Category Archives: European Union

Greece shows what can happen when the young revolt against corrupt elites

Paul Mason writes for The Guardian:

‘[…] The fact that a party with a “central committee” even got close to power has nothing to do with a sudden swing to Marxism in the Greek psyche. It is, instead, testimony to three things: the strategic crisis of the eurozone, the determination of the Greek elite to cling to systemic corruption, and a new way of thinking among the young.

Of these, the eurozone’s crisis is easiest to understand – because its consequences can be read so easily in the macroeconomic figures. The IMF predicted Greece would grow as the result of its aid package in 2010. Instead, the economy has shrunk by 25%. Wages are down by the same amount. Youth unemployment stands at 60% – and that is among those who are still in the country.’

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Greece’s New Finance Minister: “We Are Going To Destroy The Greek Oligarchy System”

Zero Hedge reports:

Over two years ago, we first highlighted Yanis Varoufakis’ perspectives on the destruction of Greece and Europe’s bogus growth pacts. Since then he has grown in both reason and popularity as his no-nonsense discussons of the mis-design of the euro (and potential solutions) have made him the front-runner to be Syriza’s new finance minister. Never one to  mince words or play politics, Varoufakis tells Channel 4’s Paul Mason in this brief (but chilling for Brussels) interview, what his party would do if it gets into government in Greece, and admits the prospect of power in Europe is “scary”. As he sums up, “we are going to destroy the Greek oligarchy system,” and with it, we suspect, much of the narrative that holds the fragile European Union together…’

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The SYRIZA Challenge in Greece: Interview with Leo Panitch

Editor’s Note: Professor Leo Panitch is a distinguished research professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto, Canada and editor of the Socialist Register. He is also co-author of ‘The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire‘. The interview was recorded earlier last week, before the elections in Greece.

German Football: The Bundesliga’s Crystal Meth Problem

Kit Holden reports for The Independent:

Dr Petri has revealed that although alchohol is the main problem, crystal meth is regularly being takenChristian Seifert’s job is easy these days. On Thursday, for example, the chief executive of the German football league (DFL) gave a speech in which he rattled off the successes of the Bundesliga with its record revenues and ticket sales.

German football is booming. The TV deals are ever more lucrative, Die Nationalmannschaft have won the World Cup, and the few young players who do leave almost invariably end up being sold at astronomical prices to the best European clubs.

As its primary publicist, Seifert can just ride the wave. When the clubs return from the winter break next weekend, fans will arrive from all over the world, Britain included. In Germany, they will find wonderful atmospheres, old-fashioned terraces, cheap beer and maybe even the odd line of crystal meth.’

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Anti-Muslim acts haved soared in France since Paris attacks, group says

Al Jazeera reports:

‘At least as many anti-Muslim acts have taken place in France since the Jan. 7-9 attacks on the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a Jewish supermarket than for all of last year, a leading Muslim group said Friday.

The French Council for the Muslim Religion said its recent study found that 128 anti-Muslim actions or threats were recorded in France, not including Paris, from Jan. 7 through Jan. 20, in comparison to 133 in all of France, including Paris, in 2014. Not all the acts included in the study were reported to police.’

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Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony

Greg Palast writes:

‘Europe is stunned, and bankers aghast, that polls show the new party of the Left, Syriza, will win Greece’s parliamentary elections to be held this coming Sunday, January 25.

Syriza promises that, if elected, it will cure Greece of leprosy.

Oddly, Syriza also promises that it will remain in the leper colony.  That is, Syriza wants to rid Greece of the cruelty of austerity imposed by the European Central Bank but insists on staying in the euro zone.

The problem is, austerity run wild is merely a symptom of an illness.  The underlying disease is the euro itself.’

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Eric Cantona on immigration, racism in sport and the rise of extremism

Greece: The Rubber Glove Rebellion

Maria Margaronis reports for BBC Magazine:

Cleaner, protestingYou wouldn’t know to look at it that the messy makeshift camp is the epicentre of a protest that’s touched a nerve in Greece – and given the government more than a mild headache.

There’s a pop-up tent with an inflatable mattress, some plastic chairs, a table, a fridge and a microwave. Posters of red rubber gloves making fists or victory signs adorn the concrete pillars. A banner made from a sheet is splashed with big red letters: “Sit-in protest by the cleaners of the finance ministry.”

