Category Archives: Race

‘David Simon on America as a Horror Show’


From Moyers and Company:

David Simon on America as a Horror Show

From the transcript:

BILL MOYERS: Watching the president’s speech the other night– he was hopeful, he was upbeat, he was encouraging and inclusive and what he said. But I kept listening and thinking about that speech you had made last fall in Australia where you said what’s happening here in America is “a horror show.” And I wonder, how do you reconcile those two visions of our country?

DAVID SIMON: I don’t think that you can call the American government anything other than broken at this point. And I think the break has come at the legislative level. I mean, that’s the part of the government that has been purchased.

You can buy these guys on the cheap. And the capital’s been at it a long time and the rules have been relaxed. The Supreme Court has walked away from any sort of responsibility to maintain democracy at that level. That’s the aspect of government that’s broken.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s Obama or Clinton or Bush or anybody at this point. If this is the way we’re going to do business, we’re not going to do business. You know, they’ve paid for it to be inert. And it is inert. And ultimately that aspect of capitalism hasn’t been dealt with in any way.

Musings: Greece and the rise of neofascism


We’ve been fascinated since childhood with the rise of National Socialism in Germany.

Throughout most of the 1920′s, following their brief attempt to seize power at the peak of hyperinflation in 1923 — when a bushel basket of thought-mark notes wouldn’t buy a loaf of bread, the Nazi’s were a small party on the fringes. But the Wall Street crash sent numbers soaring, leading less than four years later to their capture of the chancellorship and subsequent imposition of dictatorship.

The Nazis seized power after the once-dominant Social Democrats lost power and a series of shaky right-leaning coalition governments inevitably collapsed, leaving the dangerous precedent of ruling by decree when parliamentary majorities couldn’t be raised.

Today, Greece hasn’t seen hyperinflation since the crash of 2008, but the once mighty social democrats of PASOK have been reduced to a pitiful remnant in a coalition government dominated by the Right.

Like the Nazis, Golden Dawn voices contempt for the conventional Right and mobilizes anxiety triggered by economic collapse to focus blame on aliens within and immigrants [Hitler’s first major deportations were of immigrant Polish Orthodox Jews].

Golden Dawn shares with the Nazis a salute, a fondness for the Horst Wessel Song, and the mobilization of the angry to physically assault their chosen scapegoats.

And so we watch Greece with great interest.

Since the eruption of the crisis precipitated by the murder of an anti-fascist rapper by a self-identified Golden Dawn activist, he response of the coalition led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been to prosecute party leaders and ban the party itself.

Both were tried in Germany, something which Samaras and his colleagues should keep in mind.

We’ll have more on the Greek crisis in our final Headlines of the day post, but for now consider an image and a video.

First up, from Carlos Latuff and featuring Prime Minister Antonis Samaras:

“@PrimeministerGR far from uprooting fascism in #Greece”

“@PrimeministerGR far from uprooting fascism in #Greece”

Next, consider an interview that makes the same critical point.

Jaisal Noor of The Real News Network discusses the rise of Golden Dawn and the government’s suppression efforts with political economist Costas Lapavitsas of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies

Gov’t Crackdown on Golden Dawn Won’t Defeat Greek Fascism

The program notes:

Costas Lapavitsas: The only way to defeat the Golden Dawn and Greek fascism is through popular mobilization that persuades Greek working people and the middle class that democracy and social change can create a just economy

And an excerpt from the transcript:

There are three reasons why Golden Dawn has emerged as a genuine political popular force. The first is, of course, terrible social conditions–unemployment, loss of income, and a sense of destruction of everyday life. Golden Dawn talked to ordinary people and basically argued–falsely, but it did–it argued that immigrants are to blame, policies of the IMF and so on are to blame, and they were going to change things–Greece for the Greeks. That’s the first thing.

The second reason why Golden Dawn became so powerful is because of corruption. Corruption has been endemic in Greece, and there was a widespread sense of the political system being incredibly corrupt. Golden Dawn spoke to people about this again and promised them that it would bring a state of clean hands about. They themselves were clean, and they were going to clean up Greek politics.

The third reason why Golden Dawn has become powerful is because of a sense of national humiliation that has prevailed in Greece. Greece has been humiliated the last three years. People feel very keenly that they are beggars, that they’ve been spoken to very, very badly by the rest of Europe. And Golden Dawn has appealed to them by–to people by talking to them about the flag, traditions, and so on, and touched a rich vein of national feeling.

For these reasons, Golden Dawn, which is actually a fascist party, has managed to establish itself as a genuine political organization in Greece. This isn’t just a criminal organization. Anyone who thinks of it as a criminal organization doesn’t quite understand it. This is a popular movement, and it will not go away very easily.

My stars and garters! Fear the white hooligans!


Stars and garters? Well, twas a favored saying of old timers when esnl was a tad. But somehow it seems to fit this delightful little interview of Gawker West Coast Editor Cord Jefferson by CNBC’s Chris Hayes.

Kinda puts things in perspective:

Chart of the day: Black-white marriage approval


From Gallup, a heartening graphic, depicting increasing tolerance over time:

BLOG Marriage

Chart of the day: A disconnect over justice


BLOG Biased justiceFrom a new Gallup poll which concludes that “While 68% of blacks say the American justice system is biased against blacks, 25% of whites agree. Blacks’ attitudes about the justice system have remained virtually constant over the past 20 years, but whites have become less likely to perceive bias.”

‘I’m an old Kansas man myself,’ said the Wizard


The first time we heard the line from The Wizard of Oz, we laughed, being of that same peculiar species.

Kansas, once the home of abolitionist John Brown [a fact seemingly forgotten by Barack Obama and the mainstream media when Barry O launched his re-election campaign in Brown's former home base of Osawotamie], has a mixed history when it comes to people with higher melanin content in their skins.

We grew up in Abilene, the great-grandson of abolitionists who abandoned their pacifist Mennonite faith to wear the Union blue in the Civil War. Though nearby Wichita’s school system was segregated, leading to the Supreme Court’s  landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Abilene’s schools were integrated, largely because there were too few darker-skinned people to build separate schools. The swimming pool, however, was white only, a fact never advertised by nonetheless well known except to young children like esnl, who were told only that “Negroes don’t like to swim.”

But the language of bigotry was universal. We were perhaps nine years old before we learned that what folks called “Nigger Toes” in Abilene were called Brazil Nuts in more genteel society. And when choosing up sides, every kid used the old formula, “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe, catch a nigger by the toe. . .”

The nearest town to Abilene of any size was Salina, less than 25 miles away, and the source of frequent visits because our maternal grandmother lived there. It was also the home of the nearest movie palace, where “usherettes” clad in microskirts and tights escorted you to your seats with flashlights equipped with long translucent tubes that emitted a soft, warm orange glow. They also brought your drinks, popcorn, and candy to your seats, carried in trays suspended by straps from their necks.

The usherettes are long gone, but a story in the Salina Journal reveals that some of the attitudes we recall from childhood still remain.

Consider the case of Saline County Commissioner Jim Gile, who’s in hot water for accusing fellow commissioner John Price of “nigger-rigging” plans to repair the county’s Road and Bridge Department building:

In a recording made by County Clerk Don Merriman of the study session, Gile, who is white, can be heard to say the county needed to hire an architect to design the improvements rather than “nigger-rigging it.”

His comment brought laughter from others in the room. Salinan Ray Hruska, who attends most commission meetings and study sessions, asked Gile what he said.

“Afro-Americanized,” Gile replied.

When pressed about his comment later, the Journal reports, Giles responded, “I am not a prejudiced person. I have built Habitat homes for colored people.”

Well, that certainly clears things up, doesn’t it?

