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30 April, 2016

Why Hillary Clinton truly represents an obsolete system

... and why Bernie Sanders shows that Millennials could be the generation that is about to demolish it

by system failure

The recent victory of Hillary Clinton in New York, as well as these in a series of states after, leave little room for someone to be optimistic about a miracle by Bernie Sanders. Although it's not over yet, the odds for him to win the nomination of the Democratic Party have been reduced significantly.

However, there are many who believe that Bernie's political revolution has just started, and they are probably right. In fact, the totally-pro-establishment Democratic Party probably has made a huge mistake already, by letting Bernie to enter as a Trojan Horse inside, and start the demolition of this brutal neoliberal establishment.

The lobbyists of the Democratic Party probably underestimated Bernie's ability to mobilize millions of Americans and especially the young people against the establishment. This means that people make the difference, Bernie is only the appropriate tool. As already mentioned : “The establishment starts to sense the first cracks in its solid structure. But Bernie is only the appropriate tool. It's the American people who make the difference. No matter who will be elected eventually, the final countdown for the demolition of this brutal system has already started and it's irreversible. The question now is not if, but when it will collapse, and what this collapse will bring the day after. In any case, if people are truly united, they have nothing to fear.

The establishment mechanisms did everything to "muzzle" Bernie's message for real change, but failed miserably. This shows that the establishment already struggles really hard to maintain its dominance.

A key factor for the transmission of Bernie's message was the American youth. The Millennials, who have grown with the technology of internet, exploited the social and alternative media and actually crashed the mainstream media propaganda and absolute domination.

However, it's not just the technology that played a crucial role here. More important and highly hopeful, is that a generation that was born inside the absolute dominance of the brutal neoliberalism, without actually experiencing any other (even slightly) different socio-political model, has come in the front line of the war against it. Actually, when generations start to defy seriously the dominant system, the revolution is about to begin.

On the other hand, the billionaire class continues "politics as usual", that is, throwing millions of dollars to promote its favorite puppet, Hillary Clinton, towards the US presidency. This is actually a good indication of how much obsolete the system is. The elites still bet their money on a single personality, a unit, a leader, because this common, "traditional" process costs much less. They "invest" some millions in one person to get more power and some billions.

It's time for Bernie's movement to form its own political party. A third pole which will break the corrupted bipartisanism and become the vehicle for a real political revolution. Whoever become president, the next four years will be crucial. The movement is expected to become even more powerful and better organized, to achieve the final decisive strike against the heavily wounded establishment.

FBI could soon legally hack any computer in the US ... and possibly beyond

The Supreme Court approved new rules on Thursday that would potentially give the FBI the authority to hack any computer in the United States, and potentially computers located overseas as well. Those hidden by Tor technology will also be vulnerable. Now the Congress have until December 1 to either approve the rule, reject or make changes to it – then any magistrate judge in the country could grant the FBI warrants authorizing hacks into computers whose whereabouts are unknown.


Under the phrase “concealed through technological means,” the court is referring to computers whose location is hidden via the use of anonymity software such as the Tor web browser.

Currently, magistrate judges cannot issue warrants for “remote searches” to the FBI if law enforcement doesn’t know where a computer in question is physically located, since its location could potentially be outside of the court’s jurisdiction.

Not only does the new rule change that, it also could allow the FBI to gain access to computers that have been already hacked by malicious software, meaning that victims of cyberattacks could see their computers searched by the government. If a computer is suspected to be part of compromised network, that network could also be searched. If a computer is ultimately located overseas but hidden via Tor, then authorities may potentially be able to hack into it as well.


The Supreme Court’s approval comes as courts in Massachusetts and Oklahoma have recently opted to toss out evidence collected by the government in relation to child pornography investigations, since the original search warrant obtained by the FBI came from a judge in Virginia. If the new rules approved by the Supreme Court go into effect, the evidence would have been allowed.

However, not everyone is buying the Justice Department’s argument. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) questioned the wisdom of the changes to Rule 41, adding that he will ask the government to detail its hacking process. He also said he will propose legislation to reverse the amendments.

Full report:

Pulitzer Prize winner denounces the coup in Brazil

Short notices about the new Brazilian coup

Τhe Pulitzer winner [photographer Mauricio Lima] contrasted the “very high level professionals in journalism here” – those gathered at the ceremony in New York – with the media outlets in Brazil openly inciting street protests and agitating for the exit of the elected president. To underscore the point, he held up a sign that read “Golpe: Nunca Mais” – “Coup: Never Again” – with the “o” in “Golpe” replaced by the logo of Globo, Brazil’s largest and most influential media outlet that spent 20 years cheering the 1964 coup and military dictatorship that followed, and which has spent the last year flagrantly using its multiple media properties to propagandize in favor of Dilma’s impeachment.

Brazil’s media has completely lost control of the narrative internationally, but also increasingly within Brazil. Their sleazy plan to install as president the corruption-tainted, deeply unpopular, oligarch-serving Vice President Michel Temer – who just this week, in a indescribably Orwellian manner, called proposals for “new elections” a “coup” – is becoming untenable.

Prominent, universally respected international figures are becoming increasingly vocal about the dangerous assault on democracy; the latest is the Argentine Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for his courageous work against his country’s military dictatorship and this week said during a visit to Brazil: “It’s very clear that what’s being mounted here is a concealed coup d’état, which we call a bloodless coup,” adding: “It would be a serious setback for the continent. I’m a survivor from the days of the [military] dictatorship [in Argentina]. To strengthen democratic institutions cost us a great deal. And here they’re under attack.


