENT LOAN DOCUMENTARY

Source: youtube

Default: The Student Loan Documentary is a 27 min. documentary chronicling the stories of borrowers from different backgrounds affected by the private student lending industry and their struggles to change the system.
The documentary is now available for advanced screenings.

If you would like to show Default: the Student Loan Documentary in your community, email us at studentloans@krotala­.com

Upcoming Screenings:

June 7-9 2011 in Chicago @ NCTC National Conference: Mapping the Future, Center For Economic Progress @ http://tax-coalition.org/

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1463LHDLGvQ

—————————————————————–

* THE HUMAN FACE OF STUDENT DEBT: A CONVERSATION WITH THE FILMMAKERS OF ‘DEFAULT’

By Emily Wilson, AlterNet

If you want to experience the real impact of student loan debt on human lives, look no further than Default: The Student Loan Documentary. Though this powerful 27-minute documentary includes interviews with experts like Anya Kamenetz, author of Generation Debt, and Alan Collinge, the founder of StudentLoanJustice.org, the bulk of this story is told by everyday borrowers, some of them turned activists in an effort to change the dysfunctional student lending system that now holds them captive.

And captive they are. Unlike other types of debt (like gambling debts, for instance), student loan debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, leaving many former students chained for life to loans they have little hope of paying off. Default offers a rare inside look at these emotional stories, detailing how loans can balloon into multiples of what students originally borrow to go to college and the troubling impact of that debt over time. One man in the film chokes up as he shares his decision not to ask his girlfriend to marry him because he doesn’t want her to have to share the burden of his debt. Another interviewee bursts into tears when she explains why she works with the United States Students Association: so that others won’t have to suffer as she did after leaving school with health problems, tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

The filmmakers of Default, Aurora Meneghello and Serge Bakalian knew it was important to put a human face on America’s student loan debt crisis – which, at more than a trillion dollars, has now surpassed credit card debt as the nation’s largest debt burden. But when the two started working on the movie in 2007, it was difficult for them to find much information about the issue, much less borrowers who would talk about their debt. Now, with the average borrower owing more than $20,000 and the number of unique borrowers on the rise, the hunger to discuss the issue has grown — and even Congress is paying attention. in April, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 was introduced in the House; the bill would forgive outstanding student loan debt after 10 years of on-time, income-contingent payments, and would cap student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent.

But that bill is far from being law, and recently, lawmakers in the Senate defeated legislation that would have extended low-interest rates for federal student loans. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/story/155640/the_human_face_of_student_debt%3A_a_conversation_with_the_filmmakers_of_%27default%27?page=entire

—————————————————————–

* QUEBEC’S FIGHT IS OUR FIGHT

By Chris Hedges, Truthout

The streets of Montreal are clogged nightly with as many as 100,000 protesters banging pots and pans and demanding that the old systems of power be replaced. The mass student strike in Quebec, the longest and largest student protest in Canadian history, began over the announcement of tuition hikes and has metamorphosed into what must swiftly build in the United States—a broad popular uprising. The debt obligation of Canadian university students, even with Quebec’s proposed 82 percent tuition hike over several years, is dwarfed by the huge university fees and the $1 trillion of debt faced by U.S. college students. The Canadian students have gathered widespread support because they linked their tuition protests to Quebec’s call for higher fees for health care, the firing of public sector employees, the closure of factories, the corporate exploitation of natural resources, new restrictions on union organizing, and an announced increase in the retirement age. Crowds in Montreal, now counting 110 days of protests, chant “On ne lâche pas”—”We’re not backing down.”

The Quebec government, which like the United States’ security and surveillance state is deaf to the pleas for justice and fearful of widespread unrest, has reacted by trying to stamp out the rebellion. It has arrested hundreds of protesters. The government passed Law 78, which makes demonstrations inside or near a college or university campus illegal and outlaws spontaneous demonstrations in the province. It forces those who protest to seek permission from the police and imposes fines of up to $125,000 for organizations that defy the new regulations. This, as with the international Occupy movement, has become a test of wills between a disaffected citizenry and the corporate state. The fight in Quebec is our fight. Their enemy is our enemy. And their victory is our victory. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/9571-quebecs-fight-is-our-fight

—————————————————————–

* MAPLE SPRING: NEALY 1,000 ARRESTED AS MASS QUEBEC STUDENT STRIKE PASSES 100th DAY

By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales, Democracy Now!

