Syriza floats proposal for referendum to impose EU austerity in Greece

(Let me guess: electronic voting machines? Where is your rock star now Webster?)

by Kumaran Ira, WSWS

In an extensive prime-time TV interview on Monday that stretched into the early hours of Tuesday morning, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras made clear that his Syriza party would intensify austerity measures demanded by the troika—the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Tsipras declared that his government is “very close” to striking a deal with the Troika by the end of next week, so that the EU would release bailout funds that it has refused to hand over to Greece and relax the ECB’s cut-off of credit to Greek banks. Speaking to Greece’s private Star TV channel, Tsipras said, “I think that by May 9, we will have an agreement that will allow release of some bailout funds.”

To reach an agreement with the EU, Syriza is preparing to enforce deep social cuts that blatantly violate Syriza’s campaign promises to end EU austerity. Tsipras indicated that Syriza would therefore consider organizing a referendum to try to obtain a veneer of democratic legitimacy for policies dictated by the EU that have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek people.

[read more here]

West tries to use extremism for color revolutions in Russia — Federation Council speaker

from TASS News

The West uses political, ethnic and religious extremism as a geopolitical instrument, including for trying to organize “color revolutions” in Russia, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said on Wednesday.

“Extremism is used as a geopolitical instrument, for reshaping the spheres of influence, overthrowing regimes undesirable for some countries by the means of organizing ‘color revolutions’,” Matviyenko said. “The West makes attempts to organize them [‘color revolutions’] in Russia as well,” she added. These efforts are directed at “discrediting the authorities and destabilizing the situation in Russia, and using both extremist elements and opposition for that,” the speaker noted.

“The Russian government does not plan to embark on a course of ‘tightening screws’ and suppressing ‘dissent’,” Matviyenko stressed. “The authorities are ready for dialogue with the opposition, they will continue to develop partnership with the civil society. Such dialogue and such partnership are important,” she said. However, “it is useless to start discussions with those who works on orders from abroad, in the interests of a foreign country or foreign countries,” Matviyenko added.

[read more here]

Troika enforcers return to Athens to step up looting of Greece

by Robert Stevens, WSWS

Delegations from the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Athens Thursday. The representatives of the so-called “troika” were continuing “technical talks” with Greece’s Syriza-led government which began in Brussels Wednesday on the austerity measures that are to be implemented over the coming weeks.

For the first time representatives from the European Stability Mechanism, which facilitates the EU’s loan agreements will also participate.

The talks were insisted on by finance ministers at Monday’s eurogroup meeting in Brussels and must be completed to their satisfaction before Syriza can receive any further loans to pay off billion of euros in debts that are due this month. It must pay almost €20 billion in the course of 2015. Without access to an outstanding €7.2 billion tranche of funds, conditional on existing austerity agreement being implemented in full, Greece will be forced to default on its €320 billion debt in a matter of weeks.

The Syriza government, which on February 20, signed off on a four month extension of the existing austerity programme, fraudulently claims that the deal meant the end of austerity.

In fact, it had agreed not to “unilaterally” move to implement even the limited measures it was elected on. Syriza insisted troika officials would no longer return to Athens to monitor the implementation of austerity. With this weeks’ events, these threadbare claims have been shot to pieces. The troika is not only back in Athens, but over the next weeks it will be co-ordinating with Syriza the imposition of even deeper austerity measures.

[read more here]

Syriza dumps Marx for Blair

from the BBC

In the reforms proposed by the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to secure a four-month extension of its life-or-death bailout, vanished are the party’s seeming implacable hostility to privatisation, determination to re-hire sacked public-sector workers, and desire for rapid rises in minimum wages.

Or to put it another way, the platform on which Syriza won the recent general election has been significantly reconstructed.

In its place are what we might see as “New Syriza” measures: commitments to improve the efficiency of the public sector and eliminate waste, to promote competition with a strengthened competition commission, to reform labour markets, to streamline pension schemes, not to reverse privatisations and take a pragmatic approach to future sales of government assets.

