Tag Archives: Greece

US Inequality Crisis Worst in Industrialized World. Trump Will Make It Worse.

If the policies favored by the Trump administration—including massive tax cuts for the rich and reductions in spending on Medicaid and education—go into effect, the U.S. will only fall further in the global rankings

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-17-2017

“Policymaking processes dominated by elites undermine democracy,” Max Lawson and Matthew Martin write. (Photo: Dean Chahim/Flickr/cc)

The United States is already the most unequal industrialized nation in the world, and a new report published on Monday shows that President Donald Trump’s agenda would only make matters worse.

“The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index,” developed by Oxfam in partnership with Development Finance International (DFI), uses several factors to “measure the commitment of governments to reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.”

Compared to other wealthy nations, the report concludes, the U.S. is doing “very badly” in the fight against income and wealth inequality. Continue reading

Share

Do Ongoing Global Events Prove the World Is Ready for Revolution?

By Claire Bernish. Published 4-13-2016 by The Anti-Media

Paralleling the increasingly draconian policies marking a worldwide descent into fascism, are massive protests — born in the Arab Spring, but arguably an angrier, more potent extension of the Occupy movement — indicative of an unprecedented tipping point.

We, the people of this planet, now stand together, gazing over the precipice whose murky depths of State repression demand we ask one imperative question: have we finally had enough?

“[W]e have lost the way,” Charlie Chaplin implores us to consider in his renowned and timeless monologue from The Great Dictator, because“Greed has poisoned men’s souls — has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.” Continue reading

Share

BOMBSHELL: WikiLeaks Exposes IMF Plan of Financial Terror to Force Government Compliance

By Jay Smyropolus. Published 4-4-2016 by The Free Thought Project

SM15 IMFC

Photo: IMF

WikiLeaks has once again exposed how supranational organizations create artificial crises in an effort to advance the Western corporate-political elites geostrategic goals, as revealed in the transcript of a teleconference, which took place on March 19, 2016, between top International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials.

The striking conversation reveals IMF officials imply that the threat of an imminent financial disaster was necessary to force other stakeholders into accepting the IMF’s “measures” such as cutting Greek pensions and working conditions. However, a June 23 referendum will essentially freeze European decision-making at an extremely critical moment – potentially risking greater political destabilization, but also giving the organization greater leverage. Continue reading

Share

Europe’s Controversial New Plan to Deal With the Refugee Crisis

By Michaela WhittonPublished 3-9-2016 at The AntiMedia

Refugees at Vienna West Railway Station, 2015. Photo: Bwag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Refugees at Vienna West Railway Station, 2015. Photo: Bwag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Leaders at the emergency E.U. summit, focused on stemming migration to the European Union, have agreed in principle to a bold exchange plan. The proposals state that all new irregular migrants (those without correct documentation) crossing from Turkey to Greece will be returned to Turkey with the E.U. meeting the costs. In exchange for each person re-admitted by Turkey from the Greek islands, a Syrian from Turkey will be admitted to the E.U. Member States.

Nearly 6o million people are currently fleeing conflict and persecution around the world in the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Over a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, and according to International Organization for Migration (IOM), total arrivals in Greece and Italy have already reached an estimated 141,141 in 2016. Despite newly deployed NATO vessels designed to thwart people smugglers, migrants and refugees continue to arrive daily on the Greek islands from Turkey — which are already host to some 3 million Syrian refugees. Continue reading

Share

As Schengen Crumbles, EU Rallies Demand #SafePassage for Refugees

With global displacement crisis threatening Europe’s open borders project, protesters call for legal and safe routes for those fleeing war

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-27-2016

In 2016, more than 300 people have died in the Aegean sea alone, says Doctors Without Borders. (Image: @MSF_Sea/Twitter)

In 2016, more than 300 people have died in the Aegean sea alone, says Doctors Without Borders. (Image: @MSF_Sea/Twitter)

With refugees dying by the hundreds and stranded by the thousands, people across the EU and beyond rallied on Saturday for “safe passage.”