More than 400,000 filled the streets of Montreal this week as a protest over a 75 percent increase in tuition has grown into a full-blown political crisis. After three months of sustained protests and class boycotts that have come to be known around the world as the “Maple Spring,” the dispute exploded when the Quebec government passed an emergency law known as Bill 78, which suspends the current academic term, requires demonstrators to inform police of any protest route involving 50 or more people, and threatens student associations with fines of up to $125,000 if they disobey. The strike has received growing international attention as the standoff grows, striking a chord with young people across the globe amid growing discontent over austerity measures, bleak economies and crushing student debt. We’re joined by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesperson for CLASSE, the main coalition of student unions involved in the student strikes in Quebec; and Anna Kruzynski, assistant professor at the School of Community and Public Affairs at Concordia University in Montreal. She has been involved in the student strike as a member of the group, “Professors Against the Hike.”

READ / VIDEO @ http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/25/maple_spring_nearly_1_000_arrested

Jun 012012
 

 

* A REMINDER ABOUT WIKILEAKS 

As the risk intensifies that Assange may be prosecuted for his journalism, it is vital to remember what’s at stake

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

“Just in time to spoil the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Obama Justice Department is trying to do what Richard Nixon couldn’t: indict a media organization. . . . Charging Julian Assange with ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ would effectively be setting a precedent with a charge that more accurately could be characterized as ‘conspiracy to commit journalism‘” — James Goodale, General Counsel of The New York Times during its Pentagon Papers fight with the Nixon administration, writing in The Daily Beast, June 12, 2011.

* * * * *

When, many years ago, I first read about the Nixon administration’s infamous break-in to the office of Daniel Ellberg’s psychiatrist as a means to discredit the Pentagon Papers leak, I was baffled by the motivation. The Pentagon Papers revealed systematic lying on the part of the U.S. Government to the American public about the Vietnam War. Why, I wondered with a not insubstantial amount of naïveté, would public revelations about Ellsberg’s personality and psyche have any impact on how those leaks were perceived?

But the answer to that is obvious, as Nixon well knew: by demonizing Ellsberg personally, even those inclined to defend the leak would be reluctant to be associated with him. If Ellsberg became associated in the public mind not with his noble exposure of government lies but rather with “strange” psychological drives or bizarre sexual fantasies — the sort of thing one is supposed to reveal to one’s psychoanalyst — then he would become a figure of derision, an embarrassment, and nobody would want anything to do with him for fear of having his foibles reflect negatively on them. You smear the messenger, and the message is smeared along with him — or, just as good, the message is forgotten and the messenger is abandoned to whatever punishments are doled out.

This has been exactly the strategy used to ward off support for Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning, with one difference: leaving aside Joe Biden, who denounced Assange as a “high-tech terrorist,” this time the role of Nixonian henchmen is played by establishment-defending or Obama-loyal media figures rather than the administration itself. The New York Times — led by John Burns and Bill Keller — has continuously obsessed on Assange’s alleged personality flaws while all but ignoring the vital disclosures about the U.S. Government for which he is partially responsible (Keller, the son of a Chevron CEO, wrote an article infamously complaining that Assange’s socks were “filthy” and that he “smelled”). […]

READ http://www.salon.com/2012/05/31/a_reminder_about_wikileaks/singleton/

—————————————————————–

* WITH GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT ON ASSANGE CASE, BRADLEY MANNING MARKS 2 YEARS BEHIND BARS

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

This week marks two years since U.S. Army private Bradley Manning was detained on allegations of leaking classified documents to the online whistleblower WikiLeaks. Manning faces up to life imprisonment in a military trial set to begin in September. “It’s important to remember that what Bradley Manning is alleged to have done … was an act of incredible mobility, bringing immense amounts of transparency to the U.S. government and its war actions, ones that are usually shrouded in complete secrecy,” says Salon.com blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald who has been following the case closely.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOKTkRoui2Q&feature=player_embedded

