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How the EU is going beyond blackmail, in its effort to inflict damage onto Greece

The EU’s stance towards the new Greek government has nothing to do with fiscal policy and everything to to with politics. EU officials are actively working to destroy the new Greek government and make sure any other parties in Europe with similar platforms (Spain’s Podemos) get the message not to mess with Brussels.

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on Al Jazeera America.

There is a tense standoff right now between the Greek government and the so-called troika — the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). ECB President Mario Draghi went so far this week as to deny that his institution is trying to blackmail the Greek government.

But blackmail is actually an understatement of what the troika is doing to Greece. It has become increasingly clear that it is trying to harm the Greek economy in order to increase pressure on the new Greek government to agree to its demands.

The first sign that this was the European authorities’ strategy came on Feb. 4 — just 10 days after the Syriza government was elected — when the ECB cut off the main source of financing for Greek banks. This move was clearly made in bad faith, since there was no bureaucratic or other reason to do this; it was more than three weeks before the deadline for the decision. Predictably, the cutoff spurred a huge outflow of capital from the Greek banking system, destabilizing the economy and sending financial markets plummeting. More intimidation followed, including a slightly veiled threat that emergency liquidity assistance, Greece’s last credit lifeline from the ECB, could also be cut. The European authorities appeared to be hoping that a shock-and-awe assault on the Greek economy would force the new government to immediately capitulate.

It didn’t work out that way. The Syriza party had a mandate from Greek voters to improve their living standards after six years of troika-induced depression and more than 25 percent unemployment. The new Greek government backed off its demand for a debt “haircut” and made other compromises but refused to surrender as if there had been no election. The European authorities finally blinked on Feb. 20 and agreed to grant a four-month extension, through June, of the prior “bailout” agreement. The quote marks are necessary because most Greeks have been not bailed out but thrown overboard, having lost more than 25 percent of their national income since 2008.

According to the immediate condition for the Feb. 20 agreement, the Greek government would present a list of reforms that it would undertake, which it did, and which European officials approved. Remaining issues were to be negotiated by April 20, so that the final installment of IMF money — some 7.2 billion euros — could be released. One might assume that the Feb. 20 agreement would allow these negotiations to take place without European officials causing further immediate and unnecessary damage to the Greek economy. One would be wrong: A gun to the head of Syriza was not enough for these “benefactors.” They wanted fingers in a vise too.

And they got it. The ECB refused to renew the Greek banks’ access to its main, cheapest source of credit that they had before the Jan. 25 elections. And it refused to lift the cap on the amount that Greek banks could lend to the Greek government — something that it did not do to the previous government. As a result, a serious cash flow problem has struck both the government and the banks. Because of the ECB’s credit squeeze, the government could soon find itself in a situation that the 2012 government faced when it delayed payments to hospitals and other contractors in order to make debt payments, and it could even face default at the end of April.

The amounts of money involved are quite trivial for the ECB. The government has to come up with approximately 2 billion euros of debt payments in April. The ECB recently shelled out 26.3 billion euros to buy eurozone governments’ bonds as part of its 850 billion euro quantitative easing program over the next year and a half. The ECB’s excuses for causing this cash crunch in Greece ring hollow. For example, it argues that banks under the previous government didn’t require the limit that the ECB is imposing on banks now because the prior government committed to a reform program that would fix its finances. But so has this one.

It could hardly be more obvious that this is not about money or fiscal sustainability, but about politics. This is a government that European authorities didn’t want, and they wish to show who is boss. And they really don’t want this government to succeed, which would encourage Spanish voters to opt for a democratic alternative — Podemos — later this year.

The IMF projected the economy to grow by 2.9 percent this year, and until the last month or so, there was good reason to believe that — as in 2014, after years of gross overestimates — its forecast would be on target. This growth would likely have kept Syriza’s approval ratings high, together with its measures to provide food and electricity to needy households and other progressive changes. The ECB’s actions, by destabilizing the economy and discouraging investment and consumption, will almost certainly slow Greece’s recovery and could be expected to undermine support for the government.

If carried too far, European officials’ actions could inadvertently force Greece out of the euro — a dangerous strategy for all concerned. They should stop undermining the economic recovery that Greece will need if it is to achieve fiscal sustainability.

References:

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/3/destroying-the-greek-economy-in-order-to-save-it.html

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Moment of Truth on Second Referendum: The Plan All Along or a Head Fake?

If we assume a third meaningful vote goes ahead next week that included the provision for a second referendum, and that it passes with a majority, the motivation for extending Article 50 would then be clear.

The Duran

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Authored by Steven Guinness:


The news that Theresa May has officially requested an extension to Article 50 until the end of June has been in the making since the European Court of Justice announced in December 2018 that the UK has the right to unilaterally revoke the article at any point prior to the UK leaving the EU.

