Your browser does not support the HTML5 canvas tag.

31 March, 2017

Demystifying Alexander Nahum Sack and the doctrine of odious debt

Eric Tousaint’s study of the odious debt doctrine

by Eric Toussaint

Part 14 - The USA’s motivations regarding the two repudiations (Cuba and Costa Rica)

The United States’ motivation in the two repudiations that have just been analysed (Cuba in 1898 and Costa Rica in the 1920s) is clear: to increase their influence and power in the region. Cuba was in a strategic location for Washington; the rich island was just a stone’s throw from the coast of the United States. With Puerto Rico, which the United States had also taken from Spain in 1898, Cuba was the last Spanish colony in the Americas.

As for Costa Rica, it is part of Central America, which the United States considers its own “back yard”. Until then, Britain had been the dominant financial power in the entire region. The United States was very pleased to oust a large British bank from the country and send a warning to everyone else: other repudiations could take place, since the British banks, like the French banks, had dirtied their hands in highly irregular affairs that kept Latin American countries in debt. And the US banks were chomping at the bit to take over that action themselves.

In 1912, Taft, then president of the United States, had said in a speech: “The day is not far distant when three Stars and Stripes at three equidistant points will mark our territory: one at the North Pole, another at the Panama Canal, and the third at the South Pole. The whole hemisphere will be ours in fact as, by virtue of our superiority of race, it already is ours morally.

President Taft actively backed the extension of North American banks into Latin America in general and Central America in particular. In December 1912, he declared before Congress: “[…] the Monroe doctrine is more vital in the neighborhood of the Panama Canal and the zone of the Caribbean than anywhere else. There, too, the maintenance of that doctrine falls most heavily upon the United States. It is therefore essential that the countries within that sphere shall be removed from the jeopardy involved by heavy foreign debt and chaotic national finances and from the ever-present danger of international complications due to disorder at home. Hence the United States has been glad to encourage and support American bankers who were willing to lend a helping hand to the financial rehabilitation of such countries […]

Thus Taft’s ruling in favour of Costa Rica was highly calculated. He refused to support Costa Rica’s argument concerning the despotic and unconstitutional nature of the Tinoco regime, whereas it would have been easy to put that argument forward, since Washington and London had both refused to recognize that regime. He chose other arguments.

He wanted to avoid establishing a precedent based on the democratic or non-democratic nature of a regime. He knew perfectly well that Washington and US corporations were supporting dictators, and would continue to support dictators in the future – not to mention actively contributing to putting them in power.

Source and references:

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

Why the Dems avoid to mention one of the most successful presidents in the US history?

Jimmy Dore made an interesting remark recently in his show about Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), one of the most successful presidents in the US history. As he pointed:

            When the market crashed and Barack Obama came president, none of the Democrats mentioned FDR. Why? Because the Democrats were busy dismantling the New Deal for the prior two decades. Bill Clinton repealed the banking New Deal regulations, he crushed the poor people by gutting welfare at the same time exploding the prison population. [...] tried to privatize social security, passed NAFTA screwing over union workers. A lot of bad things that the Democrats did, and that's why they never and still don't mention FDR. Barack Obama mentions Reagan all the time, I never, ever heard him mention FDR. [...] Republicans still mention Lincoln, all the time, the party of Lincoln. We are the party of Roosevelt and they never mention it. And that's why they are not really Democrats, that's why they are just corporatist tools who are selling out their country, and the way they do it, is by defeating the agenda of the worker.

Dore's remark shows the degree that the Democrats have been occupied by the neoliberal doctrine which serves the banking and corporate interests at the expense of the ordinary people.

The US plutocracy would erase Franklin Roosevelt from the collective memory if it could really do it. That's because Roosevelt is one of the most successful presidents in the history of the US, since he managed to restart the economy against the corporate interests after the big crash of 1929. Roosevelt did it through public investments, something that is considered almost a sin by the fascist neoliberal priesthood, worldwide.

Back in 1933, when FDR got elected, he had to face the attack of the corporate establishment, which was trying to fight his initiatives to put the state in the front line for the restart of the US economy. FDR was aware of this type of propaganda by the corporate establishment and the associated political elite. A quote from a Roosevelt's speech is characteristic: “A few timid people, who fear progress, will try to give you new and strange names for what we are doing. Sometimes they will call it 'Fascism,' sometimes 'Communism,' sometimes 'Regimentation,' sometimes 'Socialism.' But, in so doing, they are trying to make very complex and theoretical something that is really very simple and very practical.

Despite its imperfections, Roosevelt's "New Deal" created millions of new jobs and new infrastructure for the benefit of all American citizens, boosted some sectors such as agriculture, strengthened social security and boosted the economy in general. The response of Roosevelt, "of course we spend money", to his opponents, captures the perception of his government, giving importance to the prosperity and relief of people and not to the strict austerity for the sake of economic indexes. Indeed, while in 1933 the national debt was 20% of GDP, by 1936 this figure almost doubled, but what mattered for Roosevelt was to relieve American citizens and give them hope and perspective.

