Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Catalonia, Andalusia... drift away from Spain

The two largest autonomous communities and, per their statutes, historical nationalities, of the Kingdom of Spain, are in direct confrontation with the central State on matters of financing. While the state has achieved better conditions from Germany and the ECB in the end, it is reserving all those benefits for the central state it is giving no truce to the embattled autonomous communities, which manage healthcare and education in many cases.

By means of that the creepy conservative government of Spain seems to have two things in mind: (1) to erode the autonomies and (2) to force them to apply the same kind of draconian cuts that they are applying in Madrid and elsewhere. 

But by means of that they may end up without a state. 

Today there was a key meeting of the autonomous communities under the state of Spain meant to dictate the ceiling of regional spending, which is being determined by the conservative PP, which controls most regions of clearer Spanish identity. 

Catalonia (second largest and first wealthiest community) simply decided to be absent.

Andalusia (largest community), ruled by the social-democratic opposition, arrived but left soon after knowing the new impositions. 

Canary Islands and Asturias also voted against. But even two communities ruled by the conservatives broke voting discipline and abstained.

The arrogant Minister of Finance, Mr. Montoro, unable to get the parties to agree, unable to make any concession, unable to rule with any minimal element of legitimacy... declared that "coming or not coming, the law is compulsory". 

The details are not clear yet but the conditions seem tailored for the communities ruled by the PP: while Andalusia saw its debt target reduced from 15.1% to 13.2%, the conservative and extremely corrupt Valencian Community was allowed 23% instead of the previous 22%. 

While the Andalusian government seems only able to conceive an appeal to the Constitutional Court, the Catalan institutions are demanding the creation of a separate Catalan financial system. While at the moment it is just a demand, it is clear that the feeling among Catalans is secessionist and I believe that the Spanish government is setting the basis for the disintegration of the state. 

Disintegration that I would welcome as something good, of course, but that may be troublesome and painful.

Half of India unplugged

There is a massive blackout in Northern and Eastern India for the second day in a row, affecting 19 states and some 670 million people.

The outage, caused apparently by a growing problem of insufficient of supply in relation to an ever growing demand, has collapsed trains, subways and mine lifters, leaving 200 miners blocked in a gallery (they are safe apparently). Even the Prime Minister's office was without power for hours.

Even if localized outages are common in India, where the demand is often 9% higher than supply, something of this dimension is unprecedented and may be related to a weak monsoon this past year, leaving reservoirs half-empty and temperatures soaring - one among many catastrophic effects of global warming.

The shadow of Goldman Sachs is elongated - or Draghi and the G30

As you probably know by now, Euro-bankster capo di capi Mario Draghi is a former partner of the infamous Goldman Sachs, whose political clout was enough to send the Western World to Hell just for them to stay alive, while their rivals of Lehman were left to die. As you may know also, GS employees are well known by their loyalty to the firm (or should we say "cult"?), whose global power is truly disturbing and would seem to demand chop-chop anti-monopoly action (but nope).

But we do not know everything about Draghi, arguably the most powerful man of Europe and one of the key financial players of the World. Naked Capitalism discusses today some of his story past and present:

Draghi, dubbed "a craven moneyman" by former Italian President F. Cossiga, was responsible of the European operations of Goldman Sachs from 2002 to 2005, precisely when the Greek accounts got muddied by GS intervention. Only for that reason we can well say that putting him on the ECB's gilded throne is like putting the fox to guard the chickens.

But there is more. Draghi is member of the powerful and ill-known banking lobby (promoted by the Rockefeller Foundation since 1978) which goes under the name of Group of Thirty (G30 for short), incidentally chaired by his predecessor at the ECB, Jean Claude Trichet.

The membership (32 people) of the G30 is quite revealing (in purple Goldman Sachs adepts):