Chart of the day: Satisfaction, American-style


From Gallup, a new poll reveals that we’re happiest with the military and the war on terror:

BLOG Satisfaction

Romney’s Mormon faith, or Gott Mitt Uns


We have faulted the mainstream media for their singular unwillingness to confront former Mormon Bishop Mitt Romney about the peculiarities of his religion, one allegedly revealed through a “seer stone” translating some golden plates in Egyptian hieroglyphs found buried on a New York hilltop.

What concerns us is the explicit prophecy in Mormonism that the president of the U.S. and the head of the Mormon church will be one in the same, and will lead the nation to take over the globe at the apocalyptic moment, ushering in the Mormon millennium, when Mormons will be gods and go off to cdreate their own worlds.

Given that the very secretive Romney has a shot at the job, we’re glad to see that at least the alternative media are picking up the story.

From Alternet:

Watch Mitt Romney get in a heated exchange with a radio host  from a radio interview in 2008 about where Jesus will reign and rule over the Earth for 1,000 years — in Jerusalem and Missouri. Romney displays deep familiarity with the thinking of a Mormon hermit-conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen, who was also Glenn Beck’s great inspiration.

Background from Prisoner Minister: “Mormons believe Jesus will return to earth in Independence, Missouri to begin a 1,000 year reign.  They think Mormons will at that time become gods.  But before the return of Jesus, they believe the United States will come to a constitutional crisis, on the verge of collapse.  They believe America will be saved by a Mormon leader. The founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith, said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation (USA) will hang upon a single thread.  At that critical juncture, this people (Mormons) will save it from destruction.”  Their prophet Brigham Young said, “When the Kingdom of God bears rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter.” Mormons, also called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), believe the Kingdom of God will arise from the rule of one man on earth, a political figure who will also be their spiritual leader.  They believe there will be a one-world government ruled by this god-king. He will be a prophet and high priest of the Mormon faith, ruling the world from America.”

Read the rest.

And from vlogger Zac Barr, consider this little bit of Mormon history:

And reporters, if you’re going to address candidates by former offices they’ve held, how about using the phrase “Bishop Romney”?

GreeceWatch: Strikes, money, blood, and racism


There’s an anti-austerity general strike today that could shut down most of the government, Mario Monti paid a visit and made meaningless pronouncements, the German finance minister is calling for patience, the eurobank says it can’t help in a bailout, the finance minister threatens to quit over cuts, doctors reveal a bloody truth, expats protest language class cuts, the suicide epidemic continues, and racism becomes a target.

Wednesday general strike challenges austerity

Government offices across the country are closed as the latest anti-austerity action challenges the government’s latest round of proposed Troika-mandated cuts.

From Ekathemerini:

A banner with the word ‘SOS’ announces Wednesday’s general strike as pedestrians wait to cross the road in Athens, Tuesday.

As government officials resumed talks on a tough austerity package ahead of the anticipated return of troika officials in coming days, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras clarified Tuesday that a two-year extension that Greece is seeking for its fiscal adjustment period would cost between 13 and 15 billion euros.

In comments made to Reuters, Stournaras sought to curb wild speculation in the foreign press about the cost of an extension for Greece — which Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung set at 30 billion euros in its report Tuesday — and about the size of Greece’s fiscal deficit. “We estimate the funding gap that would be created if we get the two-year extension at 13 to 15 billion euros,” Stournaras said, adding that the size of Greece’s fiscal deficit was 13.5 billion euros, hence the need for 11.5 billion euros in spending cutbacks and 2 billion euros in new revenues.

Read the rest.

More from Athens News:

The country will come to a standstill Wednesday as the two main labour unions, GSEE and ADEDY, have declared a 24-hour nationwide strike. The strike includes workers such as civil servants, teachers, doctors, hospital staff, merchants, lawyers, civil engineers, and bank employees.

Public transportation including ilektriko, trolleys and busses will run from 9am to 9pm, while the metro run 8am to 9pm, and the tram will work from 6am to 10pm. Proastiakos and OSE will not run. Airlines and ferries will also be striking, and the metro branch that goes to the Athens International Airport (stops Pallini, Peania, Kantza, Koropi, Airport) will not run.

The two unions are protesting finalisation of the 11.5 euro austerity package. A joint statement issued by ADEDY and GSEE reads, “During the past 2.5 years wages, pensions and benefits have been slashed repeatedly, yet the ‘monstrous debt’ remains intact and continually calls for new sacrifices and austerity measures.”

Read the rest.

And this, from More from Agence France-Presse:

“S0S – save the country, but above all its people,” the leading union confederations the GSEE and ADEDY said in posters strung from lamp-posts across the capital.

“Salaries, pensions and benefits have been cut again and again for 2.5 years and the ‘monster’ of the debt and deficits remains invincible, constantly demanding new sacrifices,” the unions said in a statement.

Two general strikes were held against a previous austerity package in February, but this is the first walkout to test the three-party coalition government headed by conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that came to power in June.

Read the rest.

Mario Monti declines to offer advice to Greece

While the Italian rime Minister’s never at a loss for words, he was strangely reluctant to offer Greece the advice in public he’s so free to press behind closed doors.

Here’s the money question and his answer from an Ekathemerini interview:

What is your advice to the Greek prime minister and the Greek people at this point, when frustration with the results of the fiscal adjustment is clearly on the rise? Do you think it is possible to obtain better terms and more time for the implementation of its program?

It would be presumptuous for me to provide advice on specific policies for Greece as I don’t follow the situation closely enough. Nevertheless, experience shows that the sacrifices are worth the effort. And the Greek people are not alone. Italy is providing nearly a fifth of the financial support to Greece as well as to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM), despite having a high level of debt and seeing its servicing costs increasing dramatically because of the crisis in the euro area and investors’ doubts about our collective resolve to solve it. Without its contribution to the financial assistance, Italy’s debt would be a full three percentage points of GDP lower.

I welcome the economic measures recently decided by the Greek government as a clear sign of its will to reform the economy. We are convinced that Greece will respect its commitments, pursue the structural reforms it needs in order to boost growth and employment, and continue the painful but necessary process of fiscal discipline that it has embarked upon. Italy is aware of the ongoing efforts that Greece is making to overcome the crisis and it will continue to support the strong commitment of the Greek authorities at the bilateral level as well as in the European context.

Read the rest.

German money minister calls for patience

And avoid that speculation, he says. Indeed, it was that flood of speculative investments by various and sundry banksters that brought the country down, when added to a weak and often corrupt social structure.

But that’s not what Wolfie meant.

From Agence France-Presse:

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday called for patience rather than engaging in “speculation” ahead of a report by Greece’s troika of international creditors.

“We all agree that we are totally patient in waiting for the next report of the troika,” he told reporters in Vaanta, Finland, after meeting with Finnish counterpart Jutta Urpilainen and Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager.

“Any speculation before that doesn’t make sense,” he added when asked about the possibility of restructuring Athens’ debt again.

Representatives of the troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — called time out on Friday on lengthy bailout negotiations with Athens.

The talks are expected to resume this week.

Read the rest.

Eurobank executive says it won’t bailout Greece

All the cash has got to come from national treasuries, not the bank’s, he says.

And that would mean the biggest chunk would have to come from Germany.

From Alexandra Hudson of Reuters:

Greece’s possible financing gap can only be filled by euro zone states and the European Central Bank would not participate in any potential debt restructuring, ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen told German newspaper Die Welt.

In an advance copy of an interview to be published on Wednesday Asmussen told the paper: “The ECB would not be able to take part in any such restructuring, because this would constitute state financing, Continue reading

Europe’s war on the wandering poor accelerates


As we’ve noted countless times before, immigrants become targets when economic times get tough, whether they’re Irish-Americans in the United States in the late 19th Century or Eastern European Jews in 1930s Germany and Austria.

