Jul 072015

By Michael Nevradakis in Athens with Greg Palast in New York, 99GetSmart

Greek journalist Michael Nevradakis and US investigative journalist Greg Palast have a different take on the Greek ‘No’ vote against Europe’s cruel austerity demands.


We Greeks have voted ‘No’ to slavery – but ‘Yes’ to our chains.

Not surprisingly, by nearly two-to-one, Greeks have overwhelmingly rejected the cruel, economically bonkers “austerity” program required by the European Central Bank in return for an ECB loan to pay Greece’s creditors. In doing so, the Greek people overcame an unprecedented campaign of fear from the Greek and international media, the European Union (EU), and most of our political parties.

What’s simply whack-o is that, while voting “No” to austerity, many Greeks wish to remain shackled to the euro, the very cause of our miseries.

Resistance, not Crisis

Before we explain how the euro is the cause of this horror show, let’s clear up one thing right away. All week, worldwide media was filled with news of the Greek “crisis.” Yes, the economy stinks, with one in four Greeks unemployed. But two other euro nations, Spain and Cyprus, also are suffering this depression level of unemployment. Indeed, more than 11% of workers in seven euro nations, including Portugal and Italy, are out of work.

But unlike Greece, these other suffering nations have quietly acquiesced to their “austerity” punishments. Spaniards now accept that they are fated forevermore to be low-paid servants to beer-barfing British tourists. Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who has enacted a draconian protest ban at home to keep his own suffering masses at bay, has joined in the jackal-pack rejecting anything but the harshest of austerity terms for Greece.

The difference between these quiescent nations and Greece is that the Greeks won’t take it anymore.

What the media calls the Greek “crisis” is, in fact, resistance.

Resistance to nowhere

But it’s a resistance whose leaders are leading them nowhere.
For decades, Greeks have suffered governments that are both corrupt and dishonest. The election of SYRIZA changed all that: the government is now merely dishonest.

Our new SYRIZA Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, correctly called the austerity plan “blackmail.” However, before Sunday’s vote, Tsipras told the nation a big fat fib. He said we could vote down the European Bank’s plan but keep the European Bank’s coin, the euro. How? Tsipras won’t say; it’s part of a policy ploy his outgoing finance minister Yanis Varoufakis calls “creative ambiguity.” To translate: Creative ambiguity is Greek for “bullshit.”

Sorry, Alexis, if you want to use the Reich’s coin you have to accept the Reichsdiktat.

Not a coin, a virus

Tsipras’ claim that Greece can keep the euro while rejecting austerity is crazy-talk. The fact is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Cruella De Vil of the Eurozone, will ignore the cries of the bleeding Greeks and demand we swallow austerity–or lose the euro.

But, so what if we lose the euro? The best thing that can happen to Greece, and should have happened long, long ago, is that Greece flee the Eurozone.

That’s because it is the euro itself that is the virus responsible for Greece’s economic ills.

Indeed, the sadistic commitment to “austerity” was minted into the coin’s very metal. We’re not guessing. One of us (Palast, an economist by training) has had long talks with the acknowledged “father” of the euro, Professor Robert Mundell. It’s important to mention the other little bastard spawned by the late Prof. Mundell: “supply-side” economics, otherwise known as “Reaganomics,” “Thatcherism” – or, simply “voodoo” economics.

The imposition of the euro had one true goal: To end the European welfare state.

For Mundell and the politicians who seized on his currency concept, the euro itself would be the vector infecting the European body politic with supply-side Reaganomics. Mundell saw a euro’d Europe as free of trade unions and government regulations; a Europe in which the votes of parliaments were meaningless. Each Eurozone nation, unable to control neither the value of its own currency, nor its own budget, nor its own fiscal policy, could only compete for business by slashing regulations and taxes. Mundell said, “[The euro] puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians… Without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business.”

Here’s how it works. To join the Eurozone, nations must agree to keep their deficits to no more than 3% of GDP and total debt to no more than 60% of GDP. In a recession, that’s plain insane. By contrast, President Obama pulled the USA out of recession by increasing deficit spending to a staggering 9.8% of GDP, and he raised the nation’s debt to 101% from a pre-recession 62%. Republicans screamed, but it worked. The US has lower unemployment than any Eurozone nation.

As Obama scolded the European tormentors of Greece: “You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression.” Cutting spending power only leads to less spending which leads to further cuts in spending power – a death spiral we see today in the Eurozone from Greece to Italy to Spain—but not in Germany.

