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The Greek Tragedy: Some things not to forget, which the new Greek leaders have not.

By William Blum – Published February 23rd, 2015

American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”

The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).

In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.

George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

Full article: http://williamblum.org/aer/read/137

Peru's Achuar and Kichwa Indigenous Communities Defend Their Territory From Oil Pollution

Global Voices - Citizen media stories from around the world

Translation posted 21 February 2015 18:53 GMT

This post was originally published in Spanish on the author's blog Globalizado.

A new chapter in the eternal struggle of the Amazonian communities to defend their ancestral lands against oil pollution has opened. In late January, members from the Achuar and Kichwa indigenous communities, from the Corrientes and Tigre rivers basins in the Peruvian Amazon, took the Jibarito base of the Pluspetrol company, paralyzing the production of 14 oil wells, equivalent to a loss of approximately 3,100 barrels per day.

Another protest arose in the Tigre River, where the communities blocked the river as another measure of their indefinite strike, which to date has been going on for more than 30 days. Eight boats were held up in the middle of this blockade. All of these protest actions demand that Pluspetrol pay environmental compensations for the use of land and water in their communities, among other complaints.

These confrontations are taking place ahead of Pluspetrol’s contract with the state for lot 192, at the Jibarito base, expiring in August this year. A prior consultation should take place with the communities before the lot goes up for bid again. Moreover, the issue of land titling, where the Peruvian government refuses to give titles for land with “forestry capability” or for land given to oil companies, adds another level of complexity to the negotiations.

The Consultape blog, specialized in the subject of prior consultation, explains:

..........It should also be noted that the indigenous communities have little confidence in Pluspetrol, which systematically seeks to disregard agreements and decisions of both the communities and the state. An example is its policy of challenging the fines imposed for environmental pollution and the implementation of precautionary measures to avoid complying with the abandonment plans and others required by law.


Debunking the Latest Pathetic Fear Smear Campaign Against Marijuana

No, smoking pot likely will not make you psychotic.

By Paul Armentano / AlterNet February 22, 2015

Photo Credit: Stanimir G.Stoev/Shutterstock.com

The mainstream media was abuzz this week promoting an age-old claim: Smoking marijuana makes you crazy.

“Psychosis five times more likely for cannabis users: study,” a wire story from Agence France-Presse declared. The UK Mail on Sunday expressed similar alarm, declaring, “Scientists show cannabis TRIPLES psychosis risk.” Somewhat surprisingly, it was Fox News that took the most reserved approach, announcing “Smoking high-potency marijuana may cause psychiatric disorders.”

So what was the source of this latest round of sensational headlines? Writing in the February 18 edition of the British journal The Lancet Psychiatry, investigators assessed rates of cannabis use in a cohort of South London first-episode psychosis patients versus pot use frequency in a similar group selected from the general population. Authors reported that subjects with psychosis were more likely to recall having used “skunk-like cannabis” daily as compared to controls, whereas those participants who reported primarily consuming hashish possessed no elevated risk of having such a diagnosis. (Researchers defined so-called skunk marijuana as cannabis possessing THC concentrations above 15 percent. Of course, since cannabis is illegal in Britain and the weed obtained on the black market is not subject to analytical potency testing, it is unclear how subjects in the study—or its authors—knew whether participants were consuming supposed "high-potency" herb or just regular, plain old weed.)

.......The Bottom Line? Mental Health Concerns Don’t Justify Criminalization

Is it possible that the habitual use of high-potency cannabis may potentially aggravate or even trigger psychiatric episodes in subjects predisposed to certain mental illnesses? Yes. However, such concerns are not persuasive justifications for continuing cannabis criminalization. Just the opposite holds true. There are numerous adverse health consequences associated with alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, all of which are far more dangerous and costlier to society than cannabis. It is precisely because of these consequences that these products are legally regulated and their consumption is restricted to specified setting and to certain consumers (the most vulnerable of which, such as pregnant women, are often explicitly warned of the drug’s potential adverse effects in this population). It is time to once and for all ended society’s nearly century-long love affair with reefer madness and applied these same common sense principles to cannabis.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/debunking-latest-pathetic-fear-smear-campaign-against-marijuana

Chris Hayes Demonstrates Why We Can't Kill Our Way Out of Our War With ISIS


The MSNBC host brings some refreshing sanity to the debate.

By Allegra Kirkland / AlterNet February 22, 2015

Last week, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf made what would seem on its surface to be a very uncontroversial statement. Speaking of our campaign against ISIS on MSNBC’s Hardball, Harf said, “We cannot kill our way out of this war.” She suggested we address the root causes of terrorist movements, like unstable governments, crippling poverty and lack of education—comments almost identical to those made by George W. Bush at the height of the Iraq War.

Yet to the pundits at Fox News, Harf’s comments were inflammatory. Chris Hayes gathered some of the most absurd responses in a segment on All In, including Sean Hannity’s sarcastic line: “Maybe we should give terrorists housing and get them Ferraris and Obamacare.”

But, as Hayes deftly demonstrates, military force has done nothing to stabilize the countries where we’ve waged war or to lessen the threat of terrorism in the Middle East. We’ve spent hundreds of billions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have killed hundreds of thousands of people, many of them civilians.


As Hayes put it, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result. So at what point do we say that what the U.S. has been doing for 14 years without cessation is not worth it?”

South Sudan Wrestles with War and Corruption

South Sudan Wrestles with War and Corruption
Hopes ran high for independence, but reality has proven tough. —Photos by Cédric Gerbehaye/Agence VU/Magnum Foundation; Text by Erika Eichelberger

South Sudan came into being a year ago but remains fragile today: It is rife with violent conflict and corruption, and sorely lacks infrastructure.

In 2005, a peace treaty between Sudan's mostly Muslim North and mostly Christian South put an end to Africa's longest civil war and set in motion a process for the South to become independent. After almost 99 percent of the population voted for separation in January 2011, the leaders of the main Southern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, became the de facto leaders of the new nation. Today, the country is among the worst in health and education rankings globally. And President Salva Kiir recently admitted that the country's leadership stole $4 billion in funds intended for clinics, roads, and schools.

Ongoing violence makes development tough. Clashes persist between rival tribes in South Sudan—often due to competition for scarce resources—and conflicts rage with the North over oil resources and border disputes. In May, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution threatening both sides with sanctions if the fighting doesn't cease, and the two states are now discussing a "security road map." But many worry tensions will escalate again and destabilize the region.

Cédric Gerbehaye, a Belgian documentary photographer, traveled to Sudan on a Magnum Foundation grant in July and August 2010, and returned during the referendum to document a country in transition. "The people were waiting for that historical moment, for that 'final walk to freedom,'" he said. After subsequent trips, he observed, "It was weird to see such hope within the population and then see that things haven't really changed."

Photos: http://www.motherjones.com/photoessays/2012/07/south-sudan/young-amputee

The Fascinating Story of How the Ferguson-Palestine Solidarity Movement Came Together

The people of Palestine and Ferguson are reaching out to each other because they are fighting a common system of injustice, control and racism.

By Bassem Masri / AlterNet February 18, 2015

In one of the most amazing shows of solidarity, the people of Palestine and Ferguson are reaching out to each other because they are fighting a common system of injustice, control and racism.

I speak about this connection from personal experience. I am a Palestinian-American who has lived in both Jerusalem and in Ferguson. I have lived under the racist regimes of both cities and know first hand the sense of occupation that both populations experience on a daily basis.

The Ferguson protests have highlighted a racist system by kindling a worldwide conversation about police brutality, a conversation sparked by the execution of Mike Brown at the hands of an officer in the Ferguson Police Department. The police’s hard-handed reaction to protests made it inevitable that people around the globe would draw similarities between the people of Ferguson and the ongoing struggles of the people of Palestine. Both movements would have collided at some point.

