Voices from Russia

Friday, 10 February 2012

Chaos Threatens Greece

The man holding his hands palm-outward to the police is using one of the most obscene gestures in the Greek culture. It’s the moutza, which is like the “bird”, the “finger”, or the “fig” (we Russians call it the shish)… to the nth power. It’s meant to be rude n’ crude; it’s usually accompanied by a shout of “feh!”

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The situation in Greece is heating up… the new EU requirements, along with a lack of agreement on a second package of fiscal cuts, caused resentment amongst ordinary people, and upset the Greek leadership… some ministers submitted letters of resignation…

First Deputy Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou resigned, becoming the fifth member of the government leaving in the past two days; she’s a member of the socialist PASOK. Also confirmed was the resignation of three cabinet members from the far-right nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Minister of Transport Makis Voridis, Deputy Minister of the Economy, Competitiveness, and Shipping Adonis Georgiades, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Asterios Rontoulis. The sixth member of the Greek government to resign was First Deputy Defence Minister Georgios Georgiou, also a member of LAOS. Georgiou announced his resignation to Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos. Thus, all the members of the nationalist LAOS in the government resigned. Earlier, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Security Giannis Koutsoukos resigned, stating that the new package of austerity measures forced upon Greece by international creditors “would be a painful blow to the working class”. All those who resigned oppose the loan agreement made with the EU, which the government plans to ram through parliament on Sunday, 12 February.

Georgios Karatzaferis, the leader of LAOS, said that his party would vote against the EU loan agreement, which provides a 130 billion Euro (5.17 trillion Roubles. 172 billion USD. 109 billion UK Pounds) loan in exchange for long-term implementation of financial restrictions and austerity budgets. Karatzaferis said, “The lenders require 40 years of submission. However, Greece won’t surrender to them. I’m particularly concerned about the humiliation of our country. Greece would be able to survive outside the EU, but it can’t survive ground under the German heel”. In his view, the last straw for him personally was the insistent demands of the EU side that Greece reduce pensions. If the parliament approves the austerity measures, Karatzaferis promised to see to it that the members of the “troika”… in particular, he singled out the head of the IMF mission in Athens, Poul Thomsen… become persona non grata in Greece.

On Friday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, speaking to the Greek parliament, expressed doubt that the agreed measures would ensure a reduction of the state debt of Greece to the required 120 percent of GDP by 2020 and warned that Greece may require additional “reforms”. Bertrand Benoit, a spokesman for the German Finance Ministry, said, “The austerity measures proposed by Greece aren’t enough, they’ll have to rework their plan again”. Meanwhile, economists warn that further pressure on Greece would almost inevitably lead to political and financial chaos in the country. Finance ministers of the Euro Zone (Eurogroup) postponed the approval of the second 130 billion Euro package of financial aid for Greece until next week to allow the parliament to adopt austerity measures demanded by the creditors.

Greek Prime Minister Demands the Adoption of the EU Loan Agreement

On Friday, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said that the failure of the loan EU agreement would spell national disaster. Speaking at a government meeting broadcast live on Greek state TV, he said, “A Greek bankruptcy isn’t a choice that we can afford. Now, the main thing is to do all that we need to do to approve a new economic program and implement a new credit agreement. Any other development would be disastrous. If the economic downturn is greater than expected this year and in early 2013, we can change the duration of the budget programme and extend it until 2015 (instead of 2014)”.

In addition, according to Papademos, the programme envisages economic growth after 2013 and, in 2014-15, GDP growth should amount to about 2.5 percent annually, saying, “The program objectives are ambitious, but feasible. I won’t tolerate the presence of parties in the government who’ll vote against the programme. It’s clear that not everyone can take on this burden of responsibility. It goes without saying that if someone doesn’t agree with me and doesn’t vote for the new programme, they can’t remain in the government”. Meanwhile, the Greek parliament will vote on a credit agreement with the EU on Monday, 13 February, not Sunday as previously thought. Observers expect reshuffles in the government on that same day.

Protesters Clashed Again With Police in Athens

Greek trades unions demanded that the government abandon the implementation of the “EU-imposed measures”. On Friday, they announced a 48-hour general strike, which led to clashes between protesters and police outside government offices in Athens. The demonstrators started throwing stones at the cops; in response, the police fired tear gas at the crowd.

