Debtocracy (final version): a Greek documentary on the enslaving power of debt in a globalized world
Debtocracy (final version): a Greek documentary on the enslaving power of debt in a globalized world
Pedro Olalla, The Geography of Greek Myth - Episodes 9-12
Pedro Olalla, The Geography of Greek Myth - Episodes 5-8
Pedro Olalla, The Geography of Greek Myth - Episodes 1-4
Message from a blogger to Greek PM, George Papandreou: "There is a constructive and meaningful way for this country to get back on track."
- Allow the people of Fukushima to make Greece their new home.
- Take action so as to restore our lost credibility as a state and regain our sense of ethics as citizens, which the local political elite has wasted.
Despite the ongoing recession ravaging this country as we speak, despite the escalating tragedy its people have been led to as a result of the incompetence of the political class - poverty and despair now gradually affecting an ever-increasing number of Greek citizens - and notwithstanding the feeling of humiliation setting in as a result of the international slur against Greece and all things Greek without exception, we, the citizens of this country, could not help but feel devastated by the news of the massive earthquake that struck Japan and its aftermath: a destructive tsunami too overwhelming to control, the force of water literally impossible to contain, sweeping everyone and everything in its path, wreaking havoc along the way.
Without doubt, there were those of us who couldn't help thinking, "At least the demise of those people will be a quick one, as opposed to the slow death we've been condemned to." And yet, no sooner had the thought crossed our minds than the news of the nuclear meltdown broke out. It seemed that death had settled down in Fukushima, making it its permanent residence. Huge amounts of radioactivity leaked into the water and air, making the stay of the inhabitants in the area for any less than twenty years literally impossible, according to some moderate estimates by Japanese experts.
Before anyone knew it, an area spanning tens of kilometers was rendered too dangerous to stay in. Tens of thousands of earthquake and tsunami survivors were left homeless, without any land to cultivate and build a future on. We were shaken by the cruel reality, the unpredictable and arguably inexplicable twists that life can have in store for all of us.
As human beings, as Greeks, the legacy of a human-centered culture still weighing down on our shoulders, and despite all that had suddenly come upon us, we were shocked by the very fact that there were some people out there who actually felt the earth move under their feet and were left with nothing to hold onto. We were shocked, until the idea crept in: "Is there anything at all we could do for them?"
Having said that, that spontaneous thought didn't imply any scepticism regarding the intentions and sensitivity of the Japanese authorities. On the contrary. We are well aware of the fact that the Japanese government is made up of statesmen whose prime concern is to see to the welfare of Japanese citizens as well as their access to a satisfactory - high, by our standards - living standard. Undoubtedly, they wouldn't be left to their own devices, struggling against the forces of nature. Quite simply, as citizens of this country, we thought of making a proposal to all local authorities, every Government minister as well as the Prime Minister of Greece himself.
We therefore propose allocating Greek state-owned land to any disaster-plagued inhabitant of Fukushima who wishes to accept it, so that they can build new homes and start their lives over. We know we wouldn't be able to offer them much more than that, but we do believe that at least a portion of all public assets now unused could be offered to the Japanese Government, so that, in turn, they can arrange for the disaster-plagued Japanese citizens to be transported to Greece.
Being in the middle of a debt crisis ourselves, we don't have high hopes of being able to offer them much more, but we can guarantee them our empathy and care. Wishing to do our best to help them get over the trauma they are still experiencing, we ask the Greek Government and all local authorities to take a step forward, reaching out where help is needed, in the true spirit of Greek ideals handed down to us over the years. Besides the relief offered to those people in need, the move might help to restore at least part of our sense of ethics, which the local political elite so remorselessly wasted, at our expense...
...And, just to reassure some who might jump to conclusions, we are talking about 20,000 to 40,000 Japanese citizens maximum, who may be given the opportunity to come to our country and work together with us, so that we can build a common future together. We are not discussing the option of hundreds of thousands (let alone millions) of illegal migrants being given land here. Besides, given the current financial plight of Greece, we are suggesting that any expenses incurred by the construction of homes or complexes should be covered by the Japanese authorities. As citizens of a crisis-plagued country, we will clearly not be able to offer them anything more than some of our precious land, though we do wish we could do more.
As a blog, we are putting forward this proposal, inspired only by a true sense of universal empathy and belonging together. It's a move that might also serve to prove that the citizens of Greece are not unethical, corrupt, or prone to deceit, as some might have the world believe. Driven by deep respect for human values, we offer some of our land to some Japanese people who have lost everything and are now forced to live in a region where death roams free. We are willing to offer them a fresh start to life, our fresh air, our blue seas and the undivided empathy and care of the people of Greece. That is all we seem to have been left with under the circumstances, along with our dignity, and we will gladly offer it to them.
All we want is to bring this proposal to the attention of those in charge, any local authorities in Greece that might be interested in considering offering land which, though useless to some, may prove to be a lifeline for some fellow humans who are now suffering.