“Not in Germany.” There’s the rub. Normally, a nation such as Greece can quickly recover from debt-induced recession by devaluing its currency. Greece would become a dirt cheap tourist destination once more and its lower-cost exports would zoom, instantly increasing competitiveness. And that’s what Germany can’t allow. Germany lured other European nations into the euro in order to keep them from undercutting Germany’s prices in export markets.

Restricted by the 3% deficit rule, the only recourse left for Eurozone debtors: pay the piper with “austerity” measures.

Tsipras in Wonderland

So therein lies the lie. Tsipras tells his fellow Greeks that we can live in a Looking Glass world, where we can have our euro and eat it too; that we can stay handcuffed to the euro but run free without austerity.

The nonsense continues: Following the announcement of the official results of the referendum on Sunday night, Tsipras tweeted that the Greek electorate voted for a “Europe of solidarity and democracy,” while the now-resigned finance minister Varoufakis tweeted that “Greece’s place in the Eurozone is non-negotiable,” claiming that he would not allow the “only alternative,” the old drachma trading alongside the euro.

SYRIZA’s euro-fetish was already evident in its pre-referendum proposals to the IMF and European Bank, a 47-page document which included 8 billion euros in new austerity measures plus a new round of sell-offs of state industries, the maintenance of a primary surplus of 1% this year which would increase in the coming years, the increase of the retirement age to 67, and making permanent the previously “temporary” taxes upon an already overtaxed populace. In Tsipras’ own proposal, there was no word of a debt write-down or stoppage of payments, despite the fact that the government’s own Debt Audit Commission announced on June 17 that the bulk of Greece’s debt is illegal, “odious,” and should not be paid.

Instead, Tsipras has come out in support of the IMF’s proposal for a mere 30% “debt haircut” and a 20-year grace period, effectively sweeping the problem under the rug. Greece is currently running a deficit, meaning that in order for the 1% surplus to be achieved, SYRIZA must cut, cut, cut. Exactly as Mundell and the supply-siders intended.

Death by “Reform”

Like Obama, Tsipras knows that cutting pensions, privatizing and closing industries, slashing wages – in other words, “austerity” — or, to use the latest jargon, “reform” – is not just cruel, it’s plain stupid: it can only push a nation in recession into depression.

That’s not just theory. The Troika (the European Central Bank, IMF and European Commission) first imposed their vicious austerity measures on Greece in 2010. Greeks watched their annual salaries plummet to half of a German’s paycheck. Greece’s supposedly generous pensions have been cut eight times during the crisis, while two-thirds of pensioners live below the poverty line. Everything from Greece’s airports to harbors, the national lottery to prime publicly-owned real estate was sold off, while schools and hospitals were shuttered.

And, for the first time since World War II, widespread starvation had returned. 500,000 children in Greece are said to be malnourished. Students fainting from hunger in frigid schools which cannot afford heating oil is now a common phenomenon.

This cruel “belt tightening,” the Troika promised, would restore Greece’s economy by 2012 (and then 2013, 2014, and 2015). In reality, unemployment went from a terrible 12.5% in 2010 to a horrendous 25.6% today.

Now, the Troika demands more of the same, a continuation of this disastrous policy.

Crashing into Africa?

Meanwhile, following the referendum result which made him a hero, finance minister Varoufakis resigned. Ironically, while Varoufakis rubbed German officials the wrong way with his unorthodox style, he, too, maintained the pro-euro myth. Previous austerity measures continued under his watch. To please the mad austerity masters, he said he would “squeeze blood from a stone” to repay the IMF—which he did in May, when all remaining funds in the Greek Treasury were rounded up by presidential decree to make that month’s IMF loan payment. Varoufakis was so wedded to the euro that he claimed that Greece would be unable to print its old currency, the drachma, because we destroyed our currency printing presses when we joined the euro. In fact, the government’s banknote printing facility in Athens still operates, printing the 10-euro note.

Meanwhile, our future flees. A quarter million university graduates have abandoned our nation. They have no choice: unemployment for those under 25 has hit 48.6%.

I know that many Greeks, Cypriots, Italians and Portuguese all express a visceral fear of leaving the euro. Depending on which polls one chooses to believe, anywhere from a near-majority to an overwhelming majority of Greeks wish to remain in the euro at all costs. From the hysterical statements I heard from some Greeks that, “We cannot leave Europe!”, you’d think that dropping the euro will cause Greece to break off at the Albanian border and crash into Africa.

