A few days earlier, on May 27, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called Jack Lew, US Treasury Secretary and asked him to mediate in favor of an agreement between Greece and the so-called institutions (EU, IMF, ECB) during G7 talks in Germany. Mr Lew, according to Embassy of US in Athens: “Emphasized that the Treasury remains engaged with all parties involved – including Greece, its European partners, and the IMF – and continues to urge all parties to find common ground and reach an agreement quickly. Secretary Lew reiterated that failure to agree on a path forward would create immediate hardship for Greece and broad uncertainties for Europe and the global economy. Secretary Lew offered to remain in contact with the Prime Minister and other parties in Europe and the international financial institutions”. According to Reuters, although Greece was not in the agenda its crisis has overshadowed G7 talks.
Here, it is necessary to quote: The Group of 7 (G7) is a group consisting of the finance ministers and central bank governors of seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States meeting to discuss primarily economic issues. The European Union is also represented within the G7. The G7 are the seven wealthiest major developed nations by national net wealth, representing more than 64% of the net global wealth ($263 trillion) according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report October 2014. The IMF’s Managing Director usually participates. (Wikipedia) G7 used to be G8 but Russia, the 8th member, has been excluded since 2014 and the whole gathering has become a gathering under the wing of US. G7 is in fact a group of capitalist countries with similar economic and political systems.
Furthermore, the epitome of capitalism, IMF, also participates. In 2001, 200,000 demonstrators from several countries, protested during G8 summit in Genoa, Italy and “accused the police of brutality and denying them their right to non-violent protest. They believe that G8 summits are non-legitimate attempts by eight of the world’s most powerful governments to set the rules for the planet at large”.
Leading or following?
It is therefore worth wondering:
Why a politician of leftish ideology and probably politics, as soon as he will be allowed to govern his country, Mr Alexis Tsipras, thinks that a gathering of eminently neo-liberal officials would act in favour of Greece and not to the benefit of a bunch of conservative “institutions”?
Even more when their ultimate objective is austerity, wage reductions and dominance of the markets? Even if Prime Minister represents Greek public opinion according to polls, there is an inconsistency between on one side his election program, the communist ideas of his party and probably his own views and on the other side the negotiating moves he makes. EU itself is a nest of neo-liberalism and all regulations, guidelines, directives and legislation do not leave space for any progressive government and administration. Apart from the pressure of repayment of an unsustainable debt, the left Greek government will have to overcome the imposed by USA et al. conservative and restrictive guidelines (inside and outside the country) in order to apply progressive and left politics. Under present circumstances, it is understood that “conspiracy theories” about a deliberate destruction of Greece, seem to be confirmed.
Greece is not free anymore to import from, to export to, to connect and collaborate with, and to develop trade or other cooperation with any country without, at least EU’s, prior permission -with or without debt.
If a first visit in Moscow caused such a wave of reactions (TWTP article) it can be easily understood what would a broader collaboration with Russia or with Venezuela (for example) would ignite.
It is yet to see the impact of the Iranian foreign minister’s Javad Zarif visit in Athens on May 29th. However, debt protects the “system” from “bold” exercise of sovereignty, something which is thought more possible by a left government.
Anything “left” causes abhorrence and fear to conservatives all around the world. Europe has been the cradle of both dark ages but also of enlightenment. EU, by following the imperialism dogma of USA and NATO has declined to a “follower” to say the least. If war is induced under the pretext of “union” (namely in Ukraine) it becomes obvious that it has deviated seriously.
It is ironic that Greek media present as “positive” any comment or statement of officials against Grexit or whatever similar. It is common knowledge that no-one would like Greece to exit the euro zone – let alone EU and any capitalist group like G7. Unless EU changes radically and be released from the chariot of USA, it will reproduce a modern yet conservative model which is incompatible with once progressive European traditions, ideas and cultures. Consequently, EU will become even more “toxic” for its member-states. Failing to distance itself, will also lead to its full inferiority which, among others, dictates agreements like TTIP or “demonization” of any sovereign country which is not subordinated to USA.
Then and now
Greece is presented as the weakest link but in fact it has escaped the “adjustment and compliance stage” of uniformity inside neo-liberalism. Corruption is common among many countries more or less but in Greece it was formed by the “triangle” of Government officials-Big businesses plus media-Banks. On the other hand, this same triangle led Greek people skillfully and systematically to a consuming delirium -top feature of capitalism- only to find themselves trapped a few years after the country entered the euro zone, in fact without the prerequisites. An answer to why corruption as well as uncontrolled debt has been allowed within the bosom of EU, is the present situation. Debt and loans is only a means to further restrain a country and terms about privatizations of crucial assets and state property is not investing but just a sample of extended dependency of the country. “They want to buy Greece cheap”, as is mentioned in the article of Steve WeissmanWhat Europe and the IMF Are Doing to Greece: A First-Hand Look.