Here is your chance, ladies and gentlemen in power, to prove just how sensitive and humane you can be. It won't be hard for this proposal to be turned into action. You have already been assigned to allocate land to farmers, as part of a recently announced government policy to revive farming. There will surely be some land left to give those people who badly need it. We are convinced that, once you take this step, there's a chance that a lot may change for the better. Above all, you will finally manage to restore the lost credibility of this country and its people, world wide.
So go ahead and make this move, to prove that you still have some sensitivity and there's a part of you that's Greek. If it were up to us, we'd have made the announcement by now and contacted the Japanese Embassy to make our offer. We can only hope you will go ahead and do just that.
Who says that all must vanish?
Who knows, perhaps the flight
of the bird you wound remains,
and perhaps flowers survive
caresses in us, in their ground.
It isn't the gesture that lasts,
but it dresses you again in gold
armor "from breast to knees"
and the battle was so pure,
an Angel wears it after you.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke.
Elvira Amrhein, In Wahrheit ist es Liebe
Greek War of Independence Timeline
Eugene Delacroix, The Massacre on Chios
Thessaloniki 1900-1930: a unique photo archive
According to Professor Michel Chossudovsky, "the military campaign directed against Libya is intent upon excluding China from North Africa, dismantling Libya's financial institutions as well as confiscating billions of dollars of Libyan financial assets deposited in Western banks."
Foreign Oil Interests in Libya
"...Foreign oil companies operating prior to the insurrection in Libya include France's Total, Italy's ENI, The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), British Petroleum, the Spanish Oil consortium REPSOL, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Hess, Conoco Phillips.
Of significance, China plays a central role in the Libyan oil industry. The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) had a workforce of some 400 employees. The total Chinese workforce in Libya was of the order of 30,000.
Eleven percent (11%) of Libyan oil exports are channelled to China. While there are no figures on the size and importance of CNPC's production and exploration activities, there are indications that they are sizeable.
More generally, China's presence in North Africa is considered by Washington to constitute an intrusion. From a geopolitical standpoint, China is an encroachment. The military campaign directed against Libya is intent upon excluding China from North Africa.
Also of importance is the role of Italy. ENI, the Italian oil consortium puts out 244,000 barrels of gas and oil, which represents almost 25 percent of Libya's total exports. ( Sky News: Foreign oil firms halt Libyan operations, February 23, 2011).
Among US companies in Libya, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) decided barely 6 months ago (October 2010) not to renew their oil and gas exploration licenses in Libya. (Why are Chevron and Oxy leaving Libya?: Voice of Russia, October 6, 2010). In contrast, in November 2010, Germany's oil company, R.W. DIA E signed a far-reaching agreement with Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) involving exploration and production sharing. AfricaNews - Libya: German oil firm signs prospecting deal - The AfricaNews.
The financial stakes as well as "the spoils of war" are extremely high. The military operation is intent upon dismantling Libya's financial institutions as well as confiscating billions of dollars of Libyan financial assets deposited in Western banks..."
An eerie sense of timing: Mt Fuji in red, from Akira Kurosawa's Dreams.
NUCLEAR APOCALYPSE IN JAPAN
LIFTING THE VEIL OF NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE AND COVER-UP
A Doomsday Scenario Unfolds With Characteristic Foolishness
"As the sun set over quake-stricken Japan on Thursday 17 March 2011, we learned that four of six Fukushima nuclear reactor sites are irradiating the earth, that the fire is burning out of control at Reactor No. 4's pool of spent nuclear fuel, that there are six spent fuel pools at risk all told, and that the sites are too hot to deal with. On March 16, plumes of white vapor began pouring from crippled Reactor No. 3 where the spent fuel pool may already be lost. Over the previous days we were told: nothing to worry about. Earthquakes and after shocks, tidal wave, explosions, chemical pollution, the pox of plutonium, contradicting information too obvious to ignore, racism, greed -- add these to the original Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Famine and Death. The situation is apocalyptic and getting worse. This is one of the most serious challenges humanity has ever faced. By Thursday night, March 17, officials in India and Europe are concerned it may be worse than Chernobyl, and the U.S., Italy and France are evacuating their nationals on specially chartered airplanes. Friday, March 18, the threat level rates six on a seven point international scale of gravity for nuclear accidents.
The U.S. nuke industry is blaming Japanese experts, distancing itself from the monster it created. Instead of sending nuclear or health experts to assistance the Japanese people in their time of desperate need, US President Barack Obama first sent teams of intelligence agents and FEMA trained military grunts with special security clearances. The Pentagon floated a naval strike force led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan off the coast of Japan: advertised as a 'humanitarian' operation, the strike force was repositioned after it was partially irradiated. Can we trust officials and the corporate news media to tell us what is happening in an honest, timely, transparent manner? Are there precedents to the nuclear crisis in Japan? What is the U.S. defense establishment really concerned with here?..."