—————————————————————–

* NUMBER OF THE DAY: $3 MILLION – WHAT CHICAGO PAID TO DEFENDED CPD REPEATERS AGAINST ALLEGED ILLEGAL SEARCHES

By Yana Kunichoff, The Chicago Reporter

In a list of police misconduct, such as extended detention, malicious prosecution, false arrest and excessive force, illegal search may be among one of the lighter offenses. But it’s still an expensive one.

The city paid more than $3 million in settlements for 51 illegal searches by repeaters – the 1 percent of the Chicago Police Department who have two or more misconduct lawsuits against them. The exact cost between January 2009 and November 2011: a whopping $3.3 million.

The 4th Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from illegal searches, and a 1961 Supreme Court decision ruled that evidence found in an illegal search and seizure cannot be used in a case. But police departments in cities including New York and Chicago continue to deal with claims of illegal searches, often of minority communities. […]

READ @ http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-muckrakers/2012/05/number-of-the-day-3-million-what-chicago-paid-to-defended-cpd-repeaters-against-alleged-illegal-searches/

—————————————————————–

QUEBEC STUDENT MOVEMENT GROWS WITH POPULAR SUPPORT

Source: The Real News

People from Montreal’s communities bang pots and pans to show support as students broaden demands.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDf5Du7zV_k&feature=player_embedded

—————————————————————–

* GREXIT? SPEXIT? LET’S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF

By Edward Hugh, Foreign Policy

One thing we’ve learned as the euro crisis has unfolded is that the enthusiasm of experts in London and New York for offering advice to the struggling countries on Europe’s periphery is matched only by their passion for awkward neologisms. The world was just getting used to “Grexit” (Get it? A Greekexit from the euro!) when “Spexit” began to rear its ugly head in the financial press.

Naturally, the events of recent days have brought Spain back to the forefront of the debt crisis, generating insecurity about the reliability of the official fiscal deficit numbers, the validity of central bank statistics, and new numbers showing capital flight reaching alarming levels. Only this week, Spain announced that the central bank governor, Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordoñez, will be leaving early as part of a government effort to restore its credibility. Some are now anticipating that Spain’s exit from the eurozone will come before Greece’s departure.

I would hope that those clamoring for these countries to go their own way are at least better intentioned than they are informed, since normally they exhibit a singular lack of understanding about how political systems in southern and eastern Europe actually work. […]

READhttp://experts.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/05/31/grexit_spexit_let_s_call_the_whole_thing_off

—————————————————————–

* GREECE, SERBIA DEFY NEW WORLD ORDER

By Pyotr Iskenderov, Strategic Culture

It became clear when the dust settled after the recent elections in Greece and in Serbia that two epicenters of resistance to aggressive globalism continue to exist in Europe. The US and the EU with all their might neither succeeded in coercing the new cohort of Greek politicians into a deal that would establish a government ready to bow to the EU and the IMF nor managed to help Boris Tadic, long believed to be the front-runner, regain presidency in Serbia. In fact, the impression is that we have just witnessed a domino effect, with the determination demonstrated by the Greeks, especially by the leaders of the rising new nationalist and patriotic movements, causing Serbs to look for alternatives to the scenarios prescribed to their country by the West. Originally, Tadic polled a share of the vote 16% bigger than what forecasters gave to his nationalist rival T. Nikolic, but the advantage melted down hours ahead of the runoff, and the latter convincingly defeated the former. At the moment, there are serious reasons to take a closer look at the social and political dynamics which unravels in Greece regardless of the preferences expressed by the Brussels bureaucracy and the financial elites.

The May 6 snap elections in Greece highlighted an unprecedented decline of public support for the traditional heavyweights of the Greek political scene – the right New Democracy and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) which only won 18.85% and 13.18% of the vote. In other words, this year the two combined got less than a third of the total, in contrast to the 2009 elections in which the figure was 77%. The second-largest share of the vote – 16.76% – was claimed by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).

