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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
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With Another Approach, We Would Have a Deal with Iran Today

by Jan Oberg / June 30th, 2015

There could have been a deal with Iran today – to the benefit of everybody – if the nuclear issue had been approached in a fair, principled and visionary manner from Day One.

On the day of no deal, perhaps the Five Ps + Germany should spend a moment on self-reflection: What could we have done differently?

To the trained conflict- and peace-making eye, 99% of the Western commentators have failed to point out the benefits of a deal and, instead, devoted their creativity to find all kinds of possible negative aspects, details and – of course – on how the West should demand even more. They’ve suggested “red lines” at absurdum.

At the table sit the five largest nuclear weapons powers which have, de facto and de jure, for decades completely and systematically ignored the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, and have repeatedly broken international law and conducted wars. They would never allow the type of inspections on their own territory that they demand of Iran. The U.S. issues threats – and plan a war – Iran has never threatened the U.S. And so on and so forth.

Complete article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/06/with-another-approach-we-would-have-a-deal-with-iran-today/#more-58975

Solidarity for Venezuela and Struggles at Home

By Preeti Kaur
Source: teleSUR English
June 10, 2015

President Hugo Chavez’s voice calling for a free and integrated Latin America reverberated loudly through the halls of the National Union of Teachers London premises on Thursday June 4, 2015. Channeling Chavez, Marti, Bolivar and Sandino, Guisell Morales-Echaverry, the first resident Nicaraguan ambassador to the UK since 1998, echoed demands for one voice against poverty. She called for continued resolve to walk down the avenues of new realities and new ways, first opened by Chavez, towards freedom and fraternity, equally.

The event celebrated ten years of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign’s work diligently defending Venezuela’s sovereignty and independence, to support the right of the Venezuelan people to determine their own future free from external intervention. Medea Benjamin, founder of the human rights group Global Exchange & the women-led peace group CODEPINK, and journalist Seumas Milne, expressed incredulity at President Obama’s March 2015 executive order declaring Venezuela a threat to the U.S.’s national security. Indeed, the mirror opposite is true. The U.S. has supported destabilizing efforts in Venezuela for nearly fifteen years.

Who is the U.S. to question Venezuela’s human rights record?, asked Benjamin and the Argentinean ambassador to the UK, Alicia Castro. The U.S., a country which promoted UN sanctions in Iraq which led to the deaths of half a million children, a country which later occupied Iraq – illegally and hungry for oil – which separately led to the deaths of an additional one million Iraqis.

The proponents of neo-liberal ideology, from the Telegraph to the Cato Institute, have been insistent on labeling Venezuela’s economy a “basket case” in recent months. No doubt, there are problems in Venezuela; U.S. imposed sanctions, reductions in oil prices, and a belligerent anti-democratic opposition have imposed social and economic strife. Yet, the Venezuelan government remains committed to reducing poverty, initiating further social housing developments, and hastening access to medical services, all while promoting human-centered regional integration and international solidarity, avoiding the stupidity of economic austerity and cuts to social spending.

Venezuela fiercely fought against the expansion of NAFTA type free-trade agreements in the region. Instead, promoting visions of regional integration based on solidarity, where doctors and teachers are provided in exchange for oil, and where Latin American countries seek to support themselves and each other in the quest for a good life for the peoples of their countries. This principle has been extended to countries in need, including Ebola hit regions, Haiti, and Palestine.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/solidarity-for-venezuela-and-struggles-at-home/

Greece Over the Brink

By Paul Krugman
Source: The New York Times
July 1, 2015

It has been obvious for some time that the creation of the euro was a terrible mistake. Europe never had the preconditions for a successful single currency — above all, the kind of fiscal and banking union that, for example, ensures that when a housing bubble in Florida bursts, Washington automatically protects seniors against any threat to their medical care or their bank deposits

But the situation in Greece has now reached what looks like a point of no return. Banks are temporarily closed and the government has imposed capital controls — limits on the movement of funds out of the country. It seems highly likely that the government will soon have to start paying pensions and wages in scrip, in effect creating a parallel currency. And next week the country will hold a referendum on whether to accept the demands of the “troika” — the institutions representing creditor interests — for yet more austerity.

Greece should vote “no,” and the Greek government should be ready, if necessary, to leave the euro.

This is, and presumably was intended to be, an offer Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, can’t accept, because it would destroy his political reason for being. The purpose must therefore be to drive him from office, which will probably happen if Greek voters fear confrontation with the troika enough to vote yes next week.

