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EU Parliament members vote to give themselves a raise. Average salaries top €180,000 a year

Its hard to find a more corrupt and vile organisation than the European Union. After years of dealing of bone crushing austerity to Europe’s periphery serf population, and then funding neo-nazi elements in an effort to ethically cleanse Eastern Ukraine’s civilian population, EU Parliament members decided to give themselves a raise for a job well done.

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on the Automatic Earth Blog.

Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad ran a little article recently that we’re surprised no other news organization picked up. It concerned a proposal in the European Parliament in which the parliamentarians got to vote on raising their own paycheck (always a good idea). The best thing about the story is that not everyone voted in favor.

Most did though. It much amused me to see that apparently it was Angela Merkel’s party, the German Christian Democrats, which was behind the proposal. Initially, they had even wanted double what they actually got. Here’s some numbers and details – and please forgive me for not being a math wizard -.

A Member of the European Parliament (MEP), according to the article, receives the following for their valiant and entirely selfless efforts at public service:

  • Salary: €8000+
  • Expenses: €4300
  • A per diem allowance of €300 for every day a meeting is attended.

Per year that adds up to: €147.600 + €30,000 if 100 meetings are attended. Let’s say €180,000.

On top of that, the Parliament pays into MEPs pension funds, but we’ll leave that alone for now.

There are 751 MEPs, so total ‘salary’ costs are €135,180,000. But that’s just the start.

And we’re not yet adding translation costs, which apparently can add up to over €120,000 per day (!), or perhaps some €30-40 million per year.

Nor are we taking into account the estimated at least €200 million per year it takes to have the entire Parliament (MEPs, assistants, translators, employees, in total about 4000 people) move between Brussels and Strasbourg every month, an oddity that springs from a drawn-out power poker play between Germany and France. Do note: the constant move costs way more than all 751 MEP’s base salary + expenses.

No, the proposal discussed, concerns the added expense accounts MEPs receive for their assistants. At present, the amount involved is over €21,000 per month, and according to the people who receive it – and vote on raising it -, that’s not enough.

Typically, says the Dutch paper, an MEP has 3 assistants, all of whom get paid €2500 a month. They’re also in a special low Brussels income tax bracket. This means each MEP receives €252.000 per year in ‘assistant costs’, and spends €90,000 in salary costs, leaving €162,000 for food and lodging. Since there are 751 MEPs, the total adds up to €15,771,000 per month or €189,252,000 per year.

And they want more.

The original proposal called for another €3000 per month. Because some MEPs protested against this, it was reduced to €1500. Or €18,000 per year per MEP, times 751, a cool €13,518,000. Just in extra costs they voted in all by themselves.

There are many many stories about people living the high life once they get voted into the Brussels/Strasbourg traveling circus. The majority have lucrative jobs at home. They stay in swanky hotels. They collect per diems for meetings they don’t actually attend. They lay the basis for lucrative corporate careers after they exit the Parliament. It’s democracy in theory but not in practice.

Brussels/Strasbourg is no stranger to corruption, or whatever word you would want to to use to describe what goes on. Still, there are lots of MEPs who are completely on the up and up, and many who even pay back a lot of their ‘compensation’ into either the Parliament itself or into their own – national – part coffers, because they say the payments are exorbitant. But they don’t speak up. At least not outside of the confines of the Parliament itself.

But these are also – all of them put together – the people who uphold the EU policies versus Greece, where there are really many children who are hungry, and seniors who can’t get proper health care. Faced with a situation like that, one would think a proper parliament of a proper union wouldn’t dare raise its own expenses – which have to be paid by member countries’ taxpayers – before and until all children in the union are properly fed, and all grandmas properly taken care off by qualified medical personnel.

One would think. These are also the people responsible for the EU support that allows the Kiev army’s mass killings of its own people. And for the continuation of the anti-Russia and anti-Putin stance that’s become so popular across the western world. They may not be the daily executives of the circus, but they still are the responsible at the end of the day.

They are also the people who voted to cut down the budget for the Mediterranean refugee patrol missions, money saved that, if you want to take a cynical enough view, was freed to raise their own stipends. As thousands drown.

And so again we would like to raise that question: why would anyone, any country, want to have these people take their decisions for them? What would make you think when you live in Greece that these traveling circus clowns would be better at protecting and defending your interests than your own people, who live where you live, who see what you see on a daily basis?

It’s fine, and it’s perhaps even logical, at first glance, for Greeks and Italians to want to remain part of the euro. But when you look closer, you can’t avoid the notion that by being part of the euro, you give up the autonomy you also crave. And that the price you pay for being a part of the euro, and of the EU, makes you a serf to greater and richer interests that care about you about as much as they care about flies on their walls.

