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Friday, November 16, 2012

“Pan-European” Protests Turn Violent While Advancing Globalism

Across Europe this week, an unprecedented and well-coordinated series of transnational mass strikes and protests led largely by Big Labor took to the streets in major European capitals and cities to demand an end to so-called “austerity” policies – mostly government spending cuts. In many cases, the massive demonstrations turned violent.

Analysts, however, say the seemingly spontaneous chaos may actually have been orchestrated by forces behind the scenes. Indeed, much of the media focus was on the relatively new phenomenon of so-called “pan-European” action, with labor leaders and activists framing the conflict as a regional European Union struggle rather than separate national efforts to influence domestic policy.   

From Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece to France and even Germany, millions of workers and union leaders representing virtually every sector of the economy in the EU joined forces on Wednesday. The mass action was, according to organizers at least, an effort to stop budget cuts and labor reforms that policy makers across the continent say are necessary to stave off an even deeper economic crisis.

“There is a social emergency in the south," claimed Secretary General Bernadette Segol with the European Trade Union Confederation, which played a large role in orchestrating the cross-border unrest throughout much of the region. “All recognize that the policies carried out now are unfair and not working."

Another official with the ETUC, representing nearly 90 groups across Europe, echoed those remarks but went even further. "The people of Europe will not stand for fiscal fundamentalism and will fight for an alternative based on social and economic justice," said General Secretary Designate Frances O'Grady. "'Those in the corridors of power in Brussels and Frankfurt need to understand this — that if ordinary European workers feel that the EU is about little more than cuts, open markets and privatization, then the European project will collapse just as surely as night follows day."

From the United Kingdom, protest leaders also emphasized the supposed need to join forces internationally as part of what analysts said was a push to further empower transnational institutions. “Coalition of Resistance” organizer Andrew Burgin, for example, was quoted as saying that the mass demonstrations would "forge links across Europe, showing Britain's austerity struggles as part of a pan-European, international movement."

Burgin, who organized a rally outside of the European Commission’s offices in London, also blasted government efforts to rein in budget deficits and wild spending. "They've only just started cuts but they are pretty draconian already," he was quoted as saying. "I think this is the beginning of a new movement. It will be a day remembered in history as the beginning of a pan-European movement, possibly an international movement, against capitalism."

With unemployment now above 25 percent, Spanish labor bosses called the second general strike in less than a year, organizing giant protests in cities across the country. Transportation, energy, businesses, schools, construction, health care, and more were brought almost to a standstill as outraged workers took to the streets. Unions claimed more than 75 percent of the labor force went on strike.

Organizers in Barcelona reported over a million protesters in the city, though officials gave far smaller figures. In Madrid, meanwhile, union bosses said some 350,000 people had gathered to speak out. Dozens of police officers were injured in clashes with violent mobs around the country and over 100 demonstrators were arrested.

"We have never seen an international strike with unions across borders fighting for the same thing — it's not just Spain, not just Portugal, it's many countries demanding that we change our structure," far-left Spanish Congressman Alberto Garzón with the United Left party was quoted as saying. "It's important to understand this is a new form of protest."

In neighboring Portugal, where unemployment is also high and surging, the situation was similar, with one of the nation’s two largest unions calling on its members to strike. Public transportation ground to a virtual halt as hundreds of flights out of Lisbon were cancelled. Hospitals operated with minimal staff and trash was left uncollected across the country. Dozens of Portuguese cities saw protests of varying sizes.

Italy also suffered from significant and violent unrest in numerous cities and towns, with tens of thousands of union members and students attacking riot police, according to news reports. A few police were reportedly injured while dozens of protesters were detained.

Greece, likely the hardest hit economy in Europe, has been plagued by violent riots for years now, and those continued this week. In one of the most alarming developments, furious Greeks in the city of Thessaloniki assaulted the German consul on Thursday while chanting “kick the Nazis out.”  

There were reportedly smaller “symbolic” protests in Germany, which has thus far fared much better than its southern European counterparts and is currently funding massive bailouts across the region. However, German policy makers insisted that austerity must go on regardless of the mass demonstrations throughout the EU.

“We must nevertheless do what is necessary: break open encrusted labor markets, give more people a chance to work, become more flexible in many areas," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is pushing hard for a plan that would give unelected EU bosses the power to veto national governments’ budgets. “We will of course make this clear, again and again, in talks with the unions."

While the protests were largely framed as a sort of spontaneous uprising and a coming together of big government-promoting forces across Europe, experts said the real story is not quite that simple. It is true that with political power shifting at breakneck speed toward Brussels, much of the activism has also started taking aim at the EU. But critics believe the real organization is taking place out of the limelight in a very deliberate and methodical way.  