But they shouldn’t, for three reasons. First, we now know that ever-harsher austerity is a dead end: after five years Greece is in worse shape than ever. Second, much and perhaps most of the feared chaos from Grexit has already happened. With banks closed and capital controls imposed, there’s not that much more damage to be done.

So it’s time to put an end to this unthinkability. Otherwise Greece will face endless austerity, and a depression with no hint of an end.

Complete article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/greece-over-the-brink/

Greek Referendum on IMF Ultimatum

by James Hall / June 30th, 2015

This is a test. Will the internationalist banksters force extraction of their ill-gotten interest payments to bail out their reckless derivative trades gone wrong, or will a sovereign country abandon the chains of financial elite coercion and renounce their IMF and ECB debt? Make no mistake about it, Greece has lived high on the hog for decades and has serious internal problems. There is no free ride. However, the pain from the coming default is necessary to shed the yoke of a failed European Union construct.

So when “Greece Invokes Nuclear Option: Tsipras Calls For Referendum” ordinary peoples in every sector should have a voice if the financial deal being imposed upon Greece must go forward.

Well, is this not novel? Allowing citizens to voice their agreement or disapproval has the financial establishment in a tizzy. “PM Tsipras lashes out, and Lew urges a deal” reveals that stamping out any rebellion against the banksters orbit of dominating individual countries, covering counter party losses and keeping the debit enslavement system intact.

So when the NYT reports that “Cash Withdrawals and Hoarding as Default Looms Over Greece” the hysteria hype is simply designed to scare the daylights out of world markets. Drops in equities have not induced panic at this point since only an ostrich did not see the Greek confrontation with the EU coming.

The big difference is that the IMF banksters think of themselves as the creditor of primary claims. Now that Greece is in technical default, take the next needed step and exit the EU altogether. Break the strangle hold on the continental loan shark scheme and return to a Greek Drachma free of the illicit debit contrived by financial extortion.

Complete article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/06/greek-referendum-on-imf-ultimatum/

Yes, there is life after, though I wish Greece would have fought harder for its war reparations. Russia has offered aid - http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/06/19/greek-debt-crisis/28973733/ , as well as China. Greece has been offered an invitation to join BRICS, although it hasn't asked from help yet from anyone.

Syriza, The EU Institutions & Struggle For Democracy

By Tom Vouloumanos

June 30, 2015

On the night of June 26th, following several days of dead end negotiations with EU creditors, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras convened an emergency cabinet meeting of the SYRIZA lead governing coalition and announced in the early hours of June 27th, that the Greek government would not cave in to blackmail and ultimatums. In fact, what prompted the emergency meeting was that the Greek government was offered a final take it or leave it proposal authored mostly by the IMF. The deal that was offered completely reneged the little progress that had been made up to that point with major concessions from the Greek side and instead called for even worse austerity measures than what was asked of the previous pro-austerity government that was tossed out of office on January 25, 2015. The Greek government said that it could not sign such an absurd proposal that would destroy an economy already in shambles and a society facing a humanitarian disaster. Yet, given that its mandate was to reach a deal with the creditors and not a rupture, it said that it would give the final say to the people that have not been heard in the last 5 years of economic neoliberal barbarity: the Greek population. To the shock of the EU and Greek establishments, Alexis Tsipras announced that he would put the final proposal to a referendum on July 5, 2015.


Greeks, after 5 years of worsening austerity, poverty, unemployment and suicides without any hope of getting out of the crisis finally had enough and voted for the anti-austerity Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). In the 5 months since being elected, the Left wing Greek government has been making reasonable yet non-recessionary proposals to the EU creditors in order to get a viable deal so that badly needed funds, which have been due to Greece since last year, be released. It has also argued that its debt is unsustainable and some sort of write down using a variety of possible technical methods should be made. During this time, it has not reversed the austerity measures imposed by the last government and has continued making its payments to the creditors. This government, and the society it was elected by, has been under financial asphyxiation. Yet, it did not bend; it maintained its red lines of no new cuts to social spending, pensions, salaries or additional regressive taxes. After weekly pronouncements of Greek default and Eurozone expulsions, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent on June 21st, 2015 a watered down proposal to the EU creditors that was considered a major compromise.

In fact, the proposal still did not contain cuts in social spending but rather distributive tax increases. Varoufakis had argued that given that the Greek economy had shrunk by one-fourth, what was now needed were expansionary investments and policies to get the economy towards growth. In essence, tax overhaul and social investments that would increase demand and produce jobs for a society, where the majority is now at or under the poverty line, where almost 60% of young people are unemployed and where another 200,000 young people have lost hope and simply left.


