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28 March, 2016

Palmyra's Liberation

The Syrian Arab Army and its allies have taken the Palmyra ruins and Tadmor city next to them from the Islamic State. To the chagrin of the U.S. State Department (vid), the Islamic State occupiers pulled back into the eastern desert after losing some 500 men.

The Syrian government can now use the air base in Palmyra and from there regain control of the eastern desert country up to Deir Ezzor and the Syrian/Iraqi border in the east and towards the Jordan border in the south.

Syrian troops recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on Sunday and pledged to build on the win with an advance against other jihadist strongholds. President Bashar al-Assad hailed the victory as an "important achievement" as his Russian counterpart and key backer Vladimir Putin congratulated Damascus for retaking the UNESCO world heritage site.

These are some of the first pictures to be seen from inside the city after the recapture:

Ο συριακός στρατός ανακατέλαβε την Παλμύρα

Ο συριακός στρατός, με την υποστήριξη των ρωσικών αεροπορικών δυνάμεων, ανακατέλαβε την Παλμύρα μετά από σφοδρές μάχες με τους τζιχαντιστές του Ισλαμικού Κράτους, οι οποίοι τράπηκαν σε φυγή. Υπό τον έλεγχο του στρατού βρίσκεται τόσο η αρχαία πόλη, όσο και το κατοικημένο τμήμα της.

Όπως ανακοινώθηκε μέσω της συριακής κρατικής τηλεόρασης ο στρατός και οι συμμαχικές πολιτοφυλακές, που ξεκίνησαν τις επιχειρήσεις στην Παλμύρα στις 7 Μαρτίου, «έχουν θέσει υπό τον πλήρη έλεγχό τους την πόλη». Την είδηση επιβεβαίωσε και στρατιωτική πηγή στο Γαλλικό Πρακτορείο, αλλά και το Συριακό Παρατηρητήριο για τα Ανθρώπινα Δικαιώματα, το οποίο έχει έδρα τη Βρετανία και καταγράφει τις εξελίξεις από την έναρξη του πολέμου στη Συρία.

Η στρατιωτική ηγεσία της Συρίας ανέφερε πως η νίκη στην Παλμύρα σηματοδοτεί την αρχή της κατάρρευσης του Ισλαμικού Κράτους. Παράλληλα τόνισε πως αυτή η νίκη δείχνει ότι η συριακή κυβέρνηση και οι σύμμαχοί της είναι η μόνη ικανή δύναμη να καταπολεμήσει την τρομοκρατία στη Συρία.


26 March, 2016

Highlighting Western victims while ignoring victims of Western violence

For days now, American cable news has broadcast non-stop coverage of the horrific attack in Brussels. Viewers repeatedly heard from witnesses and from the wounded. Video was shown in a loop of the terror and panic when the bombs exploded. Networks dispatched their TV stars to Brussels, where they remain. NPR profiled the lives of several of the airport victims. CNN showed a moving interview with a wounded, bandage-wrapped Mormon American teenager speaking from his Belgium hospital bed.

All of that is how it should be: That’s news. And it’s important to understand on a visceral level the human cost from this type of violence. But that’s also the same reason it’s so unjustifiable, and so propagandistic, that this type of coverage is accorded only to Western victims of violence, but almost never to the non-Western victims of the West’s own violence.

A little more than a week ago, as Mohammed Ali Kalfood reported in The Intercept, “Fighter jets from a Saudi-led [U.S. and U.K.-supported] coalition bombed a market in Mastaba, in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah. The latest count indicates that about 120 people were killed, including more than 20 children, and 80 were wounded in the strikes.” Kalfood interviewed 21-year-old Yemeni Khaled Hassan Mohammadi, who said, “We saw airstrikes on a market last Ramadan, not far from here, but this attack was the deadliest.” Over the past several years, the U.S. has launched hideous civilian-slaughtering strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Iraq. Last July, The Intercept published a photo essay by Alex Potter of Yemeni victims of one of 2015’s deadliest Saudi-led, U.S.- and U.K.-armed strikes.

You’ll almost never hear any of those victims’ names on CNN, NPR, or most other large U.S. media outlets. No famous American TV correspondents will be sent to the places where those people have their lives ended by the bombs of the U.S. and its allies. At most, you’ll hear small, clinical news stories briefly and coldly describing what happened — usually accompanied by a justifying claim from U.S. officials, uncritically conveyed, about why the bombing was noble — but, even in those rare cases where such attacks are covered at all, everything will be avoided that would cause you to have any visceral or emotional connection to the victims. You’ll never know anything about them — not even their names, let alone hear about their extinguished life aspirations or hear from their grieving survivors — and will therefore have no ability to feel anything for them. As a result, their existence will barely register.


25 March, 2016

'9/11 was a gift to the NSA ...'

This was probably the most impressive revelation derived by the documentary A Good American watched by the blog at the 18th Documentary Festival of Thessaloniki.

The exceptional documentary by Friedrich Moser deconstructs completely the image of the National Security Agency, one of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world. Through the revealing stories of former NSA employees who became whistleblowers - like William Binney, Diane Roark and Thomas Andrews Drake - the agency appears that it has become a field of personal ambitions and money hunting through huge funds from the central government.

Moreover, the experienced, top analyst, William Binney (who is the central figure of the documentary), deconstructs the myth of an organization that is supposed to be pioneer in new technologies. He presents NSA as an organization which had certain difficulties to follow the explosive progress of the computer technology during 1990s, in order to modernize its obsolete equipment as fast as possible.

But the most mind-blowing revelation comes from Binney's NSA colleague Thomas Drake. At one point, Drake recalls how a Senior Military Officer dismissed Osama bin Laden as “a raghead spouting off about a fatwa in the desert” in response to their intelligence reports on Al Qaeda in the late 90s. After the events of 9/11, Drake quotes his former NSA boss Maureen Baginski who reportedly said “9/11 was a gift to the NSA, we’re gonna get all the money we need and then some.[1]

Although one could claim that behind this story is hidden a conflict of interest concerning two rival projects proposed to the NSA, there is plenty of evidence that ThinThread, the project developed by a small group around Binney, was rejected against Trailblazer, only because Trailblazer was promoted by a powerful lobby inside the NSA.

