Friday, January 9, 2009

Call for International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinians and the Greek Anarchists

An International Day of Solidarity is being called for January 23, 2009, for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the Greek Anarchists and other anti-authoritarian activists in Greece. There are many overlaps between these two struggles, and those similarities are explored below. The date of the demonstration is to also commemorate the anniversary of the Riots in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland, during the period of Nazi Germany (1943), where 70,000 Jewish people took this city back, and held it for a long time before the Germans took over. The date of this march and the atrocities currently being committed against the Palestinians are highly ironic, given what the Jews went through during the Holocaust.

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Athens: Riot cops attack journalists, arrest 18 lawyers

They're out of control!

Some videos from today's protest actions:

Posted by Thomas

With university campuses closed to them (latest police tactic), rioters sought refuge in a building on Asklipiou St. From TVXS

Musical Innerlube: Tool - 'Stinkfist'

In solidarity with people seeking liberty everywhere

And especially with the young people clashing with police in Athens the past few hours. Reports are sketchy but the cops are coming down hard. Journalists and lawyers have reportedly been attacked by the cops.

Contrary to media articles, today's action has not been merely to protest the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos last month. It is also the anniversary of three days of rioting in 1991 after right-wing thugs murdered a leftist teacher, Nikos Temponeras, at a school under occupation in Patras.

Police had lost control of a good chunk of downtown Athens at the time and the smell of tear gas from Exarchia wafted all the way up to the Hilton.

Back to the fray. More later.

For live updates in Greek tune in to

They broadcast a message by Subcommandante Marcos who spoke in Greek and thanked the Greek insurrection!

Strategic importance of HLS in the broader anticapitalist fight

The campaign to shut down HLS has become a "meeting engagement"-a battle neither side can afford to lose. Here is what the pro-vivisection "Foundation for Biomedical Research" (or FBR) had to say in their 2006 "illegal incidents report" about the importance of the campaign to close Huntingdon "Life" Sciences (HLS)
"Beyond the issue of research and the debate surrounding animal rights, there is a larger and more troubling message surrounding this regrettable pattern of capitulating to activist attacks. This is because those who seek to attack any corporation for any reason have, thanks to SHAC, now been provided with an effective model to gain publicity for their cause, seriously harm the company with which it has any complaint, as well as its employees, customers and vendors."

This is a quote from a document the FBR distributed on Capitol Hill during their 2006 campaign to pass the draconian revisions of the Animal Enterprise "Terrorism" Act. Most of the document whined about the steady drumbeat of protest and direct action against HLS-related targets.

What the FBR is saying in this particular snippet is that the battle over HLS has become so important that the capitalists can't afford to lose-no matter what. The Green Scare has in turn created a situation where opponents of capitalism also cannot afford to lose-or law enforcement gains a model to shut all of our movements down. In short, neither we activists nor the system as a whole can accept defeat on HLS, so it has become a strategic point of engagement affecting all of capitalism and anticapitalism.

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The deepest spot in the caves

This Mexican political prisoner writes about his experience of maximum security prison in Mexico. Dedicated to Mumia Abu-Jamal and read in part at the demonstration before the United States Embassy in Mexico City on December 9, 2008.

There are beings who are kept apart from other people for one reason or other, like the nymph Echo who was confined to the depths of the caves and ravines, where no one could see her, no one could hear her, except when she was interrogated, thus concealing the world of her existence.

This is mythology, it's true, but some men and women of flesh and blood are also kept apart from people and excluded from the world, and to this end, the deepest parts of the caves are fashioned out of iron and concrete, parts so deep that very few people can even see what's down there, so deep that the Sun can't reach that far, so deep that many don't even know these parts exist or where they are located.

These places are the maximum security prisons, where, right next to hardened criminals unable to lead a more or less normal life or develop relatively healthy relationships, other people are confined who are not only able to do all this, but who fight for the betterment of society and relations between human beings, for justice to be real, for ethics to no longer be relegated to speeches and books, and for freedom and human rights to be the true heritage of everyone.

The former are condemned for victimizing society, and the latter for being its conscience.

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The Hip-Hop presidency

"What I always say is that hip-hop is not just a mirror of what is. It should also be a reflection of what can be."
--Barack Obama, January 2008

It was Barack Obama's last unofficial policy announcement on the campaign trail. On the weekend before the election, asked in an MTV interview to explain his position on laws restricting certain hip-hop fashions like sagging pants, Obama nailed the issue. He quickly stated that laws banning sagging pants were a "waste of time," adding, "Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on.

