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High Drama: Greece under the "troika"

by talos Fri Feb 18th, 2011 at 09:10:40 AM EST

Image: Translation of a poster by the king of Greek web agit-prop, Antista-chef

A couple of weeks ago a rather obscure dairy company, Neogal, based in the town of Drama, near the Greek-Bulgarian border, received a phone call from a representative of the troika (Greece's de facto governing authority, comprised of representatives of the IMF, the ECB and the EU Commission) - others say that they actually visited the town, but that's probably not true. They wanted to ask a few questions regarding the wage deal it had agreed on with its workers.

from the diaries - Nomad

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The 11th thesis on wikileaks

by talos Thu Dec 9th, 2010 at 04:39:11 AM EST

The highly sage, practical bureaucrats who secretly and unjustifiably think of themselves in the way that Pericles openly and rightly boasted of himself: "I am a man who is the equal of anyone both in knowing the needs of the state and in the art of expounding them" -- these hereditary leaseholders of political intelligence will shrug their shoulders and remark with oracular good breeding that the defenders of freedom of the press are wasting their efforts, for a mild censorship is better than a harsh freedom of the press. We reply to them with the words of the Spartans Sperthias and Bulis to the Persian satrap Hydarnes:

"Hydames, you have not equally weighed each side in your advice to us. For you have tried the one which you advise, the other has remained untried by you. You know what it means to be a slave, but you have never yet tried freedom, to know whether it is sweet or not. For if you had tried it, you would have advised us to fight for it, not merely with spears, but also with axes."

Karl Marx: On freedom of the Press

1. What is in the long run perhaps more important than the actual content of the leaked cables, or the revelations of atrocities uncovered and admitted in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the uncovering through its reflexive response, of what is practically a mechanism of internet control by powerful state and non-state actors. From Amazon to Pay Pal, from DDOS attacks to credit cards and data visualization companies, and then outside the web to banks, the Swedish and British court systems, Interpol, the whole world it seems - everybody fell on wikileaks with a vengeance that was meant, I suppose, less to silence this particular story (something that I imagine even the most deluded of state and corporate technocrats knew was pointless) but rather to inflict damage against the organization at a time when it was growing stronger and, more importantly I imagine, to discourage any further groups or networks from joining the game. This is not mainly an attempt to shut down, but rather to intimidate and contain...

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Vampire policy makers of the IMF (and the ECB)

by talos Fri Nov 26th, 2010 at 02:24:16 PM EST

Statement by the EC, ECB, and IMF on the Second Review Mission to Greece

Abstract: IMF / ECB / EC to Greek workers: You're screwed and there's nothing you can do about it. We own you. If what we say sounds illogical - good, logic is an unproductive remnant of a bygone democratic era which you are well advised to forget as soon as possible...

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Greece: The unlocal elections

by talos Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 01:47:15 AM EST

Today [Sunday 7 November] Greeks are electing regional and municipal authorities: mayors, regional governors and peripheral and city councils. Though the local government system has been very recently extensively reorganized, creating larger municipalities and moving power from both the central government and the prefectures to the regions (13 in all), these elections will not be about local problems as much as about government policy: they will be a test for IMF / ECB / EC / Greek government austerity policies. This is an electoral season that will be in all likelihood painful for the socialists: opinion polls show mounting disapproval of the austerity policies, as recession is expected to reach at least -4% this year, while inflation will be somewhere around 5-6%. A very rough calculation shows that we're talking at least -10% GDP purchasing power-wise, and in fact the situation is worse than that because the effects are skewed disproportionally against workers and small businesses, while unemployment and underemployment (or illegal employment: the Greek Unions' Institute estimates that 1 in 4 people currently working are in the informal sector, with no insurance), skyrockets: official unemployment is reaching in all probability 14% by the end of the year, while youth unemployment is at 30% currently.

The depression caused by the IMF / ECT policies (policies which the ruling socialists condemned just before the 2009 elections as ineffective as a way out if the crisis) weighs heavily on society and this it is no surprise that a few days before the election an opinion poll found that 47% of the Attiki region (the broader Athens area more or less) electorate, that is something like 1/3 of the total electorate, was for dumping the current deal with the EU (27% were against), 82% rated the government negatively (16% positive) and 69% were saying that the country is moving in the wrong direction.

front-paged by afew - see comments for results

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Some somewhat more coherent notes on the Greek crisis: debunking IMF propaganda (2)

by talos Tue May 25th, 2010 at 05:24:06 AM EST

I was thinking about how to structure the second installment of the saga of this unfolding disaster (part 1 here) that has been inflicted on the Greek working population, part of the development of the Great Crash of 08. There is a lot to be highlighted, especially concerning bogus data and statistics circulating among world media and organizations, that are then used to "explain" the inevitability of the neoliberal shock therapy which Greece is being subjected to (and which is I am afraid a first test for far wider application in the continent of similar shocks).