Indeed, as also presented in the documentary: NSA whistleblowers J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffer Diane Roark complained to the Department of Defense's Inspector General (IG) about waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, and the fact that a successful operating prototype existed, but was ignored when the Trailblazer program was launched. The complaint was accepted by the IG and an investigation began that lasted until mid-2005 when the final results were issued. The results were largely hidden, as the report given to the public was heavily (90%) redacted, while the original report was heavily classified, thus restricting the ability of most people to see it. [2]

Additionally, in July 2007, armed FBI agents raided the homes of Roark, Binney, and Wiebe, the same people who had filed the complaint with the DoD Inspector General in 2002. Binney claims they pointed guns at his wife and himself. Wiebe said it reminded him of the Soviet Union. None of these people were charged with any crimes. In November 2007, there was a raid on Drake's residence. His computers, documents, and books were confiscated. He was never charged with giving any sensitive information to anyone; the charge actually brought against him is for 'retaining' information. The FBI tried to get Roark to testify against Drake; she refused. [3]

The documentary also reveals that the project ThinThread not only was much cheaper, but had two additional advantages: it was much more effective and was designed to protect the personal data of millions of citizens who were not related with terrorist activity.

Although NSA leadership rejected ThinThread three weeks prior to 9/11, in a secret test-run of the program against the pre-9/11-NSA database in early 2002, the program immediately found the terrorists. [4]

No one should expect intelligence agencies to be composed by "angels" who follow strictly a moral code. The dirty role of US and other agencies around the world for many decades is well known.

Yet, this documentary uncovers something much worse. Nothing has left from the original mission that the NSA supposedly serves. The protection of citizens against terrorist attacks has become irrelevant in front of the big money targeted by the corrupted groups of interests inside the agency. It seems that nothing has been remained unaffected from the rotten culture of "money and power above all and by all means" that dominates in today's societies.

[4] A Good American (2015), Plot Summary,

Η Δύση πληρώνει τις επιλογές της

«Το προπέτασμα των θρησκευτικών αντιλήψεων για τα τρομοκρατικά απάνθρωπα χτυπήματα στην καρδιά των Βρυξελλών, δεν μπορεί να κρύψει την πραγματικότητα των αιτιών που δεν είναι τίποτα άλλο από τις πολεμικές επεμβάσεις και διαλύσεις χωρών και κοινωνιών που για τα συμφέροντα τους εδώ και 15 χρόνια πραγματοποιούν οι δυτικές συμμαχίες», τόνισε μιλώντας στο Ράδιο 9,84 ο δημοσιογράφος Άρης Χατζηστεφάνου.

Η παρουσία στρατού για μήνες στο κέντρο των Βρυξελλών και το κλίμα σήμερα για στρατικοποίηση των ευρωπαϊκών πόλεων, σε τίποτα δεν εμπόδισε τους ισλαμοφασίστες τρομοκράτες να χτυπήσουν σε βάρος ανύποπτων πολιτών.

«Είναι προφανές», είπε ο Άρης Χατζηστεφάνου, «πως το χτύπημα χρησιμοποιείται για νέα μέτρα αυστηροποίησης των κρατών και περιστολής ατομικών και κοινωνικών δικαιωμάτων με ότι αυτό συνεπάγεται για τις ευρωπαϊκές κοινωνίες».

Οι οικονομικές κρίσεις, οι πόλεμοι και τώρα τα τρομοκρατικά χτυπήματα που η πολιτική των μεγάλων δυνάμεων εξέθρεψε, σήμερα χρησιμοποιούνται στο όνομα της ασφάλειας των πολιτών για μία ακόμη πιο συντηρητική στροφή, ξαναζεσταίνοντας την αποτυχημένη θεωρία περί "πολέμου πολιτισμών", ώστε να μην αναδεικνύονται οι συνέπειες των νέο-ιμπεριαλιστικών επεμβάσεων.


Διαβάστε ακόμα:

The EU is dissolved by itself, no help needed

A newsletter circulated after the Islamic State's November massacre in Paris, shows the objectives of Daesh, which is to break the EU unity and weaken economically the European states.

From the TheIntercept :

A newsletter circulated after the Islamic State’s November massacre in Paris sheds light on what the group believes yesterday’s [22/3] deadly attacks in Brussels will accomplish, including weakening unity on the continent and exhausting European states economically.

An issue of the Islamic State newsletter al Naba, published weeks after the Paris attacks, boasted in one section that “the Paris raid has caused the creation of a state of instability in European countries which will have long-term effects.” It listed these as “the weakening of European cohesion, including demands to repeal the Schengen Agreement … which permits free traveling in Europe without checkpoints”; “security measures [that] will cost them tens of millions of dollars”; and “mutual accusations between France and Belgium” over security failings.

Well, the EU is dissolved by itself from the inside. It is not the terrorist attacks that are doing the job, but the failed policies followed by the political puppets of the bankers and the lobbyists. EU failed to deal effectively with the economic crisis and lately, with the refugee problem. The IMF-type catastrophic policies have already destroyed the economies in the periphery, especially Greece. These policies are now spreading to the heart of Europe, for example, France.

The extreme nationalist parties gained significant power long before the terrorist attacks, mainly as a consequence of the economic crisis and the high unemployment.

Despite the course of spiral death, the Brussels-Berlin axis insists, even now, in the catastrophic policies that lead the economies to a slow death and feed further the extreme nationalism.

Therefore, Europe doesn't need any terrorists or any other "help" to be dissolved. It can do it by itself and indeed doing a fine job until now.

Israeli rights group releases video of soldier executing wounded Palestinian suspect

An Israeli soldier was arrested on Thursday after a rights group published clear video images of him shooting a wounded, immobilized Palestinian suspect in the head following a knife attack in the West Bank city of Hebron earlier in the day.

The graphic, distressing video was posted online by B’Tselem, an Israeli group that provides cameras to Palestinians to help them document human rights abuses in the West Bank territory that has been under military rule since Israel first occupied it in 1967.

As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, the video was recorded just after another soldier was stabbed and moderately wounded at a checkpoint in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City, and two Palestinian suspects were killed, including the one who was shot in the video.

Full report and graphic video:

24 March, 2016

France: Towards the explosion of accumulated anger of youth and workers!

by George Mitralias

After four years of apathy, lethargy and inactivity of French society, which coincide with the four years (2012-2016) of the presidency of Francois Hollande, everything suggests now that the ongoing rapid awakening will lead to one of those volcanic eruptions - for many decades now - by the youth and labor movement of France! And we dare to predict that this could happen in the next few weeks, in mid April or May 2016.

