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HI’s Michael Nevradakis discusses Greece’s economic “recovery” & EU political crisis on Fault Lines Radio

The realities of Greece’s “exit from the crisis” and the EU’s attitudes towards Southern Europe were covered in today’s interview.

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Michael Nevradakis, Hellenic Insider’s “head insider,” was interviewed today on Radio Sputnik’s “Fault Lines” program, which airs on Radio Sputnik US, broadcasting on 105.5 FM and 1390 AM in the Washington DC area.

In this 20-minute interview, Nevradakis largely focused on Greece’s so-called economic “recovery” and the decades of austerity which the current SYRIZA-led government has committed to, drawing parallels with the recent political crisis in Italy. He discussed examples with the democratic will of voters in Europe was overturned, as well as first-hand experiences with EU technocrats and their attitudes towards Southern Europe. The Macedonia dispute was also on the agenda, but due to a lack of time, the discussion will be saved for a new, forthcoming broadcast.

Listen to the full interview here:

“Fault Lines” is hosted by Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan. More information is available here: https://sputniknews.com/radio_fault_lines/.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Washington Post spins Tucker Carlson criticism of Trump

Fake news reporting tries to show Carlson’s criticism as like a Trump-hater, but the full interview paints a much different picture.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Tucker Carlson of Fox News is noteworthy as an American newsman. Of all the fine reporters at Fox, he alone refuses to embrace any of the narrative about “Russian meddling” and calls the whole issue out as false. However, his independent thinking goes even farther, extending to round criticism of President Trump. This was reported from an interview Mr. Carlson gave for the Swiss weekly publication, Die Weltwoche.

However, the interview was far-ranging, and characteristic of the American press, The Washington Post, Mediaite and a range of other mainstream, alternative, left-wing, and even some right-leaning publications made use of the criticism by the Fox anchor as the sole focus of its own piece lifted from the admittedly far-ranging interview.  For the low-information reader on MSN or the Washington Post, this would be the takeaway from the report:

Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson set straight any misinformation concerning his views on President Trump: “I don’t think he’s capable,” he said during an interview on Tuesday.

Urs Gehriger, an editor at “Die Weltwoche,” Switzerland’s leading German-language opinion weekly, noted that Carlson’s new book, “Ship of Fools,” is silent on Trump but comments on his critics. And so, Gehriger jump-started the conversation by asking what Carlson thought of Trump’s first two years in office.

Carlson said he cannot stand Trump’s self-aggrandizement and boasting. Then, when asked whether Trump has kept his promises, the usually quick-witted and long-winded Carlson had just one word: “No.”

This seemed to set the tone for the overall piece, though admittedly the writer of the WaPo piece, Deanna Paul, does acknowledge that there is more to the story. However, her doing this was only “deceptive honesty”, ostensibly to reassure the reader that Tucker Carlson really does think President Trump is a horrible president. (This even with the comment of Carlson being a “measured Trump supporter” as an example.)

However the original interview when represented fully, is far more interesting. We have linked to it here so that the reader may get the full piece by reading it on its home site. However, to illuminate the American newspaper’s willingness to bend and break the truth, we offer a block of the interview, unbroken, containing the relevant comments that Tucker Carlson gave about President Trump, which are both more and less critical than the filtered piece.

However, we find that all of this fits together in a sensible fashion (the bold italic type is the interviewer, Urs Gehriger, and regular text is Tucker): (Editor’s comment: there are slight corrections in the interview text, because it appears that this text was transcribed directly from audio without interpretation.)

The Swiss are very suspicious of anybody who is boastful. That’s why I have a question about Trump…

…I hate that about him. I hate that… it’s not my culture. I didn’t grow up like that.

In your book you speak a lot about people who attack Trump, but you actually don’t say very much about Trump’s record.

That’s true.

Do you think he has kept his promises? Has he achieved his goals?

No.

He hasn’t?

