Posts Tagged ‘eu’

The Forbidden Colony

Al Jazeera (2017)

Film Review

This Al Jazeera documentary examines the undemocratic nature of the European Union and it’s role in allowing banks and multinational corporations to colonize Europe. It begins by focusing on the EU Parliament, which meets in secret and bans public observation of its proceedings. Elected members of the EU Parliament lack the authority to initiate legislation. They can only rubber stamp laws proposed by the non-elected European Commission.

Croatian philosopher Srecko Horbat examines the right and left wing movements that have arisen in reaction in response to the massive economic dislocation (job loss, low wages, high housing costs) people have experienced following the creation of the EU.

The far right tends to campaign against the massive influx of migrants, which they blame for their declining standard of living. The left, in contrast, is more focused on rebuilding European democracy from the ground up.

For me, the most interesting part of the film was its examination of various European experiments in direct democracy. Examples include

  • The grassroots movements in Hamburg and 170 other German cities and towns that have bought back electric power companies from private companies to hasten their transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
  • Ada Colau, the radical mayor of Barcelona,* who is working to transform squats into cooperatives and forcing banks to make vacant buildings available for social housing.
  • Greece’s parallel economy, which operatives massive “no middlemen” food markets in reaction to price gouging by corporate supermarket chains.

*The capitol of Catalonia, which is organizing a popular referendum to declare independence from Spain – see Showdown in Spain

 

Guest Post by Sophie Mengel Inside Syria Media Center.

Last Monday the EU Council extended sanctions against the Syrian government for another year, until June 1, 2018. The event occurred as recent Syrian Arab Army successes raise hopes for an end to the Syrian conflict. It’s clearly not enough to talk about food relief and delivery of basic necessities. Manufacturing and foreign trade have also taken major hits in Syria.

 

World Bank: Total economic damage by city

Bilateral Ties Between Syria and Iran

Not so long ago, at a Damascus meeting between Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis and Iranian Ambassador Javad Torkabadi, Khamis highlighted the full-scale economic war the West and their Middle East allies have unleashed against Syria. Tehran, with its long experiencing countering “sanctions war,” and Damascus have become a model of strategic cooperation, both militarily and economically.  However, strong economic ties between Iran and Syria alone will not solve the problem of Syrian economic degradation.

Courting Qatar

Despite their past support for anti-government terrorists, the current economic boycott of Qatar by its “friendly neighbors” is leading to hope of future Qatari investment in the Syrian economy. For Qatar to invest in Syrian zones of influence or to offer Syria offer a kind of Marshall Plan would go a long way towards repairing Qatar’s international image. It would also allow the country to bypass limitations Saudi Arabia seeks to impose on Qatar’s foreign policy, while making it more independent of the US and the EU.

All this would likely depend on consummating an agreement for Iran to purchase LNG from Qatar for onward transport to external consumers. Iran, which is getting closer to Qatar and has strong positions in Syria, has great potential as an intermediary.

Syria is Already Planning Its Economic Future

Despite the ongoing fighting in Syria, the country is already planning its economic future. Syria is rich in energy resources and minerals, including rare-earth metals. At the same time, the country has an advantageous geographical location for transporting goods to the Mediterranean pass through its territory. All this gives Damascus the potential for rapid economic development.

Stability in the region and restoration of foreign trade would enable the Syrians to have a source of stable foreign direct investment. The country has been in the grip of war for more than six years, but is full of enthusiasm to rebuild the economy. The hope of a new life and recent successes on the battlefield inspire optimism on the part of Syrian citizens, as well as the countries such as Iran, China, India, Russia and Armenia that support them.

Follow the latest developments by reading Inside Syria Media Center.

Resistance in Athens

Medialien (2016)

Film Review

Resistance in Athens is a short documentary about the ongoing dismemberment of Greece by the Syriza government to satisfy harsh bailout conditions imposed by the IMF and European banks. As brutal austerity measures continue to shrink the Greek economy, unemployment (now at 25%) and hunger continue to increase and more than 200,000 young people have left Greece for other European countries.