So, "everything started" when the Hollande-Valls duo and the socialist-liberal government, made the most fatal mistake of an arrogant power: being sure that the French society was addicted to drink the bitter cup of their extreme neoliberal counter-reforms without reacting, they added a drop that made the glass to overflow. And because this fatal drop is fundamentally changing the "Labour Code" aimed at gnawing or even the complete elimination of the most basic labor rights been conquered in the last 100 years, we see the past two weeks an overflowing rage of the French youth and French workers on the streets of hundreds of French cities!

It started on March 9, when half a million students and workers marched throughout France demanding the withdrawal of the government bill. The second mobilization was a week later, on March 17, and this time took to the streets 150,000 pupils and students who are anxious about their future, as the bill promises a completely bad life into a nightmare job jungle. According to the organizers, both these two days of mobilization, as the one on March 24, is only a "warm-up" process of the movement in order to reach large popular mobilization, which is set for March 31, ready to impose a shift of the balance of power which will force the government and the employers to withdraw the bill permanently.

The first thing that impresses and makes these protests stand out, is the general sense that until now we had rather simple pre-earthquake vibrations that presage the upcoming major social earthquake. Almost everyone from the student unions to anonymous students and especially students who demonstrate and occupy hundreds of their high schools, all admit publicly that the rage and determination is proportional to social ruins that have accumulated the neoliberal policies by all, without exception, the French Governments, the Right and "Left", in the last 15-20 years.

The fact that we are dealing with "something big and deep" indirectly confirmed by both by the - unexpected and therefore impressive - revival of May '68 in the images of banners and slogans of the youth demonstrations, and by the fact that the protests had been imposed on the trade union leaders by the base of their organizations - from the "bottom". Specifically, even the leaders of the most active trade unions (CGT, FO, Sud) initially requested only some "changes" to the controversial bill, not its withdrawal. For that, they called for a demonstration only on 31 March, when things would had been determined, just to maintain the tradition of the struggles.

Eventually, it was the 'anonymous' autonomous initiatives, such as that of a feminist who wrote and circulated a text/complaint against the bill, for which, within days, more than one million signatures (!) have been collected. This action pushed the youth unions (UNEF for students, and FIDL for pupils) and later the labor unions to be mobilized but also to radicalize their demands.

Indicative of this radicalization, is the fact that the leaderships of most of these unions, youth and workers, are traditionally loyal to the ruling Socialist party and several of their executives are members of this party. Their current harsh confrontation with the government and the party leadership, is merely indicative of the great crisis of the French Social Democracy, which also reflected in the - historically unique - collapse of the popularity of the Hollande-Valls duo, which is now consistently below 20%!

Yet, the comic but also tragic is that in these days, the leadership of the French Communist Party has chosen to give the final blow to the Left Front (Front de Gauche), and promised the engagement with the Socialist party! How? By stating not only that it will participate with the General Secretary Pierre Laurent in the primaries of the Socialist party, for the emergence of the 'common candidate of the Left' in the presidential elections of 2017, but also, that it will support the winner of these primaries, who will be, of course, Francois Hollande, or even even worse, his successor! A minimum specious way to surrender to a Social Democracy in historical crisis, which, additionaly, demonstrates a work that would envy even Sarkozy.

In any case, the last word now belongs not to the leaders, but to those at the "bottom" who seem determined not to compromise with the small retreats of the Valls government and lead their struggle until the final victory. In other words, something is finally shaken in the French society. This is nothing but the accumulated anger of millions of citizens, led by the youth, who promise a sequel both exciting and promising. In this gray and day by day more and more gray Europe of unbearable austerity, a massive, radical movement by the French youth and workers would be exactly what we need to regain courage and optimism. Here and throughout our continent!

Translated from the original source:

Γαλλία: Προς την έκρηξη της συσσωρευμένης οργής της νεολαίας και των εργαζομένων!

του Γιώργου Μητραλιά

Μετά από τέσσερα ολόκληρα χρόνια απάθειας, λήθαργου και αδράνειας της γαλλικής κοινωνίας, που συμπίπτουν με τα τέσσερα χρόνια (2012-2016) της προεδρίας του Φρανσουά Ολάντ, όλα δείχνουν πια ότι η υπό εξέλιξη ραγδαία αφύπνισή της θα μπορούσε να οδηγήσει σε μια από εκείνες τις ηφαιστειακές εκρήξεις στις οποίες μας έχει συνηθίσει -εδώ και πάρα πολλές δεκαετίες- το νεολαιίστικο και εργατικό κίνημα της Γαλλίας! Και τολμούμε να προβλέψουμε ότι αυτό μπορεί να συμβεί στις αμέσως επόμενες βδομάδες, μέσα στον Απρίλη ή το Μάη του 2016…

«Όλα άρχισαν» λοιπόν όταν το δίδυμο Ολάντ-Βαλς και η σοσιαλφιλελεύθερη κυβέρνησή του, έκαναν το μοιραίο λάθος των αλαζονικών εξουσιών όλων των εποχών: Βέβαιοι ότι έχουν πια εθίσει τη γαλλική κοινωνία να πίνει το πικρό ποτήρι των ακραίων νεοφιλελεύθερων αντιμεταρρυθμίσεών τους χωρίς να αντιδρά, πρόσθεσαν τώρα τη σταγόνα που έκανε ξαφνικά αυτό το ποτήρι να ξεχειλίσει. Και επειδή αυτή η μοιραία σταγόνα είναι η εκ βάθρων αλλαγή του «Εργατικού Κώδικα» που αποσκοπεί στο ροκάνισμα ή ακόμα και στη πλήρη κατάργηση των βασικότερων εργατικών δικαιωμάτων που κατακτήθηκαν στα τελευταία 100 χρόνια, για αυτό και βλέπουμε εδώ και δυο βδομάδες να ξεχειλίζει η οργή της γαλλικής νεολαίας και των Γάλλων εργαζομένων στους δρόμους εκατοντάδων γαλλικών πόλεων!