"Some people might not
want to see your underwear,"
he added. "I'm one of them."

It was pure Obama--personal, funny, filled with sense and human trust. It was also lurking in the back of my mind for days, even as I watched Barack Obama address a crowd of 240,000 in Grant Park a few nights later as the new president-elect. I was shaking inside, I was tearing up, and yet I couldn't stop thinking about brothers pulling up their pants.

Where is hip-hop headed with Obama in the Oval Office? He's stated his concerns about bitch-nigga-ho gangsta rap, and, it seems, sagging pants, while at the same time earning the across-the-board respect of the hip-hop community. Under his presidency, will hip-hop get more Obama-like--idealistic, compassionate, intellectual--or will the divide between "socially conscious" rap and "gangsta rap" widen even further?

(For those unaware, there are two divides in rap music-- "rap" and "hip-hop." Only 2 percent of all adults over the age of 35 like rap; about 26 percent of them like hip-hop. A far greater percentage of them will admit they like something called "socially conscious hip-hop," which is basically the Joan Baez of rap music, an utterly inoffensive derivative of a revolutionary art form which sets out to change the world by rapping about issues like hemp production and Mumia Abu-Jamal.)

Considering how Obama has inspired Americans to be good simply by telling them that they are good, he could very well spin hip-hop into better territory with the same positive reinforcement. By stating in a recent BET interview, "The thing about hip-hop today is it's smart, it's insightful," Obama makes a prophetic declaration. After hearing Obama's take on MCs, that "the way that they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable," who among the rappers of the world wouldn't want to try to succeed at that very thing?

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Greek lessons spell trouble for touchy French

There was a time when economists had grander aims than peering at the world, adding up the numbers and concluding that it is all about economies of scale. This month, 200 years ago, a Frenchman called Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was born. If he is remembered at all, it is for one phrase: “La propriété, c'est le vol!” (Property is theft.) This motto is often wrongly attributed to Karl Marx, thus making Proudhon a virtually forgotten man.

Why should we care about him? Surely he is just another long-haired Frenchman with a beard and a penchant for causing trouble?

He was born on Jan 15 1809, the son of a brewer. He grew up in Besançon, then moved to Paris. He became a journalist and pamphleteer, but in reality he was an economist. The French Revolution of 1848 – much less well known than its celebrated predecessor of 1789 but still worthy of consideration – was the moment he had been waiting for.

He wanted to take power away from capitalists. He came up with his own theories on reform, including the establishment of a people's bank, La Banque du Peuple, which would offer interest-free loans to its members, most of whom were workers.

Despite being an anarchist, he disapproved of the violence of the 1848 revolution, instead urging peaceful conciliation. He rejected capitalism, but also split with Marx. It is hard to put one's finger on what exactly he did believe in, although he tried to boil it down to three words: agricultural-industrial federation. “All my political ideas boil down to a similar formula: political federation or decentralisation,” he said.

Few people now would agree with his assertion that “property is theft”; indeed, many would argue that property ownership has enriched the lives of millions. His slogan would be updated by an advertising agency to “Property is Freedom”. This is exactly what he himself said later, in 1865, in Théorie de la propriété: “property may be considered as the triumph of freedom”.

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A good night out began at home in ancient Greece

It's a wonder the Greeks accomplished as much as they did, as many of their homes seem to have doubled as pubs and brothels. This finding, from new analyses of archaeological remains, could explain why previous hunts for evidence of ancient Greek taverns have been fruitless.

Plays from classical Greece describe lively taverns, but no one has ever unearthed their real-life versions. Clare Kelly Blazeby at the University of Leeds, UK, suspected that archaeologists were missing something, so she took a new look at artefacts from several houses dotted around ancient Greece, dating from 475 to 323 BC.

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Intel nominee "aided perpetrators of killings"

Nairn just wrote the piece "Admiral Dennis Blair, Prospective Obama Appointee, Aided Perpetrators of 1999 Church Killings," which states: "Reports say that President-elect Obama wants to nominate retired Admiral Dennis Blair as the new United States Director of National Intelligence.

"In 1999, in the midst of massacres of East Timor civilians in churches, Admiral Blair gave support to the perpetrators, the armed forces of Indonesia.