The Greek side showed that it can meet the financial demands of the lenders but by using other means. The lenders were not just interested in the results, they were very interested in the means as well. Yet, what business is it of the creditors which method a supposedly sovereign state meets its obligations with, it’s the results that should count right? Yes, if it was about economics, but it’s not. It’s about politics, class politics. Europe is essentially governed by an unaccountable technocracy supported by the converging interests of financial institutions, oligarchs and state planners from the larger European economies. The European technocracy wants to impose a single neoliberal model on the European continent effectively neutralizing elections.


Democracy is a threat to the European technocratic order.

Therefore, the IMF and its partners in the European establishment wanting to crush the SYRIZA government, offered it an impossible agreement.


The longer the Greeks resist and at least attempt by any means at their disposal to survive the assault of the European technocratic order, the more likely it will inspire other Europeans to rise up as well. Nothing less than the end of a cruel neoliberal order may be at stake, which opens a space for alternative bottom up economics in a life after austerity.

Let us hope that the Greeks find the strength to say NO on July 5, 2015 with the same determination that they said NO in 1940. Another world may indeed be possible.

Complete article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/syriza-the-eu-institutions-struggle-for-democracy/

An older article:

Syriza Against the Machine

By Tom Vouloumanos
Source: teleSUR English
April 13, 2015

The German state is simply the most powerful guarantor of the privileges of this European establishment, after the US of course. As such, the German establishment convinced large sectors of the German working class that they have common interests and that they are bailing out their southern European neighbors who are too lazy, too corrupt or too disorganized to run a modern successful economy. The European Media made sure that simple facts were not known to the public of the northern European states. They were not told that the loans to Greece were not for bailing out Greeks but for bailing out European banks, as these loans simply financed debt repayments. With each loan, the debt increased further, forcing more loans on condition that the country privatizes its resources, destroys its social state, throws people into unemployment and poverty. All of which shrink the economy decreasing the country’s ability to service its debt and pay its creditors, forcing it to borrow even more conditional bailout money, further increasing its debt and accelerating austerity and so on and so forth; a vicious cycle that is leading to the third worldization of the European periphery countries.


In an interview on a popular TV political talk show, Ston Eniko hosted by Nikos Hatzinikolaou, Panos Kammenos, leader of Syriza’s junior coalition partner, Anel (Independent Greeks) and Defense Minister, admitted that “they don’t want an agreement!” Kammenos explained that Varoufakis meets with European officials, proposes and negotiates a series of reforms, the officials agree, then three days later 25 more points of discussion are emailed to the Greek government. This has been the modus operandi of the European officials since the February 20, 2015 truce. No matter how many reforms Varoufakis presents to these officials, they are unacceptable as they are not austerity reforms. The Greek government has been working hard showing that it can increase revenue by tackling corruption, tax evasion and off shore accounts. It has provided clear number crunching evidence that its measures would be far more efficient for increasing government revenue than privatizations, pension cuts and other austerity measures which are destroying the Greek economy and torturing the population in the midst of an EU engineered humanitarian crisis. Greece has been coming to the table with viable plan, after viable plan thinking it would get sensible responses but it has realized that the goal of the European establishment is to make the Government of the Left bend and follow orders. The political plan is austerity; it has nothing to do with economic data, it has everything to do with who wields economic power. Syriza and its junior partner’s unpardonable sin is that they have stood up to this establishment.


Yet, the destabilization tactics do not stop there.

When Syriza came to power, it immediately got rid of the barricades that surrounded the Parliament building and announced that it was going to close down the type C jails where many anarchists are held as well as scrap the draconian anti-terror laws. Syriza activists were involved in many of the street demonstrations of the last years that were met with riot squads, teargas and police brutality. Nevertheless, there have been odd occupations in recent weeks by small groups of anti-authoritarian activists of Syriza’s headquarters and the offices of the left alternative radio station it owns, Sto Kokkino, with demands that Syriza move on issues it already has announced it will move on. Moreover, Sto Kokkino has been a leading voice in reporting state repression against anarchists, left activists and migrants. When a small group of anarchists raised banners on the steps of parliament, the Syriza Parliamentary President, Zoe Konstantopoulos, in the face of inflammatory calls by the opposition to crack down on the “terrorists”, refused to send in the riot police and defended the right of citizens to protest and dissent. So why is Syriza being targeted? It has long been known that many of the most violent elements in protests and demonstrations, known as Koukoulofori (hooded ones) have been agents provocateurs on the payroll of the riot squads, called MAT for Units for the Reinstatement of Control, a group that Syriza plans to dissolve. The presence of Nazis, fascists and right wing fanatics in the police force has been a reality in Greece, since the collaborationists were absorbed into the para-state apparatus after the German retreat in WWII in order to hunt down the Left wing guerrillas that liberated the country. Some of these para-state elements, have infiltrated many radical left and anarchist groups, one may suspect that these last actions have been encouraged and prodded by reactionary elements within the police who are worried about Syriza’s commitment to purge the Nazi and fascist presence within the Greek gendarmerie (in the 2014 euro-elections, 50% of police officers voted for Golden Dawn).