Η αρχή έγινε στις 9 Μαρτίου όταν μισό εκατομμύριο μαθητές, φοιτητές και εργαζόμενοι διαδήλωσαν σε όλη τη Γαλλία απαιτώντας την απόσυρση του κυβερνητικού νομοσχεδίου. Η δεύτερη κινητοποίηση έγινε μια βδομάδα αργότερα, στις 17 Μαρτίου, και αυτή τη φορά κατέβηκαν στους δρόμους 150.000 μαθητές και φοιτητές που αγωνιούν για το μέλλον τους καθώς το νομοσχέδιο τούς υπόσχεται μια εντελώς επισφαλή ζωή μέσα σε μια εφιαλτική εργασιακή ζούγκλα. Σύμφωνα με τους οργανωτές τους, και οι δυο αυτές μέρες κινητοποίησης, όπως και η επόμενη τρίτη στις 24 Μαρτίου, δεν είναι παρά μια διαδικασία «προθέρμανσης» του κινήματος έτσι ώστε να φτάσει στη μεγάλη παλλαϊκή κινητοποίηση, που έχει οριστεί για τις 31 Μαρτίου, έτοιμο να επιβάλει στη κυβέρνηση και στην εργοδοσία εκείνους τους συσχετισμούς δύναμης που θα τις κάνουν να αποσύρουν οριστικά το νομοσχέδιο.

Το πρώτο πράγμα που εντυπωσιάζει και κάνει αυτές τις κινητοποιήσεις να ξεχωρίζουν είναι η γενική αίσθηση ότι μέχρι τώρα δεν είχαμε παρά απλές προσεισμικές δονήσεις που προμηνύουν τον επερχόμενο κύριο κοινωνικό σεισμό. Σχεδόν οι πάντες, από τους συνδικαλιστές των φοιτητικών και μαθητικών συνδικάτων μέχρι τους ανώνυμους φοιτητές και κυρίως, τους μαθητές που διαδηλώνουν και καταλαμβάνουν κατά εκατοντάδες τα λύκειά τους, όλοι παραδέχονται δημόσια ότι η οργή και η αποφασιστικότητά τους είναι ανάλογη των κοινωνικών ερειπίων που έχουν συσσωρεύσει οι νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές όλων, χωρίς εξαίρεση, των γαλλικών κυβερνήσεων, δεξιών και «αριστερών», στα τελευταία 15-20 χρόνια.

Το ότι έχουμε να κάνουμε με «κάτι μεγάλο και βαθύ» επιβεβαιώνεται έμμεσα τόσο από την -απρόσμενη και για αυτό ιδιαίτερα εντυπωσιακή- αναβίωση του Μάη του ’68 στις εικόνες των πανώ και στα συνθήματα των νεολαιίστικων διαδηλώσεων, όσο και από το γεγονός ότι οι κινητοποιήσεις επιβλήθηκαν στις συνδικαλιστικές ηγεσίες από τη βάση των οργανώσεών τους, από τους «από κάτω». Συγκεκριμένα, ακόμα και οι ηγεσίες των πιο μαχητικών εργατικών συνδικάτων (CGT, FO, Sud) ζητούσαν στην αρχή μόνον κάποιες «αλλαγές» στο επίμαχο νομοσχέδιο και όχι την απόσυρσή του, και για αυτό καλούσαν σε διαδήλωση μόνο στις 31 Μαρτίου, δηλαδή κατόπιν εορτής και για την –παραδοσιακή πια- τιμή των όπλων.

Τελικά, ήταν οι αυτόνομες πρωτοβουλίες των «ανώνυμων», όπως π.χ. εκείνη μιας φεμινίστριας που έγραψε και κυκλοφόρησε ένα κείμενο/καταγγελία του νομοσχεδίου το οποίο μέσα σε λίγες μέρες συγκέντρωσε πάνω από 1 εκατομμύριο υπογραφές (!), που έσπρωξαν πρώτα τα νεολαιίστικα (UNEF για τους φοιτητές, και FIDL για τους μαθητές) και μετά τα εργατικά συνδικάτα όχι μόνο να κινητοποιηθούν αλλά και να ριζοσπαστικοποιήσουν τις διεκδικήσεις τους. Ενδεικτικό μάλιστα αυτής της ριζοσπαστικοποίησης είναι το γεγονός ότι οι ηγεσίες των περισσότερων από αυτά τα συνδικάτα, νεολαιίστικα και εργατικά, πρόσκεινται παραδοσιακά στο κυβερνών Σοσιαλιστικό κόμμα και αρκετά από τα στελέχη τους είναι μέλη αυτού του κόμματος. Η σημερινή τους σκληρή αντιπαράθεση με την κυβέρνηση και την ηγεσία του κόμματος, είναι απλώς ενδεικτική της μεγάλης κρίσης της γαλλικής Σοσιαλδημοκρατίας, που αποτυπώνεται εξάλλου στην –ιστορικά μοναδική- κατάρρευση της δημοτικότητας του διδύμου Ολάντ-Βαλς, που βρίσκεται πια σταθερά κάτω από το 20%!

Όμως, το κωμικό και συνάμα τραγικό είναι ότι αυτές ακριβώς τις μέρες διάλεξε η ηγεσία του γαλλικού Κομμουνιστικού Κόμματος για να δώσει τη χαριστική βολή στο Μέτωπο της Αριστεράς (Front de Gauche), και να υποσχεθεί τη σύμπραξή της με το… Σοσιαλιστικό κόμμα! Πως; Μα, δηλώνοντας όχι μόνο ότι θα μετάσχει με τον Γενικό Γραμματέα της Πιερ Λωράν στις προκριματικές εκλογές του Σοσιαλιστικού κόμματος, για την ανάδειξη του «κοινού υποψηφίου της Αριστεράς» στις προεδρικές εκλογές του 2017, αλλά και ότι θα υποστηρίξει το νικητή αυτών των «προκριματικών, που φυσικά δεν θα είναι παρά ο Φρανσουά Ολάντ ή έστω ο ακόμα χειρότερος διάδοχός του! Ελάχιστα εύσχημος τρόπος για να παραδοθείς σε μια Σοσιαλδημοκρατία σε ιστορική κρίση, που επιπλέον έχει να επιδείξει ένα έργο που θα ζήλευε και ο πιο αντιδραστικός Σαρκοζί…