That's why the Democratic party today, which has been occupied by the banking and corporate lobbyists, has almost renounced Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

New evidence that robots are taking jobs and cutting wages

Monitoring AI and hyper-automation

In a recent study, economists Daren Acemoglu of MIT and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University try to quantify how worried we should be about robots. They examine the impact of industrial automation on the US labor market from 1990 to 2007. They conclude that each additional robot reduced employment in a given commuting area by 3-6 workers, and lowered overall wages by 0.25-0.5%.

A central question about robots is whether they replace human workers or augment them by boosting productivity. Acemoglu and Restrepo’s research is a powerful piece of evidence on the side of replacement. So, brace yourself: According to the International Federation of Robotics, there are already between 1.5-1.75 million industrial robots in operation, and some observers expect that number to more than double by 2025.


Industrial robots are most commonly used in the automotive industry, which accounts for 39% of robot usage in the US. It’s no surprise, then, that workers in America’s Midwestern carmaking capitals have been the most affected by automation.


Assessing the impact of robots on jobs is no simple task. Advances in other kinds of technology, the spread of the internet, and increased trade with China and Mexico also led to changes in the US labor market over the period studied by the economists.

In order to isolate the effect of robots, Acemoglu and Restrepo used a clever statistical trick. They collected data on adoption rates of industrial robots in Europe, and then analyzed what happened to American labor markets by comparing industry trends with their equivalents in Europe. This isolated the changes likely caused by the spread of robots, and not some other factor peculiar to the US.

Full article:


Σημιτικός τραπεζίτης δυσφήμισε την Ελλάδα

Συνεχίζεται η Πέμπτη Φάλαγγα από την Τρόικα εσωτερικού. Ποιος να'ναι;

globinfo freexchange       

          Υψηλόβαθμο και εξέχων στέλεχος μιας από τις τέσσερις συστημικές τράπεζες, με πολύ στενές σχέσεις με τον Σημίτη και την περίοδο Σημίτη, γύρισε και είπε - κλείνοντας αυτή η συνάντηση - στον Γκάμπριελ, ότι 'τι κάθεστε και ασχολείστε με την Ελλάδα; Στην Ελλάδα δεν λειτουργεί τίποτα, δεν υπάρχει δικαιοσύνη, δεν υπάρχει κράτος, δεν υπάρχει λειτουργία τραπεζικού ...'

Προφανώς ο Σημιτικός τραπεζοκαρχαρίας αναπολεί τις "καλές εποχές" Σημίτη που όλα λειτουργούσαν μια χαρά και το χρηματιστήριο ήταν στα ουράνια. Όταν έσκασε η φούσκα βέβαια τα τραπεζικά παράσιτα διασώθηκαν σε βάρος των κορόιδων από το "κακό" κράτος. Ο Σημιτικός τραπεζοκαρχαρίας μάλλον θεωρεί κανονικότητα τις μίζες και τις ρεμούλες που πήγαιναν σύννεφο επί Σημιτικού ΠΑΣΟΚ και μάλλον θεωρεί κακό η δικαιοσύνη να ερευνά αυτά τα σκάνδαλα μετά από τόσα χρόνια.

Βρέθηκαν στην ... Καραϊβική 2,5 εκατ. δολάρια του ΥΠΕΞ επί υπουργίας Ντόρας Μπακογιάννη

«Θα γελάσει και το παρδαλό κατσίκι» είχε υποσχεθεί πρόσφατα ο Νίκος Κοτζιάς αναφορικά με παλαιότερες υποθέσεις κατασπατάλησης δημοσίου χρήματος στο υπουργείο του και φαίνεται πως έφτασε αυτή η στιγμή. Το ΥΠΕΞ ανακοίνωσε ότι εντοπίστηκαν και ανακτήθηκαν 2,5 εκατομμύρια δολάρια, τα οποία είχαν χορηγηθεί επί υπουργίας Ντόρας Μπακογιάννη στο «Κέντρο Κλιματικής Αλλαγής της Κοινότητας της Καραϊβικής».

Τα χρήματα αυτά είχαν χορηγηθεί το 2008 από την Υπηρεσία Διεθνούς Αναπτυξιακής Συνεργασίας (ΥΔΑΣ) στο «Κέντρο Κλιματικής Αλλαγής της Κοινότητας της Καραϊβικής», στο όνομα της υλοποίησης προγραμμάτων που δεν πραγματοποιήθηκαν ποτέ. Τα 2,5 εκατ. δολάρια είχαν κάνει φτερά έως ότου, μετά από έρευνα υπό τον πρέσβη Ν. Βαμβουνάκη, εντοπίστηκαν, διεκδικήθηκαν και ανακτήθηκαν από την Ελλάδα.

Το υπουργείο Εξωτερικών ενημερώνει ότι τα χρήματα κατατέθηκαν στις 24 Μαρτίου στην Τράπεζα της Ελλάδος, όπως αποδεικνύουν σχετικά παραστατικά που είναι αναρτημένα δημοσίως στην ιστοσελίδα του Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών.