It would be refreshing to hear political leaders say the honest economic truth: “Workers of Europe unite! You have nothing to lose but the euro—and your chains.”


Michael Nevradakis is host of Dialogos Radio in Athens.

The Greek edition of Greg Palast’s book, Vultures’ Picnic, will soon be released by Livanis Publishing.


Mar 292012



Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yn4vwR6J7K0 



Polls say only 30% of the employed will take part on Friday, but it will also be what the Occupy movement calls an ‘invisible’ strike

By Katharine Alinger, The Guardian

Spain is about to experience huge austerity cuts that may prove explosive. On Friday Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, is set to announce what even he describes as a “very, very austere budget” to reduce the deficit. According to El País, the EU is demanding cuts larger than those of Greece, Ireland or Portugal: “There is no comparable adjustment in [our] economic history,” says the paper.

As a result of this and recent changes to labour laws, only four months after the new conservative government took power, Spain’s two largest unions have called for a general strike on the day before the budget announcement.

On top of €15bn cuts already announced in December, it is estimated Rajoy will cut about another €40bn. Many are expecting drastic cuts to health and education, not least the financial markets, who are waiting to see whether Rajoy will deliver what they require. This is on top of existing cuts to social spending, wage freezes for public employees, and privatisations, in a context where 40 home evictions a day are taking place across the country.

Response to this austerity has already been fierce. Hundreds of thousands protested across the country in February against labour law changes described by the unions as “the most regressive in the history of the [Spanish] democracy”. Thursday’s general strike will be much larger, seeing hundreds of planes grounded, public transport on a skeleton service, manufacturing at a virtual standstill, and even fresh bread from the bakeries in scant supply.


Many have been instrumental in continuing struggles around the Spanish state against what have already been drastic cuts. For instance, the “iaiaflautas” are retirees and grandparents who occupy bank lobbies against bailouts, buses against price hikes, and health departments against cutbacks. Their name is a play on the “perroflautas“, Spanish slang for crusty, to show how impossible it is to stereotype those taking part in protests as typical activists.

Meanwhile in Valencia, one of the worst-hit regions, students and schoolchildren took part in recent protests against government cuts that had left their schools without adequate heating, many sitting in blankets in classrooms during the cold. The protests were brutally repressed. The sight of schoolkids being arrested by police galvanised a whole wave of solidarity protests around the country from outraged citizens.

These are only the most visible actions. All over the country small groups of determined everyday acts of resistance are taking place, like the villages where people blockade the highway weekly because their emergency clinic is closing down.


READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/27/spain-general-strike-99-per-cent




Souce: The Slog

“But Lucas my dear, if you run out of poor people, you can always steal from the sick”

The illegally denied default of Greece entered a dramatic new phase this afternoon with the revelation by mainstream Greek public health website Health News that, shortly before midnight on March 8th – the eve of Greece’s psi completion on Friday March 9th – on average 70% of public utility funds in varous large, interest-bearing accounts at the Bank of Greece were raided. These included most of the State’s regional hospital budgets, various universities and (it is alleged) at least one utility company.

The shortfalls came to light late last week and this morning as various hospital purchasing cheques in particular began to bounce. The monies – estimated by one source to total some 1.4 billion euros – appear to have been used to pay off the tiny minority of private sovereign creditors who, under the original terms of their bond purchase, were entitled come what may to full payment of the bond’s yield entitlement.

Setting aside the amoral audacity of this act, it does yet again raise the issue of a Greece so utterly lacking in any real funds in the real world, that to pay off a minute proportion of the bondholders it had to resort to such a desperate measure. […]

READ @ http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/exclusive-greek-government-robbed-public-institutions-to-complete-bond-swap/



Source: Hellasfrappe

The German national channel “ARD” (“Allgemeine Rundfunkanstalten Deutschlands”), recently revealed how, with close cooperation from a certain select Greeks, Germany committed massive fraud against a whole nation of people and was able to profit some 45 billion euros from the euro crisis, on the back of Greeks! ARD airs the confession of the German head of EFSF, Klaus Regling, in an interview with news magazine FOCUS on this very subject. According to the German head of the Fund, Germany, has not suffered at all from the current debt crisis and instead has recorded significant gains which he notes are expected to multiply over time. This, according to Regklingk, is because Germany is not directly lending Greece, but is rather gaining on the interest rates from the loans which are greater than those by which it borrows from.


