Monday, June 22, 2015

USA:When the model of Western societies, fails.

https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/democrats-hope-to-bury-black-lives-matter-under-election-blitz/
For decades the United States of America has been promoting itself as a country of equality, opportunities for all and as a model for the rest of the Western world.

In the recent years though, I am not so sure that USA can claim the role of the leader in our hemisphere,or that it can expect the rest of us to follow its example.

During the past years, a disturbing and shameful phenomenon has been increasingly becoming an occurrence; young African Americans have been shot or brutally killed by US police.

Ever since February 2012 and the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman, about 16 more black Americans were killed in similar way.

The latest case was of Freddie Gray from Baltimore in April 2015, who fell into a coma after sustaining injuries to his spinal cord, due to police violence during his arrest.

This incident led to the Baltimore Riots, a protest and response towards police brutality. As have numerous other incidents before, like these in Ferguson-Missouri, which saw a repetitive wave of violence as result.

These deaths of course are only the tip of the ice-berg. The United States of America is not the country that it wants to believe it is anymore; at least not for its African American citizens.

Discrimination, lack of equal opportunities and alienation is the reality for a large number of black youths in the US. Their government has failed them, as it prefers to waste money on wars abroad, instead of investing in projects that will promote equality.

In some other cases, African American criminality is being exaggerated or distorted, as the American discourse on crime is deeply politicized and influenced by racial and class bias. (AlterNet)

Often the number of criminal activities that are attributed to black Americans are overestimated, as the above article in AlterNet describes. Resulting of course in further discrimination and stereotyping.

The United States often lectured Europe on what type of society it should aspire to become. They actively promoted and encouraged multiculturalism in our continent and elsewhere, human rights, freedom of speech, liberalizations and privatizations.

All of the American values became eventually and gradually European as well. As result, our continent is increasingly becoming a multicultural continent, that resembles more and more the USA.

But what aspirations is America giving Europe now? That it has to allow millions of non-Europeans to legally become citizens of a unified continent, only to be treated as second class citizens and be discriminated against by the very state they were born in?

Will Europe adopt the exact model of America, or will it be capable to avoid its closest ally mistakes and shortcomings?

If African Americans still struggle to achieve justice and equality centuries later after the creation of their motherland, what chances have the more recent arrivals in Europe from other continents to achieve these?

It is evident that the struggles of some people for equality in USA have not ended. Europe's closest ally resembles progressively Hans Christian Andersen's story, the Emperor's New Clothes.

Everybody is aware what is going on, but they just don't dare to express their honest view because well, it is the emperor and it can't be criticized by his subjects!

If America wants to lecture Europe and the rest of the world on freedom, democracy and equality, it better show a better image of itself to us. Plus it needs to start looking after its own citizens and internal problems first.

In an ever changing world, they can not rely on their military might for too long, to promote their model of society and ideology on others. They need to start aspiring their values to the rest of us, just like they did decades ago.

Obviously it is not just Europe who is suffering from a crisis of values and direction, together with an economic, political and social crisis. America has its own demons to face still.

It would be of a great benefit to people of both sides of the Atlantic, to get to know their weaknesses and mistakes. Learn from and help each other, to avoid repeating the same errors.

For that we need a closer cooperation, but not solely on a business level that our elites are insisting. We need to start engaging social groups from both sides, to teach one another about integration, social justice and equality.

If Europe is to become like the USA, then I am not sure I want to live in any sort of federal political or economic formation, in which minority groups are treated like the African Americans nowadays.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Luxembourgian blow to pan-EU citizenship voting rights.

http://www.dw.de/luxembourg-says-no-to-giving-the-vote-to-foreigners/a-18501499
On June the 7th, another referendum took place in Europe; this time in the small state of Luxembourg.

Just like the recent Irish referendum on same sex marriage, the Luxembourgian vote could influence the continent's future policies.

Well over 70 percent of the Luxembourgians, voted against granting foreigners the right to vote.

Only around 22 percent of voters supported foreigner voting rights. The result was met with surprise, after final opinion polls carried out earlier this year had seen 42 percent in favor versus 48 percent against, leading many to predict a narrow outcome on the question. (Luxembourger Wort)

The referendum was called by liberal Prime Minister Xavier Bettel as part of his modernizing agenda for the grand duchy.

"There is no other European country where only 40 percent of the population elects its representatives," he stated.

About 46 percent of the country's total population of 565,000 are foreigners, with 16.4 percent being Portuguese, followed by French nationals at seven percent, Italians at 3.5 percent, Belgians at 3.3 percent and Germans at 2.3 percent. Non-European foreigners account for a further seven percent.

A majority for "Yes" would have seen all foreigners who had lived in the country for more than 10 years given full voting rights (Deutsche Welle).

Such outcome would have positively influenced European politics and societies as whole. With the free movement of people being one of our fundamental rights as EU citizens, our nations are increasingly becoming multicultural.

Many of the EU migrants settle for good in their adopted countries, pay taxes, invest or open new businesses, constructively contributing to their economies and societies.

Wouldn't it make sense then, to extend full voting rights to people who are legally and permanently residing in a country for the past 10 years?

"No taxation without representation," was a slogan once used during the 1750's and the American Revolution for independence from the British Crown. Yet somehow it sounds so relevant still, in modern Europe.

Immigrants contribute in every aspect of a country's society. Apart from economic advantages, they could also bring cultural or social and even -most importantly- political ones.

Native voters have often a very conservative point of view, regarding their nation's politics. Many have formed a nepotistic relationship with many local or national politicians, while others vote for a particular party after following "traditional" family political lines. 

Under such practices, change and reforms are frequently hard to achieve. Immigrants that are well integrated in a society can offer a new outlook to the country's political and social issues. 

They could shake up or help reshape the political landscape of a nation, since they have a slight different mentality and point of view than the native population. 