As the Library of Congress notes:

As immigration from Europe and Asia neared its crest in the late 19th century, anti-immigrant sentiment soared along with it. The U.S. was in the grips of an economic depression, and immigrants were blamed for taking American jobs. At the same time, racialist theories circulated in the press, advancing pseudo scientific theories that alleged that “Mediterranean” types were inherently inferior to people of northern European heritage. Drawings and songs caricaturing the new immigrants as childlike, criminal, or subhuman became sadly commonplace. One 1891 cartoon claimed that “If immigration was properly restricted, you would never be troubled with anarchism, socialism, the Mafia and such kindred evils!”

The same phenomenon is at work in crisis-gripped Europe today, with many in Northern Europe complaining about “lazy” Mediterranean peoples, and folks in the south singling out immigrants from a chaos Middle East and Africa who are fleeing violence Europe did so much [with the deep-pocket assistance of Uncle Sam] to provoke.

And there are Europe’s own native-born “aliens,” the Roma, Sinti, and Trvaelers often collectively called gypsies.

A French socialist ethnic cleansing

First, a video report from euronews of the latest action against Europe’s wanderers, the Roma, carried out by the French Socialist [sic] government of François Hollande, carrying out a tradition set by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy:

Next, the details from Radio France Internationale:

French authorities on Thursday evicted several hundred Roma from improvised camps in the north of the country and planned to deport others from the southern city of Lyon. Roma rights groups have accused the Socialist government of carrying right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s policies on the question.

Two Roma camps on state-owned land near Lille were evacuated on Thursday morning. About 200 people were expelled from one and “15 caravans” from the other, according to Villeneuve d’Ascq deputy mayor Maryvonne Girard.

And officials sent about 240 Roma back to Romania from Lyon, the biggest such deportation since President François Hollande took office in May.

Rights campaigners accuse Hollande of breaking an election promise that camps would not be dismantled unless alternative accommodation was available.

“At least the last president had the honesty to say what was going to happen,” commented Father Arthur, a Catholic priest who had planned to baptise six Roma children in Lille as a sign of resistance to evictions.

Last week Interior Minister Manuel Valls declared that he would not oppose evictions that a court ruled legal.

But on Wednesday he said he would review the provisions introduced by the Sarkozy government for handling Roma, raising the possibility of lifting an employment ban introduced in 2007.

Read the rest.

The BBC adds that the raid also targeted “a camp housing about 160 Roma in the 19th arrondissement of Paris” which was evicted Wednesday.

They add:

A Roma rights campaigner, whose name was given only as Jean-Philippe, told France 3 television the voluntary returns were “expulsions in disguise”.

The compensation given – 300 euros (£237; $317) per adult – was a waste of public money, he argued, because many of the Roma would return to France.

Campaigners argue that the Roma face discrimination in their home countries.

The Roma are EU citizens, mostly from Romania or Bulgaria, but French law requires them to have a work permit and prove they have the means to support themselves if they intend to stay for more than three months.

Read the rest.

More from Agence France-Presse:

Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has cultivated a ‘tough on crime’ image, defended the raids as legal and necessary due to the health risks of hundreds of people living in makeshift accommodation.

“Unsanitary camps are unacceptable,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Often located in the midst of working class neighbourhoods, they are also a challenge to community life.”

>snip<

Valls said the government would re-examine conditions for granting the aid to illegal immigrants. It would also review restrictions on working in France for citizens of Romania – an EU country which is the home country of many of Roma migrants.

Rights groups said no arrangements for temporary housing had been made for the group of Roma near Lille, which includes some 60 children.

“What will become of these families?” said Father Arthur, a priest who advocates on behalf of Roma. “Everything is being taken away – it’s a breach of fundamental human rights.”

Read the rest.

Another ethnic cleansing, this time in Greece

We begin with a video report from International Business Times on the massive “illegals” roundup now underway in Greece which has thus far swept up an estimated 6,000 people, most of whom proved to be “legal”:

And from Athens News, a police video of a sweep at the main train station in  Athens Thursday:

And a report on the roundup from Capital.gr:

Migrants living in Athens are held at an ID-check operation in Athens. Around 1,000 immigrants were arrested and another 4,900 brought in for questioning by police.

Migrants living in Athens are held at an ID-check operation in Athens. Around 1,000 immigrants were arrested and another 4,900 brought in for questioning by police, Hurriyet Daily reported.

Greek authorities transferred about 1,000 undocumented immigrants an area close to the Turkish border Aug. 7, after a weekend police sweep in Athens led to a mass arrest of foreigners.

A local police official said the immigrants were being held in two temporarily closed police schools in Thrace, a part of northeastern Greece bordering Turkey, Agence France-Presse reported. It’s unclear how long the immigrants will remain in the centers, as recession-choked Greece has scant money to return them to their home countries. Greek government figures show more than 100 migrants crossing the country’s border with Turkey daily. Turkey and the European Union formally launched the visa-exemption process for Turkish citizens last June and initiated a readmission agreement with the bloc. The deal envisages the repatriation of illegal migrants in Europe via Turkey after temporary stays in the latter country, in response to key steps outlined by the EU for a visa-free agreement with Turkey.

Read the rest.

Human rights groups protest Greek roundup

The list of organizations opposing the mass arrests is growing.

The latest from Ekathemerini:

The Greek Council of Refugees on Thursday became the latest group — following Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — to Continue reading

EuroWatch: Crisis heats up, bonds rebuked, more


Tectonic shifts are underway across the continent. A leading IMF official has resigned, charging that incompetent bureaucrats and hacksrepeatedly ignored warnings about the impending crisis.

We’ve got a major bombshell in the announcement that the eurozone’s central bank is refusing Greek bonds as collateral, a move that sent Spanish share prices down and seems certain to add more intensity to a national tragedy. [The story's after the jump, grouped with out other Greek items.]

We got another harsh eurobankster warning, graphic eviden ce of what’s at stake in the event of euro breakup, the latest on the Spailout, a warning of a Spanish regional collapse, the flight of Iberian young to former colonies, and an airline that won’t be taking them.

From Greece, we’ve got another resignation from government, the return of electricity to a sweltering hospice, a Samaras meeting, another warning from another German, a visit from Bubba. a Prime Ministerial strike-breaking raid, more racist attacks [including a video].

From Italy, we’ve got a prime ministerial coup against provincial governments, a Sicilian mayor’s warning of civil war, a rating agency’s back-pat, and more legal worries for a seemingly resurgent Baron of Bunga Bunga.

There’s a Cyprus bank upgrade, a German business upbraid, suspicions of deep French agendas, and a very untransparent European Parliament.

We begin with a trio of videos.

BBC: Wildfires sweep across Southern Europe

Just as austerity cuts are demolishing firefighting services, an epidemic of fires has erupted in Greece and other countries along the southern edge of the continent.

From BBC News:

Associated Press: ‘The Dark Knight’ Paris Premiere Cancelled

The Colorado theater midnight Batman massacre carried out by a armor-clad gunman who told police “I am the Joker” has a European echo:

From Deutsche Welle: Greece – Crisis in sports

A stark report on the sad plight of competitive sport in the country that gave us the Olympics:

IMF economist resigns in anger

The International Monetary Fund, the critical third member of the Troika now engaged in the deconstruction of Europe for the benefit of investors, is riddled with incompetence and hacks, declares one of its leading economist in a tempestuous resignation letter.

What’s even worse, senior officials ignored clear warnings of the approaching economic crisis.

From Ian Talley of the Wall Street Journal:

A senior International Monetary Fund economist is resigning from the Fund, writing a scathing letter to the board blaming management for suppressing staff warnings about the financial crisis and a pro-European bias that he says has exacerbated the euro-zone debt crisis.