“No more bracelets! No more confiscations! No more borders closed!” organizers said in a call-to-action online. Events big and small were planned for 115 cities in 28 countries.

“These people are running away from death,” the statement continued. “We cannot allow them to die in front of our eyes! We cannot allow them to be held in inhumane camps when they came looking for freedom and safety! We cannot watch our Europe fall apart!” Continue reading

Share

Minority Rules

Billboard for António Costa, leader of the PS. Photo by El-Kelaa-des-Sraghna (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Billboard for António Costa, leader of the PS. Photo by El-Kelaa-des-Sraghna (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

On October 4, Portugal had a general election. The results were mixed, with the center-right Forward Portugal alliance (PAF) winning the most seats, but losing its actual majority in parliament. The majority of the seats were won by left of center parties, the largest of which is the Socialists (PS) followed by the Left Bloc (BE) and Communist (PCP) parties.

Thursday night, President Anibal Cavaco Silva said that he would not allow a coalition of the PS, BE and PCP to form a government, arguing that it was too risky to let the Left Bloc or Communists come close to power. He said:

“In 40 years of democracy, no government in Portugal has ever depended on the support of anti-European forces, that is to say forces that campaigned to abrogate the Lisbon Treaty, the Fiscal Compact, the Growth and Stability Pact, as well as to dismantle monetary union and take Portugal out of the euro, in addition to wanting the dissolution of NATO.

“This is the worst moment for a radical change to the foundations of our democracy.” Continue reading

Share

Right-Wing soft power, the refugee crisis and Europe’s failure

The fact that Syriza was crucified more often and with more intensity than Viktor Orbán speaks volumes in itself. It is just that most people do not want to listen.

By Srdjan M. Jovanovic. Published 9-20-2015 on openDemocracy

Austrian foreign minister meets Serbian finance minister and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.

Austrian foreign minister meets Serbian finance minister and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.

By the very end of the twentieth century, in the late 1980s, Joseph Nye coined the term ’soft power’. Little did we know that he had hit an ontological political jackpot. Oculus tauri. Nye wrote that ’the dictionary tells us that power means an ability to do things and control others, to get others to do what they otherwise would not’, giving the very definition of power as it is, an almost proverbial potestas per se. Traditionally, power was seen as brute force, an almost strictly military instance. ’Today, however, the definition of power is losing its emphasis on military force and conquest that marked earlier eras’, he wrote. ’Soft power lies in the ability to attract and persuade’.

No matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise, today’s Europe (and much of the rest of the world) is a willing slave to the Right-Wing’s soft power. This power is so strong that it has persuaded us that the Right Wing is not even Right-Wing. Until it becomes ’extreme’, such as the case of Viktor Orbán. Soft power is the Right-Wing’s bread and butter. And it works. Continue reading

Share

Global Response to People Fleeing Ravages of War: ‘Callous Indifference,’ Humanitarian Failure

Boat tragedy in Libya, corpses of refugees in truck in Austria reminders of human cost of war, lack of humanitarian responses

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-28-2015

A Syrian father carries his daughter on 8 August 2015 to Gevgelija train station in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where they will register with the authorities before proceeding north towards Serbia. (Photo: Stephen Ryan / IFRC via flickr)

A Syrian father carries his daughter on 8 August 2015 to Gevgelija train station in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where they will register with the authorities before proceeding north towards Serbia. (Photo: Stephen Ryan / IFRC via flickr)

It’s a crisis of record proportions that is being met with global “callous indifference” and failed, dehumanizing responses, human rights experts say.

The crisis, described as Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War Two, involves hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict, many from Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, trying to reach safety in Europe.

For some, the journey reaches a fatal end. As the Associated Press notes, the deaths come “by land and sea.”

Continue reading

Share

Greece is for sale – and everything must go

Why does this matter? First because it makes no sense to sell off valuable assets in the middle of Europe’s worst depression in 70 years.

By Nick Dearden. Published 8-21-2015 at openDemocracy.

I’ve just had sight of the latest privatisation plan for Greece. It’s been issued by something called the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund – the vehicle supervised by the European institutions, which has been tasked with selling off an eye-watering €50 billion of Greece’s ‘valuable assets’.

