Category Archives: Governance

Resisting the Greek capitulation to the banksters


Greek’s have seen austerity at its worst, inflicted by the joint powers of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

The austerians are acting in the interest of the banks of Germany and France, lending institutions that bankrolled arms deals that profited the military/industrial complexes of the lender nations.

While Greek official corruption was clearly involved in some of the deals, the bribe payments came from German companies eager for profits from the sale of weapon systems, warships, and other materiel necessary for the new Cold War.

A succession of Greek governments signed off on massive cuts in public salaries and pensions, restrictions on the national public health system, and the sell-off of ports, railroads, islands, and other public assets.

Finally, the Greek people said “Enough!,” and in and in January 2015, they voted in a new government headed by a previously marginal party, a coalition of the Left named Syriza [previously], swept to power on a platform calling for an end of the payments.

With party leader Alexis Tsipras becoming chancellor, Syriza seemed on track to mount the first real resistance to the ave of austerity programs imposed on nations of Ireland and Southern Europe in the wake of the crash caused by the institutional corruption of Wall Street and the City of London.

Seven months after taking power, Syriza called a referendum on the issue of whether or not Greece should accept the latest austerity mandates from the Troika. When the votes were tallied, 61 percent of the Greek electorate declared no to further austerity.

Two months later the leaders of the anti-austerity movement were gone, and Tsipras was ready to surrender once again.

In this interview with The Real News Network, one of those leaders talks about those critical events, and the launch of a new party to continue the resistance to the money lord of the North:

Odious Debt and the Betrayal of the Popular Will in Greece

From the transcript:

DIMITRI LASCARIS, TRNN: This is Dimitri Lascaris reporting from Lesbos, Greece, for The Real News.

This week, The Real News is in Lesbos to cover the Crossing Borders Conference on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

This afternoon we’re joined by Zoe Konstantopoulou. Zoe Konstantopoulou is the former speaker of the Greek Parliament. She was elected to that position in February of last year with a record number of votes from her fellow MPs, including, surprisingly, the support of the right-wing New Democracy Party. But her tenure as speaker of the Greek Parliament was short-lived. Her position was vacated in October of last year after the SYRIZA government decided to implement an austerity program that was even more severe than [the one that] over 60 percent of the population of Greece had rejected in a referendum in July of last year.

>snip<

LASCARIS: Now, last year, after the referendum in which over 60 percent of the Greek population effectively voted to reject an austerity program that was even less severe than what was ultimately implemented, the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, called a snap election and there was a rebellion of the left wing of the SYRIZA party, and they formed another party called Popular Unity, which I understand you supported in the election that was held in September.

KONSTANTOPOULOU: I cooperated as an independent candidate with Popular Unity.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Peña issues a non-apologetic corruption apology


Ah, the sheer hubris of it all, an apology that really isn’t from the Slick Willie of the South.

From United Press International:

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has apologized for a $7 million luxury home buying scandal of which he and his wife Angelica Rivera were previously cleared of wrongdoing.

Last August, an investigation by Mexico’s Public Function Secretariat found no conflict of interest perpetrated by Peña Nieto or Mexican Finance Secretary Jose Luis Videgaray over awarding contracts to companies that sold homes to them and first lady Rivera, according to federal comptroller Virgilio Andrade.

“There was no conflict of interest,” Andrade then told reporters. “Independently of what public opinion has established, this is the legal dimension of the case.”

Peña Nieto on Monday apologized, stating the scandal damaged the Mexican people’s faith in the presidency. He said he did not break the law and promised to work harder to fight corruption.

“For this reason, with all humility I ask your forgiveness,” Peña Nieto said while addressing political leaders during the unveiling of a new anti-corruption system broadcast on television. “I repeat my sincere and profound apology for the offense and indignation I have caused you.”

Headline of the day: They once called it payola


Back when esnl was knee-high to a grasshopper, the recording industry was rocked by a scandal: Record companies were paying DJs to air their tunes.

In the argot of the music biz, they called it payola.