Newly independent Greece had an odious debt round her neck

Since 2010, Greece has been the centre of attention. Yet this debt crisis, mainly the work of private banks, is nothing new in the history of independent Greece. The lives of Greeks have been blighted by major debt crises no less than four times since 1826. Each time, the European powers have connived together to force Greece to contract new debts to repay the previous ones. This coalition of powers dictated policies to Greece that served their own interests and those of a few big private banks they favoured. Each time, those policies were designed to free up enough fiscal resources to service the debt by reducing social spending and public investment. Thus Greece and her people have, in a variety of ways, been denied the exercise of their sovereign rights, keeping Greece down with the status of a subordinate, peripheral country. The local ruling classes complied with this.

This series of articles analyses the four major crises of Greek indebtedness, placing them in their international political and economic context – something which is systematically omitted from the dominant narrative and very rarely included in critical analysis.

by Eric Toussaint

PART 3 - What happened to the repayments of the 1824 and 1825 loans?

It is worth remembering that repayments were suspended in 1826 and the creditors refused to come to an agreement with the provisional Greek government. The Troika finally deposed and replaced the provisional government with a monarchy. The FF 60 million loan (which was the equivalent of 124% of Greek GDP in 1833) did not replace the 1824 and 1825 loans (which were the equivalent of 120% of Greek GDP in 1833). Once the FF 60 million had been repaid, the Troika insisted that the matter of the 1824 and 1825 loans be settled.

That is why, in 1878, Greece was pressed into an agreement with the bankers who held these loans. The old bonds were exchanged for new bonds worth £1.2 million sterling. This was an excellent arrangement for the creditors but more injustice for the Greek people. As the amount effectively transferred to Greece in the 1824-25 loans was no more than £1.3 million, the creditors had every reason for satisfaction, especially as some of them had purchased their bonds for next to nothing. The bankers have continually speculated on Greek bonds, selling when they start to go down and buying back when they start to rise.

It is shocking to see how most of the superficial analysis of Greek debt claims that Greek public spending was too high and tax evasion was rife. However, a rigorous analysis of State budgets shows primary surpluses, with only two exceptions; in other words, all through the 41 years between 1837 and 1877, revenues were superior to expenditure before debt repayment was taken into account.

Once debt repayment enters the picture, it becomes clear that it was the sole cause of the unsustainable debt burden. We are not suggesting that the Monarchy managed the State budget in the interests of the population. Throughout history, creditors have typically insisted upon having a primary budget surplus. A primary surplus is a guarantee to creditors that a debt can be repaid, as it provides the funds for repayment. The burden of debt repayment and administrative supervision exercised by the big European powers are among the principal reasons why Greece has been unable to establish a growing economy.

Conclusion of this part

The 1824-25 loans should be considered as illegitimate and illegal because the terms in the contracts were unfair and the manipulations by the bankers clearly deceptive.

The 1833 loan clearly falls into the category of odious debt. The debt was taken on by a despotic regime dominated by major foreign powers consolidating their strategic objectives on the backs of the Greek people, while at the same time catering to the demands of the international bankers.

The refusal of the creditors and the great powers to abolish or reduce the debt has produced long-term effects that maintain Greece in submission and prohibit real economic development.

The people of Greece have remained in the thrall of the odious debt that she was born with.

Source, tables and references:

[1] [2]

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative?

by George Monbiot


Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe. We are all neoliberals now.


Read also:

At least 50 people killed in overnight airstrike on Aleppo hospital

War Crimes

Air strikes hit a hospital in a rebel-held area of Syria’s Aleppo and killed at least 27 people, including three children and the city’s last paediatrician, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.

A new wave of aerial bombing on Thursday on rebel-held districts of the city killed at least 30 more civilians, a rescue worker said. The Observatory put the toll at least 20.

In government-held areas, rebel mortar shelling killed at least 14 people, the Britain-based Observatory and Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

The bombed Al Quds hospital was supported by international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which said it was destroyed after being hit by a direct air strike that killed at least three doctors.

Bebars Mishal of the Civil Defence in Aleppo told Reuters that 40 people had been killed in a five-storey building next to the hospital.



The death toll at a hospital hit by airstrikes in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo rose to at least 50 people, including six medics, the French charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Friday. The al-Quds hospital, in a rebel-held part of the divided city, was struck overnight Wednesday-Thursday, Reuters reported.

29 April, 2016

Τώρα και στην Ελλάδα: Το άδικο φορολογικό σύστημα αυξάνει την ανισότητα στη Λατινική Αμερική

Πρόσφατη έρευνα δείχνει, ότι το άδικο φορολογικό σύστημα είναι σε ένα σημαντικό βαθμό υπεύθυνο για τη συσσώρευση πλούτου και την αυξανόμενη ανισότητα στη Λατινική Αμερική. Από το prensa-rebelde:

Η συγκέντρωση του πλούτου στο 10% του πληθυσμού της Λατινικής Αμερικής και της Καραϊβικής οξύνει την ανισότητα στην περιοχή, επιβεβαιώνει μια έκθεση που παρουσίασε η Oικονομική Επιτροπή για τη Λατινική Αμερική και την Καραϊβική (Cepal) του ΟΗΕ.

Σύμφωνα με την ανάλυση “Φορολογία για μια ολοκληρωμένη ανάπτυξη”, που πραγματοποιήθηκε από κοινού με την μη κυβερνητική οργάνωση Οxfam, αυτό το 10% κατέχει το 71% του πλούτου και πληρώνει μόνο το 5,4% φόρο από τα εισόδηματά του και αυτό είναι που “βρίσκεται στην καρδιά της ανισότητας”, μετέδωσε ο ρεπόρτερ του πρακτορείου Prensa Latina στον ΟΗΕ και την Οxfarm που βρέθηκε στην Χιλιανή πρωτεύουσα για το 28ο Περιφερειακό Σεμινάριο Φορολογικής Πολιτικής.


