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Monday, 23 February 2015

New normal: Florida cops taser elderly man with his hands up

© YOUTUBE/PrisonPlanetLice (Screenshot)

A disturbing video has emerged showing an elderly man being tasered by Florida police.

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The video shows officers yelling at people to get out of their minivan. As the elderly man exists the passenger seat, the officer grabs his hand and twists it. Another officer came and told the first officer to "let him go." After he did, the second officer tased the old man.

The man who filmed the video claims he was with his family on the way to Key West for the weekend.

A woman off-camera says in the video "Get out of the car. Oh jeez. They are not getting out of the car. The guy on the other side, on the driver's side, is going a bit bananas, no?"

"The police here are heavy-handed," she says. When a young girl in the videographer's car asks what's going on, the woman says, "They are trying to get these people of this car, sweetie. I don't know why. It's kind of weird."

Witnesses gasp in terror questioning if the man was still alive.

"I hope we don't get harassed because I'm recording this," the man filming states before turning off the camera.

This is not the first instance of police tasering to headlines in Key West this year. Earlier in January, Key Largo teen Roberto Ornelas died after being shot with a taser on new Year's Day.

A recent investigation by the shows that South Florida cops have a history of misusing their tasers, including several deaths linked to the devices.

The reported that more than 17,000 police departments in the United States, including some Miami precincts. Taser International, the makers of the taser that shocked the old man, has become a $1.37 billion dollar company.

Amid all the controversy in using tasers Amnesty International reports between 2001 and 2008, 351 people in the United States died from being shocked by police tasers.

The incident is currently under investigation," said FHP spokeswoman Captain Nancy Rasmussen, who declined to release more details

EU may block Russia-Hungary nuclear power deal

Think EU members are sovereign? Think again.

originally appeared in Financial Times.

Hungary's deal to award up to €12bn in nuclear power contracts to a Russian state-owned company is facing a growing threat from EU regulators who have the power to block the project.

A veto or prohibitive fine from Brussels would be a bruising setback for Viktor Orban, Hungary's prime minister, who has made the project the centrepiece of his strategy to forge deeper political and economic ties with Russia, despite the ostracising of Moscow by the west over Ukraine.

Opponents of the deal say it both carries financial risks and deepens Hungary's energy dependence on Russia. The country already relies on Russia for 80 per cent of its oil and 60 per cent of its gas imports.

Budapest awarded contracts to design, build and maintain two 1,200 megawatt reactors in the town of Paks, 75 miles south of Budapest, to a subsidiary of the Russian atomic energy company Rosatom in December. But the decision to conceal some details of the contracts on grounds of national security provoked suspicion among Mr. Orban's critics and in Brussels.

Although the European Commission did not raise objections to an intergovernmental agreement signed by the two countries just over a year ago, the award of contracts for the Paks plant has thrown up thorny competition concerns.

Two EU agencies are now examining the agreements. Euratom, the nuclear watchdog, is withholding approval for the plant's fuel supply on technical and financial grounds, though talks are ongoing, said one official briefed on the matter. All nuclear fuel supply deals by EU member states must receive the green light from the agency.

Competition investigators from the European Commission are also looking at state subsidies and the legality of contracts awarded to Rosatom and its affiliates without a tender.

The probe into the how the nuclear contracts were procured — described as a possible case of violation of EU law by officials — is still at an early stage, giving Hungary an opportunity to strike a bargain with Brussels before a possible full formal investigation.

The battle of wills is part of a broader struggle between EU technocrats and Russia over Europe's energy security. Last year, Moscow scrapped its $50bn South Stream gas pipeline into eastern Europe after EU regulators said Gazprom, Russia's gas export monopoly, would break competition rules by both supplying the gas and owning the pipeline.

For EU diplomats, Mr Orban's decision not to hold a competitive tender underlined fears that his close links with Moscow could lead Hungary to resist attempts to ramp up sanctions against Russia.

On an official visit to Budapest last week, Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, confirmed that Moscow would finance 80 per cent of the project's total costs, saying he attached "great importance" to it.

Politicians from Hungary's green LMP party, who have launched legal challenges to the project's secrecy in a Budapest court, warned that Paks would be an expensive mistake.

"We would like to see our country break free from Russian energy dependence, while Mr Orban seems to be seriously addicted to it," said Bernadett Szél, the party's co-leader.

Yet in a sign that Budapest was prepared for a confrontation with Brussels on the matter, Mr Orban declared last week that energy policy was a sovereign matter: "We will have a major problem . . . I expect an escalating conflict."

A Hungarian government spokesman said the commission was trying to interfere in national energy policy "by stealth" and warned that attempts by Brussels to build a single internal energy market threatened EU member states' sovereignty.

Mossad files show Netanyahu lied to UN about Iranian nuclear threat

netanyahu bomb

© AP Photo/ Richard Drew

I drew it myself!

In Sept. 2012, Netanyahu stood before the UN General Assembly with a cartoonish diagram of a bomb and warned that Iran was about a year away from completing its "plans of building a nuclear weapon," calling for action to halt the process and justifying Israel's rights to act militarily if necessary.

"By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage," Netanyahu told the UN. "From there, it's only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb."

But in Oct. 2012, Israel's intelligence agency Mossad sent a top-secret cable to South Africa's state security agency saying that the Islamic Republic was "not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons and doesn't appear to be ready to enrich Uranium to the higher levels needed to the nuclear bomb," according a secret cable obtained by Al Jazeera and shared with the .

US intelligence found no evidence that Iran intended to use its nuclear infrastructure to build a bomb.

The report highlights the gulf between the alarmist tone in rhetoric taken by top Israeli politicians and the assessments of Israel's military and intelligence apparatus, according to the .

The leaked documents also revealed details of operations against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations.

Among the information leaked is a CIA attempt to establish contact with Hamas, South Korean intelligence targeting the leader of Greenpeace, Barack Obama "threatening" the Palestinian president to withdraw a bid for recognition of Palestine at the UN, and South African intelligence spying on Russia over a controversial $100 million joint satellite deal, according to the .

It comes at a time when political tensions between the US and Israel are at a record high, and ahead of Netanyahu's planned address to the US Congress on March 3 to speak against the nuclear compromise currently being negotiated between Tehran and world powers.

Gasp! Leaked Mossad cables reveal Netanyahu lied to UN about Iran's nuclear program

Netanyahu and its red line, ONU

© Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Netanyahu and his "red line"

In Sept. 2012, Netanyahu stood before the UN General Assembly with a cartoonish diagram of a bomb and warned that Iran was about a year away from completing its "plans of building a nuclear weapon," calling for action to halt the process and justifying Israel's rights to act militarily if necessary.

"By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage," Netanyahu told the UN. "From there, it's only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb."

But in Oct. 2012, Israel's intelligence agency Mossad sent a top-secret cable to South Africa's state security agency saying that the Islamic Republic was "not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons and doesn't appear to be ready to enrich Uranium to the higher levels needed to the nuclear bomb," according a secret cable obtained by Al Jazeera and shared with the Guardian.

US intelligence found no evidence that Iran intended to use its nuclear infrastructure to build a bomb.

The report highlights the gulf between the alarmist tone in rhetoric taken by top Israeli politicians and the assessments of Israel's military and intelligence apparatus, according to the Guardian.

The leaked documents also revealed details of operations against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations.

Among the information leaked is a CIA attempt to establish contact with Hamas, South Korean intelligence targeting the leader of Greenpeace, Barack Obama "threatening" the Palestinian president to withdraw a bid for recognition of Palestine at the UN, and South African intelligence spying on Russia over a controversial $100 million joint satellite deal, according to the Guardian.

It comes at a time when political tensions between the US and Israel are at a record high, and ahead of Netanyahu's planned address to the US Congress on March 3 to speak against the nuclear compromise currently being negotiated between Tehran and world powers.

South Carolina inmates given solitary confinement for using social media

Prison Stats

© TheAntiMedia.org

South Carolina inmates will continue to be given solitary confinement for accessing Facebook and other social networking sites, but the number of days they serve there will be reduced, South Carolina Department of Corrections Deputy Communications Director Stephanie Givens told Sputnik.

"Prisoners will now receive 60 days of solitary confinement for accessing social networking sites through contraband," Givens said on Monday.

Givens confirmed reports of harsher solitary confinement punishments, but said the lengthier sentences were because of "stacking of charges," where the accessing of social networking sites is compounded with other charges.