Nearly 600 women who cleaned the ministry’s offices around the country were laid off 16 months ago in public-sector cuts demanded by Greece’s creditors. They are middle-aged mothers and grandmothers with no previous experience of activism, but their dogged persistence has caught the imagination of many thousands here whose lives have been derailed by the economic crisis.’

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Moroccan-born mayor of Rotterdam tells Islamic hardliners to “fuck off” if they don’t like Western ideals

Kayla Ruble reports for VICE News:

‘After the terror attacks last week in Paris, the Muslim mayor of Rotterdam took a harsh tone with Islamic hardliners in the Netherlands, essentially saying that people who take issue with certain Western ideals and satirical newspapers can “fuck off.”

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, who was born in Morocco and immigrated to the Netherlands when he was 15, made the remark during an appearance on Nieuwsuur, a national television program. Specifically, he said Muslim immigrants who are unable to accept “humorists” creating content for a newspaper could “fuck off” — or “rot toch op”in Dutch. He also relayed the message that if any Dutch Muslims are against freedom, then “for heaven’s sake pack your bags and leave.”‘

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Patriot Act Idea Rises in France, and Is Ridiculed

Matt Apuzzo and Steven Erlanger report for The New York Times:

[…] After shootings last week at a satirical newspaper and a kosher market in Paris, France finds itself grappling anew with a question the United States is still confronting: how to fight terrorism while protecting civil liberties. The answer is acute in a country that is sharply critical of American counterterrorism policies, which many see as a fearful overreaction to 9/11. Already in Europe, counterterrorism officials have arrested dozens of people, and France is mulling tough new antiterrorism laws.

Many European countries, and France in particular, already have robust counterterrorism laws, some of which American authorities have studied as possible models. But the terrorist rampage at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices and the Hyper Cacher market prompted calls to go even further. Valérie Pécresse, a minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, said France needed its own version of the USA Patriot Act, which gave the United States more authority to collect intelligence and pointed America’s surveillance apparatus at its citizens.’

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Europe’s ‘Minority Report’ Raids on Future Terrorists

Christopher Dickey reports for The Daily Beast:

[…] Worry hardly begins to describe the concerns behind the arrests over the last two days. But the legal foundation for detaining suspects varies from country to country, and may create loopholes through which potential terrorist attacks similar to the ones in Paris can still be organized.

Alain Bauer, one of France’s leading criminologists and an expert on counterterrorism, tells The Daily Beast that there’s widening recognition that surveillance tactics and strategies will have to change.

“Counterterrorism used to be like counternarcotics,” says Bauer. “You wait and you wait, and then you get another guy, with the idea that you are working your way eventually to the boss. But time, which was the ally of counterterrorism in the past, is now the enemy.” In the old days, suspects were followed from training camp to training camp, from connection to connection, as authorities mapped out whole networks. But the Internet allows connections to be made very quickly, and inspiration for attacks to take effect without any direct connection at all.’

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France’s War Against ISIS Could Create Homegrown Terrorists, Experts Say

Christopher Harress reports for the International Business Times:

‘As the people of France digest the terror attacks that killed 17 people last week, the country’s military is preparing the Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to conduct strikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq. However, France’s decision to continue its involvement in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, which Prime Minister Manuel Valls said was part of France’s war with “terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism” during a speech Tuesday, arrives with the possibility that it could radicalize more Muslims in the country and spawn further homegrown attacks, suggests an expert on the matter.

According to Max Abrahms, a professor at Northeastern University whose work has been published in dozens of scholarly journal articles regarding terrorism, previous attempts by Western governments to stomp out terrorist threats in the Middle East have done more harm than good.

“One of the ironies about the coalition against the Islamic State is that every single member in some way or another contributed to the creation and development of the very group they are fighting against,” said Abrahms. “There’s no question that oftentimes, just as terrorism is counterproductive, counterterrorism is counterproductive too.”’

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Rage of the Dispossessed: Interview with Chris Hedges

French Prime Minister declares ‘war on terrorism’

AFP reports:

Valls and Hollande outside of the Elysee Palace. (Photo: AFP)‘France’s prime minister on Tuesday declared a “war against terrorism”, as the satirical magazine targeted in last week’s jihadist killing spree hit back with a defiant issue featuring the Prophet Mohammed on the cover.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, in a speech that drew several standing ovations, called for the intelligence capabilities and anti-terrorism laws to be strengthened after previously admitting to “clear failings” over the attackers.