Economic Conditions in Greece

Greece and the “troika” (European Commission, ECB, and IMF) have agreed on a slash in the budget amounting to 1.5 percent of GDP, a reduction in the minimum wage of 22 percent, eliminating 150,000 jobs in the public sector by 2015, and the reduction of pensions. The Greek government agreed with the creditors to involve in the programme at least 50 billion Euros (1.99 trillion Roubles. 66 billion USD. 42 billion UK Pounds) from privatisation. The “troika” demanded that the Greek parliament approve this programme by next Wednesday, which is the next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Eurogroup. Markets reacted to the worsening situation in Greece with a sharp retraction in risk taking on all fronts… prices fell on stocks, the Euro, oil, and metals, whilst safer investments such as the dollar and the yen found favour with investors. On 20 March, Greece will have to pay 14 billion Euros (557 billion Roubles. 18.5 billion USD, 11.8 billion UK Pounds) of debt… without external aid, it faces a slide into uncontrolled default. In April, parliamentary elections will add drama to the talks on the fate of Greece. Last year, the Greek GDP dropped by more than 6 percent, and many fear that this year’s fall may be an additional 5 percent. According to the latest estimates, the Greek recession will last at least six years; from 2013 to 2020, GDP growth won’t exceed 3 percent per year.

10 February 2012

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/2012/02/10/65806096.html

Editor’s Note:

Did you notice something in all of this? You saw nothing about the sacrifices that the banksters and their affluent effluent pals are going to make for the common good. Do you want to know why? They intend to sacrifice NOTHING… they intend to put their boot-heels on the iaias and papous, on the doctors and on the teachers, on the kids and on the unemployed. They’ll do whatever their German paymasters tell them to, which may lead to a massive rejection of them by the Greek electorate. What will the Americans and Germans do then?

There are people alive who remember the brutal German occupation of Greece in World War II… and the Germans are the main movers in the nasty diktat being handed to Greece (with strong “amens” from the American neocons, to be sure). Greeks will see Papademos as a new Ioannis Rallis, and his police as a new Security Battalion. This is the nadir-point of voodoo smoke n’ mirrors bankster crockonomics that started under Slobberin’ Ronnie Reagan. The Germans won’t be able to keep the Greeks down. What’ll they do if the Greeks vote out Papademos? Reinstall him with NATO troops? Occupy Athens with German troops? Trust me, there’s an “interesting” period ahead.

God help the poor Greeks…

BMD 

10 February 2012. RIA-Novosti Infographics. Permafrost Degration in Siberia

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5 February 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/infographics/20120205/171095224.html

NATO to Stay Out of Syria… Gosduma Urges Dialogue… Bombs Rock Aleppo

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On Friday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who’s on an official visit to Turkey, told NTV Turkish TV that the alliance wouldn’t meddle in the months-long political crisis in Syria, saying, “We aren’t discussing this issue. We have no intention to intervene in Syria. I strongly condemn the security forces’ crackdown on civilians in Syria. I urge the Syrian leaders to accommodate the democratic legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. The only way forward in Syria is to introduce freedoms and democracy, to accommodate people’s legitimate aspirations”.

Russia has firmly supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the uprising. Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria backed by the Arab League and Western nations, to prevent a repetition of “the Libyan scenario”. On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the Arab world, the USA, and the EU to refrain from passing judgement on the national dialogue in Syria before it has even begun.

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On Friday, the UK Embassy in Moscow said that there aren’t any British troops in Syria, stating, “These reports are untrue. There are absolutely no British troops on Syrian territory at the moment”. An Israeli website, Debkafile, reported that British and Qatari troops are directing rebel ammunition deliveries and tactics in the bloody battle for Homs. It said that four centres of operation were set up in the city to prepare for a secret Turkish military incursion into Syria.

