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Time to heed warnings of Syriza’s ex-finance minister Yanis Varo ufakis

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rt.com

Time to heed warnings of Syriza’s ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

After serving in the Georgia Legislature, in 1992, Cynthia McKinney won a seat in the US House of Representatives. She was the first African-American woman from Georgia in the US Congress. In 2005, McKinney was a vocal critic of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina and was the first member of Congress to file articles of impeachment against George W. Bush. In 2008, Cynthia McKinney won the Green Party nomination for the US presidency.

The former finance minister of Greece says people must work to save democracy from capitalism, otherwise the voracious economic system will completely devour the fragile political philosophy, he warned in a recent talk.

I was in attendance at a conference in Beirut last year when it was reported that Syriza, the left-wing Greek party, originally founded in 2004, had just done the impossible—or at least what we all thought was impossible. There was talk about ending austerity measures and Greece leaving the Eurozone: Grexit. Surely, a people’s victory in the US was just around the bend?

At that moment, I felt hope that Athens would lead Europe and finally the United States in a people-focused policy that rejected neoliberalism and the nostrums of banksters. Indeed, after Syriza surged in Greece, Podemos made its appearance in Spain; Jeremy Corbyn won the nod for leader of the UK Labour Party; a leftist governing coalition was voted into power in Portugal. Suddenly, it seemed that the people finally had austerity on the run. The events in Europe gave me hope for a resurgence of progressive politicians in the US.

And then the unthinkable occurred: Syriza dashed my hopes when they sat down at the negotiating table with Germany and the banksters to ease terms on the repayment of Greece’s debts to the EU. Yes, after the Greek people had voted Syriza into power, and then voted a resounding “No” to austerity policies in a referendum, Syriza was now at the bargaining table, agreeing to their demands. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing: A real-time betrayal of its own values as well as the people by a political party created to be anti-austerity.

I asked those around me, “What part of ‘n-o’ don’t they understand?” Confused and disappointed, I reached out to my favorite experts on these matters, Michael Hudson and Ellen Brown, and they comforted me with the opinion that my instincts were right on the money: Syriza did not have to take the course of austerity that it had chosen.

The year 2015 started with hope as a result of the Syriza victory; it ended with the betrayed Greeks throwing firebombs to protest EU-imposed pension reform while Syriza privatized fourteen airports and sold them to the Germans as part of the bailout scheme.

Meanwhile, internally, Syriza was coming apart over the deal; the angst that I felt as an outsider was also shared by some inside the party. Eventually some members left the party and the government. One of those who left was Yaris Varoufakas, who is still fighting for a more equitable economic system, which will ultimately destroy capitalism if things continue the way they are, he has warned.

In a December TED Talk in Geneva (Capitalism will eat democracy — unless we speak up), Yaroufakas asked the audience to imagine two very high piles of money, one representative of debt and the other of idle cash stashed away by the wealthy. He said that there is approximately $5 trillion dollars sitting around doing absolutely nothing to invigorate the economies of the US the UK and the Eurozone; stagnant wages, unemployment, low aggregate demand, increased pessimism are the end result. He says that this is his main complaint about capitalism.

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According to Varoufakis, all of the idle cash sloshing around should be invested into people and the things people need to make the economy grow and enhance their well-being. Investments in technology today can protect the Earth today and tomorrow.

However, the former finance minister did not limit his talk to discussions about the economy. He also waded into the murky depths of politics, where he issued a wake-up call to democracy.

“Capitalism will eat democracy unless the people speak up,” he warned.

He told the audience that today’s practice of “democracy” preserves the economic sphere for the few and separates it from the political sphere in which the many can participate. This separation of the economic and political spheres has led to, in his words, “the colonizing of the political sphere” by the economic sphere. This, according to Varoufakis, explains why Western democracies no longer work for the people. He believes that power has now migrated from the political sphere to the economic sphere.

I decided to test that theory on the 2016 US Presidential elections, and something unusual emerged: In large measure, individuals of immense wealth are the private backers of the public political personalities vying to win the Presidential election in November 2016.

For example, Marco Rubio has Norman Braman as his closest and most important backer. Hillary Clinton has Haim Saban as one of her top donors; Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire powerhouse who kept Newt Gingrich’s presidential aspirations alive long after they were comatose, is still trying to decide which candidate he will back in the Republican primary.

At the same time, billionaire Donald Trump is self-financing his Presidential bid and intimates of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaked that he is willing to spend one billion dollars in his still-to-be-announced independent presidential run. This is the kind of relationship about which Varoufakis is speaking. He says that the economic sphere has been cannibalizing the political sphere to such an extent that it is even now undermining itself.

"Capitalism is like a population of predators that are so successful at decimating the prey that they must feed on, that in the end they starve," Varoufakis said during his TED Global talk. "Similarly, the economic sphere has been colonizing and cannibalizing the political sphere to such an extent that it is undermining itself, causing economic crisis."

