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“Greek” Parliament devolves into chaos over Macedonia issue, confidence vote

Walkout of KKE MPs, calls for a military putsch by Golden Dawn MP and subsequent expulsion of party from the parliamentary debate, SYRIZA MP speaks “Macedonian” in intense day of proceedings.

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As could be expected, the political situation in Greece is getting more fiery by the day following the Tsipras-Zaev agreement which, if ratified, would allow Greece’s northern neighbor to officially name itself “North Macedonia.”

Following the passage of an austerity multi-bill in parliament on Wednesday, a bill which was carried solely by the votes of the “radical leftist” SYRIZA and its coalition partner, the “nationalist” and “patriotic” Independent Greeks party and which promises more austerity and privatizations for a country supposedly exiting the austerity and memorandum regime — Friday’s parliamentary agenda concerned the vote of no confidence against the government, which was called by the center-right New Democracy party, the main opposition party. And it is here were chaos — or at least a well-choreographed version of it — ensued.

First came the example of Konstantinos Barbarousis, a member of parliament with the far right Golden Dawn party. In a speech before parliament, Barbarousis suggested that the military intervene and arrest the president of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, prime minister Alexis Tsipras, and defense minister Panos Kammenos.

Following this, the Greek justice system — typically slow as molasses when it comes to the concerns of ordinary citizens — kicked into overdrive, with Barbarousis facing immediate charges of high treason for his calls for a military putsch. While early reports erroneously stated that Barbarousis had been arrested, in a phone call to national network Star TV, Barbarousis stated that he was “freely circulating.” This was followed by a police chase on the Athens-Patras highway, where Barbarousis reportedly evaded a police blockade before going into hiding. As of the time of this writing on Friday evening, Barbarousis had not been arrested.

Following Barbarousis’ statements in parliament, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos expelled Barbarousis from Golden Dawn’s parliamentary team. In turn, Golden Dawn’s parliamentary representation was expelled from the no confidence proceedings.

The parliamentary festivities then continued as debate over the no confidence motion went on, with all of the MPs of the Communist Party (KKE) walking out of the debate. In a statement before parliament, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, the general secretary of the KKE, stated that “the KKE will no longer legitimize this process, our parliamentary team will no longer participate in this parody of a parliamentary procedure, we are departing immediately.”

While the no confidence procedure may indeed be a farce, and while the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition government was likely to survive a no confidence vote, KKE’s departure, along with the expulsion of Golden Dawn, means that SYRIZA could surpass a no confidence vote simply with the votes of its own MPs, without necessitating the support even of the Independent Greeks — who have stated that they do not support the “North Macedonia” deal but nevertheless (and not surprisingly, considering the history of this party) continue to “support” the government. The sweet taste of power is so very hard to let go of, after all.

At this point, it should be mentioned that seemingly the entirety of Greek (and foreign press correspondent) reporting on the KKE departure and Golden Dawn expulsion did not address what this would mean for the no confidence vote and the number of votes the government would need to survive the censure. It is one of many instances where the servile, pro-EU, pro-austerity, neoliberal media — both domestic and international — have kept their audience in the dark.

Adding to this hallmark day in Greece’s parliament was an instance where SYRIZA MP Giorgos Oursouzidis spoke in the “Macedonian” language, in a message of “friendship” towards the people of Greece’s northern neighbor. At a time where the SYRIZA government is attempting to ram through an agreement which is highly unpopular with a large majority of Greece (but highly popular with sundry neoliberals, globalists, and warmongers such as John McCain), speaking in a language which the government just recognized as “Macedonian” based on a fraudulent argument regarding the “recognition” of this language by the United Nations in 1977, is itself a provocative act, even if one of a much different nature from the statements made by Barbarousis.

As all of this was occurring inside the parliament building, outside of parliament, protesters gradually began to gather throughout the day, opposing the “North Macedonia” agreement. At some point, a group of these protesters attempted, unsuccessfully, to storm the parliament building, lobbing bottles and coffee cups at the police presence, which pushed back the protesters. No arrests have been reported. This police presence, of course, has no problem defending criminals of many stripes inside the parliament building, all for a paltry monthly wage of around 700 euros which those same politicians have repeatedly slashed in recent years. Surely other similarly-paying professions, such as scrubbing toilets, would be far more honorable and honest. For some in crisis-hit Greece though, the cost of one’s dignity has hit rock bottom.

Nevertheless, the protest outside the parliament building was largely peaceful and while it was modest in size, it grew as the day wore on. Protesters waved Greek flags and sang patriotic songs such as “Macedonia Xakousti,” a song which very well could be considered “chauvinistic” and thus in violation of the Tsipras-Zaev deal, if and when it comes into effect.

Demonstration outside Greece’s parliament on June 15, 2018, in opposition to the Tsipras-Zaev “North Macedonia” deal. (Photo: Michael Nevradakis)

Despite today’s moderately sized demonstration, larger protests are planned for Saturday evening outside of parliament, and on Sunday in the Prespes region of the northern Greek prefecture of Macedonia, again in opposition to the “North Macedonia” deal.

As for the parliamentary proceedings, they should come as no surprise, not due to some sort of deficiency of the Greeks or their ability to practice politics, but due to the fact that the parliament has, throughout the years of the crisis and indefinitely into the future, been reduced to an entity which rubber-stamps and rams through foreign-imposed legislation and agreements, public opinion be damned. And for SYRIZA in particular, any opposition to any of its actions, such as the “North Macedonia” agreement or the new austerity it is passing while claiming that the “end of austerity” has arrived, easily earns one the “fascist” label — ironic considering SYRIZA’s intolerance towards anything other than the absolute and total truth it obviously believes it represents.

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen exposes Washington’s latest twist in anti-Russia strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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