“The rescue operations have not cost Germans. The image that funds (to Greece) flowed into a bottomless pit was wrong. There are no gifts and no permanent financial transfers. On the contrary, Germany has profited from the crisis, because a lot of capital flowed into the country (Germany).”

Germany has only given 15.2 billion euros (according to formal data from the German government), a sum that does not in any way compare with what it has benefited from in keeping Greece “under fire”. One economic analyst in the video also says that Germany’s profits were so great because it is able to lend money to other nations with similar debt problems because it is able to borrow at lesser interest rates. This difference allowed the German Republic to gain some 45 billion euros from the crisis, and it is expected that this sum will rise to 65 billion. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/2012/03/germany-caused-greek-crisis-to-win-big.html#.T3M-_HJQ-EY.facebook



By Panagiotis Sotiris, CounterFIre

Independence Day (25 March) parades in Greece have been traditionally a day of celebration, not of protest. A national holiday to commemorate the beginning of the popular insurrection against Ottoman rule in 1821 that led to Greece’s independence, they are associated with watching the armed forces march along with school children, since in most cities we also have school parades. Moreover, for most people of the Left they always seemed like a remnant of an authoritarian past when these official displays of nationalism and militarism were part of the rituals of power.

However, in the past two years parades have become venues for protest against the policies of austerity and reduced sovereignty imposed by the EU-IMF-ECB Troika. The traditional presence of representatives of authority in such parades and celebrations, such as local members of parliament, government ministers or high ranking officials, and mayors made them an easy target for protest, especially in a period of intense and prolonged struggles. This has been particularly evident in provincial Greece, where members of parliament and aspiring local politicians have faced many forms of protest in the past years.

But the protests and demonstrations during parades are not simply opportunities to directly express anger and frustration against politicians. They are also a way to re-appropriate a collective memory of struggle and resistance. The 1821 Greek Revolution, itself with a strong popular – democratic element, is still being viewed as a successful example of victorious collective resistance against oppressors. The same goes for the 28 October parades, designed to commemorate Greece’s entering WWII that bring all the memories of the antifascist resistance during the German occupation. This was more than evident in Thessaloniki on 28 October 2011 when the military parade was interrupted by protesters, forcing the President of the Republic to leave the scene and the parade to be cancelled. Apart from the powerful image of protesters linking current struggles to a long memory of struggle, it is also important to note that it was exactly this cancelling of the military parade that was then seen as an example of the inability of the PASOK government to actually govern, thus making stronger the sense of the open political crisis. […]

READ @ http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/articles/international/15659-greece-the-parades-of-anger



Source: Max Keiser, RT

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=584L7TQgWOw



Hundreds to visit the city this week to figure out logistics of May summit

By Kathy Bergen, Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of NATO staffers are visiting Chicago this week to scope out the city in advance of the May 20-21 meetings for the security alliance, according to the city’s host committee.

Word of the visit came as a Chicago delegation, including members of the host committee, returned from NATO headquarters in Brussels.

As many as 800 personnel from NATO and its 28 member countries will arrive in Chicago to become more familiar with the layout of the city and the McCormick Place convention center as they plan the logistics of the summit. Some were to arrive as early as Sunday, with others coming midweek, summit planners said. […]

READ @ http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-nato-summit-delegation-visit-0326-20120326,0,3446788.story



Source: C-Span

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ougHdwR8PhI



By Nick Pinto, Village Voice

Almost from the moment Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from their camp in Zuccotti Park last November, observers have speculated whether the movement was finished, or if it would somehow rebound in the spring.

Dedicated Occupy activists dismissed the possibility that the movement had already run its course and promised an “American Spring,” kicking off a new season of activism with May Day events coordinated across the country.

As it turns out, spring came early.

A March 17 rally downtown was originally conceived as a low-key way to mark the sixth anniversary of the movement, but as has happened so many times already in Occupy’s history, police overreaction transformed the event into something more than it would have been on its own.

The NYPD responded with a chilling and disproportionate show of force, once again evicting the protesters from the 24-hour park and arresting scores of them with a level of violence Occupy veterans said they hadn’t seen before.