Όπως και νάχει, το λόγο έχουν πια όχι οι ηγεσίες αλλά οι «από κάτω» που δείχνουν αποφασισμένοι να μην αρκεστούν στις μικροϋποχωρήσεις της κυβέρνησης Βαλς και να οδηγήσουν τον αγώνα τους μέχρι τη τελική νίκη. Με άλλα λόγια, επιτέλους κάτι κουνιέται στη γαλλική κοινωνία και αυτό το «κάτι» δεν είναι παρά η συσσωρευμένη οργή εκατομμυρίων πολιτών που, με επικεφαλής τη νεολαία, υπόσχονται μια συνέχεια τόσο συναρπαστική όσο και πολλά υποσχόμενη. Σε αυτή την γκρίζα και μέρα με τη μέρα όλο και πιο φαιά Ευρώπη της αβάσταχτης λιτότητας, ένα μαζικό, ριζοσπαστικό και αντιφιλελεύθερο γαλλικό κίνημα της νεολαίας και των εργαζομένων θα ήταν ό,τι ακριβώς χρειαζόμαστε για να αναθαρρήσουμε και να ξαναβρούμε την αισιοδοξία μας. Και εδώ και σε όλη τη Γηραιά μας ήπειρο!...


Saudi-led coalition bombardment in a market in Yemen leaves 120 dead

War Crimes

Around midday on March 15, fighter jets from a Saudi-led coalition bombed a market in Mastaba, in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah. The latest count indicates that about 120 people were killed, including more than 20 children, and 80 were wounded in the strikes — perhaps the deadliest attack yet in a war that has killed more than 6,000 civilians. Local residents and health officials say the carnage was so great in Mastaba that most of the bodies could hardly be identified, and several were beyond recognition.

The Saudi coalition consists of nine Arab states that have joined forces against Houthi rebels who have taken over large parts of Yemen. While U.S. fighter jets are not involved in the bombing campaign, the U.S. is providing intelligence and other forms of assistance, including weapons sales and aerial refueling of the Arab jets. After the latest attack, a top United Nations official, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, said the coalition might be committing war crimes. While the horrific terrorist attacks against civilians in Europe receive extensive media coverage, the U.S.-supported bombings of civilians in Yemen get scant attention.

At the roadside marketplace in Mastaba, journalist Mohammed Ali Kalfood interviewed a number of survivors this weekend. The following is the account of Khaled Hassan Mohammadi, 21, who sold sacks of flour at the market and survived the attack. Mohammadi’s account has been translated and condensed.

Full Report:

23 March, 2016

WikiLeaks reveal that Schauble was afraid of the collapse of eurozone

On March 16, 2016 WikiLeaks launched a searchable archive for 30,322 emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton's private email server while she was Secretary of State. The 50,547 pages of documents span from 30 June 2010 to 12 August 2014. 7,570 of the documents were sent by Hillary Clinton. The emails were made available in the form of thousands of PDFs by the US State Department as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. The final PDFs were made available on February 29, 2016.

A specific email under the title GERMANY AND THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC CRISIS that was sent to Hillary Clinton in May 2012, reveals that the Germans, and specifically the German Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, had serious concerns about a potential dissolution of the eurozone.

The revelations justify the whole sequence of events concerning Greece last year, when SYRIZA took over the leadership of the country. As described in the specific email, Schäuble worried about a "problematic result in the Greek elections".

The 'problematic result' for the European Financial Dictatorship came in January 2015 and the Brussels bureaufascists together with the Berlin directorate proceeded in plan B. Recall that in May 2015, the known journalist Paul Mason, revealed a plan, obviously by certain circles inside eurozone, according to which they wanted to mutate SYRIZA into a systemic social-democratic party, and force it to implement every single detail of the neoliberal experiment in Greece. As an exchange, they would proceed in a type of debt relief for Greece.

As Mason wrote:

In the script according to the eurozone, the expected ending is: Syriza splits; finance minister Varoufakis makes good his pledge not to sign a surrender and resigns. A government of the centre-left forms, with Alexis Tsipras now allied to the centrist Potami party and with tacit support from a liberal wing of the New Democracy party. Debt relief happens, but on the terms dictated by the lenders, and Syriza survives to complete its mutation into a centre-left social democratic party.” [fa.ev/greece-operation-mutation-of-left]

When they managed to get rid of Varoufakis and the dangerous elements of SYRIZA, who later formed Popular Unity, Tsipras became an easy prey for Schäuble. When Schäuble realized that Tsipras went to the negotiations without any plan for Grexit, he bluffed, supposedly offering Greece his own Grexit plan, when in reality, this was the last thing he wanted to see because he was afraid of a potential domino of subsequent exits which could lead to the collapse of the eurozone, as revealed in the specific email. Having disarmed, Tsipras was forced to retreat, signing a third catastrophic memorandum for Greece.

Important parts from the email:

  • ... Schauble and other financial officials in Berlin, London, and Brussels are beginning to see the upcoming Greek national elections as a plebiscite on whether or not Greece wants to remain in the Euro-zone. Schauble stated privately that despite their professed commitment to the Euro, if the Greek people vote for a government led by the anti-austerity Syriza party, they must bear the consequences of their actions.

  • According to a sensitive source, Schauble is looking for a way to deal with the potential fallout from a problematic result in the Greek elections. He sees two paths available, neither of which is pleasant for Germany and the other states of the EU. Realizing that a Greek withdrawal from the currency union may set the stage for Portugal, Spain, and Ireland to follow, Schauble is moderating his opposition to a larger shared solution within the EU. First, while he remains, in the opinion of a sensitive source, strongly opposed to the issuance of Eurobonds, Schauble has asked his staff to revisit a proposal put forward by the German economic experts, "the Five Wise Men," regarding a European Redemption pact. This idea was developed throughout 2011, but was initially opposed by Schauble because of his concern for its internal political ramifications in Germany while failing to address the problem of sovereign debt in real terms. The second course of action is even more problematic for Schauble, as it involves planning for a two tiered EU, with a much smaller currency union. This plan will be difficult and dangerous for the Merkel Government, especially following the election of Socialist Francois Hollande as President of France.

  • In any event, Schauble continues to believe that a complete collapse of the currency union is unacceptable for Germany, as the newly reconstituted Deutsche Mark would be considerably more valuable than the Euro; seriously damaging Germany's export driven economy.

