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Greek Neo-Nazi party attempting to open office in Astoria, Queens
09:55 am



Nikolaos Michaloliakos, General Secretary of Golden Dawn
One of the great tragedies of the Greek debt crisis is the flourish of bigotry that blooms so easily in economic panic. The Greek fascist party Chrysi Avgi, or Golden Dawn, now holds 18 seats in the Greek Parliament and are gaining support in an increasingly tense political atmosphere. Blaming immigrants for a bad economy is par for the course in nearly any developed country, but Golden Dawn are particularly overt in their racism, openly denying the holocaust, praising Hitler, and campaigning under the slogan, “So we can rid this land of filth.”

Recently members of the party reached out to Greek American civic organizations in Queens for clothing donations. The boxes they supplied were labeled “for Greeks only”, and the Greek community in Queens has responded by the hundreds in condemnation at a recent community meeting. Astoria has the largest Greek population in New York, and Golden Dawn’s attempt to set up an office there would provide an advantageous and potentially well-funded base of operations, as well as potential for growth in their New York chapter.

While nationalist tendencies can run amok in any community (even a community made up of immigrants), Queens is said to be the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, and Greek Americans from Astoria are organizing and pushing back against Golden Dawn.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Greek ‘Radical Left’ leader causes worldwide stock market turbulence

No one seems to be able to say with any real certainty whether or not Greece will stay in the EU, try to negotiate an orderly exit from the eurozone or be pushed out of the monetary union. Sunday’s unprecedented election saw the political establishment that has dominated the country for four decades nearly wiped out. No surprise, extreme volatility in the stock markets was one of the knock-on effects. Greek markets dropped 8% today.

37-year-old Greek politician, Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the socialist Coalition for the Radical Left (ΣΥΡΙΖΑ), who has been charged with forming a coalition government, is being blamed for much of today’s market selloff for some of his more incendiary remarks. Mr. Tsipras wasted no time announcing his opinion that the “barbarous” Greek bailout agreement is “null and void” and should be torn up and abandoned for the sake of the Greek working class. Global markets went on a roller coaster ride as Tsipras’s words threatened to cause a domino effect that could force the country to quit the euro. Besides his opposition to the terms of the bailout, Tsipras wants to nationalize the banks, restore all cut salaries and pensions to their former levels and to bring back union bargaining.

Bad idea from the point of view of the markets, true. The Germans will most certainly be pissed, as well. But it’s probably the best outcome for the lives of the citizens of Greece, who are feeling squeezed to pay off what is widely seen to be the mess caused by the elites. If the revolt against the EU-mandated austerity doesn’t come from the left, it will certainly come from the far right.

As Tsipras has repeatedly asked: “The main question is who will pay for the crisis? The rich or the poor?”

Last September in an interview with CNBC anchorwoman Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Mr. Tsipras said that the austerity measures inflicted upon the Greek population via the “troika” of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the EU were counter-productive and couldn’t be allowed to stand:

“The solution is to be able to get out of the memorandum (the troika plan) and to be able to get rid of the destructive policy that is being implemented right now… I think the medicine they have given us is worse than the disease itself and I think it’s going to kill us.”

In order to receive more than 200 billion euros in long-term, low-interest loans, the troika has demanded that the Greece reduce its spending. The Greek government has responded by laying off thousands of government workers, cutting the salaries of those who are left, and cutting pensions to retirees. They’ve nullified collective bargaining agreements in an effort to get wages lower so that Greeks will be more competitive in the world economy.

Additionally they’ve raised taxes and fees on everything under the Greek sun. The moves have angered Greeks, and they demonstrated this in last weekend elections by punishing the parties that agreed to the troika’s requirements, and giving many more votes to Tsipra’s Coalition for the Radical Left.

Tsipra told CNBC: “I think this will totally destroy the middle class. So I think that what is really needed is a plan which involves growth and I think fiscal consolidation can be achieved through other means. I think the rich should pay and not just the poor and middle class.”

If Greece ditches the harsh bailout terms, the money flow will stop, so the country would probably be forced to “print money” to pay salaries, pensions and the military or else resort to massive layoffs. Bet on the former, not the latter.

Sensibly, Tsipras is calling for something like the New Deal’s WPA or the Marshall plan, governmental efforts, he says, “which would lead to investment opportunities in Greece and this of course would create jobs which are much needed in the country.” Additionally, Tsipras told CNBC last year that he was of the opinion that the financial sector should be placed under government control..