Given the fact that after 10 years residing in a country, they must have a fair amount of knowledge of national or local politics, they can constructively help ending economic monopolies or political stalemates; if only they are given the voice.

And maybe that is why most EU nations avoid giving their immigrants political rights. Europe is still a very conservative continent and the economic crisis has made things even worse.

The past few years we have witnessed a rise of xenophobia, euro-skepticism,  nationalism and Far Right political parties, in most EU states.

But Europeans must realize, that progress will never come if we remain conservative; we are only safeguarding certain national elites' interests, while ours as citizens are being diminished. 

In an increasingly changing and developing world, Europe can not remain conventional. The globe is not what it used to be and our continent is being diversified rapidly; economically, socially, politically and culturally.

We must adapt with the changes, while creating a more equal and fair European society for all its inhabitants, either they are native or not.

Sadly Europeans still prefer to live in societies strictly dominated by an ethnic dominant group, with more rights than for any of the minorities.

Luxembourg is only showcasing the failure of Europe as a whole, to create a truly integrated, equal, modern, open minded and dynamic continent. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Καιρός είναι η Ελληνική ηγεσία να δείξει σεβασμό πρός τον λαό που την ψηφίζει.

http://www.ramnousia.com/2012/08/o-neronas-ths-athinas.html
Πρόσφατα ο πρώην Υπουργός Εξωτερικών Θεόδωρος Γ. Πάγκαλος, άσκησε δριμήτατη επίθεση κατά του ΣΥΡΙΖΑ, αλλά και του Ελληνικού λαού.

Σε δηλώσεις του, ο κύριος Πάγκαλος υποστήριξε ότι «οι δημόσιοι υπάλληλοι κατέλαβαν το κράτος και ασκούν μια δικτατορία πάνω στους Έλληνες που εργάζονται».

Για τον ελληνικό λαό, δικαιολογώντας το ότι επί κυβερνήσεων ΠΑΣΟΚ δεν εφαρμόστηκαν οι αρχές που είχε διακηρύξει ο Ανδρέας Παπανδρέου, ανέφερε πως αυτό συνέβη γιατί «ο ελληνικός λαός είναι διεφθαρμένος. Ο ελληνικός λαός θέλει ρουσφέτια, θέλει διορισμούς, θέλει να μην εργάζεται. Θέλει να κλέβει τους φόρους και να μην αποδίδει τον ΦΠΑ».

Παράλληλα, εξέφρασε την έντονη διαφωνία του για την στοχοποίηση των ξένων, όπως ο Γιούνκερ, η Λαγκάρντ και η Μέρκελ και συμπλήρωσε: «Βάλαμε κάτω τους Γερμανούς και 70 χρόνια μετά τη λήξη του Β’ Παγκοσμίου πολέμου, θυμηθήκαμε το ναζιστικό παρελθόν τους». 

«Εγώ δεν λέω να μη κάνουμε κριτική στους Γερμανούς, αλλά τι είναι αυτό που τώρα θυμηθήκαμε ξαφνικά, το Δίστομο και όλα τα’ άλλα, επειδή τους χρωστάμε λεφτά. Δηλαδή τώρα ο εγγονός ενός Γερμανού οφείλει κάποια λεφτά στο γιο μου». (newsbomb.gr)

Τα σχόλια του κυρίου Πάγκαλου, είναι σκανδαλώδη ακριβώς επειδή διετέλεσε Υπουργός Εξωτερικών στο παρελθόν.

Εάν πολιτικοί που εκλέγουμε να μας εκπροσωπούν στην διεθνή διπλωματία, έχουν τέτοια γνώμη για εμάς και την μεταφέρουν και στο εξωτερικό, τότε υπάρχει καμία αμφιβολία γιατί οι Ευρωπαίοι εταίροι έχουν μια αρνητικότατη εικόνα για την χώρα μας?

Αυτό που κάνει ακόμα πιο εξοργιστηκό τις δηλώσεις Πάγκαλου, είναι το γεγονός ότι ο πρώην υπουργός και οι όμοιοι του, υπήρξαν πάντα μέρος του προβλήματος στην Ελλάδα. Για 40 χρόνια η χώρα μας κυβερνήθηκε από το ΠΑΣΟΚ και την Νέα Δημοκρατία. 

Εάν αυτές οι κυβερνήσεις που ο κύριος Παγκαλος διατέλεσε ως υπουργός και υψηλό στέλεχος, δεν προώθησαν το είδους των μεταρρυθμίσεων που χρειάζονταν η Ελλάδα ώστε να καταπολεμηθεί ο νεποτισμός, η διαθφορά και φοροδιαφυγή, απο ποιούς να περιμέναμε να προβούν σε μεταρρυθμίσεις? 

Από τους αγρότες και τους συνταξιούχους ίσως? Ή μήπως έπρεπε να λάβουν δράση η οι φοιτητές για να καταπολεμηθεί η γραφειοκρατία?

Ο λαός μας έχει την παροιμία οτι το ψάρι βρωμάει απο το κεφάλι. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι αν οι προηγούμενες κυβερνήσεις είχαν την ικανότητα να πατάξουν την γραφειοκρατία και την φοροδιαφυγή συν να εκμοντερνίσουν την χώρα θα το κάνανε, οπως το κατάφεραν ως ενα βαθμό άλλες χώρες.

Αν ο κύριος Πάγκαλος πιστεύει οτι ο Έλληνας είναι τεμπέλης, τότε στο εξωτερικο γιατί δεν κοιτάει το βόλεμα, αλλά εργάζεται σκληρά και πετυχαίνει; Ίσως επειδή το σύστημα των άλλων κρατών του το επιτρέπει και επιβραβεύει την σκληρή δουλειά του? 