The IMF fortunately, I see, has helped me out a bit on this, by issuing a compilation of bad statistical urban legends and hearsay on the Greek crisis and endorsing it as policy background. In its web-site, the Fund has thus created an FAQ section on the Greek crisis. This is a document riddled with outright lies and strategically propagated half-truths and obfuscations, along with wishful thinking and handwaving serious questions aside, to an extent impressive for an official document, coming from one of the pillars of the world economy. It is the ideal place to start to tackle the (already dwindling in the face of the globalisation of the Euro crisis) moralizing and the lies that have been used to "explain" why working Greeks should suffer the economic equivalent of a nuclear attack. Let's check out some of the claims made to see how credible the IMF's analysis of the statistical and factual reality in Greece is...

Promoted by DoDo

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Some sort of semi-coherent collage of notes on the Greek situation (1)

by talos Fri May 14th, 2010 at 02:44:38 AM EST

What follows is a biased account of the Greek crisis as it unfolds. It is a palimpsest of rewritings, and write-overs, as not managing to finish it week after week, I had to continuously modify and update it as time went on. Please forgive any discontinuities or inconsistencies that might remain!

I write this diary in anger. This is of course not simply a Greek crisis, it is a European crisis, part of the global crash of 08. The way the economy was managed over the past two decades has partly led to this debacle, but its intensity and its destructiveness are due to circumstances outside of provincial Greek mismanagement and chaos. That said let the story begin:

A few weeks ago a new wave of measures was announced by the Greek government, after consultation with the real government of the country, the IMF. They were gripping measures in the way that Great Cthulhu's tentacles are gripping as you face the unnameable void on your way to perdition... [More inside]

front-paged by afew

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Hugo Chavez most probably didn't say that..

by talos Thu Jan 21st, 2010 at 10:27:32 PM EST

A case study in spreading a false rumor I think is developing right now over the internets and the tweeters... The story goes like this: Chavez claims that the US used tectonic weapons technology or whatever it's supposed to be called, to cause the earthquake in Haiti, as a test for the real target which is Iran!
There is even a video from Russian TV titled "Chavez: US weapon test caused Haiti earthquake", a report that shows a (stock?) video of Chavez speaking without being heard and which basically claims that Chavez told the Spanish daily ABC, about the U.S. Navy using a weapon that induced earthquakes on Haiti, as preparation for a "tectonic" attack on Iran. This is quoted approvingly and sarcastically literally all over the www.

The problem is that it doesn't seem likely that Chavez ever claimed such a thing. ABC, which certainly doesn't read like the type of newspaper Chavez would be giving exclusive and incredible interviews to, isn't clear on that at all, although admittedly it goes out of its way to spin it otherwise:

"El antiamericano Gobierno de Venezuela, en su habitual paranoia contra el imperio yanqui, asegura que el seísmo de Haití «es resultado de una prueba de la Marina estadounidense», y denuncia que lo que devastó el país caribeño fue «un terremoto experimental de EE.UU.»."

Notice that it's the "Venezuelan government", not Chavez making the claim...

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Greek elections

by talos Sun Oct 4th, 2009 at 04:38:17 AM EST

Greece is holding parliamentary elections, today, Sunday, October 4. I have mentioned some basic facts about the road to the early elections announced by Kostas Karamanlis, the current, though not likely future, prime-minister, in a comment a couple of weeks ago.

The rather subdued electioneering is in full swing now, with both debates (the broad debate with all six europarliamentary parties present and the duel between George Papandreou and Kostas Karamanlis) broadcast already and party candidates and cadres running from tv studio to public gatherings and using everything from spam sms messages to postal brochures to attract attention.

Front-paged by afew

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Papandreou on Blair

by talos Fri Oct 2nd, 2009 at 09:19:09 AM EST

Following on a comment I made on the (soon to be elected) Greek Socialists and the Tony Blair candidacy for president of the European Council, I had the opportunity today of publicly asking PASOK's leader George Papandreou himself about the issue...

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Greek riots

by talos Wed Dec 10th, 2008 at 04:17:47 AM EST

By all accounts Alexis Grigoropoulos was an unlikely martyr. A "good kid", top student and nice with friends, he was born into relative upper middle class privilege and wealth. He attended good private schools. His mother and father were successful professionals. He didn't hang out in Exarchia regularly, and all his friends agree that he wasn't some sort of anarchist. A progressive kid, sure, but not someone who habitually clashes with the police.

He seems to have been, however, in the wrong place, the wrong time and he didn't realize the "cops" who are patrolling Exarchia, meant deadly business - more like rival gang members than cops. This was about to cost him his life and produce the most violent extensive and persistant rioting the country has ever seen in peacetime, since the Polytechnic uprising against the Junta in 1973.

promoted by afew

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The Prophets of Profits

by talos Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:06:54 AM EST

AR Geezer's comment in yesterday's Salon de News, mentioned David Hassett and the book which he co-wrote in 1999, rather extravagantly titled Dow 36,000. Mr. Hassett is today apparently "working at the American Enterprise Institute... and serves as the senior economic adviser to the presidential campaign of Senator John McCain" - where his has abandoned his cornucopianism and just peddles fears of voter fraud by the Democrats to the more paranoid part of McCain's fan base - an act of unparalleled shamelessness, coming from this republican party.

Looking up the "Dow 36,000" book, I came upon such wealth of hope-mongering, that I'm posting the content of my comment on the thread as a diary, here. I had too much fun reading about this stuff not to share...

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Iceland - Friedman's folly

by talos Sat Oct 25th, 2008 at 11:21:49 AM EST

Chris Cook describes the recent developments in Iceland in his latest diary. Here I would like to highlight a few things leading to the disaster.

...It transpires that Milton Friedman visited Iceland in the 1980s and made quite an impression there.

There's even a relevant lemma in Wikipedia, where it is explained that:

Friedman made a great impact on a group of young intellectuals in the Independence Party, including Davíð Oddsson who became Prime Minister in 1991 and began a radical program of monetary and fiscal stabilization, privatization, tax rate reduction... definition of exclusive use rights in fisheries, abolition of various government funds for aiding unprofitable enterprises and liberalization of currency transfers and capital markets. In 1975, Iceland had the 53rd freest economy in the world, while in 2004, it had the 9th freest economy, according to the Economic Freedom of the World index designed by Canada's Fraser Institute.

David Oddson would later describe the influence of Friedman's ideas in a 2004 talk he gave at the American Enterprise Institute, the US neo-con think tank.  

Promoted by Colman

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The exile is back

by talos Mon Jul 14th, 2008 at 06:01:19 PM EST

Or rather the exiled: And they're pissed. If you believe them, and you certainly don't have to, they're in Panama.

Previously on Eurotrib...

Comments >> (1 comment)

Kosovo1999: Ethnic cleansing as business opportunity

by talos Fri Apr 11th, 2008 at 02:03:48 AM EST

Tales of organ trafficking by the KLA during the Kosovo campaign  surfaced recently:

BELGRADE, Serbia: Serbia's war crimes prosecutor is looking into reports that dozens of Serbs captured by rebels during the war in Kosovo were killed so their organs could be trafficked, the prosecutor's office said Friday.

The Serbian prosecutor's office said it received "informal statements" from investigators at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, that dozens of Serbs imprisoned by Kosovo Albanian rebels were taken to neighboring Albania in 1999 and killed so their organs could be harvested and sold to international traffickers.

Bruno Vekaric, the Serbian prosecutor's spokesman, said later on B92 radio that Serbian war crimes investigators have also received their own information about alleged organ trafficking, but not enough for a court case. Vekaric said Serb investigators also received reports suggesting there might be mass graves in Albania containing the bodies of the Serb victims.

Serbian media reported that the issue was brought into the open in a book written by former U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte that is to be published in Italy on April 3.

According to Serbia's Beta news agency, which carried parts of the book in Serbian, Del Ponte said her investigators had been informed that some 300 Serbs were killed for organ trafficking.

The Beta report quoted Del Ponte as saying in the book that her investigators were told the imprisoned Serbs were first taken to prison camps in northern Albania where the younger ones were picked out, and their organs were later sold abroad.

Here's the more detailed story from Belgrade's B92 and here is the story in Russia Today.
Update [2008-4-11 7:57:9 by talos]:: April 11, The Daily Telegraph has published the relevant excerpts from Carla Del Ponte's book and they're quite unsettling. Meanwhile Russia has apparently filed a request to the ICTY regarding this case.