  • Paul Volcker - Chairman Emeritus; former Chairman of President Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board; former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve
  • Jacob A. Frenkel - Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International; former Chairman, Bank of Israel; former Chairman, Merryll Lynch; former Chairman, Inter-American Development Bank; former Vice-Chairman, Board of Governors, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Member, Trilateral Commission; Member, Investment Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of Turkey; Member, International Advisory Council, China Development Bank
  • Geoffrey L. Bell - Executive Secretary; President Geoffrey Bell and Company
  • Jean-Claude Trichet - Former President, European Central Bank; Honorary Governor, Banque de France
  • Leszek Balcerowicz - Professor, Warsaw School of Economics; former President, National Bank of Poland
  • Mark Carney - Governor, Bank of Canada; member, Board of Directors, Bank for International Settlements; Chairman, Financial Stability Board; former Partner and Managing Director, Goldman Sachs.
  • Jaime Caruana - General Manager, Bank for International Settlements; former Governor, Banco de España
  • Domingo Cavallo - Chairman and CEO, DFC Associates, LLC; former (infamous!) Minister of Economy, Argentina
  • E. Gerald Corrigan - Managing Director, Goldman Sachs; former President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York - politically investigated in Britain for the Greek debt cover-up scandal
  • Guillermo de la Dehesa - Director and Member of the Executive Committee, Grupo Santander; former Deputy Director, Banco de España
  • Mario Draghi - Governor, European Central Bank; former Chairman, Financial Stability Board; former Governor, Banca d'Italia, former Goldman Sachs Managing Director and Partner
  • William Dudley - President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Former Partner and Managing Director, Goldman Sachs
  • Martin Feldstein - Professor of Economics, Harvard University; President Emeritus, National Bureau of Economic Research - a prominent Fundamentalist Neoliberal
  • Roger Ferguson - President and Chief Executive Officer, TIAA-CREF; former Chairman, Swiss Re America Holding Corporation
  • Stanley Fischer - Governor, Bank of Israel; Former First Managing Director, International Monetary Fund; former Vice-Chairman, Citygroup; member, Bilderberg Group
  • Arminio Fraga Neto - Founding Partner, Gávea Investimentos (now owned by JP Morgan); Chairman of the Board, BM&F-Bovespa; former President of the Central Bank of Brazil; former (conservative) government advisor in Brazil
  • Gerd Häusler - CEO, Bayerisch Landesbank; Former Managing Director and Member of the Advisory Board, Lazard and Company
  • Philipp Hildebrand - Senior Visiting Fellow, Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University; Former Chairman of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank; Former Partner, Moore Capital Management
  • Mervyn Allister King - Governor of the Bank of England; Former Professor, London School of Economics; Fellow, The British Academy
  • Paul Krugman - Professor of Economics, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University; Former Member, Council of Economic Advisors
  • Guillermo Ortiz Martínez - President and Chairman, Grupo Finaciero Banorte; Former Governor, Banco de México; Chairman of the Board, Bank for International Settlements
  • Raghuram G. Rajan - Professor of Economics, Chicago Booth School of Business; Economic Advisor to Prime Minister of India
  • Kenneth Rogoff - Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Harvard University; Former Chief Economist, International Monetary Fund
  • Tharman Shanmugaratnam - Minister of Finance, Deputy Prime Minister Singapore; Former Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore
  • Masaaki Shirakawa - Governor, Bank of Japan; Former Professor, Kyoto University School of Government
  • Lawrence Summers - Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University; Former Director, US National Economic Council; Former President, Harvard University; Former US Treasury Secretary
  • Lord Adair Turner - Chairman, UK Financial Services Authority; Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom
  • Sir David Walker - Senior Advisor, Morgan Stanley International, Inc.; Former Chairman, UK Securities and Investments Board (now FSA)
  • Axel A. Weber - Chairman, UBS Visiting Professor of Economics, Chicago Booth School of Business; Former President, Deutsche Bundesbank
  • Yutaka Yamaguchi - Former Deputy Governor, Bank of Japan; Former Chairman, Euro Currency Standing Commission
  • Ernesto Zedillo - Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University, and Former President of Mexico
  • Zhou Xiaochuan - Governor, People's Bank of China; Former President, Chinese Construction Bank; Former Asst. Minister of Foreign Trade (China)

The European Union's Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, thinks that Draghi's membership in this lobby is incompatible with his role as Supereme Pontiff of the Euro-finances. The matter is under investigation and may take months before any conclusion is reached. 

But the real fact is that this G30 and possibly other less known forums are shadow governments (or senates if you wish) of the World's effective administration. And we all know that if banksters and super-oligarchs rule the World, the World has a big problem. 

Real Democracy Now! Banksters to the guillotine!

Spat of political murders in Honduras' Bajo Aguán

Eldin Noel Ortiz, Jimmy Burgos Tobías, Santos Eliseo Pavón, Gilberto López and Jorge Nájera, members of the MARCA (one of several peasant organizations), were attacked with "a storm of bullets" while they traveled by car through the town of Tocoa on July 28th. They are recovering at hospital. 

The previous day, families of the MCRA  (another peasant organization, which recently was acknolwedged with legal ownership of the Los Laureles estate, claimed by mafioso landowner Miguel Facussé Barjum) were also attacked with heavy caliber weapons. Israel García Pérez, also member of this group, was later found dead with several bullets in his body, they had cut an ear off his head. 

On Sunday 29th, Evaristo López, member of the MARCA was killed by a car when riding a motorcylce, with the killer vehicle running away.

Since the 2009 coup, some 52 peasants have been murdered and not a single such crime has been punished.