Many of those who weren’t arrested marched north that night, inaugurating a new camp in Union Square. In response, police have taken to barricading and garrisoning that park at midnight, prompting a nightly standoff with protesters. […]

READ @ http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-03-28/news/occupy-spring-may-day/



By Margot Adler, NPR

Groups within the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to overhaul the banking system and even dream of creating a new kind of bank.

Occupy isn’t in the headlines so much these days, but work continues behind the scenes. The Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street meets weekly in different places. Members are older than some might think — in their 30s, 40s and 50s — and many work or formerly worked in the financial industry.

“We have almost no consensus opinion, except that the system is not working,” says Cathy O’Neil, who often facilitates the group that is working on legislation and regulation to reform the financial system. “A lot of these people are from finance or have a background in law or SEC regulation. There’s lots of people from banks and hedge funds.” […]

READ and AUDIO @ http://www.npr.org/2012/03/27/149443425/alternative-banking-groups-aid-occupy-movement



Souce: Thom Hartmann

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QEUpjt02so&feature=player_embedded



Source: The Economic Collapse

What would you do if you came across someone on the street that had not had anything to eat for several days?  Would you give that person some food?  Well, the next time you get that impulse you might want to check if it is still legal to feed the homeless where you live.  Sadly, feeding the homeless has been banned in major cities all over America.  Other cities that have not banned it outright have put so many requirements on those that want to feed the homeless (acquiring expensive permits, taking food preparation courses, etc.) that feeding the homeless has become “out of reach” for most average people.  Some cities are doing these things because they are concerned about the “health risks” of the food being distributed by ordinary “do-gooders”.  Other cities are passing these laws because they do not want homeless people congregating in city centers where they know that they will be fed.  But at a time when poverty and government dependence are soaring to unprecedented levels, is it really a good idea to ban people from helping those that are hurting?

This is just another example that shows that our country is being taken over by control freaks.  There seems to be this idea out there that it is the job of the government to take care of everyone and that nobody else should even try.

But do we really want to have a nation where you have to get the permission of the government before you do good to your fellow man?

It isn’t as if the government has “rescued” these homeless people.  Homeless shelters all over the nation are turning people away each night because they have no more room.  There are many homeless people that are lucky just to make it through each night alive during the winter.

Sometimes a well-timed sandwich or a cup of warm soup can make a world of difference for a homeless person.  But many U.S. cities have decided that feeding the homeless is such a threat that they had better devote law enforcement resources to making sure that it doesn’t happen.

This is so twisted.  In America today, you need a “permit” to do almost anything.  We are supposed to be a land of liberty and freedom, but these days government bureaucrats have turned our rights into “privileges” that they can revoke at any time.

The following are some of the major U.S. cities that have attempted to ban feeding the homeless. […]

READ @ http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/feeding-the-homeless-banned-in-major-cities-all-over-america



Source: The War Room, Current TV


The justices turn hostile in the health care case: “I wasn’t quite sure which constitution they were referring to in all of this, because it certainly wasn’t the U.S. constitution,” says Ian Millhiser, of the Center for American Progress, who was troubled by the Supreme Court’s questions to the Department of Justice. Millhiser’s argument is simple: Congress can regulate commerce, and the health care law regulates a sixth of the economy, so it’s commerce.

VIDEO @ http://current.com/shows/the-war-room/videos/the-justices-turn-hostile-during-the-second-day-of-the-health-care-case



Source: The People’s View

Maybe you missed it, but Justice Scalia today said that letting the uninsured die is a better idea than making it an individual responsibility for those who can afford it to buy health insurance.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was explaining to Justice Scalia that the individual responsibility provision (aka “the mandate”) is justified given the fact that the uninsured can show up in emergency rooms and get care regardless of ability (or willingness) to pay, shifting the cost to other participants of the market in the form of higher insurance premiums. Scalia, undeterred, dropped the GOP baseline:

GENERAL VERRILLI: No. It’s because you’re going — in the health care market, you’re going into the market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the health care service anyway as a result of the social norms that allow — that — to which we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, don’t obligate yourself to that. Why — you know?

GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, I can’t imagine that that — that the Commerce Clause would –would forbid Congress from taking into account this deeply embedded social norm.

JUSTICE SCALIA: You — you could do it.