Σύμφωνα με την ανακοίνωση του υπουργείου τα προγράμματα αυτά δεν υλοποιήθηκαν, καθώς η ελληνική πλευρά δεν είχε μεριμνήσει για τη σύνταξη και υπογραφή του απαιτούμενου Μνημονίου Κατανόησης, στο οποίο θα προβλέπονταν υποχρεώσεις και μηχανισμοί για την παρακολούθηση και τον έλεγχο εφαρμογής της Συμφωνίας.

«Η συνέπεια των “παραλείψεων” ήταν να βρεθεί το εν λόγω ποσό, χωρίς να μας είναι γνωστό με τίνος την απόφαση, ως επένδυση σε έντοκο ομόλογο δημοσίου, χώρας της Λατινικής Αμερικής, με μηνιαία απόδοση 5%» τονίζεται στην ανακοίνωση.

Επιπλέον, το υπουργείο Εξωτερικών έχει ήδη εντοπίσει και ζητήσει την επιστροφή άλλων 10 εκατομμυρίων δολαρίων που είχαν δοθεί (κατά την περίοδο 2008-2009) χωρίς τις απαραίτητες διασφαλίσεις σε διάφορους οργανισμούς και φορείς του εξωτερικού. Τα ποσά αυτά παραμένουν έως σήμερα αναξιοποίητα.

Τέλος, το ΥΠΕΞ υπογραμμίζει ότι θα προβεί σε όλες τις απαραίτητες ενέργειες για να αποδοθούν διαπιστούμενες ευθύνες.


Brazil coup architect Eduardo Cunha sentenced to 15 years for corruption

The man who led a campaign to paint Dilma Rousseff as a corrupt politician has drowned in his own fraud scandals.

A Brazilian judge sentenced Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house and mastermind behind the parliamentary coup against former President Dilma Rousseff, to 15 years and four months in jail Thursday for corruption charges.

The sentence is the result of a criminal suit investigating Cunha for fraud related to millions of dollars in kickbacks he received for the 2011 purchase of an oil field in the West African country of Benin by the state-run oil company, Petrobras, which has been at the center of a major anti-corruption probe in the South American country known as Operation Car Wash.

Federal Judge Sergio Moro handed down the sentence over charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. The former head of the lower house has been held in pre-trial detention since last October.

"The responsibility of a federal parliamentarian is enormous, and therefore so is his guilt when he commits crimes," said Moro. "There is no bigger crime than that of trying to use one's parliamentary mandate and the sacred trust the people place in it to obtain personal gain."

According to Moro, Cunha received US$1.5 million in bribes for the Benin oil field contract, which, according to an internal Petrobras investigation reported by local media, resulted in US$77.5 million in losses for the state-run oil company after no oil was found at the site.

The federal public prosecutor's office had called for Cunha to be forced to pay full damages to Petrobras, but Moro has signaled that a fine equivalent to the US$1.5 million bribe he received will be ordered.

While Cunha's defense team has said that they will appeal the decision, Moro confirmed that the politician will remain behind bars while the appeals process moves forward.

Despite himself facing multimillion dollar bribery and fraud charges, Cunha was a key architect in painting the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff as a campaign to root out government corruption.

A member of unelected President Michel Temer’s PMDB party, Cunha is accused of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion linked to raking in at least US$5 million in illicit kickbacks between 2006 and 2012 and hiding the wealth in Swiss bank accounts.

Cunha was removed from his position as speaker of the lower house last September after being suspended in May 2016 — just weeks after the lower house pushed through the impeachment bid against Rousseff — to face an impeachment process over accusations that he intimidated lawmakers and hampered investigations. The Congress voted overwhelmingly by 450 to 10 to remove the unpopular politician.

The overwhelming decision to remove Cunha also stripped him of the parliamentary immunity he long enjoyed, opening him up to the corruption charges. Authorities arrested him at his apartment in Brasilia last October over accusations he hid laundered money in secret Swiss bank account while in office.

Despite the power he has wielded over Brazilian politics, polling over the past year has repeatedly unmasked Cunha as one of the most unpopular politicians in the country, including among his own party.

Several other top Temer allies have also been targeted in the Operation Car Wash investigations that have led to the arrests of dozens of politicans and economic elites over bribery schemes and corruption linked to Petrobras.

Source, links, videos:


Media spin headlines to downplay US responsibility for Mosul massacre

If you read the headlines of major corporate media outlets, you’d think hundreds of Iraqi civilians coincidentally died in the same location that just so happened to be hit by a US airstrike.

A March 17 US attack in the city of Mosul resulted in a massacre of civilians. The monitoring group Airwars estimated that between 130 and 230 Iraqis were killed in the incident. Iraqi media reported similar figures.

Civilian victims of the US-led bombing campaign to oust ISIS from the major northern Iraqi city, which has been terrorized by the extremist group for three years, have received little media coverage.

The Washington Post (3/28/17) noted, nevertheless, that the recent airstrike “was potentially one of the worst US-led civilian bombings in 25 years.”

Yet just a few days before the Post published this stark fact, leading news networks went out of their way to craft some of the most euphemistic headlines imaginable.


Why has trust in media collapsed?