Incidentally, the historical achievement of getting the ownership of certain estates recognized in court and on the ground with the unprecedented help of police last month, was revoked a days later on appeal. This new decision has yet to be implemented because of the resistance of the peasants. It is in this context that the last spat of attacks surely by command of the usual few terrorist landowners has happened.

Location of Bajo Aguán a target zone of the worst Capitalist scum (source)

Source: LNYM[es].

Monday, July 30, 2012

Open letter to Rajoy by a Spanish mayor

Mayor Rodríguez
Open letter of the Mayor of Humilladero (Málaga, Andalusia) to the President of the Government of the Kingdom of Spain, Mr. Mariano Rajoy (my translation):

Mr. President,

By means of this letter I mean to tell you about the rejection of the Town Hall of Humilladero to your social cuts' policies, to your government's aggressions against healthcare, against public education, against social policies, against the autonomous communities, against the town halls...

Your government's polices are dismantling social rights, public services and undercutting the democratic freedoms of Spaniards, making the country to go back 35 years in time. 

The government team I have the honor of presiding have locked ourselves in the facilities of the town hall to make you know of the ill-feelings of the citizenry and their outrage for the measures that aim to load the consequences of the crisis on the backs of workers and the popular classes.

The banks, Mr. Rajoy, is getting large amounts of public money backed by the state, in the case of Bankia alone 23 billion euros have been given away while their directors are being rewarded with armored contracts. 

For your government, Mr. President, municipal councilors and autonomous regions are in excess, as are labor unions, the public sector and the democratic institutions. 

For you the subsidies to the Duchess of Alba  and other Andalusian landowners, who get the 80% of European agricultural subsidies, are not in excess however. 

For you the bankers-speculators who plunder companies and shield their salaries and multi-million pensions are not in excess either.

For you the subsidies to the Catholic Church, adding up to more than €10 billion yearly, are not in excess.

For you the amazing salaries (more than €140,000) of the state's high officials, President of the Supreme Court, President of the Constitutional Court, are not in excess either. 

Four you the King and the other Bourbons who enjoy an opaque budget of nine million euros, plus other indirect amounts adding up to €200 million, are not in excess.

For you tax heavens, the B account of Capitalism, the hideout of dirty and criminal money enjoying more than 3.5 million cover-up companies registered in the more than 60 tax heavens of the World, are not in excess either. 

Governments do not collect €340 billion for that reason.

For you military expenditures, the anti-missile shield of Rota or the NATO, the only active terrorist organization of Europe (civilian mass killings of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya), are not in excess. 

For you, shameful examples like those of Felipe González or Aznar, who made compatible their luxurious public pensions of more than €82 million yearly with those obtained from private companies Gas Natural and Endesa of more than €120 million, are not in excess either. 

For you the amazing salaries of the administration councilors of the IBEX-35 companies, where some 520 executives get salaries that amount on average to that of 70,000 commoners with a €1000 salary are not in excess. 

For you robberies like those performed by the private financial entities, who get loans from the ECB at 1% and re-lend them to town halls and private citizens at 6% are not in excess either.

For you the rise of the VAT [sales tax] to first need products, to school materials, to culture, ruining the small and middle-sized business are not in excess.

For you the eviction orders against working class families, who have been displaced to unemployment and social marginality, their homes repossessed by the banks, are not in excess either. 

For you the 25% of tax evasion in Spain is not in excess. 

You, Mr. Rajoy, are applying a criminal policy. For you what is in excess in Spain and must be cut down is the law of dependency [providing subsidies to those caring for the elderly or invalid], unemployment benefits, the Christmas pay of public servants (adding up to just 4 billion euros of state savings).

The mining sector agonizes and does not get the 200 million euros of compromised subsidies, according to the strategic plan.

You make retirees and pensioners to pay for their medicines. I must remind you that the average pension here in Humilladero is of  €600. 

You reduce student grants.

You threaten with intervening the autonomous communities recovering the fascist slogan of one Spain, great and free.

I would like to tell you, Mr. President, that our Town Hall supported full autonomy in the process of February 28th [of 1980, date of the historical referendum] and we will not tolerate that your government intervenes, kidnaps, annuls, the self-rule conquered democratically with unity, votes and blood.

The Town Hall of Humilladero proclaims itself in rebellion against your government, which applies a hidden program, never presented to the voters, reason why I demand of you as Mayor of Humilladero:

  • The call of a referendum for the citizenry to express themselves on this new program of adjustments or...
  • The call of new general elections

There is no remaining democratic legitimacy if the people does not exert its right through the voting process. You represent legality but not legitimacy. Mr. President, I communicate to you that from this office of Mayor we will instigate all town halls and society to demand a referendum because in Spain the one in excess is yourself. 