“Do you know what (Warren) Buffett said? He said come on, “let me pay.” Why did he say that? He said that because he could understand the danger, the danger for his class if everything is burned.”

Smart man. He obviously gets what’s at stake. Refreshing in a politician, isn’t it?

Many Greek and European political observers don’t think Mr. Tsipras will be able to form a coalition government in just three days (the time set by Greek law). A new round of elections seems likely in June, but for the next 48-hours, the financial world has its attention directed towards Greece and the rising political star of “Radical Leftist” leader Alexis Tsipras.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
500 Million Debt-Serfs: The European Union Is a Neo-Feudal Kleptocracy

A guest essay from Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from his Of Two Minds blog. His latest book is titled An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times and is available in the Kindle format. You do not need a Kindle Reader to read it, just download the free Kindle app and read it on virtually any device. Get the links, read the Intro, Table of Contents and Chapter One, and buy the ebook of An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times on the info page. For Dangerous Minds readers the ebook is discounted 30% ($6.85) through this Friday, July 29, 2011.

The banks of Europe are the new Feudal Manors and Masters. All Europeans now serve them as debt-serfs in one way or another.

If we knock down all the flimsy screens of artifice and obscuring complexity, what we see in Europe is a continent of debt-serfs, indentured to the banks under the whip of the European Union and its secular religion, the euro.

I know this isn’t the pretty picture presented by the EU Overlords, of a prosperity built not just on debt, but on resolving the problem of debt with more debt, but it is the reality behind the eurozone’s phony facade of economic “freedom.”

What else can we call the stark domination of the big banks other than Neo-Feudalism? In one way or another, every one of the 27-member nations’ citizens are indentured to the big international banks at risk in Europe, most of which are based in Europe.

Amidst the confusing overlay of voices and agendas, there is really only one agenda item: save the big European banks. Everything else is just mechanics. The banks are the new feudal manor houses, the bankers are the new feudal lords, and the politicians of the EU and its influential member nations are the servile vassals who enforce the “rule of law” on the serfs.

Here is the fundamental fact: there are trillions of euros of debt which can never be paid back. In a non-feudal system, one in which the banks were not the Masters, then this fact would be recognized and acted upon: something like 50% of the debt would be written off in one fell swoop, all the banks whose assets had just been wiped out would be declared insolvent and liquidated, the remaining debt would be sized to the economic surplus of each debtor nation, and a new, decentralized banking sector of dozens of strictly limited, smaller banks would be established.

To the degree that is “impossible,” Europe is nothing but a Neo-Feudal Kleptocracy serving its Banker Lords.

The Greek worker whose pay has been slashed in the “austerity” demanded by the banks serves the Banker Lords, as does the German worker who will be paying higher taxes to bail out Germany and France’s Banker Lords. Though the German is constantly told he is bailing out Greece, the truth is Greece is just the conduit: he’s actually bailing out the EU’s Banker Lords.

We can clear up much of the purposeful obfuscation by asking: exactly what tragedy befalls Europe if all the sovereign debt in the EU was wiped off the books? The one and only “tragedy” would be the destruction of the “too big to fail” banks, not just in Europe but around the world. As the big European banks imploded, then their inability to service their counterparty obligations on various derivatives to other big banks would topple those lenders.

While the political vassals call that possibility a catastrophe, it would actually spell freedom for Europe’s 500 million debt serfs. From the lofty heights of the Manor House, then the loss of enormously concentrated power and wealth is indeed a catastrophe for the Lords and their political lackeys. But for the debt-serfs facing generations of servitude for nothing, then the destruction of the banks would be the glorious lifting of tyranny.

Just as a refresher, here is a definition of kleptocracy:

Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, from the Ancient Greek for “thief” and “rule,” is a term applied to a government subject to control fraud that takes advantage of governmental corruption to extend the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats), via the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service. The term means “rule by thieves”.

Extracting the wealth of 500 million people via the EU’s central governance machinery to serve a handful of big banks is definitely a form of systemic embezzlement. As for corruption: where are the politicians who speak to the enormous benefits of writing off these debts and destroying the power of the big banks, utterly and completely, as the only way to free the people from debt-serfdom?

While the European Central Bank (ECB) and the vassals’ favorite form of oppression, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), print or borrow more euros into existence to fund the illusion of solvency, the cold reality is that the only way to service these trillions in impaired debt is to skim the surplus from the labor of the debt-serfs.

