Greece ‘unlikes’ freedom of the press

Journalist arrested for disclosing a list of tax evaders

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | OCTOBER 29, 2012

Investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis will go on trial for publishing the so-called ‘Lagarde list’, which contains the names of 2,059 Greek people with bank accounts in Switzerland. The document, whose authenticity the government in Athens refuses to confirm, includes at least three politicians, two of them from the New Democracy, the party of Prime Minister Andonis Samaras. These people have accounts at the HSBC bank. The journalist appears Monday in court accused of publishing confidential data.

Vaxevanis was arrested Sunday morning at a friend’s house in Athens, amid a security deployment that he called a “fascist militia” in one of his Twitter messages. This Saturday, Hot Doc, who runs the fortnightly magazine where Vaxevanis made the documents public, ran the headline “All the names of the Lagarde list”.

The story is not new. In autumn 2010, six months after the first bailout of Greece, the then French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, gave his Greek counterpart, George Papaconstantinou, a list of 2059 names of Greek citizens with accounts in Switzerland as documentary evidence of the inveterate habit of evading taxes by professionals and entrepreneurs in Greece.

The fight against tax fraud was one of the flags of the socialist government of George Papandreou, along with a clamorous demand from international lenders, the troika form by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (the latter currently headed by Lagarde).

But the ‘Lagarde list’ apparently fell into oblivion and did not surface until earlier this month when Papaconstantinou’s successor as head of the Ministry of Economy and now leader of a party adrift, the socialist Evánguelos Venizelos, surrendered the list to authorities. Both declared that they had no information on the whereabouts of the list, but gave conflicting testimonies, said journalist Michalis Samozraki a Hot Doc hournalist during a phone conversation.

“In recent months there has been much controversy over the matter. Papaconstantinou and Venizelos were summoned by a special parliamentary committee, but told a different story from their previous one, that they had no knowledge about the existence of the ‘Lagarde list’; while later, they said they could not publish it because it was confidential … They used this as an excuse. But the Greeks began to feel cheated. That is why the fact that his colleague was arrested for publishing the list, is seen by Samozraki as an “act of total censorship. ”

Sources say the magazine received a copy of the ‘Lagarde list’ anonymously and Vaxevanis himself vindicated his obligation to disclose it, despite the threat of legal action: “I have done nothing but what a journalist is obliged to do: reveal some hidden truth “, says in a video sent to Reuters. “If anyone should be prosecuted, those are ministers who hid the list, the ‘lost’ list that they said it didn’t exist. I just did my job. I am a journalist and that’s my job. ”

In the list published by Hot Doc there are the names of at least three politicians, including two former ministers of New Democracy, one of them is dead, and a current is a director for Samaras. The former Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis denied having money in Switzerland, despite being on the list.

The potential arrest of Vaxevanis was known since Saturday after it was issued by a Greek prosecutor. Vaxevanis has under his belt investigations that include the scandal known as  the Vatopedi case — one of the largest corruption scandals in the last five years and also collaborates as a journalist on the website Koutipandoras.gr (Pandora’s Box). “They entered the house with a prosecutor,” said Vaxevanis on his Twitter account. “They are detaining me. Please spread the word.” Pictures of the outside of the building where he was showed a large police operation which included a strong checkpoint.

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If no one believes in the recovery, why are Europe and the world Trying?

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | OCTOBER 23, 2012

I don’t know you, but I’m sick and tired of hearing about the financial collapse. The financial crisis we are now in was predicted long ago, and those predictions were correct. So why hasn’t it happened? First of all, it is happening. In fact it began a while ago. While many people expected to have a sudden collapse, which dragged the world into a whole, the fall of the international financial system was not planned to take place that way. Second of all, the financial collapse was planned to occur slowly and painfully, not only because the elites that planned it are financial sadists, but also because that is the only way to carry out their plan successfully.

The slow financial collapse allows the perpetrators to slowly bite off pieces from the grand pie, inflicting lethal but manageable pain and damage into the world’s economic and financial systems. This tactic in turn prepares the field for further deterioration and acquiescence from the public and the governments who they control. The kind of financial terrorism carried out by the largest financial entities in the history of the world, which are controlled by the smallest amount of people ever, makes it possible to successfully materialize the elite’s dream to create the most powerful monopoly of money and resources while they present themselves as the saviors.

The truth however, is that they are not saving anyone but themselves. While they buy off politicians and buy up land and essential resources for pennies on whatever currency they want, governments continue to fail to hold them accountable for their crimes. In fact, the bureaucrats in governments are faithful accomplices of the elites. Only one country has been able to partially defeat these monopoly men, and that country is Iceland. After kicking the bankers out, Iceland is now racing on the path of recovery, with a growing economy that simply sparked to life after telling the bankers that the illegal debt they had put under Iceland’s name was not theirs.