Yours truly, 
Ms. Noelia Rodríguez Casino
Mayor - President of the Town Hall of Humilladero


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Japan: growing antinuclear tide protests

This week it was twice in Tokyo: on Friday before the Prime Minister's palace, as has been happening for the last month, and then again on Sunday before the Diet (Parliament).

A self-appointed organizer committee decided unilaterally to change the protest from the usual Friday at Noda's place to Sunday at the Diet... so in the end there have been two demos.

Friday's at Noda's Palace

Today at the Diet

This latter demo has gathered maybe 200,000 people, a figure that was already reached in some of the previous Friday protests. Two people were arrested after the demo took over the traffic lanes, something apparently illegal in Japan. 

Source: Ex-SKF (links: 01, 02, 03, 04).

The human rights of Fukushima citizens are being violated

Soil contamination in Fukushima Pref. (blue areas are Chernobyl-like)
That is what a Dr. Michiyuki Matsuzaki (Hoakido University) says and is reflected at Fukushima Voice.

A fact is that 35% of Fukushima children (avg. age 10) have thyroid cysts and that waiting for further analysis will only harm the children even more.

He denounces the letter by radiation guru Dr. Sunichi Yamashita, demanding thyroid specialists throughout the country not to give second opinions on radiation risk, as a repressive measure and a criminal violation of human rights. 

He also ponders that the actual soil contamination (map) is comparable to areas contaminated by the Chernobyl accident, which have been studied in the recent past by Svendensen et al. and Stepanova et al., determining that pulmonary and bone marrow (blood, immunity) function are severely damaged at the contamination levels found in most of Fukushima Prefecture.

Therefore he recommends that 2/3 of the prefecture are immediately evacuated, specifically the coastal strip district of Hamadori and the main urban and communications belt of Nakadori (which includes the cities of Fukushima and Koriyama). Notice that the study does not even consider adjacent prefectures, which are most likely very contaminated as well, specially Miyagi (to the North).

Catalan Countries / Spain: citizens take over town hall against budgetary cuts

Citizens of the Valencian town of Vinaròs, ruled by Juan Bautista Juan Roig (Spanish conservatives - PP) took over the town hall on Thursday 26th, when the council was met to pass budgetary cuts. For the first time in decades the meeting was called off. 

A new town council meeting will take place tomorrow 30th at 20:00 CET and the corresponding new demonstration has been called for the occasion. 

Municipal councils are elected every four years but there is no mechanism to enforce the will of the people if a town hall decides to ignore it. No elections will take place in three and a half years under the law. But what is the law when it clashes frontally with the will of the citizenry? 

In truth, the revolutionary cry of "they do not represent us!", so often heard these days in Spanish, Catalan and Galician protests, actually hints at one of the main problems with the bourgeois "democratic" system: how does the people make sure that elect representatives do as they promised to the citizenry and not as commanded by others, few in number but with deeper pockets, who might bribe or blackmail them?

Bourgeois indirect "democracy" is in crisis. Direct democracy is not just needed but technically possible nowadays.

See: video


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Christian Fundamentalsit Fascist Russia sends punk artists to jail

It's not clear if it is because they used a Cathedral, in good use of the human right of freedom of religion and of criticism of religion, once enshrined in the Soviet Constitution (at least in theory), or rather because they asked the mythical Christian demi-goddess Mary to remove Putin from power. But the fact is that three of the members of the band known as Pussy Riot have seen their preventive prison extended for another six months and can still be sentenced to seven years of prison.

It does seem that it was Putin's personal decision which brought the artists to trial and jail. After all they were unpersecuted for a whole year until the video went online and became famous. This video:

The charges against them are blasphemy, something more proper of Saudi Arabia or Iran than of a European country... or maybe not? 

In any case, as result of their persecution, they are being adopted as cause celebre by a growing number of people inside and outside Russia, demonstrating that, in spite of its rather venerable age, Punk still has a lot say and decode.

And with style, humor and good music, mind you.

Free Pussy Riot!
Blasphemy is a human right!

Nine BP oil disaster whistleblowers imprisoned or dead in "mysterious circumstances"

From Dead-Missing-Jailed BP Whistleblowers and Wake Up Call:

DEAD in mysterious circumstances
Gregory Stone
February 17, 2011 - LSU scientist Gregory Stone, 54 - Unknown Illness
Anthony Nicholas Tremonte
January 26, 2011 - age 31 - Mississippi Department of Marine Resources officer, from Ocean Springs arrested on child porn charge
JAILED and KILLED in assault
Dr. Thomas B. Manton
January 19, 2011 - former President and CEO of the International Oil Spill Control Corporation - imprisonment and subsequent murder while jailed
KILLED in assault
John P. Wheeler II
December 31, 2010 - a former Pentagon official and presidential aide and a defense consultant and expert on chemical and biological weapons - was beaten to death in an assault, body was discovered in a Wilmington landfill
KILLED in mysterious circumstances
James Patrick Black
November 23, 2010 - an incident commander for BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill response team, died Tuesday night near Destin, Florida in a small plane crash'
KILLED in mysterious circumstances
Chitra Chaunhan
November 15, 2010 - age 33, worked in the USF Center for Biological Defense and Global Health Infectious Disease Research - Found dead in an apparent suicide by cyanide at a Temple Terrace hotel. She leaves behind a husband and a young child.
Dr. Jeffrey Gardner, Swan Doctor
November, 2010 - MIA Status, of Lakeland, FL - Swan expert who “ran into legal trouble over an expired prescription license has closed his practice” — Was investigating unexplained bird deaths near Sarasota abruptly and immediately closed his practice, and apparently his investigation into the deaths of swans in Sarasota, suspected to have been impacted by the BP Oil Disaster. No one has heard or spoken with him since. Watch this news report covering his investigation before his disappearance: LINK

KILLED in mysterious circumstances
Roger Grooters, Cyclist
October 6, 2010 - age 66, was hit by a truck as he passed through Panama City, Florida. Mr. Grooters had been knocked down and killed close to the end of a 3,200-mile trans-America charity ride to raise awareness about the Gulf Coast oil disaster. He began his cross-country bike ride in Oceanside, California, on September 10th. Grooters's family and friends will cycle the final stretch of the journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic in his honour, raising cash to support Gulf Coast families. Read more: here

KILLED in mysterious circumstances
Senator Ted Stevens
August 9, 2010 - Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, 86, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, was among nine people on board when the 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter, crashed into a brush- and rock-covered mountainside Monday afternoon about 17 miles north of the southwest Alaska fishing town of Dillingham, federal officials said. Stevens was the recipient of a whistleblower's communication relative to the BP Oil Disaster blow-out preventer, and a conspiracy of secrecy to hide the facts from the public. (see here).
"You and your fellow Committee members may wish to require BP to explain what action was ultimately instituted to cease the practice of falsifying BOP tests at BP Prudhoe drilling rigs. It was a cost saving but dangerous practice, again endangering the BP workforce, until I exposed it to Senator Ted Stevens, the EPA, and the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission." The cause of the crash is still an OPEN investigation by the NTSB (see here)

KILLED in mysterious circumstances
Matthew Simmons
August 13, 2010 - age 67 - Simmons’ body was found Sunday night in his hot tub, investigators said. An autopsy by the state medical examiner’s office concluded Monday that he died from accidental drowning with heart disease as a contributing factor - “It was painful as can be” to be only insider willing to speak out against the "officials" during the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
KILLED in assault
Scientist Joseph Morrissey
April 6, 2010 - age 46 - cell biologist and college professor, a near-native Floridian who chose to return to South Florida after studying at elite universities - was fatally shot during what police say was a home invasion robbery.

Tax heaven to tax... workers

The well known pirate den tax heaven offshore financial center Cayman Islands has decided to begin taxing. But worry not banksters of the world, pirate warlords, drug and human traffickers, weapon traders and pseudo-libertarian ideologists plundering Honduras and Europe... 

Worry not. 

The government of the islands has decided to tax only immigrant workers (with nothing less than 10% on salary). Your loot is in no danger, only your servants will pay.

Sánchez Gordillo: "we must rebel better and with more energy"

J.M. Sánchez Gordillo
José Manuel Sánchez Gordillo (Gordillo for short) has been the undisputed mayor of the de facto communist Andalusian village of Marinaleda since 1979, founder of the Land Workers' Union (SOC), now recycled into the Andalusian Union of Workers (SAT) and of the Collective for the Union of Workers - Andalusian Left Bloc (CUT-BAI), a nationalist revolutionary Andalusian political party, so far under the clout of the wider pan-Spanish United Left (IU). 

As such, Sánchez Gordillo was elected member of the Andalusian Parliament, being the only representative of that group who remained loyal to the word given in campaign and voted against a new social-democrat government, even if in coalition with IU this time. For that reason he has been revoked of all speakership but that will not shut him up, for sure. 

Today Spanish newspaper Público has an extensive and most interesting article with interview on his socio-political role and opinions, specially as the unionized Andalusian peasants have been occupying lands belonging to the armed forces. 

Landless peasants take what is theirs... in Europe as well.

We must not forget that all former Al Andalus is a plantation colony where most of the lands belong to a few snobby aristocratic landowners. Agrarian reform has been a demand for two centuries now but it has never been done in any meaningful way. For that reason among others, Andalusia holds the record figure of unemployment in Spain (after the tiny colonial remnant of Ceuta) with almost 34%. This surely means double that figure for the young ones. Many many families survive on scant state subsidies, threatened by the budgetary cuts policies wielded by Madrid and Brussels. 