"Two days after a massacre at Liquica that left flesh hanging from the church walls, Blair contacted the Indonesian commander, offered him U.S. aid, and according to classified U.S. cables, failed to tell him to stop the attacks.

"Reassured by the evident support from Blair, then the U.S. Pacific Command chief, the Indonesian commander, General Wiranto, escalated the attacks.
"The Indonesian forces subsequently struck the Red Cross and the Bishop's residence, killing more than a thousand as they went, burning churches and raping nuns."

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Human-generated ozone will damage crops, reduce production

The analysis, reported in the November issue of Energy Policy, focused on how three environmental changes (increases in temperature, carbon dioxide and ozone) associated with human activity will affect crops, pastures and forests.

The research shows that increases in temperature and in carbon dioxide may actually benefit vegetation, especially in northern temperate regions. However, those benefits may be more than offset by the detrimental effects of increases in ozone, notably on crops. Ozone is a form of oxygen that is an atmospheric pollutant at ground level.

The economic cost of the damage will be moderated by changes in land use and by agricultural trade, with some regions more able to adapt than others. But the overall economic consequences will be considerable. According to the analysis, if nothing is done, by 2100 the global value of crop production will fall by 10 to 12 percent.

"Even assuming that best-practice technology for controlling ozone is adopted worldwide, we see rapidly rising ozone concentrations in the coming decades," said John M. Reilly, associate director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. "That result is both surprising and worrisome."

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Pakistan on the brink

For the past seven years the Bush administration studiously ignored the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda leadership gathering in the tribal areas of Pakistan, and now scrambles to make up for lost time. US elections are looming, and facing the humiliating prospect of Osama bin Laden outlasting a two-term presidency and even expanding his reach, Bush has pushed the Pentagon into a do-or die-hunt for bin Laden. Whether the search for an “October surprise” for the election succeeds or not, the radical threat is now beyond easy military solution.

It's a sign of desperation that on September 16 the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen was in Islamabad meeting the Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, his boss Secretary of Defense Bob Gates was in Kabul, while Pakistan's newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari was in London begging Prime Minister Gordon Brown to get the Americans off his back and deliver aid to a beleaguered country rather than angry ripostes.

Pakistan is at the center of a gathering fire storm engulfing south and central Asia in the most volatile confrontation since 9/11. Pakistan, Afghanistan, the US and NATO all bear heavy responsibility for the crisis. Bush had neither the inclination nor urge to do right by Afghanistan, despite pleas by President Hamid Karzai to eliminate cross-border terrorist strikes from Pakistan and effectively rebuild the country. Senior US officers serving in Afghanistan say they begged the White House and the State Department for action in 2006, but Bush was cozy with Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf and Iraq occupied US attention. Meanwhile, veteran John McCain flails in effectively playing the national security card against Barack Obama because Republican policies failed to secure the homeland against future Al Qaeda attacks.

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Indo-Pak should avoid military confrontation: Brookings memo

With escalating tension between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks, a leading US-based public policy organisation has asked President-elect Barack Obama to persuade the two countries to avoid military confrontation.
"With current tensions between India and Pakistan threatening to escalate into a direct military confrontation, the world is looking to you for leadership in reversing dangerous trends and building a security framework in a vital region," said the Brookings Institute in a memo authored by fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown. She is a security studies professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

In the run up to the January 20 inauguration, Brookings has released several memos for Obama on issues of national and international significance.

"Most urgently, it is critical that your administration urge the two countries to avoid a military confrontation. Beyond the immediate crisis, you need a broader framework for the region that recognizes long-standing difficult issues, such as Kashmir," she said.

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Warning: More doom ahead

For the wealthiest countries, a debilitating combination of economic stagnation and deflation might happen as markets for goods go slack because aggregate demand falls. Given how sharply production capacity has risen due to overinvestment in China and other emerging markets, this drop in demand would likely lead to lower inflation. Meanwhile, job losses would mount and unemployment rates would rise, putting downward pressure on wages. Weakening commodity markets—where prices have already fallen sharply since their summer peak and will fall further in a global recession—would lead to still lower inflation. Indeed, by early 2009, inflation in the advanced economies could fall toward the 1 percent level, too close to deflation for comfort.