Το ντοκουμέντο επισημαίνει ότι οι πιο πλούσιοι από τον πληθυσμό, πληρώνουν ένα ποσοστό φόρου εξαιρετικά χαμηλό, αν συγκριθεί με το υψηλό ποσοστό που πληρώνουν οι μισθωτοί. Επιχειρηματολογώντας σημειώνει ότι οι πιο ευκατάστατες ομάδες της περιοχής πληρώνουν έναν φόρο 1-3% στο ακαθάριστο εισόδημά τους, ενώ αντίστοιχα, στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες πληρώνουν 14,2% και σε κάποιες ευρωπαϊκές χώρες, πάνω από 20%.

Η μελέτη επισημαίνει ότι το φορολογικό σύστημα στην Λατινική Αμερική ευνοεί την είσπραξη φόρων στην κατανάλωση (IVA), πράγμα που θέτει τα πρόσωπα με μικρότερα εισοδήματα σε μειονεκτική θέση απέναντι στους πιο πλούσιους που απολαμβάνουν φορολογικές εξαιρέσεις και διευκολύνσεις για να αποφύγουν φόρους.

Οι πολιτικές αυτές προωθούνται κατά κόρον στο Ελληνικό πείραμα, με σκοπό την εξόντωση του μικρομεσαίου κλάδου και την αποικισμό της χώρας από το μεγάλο κεφάλαιο. Όπως έχει αναφερθεί σε προηγούμενο άρθρο : “Οι νεοφιλελέ παπαγάλοι στα τηλεπαράθυρα και στα διάφορα ιντερνετικά sites, αναπαρήγαγαν με θρησκευτική ευλάβεια την καραμέλα της βαριάς φορολογίας του ιδιωτικού τομέα, ανάμεσά τους και στελέχη της κυβέρνησης Σαμαρά-Βενιζέλου. Και ακριβώς επειδή το σύστημα φρόντισε προηγουμένως να τσουβαλιάσει όσους δεν ανήκουν στο δημόσιο, κάτω από την ταμπέλα του ιδιωτικού τομέα (ακόμα και τους αγρότες που η νέα εποχή τους θέλει επιχειρηματίες), οι παπαγάλοι δεν μπήκαν στον κόπο να διευκρινίσουν, ότι όταν μιλούν για φοροαπαλλαγές, εννοούν τις μεγάλες εταιρίες και πολυεθνικές.

Υπενθυμίζεται ότι, η ιστορία του νεοφιλελευθερισμού ξεκινά με μια δικτατορία, όταν ο δικτάτορας Πινοσέτ ανέτρεψε τον δημοκρατικά εκλεγμένο πρόεδρο στην Χιλή, Σαλβαντόρ Αλιέντε τον Σεπτέμβριο του 1973, με την υποστήριξη των Αμερικανών, οι οποίοι μετέτρεψαν κατόπιν τη Χιλή στο πρώτο πειραματόζωο του νεοφιλελευθερισμού, με τον Μίλτον Φρίντμαν και τα "παιδιά του Σικάγο" να γίνονται σύμβουλοι του δικτάτορα. Η Χιλή μετατράπηκε σε ένα πεδίο εκμετάλλευσής από Αμερικανικές εταιρίες και ισχυρά καρτέλ και η πλειοψηφία των ανθρώπων υπέφερε από τη φτώχεια και από μια 17-χρονη βάρβαρη δικτατορία.

Ολόκληρη η Λατινική Αμερική υπέφερε από παρόμοιες πολιτικές για δεκαετίες, έχοντας την ατυχία να αποτελεί το "μαλακό υπογάστριο" της ιμπεριαλιστικής αυτοκρατορίας των ΗΠΑ.

Ειδικά την προηγούμενη δεκαετία και αυτή που διανύουμε, πολλές χώρες στη Λατινική Αμερική προσπάθησαν να αλλάξουν πορεία, επιχειρώντας να επανιδρύσουν το κοινωνικό κράτος και να αμβλύνουν τις τεράστιες ανισότητες που δημιούργησε η βαρβαρότητα του νεοφιλελεύθερου δόγματος. Όπως ήταν φυσικό, η ιμπεριαλιστική αυτοκρατορία ξεκίνησε τον γνωστό, βρόμικο πόλεμο εναντίον Αριστερών κυβερνήσεων που ηγήθηκαν αυτών των προσπαθειών. Διαδηλώσεις υποκινούμενες και χρηματοδοτούμενες από Αμερικανικούς οργανισμούς, όπως οι NED και USAID, άφθονη προπαγάνδα, "ήπια" πραξικοπήματα, ακόμη και εκλογική νοθεία, ήταν οι γνωστοί μέθοδοι που χρησιμοποιήθηκαν εναντίον χωρών όπως η Βενεζουέλα. Πρόσφατη περίπτωση που "μυρίζει" Αμερικανικό δάχτυλο, η παραπομπή της προέδρου της Βραζιλίας, Ντίλμα Ρουσέφ, για διαφθορά, ώστε να χάσει το αξίωμά της και να αντικατασταθεί με ένα περισσότερο αρεστό στις ΗΠΑ πρόεδρο.

Οι γραφειοφασίστες των Βρυξελλών και οι οικονομικοί δολοφόνοι του ΔΝΤ επιβάλλουν τις ίδιες πολιτικές στην κυβέρνηση Τσίπρα, με στόχο την ολοκλήρωση του πειράματος και τη μεταφορά του σε Ευρωπαϊκό επίπεδο, στα πρότυπα του Λατινοαμερικανικού μοντέλου. Μεγάλες φοροαπαλλαγές για τράπεζες και πολυεθνικές, μεγαλύτερη φορολογική θηλιά για τις μικρομεσαίες επιχειρήσεις και τα νοικοκυριά. Η τέλεια συνταγή για ακόμα μεγαλύτερη αύξηση της ανισότητας. Οι μέθοδοι στην περίπτωση αυτή διαφορετικοί, αν και όχι τόσο "εκλεπτυσμένοι", όπως για παράδειγμα ωμοί εκβιασμοί μέσω οικονομικής ασφυξίας, κλειστές τράπεζες και οικονομικά πραξικοπήματα τύπου Ντράγκι.

