Monthly Archives: October 2011

Florian Hassel in der Welt-Online

Griechenland steht schlechter da als vor der Krise

In ausführlichen Worten beschreibt Herr Hassel in der Welt-Online was es mit dem Schuldenschnitt auf sich hat. Selbst wenn alle beim freiwilligen Schuldenschitt mitziehen hat Griechenland immer noch mehr Schulden als Ende 2009. Hier gehts zum Beitrag…


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New York Times, by mark Mazower

You can read this interesting article straight from the NYT here:

It is strange, how Mr. Mazower’s opening lines, could have been referring to this week’s voting,
or next week’s as a matter of fact!
Even so, it was written four months ago.
Since then, there have been a lot of measures voted in Athens,
but the point he’s making, still awaits to be answered by the EU rulers…

Democracy’s Cradle, Rocking the World

Published: June 29, 2011

YESTERDAY, the whole world was watching Greece as its Parliament voted to pass a divisive package of austerity measures that could have critical ramifications for the global financial system. It may come as a surprise that this tiny tip of the Balkan Peninsula could command such attention. We usually think of Greece as the home of Plato and Pericles, its real importance lying deep in antiquity. But this is hardly the first time that to understand Europe’s future, you need to turn away from the big powers at the center of the continent and look closely at what is happening in Athens. For the past 200 years, Greece has been at the forefront of Europe’s evolution.

In the 1820s, as it waged a war of independence against the Ottoman Empire, Greece became an early symbol of escape from the prison house of empire. For philhellenes, its resurrection represented the noblest of causes. “In the great morning of the world,” Shelley wrote in “Hellas,” his poem about the country’s struggle for independence, “Freedom’s splendor burst and shone!” Victory would mean liberty’s triumph not only over the Turks but also over all those dynasts who had kept so many Europeans enslaved. Germans, Italians, Poles and Americans flocked to fight under the Greek blue and white for the sake of democracy. And within a decade, the country won its freedom.

Over the next century, the radically new combination of constitutional democracy and ethnic nationalism that Greece embodied spread across the continent, culminating in “the peace to end all peace” at the end of the First World War, when the Ottoman, Hapsburg and Russian empires disintegrated and were replaced by nation-states.

In the aftermath of the First World War, Greece again paved the way for Europe’s future. Only now it was democracy’s dark side that came to the fore. In a world of nation-states, ethnic minorities like Greece’s Muslim population and the Orthodox Christians of Asia Minor were a recipe for international instability. In the early 1920s, Greek and Turkish leaders decided to swap their minority populations, expelling some two million Christians and Muslims in the interest of national homogeneity. The Greco-Turkish population exchange was the largest such organized refugee movement in history to that point and a model that the Nazis and others would point to later for displacing peoples in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and India.

It is ironic, then, that Greece was in the vanguard of resistance to the Nazis, too. In the winter of 1940-41, it was the first country to fight back effectively against the Axis powers, humiliating Mussolini in the Greco-Italian war while the rest of Europe cheered. And many cheered again a few months later when a young left-wing resistance fighter named Manolis Glezos climbed the Acropolis one night with a friend and pulled down a swastika flag that the Germans had recently unfurled. (Almost 70 years later, Mr. Glezos would be tear-gassed by the Greek police while protesting the austerity program.) Ultimately, however, Greece succumbed to German occupation. Nazi rule brought with it political disintegration, mass starvation and, after liberation, the descent of the country into outright civil war between Communist and anti-Communist forces.

Only a few years after Hitler’s defeat, Greece found itself in the center of history again, as a front line in the cold war. In 1947, President Harry S. Truman used the intensifying civil war there to galvanize Congress behind the Truman Doctrine and his sweeping peacetime commitment of American resources to fight Communism and rebuild Europe. Suddenly elevated into a trans-Atlantic cause, Greece now stood for a very different Europe — one that had crippled itself by tearing itself apart, whose only path out of the destitution of the mid-1940s was as a junior partner with Washington. As the dollars poured in, American advisers sat in Athens telling Greek policy makers what to do and American napalm scorched the Greek mountains as the Communists were put to flight.

European political and economic integration was supposed to end the weakness and dependency of the divided continent, and here, too, Greece was an emblem of a new phase in its history. The fall of its military dictatorship in 1974 not only brought the country full membership in what would become the European Union; it also (along with the transitions in Spain and Portugal at the same time) prefigured the global democratization wave of the 1980s and ’90s, first in South America and Southeast Asia and then in Eastern Europe. And it gave the European Union the taste for enlargement and the ambition to turn itself from a small club of wealthy Western European states into a voice for the newly democratic continent as a whole, extending far to the south and east.

And now today, after the euphoria of the ’90s has faded and a new modesty sets in among the Europeans, it falls again to Greece to challenge the mandarins of the European Union and to ask what lies ahead for the continent. The European Union was supposed to shore up a fragmented Europe, to consolidate its democratic potential and to transform the continent into a force capable of competing on the global stage. It is perhaps fitting that one of Europe’s oldest and most democratic nation-states should be on the new front line, throwing all these achievements into question. For we are all small powers now, and once again Greece is in the forefront of the fight for the future.

Mark Mazower is a professor of history at Columbia University.


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Handelsblatt-Chefredacteur,Gastov Steingart schreibt

Wenn ich ein Grieche wäre

for the English translation of this article, you can go here

28.10.2011, 11:19 Uhr

Den Schuldenschlamassel hat Griechenland selbst zu verantworten. Die Depression dieser Tage aber ist aus Brüssel, Berlin und Paris importiert. Ein Kommentar von Gabor Steingart.

Wer zu Gast bei Freunden war, will hinterher sagen können: Es war schön. Man habe sich wohlgefühlt und sei beeindruckt gewesen von dem, was man gehört und gesehen habe. Im Falle der Recherchereise nach Griechenland, die ein zwanzigköpfiges Handelsblatt-Team in dieser Woche unternahm um sich im Epizentrum der Krise zu informieren, ist ein solch wohliger Rückblick leider nicht möglich.

Sicher: Wir haben in den vergangenen Tagen mutige Unternehmer getroffen, die sich gegen die Krise stemmen. Eine Krise, die stärker ist als sie selbst. Wir haben tapfere Beamten in ihren zerschlissenen Büros besucht. Sie versuchen dem Anarchischen eine Ordnung zu geben. Wir sprachen mit Politikern, die sich der historischen Stunde bewusst sind, in die sie vom Schicksal hineingestellt wurden.

Aber der vorherrschende Eindruck war ein anderer: Wir haben ein erschöpftes Land vorgefunden. Ein Land, das doppelt leidet: Am selbstverschuldeten Schuldenschlamassel und an jener europäischen Rettungspolitik, die alles noch schlimmer macht. Die Bilanz der Helfer könnte trostloser kaum sein: Die Wirtschaftsleistung sinkt, die Arbeitslosigkeit steigt, die jungen Leute träumen von einem Leben im Ausland. Und: Das Staatsdefizit schießt durch die Decke als sei nichts gewesen.

Solche Schuldenberge wird man nicht durch Schrumpfung der Wirtschaftskraft los. Obwohl das Land das härteste Sparpaket in Gang setzte, das sich je ein westliches Land außerhalb von Kriegszeiten zumutete, stieg die Verschuldung seit Ende 2009 um 55 Milliarden Euro; gemessen an der Wirtschaftskraft legte sie von zuvor 127 Prozent der Wirtschaftskraft auf nunmehr 167 Prozent zu. Man kann sich keine Muskeln anhungern.

Wenn ich Grieche wäre, ich würde meinen Helfer wegen vorsätzlicher Körperverletzung verklagen. Und bei Einbruch der Dämmerung stünde ich mit den anderen auf dem Syntagma-Platz vor dem Parlament, um mein Missfallen über eine Krisenpolitik kundzutun, die krisenverschärfend wirkt.

Die Abwärtsspirale dreht sich immer schneller. Der Schuldenschnitt, der gestern Nacht in Brüssel verabredet wurde, wird den Verfall Griechenlands bremsen, aber nicht stoppen. Er kommt vor allem anderthalb Jahre zu spät. Wenn man die Schulden damals halbiert hätte, würde das Defizit heute unter 100 Prozent der Wirtschaftskraft liegen. So aber bleibt Griechenland der Zutritt zum Kapitalmarkt auf absehbare Zeit versperrt.

„Erst hatten wir Typhus und nun hat man uns Krebs gespritzt.“

Hinzu kommt: Rund ein Drittel der Schuldtitel gehört den Griechen selbst, 74 Milliarden Euro ihren Banken und damit ihren Sparern, 26 Milliarden Euro ihren Sozialfonds und damit ihren Rentnern und Rentnerinnen. Die sind über Nacht spürbar ärmer geworden. Ich verstehe, warum Chryssanthos Lazarides, der Mann hinter dem konservativen Oppositionsführer Samaras, sagt: „Erst hatten wir Typhus und nun hat man uns Krebs gespritzt.“

Die in Griechenland angewandte Therapie erinnert an das, was der US-Bevollmächtigte Jeffrey Sachs und seine Chicago-Boys im Russland des Boris Jelzin ausprobierten: Hastige Deregulierung, Fließband-Privatisierung und Einschnitte im Staatshaushalt: Sie schufen jenen Wildwest-Kapitalismus, der die russische Gesellschaft bis heute in Milliardäre und Habenichtse spaltet. Sachs, der sich damals als „Dr. Schock“ einen Namen machte, hat sich bei den Russen später entschuldigt.

Die Rolle des Dr. Schock ist auf die vielen Griechenlandretter in Brüssel, Berlin und Paris übergegangen. Erneut sind Finanzartisten am Werk, die viel von Umschuldung, Kreditbeziehungen und Hebelwirkungen verstehen, aber wenig von der Kunst, eine Volkswirtschaft und die in ihr arbeitenden Menschen zu stimulieren. Die Nachfolger von Dr. Schock verbreiten Ohnmachtsgefühle, nicht Optimismus. Sie entziehen der Wirtschaft Geld, anstatt Investitionen zu ermöglichen. Sie drücken das Land von der Rezession in die Depression.

Wären wir mit unseren Brüdern und Schwestern in der DDR so verfahren wie mit den Griechen, die Menschen dort würden noch immer Trabant fahren und auf Bananen warten. Alles, was wir in der DDR richtig gemacht haben – der 100-prozentige Schuldenerlass für die Betriebe, die Anreizprogramme für den zunächst nicht vorhandenen Mittelstand, die stufenweise Anhebung der Löhne zur Schaffung von Kaufkraft, – machen wir in Griechenland falsch. Wer nicht sät, wird auch keine blühenden Landschaften hervorbringen.

Europa hat ein Abbau-Süd-Programm gestartet, dessen teuflische Wirkungen im Athener Stadtbild inzwischen nicht zu übersehen sind. Heroinsucht und Prostitution breiten sich aus, viele Geschäfte haben für immer ihre Rollläden heruntergelassen, aus den Fassaden zahlreicher Bankfilialen brachen Wutbürger die Marmorplatten heraus.

Gefährlicher aber ist das, was man nicht sieht. Wenn ich ein Grieche wäre, ich wäre bei den Wachsamen und Besorgten. Ich hätte ein Auge auf jenen Militärapparat, der das Land bis 1974 regierte, und womöglich auf die Chance zur Revanche lauert. Wir wissen aus vielen Ländern: Dr. Schock ist ein Feind der Demokratie.


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Awaiting orders


By Costas Iordanidis

Greece is gradually disappearing from the European stage, as issues crucial to the future of the citizens of this country are discussed by the leaders of Germany and France, without the presence of Prime Minister George Papandreou or any other member of his government. Questions such as whether Greece should go the way of a soft or uncontrolled default and whether it should return to the drachma or stay in the eurozone are being handled by our creditors, with the aim of limiting the effects of a Greek crash on the eurozone.

It is a sad day. It is the price of the madness that has prevailed over the Greek political system for the past 30 years, with the onus resting mostly on successive PASOK governments.

The people in power in Greece believed that European Union membership would mean that our partners in the bloc would be obliged to us forever and in perpetuity. It has now been proven that they were sorely mistaken. It slipped the attention of successive governments that Greece’s accession to an organized system meant blind obedience to its rules. Meanwhile, it was also unwise of Greece to become a part of the eurozone because its economy was incompatible with a strong currency that was shaped by one of the strongest economies in Europe, that of Germany. The simple truth — that it is dangerous to be somewhere where you don’t belong — was ignored. Then, once Greece became a member of the EU and the eurozone, it should have pursued stringent monetary and fiscal policies — a repugnant idea to the political system and, by extension, to society.

Today, and in retrospect, those who for three decades chose to coddle every social and productive force in this country are now playing the role of politicians actuated by stiff determination. But they are perceived as cheats, and then they wonder why they can’t muster any support for the salvation campaign they have embarked on.

Greece is not just sinking deeper into the mire of poverty every day; an entire political system is collapsing. PASOK’s Cabinet is torn apart and the prodigious Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos is taunting those MPs who express reservations about government policy, telling them to crush it if they dare. After two years of completely amateurish governance, the administration is now looking for a way to make a heroic exit and avoid humiliation. Its efforts are most certainly in vain.



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Freeing energy from the grid

This an inspiring TED talk. Justin Hall-Tipping works on nano-energy startups — mastering the electron to create power. Along with his colleges they have discovered a way to take us away from the grid needed to transport and store energy.What do you think would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? What if we could beam energy and move our storage units? You think we can’t? Well, watch Justin Hall-Tipping as he shows you the materials that can make that possible, and proves how questioning our notion of ‘normal’ can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs. Enjoy!

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Good News


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Welcome to United states of Greece!

I needed to share with you, one of this “Economist” article‘s comments:

” sam said in reply to Sasha

Sweden is by far one of the most socialist countries of the developed world. Is that a hellhole? Japan is considered to be one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. Is that a hellhole?

Socialism, on a limited-level, and if done right can mean a just and sustainable society. Opposite of the garbage that our American society is turning into:

1.) young people unable to find decent jobs even with college degrees, and also therefore unable to start families. This impacts males especially because females tend to marry up, there’s plenty of statistical evidence.

2.) people unable to get health care unless they have a job – Jobs that seem to be disappearing to other countries everyday.

3.) people trapped in their underwater homes

4.) and living under the constant frustration of knowing that our government used our hard-earned money to bail out wall-street motherfuckers, doing round after round of quantitative easing which has ended in nothing but bigger bank reserves and potential for future currency debasement, and doing almost zero for the rest of the country.

This is why people are pissed and protesting. This is why Nouriel Roubini declared Marx to be right. And this is why Paul Krugman is calling the United States a banana republic.

There is no longer hope. And in the absence of hope, there can be only one thing: Resentment.

I see no happy endings to this story. If we had a functioning democracy, maybe, just maybe. But I don’t think we’ve had a functioning democracy for a while now. Welcome to United States of Greece.  ”


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Demonstrating in Athens

Today, there is one more bill to be passed, from the “Greek” government,  with more measures and more cuts against the low incomes and so the Greeks are, of course, taking the streets once more. Following the news from the inside (naturally), I came to realize that we have become so used to police brutality, that we expect the same movie to be played again and again and we are dealing with it , with a kind of “blaze” attitude.
It might not be news to us, but since you are only watching the “News”… I thought I should let you know, how this movie really runs:

First there is a calling for a demo. All demos end in front of the Parliament, at Syntagma square.

People start gathering at designated points. Labor syndicates gather each on its own square…(!) and then march to Syntagma – Most of the people go straight at Syntagma square.

Then comes the moment when Syntagma square, gets fully occupied.
People shout, sing and shout some more.

While the demonstration, despite its huge numbers, is peaceful,( though loud…), twenty to thirty people appear, holding hummers, Molotov cocktails (rarely) and marble pieces, wearing hoods and helmets to hide their faces. Those men the Media calls anarchists. We don’t…

The crowds keep them out of the core. People make chains to hold them out.

One of them throws a stone against the police …

That’s the “punch line”!

Instantly, every special police unit ( we shall call them MAT from now on..), circles the demonstration and starts throwing gas and loud noise bombs into the crowds. People panic, get hurt, start running around like crazy, trying to find a gasp of air, but, see, that’s not easy….Not only cause they are spraying  suffocating gas (and not tear gas) that’s not even permitted for war (under the Geneva treaty), but also because every street connected to Syntagma has also been sprayed around a radius of 6 to 8 blocks.
It’s not only for the people that are gathered, to disperse, but also for the people that are coming to be kept away.

In the meanwhile, those 20 to 30 people, keep braking marbles from the square and throwing them at the MAT, while one of the MAT squads stays there, just looking at them,or pretending to chase them, just for the show: The media is recording the “violent incidents”.

Twenty meters away, the rest of the MAT squads ( the only domain of the public sector that has been hiring…non stop..), are too busy chasing thousands of half-unconscious citizens, cracking their heads open with globs, whether they are children, students, old people, women or press corespondents.

You do remember who attacks members of the press, usually, don’t you?

The big outbursts, usually happen at 14:00. Right on time for the news! Someone will  set a car on fire, or break a bank-window. Usually these people run TOWARDS the MAT to hide amongst them, not away from them. There are plenty of videos out there, about this fact and I have witnessed  enough of those incidents, myself.

Am I implying that there are provocateurs, starting the episodes, to give an excuse to the MAT so that they can try to evacuate the square using any means possible? No! I am saying it loud and clear. I could even pick some of them out of a line! Most of us could.. Sometimes we joke..that they are running late today and they are gonna miss the 14:00 o ‘ clock news.Of course they are not alone. They are mingling with hooligans and other suppressed elements that wish to blow off some steam. That serves everyone really nicely.

From that moment on, it’s every man for his life. You might be walking down a street and find yourself on the ground, being bitten by 3-4 MAT officers, while a fifth one is exchanging your bag with a backpack carrying a Molotov.

You might be with your fellow law students, trying to leave the demo, and find yourself surrounded by two-three MAT squads, who identify you as dangerous black-hooded elements and try to, at least, kill a couple of you, while you are shouting you are a student group.

Of course, then, you DO get angry, and you DO try to hit the officer that’s kicking you, back. Then you are arrested for resisting arrest and attacking a peaceful police officer. You are lucky if you arrive at the police station in one piece. Funny, how they never get to catch those 20-30 people, though.. It’s a mystery…

It’s a wonder no one has died yet, though 2 people were in a coma, a reporter lost his hearing (after surviving war- correspondence for 20 years…) and the injuries were so many, that the medical association went on TV and demanded for the brutality to stop, cause they run out of beds.
That was the last demo. The one they didn’t let ambulances in. The one they smashed the med-tent. The one they sprayed inside the Metro station. The one they failed to remove us from the square.
So, here we go again…

They won’t stop. They don’t care. Their bosses don’t care. The bosses of their bosses don’t care.
No demos are allowed. This is not a democracy. People have to be scared. People have to comply.

Thank God, people won’t stop, either. They don’t care, either. They are not watching the news anymore and they have nothing else to lose.

See you at the next demo.


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