Battle To Oppose Water Privatization Returns Greece To Frontlines Of E.U. Crisis

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By Maria Paradia for Occupy – In late September 2016, the Syriza administration laid the groundwork to begin Greece’s water privatization, achieving a majority of 152 parliamentary votes and enacting series of new measures to transfer the state-run water companies of Athens (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki (EYATH) into a privatization superfund. The duration of the government’s participation in the superfund was set at 99 years, with lenders promising the Greek government a bailout of barely 2.8 billion euros – far lower than the projected 50 billion euros estimated earlier in the year. While Greece was forced to privatize its water sources, however, other countries like Germany were undergoing the opposite: a phase of de-privatization. In Berlin, after 12 years of poor management and exorbitant price hikes, the local government several years ago reclaimed its water resources. This turn of events caused a series of similar de-privatization initiatives across the country, revealing that the projected economic outcomes via privatization weren’t viable in the long term. In fact, the re-established state-run services were proven to be far more efficient, better organized and capable of providing higher-quality services than their privatized counterparts.

How Greece Became A Guinea Pig For A Cashless And Controlled Society

A man makes a transaction at an automated teller machine (ATM) of a Piraeus Bank branch in Athens, Greece. (AP/Yorgos Karahalis)

By Michael Nevradakis for MintPress News – 21 Jun 2017 – Day by day, we’re moving towards a brave new world where every transaction is tracked, every purchase is recorded, the habits and preferences of everyone noted and analyzed. What I am describing is the “cashless society,” where plastic and electronic money are king, while banknotes and coins are abolished. “Progress” is, after all, deemed to be a great thing. In a recent discussion, I observed on an online message board regarding gentrification in my former neighborhood of residence in Queens, New York, the closure of yet another longtime local business was met by one user with a virtual shrug: “Who needs stores when you have Amazon?” This last quote is, of course, indicative of the brick-and-mortar store, at least in its familiar form. In December 2016, Amazon launched a checkout-free convenience store in Seattle—largely free of employees, but also free of cash transactions, as purchases are automatically charged to one’s Amazon account. “Progress” is therefore cast as the abolition of currency, and the elimination of even more jobs, all in the name of technological progress and the “convenience” of saving a few minutes of waiting at the checkout counter.

Analyzing The Failures Of Syriza

Supporters rally with Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras in May, 2014. (Photo: Mirko Isaia)

By Pete Dolack for Counterpunch. So many put their puts hopes into Syriza; so many were bitterly disappointed. Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left proved wholly unable to resist the enormous pressures put on it and it is Greek working people who are paying the price, not excepting those who voted for Syriza. How should we analyze the depressing spectacle of what had been a genuinely Left party, indeed a coalition of leftist forces from a variety of socialist perspectives, self-destructing so rapidly? The simplistic response would be to wash our hands and condemn Syriza as “opportunists,” but we’ll learn exactly nothing with such an attitude. If we are serious about analyzing Syriza’s spectacular failure — including those who expected this outcome in advance — digging through the rubble is unavoidable. There were many currents coursing through Syriza, in addition to other Left tendencies outside. Nor were there shortages of people who feared what the fate of Syriza might become, including leaders inside it, before it took power, reminds Helena Sheehan in her new book The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left. Written in exhilaration and sorrow, Professor Sheehan, a veteran of solidarity work with the Greek Left, rides those tides as she recounts the anticipation and optimism before, and the depression and shock afterward, inside Greece and among Syriza’s allies across Europe.

Greece Forced To Sell Public Water Utilities Under EU-Imposed Privatization Plan

A protester takes part in a rally against the privatization of the state-run water utility, in Thessaloniki, Greece.(AP/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

By Michael Nevradakis for Mint Press News – GREECE — In May 2016, the SYRIZA-led Greek government passed a new comprehensive set of economic austerity policies in exchange for receiving new loans that are intended to keep the country’s fragile economy afloat. This represents the fourth such “memorandum” between Greece and its creditors since the onset of the country’s economic crisis in 2009. It follows the third memorandum agreement passed by the SYRIZA-led government in the summer of 2015, just weeks after 62 percent of Greek voters rejected more EU-demanded austerity measures in the historic Greek referendum of July 5. What both of these memorandum agreements have in common, along with the first two agreements voted upon by previous Greek governments, is the wholesale imposition of economic austerity measures, including pension and wage cuts, in addition to a wide-ranging program of privatizations of key public assets. Just in the past year, 14 major regional Greek airports were privatized, as was the port of Piraeus, Greece’s largest port and one of the largest in Europe. More recently, the port of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, was also privatized to a consortium of investors.

The Greek Left Takes Stock Of The Commons

Protesters wave Greek flags in front of Greece’s Parliament to support the new Syriza-led government in its eurozone bailout negotiations last month. (AP / Petros Giannakouris)

By David Bollier for Bollier – If the Greek experience of the past two years shows anything, it is that conventional Left politics, even with massive electoral support and control of the government, cannot prevail against finance capital and its international allies. European creditors continue to force Greek citizens to endure the punishing trauma of austerity politics with no credible scenario for economic recovery or social reconstruction in sight. After the governing coalition Syriza capitulated to creditors’ draconian demands in 2016, its credibility as a force for political change declined. Despite its best intentions, it could not deliver.

Violent anti-Obama protests break out in Athens

Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe suggests that the views of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are much more popular among the foreign policy elite that those of President Barack Obama. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

By Staff of Telegraph Video, and AP – Greek riot police used tear gas and stun grenades in central Athens on Tuesday to disperse about 3,000 Left-wing marchers protesting a visit by President Barack Obama, after they tried to enter an area declared off-limits to demonstrators. No injuries or arrests were reported. The violence broke out as youths in motorcycle helmets and gas masks, armed with wooden clubs and petrol bombs, tried to break a police cordon in front of a barrier formed by police buses.

Greece: A Country For Sale

The Athens airport. Todd Douglas

By Eleni Portaliou for Jacobin – The most persistent myth concerning Syriza’s capitulation to the troika is that it was a “forced choice.” To put it differently, “there was no alternative” to signing a third memorandum, given an extremely unfavorable balance of forces at a European and international level. This is the only seemingly rational argument Tsipras and his followers have been able to produce defending their actions.

Criminalizing Solidarity: Syriza’s War On The Movements

Protesters wave Greek flags in front of Greece’s Parliament to support the new Syriza-led government in its eurozone bailout negotiations last month. (AP / Petros Giannakouris)

By Theodoros Karyotis for ROAR Magazine – In the early morning of July 27, refugee families and supporters who were sleeping at Thessaloniki’s three occupied refugee shelters — Nikis, Orfanotrofeio and Hurriya — were woken up by police in riot gear. In a well-orchestrated police operation, hundreds of people were detained. Most occupants with refugee status were released, while some were transported to military-run refugee reception centers. The rest of the occupants, 74 people of more than a dozen different nationalities, were taken into police custody.

Greek Privatization Fantasies Suffer Rude Awakening

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By Konstantine Paradias for Occupy – Privatization is one of those ideas that seems great on paper: by selling off public services, a government can be rid of a drain on its resources. This allows the private sector to take over, rejuvenate those assets and turn them into profitable ventures that will provide new, better paying jobs to larger numbers of people who will in turn support all the necessary tax hikes that will account for the loss of those resources.

Photos: Protesters Take To Streets Across Europe

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By Roar Collective. In what may turn out to become a very hot spring, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in major European capitals to protest against their governments, call for the resignation of their political leaders and take back control of their lives. In Reykjavik, mass protests have already brought down the Prime Minister over the rapidly expanding #PanamaPapers scandal, and in London similar demonstrations took place on Saturday to demand the resignation of David Cameron, who was forced to admit this week that he personally profited from his father’s offshore fund, mentioned in the leaks. In Athens, refugees marched to demand open borders and respect for the human right to asylum, while in France a budding indignados-style movement has been building in the squares in opposition to a new labor law, the state of emergency and the growing unresponsiveness of the Socialist government to popular concerns.

Interview: The Syrian Refugee Crisis In Their Own Words

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By Sallie Latch and Mitchel Cohen for WBAI. Samos, Greece – Sallie Latch is an 83-year-old artist born in Cleveland and who grew up in Northern California. She left her current home in Mexico to go to the island of Samos in Greece, to voluntarily work with refugees fleeing bombings and warfare in Syria and Iraq. She arrived there just as the European Union decided to turn away newly arriving refugees and send them back to Turkey, which parallels the United States and other countries turning away boatloads of Jews fleeing the Nazis during World War 2. The Center for Global Justice in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, contributed to Sallie’s efforts and helped make her trip possible.

Greece Demands IMF Explain ‘Disaster’ Remarks In Explosive Leak

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Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras expressed anger on Saturday about the leaked remarks of IMF officials.

By Daniel Marans for The Huffington Post – The leaked remarks of International Monetary Fund officials suggesting the lender may threaten to pull out of Greece’s bailout are eliciting anger in Athens and could jeopardize debt negotiations. The Huffington Post exclusively obtained a private letter on Saturday from Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras to IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, demanding answers for some of the controversial comments in a March 19 teleconference between Poul Thomsen, IMF European director, Delia Velculescu, IMF chief of mission in Greece and IMF official Iva Petrova.

Taking Action Against Austerity, Greek Activists Block Home Foreclosures

Each week, courthouses throughout Greece have been blockaded by members of activist groups, such as the "Popular Stoppage of Payments" movement, seeking to prevent the bank auctions of foreclosed homes from taking place. (Photo: Courtesy of the Popular Stoppage of Payments movement)

By Michael Nevradakis for Truthout – Once again, Greece is in the throes of domestic unrest. Despite the fact that global solidarity movements and the mainstream media have seemingly forgotten about Greece following last July’s referendum, in recent weeks, Greeks have been taking action. Farmers have set up roadblocks in hundreds of locations throughout Greece and have descended upon the capital; lawyers are on strike; accountants have declared that they will abstain from filing tax returns for their clients; and ordinary citizens have once again filled the streets in protest of the Syriza government’s proposed pension cuts, recapitalization of the banks and tax increases.

Where Refugee Solidarity & Alternative Economy Converge

Assembly meeting. From undercoverinfo.wordpress.com.

By Staff of Undercover Info – The centre known as Notara26 is located on 26 Notara Street in Athens and offers solidarity to refugees to cover their immediate needs (shelter, food, medical assistance). The centre provides temporary accommodation, basic medical treatment, clothing and information for up to 130 refugees each day. More than 1,700 refugees and migrants stopped over in Notara between September 25 and December 1 last year alone. The centre continues to act as a focal point for refugees who arrive in Athens and need somewhere to stay for a while.

Greek Farmers Clash With Police, Parade Tractors In Pensions Protest

Smoke rises from a fire set by protesting farmers during a demonstration against planned pension reforms in front of the parliament building in Athens, Greece February 12, 2016.
REUTERS/ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS

By Lefteries Padadimas And Alkis Konstantinidis for Reuters – Angry Greek farmers clashed with riot police in Athens then paraded their tractors and pick-ups outside parliament on Friday, in their first big protest in the capital against pension reform plans after weeks of road blockades. Officers guarded the entrance to the agricultural ministry and fired tear gas to disperse protesters who hurled tomatoes, eggplants and stones at the building, smashing windows and using shepherd’s crooks to repel police during scuffles.