Υπενθυμίζεται ότι, ο επικεφαλής των οικονομικών δολοφόνων του ΔΝΤ, Πολ Τόμσεν, λίγο μετά τις αποκαλύψεις των WikiLeaks, όπου "πιάστηκε" να συζητάει με την Ντέλια Βελκουλέσκου για την πιθανότητα ενός ακόμα πραξικοπήματος τύπου Ντράγκι, εναντίον της Ελλάδας, “επέμεινε και στη δραστική μείωση του αφορολόγητου ορίου – την οποία θεωρεί 'κόκκινη γραμμή' η ελληνική κυβέρνηση – λέγοντας ότι πρέπει να υπάρξει διεύρυνση της φορολογικής βάσης για να σταματήσει η συνεχής αύξηση των φορολογικών συντελεστών στην ανώτερη κλίμακα.” (

New study shows mass surveillance breeds meekness, fear and self-censorship

A newly published study from Oxford’s Jon Penney provides empirical evidence for a key argument long made by privacy advocates: that the mere existence of a surveillance state breeds fear and conformity and stifles free expression. Reporting on the study, the Washington Post this morning described this phenomenon: “If we think that authorities are watching our online actions, we might stop visiting certain websites or not say certain things just to avoid seeming suspicious.

The new study documents how, in the wake of the 2013 Snowden revelations (of which 87% of Americans were aware), there was “a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned ‘al-Qaeda,’ 'car bomb’ or ‘Taliban.'” People were afraid to read articles about those topics because of fear that doing so would bring them under a cloud of suspicion. The dangers of that dynamic were expressed well by Penney: “If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate.

As the Post explains, several other studies have also demonstrated how mass surveillance crushes free expression and free thought. A 2015 study examined Google search data and demonstrated that, post-Snowden, “users were less likely to search using search terms that they believed might get them in trouble with the US government” and that these “results suggest that there is a chilling effect on search behavior from government surveillance on the Internet.

Full report:


WikiLeaks vs MainstreamLeaks on Panama Papers

WikiLeaks took to Twitter to criticize what the organization describes as the continued “censorship” of the Panama Papers archive by the organizations and reporters who control the contents of the leak.

The massive archive of 2.6 terabytes of financial data leaked from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca is controlled by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and hundreds of journalists who have been selected to write about the archive’s contents.

The Panama Papers exposed the efforts the world’s wealthiest people, including more than a dozen world leaders, take to hide their earnings from tax authorities. The release caused upheaval in Iceland’s government and protests in the United Kingdom.

A growing number of international authorities are demanding access to the archive, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, including a German finance minister and representatives of the U.S. Justice Department. But ICIJ’s director told DW last week that they would reject these and all similar requests.

Our focus is journalism … ICIJ, and its parent organization, the Center for Public Integrity, are media organizations shielded by the First Amendment and other legal protections from becoming an arm of law enforcement,” Gerard Ryle said.

WikiLeaks sharply criticized this decision, suggesting on Tuesday that time was running out for these investigations as money is moved and evidence destroyed.

However, in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit on Tuesday, the investigative unit at Süddeutsche Zeitung argued that limiting access to the archive was a way to protect the source of the leak: “As journalists, we have to protect our source: we can’t guarantee that there is no way for someone to find out who the source is with the data.” In response, WikiLeaks slammed this as an “entirely bogus” justification by ICIJ that allows for “lucrative privatization” of the Panama Papers.


Intense protests against anti-labor reform continue in France

Police officers have clashed with protesters and deployed tear gas in several French cities, according to local media. Arrests were made as thousands of people took to the streets to continue demonstrations against labor reforms.

Photos posted on Twitter showed demonstrators making their way through clouds of tear gas as they marched through the streets of several French cities, including Nantes, Lyon, Rennes, and Paris. In Rennes, police deployed tear gas on demonstrators throwing projectiles on a street leading to the square of the Parliament of Brittany.

About 9,000 demonstrators gathered on the streets of Nantes, according to police. An image posted on Twitter showed a Porsche and a scooter which had been set on fire. Windows could also be seen smashed across the city.

The mayor of Nantes, Johanna Rolland, has condemned the incidents as "unacceptable acts of small groups whose express purpose is to commit violence," French news outlet 20 Minutes reported. A photo from Quimper showed demonstrators staging a sit-in while waving flags and holding signs against the labor reforms.

Demonstrations against the labor law reforms since they were put forward by Labor Minister Myrian El Khomri. The government says the reforms – which focus on fighting unemployment by loosening protections on France's 35-hour work week and layoffs, and reducing overtime bonuses – will help curb the country's high unemployment rate. Protesters and workers' unions, however, say the government wants to make it easier and less costly for employers to lay off workers. France's unemployment rate hit a record high last month, pushing jobless numbers to 3.591 million people, according to the Labor Ministry.

Full report, pictures & videos:


Newly independent Greece had an odious debt round her neck

Since 2010, Greece has been the centre of attention. Yet this debt crisis, mainly the work of private banks, is nothing new in the history of independent Greece. The lives of Greeks have been blighted by major debt crises no less than four times since 1826. Each time, the European powers have connived together to force Greece to contract new debts to repay the previous ones. This coalition of powers dictated policies to Greece that served their own interests and those of a few big private banks they favoured. Each time, those policies were designed to free up enough fiscal resources to service the debt by reducing social spending and public investment. Thus Greece and her people have, in a variety of ways, been denied the exercise of their sovereign rights, keeping Greece down with the status of a subordinate, peripheral country. The local ruling classes complied with this.