After the department was sued by mental health institutions, Givens said, the department changed course, and sanctions of inmates are no longer stacked.

That policy, however, has not changed for inmates who pose a threat to the safety of everyone in prison", Givens said, and their sentence in solitary confinement can be indeterminate. Inmates who exhibit good behaviour may win back their basic privileges when they are not placed in solitary confinement, she added.

The digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reported earlier in February that hundreds of inmates were sentenced to years of solitary confinement for accessing Facebook and other social networking sites.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections was reformed in 1960 after authorities discovered abuses in the correctional system, and now reports directly to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

Dozens of new craters suspected in northern Russia

© Marya Zulinova, Yamal regional government's press service

B1 - famous Yamal hole in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo, spotted in 2014 by helicopter pilots.

Satellites show giant hole ringed by 20 'baby craters'.

Respected Moscow scientist Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky has called for 'urgent' investigation of the new phenomenon amid safety fears.

Until now, only three large craters were known about in northern Russia with several scientific sources speculating last year that heating from above the surface due to unusually warm climatic conditions, and from below, due to geological fault lines, led to a huge release of gas hydrates, so causing the formation of these craters in Arctic regions.

Two of the newly-discovered large craters - also known as funnels to scientists - have turned into lakes, revealed Professor Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Examination using satellite images has helped Russian experts understand that the craters are more widespread than was first realised, with one large hole surrounded by as many as 20 mini-craters, can reveal.

© Vasily Bogoyavlensky

Four arctic craters: B1 - famous Yamal hole in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo, B2 - recently detected crater in 10 kilometres to the south from Bovanenkovo, B3 - crater located in 90 kilometres from Antipayuta village, B4 - crater located near Nosok village, on the north of Krasnoyarsk region, near Taimyr Peninsula.

"We know now of seven craters in the Arctic area,' he said. 'Five are directly on the Yamal peninsula, one in Yamal Autonomous district, and one is on the north of the Krasnoyarsk region, near the Taimyr peninsula.

'We have exact locations for only four of them. The other three were spotted by reindeer herders. But I am sure that there are more craters on Yamal, we just need to search for them.

"I would compare this with mushrooms: when you find one mushroom, be sure there are few more around. I suppose there could be 20 to 30 craters more."

He is anxious to investigate the craters further because of serious concerns for safety in these regions.

The study of satellite images showed that near the famous hole, located in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo are two potentially dangerous objects, where the gas emission can occur at any moment.

© Vasily Bogoyavlensky

Satellite image of the site before the forming of the Yamal hole (B1). K1 and the red outline show the hillock (pingo) formed before the gas emission. Yellow outlines show the potentially dangerous objects.

He warned: "These objects need to be studied, but it is rather dangerous for the researchers. We know that there can occur a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time, but we do not know exactly when they might happen.

"For example, you all remember the magnificent shots of the Yamal crater in winter, made during the latest expedition in Novomber 2014. But do you know that Vladimir Pushkarev, director of the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration, was the first man in the world who went down the crater of gas emission?

"More than this, it was very risky, because no one could guarantee there would not be new emissions."

Professor Bogoyavlensky told : "One of the most interesting objects here is the crater that we mark as B2, located 10 kilometres to the south of Bovanenkovo. On the satellite image you can see that it is one big lake surrounded by more than 20 small craters filled with water.

"Studying the satellite images we found out that initially there were no craters nor a lake. Some craters appeared, then more. Then, I suppose that the craters filled with water and turned to several lakes, then merged into one large lake, 50 by 100 metres in diameter.

"This big lake is surrounded by the network of more than 20 'baby' craters now filled with water and I suppose that new ones could appear last summer or even now. We now counting them and making a catalogue. Some of them are very small, no more than 2 metres in diameter."

© Vasily Bogoyavlensky

Satellite images showing pingo before the gas emission on the object B2 (top). Lake formed here at the place of the number of craters and the network of more than 20 'baby' craters around (bottom).

"We have not been at the spot yet,' he said. 'Probably some local reindeer herders were there, but so far no scientists."

He explained: "After studying this object I am pretty sure that there was a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time. Sadly, we do not know, when exactly these emissions occur, i.e. mostly in summer, or in winter too. We see only the results of this emissions."

The object B2 is now attracting special attention from the researchers as they seek to understand and explain the phenomenon. This is only 10km from Bovanenkovo, a major gas field, developed by Gazprom, in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Yet older satellite images do not show the existence of a lake, nor any craters, in this location.

Not only the new craters constantly forming on Yamal show that the process of gas emission is ongoing actively.

Professor Bogoyavlensky shows the picture of one of the Yamal lakes, taken by him from the helicopter and points on the whitish haze on its surface.

© Vasily Bogoyavlensky

Yamal lake with traces of gas emissions.

He commented: 'This haze that you see on the surface shows that gas seeps that go from the bottom of the lake to the surface. We call this process 'degassing'.

"We do not know, if there was a crater previously and then turned to lake, or the lake formed during some other process. More important is that the gases from within are actively seeping through this lake.

"Degassing was revealed on the territory of Yamal Autonomous District about 45 years ago, but now we think that it can give us some clues about the formation of the craters and gas emissions. Anyway, we must research this phenomenon urgently, to prevent possible disasters."

Professor Bogoyavlensky stressed: "For now, we can speak only about the results of our work in the laboratory, using the images from space.

"No one knows what is happening in these craters at the moment. We plan a new expedition. Also we want to put not less than four seismic stations in Yamal district, so they can fix small earthquakes, that occur when the crater appears.

"In two cases locals told us that they felt earth tremors. The nearest seismic station was yet too far to register these tremors.

© Local residents

Crater B3 located in 90 kilometres from Antipayuta village, Yamal district (top). Crater B4 located near Nosok village, on the north of Krasnoyarsk region, near Taimyr Peninsula.

"I think that at the moment we know enough about the crater B1. There were several expeditions, we took probes and made measurements. I believe that we need to visit the other craters, namely B2, B3 and B4, and then visit the rest three craters, when we will know their exact location. It will give us more information and will bring us closer to understanding the phenomenon."

He urged: "It is important not to scare people, but to understand that it is a very serious problem and we must research this."

In an article for Drilling and Oil magazine, Professor Bogoyavlensky said the parapet of these craters suggests an underground explosion.

"The absence of charred rock and traces of significant erosion due to possible water leaks speaks in favour of mighty eruption (pneumatic exhaust) of gas from a shallow underground reservoir, which left no traces on soil which contained a high percentage of ice," he wrote.

"In other words, it was a gas-explosive mechanism that worked there. A concentration of 5-to-16% of methane is explosive. The most explosive concentration is 9.5%."

© Vasily Bogoyavlensky

'The parapet of these craters suggests an underground explosion.'

Gas probably concentrated underground in a cavity "which formed due to the gradual melting of buried ice". Then "gas was replacing ice and water".

"Years of experience has shown that gas emissions can cause serious damage to drilling rigs, oil and gas fields and offshore pipelines," he said. "Yamal craters are inherently similar to pockmarks.

"We cannot rule out new gas emissions in the Arctic and in some cases they can ignite."

This was possible in the case of the crater found at Antipayuta, on the Yamal peninsula.

"The Antipayuta residents told how they saw some flash. Probably the gas ignited when appeared the crater B4, near Taimyr peninsula. This shows us, that such explosion could be rather dangerous and destructive.

"We need to answer now the basic questions: what areas and under what conditions are the most dangerous? These questions are important for safe operation of the northern cities and infrastructure of oil and gas complexes."

© Vladimir Pushkarev/Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration

The latest expedition to Yamal crater was initiated by the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration in early November 2014. The researchers were first in the world who went down the crater of gas emission.

Pingos are mounds with an ice core found in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

They can reach up to 70 metres (230 ft) in height and up to 600 m (2,000 ft) in diameter. They usually appear when groundwaters penetrate between permafrost and the top layer, which melts in summer season. They usually form in drained lakes or river channels.

However, gas is not a factor in their creation.

Cannabis 114 times less deadly than alcohol

Ukraine to Counterbalance RT With New Channel 'Ukrainian Tomorrow'

Maxim Stulov / VedomostiUkraine earlier this month moved to deny accreditation to more than 100 Russian media outlets as threats to national security.

Ukraine next month will launch a television channel called Ukrainian Tomorrow, partially funded by U.S. sources, in an effort to counterbalance the Kremlin-funded network RT, Ukraine’s information policy minister told reporters in Lviv.