Iceland did what no other country had the guts to do: let the banks fail. Four years later, the country is being praised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). That’s right. One of the most important globalist organizations who are out to destroy countries like Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain, congratulates Iceland for doing the right thing. The Icelandic people did not need to go through austerity programs, they did not lose millions of jobs and neither did they have their pensions or retirement accounts looted by the bankers. “The recovery has been quite impressive. GDP growth has picked up in the last couple of years and is now running around three percent a year,” says Franek Rozwadowski, a visitor from the IMF.

On the other side of the road there are countries like Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal, all of which chose to follow the bankers’ path to destruction. Spain has increased its debt dramatically in a supposed effort to curb the government’s deficit, imposed massive austerity measures, looted pension and retirement accounts, cut public jobs, accumulated a 24% unemployment rate, “rescued” its banks at least twice, adopted deadly economic policies as ordered by Brussels, but still is on its way to the financial precipice. The same model has been used by Greece, Italy and Portugal, who are following Spain on their way to social collapse. It is estimated that the Spanish debt will reach  23 billion euros by the end of the year, with no hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The main reason for this is that the pact completed between the Spanish government and Brussels never intended to take Spain out of the dark tunnel. As explained in the documents obtained from the World Bank, the collapse of most European nations is part of a well-crafted plan that the elite has applied over and over again throughout the world. It happened in small countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, mid-size countries like Argentina, and now in larger economies like Spain, the United States, France, Italy, Greece and others.

As it turns out, the so-called bailouts are not such things. They are more like acquisitions. As explained by Journalist and researcher Greg Palast — who broke the story about the World Bank’s plan — the idea is to secretly repossess the assets of every country in the world. This is achieved through a bribery system in which the global bankers buy off the politicians in different countries so that they adopt IMF and World bank policies that intend to destroy their economies. Once the policies have been adopted, the bankers begin to slowly but surely subtract the resources of those countries unnoticeably, mainly through financial aid programs and trade agreements.

The mistaken belief that a recovery will come out of the current austerity measures and financial bailouts stems from the well engineered propaganda campaign orchestrated by the banking system and the main stream media, who have gone from denying that there is a crisis to accepting there is one and that the same bankers who caused it, who planned it, are going to be the saviors. Little do most people know that the kind of crisis we are now going through is part of the plant to carry out a planet wide extortion scheme through which the globalist banking elite once again walks away with significant amounts of resources.

The difference is that this time the looting is not limited to once small or mid-sized nation, but to several large countries in Europe and the world. Greek islands are now for sale to the best bidder, because the country cannot pay its debt. Guess who will come to the rescue? The monopoly men will come and buy the islands for cents on the Dragma. The same situation will happen in Spain, once Mariano Rajoy requests the financial rescue. So if you are asking yourself why is it that the economy isn’t getting better despite the continuous assurances that everything on the books is being done to get to that point, the truth is that the banker plan does not contemplate a recovery. At least not one where everyone will have the opportunity to thrive.

Read the complete interview given by Greg Palast after learning about and getting the World Bank’s secret documents that detail how the global financial entities destroy nations.

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Merkel and Hollande want Greece Destruction to Remain on Schedule

Both Merkel’s and Holland’s stances are that Greece must suffer the pain related to being owned by European banksters. The PM’s have said they won’t move a muscle to easy the destruction and consolidation of the mediterranean country.

By STEPHEN BROWN | REUTERS | AUGUST 24, 2012

Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande presented a united front towards Greece on Thursday, telling Athens it should not expect leeway on its bailout agreement unless it sticks to tough reform targets.

The German and French leaders met in Berlin to fine-tune their message to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who begins a charm offensive in Berlin and Paris this week in the hope of persuading Europe’s big powers that Greece deserves patience.

Merkel stuck to her policy of deferring to a report due in September on Athens’ progress by the “troika” of international lenders before discussing flexibility on the bailout terms, but said it was vital “that we all stay true to our commitments”.

“But we will, and I will, encourage Greece to continue on its path to reform, which has demanded a lot of the Greek people,” she told reporters before a dinner with Hollande set to be dominated by Greece.

“We want, I want, Greece to be in the euro zone, it’s a desire we have expressed since the start of the crisis. It’s up to the Greeks to make the effort that is essential for that goal to be met,” said France’s Socialist president, standing alongside Merkel.

German sources who attended the working dinner later told Reuters the two leaders had vowed to work “together and with resolve” to overcome the euro zone crisis and had also agreed that “credibility” was the key to rescuing Greece.

A source close to the French presidency said the two leaders had wanted to have a “straightforward” talk on a host of hot-button topics, from the euro zone to Syria.

Hollande plans to visit Spain on August 31 and Italy in early September, the source said. Both countries have seen their borrowing costs shoot up this summer amid market fears that the euro zone may start to unravel.

Samaras has given interviews to German media stressing that while Athens may seek more time to meet its fiscal targets, it is not asking for more money. But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and others seemed unconvinced.

“More time is not a solution to the problems,” Schaeuble said, addressing Samaras’ hopes that his country might be given four years instead of two to push through painful economic reforms, to alleviate the impact on the Greek people.

Schaeuble said more time could also mean “more money” and Europe’s help for Greece had already “gone to the limits of what is economically viable”.

From the sidelines, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees De Jager – a staunch ally of Berlin – urged Germany to “stick with its strict position” and giving Greece more time would not help.

European leaders say any decisions on Greece will depend on the report by inspectors from the “troika” – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Samaras is seeking what he calls “a bit of air to breathe” at a moment of rare optimism on financial markets that the EU and ECB are poised for decisive action on the euro debt crisis.

Behind their stern public message, Berlin and Paris may have little choice but to show some flexibility, with little appetite in either capital for forcing Greece out of the euro zone.

AFTER MERKOZY

In talks that also touched on banking supervision in Europe and the role of the ECB, as well as civil war in Syria, Merkel and Hollande hoped to replicate the “Merkozy” alliance that gave the euro zone some semblance of unified leadership under Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

The German sources described the atmosphere at Thursday’s dinner as good.

The Franco-German axis has been strained by Hollande’s calls for more measures to stimulate growth, a rebuff to Merkel’s strict agenda of austerity. Some German officials say the relationship with Hollande is off to a rocky start.

As Merkel prepares to campaign for a third term in 2013, in a country where the media is taking an increasingly tough line with Greece, she cannot cede too much to Samaras – or to the French Socialist government, which is allied with her main domestic opponents, the Social Democrats.

With German patience wearing thin after repeated requests for financial help from Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, Merkel is under pressure to defend taxpayers’ interests while also upholding the stability of the currency.

Merkel will be watching Hollande’s attempts to meet his own deficit targets with spending cuts and tax measures in the 2013 budget, German officials say.

“If Hollande gives up on his targets because of rising domestic political resistance, we can hardly expect more painful reforms from states like Italy or Spain,” said one government source in Berlin, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There are signs that Merkel’s conservatives, if not ready to postpone Greek reform targets, may also find ways to be flexible if the troika finds Athens is broadly in compliance.

“With Greece, we cannot change the cornerstones of the aid package or tamper with the principle of conditionality. But I can imagine we could adapt certain things within that framework such as interest rates or maturities on credit, like we already did with the first package,” said Norbert Barthle, a member of parliament from Merkel’s ruling center-right coalition.

Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, said Greece was staring at its “last chance” to avoid bankruptcy.

Spain Complies with Brussels’ Deadly Economic Policies

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JULY 12, 2012

Mariano Rajoy and his government have provided another sign that they are not about to stop starving Spain through the policies proposed and enforced by the European government, after it agreed to rescue the peninsular nation with some 125 billion in aid. The conditions imposed by Brussels were clear in order to provide the funding to rescue the Spanish banking system: deadly austerity and exorbitant increases in taxes.

Rajoy has delivered as promised a week ago, when he proudly announced that the European government had accepted the conditions Spain had proposed, even though it was the other way around. Back then, Rajoy announced the bailout as a triumph and a step in the right direction to get Spain back on track and to pursue economic growth and higher employment. However, since the announcement of the bailout and the realization of the contract between Spain and the EU government, things have been going downhill only.

Since the acceptance of the financial aid, which by the way the Spanish people will have to pay for, deeper austerity measures have been implemented and the value added tax increased to 21 percent. The spanish government says it has officially cut 65 billion euros from the fiscal deficit, a measure whose results will be fulfilled, says Rajoy in 2014. Much of the money the government is cutting belongs to social programs, on which millions of spanish people depend to live. In practical terms, this means that the government has effectively tied a noose around the necks of all of those dependent people who will see their purchasing power and resources decrease exponentially in the next 2 years.

The package of measures imposed by the European government as a condition to rescue to the Spanish banking system also includes deep cuts in unemployment benefits and civil service pay. It is also believed that future measures will include tapping into the monies destined to fund pension funds and retirement accounts as well as determine that people will have to retire at a much later age and pay a bigger cut of their already depleted income to those pension or retirement systems. Rajoy’s announcement of more austerity and cuts to government entitlement programs provoked a mix of jeers and boos from opposition party members in the Spanish Parliament.

“These measures are not pleasant, but they are necessary. Our public spending exceeds our income by tens of billions of euros,” Rajoy told the members present at the parliament. He also warned people about new plans to enact new taxes on energy consumption and plans to give away SPanish infrastructure to private companies who work for the European banking system. Rajoy said places such as ports, airports and rail would be ‘privatized’ in order to pinch every penny possible to help the government deal with its current deficit. The government of Spain will also reverse property tax breaks it had announced back in December 2011.

The current fiscal problems that Spain faces have been aggravated by a recent public protest that extended to the streets of Madrid, where hundreds of coal miners who marched to the capital from the northern regions of Spain, are protesting against cuts in mining subsidies that they say will put them out of work. Those cuts are also part of the government’s recently adopted measures to supposedly reduce the deficit. The newest austerity measures are even making a dent into one of the most important social distractions in Spain: Soccer. As reported by Sport.es, the austerity measures announced by Mariano Rajoy greatly influence that sales and transfers of players before the start of the next soccer season.

More than five years of economic digression, that began back in the days of José Maria Aznar, have morphed into a recession and a government rejected depression that translated into a 24+ percent unemployment rate, the highest deficits in recent decades, a failing banking system that was heavily invested in fictitious financial products, soaring borrowing costs, financial downgrades of both the Spanish government and the banks, decreasing purchasing power for the average Spanish, a deeper fall into the indebtedness black hole and of course the loss of national sovereignty.

Although similar measures adopted in other nations such as Greece have not yielded any positive results the government led by Mariano Rajoy has already compromised with the European bankers to adopt and execute a package of policies that seem to be taking Spain slowly and painfully the way of the financial butcher’s. The only missing part from the Argentinian situation of 1999 to 2000 in the Spanish scenario are the public riots on the streets, that seem closer than ever now that the miners have taken to the capital to protest the cuts in subsidies. With more shutdowns of public companies, reduced benefits for civil servants, budget cuts for political parties and labor unions, the adoption of more deadly policies originated in Brussels warn that the riots might just be around the corner.

Greeks Withdraw $1 Billion a Day as they Await for Decisive Vote

REUTERS | JUNE 13, 2012

Greeks pulled their cash out of the banks and stocked up with food ahead of a cliffhanger election on Sunday that many fear will result in the country being forced out of the euro.

Bankers said up to 800 million euros ($1 billion) were leaving major banks daily and retailers said some of the money was being used to buy pasta and canned goods, as fears of returning to the drachma were fanned by rumors that a radical leftist leader may win the election.

The last published opinion polls showed the conservative New Democracy party, which backs the 130 billion euro ($160 billion) bailout that is keeping Greece afloat, running neck and neck with the leftist Syriza party, which wants to cancel the rescue deal.

As the election approaches, publishing polls is now legally banned and in the ensuing information vacuum, party officials have been leaking contradictory “secret polls”.

On Tuesday, one rumor making the rounds was that Syriza was leading by a wide margin.

“This is nonsense,” one reputable Greek pollster said on condition of anonymity. “Our polls show the picture has not changed much since the last polls were published. Parties may be leaking these numbers on purpose to boost their standing.”

The pollster said there was some consolidation, with voters turning to New Democracy and Syriza from smaller parties but the pool of undecided voters remained unusually large so close to the election and the result was impossible to predict.

Both parties say they want Greece to remain in the single currency but Syriza has pledged to scrap the bailout agreement signed in March which has imposed some of the toughest austerity measures seen in Europe in decades.

The European Union and International Monetary Funds have warned that Greece, which has only enough cash to last for a few weeks, must stick to the conditions of the bailout deal or risk seeing funds cut off.

Euro Or Drachma Dilemma

New Democracy has been telling voters they must choose between the euro or the drachma, while Syriza promises to end the austerity measures imposed by Greece’s international lenders, such as salary and pension cuts, that have driven many Greeks into abject poverty.

Fears that Greece will collapse financially and leave the euro have slowly drained Greek banks over the last two years. Central bank figures show that deposits shrank by about 17 percent, or 35.4 billion euros ($44.4 billion) in 2011 and stood 165.9 billion euros ($208.1 billion) at end-April.

Bankers said the pace was picking up ahead of the vote, with combined daily deposit outflows from the major banks at 500-800 million euros ($625 million to $1 billion) over the past few days, and 10-30 million euros ($12-36 million) at smaller banks.

“This includes cash withdrawals, wire transfers and investments into money market funds, German Bonds, U.S. Treasuries and EIB bonds,” said one banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Retailers said consumers were stocking up on non-perishable food while almost all other goods were seeing a huge drop in sales as cash-strapped Greeks have no money to spare in the country’s fifth year of recession.

“People are terrified by the prospect of returning to the drachma and some believe it’s good to fill their cupboard with food products,” said Vassilis Korkidis, head of the ESEE retail federation.

“It’s over the top, we must not panic. Filling the cupboard with food doesn’t mean we will escape the crisis,” he said.