If the EU and ECB creditors continue to tighten the noose around Greece’s neck and demand that the Greece continue to bleed its population and sell off its property and resources, refusing sensible but non-recessionary economic reform plans, and holding out on cash flow until it surrenders, then the Greek government will simply hold out on paying back its debt repayments to the European creditors and instead meet its payroll, education, health and other requirements. Kammenos said as much on that same talk show. Syriza’s argument is that there is no mechanism to kick Greece out of the euro and if the European institutions consider Greek holding back on payments until it receives its next tranche of loans as a default well then a bankruptcy within the euro would mean that the entire debt Greece owes will be written off. The Syriza lead government has been able to meet its debt payment requirements without any new loans all the while continuing to pay for its internal requirements. This of course, is no way to live as the state is in a socially dire situation but there is no reason to make things even worse with more austerity measures.

Complete article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/syriza-against-the-machine/

Tunisia attack: Gunman 'was in Isis sleeper cell and had terror training in Libya', student says

Source: The Independent

Tuesday 30 June 2015

The gunman who massacred 38 tourists at a Tunisian hotel had been part of an Isis “sleeper” cell for several years despite not being known to authorities, it has been claimed.

Police admitted they had no idea that Seifeddine Rezgui, a 23-year-old network management student was a terrorist threat.

But a man who knew him at l’Institut Superior des Sciences Appliquees et de Technologie (Issat), in Kairouan, claimed Rezgui was part of a five-man cell and had been a jihadist for at least four years.

He added that the student trained in Libya with a terrorist group called Ansar al-Sharia, which has partly pledged allegiance to Isis and also has links to al-Qaeda, and believes Rezgui was taught to “disguise” his radicalisation.

Around 17 British and Irish victims of the attack have so far been named and the death toll for the UK could rise to 30, making it the deadliest terror attack on the country’s citizens since the 7 July bombings a decade ago.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/tunisia-attack-gunman-was-in-isis-sleeper-cell-and-had-terror-training-in-libya-student-says-10354930.html

Greece's euro-referendum: 100 Greeks give their view

After five years, three elections, two bailouts worth $240bn and one ever deepening crisis, Greece is heading for a crunch point on Sunday with a referendum on accepting the austerity measures proposed by its creditors. We asked Greeks for their view on the troika, the tumult - and whether they want to stay in the eurozone.


Very sad.

UN at 70: “Foxes in Charge of Global Chicken Coup”?

June 24, 2015

The United Nations Charter was signed on June 26, 1945 — 70 years ago this Friday — in San Francisco. accuracy.org/calendar.>

The Charter states: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state…”

JAMES PAUL, james.paul.nyc at gmail.com. Paul was executive director of Global Policy Forum, a think tank that monitors the UN. He just wrote a two-part piece “The UN Disappoints on its Seventieth Anniversary,” the first part of which will be published today by Inter Press Service. (Part 2).

He said today: “From time to time, it has seemed that the UN might have a breakout moment, that it might take the lead in a transition to what used to be called ‘global governance’ — more participatory, more just, more peaceful. But it never happened — certainly not in the ‘post Cold War’ world dominated by the United States and its Western ‘allies.’ The UN effort to control transnational corporations collapsed by the mid-1990s, initiatives to make the Security Council more responsive to international law failed, the promising global conferences came mostly to naught. Washington forced Kofi Annan to purge his senior staff and toe the line, once the Iraq War was well under way. The White House crudely forced out UN ambassadors that did not conform to its wishes. And Congress threatened to pull the plug on funding. The foxes were in charge of the global chicken coop.

Full article: http://www.accuracy.org/release/un-at-70-foxes-in-charge-of-global-chicken-coup/

Before the Dawn

by Kathy Kelly / June 29th, 2015

"I didn’t nap – I was fitful and couldn’t, my mind filled with images from a memoir, Guantanamo Diary, which I’ve been reading since arriving here. Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s story of being imprisoned in Guantanamo since 2002 rightly disturbs me. In all his years of captivity, he has never been charged with a crime. He has suffered grotesque torture, humiliation and mistreatment, and yet his memoir includes many humane, tender accounts, including remembrances of past Ramadan fasts spent with his family."

