Updates 4 Jul 15 from RT: Pro-Greece rallies STORYMAP: How the world is expressing solidarity with anti-austerity campaign, 'No more looting': Thousands rally across EU to express solidarity with Greece, From historic vote' for Greece's Syriza to #Greferendum : INTERACTIVE TIMELINE
Update July 6, 2015: The 'NO' vote has won, 62%: 38%!The 11:00PM ABC news last night reported large rallies for a 'No' vote at today's referendum in Greece. Rallies in Greece in support of a 'Yes' vote were considerably smaller. Rallies by Greek Australians also featured in the report. In spite of the fact that further austerity and privatisation that could only be ended with a 'No' vote, would be disastrous for the Greek people, the organisers of the Australian rallies chose not to advocate 'No' vote. Instead, the rallies are taking a neutral stance ostensibly in solidarity with Greece.
Reports of rallies in Australia and Greece can be found on the ABC News site. 1 Included below, in this article, are two embedded videos of rallies of Greeks in support of a 'No' vote against the IMF bailout conditions. Both were uploaded on 3 July 2015. The first, from the RT YouTube channel, is of length 3:28 minutes. (The fact that this video is only in Greek and has no English sub-titles does little to detract from its value for English audiences.) The second, from ThePressProject video channel is of length 10:30 minutes. It has been dubbed over by an English interpreter.
'OXI, OXI!': Tens of thousands chant 'No' to bailout conditions as Tsipras addresses crowd
Alexis Tsipras speaks to the Greek people before the Greferendum
In the speech, although Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tells the crowd that democracy will have triumphed regardless of whether the 'No' vote or the 'Yes' vote wins on Sunday, he contradicts this by also implying that a yes vote would be a surrender.
As explained by Tsipras, and as shown elsewhere, a majority 'Yes' vote, far from being a triumph of democracy, would signify a surrender to the demands of the IMF for ruinous austerity and privatisation of publicly owned assets in return for temporary relief from the interest payments on an illegitimate loan. That loan from the IMF was taken out on behalf of of the Greek people, with neither their consent nor the consent of the then opposition Syriza Party, by a previous corrupt PASOK government.
Other stories about the referendum include: Thousands attend Greek solidarity protest in Dublin as Greece prepares for polls (4/7/15) | Irish Examiner, Greece's referendum shows you can have too much democracy [?!!] (4/7/15) | Quartz. See also list of earlier stories here.
#fn1" id="fn1">1.#txt1"> ↑ I was #comment-259576">advised by 'J-D' on johnQuiggin.com, where the report of large rallies for a 'No' vote can be found, Greek debt crisis: Prime minister Alexis Tsipras demands debt write-off, 'grace period' for repayments as rival rallies fill streets, can be found on the ABC News web-site.
The great disappointment for many of us was the Mayor's premise that, in his opinion, population growth was inevitable and that his job was to respond to that inevitability in his role as Mayor. So he would not provide a frank opinion on whether he agreed that endless extreme population growth was unreasonable. He avoided the issue and would not concede his responsibility to the people of Melbourne who are being subjected to this ongoing process of dispossession.
The Mayor highlighted that we live in a free society where public policy debate allows this issue to be fully aired. He also explained the difference between his versions of dumb growth and smart growth. He didn't mention that a key issue is the RATE of growth - which is what concerns most people.
He praised the virtues of modern Melbourne compared to the Melbourne of the 70s and effectively claimed that we could not live in the halcyon days of the past.
He made no mention of:
- We would not be able to "live in the future" either if Australia continued its autocratically imposed self-colonisation policy indefinitely
- At 2.5% per annum, Melbourne's population growth is comparable to those of the most underdeveloped parts of Africa
- Unlike such underdeveloped countries where growth is "natural", Australia's extreme rate of growth is due to an autocratic policy of extreme self-colonisation without the consent of the Australian people
- The ABC does not support open public policy debate of this issue
- Australian homelessness is escalating at a compound rate of 3.2% per annum (doubling time 22 years)
- Australian unemployment is escalating at a compound rate of 2.3% per annum (doubling time 30 years)
- The above rates, if directly influenced by population growth, are likely to be far higher in Melbourne than the Australian averages
- There is significant evidence that population growth is directly implicated in the deterioration of the Australian economy, and that this is directly related to Australia's reduction in philanthropic aid both at home and abroad
The Mayor's (and the ABC's) approach to the issue is analogous to a public figure regarding homicide using semi-automatic weapons as "inevitable" and then proposing that nothing should be done to investigate ways to reduce this rate of homicide.
The Mayor's claim that population growth is inevitable is contrary to his policy of reducing the speed limit in the CBD to 40 kph. He claimed that this was done because nobody dies when hit by a car travelling at 40 kph or less.
The Mayor is the epitomy of what is wrong with the Australian ruling class. He appears genuinely motivated by the desire to do good, yet excludes rational, analytical, "limits to growth" thinking from his zone of responsibility. It was as if he was saying: "I was only obeying orders. The Feds told me it is inevitable. I am innocent. It's not my responsibility." I disagree. I think it is all our responsibilities.
The question is, what right have politicians and public figures to deny reality in this way? Well you might ask.
The Moderator chipped in to say there was no lack of food (in the world) because millions of tonnes of excess food was being distributed to the needy by SecondBite. SecondBite is a good cause that both the Mayor and the Moderator personally support.
So there you have it. By doing good do these two somehow justify denial of a reality that "inevitably" will do far more harm than any limited good they can otherwise do?
Infinite food in an infinite world with infinite population. Such is the nature of the illogical ruling (and moderating) class. Innumeracy does a lot to cripple analytical thinking. Australia's population will continue to double every 40 years or less, and the Mayor effectively advocates this.
On this basis, in 200 years Australia's population will be 736 million if it compounds at 1.8% per year. In 200 years Melbourne's population would be 628 million if it compounds at 2.5% per year. These are the numbers that will dictate Australia's future.
However, after infuriating many in the audience with avoidance of the real issue, the Mayor fully supported a referendum on population growth at the end of question time after the debate. For that glimmer of reasonableness we extend our thanks.
Voters have a few minutes of illusory power when we shuffle into the voting booth once every 3 or 4 years. Then, for the years of their incumbency a politician has no obligation whatsoever (other than moral and that’s a laugh) to vote according to how she/he campaigned and was elected, or how their constituents might subsequently ask them to vote. Waiting 4 years to vote them out is a very blunt instrument indeed. And, anyway given the party system of candidate selection we’ll get someone equally useless.
After years of campaigning I wonder what’s the point of collecting thousands of signatures on petitions and running rallies and meetings? Massive efforts from so many dedicated campaigners are now effectively ignored. Old growth logging, the Tamar Valley pulp mill, the channel deepening issue, De-Sal, North-South pipeline, and of course SPA have all had well run campaigns aimed at engaging our local MPs and government to at least consider alternatives, but unpopular and unnecessary policies and projects just keep rolling on and over us.
During the Brumby regime Planning Minister Madden ignored the finding of two Planning Panel Inquiries, which recommended against the development of Bastion Point Mallacoota and the Crib Point Bitumen plant. Using “Ministerial discretion” he approved both projects as “shovel ready” - A perfect example of how the party system, representative democracy, and underpinning administrative processes is failing us on so many social and environmental issues.
As Cr. Rosemary West said at the Planning Backlash Rally on 10th June 2009, “Were any of us asked whether we wanted 5 million people in Melbourne by 2030 (now 2020)?” We weren’t asked, and in the case of population growth we weren’t even told it was going to happen. It just happened.
At the very least, perhaps our elected representatives should be required to conduct statistically robust polls in their electorate to guide their voting on issues before them in parliament. Independent Victorian MP Craig Ingram did this on the 2009 abortion reform debate, as he had no firm view. His electorate overwhelmingly supported reform so that’s the way he voted. Other MPs of course proceeded with a “conscience” vote without any obligation whatsoever to consult or inform their electorate. As it stands, for most of the time that is precisely what most of them do – ignore almost everyone that voted for them!
All levels of government in Australia have powers to initiate referenda on any issue. Unfortunately under existing arrangements, in Australia a referendum will only be held if a government or local council determines that a poll should be held on an issue (thus I support Citizens Initiated Refenda). During the 2000s the issue of whether to adopt daylight savings was decided via referendum in WA. In Victoria, local government area referenda are regularly conducted, under the auspices of the Victorian Electoral Commission on the relatively piddling issue of liquor licenses in areas designated as “dry” in the early 20th Century. Clearly it is possible – just not desirable from a politician’s perspective.
What’s more, in the 21st Century we are relying on a voting system from the horse and buggy era - queuing up at the local school to have our names manually ticked off the role. The recent WA senate vote losing incident exemplifies this with millions of taxpayer funds now being spent on another senate election in WA just because 1300 bits of paper were lost. My brother contacted the VEC a few years ago to ask about the prospect of electronic voting. The topic was greeted enthusiastically, with the officer saying it is often discussed, and all that is needed is the legislation. It would be relatively simple to organise electronic voting, as most people now either have internet access via a home computer or mobile phone, or can access a computer via a public library. Electronic voting could be managed by using a unique ID number such as tax file or Medicare numbers. An electronic system could also present the ‘for and against’ argument equitably. It need not be compulsory to vote on every issue, but perhaps it could be organised so that a statistically significant sample is required to decide any outcome.
The way things are at present, we will be fighting many unwanted policies and proposals in future and if nothing changes we will just keep on being ignored and it’s a dead cert we will get what we DON”T want - the environment will be trashed, and those of us running campaigns to protect the places we love will get very depressed and worn out for no sum gain.
I’m still willing to believe that if given the facts, most people are capable of making a reasonable decision and like Tim I’d rather live by a decision made by my fellow citizens than one arrived at by a few politicians who in the main have been corrupted by the Murdoch Press, the corporates and developers (Kelvin Thomson and the handful of Independents being the few exceptions).
70 per cent of Syrians voted in referendum to end one party rule and to have elections but have been hit by EU sanctions anyway. Aljazeera reported that no-one would vote, but it seems that a lot did. Basically the world is dividing into an Eastern and Western bloc over this, with Russia and China supporting Syria's right to settle its own affairs and the US and other Anglophone western nations and the EU are looking for a pretext to intervene and threatening crippling sanctions. Further down we might expect EU imposition of a no-fly zone to give them an excuse to invade, as has already happened in Libya. Is the end-objective to isolate Iran for its oil reserves? What's up? Here are some views. (Incidentally, a shock inside for Australians - we are 2nd highest ranking weapons importers. What are we doing with them? Are we on-selling? And who's making money out of this?)
Western leaders ignore majority of Syrians
Republished from "West Regards Majority of Syrians as "Non-People"by grtv"
"Syria has successfully held a referendum on a constitution, but been hit with new sanctions by the EU anyway.
Neil Clark, a journalist and contributor to The Guardian, believes Western leaders are being highly hypocritical when they criticize the Syrian regime for being undemocratic, and yet fail to respect the views of the majority of Syrians.
“Fifty-seven per cent of Syrians have voted and an overwhelming majority of them have said yes to it,” he told RT “It’s a great day for democracy in Syria. And yet what’s the reaction been by the Western leaders? Well, Hillary Clinton denounced it as a cynical ploy. Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said that it was a sham, but in fact what is a sham is the West’s approach because the reaction to this referendum shows us that they’re not really keen on democracy in Syria.”
Clark said the West tends to cast a blind eye on huge pro-Assad demonstrations and the fact that 55 per cent of Syrians want President Assad to stay.
“The reality is that the majority of Syrians support Assad, but for the West these are non-people, their views don’t count”.
He noted the symbolism of the announcement of new sanctions against Syria by the EU.
“On the very day that Syria, after five decades of one-party rule, votes for democracy, what does the EU do? It announces tough new sanctions on Syria. It’s highly symbolic.”
Clark expressed his opinion that the EU was hardly a democratic body itself.
“I think that it’s quite ironic on this very day we also have the French President Nicolas Sarkozy explaining why we, the European people, are not going to be allowed to vote ourselves on the EU fiscal treaty. He says it’s too hard for us to understand. So the EU, which is claiming to be in favor of democracy, is actually working against it.”
He concluded by saying that the majority of Syrians do not want their country to disintegrate like Iraq or Libya and see President Assad and the Ba’ath party as the preferred solution to hold the country together."
The Manila Times on Friday 17 February gave details of the referendum before it was voted on and treated the matter with less optimism:
A day after rejecting United Nations (UN) allegations of crimes against humanity, the Syrian leader set the referendum for February 26, in a move aimed at placating growing global outrage over the bloodshed.
The proposed charter drops Article 8, which declared the ruling Baath Party as the “leader of the state and society,” allowing for a multi-party system, state television said.
The president must be a Muslim man and may serve a maximum of two seven-year terms, although it is unclear if this would apply to Assad, who is already on his second term.
In April, Assad scrapped emergency rule—in force since 1963—when the Baathists took power in a coup d’etat. But he has repeatedly promised reforms that have failed to materialize since the uprising erupted in March.
The embattled 46-year-old president, who succeeded his late father Hafez in 2000, said that the Constitution would usher in a “new era” for Syria, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
Meanwhile, the Anarchist Weekly gives this opinion:
"The butcher Assad, the so called President of Syria, has made his name by butchering his own people, not by invading Israel. Assad and the reactionary Israel government are two peas in the same pod. Violence is their stock in trade. Murder and destruction is their legacy. Human beings are mere objects to be prodded, gutted, slaughtered for the glory of the state.
These modern day Aztec Priests don’t even use the fig leaf of religious belief to justify their atrocities. Syria is a classical example of what happens when rulers who are faced with peaceful protest use their monopoly on the use of force to derail that protest. The world looks on while the autocrats in China and Russia block United Nations intervention in Syria and the United States uses the Arab League to try to unseat an autocrat they don’t control to insert one they do control.
The people of Syria in 2012, like the people of Spain in 1936, need the help of ordinary people to halt these atrocities. More so than ever before they need to see the very soldiers who are involved in the slaughter turn their guns against their officers. These Syrian soldiers, as many before them have done, need to use the arms they have brought to the struggle to protect Syrians who have used their bare hands to dismantle a regime that has a track record of brutality that is only matched by the Israeli states’ treatment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank."
Candobetter Peak Oil Politics author view:
Our resident Peak Oil Politics writer, Sheila Newman, said:
"Since the establishment of the Anglo-Persian oil company in Iran, and the dismantlement of the Ottoman empire during the First World War, Western industrial interests have used governments and warfare to colonise and destabilise the tribes and nation-formation and government of countries in the Middle East (and South America, Asia and Africa) that could possibly have an association with oil. These machinations include the control of countries bordering the oil producers, like Syria (although it does have some oil, important to its economy), Somalia and the Sudan. In 1970, the United States - which had built its modern industrial, military and political strength on its own oil production - became a net oil importer. With the oil shocks of the early 1970s, Arab and other third world oil-producing colonies organised through OPEC (0rganisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries - started by Gadaffi) to become independent and better represent their own interests on the global oil market instead of those of foreign national oil companies and public and private corporations. Australia, under Prime Minister Whitlam almost took this route, when Whitlam's Minister for Minerals and Energy, Rex Connor, nearly made Australia energy-self-sufficient. The Khemlani loan was mostly for that purpose with the ancillary purpose of supporting full employment of Australians during the 1970s oil shock period.
The Eastern bloc took a different route from the capitalist-industrialist bloc, seeking to bring a communist outlook to the oil-producing countries of the world, which would then align them to its philosophy and to its membership countries. Historically communism is a reaction to capitalism.
The Western and Eastern blocs each supplied arms to oil producing countries and those countries became global 'hot-spots'.
Western counter-shocks sought to weaken this alliance by reducing oil-demand, with the intended effect of drastically reducing the incomes of the OPEC members. These actions brought about new negotiated prices in a newly formed global petroleum market. OPEC has continued to hold its own on this market, with the stated purpose of keeping prices relatively smooth and looking after the interests of its members. This approach has probably maintained fairly benign oil-pricing, but the stakes are rising, both for oil exporters and oil importers, who are mutually dependent - one for income and the other for fuel.
The reason that the stakes are rising is because world population and industrial activity is continually breaking its own records and is now completely hooked on the economic growth model, which relies utterly on petroleum supply to survive in current proportions. Obviously both sides of the global oil market - the exporters and the importers - would like to increase the certainty of their positions. For the oil-exporters the way forward must seem to be to diversify their national economies and produce and consume locally whilst conserving their fuel for their own welfare. This may not mean that they would withhold all their petroleum, but it would throw a spanner in world economic growth and cause poverty in previously wealthy countries that have used up much or all of their local fossil fuel supplies. For the oil-importers the way forward must seem to be to get control (as in colonial times) of Middle Eastern oil and use it to prop up their own economies and manufacturing. Quite a few of the oil-producing members of OPEC want to conserve world oil supplies and this flies in the face of many of the oil importing economies' desire to continuously increase population, production of goods, and consumption. These opposite interests can have only two outcomes - warlike competition as the world separates into blocs or world cooperation. World cooperation would require the world to abandon both growth economics, world economic development and the current division of world population into poor commodity-producing economies and wealthy consuming countries. It would also, in my view, require empowering people at a local level in all countries who would then delegate power upwards, instead of the top-down corporate politics that have evolved since the 18th century.
There are other notable sub-interests affected. One of these is weapons production - in which the US and most governments invest heavily. Astonishingly, little Australia is second in world ranking for importing arms! (Candobetter must look into this.)
Another is industries profiting from increasing world immigration as an economic stimulator of development and redevelopment in established industrial economies which would otherwise slow down as their populations stabilised and demand for housing, roads etc diminished. This drive to import people to stimulate growth economies only applies strongly in the Anglophone powers - Western Continental Europe does not have the same reliance on immigration as an economic stimulant. (Australia, Canada, the US, and Britain are well-known for unsustainable population growth in the service of speculative industries known as the Growth Lobby.)
Modern Oil politics and Resource Wars
Greg Muttitt, in his brilliant book, Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, Bodley Head, UK, 2011, p.xxv, writes:
"One of the lessons of this book is that we must revise our notion of a resource war. We have tended to think of the conquistador loading up his ship with stolen New World gold, but a single shipload of any commodity is worth relatively little to a world power, or even to a corporation. A far more valuable prize can be carried in a briefcase or on a laptop computer: contracts, laws and policies that ensure the flow of resources over decades.
It would be wrong to simply equate US and UK energy security with the interests of their corporations. But they do overlap. After all, if those corporations were to gain contracts entitling them to extract more oil, that would help provide the secure, increased supplies their governments seek.
Enforceable rights to extract resources confer not just wealth but power. Less visible than tanks in the streets, the more abstract forms of power asserted through documents and institutions last far longer. The outcome of the oil struggles recounted in these pages will in large part determine the nature of the West's relationship with Iraq and the wider Middle East for decades to come. This book is a warning of the fate that may befall other parts of the world as the competition for resources becomes more intense, if we do not learn form this experience."
What do you think? Please send us your comments.
See also: comment Are we being lied to any less than in 1991, 2003, 2011, ... ? of 5 March - Ed.
 "OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of 12 oil-producing countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings among the oil ministers of its Member Countries. Indonesia withdrew in 2008 after it became a net importer of oil, but stated it would likely return if it became a net exporter again." (Wikipedia)