This one story about what MEPs vote themselves is but one example. Why not send us an example of where and how you feel Brussels protects your interests better than your own governments? We’re really curious to know. Because we don’t see it.

References:

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/04/what-makes-brussels-more-equal-than-others/

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How George W. Bush Corrupted America’s ‘News’-Reporting

George W. Bush and his Republicans managed to take all of America’s major ‘news’-media, and to turn them into super-prostitutes.

Eric Zuesse

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Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org:


In order to understand today’s demonization of Vladimir Putin, one must go back to US President George W. Bush’s propaganda for “regime-change in Iraq” and demonization of Saddam Hussein at that time. The US regime now has come to recognize that with Putin’s high approval-ratings from the Russian public, the US aristocracy’s dream of fomenting Putin’s ouster by Russia’s voters will not work; and, so, all foreign leaders who cooperated with Russia, such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Viktor Yanukovych, and Bashar al-Assad, were first targeted by the US regime for “regime-change,” so as to isolate Russia and soften it up for the demanded US-takeover (‘democracy’, ‘free market’, etc., which Russia actually now already has, at least as much as America does); and, then, since that hasn’t yet worked, came the US aristocracy’s campaign to ‘protect The West’ by NATO troops and weapons surrounding Russia and forcing regime-change in Russia. It has escalated now to the point where World War III is more likely than ever it was during the Cold War.

Regime-change in Russia will thus either occur by the democratic vote of the Russian public at some distant time and produce a Russian Government that’s likely to be against the US regime in every possible way (which the current Russian Government is not), or else it will require a US-and-allied invasion of Russia, and that would destroy the world (but the US aristocracy want it anyway).

However, America’s aristocracy (or as they call it when referring to the same thing in low-income countries, “oligarchs”) — basically just its billionaires — are very impatient; they want to control the entire planet during their own lifetimes, and care little (if at all) about what will happen to the planet after they’re gone. (Look, for example, at their enormous resistance to doing anything against global burnout; protecting their fossil-fuels investments is ‘more important’.) Their ‘non-profits’ are just tax-avoidance schemes that double as PR operations for themselves and as ways to get their names in print and on big ‘non-profit’ buildings, like the Pyramids were in ancient Egypt. (Those Egyptian aristocrats wanted permanent honors, but today’s American ones want only to be recognized as being top-of-the-heap while they’re still alive; it’s a cultural difference.)

Anyway, here is how George W. Bush and his Republicans managed to take all of America’s major ‘news’-media, which were highly prostituted even before he came into office, and to turn them into super-prostitutes like the very worst of them prior to his Presidency were. That very worst was most prominently recognized as having been the neoconservative (or pro-US-imperialism) Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel. Of course, it’s rotten, today, no less than it was back in 2000, and here’s a representative sample of that, displaying a classic propaganda-operation:

This particular show aired on 5 September 2015 on Fox ‘News’, and interviewed their contracted expert:

TRANSCRIPT, starting at 4:45:

4:45, Interviewer: The other place that nobody seems to want to go these days is Russia and China, and Russia and China are both the two countries that have really gotten behind Assad, and certainly try to prop him up and those kinds of things; and as we look at pictures from China’s military day parade [posted onscreen], how much of this is Russia and China trying to slough off these refugees on Europe and everybody else … to try to gain political and global capital?

McFARLAND: Well, in China I think less so, but Russia, certainly, because we’ve seen even in the last week that Russia has increased its military presence in Syria. Russia is trying to prop up the Assad government, like the Iranians are; and so Russia is sending military equipment; it’s sending it by sea, it’s sending it overland, it’s sending it by air, to try to prop up the Assad government to continue the fighting.

Q: To continue the refugee crisis?

MCFARLAND: Oh, sure, exactly.

They want their suckers to believe that the Government of Syria wants “to continue the refugee crisis” (which actually was resulting from the Democratic Party’s President Barack Obama’s policy, but Republican-Party billionaires want regime-change in Syria as much as Democratic-Party ones do and so this con is a bipartisan one) instead of to restore the peace and modest prosperity that had preceded the US-Saudi-Turkish-UAE-Quwaiti campaign to recruit and arm tens of thousands of jihadists into Syria to overthrow Syria’s committedly non-sectarian and highly secular Government, headed by Assad. They want their fools to believe that Assad instead of Obama sought the overthrow of Assad. But no matter how stupid their pitch is, it’s acceptable by their very conservative audience. Even when Fox News needs to cover-up evils of a Democratic Party regime in order to sic their suckers on hating Assad or any other ally of the arch-demon Putin, they do it, in order to service their Republican Party billionaires, who are just as eager to take over Russia — and its allies such as Syria — as Democratic Party billionaires are. And that’s how bad Fox ‘News’ is, and was. But now they’re all like that.