Don’t obligate yourself to that? […]

READ @ http://www.thepeoplesview.net/2012/03/justice-scalia-let-them-die.html



By Amanda Peterson Beadle

During the last day of Supreme Court hearings about the Affordable Care Act, the justices covered whether or not the entire law could stand if the individual mandate was struck down and the law’s expansion of Medicaid. But Justice Antonin Scalia seemed surprised that someone would have expected the justices to read the text of the health care reform law before the hearings:

JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? (Laughter.) And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one? […]

READ @ http://thinkprogress.org/special/2012/03/28/454099/scalia-says-court-cant-be-bothered-to-read-obamacare-you-really-want-us-to-go-through-these-2700-pages/

Mar 272012

By greydogg, 99GetSmart

On March 25, in northern Halkidiki, several people gathered in the town square, after the march by students of the Ierissos Gymnasium High School, wearing black armbands and raising clenched fists in front of an empty podium.

At least 2500 residents of Ierissos formed a 15km convoy of cars and headed for the Great Lady. There, they marched to denounce gold mining operations on their mountain by the Greek mega corporation, Aktor and Canadian Eldorado Gold, who use employees and local riot police as mercenaries against the local community.

The entrance to the mountain was cordoned off by riot police, who protect the occupation of the mountain for private corporations at the taxpayer’s expense. The riot police responded to the peaceful protesters with tear gas and by firing rubber bullets at the crowd, despite the presence of the elderly, women and children.

The residents of Ierissos condemn the riot police for their cowardly attacks and for their willingness to provide protection to the private interests of corporations and foreign associates at the expense of the environment and the local community.

The community’s list of demands include the immediate cessation of mining operations and the removal of riot police. They have also requested that the local prosecutor come to Ierissos to adjudicate between the two sides, with both sides fairly represented in the process.

It is worth noting that this is the second time private citizen, George Bobolas of Aktor, has dispatched the local riot police to act as his private army against local communities. See The Keratea Resistance http://99getsmart.com/?p=235



Feb 232012



By Julia Werdigeir, NYTimes

The former chief executive and former chairman of the failed Icelandic lender Kaupthing Bank were indicted on Wednesday on charges of fraud and market manipulation.

Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, the bank’s former chief executive, and Sigurdur Einarsson, the former chairman, are expected to stand trial at the beginning of March in Iceland, their lawyers said. The court hearings could last for several months. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The indictments are the latest step by Iceland’s special prosecutor to investigate the executives behind the 2008 collapse of Kaupthing, which crippled the country’s banking system and paralyzed its economy. […]

READ @ http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/2-former-executives-of-failed-icelandic-bank-charged-with-fraud/?nl=afternoonupdate&emc=aua22



By Anthony Gucciardi, Truthout

In a major victory for public health and what will hopefully lead to other nations taking action, a French court decided today that GMO crops monster Monsanto is guilty of chemically poisoning a French farmer. The grain grower, Paul Francois, says he developed neurological problems such as memory loss and headaches after being exposed to Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller back in 2004. The monumental case paves the way for legal action against Monsanto’s Roundup and other harmful herbicides and pesticides made by other manufacturers.

In a ruling given by a court in Lyon (southeast France), Francois says that Monsanto failed to provide proper warnings on the product label. The court ordered an expert opinion to determine the sum of the damages, and to verify the link between Lasso and the reported illnesses. The case is extremely important, as previous legal action taken against Monsanto by farmers has failed due to the challenge of properly linking pesticide exposure with the experienced side effects.

When contacted by Reuters, Monsanto’s lawyers declined to comment. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/monsanto-found-guilty-chemical-poisoning-france/1329834175



Source: TaketheSquare.net

We asked for solidarity

and your answer was


We just want to say

Thank you all !!!!!!

equality justice dignity

for everybody


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



Posted by Carolina, Take the Square

The story below is has been sent to us by a Spanish friend from the marches, that is in Greece and is an example of what is not being said about Greece.

“The international media have talked about last night in Greece. They talked about fire, chaos, violence …

They talk about the 100,000 people gathered in Syntagma, but not the 200,000 who really had or the 300,000 who could not reach the place because the streets and subways were blocked by police.

They have talked about how the police provoked the start of the riots at 17:00 throwing tear gas indiscriminately throughout Syntagma Square, the demonstrators dispersed around the center of Athens, in order not to bother outside parliament.

The media has spoken of destruction indiscrimanada, have run the rumor that the National Library of Athens burned in flames. False. […]

READ @ http://takethesquare.net/2012/02/20/what-is-not-being-said-about-greece-syntagma/



The conditions the European Union set for Greece in exchange for a second bailout represent a very unusual amount of outside control and oversight of a sovereign country. 