Μήπως στην Ελλάδα το σύστημα που οι κυβερνήσεις του ΠΑΣΟΚ/ΝΔ ενθάρρυναν και καλλιέργησαν, ενισχύουν τον νεποτισμό και την διαφθορά, ώστε να σιγουρέψουν την εξάρτηση του Ελληνικού λαού από τα κόμματα αυτα? Μετατρέποντας φυσικά την χώρα σε μια ολιγαρχία, παρά σε μια μοντέρνα δημοκρατία.

Εάν δεν έχεις "μεσο" στην Ελλάδα ή διασυνδέσεις, ανέλκεσαι δυσκολότερα στον επαγγελματικό τομέα, αυτό είναι η αλήθεια. Ευκαιρίες για εργασία ολοένα και σπανίζουν ενώ η γραφειοκρατεία είναι τόσο εκτεταμένη, που κάθε απόπειρα για ένα ξεκίνημα μιας καινοτομικής ιδέας στον επιχειρηματικό χώρο συναντάται από ναρκοπέδια κρατικής παρέμβασης και προστατευτισμού.

Και ο κύριος Πάγκαλος νομίζει ότι για αυτό ευθύνεται ο απλός Ελληνικός λαός! Θα έπρεπε να ντρέπεται λογικά αλλά από ότι ήδη γνωρίζουμε, πολιτικοί σαν και αυτόν δεν διαθέτουν την οποιαδήποτε ευαισθησία η ντροπή.

Ζώ τα τελευταία 11 χρόνια στην Ιρλανδία, και αυτο που εχω μάθει απο τους Ιρλανδους ειναι οτι αγαπούν την πατρίδα τους και της κανουν τις καλύτερες δημόσιες σχέσεις. Δεν βγάζουν ολα τα κακώς κείμενα προς τα εξω, ουτε χαρακτηρίζουν συνέχεια αρνητικά την χωρα τους. 

Ισως γι'αυτό καταφέρνουν να προσελκύσουν πολλές επενδύσεις στην Ιρλανδία. Πως περιμένεις κάποιος να επενδύσει στην χωρα σου, οταν εσυ ως υπουργός βρίζεις και μειώνεις τον λαό σου, αποκαλώντας τον τεμπέλη και διεφθαρμένο! Ποιος θα ερθει να ανοίξει επιχείρηση στην Ελλάδα με τέτοιους πολιτικούς και ηγέτες; 

Ενώ οι Ιρλανδοί, παρόλα τα προβληματα που έχουν στην κοινωνία τους, αυτοαποκαλούνται ως η καλύτερη μικρή χώρα που μπορεί να ζεί κανείς. Αυτό το όραμα έχουν για την πατρίδα τους και αυτο το μύνημα προσπαθούν να περάσουν προς τα εξω.

Και το έχουν καταφέρει ως ενα βαθμό. Εμείς αντίθετα έχουμε μάθει να αποκαλούμε την χωρα μας "μπουρδέλο", ενώ εμάς τους ίδιους τεμπέληδες και διεφθαρμένους. Υπαρχει λοιπόν η οποιαδήποτε αμφιβολία γιατί αυτή την πατρίδα έχουμε καταφέρει να δημιουργήσουμε και γιατί αυτό έχουμε πείσει όλον τον κόσμο οτι ειμαστε;

Φυσικά μόνο οι δημόσιες σχέσεις δεν θα φέρουν επενδύσεις στην Ελλάδα, χρειάζονται να γίνουν και οι απαραίτητες μεταρρυθμίσεις. Αλλά για αυτό χρειαζόμαστε μια ικανή κυβέρνηση με όραμα, και όχι αλαζόνες, ολιγάρχες πολιτικούς με χαμηλότατο ήθος όπως ο κύριος Πάγκαλος.

Το μεγαλύτερο ίσως λάθος των Ελλήνων, είναι ότι για χρόνια ψήφιζαν πολιτικούς σαν τον Πάγκαλο και τους εμπιστευόταν. 'Οτι δεν ψήφιζαν με την λόγικη ή με όραμα και αγάπη για την πατρίδα τους, αλλά ώς επαίτες σε πολιτικούς του τύπου Πάγκαλου.

Ο Ελληνικός λαός πάσχει από έλλειψη υπερηφάνειας και αυτοσεβασμού, καθώς και αξιοπιστία και οράματος για την πατρίδας τους. Όταν εμείς δεν πιστεύουμε στον εαυτό μας και την Ελλάδα, περιμένουμε σοβαρά να το κάνουν οι ξένοι εταίροι μας?

Οι δηλώσεις Πάγκαλου και κάθε Πάγκαλου ας γίνουν μάθημα για το τι είδους πολιτικούς ψηφίζαμε τόσα χρονια στην εξουσία, και τι είδους πολιτικού θα πρεπει να αποφεύγουμε στο μέλλον. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why austerity makes corruption worse; in Greece and elsewhere.

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15740
One of the main culprits for Greece's damaged economy and financial troubles-according to most European media and analysts-was the corruption that plagued the country.

Greece suffers from it at all levels; starting from government corruption, which inevitably trickles down to the lower levels of its society.

But where does the delinquency culture has its roots and why hasn't been eradicated yet?

In Greece we have a saying: the fish stinks from its head. That means that in an organization, family or a country, the problems arise from its leadership; the parents, the management or the government.

And since it is the government and the state institutions in Greece that are corrupt and dysfunctional, how can anyone expect the country to seriously tackle corruption?

Government corruption derives from many sources. The Ottoman and Byzantine authoritarian legacy, Greece's troubled recent history, its deep ideological divisions which are remnants of the civil war, the Greek Orthodox Church. The list can go on.

The reality is that the Greek elites oppose or are reluctant allowing the country to change, because if it does so they will obviously lose out; in power, influence and economic prominence.