“The failure of the fund to issue [warnings] is a failing of the first order, even if such warnings may not have been heeded,” Peter Doyle said in a letter dated June 18 and copied to senior management.

Doyle is formerly a division chief in the IMF’s European Department responsible for non-crisis countries. He currently acts as an adviser to the Fund but is expected to officially leave in the fall.

“The consequences include suffering [and risk of worse to come] for many including Greece, that the second global reserve currency is on the brink, and that the Fund for the past two years has been playing catch-up and reactive roles in the last-ditch efforts to save it,” he said in the letter.

>snip<

“After twenty years of service, I am ashamed to have had any association with the Fund at all,” he said in the letter. Mr. Doyle wasn’t immediately available for further comment.

Read the rest.

More from the BBC:

He writes of “incompetence”, “failings” and “disastrous” appointments for the IMF’s managing director, stretching back 10 years.

>snip<

In the letter, dated 18 June and obtained by the US broadcaster CNN, Mr Doyle said the failings of IMF surveillance of the financial crisis “are, if anything, becoming more deeply entrenched”.

He writes: “This fact is most clear in regard to appointments for managing director which, over the past decade, have all-too-evidently been disastrous.

“Even the current incumbent [Christine Lagarde] is tainted, as neither her gender, integrity, or elan can make up for the fundamental illegitimacy of the selection process.”

Read the rest.

CNN has posted the full text of the letter [PDF].

Such are the minions of money now dissecting the prone corpse of material and human capital across the globe, selling off the parts and stilling any last, faint cadaveric spasms.

Another harsh eurobankster warning

They’re coming so regularly now you could almost set your watch by them.

But then the euro’s an increasingly hard sell this days, going these days for under $1.22, while the Canadian dollar is within a hair’s breadth of the U.S. dollar [98.70 cents, as we write].

From Reuters:

The euro zone political commitment to the euro should not be underestimated, European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said on Friday in a warning to those doubting the single currency’s survival.

In a speech in Mexico City, Coeure said there was a lack of understanding about the euro zone’s approach to tackling the debt crisis and that he disagreed with those who said the bloc did not have the right tools to fix the situation.

“I would caution those who have doubts about the euro, that they underestimate the political commitment to it at their own risk,” Coeure said.

“The ambition to provide long-term foundations for EMU in less than a decade is a historical step of great significance,” he added.

Read the rest.

So what’s a stake? A graphic answer

David Keohane of FT Alphaville reports on a new JP Morgan Chase report speculating on the costs to Finland of a eurozone exit [insignificant, according to the banksters].

But what caught our eye was this chart from the bank report, showing the net international investment positions [NIIPs] of eurozone countries.

Here’s how Wikipedia defines the term:

The difference between a country’s external financial assets and liabilities is its net international investment position (NIIP). A country’s external debt includes both its government debt and private debt, and similarly its public and privately held (by its legal residents) external assets are also taken into account when calculating its NIIP.

A country’s international investment position (IIP) is a financial statement setting out the value and composition of that country’s external financial assets and liabilities.

Basically, the more a country appears on the right hand side of the chart, the greater its potential losses in the event of a eurozone exit or collapse. [For where the U.S. Stands, see this graphic nightmare.]

And look at Germany’s position, the best single illustration of why Angela Merkel is so desperate to destroy national budgetary autonomy.

And on to Spain. . .

Word of final Spailout total coming in September

We presume this means Spain will go through the same kind of vetting now underway in Greece.

The eurocrats are playing with fire in holding off on their announcement, given the high tensions inside the country, where growing numbers are taking to the streets in outrage over the austerian demands.

From Reuters:

The exact amount that Spain will borrow from the euro zone to recapitalize its banks will only be determined in September, euro zone finance ministers said on Friday, after approving the terms of a loan of up to 100 billion euros ($123 billion).

In return for the loan, Spain will have to restructure its banking sector and its assets, and improve governance and regulation, the Eurogroup of euro zone ministers said in a statement.

But Madrid will also have to honor its government deficit reduction targets and commitments on structural reforms and rebalancing of its economy, undertaken under separate procedures of the European Union.

Read the rest.

Spanish region on brink of collapse

Following up on today’s earlier post about Spain, now comes word that one of the countries major regions is about to default.

The announcement sent Spanish stocks on the biggest plunge in the last two years and dropped stock markets across the continent.

From the London Telegraph’s Emma Rowley and Martin Roberts:

Spanish shares suffered their biggest one-day drop in two years, leading European markets’ plunge downwards, after a major Spanish region said it needed rescuing by its cash-strapped government and Continue reading

Golden Dawn: Subhuman horde imperils Greece


From Athens News [story] [vlog], an alarmingly racist parliamentary pronouncement that sounds remarkably like a Hitler stump speech, though with a different cast of villains:

Program notes:

Ilias Kasidiaris, spokesman for Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn, says mass illegal immigration is part of a plot to turn Greece into “a wretched protectorate inhabited by subhumans, with no conscience, with no country, with no national culture.” He said minefields and Army special forces were needed to secure Greece’s border with Turkey. 7 July 2012. Read a Human Rights Watch Report on racist attacks in Greece.

Golden Dawn rhetoric translates into violence

UPDATE: Here’s a report on the rising racial violence in Greece from RT’s Jacob Greaves:

Program notes:

Greece is also in turmoil. Violent clashes have shaken the city of Agrinio in the west. Supporters of the far-right Golden Dawn party fought with anarchists, leaving cars and shop windows smashed, and one person injured. Golden Dawn’s influence is rising. It gained around 7 per cent of the vote in the recent general election. RT’s Jacob Greaves takes a look at xenophobia in today’s Greece.

Athens mayor confronts reality behind bars


Athens News scribe Makis Papasimakopoulos has written a very important story about a very revealing encounter between Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and two women inmates, identified only as Andy and Rania, in Korydallos Prison in Piraeus.

A former constitutional law prof and national ombudsman, Kaminis won election as mayor of the Greek capital two years ago, running as a candidate of the Democratic Left, a partner with the New Democrats and Pasok in the new coalition national government. Ekathemerini profiled him back in January here.

Here’s a very telling excerpt from his abrupt confrontation with reality:

Rania: You don’t work with the police?

Kaminis: Of course, but combating crime, that is, the job of clearing downtown Athens from criminal elements is a job for the police. The municipality as far as it is concerned, must keep streets and roadways clean and lighted at night, work with the police and do what it can in a preventive role, through special programmes that deter citizens from following a path of crime. But I stress that it is not our job to combat crime. Each must do his own jobs.

Rania: On that we are agreed. We have seen police raids lately, in apartments and basements where 30 or 40 migrants live in. Have you ever been in one of these houses?

Kaminis: I haven’t but I have seen pictures of these places and I can well imagine what happens there. I am aware of the issue. The problem of poverty and despair in the downtown area has two sides. One is the financial crisis, that has pushed many people to poverty and brought a lot of problems to the surface, that had previously been hidden. The other is illegal immigration, the illegal entry of people in our country who then continue to stay here illegally, looking for a better life, looking to find a job, but not finding one, due to the crisis. This has greatly worsened the situation. These impoverished masses are the soil upon which crime blooms, because he who cannot work, will either become a victim or a perpetrator of a crime. All of organized crime, whether we are talking about prostitution, or drug trafficiking, or smuggling or even pan-handling, is manned by illegal immigrants, that have to turn towards it. If we can’t stop 300 people a day coming into our country illegally and heading for Athens, then I fear the problem will only worsen.

Ranis: Do you believe that concentration camps are the solution to immigration?

Kaminis: I think it’s best we don’t refer to them as concentration camps, because that refers to other kinds of establishments…

Read the rest.

Note that phrase “all of organized crime. . .is manned by illegal immigrants.”