“They have only today, but we have tomorrow,” Minister Yury Stets said last week at a conference in an apparent play on RT’s former name, Russia Today, the Interfax-Ukraina news agency reported.

The Ukrainian national bank’s television channel BTB will be transferred to the Information Policy Ministry within two weeks and then transformed into Ukrainian Tomorrow, the minister said.

“Financial support will be provided by our partners from Europe and the United States. The channel should be high-quality and broadcast all over the world,” he said in comments carried by Kiev-based news agency UNIAN.

The channel will also be funded by the Ukrainian government as well as local businesspeople, the minister said in comments carried by Interfax. It was not immediately clear in what language the channel would broadcast.

The minister said that he had recently met with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, who “confirmed” that U.S. sources would provide financing for the project, Interfax reported.

The Information Policy Ministry was established in Ukraine in December in part to counteract Russian media’s portrayal of the Ukraine crisis.

Viktoria Syumar, the deputy head of Ukraine’s National Security Defense Council, said last year that the government was considering making an English-language channel that would have “no lies and staged videos like RT.”

Ukraine earlier this month moved to deny accreditation to more than 100 Russian media outlets as threats to national security.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week that Russia will not reciprocate with a similar ban.

Russia will not “limit the right of people to receive information from various media sources,” Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

Israel vs. Israel: 'Being leftist in Israel is dangerous' say Israeli antiwar activists

Being an antiwar activist in Israel is dangerous. Israelis who protested against the 2014 Gaza offensive were threatened, harassed and attacked. Some even lost their jobs. Yoav Eliassi, also known as "The Shadow," is a right-wing rapper and driving force behind a movement to stamp out dissent in Israeli society.

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One year on from the 'EuroMaidan Revolution': What next for Ukraine?

Alexander Zakharchenko

© Press Association

Alexander Zakharchenko

Today is the first anniversary of the deal made between Yanukovich and the "opposition" and guaranteed by foreign ministers Radosław Sikorski of Poland, Laurent Fabius of France and Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany. As we all know, the deal resulted in a withdrawal of the security forces from the Kiev city center immediately followed by an armed insurrection which overthrew the government. Predictably, Poland, France and Germany did not object. I won't recount all of the events which happened since this infamous day, but I think that it is important to look at what has changed in a year. I think that it also makes sense to compare what I had predicted might happen with what actually happened, simply to see if a person if a person with no access to any classified data and who is using only "open sources" for his analysis could have predicted what happened or if this was all a huge and totally unpredictable surprise.

So let's look at my predictions in chronological order.

November 30th, 2013: in "The Gates of Hell are Opening for the Ukraine "

The supposedly "pro-Russian" Eastern Ukrainians

They have no vision, no ideology, no identifiable future goal. All they can offer is a message which, in essence, says "we have no other choice than sell out to the rich Russians rather than to the poor Europeans" or "all we can get from the EU is words, the Russians are offering money". True. But still extremely uninspiring, to say the least.

The future of Yanukovich

I am beginning to fear that this will all explode into a real and very dangerous crisis for Russia. First, I am assuming that the the Eurocrats and the Ukrainian nationalists will eventually prevail, and that Yanukovich will either fully complete his apparent "zag" and reverse his decision, or lose power. One way or another the the Eurocrats and the Ukrainian nationalists will, I think, prevail. There will be more joyful demonstrations, fireworks and celebrations in Kiev, along with lots of self-righteous back-slapping and high-fiving in Brussels, and then the gates of Hell will truly open for the Ukraine.

The real risks for Russia

Being drawn into the inevitable chaos and violence which will flare up all over the Ukraine (including the Crimean Peninsula), stopping or, at least, safely managing a likely flow of refugees seeking physical and economic safety in Russia and protecting the Russian economy from the consequences of the collapse of Ukrainian economy. Russia will have to do all that while keeping its hands off the developing crisis inside the Ukraine as it is absolutely certain that the Eurocrats and the Ukrainian nationalists will blame Russia for it all. The best thing Russia could do in such a situation would be to leave the Ukrainians to their private slugfest and wait for one side or the other to prevail before trying to very carefully send out a few low-key political "feelers" to see if there is somebody across the border who has finally come to his/her senses and is capable and ready to seriously begin to rebuild the Ukraine and its inevitable partnership with Russia and the rest of the Eurasian Union. As long as that does not happen, Russia should stay out, as much as is possible.

Sarajevo on the Dniepr

Right now, all the signs are that the Ukraine is going down the "Bosnian road" and that things are going to get really ugly.

It is hard to tell, but my sense is that when the local authorities in the southeastern Ukraine threaten not to accept any regime change in Kiev they probably do really mean it. This very much reminds me of the repeated warnings of the Bosnian-Serbs that they would not accept to live in an Islamic state run by an rabid fanatic like Itzebegovich. At the time, and just like today, nobody took these warnings seriously and we all know how that ended. The big difference between Bosnia and the Ukraine is first and foremost one of dimensions: Bosnia has an area of 19,741 square miles and a population of 3,791,622 while the Ukraine has an area of 233,090 square miles and a population of 44,854,065. That is a huge difference which make a direct foreign intervention a much more complicated endeavor.

crimea vote

© AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff

People sing the Russian national anthem as they celebrate in Simferopol's Lenin Square on March 16, 2014 after exit polls showed that about 95.5 percent of voters in Ukraine's Crimea region supported union with Russia

And Russia in all that?

I can only repeat that Russia should stay out of whatever happens in the Ukraine. The Russian government should prepare for an influx of refugees and the Russian military should be placed on high alert to avoid any provocations or cross-border violence. A special goal for Russia should be to use all means possible to avoid any violence on the Crimean Peninsula because of the presence of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, which can find itself in the position of the 14th Army in Transdniestria when it simply had not other choice than to get involved due to the high number of officers with relatives living in the republic. If, God forbid, the nationalists try to militarily take over the Crimean Peninsula or Sevastopol, I don't see how the Black Sea Fleet could stay uninvolved - that is simply impossible and this is why that situation needs to be avoided at all costs.

January 26th, 2014: Yanukovich's latest move might make a partition of the Ukraine unavoidable :

The partition of the Ukraine is inevitable

This has, of course, not been reported in the western Ziomedia, but the eastern Ukraine is now also bubbling with political actions. To make a long story short, the folks in the southeastern Ukraine have no desire whatsoever to let folks like Iatseniuk, Klichko or Tiagnibok rule over them. In fact, several local assembles - including the Parliament of Crimea - have adopted resolutions calling on the President to restore law and order and warning that they would never accept a "regime change" in Kiev.

March 1st, 2014: Obama just made things much, much worse in the Ukraine - now Russia is ready for war

Russia is ready for war

Something absolutely huge has just happened in Russia: the Russian Council of the Federation, the equivalent of the US Senate, has just UNANIMOUSLY passed a resolution allowing Putin to use Russian armed forces in the Ukraine, something the Duma had requested earlier. Before the vote took place, Russian senators said that Obama had threatened Russia, insulted the Russian people and that they demanded that Putin recall the Russian ambassador to the USA. I have never seen such a level of outrage and even rage in Russia as right now. I hope and pray that Obama, and his advisers, stop and think carefully about their next step because - make no mistake about it - RUSSIA IS READY FOR WAR.

April 23rd, 2014: The US plan for the Ukraine - a hypothesis

The US will try to force Russia to intervene in the Donbass

The eastern Ukraine is lost no matter what. So the junta in Kiev have to pick one of the following options:

a) Let the eastern Ukraine leave by means of referendum and do nothing about it.

b) Let the eastern Ukraine leave but only after some violence.

c) Let the eastern Ukraine leave following a Russian military intervention.

Clearly, option 'a' is by far the worst. Option 'b' is so-so, but option 'c' is very nice. Think about it: this option will make it look like Russia invaded the Eastern Ukraine and that the people there had no say in it. It will also make the rest of the Ukraine rally around the flag. The economic disaster will be blamed on Russia and the Presidential election of May 25th can be canceled due to the Russian "threat". Not only that, but a war - no matter how silly - is the *perfect* pretext to introduce martial law which can be used to crack down on the Right Sector or anybody expressing views the junta does not like. That is an old trick - trigger a war and people will rally around the regime in power. Create a panic, and people will forget the real issues.

