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What does the YES vote mean? What does the NO vote mean? Greeks face confusion amid Sunday’s referendum

The crisis ballot on a European bailout proposal comes down to 68 word question and two financial / technical documents that may have Greek citizens a bit confused as to what happens after the referendum results are announced.

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If the referendum goes along as scheduled (reports suggest it might be rolled back), Greeks are struggling to find meaning with the choice they are being asked to make come Sunday.

The governing SYRIZA party has positioned the referendum as a vote on whether to accept the Troika’s proposal…but what exactly would that mean for Greeks voting YES to such a plan? Will things magically go back to normal? Will the austerity they voted YES for result in another memorandum a year down the line, and indefinite loans to keep afloat?

If Greeks vote NO, then what? Is a new proposal going to surface? Will both parties restart negotiations?

The EU has cleverly positioned the referendum as a vote on whether to stay in the Euro. Of course no one in Brussels has clarified if this means to stay in the Eurozone or the actual European Union (two very different things).

More questions arise regarding the Euro YES or NO framing of the referendum.

If Greeks vote NO does this give the EU the right to kick Greece out of the Eurozone, but remain in the European Union…or is Greece out of both entities? More importantly since no mechanism exists for “leaving” Europe…who, how, and under what legal premise will all this take place?

Once again if Greeks vote YES, will Brussels see this as capitulation so as to begin heavy austerity measures and full on asset stripping? Will Europe place their own, “Brussels friendly” puppet leader (as they have done once before in Greece and in Italy) in order to secure the country’s assets and avoid another mini uprising? Will the EU see this as a green light for full-on colonisation?

The 68-word ballot question mentions four international institutions and asks Greek voters for their opinion on two technical documents that were not made public before the referendum call.

The referendum question translated into English:

“Greek people are hereby asked to decide whether they accept a draft agreement document submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, at the Eurogroup meeting held on on June 25 and which consists of two documents:

‘‘The first document is called Reforms for the Completion of the Current Program and Beyond and the second document is called Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis.

‘‘- Those citizens who reject the institutions’ proposal vote Not Approved / NO

 ‘‘- Those citizens who accept the institutions’ proposal vote Approved / YES.’’

Via Bloomberg…

“If we go back to the drachma, then what?” asks George Beltas, a 75-year-old retired construction worker in the Greek city of Patras.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a surprise referendum for Sunday on how much more austerity his country is willing to endure, and Beltas is struggling to make sense of it all.

The ballot question, formally presented on Monday afternoon, loosely translates as: “Should we accept the proposal submitted on June 26, 2015, by the Eurogroup, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund?” Whether in Greek or English, voters say, the referendum is confusing, referring to a “plan of agreement … composed of two parts,” attaching two complex documents in English and not clearly explaining anything.

“Yes or no, that’s what they tell us the choice is,” Beltas says. “But they’re not saying what will happen later. … What will the government do after the vote?” He plans to vote yes.

“People don’t understand what they’re voting for,” says George, an attorney in Athens who asks that his last name not be used. “Many think it’s voting for Tsipras or voting against Tsipras. Or they say: ‘I want to stay in Europe, whatever this means.’ Everyone, the Greek people, the government, the Europeans, interprets the question in their own way. That’s the problem.”

Tsipras isn’t rushing to clear it up. In fact, things could get more confusing. His government today asked the EU for a two-year bailout, hours after the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini cited unnamed sources saying that Tsipras was reconsidering a last-ditch offer proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Negotiations have dragged for six months over how to manage Greece’s €312 billion ($350 billion) debt. They broke down late on Friday, when Tsipras surprised even his own government with a call for a referendum. The prime minister and his Syriza party leaders are encouraging voters to answer no (Όχι!) on Sunday and have taken to Twitter and other social and news media to describe the lenders’ stance toward Greece as “blackmail.” “The dignity of the Greeks” is at stake, Tsipras has repeated over the last several days.