Organized crime arises among immigrants in part because it provides services, most notably in the form of protection rackets, that provide services not otherwise available. In the U.S. we first had Irish, then Jewish, then Sicilian, then Latin American and Asian organized crime.

Immigrant communities are easy scapegoats in times of crisis because they look and often act differently, ultimately betrayed by their accents if they otherwise “look like us.”

Police don’t protect them, and they are denied other avenues of acceptance, so provision of other illegal goods of services because a source of revenue and power.

In Greece, as we noted repeatedly, more than half of the police voted for the racist, anti-immigrant neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, the Brownshirts of Greece, quick with first, rocks, brass knuckles—even swords. In other words, the very folks police should be arresting, not joining.

And concentration camps, yes they are, an idea the Nazis borrowed from the Brits.

Then there’s that bit where he says the “impoverished masses are the soil upon which crime blooms.” Now we’re not sure if the metaphor holds true in Greece, but on this side of the pond, it’s an insult to call people dirt just because they’re poor.

Chart of the day II: All there in black and white


From the blog of the Economic Policy Institute:

Syrian rebels set up Brit journo for slaughter


And they did it to generate bad press for the government of Bashir Assad, says ITN news reporter Alec Thomson.

“I’m quite clear the rebels deliberately set us up to be shot by the Syrian Army. Dead journos are bad for Damascus,” Thomson, who reports for Channel 4 News, in Britain, writes in his personal blog:

Please, do not for one me moment believe that my experience with the rebels in al Qusair was a one-off.

This morning I received the following tweet:

“@alextomo I read your piece “set up to be shot in no mans land”, I can relate as I had that same experience in Al Zabadani during our tour.”

That was from Nawaf al Thani, who is a human rights lawyer and a member of the Arab League Observer mission to Syria earlier this year.

It has to make you wonder who else has had this experience when attempting to find out what is going on in rebel-held Syria.

Read the rest.

The only video we can find abut the incident is from RT, and hasn’t been posted on You Tube.

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

My point is, dead journalists are bad for Damascus. When Marie Colvin, the British journalist got killed because she was in a building which was shelled by the Syrian army in Homs, that was an appalling propaganda blow for the Damascus regime. You don’t have to be very clever to work out that the deaths of any journalist at the hands of the Syrian army are going to be an appalling blow, again, for President Assad. That’s going to reflect all the way to Moscow and all the way to Beijing. Clearly that is going to be a bad thing in terms of propaganda. So the motivation for the rebels to pull a stunt like that seems to be very obvious. I’m not angry about it, I’m not upset about it, this is a war and these things will be done. Both sides are involved in very dirty tactics in this war. This is a nasty and dirty war on both sides.

The perils of ‘parachute journalism’

The mainstream media, as we’ve been chronicling, has been drastically downsized, and costly foreign bureaus have been the very first casualties.

The result has been hit-and-run coverage of a sort given a peculiar name by folks in the news world.

In a 2006 piece for American Journalism Review Sherry Ricchiardi described the peculiar art of what folks in the news biz call parachute journalism:

News managers interviewed for this story seem resigned to the fact that robust overseas bureaus are largely artifacts of a bygone era, like typewriters and rotary phones. Instead, with a few exceptions, foreign news has entered a phase of crisis journalism — the flood-the-zone, event-driven coverage Americans witnessed during July’s Middle East crisis. The audience has little or no history before the story breaks into headlines; there has been no foreshadowing. (This is precisely what has happened in Afghanistan, where the American press corps has dwindled dramatically while conditions continue to worsen — see “The Forgotten War,” August/September.)

This approach results in a shorter media attention span. When the shooting ends, reporters scatter as quickly as they came. “We’ll pull our journalistic shock troops out, and we’ll redeploy them somewhere else because we only have a handful,” [former ABC News journalist Ted] Koppel says.

Read the rest.

So who do reporters rely on when they arrive in a strange land whose language they don’t speak?

From a 2002 essay by Marjie Lundstrom of the Sacramento Bee, writing for the Potnter Institute [emphasis added]:

When journalists go to work in a country where they do not understand the language or the culture, they typically make use of the invaluable services of fixer interpreters, whose impact on global public opinion is invariably underestimated. They are the ones who, while remaining largely invisible, offer clear guidance as to how conflicts should be interpreted, as well as which sources should be chosen and which words used.

Now add another ingredient to the mix

It took WikiLeaks to expose the dark side of those“democratic” rebels who fought to overthrow the Libyan government, the same ones who were acting as guides to the Western media types who reported on such notorious disinformation as the subsequently debunked claims that Moammar Gaddafi was dosing troops with Viagra to ensure they’d rape rebels, or that his troops were bolstered by black African mercenaries.

There was no Viagra, no “mercenaries,” though plenty of black Africans were slaughtered by rebel forces.

But the stories worked, whipping up resentment and offering justification to the likes of Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Now that Thomson’s story has come to light, we should be asking lots of questions about just how our news media are getting their stories after they unpack their parachutes.

The obvious questions focus on just who those translator/fixers are. Given that the U.S. has been pushing for the overthrow of the Syrian government for decades, one might reasonably ask if any of those oh-so-helpful folk are tied to intelligence agencies, U.S., British, French, or other.

But when you hit the ground running, you don’t have time for lengthy background checks, so you just take what you’re given.

But if Libya has taught us any lessons at all, we should all be asking serious questions.

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: Lots more flowing


The biggest story is in New Orleans, which is becoming the largest city in the country without a daily newspaper.

There’s a body count to report closer to ensl’s home, layoffs in Saint Louis, and more.

Digital First cuts copy desk in Bay Area, Denver

Digital First controls the largest share of newspaper circulation in California as the successor to MediaNews, and it owns most of the papers in the San Francisco Bay Area from San Jose to Marin County.

The company is following the latest trend in a dying newspaper industry, one certain to lead to a further fall in its reputation: They’re slashing away at the copy desk, eliminating editors who vet stories for accuracy and style.

The first move came in the consolidation of copy desk, removing editing from individual newsrooms, where editors are more likely to catch mistakes because they know the community. Now they’re slashing away at the consolidated desks, both in the Bay Area and at the chain’s flagship Denver Post.

From Steve Myers of MediaWire:

San Jose Mercury News Editor Dave Butler, who oversees Bay Area News Group, and Gregory Moore, editor of the Denver Post, said in separate phone interviews that they’ve finalized the cuts that they outlined in April.

The final numbers at Contra Costa:

  • Five copy editors laid off
  • Four transferred into vacant reporting positions
  • Two resigned just before the cuts to take jobs elsewhere
  • Up to 10 weekly part-time shifts eliminated

All told, 13 full-time equivalent positions were cut, Butler told me.

At the Post, no one with the title of copy editor will be employed at the paper after June 15. Of the 23 people on the copy desk:

  • 11 are resigning with severance and an enhanced health care package.
  • One copy editor is moving to a reporting position.
    Another is going to the design desk.
  • The copy desk chief will become a production manager.
  • The remaining nine former copy editors will become “assistant editors” assigned to desks (business, features, Metro, sports) throughout the newsroom.

Each of those desks will operate as “self-contained publishing units,” Moore said.

Read the rest.

The Big Story: New Orleans loses its daily

The Times-Picayune, the paper that won the Pulitzer for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina, is cutting print production to three days a week and, according to one report, laying off a third of its reporters.

From David Carr of the New York Times:

The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans confirmed on Thursday that it would cut back its print publishing schedule to three days a week and lay off an unknown number of staff members.

In an article posted on its Web site, Nola.com, Thursday morning, the paper reported that a new company would be formed called the NOLA Media Group, which would include the paper and the Web site. The newspaper will be home delivered and available in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only. The Web site, meanwhile, will increase its online news-gathering efforts “24 hours a day.”

