Archive for the Iceland Category

US torture report exposes European powers’ involvement in CIA crimes [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Albania, Austria, Belgium, CIA, Croatia, Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, George W. Bush, Germany, Greece, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iceland, Italy, Libya, National Security Agency / NSA, NATO, NSA, Poland, Police State, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Torture, Turkey, U.K., U.K. War Crimes, Ukraine, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on December 14, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Alex Lantier
12 December 2014

The publication of the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture has exposed the European powers’ complicity in ghastly crimes of US intelligence. Even though European states’ complicity in CIA torture and rendition operations has been documented for nearly a decade, no European officials have been held accountable.

In 2005, the Council of Europe tasked former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty with preparing a report on secret CIA prisons in Europe. He released two reports, in 2006 and 2007, documenting the complicity of dozens of European states in setting up facilities for illegal CIA rendition and torture. The states involved included Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Albania.

The existence of approximately 1,000 CIA flights and of secret prisons in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Bucharest (Romania), Antavilas (Lithuania), and Stare Kiejkuty (Poland) has since been confirmed.

Nonetheless, after the US Senate recognized CIA use of the grisliest forms of torture — including murder, sexual assault, sleep deprivation and forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs —officials across Europe reacted by insisting that they should enjoy immunity.

Top officials of the Polish government, which is appealing a July ruling against it over its role in CIA torture by the European Court on Human Rights, denounced the report. “Certain secrets should stay that way,” said Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.

Polish prosecutors have been investigating the case for six years, including a two-year investigation of former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, without bringing any charges. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was waterboarded as soon as he arrived at Stare Kiejkuty. One medical officer there noted: “We are basically doing a series of near-drownings.”

Other detainees at Stare Kiejkuty, which housed Saudi, Algerian and Yemeni detainees, were subjected to mock executions with a power drill while standing hooded and naked.
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski lamely claimed that CIA officials did not explain how they planned to use their secret prisons in Poland. “It was a question as we saw it only of creating secret sites,” he said, adding that he closed down the facility in 2003 because “the Americans’ secret activities began to worry” Polish authorities.
Lithuanian officials confirmed that the black site named “detention center Violet” by the US Senate report appears to be the Lithuanian detention center near the capital, Vilnius, identified in a 2009-2010 parliamentary investigation. Lawmaker Arvydas Anusauskas told Reuters, “The US Senate report, to me, makes a convincing case that prisoners were indeed held at the Lithuanian site.”

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi detainee now kept at Guantanamo Bay, has stated that he was kept and tortured at the site. Washington paid the Lithuanian government $1 million to “show appreciation” for operating the prison, according to the US Senate report, though the funds were reportedly paid out through “complex mechanisms.”

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius has asked Washington to confirm whether or not the CIA tortured prisoners at its secret prisons in Lithuania.

British Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed the issue of torture and Britain’s role in rendition flights to countries including Libya, saying that it had been “dealt with from a British perspective.” He told the public to trust British intelligence to police itself, as official investigations had “produced a series of questions that the intelligence and security community will look at … I’m satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues.”

In fact, the CIA torture report has revealed the advanced state of collapse of democratic forms of rule not only in the United States, but also in Europe. What has emerged across Europe since the September 11 attacks is the framework of a police state far more technically powerful than even the most ruthless dictatorships of twentieth-century Europe. The methods deployed as part of the “war on terror” will also be used against opposition in the working class to unpopular policies of austerity and war.

European governments participate in the digital spying on telecommunications and Internet activities of the European population, carried out by the US National Security Agency and its local counterparts, as revealed by Edward Snowden. They also are planning joint repression of social protests, based on talks between German federal police, France’s Gendarmerie, and other security forces with the European Commission.

“During my investigation, people called me a traitor and said I was making things up,” Marty told the Tribune de Genève. “The Europeans disappointed me. Germany, the United Kingdom, and many others blocked the establishment of the truth. In fact, most European countries actively participated in a system that legitimated large-scale state crimes.”

“I think we must recall, and it is very important, that this operation, this anti-terrorist policy, was decided and carried out under the aegis of NATO,” Marty told Swiss television channel RTS.

“The United States invoked Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which says that if one member of the alliance is attacked militarily [e.g., as Washington claimed, on September 11], all NATO members are required to come to its aid,” Marty said. Once this was accepted, he added, “there were a whole series of secret accords between the United States and European powers. And all the European countries pledged to grant total immunity to CIA agents, which is manifestly illegal.”

The European powers’ participation in the CIA torture program underscores the utter hypocrisy of the humanitarian pretensions used to justify operations ranging from NATO wars in Syria and Libya to this February’s NATO-backed, fascist-led putsch in Ukraine.

The ferocious opposition of the European ruling elites to attempts to bring this criminality to light is the clearest indication that the democratic rights of the population cannot be secured by appeals to any section of the state. The defense of the population’s democratic and social rights is a question of the revolutionary mobilization of the working class in an international struggle against European capitalism.

Article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/12/euto-d12.html

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US ‘stole’ Chinese statistics [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Cuba, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Iceland, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Russia, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on June 25, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

June 24, 2013

– Internet whistle-blower leaves HK for unknown destination –

Cyberattacks on China that originate in the United States may be partly backed by the US government, Chinese experts have said, a situation they would like Washington to explain.

Their call came after US National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden told a Hong Kong newspaper that US spies have hacked into Chinese mobile phone companies and a backbone Chinese network to steal text messages and data of millions of Chinese citizens.

The South China Morning Post revealed Snowden’s claims on Sunday, a few hours before the former contractor for the US National Security Agency left Hong Kong.

“The scale and scope of US monitoring of China’s Internet information is shocking, it is beyond expectation,” said Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher of US studies at the China Institute of International Studies.

“The US is the largest source of foreign cyberattacks on China. Now Snowden’s claims show that many such attacks may be backed by the US government.”

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China is concerned with reports of US government hacking on China and has made representations to the US.

The National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China has told China Daily that in the first five months of this year, 13,408 overseas trojan horses or bot control servers — two popular hacking tools — hijacked around 5.63 million mainframes in China. Of those, 4,062 US-based control servers hijacked 2.91 million mainframes in China.

Snowden said that “the NSA does all kinds of things like hacking Chinese cellphone companies to steal all of your SMS data”. The NSA also made sustained attacks on network backbones at Tsinghua University and computers at the Hong Kong headquarters of telecom service provider Pacnet, he said.

In one single day in January, at least 63 computers and servers at Tsinghua University were hacked by the NSA, he said.

Tsinghua is home to one of the Chinese mainland’s six major backbone networks, the China Education and Research Network, known as CERNET, from where Internet data from millions of Chinese citizens could be mined.

Pacnet owns one of the most extensive fiber-optic submarine cable networks. It recently signed major deals with China’s top mobile phone companies, and owns more than 46,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables. The cables connect its regional data centers across the Asia-Pacific region, including the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

The Post said Snowden provided the information on June 12. The documents listed operational details of specific attacks on computers, including Internet protocol addresses, dates of attacks and whether a computer was still being monitored remotely.

“What is the connection between Tsinghua’s CERNET and terrorism?” Jia asked.

“Obviously US Internet attacks against China are not for anti-terrorism efforts, as Washington has argued, but for other reasons that might include commercial and strategic motives,” Jia said. “The US owes an explanation to China, and the world.”

However, Jia said Washington might, as always, avoid facing the problem and he did not expect it to stop hacking China.

“(Snowden’s) claims sounded the alarm for Beijing to beef up Internet security efforts,” he said.

A commentary published on Sunday by Xinhua News Agency said Snowden’s disclosures of US spying activities in China have “put Washington in a really awkward situation”.

“Washington should come clean about its record first,” it said. “It has to share with the world the range, extent and intent of its clandestine hacking programs.”

The Hong Kong government said on Sunday that Snowden has left Hong Kong voluntarily and that Hong Kong has updated Washington with the situation.

The post said Snowden boarded a flight for Moscow on Sunday and his final destination may be Ecuador or Iceland. It did not give any source of the information. Other reports said Cuba, Ecuador or Venezuela may be his choice of destination.

Shi Yinhong, a senior expert on US studies with Renmin University of China in Beijing, said the Snowden case must be handled properly to avoid hurting ties between China and the US.

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90883/8295861.html

IMF chief Strauss-Kahn charged with New York sex attack [China Daily]

Posted in Brazil, China, France, Hungary, Iceland, IMF - International Monetary Fund, India, Ireland, Portugal, Sarkozy on May 15, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

May 15, 2011

(Agencies)

NEW YORK/PARIS – IMF chief and possible French presidential contender Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged on Sunday with sexual assault, including an attempted rape, on a hotel maid in New York City.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, a key player in the response to the 2007-9 global financial meltdown and in Europe’s debt crisis, was taken off an Air France plane about to leave for Paris from John F Kennedy International Airport on Saturday.

One of his lawyers, Benjamin Brafman, told Reuters that the chief of the International Monetary Fund, the main overseer of the global economic system, “will plead not guilty”.

The news rocked France, where latest opinion polls ranked Socialist Strauss-Kahn as front-runner for the nation’s presidential election next April and May…

…The IMF declined to comment and IMF board officials told Reuters they had not been informed officially of the incident.

…Strauss-Kahn and (far-right leader) Le Pen have led recent opinion polls ahead of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

New York police spokesman Paul Browne said Strauss-Kahn was arrested at 2:15 a.m. (0615 GMT) on Sunday on charges of criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment. Continue reading

Wikileaks: USA Intimidates Collaborators [Prensa Latina]

Posted in Google, Iceland, Julian Assange, State Department, US Government Cover-up, USA, Wikileaks on January 19, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Twitter, Facebook, and Google have all been exposed as US federal government / intelligence agency collaborationists through their various behaviors in the Iran “stolen election” hoax and by other indicative behaviors in foreign countries. – Zuo Shou 左手

London, Jan 8 (Prensa Latina)

Wikileaks website, founded by Julian Assange, on Saturday denounced new U.S. threats against collaborators, after disclosing that Twitter faces a court order to give information on contacts and private messages.

U.S. authorities urged the social network based in San Francisco to give private information on Assange, as well as addresses, accounts, and details of other users such as Irish lawmaker Birgitta Jonsdottir, according to the website, which by the end of November leaked more than 250,000 secret documents of the U.S. Department of State.

The court order Wikileaks disclosed today was issued on Dec.14 by a court in Virginia. Twitter made it known through a legal action that notifies its users on the government’s request to obtain information. The website affirmed the requested information was relevant for an ongoing criminal investigation, thus corroborating for the first time denunciations of persecutions against Assange and collaborators. Wikileaks also warned of suspicions that the United States possibly urged other websites such as Google and Facebook to provide information on their activities.

Article link: http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=253488&Itemid=1

More U.S. cities, even states face bankruptcy in 2011: report [Xinhua]

Posted in Economic crisis & decline, Iceland, Iraq, Obama, USA on January 8, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) — Despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s argument that the U.S. economy is “past the crisis point,” more U.S. cities and even some states actually are facing bankruptcy in 2011 if they can not find out a way to balance the budget.

According to the Dec. issue of Business Insider, at least 16 cities in the U.S. would have to declare bankruptcy if they can not find new revenues and don’t make deep spending cuts.

Those cities include New York City, the largest city in the U.S., Los Angeles, the second largest city, Washington, DC, the U.S. capital and San Francisco.

New York City has a deficit of 2 billion dollars through June 2012 with a budget of 63.1 billion dollars in Fiscal Year 2010.

The city is talking about layoffs in all city agencies, closing 20 fire departments at night, reducing services for seniors, libraries and cultural centers.

Los Angeles faces a deficit of 438 million dollars through June 2012 with a budget of 6.7 billion dollars in Fiscal Year 2011.

The Los Angeles City Administration Office plans to cut 225 civilian positions in the Police Department, reduce firefighting staffing and eliminate a dozen positions in the City Attorney’s Office and General Service Department.

In the spring this year, people were talking about declaring bankrupt as a way to get over the deficit crisis, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council have said repeatedly that, come what may, declaring Los Angeles bankrupt is not an option.

Washington, DC has a deficit of 688 million dollars through September 2012 with a budget of 8.89 billion dollars in Fiscal Year 2011.

San Jose, a city in the Silicon Valley in California, has a deficit of 90 million dollars through June 2012 with a budget of 2. 7 billion dollars in Fiscal Year 2010.

San Francisco faces a deficit of 380 million dollars through June 2012 with a budget of 6.55 billion dollars in fiscal Year 2011.

It sounds strange for a city to go bankrupt, but it is a reality in the U.S.

For most of U.S. history, cities and towns were not eligible for bankruptcy protection. But during the Great Depression, more than 2,000 municipalities defaulted on their debt, and they pleaded with President Franklin Roosevelt for a federal bailout in 1933.

Instead, Roosevelt pushed through changes to the bankruptcy laws that allow towns and cities to file for bankruptcy . They even got their own section of the bankruptcy code: Chapter Nine.

The biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history took place in 1994 when Orange County in California declared bankruptcy after it lost more than 1.5 billion dollars in bad investments. It emerged from bankruptcy about six months later, after making severe cuts in spending and reorganizing its debt.

In 1991, Bridgeport, a city with a population of 140,000 in Connecticut, declared bankruptcy after a dispute with the state.

In 1975, New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy but was rescued at the last minute when the federal government came to bail it out.

In 1995, Washington, DC was in danger of bankruptcy but was recued [sic] when the White House and Congress established a financial control board for the city.

Chapter 9 bankruptcies designed for U.S. cities are not designed to extinguish excessive debts. Instead, their purpose is to aid in reorganization by allowing a city to break untenable contracts and obtain more attractive financing.

After a city declares bankruptcy, it will usually cut pensions for retired city employees, more layoffs, prisons will be turning to early release and police, highway patrols, firefighters, ambulances, sewer, water and other services will be impacted because of the layoffs.

The most serious problem for a bankrupted city is that it is hard to attract new investments and people would be scared to go to that city. Tourism will be greatly impacted because of the bad image.

While there have been U.S. cities going bankrupt, there is no U. S. state which has declared bankruptcy. However, according to a recent report by the New York Post, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Washington earlier this year to get seven billion dollars for his state government, which resorted to paying off vendors with scrip and delaying state income-tax refunds. Illinois seems to be in even worse shape. A recent credit rating showed it weaker than Iceland and only slightly stronger than Iraq.

The paper reported that the prospect is that the bond market will quit financing California and Illinois long before the federal government. It may already be happening.

Individual investors have been selling off state and local municipal bonds. Meredith Whitney, the financial expert who first spotted Citigroup’s overexposure to mortgage-backed securities, is now predicting a sell-off in the municipal-bond market.

According to the New York Post report, it’s entirely possible that some state government — California and Illinois, facing 25 billion dollars and 15 billion dollars deficits, are likely suspects — will be coming to Washington some time in the next two years in search of a bailout.

The Obama administration may be sympathetic. It’s channeled stimulus money to states and TARP money to General Motors and Chrysler in large part to bail out its labor-union allies [sic], the report said.

But the Republican House isn’t likely to share that view, and it ‘s hard to see how tapped-out state governments can get 60 votes in a 53-47 Democratic Senate, according to the paper.

Law professor David Skeel, writing in The Weekly Standard, suggests that the U.S. Congress pass a law allowing states to go bankrupt.

Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-12/31/c_13671301.htm

Major spy scandal as five Scandinavian governments catch the U.S. watching their citizens and lying about it [Daily Mail Online]

Posted in Iceland, Norway, State Department, Sweden, USA on November 22, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Mail Foreign Service

15 November 2010

America has been accused of illegally spying on hundreds of people in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland.

Officials in the five countries expressed their unhappiness at surveillance tactics that were conducted without the knowledge of the individual nations’ governments.

America claims officials informed the Norwegian government about the operation which was aimed at terror suspects.

In other instances, [the US] has stated it has ‘nothing to hide’. But Danish security services have stated they will begin an investigation into the matter if evidence of illegal surveillance is uncovered.

The diplomatic dispute erupted on November 3 when Norwegian media outlet TV2 screened a report stating that a group of US agents has been surveilling 15 to 20 Norwegian for 10 years, mostly at various rallies…

[The US State Department issued the typical denials and excuses when exposed.]

…Norway disagrees [with US claims to have been given permission to spy within Norway] and a representative of the American embassy was called to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry for an explanation, according to Russian online newspaper Pravda.

When the Norwegian case became public knowledge, Denmark also raised its concerns about the surveillance of its citizens.

Danish newspaper Politiken claimed that all American embassies have surveillance teams to address [purported] threats to the U.S. security.

Former head of the Danish security service PET Jorgen Bonniksen said that he had never heard of such groups: ‘If this is true, then we have to deal with illegal intelligence operations in Denmark.

‘On Danish territory such operations can be conducted by PET, and PET only.’

The current head of PET, Jakob Scharf, said that if illegal activity is determined, ‘of course, we will take action.’

Sweden followed suit, with Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask stating U.S. Embassy staff in Stockholm have been spying on people there since 2000.

The head of the Stockholm’s security police, Anders Danielsson, directly accused the U.S. of violating international norms, stating, ‘The Swedish security police (SAPO) did not give the U.S. a permission to engage in activities that are contrary to Swedish law.’

Again the U.S said it had notified Sweden of its actions…[which again, as in Norway, was dismissed by Swedish representatives as a false statement].

Finland weighed last week when authorities in Helsinki declared that they did not believe American reassurances that there was no illegal activity.

Iceland completed the picture in Scandinavia when it declared that it suspected members of the American Embassy in Reykjavik of espionage.

‘There is nothing surprising here,’ Intelligence expert and author Alexander Kolpakidi told Pravda.ru.

‘U.S. intelligence services have always behaved that way around the globe.

‘Virtually all countries of the world, including the members of European Union and NATO, have secret CIA tracking stations.’

Article link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1329853/Spy-scandal-5-Scandinavian-governments-catch-US-watching-citizens.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

ALSO see BBC article “Iceland launches US spy inquiry” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11734862

The Neoliberal Experiment and Europe’s anti-Austerity Strikes: Governments must Lower Wages or Suffer Financial Blackmail [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Chile, Economic crisis & decline, EU, Iceland, Ireland, Labor strike, Obama, Portugal, Spain on October 24, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

…Europe is entering an era…of totalitarian neoliberal rule. This was inevitable since the Chilean dress rehearsal after 1973. After all, one cannot have “free markets” neoliberal style without totalitarian control.  This is what [late September and subsequent] strikes and demonstrations were about [resisting], after all.  Europe’s class war is back in business – with a vengeance!

by Michael Hudson

  

September 30, 2010

While Labor Unions celebrate Anti-Austerity Day in Europe, the European Neoliberals raise the ante:

Most of the press has described [2010’s late September] European-wide labor demonstrations and strikes across in terms of the familiar exercise by transport workers irritating travelers with work slowdowns, and large throngs letting off steam by setting fires.  But the story goes much deeper than merely a reaction against unemployment and economic recession conditions. At issue are proposals to drastically change the laws and structures of how European society will function for the next generation.  If the anti-labor forces succeed, they will break up Europe, destroy the internal market, and render that continent a backwater.  This is how serious the financial coup d’etat has become.  And it is going to get much worse – quickly.  As John Monks, head of the European Trade Union Confederation, put it: “This is the start of the fight, not the end.”

Spain has received most of the attention, thanks to its ten-million strong turnout (reportedly half the entire labor force).  Holding its first general strike since 2002, Spanish labor protested against its socialist [in name only] government using the bank crisis (stemming from bad real estate loans and negative mortgage equity, not high labor costs) as an opportunity to change the laws to enable companies and government bodies to fire workers at will, and to scale back their pensions and public social spending in order to pay the banks more.  Portugal is doing the same, and it looks like Ireland will follow suit – all this in the countries whose banks have been the most irresponsible lenders.  The bankers are demanding that they rebuild their loan reserves at labor’s expense, just as in President Obama’s program here in the United States but without the sanctimonious pretenses.
The problem is Europe-wide and indeed centered in the European Union capital in Brussels.  This is why the major protests were staged there.  On the same day that the strikers demonstrated, the neoliberal European Commission (EC) outlined a full-fledged war against labor.  Fifty to a hundred thousand workers gathered to protest the proposed transformation of social rules by the most anti-labor campaign since the 1930s – even more extreme than the Third World austerity plans imposed by the IMF and World Bank in times past.

The neoliberals are fully in control of the bureaucracy, and they are reviving Margaret Thatcher’s slogan, TINA: There Is No Alternative.  But there is, of course.  In the small Baltic economies, pro-labor parties have made it clear that the alternative to government shrinkage is to simply repeal the debts, withdraw from the Euro and break the banks.  It is either the banks or labor – and Europe has just realized that this is truly a fight to the economic death.  And the first test will come this Saturday, when Latvia holds its national parliamentary elections.

The EC is using the mortgage banking crisis – and the needless prohibition against central banks monetizing the government budget deficit – as an opportunity to fine governments and even drive them bankrupt if they do not agree roll back public-sector salaries.  Governments are told to borrow at interest from the banks, rather than raising revenue by taxing them as they have done for half-a century following the end of World War II.  And if governments are unable to raise the money to pay the interest, they must close down their social programs.  And if this close-down shrinks the economy – and hence, government tax revenues – even more, then the government must shut down even more social spending.

From Brussels to Latvia, neoliberal planners have expressed the hope is that lower public salaries will spread to the private sector as well.  The aim is to shrink their economies to roll back wage levels by 30 percent or more – depression-style levels – in the belief that this will “leave more surplus” available to pay in debt service. Governments are to tax labor – not finance, insurance or real estate (FIRE), but to impose new employment and sales taxes while cutting back public pensions and public spending.  Europe is to be turned into a banana republic.

This requires dictatorship, and the European Central Bank (ECB) has assumed this power from elected government. It is “independent” of political control – celebrated as the “hallmark of democracy” by today’s new financial oligarchy.  But as Plato’s dialogues explained it, what is oligarchy but the political stage following democracy. We can now await the new power elite making itself hereditary – by abolishing estate taxes, for starters – and turning itself into an outright aristocracy.  “Join the fight against labor, or we will destroy you,” the EC is telling governments.

One can therefore forget the economics of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and the Progressive Era, forget Keynes and forget the early 20th-century social democratic traditions.  Europe is entering an era either of totalitarian neoliberal rule. This was inevitable since the Chilean dress rehearsal after 1973. After all, one cannot have “free markets” neoliberal style without totalitarian control. This is what Wednesday’s strikes and demonstrations were about, after all.  Europe’s class war is back in business – with a vengeance!

This is economic suicide, but the EU is sticking to its demand that Euro-zone governments keep their budget deficits below 3% of GDP – and their total debt below 60% of GDP.  They must not raise taxes on the wealthy, but only on labor and what it buys (via sales taxes). Yet at the same time they must slash wages and pensions, cut back public spending and employment, and shrink the economy.

When an economic problem is as economically destructive as this, it can only be imposed by economic blackmail. On Wednesday the EU passed a law to fine governments up to 0.2% of GDP for not “fixing” their budget deficits by imposing fiscal austerity. Nations that borrow to engage in countercyclical “Keynesian-style” spending that raises their public debt level 60% of GDP will have to reduce the excess by 5% each year – or else suffer harsh punishment. And unlike central banks elsewhere in the world, Europe’s central bank is forbidden from monetizing public-sector governments. These governments must borrow from banks, letting these institutions create their own interest-bearing debt on their own keyboards rather than having their own central bank do it without the cost. The financial privatization and monopoly in credit creation that governments have relinquished to banks is now being made to pay off – at the price of breaking up Europe.

The unelected members of the European Central Bank (ECB, independent from democratic politics, not from control by its commercial bank members) has taken over planning power from elected government. Beholden to its constituency, the financial sector, the ECB has had little trouble in convincing the EU commission to back the new oligarchic power grab. It threatens to fine euro-area states up to 0.1% of their GDP for failure to obey its neoliberal recommendations – ostensibly to “correct” these imbalances. But the reality, of course, is that every neoliberal “cure” only makes matters worse.

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