They are indifferent in reforming the country, or tackling the red tape that makes doing business in Greece difficult. Nor dealing with tax evasion, as they are the ones who are the worse offenders. If they modernize the country foreign investors might come in, posing a serious threat to their monopolies.

On the other hand, Greece's elites have been wasting Greek and European tax payer's money, for sustaining the European and American industrial elites.

They have been striking deals with leading German companies, or buying American, French or German weaponry that Greece does not really need; to protect itself from Turkey, a NATO ally.

Instead of investing in reforming the country and its institutions, they are playing their part in a global and pan-European financial and political establishment. The only government that shows some signs of moving away from this mentality is the government of Syriza.

Yet Europe is working hard to overthrow it, because it is Leftist and it poses a serious threat to the Liberal and Conservative European establishment. If Syriza succeeds, more Leftist governments might spring out across Europe.

Consequently, because of their ideological differences or national interests, European elites are opposing any potential change in Greece. Disregarding of course the fact that the former establishment parties, did nothing to reform the country.

Furthermore the Greek citizens have naturally their own share of blame. Their culture and mentality is heavily influenced by the country's Ottoman past. Greece's citizens-especially those in the countryside- seek to have a very personal and nepotistic relationship with local authorities and the government.

That is how they were brought up. In the past, especially during the junta era you just did not challenge the police or the local authorities, which had absolute power over you. They could confiscate your property and exile you in the Soviet states, if you were even accused of being a communist.

Due to the very unstable political past, most Greeks that are now middle aged and hold the reigns of the country, were raised in absolute poverty. The two world wars, plus the civil one that followed, crippled the country forcing millions in deprivation.

Back then, very few Greeks were getting any education. Their majority were forced to leave school early, to support their families. With little education, a large number of them were forced into emigration to other European countries, or the rest of the world.

Opportunities were scarce and overall the Greeks adopted a very opportunistic and selfish attitude, in order to survive. Poverty created more corruption as it became common practice to evade the laws, or bribe the local authorities in order to get them off your back. There was no justice or equality back then, you could not progress without the right connections or bribery.

Whole generations grew up under such conditions. We are describing most people that are now aged over 50 in Greece and of course, hold the top positions in Greece's education, local government and industrial or financial corporations.

This generation is not going to change easily or proceed with any reforms. Doing business the way they do is all they know. In fact they are the ones who are responsible for Greece's demise. The country's very leadership belongs to this generation, with perhaps the only exception the current Syriza government.

If Greece has to change, it must encourage its young people into these top spots. They have furthered their experience and education in international European universities. They have traveled more, are multilingual and have new ideas, plus they are at their most creative.

Unfortunately the Troika/EU inspired austerity forced this young generation into either emigration or unemployment and poverty. Young people in Greece right now suffer from lack of opportunities and to survive, they will probably have to do what their predecessors were doing to survive; cheat, tax evade or engage in unorthodox and illegal employment practices.

Greece is suffering from a brain-drain, since nowadays it is the most educated and qualified youths that are leaving the country. How can Europe expect the country to reform itself and change, without its best resource; its young, skilled workforce.

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/graphs/2015-05-18_ageing_report_en.htm
According to recent EU Commission report, Greece is to lose more than 20% of its population until 2060, due to its low birthrates and continuous emigration. Low birthrates that are also a result of poverty and unemployment, as young people can not start families of their own, well until their mid thirties.

The country will be a nation of pensioners, with few opportunities for young people. Any chance of reforms and a change in the Greek people's mentality, will be diminished with the continuous emigration. Older generations are more conservative by nature.

How does Europe hope to force Greece to reform, when it is condemning young Greeks into the same vicious circle of poverty, lack of education and employment opportunities?

These were some of the main reasons that corruption settled in Greece in the first place. The poorer a nation the more it suffers from it.

If the European leadership ever wants to have Greece as an equal, prosperous and dynamic member, it can't continue with its austerity policies that cripple the country's youth. Greece needs investments to offer employment opportunities to its young people and in addition reforms in government and local authority level.

Reforms that will never happen if Europe forces the Greeks into further poverty and constant humiliation. The more this situation continues, the more hard lined the response will be from the Greek people, opposing any reforms.

Or even worse, the on-going austerity and economic crisis, might further destabilize Greece politically and economically, resulting in an even more radical political party coming into power, like the Golden Dawn. With potential disastrous consequences for the whole continent.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Britain remains conservative, with consequences for Europe.

http://www.50report.com/
On the 7th of May the British public decided on their future government. While the pre-election opinion polls predicted a very close result, the Tories managed a surprise victory.

Despite the odds, they achieved a parliamentary majority meaning that for five more years, Britain will be ruled by the Conservatives.

This development will not only have an impact on the UK, but on Europe too.

With Conservatives gaining power in the UK, we now have the possibility of a "Brexit" from the European Union. Prime Minister Cameron has promised the country a referendum in 2017 on whether to stay in the European Union or to exit out of it. (CNN)

The result, if we take into account this election result, could be unpredictable. Europe will never be the same again without the UK as a member of the EU. 

Ireland for example will really need to rethink its relationship, both with Britain and the EU. The small country has close ties with its larger neighbor and the Northern Ireland situation will need to be renegotiated. Right now after the Good Friday Agreement, its citizens can chose either or both Irish and British citizenship.

How will this agreement be affected, once being British citizen won't guarantee being an EU one too? And will the borders between the North and the Republic have to be reinstated? 

Ireland of course will not be the only region of Europe which will be impacted. The EU will lose one of its oldest members and a net contributor to its budget, plus a nation with significant experience in international diplomacy and politics.

For Britain itself, a withdrawal from the EU could also bring numerous challenges. Apart from the obvious economic risks that many business and financial experts are warning of, there is also the question of Scotland.