Last week, The Intercept published documents that definitively debunked and disproved a claim which numerous media outlets had circulated and affirmed for years: that Edward Snowden lied about where he was during his first 11 days in Hong Kong. Contrary to the fable these outlets dispensed to their readers – that Snowden did not check into the Mira Hotel on May 21 as he claimed but only did so on June 1: 11 days later – these new documents, obtained from the Mira, prove that Snowden arrived there exactly when he always said, rendering their published stories factually false. Many of these stories had even claimed that anonymous U.S. investigators were unable to find hotel or credit card records for Snowden during these 11 days – exactly the records we just published.

The same day our story was published, the New York Times reporter Charlie Savage – who had previously spent weeks documenting that this claim about Snowden never had any journalistic basis to begin with – confirmed the authenticity of the new documents. As Savage wrote: “the documents show [Snowden] stayed in both the Icon and then, starting on May 21st, the Mira, under his own name, using his own credit cards. So there is no mystery gap, and the credit card records obviously were readily available to American investigators all along.

The concocted discrepancy was significant because these media outlets – and many commentators citing their false story – used it to strongly suggest that Snowden, during these “Missing 11 Days,” was doing something nefarious: such as meeting his Russian or Chinese handlers. Numerous outlets uncritically aired this false claim, including the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News, Business Insider, Slate, Interpreter Magazine and Folha de S.Paulo (Brazil’s largest newspaper).

Full article:

NATO’s war of resources is causing a humanitarian crisis in West Africa

As millions suffer from hunger, disease, illiteracy and grinding poverty in the Lake Chad region of West Africa, a sinister game of resource extraction and exploitation is playing out, with geopolitics at the heart of it all.

by Eric Draitser

Part 6 - U.S. Military Empire Expands Elsewhere in Africa

Recent years have seen other countries in sub-Saharan Africa struggling with terrorism and in desperate need of “assistance” from the U.S. While some might recall the January 2016 attack on a luxury hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, few know that the U.S. uses the country as a key node in its aerial surveillance and military intelligence network in Africa.

As the Washington Post reported in 2012:

A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou, the…capital of Burkina Faso… Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport. The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara.

Of course, these examples only scratch the surface of the vast military and surveillance architecture constructed by the U.S. in Africa over the last decade or so.

With China becoming an increasingly dominant economic force on the continent, the U.S., France and other powers have moved to consolidate their control over both the resources and politics of Africa through militarization. The crisis in Lake Chad is just one of the sad results of these efforts.

It would be incorrect to say that the crisis in Lake Chad is entirely and solely attributable to imperialist intrigue. It must be said that climate change is also playing a huge role, as Lake Chad, once the largest reservoir in the Sahel region of Africa, has lost roughly 80 percent of its total area. The loss of portions of the lake has had a direct negative effect on people’s livelihoods and access to water. This has had the effect of driving desperate young men into the arms of Boko Haram and other criminal groups.

Though the circumstances may be complex, the Lake Chad crisis cannot be fundamentally resolved without addressing the political and geopolitical questions at the heart of it all.

There is a certain dialectical irony in the fact that climate change helps fuel the loss of Lake Chad which, at the very same moment, is being exploited for its oil wealth. There is an almost tragicomic quality to such a reality.

Sadly, it is an all too painful reality for the millions of Africans who live it every day.


Source and links:

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


30 March, 2017

Two cataclysmic events that may precede and even overshadow Brexit

by system failure

The UK withdrawal process from the EU has officially started with the letter sent by the British PM, Theresa May, to the European Council president, Donald Tusk. It has been estimated already (rather reasonably), that the two-year period until the final completion of Brexit is quite a short time, which means that much more time will be needed for all the issues to be resolved between the two parts.

As the developments in Europe and globally change rapidly, we can think at least two cataclysmic events that may occur before the final “divorce” between the UK and the EU, that may overshadow Brexit, and lead Europe to an even more uncertain path compared to the one that has already entered.


The most immediate, big event, is the oncoming French presidential election, which will determine to a great extent the fate of the eurozone and perhaps the European Union.

All the recent polls show a tight battle between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron. They will be probably the two candidates that will make it to the final round. According to the newstatesman , “Marine Le Pen, the anti-EU leader of the populist National Front, is gaining ground. For the first time, the far-right could win France – no one can predict the outcome of this election.

In case that the far-right will take over France, we should expect rapid developments towards the breakup of the European Union. Le Pen promised that she will take France out of the European Union and even NATO. While the UK was anyway a "distant player" inside the EU, France resides in the hard-core of the Union being also member of the eurozone. The Germans have bet heavily on the cooperation with France and invested for years on the Franco-German axis, in order to dominate progressively and silently in the continent through the monetary union.

As described in previous article, while Brexit may be even convenient for Germany's plans to establish permanently its domination in Europe, a possible Frexit may lead to the opposite results: “Currently, the French political establishment follows Germany to the letter. That's because both the German and the French political establishment serve the big European capital through the neoliberal doctrine. It had become quite obvious especially when they sacrificed Greece to save the German and the French banks. However, things are changing rapidly in Europe. It seems that the political parties, i.e. the Social Democrats and the Popular RIght, that dominated the European political scene for, at least the last forty years, are collapsing. Therefore, things can go wrong for Germany also with the potential rise of Marine Le Pen in power. Recall that, recently, Le Pen stated that she will take France out not only from NATO, but also from the EU.