Tens of thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators rallied in Athens on Monday night, carrying placards proclaiming “Όχι!” Today, a #YesToEuro rally is also drawing thousands of demonstrators in the Greek capital.

It’s not so simple, says Lilly Papagianni, a publicist with a film distribution company. “It’s a yes-or-no question, but it’s not a yes-or-no situation,” she says. “If we vote, it’s completely uncertain what happens next. What I don’t know and can’t figure out is what the EU really wants to do with Greece. Do they want to deal with us, or do they want to kick us out?”

Papagianni, who didn’t support Tsipras in the January elections, also plans to answer yes. “I didn’t trust him from the beginning because he was appealing to so much desperation, and he was proposing a dream that he couldn’t possibly make good on,” she says. One thing is making her choice easier, Papagianni says: “All I need to know is that no is the way the members of Golden Dawn [Greece’s nationalist, neo-Nazi party] will vote, so I’m comfortable with being on the opposite side of the spectrum from them.”

As of early Tuesday, polling in Greece suggested that no is beating yes, but the situation is volatile, according to Maria Karaklioumi, an Athens-based pollster. “Hour by hour, we’re seeing big shifts in people’s responses, and 15 percent of voters say they’re undecided,” she says. Her polls show support for Tsipras falling. His approval rating is just under 50 percent today; two weeks ago, it was more than 60 percent.

“People don’t trust Tsipras as much,” Karaklioumi says. “He tells us that the vote doesn’t have to do with our presence in the euro zone or not, so they’re afraid of that and don’t trust that.” On the question of whom the Greeks blame for the nation’s crisis, they’re not letting anyone off—they see both the government and the lenders as having created the mess they find themselves in. The deep division among Greeks on how to vote is playing out on social media, with people posting news articles and photos of flyers—anything to explain or sway the vote. An advocacy group for children with cancer posted a flyer to Facebook asking what yes and no mean: “Will their medicines be available? Will the necessary radiation devices be available?”

A deputy to the prime minister, asked in a TV interview on Monday what Greece will do if it fails to make its Tuesday payment of €1.5 billion to the IMF, didn’t answer the question. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis confirmed on Tuesday that Greece doesn’t have the money to make the payment, and the lenders said an extension would not be granted. In an interview that aired late Tuesday in Greece, Tsipras said that he’s not an “all-weather prime minister” and that he will resign if fewer than 55 percent of Greeks vote no.

The Greeks have suffered under austerity. Calls for pension cuts by the country’s lenders haven’t let up following a gradual series of reductions over the last few years. The government has raised property and utility taxes. Unemployment is at 25 percent, and it’s nearly double that for younger Greeks.

The latest challenge confronting Greeks is the capital controls imposed over the weekend. Banks are closed and will stay closed until at least Monday. For pensioners  who don’t have bank cards and are due to collect their monthly payments on Tuesday, the Finance Ministry said about 1,000 branches will open on Wednesday for withdrawals capped at €120 (about $135) this week and—after cards are issued—up to €60 a day.

Beltas, the retired construction worker, has a monthly pension of €700, cut by €150 two years ago. He hopes to receive the full payment on Tuesday. That, too, is a source of some confusion.

“I hear the banks will reopen to pay pensioners, and they’ll give us the full amount,” he says, adding that he doesn’t see how long this can go on.

References:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-30/greek-voters-have-just-one-question-what-does-yes-mean-

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“This is America” reveals a shocking vision of the United States

The Grammy Award winning Song and Record of the Year feature the very darkest vision of what America has become.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Grammy Awards are the second of the three most significant musical achievement awards in the United States. Two of the anticipated awards that many fans of this event look forward to learning are the Song of the Year and the Record of the Year.

The Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters of a given song, where the Record of the Year goes to the artists, producers and engineers involved in crafting the recording (the “record”) of a song. Both categories are huge and both usually go to an artist or organization responsible for a pop song.

It also happens to be that usually the song that is picked is beautiful and in most cases, reflects the character of beauty (whether in music or lyrics or both) for that year.