“France is at war against terrorism, jihadism, radicalism. France is not at war against Islam and Muslims,” Valls said.’

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Al-Qaeda assertion that it planned Paris attack draws some skepticism, ISIS also claiming responsibility

Karen DeYoung reports for The Washington Post:

U.S. intelligence has concluded that a video by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen asserting responsibility for last week’s massacre at a Paris newspaper is genuine, but it has found no evidence so far to support the group’s declaration that it directly planned, ordered and funded the attack, Obama administration officials said.

Some officials and experts suggested that the video, released Wednesday by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was an attempt by the group to enhance its militant profile and steal the spotlight from the Islamic State as the two compete for attention, recruits and financing.

As U.S. and French intelligence agencies scramble for more information, U.S. officials emphasized that the fact that they have not yet found any direct communication between AQAP and the attackers in recent days, weeks or even years does not mean it doesn’t exist.’

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France Arrests Dozens For Hate Speech, Comic Faces Seven Years In Prison For Facebook Post

French Militarist History Can Not Be Delinked From Attacks In Paris: Interview w/ Prof. Sabah Alnasseri

Defiant Charlie Hebdo Depicts Prophet Muhammad On Cover

Paris attacks: Don’t blame these atrocities on security failures

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

Did the massacre at Charlie Hebdo succeed, in terms of furthering the interests of extreme jihadi al-Qaeda-type Islamic movements? The incident itself is over with the deaths of the murderers, but the degree of their success will only become clear when we see how far French political leaders are lured into an over-reaction.

It was worrying to see Le Monde’s banner headline: “Le 11 Septembre Français.” First, it simply is not true: there were 2,977 victims of the 9/11 attacks and 17 victims in last week’s shootings in Paris. The shock was far greater in the United States than in France because of the visual impact of aircraft crashing into the twin towers, and their spectacular collapse. It is important to keep a sense of proportion about such atrocities, because the perpetrators, whether linked to Islamic State (Isis), al-Qaeda or freelance jihadis, select targets that will guarantee maximum publicity. “The media is half jihad” is a slogan sometime seen on jihadi websites.

Misleading analogies between 7/1 in France and 9/11 in the US should create a sense of foreboding. The most important victory of Osama bin Laden did not come on the day the 19 mainly Saudi hijackers took command of the planes, but in the months and years which followed as President Bush led the US into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which American troops fought Muslims. As the US resorted to rendition, the mistreatment and torture of prisoners, expanded security agencies and limited civil rights for its own people it delegitimised itself and acted as recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda and its clones. If bin Laden had been hiding in the attic of the White House giving instructions to those in the rest of the building he could not have devised a cocktail of measures more likely to aid his cause.’

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Europe’s answer to France terror ‘attack on free speech’ is greater Internet censorship

Zack Whittaker reports for ZDNet:

‘About half of Europe’s member states are pushing for greater online censorship powers in the wake of the terror attacks in France earlier this month.

In a joint statement, interior ministers from 11 European member states — including Germany, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. — expressed condemnation of the attacks, while stressing further cooperation between their law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Members of the European Union, along with a delegation from the U.S. government — including outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder — adopted, among other sentiments, a resolution to create a partnership of major Internet providers to report and remove material associated with extremism.’

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Chris Hedges on Roots of Terrorism, Free Speech Hypocrisy & Translating #JeSuisCharlie

Editor’s Note: The interview with Chris Hedges begins at around 8:07.

Paris Attacks: Not About Islam or Free Speech

Abby Martin goes over the most outrageous responses to the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and why the clash of civilizations mentality when it comes to these type of acts is so misleading.’ (Breaking the Set)

Jeremy Scahill on the Paris Attacks, al-Qaeda Ties & Whether U.S. Drone War in Yemen Will Escalate

“Circus of Hypocrisy”: Jeremy Scahill on How World Leaders at Paris March Oppose Press Freedom

The Charlie Hebdo cartoons no one is showing you

ProgNet writes for Daily Kos:

‘Below are cartoons drawn over the past several decades by Cabu, one of the most emblematic cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo (if not the most). Cabu was murdered along with his colleagues this past week. He was 75 years old.

Although no media outlet in the US will show you these images, they can all be found online with a simple Google search.