In an article published at the time, I argued that the ECJ’s decision was designed to begin the process of the government legislating for a second referendum. To quickly summarise what has happened since, in the past three months the Brexit withdrawal agreement was rejected twice by the House of Commons, Theresa May survived a series of no confidence votes, parliament stated its opposition to both a no deal scenario and holding a second referendum before supporting an extension to Article 50, and finally speaker John Bercow announced that the government would only be allowed to put the Brexit withdrawal agreement to parliament again if it contained a ‘new‘ proposition.

Regular readers will know that since last year my position on Brexit has been consistent, in that I believe a no deal exit from the EU is the most likely outcome and that a ‘People’s Vote‘ could be used to facilitate this eventuality.

One explanation for why the Prime Minister has requested only a three month extension to Article 50 is that it would avoid the UK having to take part in upcoming EU parliamentary elections. Whilst this is possible, I do not think it is the primary reason.

Last week, Independent MP Sarah Wollaston tabled an amendment that called for Article 50 to be extended and for a second referendum on Brexit to be held. The amendment was comprehensively defeated, with the majority of the opposition Labour party abstaining from the vote. Elements of the party and The People’s Vote campaign went on record as saying that the timing of the amendment was too soon, and so as a result they did not rally behind it.

As with other supposed set backs to another vote, critics rounded on the news believing that the result killed off any prospect of another referendum from materialising. As I have stressed before, this interpretation is I believe premature.

On the same day as Wollaston’s defeated amendment, parliament voted by a majority to take no deal ‘off the table‘. But this was only in relation to the exit date of March 29th. It did not account for an extension of Article 50 and with that a new exit date.

It also needs to be stressed that the motions against a no deal and a second public vote were non-binding on the government. What neither did is definitively rule out the possibilities.

A month ago I wrote how on March 23rd a ‘Put it to the people‘ march is taking place in London that will call for a referendum on the government’s Brexit withdrawal agreement. With just a couple of days to go, the line from the European Union is that a request to extended Article 50 would only be granted by its 27 member states for a specific purpose. To extend in order to just give more time for negotiations on an non-negotiable deal would not be acceptable.

Tied in with this was House of Commons speaker John Bercow’s announcement that he would dismiss a motion for a third meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement unless it was markedly different from what has already been rejected.

Asked by MP Geraint Davies if a meaningful vote would be ‘intrinsically different‘ if it included the provision for the final say going to a public vote, Bercow responded by saying that he would look at the specifics but would ultimately abide by the principle that the proposition should be ‘different‘ and ‘not the same or substantially the same‘.

In other words, Bercow has left open the possibility. It is highly unlikely that either he or the European Union would reject a proposal that would legislate for an act of ‘democracy‘.

With the last ‘People’s Vote‘ march this Saturday, it appears to now be designed to move sentiment in favour of a second referendum prior to the original exit day of March 29th. Potential evidence for this comes from EU Commission President Jean Claude Junker, who has strongly intimated that a decision on whether to grant an extension to Article 50 will not be taken until next week,which means after the referendum march. Assuming an extension is approved, the EU may then go on to state that it is a one time deal to accommodate a public vote and that it cannot be extended for a second time.

As for Theresa May’s proposal of extending Article 50 until June 30th, EU Council President Donald Tusk has said a short extension is possible but would be ‘conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons‘.

Many parliamentarians who twice rejected the withdrawal agreement have indicated that they would support it a third time round if it included the proposition for the public to have the final say. This seems to be the direction of travel and the only way in which the deal would be accepted by the speaker as a new proposition.

Of more interest to me, though, is the motivation behind an extension to Article 50 that would only last until June 30th.

It was a few of weeks prior to Donald Trump securing the U.S. presidency that I first mentioned how when the 2016 EU referendum took place, it occurred at the same time central bank chiefs were gathering in Basel for the Bank for International Settlements annual conference. This is a conference that always takes place in the latter part of June.

At the start of January I raised the suggestion that a June referendum could become a reality. My suspicion is that if a second vote goes ahead, it would take the form of a streamlined campaign, one that would offer the public the options of supporting Theresa May’s deal (assuming it still stands), remaining in the EU or leaving on World Trade Organisation terms. This would mean a second referendum taking place in around twelve weeks time.

Should this be the case, then the vote would likely coincide with the movements of the BIS once more. And if my prediction of a no deal exit from the EU is proven correct, the economic fallout from this scenario would require close coordination between central banks, given that currency and equity markets would be heavily impacted.

What Brexit and Trump’s victory showed is that in the background key globalist institutions were convening. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that moves to extend Article 50 are coinciding with the EU Council Summit on March 21st and 22nd – the same two days where a meeting in Cambridge is scheduled between the BIS, the Bank of England, Cambridge University and the University of Basel. The topic? ‘New Economics of Exchange Rate Adjustment‘. The Bank of England and the Federal Reserve also meet this week to decide on interest rates.