"...The main form of learning that took place after the disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to normalize the weaponry, banish the memories, and hope for the best. The same realists -- perhaps most prominently, John Mearsheimer -- even go so far as to celebrate nuclear weaponry as 'keepers of the peace,' for them the best explanation for why the Soviet Union-United States rivalry did not result in World War III. Such nuclear complacency was again in evidence when, in the 1990s, after the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a refusal to propose at that time the elimination of nuclear weaponry, and there were reliable reports that the U.S. Government actually used its diplomatic leverage to discourage any Russian disarmament initiatives that might expose the embarrassing extent of this post-deterrence, post-Cold War American attachment to nuclearism. This attachment has persisted, is bipartisan in character, is shared with the leadership and citizenry of the other nuclear weapons states to varying degrees, and is joined to an anti-proliferation regime that hypocritically treats most states (Israel was a notable exception) that aspire to have nuclear weapons of their own as criminal outlaws subject to military intervention.
Here is the lesson that applies to present: the shock of the atomic attacks wears off, is superseded by a restoration of normalcy, which means creating the conditions for repetition at greater magnitudes of death and destruction. Such a pattern is accentuated, as here, if the subject-matter of disaster is clouded by the politics of the day that obscured the gross immorality and criminality of the acts, that ignored the fact that there are governmental forces associated with the military establishment that seek maximal hard power, and that these professional militarists are reinforced by paid cadres of scientists, defense intellectuals, and bureaucrats who build careers around the weaponry, and that this structure is reinforced in various ways by private sector profit-making opportunities..."
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his torn hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with final inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the Earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
-- Pablo Neruda.
Mario Giacomelli, La notte lava la mente
Tribute to songwriter Manolis Rasoulis (28/09/1945 - 09/03/2011).
Focusing on a 10-year span between 1989 and 1999, in the ancient site of Eleusis, filmmaker Filippos Koutsaftis rendered one of the most moving documentaries ever made on the co-existence of the past and the present, in complete contrast, in a once sacred place taken over by modern industry.
Thank you so much, Maria.
Mary Margaret O'Hara performing When You Know Why You're Happy on Night Music.
Athens through a score of glances.
Truths and Myths About the Greek Crisis
"...The IMF/EU program (particularly the EU portion) is no "help" or "aid" or "rescue", or even "bailout", as the IMF, the EU and various commentators are saying. It consists of a series of loans, in fact non-concessional loans, as it is clearly stated in the Q&A session of the IMF here, with unprecedented draconian conditionality and the normal interest rate which is charged by the IMF in all cases. As for the EU portion, it is given at an even higher interest rate, which should be turned down by the Greek government. Paying 5-6% interest rate, when the country's GDP growth is -4% p.a., clearly makes the country's debt problem unsustainable, as has been shown by several economists. In judging interest rates, it should also be remembered that these loans are senior to all other Greek debt.
Second, it was not offered to help the "Greek people". It was offered to help the bondholders, the bankers, the euro, and to avoid contagion with its nasty consequences for the EU and the global economy, as it is clearly stated elsewhere in the Q&A session mentioned above.
Third, there is absolutely no "protection for the most vulnerable", as one would have expected from the "socialist" (or "ex-socialist") head of the IMF, or the "socialist" Greek government for that matter, and this claim is made several times in both of the documents mentioned above. (......)
Nor did the IMF convince the markets with this package. In fact, I am beginning to believe that nothing will convince them. Even though there was initially some improvement, not because of the IMF/EU package for Greece, but after the latest eurozone stabilization program of nearly one trillion, the latest ECB decision to in effect monetize the debt by buying government bonds (as all other central banks have been doing all along), the USD loan swaps, the laxity by the ECB with respect to accepting government bonds of a lower rating as collateral, and the plans to establish an EU rating agency, which were all announced very recently. Other factors which may, or may not, impress the markets are the imminent eurozone decisions regarding economic coordination and governance (see the EU commission proposals here), and the impressive -40% reduction of the Greek deficit in the first quarter of this year.
Despite the theories of some ivory-tower economists, about the supposed "rationality", "discipline" and "efficiency" of the markets, markets and speculators are not at all rational. Greece is not alone in the debt trap, not even the worst case, to be penalized by the markets so harshly. Recent EU figures show that total debt is 224pc of GDP in Greece, 272pc in Spain and 331pc in Portugal. Also the gross external debt of Greece is 168.2pc of GDP, Portugal's is 232.7pc and Spain's is the same as Greece's (Ireland's is a record 979.4pc). But the spreads on 10-yr debt were recently 7.75pc for Greece (after dropping from previous incredible heights), and only 3.92pc for Spain and 4.62pc for Portugal.
Does this make any sense?
And yet I do not wish to be overly suspicious or conspiratorial..."