This scenario is dangerous for many reasons. A number of central banks will be close enough to setting interest rates of zero that their economies fall into a triple whammy: a liquidity trap, a deflation trap, and debt deflation. In a liquidity trap, the banks lose their ability to stimulate the economy because they cannot set nominal interest rates below zero. In a deflation trap, falling prices mean that real interest rates are relatively high, choking off consumption and investment. This leads to a vicious circle wherein incomes and jobs are falling, with demand dropping still further. Finally, in debt deflation, the real value of nominal debts rises as prices fall—bad news for countries such as the United States and Japan that have high ratios of debt to GDP.

As orthodox monetary tools become ineffective, policymakers will turn to unorthodox approaches. We'll see traditional fiscal policy, in the form of tax cuts and spending increases, but also worldwide bailouts of lenders, investors, and financial institutions, as well as borrowers. Central banks will inject massive amounts of cash into financial systems to unclog the liquidity crunch. More radical actions, such as outright purchases of corporate and government bonds or subsidization of mortgage rates, might also be necessary to get credit markets functioning properly again.

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'Apply the Watergate Rule -- it's not the crime, it's the cover up stupid'

When LBJ assumed the Presidency, Hoover's direct link into the White House was re-established. Johnson's official relationship with Hoover was enhanced by personal friendship as well. "As majority leader [in the Senate], Johnson already had neen receiving a steady stream of reports and dossiers from the Director ...which he prized both as a means of controlling difficult senators and as a gratification of earthier instincts. For President Johnson, secrets were in themselves prerequisites of power . . . No chief executive praised the Director so warmly. In an executive order exempting Hoover, then sixty nine, from compulsory retirement at seventy, Johnson hailed him as 'a quiet, humble and magnificent public servant . . . a hero to millions of citizens and an anathema to all evil men. . . . The nation cannot afford to lose you . . . No other American, now or in our past, has served the cause of justice so faithfully and so well' ("Johnson Hails Hoover Service, Waives Compulsory Retirement," NYT, May 9, 1964)." -- -- from "The Age of Surveillance, The Aims and Methods of America's Political Intelligence System," by Frank Donner, (c) 1980, Knopf.

The following memorandum, written by Hoover immediately after his meeting with President Johnson, just seven days after the assassination of President Kennedy, is a remarkable document to say the least. There is much information imparted in the memo regarding just how fluid and unstable the cover story about who killed JFK still was shaping up to be at that time. By analyzing the discrepancies between the story Hoover briefed Johnson about on November 29th, and what the final cover story handed down by the Warren Commission would claim almost a year later, we can better appreciate the degree to which the final "official report" was sculpted to fit the constraints the Commission was forced to adhere to, regardless of the actual facts of the assassination.

This document is what is known in bureaucracy-speak as a "memo for the record." It was a customary practice in the upper levels of the bureaucracy in the days before electronic technology in Washington, D.C. An official of high rank would usually return to her or his office after such a meeting and dictate a memorandum of as many details of the discussion as could be remembered. It was a way of recording one's own professional dealings for future reference.

Hoover starts out recounting that Johnson brings up "the proposed group" --what will become the Warren Commission-- --to study the report Hoover is trying to complete by the end of the same day. This has been initiated by Johnson to prevent an independent investigation by Congress of the assassination (Reagan tried to do the same thing with the Tower Commission). Johnson would publically announce the creation of the Warren Commission later that same day. This was a critical move by Johnson: by appointing the Warren Commission, they effectively bottled up Bobby Kennedy, they bottled up the Senate, and they bottled up Texas. The Tower Commission didn't succeed in pre-empting an investigation by Congress. In the end, the Warren Commission didn't either, but it did kept the cork in place, preventing any other "official" examination, for well over another decade.

It is interesting to note that of all the people listed at the bottom of page one, retired General Lauris Norstad (who had been head of the NATO forces at SHAPE headquarters in Europe before his retirement) was the only one who somehow succeeded in not serving on this Presidential Commission. Earl Warren did NOT want the job and had sent a memo ahead to the Oval Office, before he answered LBJ's summons, stating he would not participate in such a commission. But when push came to shove, Johnson's formidable powers of persuasion turned Warren's `no' into a `yes.' Apparently, even such focused persuasion could not win Norstad's agreement.

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[Palestine]: Children found starving

Rescue teams made several attempts to rescue the wounded and retrieve bodies in several areas of Gaza city but were refused entry by Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers.