This cartoon by Cabu criticizes racial profiling, specifically discrimination by the French police against immigrants from North Africa and people of African descent. The caption reads: “No to racist controls [identity checks].”‘

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Paris Rally: Charlie Hebdo Team Regret Not Parading Caricatures of Hypocritical World Leaders

Juan Cole writes for Informed Comment:

Le Monde reported on the Charlie Hebdo team at the Paris rally on Sunday, the largest demonstrations in France since the end of World War II. They were emotionally exhausted, having lived through a nightmarish week that saw 10 of their colleagues murdered in cold blood. (One of the staffers killed was a Muslim copy-editor known at the offices for the breadth of his learning).

And, fatigued as they are, they had soon to get back to work on the special edition of their weekly, which will be printed in a million copies rather than the 60,000 usual run.

They said their biggest regret was that they couldn’t have paraded caricatures from the past pages of Charlie Hebdo of the various heads of state who joined the rally– Benyamin Netanyahu, King Abdallah II of Jordan, of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, of Russian Foreign Minister Sergueï Lavrov, of Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and of all the authoritarian heads of state they had lampooned over the years. (Many of the world leaders in the rally would have at the least jailed the Chralie Hebdo if they had been operating in those countries).’

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French leader declares ‘war’ on radical Islam after attacks

Michael Birnbaum reports for The Washington Post:

Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared Saturday that France was at “war” with radical Islam after three days of bloody attacks around Paris that sparked fears of a tide of violence by militants living in Europe.

[…] France is in a “war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islamism, against everything that is intended to break fraternity, liberty, solidarity,” Valls told an audience in Evry, a town south of Paris.

[…] Many French leaders emphasized the scale of the fight ahead of them, even as profound questions were raised about the future of France’s status as a tolerant, multicultural nation. Muslims have long had a vibrant presence here, a legacy of France’s colonial involvement in Africa and the Middle East, but a far-right, anti-immigrant party was topping some polls even before the attacks.’

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There Are More French Muslims Working for French Security Than for Al Qaeda

Oliver Roy writes for The Huffington Post:

‘[…] The “real” Muslim is said to be the terrorist and the others are the exceptions. But statistically, this is false: in France, there are more Muslims in the army, the police, and the gendarmes than in the Al Qaeda network, not to mention in government administration, the hospitals, law practices or the educational system.

Another cliché is that Muslims do not condemn terrorism. But the Internet is overflowing with condemnations and anti-terrorist fatwas (Just one example).

If the facts contradict the thesis of the radicalization of the Muslim population, then why are they not recognized? Because one attributes to the Muslim population a far-reaching community for which they are, at the same time, criticized for not exhibiting.

Muslims are criticized for being a community, but then asked to react against terrorism as a community. This is called the double bind: be what I ask you not to be.’

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Will France Repeat America’s Mistakes After 9/11?

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern writes for Consortium News:

First, a hat tip to Elias Groll, assistant editor at Foreign Policy, whose report just a few hours after the killings on Wednesday at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, included this key piece of background on the younger of the two brother suspects:

“Carif Kouachi was previously known to the authorities, as he was convicted by a French court in 2008 of trying to travel to Iraq to fight in that country’s insurgent movement. Kouachi told the court that he wished to fight the American occupation after viewing images of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.”

The next morning, Amy Goodman of Democracynow.org and Juan Cole (in his blog) also carried this highly instructive aspect of the story of the unconscionable terrorist attack, noting that the brothers were well known to French intelligence; that the younger brother, Cherif, had been sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a network involved in sending volunteer fighters to Iraq to fight alongside al-Qaeda; and that he said he had been motivated by seeing the images of atrocities by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib.’

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“We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends,” says Charlie Hebdo cartoonist

AFP reports:

Dutch comic book author Bernard Willem Holtrop, aka Willem, signs books in Angouleme, central France, on January 31, 2014‘A prominent Dutch cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo heaped scorn on the French satirical weekly’s “new friends” since the massacre at its Paris offices on Wednesday.

“We have a lot of new friends, like the pope, Queen Elizabeth and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. It really makes me laugh,” Bernard Holtrop, whose pen name is Willem, told the Dutch centre-left daily Volkskrant in an interview published Saturday.

France’s far-right National Front leader “Marine Le Pen is delighted when the Islamists start shooting all over the place,” said Willem, 73, a longtime Paris resident who also draws for the French leftist daily Liberation.

He added: “We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends.”‘

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