As for the USA - it also knows that the Eastern Ukraine is gone. With Crimea and Eastern Ukraine gone - the Ukraine has exactly *zero* value to the Empire, to why not simply use it as a way to create a new Cold War, something which would be much more sexy than the Global War on Terror or the really old War on Drugs. After all, if Russia is forced to intervene militarily, NATO will have to send reinforcements to "protect" countries like Poland or Latvia just in case Putin decides to invade all of the EU.

Bottom line - the freaks in power in Kiev and the USA *know* that the eastern Ukraine is lost for them, and the purpose of the imminent attack is not to "win" against the Russian-speaking rebels or, even less so, to "win" against the Russian military, it is to trigger enough violence to force Russia to intervene. In other words, since the East is lost anyways, it is much better to lose it to the "invading Russian hordes" than to lose it to the local civilian population.

So the purpose of the next attack will not be to win, but to lose. That the Ukrainian military can still do.

Two things can happen to foil this plan:

  1. The Ukrainian military might refuse to obey such clearly criminal orders (and becoming a target of the Russian military might help some officers make the correct "purely moral" choice).

  2. The local resistance might be strong enough to draw out such an operation and have to come to a grinding halt.

Ideally, a combination of both.

So let's summarize the above:

  1. Yanukovich will be overthrown. Check

  2. The Donbass will rise up. Check

  3. The Ukraine will be partitioned. Check

  4. A civil war will break out. Check

  5. The US will try to pull Russia in. Check

  6. Russia will protect Crimea. Check

  7. Russia will say out of the Donbass. Check

  8. Russia will have to deal with refugees. Check

  9. The US/NATO will not intervene like in Bosnia. Check

  10. The Ukrainian economy will collapse. Check

There is one point which I did really get wrong: the people of Novorussia. I saw them as very passive, interested only in getting paid (in Hrivnas or Rubles - doesn't matter) and with very real Russian national identity. Here I got it very wrong, but in my defense I would say that the Russian identity of people of the Donbass was awakened by the huge military assault of Ukrainian military and by the clearly russophobic and neo-Nazi rethoric and policies of the junta. But setting aside the motivations of the Novorussians, I did predict that the Donbass would rise up, and it did. In fact, it looks to me like my predictions resulted in a score of 10 out of 10.

My point is not to congratulate myself (I sincerely wish my pessimistic predictions would have turned out wrong), but to demonstrate that anybody armed with a) basic knowledge of Russia and the Ukraine b) access to open sources information c) basic common sense could have made all of these predictions.

There are, however, also events which I completely failed to foresee: the amazing inability of the Ukrainian military to get anything done. On July 1st, 2014, in a post entitled "Novorussia - Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and settle for anything in the middle", I wrote:

The worst which can happen is that a lot of Novorussian defenders get killed, that the towns of Slaviansk, Kramatorsk, Krasnyi Liman and others will get basically flattened and most of their inhabitants killed, that the road between Donetsk and Lugansk gets cut-off by the Ukies and that Ukie forces enter deep inside these two cities.

I have to be honest here, there is a pretty good chance that all of the above will happen in the next 24 hours.

If that happens, I would like to remind you all that entering into a city is one thing, taking control of it is quite another. Think Beirut, think Grozny, think Baghdad, think Fallujah, think Gaza, think Bint Jbeil. Even if Poroshenko announces that Donetsk and Lugansk have "fallen", this will be only a empty statement on par with Dubya's "mission accomplished". What will *really* happen is that the type of warfare taking place will change. Not only will it change, but the new (urban) type of warfare will almost completely negate the current huge advantage in aviation, artillery and armor of the Ukie side. So if these cities "fall" - please do not despair.

I hope that Novorussians will be able to resist the Ukie attack, but I also know that by all accounts the kind of firepower the junta is using now is truly huge - we are dealing with a merciless and massive attack with everything the junta could muster and we have to accept that the Novorussian Defense Forces might have to retreat deeper into the cities or even go underground. While heroic for sure, it is not smart to stay in the open when your enemy is using Smerch and Uragan MRLS against you or even the building you are in. During the first Chechen war the Chechen retreated deeply inside Grozny and did not even bother defending the outskirts, in part because the city center buildings were far stronger than the flimsy houses in the suburbs. I never studied the layout of the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk, but if they are typical of the way the Soviets liked to build, then retreating into the city center and giving up the suburbs would probably make sense.

The first defensive option is to let the Ukies enter the suburbs and then cut them off, envelop (surround) them, and then attack them. If that works, great! But if the Ukies clear the way with massive sustained strikes and flatten their way in, then it will become necessarily to switch to "plan B" and retreat deeper into the cities. If the Ukie advance is multi-pronged and too fast, or if the city center defenses were not adequately prepared (for whatever reason), then plan "C" is to go more or less underground and switch to an active mobile defense centered on short but intense ambushes followed by immediate retreats.

donetsk artillery

© REUTERS/ Alexei Chernyshev

What really happened took my by complete surprise: initially the Ukrainian forces did move in, but soon they were bogged down and then gradually surrounded by the Novorussians. In fact, both during the junta's summer offensive and during its winter offensive the Novorussians succeeded in crushing the Ukrainian forces even in open terrain: steppes, hills, fields and forests. The other amazing thing which happened is that for the first time in the past 200 years there were more combatants killed on the Ukrainian side than civilians. German intelligence sources estimate the number of victims of this war at about 50,000. That figure sure makes sense to me. That kind of outcome and these kinds of figures can only be explained by a huge, truly immense, difference in combat capabilities between the junta forces and the Novorussians. Unimpressed as I was by the Novorussian behavior in February-March I failed to imagine that this rather passive and peaceful folk would turn into formidable combatants who would so radically defeat a vastly superior force (at least on paper), not once, but twice. Even as late as October 24th, in a post entitled "What could the next Junta offensive against Novorussia look like?" I again failed to predict the almost immediate defeat of the junta's winter offensive. I wrote:

What the Ukies are preparing is rather obvious. They will pick several key axes of attack along which they will unleash a massive artillery attack. This fire preparation will serve to prepare for a push by Ukrainian armored units (this time around we can expect the Ukrainian infantry to properly defend their tanks and not the other way around). The Ukrainians will not push deep into Donetsk or Lugansk, but rather they will try to, again, cut-off and surround Donetsk in a pincer attack and then negotiate some kind of quasi-surrender by the Novorussians. At most, they will try to enter a few important suburbs. I don't expect much action around Luganks - Donetsk is far more exposed. Now, if I am correct and this is what happens, then please understand and remember this: the correct Novorussian response to this plan is to begin by retreating. It makes no sense whatsoever for the Novorussians to sit and fight from positions which are densely covered by Ukrainian artillery strikes. During the first Ukrainian attack I was dismayed to see how many people clearly did not understand the importance retreats in warfare. The "hurray-patriots" in particular were adamant that the initial Novorussian retreat was a clear sign that, as always, "Putin had betrayed Novorussia" (when the NAF went on a long and brilliant counter-offensive, these "hurray-patriots" fell silent for a while until the moment when Moscow stopped the NAF from seizing Mariupol, at which point they resumed chanting their mantra). The fact is that retreating against a superior forces is the logical thing to do, especially if you have had the time to prepare for a two, possibly, three echelon defense. While I do not know that for a fact, this is what I expect the Novorussians have been doing during all the length of the ceasefire: preparing a well-concealed and layered defense. My hope and expectation is that once the JRF attacks the NAF will, again, carefully retreat, pull the JFR in, and then being to gradually degrade the attacking force. I particular hope that the Russians have finally send some much needed guided anti-tank weapons through the voentorg.

I was completely wrong. Not only did the Novorussians stop the junta offensive more or less along the line of contact, but they went on the counter-offensive where they seized the heavily fortified Donetsk airport and then the entire Debaltsevo cauldron. To say that I am extremely impressed is an understatement.

Military analysts always tend to be very cautious and assume the worst-case, and this is how it should be when lives are at stake, but I cannot explain away my complete failure to predict the Novorussian successes by some professional inclination. What happened is that I got the Novorussian mentality completely wrong by assuming that their initial passivity was a predictor of their ability to fight. A fundamentally flawed and mistaken assumption.

Still, I mostly got it right and so could have done all the advisors, analysts, area specialists, etc. working for the governments involved in that crisis and I bet you they did. But either the politicians did not want to listen, or they wanted precisely that outcome.

