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Greek MP Lapavitsas on Grexit

by Upstate NY Sun Mar 15th, 2015 at 03:03:23 AM EST

Greece: Phase Two | Costas Lapavitsas | Jacobin

Schäuble is on record, or at least Greek ministers are on record, stating that Schäuble offered an aided exit to the Greeks already back in 2011. I can see, from the perspective of the German power structure, why they might be tempted by this idea, and I can see it as an objective worth fighting for by a Greek left government, for obvious reasons.

Whether there are divisions within the German establishment on it, I don't really know, because I don't understand the details of the German political debate. But the argument can be so compelling at the general level that I can be reasonably optimistic.

If the Greek side fought for it, and indicated that they wished to accept it, I think that a compromise could be reached that would be in the interests of Greek working people as well, not just the Greek elite, because you would avoid the difficulties of the contested exit.

That is definitely worth fighting for. And I would argue that this is what the Syriza government should be gearing itself for in the coming period. But, I repeat, if that proves impossible, even contested exit is better than a continuation of the current program.

While I accept his implied criticism of Varoufakis and Tsipras is likely right on target (bad strategy, personality clash with EU), this critique and reading of Syriza's strategy is based on the very idea that the EU is at all amenable to a soft Grexit.

promoted by afew

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Stable pricing is to metaphysics as variable pricing is to poststructuralism

by Upstate NY Wed May 16th, 2012 at 11:38:22 AM EST

Apologies for what follows, but I'll be writing this on the fly cribbing from myself and other sources. I'm just going to spin through some poststructural literary theory to support a comment I made after reading today's article by Kay in the FT on so-called "credibility."

This is the comment that spawned the diary:

Richard Parker, a Harvard International Relations fellow with many years in diplomatic service, describes frequent conversations with policymakers and business movers-and-shakers in which their handle on things covers over the fact that they are basing their viewpoints and decision-making on myths or conjured narratives. He gives plenty of examples through what he terms the Crisis of Narrative, or the Narrative of Crisis.

This is similar to Kay's point about magic. It's too insistent. the more one insists on one version of events, the more suspicious that point-of-view.

As a dyed-in-the-wool poststructuralist, I could suggest some reading materials or such people.


"As a dyed-in-the-wool poststructuralist, I could suggest some reading materials or such people."

    Or write a short diary.


I would suggest to go to the source, Derrida, for two essays in particular. One is on the formation of narratives, "The Law of Genre," and the second is on the uses of metaphor, "White Mythology." I've broken these down before in published essays to explain how such theories might correspond to government narratives (for instance, I've written on George W. Bush's State of the Union speech in which he said Hussein had acquired uranium from Africa) but the general idea is that, because of the way authors employ narrative voice, there is a fundamental sense of instability in any recounting of a story; it's hard-wired into the very term narrative. An analogy with Kay's article might relate the idea of credibility through stability as an illusionary stasis which, by definition, can never be, whereas something like inflation implies fluidity, movement, change, the types of things celebrated in poststructuralism.

        There's a short story by the French writer Maurice Blanchot titled "The Madness of the Day" which patterns the way attempts to repeat a story and render it stable fail to reproduce the story.

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William Burroughs' Thanksgiving Benediction for my fellow Americans

by Upstate NY Wed Nov 24th, 2010 at 10:09:38 AM EST

I had a beer with a Native American friend last night at a bar whose theme is American politics and presidents. There's something in there on every president. It really is a great bar. As we were walking out and paying our bill at the cashier, I looked behind the bar next to the mirror and there was a big framed photo of George HW Bush.

"Great, I said. I'll probably be coming to this bar for 20 years, and everytime I leave I'll be reminded of Bush."

"Suck it up," my friend said, "I've been coming here for 20 years and there's a picture of Andrew Jackson over there!" [For those unaware, Jackson is the president who massacred more Native Americans than any other. A genocidal lunatic, he was.]

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Greece and Turkey: a major peace initiative

by Upstate NY Tue Oct 26th, 2010 at 04:46:27 AM EST

The news references anonymous sources and it's such a short article, but if true this is a huge monumental breakthrough in Greek and Turkish relations, and it promises to bring a seismic shift to all of Europe.

Ekathimerini: Aegean pact in the works

The article is so short that I'll just paraphrase: Greece and Turkey agreed in principle to compromise on the International Law of the Sea. Rather than Greece taking what is allowed to Greece by International Law, a proper sea buffer, Greece has reduced its buffer around the islands by half, while Turkey will respect a full buffer off the Greek mainland.

Why is this important?

front-paged by afew

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MIT professor Simon Johnson critical of EU leadership on Greece

by Upstate NY Thu Mar 11th, 2010 at 01:46:00 PM EST


The French and Germans are apparently actually encouraging banks, pension funds and individuals to buy these Greek bonds -- despite the fact senior politicians must surely know this is a Ponzi scheme (i.e., people can get out of Greek bonds only to the extent that new investors come in).

At best, this does nothing more than postpone the crisis. In the business, it is known as "kicking the can down the road."  At worst, it encourages less informed people (including perhaps pension funds) to buy bonds as smarter people (and big banks, surely) take the opportunity to exit.

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Greece as a Case Study

by Upstate NY Fri Feb 12th, 2010 at 05:47:19 AM EST

I well know that Greece is in turmoil right now, and I personally have stakes in the country, but I'm trying to be dispassionate about it in order to analyze it in relation to what's going on elsewhere in Europe and the USA. Originally this diary was a response to another diary on Greece, and I included some anecdotal information (i.e. experiences with the switch from the drachma to the euro a decade ago).

I'll post the body of my response below, but in the end my conclusion is that Canada is the best country in the world. (Sort of snarky but I live just across the border and am envious of their political system, their economic policies, their multicultural makeup AND I don't mind the weather--Canada is doing quite well).

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Macedonia, and the Bizarre Greeks

by Upstate NY Mon Mar 23rd, 2009 at 07:27:48 AM EST

I wrote a short response to the morning's news from Spiegel earlier, and will now diary it at length.

Bickering in the Balkans: Macedonia's Identity Crisis - SPIEGEL ONLINE

The reporter takes a very Macedonian-centric perspective (that is, FYROM-centric, so I don't offend Greeks) but in so doing, becomes so confused that he ends up implicitly agreeing with the Greek position--which he assumes is actually the Macedonian position. I want to cut through the history as best I can by only giving very little background. Mostly, I wanted to address the legal issues, and leave the history short.

Promoted by whataboutbob

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Problems with organizing humanitarian intervention: Kosovo as a case

by Upstate NY Mon Mar 9th, 2009 at 02:54:15 PM EST

This diary is posted after reading papicek's excellent diary here: http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2009/3/9/25517/00415
in which the case is made that certain global organizations such as the ICG may be highly effective methods for locating, assessing and predicting human rights abuses, and perhaps then also advising on a course of action.

My response: The ICG was highly in favor of the Kosovo intervention. Someone will have to explain to me how 1,500 deaths spread evenly between Serbs and Albanians over the prior two to three years constitutes a necessary intervention. I'm not seeing it at all. The negotiations at Rambouillet support my point-of-view.

The ICG is heavily tilted toward powerful global actors. To a degree, obviously, so is the UN. In Bosnia and Kosovo, we saw the UN taking on charges that were largely outside its scope, and often the charges were contradicted by its own employees and others in institutions it set up (such as the ICTY, UNHRW). UN Generals such as Morillon at the ICTY, prosecutors such as Del Ponte at the ICTY, investigators such as Helen Ranta, all showed that political games are played. I can point to a spirit of collaboration among certain powerful actors and the ICG right now that makes the ICG seem a political pawn.

I'm actually in favor of humanitarian intervention. I'm not so certain I want there to be pan-global organizations involved. So far, the abuse of such interventions in highly contested territory (Balkans, Georgia) has proven evident, while elsewhere (Africa) we have non-interventions.

Then we have to address the problems of preferring interventions over diplomacy, as in the case of Samantha Power. I read an essay of hers in the USA's TIME magazine from last year in which she projects some light on her vision of foreign policy problems in the future. She argues that Kosovo matters to our future because it underscores some alarming features of the current international system. This is the Power article: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1718556,00.html

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The Ignorant American Literary Scene

by Upstate NY Wed Oct 1st, 2008 at 09:06:29 AM EST

I figured since we Americans are sending your own globally-tied banking system down the tubes, we might as well duke it out over something else, like, maybe "literary status."

But, you know, we didn't start this fight:


Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Horace Engdahl told the Associated Press that US writers were "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture", which he said dragged down the quality of their work. "The US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature," Engdahl said. "That ignorance is restraining."

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Hedge Funds and Banks: a S&M tryst and we're the voyeurs

by Upstate NY Thu Sep 25th, 2008 at 01:01:25 PM EST

I wanted to take a literary look at the "worldwide" financial mess, I'm crossposting this from DailyKos, where I expect nil reception.

The banks and the hedge funds got themselves in a symbiotic relationship as they passed around the credit default swaps. So, now, if the bailout doesn't happen, then the hedge funds don't get paid. If taxpayers are really generous to the banks, then the hedge funds get paid less because the derivatives come up to par. So, the hedge funds only win big if we pay the banks so very little for their mortgages, because then, a cheap mortgage makes for a more lucrative derivative.

When you look at this, you realize that the whole market is like a S&M relationship. When it hurts bad, that's when you get the most excited, and conversely, just as the dominatrix is in absolute complete control of the situation, that's when she loses interest. The hedge funds, pardon the analogy, have their hands on the bank's throat as orgasm is happening at the closest moment of asphyxiation, but if the worst were to occur, the hedge funds would lose their partner at the very height of the tantalizing act.

But what about us? How are we complicit in market sex? It's undeniable that Americans at least have bought a VERY expensive ticket to a show I'm not sure many of us are enjoying.

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Initiation of Cyprus Talks, Take II

by Upstate NY Thu Sep 11th, 2008 at 11:27:07 AM EST

This morning's Cyprus News front page article on the Cyprus talks contains a couple interesting quotes which delineates the nature of the discussion and problem in seeking a resolution.


First, a quote from other news sources from Turkey's FM Ali Babacan (a quote the Cyprus News only parses):

"Turkey's guarantorship functions on the island are a necessity for security and stability in the east Mediterranean," he said on Wednesday. "We are not opening this to discussion."

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Serbia's Election: Get Ready to Declare Fraud!!!

by Upstate NY Wed May 14th, 2008 at 04:54:17 AM EST

Just a brief comment on Serbia's election since no one else seems to have diaried it.

One of many stories on the election outcome can be read in [Murdoch Alert] The Times.

A game is at play that reminds me of the [US] Pres. election in Florida circa 2000.

The Western Press has jumped the gun and repeatedly declared that the Pro-EU forces in Serbia have won a big victory over the "Nationalist" parties. This meme has been repeated hundreds of times in the Western Press, and occasionally you'll see an addendum to this claim which goes something like this: "The Pro-EU bloc will now form a government, unless they are stopped by the Nationalists who will attempt to steal the election results that express the will of the people."

Essentially, as the argument goes, the only way the Nationalists end up in power is if they commit fraud and steal the election. This is the frame being spread in the Western media.

Promoted, with slight edits, by Colman

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Cyprus Election Results and Commentary

by Upstate NY Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 03:54:27 PM EST


Greek Cypriot parliament speaker Christofias, 61, secured 53.36 percent of the vote against 46.64 percent for conservative former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides in an election billed by the local media as one of the most crucial in the history of Cyprus.

Below the fold is my own personal reaction:

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Is Europe ready for military confrontation with Russia over Kosovo?

by Upstate NY Tue Dec 18th, 2007 at 07:28:40 PM EST

Here's a scary article from Stratfor, a rather respected American Think Tank/Research Institute.


NOTE: scroll down to access this article on Stratfor. Can only be accessed from Google.

The key passage:

If the United States and some European powers can create an independent Kosovo without regard to Russian wishes, Putin's prestige in Russia and the psychological foundations of his grand strategy will suffer a huge blow. If Kosovo is granted independence outside the context of the United Nations, where Russia has veto power, he will be facing the same crisis Yeltsin did. If he repeats Yeltsin's capitulation, he will face substantial consequences. Putin and the Russians repeatedly have warned that they wouldn't accept independence for Kosovo, and that such an act would lead to an uncontrollable crisis. Thus far, the Western powers involved appear to have dismissed this. In our view, they shouldn't. It is not so much what Putin wants as the consequences for Putin if he does not act. He cannot afford to acquiesce. He will create a crisis.

The basic idea here is that the whole world is expecting the Russians to abandon the Serbs instantly, but no one is asking the question, what if they don't?

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Thrown in jail, it could be you: the FBI's Kurtz case

by Upstate NY Thu Sep 20th, 2007 at 05:43:27 AM EST

I am too late to include this post in Migeru's excellent airport secret legislation diary, but I wanted to alert Tribuners to an organized operation to secretly push the bounds of anti-terror legislation into the realm of mundane and banal acts.

This is a story that is local to me in Buffalo, and to my work at the University of Buffalo as an academic and artist.