This series of articles analyses the four major crises of Greek indebtedness, placing them in their international political and economic context – something which is systematically omitted from the dominant narrative and very rarely included in critical analysis.

by Eric Toussaint

PART 2 - How did the Troika of the United Kingdom, France and Russia proceed?

The Troika turned to French banks, asking them to issue a loan of 60 million French francs (FF) equivalent to about £2.4 million sterling. The United Kingdom, France and Russia acted as guarantors to the banks, promising to undertake repayment themselves, should Greece default. The Troika added that they would take measures to ensure that the loans of 1824 and 1825 would also be repaid. The agreement between the three powers was made in 1830 but such were the difficulties involved in carrying it out, that it did not come into effect until 1833. The FF 60 million loan was made in 1833 and paid in three tranches.

It is particularly edifying to note what the first two tranches were used for. (The loan was issued in French francs and paid in Greek drachma (GDR) at the rate of one gold franc to 1.2 GDR.) Out of a total of 44.5 million GDR, only 9 million ended up in the Greek State Treasury, i.e. 20% of the nominal amount borrowed. The Rothschild Bank in France deducted more than 10% commission or 5 million GDR; those who bought the bonds, including Rothschild, received 7.6 million in advance interest for the period 1833-1835, i.e. more than 15% of the nominal amount; 12.5 million, or a little less than 30% of the nominal amount, was paid to the Ottoman Empire as compensation to offset their losses due to Greek independence; France, the United Kingdom and Russia took 2 million GDR, as creditors of Greece; over 15% of the nominal amount borrowed, or 7.4 million GDR, was paid to King Otto to cover pay and travelling expenses for his suite of Bavarian dignitaries who assured the regency and for the 3500 mercenaries recruited in Bavaria, as well as 1 million GDR spent on arms.

On 7 May 1832 the great powers signed an agreement with the King of Bavaria, father of Otto, the future King of Greece, obliging the newly ‘independent’ state to give absolute priority to repayment of debt. As can be clearly seen in the reproduction of part of the agreement of 7 May 1832, this document was signed by the representative of the British Crown, Lord Palmerston; the representative of the French monarchy, Talleyrand; the representative of the Tsar of all the Russias and the representative of the King of Bavaria acting on behalf of Greece before Otto and his suite had even left Munich! Otto was not to arrive in Greece until January 1833. With this document, we have undeniable proof of the odious and illegal nature of the debt imputed to the Greek people from 1833.

The Troika exerted strict budgetary control on the state and its revenue collection. They regularly demanded that taxes and duties be increased and that spending be compressed. We note that the 5th National Assembly which met in December 1831 had adopted a ‘Greek Constitution’ of which Article 246 stipulated that the sovereign did not have the right to make decisions alone regarding taxes, duties, public spending or revenue collection, without observing laws or resolutions adopted by the legislative body. The monarchy and the Troika trampled this Constitution underfoot without ever giving it due recognition.

In 1838 and 1843, the monarchy suspended debt payments, not having enough funds in the Treasury to afford such heavy interest rates. At the time of the 1843 default, when the interest to be paid represented 43% of state revenue, the Troika put maximum pressure on the monarchy to implement a radical austerity plan as dictated by the ambassadors of the three powers.

Such were the sacrifices imposed on the Greek population that they rebelled on several occasions. In 1843, the revolt was particularly strong. Already outraged by the pomp and extravagance of the ceremonial inauguration of the imposing royal palace (now the seat of the Hellenic Parliament), in September 1843 the population of Athens rose up against yet another tax increase and clamoured for a constitutional regime. The United Kingdom went as far as threatening King Otto with military intervention if he did not increase taxes to fulfil his obligations towards the Troika. The British and French navies occupied the port of Piraeus for two years from May 1854 as a very efficient way of laying hands on customs revenue levied in the port.

Otto was eventually overthrown and expelled by popular uprisings throughout the country in 1862. After which, a new constitution was introduced that was only a limited restriction of regal powers. The Troika looked for a new King. London proposed the second son of Queen Victoria. France and Russia were hostile to this proposal, not wanting to see British influence spread further. Finally, agreement was reached on a Danish prince by the name of Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.

Since 1843, as promised to the banks, the Troika had undertaken the repayments of Greek debt when Greek revenues were insufficient to cover capital and/or interest repayments. Troika repayments ended in 1871 and the creditors could be well satisfied: they had earned interest and their loans were repaid. The FF 60 million loan was wiped out.

However, Greece continued to devote a part of its revenues to debt repayment. France, Russia and the UK claimed from Greece the sums they had paid out to the bankers when Greece was unable to pay. These payments continued into the 1930s, although Russia received no further repayments after the 1917 revolution.

Source, tables and references:

[1] [3]

Pregnant woman gunned down by Israeli soldiers at checkpoint

Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Wednesday, a Palestinian mother of two, who was also five months pregnant, and her brother, at the Qalandia terminal, north of occupied Jerusalem.

The soldiers fired more than fifteen bullets targeting the woman, and prevented Palestinian medics from approaching the two.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the slain woman has been identified as Maram Saleh Abu Ismael, 24, from Beit Surik town, north of occupied Jerusalem; five-months pregnant and a mother of two daughters identified as Sarah and Rimas.


Concentración de la riqueza aumenta la desigualdad en Latinoamérica

Según el análisis Tributación para un crecimiento inclusivo, el 10 % de la población en la región posee el 71 % de la riqueza y tributa solo el 5,4 % de su renta

La concentración de la riqueza en el 10 % de la población de América Latina y el Caribe atiza la desigualdad en la región, asegura un informe presentado por la Cepal.