The shameful and utterly disgusting fact is that everything that took place was completely predictable. In fact, Putin, Lavrov and many more Russians officials *did* try to tell everybody that the Ukrainian people were cheerfully waltzing straight into a precipice, but nobody was willing to listen. Instead, western politicians blamed the Russians for everything, which is just about the most intellectually dishonest and hypocritical thing they could have done.

The next Ukie president? In one year an entire country was destroyed, tens of thousands of people were murdered and millions are now left with nothing not even hope: the Ukraine is a failed state, having now gone through Dmitri Orlov's "five stages of collapse". Kiev is in the hands of a regime of incompetent Nazi freaks and the only alternative to them looks even worse.

Make no mistake, if the Donbass is now probably safe from any future junta attacks, the risks for the rest of the rump-Ukraine are still huge and an even bigger bloodbath could happen next.

What is evident is that Poroshenko is a "goner": this sad buffoon promised peace to the Ukrainian people and instead he gave them a year long bloodbath culminating in a strategic defeat which cost the Ukrainians about half of their more or less combat capable forces. The only thing which keeps Poroshenko in power now is the political support of the USA and the political recognition by the EU and Russia. But the rest of the freaks in power don't care one bit about the EU or Russia and I predict that they will try to eject him at the first possibility. When I look at list of freaks likely to succeed Poroshenko I get a knot in my stomach: if Poroshenko was a political prostitute and a spineless, incompetent imbecile, he was at least not clinically insane. Most of his likely successors are. As for Yats or Turchinov, I personally think that they are demoniacally possessed which is arguably even worse than being clinically insane.

In conclusion I will just say that if I believe that all the horrors of the past year were fully avoidable, I also believe that the horrors of the next, upcoming, year are not: the Ukraine has plunged over the cliff and is now heading for the very same future as Libya (another western "success story"). I hope that I am wrong and that I am missing something crucial, but I personally do not see any way to stop the implosion of the rump-Ukraine and my advise to anybody still living there would be to get out while you can.

In them meantime in Moscow there was a "anti-Maidan" demonstration planned for 10'000 people. 35'000-50'000 showed up to say "we will not forget, we will not forgive" and "no Maidan in Russia". This anti-Maidan movement which was just formed very recently has a very bright political future because after watching the horrors right across their border and accepting close to a million refugees from the Ukraine, the vast majority of Russians want nothing to do with a Maidan-like event in Russia. Combine that with the still 80%+ popularity of Putin in spite of western sanctions, and you will see that Russia is safe from the kind of events which happened in Kiev a year ago.

The virus which killed the Ukraine will act as a vaccine for Russia.

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Drone film of Niagara Falls frozen over

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Ice-breaking tug boats operating on the Delaware River

Ice-breaker on the Delaware river

The icy weather doesn't just cause trouble for the roads but for the waterways as well.

Every day when ice starts forming, the crew of the Coast Guard icebreaker casts off the lines and head out into the Delaware River - never knowing what they'll find out there.

"We look forward to the winter every year. This is what the boat is built for, this is what we are out here to do," said US Coast Guard BM1 Matt Bailey.

The is one of two ice breakers working 140 miles of the Delaware River.

The ice breaker was built in 1961 and can still handle ice up to 18 inches thick.

"Usually once it gets above two feet we usually call in a bigger boat, such as a 175 footer, but we can handle everything up to about two feet," said SCBM Christopher Stover, US Coast Guard.

On Wednesday, the ice ranged from paper thin to eight inches thick.

If the river freezes over, it can bring shipping commerce to a standstill.

The big tankers and freighters can handle the ice but smaller vessels like flat fronted barges can easily get stuck.

However more important than commerce is safety.

"What we focus on, first and foremost, is search and rescue and coastal security of all the vessels out on the water, then we look into vessels that are in urgent situations that may need our assistance breaking out of the ice,: said SCBM Stover.

A buoy, discovered 165 yards out of position, is an example of a safety issue.

That's because the ice grabbed ahold of it and dragged it with the tide.

A large ship could have gone aground if hadn't sent out notice of the wayward buoy.

On Wednesday, the cleared the shipping channel from Philadelphia to Trenton and they'll do it all again on Thursday.

UK govt adviser warns aging nuclear reactors vulnerable to terrorist drone attacks

© Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett / Files

Hinkley Point B Power Station in Bridgwater, southwest England.

Britain's aging nuclear power plants are vulnerable to terrorist attacks by unmanned drones that could kill thousands of people, a government adviser has warned.

John Large, an engineer for Britain's Atomic Energy Authority, says ministers are ignoring risks posed by nuclear terror assaults.

Nuclear power stations around the UK suffered 37 security breaches in 2014 - the highest number since 2011.

Large is calling for urgent security reforms. He is also demanding the government set up a major operation to test the resilience of Britain's power plants against prospective attacks.

Too much energy is focused on risk assessments relating to accidents at nuclear power plants than potential terror attacks, the engineer argues.

In a bid to sketch out contingency responses, Large analyzed a series of hypothetical attack scenarios. Each one's scale of devastation varied, with casualties ranging from one to tens of thousands.

The engineer concluded unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) access to nuclear plants in the UK "is relatively unimpeded." He said drones pose a real risk to Britain's 16 nuclear reactors.

As the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) continues to wreak bloodshed in the Middle East, counter-terror experts say the group plans to create a for use in the West.

IS militants are already thought to have recruited chemical weapons experts to assist with this objective.

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, a member of Britain's Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, said Large's policy suggestions would be considered seriously by the government.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said security at Britain's nuclear plants is of the and is under constant review.

Large's policy recommendations follow a recent warning regarding cyber terrorism.

Last month, Russian security expert Eugene Kaspersky, who advises the UK government, Europol and Interpol on cyber security issues, said most states lack adequate systems to defend themselves in the event of a severe cyber-attack.

The security boss suggested if cybercriminals can carry out successful attacks on well-protected financial institutions, they have the ability to wage an attack on any enterprise.

Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barak Obama resolved in January that British and American intelligence officials would test the defense capabilities of critical institutions during a series of cyber war games scheduled to kick off later in 2015.

The joint cyber tests will be conducted against each state's banks, financial institutions, and other critical infrastructure in order to improve defenses against prospective cyber-attacks.

The first war game will test financial institutions in London and on Wall Street. Later exercises will test other infrastructure, such as power suppliers and transportation systems.

Rare razorbill from northern latitudes seen in Bermuda

© Andrew Dobson

The rare razorbill on the Great Sound

The Island's first sighting of a razorbill was reported yesterday.

Audubon Society member Paul Watson spotted the bird on the Great Sound in the morning.

He was soon joined by the group's president, Andrew Dobson, to get photographic evidence of the sighting. He said: "It is the first time this species of bird has been seen in Bermuda.

"It was sitting on the surface of the water and making regular dives in search of fish."

Mr Dobson added: "Razorbills belong to the family of birds known as Alcids, which also includes puffins.This crow-sized seabird is widely distributed through boreal and low-arctic Atlantic waters; the bulk of the world population breeds in Iceland.

"With only about 300 pairs nesting in Maine, the razorbill is among the least numerous of all breeding seabirds in US waters.

"Most razorbills from North American colonies winter south of their breeding range in ice-free, coastal waters, with largest numbers frequenting shoal areas in the outer Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine."

Councillor says 'Vladimir Putin is advised by Aliens' and blames space reptiles for Ukraine crisis


Simon Parkes and Vladimir Putin

Alien-obsessed Simon Parkes, a councillor in Whitby, North Yorkshire, blamed hostilities in troubled eastern Ukraine on a group of alien reptiles he calls the 'Nordics.'

The 53-year-old, who claims to have been visited by extra-terrestrials ever since being inside his mother's womb, said the correspondence between Putin and the Nordics "is on par with America" during a Q&A session in Wallsend, North Tyneside.

He said: " Putin had been part of a group advised by reptiles. Nordics made the counter offer to Putin.

"The technology the Nordics are giving to Putin is on par with America."

Speaking to an audience of around 30 listeners at The Vault, the father-of-three continued: "The Nordics have told Putin he no longer has to toe the American line, hence his resistance."

The councillor and driving instructor, who represents Stakesby on Whitby Town Council, also told the audience that his legal father is a reptile.

Previously, Councillor Parkes has claimed that he fathered an extra terrestrial lovechild called Zarka and says having sex with the alien has caused tension in his marriage with his wife.