The Scots may have voted against independence in the recent referendum, but that does not mean that the idea is dead in the water. In these elections the Scottish National Party became the third largest elected power in parliament. (CNN)

There have been speculations in the British press that a big win for the SNP could lead to yet another referendum in 2016. Many Scots also don't like the Conservative sentiments against the EU, where they'd like to stay. (CNN)

In an extreme scenario, Britain could leave the European Union, triggering Scotland to leave Britain, and join the EU. (CNN) Such possibility could redraw not only the map and politics of the UK, but Europe as well.

The only positive outcome from the British elections, is the failure of UKIP to win the seats they hoped for. The conservative party only managed to have one of their members in the new British Parliament, while its leader Nigel Farage has quit the party's leadership as result.

Nevertheless, the impact UKIP had in British politics is significant. One can say that they have achieved their goal, despite losing the elections. They have been a serious threat to the establishment parties, forcing the Tories and Mr. Cameron to guarantee a referendum on EU membership to the British people. 

Something that will result in their inevitable defeat in the next elections, should they backtrack on it.

But Britain's preference for the Right has not been the only one in Europe. In the recent Finnish elections, the nationalist Right-wing Finns Party came second, forming a coalition with the other two major parties in Finland. 

That will mean that the Scandinavian country will stick to conservative, nationalist politics that will pose some difficulties on European level. Especially in relation to managing the debt of other countries under the Troika's supervision, like Greece.

With Finland and Britain turning Rightwards, together with a conservative Germany as well as many other continental national governments, Europeans must realize that austerity is here to stay. Instead of complaining about it, they could start voting without being influenced by nationalist, populist agendas.

Perhaps Europe's citizens are not bothered by austerity after all. At least not until it starts affecting them in the same way it did, the citizens of the peripheral economies of the continent.

The only country that turned to the Left as a result of the austerity policies, was Greece. But how can a single Leftist government like Syriza can fight or limit austerity in Europe, when EU citizens keep voting for Right Wing and Conservative governments?

The latest developments in Europe's politics are thus particularly bad for Greece. The indebted country will have to face alone right-wing governments from all over Europe, organised in one political super-group the EPP. Their agenda is to turn Europe into a continent in which neo-liberal policies dominate, modeled after USA.

As result, an agreement between Greece and its European partners will be very difficult-if not impossible- unless other countries turn to the Left. But since Europeans seem to prefer conservative parties as governments, this outcome could be still far off.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ireland decides on same sex marriage and family.

https://www.yesequality.ie/
On the 22nd of May there will be another referendum in Ireland. This time on the right of same sex couples to marry. 

Civil partnerships already exist in the country since 2011, but now the Irish public will vote on giving full and equal rights to gay individuals on marriage.

Many view it as a milestone, as homosexuality was only decriminalized in the Catholic nation in 1993. They hope to make Ireland the 13th European state to give gay marriages full legal recognition and status.

While the opinion polls have been steadily showing support for a YES vote, the NO campaign has been increasingly vocal. Their arguments mainly evolve around the definition of the future Irish families and the rights of children.

Yet, the referendum question relates to the issue of loving and committed same sex couples having the right to have a civil marriage. That is the only issue and question being put to the voters.

This referendum is not about adoption or about surrogacy – these are clearly important issues and ones that people care about deeply but they are complex issues which are dealt with in legislation and are not part of this referendum and should not form part of the debate. (Marriage Equality

The Children and Family Relationship Bill 2015 will address many of the legal gaps faced by Irish children with lesbian and gay parents. This should become law by mid-April 2015. (Marriage Equality)

A single straight, lesbian or gay person can already adopt but an unmarried straight couple or a gay/lesbian couple cannot. For an adopted child already living with gay or lesbian parents, the Bill will mean that he or she can have a legal relationship with his/her second parent, the adoptive father or mother’s partner. (Marriage Equality)

The issue of adoption will be dealt with in the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 not the referendum. Adoption forms only a tiny part of this Bill and the changes mean that an unmarried cohabiting straight couple or a gay or lesbian cohabiting couple will be able to apply jointly to adopt. (Marriage Equality)

In other words the NO campaign uses the potential adoption of children by gay couples, to win the referendum. They cite that a child needs a mother and a father, thus underlining its human rights. 

They oppose such development because according their beliefs, it is not "natural". But the definition of family and marriage has been altered so much in modern times.

Nowadays we got many different types of families, other than the traditional. How "natural" is it, like in many cases of straight couples adopting, to have a "white" couple adopting an African or Asian child? 

And what of one parent families, could they be characterized as "natural"? People now form families from two broken ones, while there are families that are formed outside of marriage. 

Over the past decades we got over many of taboos and prejudices. Marriage between divorcees, between people of different race and children outside marriage. In each case there was always a debate, protests and demonstrations, but our societies always opted for freedom, equality and tolerance; and so they must now.

If our society chooses to forbid homosexual individuals to marry, on the grounds of opposing the redefinition of the modern family, it will simply act truly hypocritically. 

Our societies allow straight couples to adopt, often overlooking some realities. Especially when some of them pay for an adoption in a desperate attempt for a child, thus literally buying another human being.

All that so that they can hide from their community that they can not have children, aspiring to create a "normal" family. In reality a child won't save their marriage or legitimize it.

If some people feel awkward about gay adoptions and they want to protect the rights of children, they are right to have concerns. But shouldn't they do so for straight couple adoptions? 

Since they want to open a debate about the consequences and effects of adoption they should do so for every couple, gay or straight.

It is true that some gay couples can never be eligible for an adoption, because of their circumstances or lifestyle. But so are many straight couples.

Besides, the main aim of the gay community is to be able to marry and their unions to have the same legal statues as those formed by heterosexual couples. Adoption is not usually their primary concern, at least for a large number of gay couples.

Thus the notion that if gay marriage becomes legitimate, our societies will be full of children adopted and raised by gay people has no grounds.