If we assume a third meaningful vote goes ahead next week that included the provision for a second referendum, and that it passes with a majority, the motivation for extending Article 50 would then be clear.

Something else to consider is that under this scenario, those in parliament who want to remain in the EU would have to vote in support of leaving the union just so they can secure a referendum for which they would campaign to remain in the bloc. The sense of betrayal already felt by swathes of the electorate would only be heightened if they witnessed MP’s using the deal as nothing more than an opportunity to cancel Brexit altogether.

The next round of theatrics would be over the question on the ballot paper. Recall that in previous weeks the likes of Lord Kerr (author of Article 50 and a member of the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission), Chuka Umunna, founder of Best for Britain Gina Miller and ex Prime Minister Tony Blair have all raised the prospect of the ballot containing three options – one of which would be for a ‘hard‘ Brexit.

The popular consensus is that another referendum would offer just two options, to either leave with the negotiated deal or remain in the EU. This would eliminate from the campaign the possibility of a no deal Brexit, something which I have reasoned is beneficial to globalists as they would use it to scapegoat the vehicles of resurgent nationalism / protectionism as being responsible for a major impending economic downturn, but also as an opportunity to further centralise power.

For this reason, I expect a no deal option would be presented to the British public. As in 2016, opinion polls all point to the electorate wanting to remain in the EU. They were wrong then and I believe would be wrong again.

A new leave or ‘hard‘ Brexit campaign would play upon the desires of many to ‘take back control‘ of the United Kingdom from the ‘elites‘ and to talk up the prospects of the country, whereas a remain campaign runs the risk of being condescending to the public by pushing the narrative that they were conned the first time round, or worse were ignorant in their societal outlook.

In the middle would sit Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. If indeed it was carried forward to a referendum, it is feasible that it would become a theatrical tug of war between hard ‘Brexiteers‘ and remainers to convert those minded to support the deal over to their side.

Growing public sentiment is that the establishment have been doing everything it can to overturn the first referendum result. Faith in politicians has never been lower than it is today. In such a febrile atmosphere, if you give voters the option of voicing their discontent through the ballot box, the chances are that they will deliver in kind.

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Trump Demands Tribute from NATO Vassals

The one thing that we should all understand, and which Trump perfectly and clearly understands, is that the members of NATO are a captive audience.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Tim Kirby via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Regardless of whether one loves or hates President Trump at least we can say that his presidency has a unique flavor and is full of surprises. Bush and Obama were horribly dull by comparison. Trump as a non-politician from the world of big (real estate) business and media has a different take on many issues including NATO.

Many, especially in Russia were hoping that “The Donald’s” campaign criticism of NATO would move towards finally putting an end to this anti-Russian alliance, which, after the fall of Communism really has no purpose, as any real traditional military threats to Europe have faded into history. However, Trump as President of the United States has to engage in the “realpolitik” of 21st century America and try to survive and since Trump seems rather willing to lie to get what he wants, who can really say which promises from his campaign were a shoot and which were a work.

So as it stands now Trump’s recent decision to maintain and build US/NATO bases across the world “and make country X pay for it” could mean anything from him trying to keep his campaign promises in some sort of skewed way, to an utter abandonment of them and submission to the swamp. Perhaps it could simply be his business instincts taking over in the face of “wasteful spending”. Making allies have to pay to have US/NATO forces on their territory is a massive policy shift that one could only predict coming from the unpredictable 45th President.

The one thing that we should all understand, and which Trump perfectly and clearly understands, is that the members of NATO (and other “allies”) are a captive audience, especially Germany, Japan and South Korea, which “coincidentally” are the first set of countries that will have to pay the “cost + 50%” to keep bases and US soldiers on their soil. Japan’s constitution, written primarily by American occupation forces forbids them from having a real military which is convenient for Trump’s plan. South Korea, although a very advanced and wealthy nation has no choice but to hide behind the US might because if it were to disappear overnight, then Gangnam would be filled with pictures of the Kim family within a few weeks.

In the past with regard to these three countries NATO has had to keep up the illusion of wanting to “help” them and work as “partners” for common defense as if nuclear and economic titan America needs countries like them to protect itself. Trump whether consciously or not is changing the dynamic of US/NATO occupation of these territories to be much more honest. His attitude seems to be that the US has the possibility to earn a lot of money from a worldwide mafia-style protection scam. Vassals have no choice but to pay the lord so Trump wants to drop the illusions and make the military industrial complex profitable again and God bless him for it. This level of honesty in politics is refreshing and it reflects the Orange Man’s pro-business and “America will never be a socialist country” attitude. It is blunt and ideologically consistent with his worldview.