By Robert Marquand, CSMonitor

The $172 billion Greek bailout package hammered out in Brussels Tuesday averts a looming Greek default and, its architects hope, will ward off dangerous financial consequences for neighbors.

The sheer size of the bailout and a promised debt write-off of roughly 100 billion euros ($132 billion) represents a more favorable outcome than Greek officials expected. But the bailout comes with rigorous budget cuts demanded by northern European states and other requirements that represent an unprecedented amount of European Union control over a sovereign member.

“We have been learning for years how to share sovereignty in Europe,” says Loukas Tsoukalis of the University of Athens and head of the think tank Eliamep, which deals with European and foreign policy. “With the crisis, we are all being asked to take some difficult steps further. It is uncharted territory. If you are a country on the verge of default, such as Greece, sovereignty and economic survival may create awkward tradeoffs.” […]

READ @ http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/0222/Greece-begrudgingly-cedes-sovereignty-in-exchange-for-bailout-funds

RELATED: 5 key conditions set by the EU in the Greek bailout 



Source: StopCartel.net

The person posing as a Vice President of the Greek Government,representing the banksters and loan sharks, Theodoros Pagkalos stated during an interview on the French radio program ‘Europe 1′ that he is not against of one country’s loss of its national sovereignty.

Expressing officially the traitors, led the country to the present historic catastrophe, the grandson of a former dictator of Greece added:” I know that the loss of the national sovereignty is a problem for the Greek population but I am not against a country’s loss of its national sovereignty”. […]

READ @ http://www.stopcartel.net/2012/02/23/POLITICS/Vice_President_of_Greek_Government_Supports_Loss_of_National_Sovereignty!/1104.html



By Emile Schepers, People’s World

Franco and Salazar are long dead, but their spirit still moves among the ruling classes of Spain and Portugal. In both countries, workers are being put through the wringer with austerity measures that include massive cuts in wages and pensions, elimination of the social safety net, privatization of public property and attacks on labor rights. But Portuguese  and Spanish  workers are fighting back to a degree not seen in many years.

In Portugal (population 11 million) on February 11, more than 300,000 workers turned out in the historic Terreiro do Paço (Palace Square) in Lisbon to protest neo-liberal policies imposed by the coalition government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho. This government, composed of the conservative Social Democratic and People’s parties, was elected in June 2011 when voters abandoned the ruling Socialist Party of then Prime Minister Jose Socrates en masse, as a protest against its own austerity polities. (In Portugal, the Socialist Party represents what would be called social democracy in other countries; the Social Democratic Party is a right wing party). The new government merely intensified those policies. The result has been extreme suffering for millions of Portuguese, as wages and pensions have been slashed, thousands of public sector workers have been laid off and the safety net shredded, all quid pro quo for a projected new $103 million European Union organized bailout.

The mass demonstration on the 11th was initiated by General Federation of Portuguese Workers-National Inter-union Coordinator (CGTP-IN) but also supported by other labor, youth and citizens’ organizations.

Armenio Carlos, Secretary General of the CGTP and a member of the Central Committee of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), has demanded that Portugal’s national debt be renegotiated, and that the austerity measures be cancelled.. The PCP summarized the immediate goals of the struggle as follows:

“Better wages, defense of rights, against the closing of enterprises, payment of back wages … against unjust and illegal against irregular [employment] and deregulation, against increased work hours, against making firing easier, for an increase in the minimum wage, for a development of the productive sector, for universal and free public services, against privatization and attacks on the transport sector, for Portugal’s future” […]

READ @ http://peoplesworld.org/massive-demonstrations-challenge-anti-worker-polices-in-portugal-spain/



By Stanley Pignal, FT

An anti-piracy agreement reviled by internet freedom campaigners faces delays of over a year after the European Union opted on Wednesday to ask its own courts whether the treaty was in line with European law.

The anti-counterfeiting trade agreement, or Acta, is the latest high-profile copyright measure to falter in late stages as a result of concerted opposition campaigns organised on the internet.