On Wednesday (7 Jan), however, after a week's intensive negotiations with Israeli officials, ICRC officials and PRC ambulance teams managed to reach some of the survivors in Gaza's Zeitoun neighbourhood.

The ICRC reported finding four starving toddlers next to the bodies of their dead mothers in one of the houses. The children were apparently too weak to stand. One man was found barely alive. Twelve bodies were found laid out on mattresses in the same house.

Fifteen survivors were rescued from another house by the ICRC. Three bodies were found in an adjacent house. The rescue teams kept looking for survivors despite orders by Israeli soldiers that they leave.

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Is the whole world financial system one big Madoff swindle?

It is interesting that none other than the Daily Telegraph, one of the City of London's main mouthpieces, published an article on Dec. 29, 2008 by Liam Halligan, arguing that all of the rescue packages and bank nationalizations have not helped things one bit, and that only by mercilessly exposing the true magnitude of the toxic waste, writing it off the books, and legal proceedings against those who committed these crimes, could the problem be solved. And then, as the most important measure, the Glass-Steagall Act would have to be reinstituted internationally. Evidently some circles in the City are panicked indeed.

Meanwhile, the miraculous proliferation of money for the financial oligarchy and the speculators, at taxpayers' expense, is proceeding to even giddier heights. Whatever had already been made out of bad mortgage credit, thanks to paid-off rating agencies, transforming it into "packages," certificates, derivatives, and highly profitable "securities," has been endlessly restructured and rebundled, and then re-sold under new names. What if everything goes bad for banks in Europe? No problem, that's why we have the European Central Bank (ECB), which will tenderly relieve the banks of their toxic waste.

Along these lines, on Dec. 26 the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote an article titled "Securitization Business Running at Full Throttle," reporting that in 2008, the volume of securitization would reach a good Eur500 billion, and that Germany's True Sale International would achieve a volume of risk transfers in the range of tens of billions. The banks' intent has been to take the burden off their balance sheets, thereby reducing their own equity capital requirements. But what was new about the year just ending, was the securitizations which were explicitly aimed at creating guarantors for refinancing deals with the ECB. It works this way: A bank first sells credits to an SPE that has been formed for just this purpose; and the SPE in turn creates securities nominally backed by these credits, breaks them into tranches, with graduated yields, and—at least in theory—graduated risks of loss. Since there is no longer any market for these securities, the bank then buys back these tranches from the SPE, and uses the topmost, highest-rated tranche as collateral to borrow money from the ECB. The ECB accepts this paper as collateral because of its high credit rating, even though it knows the rating is a fiction.

But even that isn't a big problem, because after all, what are the rating agencies for? Thus, for example, Italy's second-largest bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, issued mortgage-backed securities, first Eur5.7 billion worth, and then another Eur13 billion worth, which were given an AAA rating by one agency, and as a result were used as collateral for "fresh" money from the ECB. And just in case your mind begins to spin at these figures, so that you don't lose your sense of proportion: Eur13 billion is equal to the annual debt-service which Greece must pay for its national debt of 92% of GDP—a situation which is not unconnected to the riots that have been going on there in recent weeks.

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Student anarchy vs. student apathy

Last month in Greece thousands of students took to the streets to vent their anger against a society which has consistently been letting them down. The demonstrations got me thinking about how Maltese students and the population in general express their views about decisions and situations they collectively oppose.

While I don't condone the violence in Greece, I can understand it, and even admire certain elements of it. Yes, a few 'anarchists' took advantage and wreaked havoc, mostly on symbols of authority - faceless riot police (an easy target, since their helmets hide any trace of emotion and humanity) - and capitalism, such as American franchises like McDonald's and Starbucks'.

It should be mentioned that true anarchism is not about violence and destruction. The vast majority of protestors were frustrated and disillusioned youths, fed up with their government's incompetence, widespread corruption and sheer lack of job opportunities.

Many Greeks go to universities in the UK and elsewhere, in the hope that a foreign degree and a second language will increase their chances of employment when they go home, but even these find it hard to find a job, because finding a job is based on nepotism and having the right connections. The reason why they decide not to continue their education in their own country is because it just isn't good enough, since lecturers have themselves escaped in search of better wages and working conditions. Sound familiar?

Here in Malta, and all over the world I suppose, from an early age we are taught to obey and conform. Something which I think exemplifies this is when, as children at pre-school and the early years of primary, we were given pictures to colour in, rather than being encouraged to draw things ourselves. I don't know if this is still the situation today, but I hope a few things have changed since my childhood.