What homosexual couples are demanding is equal human rights and  in love.Why can a "straight" man marry a non-national woman and give her legal residence permission in the country, while a gay man can not do so for the person he loves?

And why can't a lesbian mother adopt her partner's child from a former heterosexual relationship, making her a legal guardian? What happens to a gay couple's joined property and wealth they have accumulated, after the death of one of the partners?

These are some of the issues that homosexual couples are facing and what this referendum campaigns should be focusing on.

It will be a benefit to our societies to grant homosexual individuals their human rights and integrate them fully. They have been forced to the periphery of our social fabric for too long, unjustifiably and unfairly.

They have greatly contributed to human culture, society and history, it is about time to end discrimination and stop treating them as second class citizens.

Ireland should become the 13th European state to recognize same sex marriage, but in no way should it be the last. All EU member states must adopt similar legislation to give the same rights to all the Union's citizens.

With the free movement of people being one of the fundamental rights of EU citizens, how can a marriage be recognized in one state while it won't be in another? And what about an adopted child's rights, if its parents decide to move to another EU member?

This referendum won't just be a milestone in Ireland's modern history, but a small positive step towards where the whole Europe should be heading; to equality, freedom and tolerance of every individual in this continent.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Europe's outrage by Tsipras' visit to Putin, is hypocritical.

http://news.newsdirectory1.com/tsipras-meets-putin-the-hint-of-provocation/
On the 8th of April 2015, Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited the Russian capital Moscow, to hold talks with Vladimir Putin.

As expected, the European media found another opportunity for mud throwing against the Greek Left-wing government. 
Speculations about what will Greece compromise and if Russia will offer money to the indebted country, dominated the European social media.

Most European analysts and commentators, feared that Greece will slip into the arms of Russia; breaking Europe's foreign policy and common stance on the Ukrainian situation.

Besides, what has Europe done so far for Ukraine, apart from sanctioning Russia, harming its own economy collaterally? 

These views have no base and are signs of a mass hysteria, propaganda and an agenda to discredit the newly elected "radical" Greek government.

First of all Greece is a sovereign nation and it can do business with anyone it thinks appropriate. I can't recall any of Greece's European partners, from East or West, siding or supporting Greece on its national issues such as the Cyprus problem, the FYROM issue or Turkey. 

Every European government is allowed to follow its own policies, according their interests and needs. Besides, since Europe's treatment of Greece for the past 6 years has been unacceptable, it itself pushes the country towards Putin.

Secondly, the probability of Greece re-positioning itself closer to Russia is practically zero, as long as Greece remains a full member of European institutions and NATO (The Guardian). It is thus unlikely that Russia will proceed towards a closer relationship with a US ally.

Similar scenarios were played during the Cypriot bail-out. Everyone in Greece and Cyprus counted on Russia for their support, citing their close historic and religious ties. None of the hypotheses came true; the Russians were not interested.

Greece has always been close to Russia for various reasons throughout its history, that is a fact. However many other European nations have close ties with countries outside our continent on similar grounds. Plus Greece has decided on its allegiance long ago; its population is far more pro-European than many other EU member states'.

It is peculiar that the European public opinion worries about Greece, yet nobody does so about the lack of democracy and transparency in EU, or the fact that people bail out banks. As if Greece is Europe's biggest problem, not austerity. 

The diminution of our worker's and human rights across the Union is scandalous. The European media instead of focusing on the above issues, they are trying to disorient the continent's public opinion. Greece reaching out to Russia for help is not news; the fact that Europe is unwilling to help the ordinary Greek people is. 

The European elites are desperate to bring the Syriza government down and they are using the media to spread their propaganda. They fear that if a Leftist government succeeds more countries will follow its example, threatening the neo-liberal agenda that the EU institutions have been promoting for decades.

But by scolding Syriza and its leader so much, they may get something even worse: the far Right is still prominent in Greece. The Golden Dawn is the third party in the country right now and France, together with many other countries are not far behind.

Europe should be glad that the Greeks went leftward instead or Right wing. Syriza is more manageable than Golden Dawn. The current government has many high ranked university professors in its cabinet, unlike the Golden Dawn, whose members are often involved in criminal activities. 

Besides, the average Greek citizens were forced to chose this government, by the ruthless measures that were imposed on them. Similar reaction we observed in the past in Germany itself. 

A deep recession combined with an international humiliation, resulted in the far Right Nazi party to come to power. It seems that Europe never learns from its mistakes. 

It is up to the EU to gain the hearts of the ordinary Greeks again, by showing a bit of tolerance and compromise. Not for the sake of Syriza, but for Greece's citizens, the unity of the EU and the euro. If the Greeks see some relief and an end to the constant humiliation, they may gladly return to the established, mainstream political parties. 

Greece does not need more debt thrown on it, in the form of a third bailout. The country now needs some growth and investments to lift its population out of poverty, kick-starting its economy. Yet the European elites are too arrogant and blind to realize the plight of the citizens from a "peripheral" economy. 

Finances to them are far more important, than living standards and human dignity. In the beginning they blamed the Greek people's alleged "laziness" for the crisis in the country. When this argument was burst, they then used the tax evasion argument. 

It was then discovered that German companies were among the bigger tax evaders in Greece, or that Holland and Luxembourg are contributing to the problem by acting as tax havens. 

So they now argue on the importance of sticking to the rules and honoring the previous government's signatures. European elites clearly don't like democracy enough, to respect the Greek electorate's wish to end austerity. 

Apart from being isolated, Greece is now further ridiculed. Countries like Spain or Portugal, who would ideally benefit from a Syriza victory are distancing themselves from it, because they have Right wing governments. Their leadership belongs to the same European political group as Angela Merkel's party. 

It is also noticeable that most Eastern European countries are seemingly against Greece. Partly because they have been under Soviet rule and find Greece's closeness with Russia outrageous. To them, Russia is a constant threat and the West the goal they've always aspired to.

They may have an underlined complex, seeing Greece-a country that allegedly benefited so many years from the West- being so "ungrateful". They are so keen to shake off the image of the communist, poor and backwards region that were themselves. 

As result, they have adopted a hard line pro-Western, liberal and capitalist agenda. If they suffered in order to achieve the transition from communism to capitalism, so must the Greeks. Besides, many of them have contributed to the Greek bail-outs, despite them being poorer than the Greeks.

The reality is quite different. Firstly the bailouts were not given to the Greek people, but the European banking system, in other words they stabilized Western European banks. 

Secondly capitalism is not perfect as a system. It may offer more prosperity than communism, but it also harbors inequality in a society and among the EU member states. How "lucky" was Greece to be a capitalist country in a system that regards it as a "peripheral" economy, aka of secondary importance?

In addition, although many of them are being praised for the achieved reforms and their economies are booming, their citizens are still looking to migrate to Western countries for a better future. The benefits of the efforts to embrace capitalism, have not been equally distributed it seems.

Finally Eastern European states should not be angered by Greece's closeness to Russia, as it is not related remotely to their Soviet experience. Themselves have close links with Germany, Scandinavia or other nations. To Greece, Russia has always been a close trade partner and occasionally an ally.

Besides, it is doubtful that Greece under Syriza will ever plan to conspire against Europe and the West. Its leadership merely uses Russia as a wild card. The aim is clearly to give a message to the rest of its EU partners, that if they continue refusing to compromise, Greece has other allies to turn to.

And Putin obviously values this opportunity, stating that he can still find allies among the EU itself, potentially influencing Europe from within. Additionally, Greece and Russia without the meddling from the rich yet arrogant Western European nations, could strike very profitable deals for either parties.

Greece needs the investments and since Europe refuses them, the country has every right to look elsewhere for them.

To conclude, no one has the right to point the finger to Greece for seeking to better its position and finances. It is clear that European solidarity and unity are far from being achieved and it is the major European powers that prevent this development. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Humor: European perspectives on tax evasion!

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/08/coalition-battle-low-tax-jurisdictions-britain


If a British man keeps his money in a tax haven like the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands is a clever businessman. 







http://www.the-best-of-both-worlds.com/news.html

If a German man keeps his money in Switzerland or Luxembourg is a thrifter and reasonable investor. 









http://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/jun/03/bp-tnk-russia-joint-venture-oil


If a Russian man keeps his money in Cyprus is a mafia oil oligarch. 








https://lecartoonist.wordpress.com/2012/10/page/2/

If a Greek man keeps his money in Switzerland is a corrupt and lazy tax evader. 








http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jan/04/gerard-depardieu-club-russian-citizens

Finally when a French guy keeps his money in a tax haven like Monaco or Switzerland he is simply........ Gerard Depardieu...!!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

What are the "necessary" reforms that Europe demands of Greece?

http://www.balkaneu.com/steps-approach-overnight-thriller-brussels/
Apparently today there was another meeting in Brussels. EU leaders of Germany, France and the EU institutions met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the sidelines of the EU Council at his request. 

Though Greece and its negotiation with international creditors was not on the summit’s formal agenda, Greece’s economic woes were ominous. (Independent Balkan News Agency).

Yet for the past few weeks prominent EU and European leaders, were complaining that Greece is not doing enough to keep up with the requested and necessary reforms. 

Pressure was mounting on the Greek leadership, while its partners grew increasingly annoyed and often offended by Mr. Tsipras and Mr. Varoufakis tactics, comments and "lack of action to keep up with the promises made". 

But what are the "necessary" reforms that the EU demands of Greece? The Greek and European public has been repeatedly informed about the "lack of reforms", but does any of us actually know what Greece's partners are asking?

Has anyone explained to the Greek people what is at stake? How do the EU and European leadership expect the Greeks to accept everything that need to be "reformed," if they don't tell us what we must do. 

All Europe is saying is literally "do as we say and we will give you more money". I can't recall any list of demands being made public, or any suggestions on which fields and in what manner Greece must proceed with its reforms.

If the Greeks must bare the austerity that Germany, the Troika and the ECB are imposing on them, shouldn't they at least be aware of what they will have to lose or gain?

The main demands evolve around privatization initiatives. If that is the sole case, then this is not an assistance, it is a black-mail to force Greece to sell out its natural resources.

The Greek state does not need necessarily this massive sell-out. What it needs to do, is to cut its red-tape so that the native entrepreneurs and foreign companies can do business easier and invest in the country.

It needs to tackle corruption and tax evasion and of course to set up a land registry. If these are the "reforms" that Europe is demanding, it is right to do so, but harsh austerity is not the best way to achieve them.

The more austerity, the more the Greeks are opposed to these reforms. They are a very rational race of people, they do not just obey laws without question.

Someone needs to explain to them what is happening and then they will condone; or not! But when the Greek and European leadership do not give them any credible feedback about the situation, then we are having a serious democratic deficit.

Shouldn't all Greek households, that are forced to endure six years of the harshest austerity seen in Europe for a long time, be informed about what their country is required to give up or sell out to Greece's partners?

Lack of communication leads to misunderstandings and it makes it more difficult for the Greeks to accept these unknown reforms. 

It is crucial to keep the pro-European sentiment among the Greek population, not make the situation worse with derogatory comments and constant negative criticism of Greece's democratically elected government.

What possibly is happening, is that the European establishment is determined to get rid of Syriza, before other leftist governments mushroom all over Europe. That would mean a disaster for them, their interests and the neo-liberal agenda they plan to apply across our continent.

https://twitter.com/ncilla/status/574587933010821122
They are working hard, by using propaganda and slandering Greece's Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, in order to discredit them and force them to call an election. 