But “Palestine 2 Ferguson” manifested itself from day one.

Linked Oppression, Linked Struggle

In August 2014, Palestinians reached out via Twitter with advice to protesters on how to protect themselves properly from chemical agents. These Palestinians were veterans of the weekly protests in occupied towns in the West Bank like Nabi Saleh and Bil’in. They had faced the teargas, rubber coated steel bullets and even live fire that the Israeli army used to crush unarmed demonstrations. They had served as lab rats as the Israelis tested weapons and methods of repression they would later export to American police departments. While Palestinians were tweeting out that advice and support, instructing Ferguson protesters on how to wash teargas residue from their eyes and how to make a gas mask from Hawaiian punch bottles, bombs were raining down on the Gaza Strip and demonstrators were cut down with live bullets at the Qalandiya checkpoint that separated Ramallah from Jerusalem. In one picture shared widely on social media, a resident of Bil’lin, Hamde Abu Rahme, held a sign reading, "The Palestinian people know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity." He concluded the sign with the hashtags #Ferguson and #Justice.

That was a very powerful statement of solidarity, and it showed that oppressed people could make alliances across oceans and heavily fortified borders in a joint struggle to achieve justice. Before August 9, the day Brown was killed, many Palestinians didn't know the struggles African Americans and other minorities faced in America, and many African Americans didn’t know much about Palestine. But in the assault against peaceful protesters following the murder of Mike Brown, the system made a huge mistake. It wound up uniting people from all across the world who were sick of violent police repression and the impunity that their oppressors enjoyed. More importantly, it exposed how America and Israel share values of ethnic cleansing and discrimination.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/activism/frontline-ferguson-protester-and-palestinian-american-bassem-masri-how-ferguson2palestine?akid=12816.44541.MF7FZo&rd=1&src=newsletter1032245&t=23

Ukraine crisis: Poroshenko bruised by army retreat

20 February 2015 Last updated at 08:48
By David Stern
BBC News, Kiev

Damage in Vihlehirsk, near Debaltseve, testifies to the intensity of the fighting

Tensions in the ranks
Already there are rumblings of public discontent.

"I have seen this with my own eyes, on the battlefield and in the army headquarters, how military action is planned and executed," Semyon Semenchenko, commander of the volunteer Donbass battalion, told the BBC.

"I can assure you that we lost Debaltseve not because of the Russian military advantage, but because our generals refuse to take responsibility," he said.

Mr Semenchenko has proposed a "parallel" co-ordinating structure for the volunteer battalions fighting in the east. So far 13 battalion leaders have signed up, including Dmytro Yarosh of the nationalist Right Sector.

Mr Semenchenko insists this is not to replace, but to help, the army's general command in "information exchange, planning, logistical assistance and facilitating mobilisation."

Still, his announcement raised concerns. Eight battalion commanders have refused to join the body, calling on Mr Semenchenko to "end his daily populist and PR statements".


The night is long

By Vijay Prashad
Source: Frontline
February 20, 2015

LARGE, CORRUGATED IRON FENCES BLOCK the road to Tahrir Square in Cairo. The fences are painted with the Egyptian flag. There are, of course, ways to get into the square, but these are few. On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, the mood in Egypt was mixed. Many wanted to take to the streets, if not to protest against the current government then at least to celebrate their feat of four years ago. It required an act of supreme bravery to scale the fences. Nearby, black-clad security forces stood ready, their guns quick to fire.

El-Sisi claims that protests are not banned, only those that harm the economy. He has tried to cover himself with the flag—a patriotic military leader who is the bulwark against terrorism and stands for economic stability. This hearkens back to the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser, but with less credibility. There are no great ambitions for Arab nationalism, no great plans for the region, no ability to lift the hopes of the Egyptian people. Money from Saudi Arabia and the United States curtails the horizon. International pressure for real change in Egypt is not likely. What change will come must come from within.