The fund was a real sticking point because the European institutions wanted to move it to Luxembourg, where they could keep a better eye on it. Anyhow, it’s still in Athens, and this document, dated 30 July, details the goodies on sale to international investors who fancy buying up some of the country.

We’ve attached it to this blog to give a flavour of what’s up for grabs at the moment. Fourteen regional airports, flying into top tourist hubs, have already gone to a German company, but don’t panic because stock in Athens airport is still on the table, as well as Athens’ old airport which is up for a 99 year lease for redevelopment as a tourism and business centre.

Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports are up for sale – the former case has caused the chief executive to resign and industrial action has begun. A gas transmission system looks likely to be sold to the government of Azerbaijan, but there’s still a power and electricity company, the postal service, a  transport utility which allows trains and buses to run, the country’s main telecommunications company, a 648 km motorway, and a significant holding in the leading oil refiner, which covers approximately two-thirds of the country’s refining capacity.

Holdings in Thessaloniki and Athens water are both on sale – though public protest has ensured that 50% plus 1 share remains in state hands. Nonetheless, the sale will mean that market logic will dictate the future of these water and sewerage monopolies. Finally there are pockets of land, including tourist and sports developments, throughout Greece.

A second document, also attached, details the short-term work programme of various government ministers, detailing actions they must take in order to add value to these assets. This includes introducing toll booths on roads to licensing casino rights to declaring sites of archaeological interest. The document begs the question as to why government ministers are even needed, it would surely be easier to cut them out of the equation altogether and let EU institutions directly administer the country.

Why does this matter? First because it makes no sense to sell off valuable assets in the middle of Europe’s worst depression in 70 years. Those industries could generate revenues to help the Greek government rebuild the economy. In fact, the vast majority of the funds raised will go back to the creditors in debt repayments, and to the recapitalisation of Greek banks.

So the privatisations aren’t to do with helping Greece. The beneficiaries are corporations from around the world, though eyebrows are particularly being raised at the number of European companies – from German airport operators and phone companies to French railways – who are getting their hands on Greece’s economy. Not to mention the European investment banks and legal firms who are making a fast buck along the way. The self-interest of European governments in forcing these policies on Greece leaves a particularly unpleasant flavour.

Most important is the inequality this will entrench in Greek society for decades to come. Of course the fact that the state currently holds these assets is no guarantee of democracy. Clientelism is rife in Greece. But the answer is transparency and democracy, just as German citizens are currently trying to take back energy companies into collective ownership because they see this as a prerequisite for fair pricing and supporting renewable energy.

What won’t help is flogging off monopolies to private corporations who have no interest in Greece’s people. Workers will be sacked and their conditions made worse, while the elite of Europe profits. Greece’s government will have lost the ability to make its society function in the interests of ordinary people.

But then, I suspect that’s the point.

This article was originally published at globaljustice.org.uk

About the author

Nick Dearden is director of Global Justice Now.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.

Share

Reports: Greek Prime Minister To Resign, Announce Snap Elections

Resignation seen as attempt to forestall political revolt following approval of new bailout package and austerity measures in economically-battered nation

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-20-2015

Alexis Tsipras at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb, 2013. Photo by Robert Crc (Subversive festival media) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Alexis Tsipras at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb, 2013. Photo by Robert Crc (Subversive festival media) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

In a move that came as a surprise to many, sources have told Reuters that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will announce Thursday that he will ‘step down’ from his post as soon as this evening and that new elections for control of the government will be held next month.

“The aim is to hold elections on Sept. 20,” the government official reportedly said after Tsipras met with senior party officials and ministers to discuss the government’s next move.

Though a call for snap elections was ultimately expected, many assumed they would not be held until after a confidence vote in Parliament. Tsipras’ preemptive resignation was not widely foreseen, though the ruling government is compelled to give over power once the election is officially announced. Media outlets report that Tsipras will address the nation tonight to make his resignation official and make clear his reasons for doing so. Continue reading

Share