[read more here]

Greek Leader Seeks to Temper Expectations

(The Wall Street Journal says “yes, the voters got screwed” but, they claim, the general public doesn’t mind. In order to prove that, they interviewed some petty bourgeoisie business owners who seem just fine with the notion of keeping neoliberal austerity measures in place. There you have it. No worries.)

from the WSJ

As Greece’s new government races to deliver a promised list of reforms to its European creditors, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been trying to prepare the Greek public for the likelihood he won’t deliver fully on his promises…

…[T]he interim deal has all but blocked Syriza’s ambitions to reverse Greece’s austerity program, leaving it with vague promises to fulfill its campaign agenda over the next several years…

Since the January elections, the government has subtly shifted its message to voters, while still maintaining its defiant tone. In a campaign of leaks, declarations and speeches, the government has made clear it was ready to climb down on its demands for a debt restructuring, implement its promises over years rather than months, and restore Greece’s precrisis minimum wage only gradually over the next two years rather than right away.

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SYRIZA-MEP Manolis Glezos sharply criticizes Greek gov’t for negotiations handling

Keep Talking Greece

“On my part, I APOLOGIZE to the Greek people because I have contributed to this illusion.” SYRIZA MEP Manolis Glezos

“I ask the Greek people to forgive me for contributing to this illusion.” With this phrase veteran left politician, WWII resistance fighter and SYRIZA MEP Manolis Glezos slammed the Greek government for handling the negotiations with the country’s lenders and so having changed the rhetoric of the party.

In an article uploaded on the website of his Movement for Active Citizens, the historic member of the Greek left expresses his deep disappointment about the way SYRIZA handles with the negotiations ans calls for party members to decide if they accept this situation. Manolis Glezos writes:

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How Do Barney Fife and Fidel Castro Factor Into the Biggest News Story of the Year?

by Scott Creighton

I wish to see if I can connect a few dots here, so bear with me.

Putting aside “ISIS™” for a moment and the “Big Story” about some talking head on MSNBC lying to folks (yeah, there’s some news for you) what are the biggest geopolitical trends in the news today? Is it the fact that Syriza, the new “Radical Left™” brand of 3rd Way centrist ideology (think “CHANGE™” circa 2008) seems to have forgotten what the term “odious debt” means?

In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion. Wiki

Is that the biggest story in the world today? Well, if you consider the fact that international debt has risen by 57 trillion dollars since the global economic terrorism of 2008, coupled with the fact that much if not ALL of that new additional debt may be declared odious were Greece to set the precedent, well, that could very well be the story of the year. The story of the decade or the millennium in fact.

But it isn’t, because they wont (“use us to implement the European programme” Varoufakis).

And the usually antagonistic ones, the Webster Tarpley’s of the “interwebs”, aren’t really calling for Syriza to live up to their campaign pledge and do that.

How about “ISIS™”? Now that the MTV music video director and their team made that “burning man” video, seems like all the world wants a piece of “ISIS™” butt.

We have senators and congressman lining up to get in front of anyone with a camera so they can pledge their undying devotion to autocratic, despotic regimes like those in Jordan, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar for the sole purpose of providing them weapons and training, all paid for with your tax dollars while they say they can’t afford to pay teachers here in the states.

No money for teachers or disabled folks but we got butt-loads of cash to heap on dictators from the Middle East to help bomb Syria into regime change. Funny how that works, ain’t it?

We have “progressive” TV personalities spending enormous amounts of their airtime proving what warmongering hawks they can be just like the neocons of yesteryear they pilloried for a decade.

We have the Obama administration, the President Peace Prize farce, presenting their own version, a hand-crafted document they expect to be passed without debate, authorizing war anywhere, anytime against anyone they say is supporting “ISIS™”. That new AUMF document, one usually crafted by congress, will be slapped on the desks of leading congressmen sometime today or tomorrow. It’s something this president has wanted since they created “ISIS™” now that the old one from 2001 is a bit sketchy considering the fact that it names al Qaeda as the enemy and we now call them “moderates” and are funding them in Syria.

And all of this is based on what? A ridiculous MTV-styled video custom made for the purpose of providing the pretext for what is happening right now and released on the very same day the King of Jordan was visiting Obama and congress looking for money to fight “ISIS™”. (I will write more about that video later this morning)

Are those the biggest stories in the world today?

No. Not in my opinion.

So what is? What is the one big story everyone knows about and no one is talking about and how does Barney Fife and Fidel Castro of all people fit into this? Have I gone crazy? Inquiring minds want to know.

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