The loss of France will leave a huge gap between the north and the south of the EU. France was playing the connective factor (even superficially) between the hard-core and the periphery of the eurozone. A possible Frexit will accelerate the instability inside the eurozone and the EU, leading to an ugly breakup of the Union quite faster than the final Brexit. Under such a big disaster, Brexit may even seem to be pointless.

The breakup of the eurozone

Eurocrats are trying to hide the big problems of eurozone instead of dealing straight with them. As their first priority is to retain a failed neoliberal model of austerity, deregulation and privatization at the expense of the European people, they pretend that there is no need for a different path. And this illusion continues despite the additional problems from the refugee crisis, as well as the rapid rise of the nationalists and the far-right throughout Europe.

There are at least three dangerous situations that may lead to the breakup of the eurozone, even before the final Brexit.

The first one has to do with the Italian banking system which seems that is facing huge problems and is being kept in life thanks to Draghi and his large liquidity injections through the ECB. Italy has to deal also with a big national debt. However, the policies dictated by Brussels and Berlin continue to suffocate the European south. They prefer to retain the recipe of destruction instead of changing these policies towards real growth that could boost the economy. Through cash injections, they pretend that the Italian problem is about to be fixed, yet the danger of a sudden banking burst of the Italian banking system could blow up the whole eurozone, any moment.

The second one involves the banking mega-monster called Deutsche Bank. The largest bank in Germany, is significantly exposed, holding dubious financial products known as "derivatives", worth 67 trillion euros, in 2015. This amount is similar to the GDP of the entire world and 20 times greater than the GDP of Germany. Any comparison with the situation of the bank Lehman Brothers in 2008 would not be irrelevant. Just when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, had available derivatives of only 31.5 trillion. The crisis of 2008 confirmed the concise definition of derivatives as proposed by the American tycoon Warren Buffet: "financial weapons of mass destruction."

While Angela Merkel sacrificed Greece to save Deutsche Bank and the other Franco-German banks, this time has no excuses. She has run out of scapegoats in case that the German banking monster will need another huge bailout to avoid collapse.

Yet, Merkel may not have to deal with the mess that she and her minister of finance have created. As they may lose in the oncoming German election, they will deliver the Deutsche Bank huge timebomb to the hands of the next government.

The third dangerous situation that may blow up eurozone, is the refueling of the Grexit discussion. It seems that Greece's creditors have stuck in a dead-end situation because they have absolutely nothing positive to exhibit concerning the Greek "program". Greece is sinking deeper in debt, unemployment remains in unprecedented high levels, and there are no signs of recovery in the close future.

The Greek society is literally exhausted from the brutal austerity imposed by the neoliberal priesthood and the possibility of Grexit starts to mature in the minds of Greeks. Creditors seem to ignore the danger of the situation and ask for more brutal measures, believing that the Greeks will "obey" forever. Yet, more and more Greeks start to find Grexit as a solution, not as a disaster, as they already experience the disaster inside the monetary prison of the common currency.

According to some recent information, a secret ECB study estimated that Grexit would cost more than 1.5 trillion euros! Greece's creditors play with fire and in the case of an uncontrolled Grexit, the financial Tsunami will make Brexit irrelevant.

29 March, 2017

A brief description of the mutation of the neoliberal cancer into the neofeudalism

The main substantive achievement of neoliberalism has been to redistribute, rather than to generate, wealth and income.

'Accumulation by dispossession', meaning the commodification and privatization of land and the forceful expulsion of peasant populations, conversion of various forms of property rights into exclusive private property rights; suppression of rights to the commons; colonial, neocolonial, and imperial processes of appropriation of assets including natural resources; and usury, the national debt and, most devastating of all, the use of the credit system as a radical means of accumulation by dispossession.

To this list of mechanisms we may now add a raft of techniques such as the extraction of rents from patents and intellectual property rights and the diminution of or erasure of various forms of communal property rights (such as state pensions, paid vacations, access to education and healthcare) won through a generation or more of class struggle.

The proposal to privatize all state pension rights (pioneered in Chile under the dictatorship) is, for example, one of the cherished objectives of the Republicans in the US.

The concept of Accumulation by dispossession, presented by the Marxist geographer David Harvey, defines the neoliberal capitalist policies in many western nations, from the 1970s and to the present day, as resulting in a centralization of wealth and power in the hands of a few by dispossessing the public of their wealth or land. These neoliberal policies are guided mainly by four practices: privatization, financialization, management and manipulation of crises, and state redistributions.

ECB's anti-democratic behavior

The European Central Bank (ECB) has been slammed in a new report for a "a lack of political leadership," little "democratic oversight and accountability" leading to a "marked decline in public trust" at a time when the eurozone is facing crisis.

According to Transparency International EU — in its report, Two sides of the same coin? Independence and accountability at the EC — a "lack of political leadership and decisive reform" has led the ECB to stray into the area of political decision-making, without appropriate democratic scrutiny.