For a few days following the ballots count, there seemed to be absolute confidence in European capitals that the Greek parties would eventually negotiate a coalition and the arrangement imposed on Greece in late 2011 by the EU and the IMF – financial infusions for consent to a crippling austerity package – would not be called into question. European parliament speaker Martin Schulz bluntly dictated that “the negotiations to form a government in Athens should have as a target the honoring of the country’s obligations towards the European Union” [1]. German diplomacy chief Guido Westerwelle made an even stronger statement: “we expect the formation of prudence government in Greece, with a clear European orientation”. When it became clear that the first round of attempts to put together a government coalition in Greece failed, he added that the agreements between the EU and Greece must remain untouched and that this would not be a subject for further discussions [2].  […]

READ @ http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/06/01/greece-serbia-defy-new-world-order.html

—————————————————————–

* MIKE SHEDLOCK ON THE SPEXIT, THE GREXIT AND RUNNING FRO THE EUROZONE EXIT

Source: RT News

Welcome to Capital Account. A slew of bad news out of Europe, as Irish voters today attempt to exercise their sovereignty and cast their ballots in a referendum on Europe’s fiscal consolidation treaty. Meanwhile, European central banker Mario Draghi made it clear he’s fed up with national sovereignty. The ECB says europe needs new tools to fight bank runs and Draghi says the lesson from Spain’s Bankia was that the supervision of eurozone banks should rest with a central authority, not national regulators. Isn’t that what we have in the US now with the Federal Reserve? How’s that working out?

And speaking of Spain, will we see a SPEXIT before a GREXIT? Mike Mish Shedlock is here to talk about why that could be the case. Mish says that the sooner Spain sees the light and gets out of the Euro that is strangling it, the better off Spain will be. The same goes for Greece, and possibly a slew of other nations in the Eurozone.

And last but not least, back in the US, GDP was revised downwards from 2.2 to 1.9 percent. At the same time, borrowing costs for the United States are at 60-year lows for the 10-year government bond. So what gives? Are the Hyperinflationists right, or is the market proving the Deflationists’ argument? Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s attempt to build an industry of battery-makers for electric cars is sputtering. Subsidized firms are struggling; they don’t have many customers. They are operating way below capacity. This is according to the Wall Street Journal. So what was the problem? Government grants were linked to production calendars and not to market demand. So is this a great example of what happens when government picks winners and losers? Or is there a role for Uncle Sam in alternative energy?

VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=K-pAlzPmiNM

—————————————————————–

* BANK OF AMERICA REACHES A NEW LOW IN SCUMBAGGERY

By Justin Rosario, Addicting Info

It’s like a bank heist in reverse, Via Mother Jones:

Bank of America, which last fall announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers, is about to go on a hiring spree—overseas.

America’s second-largest bank is relocating its business-support operations to the Philippines, according to a high-ranking Filipino government official recently quoted in the Filipino press. The move, which includes a portion of the bank’s customer service unit, comes less than three years after Bank of America received a $45 billion federal bailout.

BoA continues to spit in the face of the country that kept its bloated ass afloat when it got in over its head. Will it lower its fees now that it’s saving all that money by utilizing dirt cheap labor?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course not! It’ll just go to pad the bonuses of the CEO and other executives! […]

READ @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/05/30/bank/

—————————————————————–

* KILLINGS, CANCER, CORRUPTION AND AZERBAIJAN: EUROVISION IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF BP?

By Greg Palast

Will “Beyond Petroleum” oil giant BP pick the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest today in Baku, Azerbaijan? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised.

When I was arrested by the military police of Azerbaijan during my investigation of BP for Channel 4′s Dispatches in 2010, one of the cops who surrounded our crew in the desert told us, with great pride:

“BP drives this country.”

Indeed it does.

In 1992, the newly independent former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan elected a kindly Muslim Professor, Abulfaz Elchibey, as President.