Headlines and congressional hearings ensued, all sparked by the naive assumption that decisions should be made based on merit, not outright bribery.

Now the University of California has its own payola scandal, and the regents are finally making a move.

From the Los Angeles Times:

UC Davis chancellor’s outside activities prompts UC regents to consider tightening moonlighting rules

The proposal was prompted by disclosures this year that UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi had taken paid board positions with the DeVry Education Group, which is under federal investigation for allegedly defrauding students, and John Wiley & Sons, a college-textbook publisher. Katehi had received permission for the textbook company position but not the DeVry board seat from the former and current UC presidents.

One crooked cop gets a major judicial takedown


The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office has a long, troubled history of corruption at the top.

Back when esnl reported for the late, great Santa Monica Evening Outlook, Peter Pitchess had repeatedly won reelection as sheriff, and a high official in his department told esnl Pitchess was regularly seen gambling at an illegal casino in Marina del Rey. An official of the state Attorney General’s office told us Pitchess has received a deep discount on a Chicago mob-funded real estate investment.

Pitchess retired with a legally unblemished record, unlike a more recent incumbent, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

A federal judge on Monday threw out a plea agreement that would have given former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca a maximum of six months in prison, saying the sentence was too lenient considering Baca’s role in obstructing an FBI investigation into the county jails.

Addressing a downtown courtroom packed with Baca’s supporters, U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson said the deal “would trivialize the seriousness of the offenses … the need for a just punishment [and] the need to deter others.”

Baca, 74, had pleaded guilty in February to a single charge of lying to federal investigators. But the former sheriff’s involvement in trying to derail the investigation reached further than that, Anderson said.

At stake was what the investigators were trying to expose, Anderson said: an “us-versus-them” culture in which deputies covered up for one another and responded to inmates with enough violence to send them to the hospital.

Jeff Danziger: Choice 2016


From the nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist:

Uncle Sam, 2016 presidential race, Trump, Hillary, political cartoon

Which prompts a graphic response to a graphic. . .

Trump and why the media can’t beat him

The news media and their critics are full of columns and op ends on the deplorable Mr. Trump, all revealing that The Donald is a sociopathic hustler willing to say anything to keep the attention focused on the man with the orange adornment and diminutive digits.

But all the rant and raving doesn’t change a thing, and Trump remains a genuinely viable candidate for the commander in chief of the most powerful military on earth.

Admittedly, Trump’s viability owes much to the loathsomeness of his opponent, a candidate who, unlike the exuberantly spontaneous Trump, seems to be a product of a calculating artificial speech technology that hasn’t yet managed to find the way to add warmth to its synthesis.

So while you can’t believe anything Trump says, you do somehow get the sense that he believes it, even though it contradicts something he said five minutes earlier.

In other words, Clinton is a cold, calculating liar, while Trump is a passionate impulsive and wholly egotistical liar.

Back to the question

So why doesn’t all that media fact-checking and hand-wringing make a dent in the Donald?

Simple.

Because Trump’s supporters don’t trust the media, save for Fox News, and that only with qualification.

They know that the media really are run by a liberal elite, that “effete corps of impudent snobs” as former Spiro Agnew speech writer Pat Buchanan once described them, those “nattering nabobs of negativity.”

Now having spent our working lifetime moiling in the vineyards of the newspaper craft, we must add that most of the journalists we worked with were good, honest folk who really worked hard to report on matters of vital import to their communities.

But during those same years, we also saw journalism debased as locally owned publications either closed down or were subsumed by conglomerates, more interested in pandering that in community service.

The rise of social media, devoid of any filters, has unleashed both a powerful organizing tool [just ask Hosni Mubarrak if you have any doubts] and transformed a medium of public discourse into the digital equivalent of bathroom graffiti, allowing us to indulge both our highest aspirations and our basest instincts.. . .Occupy and cyberstalking.

Trump, the message of the media. . .

Our new media landscape is a perfect fit for a Donald Trump, a man who, as with most sociopaths, is preternaturally attuned to cunningly manipulating feedback to gratify his own infantile needs.

Trump plays to suspicion and fear, the offers simplistic and easily graspable — and thoroughly flawed — solutions, conveying with them a promise of security.

Trump eagerly lays blame — sometimes, and sadly, quite accurately — at the feet of the media for ignoring or trivializing the deepest concerns of his target “marks.”

To an audience well-primed by their own experiences, Trump can easily brush off all that fact-checking and hand-wringing as simply ploys by the establishment to his pursuit of a White House he vows to use in support of their interests, not those of the establishment elite.

That it’s an elite he was born into is ignored, as is the fact of his irreligious hedonism and his life of serial polygamy.

The Trumpian art of the deal is the art of the sociopath, an art sufficiently refined to overpower the reason and self-interest of his marks.

And then there’s Hillary. . .

Let’s put it this way. If Trump was a little bit more sophisticated he’d beat Clinton in a heartbeat.

esnl won’t be voting for the candidate who, as Secretary of State, pursued policies instrumental in the rise of ISIS, a candidate who refuses to tell us what she was so highly paid to tell the people who brought the country to the brink of total collapse. The kind of folks her own daughter married.

That’s why esnl won’t be picking up either revolver come November.

Mexican gov’t Aytozinapa claims hit once again


The disappearance of 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa after police opened fire on them on the night of 26 September 2014 [previously] remains an open sore on the Mexican body politic.

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has been eager to sweep the presumptive massacre under the rug, or at least relegate the whole bloody mess to the past, but their own incompetence in stage-managing the coverup has been nothing less than inflammatory.

The government claims it has discovered the “historical truth,” claiming all the students were slain byu drug gang members and the bodies then incinerated in a dumping group with the ashes tossed into a nearby stream.

The latest revelation via teleSUR English:

An inquiry published Saturday has revealed that there is virtually no physical evidence to support the Mexican government’s version of the 2014 disappearance of 43 students traveling by bus to Mexico City. Government officials insist that a drug gang kidnapped the students at gunpoint, killed them and burned the bodies at a dumpsite near the southwestern town of Iguala, but the report, based on forensic records requested by the Associated Press, revealed no signs of a fire on the night in question.

But the notes of a forensic examination of the Cocula dumpsite in Guerrero state in western Mexico shows that investigators could not confirm a fire on the night that the students vanished on September 26, 2014. The AP obtained the documents under a freedom of information request permissible under Mexican law,

The AP inquiry is the latest in a series of independent investigations that undermines the Mexican government’s version of events. Police say that five suspects have confessed to the crimes but an international panel of experts earlier this year concluded that the confessions were obtained by torture.

Earlier this year the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) found animal and human remains at the dumpsite but said none of the remains corresponded to the government’s allegation that the bodies were incinerated by members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel. The Attorney General’s Office in April presented evidence of a huge fire and the discovery of the remains of at least 17 adults but the bone fragments were too badly burned to identify, the Argentine team said.

The government’s handling of the case has triggered massive protests that include parents and friends of the students, trade unions and grassroots organizations who believe that law-enforcement authorities are complicit in the slayings of the 43 students, who had effectively stolen a bus, ironically enough, to attend the commemoration of a 1968 police massacre of students.

More from the Associated Press report:

The report from international fire experts convened by the government was obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request. It shows the experts found evidence the Cocula dump had been the site of at least five fires, but could not determine when. Remains of 17 people were also found, but it was unknown when they were burned.

“The duration and dates of the fires could not be established based on the available physical data,” the report said.

>snip<

There was no information about the identities of the 17 remains found, but it was known that the remote dump had become a place to dispose of bodies for some time in an area where hundreds have gone missing.

>snip<

The Argentine team had previously advised of shell casings that suddenly appeared at the site and were later touted by the government as evidence that the students were executed at the dump.

Santiago Aguirre, deputy director of the nonprofit Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Center for Human Rights, which is representing the students’ families, said Friday the report displayed serious deficiencies and was part of “a deliberate attempt to fabricate a version not supported by scientific evidence.”

Before departing Mexico at the end of April, the team from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission urged the government to drop its theory and explore details in the investigation that point to other possible destinations for the students’ remains.

And because authorities failed to maintain control of the site, fabricated evidence could have been added to the already chaotic mix

Obama pushes world closer to nuclear war


While a lot of folks are worried about the bellicose personalities of both major party presidential candidates, don’t forget the current incumbent, who has been busily pushing the world ever-closer to the brink of nuclear war through his Game of Zones plays in Asia and Europe.

While the Obama Administration’s “Asian pivot” has resulted in the first U.S. arms sales to Vietnam since the American humiliation four decades ago and Obama has relentlessly pushed Japan into the imminent scrapping of the pacifistic provisions of that country’s constitution, provisions imposed by the U.S. 60 years ago.

And now the Obama administration is beefing up U.S. forces on the Russian border, bring the threat of nuclear war to its highest level since the peak of the Cold War according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

The latest moves in Europe have even upset governments in Western Europe, who see Russian more as a trading partner than as a military threat, says University of Missouri-Kansas City economist and European historian Michael Hudson in this interview with Jessica Desverieux of The Real News Network:

US-NATO Border Confrontation with Russia Risks Nuclear War and Loss of European Partners 

From the transcript:

DESVARIEUX: So, Michael, we just heard President Obama pledging his allegiance to protecting Europe. Does Europe really need protecting, though?

HUDSON: Well, as soon as Obama made those words, there was a fury of European statements saying that Obama and NATO was making Europe less secure. The French prime minister, Francois Hollande, says that we don’t need NATO. NATO has no role to play in our Russian relations. That leaders of the two major German parties, both the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, said that NATO was warmongering. Gorbachev came out and said the world has never been closer to nuclear war than it is at present. William Perry, the former head of the Pentagon in the mid-90s, said that NATO was threatening and trying to provoke atomic war in Europe.

And one of Russia’s leading military strategists said here’s what the problem is: NATO wants to move bombers and atomic weapons right up to the border of Russia. That means that if they launch over us, we have only a few seconds to retaliate. President Putin a little while ago had given a speech saying that Russia doesn’t really have a land army. In fact, today, no country in the world, in the Northern Hemisphere, at least, has a land army that can invade anywhere. Try to imagine America being invaded by Canada, or by Mexico on its borders. You can’t imagine it. Impossible. No democracy can afford a land army anymore because the costs are so high that the costs of mounting a land war will just impoverish the economy.

As a matter of fact, what NATO is trying to do is to goad Russia into building up an army so it can undercut its economy by diverting more and more resources away from the economy towards the military. Russia’s not falling for it. Putin said that Russia has no intention of mounting a land army. It is unthinkable that it could even want to invade the Baltics or Poland. But Putin did say we have one means of retaliation, and that’s atomic bombs. Atomic weapons are basically defensive. They’re saying, we don’t need an army anymore. Nor does any country need an army if they have an atomic weapon, because if you attack us we’ll wipe you out. And we’ll be wiped out, too, but you’re never going to be able to conquer us. And no country, really, can conquer any other country. Russia can’t conquer Europe.

So the effect, Putin and the Russian leaders have said, look, if they suppose that an American plane goes a little bit off, like, you know, the ships try to provoke things, we don’t know whether it’s an atomic attack at all. We can’t take a risk. If there’s a little bit of a movement against us, we’re going to launch the hydrogen bombs, and there goes Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Manchester, Brussels. That’s why you’re having all of these warnings. And Europe is absolutely terrified that Obama is going to destabilize. And even more terrified of Hillary getting in, who’s indicated she’s going to appoint a superhawk, the Cheney protege Flournoy, as Secretary of Defense, and appoint Nuland, Victoria Nuland, as Secretary of State.

And all throughout Europe — I’ve been in Germany twice in the last two months, and they’re really worried that somehow America is telling Europe, let’s you and Russia fight. And basically it’s a crisis.