Greece possesses the undoubted advantage of its geopolitical position and historically, so far, this card has not been played to its own benefit by the majority of Greek politicians. Even the…urge to join euro zone (and European Community earlier) brought benefit only to certain circles and not to the people. After all, the whole idea of united European countries is based upon the profit of the few and not of the many who are sentenced to lack of reaction due to either exhaustion or to consent which is, as well known, manufactured by media and by propaganda.
Mr. Tsipras’ government has the chance not only to restore some breakdowns of the past but also to start a new age of politics and of an authentic union. If he fails, many of European people’s dreams, aspirations, fights and movements will undergo a severe setback. This is the ultimate purpose of conservatism and capitalism but it is not in favour of people’s interests -nowhere in the world.
The volume of publications about this week’s issues turned the article to not-so-brief but instead, and hopefully, comprehensive.
(On the last minute’s (bad) news about Nepal, new updates will be posted as soon as they come. You will also find ways to help people of Nepal**.)
– Updated April 27 – 11:39 GMT
Earthquake in Nepal
On April 25 (Saturday before noon), an earthquake with magnitutde of 7.9 hit Nepal, near its capital, Katmandu.
New York Times report that: “A spokesperson for Nepal’s home ministry, Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, said the preliminary death toll stood at 356, and that thousands of people had been injured. Trekkers reported a major avalanche on Mount Everest, with some teams reported missing. In addition, 13 deaths had been reported in India by midafternoon”.
Later reporting of The Wall Street Journal, citing a spokesman of the police, raises the number of dead to 449* and specifies magnitude to 7.8.
WSJ also mentions that there are fears that people are trapped inside debris of buildings and also that accorging to witnessess, a large avalanche has destryed camps of trekkers and adventurer’s.
“I have been in earthquakes before, but this was the mother of all earthquakes,” said Prithivi Pande, a 60-year-old banker in Katmandu. “It went on and on and on. Everything was falling off the walls.”
The same reporting informs: “In neighboring India, at least 18 people died in the northern state of Bihar, which borders Nepal, and 62 others were injured, according to Alok Raj, a senior police officer in the state” and also, “ In Katmandu, Suraj Vaidya, a Nepalese businessman, said he saw the historic nine-story Dharahara tower in the center of Katmandu collapse to the ground”.
Unfortunately, nature hit Nepal; a poor country which has faced a recent wave of political turmoil amid debate over a new constitution and is struggling to restore political and economic stability.
Mediterranean Sea has become the grave of more that 1,700 men, women and children refugees since the beginning to 2015 according to Amnesty International. The desperate victims of the western-ignited wars risk and many of them lose their lives.
After Libya was destroyed by USA, not only the infrastructures and the refuge camps of the country cannot hospitalize asylum seekers fleeing wars in Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan as it was the norm during Gaddafi administration, but also Libyan people too, try to pass to Europe in boats.
Greece, Italy and Malta are the countries which accept the highest proportion of the people trying to enter Europe searching to live a safe life.
This year, 36,000 survivors reached the three countries and none of them has the means and cannot afford to keep all these people.
“Only 5,000 resettlement places across Europe are to be offered to refugees under the emergency summit crisis package to be agreed by EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday [April 23rd]”, according to The Guardian’s information and a leaked confidential draft statement. The majority of them will be sent back (where?) as irregular migrants.
The UN Refugee Agency “joined other organizations in a call on European leaders to put human life, rights and dignity first today when agreeing upon a common response to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean”.
UNHCR praise the European Union (EU) which “was founded on fundamental principles of humanity, solidarity and respect for human rights”.
The statement says: “We urge EU Member States to demonstrate moral and political leadership in adopting a holistic and forward-looking action plan centred upon these values.”
EU has an-anything-but honorary involvement in the destruction of Syria and Libya but also in Afghanistan and Iraq. The “literary” separation of people into migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and the try to waive responsibility are the opposite of European humanism of (very) older times.
“The reputation of Europe is at stake,” said Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni. “I have been saying for weeks and months that Europe has to do more, now unfortunately the reality has hit us in the face”, reports Reuters
The diplomatic conflict between Spain and Venezuela hardens with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, recalling Spanish ambassador in Venezuela on April 22nd.
The series of events started when the conservative leader of Popular Party, Rajoy, taking the role of US spokesman last October intervened in Venezuela’s internal affairs concerning detainment and trial of extreme right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and for a second time last March, when he condemned the arrest of Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma.
After Rajoy’s first comments, Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Spain and called him to respect Venezuela in the same way Venezuela respects Spanish people.
Lopez was arrested after his involvement in a wave of violence in Venezuela that sought to destabilise the government of President Nicolas Maduro, and that left 43 dead and over 1000 injured, reported teleSUR. Ledezma was arrested on February for having a role in Blue Coup, a plot of the US to overthrow Venezuelan government.