But the voters had made an error: Elchibey refused to give BP an exclusive contract to drill the nation’s massive Caspian Sea fields as the company wished. In 1993, with the assistance and, reportedly, guns provided by MI6, Elchibey was overthrown by the nation’s former Soviet KGB boss, Heydar Aliyev.

Within three months, Aliyev handed BP a sweetheart deal, called “The Contract of the Century”, to take Azerbaijan’s Caspian oil.

The way to the no-bid deal for BP was “greased”, to use the term applied by former BP operative Leslie Abrahams, with several million dollars in illicit payments and weekends with lap dancers in London for Azeri officials. I asked Abrahams, who was ordered by BP to provide military intelligence to MI6, whether he understood that he was paying “bribes on behalf of BP and the British government” – he replied, “absolutely, yes”.

When asked, BP would not directly deny paying bribes.

The company told us, tantalisingly, that:

“While there were some facts in [Abrahams] account that were accurate, we do not recognise most of it and regarded it as fantasy.”

Since BP has taken control of Azerbaijan’s oil, the nation has become fabulously wealthy – at least for those close to the Aliyev family and BP.

And they eat well. The daughters of the new President, Ilham Aliyev (son of Heydar), picked up the tab for dinner in London for a half dozen of their friends. It came to £300,000 (excluding tip and VAT).

According to Robert Ebel, the CIA’s former oil intelligence chief, the whereabouts of $140 million in BP and other oil industry payments are “totally unknown”.

This week, Eurovision Song Contest viewers will be treated to the images of the ancient city of Baku where the Silk Road streets are filled with Maseratis and Bentleys. The Bentley dealership, and much of the capital, is owned by Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, the “Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World”.

That’s official, the vote was taken by Esquire Magazine. (She’s actually the twelfth “Sexiest Woman in the World”, but the other eleven, infidels all, can be ignored here.)
(Photo above with husband Ilham).

I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve the title: her fashion model face has been created at great expense by “so much plastic surgery”, according to the US State Department Manning/WikiLeaks cables, that Lady Mehriban “appears unable to show a full range of facial expression.”

But when I left the Old City and its Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana stores and headed off to Sangachal, the town where BP’s terminal operates, I found a nation heading full speed into the 14th century…

Baku, once the world’s leading manufacturer of oil drilling equipment, is now one of the world’s leading centers of oil-toxin cancers. Walking along the main street of Sangachal, the aptly nicknamed, “Terminal Town”, was like doing the rounds in a cancer ward.

The local shoemaker, Elmar Mamonov – who hasn’t sold a shoe in two years – told me:

“This one’s daughter has breast cancer; there, Rasul had a brain tumor. Cancers we had never seen. His funeral was last week.”

Azlan, afraid to give his last name, paid to have a cancerous lung cut out, because employer BP wouldn’t pay. He says the oil company fired him after he could not keep up with his work.

And there was Shala Tageva, a schoolteacher, who has ovarian cancer. She needs treatment soon, but how to pay for it, Mamonov can’t imagine. Shala is Mamonov’s wife.

Suddenly, Mamonov stopped himself.

“If I am arrested, you will help me, yes?”

Sorry, sir, not in the Islamic Republic of BP.

Oil, their main industry, has seen employment drop about 90 per cent according to journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Her father, the former oil production minister, was fired by Aliyev when the minister suggested bribery was behind the destruction of the industry, bribes which allegedly allowed BP to avoid “local content” laws that would have saved those jobs.

Throughout the nation, we heard the same refrain: nostalgia for the old days of freedom and prosperity under Soviet rule; under BP rule, the people’s health, income and freedoms have decayed rapidly, as pollution has turned their Caspian fisheries into a dead, chemical toilet.

But Azeris are well entertained. The massive expenditure for the Eurovision Song Contest follows the government’s spending of $1 million for an Elton John concert during a depression.

Today, only one in seven dollars of GDP is paid in salaries (versus four of five dollars in the US and UK). Where have the billions gone? No one dare look for it, nor the source of the First Lady’s wealth. The last journalist who asked about the funds, Elmar Huseynov, was gunned down in his home. A journalist who questioned what happened to Huseynov was jailed. No third journalist is investigating what happened to the first two.