Mohamedou Slahi (Photo Credit: International Committee of the Red Cross)

"I’ve never heard Muslims complain about being hungry and thirsty as they await the fast-breaking meal. Nor have I heard people brag about contributions they’ve made to alleviate the sufferings of others, although I know Islam urges such sharing during Ramadan and aims to build empathy for those afflicted by ongoing hunger and thirst. Mohamedou relied on empathy to help him through some of his most intense anguish and fear."

I was thinking about all my innocent brothers who were and still are being rendered to strange places and countries,” he wrote, describing a rendition flight from Senegal to Mauritania, “and I felt solaced and not alone anymore. I felt the spirits of unjustly mistreated people with me. I had heard so many stories about brothers being passed back and forth like a soccer ball just because they have once been in Afghanistan, or Bosnia, or Chechnya. That’s screwed up! Thousands of miles away, I felt the warm breath of these other unjustly treated individuals comforting me.

"From 1988 to 1991, Mohamedou had studied electrical engineering in Germany. In early 1991, he spent seven weeks in Afghanistan, learning how to use mortars and light weapons, training which would allow him to join the U.S.-backed insurgency against the Soviet-backed government in Kabul. He was one of Ronald Reagan’s celebrated “freedom fighters.” In early 1992, when the communist supported Afghan government was near collapse, he again went to Afghanistan and, for three weeks, fought with insurgents to overtake the city of Gardez. Kabul fell shortly thereafter. Mohamedou soon saw that the Mujahedeen insurgents were fighting amongst themselves over power grabs. He didn’t want to be part of this fight and so he went back to Germany, then Canada and, eventually, home to Mauritania, where he was arrested and “rendered” to Jordan for questioning, at last arriving in Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Force Base on his way to Guantanamo."

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/06/before-the-dawn/

Europe’s Attack on Greek Democracy

Published on
Monday, June 29, 2015
by Project Syndicate

byJoseph Stiglitz

NEW YORK – The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors. In fact, European leaders are finally beginning to reveal the true nature of the ongoing debt dispute, and the answer is not pleasant: it is about power and democracy much more than money and economics.

Of course, the economics behind the program that the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) foisted on Greece five years ago has been abysmal, resulting in a 25% decline in the country’s GDP. I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences: Greece’s rate of youth unemployment, for example, now exceeds 60%.

It is startling that the troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not even learned. The troika is still demanding that Greece achieve a primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments) of 3.5% of GDP by 2018.

Economists around the world have condemned that target as punitive, because aiming for it will inevitably result in a deeper downturn. Indeed, even if Greece’s debt is restructured beyond anything imaginable, the country will remain in depression if voters there commit to the troika’s target in the snap referendum to be held this weekend.

By contrast, a no vote would at least open the possibility that Greece, with its strong democratic tradition, might grasp its destiny in its own hands. Greeks might gain the opportunity to shape a future that, though perhaps not as prosperous as the past, is far more hopeful than the unconscionable torture of the present.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/06/29/europes-attack-greek-democracy

Greece grasping its destiny in its own hands, Greeks being able to shape their own future is the IMF's worst nightmare.

Defense Attorneys Demand Release of Thousands of CIA Black Site Photos

Published on
Monday, June 29, 2015
byCommon Dreams

"Who knows what is still out there?" defense attorneys ask. "What else is there? That’s what is appalling."

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Images reportedly depict black sites in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, as well as torture devices. (Photo: Prachatai/cc/flickr)

A recently unearthed cache of photographs of CIA black sites is threatening to further complicate the proceedings of the 9/11 military commission as attorneys for the men detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility are demanding the release of the documents as evidence of the U.S. torture program.

U.S. officials told the Washington Post that the roughly 14,000 photographs were discovered earlier this year by military prosecutors reviewing documents on the intelligence agency's interrogation program ahead of the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

The classified materials reportedly depict "external and internal shots of facilities where the CIA held ­al-Qaeda suspects after 9/11" —including the infamous "Salt Pit" in Afghanistan—as well as sites in Thailand, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania. While the images don't explicitly show the interrogations, there are pictures of naked detainees stripped naked for transport, as well as of torture devices, such as a waterboard and confinement boxes.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/29/defense-attorneys-demand-release-thousands-cia-black-site-photos
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