Speaking on documentary in June 2013 he said his "real mother" is a 9ft green alien with eight, stick-like fingers who appeared to him in his cot when he was six-months-old.

© Getty stock

Councillor Parkes bizarre comments come more than a week after the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany thrashed out a peace agreement in Belarus capital Minsk.

The deal hopes to resurrect a stillborn ceasefire after the first Minsk agreement collapsed shortly after being signed five months ago.

However, on Friday the Ukraine military claimed more than 20 Russian tanks, 10 missile systems and busses filled with fighters had crossed the border, and appeared to be heading in the direction of Novoazovsk, a rebel-held town in the south-east.

Florida fireball with boom

The American Meteor Society received over 90 reports so far about a bright fireball event in northern Florida just east of Jacksonville. Observers from as far north as August GA reported seeing a bright light in the sky. Over 15 of the reports described a window rattling delayed boom. Below is a heat map of the witness reports.

The estimated trajectory plotted from the witness reports shows the meteor was traveling from the south west to the north east and ended its flight about 30 miles due west from Jacksonville, FL.

The sonic boom reports appear to all be clustered around the ending point of the meteor, many from Lake City, FL.

Here are some quotes from witnesses describing the sonic effects of this meteor:

  • Loud window rattling boom - Maggie H, Starke, FL

  • Loud Boom, like a canon blast or an explosion - DL, Sanderson, FL

  • Sonic Boom, shook the house - Andrew C, Lake City, FL

  • Sounded like an explosion - Kasey W, Lake City, FL

  • Windows and walls shook along with a loud pop and boom - Lindsey E, Lake City, FL

'Tiny houses': California homelessness gets new $40 solution

tiny homes - homeless homes project

Image from http://bit.ly/1Fko3MS

An Oakland artist is ingeniously battling homelessness in Oakland, California: he builds small houses out of materials he can find in the streets, with each edifice costing around forty bucks.

The tiny homes are made of pallets, bed boards, washing machine doors, and other bizarre objects that catch Greg Kloehn's attention. Mr Kloehn first noticed that homeless people built shelters from whatever they find in the street, and he wanted to make a house like this.

He jokes that he constructs "illegal homes out of illegal garbage." The cost of one house is "$30 to $40," Kloehn told RT.

tiny homes

Image from http://bit.ly/1Fko3MS

"The real cost is just in the wheels: I buy large casters for the bottom, so that they are mobile, and then nails, and screws, and paintbrushes. But everything else I get for free," he said.

The houses are just comfortable enough to lie down in a warmer place than a cardboard box, and the homeless in Oakland are "so happy," Kloehn told . "One cried and got on his knees to thank me. They think I should make them bigger and suggest improvements. They like to decorate them themselves."

tiny homes - homeless homes project

Image from http://bit.ly/1Fko3MS

Currently, about 25 people use the homes. One couple's home burned down, another one was stolen, and a third was sold.

"It is tough out there. So I keep making more," Kloehn said. It takes about a week to finish a house, depending on the style.

"There are some quick, easy homes in maybe two or three days. But some more elaborate ones, some more Victorian-style ones, some different dome shapes - it takes a little bit longer," he told RT.

tiny homes - homeless homes project

Image from http://bit.ly/1Fko3MS

Some people choose to change their homes, Kloehn said to RT. "One guy remodeled the house and made it twice as big!"

The creator chooses funny names for the homes: R2D2, The Settler, Romanian Farm House, Uni-bomber Shack, the Tank and The Chuck Wagon to name a few.

"They are not just homes but fast becoming a life style option. They are usually cheaper than regular homes, giving more people the opportunity of ownership," he said.

tiny homes - homeless homes project

Image from http://bit.ly/1Fko3MS

"By skipping the traditional 30 years mortgage, perhaps the tiny home movement could even reshape the way we think about work and what we want to accomplish with our lives."
tiny homes - homeless homes project

Image from http://bit.ly/1Fko3MS

Download video here

James Petras: The assassination of Greece

Varoufákis Tsípras

Yánis Varoufákis and Aléxis Tsípras

The Greek government is currently locked in a life and death struggle with the elite which dominate the banks and political decision-making centers of the European Union. What are at stake are the livelihoods of 11 million Greek workers, employees and small business people and the viability of the European Union. If the ruling Syriza government capitulates to the demands of the EU bankers and agrees to continue the austerity programs, Greece will be condemned to decades of regression, destitution and colonial rule. If Greece decides to resist, and is forced to exit the EU, it will need to repudiate its 270 billion Euro foreign debts, sending the international financial markets crashing and causing the EU to collapse.

The leadership of the EU is counting on Syriza leaders abandoning their commitments to the Greek electorate, which as of early February 2015, is overwhelmingly (over 70%) in favor of ending austerity and debt payments and moving forward toward state investment in national economic and social development [1]. The choices are stark; the consequences have world-historical significance. The issues go far beyond local or even regional, time-bound, impacts. The entire global financial system will be affected [2].

The default will ripple to all creditors and debtors, far beyond Europe; investor confidence in the entire western financial empire will be shaken. First and foremost all western banks have direct and indirect ties to the Greek banks [3]. When the latter collapse, they will be profoundly affected beyond what their governments can sustain. Massive state intervention will be the order of the day. The Greek government will have no choice but to take over the entire financial system . . . the domino effect will first and foremost effect Southern Europe and spread to the 'dominant regions' in the North and then across to England and North America [4].

To understand the origins of this crises and alternatives facing Greece and the EU, it is necessary to briefly survey the political and economic developments of the past three decades. We will proceed by examining Greek and EU relations between 1980 - 2000 and then proceed to the current collapse and EU intervention in the Greek economy. In the final section we will discuss the rise and election of Syriza, and its growing submissiveness in the context of EU dominance, and intransigence, highlighting the need for a radical break with the past relationship of 'lord and vassal'.

Ancient History: The Making of the European Empire

In 1980 Greece was admitted to the European Economic Council as a vassal state of the emerging Franco-German Empire. With the election of Andreas Papandreou, leader of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party, with an absolute majority in Parliament, hope arose that radical changes in domestic and foreign policy would ensue. [5] In particular, during the election campaign, Papandreou promised a break with NATO and the EEC, the revoking of the US military base agreement and an economy based on 'social ownership' of the means of production. After being elected, Papandreou immediately assured the EEC and Washington that his regime would remain within the EEC and NATO, and renewed the US military base agreement. Studies in the early 1980's commissioned by the government which documented the medium and long-term adverse results of Greece remaining in the EEU, especially the loss of control of trade, budgets and markets, were ignored by Papandreou who chose to sacrifice political independence and economic autonomy in favor of large scale transfers of funds, loans and credit from the EEC. Papandreou spoke from the balcony to the masses of independence and social justice while retaining ties to the European bankers and Greek shipping and banking oligarchs. The European elite in Brussels and Greek oligarchs in Athens retained a stranglehold on the commanding heights of the Greek political and economic system.

Papandreou retained the clientelistic political practices put in place by the previous right-wing regimes - only replacing the rightist functionaries with PASOK party loyalists.

The EEC brushed off Papandreou' phony radical rhetoric and focused on the fact they were buying control and subservience of the Greek state by financing a corrupt, clientelistic regime which was deflecting funds for development projects to upgrade Greek economic competitiveness into building a patronage machine based on increased consumption.

The EEC elite ultimately knew that its financial stranglehold over the economy would enable it to dictate Greek policy and keep it within the boundaries of the emerging European empire.

Papandreou's demagogic "third world" rhetoric notwithstanding, Greece was deeply ensconced in the EU and NATO. Between 1981-85, Papandreou discarded his socialist rhetoric in favor of increased social spending for welfare reforms, raising wages, pensions and health coverage, while refinancing bankrupt economic firms run into the ground by kleptocratic capitalists. As a result while living standards rose, Greece's economic structure still resembled a vassal state heavily dependent on EEC finance, European tourists and a rentier economy based on real estate, finance and tourism.

Papandreou solidified Greece's role as a vassal outpost of NATO; a military platform for US military intervention in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean; and market for German and northern European manufactured goods.

From October 1981 to July 1989 Greek consumption rose while productivity stagnated; Papandreou won elections in 1985 using EEC funds. Meanwhile Greek debt to Europe took off ... EEC leaders chastised the misallocation of funds by Papandreou's vast army of kleptocrats but not too loudly. Brussels recognized that Papandreou and PASOK were the most effective forces in muzzling the radical Greek electorate and keeping Greece under EEC tutelage and as a loyal vassal of NATO.

