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Not good…Greek PM Tsipras orders local governments to move their funds to central bank

Greece issued a legislative act on Monday requiring public sector entities to transfer idle cash reserves to the country’s central bank, as part of efforts to deal with a cash squeeze. Greece has been tapping into the cash reserves of pension funds and public sector entities through repo transactions as it scrambles to cover its funding needs.

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Post originally appeared on Bloomberg.

Running out of options to keep his country afloat, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ordered local governments to move their funds to the central bank.

With negotiations over bailout aid deadlocked, Tsipras needs the cash for salaries, pensions and a repayment to the International Monetary Fund. Greek bonds fell after the move, pushing three-year yields to the highest since the nation’s debt restructuring in 2012. The order was questioned by local officials and slammed by the leading opposition party.

The decree to confiscate reserves now held in commercial banks and transfer them to the central bank could raise about 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion), according to two people familiar with the decision. It shows how time is running out for Tsipras, a point made by European officials who addressed the matter at IMF meetings in Washington in recent days.

“Central government entities are obliged to deposit their cash reserves and transfer their term deposit funds to their accounts at the Bank of Greece,” according to the decree issued Monday on a government website. The “regulation is submitted due to extremely urgent and unforeseen needs.”

A default on the country’s 313 billion euros of obligations and a euro exit would be traumatic for the currency area and plunge Greece into a major crisis, European Central Bank governing council member Christian Noyer told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview published Monday.

The new funds may be just enough for salaries and a 770 million-euro payment to the IMF due on May 12, the people said.

The move is a sign of the “dire liquidity situation for the Greek financial system as the government pools all liquidity available,” said Gianluca Ziglio, executive director of fixed-income research at Sunrise Brokers LLP in London. The “next step may be forcing all public-sector entities, including public-sector companies to do the same,” he said.

The Athens city council and the union of municipalities and communities in Greece will convene tomorrow to debate the order.

George Papanikolaou, mayor of the Athens suburb of Glyfada said that local officials have “a responsibility to serve our citizens and improve their living standards.”

Glyfada has cash reserves of about 16 million euros, he said in an interview.

Greece’s main opposition party decried the seizure.

“The deadlock that’s been brought on by the government can’t be paid for by using the wealth of the Greek taxpayer and through an internal default,” Kostas Karagounis, spokesman for the New Democracy party, said in a statement.

Greece and its creditors remained at loggerheads with time running out. The sides haven’t even set 2015 budget targets, let alone policies to meet them, an official representing creditors said Monday, asking not to be named as talks aren’t public.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Finance declined to comment when contacted by phone.

European leaders want Greece to do more to revamp its debt-burdened economy, with progress to be reviewed on April 24 in Riga, Latvia, when finance ministers from the currency bloc meet. European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in an interview in Washington that creditors might need to wait until mid-May to see what Greece can deliver.

“The situation with Greece needs to be resolved soon,” Cypriot Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said in a Bloomberg Television interview Monday. “It would be a negative development if no progress is made at the meeting in Riga.”

That message was echoed by the Finance Ministry in Germany, Greece’s biggest country creditor.

“The coordination process must pick up considerable momentum and the responsibility for that lies with the Greek government,” ministry spokeswoman Friederike von Tiesenhausen said in Berlin.

Greek officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis, remained defiant over the weekend, saying the government won’t betray its electoral promises and worsen the pain that came from previous austerity measures.

While “so-called” partners, including unidentified IMF officials, want to “blackmail” Greece into adopting measures that would hurt the working class, “we won’t betray the people’s mandate,” Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said, according to an interview published Sunday in Athens-based Real News newspaper.

References:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-20/greece-moves-to-seize-local-government-cash-as-imf-payment-looms

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“This is America” reveals a shocking vision of the United States

The Grammy Award winning Song and Record of the Year feature the very darkest vision of what America has become.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Grammy Awards are the second of the three most significant musical achievement awards in the United States. Two of the anticipated awards that many fans of this event look forward to learning are the Song of the Year and the Record of the Year.

The Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters of a given song, where the Record of the Year goes to the artists, producers and engineers involved in crafting the recording (the “record”) of a song. Both categories are huge and both usually go to an artist or organization responsible for a pop song.

It also happens to be that usually the song that is picked is beautiful and in most cases, reflects the character of beauty (whether in music or lyrics or both) for that year.

This year was quite different. Both awards went to Donald Glover, a.k.a. “Childish Gambino” for his song This is America.

This song features a radically different tone than previous winners going back for many years. Though rap remixes are usually less musical, the Grammy winners among these mixes have nevertheless retained some relatively positive, or at least attractive, aspect.

This is America is very different, especially when watched with its video.

Musically, it is genius, though the genius appears to have gone mad. Glover paints a picture of some very positive segments in American life, but then destroys it with his audible form and message that says absolutely nothing positive, but even more so – it doesn’t make sense unless one knows the context.

That context is revealed in the video with frightening images: someone getting their brains blown out (we see the blood fly), a gospel choir shot up with an automatic rifle while they were singing, and cannabis, front and center, being smoked by the artist himself.

This is America?

For Glover, this song and others on his album do seem to reflect that point of view.  Feels like Summer, one of Glover’s other recent songs, also reflects this sense of hopelessness, though it is far more musically consistent. The video gives the most clear contextual information that one could ask for, and while the video is not violent, it features degradation in society, even though the people depicted appear to be trying to make the best of their life situations.

The image Mr. Glover paints of America is a far cry from that which was known to most Americans only twenty years ago, and in fact, in many parts of the country where cannabis is still illegal there is a corresponding sense of positivity in life that is absent in Childish Gambino’s California-esque view of life.

There is a massive change that is taking place in American society. Our music and art reflects this change, and it sometimes even helps drive that change.

The United States of today is at a crossroads.

How many times have we read or heard THAT statement before?  But does it not seem so now? The attempt of identity politics to separate our nation into groups that must somehow fight for their own relevance against other groups is not the vision of the United States only twenty years ago.

Further, the normalization of themes such as drug-use and racism, the perpetuation of one in reality and the other as a mythological representation of how life “really is” in the US is radically bizarre.

In discussions with people who do not live in the United States, we found that sometimes they believed that white-on-black racism really was happening in America, because the media in the US pumps this information out in a constant stream, often with people like Donald Trump as the scapegoat.

But it is not true. Anyone in America’s new “accused class” of white, Christian, European-descent males (and some women who are not feminists), will note that they are not racist, and in fact, they feel persecuted for their existence under the new mantra of “white privilege.”

But it does not matter what they say. The media pumps the message it wants to, and with such coverage it is easy to get to halfway believing it: I know I am not this way, but I guess things are getting pretty bad elsewhere because all of those people seem to be getting this way…

This is the narrative the press promulgates, but upon conversations with people in “those places” we find that it is not true for them, either, and that they may in fact be thinking this is true about us.

Made in America is a visionary song and video. However, the vision is not a dream; it is nothing that anyone in the country would sincerely hope for. Even in Donald Glover’s case – as one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, and as a big success in music, he is far from being one of the “boys in the ‘hood.” In fact, Time Magazine in 2017 named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Certainly his musical work creates a powerful influence, but it also must raise questions, with the main ones being:

  • Are we really like this?
  • Is this what we really want to be as a country?
  • Is this the kind of image we want our children in the US to adopt?

In fact, if Mr. Glover’s work was viewed with care (rather than just as something that is “cool” because the media says it is), it might help us steer away from the cliff that many Americans are in fact heading towards.

We have elected not to link to the video because it is too disturbing for children. It is even too disturbing for many adults. For that reason we are not making it one-click-easy to get to.

Parents reading this opinion piece would do well to screen the video by themselves without the kids around first, before deciding what they want to do. Even though the video is probably something that they have already seen, the parents still stand as the guides and guardians for their children through all the perils of growing up.

These times call for great guardians indeed.

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Horrifying New York abortion law marks big Democrat push in US

New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Washington also wish to expand abortion access to truly barbaric proportions.