  • In the opinion of this individual, Schauble's staff is drawing up contingency plans for addressing the possible outcomes of the crisis: an enhanced EU wide redemption project, a two tiered Euro-zone, and the possible collapse of the union.

As mentioned many times in this blog, the collapse of eurozone is the last thing that the Brussels-Berlin axis would like to see because the common currency is specifically designed to serve the banking interests and the lobbyists who have occupied the EU. The new revelation is another proof towards this argument.

BRICS under attack

The last decade has seen a remarkable coalescing of non-Western nations in both economic and political partnerships. These multilateral institutions have been championed as alternatives to Western organs of political and economic power such as NATO, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

From the growth of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union, China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy to link much of the Eurasian landmass via trade and investment, and most recently the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, many have viewed these developments as essential for the decentralization of global power away from the imperial centers of Washington, Wall Street, London and Brussels.

But perhaps none of the emerging Global South international groupings has been more promising in terms of both public relations and real economic partnership than that of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

BRICS countries account for 46 percent of the world’s population – over 3 billion people, as of 2015 – making it the single largest bloc in terms of human capacity among global alliances. The scope of BRICS, combined with its increasing assertiveness as an economic power unto itself, has undoubtedly ruffled a few feathers in Washington and elsewhere in the West.

It should come as no surprise that major moves have been taken in the last 12 to 24 months to undermine each BRICS member nation and destabilize them through political and economic means. And it is no coincidence that those leaders shown smiling and shaking hands at recent BRICS summits are now either the targets of destabilization efforts and subversion – as in the cases of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa – or are a target of a military and political charm offensive, as in the case of India. In each case, the United States and its allies benefit significantly from the latest developments.

Read the rest of the analysis:

Read also:

US senator revives Russian sub paranoia to increase funding for his state

Taking a recent page from a Sweden’s playbook, a Democratic Senator in the United States has begun spreading fears of phantom Russian submarines "dangerously close" to US shores in an effort to secure increased military funding to his constituents.

In October 2014, the Swedish military sounded the alarm over a suspicious object in the waters off Stockholm’s inner archipelago. Without evidence, this object was declared to be a Russian submarine.

The paranoia spread to the US in October 2015, as Pentagon officials expressed concern over the possibility of Russian submarines severing underwater data cables in the Atlantic.

"The United States increasingly resembles Sweden, often believing that Russian submarines are present in their territorial waters," Vladimir Komoyedov, head of the Russian State Duma’s defense committee, told RIA Novosti at the time. "Although these data cables exist, we will definitely not damage them."

Now the Connecticut Senator and Democrat, Chris Murphy, is reigniting the tired fearmongering technique.

"No one is suggesting that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is contemplating a nuclear launch against a NATO country, but it’s not clear how tethered to reality Putin is," the senator remarked to reporters on Monday.


22 March, 2016

Brussels attacks: The nightmare continues driving Europe in deeper darkness

From RT :

A blast at the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels has killed at least 20 people according the Belgian television station VRT. The explosion took place less than an hour after a deadly airport bombing, which killed at least 14 people.

The Belgian broadcaster, cited by Reuters, mentions that the death toll has reached at least 20 people. The Brussels mayor Yvan Mayuer also confirmed that at least 20 people had been killed following the blast on the metro.

As already described in previous articles:

Paris attacks, other attacks in Western soil. It is the new type of a full asymmetric war conducted by Islamic extremists inside Western urban areas. The West discovered that it has to face an unprecedented situation which seems to be very difficult to confront: suicide bombings. Although this situation has proven that the US imperialism has lost the control of its creation called ISIS, these attacks are quite convenient for the implementation of the new conditions that include the gradual elimination of the civil liberties inside the Western societies. [fa.ev/proxy-wars-everywhere]

ISIS fighters' threats concerning potential attacks in Western countries serve perfectly the plan, which is to transfer the wars from borders to urban centers. Indeed, since a citizen of any Western country, attached to the ISIS or other extremist groups, is determined to die in a bloodbath at the heart of this country, the protection of borders has no meaning, and citizens start to wonder about the ability of the nation-state to protect them.

Moreover, the systemic establishment finds another excuse to justify further suppression measures by an increasingly militarized police, thus increasing the hostility of the citizens against the state. The Western urban state not only fails to protect its citizens but on the contrary, is turning against them. [fa.ev/globalized-wars]


Απόρρητο έγγραφο των ΗΠΑ προδίδει τα σχέδια Σόιμπλε το 2012

Το Wikileaks την περασμένη εβδομάδα ανέβασε στη βάση του μια σειρά από αποχαρακτηρισμένα ηλεκτρονικά μηνύματα του υπουργείου Εξωτερικών των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών από την εποχή που υπουργός ήταν η Χίλαρι Κλίντον. Το έγγραφο παρουσιάζει ιδιαίτερο ενδιαφέρον καθώς αναφέρεται στους σχεδιασμούς του Σόιμπλε σε περίπτωση που ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ έπαιρνε τότε την κυβέρνηση.

Ο Γερμανός υπουργός Οικονομικών, μολονότι υποστήριζε ότι «αν ο ελληνικός λαός ψηφίσει για μια κυβέρνηση στην οποία θα ηγηθεί ένα κόμμα κατά της λιτότητας, όπως ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ, θα πρέπει να αντιμετωπίσει τις συνέπειες των πράξεων του» έβλεπε την ενδεχόμενη αποχώρηση της Ελλάδας ως ένα εξαιρετικά αρνητικό γεγονός, καθώς θεωρούσε ότι θα επηρέαζε Ισπανία, Πορτογαλία και Ιρλανδία. Ως απάντηση σκεφτόταν εκτός των παραπάνω λύσεων, να αντιμετωπίσει ένα Grexit με τη δημιουργία Ευρώπης δύο ταχυτήτων.

Στο ηλεκτρονικό μήνυμα διαβάζουμε ότι «ο Σόιμπλε εξακολουθεί να πιστεύει ότι μια πλήρης κατάρρευση της νομισματικής ένωσης είναι μη αποδεκτή για τη Γερμανία, καθώς το νεοεισαχθέν γερμανικό μάρκο θα είναι σημαντικά αναβαθμισμένο συγκριτικά προς το ευρώ με αποτέλεσμα σοβαρές επιπτώσεις στην εξαγωγική οικονομία της Γερμανίας», ενώ σε άλλο σημείο ότι «μια ελληνική αποχώρηση από την νομισματική ένωση θα στρώσει το δρόμο για να ακολουθήσουν η Πορτογαλία, η Ισπανία και η Ιρλανδία».