Gordillo is very critical of the pact between IU and the social-liberal PSOE:

I am in disagreement with the government pact because it could be foresighted that what has happened would happen: that we are swallowing everything. An anticapitalist force cannot accept social cuts, just like that. It's not about minimizing them, it is that we cannot accept them at all. The cuts basically mean that the rich are robbing the poor. Here we are working for the German banks. The debt, besides being illegitimate, it is not payable. And for that reason we are dismantling the welfare state and such essential services like healthcare and education. From Andalusia we must show a clear rebellion against Madrid, against Brussels, with everything that is happening now. 

Then he mentions that the grassroots of United Left are everyday more unhappy with the leadership and that he keeps close contacts with Julio Anguita, former state-wide leader of the left-wing coalition, and one who did not shut up, unlike the current leadership, so unable to rally the unhappy voters.

Of Anguita he says:

He has been all the time against the [government] pact and much more so after the application of the cuts. He says that we have crossed the red line and that United Left has dug its own tomb. He proposes a global alternative against all this because he feels that the problem is not anymore just that the welfare state could collapse but even the very state or even Western Civilization altogether. Either we solve the crisis in democratic terms or we will just achieve more misery for the poor, with even more cuts. 

Politically Gordillo hopes for an ample left-wing platform, shaken as he is by the reality of desperation and hunger, in Andalusia:

I see some of the most desperate cases: normal working class families, who earned well in the building industry and who are now without job, without home and needing a psychiatrist, what is terrible.

... as in Greece:

I was in Greece and there were queues for food. You get goose bumps from watching that and then those guys who live so well say that we must tighten belts even more. Tighten those who still have something to squeeze, not those who don't have a place to live in. I have seen hellish scenes in Greece. In Ireland, Portugal, Italy... things are also very bad. Something must be done. There are almost revolutionary objective conditions but there are no anticapitalist political organizations nor labor unions that act as flag-bearers. People cannot find instruments, referents, tools to say "enough!" But I am also persuaded that people will keep protesting and that repression will grow. I don't know where this will end. At any moment someone will be killed. I will be "an accident" like always but they have to scare people somehow. 

Iberia fires workers for strike

14 air crew, including notable union members, have been fired from Spanish air company Iberia for calling for and taking part in a strike of 27 days earlier this year. 

The company considers that the strike was "illegal", argument backed by the Spanish political tribunal Audiencia Nacional (alias the Inquisition). This seems a major attack against the right to strike in the state of Spain and suggests that more and more worker struggles will be forced to operate at the margins of the law or even out of it altogether. 

Source: Público[es].

Saudi forces shoot citizens

Nimr al-Nimr, a shia cleric and dissident shot and arrested in July
Saudi police forces have used live ammunition to repress demonstrators in the city of Qatif, at the Persian Gulf. Protesters demanded the release of other Arab citizens who were arrested in previous protests (see here, here, here and here). 

The Qatif district, like neighboring Bahrain has a Shia majority which feels particularly oppressed by the Sunni Fundamentalist Fascist regime of Riyadh. Protests began in March 2011, in the wake of the Arab Spring, and have continued intermittently ever since. 

The police attack resulted in at least one arrest, that of Mohammed al-Shakhuri, who was shot in back and neck according to eyewitnesses. 

Source: Al Jazeera.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Catalonia demands self-management of country's finances

Catalonia is the wealthiest subdivision of Spain
While the Spanish imperial government wants to use this crisis to dismantle regional autonomy, forgetting that 90% of what really matters of the state (i.e. social services) are managed by the autonomous communities, in places like Catalonia, where the majority wants independence, they demand expansion of fiscal self-rule, what has been dubbed the "fiscal pact". 

Since the founding of the Kingdom of Spain sometime between 1707 and 1716, most historical countries like Catalonia have not enjoyed (with very minor temporary exceptions) any sort of self-rule. The only exception were the Basque provinces, which enjoyed quasi-independence until the 19th century and still have almost full fiscal self-rule, paying instead a tribute to Spain which must be negotiated once and again every few years.

This special statute is of course envied (with good reason) by countries with strong differential personality like Catalonia, who want something similar. 

This may eventually lead, in my opinion, to a war similar to that of Yugoslavia, I believe, because the attitude of Spain is not at all distinct from that of Milosevic, looking always to get profits only in the short term and to diminish the self-rule of the historical nationalities. The main difference is the lack of territorial militias and weapons in every home, which was a characteristic of the Titoist or Swiss defense systems, more democratic, which entrusted the citizenry with part of it. 

Whatever the case, the President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, is demanding now such a fiscal pact, which would allow, Catalonia to take care of itself without need of any bail-out. Instead, if no fiscal pact is achieved, Catalonia is dependent on the good will of the central state, which is often not good nor will. 