No. His chief promises were that he would build the wall, de-fund Planned Parenthood, and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things. There are a lot of reasons for that, but since I finished writing the book, I’ve come to believe that Trump’s role is not as a conventional president who promises to get certain things achieved to the Congress and then does. I don’t think he’s capable. I don’t think he’s capable of sustained focus. I don’t think he understands the system. I don’t think the Congress is on his side. I don’t think his own agencies support him. He’s not going to do that.

I think Trump’s role is to begin the conversation about what actually matters. We were not having any conversation about immigration before Trump arrived in Washington. People were bothered about it in different places in the country. It’s a huge country, but that was not a staple of political debate at all. Trump asked basic questions like’ “Why don’t our borders work?” “Why should we sign a trade agreement and let the other side cheat?” Or my favorite of all, “What’s the point of NATO?” The point of NATO was to keep the Soviets from invading western Europe but they haven’t existed in 27 years, so what is the point? These are obvious questions that no one could answer.

Apart from asking these very important questions has he really achieved nothing?

Not much. Not much. Much less than he should have. I’ve come to believe he’s not capable of it.

Why should he be not capable?

Because the legislative process in this country by design is highly complex, and it’s designed to be complex as a way of diffusing power, of course, because the people who framed our Constitution, founded our country, were worried about concentrations of power. They balanced it among the three branches as you know and they made it very hard to make legislation. In order to do it you really have to understand how it works and you have to be very focused on getting it done, and he knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t and surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do so. It’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things. I’m not in charge of Trump.

The title of your book is “Ship of Fools”. You write that an irresponsible elite has taken over America. Who is the biggest fool?

I mean let me just be clear. I’m not against an aristocratic system. I’m not against a ruling class. I think that hierarchies are natural, people create them in every society. I just think the system that we have now the meritocracy, which is based really on our education system, on a small number of colleges has produced a ruling class that doesn’t have the self-awareness that you need to be wise. I’m not arguing for populism, actually. I’m arguing against populism. Populism is what you get when your leaders fail. In a democracy, the population says this is terrible and they elect someone like Trump.

When did you first notice that this elite is getting out of touch with the people?

Well, just to be clear, I’m not writing this from the perspective of an outsider. I mean I’ve lived in this world my whole life.

Which world exactly?

The world of affluence and the high level of education and among– I grew up in a town called La Jolla, California in the south. It was a very affluent town and then I moved as a kid to Georgetown here in Washington. I’ve been here my whole life. I’ve always lived around people who are wielding authority, around the ruling class, and it was only after the financial crisis of 08 that I noticed that something was really out of whack, because Washington didn’t really feel the crisis.

If you leave Washington and drive to say Pittsburgh, which is a manufacturing town about three and a half hours to the west, you drive through a series of little towns that are devastated. There are no car dealerships, there are no restaurants. There’s nothing. They have not recovered. I remember driving out there one day, maybe eight or nine years ago and thinking, boy, this is a disaster. Rural America, America outside three or four cities is really falling apart. I thought if you’re running the country, you should have a sense of that. I remember thinking to myself, nobody I know has any idea that this is happening an hour away. That’s kind of strange since we’re the capital city in charge of making policy for everybody else… Massive inequality does not work in a democracy… You become Venezuela.

You write about vanishing middle class. When you were born over 60 % of Americans ranked middle class. Why and when did it disappear?

If you make above a certain income, or if you live in my neighborhood, you have zero physical contact with other Americans. In other words, the elite in our country is physically separated in a way that’s very unhealthy for a democracy, very unhealthy.

The Democratic Party is out of touch with the working class.

Well, that’s the remarkable thing. For 100 years the Democratic Party represented wage earners, working people, normal people, middle class people, then somewhere around– In precisely peg it to Clinton’s second term in the tech boom in the Bay Area in Francisco and Silicon Valley, the Democratic Party reoriented and became the party of technology, of large corporations, and of the rich. You’ve really seen that change in the last 20 years where in the top 10 richest zip codes in the United States, 9 of them in the last election just went for Democrats. Out of the top 50, 42 went for Democrats. The Democratic Party, which for 100 years was the party of average people is now the party of the rich.