THE BACKSTORY:

Whereas back in 2002 and 2003, the US aristocracy’s biggest push for “regime change” was to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq; and whereas in 2011 the biggest push for “regime change” was to remove Muammar Gaddaffi from power in Libya; and whereas next in 2011 the biggest push for “regime change” became to remove Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria; and whereas in 2013 the biggest push for “regime change” became to remove Viktor Yanukovych from power in Ukraine; the biggest push for “regime change” now is to remove Vladimir Putin himself from power in Russia.

Media-lies have been crucial to them all; and here is how it’s done — by spreading Fox’s garbage over the rest of the major ‘news’ media:

On 2 October 2003, the media-watch organization, worldpublicopinion.org, headlined “Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War:Study Finds Widespread Misperceptions on Iraq Highly Related to Support for War: Misperceptions Vary Widely Depending on News Source: Fox Viewers More Likely to Misperceive, PBS-NPR Less Likely.” In fact, the people who received their news primarily through NPR or PBS exhibited the lowest rate of misperceptions at that time, and Fox News Channel viewers exhibited the highest misperceptions-rate: Whereas 77% of NPR/PBS listeners/viewers gave correct answers on all three factual news questions asked, only 20% of Fox News Channel viewers did; and whereas only 23% of the NPR/PBS audiences got one or more of these three factual questions wrong, 80% of Fox’s did.

So, the George W. Bush Administration forced NPR and PBS to adhere more fully to Bush’s (the US aristocracy’s) line. Bush lowered the best of the nation’s news-edia down to the standards that already existed for the lowest.

At NPR’s “Morning Edition” on 20 May 2005, host David Folkenflik reported about the pre-Bush culture at the Corporation for Public Broadvasting and compared it to the new culture there. He said that, the “culture gap became evident as long as two years ago. At oneclosed board meeting, according to two former CPB officials, [the Bush-appointed CPB chief Kenneth] Tomlinson suggested bringing in Fox News Channel anchor Brit Hume to talk to public broadcasting officials about how to create balanced news programs.”

Word was now out, among journalists throughout the world, that President Bush aimed to turn his country’s public broadcasting system into a domestic propaganda organ; and so, on May 30thThe New York Times headlined “Ombudsmen Rebuff Move by Public Broadcasting”, and reported — datelined May 27th from London — that: “An [international] association of news ombudsmen has rejected an attempt by two ombudsmen from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to join their organization as full-fledged members, questioning their independence. The Organization of News Ombudsmen, which represents nearly a hundred print and broadcast ombudsmen from around the world, more than half of them from the United States, voted at its annual conference here last week to change its bylaws to allow full membership only to those who work for news organizations,” which excluded representatives from CPB, because “it does not itself gather or produce news.” Observed one member, who happened to be the ombudsman from NPR, “We want members who are responsive to readers, not to governments or lobby groups.”

The Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw took a broad historical view of this matter, headlining May 29th “There’s a ‘Nuclear Option’ for PBS’ Woes” opining that no PBS at all would be better than a PBS that’s a propaganda organ for the White House, and reminding readers: “The Bush administration is not the first to challenge the independence of PBS. Back in the 1970s, the Nixon administration was so estranged by PBS coverage of Watergate and the Vietnam War that it stacked the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with Nixon sympathizers. ‘There were tremendous fights, with the Nixon administration trying to prevent public television from doing any public affairs programming at all,’ Lawrence Grossman, the former president of PBS, subsequently told the New York Times. The Bush administration, which has already accomplished the heretofore seemingly impossible by becoming even more media-averse than the Nixon administration, seems determined to surpass the wizard of Whittier and Watergate in bringing the CPB to heel as well.”

Mr. Shaw, like other major-media commentators about the national media, had previously stood by in silence, during 2002 and 2003, while America’s major media cavalierly spread amongst the US public, as virtually unchallenged, the false rumors coming from the Bush Administration, and from its allies such as the Bush-Administration-financed group of exiles, the Iraqi National Congress, saying that Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein had been proven to be storing huge quantities of weapons of mass destruction and to be working in cahoots with Al Qaeda to threaten the United States. However, now, just a few years later, these very same “news” media were so frightened at the rising extent of this Administration’s control over their “news,” that these commentators were publicizing what those fascists were doing to force them, ‘journalists,’ into a military lock-step. This change in atmosphere was stunning; America’s press were now trying to extricate themselves from the prison they had only recently helped to construct for themselves. They didn’t think that they might get caught up in the prison that they had helped construct to contain the general public.