According to Mas, with half of the "fiscal pact", Catalonia would not need to make any cuts and has threatened that, if no pact is achieved, consequences of great importance will be derived in regard to the relationship between Spain and Catalonia. In what I read a veiled (and maybe empty) threat of unilaterally proclaiming independence. 

Ref. El Periódico[es].

Fascist drift of Haiti's new president

From Black Agenda Report:

“This is How Duvalier Started”: Critics of Haitian President Imprisoned

by Meena Jagannath and Fran Quigley

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI. An unrelenting sun beats down on the streets of downtown Port-au-Prince, and sweat pours off the three dozen men and handful of women who sing, dance, and wave home-made signs as they block the entrance to the government Ministry of Social Affairs.

This is the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations by the grassroots organization MOLEGHAF, (Movement for Liberty and Equality by Haitians for Fraternity), calling for the government to create jobs and increase social support in this country with 80% unemployment and widespread poverty. Some of the signs read, MOLEGHAF Di Fók Nou Travay: MOLEGHAF Says We Must Have Work. Most of the protest songs are directed to Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly: “Martelly has left us behind!” a young man shouts through a megaphone.

A police truck filled with five rifle-toting members of the Haitian National Police tries to pass directly through the group. The protesters stop and surround the truck, banging pots and pans within inches of the pointed rifles. It is a tense moment, all the more so because MOLEGHAF members know well the risk they are taking.

It was at a similar demonstration a few weeks ago when police arrested two of the group’s leaders, longtime activists David Oxygène and Dukens Charles. Days later, four more MOLEGHAF members were arrested in their home. Oxygène was charged with breaking the window of a car belonging to the director of CONATEL (National Coordination of Telecommunications), while Dukens asked the police to arrest him to be in solidarity with his fellow activist. The activists say the charges are completely unfounded, but Oxygène and Charles remain incarcerated in the National Penitentiary. The other four MOLEGHAF members who were arrested have been released, but Oxygéne was recently transferred to a section of the prison called "Titanic 5-6," notorious for its hard-core inmate population and deplorable conditions, including extreme overcrowding and lack of beds and toilet facilities.

Attempts to reach the Government of Haiti for comment on the arrests were unsuccessful.

Sad anniversary: 500 years of the invasion of Pamplona-Iruñea

Today 500 years ago (not counting the ten days that never existed) the oversized army of the Duke of Alba  marched into Pamplona (known to Basques as Iruñea: the city or the capital).

(Tasio today at Gara)
A day like today, 500 years ago, the Duke of Alba marched into Pamplona
What do you think, Rupérez... incoporation or conquest?
Let me think about it.
It was only a beginning for a never-ending war.

See also:

Mexican official: CIA manages drug trade

From Al Jazeera:

Juarez, Mexico - The US Central Intelligence Agency and other international security forces "don't fight drug traffickers", a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico has told Al Jazeera, instead "they try to manage the drug trade".
Allegations about official complicity in the drug business are nothing new when they come from activists, professors, campaigners or even former officials. However, an official spokesman for the authorities in one of Mexico's most violent states - one which directly borders Texas - going on the record with such accusations is unique.

"It's like pest control companies, they only control," Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, the Chihuahua spokesman, told Al Jazeera last month at his office in Juarez. "If you finish off the pests, you are out of a job. If they finish the drug business, they finish their jobs."

... read full story at Al Jazeera.

Warning for housing bubbles in Britain, Canada and Australia

Dean Baker at Al Jazeera has a clever insight:

The average house price in the UK is now almost 60 per cent higher than in the US. It had been 20 per cent lower in the mid-90s. In Canada, the average house price is more than 70 per cent higher than in the United States. The price of the median house in Australia is more than 225 per cent of the median house price in the United States.

Given that wages in the United States are the same or higher than in all three countries, it is difficult to see how this huge gap in house prices can make sense. Furthermore, since rents have not notably outpaced inflation in any of these countries, it does not appear that the price increases are being driven by the fundamentals of the housing market. If there was a serious shortage of housing we should expect it to be showing up in rents as well.

In short, there is good reason to believe that house prices in these countries will not be sustained anywhere near current levels. All three are likely to see the same sort of house price collapse that has wreaked so much havoc on the US economy. It's impossible to know what the triggering event will be; a rise in interest rates could certainly deflate a bubble quickly.

And not just in the US economy, let's not forget that the Spanish nightmare sits on one of the worst housing bubbles ever.

Climate warming: all Greenland is melting; tropical plankton invades Arctic

Two shocking related news on global warming just today:

Melting Greenland

According to NASA:

On average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland's ice sheet naturally melts. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July.