Donald Trump, who is often seen as this world-changing figure is actually a symptom of something that precedes him that I sometimes wonder if he even understands which is this realignment. He served the purpose of bringing the middle class into the Republican Party, which had zero interest, no interest in representing them at all. Trump intuit[ed], he felt, he could smell that there was this large group of voters who had no one representing them and he brought them to the Republican side, but the realignment is still ongoing.

In other words, the Democratic Party used to represent the middle class, it no longer does, it now hates the middle class. The Republican Party which has never represented the middle class doesn’t want to. That is the source of really all the confusion and the tension that you’re seeing now. I do think, going forward the Republican Party will wake up and realize these are our voters and we’re going to represent them whether we want it or not.

They have to, or they will lose.

They have to, or they will die. Yes.

And there is yet more. This interview is extremely informative and interesting. But what it offers in terms of criticism of the President is couched in context, both of the actions that are significant that President Trump has  done, and also the state of political conversation and discourse in the United States.

Seen in this light (and of course, a full read of the interview will only enhance this) we find that Mr. Carlson is far from a Trump-hater, which is what the Washington Post was trying to suggest in its lift from this interview.

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French riots have streets on fire over the Paris Climate Accords

France goes up in flames as the implementation of the vaunted Paris Accords increases, showing that socialism does not even work in Europe.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The United States is often criticized for its citizens’ “love affair with the automobile.” It was roundly criticized when its president withdrew the US from the highly vaunted Paris Climate Accords.

Europeans are often perceived to look on the actions of Americans complaining over the high price of gasoline as somehow immoral. However, Americans do not usually go destroying things and setting fires in the streets over high fuel prices. In fact, no one does that.

Do they?

In France, this is precisely what has been happening over the last week to ten days, and in a stunning bit of silence, the news media has simply not covered this matter honestly. In the United States and in Europe, the story was “French people riot over high fuel prices.” However, that only tells part of the story.

The Washington Examiner finally began running accurate reports as recently as November 26 (emphasis added):

In France all hell is breaking loose. Parisians, who live in the city of the climate accords that were supposed to save us all, are rioting. More than a quarter million protesters have taken to the streets to revolt against a rising fuel tax amid France’s already exorbitant taxes.

Nearly half of France’s gross domestic product is already eaten up by taxation. You might think that that frog has already been boiled, yet this environmentally inspired carbon tax proves otherwise. It is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Police deployed over 5,000 tear gas grenades and water cannons against the protesters, who donned yellow jackets for the second weekend in a row.

As a recently released report from the U.S. government demonstrates, climate change does not only have the capacity to destroy the planet in the long term but also to wreck our economy. It’s a pressing and significant issue that both the country and the world will have to grapple with before it becomes catastrophic.

But the scenes of France on fire are good reminders that attempts to drive down energy use or drive up its cost tend to suffer from a lack of consent from the governed.

And it is very interesting that the cultured, calm French are reacting to this tax in total outrage.  Maybe a closer look at the exact nature of the fuel tax is needed. To that end, the BBC reported this in a piece released a scant 43 minutes before this article was filed (with emphasis):

The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s.

World oil prices did rise before falling back again, but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 cents per litre on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol.

Mr Macron has blamed world oil prices for three-quarters of the price rise but said more tax on fossil fuels was needed to fund renewable energy investments.

The decision to impose a further increase of 6.5 cents on diesel and 2.9 cents on petrol on 1 January 2019 was seen as the final straw for the protesters.

To put these prices in perspective, €1.51 per litre is US$ 5.70 per gallon, more than twice the US price level of $2.45 for the same fuel in Colorado as of December 3, 2018. But this wasn’t all. In President Emmanuel Macron’s view, this price is still way too low, and the Paris Climate Accords were supposed to remedy this by raising the price for fuel to a level so high that people would be forced to not use it.

The same strategy was a hope early in the Obama administration, as expressed by Energy Secretary Steven Chu in September 2008:

President Barack Obama’s Energy secretary unwittingly created a durable GOP talking point in September 2008 when he talked to The Wall Street Journal about the benefits of having gasoline prices rise over 15 years to encourage energy efficiency.