Meanwhile a continuing influx of Syrian, Afghan and African refugees across the Mediterranean continues to fuel the resistance movement. Owing to government budget shortfalls and refusal by other EU countries to accept non-European migrants, Greek anarchists and socialists have played a major role in welcoming refugees and meeting their needs for shelter, food and other survival needs.

The documentary focuses on Exarchia, a growing self-governing anarchist community spanning four decades.

For me, the highlight of the film was the personal interviews –  with Exarchia members about their work with traumatized refugee children and with refugees who have turned against capitalism due to their brutal treatment by European authorities.

Click on the cc icon in the lower right hand corner for English subtitles.

Buy, Buy Europe

Pieter De Vos (2013)

Film Review

This is a five-part miniseries describing how European banks have hijacked the euro monetary union to vastly increase their wealth. The upcoming Brexit vote in Britain makes this a particularly relevant topic.

Part 1 A Bank Crisis a Week

The series begins by describing the history of the European monetary union. Built at the height of neoliberalism it adopted all the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Alan Greenspan promising that globalized capitalism and free markets would end economic crises, increase prosperity and end inequality.

What really happened is that creating the euro massively increased inequality between northern and southern Europe and between workers and the super rich.

In seeking to make European banks as strong and competitive as US and British banks, Eurozone leaders ceased regulating them. Wall Street is often blamed for the EU’s 2008 meltdown. In actuality, deregulated European banks were equally guilty of risky speculation in derivatives and subprime mortgages.

Following the 2008 economic crash, European banks required massive government bailouts to keep European economies from collapsing. Promised banking reforms to prevent a recurrence of 2008 never happened. And according to the IMF, the global banking system is even more unstable today as it was right before the meltdown.

Part 2 Austerity Till the Grave

The bailouts required to keep their banks (and economies) going virtually bankrupted all Eurozone governments. All borrowed deeply (from the global banking system they had just bailed out) to keep their governments going. As a condition of this borrowing, the banks required them to reduce their deficits via deep austerity cuts. To qualify for further loans, they all cut pensions and benefits and laid off public service workers.

This segment focuses on Spain, where workers are organizing to block evictions, and Greece, where unemployed parents are forced to drop their kids off at orphanages because they can’t get welfare benefits to support them.

Part 3 Tax Haven Europe

This segment begins by profiling the Greek shipping magnates who run the largest merchant fleet in the world and pay virtually no tax. Corporations and the super rich pay far less tax than working people in all the EU countries. This massive tax avoidance forces all European governments to acquire major debt to keep from collapsing.

The documentary offers the example of Belgium, where the average tax rate is 12.5% and the most profitable corporations pay only 5% of their earnings in tax.

The filmmakers maintain that workers create wealth, though I doubt most neoliberals would see it that way. In 1981 Europe, 74% of the wealth workers created was returned to them as wages and government benefits. By 2012 only 49% of this wealth was returned to them and the super rich claimed the rest.

Part 4 Bratwurst, Lederhosen and Minijobs.

This was the most eye-open segment for me. It exposes the punitive conditions imposed on German workers from 2000 with the goal of making German export industries more competitive. Under former chancellor Gerhart Schroeder, massive wage reductions were imposed on all German workers – something IMF chief Christine LaGarde likes to call “labor market reform.”

Among other labor “reforms,” were a massive increase in “minijobs” – low wage part-time temporary positions that pay an average of 400 ($US 448) euros a month. Given Germany’s high cost of living, both parents need to work 2-3 “minijobs” (if they can find them) to cover a family’s basic needs.

The result was truckloads of cheap German imports flooding into southern EU countries (Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy), shutting down local industries that couldn’t compete.

In this way, Germany’s vicious attack on their own workers forced wages down in other EU countries. This, in turn, forced countries like Greece and Spain to borrow lots of money from German banks to keep their governments going.

Ironically Germany currently has the highest number of working poor (7 million) of all EU countries.

Part 5 What Kind of Europe Do We Want?

It’s vital for people to understand that the mantra EU governments repeat ad nauseum – that saving the euro is essential to strengthening the EU and restoring prosperity – is pure propaganda. Seven years of austerity is massively increasing deficits and debt by putting so many people out of work.

The truth is that the Eurozone has been hijacked by banks and multinational corporations who are determined to use trade agreements to lock member countries into austerity and statutory destruction of Europe’s proud tradition of democratic socialism.