Azerbaijan is, nominally, a democracy. Indeed, the First Lady won a convincing election to Parliament (as did every other candidate supporting her husband’s regime – there was not a single member of the opposition elected). But it doesn’t, in the end, matter who is voted in, as long as “BP drives”.

Within hours of our arrest, my crew and I were released by the Deputy Chief of the Security Ministry: Imprisoning a Channel 4 reporter would have been an embarrassment for BP. But our witnesses to BP’s horrific drilling practices didn’t do so well. One made it out of the country, but others disappeared.

When you watch the Euro-warblers compete this Saturday, just remember that in Azerbaijan, the winners are already chosen: BP and the family of the Sexiest Muslim Woman in the World. And that’s not a pretty sight.

——–

Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast.

Here’s a clip from my interactive book

Greg Palast’s book on BP, “Vultures’ Picnic: A Tale of Oil, High-Finance and Investigative Reporting”, will be released in Britain on June 26th; click here for tickets and details of the launch event at ULU (the University of London Union) on June 26th..

You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.

READ / PHOTOS @ http://www.gregpalast.com/killings-cancer-corruption-and-azerbaijan-eurovision-in-the-islamic-republic-of-bp/

—————————————————————–

* DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL, FEDERAL APPEALS COURT DECLARES

By Robert Barnes, Washington Post

A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term.

The unanimous decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston was a big win for President Obama, who recently said he supported states allowing gay men and lesbians to marry.

His administration last year said it would no longer defend the 1996 law, which limits federal recognition of marriage to those between a man and a woman. The law thus denies a host of federal benefits, such as filing joint tax returns or receiving survivor benefits, to same-sex couples who were married in states that allow such unions. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/defense-of-marriage-act-unconstitutional-federal-appeals-court-declares/2012/05/31/gJQAHDxO4U_story.html

—————————————————————–

* THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT’S CRUSADE AGAINST GAYS IS FAR SCARIER THAN YOU THINK

The money available to the Christian right is solidifying institutions — from right-wing universities to media outlets — that propagate a culture of hate.

By Chris Hedges, AlterNet

The sentencing of Dharun Ravi for the hateful abuse that may have driven his gay roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi, to commit suicide, or Barack Obama’s public acceptance of gay marriage, prevents many of us from seeing that life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is getting worse—much worse.

No one understands this better than the gay activist and pastor Mel White. White, along with his husband and partner of 30 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization committed to using nonviolent resistance to end religion-based oppression. White and hundreds of Soulforce volunteers protest outside megachurches that preach hatred and bigotry in the name of religion. White travels to communities where young gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people have committed suicide. He holds memorial services for them in front of the church doors. He accuses the pastors of these churches of murder. His books “Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America” and “Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tell Us to Deny Gay Equality,” are two of the most important works that examine the innate cruelty and proto-fascism of the Christian right. White, more than perhaps any other preacher in the country, has pulled young men and women back from the brink of despair, from succumbing to the tragic fate of Tyler Clementi. And White is scared.

“What kind of environment creates a Dharun Ravi who would carry out that kind of bullying, as well as a kid like Tyler who would become a victim of that kind of bullying?” White asked when I reached him by phone at his home in Long Beach, Calif. “It is society. At its heart it is the church. The churches should be convicted, not just Ravi. He’s just an extension of the hatred that people feel about this threat, this gay threat. Pope Benedict XVI should be on trial. Richard Land from the Southern Baptists should be on trial. Religious leaders, Protestant and Catholic, should be on trial. They made this happen, but too few Americans make the connection.” […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/155633

—————————————————————-

* WTF: SOFA, CISPA, FISA

Source: RT

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was under debate on Thursday. US lawmakers discussed whether or not the bill’s overseas surveillance power should be renewed. FISA is one of several pieces of legislation that are targeting Internet freedoms for Americans and it gives the government the power to monitor phone calls, emails and other forms of electronic communication. Rob Beschizza, managing editor for BoingBoing.com, gives us his take on Internet freedom.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfvCspbLBco