Here’s a quick round-up of some of the big news stories of this week that AREN’T the US election (read my comments on Obama’s vicotry here), Superstorm Sandy and paedophilia.
Greek Parliament passes latest wave of austerity measures
Last night the Greek Parliament passed the highly unpopular austerity measures forced upon it by the European Central Bank, International Monetry Fund and the European Union. Across the country protesters clashed with riot police as their elected representatives forced through a series of new cuts , including €4.6 billion to the country’s pension funds. The latest program of cutbacks also includes 110,000 public sector redundancies and public sector wage cuts of 35%, essentially bankrupting hundreds of thousnads of Greek workers and adding to unemployment figures which currently stand at over 25%. The government passed these austerity measures in order to secure a €31.5 billion bailout from the ECB, IMF and EU.
This is the fifth time in three years that Greeks have faced severe cuts to their income, either through their salary or through pensions, and many have been pushed beyond breaking pint. Yet another general strike was called by Greek unions prior to this vote, the third in two months. Ilias Iliopoulos at the civil servants’ union, Adedy, had this to say: “These policies are clearly not working. All they have done is impoverish Greeks and this country and instead of going down our debt is simply going up. People are going hungry, more than two million are unemployed. This government isn’t going to last long, of that you can be sure.” He added: “These measures may have become law but they won’t be able to enforce them.” (quote stolen from The Guardian)
This massive attack on the lives of millions of people perfectly displays the nature of international relations: Global market leaders are worried about the effect the Greek economy will have on the Euro, other EU economies and, ultimately, their profits, and so have… persuaded international institutions to essentially blackmail Greece into doing whatever they want by threatening to kick them out of the Euro. This would cause an enormous economic collapse in Greece that would have irreparable consequences, plunging millions more people into poverty and dooming not just one but several generations to lifelong joblessness, illness and torturous living conditions. But hey, what do the ECB care, with Greece out of the Euro they can start throwing some more money at the Italian and Spanish economies, which are much heavier weights for the Eurozone to carry.
The long and the short of it then: Financial capital, under the guise of it’s puppets in Athens, have just put the last nailin the coffin of modern Greece as we know it. All together now: One solution!
HSBC to face huge fines after bankrolling drug cartels
HSBC faces fines of upwards of £940 million after a US Senate report found that it was complicit in laundering money for Mexican drug cartels and potential terrorists. Though the report that confirmed HSBC’s activities was released in July, the sub-committee investigating wrongdoing by the bank has yet to give precise figures on what the bank will be fined for failing to enforce appropriate anti money laundering procedures.
In his 2011 book, Amexica, journalist Ed Vulliamy gave both a harrowing account of the effects of drug-trafficking in northern Mexico and the southern US and also drew attention to collusion of international banking groups in this deadly endeavour. The drug war between a number of rival cartels accounted for over 40,000 murders in Mexico between 2006-2011, as well as innumerable serious injuries, not mention skyrocketing levels of addiction, poverty and drug-related crimes, such as assault and rape. That a household name like HSBC has been profiting off of this immense human suffering may not be a surprise to many, but it is despicable nonetheless.
Just a couple of quick thoughts on this. Firstly, no amount of financial penalties would absolve the bank of its role in the destruction of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives. If criminal procedings are not undertaken this will show just how corrupt the criminal system is.
Also in the news:
Legalize It!: Well, they have. Sort of. The states of Colorado and Washington have just voted on whether or not to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, despite it being against federal law in the country. So what does this mean for the hazy eyed people of these states? Well, not much really. Whilst ballots to make marijuana use legal have been passed, they must now be certified before you can smoke a doobie in the street. TO SEATTLE!
Chinese Communist Party to Announce New Leaders: The Chinese Communist Party opened its National Congress today, and will announce its leaders for the next ten years on November 15th. In an opening statement to delegates, current President, Hu Jintao, gave several stark warnings to the new standing commitee, stating that the party had to face up to the “serious challenge” of corruption and find ways to “promote social harmony and improve the people’s lives.” Suggestion: use actual democracy to decide who should run tings and how, stop sending people who disagree with you to labour camps and let people access information through the internet. Plus, y’know, Tibet.
Rant over, thanks for reading!