Last week, I went to a fundraiser for the defense of artist/academic Steve Kurtz, which was held in a church owned by the singer folk artist Ani DiFranco. At the fundraiser, we watched the film STRANGE CULTURE (starting Tilda Swinton) which is about the FBI's Kurtz case. (As an aside, Kurtz will be at the Oct 20 Festival Neurotica in Madrid to discuss his art, the movie and his case.)

[I've given some background on the Kurtz case in the extended copy below.]

After the movie, we listened to Kurtz and his lawyers discuss the case. It became apparent as we listened that the Feds are using this as a test case. They are trying to criminalize certain mundane cases of so-called "mail fraud" in order to vastly expand the powers of the Federal gov't. If Kurtz loses his case, then a new precedent will be set. In the US, if you incorrectly fill out your warranty card for your TV, for instance, that may land you in jail. Fill out a wrong date, be sent to the klink, etc.

Diary rescue — promoted by Migeru

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Greece and Russia, No big deal...

by Upstate NY Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 06:39:41 AM EST

This editorial published in this morning's Kathimerini (Athens) newspaper would have been big news 15 years ago when Andreas Papandreou was still in power and Greece regularly flirted with the USSR as a counterbalance to the USA's favoring of Turkey.

The recent Greek deals with Russia have been interesting, especially the oil pipeline that bypasses the Caucasuses and Turkey. So far, only the American and UK intelligence community (fronting for oil interests) have raised a stink about it, but the two orthodox countries are now making more deals than they ever have before. We can't forget that the reason Truman sent all the millions to Greece in the first place was to keep the Soviets out of the Med, and thus, coupled with Albania's self-imposed isolation, the USSR never had an outlet there.

The fact that Greece is making these deals now shows just how comfortable it has become within the security and economic framework of the EU. IMO, this is a huge sign of progress, especially since almost no one seems to have noticed its taking place.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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The yearly decision is in on Turkey's candidacy

by Upstate NY Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 08:42:12 AM EST


Ministers voted to suspend eight of the 35 chapters or policy areas into which the talks are divided, covering trade and transport, and review Turkey's compliance annually until 2009. Other sectors of the negotiations will go ahead but not be concluded until Turkey complies with its obligations on Cyprus.

They also agreed in principle on steps to end the economic isolation of northern Cyprus, but that accord is to be confirmed in January, diplomats said.

This presents a mild surprise only in the sense that the Foreign Ministers unanimously agreed to the formula when it was widely expected that there would be disagreement, and that the Prime Minister's meeting on the 14th would have to wrangle with the Turkish accession.

Instead, the meeting is now free to consider other issues, such as Croatia's enlargement status, as well as Bulgaria and Romania.

More below...

From the diaries -- whataboutbob

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UK newspaper says breakthrough in Turkey EU talks imminent

by Upstate NY Fri Aug 18th, 2006 at 10:42:07 AM EST

The Independent quoted diplomatic sources who said that the EU and UN are combining to find away out of the Turkey-EU Customs protocol impasse over Cyprus.


The proposal is for the UN to take over the port of Famagusta which will allow the export of Turkish Cypriot goods.

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God is Dead

by Upstate NY Tue Aug 8th, 2006 at 08:43:49 PM EST

In the spirit of poemless's diary on the efficacy of religion in contemporary culture, I wanted to offer a viewpoint on this issue from that of literature in the US and Europe. Literature? Well, let me explain, and this will be a rambling diary which I will try to keep as short as possible.

My initial response is that there's nothing wrong with religion per se, but instead it's our certitude in the knowledge produced by religion that is a problem. Thus, if religions and religious beliefs didn't exist, we would very likely have groups of people who gravitated toward "certified" knowledge regardless. I'm talking about dogmas of all kinds, ideologies, cold hard facts, man. I'm talking about politicians, gurus, hell even historians.

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France to build up military base in Cyprus

by Upstate NY Thu Aug 3rd, 2006 at 09:56:45 AM EST

The only news I found on this comes from the Moonies.

Apparently, Cyprus is very willing to give France a military berth on the island. From the French perspective, this will allow France to become a bigger player in the Middle East--if it so wishes (and of course we're not at all certain about the French will in the Middle East at this point). From the Cypriot perspective, this will mark the entry of the first non-Brit, Turk, Greek, military berth on the island in centuries.

The key question of course: how big will the air base be? How big a military force will be stationed there, and to what end?

This development may have the potential of making France a major player in the region, and of complicating Cyprus-Turkey relations by a huge factor. A permanent military berth there makes France an informal party to discussions about the Cyprus problem.

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