The only solution is a public takeover of too-big-to fail banks. Continuing to bail them out, while allowing them to privatize all the profits, is simply legalized theft of public monies. And a yes vote on Brexit.

 

The Weight of Chains

Boris Malagurski (2010)

Film Review

The deliberate demonization of the Serbian people by the Clinton administration has been a special interest ever since I cared for Serbian PTSD victims in the mid-nineties. At the time there were rumors the US was after oil in the Caspian basin. Until I saw this documentary, I was unaware of the bloodthirsty ruthlessness of US policy in Yugoslavia. Nor that Clinton, like his successors George W Bush and Barack Obama, was guilty of war crimes. The film also sheds important light on current US policy in Ukraine.

The Weight of Chains is about the deliberate break-up of Yugoslavia in the 80s and 90s to enable its transformation into a US colony, like Iraq and Afghanistan. The cover story blaming Serbian barbarism for the conflagration in Bosnia and Kosovo was pure fabrication by the Clinton administration and US media.

Under Marshall Tito (1943-1980), Yugoslavia enjoyed an ethnically diverse society in which Muslim Turks, Croatians, Serbians, Hungarians, Albanians and other ethnic minorities lived side by side and intermarried. It was a very prosperous nation, thanks to a mixed economy that combined central economic planning with private enterprise, worker cooperatives and a generous welfare state. Tito, who stubbornly resisted Russian pressure to join the Soviet bloc, was one of the founders of the non-aligned movement.*

Enter the NED

Shortly after Tito’s death in 1980, President Reagan signed a secret memorandum declaring his intention to transform Yugoslavia into a “market economy” (translation: US colony for Wall Street investors). The first salvo in this campaign was to send in the CIA-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to finance pro-US opposition groups, journalists, trade unionists and the G17. The latter was a group of World Bank economists who seized control of the Yugoslavian economy by inducing corrupt officials to enter into unpayable loans. By the late 1980s, the G17 had imposed deep cuts on all social services and forced 1,100 industries into bankruptcy. Those that weren’t totally wiped out were sold to foreign investors at rock bottom prices.

Thanks to these austerity cuts, by 1990 Yugoslavia’s unemployment rate had soared to 20%. When the government appealed to the US for debt relief, Bush senior cut off all aid to Yugoslavia. Under US pressure, the IMF only agreed to fund right wing ultranationalist groups in six autonomous regions (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia) – provided they declared independence from Yugoslavia. The Bush senior administration also illegally supplied arms to Croatian fascists who would seize control of Croatia and the Muslim Bosniaks who controlled Bosnia.

Accordingly Slovenia and Croatia declared independence in 1992 and Bosnia in 1992.

US-Inspired Ethnic Cleansing

Despite constant denunciation of the Serbian people (as fascist thugs) by the Clinton administration and Senator Joe Biden, the real culprits were fascist American thugs. In 1995, the Clinton administration financed and armed the Croatian government to carry out the largest act of ethnic cleansing in history in the Serbian enclave of Krajinia. Thanks to the American-inspired Operation Storm, 2,000 Serbs were killed and 250,000 were driven from their homes over a period of 84 hours. One of my patients, whose sister was massacred during Operation Storm, only survived because his Muslim neighbors hid him and his children from the Croatian army.

The Weight of Chains also deconstructs the alleged Serb atrocities committed at Srebrenica (where equal numbers of Serbs and Muslims died), which the US would use to justify NATO intervention.

Enter Osama bin Laden

Following Serbian independence, Clinton armed and trained the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army,** with the assistance of Osama bin Laden and heroin-trafficking Mujahideen from Afghanistan. The President’s chief motivation was to further destabilize Serbia to open it up to US investment.

When Slobodan Milosevic refused to sign a peace agreement accepting US occupation of Serbia, Clinton committed further violations of international law by using NATO aircraft to bomb Serbian civilians and deliberately target civilian infrastructure that included power grids, schools, hospitals and water filtration plants.