Περισσότερες λεπτομέρειες και τα έγγραφα:

Επιβεβαιώνεται πλήρως η σταθερή θέση του blog, ότι όλοι φοβόντουσαν ένα grexit γιατί κανείς δεν μπορούσε να προβλέψει τις πιθανές συνέπειες. Ο Σόιμπλε μπλόφαρε αφού κατάλαβε ότι ο Τσίπρας πήγαινε χωρίς κανένα πραγματικό σχέδιο για επιστροφή στη δραχμή:

Situation in Turkey's Kurdish SE ‘resembles collective punishment

Since the Turkish Army began its operation against Kurdish militia in December, there has been an escalation of violence and “clear use of heavy weaponry” in residential areas, Andrew Gardner, a Turkey expert with Amnesty International, told RT.

Gardner said the curfew imposed in the areas inhabited by Kurds is an “unacceptable limitation of rights of the people” there, limiting their ability to access food and necessary services each day.

Earlier this month, RT launched a petition calling for a UNHRC-led investigation into claims of alleged mass killing of Kurdish civilians said to have been committed by the Turkish military during Ankara's crackdown on Kurds in the southeast.Amnesty International promised to examine the facts outlined in RT’s petition calling for a probe into alleged mass killings of Kurdish civilians by the Turkish military after the NGO’s “selective” approach was criticized by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

On Monday, Gardner commented to RT that, just like any other international observers, Amnesty International monitors were not allowed access to the curfew-affected areas.

Full report:

More than 50,000 refugees, migrants stranded in Greece

A total of 50,411 refugees were stranded in Greece as of early Monday, RIA Novosti reported. The Greek migrant crisis coordination center said 1,662 people have arrived on the Greek coasts from Turkey since Sunday.

Almost 700 of them arrived on the islands of Lesbos and Chios, according to officials. Macedonia last month closed its border with Greece after other states along the Balkan migration route - Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria - also closed their borders.

17 March, 2016

How computers created the picture of a 'mentally ill' society

The Rosenham experiment

By the early 70s, psychiatrist R.D. Laing had become a celebrity in America, and was one of the leaders of what was called the "anti-psychiatry" movement. He was about to use his growing power to attack one of the most powerful professions in America, the medical and psychiatric establishment. The results would be dramatic. But the outcome would be very different from what Laing intended. His ideas would undermine the all-controlling medical elite. But far from liberating people, what would actually emerge would be a revolutionary new system of order and control, driven by the objective power of numbers.

Psychiatry, Laing said, was a fake science, used as a system of political control to shore-up a violent collapsing society. Its categories of madness and sanity had no reality. Madness was simply a convenient label used to lock away those who wanted to break free.

Hundreds of young psychiatrists came to Laing's talks, and one of them was inspired, and decided to find a way of testing whether what Laing said was true or not. Could psychiatrists in America distinguish between madness and sanity? He was called David Rosenham, and he devised a dramatic experiment.

He assembled eight people, including himself, none of whom had ever had any psychiatric problems. Each person was then sent across the country to a specific mental hospital. At an agreed time, they all presented themselves at their hospital, and told the psychiatrist on duty they were hearing a voice in their head that said the word "thud". That was the only lie they should tell. Otherwise, they were to behave and respond completely normally.

As Rosenham revealed: “They were all diagnosed as insane and admitted to the hospital ... I told friends, I told my family I get out, when I get out that's all … I'll be there for a couple of days, then I'll get out. Nobody knew I'd be there for two months!

Once admitted, all eight fake patients acted completely normally, yet the hospitals refused to release them, and diagnosed seven as suffering from schizophrenia, and one from bi-polar disorder. They were all given powerful psychotropic drugs. They found there was nothing they could do to convince the doctors they were sane, and it quickly became clear that the only way out would be to agree that they were insane, and then pretend to be getting better.

When Rosenham finally got out and reported the experiment, there was an uproar. He was accused of trickery and deceit. And one major hospital challenged him to send some more fakes to them, guaranteeing that they would spot them this time. Rosenham agreed, and after a month, the hospital proudly announced that it had discovered forty-one fakes. Rosenham then revealed he had sent no-one to the hospital.

The effect of the "thud" experiment was a disaster for American psychiatry. It destroyed the idea that they were a privileged elite with specialist knowledge. But those in charge realised that psychiatry could not just give up. Another way had to be found of understanding and managing people's inner feelings in modern society. And, like R.D. Laing, they turned to the objective purity of mathematical analysis.

They set out to create a scientific system of diagnosing people's inner mental states, in which all human judgement would be removed, and replaced instead by a system based on the power of numbers. They gave up on the idea that they could understand the human mind, and cure it.

Instead, American psychiatry created a new set of measurable categories that were only based on the surface behaviour of human beings. Many were given new names, like Attention Deficit Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. What mattered was that these disorders could be observed, and thus recorded. The psychiatrists created a system in which the diagnosis could literally be done by a computer. The observable characteristics of each of the disorders were listed precisely, and questionnaires were then designed that asked people whether they had those characteristics. The answers were simply "yes" and "no". So they cold be asked by lay interviewers, not by psychiatrists. The computer would then decide whether people were normal, or abnormal.

The psychiatrists then decided to test this system, and at the end of the 1970s, they sent interviewers out across America with the questionnaires. Hundreds of thousands of people selected at random were interviewed. Up to this point, psychiatrists had only dealt with individuals who felt they needed help. This was the first time that anyone had gone out and asked ordinary people how they thought and felt. And the results, when processed by the computers, were astonishing. More than fifty percent of Americans suffered from some type of mental disorder.

As Psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Wakefield says: “These studies revealed very high rates of mental disorder. There are very very high rates of disorders out there. Half the population has a mental disorder at some point, seventeen percent of the population has a depressive episode at some point, figures like that. These rates astonished people, they're enormous rates. And the general conclusion was: there is a hidden epidemic.

More surveys were done, and yet again the computers returned the same disturbing data. The surveys showed that underneath the surface of normal life, millions of people, who never before would have been thought of as mentally ill, were secretly living with high levels of mental anxiety. The psychiatrists began screening programmes across the country. For many people, the checklists were a liberation, their private suffering was finally being recognised.