This year was quite different. Both awards went to Donald Glover, a.k.a. “Childish Gambino” for his song This is America.

This song features a radically different tone than previous winners going back for many years. Though rap remixes are usually less musical, the Grammy winners among these mixes have nevertheless retained some relatively positive, or at least attractive, aspect.

This is America is very different, especially when watched with its video.

Musically, it is genius, though the genius appears to have gone mad. Glover paints a picture of some very positive segments in American life, but then destroys it with his audible form and message that says absolutely nothing positive, but even more so – it doesn’t make sense unless one knows the context.

That context is revealed in the video with frightening images: someone getting their brains blown out (we see the blood fly), a gospel choir shot up with an automatic rifle while they were singing, and cannabis, front and center, being smoked by the artist himself.

This is America?

For Glover, this song and others on his album do seem to reflect that point of view.  Feels like Summer, one of Glover’s other recent songs, also reflects this sense of hopelessness, though it is far more musically consistent. The video gives the most clear contextual information that one could ask for, and while the video is not violent, it features degradation in society, even though the people depicted appear to be trying to make the best of their life situations.

The image Mr. Glover paints of America is a far cry from that which was known to most Americans only twenty years ago, and in fact, in many parts of the country where cannabis is still illegal there is a corresponding sense of positivity in life that is absent in Childish Gambino’s California-esque view of life.

There is a massive change that is taking place in American society. Our music and art reflects this change, and it sometimes even helps drive that change.

The United States of today is at a crossroads.

How many times have we read or heard THAT statement before?  But does it not seem so now? The attempt of identity politics to separate our nation into groups that must somehow fight for their own relevance against other groups is not the vision of the United States only twenty years ago.

Further, the normalization of themes such as drug-use and racism, the perpetuation of one in reality and the other as a mythological representation of how life “really is” in the US is radically bizarre.

In discussions with people who do not live in the United States, we found that sometimes they believed that white-on-black racism really was happening in America, because the media in the US pumps this information out in a constant stream, often with people like Donald Trump as the scapegoat.

But it is not true. Anyone in America’s new “accused class” of white, Christian, European-descent males (and some women who are not feminists), will note that they are not racist, and in fact, they feel persecuted for their existence under the new mantra of “white privilege.”

But it does not matter what they say. The media pumps the message it wants to, and with such coverage it is easy to get to halfway believing it: I know I am not this way, but I guess things are getting pretty bad elsewhere because all of those people seem to be getting this way…

This is the narrative the press promulgates, but upon conversations with people in “those places” we find that it is not true for them, either, and that they may in fact be thinking this is true about us.

Made in America is a visionary song and video. However, the vision is not a dream; it is nothing that anyone in the country would sincerely hope for. Even in Donald Glover’s case – as one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, and as a big success in music, he is far from being one of the “boys in the ‘hood.” In fact, Time Magazine in 2017 named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Certainly his musical work creates a powerful influence, but it also must raise questions, with the main ones being:

  • Are we really like this?
  • Is this what we really want to be as a country?
  • Is this the kind of image we want our children in the US to adopt?

In fact, if Mr. Glover’s work was viewed with care (rather than just as something that is “cool” because the media says it is), it might help us steer away from the cliff that many Americans are in fact heading towards.

We have elected not to link to the video because it is too disturbing for children. It is even too disturbing for many adults. For that reason we are not making it one-click-easy to get to.

Parents reading this opinion piece would do well to screen the video by themselves without the kids around first, before deciding what they want to do. Even though the video is probably something that they have already seen, the parents still stand as the guides and guardians for their children through all the perils of growing up.

These times call for great guardians indeed.

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Horrifying New York abortion law marks big Democrat push in US

New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Washington also wish to expand abortion access to truly barbaric proportions.

Seraphim Hanisch

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To some nations in the world, the United States may appear to be overly “conservative” or “backwards” regarding its general position on abortion. Russia, China, Canada, and Australia all allow this practice in generally unrestricted terms. Europeans are generally allowing of first trimester abortions. Social attitudes about the practice vary, with Sweden being the most permissive in terms of attitude, but Russia being the place where a woman is most likely to have had an abortion.

While the legal position in the United States on abortion is generally legal under all conditions as determined by the outcome of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the US Supreme Court, the social context of the practice is highly debated and generally disapproved of, even by those Americans who believe that the procedure should still be kept legal. One of the most emotionally satisfying statements in the US that actually summarized the attitudes of many “pro-choice” Americans was that of Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton’s statement that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.”

In other words, the legality of the procedure is one thing, and the promotion of the procedure is quite another. It was summarized in this thought: We think that to be in the position of determining whether or not to abort a child is a horrifying and extremely serious matter. However, we believe it to be safer if this procedure is kept legal, lest it actually become dangerous because of inferior resources if it were banned, and done clandestinely.

This point of view was generally accepted as a secular compromise to a horrifying situation. Far from the ultraliberal attitudes of progressive Europe, the United States remained a relatively conservative country, socially guided by Christian attitudes concerning the sanctity of life, even that life which is yet unborn.

All this has changed.

Starting with the signing of New York State’s “Reproductive Health Act”, many states are now moving towards ensuring that abortion is legal under all conditions, to the full term of pregnancy, even to the point where perfectly viable, birthed babies may be killed after delivery if the mother so desires.

This report from New York was immediately followed up by this news item from Virginia’s own Legislature, in its attempt to pass a similar law, made even more clearly brutal by Governor Northam’s defense and explanation of the procedure post delivery in which a living baby would be subject to being deliberately killed at the wish of the mother. 

This law, like the New York constitutional amendment allows the unborn, or just-born (and alive even though “aborted”), no human rights.

There is really no way this action cannot be seen for what it is: infanticide, a very particularly cruel form of murder of the innocent, on no further grounds than that the baby exists and that the mother does not want it.

We covered in another news piece how this ability appears to be the prize “right” of feminist women, who were represented in Congress by the infamous Women in White, who sat stone-faced as President Donald Trump appealed for Congress to make and pass a law banning late-term abortions.

However, the President’s request was well-met by conservatives in the House chamber, and indeed, even some pro-choices were set off their guard by the New York and Virginia legislative moves. Virginia’s attempt failed.

Abortion is legal in the US, and it is legal at any point in the pregnancy in many states. This is not often reported, probably because abortion is not palatable to public discourse when a fully-formed, living baby is to be the subject of this procedure. The national discourse has for years been “safely” diverted to what appears to be more metaphysical debate about the unseen processes in pregnancy, such as “when does life really begin”, and even “when does the embryo receive a soul?”

This is probably by design to avoid the much harsher realities that were exposed in New York, Virginia and Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont. All these states have either passed or are trying to pass laws that protect abortion rights, sometimes to similar extremes as New York’s law contains. However, many other states, such as Colorado, already allow full and late-term abortion procedures.

However, not every state in the US is trying to magnify abortion rights. Some are trying to limit this procedure, or even outlaw it entirely, should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the Supreme Court, a possibility that seems enhanced now with five “conservative” Justices on the US Supreme Court. States like Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, and even the aforementioned Rhode Island are seeking passage of laws to sharply limit or completely outlaw the procedure in this event.

CDC graph showing abortion rates per 1,000 US women from 1969 to 2014. Courtesy: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Guttmacher Institute.

Interestingly, both the abortion rate and the actual number of abortions performed in the US has fallen drastically in the time period between 1980 and 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention record that there were almost 1.3 million babies aborted in 1980, peaking at 1.43 million in 1990, before dropping again to 2015’s rate of 638,000. Numbers and counts vary by statistical poll, however, with 2017’s numbers showing 882,240 in this study. The common feature of declining numbers and rates is still evident.

Statistical sources on this issue were not able to explain the reason for the drop in both rate and number of abortions, but a speculation might be that some exposure to the reality of what abortion actually is has served to deter both unwanted pregnancy from even happening, and also to try to find a way to take care of human beings guilty of nothing more than their existence. Perhaps this is too generous an assessment, but it is one possibility.