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The economic crisis and the crisis in economics

An alternative interpretation is that mainstream macroeconomics is in big trouble.  You can think about this in terms of whether standard thinking provides plausible answers to four current policy issues.  (Daron Acemoglu of MIT has an important essay in preparation, arguing that there are deeper problems for economics, including for the most fundamental microeconomics - such as how we think about firms and reputations - in the light of the crisis.)

First, let's begin with whether macroeconomics can answer definitively or even informatively the most important question of the day.  Are we in danger of falling into another Great Depression, with a prolonged, worldwide fall in output and employment?

The mainstream answer to this question is: no, because we've learned a lot about economics since the Great Depression and because we also learned a great deal about policy both during and after the 1930s.

I'm not so convinced.  For example we know that a key policy mistake in the early 1930s was to allow banks to fail.  This will not happen again, at least not for “systemic institutions” - as the G7 made clear in October.  But bank failure was a problem because it contributed to a big contraction in credit - this has been well established in the work of Ben Bernanke and others.   Unfortunately, we know relatively little about how to stop today's process of falling credit around the world, known as “global deleveraging.”

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The fourth question is: what are the implications for the eurozone?  Again, there is a huge divergence of opinions among economists on this point.  Personally, I'm struck by the growing pressure on some of the weaker sovereigns that belong to the euro currency union.  Greece faces the most immediate problems, as demonstrated both by widening credit default swap spreads and - over the past few weeks - increasing spreads of Greek bonds over German government bonds.  The cost of servicing Greek government debt is thus rising at the same time as Greece has to roll over debt worth around 20 percent of GDP in the coming year.

Greece has a debt-to-GDP ratio over 90 percent, and the perceived risk of default is significant.  In our baseline view, Greece receives a fairly generous bailout from other eurozone countries (and probably from the EU).  This, however, does not come early enough to prevent problems from spreading to Ireland and other smaller countries (which then also need to implement fiscal austerity or to receive support).  Italy is also likely to come under pressure, due to its high debt levels, and here there will be no way other than austerity.  With or without a bailout, Greece and other weaker euro sovereigns will need to implement fiscal austerity.

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The coming capitalist consensus

Not surprisingly, the swift unraveling of the global economy combined with the ascent to the US presidency of an African-American liberal has left millions anticipating that the world is on the threshold of a new era.

Some of President-elect Barack Obama's new appointees — particularly ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to lead the National Economic Council, New York Federal Reserve Board chief Tim Geithner to head Treasury, and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to serve as trade representative — have certainly elicited some skepticism. But the sense that the old neoliberal formulas are thoroughly discredited has convinced many that the new Democratic leadership in the world's biggest economy will break with the market fundamentalist policies that have reigned since the early 1980s.

One important question is how decisive and definitive the break with neoliberalism will be. Other questions go to the heart of capitalism itself, however. Will government ownership, intervention, and control be exercised simply to stabilize capitalism, after which control will be given back to the corporate elites? Are we going to see a second round of Keynesian capitalism, where the state and corporate elites work out a partnership with labor based on industrial policy, growth and high wages, though with a green dimension this time around?

Or will we witness the beginnings of fundamental shifts in the ownership and control of the economy in a more popular direction? There are limits to reform in the system of global capitalism, but at no other time in the last half-century have those limits seemed more fluid.

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Human security on the global commons

The term 'human security' was coined to shift the focus of security from the state to the individual, to emphasize freedom from fear and want. But I would like to depart from the familiar dichotomy between security as the defense of states and security as a personal right, and offer a different perspective, viewing this question through a wider lens, a lens which captures the full gamut of interpersonal, community-oriented and culturally founded relationships which take place between the levels of individual and state. This lens is the one with which I am the most familiar, and the lens which I believe gives us a way to frame and implement effective and collective action toward the advancement of human security.

It would seem obvious that we must frame the meaning of security within an expanded context, that human security must now contain the imperative of human survivability and resilience. Imbalances between nations - population growth, poverty, food, resources, ecology, migration, energy, money, peace and cultural understanding - are pivotal security issues. They have the capacity to impact individual lives exponentially in all places across the world. As transnational issues, they are multipliers of human security - either for widespread stability or instability - and these multipliers can provide a new foundation for human security as a responsibility of the global commons.