On the other hand, one could look at this development as a possible move not to turn NATO into a profitable protection scam but as a means to covertly destroy it. Lies and illusion in politics are very important, people who believe they are free will not rebel even if they have no freedom whatsoever. If people are sure their local leaders are responsible for their nation they will blame them for its failings rather than any foreign influence that may actually be pulling the real strings.

Even if everyone in Germany, Japan and South Korea in their subconscious knows they are basically occupied by US forces it is much harder to take action, than if the “lord” directly demands yearly tribute. The fact that up to this point US maintains its bases on its own dime sure adds to the illusion of help and friendship. This illusion is strong enough for local politicians to just let the status quo slide on further and further into the future. Nothing is burning at their feet to make them act… having to pay cost + 50% could light that fire.

Forcing the locals to pay for these bases changes the dynamic in the subconscious and may force people’s brains to contemplate why after multiple-generations the former Axis nations still have to be occupied. Once occupation becomes expensive and uncomfortable, this drops the illusion of friendship and cooperation making said occupation much harder to maintain.

South Korea knows it needs the US to keep out the North but when being forced to pay for it this may push them towards developing the ability to actually defend themselves. Trump’s intellectual “honesty” in regards to NATO could very well plant the necessary intellectual seeds to not just change public opinion but make public action against US/NATO bases in foreign countries. Japan has had many protests over the years against US bases surging into the tens of thousands. This new open vassal status for the proud Japanese could be the straw to break the camel’s back.

Predicting the future is impossible. But it is clear that, changing the fundamental dynamic by which the US maintains foreign bases in a way that will make locals financially motivated to have them removed, shall significantly affect the operations of US forces outside the borders of the 50 States and make maintaining a global presence even more difficult, but perhaps this is exactly what the Orange Man wants or is just too blind to see.

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Tucker Carlson summarizes the Trump and Russian collusion saga [Video]

Tucker Carlson excoriates the slander against President Trump, but goes farther to call out the establishment elite in their crimes.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Speculation this week has been rather strong that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III is about to release his report concerning his investigation in to the allegation that Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with elements of the government of the Russian Federation to…?

What, exactly?

That is where things get a little unclear. The narrative line says to “influence the 2016 presidential elections”, or “to steal the election from Hillary Clinton” – but that is about as far as any official narrative line goes. This ambiguity, masquerading as clear language, has created a further belief among a very large number of Americans that what actually happened was that this collusion actually extended into some form of vote-tampering, and amazingly, a recent poll Tucker Carlson mentions in his video we offer here says that some 53% of Americans actually believe that somehow the election results were altered by the Russians.

The question Tucker Carlson leads his report with is, “did the President betray his country?” However, as one goes through the list of events, insinuations, fabrications, attacks and nonstop innuendo that has led the US and Russian relations to their worst point since the Cold War, for no specifically stated and verified reason, one wonders who is doing the betrayal.

Now, in one sense, America owes no allegiance to Russia. But Russia also owes no allegiance to America, and the idea that Russia should is part of this effort by the American establishment. That establishment seems to believe that all the world should owe allegiance to the United States, at least as shown by words and actions of the Americans vis-a-vie foreign policy matters. But the truth is much closer to President Trump’s own notion of a brotherhood of nation-states rather than hegemony. He stated this noble thought in his first UN address in 2017:

Being in a brotherhood relationship with Russia and China is apparently beyond the pale for the American political establishment, hence, the Russia collusion investigation and over two years of nonstop slander, ostensibly designed to keep this from happening.

This is one reason why the notion that Mr. Mueller will actually release a report now is being met with a lot of distrust. We have heard rumors from DC for probably well over one year that the “report was imminent”, but nothing ever came of it. Even this week, Vox reported that the Mueller office asked for an eleven-day filing deadline extension for some reason.

To be blatantly speculative, the likelihood is that the report is every bit of a non-event as the pro-Trump crowd believes it is. However, bringing a stop to the President’s hoped-for policy is something that must not happen. The chances are therefore that whatever is released (if anything) will also be somehow curiously coincidental with some very similar allegation coming from somewhere that shows that while Mueller didn’t find anything, someone else did… and then the full-on media blocking has a new basis for continuing its efforts to disrupt and even destroy the work of the current administration.

As a parenthetical side note, Tucker Carlson is known for excellence in reporting and following stories like this one. What is particularly striking in this video is the directness with which he calls out other examples of very bad policy and actions that resulted in zero punishment for the people who did it. In particular, he calls out the whole 2003 Iraq War noting that the narrative of “weapons of mass destruction” was similarly false, costing thousands of American lives (not to mention the hundreds of thousands that died in Iraq) and a trillion dollars wasted, yet the chief players in that event, such as John Bolton still hold important posts in US government today. The bitter truth is that there remains a strong “untouchability” in Washington, and there is nothing that is likely to change that except President Trump.

Perhaps that is the reason for the resistance to his presence there.

 

 

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