Analysts for the liberty-oriented Daily Bell, for example, speculated that the mass strikes and protests may have been what are known as a “false flags” — operations intended to deceive the public regarding who is actually behind an event or movement. The purpose, according to the analysis, would be to further the goals of an elite group of establishment power-brokers seeking to smash national sovereignty and eventually build a world government.

“One would have to be very naive to believe that the unions and their leaders were not part of this larger ‘directed history,’ as we call it,” the analysts wrote in a piece entitled Union Strikes Are Likely More EU False Flags published this week. “The idea that the union movement has not been co-opted — its leaders, anyway — is a silly one. The rank-and-file may believe, but leaders know the truth and operate as politicians do. They line their own pockets and try to stay out of the headlines.”

According to the Daily Bell, the true purpose behind the orchestrated unrest is evident if one understands the larger dialectic at work. The unions, the analysts said, are being used to co-opt real social action, which could eventually lead to even greater efforts to disband the emerging EU super-state while encouraging true reforms toward liberty, honest money, and national sovereignty. 

“The unions also look toward big government (and maybe the EU itself) for redress of grievances stemming from austerity. This has the effect of damping down the secession movement and cultural identity, which are on the upswing,” the free market-oriented analysts explained. “For this reason we don't put much faith in these big protests. In fact, it begins to look as if the chief reason for austerity was to provide justification for pan-European ‘union’ protests, thus cementing internationalism rather than tribal identity as the dominant ‘people's voice’ of the EU.”

Meanwhile, as the unrest continues to spiral out of control in much of southern Europe, the Eurozone economy is still sliding deeper into turmoil. Mega banks and bloated governments are seeking bailouts and the European Central Bank has stepped up its highly controversial monetary programs. Unemployment is still on the rise.

But while the EU itself seems to be coming apart at the seams, high-ranking officials from Brussels to most European capitals are working fiendishly to finish off what little remains of national sovereignty by exploiting the crisis. Eventually, as former Maoist revolutionary and current EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso admitted recently, the goal is to create a full-blown “federation.”


A Permanent Truce WAS BEING NEGOTIATED with Israel, While Israel Ordered Assassination of Hamas Leader

Killed Hamas Leader Was In Midst Of Negotiating Long-Term Truce With Israel

Just hours before Israel assassinated Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari on Tuesday, he received the draft proposal of a permanent truce agreement with Israel. But Israel approved the airstrike anyways, choosing escalation over resolution.

Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit and maintained contacts with Hamas leaders, said the truce agreement included protocols for maintaining a cease-fire in the case of cross-border violence between Israel and Gaza.

Baskin told Haaretz that senior officials in Israel knew about the pending truce agreement, but nevertheless approved the assassination, presumably knowing it would terminate the truce and escalate the conflict with Gaza.
    “I think that they have made a strategic mistake,” Baskin said, “which will cost the lives of quite a number of innocent people on both sides.” He added that Jabari’s assassination “killed the possibility of achieving a truce.”
“This blood could have been spared. Those who made the decision must be judged by the voters, but to my regret they will get more votes because of this,” he added.

“According to Baskin,” Haaretz reports, “during the past two years Jabari internalized the realization that the rounds of hostilities with Israel were beneficial neither to Hamas nor to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip and only caused suffering, and several times he acted to prevent firing by Hamas into Israel.”

Even when Hamas was pulled into participating in rocket fire, its rockets would always land in open spaces. “And that was intentional,” Baskin said.”

In recent months Baskin was continuously in touch with Hamas officials and with Egyptian intelligence as well as with officials in Israel, whose names he refused to divulge. A few months ago Baskin showed Defense Minister Ehud Barak a draft of the agreement and on the basis of that draft an inter-ministry committee on the issue was established. The agreement was to have constituted a basis for a permanent truce between Israel and Hamas, which would prevent the repeated rounds of shooting.

In Israel,” Baskin said, “they decided not to decide, and in recent months I took the initiative to push it again.” In recent weeks he renewed contact with Hamas and with Egypt and just this week he was in Egypt and met with top people in the intelligence system and with a Hamas representative. He says he formed the impression that the pressure the Egyptians applied to the Palestinians to stop shooting was serious and sincere.

“He was in line to die, not an angel and not a righteous man of peace,” Baskin said of Jabari and of his feelings in the wake of the killing, “but his assassination also killed the possibility of achieving a truce and also the Egyptian mediators’ ability to function. After the assassination I spoke to the people in Israel angrily and they said to me: We’ve heard you and we are calling to ask if you have heard anything from the Egyptians or from Gaza.”

Since the assassination, Baskin has been in touch with the Egyptians but not with the Palestinians. According to him, the Egyptians are very cool-headed. They said it is necessary to let the fresh blood calm down. "The Egyptian intelligence people are doing what they are doing with the permission and authorization of the regime and apparently they very much believe in this work,” he says.
    The situation that is developing here is very sad, like all wars it is just innocent people getting caught in the middle of authoritarian psychopaths who are fighting over power.  The people of Israel have a nationalistic militant government that doesn’t represent their will, while on the other end the people of Palestine also have a nationalistic militant government that doesn’t represent their will.  The so called “leaders” of the Palestinian territories are Hamas and Fatah, they are two militant Islamic factions that in no way represent the people of Palestine.
As of now, peace negotiations are off.

Hostess Brands is Closed


Friday, November 16, 2012 at 7:00AM

Irving, TX – November 16, 2012 – Hostess Brands Inc. today announced that it is winding down operations and has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including its iconic brands and facilities. Bakery operations have been suspended at all plants. Delivery of products will continue and Hostess Brands retail stores will remain open for several days in order to sell already-baked products.

Hostess Brands Inc. says it's going out of business after striking workers across the country crippled its ability to make its Twinkies, Ding Dongs and other snacks.

The company had warned employees that it would file a motion with U.S. Bankruptcy Court Friday seeking permission to shutter its operations and sell its brands if plants hadn't resumed normal operations by a Thursday evening deadline. The deadline passed without a deal.
The closing will mean the loss of about 18,500 jobs.

"I don't know if they thought that was a bluff," CEO Gregory Rayburn said on CNBC Friday. He said the financial impact of the strike makes it "too late" to save the company even if workers have a change of heart. That's because the clients such as retailers decide to stop carrying products when supplies aren't adequate.

Rayburn said he's hopeful that the company will find buyers for its roster of about 30 brands, which include Ho Hos, Dolly Madison, Drake's and Nature's Pride snacks. The company books about $2.5 billion in sales a year.

Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, said its stores will remain open for several days to sell remaining products. Operations at its 33 factories were suspended Friday. The privately held company filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, its second trip through bankruptcy court in less than a decade.

The move comes after thousands of members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike last week after rejecting a contract offer that slashed wages and benefits in September. The bakers union represents about 30 percent of the company's workforce.

Rayburn said the union's leadership had misled members into believing there was a buyer in the wings who would rescue the company. He said the union hadn't returned the company's calls for the past month.

A union representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Hostess had said earlier this week that production at about a dozen of its plants were seriously affected by the strike. Although many workers decided to cross picket lines, the company said it wasn't enough to keep operations at normal levels. Three plants were closed earlier this week.

Hostess had already reached a contract agreement with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The Teamsters had urged the bakery union this week to hold a secret ballot on whether to continue striking.

Hostess said the company is unprofitable under its current cost structure, in large part because of union wages and pension costs. Rayburn said in a statement on the company website that all employees will eventually lose their jobs, "some sooner than others."

"Unfortunately, because we are in bankruptcy, there are severe limits on the assistance the (company) can offer you at this time," Rayburn wrote.

Volcanologists Warned of Impending Mt. Ruapehu Eruption, New Zealand

Volcanologists have warned about impending eruption from one of the most active volcanoes of New zealand, Mt. Ruapehu in central North Island. As a result, New Zealand authorities have instructed climbers to stay away from the peak of Mt. Ruapehu. As per news reports, area within 2km of the center of Crater Lake has been declared summit hazard zone and should be avoided. According to Steve Sherburn, GNS Science duty volcanologist,
    “We are monitoring Ruapehu closely, but it often does not give any immediate warning that it is going to erupt. We think that the temperature a few hundred metres beneath Crater Lake is about 800C, but the lake itself is only about 20C. This suggests the vent is partly blocked which may be leading to a pressure build-up beneath Crater Lake. A sudden release of the pressure may lead to an eruption.”
As a precautionary measure, aviation alert level around the central North Island has been raised to yellow – suggesting unrest above background levels. Volcanic alert level remains unchanged at “signs of unrest”.

Mt. Ruapehu is a complex stratovolcano that has formed during at least 4 cone-building episodes dating back to about 200,000 years ago. It is believed that several subplinian eruptions took place at Ruapehu between about 22,600 and 10,000 years ago, though pyroclastic flows have not been frequent at Ruapehu. Historically, Crater Lake has been the only opening at the broad summit of the crater.


8th Major Quake in 8 Days - 6.4 Magnitude quake hits Kuril Islands

A powerful earthquake that struck the Kuril Islands in the northwestern Pacific this morning did not generate a Pacific-wide tsunami, the US Geological Survey said.

The 6.4-magnitude tremor occurred at 8:12 a.m. Hawaii time at a depth of 18 miles.

Its epicenter was in an 810-mile volcanic archipelago located between Japan and Russia which separates the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean.

The USGS describes the area as among the most seismically active in the world. The islands mark the location of the Kuril-Kamchatka tectonic arc, a subduction zone interface between the overriding North America plate and the Pacific plate.

The area has been the site of frequent earthquakes including seven since 1900 of 8.3 magnitude or greater.