He concludes that the more capitalism succeeds in taking the demos out of democracy the more inequality will rise and the economy will collapse.

His solution? Put the demos back into democracy and reunite the economic and political spheres with the political sphere in charge. In this space, I have called for the transformation of our economy to align more with our values. I have asked the people to dream again and imagine a better political system that actually solves the problems that confront us all today. I am working now for the elimination of the right versus left paradigm and for all of us to try to wrap our heads around a right versus wrong, values-based way of assessing public policy positions today.

In other words, ask: “Is it right for US policy to still be the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet today, as Dr. King characterized it in the 1960s?” And if we can agree that the answer is “No,” then what can we do together to change that? I am willing to work with anyone who wants to change the violence profile of the United States—to the rest of the world and also at home. And therefore, I’m still hoping that Varoufakis’s voice, combined with that of the other leftist parties now governing key countries in Europe, will inspire the people of the US to believe in themselves once again and the better, more peaceful future that we can create—together.

Varoufakis has unleashed a warning; I hope many will heed his call.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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Written by Mika

31. januara 2016. at 17:40

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Obama Changes Tack on Russia, Calls up Putin

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Obama Changes Tack on Russia, Calls up Putin

By M.K. Bhadrakumar on January 14, 2016

http://atimes.com/2016/01/obama-changes-tack-on-russia-calls-up-putin/

The US President Barack Obama sprang a New Year surprise on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin by telephoning him Wednesday night. It was a double surprise since the Russian New Year Holiday Week is ending on Thursday, January 14, and Obama rarely makes such gestures; and, secondly, the call signified a virtual U-turn just a day after the US president had made some unfriendly remarks about the Kremlin’s policies and caricatured Russia as undermining the international system.

The Kremlin described the Putin-Obama conversation as frank and constructive. The White House readout make it clear that the two presidents held a detailed discussion on the situation in Ukraine and the Middle East tensions (Syrian conflict and Saudi-Iran rift) and North Korea’s dangerous nuclear brinkmanship. It was indeed a substantial phone conversation, signifying a Russian-American constructive engagement.

The Kremlin readout is an unusually detailed one, conveying a high degree of satisfaction, while the White House readout underscored that Obama’s intention was to discuss with Putin the “full implementation” of the Minsk agreement on Ukraine “by all parties”, to coordinate on the upcoming UN-sponsored roadmap on Syrian transition, and to get Russia on board a unified big-power stance to pressure North Korea.

According to the Kremlin’s version, Putin stressed the “need for Kiev’s full and rigorous observance of the Minsk Agreements”, in particular regarding the constitutional amendments that enable local elections to be held in the breakaway regions of Donbass. The White House maintained that on his part, Obama stressed that “the key next step” is about the two sides in Ukraine reaching agreement on the modalities of holding elections in the breakaway regions.

The difference over the implementation of the Minsk agreement appears to have narrowed down to a matter of the relative stress the two big powers put on what are indeed two inter-related aspects of the current situation, namely, the constitutional reform and the holding of local elections under the new legislation.

On Syria, Putin brought up “the need to create a broad coalition to fight the Islamic State and other extremist organizations” and on the criticality of avoiding “double standards” in naming the irreconcilable rebel groups that will be kept out of the purview of the peace talks. Interestingly, there was a discussion on military-to-military contacts between the US and Russia “aimed at consolidating efforts” to fight extremist groups in the Middle East.

The two presidents have called for de-escalation of the Saudi-Iran rift. They obviously share the concern that tensions may result in flashpoint at some point. If the Saudi hope was that Washington will be obliged to take sides in the rift, things are moving altogether in a different way. (The ease with which Washington and Tehran defused a potentially ugly stand-off over the detention of 10 American sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards this week suggests a deepening US-Iranian engagement, which cannot be lost on Riyadh.)

On North Korea, notwithstanding the cordial ties between Russia and that country, Moscow is backing Washington’s tough approach as regards meting out a “harsh international response” (Kremlin’s words) to the reported testing of a hydrogen bomb by Pyongyang. Russia, of course, disfavours any precipitate military actions by the US but has reason to feel gratified that the Obama administration has taken the issue to the UN Security Council and is not acting as a lone ranger.

What does Obama hope to convey through this rare gesture of phoning up Putin amidst the Russian New Year festivities? Indeed, he felt it prudent on second thoughts not to cause annoyance to Moscow at a juncture when the US badly needs Russia’s cooperation to tackle a host of regional issues. In sum, he has hastened to correct the impression he put forth in his 2016 State of the Union Address on Tuesday regarding Russia as a pernicious entity in the international system. Obama signaled the following:

  • The US is no longer playing a behind-the-scenes role of inciting its proxy government in Kiev to drag its feet on the full implementation of the Minsk agreement (which is a precondition for the West to lift sanctions against Russia).
  • The US stance does “see Syria fundamentally very similarly” with Russia – to use Secretary of State John Kerry’s words – and the two countries need to work together in resolving the conflict. Kerry was, perhaps, more explicit after his talks in the Kremlin on December 20: “We (US) are not trying to do a regime change. We are not engaged in a colour revolution”.
  • The US will not take sides in the Saudi-Iran rift; nor is it seeking to take advantage of a flare-up in sectarian strife in the Muslim Middle East.
  • The US recognizes that Russia’s cooperation is necessary and useful to pursue a “strong and united international response” to the North Korean regime.