"This has been accompanied by a marked decline in public trust at a time when the ECB has been granted extensive new powers to supervise major European banks," the report says.

The report comes at turbulent time for the Eurozone countries, with Greece struggling to meet the terms of its third bailout, amid calls to leave the Eurozone, and Italy, Spain and Portugal all failing to remain within strict debt and deficit targets.

"While the ECB has saved the single currency more than once, the absence of a Eurozone finance ministry as counterpart to the ECB means that the Bank has had to stretch its mandate to breaking point," said Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm, Research and Advocacy Coordinator at Transparency International EU.

"If the euro is to survive the next crisis, then EU member states need to stop hiding behind the technocrats at the ECB, overcome political inertia and get serious about reforming the eurozone," said Hoffmann-Axthelm.

Greek Secrecy

The report found that preserving the ECB's independence limits its accountability to citizens, and recommends that the bank should compensate this by increasing its transparency. The ECB should take immediate steps, such as automatically publishing its decisions and opinions and being more open about the political choices it faces, rather than insisting its decisions are purely technical.

At the height of the Greece crisis in 2015, the ECB repeatedly limited the ceiling on Emergency Liquidity Assistance for the country's banks without publicly announcing it. The ECB's discretionary powers allowed it to put pressure on Greek banks while negotiating bailout reforms with the Greek government as part of the Troika of international creditors.

Similar dynamics could play out in the upcoming negotiations with Greece, and with the current recapitalization of Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which threatens the Eurozone's current fragile stability, according to the group.

"Clearly decisions which affect the fate of whole economies should have some kind of democratic oversight. The ECB should not be in a position to pull the plug on a country's euro membership, a decision ultimately down to democratically elected politicians", said Hoffmann-Axthelm.

Source and links:


Να λογοδοτήσει η ΕΚΤ ζητά η Διεθνής Διαφάνεια

Για κατάχρηση του ρόλου της κατηγορεί την Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα η διεθνής οργάνωση Transparency International και ζητά να λογοδοτήσει για τις πολιτικές αποφάσεις που λαμβάνει, επισημαίνοντας ότι αυτές θέτουν σε κίνδυνο την ισορροπία στην ευρωζώνη.

Σε έκθεσή της η οργάνωση επισημαίνει ότι «οι διακριτικές εξουσίες της ΕΚΤ της επέτρεψαν να ασκήσει πίεση στις ελληνικές τράπεζες ενώ διαπραγματευόταν μεταρρυθμίσεις διάσωσης με την ελληνική κυβέρνηση ως μέρος της Τρόικας των διεθνών δανειστών».

Στην έκθεση τονίζεται επίσης ότι οι κινήσεις της ΕΚΤ «θέτουν σε κίνδυνο τη τρέχουσα εύθραυστη σταθερότητα της ευρωζώνης» και αναφέρεται και πάλι η περίπτωση της Ελλάδας αλλά και η τρέχουσα ανακεφαλαίωση του ιταλού δανειστή Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

Η Διεθνής Διαφάνεια αναφέρεται επίσης στις μυστικές επιστολές που έστελνε η ΕΚΤ σε ηγέτες κρατών εκβιάζοντας τους να δεχθούν την πολιτική λιτότητας της ΕΕ. Ως παραδείγματα αναφέρονται οι κυβερνήσεις της Ιταλίας και της Ισπανίας ενώ γίνεται λόγος και για την απειλή διακοπής της ρευστότητας στην Ελλάδα το καλοκαίρι του 2015.

Αν όμως η Διεθνής Διαφάνεια ζητά να λογοδοτήσει η κεντρική τράπεζα δεν θα πρέπει να γίνει το ίδιο και τους εθνικούς κεντρικούς τραπεζίτες, οι οποίοι εκτελούσαν τις εντολές της, αφού μετέχουν και ελέγχονται στο λεγόμενο ευρωσύστημα που αποτελείται από την ΕΚΤ και τις κατά τόπους κεντρικές τράπεζες;

Ο Στουρνάρας, δηλαδή, σύμφωνα με τα στοιχεία της έκθεσης παραβίασε την εντολή του, που ήταν η προστασία της νομισματικής σταθερότητας και ασκούσε πολιτική εναντίον εκλεγμένων κυβερνήσεων. Ο ίδιος άλλωστε το έχει αποδεχθεί δημοσίως σε συνέντευξή του στον Αλέξη Παπαχελά.

Ή όπως λέγαμε και στο ντοκιμαντέρ This is not a coup … δεν θα έπρεπε σήμερα να βρίσκεται στη φυλακή;


Neo-feudal society: Tax havens for big multinationals is ‘robbery of population’

It’s alarming big European banks, unlike ordinary people are not paying their fair share of taxes, says Oxfam policy advisor Aurore Chardonnet. Tax dodging is a crime against the people, a robbery of the population, adds business consultant Gerald Celente.

Europe’s 20 largest banks are involved in tax avoidance schemes, according to the latest Oxfam report entitled Opening the Vaults. The banks registered over a quarter of their multi-billion euro profits offshore. The report says in some cases the companies didn't pay any tax profit of €383 million. They made almost €630 million in countries where they had no employees at all.