Seraphim Hanisch

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To some nations in the world, the United States may appear to be overly “conservative” or “backwards” regarding its general position on abortion. Russia, China, Canada, and Australia all allow this practice in generally unrestricted terms. Europeans are generally allowing of first trimester abortions. Social attitudes about the practice vary, with Sweden being the most permissive in terms of attitude, but Russia being the place where a woman is most likely to have had an abortion.

While the legal position in the United States on abortion is generally legal under all conditions as determined by the outcome of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the US Supreme Court, the social context of the practice is highly debated and generally disapproved of, even by those Americans who believe that the procedure should still be kept legal. One of the most emotionally satisfying statements in the US that actually summarized the attitudes of many “pro-choice” Americans was that of Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton’s statement that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.”

In other words, the legality of the procedure is one thing, and the promotion of the procedure is quite another. It was summarized in this thought: We think that to be in the position of determining whether or not to abort a child is a horrifying and extremely serious matter. However, we believe it to be safer if this procedure is kept legal, lest it actually become dangerous because of inferior resources if it were banned, and done clandestinely.

This point of view was generally accepted as a secular compromise to a horrifying situation. Far from the ultraliberal attitudes of progressive Europe, the United States remained a relatively conservative country, socially guided by Christian attitudes concerning the sanctity of life, even that life which is yet unborn.

All this has changed.

Starting with the signing of New York State’s “Reproductive Health Act”, many states are now moving towards ensuring that abortion is legal under all conditions, to the full term of pregnancy, even to the point where perfectly viable, birthed babies may be killed after delivery if the mother so desires.

This report from New York was immediately followed up by this news item from Virginia’s own Legislature, in its attempt to pass a similar law, made even more clearly brutal by Governor Northam’s defense and explanation of the procedure post delivery in which a living baby would be subject to being deliberately killed at the wish of the mother. 

This law, like the New York constitutional amendment allows the unborn, or just-born (and alive even though “aborted”), no human rights.

There is really no way this action cannot be seen for what it is: infanticide, a very particularly cruel form of murder of the innocent, on no further grounds than that the baby exists and that the mother does not want it.

We covered in another news piece how this ability appears to be the prize “right” of feminist women, who were represented in Congress by the infamous Women in White, who sat stone-faced as President Donald Trump appealed for Congress to make and pass a law banning late-term abortions.

However, the President’s request was well-met by conservatives in the House chamber, and indeed, even some pro-choices were set off their guard by the New York and Virginia legislative moves. Virginia’s attempt failed.

Abortion is legal in the US, and it is legal at any point in the pregnancy in many states. This is not often reported, probably because abortion is not palatable to public discourse when a fully-formed, living baby is to be the subject of this procedure. The national discourse has for years been “safely” diverted to what appears to be more metaphysical debate about the unseen processes in pregnancy, such as “when does life really begin”, and even “when does the embryo receive a soul?”

This is probably by design to avoid the much harsher realities that were exposed in New York, Virginia and Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont. All these states have either passed or are trying to pass laws that protect abortion rights, sometimes to similar extremes as New York’s law contains. However, many other states, such as Colorado, already allow full and late-term abortion procedures.

However, not every state in the US is trying to magnify abortion rights. Some are trying to limit this procedure, or even outlaw it entirely, should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the Supreme Court, a possibility that seems enhanced now with five “conservative” Justices on the US Supreme Court. States like Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, and even the aforementioned Rhode Island are seeking passage of laws to sharply limit or completely outlaw the procedure in this event.

CDC graph showing abortion rates per 1,000 US women from 1969 to 2014. Courtesy: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Guttmacher Institute.

Interestingly, both the abortion rate and the actual number of abortions performed in the US has fallen drastically in the time period between 1980 and 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention record that there were almost 1.3 million babies aborted in 1980, peaking at 1.43 million in 1990, before dropping again to 2015’s rate of 638,000. Numbers and counts vary by statistical poll, however, with 2017’s numbers showing 882,240 in this study. The common feature of declining numbers and rates is still evident.

Statistical sources on this issue were not able to explain the reason for the drop in both rate and number of abortions, but a speculation might be that some exposure to the reality of what abortion actually is has served to deter both unwanted pregnancy from even happening, and also to try to find a way to take care of human beings guilty of nothing more than their existence. Perhaps this is too generous an assessment, but it is one possibility.

President Trump was loud and clear on several occasions about his stance on the issue of abortion. His State of the Union speech featured his saying, “all children, born and unborn are made in the Holy image of God.” This was followed up by further comments at the National Prayer Breakfast, in which he continued to show a strong pro-life position.

Naturally, some pols dismiss this as nothing more than the President’s attempts to energize his base for the 2020 elections. To credit such opinions, it may indeed do this. But President Trump has really put his money where his mouth is in terms of governing as a conservative, or at least, common-sense oriented President.

The combination of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legislation, the Virginian attempt and the March for Life, featuring its highly slurred story about Roman Catholic teenaged boys who were at the event, plus the President’s speech have made for a truly polarizing moment. To be sure, political winds in the US are so unruly now that longstanding position issues are now pushed aside in mere days, or even hours. However the mainstream media is hard-pressed to refute what happened here. The American Left tipped its hand, perhaps a little too much for even some who are ideologically liberal, and some of the harshest, most sinister aspects of their worldview were brought into focus.

This reaction extends even to both real-life and Internet commentary on such news pieces. Tucker Carlson took on uber-feminist Monica Klein on his program on January 30th, and their exchange, most notably Monica’s sheer fury, was a sign that the Left is energized on this subject, so much so that any sense of nicety has been discarded:

For Ms. Klein, this issue is a source of pure anger, as is clearly evident on her face. This was not a woman who was playing the ideological talking head for the news media hit; far from it. She really believes what she says, and has taken that fury to the point of irrationality.

Some comments on this issue appear in many publications that also reveal extremely fiery emotion on both sides. The rhetoric swings from “baby-killers” to “woman-haters” quite freely on this topic, and this is honestly a shame. Such emotional incendiary bombs are avoidances on both sides. While people call each other names, no one pays attention to the topic itself. This is, of course, by design.

When the real issue is looked at, as was shown so clearly in New York and Virginia, the topic of the value of human life shows its profound reality to everyone. If that happened often enough or long enough, it might change the substance of the conversation.

The result might then be a real change.

 

 

 

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Facebook: The Government’s Propaganda Arm?

The social media giant has a disturbing number of former Obama officials in key positions of authority over content.

The Duran

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Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation:


Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.

But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn’t have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world’s largest social media company – to sway public opinion.

The Government’s Fingers In Facebook

The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.

Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by “quality,” it seems that they mean “progressive.” The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that’s reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn’t want to get the news from a communist regime?

But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that’s not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company’s initiative to scrub anti-war content and “protest” movements. In a blog post, Gleicher wrote: “Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption.” He continued, “We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people.”

The company has also hired others who served in key positions in the Obama administration. Some of these include:

  • Aneesh Raman: Former speechwriter
  • Joel Benenson: Top adviser
  • Meredith Carden: Office of the First Lady

To make things more interesting, Facebook has also hired neocons to help them determine the type of content that is being published. So if you happen to be a conservative that isn’t too crazy about interventionism, your views are not as welcome on the network as others. After all, how many times have you heard of people being banned for posting pro-war or socialist propaganda?

Are Private Companies Truly Private?

The notion that government officials could be using positions of power in the private industry to advance a statist agenda is disturbing, but the fact that most Americans are unaware of this is far worse. It would be inaccurate to argue that the government is controlling Facebook’s content, but the level of the state’s involvement in the world’s biggest social media company is a disturbing development.

This is not the only case of state officials becoming involved with certain industries. This trend is rampant in the certain industries in which individuals move back and forth between private organizations and the FDA. For example, Monsanto, an agricultural and agrochemical company, has been under scrutiny for its ties to the federal government.

It is not clear if there is anything that can be done to counteract inappropriate relations between the government and certain companies – especially organizations with the level of influence enjoyed by the likes of Facebook. But it essential that the public is made aware of these relations, otherwise the state will continue to exert influence over society – with Americans none the wiser.

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