The EU and European leadership are behind this plot. But it is not the average German citizen's fault, as it is not the average Greek or any other EU citizen's fault either. 

The continent's elites, represent these policies that want to shape a two tier Europe, a divided continent. Some poor, some rich and developed; periphery and core economies, North and South.

Such development won't be good for any worker across the continent, either in Greece, Germany, Ireland or any EU member state.

The Germans and the rest of the ordinary EU citizens need to understand that. The European elites just demand Greece to repay and save the European banks.

In my opinion all the fuss about these "necessary reforms," is nonsense. They don't really care about Greece or it's people, otherwise they would have heard their cries years ago, when they were calling that this austerity is unfair, unbearable and not justified.

It is privatizations that they want, little do they care about Greece's future. Because that future is not built on a massive debt that the country won't never be able to repay anyway. 

The EU and European leadership just want someone to take the blame for all that is wrong in the euro-zone and the European economy. They will never admit that they created a mess with everything, it is good enough to them that the Greeks take all the blame.

Yet it is encouraging though to see waves of support and solidarity from the average European citizens, across the EU, Germany included.

Recently riots took place in Frankfurt, demonstrating against the new ECB's head-quarters opening, while millions of ordinary people are facing austerity. It is more than heartening to see ordinary Germans, finally understanding that their government's policies, together with the EU's are not favoring ordinary people, in Greece, their country or elsewhere.

That was one the greatest displays of European solidarity in recent times, not the smokescreen of financial support that the European elites were trying to fool us with. Citizens must stand together. Now it is Greece; in the next crisis it could be your country. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

EU loses Iceland as a member, out of its myopic policies.

http://www.euronews.com/2015/03/12/iceland-drops-eu-membership-bid/
Iceland has dropped its bid to become a member of the EU.

Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said he had informed the current EU president Latvia as well as the European Commission about the move. (Euronews)

Who can blame them really. Why anyone would like to join a union, where the citizens are the ones who bailout the banks with their taxes, while being slandered on top of that if they protest.

The Icelanders jailed the bankers and did not gave them more powers, unlike the rest of Europe and America. The Icelandic way of dealing with the economic crisis, has conveniently slipped out the European media and in extend, the public opinion's attention.

Instead, the continent's media institutions, found joy in slandering the Greeks for complaining about austerity. In addition they focused in everything that was wrong in the country's economy and society, trying desperately to justify that the Greeks have to suffer for their laziness and corruption. 

The events that were taking place in Iceland on the other hand, were not mentioned by the mainstream media. 

Iceland's 38-year-old prime minister, Sigmundur Davíd Gunnlaugsson, elected in April on populist promises of mortgage relief for every homeowner. Syriza did exactly the same, yet it is being scorned and scolded by its European "partners".

Gunnlaugsson earned his spurs in years of outspoken campaigning against the foreign creditors, particularly the British and the Dutch governments, which intervened after the collapse of Landsbanki, the bank behind Icesave, on 7 October 2008.

A poisonous diplomatic row was sparked between Iceland, the Netherlands and Great Britain, that against the odds, Iceland won. While many other politicians in Iceland had urged a policy of appeasing the enraged British and Dutch governments, Gunnlaugsson had insisted they should go hang.

Having helped win the famous Icesave victory from outside government, Gunnlaugsson has promised to carry that uncompromising approach with him as prime minister, hinting at a new wave of attacks on the interests of foreign creditors to Iceland's three failed banks: Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbanki. 

Between them, these institutions had assets more than nine times the size of Iceland's economic output when they failed in 2008.

His attitude personally reminds me of the attitude or the Greek Minister of Finance, Yanis Varoufakis. Yet, since outside the EU, the Icelanders did not have to face the same pressure from their partners, through the EU institutions.

http://www.survivingiceland.com/event/67/
As result, the Icelanders are fast on their way back to becoming among the richest people in the world, just five years after experiencing one of the most dramatic financial meltdowns in history.

"We raised almost every tax there was – and introduced new ones," recalled the then finance minister, Steingrimur Sigfusson, adding that there were considerable cuts in public spending too as government debt swelled to eye-watering levels.

By August 2011, Iceland had graduated from its International Monetary Fund bailout program with flying colors. "We became a poster child for them," suggests Sigfusson, noting how the fund is still struggling to right many other sinking economies on Europe's peripheries.

Iceland is now held up as an example by some of how to overcome deep economic dislocation without undoing the social fabric.

Since then, with government borrowing receding, Iceland has been able to return to the international debt markets, and has begun repaying its emergency loans. Meanwhile, the economy – having shrunk more than 10% in two years – bounced in 2011 and 2012, and will grow by about 1.9% this year.

Nobel prize winner Joeseph Stilitz agrees. "What Iceland did was right. It would have been wrong to burden future generations with the mistakes of the financial system." For Financial Times economist Martin Wolf too, it was a triumph. "Iceland let the creditors of its banks hang. Ireland did not. Good for Iceland!" Less good, of course, for the foreign creditors. (The Guardian)

It is the obviously the attitude of Germany, it's satellite states and the EU institutions and the way they treat Greece and other nations under an EU/IMF bailout program, that put the Icelanders off EU membership. They do not need the rest of Europe anymore, they have proven they can make it on their own.

And not just that, but why would they put up with institutionalized bullying by their EU counterparts, that want to save their own banks and insure the maximum return for their bond holders? 

Iceland's case is a true example of a real patriotism and fully functioning democracy, where the leaders listen to their voters' needs and work hard for their interests. This is quite the opposite of what the former Greek government and many of their European counterparts were doing,

 Losing Iceland as a potential EU member, is a real loss for Europe, European democracy and the continent's dream for unification. European leaders, take not and hang your head in shame!