All pink areas are melting this month (left: July 8th, right: July 12th), what is unprecendented

Source: Science Daily.

Tropical plankton in the Arctic

Not only oysters are migrating to Norway but other subtropical and tropical species are too, and even farther north.

An international team of researchers noted that warm water microscopic species are moving northwards not unprecedently but more and more frequently as time passes. Such pulses of warm water have been recorded c. 4100 BCE, and then c. 220, 370 and 1100 AD. But researchers find that it is happening now more often and intensely than ever before, probably.

That said, oceanographers have noted that such pulses seem to be coming more often and penetrating further -- "exactly what one would expect from global warming," said Rainer Froese, an oceanographer at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research who tracks fish global populations. Could this be the start of a switch in currents predicted by climate models? The most recent pulse began in the early 1980s, and has lasted more or less to the present. Even without that, the arctic ocean itself is warming rapidly; with progressive loss of summer sea ice over past decades, average surface temperature has gone up as much as 5 degrees centigrade (9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1950 in some patches.
Source: Science Daily.

Monday, July 23, 2012

USA: police goes on racist rampage near Los Angeles

In an episode reminiscent of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, police in LA suburb Orange County has shot down a man, Manuel Díaz, who allegedly run away from them. This is just one of the many extra-judicial killings that US police forces do every year, mostly with a racist element to them. 

According to his niece, Daisy González, Mr. Díaz did not like cops because all they do is arrest and harass people.

A witness declared that the police shot Mr. Díaz in the back, twice:

Crystal Ventura, a 17-year-old who lives in the neighborhood, said she saw the shooting from about 20 feet away. She said the man had his back to the officer. She said the man was shot in the buttocks area. The man then went down on his knees, and she said he was struck by another bullet in the head. Another officer handcuffed the man who by then was on the ground and not moving, Ventura added.

"They searched his pockets, and there was a hole in his head, and I saw blood on his face," she said. Dunn said he could not comment on these allegations because the shooting is under investigation.
Police reportedly tried to buy any video taken by witnesses on their cellphones.

To make things worse police officers shot rubber bullets and let lose violent dogs against Hispanic families with children, who protested the killing peacefully, as can be seen in this video:

All that just outside Disnelyland.

Main source: Kasama (others in-text).

Where did all the money go? $32 trillion in tax heavens

Cayman Islands:
your typical modern pirate enclave
That's what Al Jazeera discusses today in its "Europe" blog. But while they say that those $32 trillion are the equivalent to the US and Japanese GDP together, the reality is even worse: $32 trillion is more than half the planetary GDP and adds up for the economic value of the USA and the European Union in fact (ref.)

This pirate wealth belongs to some 10 million people (0.14% of World's population) and half of it is concentrated in just 100,000 wallets (0.01% of Humankind).

Those people do not pay taxes but benefit of laws tailored for their interests and the boot-licking support of governments, parliaments and tribunals almost directly appointed by them. 

That's how the Global Capitalist Dictatorship works: that's the core of it. 

The research was carried out for pressure group Tax Justice Network, which campaigns against tax havens, by James Henry, former chief economist at consultants McKinsey & Co.
John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network told Al Jazeera that he was shocked by "the sheer scale of the figures".
"What's shocking is that some of the world's biggest banks are up to their eyeballs in helping their clients evade taxes and shift their wealth offshore," said Christensen.
"We're talking about very big, well-known brands - HSBC, Citigroup, Bank of America, UBS, Credit Suisse - some of the world's biggest banks are invovled...and they do it knowing fully well that their clients, more often than not, are evading and avoiding taxes."
Much of this activity, Christensen added, was illegal.



A list to tax heavens belonging to EU states or associates (per the IMF):
  • Member states:
    • Cyprus
    • Ireland
    • Malta
    • Luxembourg
  • Associate states:
    • Switzerland
    • Andorra
    • Liechtenstein
    • Monaco
    • San Marino
  • British dependencies:
    • British Virgin Islands
    • Cayman Islands
    • Gibraltar
    • Guernsey
    • Jersey
    • Isle of Man
    • Montserrat
    • Turks and Caicos
  • Dutch dependencies:
    • Aruba
    • Curaçao
    • Sint Marteen
There are also a number of other states and dependencies which are considered tax heavens or, euphemistically, offshore financial centers: Anguilla, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Brunei, Costa Rica, Cook Is. (New Zealand), Dominica, Grenada, Hong Kong (China), Lebanon, Liberia, Macau (China) Marshal Is. (USA), Mauritius, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue (New Zealand), Palau (USA), Panama, Philippines, Samoa, Seychelles, Singapore, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Vanuatu

A quite curious common element between most of these pirate enclaves is that they are product of British or US imperial policies, underlining the "anglosaxonness" of the extant capitalist imperial world order.