“Somehow,” Chu said, “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

Chu, a Nobel-winning physicist and director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was not yet a member of the not-yet-in-existence Obama administration. But Republican politicians and conservative pundits have seized on his words as evidence that the White House is deliberately driving gasoline prices higher — ensuring that Chu’s remarks are the energy policy sound bite that will not die.

Newt Gingrich was the latest to jump on the bandwagon, telling CBS’s “This Morning” on Tuesday that Obama’s “outrageously anti-American” energy policy is aimed at increasing the price at the pump.

“Chu, his Energy secretary, said in 2008 he wanted gasoline prices to get to the European level, which is $9 or $10 a gallon,” Gingrich said.

A column Tuesday on Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Government also dredged up the 2008 quote, sardonically observing that “Mr. Chu’s energy plans appear to be working.”

In the United States, fuel prices peaked in 2008 right before the financial crisis began, with levels near US$4.20 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. A second peak during President Obama’s term made it to similar levels, but was abruptly cut off by the development of the production of oil from “depleted” oil wells in the US through the use of hydraulic fracking that sent the prices below $3.00 ever since 2014.

So with France’s prices already much higher than this and only a promise of further increases to appease the climate change gods (the UN most likely, for the purposes of “redistribution of wealth”, meaning we will never see that money again), the proverbial straw broke the backs of the French, who have already suffered through events like 100% taxation rates and other distinctly socialist policies under recent leadership. The BBC piece went on to report the outcome of this policy thus far:

France’s PM has announced a six-month suspension of a fuel tax rise which has led to weeks of violent protests.

Edouard Philippe said that people’s anger must be heard, and the measures would not be applied until there had been proper debate with those affected.

The protests have hit major French cities, causing considerable damage for the past three weekends.

The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government.

Three people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism – notably when statues were smashed at the Arc de Triomphe last Saturday – have been widely condemned.

“Yellow vests” are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law. (that in itself is very interesting and socialist sounding as well – Ed.)

The movement has grown via social media and has supporters across the political spectrum…

Mr Macron says his motivation for the increase is environmental, but protesters call him out of touch – particularly with non-city dwellers who rely on their cars.

The movement later grew to reflect a range of grievances, including the marginalisation of rural areas, high living costs, and general anger at President Macron’s economic policies.

The protests have no identifiable leadership and gained momentum via social media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and plenty of moderates in-between.

This is interesting, because it sounds like Trumpian-style populism is breaking out. Again. We continue with the BBC:

Nearly 300,000 people took part in the first countrywide demonstration. There were more than 106,000 a week later, and 136,000 people last Saturday.

The Washington Examiner gave a very good set of concluding thoughts on this matter:

The best economic argument for a carbon tax is that the market price of goods and services resulting in carbon emissions fail to include the true social and environmental costs of carbon emissions. Carbon taxes can result in significant deadweight losses, but a good politician would mostly lean on the economics of a carbon tax to sell it to the people.

Or you might argue, as French President Emmanuel Macron does, that one should prefer the taxation of fuel over the taxation of labor, even though the former is regressive and affects the poor more than the rich.

Macron’s messaging is a masterclass in how not to sell climate policy. Almost 80 percent of the French people now support the protesters, whereas only a quarter have a favorable opinion of Macron. As it turns out, there are limits to what the French will accept from their president, as there always are in a republic.

Whether a fuel tax is good or bad is still up for debate, but there’s no question that forcing it down the public’s throats while they are struggling economically is a losing strategy. Given the rapid rate at which carbon-reducing technology is advancing, a carbon tax may be more trouble than its worth.

This also shows the discernment of American president Donald Trump, who withdrew the US from this deal. When he did so, the US President had this to say:

Trump said, “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect the United States and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” adding “The bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.” [2] He claimed that the agreement, if implemented, would cost the United States $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million jobs.[3] He added that it would “undermine our economy, hamstring our workers,” and “effectively decapitate our coal industry”.

It appears that France is enjoying precisely these sort of problems.

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