Later in the day, three Alabama papers were similarly restructured: The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and The Press-Register of Mobile. They will become part of the newly formed Alabama Media Group and will also print only three days a week. The announcement of the changes said there would a reduction in the work force, but did not specify details.

Like the Times-Picayune, they are operated by Newhouse Newspapers, part of Advance Publications. Among the other newspapers owned by Newhouse are The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, The Star-Ledger of Newark and The Oregonian.

Read the rest.

Steve Myers adds this telling fact at MediaWire:

This would make New Orleans the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. The Times-Picayune, with a circulation of about 155,000 on Sundays and 134,000 weekdays, would be the largest paper in the U.S. to shift to non-daily publication. Its circulation in March 2005, before Hurricane Katrina flooded the city and shrank the city’s population: about 285,000 on Sundays and 257,000 weekdays.

Read the rest.

Kevin Allman of Gambit, a New Orleans alternative news service reports that 50 newsroom jobs may be axed:

As for what the newsroom itself will become, the outlook is still unclear, though everyone expects significant layoffs to occur soon. . .

A Gambit source. . .said in an email earlier this week that it was expected “the staff will immediately be whacked by at least a third (from 150 to 100 or fewer reporters). Top brass will be fired and reporters who remain aboard will take sharp salary cuts and be expected to start blogging through the day [for affiliated website NOLA.com].”

Read the rest.

More job cuts in St. Louis

And once again it’s copy editors who bear the brunt.

Erica Smith writes at Storify:

Four copy editors, one photographer and an assistant metro editor were laid off today from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in St. Louis.

One of the copy editors was a part-time employee; all others were full-time employees.

Newsroom employees can volunteer to take the place of a laid off employee, according to an internal memo from Post-Dispatch managers. Employees have until June 5 to do so.

Post-Dispatch editor Arnie Robbins retired on Friday. Editorial page editor Gilbert Bailon has taken over.

In March, Lee Enterprises Chief Executive Officer Mary Junck was awarded a $500,000 bonus for refinancing the bankrupt newspaper chain’s debt. The Post-Dispatch is owned by Lee.

Read the rest.

Online Patch chops at editing staff

The AOL-owned company created to fill the gap in local news reporting created by the decline in and closing of print media, hasn’t been able to make a dime, and jobs are getting cut.

From Jim Romenesko:

Patch is realigning, and folding the South zone into the East zone. They laid off key leadership in the South, including Tim Windsor, the former VP of Interactive from the Baltimore Sun. They’re also laying off regional editors today.

Read the rest.

More from the Wall Street Journal’s Keach Hagey:

[AOL Chief Executive Tim] Armstrong, has held his ground in defending Patch, which he co-founded in 2007 before he joined AOL, but he recently promised to make it profitable by next year. In a small step toward that goal, Patch said Tuesday it will cut around 20 jobs, or less than 2% of its workforce. The cuts will come from merging the management of its eastern and southern regional reporting operations.

Whether Mr. Armstrong can make Patch a success could determine his fate at AOL. As the ad-supported network has expanded to more than 850 towns from 30 in the past two years, its annual loss has widened sharply to more than $100 million in 2011, analysts say.

Read the rest.

USA Today guts its African American staff

The target was the sports department.

From Richard Prince at The Root:

Five black sports journalists were laid off at USA Today on Continue reading

EuroRacism: Greece violence, Danish questions


When racism has reared its ugly head in Europe in years past, the targets have all too often been immigrants or the continent’s wandering peoples, the Roma, Sinti, Tinkers, and Travelers often collectively grouped together as Gypsies.

One people previously targeted is conspicuously absent from the list, Jews.

In both Germany and France in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, Jews were the favorite targets, most conspicuously the Eastern European Jewish immigrants, who maintained a distinctive style of dress and stuck to their native language, Yiddish.

But since the Second World War and the still-vivid memories of the Holocaust, Jews have been replaced by Muslims, who like the Ostjuden of yore typically maintain the language and dress of the nations from which they came.

The lethal spark that leads from a largely passive racism to violence has always been economic disaster, and with the collapse of the European economy, the old pattern is reemerging.

Today’s report focuses on violence in Greece and Eastern Europe, and some disturbing patterns beginning to emerge in a country to the north.

Anti-immigrant violence erupts in Greece

No country has been harder hit by the crash than Greece, where ancient animosities sparked by a long history of occupation by Islamic Turkey mix with the resentments of a beleaguered working class to form a deadly mix.

Greece, along with Italy, is a major gateway for undocumented immigrants from the Islamic world, and the country has been receiving unrelenting prfessure from the European Union to tighten its border controls — one area of government conspicuously spared the lash of the austerians.

Golden Dawn, the neofascist which saw a surge in support prior to the last round of parliamentary voting, has been at the forefront of rousing racist sentiments.

Violence follows in wake of stabbing

From the Greek Arabic newspaper AlYunaniya:

Violent episodes have erupted as extreme far-right Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) members have clashed with police during an anti-immigrant protest in the western port of Patras in front of the abandoned factory of Peiraiki Patraiki used by illegal immigrants for shelter.

Events came after the funeral of 30 year old Thanassis Lazanas who was murdered by three young Afghans on Saturday, according to Patrastimes.gr

Approximately 150 members of the Golden Dawn, who reportedly, joined an anti-immigrant protest rally with organized by residents of Patras for Thanasis Lazanas. Dressed in black with helmets and holding batons and flags members of Golden Dawn lined against the police forces outside the old factory in an attempt to storm the abandoned factory with the immigrants. Residents asked the police not to stop them and let them storm the factory to evict migrants. Shortly after 8 pm the fighting broke out with  police responding with tear gas. Protesters attempted to invade the building at least three times, according to To Vima.

The murder of the 30 year old man as residents of Patras say was the straw that broke the camel on the situation that has developed in the large number of illegal immigrants. There is a growing concern by the citizens of Patras, that an increased number of illegal immigrants will loiter around the new port, according to Ta Nea.  They are afraid that crime may increase in their neighborhoods and therefore they had decided to set up a citizens patrol in the area since last December.

In an announcement by the official website of Golden Dawn, which came during the incidents, said: “The police and riot police instead of applying the law and  clear the area of illegal immigrants, they have attacked residents in Patras with tear gas, and have  arrested residents of Patras and members of Golden Dawn “.

Read the rest.

More from A. Papapostolou of Greek Reporter:

Police say the clashes followed a peaceful demonstration by hundreds of local residents outside an old factory inhabited by migrants seeking to stow away on Italy-bound ferries.

Dozens of Golden Dawn supporters who held a separate march threw stones at riot police guarding the migrants, and police responded with tear gas.

Read the rest.

Ekathemerini has more details:

Authorities in Patra held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss ways of tackling the presence of hundreds of illegal immigrants in the city, following violent clashes between police and supporters of Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn).

Five people were arrested, eight policemen injured, one police bus and two motorcycles were damaged during the fighting on Tuesday night.

Dozens of locals had gathered outside a disused factory near the port area used as makeshift accommodation by undocumented migrants to protest the fatal stabbing last week of a 30-year-old local man. Three Afghan migrants are suspected of attacking the victim after a disagreement.

However, the protest was broken up by dozens of supporters of the far-right party who clashed repeatedly with riot police.

Read the rest.

And Keep Talking Greece has more:

Hand-to-hand fighting. Scenes of incredible ferocity as supporters of Chrysi Avgi attacked policemen with rafters, iron sticks, stones and fire bombs in Patras on Tuesday night. Unprecedented was the incident in which one protester stole a police motorcycle and fled to unknown direction.

According to local news portal dete.gr , the motorcycled units of police had rushed to the spot where the incidents were taking place. There they got surrounded by a group wearing helmets who pushed them down off the motorcycles and started to beat them.

Accoridng to police, some 350 Chrysi Avgi supporters who came also from other cities, were among the protesting residents.

According to local media, angry residents of Patras and supporters of extreme-right party Chrysi Avgi tried to storm an abandoned factory illegally occupied by immigrants. The protest started after a 30-year-old resident was stabbed to death by three Afghans.

The incidents lasted until 2 o’ clock in the morning with the angry mob attempting twice to storm the factory. Once with a bulldozer…

The port city in north-western Peloponnese experiences a huge immigrants problem as Patras is the country’s exit to Italy. Residents have been complaining since a long time about the issue that is combined with high crime rate, saying that they are even afraid to go on the street due to the increased number of immigrants.

Read the rest.

From the Greek Streets has posted two videos from the incident.

The first, shot earlier in the afternoon, depicts the clash between police and anti-immigrant protesters, who can be heard chanting “Foreigners out of Greece” before the melee begins:

The second, shot later, shows the Golden Dawner making off with the police cycle:

And an earlier attack on Afghan immigrants

While we haven’t found specifics of the fatal stabbing that led to last night’s violence, we did discover another incident involving Afghans, in which the immigrants were victims of an assault by Golden Dawn members one of whom was subsequently elected to parliament.

From Ekathemerini:

A court in Greece on Wednesday postponed for the sixth time the trial of three Greeks, including a neo-Nazi parliament candidate, accused of beating up three Afghan immigrants in Athens a year ago.

The defence requested the delay in order to obtain testimony from a Continue reading

EuroWatch: Crisis deepens, austerian pope, more


The pace of economic developments in Europe is accelerating exponentially, and the crisis appears to be nearing a tipping point.

Some of today’s highlights:

  • The White House pushes eurogrowth
  • The Bank of England sounds a warning
  • The Italian prime minister meets the pope, decrees austerity
  • Moodys downgrades Italian banks
  • A tax office is firebombed in Lovorno
  • Debate about bank capital requirements heats up; Brits want more
  • German investor confidence falls
  • Hungary toes the euro line
  • Danish paid holiday cuts debated
  • Health costs rise across Europe
  • The European Commission can’t afford talent
  • A mixed picture of euroracism emerges

Hollande shows his true colors

Consider two of his most interesting just announced appointments to the staff of the Elysee presidential palace [the U.S. equivalent would be senior White House staff].

From Reuters:

In another key appointment, Hollande named his long-time collaborator Emmanuel Macron, an investment banker at Rothschild, as deputy secretary general. Macron, who is in his mid-30s, is expected to handle sensitive economic dossiers in the post, which equates to a senior economic advisor.

On defense, Hollande left in place General Benoit Puga, the military advisor to outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Read the rest.

Oh yeah, Hollande’s a socialist, just like Barack Obama.

The same guy who implemented Sarkozy’s guns-not-butter lethal military policies will be whispering in Hollande’s ear, as well as a Rothschild bankster, who, as BloombergBusinessweek reports, “advised Hollande throughout the campaign”.

Now consider the words of that most famous of French socialists, a man assassinated for opposing militarism.

From Jean Jaurès, written in 1905:

To have responsibility without authority, to be punished without having been consulted, such is the paradoxical fate of the proletariat under the capitalist disorder. And if capital were organised, if by means of vast trusts it were able to regulate production, it would only regulate it for its own profit. It would abuse the power gained by union to impose usurious prices on the community of buyers, and the working class would have escaped from economic disorder only to fall under the yoke of monopoly.

Read the rest.

H/T to Moussequetaire.

Merkel, Hollande preach the growth gospel

Following their first official meeting yesterday, new French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel emerge to decree that growth is the European mandate, and they’ll do anything to get it.

From Spiegel:

Hollande said that the pair had reached an understanding to put all ideas and proposals for growth on the table and to discuss which legal possibilities existed to make them reality. At the same time, he insisted that he was not interested in renegotiating the fiscal pact, as he had threatened to demand during the campaign. He merely wants to add a growth dimension, he said.

Still, Hollande wasn’t completely a model guest. He once again mentioned his support for bundling European debt in so-called euro bonds, a proposal to which Merkel and her coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), are adamantly opposed. He also said that without growth, sovereign debt cannot be paid down — a seemingly banal sentence that could, however, be understood as a critique of Merkel’s obsessive focus on fiscal responsibility.

The two sides will have to work quickly to find agreement on the way forward. Merkel said that Paris and Berlin hope to be able to present joint proposals for growth stimulus at the European Union summit at the end of June. “It will be very important,” she said, “that Germany and France present shared ideas at that time.”

Read the rest.

Obama reads from the same scripture

Barack Obama is weighing in too, undoubtedly aware that a deepening of the European crash is certain to tip the trembling American economy deeper into depression.

And yes, we use the D-word, because for working class Americans it is a depression, with pay frozen or cut, benefits declining, hours lengthening, and the future looking ever grimmer.

From Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian:

Barack Obama is to press German chancellor Angela Merkel to support a growth package to help bail out Europe at the G8 summit this weekend amid fears in the White House that the eurozone crisis could damage the president’s re-election chances.

Obama is scheduled to meet Merkel, the new French president François Hollande, the Italian prime minister Mario Monti and British prime minister David Cameron at Camp David on Friday evening.

But foreign affairs analysts said that Obama’s leverage with the European leaders is minimal on this issue. Although the US has the economic muscle to help Europe out of its mess, the Obama administration took the strategic decision not to become involved directly

Read the rest.

And Tiny Tim follows suit

The treasury secretary tries to add his own bit of confidence-bolstering.

From EUbusiness:

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday welcomed the debate stirring in Europe over the need for economic growth, as the eurozone grapples with a public debt crisis and stagnant economic expansion.

“We should welcome this new debate about growth in Europe,” Geithner said at a conference in Washington.

The Europeans “have a stronger set of tools to manage the crisis now in place,” he said.

“You see them talk about a better balance between growth and austerity, meaning a somehow more gradual, softer path to restoring fiscal sustainability.”

The US Treasury chief underlined that an overly rapid cutback in spending could lead to a “negative spiral of growth.”

Read the rest.

So what’s got them worried?

The European economy is stuck, with only Germany showing any growth at all, due in part to its lack of any minimum wage for the lowest tier of the workforce.

From Reuters:

The 17-nation eurozone grows 0 percent in quarter as Germany remains the only large economy to post expansion. Even the Netherlands’ economy shrinks 0.2 percent, signaling no quick recovery for the euro area

The eurozone just avoided recession in early 2012 but the region’s debt crisis sapped the life out of the French and Italian economies and widened a split with paymaster Germany.

Eurozone gross domestic product (GDP) stagnated in the first quarter, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said yesterday.

>snip<

Barely out of the 2009 financial crisis, businesses and households in much of Europe are hampered anew as governments cut back on spending to curtail budget deficits and companies freeze plans to invest.

Despite two summits this year and another planned for next week, EU leaders have been unable to find a way back to growth, while many southern Europeans are turning against austerity measures, holding huge street protests in Madrid and backing radical political parties in Greece’s recent elections.

Read the rest.

England’s economic crisis deepens

And the Bank of England is worried.

They’re placing the blame on mainland Europe, and calling for a strict austerian line.

From EUbusiness:

The Bank of England on Wednesday cut its forecast for British growth and warned that the eurozone debt crisis was the biggest threat to Continue reading

The tragedy of Native American life, and a call


An important documentary from RT highlights the tragic conditions of Native American life, and the United Nations has called for a restoration of some of lands seized from this country’s original inhabitants.

The documentary focuses on the life of the Lakota, a people who defeated the U.S. Army twice in 1876, most famously the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and the wrongly named Battle of Wounded Knee [it was a massacre] marked the end of the so-called Indian Wars.

The documentary begins and ends with Russell Means, Oglala Lakota activist, actor, and author, who, we learn at the end, is dying of cancer.