President Trump was loud and clear on several occasions about his stance on the issue of abortion. His State of the Union speech featured his saying, “all children, born and unborn are made in the Holy image of God.” This was followed up by further comments at the National Prayer Breakfast, in which he continued to show a strong pro-life position.

Naturally, some pols dismiss this as nothing more than the President’s attempts to energize his base for the 2020 elections. To credit such opinions, it may indeed do this. But President Trump has really put his money where his mouth is in terms of governing as a conservative, or at least, common-sense oriented President.

The combination of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legislation, the Virginian attempt and the March for Life, featuring its highly slurred story about Roman Catholic teenaged boys who were at the event, plus the President’s speech have made for a truly polarizing moment. To be sure, political winds in the US are so unruly now that longstanding position issues are now pushed aside in mere days, or even hours. However the mainstream media is hard-pressed to refute what happened here. The American Left tipped its hand, perhaps a little too much for even some who are ideologically liberal, and some of the harshest, most sinister aspects of their worldview were brought into focus.

This reaction extends even to both real-life and Internet commentary on such news pieces. Tucker Carlson took on uber-feminist Monica Klein on his program on January 30th, and their exchange, most notably Monica’s sheer fury, was a sign that the Left is energized on this subject, so much so that any sense of nicety has been discarded:

For Ms. Klein, this issue is a source of pure anger, as is clearly evident on her face. This was not a woman who was playing the ideological talking head for the news media hit; far from it. She really believes what she says, and has taken that fury to the point of irrationality.

Some comments on this issue appear in many publications that also reveal extremely fiery emotion on both sides. The rhetoric swings from “baby-killers” to “woman-haters” quite freely on this topic, and this is honestly a shame. Such emotional incendiary bombs are avoidances on both sides. While people call each other names, no one pays attention to the topic itself. This is, of course, by design.

When the real issue is looked at, as was shown so clearly in New York and Virginia, the topic of the value of human life shows its profound reality to everyone. If that happened often enough or long enough, it might change the substance of the conversation.

The result might then be a real change.

 

 

 

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Facebook: The Government’s Propaganda Arm?

The social media giant has a disturbing number of former Obama officials in key positions of authority over content.

The Duran

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Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation:


Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.

But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn’t have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world’s largest social media company – to sway public opinion.

The Government’s Fingers In Facebook

The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.

Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by “quality,” it seems that they mean “progressive.” The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that’s reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn’t want to get the news from a communist regime?

But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that’s not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company’s initiative to scrub anti-war content and “protest” movements. In a blog post, Gleicher wrote: “Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption.” He continued, “We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people.”

The company has also hired others who served in key positions in the Obama administration. Some of these include:

  • Aneesh Raman: Former speechwriter
  • Joel Benenson: Top adviser
  • Meredith Carden: Office of the First Lady

To make things more interesting, Facebook has also hired neocons to help them determine the type of content that is being published. So if you happen to be a conservative that isn’t too crazy about interventionism, your views are not as welcome on the network as others. After all, how many times have you heard of people being banned for posting pro-war or socialist propaganda?

Are Private Companies Truly Private?

The notion that government officials could be using positions of power in the private industry to advance a statist agenda is disturbing, but the fact that most Americans are unaware of this is far worse. It would be inaccurate to argue that the government is controlling Facebook’s content, but the level of the state’s involvement in the world’s biggest social media company is a disturbing development.

This is not the only case of state officials becoming involved with certain industries. This trend is rampant in the certain industries in which individuals move back and forth between private organizations and the FDA. For example, Monsanto, an agricultural and agrochemical company, has been under scrutiny for its ties to the federal government.

It is not clear if there is anything that can be done to counteract inappropriate relations between the government and certain companies – especially organizations with the level of influence enjoyed by the likes of Facebook. But it essential that the public is made aware of these relations, otherwise the state will continue to exert influence over society – with Americans none the wiser.

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