Greece Selling Islands to “Save Its Economy”

As any other consolidation scheme created by the bankers, the control and acquisition of Greek lands and resources is well on its way.  Greece asked for financial aid to the very bankers it was in debt with.  Now, as part of the deal, Greece is giving away its land.  How much can an undeveloped island cost in the middle of a depression these days?  Little enough for billionaires and bankers to buy it for pennies on the Euro.

Elena Moya

Desperate attempt to repay debts also driven by inability to find funds to develop infrastructure on islands

There’s little that shouts “seriously rich” as much as a little island in the sun to call your own. For Sir Richard Branson it is Neckar in the Caribbean, the billionaire Barclay brothers prefer Brecqhou in the Channel Islands, while Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy on Skorpios, his Greek hideway.

Now Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfill their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6,000 sunkissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts.

The Guardian has learned that an area in Mykonos, one of Greece’s top tourist destinations, is one of the sites for sale. The area is one-third owned by the government, which is looking for a buyer willing to inject capital and develop a luxury tourism complex, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Potential investors also looking at property on the island of Rhodes, are mostly Russian and Chinese. Investors in both countries are looking for a little bit of the Mediterranean as holiday destinations for their increasingly affluent populations. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, is among those understood to be interested, although a spokesman denied he was about to invest.

Greece has embarked on the desperate measures after being pushed into a €110bn (£90bn) bailout by the EU and the IMF last month, following a decade of overspending and after jittery investors raised borrowing costs to unbearable levels.

The sale of an island – or convincing a member of the international jet-set to take on a long-term lease – would help to boost its coffers. The Private Islands website lists 1,235-acre Nafsika, in the Ionian sea, on sale for €15m. But others are on for less than €2m – less than a townhouse in Mayfair or Chelsea. Some of the country’s numerous islands are tiny which could barely fit a single sunbed.

Only 227 Greek islands are populated and the decision to press ahead with potential sales has also been driven by the inability of the state to develop basic infrastructure, or police most of its islands. The hope is that the sale or long-term lease of some islands will attract investment that will generate jobs and taxable income.

Told by the Guardian that such sales or leases were in prospect, Makis Perdikaris, director of Greek Island Properties, said that he would be unhappy at the prospect of any outright sale of state land: “I am sad – selling off your islands or areas that belong to the people of Greece should be used as the last resort,” he said. But he was not necessarily against long-term leases: “The first thing is to develop the economy and attract foreign domestic investment to create the -necessary infrastructure. The point is to get money.”

In its battle to raise funds, the country is also planning to sell its rail and water companies. Chinese investors are understood to be interested in the Greek train system, as they already control some of the ports. In a deal announced earlier this month, the Greek government also agreed to export olive oil to China.

After the socialist government of prime minister Geórgios Papandreou responded to the IMF bailout with draconian budget cuts, rioters took to the streets, costing three lives in May.

In the midst of the crisis, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, delayed her support as she faced local elections and popular opposition to any public-funded help to Greece.

As strikes almost paralysed the country and hedge funds bet against the economy, German politicians called for Greece to start selling islands, historic buildings and artworks. It now appears that the Greek government has heeded their demands.

The City, where investors are increasingly shunning Greek investments, welcomed any island sales. “It’s a shame if it has come to this but it does at least demonstrate that Greece is prepared to take all actions necessary to try and meet its obligations,” said Gary Jenkins, a credit analyst at Evolution Securities.

Property prices have fallen between 10% and 20% since the May riots in Athens, as bad publicity has drawn visitors away, Perdikaris said.

“We have experienced a very slow booking season. Most tour operators offer hugely discounted rates,” he said. Britons account for more than 60% of his company’s property sales.

• This article was amended on 25 June 2010. The original heading – Greece puts its islands up for sale to save economy – went beyond what the story said. This has been corrected. More context has been added to a quotation from Makis Perdikaris, director of Greek Island Properties, to make clear that he was not expressing knowledge of existing Greek government sales of island land.

The 2000-Page Power Grab any Dictator Dreams About

In the words of the very same legislators who created the new financial bill, ‘No one will know until this is actually in place how it works’…, said Christopher Dodd, democrat from Connecticut.  The new bill gives sweeping powers to the president, whoever it is, to determine what is done with many aspects of American citizen’s lives.  “…it deals with every single aspect of our lives,” added Dodd.

WSJ

After more than 20 hours of continuous wrangling, Congressional Democrats and White House officials reached agreement on the

Lawmaker Christopher Dodd (D), next to senator Richard Shelby.

final shape of legislation that would transform financial regulation, avoiding last-minute defections among New York lawmakers that had threatened to upend the bill.

After months of uncertainty about how the U.S. would craft new rules, the agreement offers the clearest picture since the financial crisis of how markets and the government will interact for decades to come. The common thread: large financial companies are facing a tougher leash.

he bill is expected to have enough support to become law. Both chambers plan to vote next week. The margin in the House and Senate will likely be close because most Republicans are expected to oppose the measure.

If the bill passes, President Barack Obama is expected to sign the package into law by July 4. Thursday’s agreement also gives the president leverage going into a weekend summit of world leaders in Canada, where he will prod other nations to rewrite their rules.

“This is about as important as it gets, because it deals with every single aspect of our lives,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), a chief architect of the compromise.

In two important ways, the agreement is tougher on the banking industry than officials in the Treasury Department anticipated when they first drafted their version of the bill 12 months ago.

Lawmakers agreed to a provision known as the “Volcker” rule, named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, which prohibits banks from making risky bets with their own funds. To win support from Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.), Democrats agreed to allow financial companies to make limited investments in areas such as hedge funds and private-equity funds.

The move could require some big banks to spin off divisions, known as proprietary-trading desks, which make bets with the firms’ money.

The bill also includes a provision, authored by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark), which would limit the ability of federally insured banks to trade derivatives. This provision almost derailed the bill following vehement objections from New York Democrats. Ms. Lincoln worked out a deal in the early hours of Friday morning that would allow banks to trade interest-rate swaps, certain credit derivatives and others—in other words the kind of standard safeguards a bank would take to hedge its own risk.

Banks, however, would have to set up separately capitalized affiliates to trade derivatives in areas lawmakers perceived as riskier, including metals, energy swaps, and agriculture commodities, among other things.

A panel of 43 lawmakers spent two weeks reconciling differences between a bill that passed the House in December and the Senate in May. They concluded their negotiations along party lines at a little after 5 a.m. ET in a Capitol Hill conference room marked by tension, levity and exhaustion. Senior administration officials, including Treasury Department Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, arrived late in the afternoon to try and quell the feud between the New York delegation and Ms. Lincoln.

Major components of the bill, including the derivatives provisions, were negotiated in the hallway of the Dirksen Senate Office Building as the clock neared midnight. At one point, after hearing of an offer from Senate Democrats, Rep. Melissa Bean (D., Ill.) exclaimed: “Are you flipping kidding me? Are you flipping kidding me?”

Democrats hailed the agreement as a tool to prevent the kind of taxpayer-funded bailouts that stabilized the economy in 2008 but left divisive scars. Many Republicans said the bill could have unintended consequences, crimping financial markets and access to credit.

“My guess is there are three unintended consequences on every page of this bill,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) said of the nearly 2,000-page bill.

The deal comes as the banking industry is still struggling to regain its footing. Hundreds of banks have been dragged down by bad loans and investments. The violent restructuring of the U.S. banking sector two years ago has left just a few companies controlling a vast amount of the deposits, assets and financial plumbing of the country.

Government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain a multibillion dollar drain on the U.S. Treasury, and largely untouched by this proposal. And the banking sector in parts of Europe remains fragile.

The legislation would redraw how money flows through the U.S. economy, from the way people borrow money to the way banks structure complicated products like derivatives. It could touch every person who has a bank account or uses a credit card.

It would erect a new consumer-protection regulator within the Federal Reserve, give the government new powers to break up failing companies and assign a council of regulators to monitor risks to the financial system. It would also set up strict new rules on big banks, limiting their risk and increasing the costs.

The legislation gives the Securities and Exchange Commission new powers to regulate Wall Street and monitor hedge funds, increasing the agency’s access to funding. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission would also have new powers under the bill, which would try and force most derivatives to face more scrutiny from regulators and other market participants.

To pay for some of the new government programs, the bill would allow the government to charge fees to large banks and hedge funds to raise up to $19 billion spread over five years. The assessment is designed to eventually pay down a part of the national debt.

The broad contours had been set for weeks and mostly mirror a proposal the White House has pushed since last summer. But the last few days represented a mad dash of political maneuvering to iron out final details.

Negotiations went into Friday morning, with New York Democrats and White House officials meeting to address the bill’s potential impact on New York, which relies on the financial industry for employment and tax revenue.

To win broader support, Democrats softened the bill’s impact on community banks, auto dealers, and small payday lenders and check cashers.

From the beginning, lawmakers opted against a dramatic reshaping of the country’s financial architecture. Instead, they moved to create new layers of regulation to prevent companies from taking on too much risk.

For example, regulators decided not to order a sweeping consolidation of the regulatory agencies policing finance. They also decided not to bust up large financial companies, despite pressure from liberal groups.

But they did create a process for seizing and dismantling faltering companies, tools the government lacked in 2008 during the seemingly chaotic events surrounding Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and American International Group Inc.

Democrats are banking on stronger government regulators to constrain risk in the financial system and prevent a future banking crisis—or at least blunt its impact.

Greece may Collapse in August, Economist

CNBC

A restructuring of Greek debt could happen as soon as August, when the Balkan country is due to receive another tranche of funds

The collapse of the greeks may just have been delayed, not avoided.

from its lending agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union, according to Carl Weinberg.

“You can’t take a country that’s over-borrowed and make it more creditworthy by lending it more money,” he said. “They’re throwing Greece further and further and further in the hole by not addressing the problem directly and properly.”Asked when a Greek default could happen, Weinberg answered: “at High-Frequency, we are advising people to take their cell phones on their August vacation.” He said a Greek default would be “harsh” for the euro.

Greek officials did not respond to CNBC.com requests for comment.

On Thursday, Nassim Taleb, professor and author of the bestselling book “The Black Swan,” told CNBC that the economic situation today is drastically worse than a couple of years ago, and that the euro is doomed as a concept.

But famous investor Jim Rogers said now may be a time to buy the single European currency, as there are so many investors who are bearish about it that a rally may be in the making.

IMF and EU funds worth about 7.5 billion euros ($9 billion), crucial for Greece to be able to pay foreign debt, are due to be disbursed at the end of August, Weinberg said.

“Unless (Greeks) meet the quantified adjustment targets that they agreed to in the memorandum of understanding with the IMF, they won’t get this money,” he said, adding that his bet is that Greece will not meet the criteria.

EU Won’t Let Default Happen

Under the memorandum of understanding, performance criteria include ceilings on the budget deficit, cutting government and social security spending, as well as revamping key public companies.

However, other analysts say the implications of a Greek default on the euro zone’s financial institutions and economy are so great that the two institutions will disburse the funds even if the country does not fully meet the criteria.

“By alimenting Greece, we are also alimenting the European banking system,” Hans Redeker, global head of foreign exchange at BNP Paribas, told CNBC.

“It is going to be tried to be protected as long as possible, to be sure that this country is viable economically,” Redeker added.

A Greek debt restructuring, if it happens, would be an orderly one, to cause as little pain to the euro as possible, Weinberg said.

Watch the testimony from Economist Carl Weinberg.

UN warns climate change could trigger ‘mega-disasters’

The same people who brought us Anthropogenic Global Warming, Climategate, Sustainability and the toxic Green Revolution now warn us about mega-disasters to come due to Climate Change.  Should we believe them?  Should we even pay attention to them?  Yes, but not for their science.  Even knowing all the history of the planet’s climate, they weren’t able -or did not want to- tell us the truth about the Earth’s state of affairs.  Can they be truthful about it now?  NO.  We should be concerned about their warnings because these same globalists are the owners of Laser Weapons and Weather modification technology to make any disaster happen.

AFP

Weather-related catastrophes brought about by climate change are increasing, the top UN humanitarian official said Sunday as he warned of the possibility of “mega-disasters”.

John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, said one of the biggest challenges facing the aid community was the problems stemming from changing weather patterns.

“When it comes meteorological disasters, weather-related disasters, then there is a trend upwards connected with climate change,” Holmes, who is in Australia for high-level talks on humanitarian aid, told AFP.

“The trend is there is terms of floods, and cyclones, and droughts.”

Holmes, who is the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, said it had been a tough year due to January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, which killed more than 250,000 people.

He said while earthquakes, such as the 7.0-magnitude quake which levelled the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, were random, weather-related natural disasters were increasing in number and scale.

“It’s partly the very obvious things like the number of cyclones and the intensity of the cyclones, and the amount of flooding,” he said.

“But is also in slightly more invisible ways — in Africa with drought spreading, desertification spreading.”

Holmes said officials were particularly concerned about places where a combination of factors — such as large populations, or likelihood of earthquake, or susceptibility to rising sea levels — made them more vulnerable.

“One of things we worry about is mega cities could produce, at some point, a mega disaster,” he said.

“Cities like Kathmandu for example, which sits on two earthquake faults, where a large earthquake will come along… and the results could be catastrophic.”

Holmes said while some countries were well-prepared for disaster — such as Chile which was hit with a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake in February which left 520 people dead — others such as Haiti were less able to manage.

“That’s one of the reasons we want to focus on not just how we respond to disaster, we need to do that, but how you reduce the impact of those disasters before they happen,” Holmes said.

In Haiti, the situation remained serious, he said, with some 1.5 million people living in makeshift shelters and little prospect of this changing soon.

“There are real concerns about how vulnerable people still are, despite all the efforts that have been made,” he said.

Holmes said the need for humanitarian aid was rising faster than resources were available, particularly given the long-running conflicts in areas such as Sudan’s Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At the same time, climate change would likely set in chain migration due to drought or rising sea levels or conflicts due to a scarcity of water or arable land in coming years and these would place more pressure on funds.

“So all these things are going to create more problems for us, and we’re really just coming to grips with what the consequences might be,” Holmes said.

“And you can construct some extremely scary scenarios for yourself without too much trouble.

“For example, about what the effect might be of glaciers melting in the Himalayas. Now we don’t quite know whether that’s happening, or will happen, or not. But if it did, what would the effect be on the major river systems of southern Asia?”

Holmes said while a decade ago, climate change was not on officials’ radars, “now it’s on everybody’s agenda.”

“Climate change for us is not some future indeterminate threat, it’s happening in front of our eyes,” he said. “We can see it.”

The Psychopathic Criminal Enterprise Called America

The Government uses the Law to Harm People and Shield the Establishment
By Prof. John Kozy
District of Criminals, for criminals and by criminals

District of Criminals, for criminals and by criminals.

Most Americans know that politicians make promises they never fulfill; few know that politicians make promises they lack the means to fulfill, as President Obama’s political posturing on the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico makes perfectly clear.

Obama has made the following statements:

He told his “independent commission” investigating the Gulf oil spill to “thoroughly examine the disaster and its causes to ensure that the nation never faces such a catastrophe again.” Aside from the fact that presidential commissions have a history of providing dubious reports and ineffective recommendations, does anyone really believe that a way can be found to prevent industrial accidents from happening ever again? Even if the commissions findings and recommendations succeed in reducing the likelihood of such accidents, doesn’t this disaster prove that it only takes one? And unlikely events happen every day.

The president has said, “if laws are insufficient, they’ll be changed.” But no president has this ability, only Congress has, and the president must surely know how difficult getting the Congress to effectively change anything is. He also said that “if government oversight wasn’t tough enough, that will change, too.” Will it? Even if he replaces every person in an oversight position, he can’t guarantee it. The people who receive regulatory positions always have ties to the industries they oversee and can look forward to lucrative jobs in those industries when they leave governmental service. As long as corporate money is allowed to influence governmental action, neither the Congress nor regulators can be expected to change the laws or regulatory practices in ways that make them effective, and there is nothing any president can do about it. Even the Congress’ attempt to raise the corporate liability limit for oil spills from $75 million to $10 billion has already hit a snag.

The President has said that “if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice” and that BP would be held accountable for the “horrific disaster.” He said BP will be paying the bill, and BP has said it takes responsibility for the clean-up and will pay compensation for “legitimate and objectively verifiable” claims for property damage, personal injury, and commercial losses. But “justice” is rendered in American courts, not by the executive branch. Any attempts to hold BP responsible will be adjudicated in the courts at the same snail’s pace that the responsibility for the Exxon-Mobile Alaska oil spill was adjudicated and likely will have the same results.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989. In Baker v. Exxon, an Anchorage jury awarded $287 million for actual damages and $5 billion for punitive damages, but after nineteen years of appellate jurisprudence, the Supreme Court on June 25, 2008 issued a ruling reducing the punitive damages to $507.5 million, roughly a tenth of the original jury’s award. Furthermore, even that amount was reduced further by nineteen years of inflation. By that time, many of the people who would have been compensated by these funds had died.

The establishment calls this justice. Do you? Do those of you who reside in the coastal states that will ultimately be affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster really believe that the President can make good on this promise of holding BP responsible? By the time all the lawsuits filed in response to this disaster wend their ways through the legal system, Mr. Obama will be grayed, wizened, and ensconced in a plush chair in an Obama Presidential Library, completely out of the picture and devoid of all responsibility.

Politicians who engage in this duplicitous posturing know that they can’t fulfill their promises. They know they are lying; yet they do it pathologically. Aesop writes, “A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.” Perhaps that’s why politicians never do.

Government in America consists of law. Legislators write it, executives apply it, and courts adjudicate it. But the law is a lie. We are told to respect the law and that it protects us. But it doesn’t. Think about it people! The law and law enforcement only come into play secundum vitium (after the crime). The police don’t show up before you’re assaulted, robbed, or murdered; they come after. So how does that protect you? Yes, if a relationship of trust is violated, you can sue if you can afford it, and even that’s not a sure thing. (Remember the victims of the Exxon-Valdez disaster!) Even if the person who violated the relationship gets sanctioned, will you be “made whole”? Most likely not! Relying on the law is a fool’s errand. It’s enacted, enforced, and adjudicated by liars.

The law is a great crime, far greater than the activities it outlaws, and there’s no way you can protect yourself from it. The establishment protects itself. The law does not protect people. It is merely an instrument of retribution. It can only be used, often ineffectively, to get back at the malefactor. It never un-dos the crime. Executing the murderer doesn’t bring back the dead. Putting Ponzi schemers in jail doesn’t get your money back. And holding BP responsible won’t restore the Louisiana marshes, won’t bring back the dead marine and other wildlife, and won’t compensate the victims for their losses. Carefully watch what happens over the next twenty years as the government uses the law to shield BP, Transocean, and Halliburton while the claims of those affected by the spill disappear into the quicksand of the American legal system.

Jim Kouri, citing FBI studies, writes that “some of the character traits exhibited by serial killers or criminals may be observed in many within the political arena.;” they share the traits of psychopaths who are not sensitive to altruistic appeals, such as sympathy for their victims or remorse or guilt over their crimes. They possess the personality traits of lying, narcissism, selfishness, and vanity. These are the people to whom we have entrusted our fate. Is it any wonder that America is failing at home and world-wide?

Some may say that this is an extreme, audacious claim. I, too, was surprised when I read Kouri’s piece. But anecdotal evidence to support it is easily cited. John McCain said “bomb, bomb, bomb” during the last presidential campaign in response to a question about Iran. No one in government has expressed the slightest qualms about the killing of tens of thousands of people in both Iraq and Afghanistan who had absolutely nothing to do with what happened on nine/eleven or the deliberate targeting of women and children by unmanned drones in Pakistan. What if anything distinguishes serial killers from these governmental officials? Only that they don’t do the killing themselves but have others do it for them. But that’s exactly what most of the godfathers of the cosa nostra did.

So, there are questions that need to be posed: Has the government of the United States of America become a criminal enterprise? Is the nation ruled by psychopaths? Well, how can the impoverishment of the people, the promotion of the military-industrial complex and endless wars and their genocidal killing, the degradation of the environment, the neglect of the collapsing infrastructure, and the support of corrupt and authoritarian governments (often called democracies) abroad be explained? Worse, why are corporations allowed to profiteer during wars while the people are called upon to sacrifice? Why hasn’t the government ever tried to prohibit such profiteering? It’s not that it can’t be done.

In the vernacular, harming people is considered a crime. It is just as much a crime when done by governments, legal systems, or corporations. The government uses the law to harm people or shield the establishment from the consequences of harming people all the time. Watch as no one from the Massey Energy Co. is ever prosecuted for the disaster at the Upper Big Branch coal mine. When corporations are accused of wrongdoing, they often reply that what they did was legal, but legal is not a synonym for right. When criminals gain control, they legalize criminality.

Unless the government of the United States changes its behavior, this nation is doomed. No one in government seems to realize that dissimulation breeds distrust, distrust breeds suspicion, and suspicion eventually arouses censure. Isn’t that failure of recognition by the establishment a sign of criminal psychopathology?
John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who blogs on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.