Oxfam policy advisor Aurore Chardonnet explained what is happening and why the situation is alarming.

Big European banks are reporting far more profits in tax havens than their economic activity suggests in figures,” she told RT. “That means they report 20 percent of their profits in tax havens while they only have seven percent of their employees working there. So you see there is a big mismatch.

It is alarming, because they are not paying their fair share of tax. That is strongly suggested by the figures. That means that while ordinary citizens a paying a lot of tax on their wages, on their income...big multinationals are avoiding their fair share of tax,” Chardonnet said.

In her view, the new Oxfam report “is the beginning of a new era”.

It is a beginning of tax transparency and that is a powerful tool, to then have powerful solutions against tax dodging,” she said.

If you shift your profits from where you do the proper activity, that means you’re not paying the fair share of tax according to the numbers of employees or the number of assets you have in a country. That means you’re depriving countries from tax resources to pay for public services, for schools, for hospitals, for infrastructure, which also trigger investments. It is not illegal, but it is clearly unfair,” the Oxfam policy advisor added.

Business consultant Gerald Celente adds that it’s ordinary people who also have to pay the price for offshore schemes of banks and big companies.

They are doing terrible harm. It is not a victimless crime. The people are the victims. Let’s get this straight: it is a neo-feudal society. You have different rules for the economic elite and the political nobility. So when they don’t pay taxes, or they cheat the people out of money, like too big to fail – no one goes to jail for their crimes,” he told RT.

By not paying taxes, companies “are robbing the population,” Celente says.

They are hurting the school systems. They are hurting the healthcare systems. They are hurting the transportation systems,” he said.

According to Celente, it’s the politicians who are to be blamed for making it possible as they are being paid by “the 'too bigs'” to pass “unjust laws that allow these people to use ‘tax havens’.

You’re looking at a system that is robbing the little people. Look at the austerity measures they have throughout Europe. The banks lose money. What they then do – they call them austerity measures; they raise their taxes…they rob people of their pension and retirement programs. They raise the retirement ages till after they die, so that they could pay off the bankers, so that people have to pay more taxes as the banks, and the Googles, and the Microsofts, and the Starbucks, and the Ikeas are paying very little taxes, because they are hiding them in offshore tax havens. Isn’t that a sweet word – “tax havens?


Scottish Parliament backs Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for second independence referendum

The Scottish Parliament has voted to back Nicola Sturgeon’s request to seek new powers from London in order to trigger a second independence referendum.

The motion passed thanks to the Scottish Greens' support, and despite Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives expressing opposition to what they called another “divisive” referendum campaign.

The Scottish first minister has called for a second independence vote to take place between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019, though she will need Westminster’s approval in order to actually implement her plans.

Holyrood has backed Sturgeon’s motion, which urged MSPs to authorize the Scottish National Party (SNP) government to seek a Section 30 order from Westminster.

The order, which the first minister said she would request "later this week," is needed for Scotland to hold a legally-binding referendum.

In response to the debate, Sturgeon released a statement saying “today’s vote must now be respected” and that it would be “utterly unsustainable” to try and oppose it.


Police, anti-brutality protesters clash in Paris for 2nd night after death of Chinese man

Police in Paris have used tear gas to disperse a crowd of protesters who turned violent and clashed with authorities over the killing of an Asian man over the weekend while also denouncing overall police brutality in the country.

Police intervened to disperse the crowd shortly after 11 pm local time. Tear gas was shot during RT's live broadcast from the scene in Paris’ 19th district where police faced off with the local Asian community for the second night running.

Footage from the site shows police in riot gear trying to quell protesters.

Hundreds of people converged on the streets of Paris on Tuesday to speak out against police brutality. Activists and members of the Asian community marched in the vicinity of the police station of the 19th arrondissement for several hours before the violence erupted.

The protesters, mainly from the Asian community, are demanding justice over the death of Shaoyo Liu. The 56-year-old Chinese man was shot dead on Sunday by a BAC (anti-crime brigade) policeman during an intervention at his home over a “family dispute.”


NATO’s war of resources is causing a humanitarian crisis in West Africa

As millions suffer from hunger, disease, illiteracy and grinding poverty in the Lake Chad region of West Africa, a sinister game of resource extraction and exploitation is playing out, with geopolitics at the heart of it all.

by Eric Draitser

Part 5 - The Growing U.S. Military Footprint

Compared to France, the U.S. is waging an even greater geopolitical and strategic proxy war with China over Africa’s resources. While China’s influence on the continent has grown by leaps and bounds, Western countries, especially the U.S., have been left scrambling to shore up their hegemony over the continent. The U.S. has chosen to meet Chinese economic penetration with military occupation, both overtly and covertly.

The U.S. has established a vast network of drone bases in the region, though military officials refuse to describe the facilities as anything more than “temporary staging areas.” But a simple look at the map above, combined with disparate reports in multiple media outlets, paints a much more insidious picture of what the U.S. is doing.

Under the auspices of AFRICOM, the U.S. operates in nearly every significant country on the continent. In Chad, which figures prominently in the Boko Haram narrative, the U.S. has indefinitely stationed military personnel, ostensibly to search for Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram.