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There must be a third sector of popular will - a powerful countervailing force dedicated to ensuring human security and cooperation across borders. Responsibility and authority must shift from governments downwards to individuals, communities and civil society, and upwards to international organizations, regional systems and networks. As a global citizenry, we must now confront the many problems that impact our lives across territorial boundaries, involving matters of shared international concern that governments and markets are not equipped to address.

The real issues are:
1) that states have not relinquished their sovereignty to cooperate with one another more effectively, and market-driven solutions have proven incapable of addressing the systemic problems that transcend national borders;
2) that a new balance between the common interests of states, markets and people is essential to economic and social development, environmental harmony and peace;
3) that all matters bearing on the global commons must soon be linked together in one multilateral agenda and discussed by a diverse group of representatives from every sector - government, business and civil society;
4) that these representatives should launch an immediate global action program ensuring the end of poverty, adequate food supplies, fair distribution of resources and commodities, a clean environment, protection of migrants and refugees, reliable and affordable energy, stable purchasing power and a climate of peace; and
5) that this common action plan must also be seen as a tentative step toward geo-political realignment and global economic adjustment, leading to a greater degree of international unity and the creation of inclusive global governance.

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The lugubrious decay of Western hegemony

As western society struggles with rising tensions, both within and outside of its borders, as those being colonized begin to throw their shoes in despair, and those who thought they belonged to the empire begin to realize that their dream is no longer sustainable, the organic intellectual is able to grasp the severity of the global crisis. As bankers announce their losses, the banking cartel slowly collapses. First, the major investment banks and hedge funds, then their traditional counterparts, all showing loses which only a year ago had been presented as ground breaking profits, as slowly the deck of cards unfolds and everything crumbles. Soon the job cuts begin, across continents furious workers revel against their enslaving owners, demonstrations, walkouts, sit-ins, failed negotiations between trade unions and shareholders. The sky is falling and the capitalist always strives to win. For a while, dormant workers watch their colleagues being laid-off, at first it seems an unavoidable aspect of capitalism, the dirty side of a casino culture, which rewards some at the expense of others. But then, neighborhoods begin to witness empty houses, people evicted, squatters moving in, the law can do little to prevent it, the numbers are too big to contain. The lobbyists in Washington are eagerly fighting for pieces of the bailout money prepared by a government, which faced with complete anarchy must regain a foothold in the corridors of power. Confidence must never be lost. Hence, a new face in the White House, a new man, a new dream, perpetuated by the chanting of hope. But things will never be the same in America, as young bankers spend their holidays in despair not knowing if their job awaits them in the coming year, the dark thoughts of unemployment begin to creep in. Obama proposes solutions, three million jobs to be created by rebuilding the fallen infrastructures of the great American empire. An empire, which in its boom forgot to cement its foundations and now collapsing, will offer its unemployed bankers the opportunity to go and fix roads.

As America crumbles, its allies must wait and hope. they too must hold tight to the idea of a rebirth, they too must put their expectations and dreams in the hands of Obama. For the allies, there is not much more that can be done. They accepted the American way of life, they indulged in the great American credit card culture and now, millions of people around the globe are tied to the demise of Wall Street, thus the saying, “when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold.” So, as frantic politicians of the axis of good scramble for some sense of stability for their countries, industries collapse, unemployment raises, and currencies begin to witness the prospects of inflation, deflation, stagflation, stagdeflation, and ultimately, what few dare to mention – depression and eventual collapse.

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Occupation 101


This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Ilan Pappe
1 hr 27 min 59 sec - Jul 12, 2007
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes the period around the declaration of Israel’s independence as one during which the indigenous Palestinian population was ethnically cleansed from the land when they were forced from their homes or fled in terror after hearing news of rapes and massacres at other villages. Today, the situation is not much better for the Palestinians under Israeli rule. “To make things so difficult for the Palestinians so that anyone who wants a normal life will leave.”
~ Dandelion Salad ~

How the U.S. Army's field manual codified torture -- and still does

Before long, opponents of U.S. torture policy were championing the new AFM as an appropriate "single-standard" model of detainee treatment. Support for implementing the revised AFM, as a replacement for the hated "enhanced" techniques earlier championed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the CIA, began to appear in legislation out of Congress, in the literature of human-rights organizations and in newspaper editorials. Some rights groups have felt the new AFM offered some improvements by banning repellent interrogation tactics, such as waterboarding, use of nudity, military dogs and stress positions. It was believed the AFM cemented the concept of command responsibility for infractions of the law.