The United States had entered historic new territory after nearly 50 years of aristocratic/theocratic mass-indoctrination of the American people, which had occurred with the full support and cooperation of the nation’s presslords. There was now doubt; the old arrangements finally started to become questioned. Things were no longer settled. This was a real change of mentality. Only recently, there had been a total passivity of the US press: it propagandized for the President’s Medicaid prescription drug plan; it propagandized for his fabricated accusations against “Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction”; it served as an extension of the White House press office on many other of the President’s fraud-based programs. But this passivity was now finally replaced by a rising fear within the press, that the US might be transforming into a fascist state, which could threaten the press itself. The presslords themselves were at last becoming disturbed.

However, this President was already near to his goal of a totalitarian lock-down. Consequently, what could the press do, at such a late date? They had already given him the rope to hang not just the public, but themselves. He took it. The American press that stenographically transmitted to the American public the US government’s lies about “Saddam’s WMD” is continuing as if it hadn’t been sufficiently compliant. America’s great victories in overthrowing Gaddafi and Yanukovych are now supposed to be followed by Assad, and then Putin.

And European nations take this leadership as their own, instead of abandoning the US, abandoning NATO, and abandoning the US-controlled EU; abandoning all the mega-corporate, US-aristocracy-controlled, international-corporate fascist system — and now they willingly take in the millions of refugees from the bombs that the US had dropped in Libya and Syria, and that the US-installed rabidly anti-Russian government in Ukraine is dropping onto the areas of the former Ukraine that have rejected the US-imposed (in February 2014government in Kiev.

And the next target is Putin.

So: that’s the backstory behind the lie that Putin instead of Obama caused those millions of refugees pouring into Europe.

And, in German ‘news’ media, Bashar al-Assad and ISIS are being blamed for it, because practically no German is so media-deluded (like America’s conservatives are) as to think that Putin is to blame for it; and here is a German who states in very clear terms how rotten he thinks Germany’s ‘news’ media are (though America’s obviously are even worse) with those German media blaming “that the reasons for refugee-flows are Syrian President Bashar Assad and ISIS” instead of that “America is the cause of all these problems, American foreign policy.”

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Italy Throws Down the Gauntlet to Challenge the Brussels Establishment

The Italian government has rejected the EU’s calls to revise its draft budget for 2019 that includes a 2.4% deficit of GDP.

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Authored by Arkady Savitsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The EU has had a lot of trouble on its hands, as its members, such as Poland and Hungary, are openly challenging the established order. This time it’s a very serious situation, because Brussels is facing defiance from Italy, the 3rd largest national economy in the eurozone and the 8th largest global economy in terms of nominal GDP. It has a population of over 60 million. It is also a Europhile country and the bloc’s founding member.

The Italian government has rejected the EU’s calls to revise its draft budget for 2019 that includes a 2.4% deficit of GDP, which could dangerously boost the nation’s public debt. The ruling coalition in Rome, which is made up of the League and the populist Five Star Movement, has decided to increase borrowing so that it can fund its campaign promises, such as lowering the retirement age and increasing welfare payments.

Last month the European Commission claimed that these spending targets went against EU rules. Rome is burdened by the second-highest amount of public debt in the eurozone. There’s a 131.8% difference between borrowing and economic output there, but the government believes it will achieve substantial economic growth, while the EU’s predictions for Italy are rather gloomy. Nov. 13 was the deadline for submitting a revised draft budget. Rome did not comply. Now the EU leadership is threatening it with sanctions it until it falls into line. Italy could be slapped with a fine of €3.4 billion.

The Italian government takes an independent stance on a multitude of issues. It is seen as Russia-friendly in its calls for lifting, or at least easing, the sanctions against the Russian Federation. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte believes Moscow should be re-admitted to the G7. The Italian PM visited Moscow in late October,  hailing Russia as an essential global player and inviting Putin to visit Italy. Despite the EU-imposed punitive measures that are in place, Mr. Conte signed a slew of trade and investment agreements. Last year, Russia’s parliamentary majority party, United Russia, and Italy’s Lega Nord (Northern League), a ruling coalition member, signed a cooperation agreement. The regional council in Veneto, where Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini holds a strong position, recognized Crimea as part of Russia in 2016.

Austria is another Russia-friendly EU member. Even the recent “spy scandal” that was obviously staged by outside forces to spoil that bilateral relationship, has failed to damage that rapport. “We are a country that has good contacts with Russia, we are aimed at dialogue, it will not change in the future,” said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, speaking to reporters on Nov .14. The conservative People’s Party and the far-right Freedom Party — the members of the ruling coalition — are well-disposed toward Moscow. They don’t support the EU sanctions policy.

Hungary is another Russia-friendly EU member. Last month, the European parliament voted to initiate the Article 7 sanctions procedure against Hungary. The government led by PM Victor Orban has been accused of silencing the media, targeting NGOs, and removing independent judges. Launching the procedures stipulated under that article  opens the door to sanctions. Hungary could eventually be temporarily deprived of its EU voting rights. In reality, the country is being punished for refusing to take in migrants.

This is the second time Article 7 procedures have been launched. The first time was last year, when the European Commission set that article into motion against Poland over its judicial reforms. A unanimous vote is required to suspend Hungary’s voting rights and introduce sanctions. That move is likely to be blocked by Poland. It turn, Hungary said it would stand by Warsaw should the EU launch procedures to punish it. The two nations are united in their efforts to support each other and fend off Brussels’ encroachments at a time when the bloc is undergoing the most difficult times in its history.

Hungary, Poland, and Russia are trying to draw Europe’s attention to the threat to democracy and peace emanating from Ukraine — a problem that has been largely hushed up by the EU leadership.

Slovakia is another EU member state to nurture what some call “special ties” with Russia. It has never been happy with the sanctions against Moscow and has openly said so. Last month, its new prime minister, Peter Pellegrini, called on the EU to revise the sanction policy.

A diplomatic row was also staged in Greece but, as in case of Austria, it may have clouded those historically close ties but has failed to sever them. Cyprus has always been friendly toward Moscow, but Nicosia and Athens are not in a position to protect their independence, as both are heavily indebted and dependent on foreign loans.

The battle between Brussels and Rome comes at a time when Europe is preparing for the European Parliament elections in May 2019. Punitive measure taken by the EU against Italy will most certainly lead to growing public support of that government that is standing up to pressure in order to defend its people. It will increase the number of Italian Eurosceptics who win seats. With so many countries dissatisfied with the EU leadership, it’s hard to predict the outcome. There will soon be other people at the helm who hold quite different views on the problems faced by the EU, as well as on the bloc’s future. Everything may change, including the relationship with Russia and the sanctions that have become so unpopular and have resulted in many national leaders openly challenging the wisdom of such policy imposed by a powerful few.

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Turkish Newspaper Implicates UAE’s Crown Prince in Covering Up Murder of Khashoggi

On November 16th, the Washington Post had headlined “CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination”.

Eric Zuesse

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, are close friends and allies, who jointly lead the war against Houthi-led Yemen. On Sunday afternoon, November 18th, a leading Turkish newspaper, Yeni Şafak, reported the two leaders to have also collaborated in hiding the murder on October 2nd in Istanbul of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Yeni Şafak headlined “Dahlan ‘cover-up team’ from Lebanon helps hide traces of Khashoggi murder” and reported that on October 2nd, “A second team that arrived in Istanbul to help cover-up the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was dispatched by Muhammed Dahlan, UAE Crown Prince Muhammed bin Zayed’s chief hitman in the region, … according to an informed source who spoke to Yeni Şafak daily on the condition of anonymity.”

On November 16th, the Washington Post had headlined “CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination”.

Bin Salman and bin Zayed are U.S. President Donald Trump’s closest foreign allies other than, possibly, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. All four men are determined that there be regime-change in Shiite Iran. This anti-Shia position bonds them also against the Houthis, who are Shiites, in Yemen, where bin Salman and bin Zayed lead the war, and the United States provides the training, logistics, and weapons. Both bin Salman and bin Zayed are fundamentalist Sunnis who are against Shia Muslims. Israel and the United States are allied with these two princes. Saudi Arabia’s royal family have been committed against Shia Muslims ever since 1744 when the Saud family made a pact with the fundamentalist Sunni preacher Mohammed ibn Wahhab, who hated Shia Muslims. Thus, Saudi Arabia is actually Saudi-Wahhabi Arabia, with Sauds running the aristocracy, and Wahhabists running the clergy.

In 2017, in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh, Trump sold, to the Saudi Crown Prince, initially, $350 billion of U.S.-made weapons over a ten-year period(the largest weapons-sale in world history), and $110 billion in just the first year. That deal was soon increased to $404 billion. For Trump publicly to acknowledge that Salman had “ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination” would jeopardize this entire deal, and, perhaps, jeopardize the consequent boom in America’s economy. It also would jeopardize the U.S. alliance’s war against Shiites in Yemen.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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