Lessons for Syriza: PASOK's Short-term Reforms and Strategic Vassalage

Whether in government or out, PASOK followed in the footsteps of its rightwing adversary (New Democracy) by embracing the NATO-EEC strait-jacket. Greece continued to maintain the highest per capita military expenditure of any European NATO member. As a result, it received loans and credits to finance short-term social reforms and large scale, long-term corruption, while enlarging the party-state political apparatus.

With the ascent of the openly neoliberal Prime Minister Costas Simitis in 2002, the PASOK regime "cooked the books", fabricated government data on its budget deficit, with the aid of Wall Street investment banks, and became a member of the European Monetary Union. By adopting the euro, Simitis furthered deepened Greece's financial subordination to the non-elected European officials in Brussels, dominated by the German finance ministry and banks.

The oligarchs in Greece made room at the top for a new breed of PASOK kleptocratic elite, which skimmed millions of military purchases, committed bank frauds and engaged in massive tax evasion.

The Brussels elite allowed the Greek middle class to live their illusions of being 'prosperous Europeans' because they retained decisive leverage through loans and accumulating debts.

Large scale bank fraud involving three hundred million euros even reached ex-Prime Minister Papandreou's office.

The clientele relations within Greece were matched by the clientele relations between Brussels and Athens.

Even prior to the crash of 2008 the EU creditors, private bankers and official lenders, set the parameters of Greek politics. The global crash revealed the fragile foundations of the Greek state - and led directly to the crude, direct interventions of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission - the infamous "Troika". The latter dictated the 'austerity' policies as a condition for the "bail-out" which devastated the economy, provoking a major depression; impoverishing over forty percent of the population, reducing incomes by 25% and resulting in 28% unemployment.

Greece: Captivity by Invitation

Greece as a political and economic captive of the EU had no political party response. Apart from the trade unions which launched thirty general strikes between 2009 - 2014, the two major parties, PASOK and New Democracy, invited the EU takeover. The degeneration of PASOK into an appendage of oligarchs and vassal collaborator of the EU emptied the 'socialist' rhetoric of any meaning. The right wing New Democracy Party reinforced and deepened the stranglehold of the EU over the Greek economy. The troika lent the Greek vassal state funds ("bail-out") which was used to pay back German, French and English financial oligarchs and to buttress private Greek banks. The Greek population was 'starved' by 'austerity' policies to keep the debt payments flowing-outward and upward.

Europe: Union or Empire?

The European economic crash of 2008/09 resounded worst on its weakest links - Southern Europe and Ireland. The true nature of the European Union as a hierarchical empire, in which the powerful states - Germany and France - could openly and directly control investment, trade, monetary and financial policy was revealed. The much vaunted EU "bailout" of Greece was in fact the pretext for the imposition of deep structural changes. These included the denationalization and privatization of all strategic economic sectors; perpetual debt payments; foreign dictates of incomes and investment policy. Greece ceased to be an independent state: it was totally and absolutely colonized.

Greece's Perpetual Crises: The End of the "European Illusion"

The Greek elite and, for at least 5 years, most of the electorate, believed that the regressive ("austerity") measures adopted - the firings, the budget cuts, the privatizations etc. were short-term harsh medicine, that would soon lead to debt reduction, balanced budgets, new investments, growth and recovery. At least that is what they were told by the economic experts and leaders in Brussels.

In fact the debt increased, the downward economic spiral continued, unemployment multiplied, the depression deepened. 'Austerity' was a class based policy designed by Brussels to enrich overseas bankers and to plunder the Greek public sector.

The key to EU pillage and plunder was the loss of Greek sovereignty. The two major parties, New Democracy and PASOK, were willing accomplices. Despite a 55% youth (16 - 30 years old) unemployment rate, the cut-off of electricity to 300,000 households and large scale out-migration (over 175,000), the EU (as was to be expected) refused to concede that the 'austerity' formula was a failure in recovering the Greek economy. The reason the EU dogmatically stuck to a 'failed policy' was because the EU benefited from the power, privilege and profits of pillage and imperial primacy.

Moreover, for the Brussels elite to acknowledge failure in Greece would likely result in the demand to recognize failure in the rest of Southern Europe and beyond, including in France, Italy and other key members of the EU [6]. The ruling financial and business elites in Europe and the US prospered through the crises and depression, by imposing cuts in social budgets and wages and salaries. To concede failure in Greece, would reverberate throughout North America and Europe, calling into question their economic policies, ideology and the legitimacy of the ruling powers. The reason that all the EU regimes back the EU insistence that Greece must continue to abide by an obviously perverse and regressive 'austerity' policy and impose reactionary "structural reforms" is because these very same rulers have sacrificed the living standards of their own labor force during the economic crises [7].

The economic crises spanning 2008/9 to the present (2015), still requires harsh sacrifices to perpetuate ruling class profits and to finance state subsidies to the private banks. Every major financial institution - the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF - toes the line: no dissent or deviation is allowed. Greece must accept EU dictates or face major financial reprisals. "Economic strangulation or perpetual debt peonage" is the lesson which Brussels tends to all member states of the EU. While ostensibly speaking to Greece - it is a message directed to all states, opposition movements and trade unions who call into question the dictates of the Brussels oligarchy and its Berlin overlords.

All the major media and leading economic pundits have served as megaphones for the Brussel oligarchs. The message, which is repeated countless times, by liberals, conservatives and social democrats to the victimized nations and downwardly mobile wage and salaried workers, and small businesspeople, is that they have no choice but to accept regressive measure, slashing living conditions ("reforms") if they hope for 'economic recovery' - which, of course, has not happened after five years!

Greece has become the central target of the economic elites in Europe because, the Greek people have gone from inconsequential protests to political powers. The election of Syriza on a platform of recovering sovereignty, discarding austerity and redefining its relations with creditors to favor national development has set the stage for a possible continent-wide confrontation.

The Rise of Syriza: Dubious Legacies, Mass Struggles and Radical (Broken) Promises

The growth of Syriza from an alliance of small Marxist sects into a mass electoral party is largely because of the incorporation of millions of lower middle class public employees, pensioners and small businesspeople. Many previously supported PASOK. They voted Syriza in order to recover the living conditions and job security of the earlier period of "prosperity" (2000-2007) which they achieved within the EU. Their radical rejection of PASOK and New Democracy came after 5 years of acute suffering which might have provoked a revolution in some other country. Their radicalism began with protests, marches and strikes were attempts to pressure the rightwing regimes to alter the EU's course, to end the austerity while retaining membership in the EU.

This sector of SYRIZA is 'radical' in what it opposes today and conformist with its nostalgia for the past. —the time of euro funded vacation trips to London and Paris, easy credit to purchase imported cars and foodstuffs, to 'feel modern' and 'European' and speak English!

The politics of Syriza reflects, in part, this ambiguous sector of its electorate. In contrast Syriza also secured the vote of the radical unemployed youth and workers who never were part of the consumer society and didn't identify with "Europe". Syriza has emerged as a mass electoral party in the course of less than five years and its supporters and leadership reflects a high degree of heterogeneity.

The most radical sector, ideologically, is drawn mostly from the Marxist groups which originally came together to form the party. The unemployed youth sector joined, following the anti-police riots, which resulted from the police assassination of a young activist during the early years of the crisis. The third wave is largely made up of thousands of public workers, who were fired, and retired employees who suffered big cuts in their pensions by order of the troika in 2012. The fourth wave is ex PASOK members who fled the sinking ship of a bankrupt party.

The Syriza Left is concentrated at the mass base and among local and middle level leaders of local movements. The top leaders of Syriza in power positions are academics, some from overseas. Many are recent members or are not even party members. Few have been involved in the mass struggles - and many have few ties with the rank and file militants. They are most eager to sign a "deal" selling out the impoverished Greeks.

As Syriza moved toward electoral victory in 2015, it began to shed its original program of radical structural changes (socialism) and adopt measures aimed at accommodating Greek business interests. Tsipras talked about "negotiating an agreement" within the framework of the German dominated European Union. Tsipras and his Finance Minister proposed to re-negotiate the debt, the obligation to pay and 70% of the "reforms"! When an agreement was signed they totally capitulated!

For a brief time Syriza maintained a dual position of 'opposing' austerity and coming to agreement with its creditors. It's "realist" policies reflected the positions of the new academic ministers, former PASOK members and downwardly mobile middle class. Syriza's radical gestures and rhetoric reflected the pressure of the unemployed, the youth and the mass poor who stood to lose, if a deal to pay the creditors was negotiated.

EU - SYRIZA: Concessions before Struggle Led to Surrender and Defeat

The "Greek debt" is really not a debt of the Greek people. The institutional creditors and the Euro-banks knowingly lent money to high risk kleptocrats, oligarchs and bankers who siphoned most of the euros into overseas Swiss accounts, high end real estate in London and Paris, activity devoid of any capacity to generate income to pay back the debt. In other words, the debt, in large part, is illegitimate and was falsely foisted on the Greek people.

Syriza, from the beginning of 'negotiations', did not call into question the legitimacy of the debt nor identified the particular classes and enterprise who should pay it.

Secondly, while Syriza challenged "austerity" policies it did not question the Euro organizations and EU institutions who impose it.

From its beginning Syriza has accepted membership in the EU. In the name of "realism" the Syriza government accepted to pay the debt or a portion of it, as the basis of negotiation.

Structurally, Syriza has developed a highly centralized leadership in which all major decisions are taken by Alexis Tsipras. His personalistic leadership limits the influence of the radicalized rank and file. It facilitated "compromises" with the Brussels oligarchy which go contrary to the campaign promises and may lead to the perpetual dependence of Greece on EU centered policymakers and creditors.

Moreover, Tsipras has tightened party discipline in the aftermath of his election, ensuring that any dubious compromises will not lead to any public debate or extra-parliamentary revolt.

The Empire against Greece's Democratic Outcome

The EU elite have, from the moment in which Syriza received a democratic mandate, followed the typical authoritarian course of all imperial rulers. It has demanded from Syriza

  1. unconditional surrender

  2. the continuation of the structures, policies and practices of the previous vassal coalition party-regimes (PASOK-New Democracy)

  3. that Syriza shelve all social reforms (raising the minimum wage, increasing pension, health, education and unemployment spending

  4. that SYRIZA follow the strict economic directives and oversight formulated by the "troika" (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund)

  5. that SYRIZA retain the current primary budget surplus target of 4.5 percent of economic output in 2015-2017.

To enforce its strategy of strangulating the new government, Brussels threatened to abruptly cut off all present and future credit facilities, call in all debt payments, end access to emergency funds and refuse to back Greek bank bonds - that provide financial loans to local businesses.

Brussels presents Syriza with the fateful "choice", of committing political suicide by accepting its dictates and alienating its electoral supporters. By betraying its mandate, Syriza will confront angry mass demonstrations. Rejecting Brussels' dictates and proceeding to mobilize its mass base, Syriza could seek new sources of financing, imposing capital controls and moving toward a radical "emergency economy".

Brussels has "stone-walled" and turned a deaf ear to the early concessions which Syriza offered. Instead Brussels sees concessions as 'steps' toward complete capitulation, instead of as efforts to reach a "compromise".

Syriza has already dropped calls for large scale debt write-offs, in favor of extending the time frame for paying the debt. Syriza has agreed to continue debt payments, provided they are linked to the rate of economic growth. Syriza accepts European oversight, provided it is not conducted by the hated "troika", which has poisonous connotations for most Greeks. However, semantic changes do not change the substance of "limited sovereignty".

Syriza has already agreed to long and middle term structural dependency in order to secure time and leeway in financing its short-term popular impact programs. All that Syriza asks is minimum fiscal flexibility under supervision of the German finance minister-some "radicals"!

Syriza has temporarily suspended on-going privatization of key infrastructure (sea- ports and airport facilities) energy and telecommunication sectors. But is has not terminated them, nor revised the past privatization. But for Brussels "sell-off" of Greek lucrative strategic sectors is an essential part of its "structural reform" agenda.

Syriza's moderate proposals and its effort to operate within the EU framework established by the previous vassal regimes was rebuffed by Germany and its 27 stooges in the EU.

The EU's dogmatic affirmation of extremist, ultra neo-liberal policies, including the practice of dismantling Greece's national economy and transferring the most lucrative sectors into the hands of imperial investors, is echoed in the pages of all the major print media. The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Le Monde are propaganda arms of EU extremism. Faced with Brussels' intransigence and confronting the 'historic choice' of capitulation or radicalization, Syriza tried persuasion of key regimes. Syriza held numerous meetings with EU ministers. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yánis Varoufákis traveled to Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and Rome seeking a "compromise" agreement. This was to no avail. The Brussels elite repeatedly insisted:

Debts would have to be paid in full and on time.

Greece should restrict spending to accumulate a 4.5% surplus that would ensure payments to creditors, investors, speculators and kleptocrats.

The EU's lack of any economic flexibility or willingness to accept even a minimum compromise is a political decision: to humble and destroy the credibility of SYRIZA as an anti-austerity government in the eyes of its domestic supporters and potential overseas imitators in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland [8].


The strangulation of Syriza is part and parcel of the decade long process of the EU's assassination of Greece. A savage response to a heroic attempt by an entire people, hurled into destitution, condemned to be ruled by kleptocratic conservatives and social democrats.

Empires do not surrender their colonies through reasonable arguments or by the bankruptcy of their regressive "reforms".

Brussels' attitude toward Greece is guided by the policy of "rule or ruin". "Bail out" is a euphemism for recycling financing through Greece back to Euro-controlled banks, while Greek workers and employees are saddled with greater debt and continued dominance. Brussels' "bail out" is an instrument for control by imperial institutions, whether they are called "troika" or something else.

Brussels and Germany do not want dissenting members; they may offer to make some minor concessions so that Finance Minister Varoufákis may claim a 'partial victory' - a sham and hollow euphemism for a belly crawl.

The "bail out" agreement will be described by Tsipras-Varoufákis as 'new' and 'different' from the past or as a 'temporary' retreat. The Germans may 'allow' Greece to lower its primary budget surplus from 4.5 to 3.5 percent 'next year' - but it will still reduce the funds for economic stimulus and "postpone" raises in pensions, minimum wages etc.

Privatization and other regressive reforms will not be terminated, they will be "renegotiated". The state will retain a minority "share".

Plutocrats will be asked to pay some added taxes but not the billions of taxes evaded over the past decades.

Nor will the PASOK - New Democracy kleptocratic operatives be prosecuted for pillage and theft.

Syriza's compromises demonstrate that the looney right's (The Economist, Financial Times, NY Times, etc.) characterization of Syriza as the "hard left" or the ultra-left have no basis in reality. For the Greek electorate's "hope for the future" could turn to anger in the present. Only mass pressure from below can reverse Syriza's capitulation and Finance Minister Varoufákis unsavory compromises. Since he lacks any mass base in the party, Tsipras can easily dismiss him, for signing off on "compromise" which sacrifices the basic interests of the people.

However, if in fact, EU dogmatism and intransigence forecloses even the most favorable deals, Tsipras and Syriza, (against their desires) may be forced to exit the Euro Empire and face the challenge of carving out a new truly radical policy and economy as a free and independent country.

A successful Greek exit from the German - Brussels empire would likely lead to the break-up of the EU, as other vassal states rebel and follow the Greek example. They may renounce not only austerity but their foreign debts and eternal interest payments. The entire financial empire - the so-called global financial system could be shaken . . . Greece could once again become the 'cradle of democracy'.

James Petras

Thirty years ago, I was an active participant and adviser for three years (1981-84) to Prime Minister Papandreou. He, like Tsipras, began with the promise of radical changes and ended up capitulating to Brussels and NATO and embracing the oligarchs and kleptocrats in the name of "pragmatic compromises". Let us hope, that facing a mass revolt, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Syriza will follow a different path. History need not repeat itself as tragedy or farce.


[1] Financial Times 7-8/2/15, p. 3.

[2] Financial Times 10/2/15, p. 2.

[3] Financial Times 2/6/15, p. 3.

[4] Financial Times 9/2/15, p. 2.

[5] The account of the Andreas Papandreou regime draws on personal experience, interviews and observations and from my co-authored article "Greek Socialism: The Patrimonial State Revisited" in James Kurth and James Petras, Mediterranean Paradoxes: the Politics and Social Structure of Southern Europe (Oxford: Berg Press 1993/ pp. 160 -224).

[6] The Economist 1/17/15, p. 53.

[7] Financial Times 2/13/15, p. 2.

[8] The Economist 1/17/15, p. 53.

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