However, the White House’s own press statement reveals a much more far-reaching objective: “These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over Northern Nigeria and the surrounding area.” Translation: The U.S. has drones and other surveillance covering the entire Lake Chad Basin.

While the U.S. only acknowledged sending a small contingent of soldiers, the reality is that far more U.S. forces are engaging in Chad in one form or another. This is perhaps best illustrated by the not-so-coincidental fact that Chad played host to AFRICOM’s Flintlock 2015 military exercises “which [took place on] Feb. 16, 2015 in the capital N’Djamena with outstations in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia, and will [run] through March 9, 2015.

To summarize, U.S. military personnel led exercises all throughout the region, with specific attention to the Lake Chad Basin countries. But it certainly doesn’t stop there.

The U.S. now operates two critical drone bases in the region, with one base in Cameroon’s city of Garoua and another in the Nigerian city of Agadez. As the Intercept reported:

“’The top MILCON [military construction] project for USAFRICOM is located in Agadez, Niger to construct a C-17 and MQ-9 capable airfield,’ reads a 2015 planning document. ‘RPA presence in NW Africa supports operations against seven [Department of State]-designated foreign terrorist organizations. Moving operations to Agadez aligns persistent ISR to current and emerging threats over Niger and Chad, supports French regionalization and extends range to cover Libya and Nigeria.’

The strategic value of such bases is perfectly clear. As the Washington Post noted:

The Predator drones in Niger…give the Pentagon a strategic foothold in West Africa… Niger also borders Libya and Nigeria, which are also struggling to contain armed extremist movements… [Nigerien] President Issoufou Mahamadou said his government invited Washington to send surveillance drones because he was worried that the country might not be able to defend its borders from Islamist fighters based in Mali, Libya or Nigeria… “We welcome the drones,” Mahamadou said… “Our countries are like the blind leading the blind,” he said. “We rely on countries like France and the United States. We need cooperation to ensure our security.

And here the connection between U.S. military engagement and Boko Haram becomes painfully clear. The U.S. cynically exploits the instability in the region – a direct outgrowth of the U.S.-NATO war against Libya – to further entrench its military.

Source and links:

[1] [2] [3] [4] [6]


28 March, 2017

The birth and domination of the European Financial Dictatorship

Two years after the end of WWII, George Orwell said that the only political goal that is worthwhile, is a Socialist United States of Europe. But some, instead of fighting for Orwell's vision, created his nightmares: they united citizens in poverty and austerity, and divided them with neo-nationalism. Once again, Europe is at the crossroads. It has to choose between European civilization and the European Union.

The euro was constructed in Basel, which is where all the bankers are situated. The people on the committee that designed euro were all bankers. This is a monetary system designed to suit the finance system, not to suit the people of Europe.

Before the banks could add the finishing touches, the economic and political elites had to be convinced that they needed the new currency. And they would impose it on the citizens. It was a huge undertaking in need of a gigantic lobby.

The AMUE, the Association for the Monetary Union of Europe is a lobby, was created in 1987. It is basically the offspring of another lobby, the Round Table of Industrialists, which is perhaps the most important lobby in the EU history. The initiative was taken by industries such as Fiat, Philips, Total, etc.

The euro's godfathers were also the godfathers of the financial deregulation in the EU and almost all of them employed by major banks such as Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas and big insurance companies.

Everything was ready for the euro to go into circulation. All that was needed, was the politicians' consent to the demands of bankers and businessmen. And this would take place in the Dutch city of Maastricht, the birthplace of the European Union and where the foundations of the new currency were laid.

The Maastricht treaty is based on the ideology that if the government spends it prevents the private sector from spending, and this is not true. We know that the private sector needs the government to spend. Mr. Apple, Steve Jobs, for example, needed the American government to invest in the basic elements of the iPhone in order for him to develop the iPhone as a private product.

The EU institutionally supports the sorts of policies that Margaret Thatcher, of course, is most associated with: deregulation, privatization, cutting taxes on the rich, removing various obligations on big business. So, it is an anti-government ideology and it's deeply embedded in the construction of the eurozone. It's also not just an anti-government ideology, it's an anti-democratic ideology. It's the belief that, actually you cannot trust democracies not to spend money.

As crisis in the eurozone peaked, the EU distanced itself from any kind of democratic control. Power that should be found in the parliament building was at first concentrated in the EU Commission building. From the non-elected commissioners, we went on to the independent bankers in Frankfurt.

Europe has not learned the lesson of what happens when you are trying to impose from above an economic system which causes unemployment to rise. We see the rise of Right-Wing populist parties. We see the fascist appearing from out of the woodwork and we should not be surprised. This is what happened in the 30s. The euro has become a doping for nationalist parties. No one wants that, but this is the reality.

Two years after the end of WWII, George Orwell said that the only political goal that is worthwhile, is a Socialist United States of Europe. But some, instead of fighting for Orwell's vision, created his nightmares: they united citizens in poverty and austerity, and divided them with neo-nationalism. Once again, Europe is at the crossroads. It has to choose between European civilization and the European Union.

From the documentary This Is Not A Coup by Aris Chatzistefanou