From RT: ‘We Live to Survive’: One Week with Lakota

Part I [28.03]

Part 2 [24.11]

RT’s program notes:

“We live to survive.” That is what many of them say. In the 19th century, the Lakota people were among the most successful fighters for freedom in the USA. But their land was eventually stolen, their language for years was forbidden to be taught in schools, and their freedom existed only on paper. This story was filmed during the first week of August in 2011 on the territory of Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. This is official land of the Oglala Lakota Nation nowadays.

Every year in August, Lakota people come to Pine Ridge from all over the world to celebrate their culture and traditions at the annual powwow. On the contrary of joy and happiness even during holiday there is a place for grief and misery. Many people have alcohol problems, there are no jobs or good housing. Lakota people are still fighting for their rights. But that gets harder to do every year.

Give land back, says UN investigator

The U.S. government, driven by a doctrine of Manifest Destiny, repeatedly broke treaties promising Native Americans perpetual rights to their ancestral land.

But with the westward push fueled by the first great corporations, the railroads, European immigrants flooded toward the sunset, backed by the nation’s military might, and tribal peoples were pushed ever-backward, finally isolated on reservations sited on what their captors deemed the least valuable land.

Now a United Nations investigator is saying that this nation owes restitution for the misery inflicted on Native Americans, and it should take the form of a return of land.

From Chris McGreal of The Guardian:

A United Nations investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has called on the US government to return some of the land stolen from Indian tribes as a step toward combatting continuing and systemic racial discrimination.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.

Anaya said that in nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawaii, and Native Americans now living in cities, he encountered people who suffered a history of dispossession of their lands and resources, the breakdown of their societies and “numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination”.

“It’s a racial discrimination that they feel is both systemic and also specific instances of ongoing discrimination that is felt at the individual level,” he said.
Anaya said racism extended from the broad relationship between federal or state governments and tribes down to local issues such as education.

Read the rest.

EuroRacism: A response, and bad news


We’ll begin with a video of an amazing performance in Oslo yesterday, where 40,000 Norwegians braved the rain and cold to sing the Pete Seeger song so deeply despised by mass murdered Anders Behring Breivik:

From the Norwegian Culture vlog:

Oslo, April 26 2012: What started out as an initiative to gather a few dozens of people to sing the song Anders Behring Breivik told in court that he disliked the most, turned out to become a gathering of 40 000 people.

The song is the Norwegian version of Pete Seeger’s “My Rainbow Race,” rewritten in Norwegian and released in the early 1970s by singer/songwriter Lillebjørn Nilsen who is the lead in this recording from the Norwegian Broadcasting corporation (NRK).

This extremely well known and popular song was sung by the crowd at the Youngstorget square before they all walked to the court building, still singing, laying down roses outside while court was still in session.

You can hear Seeger’s 1971 recording of the song here. The lyrics are here.

More on the event from Deutsche Presse-Agentur’s Lennart Simonsson:

The “rose rally” in central Oslo was a private initiative by two women who used social media to organize the event.

Lill Hjonnevag told NRK television it was necessary to “reclaim the song,” which is well-known among Norwegian children, and which Breivik had attacked in his testimony as an example of “Marxist indoctrination.”

The crowd then walked from Oslo’s central Youngstorget square to the court, where they placed roses around the building.

>snip<

Christine Bar, another organizer of the Oslo gathering, told NRK she had been left “speechless” by the turnout, which was far higher than the 5,000 that had been expected to attend.

Musician Lillebjorn Nilsen, who translated Seeger’s text into Norwegian, led the 40,000-strong crowd and conveyed a greeting from 93-year-old Seeger.

Labor Party youth wing leader Eskil Pedersen its members had often sang Seeger’s song at Utoya island. When survivors returned to the island in August, they sang “My Rainbow Race” once more as they walked from the quay.

Read the rest.

So much for the good news. Now for the latest from the dark side, including some xenophobic pandering by the French Socialist [sic] presidential candidate.

Rise of French right worries eurocrats:

The third place finish of the National Front’s Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential election has the European Union rightly worried.

From EurActiv:

European Union ministers meeting 23 April in Luxembourg said they were concerned over the rise of French nationalist party in Sunday’s presidential elections.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn blamed incumbent French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the success of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in France‘s elections.

“If I were the president of the [French] Republic, I would ask myself why one out of five people in France are now voting for the National Front,” Asselborn said before the start of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg.

Socialist candidate François Hollande pipped Sarkozy in Sunday’s 10-candidate first round by 28.6% to 27.2%, but National Front leader Le Pen stole the show, surging to 17.9%, the biggest tally a far-right candidate has ever managed.

Her performance mirrored advances across the continent by anti-establishment Eurosceptic populists from Amsterdam and Vienna to Helsinki as the eurozone’s grinding debt crisis deepens anger over government spending cuts and unemployment.

>snip<

The unpopular Sarkozy now faces a difficult balancing act to attract both the far-right and centrist voters he needs to stay in office.

Returning to the campaign trail yesterday (23 April), Sarkozy hammered home promises to toughen border controls, tighten security on the streets and keep industrial jobs in France – signature issues for Le Pen at a time of anger over immigration, violent crime and unemployment running at a 12-year high.

“National Front voters must be respected,” Sarkozy told reporters as he left his campaign headquarters in Paris. “They voiced their view. It was a vote of suffering, a crisis vote. Why insult them? I have heard Mr Hollande criticising them.”

Read the rest.

EU Council chief joins the warning chorus

The fight to keep Europe’s borders open is meeting strong resistance from both Germany and France, which are seeking changes to the Schengen Treaty to allow them to close their borders for 30-day periods.

And both Sarkozy and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi mounted ethnic cleansing operations against Roma [“gypsies”] and Sarko has expelled members of the Travelers community as well.

From Valentina Pop of EUobserver:

EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy has spoken out against the “winds of populism” threatening freedom of movement in the Union – a swipe at anti-immigrant discourse in French elections and on the Dutch political scene.

“It is the duty of each government to make sure that no-one – no member of any group or any minority – is treated as a second-class citizen. Regrettably, the winds of populism are affecting a key achievement of European integration: the free movement of persons within our borders,” he said in a speech in the Romanian parliament on Wednesday (25 April).

Keeping the EU’s inner borders open was a “sign of civilisation,” the EU official noted.

“In that space, there is no room for stigmatisation of foreigners, as happens in certain countries nowadays,” he added.

Read the rest.

Sarko licks Le Pen’s boots

The metaphor’s not ours, but comes from a blog of telecaster France 24:

Under pressure, and desperate to renew his lease for the Elysee Presidential palace, Sarkozy has chosen one clear, it must seem the only, way forward: Start licking the boots of National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen.

Yes, Le Pen and the glorious 18% support she won in the first round of the presidential race. Yes, the National Front, France’s far-right party, which despite its new blonde window dressing, remains a shop run by Nazi collaboration apologists, royalists and unabashed xenophobes.

In the widely viewed television program “Words and Actions” on French public television on Thursday, Sarkozy denied any marriage with Marine Le Pen. “I will forge no alliance with Mrs. Le Pen. No National Front minister [in a future cabinet]. It’s crystal clear.”

And he’s right! Why take on a National Front minister in your future government if you are already taking your campaign cues directly from FN headquarters?

Read the rest.

The “socialist” pays Le Pen tribute

Hollande, the Socialist-in-name-only who seems likely to beat Sarko in next week’s runoff, is paying Le Pen homage, as reported by Chinese news agency Xinhua:

French Socialist Party presidential candidate Francois Hollande vowed on Friday to cut flows of immigrants seeking for jobs in France.

Speaking to RTL radio, the presidential election frontrunner said limiting economic immigration was “indispensable” and indicated Continue reading