Promoted by Migeru

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The Haradinaj test

by talos Fri Apr 4th, 2008 at 12:59:01 PM EST

A bit more than a year ago, noting Ramush Haradinaj's immense luck (a streak which, goes way back), I made the point that "the Haradinaj case is a litmus test for the impartiality of the Hague tribunal - at least as far as any credibility it might still have among Serbs".

The test results are in. They're negative.

Comments >> (17 comments)

Greece: Political landslide in the making?

by talos Mon Feb 25th, 2008 at 12:28:42 PM EST

Well I haven't been able to write much on events in Greece after the last elections, so here's a quick review of a very eventful past five months that has seen social protest, sex scandals, financial scandals, both mainstream parties struggling in opinion polls and the "hard"-left reaching unprecedented opinion poll ratings, while an international crisis is brewing concerning the name of Greece's "unspeakable" northern neighbor.

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"Five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists" lose it

by talos Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 10:48:20 AM EST

...today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.  
General Jack D. Ripper - Dr. Strangelove

Promoted by Migeru

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Greek elections thread

by talos Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 09:48:18 AM EST

On August 16, a day after the major Greek summer holiday and as mount Penteli and a part of Athens' Northern suburbs were burning, yet another fire in what was becoming a disastrous forest fire season (with the worse still to come), prime-minister Kostas Karamanlis, announced early elections for the 16th of September (today). The snap elections were of course widely expected, but the date chosen was the earliest possible. August is the holiday month in Greece and thus a majority of the electorate were relaxing, swimming or lying on some beach, a situation which was to last more or less (public servants' leaves were canceled - and a lot of people headed for their homes in a hurry) until the end of the month. Thus the pre-election period was shortened to four weeks - and for two of these weeks the major cities were half-empty. Then the huge forest fires in the Peloponnese and Evia erupted and for another ten days the country's attention was focused on the evolving catastrophe...

Polls until the great fire disaster were showing that the conservatives, Karamanlis' New Democracy (ND) Party, were holding a comfortable yet narrowing lead over the Socialists (PASOK) led by George Papandreou, despite a series of scandals, the largest of which was about corruption and mismanagement of public pension funds. Sensing that the pension funds scandal was not going away as details of the affair crept out slowly to Greek media, Karamanlis opted for the snappiest of snap elections possible, under flimsy pretexts (the proper scheduled date for the elections was March 2008), in an obvious effort to limit discussion and catch his opponents unprepared.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob Update: with 99.54% of the precincts reporting, the final seat and vote tally is as follows:
ND (conservative) 152 41.84 % (-13 seats -3.52 percentage points re the 2004 elections)
PASOK 102 (socialist) 38.10 % (-15, -2.45%)
KKE 22 (old school communist) 8.15 % (+10, +2,26%)
SYRIZA 14 (antineolib left - greens - radicals) 5.04 % (+8 +1.78%)
LAOS 10 3.79 % (not in the 2004 parliament)
ND has a narrow parliamentary majority, PASOK reached its lowest parliamentary electoral percentage since 1977 and the combined left has had its pest result in years. The extreme right (some very disturbing characters among them) makes it after a very long time to the parliament...

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Greece, burned

by talos Wed Sep 5th, 2007 at 04:47:31 AM EST

I've been away on holidays for a few weeks (working holidays up to a point) and usually with not enough time or opportunity to post. However despite the saying that there are no news in August, two major events happened in Greece while I was away:

1. One of the greatest peacetime disasters in modern Greek history, as fires razed (and are still razing) >2000 sq. km of forest and farmland and something like 120 villages in the Southern Peloponnese and the island of Evia, killing 65 firefighters and residents and destroying livelihoods, affecting as many as 16.000 people directly. Fires were occurring simultaneously in Attica (the prefecture that Athens is part of), for the fifth time or something this season, Western Greece, a few islands and pretty much all over. (more below)

From the diaries - with format edit ~ whataboutbob

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You mustn't understand - and further musings on the European project

by talos Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 09:43:59 AM EST

This is so bizzare yet scary a statement of the Commission's disdain for democracy, coming from so legitimate a source, that it should be more widely disseminated:

I quote from the rather unradical EUobserver:

The new EU reform treaty text was deliberately made unreadable for citizens to avoid calls for referendum, one of the central figures in the treaty drafting process has said.

Speaking at a meeting of the Centre for European Reform in London on Thursday (12 July) former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato said: "They [EU leaders] decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception".

There is an audio file (mp3) of Amato's speech and he is being very open about it.

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