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On Friday, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, the RF Gosduma, called on the UN Security Council not to take sides in the Syrian conflict, saying that such an approach undermines chances for a fair dialogue and a peaceful settlement. In a document adopted on Friday, the Gosduma deputies stated, “The unbalanced approach stated in the last [UN] draft resolution on Syria undermines chances for fair and constructive dialogue”. The deputies said that Russian diplomats at the UN concur with the Russian leadership’s position that we should regulate the conflict through an all-inclusive dialogue. The document went on to say, “The RF Gosduma condemns the practise of meddling in other state’s affairs with military forces to impose an outside decision on them. Russia can’t back a resolution implying or conceding such intervention without the direct approval of the UN Security Council”. They urged the UN Security Council not to adopt resolutions calling for coups and a change in the political régime in Syria, as only the Syrians themselves could make such a decision. The deputies went on to say that those member states of the UN Security Council that laid responsibility for the aggravation of the Syrian conflict on Russia and China “purposefully disorient the world community, as they did in Libya”. They urged the parties involved in the Syrian conflict to refrain from violence and realise their responsibility for the Syrian people, to proceed to dialogue aimed to find a compromise. The deputies called on the Arab League to continue actively bolstering the Syrian dialogue and extend the presence of its peace mission in the conflict-torn country.

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On Friday morning, Syrian state TV reported, citing the Syrian Health Ministry, that two blasts rocked Aleppo, the second-largest city in Syria, killing at least 28 people and wounding 235 more. The TV reports said that the blasts in Aleppo, which had been quiet during the current violent clashes between the government and protesters in other parts of the country, targeted the military intelligence building and a security forces centre. The Italian news agency AGI reported that the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) claimed responsibility for the blasts. The agency quoted Riad al-Asaad, the FSA commander, as saying that the attacks were a response to the shelling of the Syrian city of Homs, a hotspot in the present uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Russian Consul General Rashid Sadikov in Aleppo said that the first explosion occurred at 09.00 local time (11.00 MSK 07.00 UTC 02.00 EST 23.00 9 February PST) and the second followed five minutes later. He said that there were no Russians amongst the casualties and that he took additional measures to protect the building of the Russian Consulate General’s Office.

10 February 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120210/171249345.html

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120210/171251769.html

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120210/171252230.html

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120210/171248069.html

10 February 2012. Some Orthodox Bishops Bawl About “Birth Control”… Here’s What Christ Calls Us to Do!

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Christ calls upon us to be peacemakers as much as the objective situation allows. I’m no kneejerk pacifist. Soldiers follow an honourable and decent calling in defending their homelands. However, I can recognise groundless warmongering and aggression when I see it. Our first priority as Christians is to stop the senseless wars of hegemony waged by the USA throughout the world. They’re not only hellishly expensive in terms of money, they’re horrific in the suffering inflicted on innocent civilians and rank n’ file grunts (especially, my heart goes out to those who’ve lost a family member). The fomentors of it all sit back in safety and rake in the boodle. There’s something horridly WRONG with that picture.

“Artificial birth control” comes in LAST, kids… in any case, the Church doesn’t condemn it. If the Catholics want to outlaw it, that’s their concern and their business, it’s not for us to comment upon it or interfere in their “family affairs”. As for Orthodox, we shouldn’t be seconding such when our moral theology is different on that score. It was nothing but shoddy pandering to the ignorant nappy-wearing rightwing konvertsy.

Let’s keep it focused. By siding with the Right, they alienated the Left, and the Left DOES espouse much that’s grounded in Christian teaching. What about well-funded state social programmes that’d offer women real alternatives to abortion? Why not issue a statement in support of that? His Holiness has, he supports the state’s role in social welfare. How about a statement condemning aggressive war (which our theology condemns)? His Holiness is against that, too… and the use of “sanctions” and “embargoes” that do nothing but hurt the “little guy” (he ripped the USA a new one for its continued economic blockade of Cuba). These four bishops chose to attend to a non-issue when a real problem stares them in the face. I’d call that Sergianism… of the worst variety. Sergianism is a craven surrender to the powers-that-be… and all too many Orthodox have done that, selling out Christ for an easy life and prosperity (interestingly, Sergei Stragorodsky wasn’t a “Sergianist” in that sense… he was imprisoned TWICE, after all).

Christ said precious little about the bedroom… he said a LOT about helping our fellow man. You can be a Samaritan or you can be a Pharisee… it’s up to you.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 10 February 2012

Albany NY

 

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