The Kremlin described the Putin-Obama conversation as “frank and constructive”. Indeed, differences exist between the US and Russia, including some serious differences such as on NATO’s expansion or the US’ missile defense system. The Russian experience so far has been that the US played a spoiler’s role in Ukraine and has not really come to terms with the stunning reality of Russian military presence in Syria. Besides, there is no let-up whatsoever discernible in the US official media propaganda against Russia, which is very often highly personalized attacks on Putin.

However, if Obama has really embarked upon a “constructive” engagement with Putin, the latter can be expected to respond positively. Putin never tires of pointing out that the New Cold War is a choice that Obama needs to make and that Russia by itself is averse to.

The coming weeks will be keenly watched as to how the US-Russia engagement actually works on the ground. Both Ukraine and Syria are immediate testing grounds. The local elections in Donbass cannot wait much longer and the ceasefire and the transition in Syria is also on the cards.

But looking ahead, the real touchstone will be any incipient signs of the easing of western sanctions against Russia. Any such signs would go a long way to confirm that Obama has had misgivings about his administration’s messianic mission to ‘punish’ Russia, which Russia will never accept, and which can only create more turbulence in a world that is already in turmoil

Written by Mika

17. januara 2016. at 09:05

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New Croatian President denies Serb’s right to exist

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theremustbejustice.wordpress.com

New Croatian President denies Serb’s right to exist

Newly elected Croatian president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, who was the candidate of the conservative (i.e. neoUstasha Croatian Democratic Union HDZ, who ethnically cleansed majority of Serbs and finally, with the help of US/NATO, managed to occupy Republic of Srpska Krajina), at the election on Sunday was not only the choice of the Croatian people, but also of NATO, where she had worked as assistant secretary general.

The election results revealed a strong NATO influence in Croatian, rigid anti Serb, Nazi – like policy, and that the citizen option suffered a defeat in Croatia’s society

“I hope that, despite that negative rhetoric from the 1990 she adopted as well as outbreak of national extremism and chouvinism during the election campaign, the Croatian president will respect the rights of the Serbs,” leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Sandra Raskovic Ivic remarked.

During the war in Croatia, which erupted during HDZ’s rule and after its secession from the former Yugoslavia, 404,000 Serbs fled the country, leaving an estimated EUR 30 billion in property.

A huge majority of the refugees have not regained their property , pensions and shares in companies that have been privatised, therefore Serbia should insist on the implementation of the Vienna succession agreement covering the former Yugoslavia, which states that all citizens should be given back the rights they had on December 31, 1990..

Another ‘ verbal’ incident Kolinda made about Serbian northern province, saying that Vojvodina is a state.

Serbian Flag is “Banned Insignia” In Croatia

Three young Serbs were arrested in Vukovar for taking photos of themselves in battle fatigues with the flag of Serbia at the entrance to Vukovar and posted the pictures on social networks on Orthodox Christmas, January 7.

The Vukovar police filed criminal charges against them on Saturday. Their Crime was: taking picture of themselves with Serbian flag! Meanwhile Croats en mase shout: ‘Za dom spremni’ that is Croatian version of Seig Heil!’

Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as usually when NATO and EU member states don’t respect basic human rights os Serbs, simplyoverlooked, instead of addressing to the EU and UN institutions with request to exert influence on Croatia and force that state to act in civilized manned and respect basic human rights of local Serbs.

The innocent youths were arrested as a bargaining chip in the election campaign and continuation of the political campaign in which anti-Serb attitude constitutes a very important category.

NATO granny enjoys the beach – Grabar Kitarovic

It is scandalous that the Serb youths were arrested just because they took photos with the flag of the Republic of Serbia on Christmas Eve and that the police released that they were arrested because they took photos with banned insignia.

Unfortunately, all this represents continuation of the policy of forceful assimilation of Serbs in Croatia and this needs to be pointed out, Raskovic – Ivic and her party ‘ The Third Serbia’ says, adding that Serbs in Croatia are deprived of their basic human rights, including even the right to property, alphabet and language.

What is obvious is that this former NATO assistant sec. general is elected to continue NATO policy in Balkans, i.e. further blooming of extremism, further fascisation of Croatia, and at the same time, further humiliation of Serbs and Serbia.

Grey Carter

sources: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/who_is_who_76170.htm

http://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/1385156-skandal-u-hrvatskoj-srbi-uhapseni-jer-su-se-fotografisali-sa-srpskom-zastavom

http://www.independent.mk/articles/13270/Croatias+New+President+Should+Respect+Serbs+Rights

Written by Mika

8. januara 2016. at 18:13

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