Mr Rajoy, who is aware and concerned of the rise of Podemos inside his country, seems to choose blind conservatism.
His right government has opposed “Podemos friendly” Syriza government and maintains a very tough stance against Greece during negotiations with EU.
Would he let go unpunished any attempt to violently or by coup overturn his government?
However, according to teleSUR, tension seemed to normalize after both sides made conciliatory statements. In a televised speech Nicolas Maduro said: “Yesterday (Friday), the Spanish government issued a statement expressing its willingness to maintain positive relations with our government; and I welcome positive relations but they must be based on mutual respect”. Maduro added that his government is willing to cooperate in any efforts to improve diplomatic relations but emphasized that Venezuelan sovereignty must be respected. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia on Sunday, expressed his country’s “happiness” and added that “with all probability, the ambassador to Venezuela will return to Caracas in the following hours.”
Wikileaks-Sony and the Postponed War
The story of the uncovering of Sony Hack by Wikileaks is a topic that came to light on April 16th (see Press Release here).
The aftermath though is a new reality which clearly shows that propaganda is the strong card of American intelligence and administration, Media and even Hollywood.
The released documents uncover the connection between two scandals, these of the University of North Carolina (UNC) and of Sony hacking.
“The University of North Carolina academic scandal involving athletes in “paper classes” consumed sports media and prompted action by university administrators nationwide.
The Sony Pictures email hacking scandal shook the entertainment industry and prompted large corporations to reassess their network securities. Not surprisingly, WikiLeaks has uncovered the intersection of the two. A quick search of “UNC” on the site where WikiLeaks has published some of those hacked emails reveals that reporters and high-level Sony execs were very interested in the goings on in Chapel Hill”, reports wralsportsfun.com.
And The Wrap notes: “The data, which has been indexed as a fully searchable archive on WikiLeaks, was sourced from the devastating cyber attack on the studio in November 2014.
The site’s founder Julian Assange qualified the publication of the material as showing “the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the center of a geo-political conflict… It belongs in the public domain.”
Someone should warn Mr Kim Jong Un: The next casus belli won’t take long to be invented.
The pharmaceutical company Glaxo Smith Kline ordered a recall of its 4 in 1 vaccine against certain types of flu named Flulaval.
GSK stated that “the vaccine might cause more harm than good because it is not good enough to protect someone from the current flu strains present in the US”. Because Flulaval is ineffective, the remaining 1.7 million doses are being recalled while GSK conducts testing on the product to prove efficiency.
The recall, although for the benefit of public health, will possibly contribute to the increase of widespread skepticism and opposition to vaccination, worldwide.
According to reporting of Guardian on April 21st: “A major study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one of the world’s leading medical journals has concluded that there is no link between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination and autism in children”.
The study disproves the research of 1998 of Andrew Wakefield that there is a link between MMR vaccine and the appearance of autism and bowel disease, but “the belief that autism and vaccinations are linked continues to cause many parents to decide against having their children immunised”, according to Guardian.
Though it is rather common for citizens of other countries in Africa or Asia to oppose vaccination -with good reasons-, there is also a strong anti-vaccination movement (AVM) which attributes to vaccination diseases (as above) in Western countries, mostly among conservatives or because of religious beliefs.
“Some American families who fear vaccines may cause autism, and others who don’t trust the federal government are choosing not to vaccinate. In some places diseases once thought to be conquered are making a comeback”, comments USA Today which also reports: “Recent measles outbreaks in New York, California and Texas are examples of what could happen on a larger scale if vaccination rates dropped, says Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s director of immunizations and respiratory diseases.”
In Australia, where the vaccine-deniers risked to be exempted of health services, “on 19th April, Social services minister Scott Morrison announced the exemption the religious group that calls itself Christian Scientists ‘is no longer current or necessary and will therefore be removed’. Children of members of the religious organisation enjoyed exemptions from being vaccinated from 1998. ‘Having resolved this outstanding matter, the government will not be receiving nor authorising any further vaccination exemption applications from religious organisations,’ Morrison added”, reports the australian edition of International Business Times.
The distrust to big pharmaceuticals is based on facts and of many past “accidents” either from vaccines or from other drugs. The phantom of thalidomide and the near 60 year-old drama of its victims won’t stop to haunt big-pharma.
On April 22nd, Chilean volcano Calbuco erupted. Calbuco woke up after more than 40 years and Chile declared state of emergency.
“The Calbuco volcano is located 900 kilometers south of Chile’s capital Santiago, and is also 600 kilometers away from Argentine Nequen province.
Authorities expect the ashes from the eruption to reach Argentina.
Another volcano in Chile is also in eruptive phase, the Villarica volcano, which is located close to Cabulco”, informs teleSUR.