There was only one problem: the AFM did not eliminate torture. Despite what it said, it did not adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Even worse, it took the standard operating procedure of Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay and threatened to expand it all over the world.

The President of the National Lawyers Guild Marjorie Cohn has stated that portions of the AFM protocol, especially the use of isolation and prolonged sleep deprivation, constitutes cruel-and-unusual punishment and is illegal under the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Hina Shamsi, an attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project, has stated that portions of the AFM are "deeply problematic" and "would likely violate the War Crimes Act and Geneva," and at the very least "leave the door open for legal liability." Physicians for Human Rights and the Constitution Project have publicly called for the removal of problematic and abusive techniques from the AFM.

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War and natural gas: The Israeli invasion and Gaza's offshore gas fields

The military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon's Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority. 

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007). 

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001). 

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.  

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine's gas reserves could be much larger.

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza's gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine. 

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza's offshore gas reserves. 

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields. 

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine's sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that "Israel would never buy gas from Palestine" intimating that Gaza's offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

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'This is not the future Sarah Connor warned me about'

From Pentagon Wants Loving Chat-Bot to Calm Troops' Kids:

Now that the Predator drone has convinced the U.S. military of the power of killer robots, the Pentagon has put up a call for a loving, family-oriented artificial intelligence. The Department of Defense is soliciting proposals from small businesses for a computer program that would replicate troops serving abroad, during phone conversations and video conferences with their families. 

The program, first reported by Outguessing the Machine and later covered by Slate, is billed as a "Virtual Dialogue Application for Families of Deployed Service Members. It's meant to address the strain on children caused by long deployments -- by using the same kind of automated voice recognition software that airlines, banks, and phone companies all use to keep us from real customer service. The program would play pre-recorded messages from service members when prompted by phrases like "I love you" or "I miss you mommy/daddy." The software would be specifically aimed at young children, although the exact age range has yet to be determined. 

However, Peter Jensen, former Ruane Professor of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University, researched the effects of military deployment on children, and he believes that program might be a bit misguided. 

"The biggest problem with deployment isn't the deployed person, but the spouse. If the spouse is able to cope well, then the kid will do pretty well," said Jensen, "If you really want to help the kid, put a support group together for the mom."

Of sowing and harvests: Subcomandante Marcos' speech on Gaza

Two days ago, the same day we discussed violence, the ineffable Condoleezza Rice, a US official, declared that what was happening in Gaza was the Palestinians' fault, due to their violent nature.

The underground rivers that crisscross the world can change their geography, but they sing the same song.

And the one we hear now is one of war and pain.

Not far from here, in a place called Gaza, in Palestine, in the Middle East, right here next to us, the Israeli government's heavily trained and armed military continues its march of death and destruction.

The steps it has taken are those of a classic military war of conquest: first an intense mass bombing in order to destroy "strategic" military points (that's how the military manuals put it) and to "soften" the resistance's reinforcements; next a fierce control over information: everything that is heard and seen "in the outside world," that is, outside the theater of operations, must be selected with military criteria; now intense artillery fire against the enemy infantry to protect the advance of troop to new positions; then there will be a siege to weaken the enemy garrison; then the assault that conquers the position and annihilates the enemy, then the "cleaning out" of the probable "nests of resistance."

The military manual of modern war, with a few variations and additions, is being followed step-by-step by the invading military forces.

We don't know a lot about this, and there are surely specialists in the so-called "conflict in the Middle East," but from this corner we have something to say:

According to the news photos, the "strategic" points destroyed by the Israeli government's air force are houses, shacks, civilian buildings. We haven't seen a single bunker, nor a barracks, nor a military airport, nor cannons, amongst the rubble. So--and please excuse our ignorance--we think that either the planes' guns have bad aim, or in Gaza such "strategic" military points don't exist.

We have never had the honor of visiting Palestine, but we suppose that people, men, women, children, and the elderly--not soldiers--lived in those houses, shacks, and buildings.

We also haven't seen the resistance's reinforcements, just rubble.

We have seen, however, the futile efforts of the information siege, and the world governments trying to decide between ignoring or applauding the invasion, and the UN, which has been useless for quite some time, sending out tepid press releases.

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