The setback came after US lawmakers last month ditched Sopa and Pipa – the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act – amid a debate about online piracy. […]

READ @ http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7e8ccc24-5d73-11e1-8bb6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1nBn0WeqR



Source: The Automatic Earth

Despite weakening economic growth and industrial production in recent months, Germany continues to look much better than the rest of Europe on the surface. It boasts a very low unemployment rate (although uber low-wage work has grown tremondously) and relatively small public deficits. However, none of that is stopping Merkel and her administration from betting their re-election on the fact that they can implement significant austerity in the next 2 years, while also containing the Euro crisis, and “lead by example”. Sven Böll, Peter Müller and Christian Reiermann report for Der Spiegel:

Leading by Example: Merkel Bets Austerity Will Result in Re-Election

Just how healthy German finances are was revealed at the beginning of last week, in the form of an early-warning report by the European Commission. Germany was the only large country to be given an almost perfect grade.

And yet, if Merkel and Schäuble have their way, the country many in Europe already see as a model of sound budget management will become even more exemplary. “We cannot expect Greece and the other crisis-stricken countries to accept more and more austerity measures, while nothing changes in Germany,” says a close associate of the chancellor.

As such, Merkel and Schäuble want to significantly ratchet up consolidation efforts. The 2013 budget, currently being prepared at the Finance Ministry, will include many billions in savings. In addition, the last stage of the so-called debt brake — Germany’s constitutionally anchored law regulating state borrowing — will be brought forward by two years instead of going into effect as planned in 2016. Measures under discussion include cuts in social benefits and a reduction in government services. Merkel and Schäuble believe that Germany can only remain credible in the euro crisis by demonstrating that it is not simply reaping the benefits of past efforts. Germany wants to lead by example.

In other words, the German populace is about to find out just how destructive austerity can be to an economy when the world is in the midst of an ongoing Depression, in a system that values credit creation above all else.  […]

READ @ http://theautomaticearth.org/Finance/merkels-leading-germany-into-an-abyss.html



By Jesse Colombo The Bubble Bubble


It is simply mind-boggling that the world is back to blowing massive property bubbles so soon after the U.S. and peripheral European housing bubbles popped and caused such incredible economic carnage. The Western and Northern European housing bubble is proof that we are living in the era of The Bubble Bubble (a bubble of bubbles) as well as an era characterized by the most outrageous arrogance and hubris that humanity has ever experienced. The 2008 global financial crisis should have taught everyone their lesson once and for all, but we are clearly living in a world filled with excruciatingly slow-learners. More punishment is coming our way and will keep coming until we finally learn from our mistakes. Sadly, by the time we learn from our mistakes, it will likely be too late.

READ and CHARTS @ http://www.thebubblebubble.com/european-housing-bubble/



Outsourcing is not a mutually beneficial trade practice — it’s outright labor arbitrage.

By Thomas Heffner, Economy in Crisis

Economists are blind to the loss of American industries and occupations because they believe these results reflect the beneficial workings of free trade. Whatever is being lost, they think, is being replaced by something as good or better. This thinking is rooted in the doctrine of comparative advantage put forth by economist David Ricardo in 1817.

It states that, even if a country is a high-cost producer of most things, it can still enjoy an advantage, since it will produce some goods at lower relative cost than its trading partners.

Today’s economists can’t identify what the new industries and occupations might be that will replace those that are lost, but they’re certain that those jobs and sectors are out there somewhere. What does not occur to them is that the same incentive that causes the loss of one tradable good or service — cheap, skilled foreign labor — applies to all tradable goods and services. There is no reason that the “replacement” industry or job, if it exists, won’t follow its predecessor offshore. […]

READ @ http://economyincrisis.org/content/harsh-truth-about-outsourcing



By Jackies Calmes, NYTimes

President Obama will ask Congress to scrub the corporate tax code of dozens of loopholes and subsidies to reduce the top rate to 28 percent, down from 35 percent, while giving preferences to manufacturers that would set their maximum effective rate at 25 percent, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama also would establish a minimum tax on multinational corporations’ foreign earnings, the official said, to discourage “accounting games to shift profits abroad” or actual relocation of production overseas.

With the framework for changes that the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, will outline on Wednesday, Mr. Obama will enter an election-year debate with Republicans in Congress and in the presidential race who seek even lower taxes for businesses. But an overhaul of the corporate code is unlikely this year, given that political backdrop and the complexity of an undertaking that would generate a lobbying frenzy as businesses vie to defend old tax breaks or win new ones. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/business/economy/obama-offers-to-cut-corporate-tax-rate-to-28.html?_r=2&hp