“The first eruption on Wednesday sent a thick plume of ash and smoke several kilometres into the sky and more than 5,000 people were evacuated from the sparsely populated area about 1,000km south of the capital Santiago and near the tourist town of Puerto Varas. Wednesday’s eruptions also triggered flight cancellations in Chile and Argentina while in Chile, flights are not taking off to as far north as Concepcion, 630km from the volcano, as northeasterly winds blow ash in the direction of the capital, forcing thousands of people to remain stuck in the airports”, reports Al Jazeera.
“While the Calbuco eruption was the largest in recent memory, scientists suspect it will not have a detectable impact on climate”, according to The Washington Post, unlike when “200 years ago this month, a much larger volcanic eruption rocked the globe, and left the Earth with a Year Without a Summer”.
Chile is one of the volcanic countries of South and Central America, together with Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Colombia and Argentina.
In June 2011 a chain of volcanoes of the country, Puyehue-Cordon-Caulle, erupted causing earthquakes and rising smoke and volcanic ashes, which reached neighboring Argentina. Back then, the officials had issued red alert and about 3,500 people had been displaced.
One year earlier, in May 2010, “two explosive eruptions shook two huge volcanoes, Guatemala’s Pacaya and Ecuador’s Tungurahua, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and disrupting air traffic as ash drifted over major cities”, reported CBSNews.
Calbuco last erupted in 1972 and is considered one of the top three most potentially dangerous among Chile’s 90 active volcanoes, according to the AP news agency.
Chile, on the Pacific “Rim of Fire”, has the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world after Indonesia, including around 500 that are potentially active.
In March, volcano Villarrica, also in southern Chile, erupted in spectacular fashion, sending a plume of ash and lava high into the sky, but quickly subsided.
Though on TV or in photos, a volcanic eruption looks spectacular, it is certainly a frightening and dangerous natural phenomenon.
“It sounded like a big tractor trailer passing by the road, rattling and shaking, guttural rumbling … we left everything there, grabbed my kid, my dog, got in the car with my wife,” said Moffat, who was driving to nearby Puerto Varas at the time, to Reuters.
An “unrepresentative” for the country’s history phenomenon has emerged in South Africa.
A wave of xenophobic attacks in the country of historic fighter against apartheid and leader Nelson Mandela has spread fear among migrant workers and foreigners who keep business.
The violent attacks are attributed to Zulu nationalists but “South Africa’s Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, insisted he was not behind a wave of violence against migrant workers he had compared a month before to head lice”, notes Reuters and continues: “His words had been twisted by the media, he said. If he had really given the order for his legions of followers to attack, ‘this country would be ashes’. [!]
Remarks like those, with the direct threat of violence, have alarmed politicians and activists in South Africa, who say they amount to an open challenge to the post-apartheid order and its elected leadership, from the traditional head of its biggest ethnic group, the 10 million strong Zulu nation”.
Ironically, President Zuma’s eldest son, Edward, last week also came out in full support of King Zwelithini’s controversial statement.
President Jacob Zuma, whose party ANC won by 62,2% of votes in May 2014 elections, said addressing to the parliament that the police are working round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters and those committing acts of violence.
Since the provocative remarks of Zwelithini on March 20, the results of the attacks are at least seven killed people, destructions of shops, open attacks to foreigners and the international community’s outcry.
“The Philippines on Wednesday, April 22, denounced the wave of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa as the Southeast Asian country advised its estimated 3,000 nationals there to keep themselves safe”, reports Rappler.
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement: “The Philippines condemns the wave of violence aimed at foreign workers, and joins the South African government and the international community in denouncing the aggression directed against foreigners during these 3 weeks of unrest”. NSNBC reports that neighbouring’s Mozambique Deputy Health Minister Mouzinho Saide, “informed the press on April 21st, that the recent violence against migrant workers and other foreigners in South Africa caused some 1,500 Mozambican migrant workers to flee. Saide added that 107 of the Mozambicans returned from Durban in buses which had been made available to them by the government”.
Nsnbc also notes: “Most South African, Mozambican and international media as well as politicians would tout the violence as ‘xenophobic’” and adds that: “The underlying causes are, however, by some analysts considered to be closely related to the South African ANC government’s failure to negotiate appropriate wages for both South African and for migrant workers with South African trade unions”.
The same website concludes: “Arguably, decent wages rather than neo-liberalism, lethal violence against striking workers and a race to the bottom under BRICS cover would be a better remedy for the situation than Jacob Zuma’s call for a day of prayers against the violence”.
Violence against foreigners and xenophobia are against the mentality of Rainbow Nation’s hardly acquired liberties.
And as Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said in parliament according to spyghana.com: “In 1994, (late) President Mandela made a commitment that never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience oppression of one by another”.