These new categories of disorders spread quickly in society, and terms like Borderline Personality Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder took hold of the public imagination. But as this happened, it had unforeseen consequences. Millions of people began to use the checklist to monitor and diagnose themselves. They used them to identify what was aberrant or abnormal in their behaviour and feelings. But by definition, this also set up a powerful model for them of what were the normal behaviour and feelings to which they should aspire. And psychiatrists began to find more and more people coming to them, demanding to be made normal.

As Psychiatrist Paul McHugh says: “It was just a matter of asking people a couple of questions, checking the boxes in the diagnostic formula, and saying: 'there you are, you have this disease!', or 'I have this disorder, I'd better go to my doctor and tell him what I need!', and it was an amazing experience and a great change. Most people do not, previously at any rate, want to see themselves as in some way psychiatrically injured. But now, they tell me that they have an ideal in their mind about what the normal person is… 'I don't fit that model, I want you to polish me down so that I fit'.

This new system of psychological disorders had been created by an attack on the arrogance and power of the psychiatric elite in the name of freedom. But what was beginning to emerge from this was a new form of control. The disorders and checklists were becoming a powerful and objective guide to what were the correct and appropriate feelings in an age of individualism and emotion.

But this was a very different system of order. No longer were people told how to behave by an elite. Instead, they now used the checklist to monitor their feelings and police their own behaviour. They were reassured that these new categories were scientific and could be checked by the power of numbers.

Last chance for Bernie and the American people

NY and California the next most crucial battlefields

Although chances for Bernie to beat Hillary were reduced after Tuesday's primaries, the fight is not over yet. It appears that now, the most crucial states are New York and California.

This is the last chance for the American people to bring in power a president who could really make the difference after a very long time. The establishment already feels to be threatened by a political movement that is willing to fight against Wall Street corruption, fight for real social justice and peace.

The achievements so far are not insignificant. With the help of this movement, and especially the young people, Bernie managed so far to:

  • Challenge the traditional 'big money' in the political campaigns, by funding his race from the people.

  • Speak about Democratic Socialism, a concept which was considered nearly a 'hubris', even a few years ago, in the America of brutal neoliberalism.

  • Open issues which were considered taboo in the plutocracy-dominated America. A clear, open war against the Wall Street corruption and billionaire class, which by the way, proves why Bernie could become the only authentic opponent of the billionaire Donald Trump.

  • Beat the mainstream media exclusion, mostly with the help of young people and the usage of internet and social media.

The odds are now against Bernie, but the American people brought already the first cracks to the establishment.

16 March, 2016

Leaked: Commission giving inside information to car lobby on new emissions tests

As the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the dieselgate scandali begins its work in Brussels, a leaked lobbying document from the European car manufacturers' lobby, ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers' Association), reveals a sophisticated, multi-faceted behind-the-scenes lobbying strategy aimed at weakening new emissions tests.

Corporate Europe Observatory

Key points:

  • ... the European Commission had known manufacturers were vastly exceeding limits back in 2011 and was designing new on-the-road tests, or 'Real Driving Emissions' (RDE) tests, to tackle the problem in diesel cars. But as the leak shows, ACEA and its members had other plans. Their intention: to weaken and delay the new tests, scheduled to be finalised in 2015 and introduced in 2017, which could prevent thousands of premature deaths every year but would most certainly dent profits if implemented in full.

  • The document reveals how a secretive weekend meeting between the Commission and ACEA guided the latter's four-stage negotiating strategy; how ACEA was prepared to compromise far further if pushed – but never needed to due to inside information from the Commission; and how it used EU member states to block proposals it didn't like when the Commission didn't prove sufficiently malleable.

  • Despite the dieselgate scandal and the ensuing public outrage, industry still got what it wanted with regards to the new RDE tests. First by weakening the test conditions, then getting governments to support an enormous loophole allowing manufacturers to exceed emissions requirements by more than twice the legal limit. The latter was voted through by national governments on October 28th, only a month after the dieselgate scandal hit, and then passed by the European Parliament at the beginning of February.

  • The informal meeting between key people within the Commission and ACEA sharing sensitive and important information underlines how close the relationship is, and one of the reasons why the car industry did not feel the need to compromise on key issues. Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has trumpeted the lobbying transparency agenda, but the privileged access enjoyed by big business is not limited to the Commission's buildings and is exemplified such informal encounters, not to mention the cocktail parties and other gatherings that grease the wheels of the Brussels legislative body.

  • The leak highlights that the key plank of ACEA's strategy was getting European national governments behind its positions, in order to circumvent the Commission when it didn't toe the line.

  • Once the key arguments were assembled and countries identified, the lobby document shows ACEA's main strategy was to bring member states on board via the 'ACEA RDE Roadshow'. Inferring from the presentation, which references the 'ACEA RDE Roadshow Part 2' (of three), the aim was to bring senior ACEA figures alongside local representatives such as factory owners to target relevant national ministries. Armed with a centrally-coordinated ACEA Powerpoint, delegates were supposed to press home the importance of listening to the car manufacturers' lobby in order to avoid job losses.iv In Hungary, for example, the leaked document lists Daimler's Jenz Franz as ACEA's representative, with Audi's Konrad Kolesa playing the role of local partner. Audi claims to support more than 15,000 jobs in Hungary via its factory and related supply chains.

  • The Commission has consistently defended the inclusion of car manufacturers in policy making due to a lack of internal expertise which industry can make up for. However, this document further underlines the political nature of the expertise provided, and how information that might seem technical eg what 'normal' driving conditions might be, is actually used as a bargaining chip by industry to secure further weakening of regulation, ie industry can redefine 'normal' if the tests are delayed or exemptions are increased. Information from the car industry is not linked to what is and is not technically feasible for manufacturers, but instead a calculation on how much profit doing so would cost them.

  • The involvement of ACEA in the regulatory process is clearly as a stakeholder, not an expert. The presentation outlines a multi-tiered negotiating strategy, with three compromises between their walk-in and walk-out positions – and the fact they have a walk-out position shows they see themselves as a partner without whom regulations could not be made.

  • ... the lack of internal expertise at the Commission, its inability to find experts independent from industry and an effective but limited civil society presence means there are few counter-weights to car manufacturers demands.

Further details and full report: