Syriza Seems to Have Blinked…for Now

the parthenon from lycabettus hill

From the Guardian, and it may or not be so: ‘Athens accepts harsh austerity as bailout deal nears; Greek cabinet reportedly backs a package of reforms and spending cuts worth €13bn to secure third bailout and modest debt writeoff

‘Reportedly’, mind you.

“Athens is understood (my emphases throughout) to have put forward a package of reforms and public spending cuts worth €13bn (£9.3bn) to secure a third bailout from creditors that could raise $50bn and allow it to stay inside the currency union.

A cabinet meeting signed off the reform package after ministers agreed that the dire state of the economy and the debilitating closure of the country’s banks meant it had no option but to agree to almost all the creditors terms.

Parliament is expected to endorse the package after a frantic few days of negotiation that followed a landmark referendum last Sunday in which Greek voters backed the radical leftist Syriza government’s call for debt relief.

Syriza, which is in coalition with the rightwing populist Independent party, is expected to meet huge opposition from within its own ranks and from trade unions and youth groups that viewed the referendum as a vote against any austerity.

Panagiotis Lafazanis, the energy minister and influential hard-leftist, who on Wednesday welcomed a deal for a new €2bn gas pipeline from Russia, has ruled out a new tough austerity package.

Lafazanis represents around 70 Syriza MPs who have previously taken a hard line against further austerity measures and could yet wreck any top-level agreement.

Emphasising the likelihood of further strife in Greece next week even should a deal be concluded, Brussels officials talked privately of plans to fly in humanitarian aid such as food parcels and medicines to major cities.

The urgency of Greek efforts to prevent an exit from the euro came after Brussels set a midnight Thursday deadline for Greece to produce a package of measures in line with previous demands.

With the support of officials from the French finance ministry, Greek negotiators are believed to have accepted the need for VAT rises and rules blocking early retirement as the price of a deal.”

Now this steep may indeed be another gambit on the chessboard, given some statements by the Titans of Finance seeming a bit more beneficent than earlier, for instance Tusk:

“Donald Tusk, who chairs the EU summits, said European officials would make an effort to address Greece’s key request for a debt write-off.

“The realistic proposal from Greece will have to be matched by an equally realistic proposal on debt sustainability from the creditors. Only then will we have a win-win situation,” Tusk said.” (read more here)

Earlier reports at the Guardian noted that

Greece may get bailout and humanitarian aid

“International observers have been telling us today that the package is likely to be so punitive that humanitarian aid cannot be ruled out.

EU president Jean Claude Juncker had mentioned humanitarian aid as part of the “detailed Grexit scenario” plans creditors had drawn up. EU diplomats based in Athens said some form of assistance is likely to be given even if am agreement between Greece its creditors is reached.

Syriza MPs have been telling our Helena Smith that the big no received in the referendum on Sunday was a “confidence vote” in Tsipras who like no other prime minister before now has the popular support to enforce such punitive measures.

That is not how the far far left (or indeed the far left in Syriza) see things. Strikes, rallies and protests should be expected in weeks ahead.”

The banks are reportedly almost out of euros for the ATMs, the Troika cut off all emergency liquidity funds. Euclid Tsakalotos apparently said that he’d finalized and submitted a plan of reforms for a third bailout to give creditors time to review it ahead of a summit of EU members on Sunday.

Herr Schauble is quoted as saying that there just ain’t much wiggle room on restructuring debt.  The authors of the article did mention that interest rates could be lower on the new debt, with a longer repayment schedule.  Even the IMF rad mentioned twenty-four months or some such for ‘breathing space’.

Still, it’s hard to know what Alexis and Euclid are imagining in terms of what happens next.  Are they counting on the hard left in Syriza to reject an eventual deal and provide cover for even the ‘temporary Grexit’ some have mentioned?  I’m sure glad I don’t have to handicap this horse race.

Added on Edit:

Aha!  The plot thickens: Telegraph UK: ‘Greece finally admits €2bn gas pipeline deal with Russia; Closer ties between Athens and Moscow is likely to worry the US, which has stepped up its involvement in Greece’s debt crisis

Yes, Jack Lew had advised…a not-too punative a deal.

“The move is likely to worry the US, which has stepped up its involvement in Greece’s debt talks with international creditors over fears the cash-strapped country could drop out of the single currency and come under the influence of its Cold War rival.

Panayotis Lafazanis, Greece’s energy minister, said the move would be a key part of the country’s “multi-faceted” foreign policy and would create 20,000 jobs, the Financial Times reported.

Figures released by Greece’s National Statistics Service on Thursday showed unemployment at 25.6pc in April.

Reports in April suggested Moscow was ready to provide advanced payment to Greece for the “Turkish Stream” pipeline project, which will transport 47bn cubic metres of Gazprom’s gas annualy from 2018.

Those reports were quickly denied by the Kremlin, depite Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visiting Russia to hold talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

During that visit to the Kremlin, Mr Tsipras insisted Greece was a “sovereign nation with the indelible right to carry out its own foreign policy”.

Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, has previously said he had no objection to any deal with Moscow, but that ultimately it would not “fix Greece’s reform problems”.

Beijing has also sought to invest in Greece’s port infrastructure.

Mr Lafazanis, who heads up the Left Platform of Syriza, has hailed a new dawn in Greco-Russia relations and has invited the likes of state-sponsored Gazprom to drill for oil off the Greek coast.”

(Eeek on that last one.)

66 responses to “Syriza Seems to Have Blinked…for Now

  1. Thanks for catching me up on these Byzantine negotiations. Le plus change…. Still the promise of purgatory.

  2. I’d say there’s a lot of spin in this article, wendye. Tsipras was very up front in his speech to the EU parliament that he would be selecting his own reforms in line with his strong statements about the oligarchs in the previous government and banking areas, the failure of the austerity regime. It will be interesting to see what the value added tax will be focussed on – maybe the luxury homes and mercedes? And early retirement is something only the wealthy would be doing, isn’t it? He said he wants to tax them.

    Boy, the Guardian can’t wait to bring down the hammer on Tsipras. Maybe they’re correct, but . . .I’ve watched those speeches several times, and I just don’t see it. Tsipras even directly speaks about the forgiveness of debt accorded Germany, as well as his inability to govern because of the dire situations the Troika was forcing upon him. And calls into question the presence of the IMF in what ought to be strictly European discussions. Strong statements!

    Now maybe the troika will try to spin it that this was what they wanted all along, and that’s the solution to the impasse, but I think the damage has been done. We’ll see if they accept it, and then what the people think.

  3. i included some caveats, and what all of this might be in aid of in the near future so you may be right, and i hope you are. there were plenty of notable messages in his speech, but i do like these warmly:

    “It is my pleasure to be in this temple of democracy, because I believe that we are here to first listen to arguments and then judge those arguments. “Smite me, but first listen to me”.

    The brave choice of the Greek people does not stand for a break with Europe, but for a return to the founding principles of European integration, the principles of Democracy, solidarity, mutual respect and equality.

    It is a clear message that Europe–our common European project–the European Union, will either be democratic or will face enormous difficulties surviving, given the difficult conditions we’re experiencing.”

    this is the link, i assume it’s the one you brought to the other thread.

    but boy, howdy, will the skypes and phones be buzzin’ for the next several days. even frau frumpy has apparently mumbled something about stretching out the maturity dates… it just seems that if all this were made up of whole cloth, mr. tsipris would be tweetin’ up a storm. he’s not, so far. but it’s the purpose of the western capitalist press to deceive, so…again, i dunno.

  4. A New Dawn, indeed. Ho boy.

    I’ve read most of the provisions of the Greek ‘proposal’ to the Troika, and it’s pretty nasty, about as nasty as the Graun says, but — and it may be a big but — it is apparently linked with financing guarantees and a major investment scheme by which people are put back to work and infrastructure improved, etc.

    In other words, in exchange for “capitulation”, the Greeks expect a balancing — actually more than offsetting — investment package to “ease the pain.”

    The talk of humanitarian aid, whether or not the Troika agree or follow through is interesting: it’s an open acknowledgement that the austerity already imposed has had a devastating effect on ordinary people, forcing millions upon millions into dire poverty (true in Greece as well as the other suffering peripheral countries) that can no longer be ignored. This is the first time I know of that the Troika has accepted that their policies are causing harm. That’s a major accomplishment, no matter what else happens, and regardless of whether the “humanitarian aid” is ever provided. Initially, the Troika seemed to be trying to spin the potential for humanitarian aid as a consequence for Greek exit from the Euro, but now that such an exit looks highly unlikely (still possible, but unlikely) the Troika seems willing to admit its own demands and policies have caused severe hardship.

    Tsipras seems to have consensus within the government for going ahead with the program outlined in these proposals, but whether he can get the parliament to sign off is another question, and it will depend — I think — on what provisions the Troika make to offset the coming austerity.

    By now, it’s clear to everyone that austerity by itself simply makes matters worse and ever worse over time. The only reasonable and humane course is to provide whatever payment concessions and public investments are necessary to offset the economic losses due to austerity.

    Frau Merkel and her Hanseatic League butt boys will fume and fuss, but they have become the isolated ones as everyone else in Europe seems to have got their minds right about the failures of Austerity Uber Alles.

    Also, I think Tsipras’s rather ecstatic welcome at the European Parliament — after all that trash-talking about him in Brussels and Berlin — has helped turned the tide.

    SYRIZA set out to “change Europe” and they’re well on their way toward achieving that objective.

    Will there be riots in the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki — like there were during previous regimes, but not since SYRIZA has held the government? Dunno… maybe not.

    • Is there any way of seeing into the potential humanitarian and infrastructure offsets to understand whether they will potentially turn into more neoliberal wealth transfer to the “job creators” or opportunities to privatize public social welfare programs? Asking out of total ignorance, just generalized suspicion.

      • That’s the question. I haven’t seen anything that details the kinds of support that will be provided to the Greek people — it’s all very vague right now, at least in the few reports I’ve seen. The outline seems to be to ensure that people have enough to eat, that they can get medical care and medications and that people are put back to work sooner rather than later — in order to make it possible for them to pay all those additional taxes and so forth.

        There’s supposedly a scheme in the works to restructure the debt, put off payments for years if not decades, and even cut the principal despite the outcries from Riga and Berlin.

        Your suspicions about yet another neoliberal wealth transfer program — under the guise of “aid” or rebuilding or what have you — are warranted. Until there is something concrete, it’s impossible to say. I’m suspicious too.

        It looks to me that the Greek proposal will be sufficient to move the Troika to agree — because they’re getting essentially everything they’ve been demanding and then some, at least on paper — but the sweetener for Greece is that they are to get some benefit out of all of this, which they were not getting from the previous agreements, and which other countries like Spain and Portugal and Italy — let alone the eastern European satellites of Germany — have not received but should.

        The pressure on Germany is intensifying and seems to be coming from everywhere at once. The Greek resistance and the fact that they made their case against austerity and its manifest failures and its costs in human lives has been key to unleashing that pressure.

  5. i’m so sorry to have to bail again; i’ve been having a rough day. but here’s: ‘Greece news live: Desperate government agrees to tough austerity measures to stay in the eurozone; Greece’s last ditch attempt for a deal are leaked and could be ratified by parliament as early as tomorrow after Brussels concedes need for debt relief (with the letter, iirc)

    i’d found it earlier, but haven’t had a chance to read it. please do, and let me know if there’s a bomb in it or not.

    it may be what you’ve seen, ché. sleep well, and dream of better days to come, for all of us, and all of them.

    • Yes, take care of yourself. Your compilations of information about this crisis and so much else have been terrific and necessary, but I know how much work they require. That plus the real world is enough to put anyone down for a while. Rest and recoup.

      I haven’t followed the Telegraph’s coverage or the Independent’s, but it looks from your link that the info is pretty much aligned with that in the Grauniad. The link to the Greek proposal I used is from the Greek press via the Graun, and it is available there in the Greek original (for those who read Greek — I don’t!) and in English translation.

      It’s not pretty, and from a literal point of view it is a complete capitulation by the Greek government to the demands of the Troika. This is like their fourth or fifth capitulation — I haven’t been counting, but I’m sure Yves and others have. This time, there’s really no hold-back except perhaps on the margins. Every previous capitulation has been rejected by the Troika, which has been interesting. Their game is power not money. They seem to want control and possession of Greece — as a colonial outpost of a New German Empire? — and will accept nothing less.

      But the pressure on Berlin and Brussels to relent now is enormous. They went too far, demanded too much, and in doing so, they jeopardize the European Project as a whole. Greece has offered an olive branch, and it is up to Frau Merkel and her flying monkeys to accept and desist. I’m pretty sure the pressure on Germany is all tied in with the mess in Ukraine and fear of Putin’s Long Game among other international catastrophes.

      Greece is a side-show in that context and the punishment sought by Merkel and her boys for Greek temerity is ridiculous. They must stop.

      Leastways that’s what it looks like from this distance…

    • BTW, I’m transfixed with that view of the Acropolis at dawn (or is it sunset?) and Athens stretching out to the sea. It’s breathtaking.

  6. mornin’, all. i won’t reply in nested comments, lest the borders become too thin… and yes, thank you for advice, i will try to do less physical chores, as well (ahem) today. but sometimes needs must, and all that jazz.

    i tried to make sense of the ‘deal’, and especially the section on pensions, but not knowing any of the program acronyms, or what’s in place now…made it impossible to understand any changes. although: some of what’s written seems to have the *potential* for angering pensioners. the structural reforms seem to be a definite nod to the many criticisms that syriza never went hard enough after oligarch taxes, nor oligarch corruption.

    great question, marym. i’m reminded of obama’s great job stimulus billions™ in which close to 90% of those ‘shovel-ready projects’ turned out to be…highway repaving. oh, yes, the odd flag-person may have been hired…

    crap, the overnight news at the telegraph were interesting, especially this contribution from christine lagarde de sade and her minions:

    “The IMF want even more debt relief for Greece

    Another cat among the pigeons tonight. There seems to be no mention of debt sustainbility in the new Greek plans, but in a very timely intervention, the IMF’s chief economist has now said Greeks may need even more debt alleviation than that set out by the IMF in a stark report released last week.
    Writing on his blog, Olivier Blanchard has admitted that European creditors have not been on board with the IMF’s assessment which said last week that Greece would need drastic debt relief, amounting to nearly 30pc of its GDP.

    Here’s the relevant passage:
    Until the referendum and its potential implications for growth, we believed that, under these assumptions about the primary surplus, debt sustainability could be achieved through the rescheduling of existing debt, and long maturities for new debt. This was reflected in the preliminary debt sustainability analysis (DSA) we put out before the referendum.

    Our assessment was seen as too pessimistic by our European partners to whom we had communicated our views about the need for debt relief long before publishing the debt sustainability analysis.
    We believe that current developments may well imply the need for even more financing, not least in support of the banks, and for even more debt relief than in our DSA. ”

    it would seem that now there may be at least a bit of pressure on the creditors, now that as ché says even schauble and a few others have admitted that there is indeed a humanitarian crisis. i would love it if some nation or NGO sent a flotilla into the Aegean with food, medicines, and other needs.

    i grabbed one of the pieces of street graffiti; the journalist snapped pix of a few, but this is my favorite:

    i looked at michael. hudson’s site to see if he’d weighed in on this news, but no. i checked trnn, and here he is, but no transcript yet, so i have no idea of the content, or the timing of it.

    ‘Capitalism and Government Debt at Odds in Greece (1/2)’

    also, i just got an email from christopher pedro trakas (bigchin at fdl, putsch here), and he’s in spain, and is incensed at syriza’s capitulation to the ‘neoliberal juggernaut’.

    the photo is sublime, and i (ahem) liberated it from getty images. i almost ran in through a photo program to brighten it a bit. i may yet, time and memory permitting.

  7. Absolutely stellar thread here this morning, wendye – and much as we’d like to see the positives in this proffer, it’s really hard to do – the thing that stuck out for me was the agreement about selling the ports. Yves says it is an even worse scenario than the one voted down by the referendum.

    My puzzle overnight was I went to the Saker site which had a video of one of the speeches in the interim between Tsipras’s two at the European parliament. It was a British sounding chap advocating very strongly (to cheers) that Tsipras act against the thuggery (my word) by taking Greece out of the -distinctions get muddled for me – Eurozone I think he said. The camera went to Tsipras and his face was as black as I’ve ever seen it. No mild deprecating smile as you might expect, but just as if he was hugely offended by this, a black, black frown. I wondered, did he take this as an insult? Did the cheers sound like jeers? Who was cheering and why? Did they all just want to be rid of Greece? (I did notice the speaker was mispronouncing Tsipras’ name – sounded like the Greek for ‘hope’ – deliberate slur?)

    It’s hard to reconcile what was in those speeches with this proffer. Do the Greeks expect it will be rejected? Another ‘in your face, you have to try and chuck us out – we aren’t leaving!’? I’d be very interested in what more happened between those two speeches he made. Why would it be important that the troika reject Greece rather than Greece reject it? Could it be like Putin refusing to take the bait for war in Ukraine?

    Sorry to have so many questions, but so it goes.

    • given that there are so many questions, including those of strategies, tactics, capitulation (even to further a better deal, or as a prelude to a grexit), all we can do is guess, even reckoning that our biases may get a bit in the way of intuition, history, or pragmatics as useful tools for analyses.

      as to the speeches, and what happened in between, or caused the storm cloud over tsipras’s countenance, i will offer this, fwiw, and perhaps not much.

      in the internecine battles within Syriza, his detractors have railed that alexis makes bold speeches, and then…capitulates to the troika, over and over again. yes, ché is correct, yves smith would know the numbers of times…his overview was excellent, too, which in my haste i’d forgotten to mention.

      my guess is that the IMF is trying to rescue a bit of ‘face’ in a rather necessary public relations move. as in: what if other nations stage similar rebellions against their hideous built-in, baked-in ‘restructurings, privatizations, and shock-doctrine capitalism for banksters and other feudal lords? panic! which of course is one hope of a brics development bank and the new asian infrastructure bank, if they (as promised) offer better loans at far better terms. not the public option that michael hudson offered greece as prescriptive, but a choice, at least. again: lessening the power of western hegemony and total spectrum dominance.

      we may know more on monday, but for now…beats hell outta me. one’s mind reels at all of the possibilities that may be afoot, and eventual outcomes as well, not only for greece’s people, but the euro experiment as well.

      but my stars, yes. prometheus was a Titan, and did steal the fire from mt. olympus, perhaps as the battle between the Titans and the Olympiads began. perhaps it was prometheus warring with zeus in the atmospheric battle i tried to be part of. ;-)

  8. A bit more on ‘finance is warfare’ and the comparison with Ukraine – Maybe the IMF is trying to do the fragmentation push against the EU the way the US does against countries? (Remembering that China advised stay in.) If some in the EU now realizing this, those unmentioned items could be the key. And yes to that ‘smite me’ bit, wendye – goes along with the ‘Antigone’ reference in his rebuttal – brings to mind Prometheus as well, the supreme sacrifice for the greater good that a god makes for mankind. The Greeks described it pretty well way, way back when.

  9. i just watched part I of michael hudson’s TRRN talk, and he covered ground we’re pretty familiar with, although he pulled out all the stops calling the troika ‘fascist gangsters’. yes.

    i’ll embed part II in which he defines ‘odious debt’ and the history of the term, and explains that there doe in fact to need to be a *new* (as opposed to the post-wwII version) international body to decide which portions of debts were odious and must be written down.

    now he also does mention that he and some of his friends, both in brussells and greece, began working on the framework of just such a body. he then turned to saying ‘they’, but they may be taking those ideas to the brics development bank.

    he also made me ‘christine lagarde de sade’ verbiage only too accurate, in that the french have always been in charge of the IMF (how did they share their mega-billions in mafia profits with german banksters?), and that the ECB has always been in the clutches of extremely right-wing euro-lawyers (economists need not apply, as with the IMF).

    well, there’s more, but here it is, and dayum, i wish i knew who painted the cityscape on the wall behind him.

    this one i haven’t watch yet, but i’ll try to soon, also from today: ‘Robert Johnson of INET says odious debt and the fear of a bank contagion that could richochet across the world, keeps the financial sector from writing down the Greek debt’

    …which we’d been discussing. meanwhile, ian welsh believes that tsipras is a fool, and should have been making plans for a grexit all along, since he and syriza could NEVER honor both their mandates. ;-)

    sounds as though it doesn’t deal with the ‘proposals’ either, so far.

  10. “Maybe the IMF is trying to do the fragmentation push against the EU the way the US does against countries? ”

    Hudson blames the EU for neoliberalization of Greece, a smash and grab he calls it. He compares the EU’s claims to those of a creditor who attempts to possess a house for default on a minor, odious debt. HOWEVER, this is not comparable to Greece’s case it’s debt is unpayable and the EU is struggling to recover a fraction of it. Hudson also claims that the EU paid off creditors in entirety, which would mean they benefited and not the EU. But this is more bullshit. In the Second Memorandum,

    Private investors accepted a slightly bigger haircut of 53.5% of the face value of Greek governmental bonds,[10] the equivalent to an overall loss of around 75%.[11] The deal implied that previous Greek bond holders are being given, for €1000 of previous notional, €150 in “PSI payment notes” issued by the EFSF and €315 in “New Greek Bonds” issued by the Hellenic Republic

    Hudson now claims the IMF “can’t be an honest broker because it’s run traditionally by a Frenchman and the French are and have been major holders of Greek debt” whereas, before, he conditioned this constraint on Strauss-Kahn, while director, to have been interested in the presidency.

    Isn’t Hudson’s incoherency a cover for the IMF’s participation in financial war against the EU?

    • FWIW, and according to Reuters via the Guardian: ‘Who has the most to lose?’ i’d snagged it a few days ago and lost the thread due to the odd formulation/format, and…it’s Reuters, as well.:

      “Greece owes €323bn (£228bn) to a combination of official and private creditors, equivalent to more than 175% of its GDP. Much of that debt mountain was built up by Greece receiving bailout packages, funded in part by its eurozone neighbours.
      Germany is far and away the most exposed country within the single currency bloc. However, when adjusting exposure for the sizes of a country’s respective economy, Germany appears better placed than most neighbours to absorb losses.

      Eurozone governments loaned Greece €52.9bn under the first bailout in 2010 and a further €141.8bn under a bailout in 2012.
      Germany’s exposure for the two bailouts is €57.23bn, with France owed €42.98bn, Italyowed €37.76bn and Spain €25.1bn, according to calculations by Reuters based on official data. That is in addition to those countries’ contributions to International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans made to Greece.
      When taking into account the countries’ exposure via bailouts, via European Central Bank (ECB) loans and via their banking systems, Germany is again well out in front, according to the thinktank Open Europe.”

  11. yes, he waxed a bit polemical, but i’ve seen figures that about 90% of the loans went to the banks, and to servicing the debt to the creditors. is the second memorandum from other capitulations in the past? that would make more sense, and this robert johnson dude mentioned that the IMF did try to write down some debt earlier, and was blocked by the banks(ters)

    you must also remember that one of the key reasons that the greek economy tanked in 2008 was due to the bogus credit default swaps that goldman sachs created.and sold to greece, knowing all the while they would be worthless soon (especially the credit default swaps, as i remember it).

    so the international bond vigilantes in europe and the US bought greek bonds for 30 cents on the dollar (as either hudson or johnson said), and then as in the US, sold them back to the central bank on mark-to-market prices (as in: full face value).

    but as to your final question/conclusion, i don’t follow, really.

  12. I think Tsipras believes ‘Grexit’ is what the troika (and at least the IMF part) dearly wants. He won’t do it. He is playing that the way Prometheus played Zeus – I put up my translation of the last speech of that play at The last line I put in bold: This is not justice. Justice. That was the last word Tsipras spoke also in his speech to the EU parliament.

    I can’t think other than that he is daring the troika to take their own previous demands and then some after and on top of all that he said to the EU parliament and on top of the referendum result. The proffer is now a hot potato; it has become radioactive. You know what it is like? At the Last Supper, Christ said ‘the one who takes the last morsel is the one who will betray me.’ It is like that.

    Your Les Miserables song applies – those resisters then were only the forerunners to the revolution that followed. Greece is the forerunner, the example laid out for all to see that this is not justice. As happens in ‘Antigone’ and as happens in ‘Prometheus Bound’. Absolute power triumphs but it does not win. I think Tsipras has made the case as well as he could. He ought to be a hero to the Greeks; he is to me.

    • tsipras has stated emphatically that his desire is to stay in the EU, although i can’t say what’s in his heart of hearts. i said what i did about ian because it’s so easy to be an armchair quarterback with virtually no skin in the game. i do think that some eurocrats want to jettison greece, but my guess is that most actually don’t..

      he seems to have quelled the internal rebellion from the hard left platform (and maybe the communits), who’d been demonstrating outside the parliament building. oddly, varoufakis was said to have been incensed at the proffer, but who knows what sort of act that might be? in any event, he apparently won’t be there to cast his vote.

      i suppose i’m glad i don’t have heroes, and am not so crushed when those i admire turn out to be something other than i’d believed they’d meant incipiently. i’ve been watching the burgeoning hero worship of bernie sanders, for instance, who is more noteworthy for what he *doesn’t* talk about or advocate for, imo.. yes, the guardian had the speech of the belgian dude excoriating tsipras, and to great applause. yuk. but yes, i’ll try to watch his response.

  13. so the international bond vigilantes in europe and the US bought greek bonds for 30 cents on the dollar (as either hudson or johnson said), and then as in the US, sold them back to the central bank on mark-to-,arket prices (as in: full face value).

    Documentation? A partial story, if true at all. Read the Wikipedia article on the Second Memorandum. The Wikipedia article on the First Memorandum mentions no bailouts. So how does Hudson get his screwed-up narrative?

    Furthermore, according to his analysis, the EU gets saddled with the loss the bond markets accrued and the EU are the guilty ones for demanding repayment. This is erroneous on both counts.

    Please correct me if this understanding is wrong, as I’ve thought Hudson is a con man for some time.

    • i cannae prove the truth of it, but it is indeed close to how i remember it as it unfolded. if this is the wikipedia entry you’re speaking about, do remember that the wiki is citizen-created. any politician can create their own glowing entry, for instance. the ‘talk’ page on that entry looks far too long for me to care to read. but it’s okay if you reckon he’s a con man, although i can’t begin to imagine.what’s in it for him.

      most of us have trouble finding any capitalist reformer economists to trust, but he does seem to be of the heterodox side, and he speaks in clear words, to boot.

      • Don’t be sucked into their propaganda, comrade. Here’s a quote from an article in Forbes from 2012 about the Second Memorandum:

        Private investors can say they are “voluntarily” forgiving about 70% of the debt (according to net present value calculations by Barclays), but they are getting paid while Greece falls deeper into what already is a 5-year recession. […] While there is nothing wrong in creditors protecting their capital, policymakers appear to have decided on their behalf at the expense of the Greek economy.

        You see, America is redolent with fraud; they must propagate “human rights” and “democracy” while exploiting their subjects. After loading Greece with excessive debt, when the EU forces creditor haircuts, American crapitalists begin their campaign for Greece and against the EU.

        Don’t fall for the bullshit.

  14. Here is one of the speeches that interposed between Tsipras’ address to the EU parliament and his final rebuttal. Now Guy Verhofstadt is expressing approval of the proffered document and advocating Michael Hudson’s proposal for an international body to address the debt situation. You can see Tsipras’ favorable reaction to the arguments being presented here – and I saw too that the VAT adjustment for the islands applies specifically to the rich ones and not the poorer ones, so I would expect many of the other reforms are also similarly aligned.

    Anyway, here’s the speech, not long but a good one:

  15. We want a revolutionary reformer, Mr Chipras!

    Ha ha ha ha ha.

    Higher income tax: should any of the proposals result in “fiscal shortfalls” the government is controversially proposing hikes on income tax for the poorest earners. This would see

    – incomes below €12,000 taxed at 15pc (from 11pc)

    – incomes above €12,000 taxed at 35pc (from 33pc)

    “advocating Michael Hudson’s proposal for an international body to address the debt situation”; umm, timestamp?

    Guy Verhofstadt: “Because of his economic views and his young age, he became known as “Baby Thatcher”. “He gradually moved away from neoliberalism (partly under the influence of his brother Dirk, a social liberal political philosopher), and became more of a centrist figure, a change which especially became clear during his first term as Prime Minister.”

    Since 2012, Verhofstadt has been an independent Board Member of the Brussels-based, Brussels-quoted Sofina holding.[8] and an independent director of Exmar, a global transporter of gas and oil.

    In April 2015, Verhofstadt criticized Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras over his meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis and difficult negotiations between the EU/ECB/IMF and Tsipras’s recently elected Syriza-led government. Via Twitter according to the New York Times, Verhofstadt said Tsipras “should stop trying to play #Putin against the EU” and that Tsipras “should play according to the common rules and conduct serious reforms”.

    And don’t mess with Europe’s profits.

  16. I’ve been watching this one from 2013, Slavoj and Alexis in Slovenia yakking about “what is to be done”:

    It’s pretty clear that Tsipras and Syriza are following almost exactly the program Tsipras lays out here. Basically, the problem is “Europe” — specifically Germany and Merkel — and the neoliberal destruction being imposed on the periphery. Greece is the laboratory for Berlin’s cruelest impositions, and up to now (ie: 2013) no Greek government has stood up to the Troika, they’ve only taken orders from Berlin and Brussels, and have tried to implement those orders with disastrous results.

    Syriza’s plan — clearly articulated in 2013 — is to challenge the Troika and particularly Germany, to point out the errors and disasters of the current MoU and to repudiate it, and to build a new, “rational” program that takes into account the damage already done and helps create the means for Greece to fulfill its obligations as a member of the Eurozone.

    Tsipras is adamant that Greece will not leave the Euro, and he points out how Greece is not in an analogous situation to Argentina for example. Greece doesn’t have its own currency pegged to another, therefore it cannot stand alone — and cannot go back to the drachma. He says everybody in Greece has Euros and only Euros — stuffed in their mattresses and under their pillows (!) — and going back to drachmas isn’t realistic.

    As a Eurozone member, though, Greece has advantages, not just disadvantages, and one of the advantages is that it can and Syriza will start putting the onus on “Europe” — ie: Germany and Merkel — to come up with programs of rational reform (whatever you want to call it) that includes debt write-down and restructuring and economic growth which make debt repayment possible. The current situation just makes things worse and ever worse. Capitalism and neoliberalism are the problems, not the solution.

    I haven’t finished listening — it’s two hours — but so far, it seems that the outline of action was well in place long before SYRIZA’s election, and they’re sticking with it.

    Looks like the package that was submitted to the Euro-group will pass the Greek parliament, too. The protests in Syntagma are muted. No riots as yet anyway.

    It’s up to the Eurogroup to choose a rational and humane course from this point forward.

    • oh, thank you for the Cliff’s Notes; i’d rather eat ground glass than listen to two hours of that. ;-) watching zizek pluck at his shirt always makes me want to buy him a larger size. but yes, it seems to have been the plan right along.

      don’t the member nations have to vote unanimously to approve whatever deal comes from negotiations? apparently riga (and yes, i had to look it up after you’d used it, har har) are not quite sure, and as the johnson fellow said up yonder, they also have to please their electoral bases. but this is an example of jack lew humor (given that puerto rico is facing default, although the IMF isn’t involved, as far as i know):

      “Schäuble, who is in favour of a Grexit, implied that he had struggled to explain the complexity of the issue to his US counterpart, Jack Lew. He told an audience in Frankfurt: “I offered to my friend Jack Lew that we would take Puerto Rico into the eurozone, if the USA took Greece into the dollar union. He thought I was joking.”

      On Friday, Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said little about the Greek reform plans, but made it clear that Merkel would only be able to go to the German parliament with a third bailout package if she was persuaded that Greece was genuine about reforming its economy.

      Voices from smaller eastern European countries, which have implemented harsh reform programmes and where standards of living are much lower than in Greece, are increasingly voicing their disenchantment with the prospect of helping to bail out Greece.

      Laimdota Straujuma, prime minister of Latvia, told German radio: “It will be very hard for me to persuade the parliament. And for the parliament it will be difficult to vote for it, because the average pension in Latvia is considerably less than in Greece, and if you were to ask the Latvians today whether they are willing to lend money to Greece, you can probably guess what their answer would be.”

      • I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself in looking at the situation, but Germany has basically recreated the Hanseatic League — for the umpteenth time, it seems — and the Euro-members who are putting up a fuss are almost all (if not entirely) former German outposts, colonies what have you. It’s really remarkable. The rest of Europe, more or less, is OK with whatever deal emerges. It’s only the Germans and their kindred spirits who are looking for punishment beyond the levels of austerity already imposed.

        What this could come down to is something a number of folks were kicking around years ago: Germany leaves the EU/euro — along, perhaps, with the gaggle of fan-boys and girls it’s acquired.

        Germany is the problem — on so many levels. So maybe if there’s an impasse on Sunday, the answer will be for Germany to leave.

        But that’s getting way ahead of the game right now, so I’ll say no more about that…

        As for Zizek picking at himself (“and so on”) yeah, jeeze. It’s quite distracting, especially when he starts in on his face. Stop it, man!

        Tsipras presents well in English,better than I expected. What’s striking is how clear he is about what’s wrong with “Europe” as it is, what needs to be done, and what SYRIZA will do if elected — which happens more than a year later.

        What’s even more striking — and probably why they are still so popular in Greece — is that they’ve pretty much stuck with it. They never said it would be easy, and so far in this presentation — I’m about half way through — he’s said that austerity doesn’t work, and what’s been done to Greece is a laboratory for the worst excesses of austerity. But he doesn’t really say he or Syriza will get rid of it. Instead, he’s saying that Greeks have to have dignity and restore their sovereign control over what needs to be done. He’s talking about collecting taxes from the rich and corporations, revising the pension system– yes he says that — wrangling corruption and cronyism, etc.

        He’s basically already agreeing with the Troika with what needs to be reformed in Greece, but he’s saying loudly the Greeks have do what needs doing in their own way, not according to the diktats from Brussels and Berlin.

        (Side note: the city of Albuquerque has just agreed to pay the family of James Boyd $5million. Perez and Sandy are still charged with his murder…)

        • Germany needs debt-slaves, too. Nobody supports KKE, so what’s to worry? Germans’ got nothing to fear from Greek Nazi’s.

          • I think the Germans are holding the Greek Nazis in reserve in case they are needed to persuade the radical leftist SYRIZAs to comply with the demands of their betters … or else…

            • Isn’t that what Syriza effectively admitted: after us comes the Nazi’s (wink-wink)? They just didn’t say that the Germans would be holding them back.

              Radical leftist? Reminds me of the contortions the press gets into now, sometimes calling Syriza the far left and creating a new category, the far far left, for KKE. Ha ha ha ha ha. I wonder if we have more fun than Russians did with Pravda.

        • of course i’d had to googledy-bing ‘hanseatic league’, but i can see why you and others might think that. mercantilsts with standing military, no less. but ya know what i thunk reading the wiki? the tpp, tafta, and tisa, srly, because they all come with Rulez, enforcement, and free trade trumps any sovereign laws (which are disappearing rapidly for the rabble class).

          but fuck all, i went to yves smith’s post ‘syriza kills greece’ or whatever, and she’d pasted in the proffer. i thought i’d at least gotten some of the gist of it, but in larger font (yeah, i forgot i could enlarge it), this freaked me to my toes. how does this get walked back, or any debt relief added to the mix? one needn’t know what the acronyms stand for, iow.

          “10. Privatization
          • The Board of Directors of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund will approve its Asset Development Plan which will include for privatisation all the assets under HRDAF as of 31/12/2014; and the Cabinet will endorse the plan.
          • To facilitate the completion of the tenders, the authorities will complete all government pending actions including those needed for the regional airports, TRAINOSE, Egnatia, the ports of Pireaus and Thessaloniki and Hellinikon (precise list in Technical Memorandum). This list of actions is updated regularly and the Government will ensure that all pending actions are timely implemented.
          • The government and HRADF will announce binding bid dates for Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports of no later than end-October 2015, and for TRAINOSE ROSCO, with no material changes in the terms of the tenders.
          • The government will transfer the state’s shares in OTE to the HRADF.
          • Take irreversible steps for the sale of the regional airports at the current terms with the winning bidder already selected.”

          • I’m pretty skeptical about these sales. Not that there aren’t bidders salivating — read somewhere that China was after Piraeus and maybe Thessaloniki, too; but maybe Russia would snap them up first. Privatizing airports and railroads and such has gone so well in –for example — Britain, hasn’t it? Ffft.

            I’m skeptical because the examples elsewhere are pretty poor, and Greeks can point to privatization failures all over to justify not going through with these provisions. But I dunno.

            If they go through with it to satisfy the Troika, alls I could say about it is booo…. stupid.

            • not to quote hudson again (okay, i will), but he’d said that the pattern has long been established: the sales go to the highest *approved* bidder, like the airport bullet point notes, and it’s always one of the corporate tools belonging to the Troika Titans. i’m just wondering, given all we’ve heard, that there will be much change at all to the current document. damn, i hope i’m dead wrong. and not just about that part of the offering, either.

              schauble, of course, made noises like he himself didn’t care about any outside deals, but then: he wants greece gone, or so he says.

              • Yeah, or so the Schnabel says.

              • Glad you can follow Hudson, ’cause I sure can’t; he’s like a lawn sprinkler, all over the place, and it’s too difficult for my poor brain ;-)

                Meanwhile, as for changing the documents and otherwise modifying what gets done, I’d say you’re right that the privatization provisions are probably the ones the Titans want more than anything else. Whatever they can grab, you bet.

                On the other hand, there might be a Greek strategery in selecting what gets privatized. If as may be the Greek bureaucracy is a major impediment to much good, then getting rid of the assets that are most thoroughly bureaucratized might be a relief. I don’t know, though, so I’ll leave it to the Greeks to figure it out.

                I see from some reports that there is resistance from the Germans and their running dogs to doing anything “for” Greece and there is some kind of movement on the part of the others toward providing a surprising amount of assistance to the Greek people that wasn’t even mentioned in previous “negotiations”.

                “Europe” is still the problem, but ultimately it will be up to Germany and whether Frau Merkel can overcome Schauble’s pissing and moaning.

                As I understand it, there would have to be unanimity to throwing Greece out just as there would have to be unanimity to accept the Greek submission, and right now, there is a stalemate.

                • it may mean something about my brain that i can follow him, although sharmini peries did have to reign him in now and again…. ;-)

                  good points about if and which ports, infrastructure, etc. they may or may not choose, though. but i’m seeing pretty much the same thing this morning. gonna be a long day, all agree. and brussels is seven hours ahead of us, i believe.

                  oops, forgot to paste this in:

                  how colorful: ‘D-Day for Greece

                  “Good morning and welcome to today’s live coverage of events in Athens and Brussels. It is the morning after the night before the Greek parliament voted to back their Prime Minister in requesting a three-year rescue programme from Europe in a desperate bid to stay in the eurozone.

                  However, the measures have not been met with the assent of all his the ruling Syriza party. Ten MPs abstained or voted against the measures last night. Aother seven were absent – including Yanis Varoufakis – leaving Mr Tsipras short of the 151 seats needed for a majority of his own. Today, finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos will be in Brussels and will need the unanimous assent of his fellow 18 finance ministers to seal a bail-out worth around €79bn. In return the government has promised to carry out a radical austerity programme worth nearly €13bn.

                  Crucially, Athens will also want to use today’s meeting to thrash out an agreement over some form of debt relief for the country.

                  We’ll have all the latest from Brussels this afternoon. It may well be a long night; should finance ministers and representatives from the IMF, ECB, and EC decide a deal is in sight, it will almost certain(l)y gain the approval of EU leaders meeting for an emergency summit on Sunday.”

                  Herr Schnauzer still says that debt relief is illegal under treaties. (except for Kiev?) the french and italian FinMins are being very supportive. others are pretty cautious.

  17. No no no, comrade. Privatization still good for privateers. EU taxpayers will still get the shaft, as is virtually admitted, no?

  18. “International observers have been telling us today that the package is likely to be so punitive that humanitarian aid cannot be ruled out.”

    So the Germans break every bone in Greece and then sell them band-aids at a discount?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Yes, jacob. and right on timely cue is yanis varoufakis: ‘Germany won’t spare Greek pain – it has an interest in breaking us; Debt restructuring has always been our aim in negotiations – but for some eurozone leaders Grexit is the goal’

      “By the time Syriza won power last January, and as if to confirm our claim that the “bailouts” had nothing to do with rescuing Greece (and everything to do with ringfencing northern Europe), a large majority within the Eurogroup – under the tutelage of Schäuble – had adopted Grexit either as their preferred outcome or weapon of choice against our government.

      Greeks, rightly, shiver at the thought of amputation from monetary union. Exiting a common currency is nothing like severing a peg, as Britain did in 1992, when Norman Lamont famously sang in the shower the morning sterling quit the European exchange rate mechanism (ERM). Alas, Greece does not have a currency whose peg with the euro can be cut. It has the euro – a foreign currency fully administered by a creditor inimical to restructuring our nation’s unsustainable debt.

      To exit, we would have to create a new currency from scratch.” (he uses iraq as a dreadful example.)

  19. the next steps according to the guardian:

    “Senior eurozone officials will grapple with the details on Saturday morning before passing their recommendations to an extraordinary session in Brussels of the Eurogroup, the committee of 19 eurozone finance ministers.
    The committee’s head, Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands, said he expected a “major decision”.

    After five weeks of breathtaking brinkmanship involving a referendum, marathon negotiations, countless reform and rescue blueprints, and five months of stalemate since the radical leftist Syriza party took office, the finance ministers have to decide whether there is a basis for launching an attempt to strike a new deal.

    EU leaders have scheduled two extraordinary summits in Brussels on Sunday, the first involving the 19 eurozone heads of government, followed by those of all 28 member states including David Cameron and leaders of other non-euro countries.

    These meetings would be cancelled, senior officials in Brussels said, if the finance ministers decided on a green light for new bailout negotiations with Greece.

    “I’d be astonished if the heads overturned a decision of the finance ministers,” said a senior official involved in the negotiations.

    That suggests that if the Sunday summits go ahead, they will be to plan how to cope with a Greek banking collapse and social chaos if the Grexit happens.”

    but hey; the commentariat at fdl has weighed in: tsipras is a traitor, an idiot with no plan b, a sellout, judas, save for pluto, and one white dog in shades who posits that the US will bail out greece as a nato hedge against russian aggression.

    • “Russian aggression,” ha ha.

      • ;-)

        (in all fairness, the little doggie in shades didn’t actually indicate that *it* saw the rooskies as aggressors, but still…the US has a secret deal with tsipras? oy. and veh. but my, my: ‘yves got it right!’ was the over-arching theme.

    • If the Greeks could drag their miserably divided country to exit, the US would gladly provide humanitarian and miltary aid, but not bailout. Greeks have already conceded to halve their last planned reductions in military expenditure, should they remain in the EU; very dubious the military would be allowed to starve with the population.

      Know what I mean, proles?

  20. I’ll go back to my earlier thoughts – one, I think Putin was counselling to hang tight, stay in EU, protract the dialogue (referendum helped with that). The object being to change the EU into a more tractable ‘partner’ – not as the Saker keeps going on about, gunning for its demise but changing it into a reasonable body. This seems almost impossible due to the corruption endemic in the system. The Germany bloc probably has its TBTF banks screaming for Grexit because TBTF. There cannot be debt write-downs. Cheaper to have Grexit. Costly but cheaper. (Except then the snowball starts rolling. . .)

    I looked at the Bill Black article on LIBOR – very hard not to have comments on that. He targets Deutchebank (sorry about sp.) It’s very readable once you glom onto the fact that the character being prosecuted is ‘Rainman’ and the bank edifice he’s going up against is the casino in the movie, who want Rainman outa there because he’s doing what they all do. (That snowball again.)

    My thought is if EU and US systems could be reformed (as I think Tsipras was attempting to do from the Greek ‘foot in the door’) they could operate as the enlarged BRICS system is attempting to do, and in partnership with them. That’s the ‘what a wonderful world’ I’d wish we all could have, hard times for the German factor but win/win in the end.

  21. Thanks very much for that video, Ché Pasa – I’ll watch. I think the Greeks know they have someone who’s on their side in Tsipras. And yes, wendye – heroes always have feet of clay, but you don’t get even those more than once a lifetime.

  22. Well…the meeting in Brussels is over…until tomorrow. No agreement was reached, and the ministers and players by and large looked a bit sour leaving, reportedly.

    The main themes from the Germans and their allies are that no matter what Syriza’s document says, they can’t be trusted to implement any reforms, and besides they’re fat and lazy and untrustworthy. ‘Some creditors’ are demanding more tax rises, pension cuts, yada, yada.

    So it looks like finance ministers are in the middle of drawing up a statement which would commit the Greeks to start legislating on their plans as early as Monday. That’s one way to solve the credibility problem, Tsipras is said to have agreed.

    The Finns are adamant that they will not agree to a new bailout; the Italians are pissed as hell. ‘Stop humiliating athens!’ ‘Enough is enough!’

    Here’s Herr Schnauble’s ‘Go sit in the corner 5-year time-out Grexit’ scheme, apparently approved by Merkel and her vice-chancellor, Gabriel. Participants say they’re not really discussing it, of course… maybe the toxicity of it will inadvertently help? Holland, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia are on board.

    Telegraph synopsis:
    If that German finance ministry paper is a bit tl;dr, here’s a digest of what it proposes:
    a) to keep Greece in the euro:
    Place companies and other assets to be privatised into an independent trust committed to selling them and using the proceeds to pay off national debt
    – Reform the public administration under the supervision of the European Commission.
    Legislate for automatic cuts in government spending if budget deficit targets are missed
    And b) if that doesn’t work out, the paper recommends a five-year euro holiday for Greece, with debt restructuring and “humanitarian and technical assistance”.

    Zo: further baked-in austerity; just what athens needs.

    Guardian synopsis/snark:

    “FAS: Germany proposing temporary Grexit
    Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper is reporting that the German finance ministry has proposed two options for Greece – including a temporary ‘timeout’ from the eurozone!
    Under the first course, Greece would improve its existing proposals, and also transfer some €50bn of property assets to sell off to pay debts (not clear which assets they have in mind. Islands? The Parthenon perhaps?)
    The second option would see Greece leaves the monetary union for at least five years and restructures its debt. It would remain as the EU Member and receives further “growth-enhancing, humanitarian and technical assistance”.

    An arcane law will allow *emergency bailouts, though, and voting comes parsed in a whole ‘nother way: by percentages.

  23. There is an apparent stalemate in Brussels as the Finance Ministers meeting breaks up at (3am?) with no statement or resolution to the current Euro-crisis. Who knows what the sticking point is — nobody’s saying — but the ministers cannot go through with whatever it is they’re trying to do.

    Finland has apparently adamantly rejected further aid to Greece — because, say they, the right wing coalition government in Helsinki will fall if they agree to any more money for Greece.

    But surprise! The Euro-group has discovered they only need 85% agreeance in an emergency, which realistically this would be if anybody was thinking realistically, so Finland can go pound sand. And it’s not one country-one vote, oh no, votes are weighted according to contributions to the fund; ergo, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have the most voting power.

    As usual, Germany is the problem. It looks like he group as a whole can’t find a way around German intransigence. France, Italy, Spain and their allies don’t have enough voting power to reach the 85% threshold. Germany appears to hold 27% of the vote all by itself, so Frau Merkel can block anything.

    An impasse means what, though? No way to tell. The onus will be on Germany if that happens, but so far, Germany doesn’t seem to care. Unless Berlin can get France, Italy and Spain to agree to whatever it is Schauble/Merkel want — which doesn’t look likely — they can’t do anything.

    A stalemated Eurozone unable to do anything, it seems to me, will have to be checkmated.

    How that would happen, I dunno, but some kind of intervention may be necessary.

    Meanwhile, Tsipras and the Greeks cool their heels a while longer.

    (Here I thought Cherokee politics was the suxor. This is beyond… surreal.)

    Note: I’ve been sitting on this comment for a while — while trying to take care of RL this and that, so it might be out of date by now…

    • just that if the 18 ministers can’t come to an agreement tomorrow morning, they’ll boot it up to the 28 leaders of the eurozone. earlier reports had indicated that if that happens, the meeting will be how to arrange a Grexit, including some sort of ‘humanitarian aid’. oh, and that capitalizing the greek banks will take about double the euros forecast (- €25bn), at least according to bloomberg news.

      and the white house is ‘pressuring’ helsinki.

      i’m out for the night. sleep well.

      for you and your soul, frau merkel:

  24. Not as out of date as ‘Crosstalk’, Ché Pasa. They’re still chatting about the referendum. I liked the comment at the Guardian that if Tsipras got a Euro for every time the word ‘trust’ was mentioned, he’d probably have all he needed. Plus an unnamed EU official said Tsakolotis (sorry I’m sure I mangled that) could chop off his arm and Scheuble would still say ‘not enough.’

    If you’d like a change of pace I thought this interview from DU (Down Under) was quite a story – liked the author very much. (It is long but not hard to follow, wendye.) Goes into what happened in the Marshall Islands, Moorea atoll, all those beautiful places. Breaks your heart. Plus a bit at the end about a current storage spot for nuclear waste that’s already leaking.

    (Point of interest, I was living north of Auckland when the Warrior was blown up.)

  25. I hope I’m not repeating a link here, but this article I happened on at, and in the final paragraphs it seems to bring together many of the points we’ve been discussing:

    “. . . My long term best case scenario would be Tsipras to make the deal, then start planning for an orderly and controlled Grexit and start working on convincing people that it is the right choice,” he wrote. “My second best case scenario is Germany digging in its heels and refusing the deal. Painful, violent, but ultimately freeing Greece from bondage to pursue default.

    Andreou concluded: “After decades of the wrong people succeeding from the wrong reasons, Greece was yearning for the right people to fail for the right reasons. I believe this is what has happened. I do not, for a moment, doubt this government’s honesty or integrity and that is an important step forward, psychologically. I believe they have done the best that anyone could have, with honesty and—yes, at times—wide eyed naïveté. I do not envy their task in the weeks and months to come, whatever it turns out to be, and I intend to fully support them in it.”

    • In the video with Zizek, Tsipras expresses his admiration for the way Hugo Chavez governed. He mentioned his inclusion of opposition and “rightist” representatives in his government and his use of referenda as well as regular elections to legitimize his rule — democracy, in other words, something largely missing from Europe…

      He also mentions that SYRIZA — which still becoming a political party in 2013 — already had the confidence of many Greeks because it wasn’t like the other parties, didn’t operate cynically, and it was far more honest with the people than the others.

      The Euro-Titans don’t “trust” Tsipras and his government because they tell the truth about them. That’s the real ‘betrayal’ they’re always yammering on about.

  26. Some final comments at the Guardian liveblog summary express the idea that Tsipras was expecting to be turned down. Indeed, that he attended Chavez’ funeral was a key point in the video. It’s why the points of comparison about Obama and ‘Obots’ were so offensive at, along with the rants about the whole interaction between Syriza and the troika being a waste of time. Yves lost the ball on that one, and I think that’s why comments have been restricted (you still can at their links and watercooler, but no comments on articles even there.)

    Tsipras stayed true to both elements of his mandate, with a clear understanding of the opposition within his own ranks and the need to unite Greeks as much as possible. He didn’t mention the phony attempted takeovers by incited groups within the country Chavez experienced, but they had to be on his mind. Easy to do in Greece where protest is endemic now. One comment I saw somewhere told how many in the Cabinet are indeed wealthy – that’s no accident; even Tsakolotos is. Unity insurance.

    And I think a clear indication that the people were very much represented in those latter stages was Tsakolotos being the only one of the men in that pompous group yesterday from start to finish NOT wearing a tie. And boy did you see Christine? She could have been walking down a Paris runway. The devil loves Dior, something like that. If the entire charade doesn’t stir patriotic feelings in Greek’s oligarchs, nothing will.

    Chavez at the UN it wasn’t, but pretty close. I think he’d be proud.

  27. I’m having warmer feelings about the Guardian.

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