Enter George Soros

Following Milosevic’s surrender in June 1999, the World Bank immediately sent in an army of World Bank lawyers to privatize Serbia’s most valuable state-owned assets. Soros and his cronies were particularly keen on getting the Trercha mining interest into western hands, with its rich coal, copper, zinc, cadmium, gold and silver resources.

The film concludes by examining the dire economic consequences (ie massive debt, industry closure and joblessness) for Eastern European countries whose business elites opt to join the EU and NATO. For example, the EU forced the Czech Republic to close their sugar industry because it was more profitable to import Cuban sugar. While the French destroyed the Hungarian vineyards by dumping cheap wine into their market, forcing Hungarian wine growers to sell their vineyards to English investors at bargain basement prices. After Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, they experienced massive layoffs after most of their factories were privatized and moved overseas. In 2009, Croatia (like Greece) was forced to start selling their islands to pay off their debt.

*The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states which aren’t formally aligned with or against any specific power bloc.
**Kosovo is a disputed territory within Serbia in which ethnic Albanians make up 80-90% of the population.

Reblogged from Libya360

For more than 500 years, Europeans have invaded and looted the planet, yet their home civilizations are deemed so fragile that they must be insulated against the cultures of the formerly colonized peoples. Having created millions of Muslim and African war refugees, the Europeans now gear up to attack the boats that might bring them to Europe.
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By Glen Ford

“The thousands of deaths at sea are crimes of Europe and the United States.”

The United States has been the big, bad leader of the imperial world for so long, we may sometimes forget that most of the evils that beset our world have their origins in Europe, a small corner of the Earth that has for 500 years grown fat off the blood and resources of the rest of the planet. This Europe is a greedy little place, most of whose inhabitants believe they have somehow earned what they have stolen from the world’s darker peoples, and that they are entitled to continue stealing in perpetuity.

In 2011, in league with the United States, European members of NATO launched a totally unprovoked 7-month bombing campaign against Libya, resulting in the murder of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and the empowerment of Islamist jihadists throughout the northern tier of the African continent. Col. Gaddafi had warned that the Euro-American aggression would turn Libya into another Somalia, with vast numbers of people desperately fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea to escape the turmoil. Gaddafi was right, of course. Not only has Libya been reduced to a state of sheer anarchy and terror, but thanks to Europe and the United States, Hell has descended on Syria, and conditions in Somalia have grown even worse. The Europeans and their American cousins are intent on wiping out every vestige of civilization in the Muslim world – all the while spouting the same twisted, racist logic that they have employed for half a millennium: that Muslims and Africans are unsuited to civilization, and must be guided by the white hands of Europe, for their own good.

“Col. Gaddafi warned that the Euro-American aggression would turn Libya into another Somalia.”

The refugee crisis, the thousands of deaths at sea, are crimes of Europe and the United States. The Euro-Americans are just as unquestionably guilty as the arsonist who sets the fire that causes apartment dwellers to jump to their deaths from high windows to escape the flames. Now, the nations of the European Union, all 28 of them, are backing plans to launch air and naval attacks against boats in the ports of Libya and on the high seas, to make sure that the refugees that Europe and America have created do not wind up on European shores.

Read full article at Libya360

oil tanker

WTF? How can the EU call for air strikes against ISIS when they’re backing them financially by buying their oil?

From Press TV :

A senior European Union official has revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from ISIL Takfiri militants despite their rhetoric against the group.
**

In a briefing to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, EU Ambassador to Iraq Jana Hybas-kova said some European countries have purchased crude from the ISIL.

She, however, refused to disclose any names despite pressure by some Parliament members to do so.

The EU official also warned against any support by the West for separatist Kurdish groups who, she said, would destabilize the Middle East.

Earlier reports accused Turkey of buying and transporting oil from both the ISIL and Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. According to the reports, Western intelligence agencies could track ISIL oil shipments as they moved across Iraq and Turkey.

ISIL reportedly controls eleven oil fields in northern Iraq as well as Syria’s Raqqa province.

US intelligence officials estimate that the Takfiri militants earn more than USD 3 million a day from oil profit, theft, human trafficking and ransom. They say the militants sell oil and other products via established networks in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Turkey has denied reports of involvement in ISIL’s oil smuggling operations.

 

photo credit: aad.born via photopin cc