Según el análisis Tributación para un crecimiento inclusivo, realizado de conjunto con la organización no gubernamental Oxfam, ese 10 % posee el 71 % de la riqueza y tributa solo el 5,4 % de su renta, lo cual “está en el corazón de la desigualdad”.

El reporte de la agencia de Naciones Unidas y la Oxfam, fue difundido este jueves a propósito del XXVIII Seminario Regional de Política Fiscal, que concluyó en esta capital, informa PL.

Alicia Bárcena, secretaria ejecutiva de la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (Cepal), destacó que salvaguardar los avances ya logrados por la región y garantizar un crecimiento inclusivo y sostenible deben ser prioridades.

En consecuencia, la Cepal y Oxfam hemos firmado un acuerdo para trabajar de manera conjunta en la promoción y construcción de un nuevo consenso contra la desigualdad, acotó.

El documento señala que los más ricos de la población del área pagan una tasa efectiva de impuesto sobre la renta personal excepcionalmente baja si se la compara con la tasa aplicada al ingreso de los trabajadores asalariados.

Argumenta que los grupos más pudientes en la zona pagan por concepto de impuestos entre el 1 y el 3 % de su ingreso bruto, mientras por ejemplo en Estados Unidos la tasa efectiva es de 14,2 % y en algunos países europeos incluso excede el 20.

El estudio advierte que el sistema fiscal de Latinoamérica favorece la recaudación de impuestos al consumo (IVA), lo que pone a las personas con menores ingresos en desventaja frente a los más ricos, que gozan de exenciones tributarias y facilidades para eludir impuestos.

Bárcena, por su parte, remarcó que “un sistema tributario internacional arcaico y disfuncional también proporciona a las empresas y a los ricos amplias oportunidades para que eviten pagar los impuestos que les corresponden en justicia”.


28 April, 2016

Commission fails to regulate new GMOs after intense US lobbying

Corporate Europe Observatory

The European Commission has shelved a legal opinion confirming that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) produced through gene-editing and other new techniques fall under EU GMO law, following pressure from the US government. A series of internal Commission documents obtained under freedom of information rules reveal intense lobbying by US representatives for the EU to disregard its GMO rules, which require safety testing and labelling.

The documents show that US pressure is focussed on potential barriers to trade from the application of EU GMO law. They suggest that the EU should ignore health and environmental safeguards on GMOs to pave the way for a transatlantic trade agreement.

This briefing exposes lobbying by the US government during a crucial period, at the end of 2015, as revealed in pre-meeting briefings and correspondence released by the Commission:

No wonder why Obama took a clear position in favor of TTIP prior to the beginning of the next round of TTIP negotiations on 25 April 2016 in New York. From PressTV :

President Barack Obama says the United States and the European Union (EU) need to press ahead with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) despite widespread opposition.

Angela and I agree that the United States and the European Union need to keep moving forward with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations,” Obama said Sunday [24/4] after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking in a joint press conference with Merkel in the German city of Hannover, Obama added that the controversial trade pact’s benefits for the US economy were “indisputable.”

Luxembourg puts whistleblowers on trial for ruining its tax haven

Luxembourg is trying to throw two French whistleblowers and a journalist in prison for their role in the “LuxLeaks” exposé that revealed the tiny country’s outsized role in enabling corporate tax avoidance.

The trial of Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet, two former employees of the international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, and journalist Edouard Perrin began Tuesday.

Deltour and Halet were charged in connection with theft of PwC documents. Perrin is charged as an accomplice for steering Halet toward documents that he considered of particular interest.

Perrin, a reporter with Premières Lignes Television in Paris, produced the first LuxLeaks reporting. PwC documents were later obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and, together with records from other accounting giants, formed the basis for the 2014 “LuxLeaks” series involving over 80 journalists across the world.

Among the many prominent supporters of the defendants, France’s Finance Minister Michel Sapin told the French parliament Tuesday that Deltour was “defending the general interest” and that he “would like to offer him all our solidarity.” Almost 175,000 people have signed a petition in support of Deltour.

Full report:

Things can become even worse concerning other cases like LuxLeaks, through which it has been revealed that Luxemburg was - and still is - a tax haven at the expense of the rest of the European "partners". That's because in this case, not only there is nothing illegal, but the mechanism of the tax evasion was orchestrated and legislated by the state of Luxemburg. Besides, this is the reason for which the whistleblower Antoine Deltour, as well as, Edouard Perrin, the journalist who published LuxLeaks scandal, are going to trial next week in the Large Dukedom of Jean-Claude Juncker.

Former tax lobbyists are writing the rules on tax dodging

The secret tax dodging strategies of the global elite in China, Russia, Brazil, the U.K., and beyond were exposed in speculator fashion by the recent Panama Papers investigation, fueling a worldwide demand for a crackdown on tax avoidance.

But there is little appetite in Congress for taking on powerful tax dodgers in the U.S., where the practice has become commonplace.

A request for comment about the Panama Papers to the two congressional committees charged with tax policy — House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee — was ignored.

The reluctance by congressional leaders to tackle tax dodging is nothing new, especially given that some of the largest companies paying little to no federal taxes are among the biggest campaign contributors in the country. But there’s another reason to remain skeptical that Congress will move aggressively on tax avoidance: Former tax lobbyists now run the tax-writing committees.

Full report:

Newly independent Greece had an odious debt round her neck

Since 2010, Greece has been the centre of attention. Yet this debt crisis, mainly the work of private banks, is nothing new in the history of independent Greece. The lives of Greeks have been blighted by major debt crises no less than four times since 1826. Each time, the European powers have connived together to force Greece to contract new debts to repay the previous ones. This coalition of powers dictated policies to Greece that served their own interests and those of a few big private banks they favoured. Each time, those policies were designed to free up enough fiscal resources to service the debt by reducing social spending and public investment. Thus Greece and her people have, in a variety of ways, been denied the exercise of their sovereign rights, keeping Greece down with the status of a subordinate, peripheral country. The local ruling classes complied with this.