Amongst the Workers

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission travelled to Cairo in November 2014 to report on the progress of the El-Sisi government. It gave the new regime full marks for its economic reforms: “The authorities have already begun to take the action needed to achieve their objectives. They have begun bold subsidy and tax reforms.”

The government cut back on subsidies across the board, including in the cotton sector. Low global prices for commodities such as cotton and the removal of the subsidy will ring the death knell for this sector. Twenty years ago, Egyptian cotton growers produced 400,000 tonnes of cotton lint. When they allowed cotton prices to be dictated by the world market, the farmers gave up growing cotton. Last year, the farmers produced only 127,000 tonnes. With the end to the, that number is likely to decline. Cotton, the fourth pyramid of Egypt, is likely to go to ruin as a result of IMF advice.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-night-is-long/

Greece: ‘third world’ aid and debt

By Michael Roberts
Source: Michael Roberts Blog
February 22, 2015

One of the cruel ironies of the last minute deal between the Eurogroup and the Greek government for a four month extension to the existing ‘aid’ programme monitored by the Troika is that in any sane meaning it is not aid at all.

In return for staying in the Troika programme for another four months to end-June and keeping to the still to be agreed conditions on fiscal targets, government spending and privatisations, the Eurogroup, the ECB and the IMF will disburse the outstanding tranches of loans under the existing programme. The FT might call this “aid” but it is nothing of the kind. It is not even bailout money for Greek banks. The €11bn funding for that has been returned by the Greeks to the Troika who are keeping it for ‘security’.

.....But most of that will be immediately recycled back to the Troika as repayments of debt and interest for previous loans and government bonds that are maturing. In the upcoming four months, the IMF must be paid back €5.3bn while the Greeks must also roll over short-term T-bills bought by the Greek banks worth about €11bn. So the Troika ‘aid’ will just disappear and the Greek people will see none of it to help with government spending.


This is just like ‘Third World’ aid that used to be distributed by the World Bank and other international agencies back in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of this ‘aid’ ended up in corrupt dictators’ pockets or in repaying previous debt. The people never saw it. And the debt levels stayed where they were, as they do for Greece now.

Back then, eventually the international agencies agreed what was called a Brady debt swap that wrote off a portion of the debt that could never be repaid. No such plan is available to Greece, although Syriza asked for it in their negotiations with the Eurogroup.


Germany owes Greece money for the war – but morality needn’t come into it
Hagen Fleischer

Instead of focusing on the emotionally charged issue of reparations for the second world war, Berlin and Athens should set up a future fund for the joint rehabilitation of a ‘shared’ history

Nazi Germany’s 3.5-year occupation of Greece was bloody and destructive. The Paris reparations conference in 1945 accepted calculations that estimated damage to Greece to amount to 7bn pre-war US dollars. It should be made clear that this wasn’t automatically the suggested reparation payment, as often has been maintained by Greek politicians and journalists: the purpose of the conference was not to come up with absolute sums but to work out percentages of a then still unspecified reparations pool.

Yet it’s important in this case to make a distinction between reparation payments for war crimes and repayments of so-called Besatzungsanleihe: monthly loans demanded from the Greek government in 1942-44 to pay for the maintenance costs of the German army in Greece and further military activity in the Mediterranean, even delivering food from starving Greece to Rommel’s “Afrika-Korps”. In early 1945, in the final days of the Third Reich, a group of high-ranking German economists calculated this “German debt (Reichsschuld) to the Greek state” to amount to 476m Reichsmarks, which would be roughly €10bn today.

This would however require a major change of attitude on Germany’s behalf. Only Berlin has the power to open talks about a historic consolidation with Greece. Until then, we continue to exist with an absurd situation where democratically elected German postwar governments of all colours continue to be in denial about the existence of this debt, which was officially recognised even by the Nazi regime.


Get the rest of your money, Greece.

BBC Breakfast - The horror of Dresden


Published on Feb 14, 2015
A harrowing eye witness account of the firebombing of Dresden by former POW Victor Gregg.

Those words by Victor Gregg describing the Allied terror bombing of Dresden in 1945

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