Since the political vassals control the means of taxation, then it is their job to squeeze hundreds of billions of euros out of the labor of their nation’s debt-serfs.

There is a fatal weakness in the Grand Scheme of European Neo-Feudalism, and the lackeys in the EU are desperately trying to fix it under the banner of “integration.”

The fatal flaw is that the political union of the EU vassal states did not include fiscal union in which the EU could impose and control taxation within all member states.

This flaw means that the Banker Lords lack the necessary means to impose serfdom directly through the “laws” of the EU itself; instead, they must coerce the vassal political class within each member state to impose debt-serfdom on its citizenry.

This has proven cumbersome, as some nation’s debt-serfs are threatening to refuse to submit to serfdom. Such a rebellion would of course bring down the entire house of cards that is Neo-Feudal Europe, and so the lackeys in Brussels and elsewhere are frantically trying to sell “fiscal integration” as the “necessary step” to centralizing the power of the banker Lords over the citizenry of all 27 EU member states.

The euro was intended to be the enforcement mechanism, but alas, voluntary agreement is not a solid foundation for neo-feudalism. At its heart, the euro currency was ultimately a Grand Arbitrage for the big European banks: they could loan essentially unlimited sums to citizens and sovereign member-states in a stable currency, and be guaranteed that they would be repaid in that same currency regardless of the weaknesses of the debtors.

That was a very sweet deal, an essentially risk-free license to generate monumental profits, all backstopped/guaranteed by the EU and ECB.

In the old, horribly risky system of independent states and currencies, any bank foolish enough to loan vast sums to weak states and its citizenry would soon find the currency in which their loans were paid would weaken to the point that even if the loans were repaid in full, their losses would be crushing.

For example, say a bank loaned Greece 1 billion drachma when the drachma was equal in value to the U.S. dollar. The loan would thus be worth $1 billion. But let’s say that by the time the loan was repaid, the drachma had fallen to 50 cents. Measured in dollars, the bank suffered a loss of 50%, even when the loan was paid in full.

The euro removed all that nasty risk, and created a massive vassal class of EU bureaucrats to enforce the rules and make good any defaulted debt via the European Central Bank (ECB), the supra-national lender that served the big banks as guarantor. Ultimately, the ECB was funded by the member states’ taxpayers, which spread the costs of the arbitrage over such a large number of citizens that it seemed impossible that the guarantee could be broken.

But the Banker Lords got greedy, and they overshot the carrying capacity of the EU’s economy by a trillion euros; the debt loads are now so enormous that the surplus skimmed from the debt-serfs isn’t enough.

That is the core dilemma of the Banker Lords and their political vassals. Since the Banker Lords lack the legal mechanism to impose new taxes via the EU itself, they must rely on the cumbersome processes of illusion and propaganda, of “extend and pretend” extensions of debt and harsh “austerity” to skim as much cream as possible.

The cloak has been removed, and the bloodied whip is now visibly in hand. In a household analogy: your mortgage has been rolled over into a new form of servitude, and your wages have been cut even as your taxes have been raised to service your debt to the Banker Lords. The vassals are bowing and scraping before their Lords, promising deeper cuts and higher taxes; yes, Master, we will obey.

But this isn’t enough, of course; the Lords are demanding the rings off the fingers of the debt-serfs, and the rights to sovereign assets; they are casting a covetous eye on the comely daughter as well, and we can fully expect a discreet demand to exercise droit du seigneur, a right befitting the Lords of the new Feudalism.

Charles Hugh Smith’s latest book is titled An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times and is available in the Kindle format. You do not need a Kindle Reader to read it, just download the free Kindle app and read it on virtually any device. Get the links, read the Intro, Table of Contents and Chapter One, and buy the ebook of An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times on the info page. For Dangerous Minds readers the ebook is discounted 30% ($6.85) through this Friday, July 29, 2011.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Greece in meltdown as Eurozone begins to fail
08:18 am

Current Events

Class War

Greece is in economic meltdown, and the Greek government is on the brink of collapse after a series of pitched battles between police and demonstrators took place on the streets of Athens yesterday. The demonstrators were protesting against the government’s austerity measures, which were imposed to guarantee further bailout from the EU.