This series of articles analyses the four major crises of Greek indebtedness, placing them in their international political and economic context – something which is systematically omitted from the dominant narrative and very rarely included in critical analysis.

by Eric Toussaint

PART 1 - How did the loans work?

To fund the independence war it waged against the Ottoman Empire from 1821 and to establish the new state, the provisional government of the Hellenic Republic contracted two loans from London, one in 1824 and the other in 1825. Bankers in London, by far the biggest financial centre in the world at the time, hastened to set up the loan, seeing it as a means of making a huge profit.

Internationally, the capitalist system was in full speculative phase which, throughout the history of capitalism, has generally been the final phase of a period of strong economic growth preceding a backlash. That backlash takes the form of bursting speculative bubbles and then a period of depression and/or slow growth. Bankers in London, followed by those of Paris, Brussels and other European finance centres, were in a frenzy to invest the enormous amounts of liquidity at their disposal. Between 1822 and 1825, London bankers ‘harvested’ £20 million sterling on behalf of leaders of the newly independent Latin-American countries (Simón Bolívar, Antonio Sucre, Jose de San Martín and more) to finalize their independence struggle against the Spanish crown. The two Greek loans of 1824 and 1825 came to a total of £2.8 million, i.e. 120% of the country’s GDP at the time.

Both in the case of Greece and in that of the young revolutionary independent governments of Latin America, the new states were barely emerging and did not yet have international recognition. Spain was opposed to European states giving financial support to the fledgling Latin-American ones. After all, it could reasonably be supposed, at the time, that the independence struggles were not completely over. Lastly, loans were being granted to republics whereas hitherto only monarchies had been admitted to the club of sovereign borrowers.

All that goes to show just how eager bankers were to take financial risks. That banks would lend 120% of a country’s entire annual product to the provisional government of a Greek state only just emerging under wartime conditions is a clear indication of a reckless desire to make juicy profits. Alongside the bankers, big industrial and commercial companies also supported this craze, as the amounts loaned were largely going to be used by the borrowers to buy the new armies weaponry, uniforms and equipment of every sort from the United Kingdom.

How did the loans work?

London bankers issued sovereign bonds in the name of the borrower states and sold them on the stock-exchange in the City. Most of the time, bonds were sold for less than their face value (see the illustration of an 1825 bond worth £100). Thus each bond issued on Greece’s account for a face value of £100 was sold for £60. This meant that Greece obtained less than £60, once a hefty commission had been deducted by the issuing bank against an IOU of £100. This explains why for a loan valued at £2.8 million, Greece only received payment of £1.3 million. Two further important facts: if the interest rate on the Greek bonds was 5%, it was calculated on the face value so the Greek government had to pay £5 a year to the bearer of a bond valued at £100, which was an excellent deal for him or her, bringing a real profit of 8.33% (and not 5%). On the other hand, for the borrower state, the cost is exorbitant. In the case of Greece, the government received £1.3 million but had to pay interest each year on the £2.8 million ostensibly borrowed. That was not sustainable.

In 1826, the provisional government suspended debt payments. Studies of this period generally explain the suspension by the high cost of military operations and the continuing conflict.

In fact, the causes of Greece’s default were not only internal; international factors, beyond the control of the Greek government, also played a very important role. For one thing, the first great global crisis of international capitalism began in December 1825, with the bursting of the speculative bubble created in the London stock-exchange over the previous years. That crisis caused a fall in economic activity, bringing down numerous banks and creating an aversion to risk. Starting in December 1825, British bankers, followed by other European bankers, ceased making foreign and domestic loans. The new states, expecting to finance their debt payments by taking out fresh loans in London or Paris, could no longer find any bankers disposed to lend. The 1825-26 crisis affected all the finance centres of Europe: London, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna, Brussels, Amsterdam, Milan, Bologna, Rome, Dublin, Saint Petersburg, and the list goes on. There was an economic depression and hundreds of banks, traders and manufacturing companies went bankrupt. International trade fell through the floor. Most economists consider the 1825-26 slump to be the first of the great cyclic crises of capitalism.

When the crisis broke in London in December 1825, Greece and the new Latin-American states continued to repay their debts. However in the course of 1826, several countries – Greece, Peru and Great Colombia which included Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador – were obliged to suspend repayments. This was partly due to banks refusing to grant new loans, and partly because states’ revenues were adversely affected by the deterioration of the economic situation, and particularly international trade. By 1828, all the independent Latin-American countries, from Mexico to Argentina, had suspended payments.

In 1829, the provisional Hellenic government made their London creditors an offer to resume payments, on condition that the debt be reduced. The creditors refused, demanding 100% of the nominal value; no agreement was reached.

From 1830 on, three of Europe’s major powers – the United Kingdom, France and Russia – formed the first Troika in modern Greek history and decided to establish a monarchy in Greece with a German prince at its head. Negotiations began over which prince to choose: Leopold of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Prince Otto of Bavaria or someone else? Finally Leopold was placed on the throne of Belgium which became an independent state in 1830 and the Bavarian prince, Otto von Wittelsbach, was chosen to be the King of Greece. At the same time, the three great powers agreed to give their support to British and other European banks which, through them, bought Greek bonds. The idea was also to exert pressure on the new Greek state to get full reimbursement of the loans of 1824 and 1825.

Source and references:

Fears of terrorist nuke attack after power plant hacked in Germany

A German nuclear power plant found its network implanted with viruses which could allow remote access to equipment for moving nuclear fuel rods. The major security breach occurred at the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant, 75 miles northwest of Munich, after malware was found on 18 removable data drives.

The W32.Ramnit and Conficker viruses were discovered on the drives — malware which could be used to obtain sensitive nuclear fuel data. W32.Ramnit allows hackers access to files and, potentially, physical control over systems; terrorists could access the information and use it to build a radioactive ‘dirty' bomb.

According to officials, the plant is isolated from the Internet, and, as such, no online theft could occur.


The two Brussels bombers hid a camera near the home of the research and development director of the Belgian Nuclear Programme. Police assumed the two were planning a kidnapping to gain access to the highly-sensitive atomic site.

Another warning sign was the discovery of documents related to a German nuclear base, in the flat of a Paris attacks suspect.The Gundremmingen case has pushed German utility company RWE to enhance its cybersecurity protection measures.


27 April, 2016

Common struggles: Greeks for the mass movement of Bernie Sanders!

globinfo freexchange

The initiative "Greeks for the mass movement of Bernie Sanders" has come to cover a gap: that of the information of the Greek public opinion for the historically important movement, created by the unprecedented popular support of the effort by Bernie Sanders to claim the nomination of the Democratic Party for the US presidential elections.

That's because the - global, not only in Greece - methodical absence of adequate and objective information concerning the mobilization of millions of American citizens on the side of Bernie Sanders, deprives from the Greek public opinion its right to shape its own opinion, without any interference, in order to realize that the struggles of the Greek people converge with those of the mass, radical movement that supports Bernie Sanders! Realize that these are common struggles!

All these, having in mind that Bernie is and was a steady supporter of the rights and struggles of the Greek people, like no other foreign politician. Not only by denouncing IMF and the other executioners of the Greek people, but also by supporting publicly people's resounding 'ΟΧΙ' (ΝΟ) in the referendum of July 2015, and its right to audit, denounce, and, refuse to pay the illegitimate and illegal public debt.

Yet, the initiative "Greeks for the mass movement of Bernie Sanders" is not restricted only to information. Its objective is to contribute to the development of a substantial solidarity to the growing mass American movement that supports Bernie Sanders, in Greece. That's because the initiative knows how much this new and radical movement desires and needs the international support from every corner of the planet, especially now that the American establishment is attacking it in full force.

However, we have the same ambition also concerning our initiative in a European level, encouraging the birth of respective initiatives in other countries, as well as, establishing the cooperation and networking among them. Therefore, it is not accidental that the Greek initiative opens a European (multilingual) Facebook page, at the same time with the corresponding Greek one, which already contains texts and information in other European languages.

Finally, the initiative "Greeks for the mass movement of Bernie Sanders", does not hide that will contribute, according to its capability, to the historically important and highly desirable evolution of the movement supporting Bernie Sanders, into a permanent, mass, radical and class movement. A movement towards the liberation of millions of workers, young people, women, as well as, Afro-Americans, Latinos and native American citizens from the bipartisanism of the Republican and the Democratic parties, which could change radically the status quo at the heart of the global imperialistic superpower and change the course of history for the benefit of all the oppressed people of the world and our endangered planet.

So, we address to all of you who agree with the above, and we ask for your help, support and participation. Write us at

Read also:

Washington launches its attack against BRICS

by Paul Craig Roberts

Having removed the reformist President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Washington is now disposing of the reformist President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff.

Washington used a federal judge to order Argentina to sacrifice its debt restructuring program in order to pay US vulture funds the full value of defaulted Argentine bonds that the vulture funds had bought for a few pennies on the dollar. These vultures were called “creditors” who had made “loans” regardless of the fact that they were not creditors and had made no loans. They were opportunists after easy money and were used by Washington to get rid of a reformist government.

President Kirchner resisted and, thus, she had to go. Washington concocted a story that Kirchner covered up an alleged Iranian bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994. This implausible fantasy, for which there is no evidence of Iranian involvement, was fed to one of Washington’s agents in the state prosecutor’s office, and a dubious event of 22 years ago was used to clear Kirchner out of the way of the American looting of Argentina.

In Brazil, Washington has used corruption insinuations to get President Rousseff impeached by the lower house. Evidence is not necessary, just allegations. It is no different from “Iranian nukes,” Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” Assad’s “use of chemical weapons,” or in Rousseff’s case merely insinuations. The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, notes that Rousseff “hasn’t been accused of anything.” The American-backed elites are simply using impeachment to remove a president who they cannot defeat electorally.

In short, this is Washington’s move against the BRICS. Washington is moving to put into political power a rightwing party that Washington controls in order to terminate Brazil’s growing relationships with China and Russia.

The great irony is that the impeachment bill was presided over by the corrupt lower house speaker, Eduardo Cunha, who was recently discovered to have stashed millions of dollars in secret Swiss bank accounts (perhaps his pay-off from Washington) and who lied under oath when he denied having foreign bank accounts. You can read the sordid story here:

Kirchner and Rousseff’s “crimes” are their efforts to have the governments of Argentina and Brazil represent the Argentine and Brazilian peoples rather than the elites and Wall Street. In Washington these are serious offenses as Washington uses the elites to control South American countries. Whenever Latin Americans elect a government that represents them, Washington overthrows the government or assassinates the president.

Washington is close to returning Venezuela to the control of the Spanish elite allied with Washington. The presidents of Ecuador and Bolivia are also targeted. One reason Washington will not permit its British lapdog to honor the asylum Ecuador granted to Julian Assange is that Washington expects to have its own agent back in as President of Ecuador, at which time Assange’s asylum will be repealed.

Washington has always blocked reform in Latin America. Latin American peoples will remain American serfs until they elect governments by such large majorities that the governments can exile the traitorous elites, close the US embassies, and expel all US corporations. Every Latin American country that has an American presence has no future other than serfdom.