As a member of the Eurozone - that collection of countries who all share the euro currency - it is essential for zone’s success that the Greek government does not default on the repayment of its loans. However, one of causes to Greece’s near bankruptcy is its membership of the Eurozone. Without the euro, Greece was moderately successful. With the euro, it is bankrupt. The Eurozone is run for the benefit of its banks, not the people - as the citizens of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain will tell you.

Membership of the Eurozone has very high fiscal standards - realistically you must be as successful a country as Germany to have any chance of maintaining a position with the Eurozone, which is unfeasible.

In an attempt to maintain some semblance of power, Greek Socialist Prime Minister, George Papandreou announced on national television yesterday, he would form a new government today, and ask for a vote of confidence, after negotiations to form a coalition with the Conservatives failed.

It was these events which saw world stocks tumble and EU leaders bicker over whether Greece should receive a further bailout. If the Greek banks implode, then this could “spread like contagion” bringing down major banks in Germany and France - an event which would be worse than the collapse of Lehman Brothers Bank in 2008.

The problem is Greece cannot afford to pay for any further bailouts, and the Greeks do not want it.

If Greece defaults on the loan (which it undoubtedly will), then this means that the banks who financed the bailout will be in serious shit.

And one of the big the knock-on effects if Greece falls is that America will have to foot the bill, as the U.S. is the major insurer of Greek loans.

More on Greece’s meltdown plus video, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Crackdown


The biggest stock market crash in history and Greece falls apart, shaking the core illusions that prop up the US and EU…. Sweet fuck what a week.

In the US we have the ultrablack humor of seeing how illusory our “system” really is; the Zeitgeisters of the world have been bonkering on for years about how the fact our system is based on greenbacks “magically” produced by the Fed makes our economy an illusion. Well, yes, but if anything, Wednesday showed how understated they were being: the entire global economy, apparently, can be brought down by somebody’s finger missing the “m” on their keyboard and hitting the “b” instead. Magic tricks indeed. Meanwhile, in the EU, the continued disintegration of Greece is calling the series of bluffs that underpin the stability of the European Union like it’s 1968 all over again but without the clothes.

It all feels like a big joke that people are tired of perpetuating. “Let’s play hypercapitalism” is getting a bit old from the looks of how people are reacting to it. It’s been old for generations but now the promised payouts seem to be hardly worth the pretense; why stay at the table when all you’re likely to win is the new Usher album and maybe, if you work really hard, a good three years at some point in your life where you can pretend you’re living the house-cars-kids American Dream before they fire you and take all their toys back and leave you with the bill?

Yes, I propose that what we’re seeing is people calling the bluff. It’s less a failure of a system that we all know was broken anyway and more a lurch towards something better, towards simpler living and a refocus on the really important parts of being alive – like building a soul instead of more mini-malls. (I may or may not have crunched the detailed astrological math on the stock market crashing in order to back up this statement. That shit’s for hippies anyway.)

So welcome again to 2010, the year of vomiting up as much as we can of the last 2000 years of this utter bullshit patriarchal woman-hating child-hating life-hating nature-hating nonsense. You’ll want an empty stomach when you’re coming up at the party anyway, so have a few glasses of water and here’s hoping you have somebody to hold your forehead while you yak.

In the meantime, watch this small masterpiece from German death diva Billie Ray Martin (via Loki23). It’ll make you feel much better.

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment
The Situation in Greece
08:46 pm

Current Events


This is the second major strike this week. All news broadcasts and public services—including schools and all public transportation—were canceled and even the police and fireman—who cannot strike—let it be known that their sympathies were with the people. Additionally there was a huge protest last Friday that involved tear gas and a lot of property destruction. Keep it up, Greece!

More on the riots in Greece from the Telegraph:

The strike grounded all flights and brought public transport to a halt. State hospitals were left with emergency staff only and all news broadcasts were suspended as workers walked off the job for 24 hours to protest spending cuts and tax hikes designed to tackle the country’s debt crisis.

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse rock-throwing protesters at one point of the demonstration as more than 10,000 strikers and protesters marched through central Athens, banging drums and chanting slogans such as “no sacrifice for plutocracy,” and “real jobs, higher pay.” People draped banners from apartment buildings reading: “No more sacrifices, war against war.”

The demonstrators included a group of about 100 youths wearing crash helmets and ski masks, some of whom smashed windows of a department store and bank, and sprayed riot police with brown paint. Shopkeepers along the demonstration route scrambled to roll down their shutters, while a few blocks away, people sat at outdoor restaurants, continuing their meals.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment