Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, July 25, 2015

It's a Process

This is an interview with the great Pete Seeger shown at the recent "Seizing an Alternative" conference in California.

'Stupidity of the American Policy'

RT reports:

There are no grounds to keep Russia sanctions in place, said member of the French National Assembly Thierry Mariani, who heads the parliamentary delegation currently on a two-day visit to Crimea.

“As the US is lifting Cuba blockades, I see no reasons for Europe to keep Russia sanctions in place,” Mariani told reporters after speaking at the Crimean Parliament in Simferopol on Thursday. He added that he felt the effect of sanctions as the delegation’s mobile phones stopped operating because European companies refuse to provide service in the area.

The Crimean status referendum held on March 16, 2014 made it possible for the Crimean peninsula to avoid the scenario unfolding in eastern Ukraine, he said. [95.5% voted to rejoin Russia]

Mariani noted that he “observed the devastation and the people’s suffering with horror” while he was visiting war-torn Donbass two months ago.

“We congratulate you that you managed to avoid that,” he said at a meeting with Crimea’s Parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov. “We welcome the courage of the Crimean Parliament because it was able to make this decision despite the difficult situation and a great risk of escalation [of tensions],” he added.

He reiterated that the visit of the French delegation aims to understand the situation in Crimea. He added that his first impression was great weather and no military personnel on the streets.

“I’m very happy to be here,” he told the Crimean lawmakers in Russian adding that the visit of the delegation caused an uproar in France.

He said the current visit proves the freedom and independence of the French lawmakers. “Regardless of our political orientation, we adhere to the views of Charles de Gaulle, who believed that above all is the will of the people.”

Konstantinov, in turn, thanked the French delegation for making "a courageous political step" by visiting Crimea. He said that he is “proud” of the fact that the referendum was made possible and that the “lawmakers stood up for protection of their people for the first time for many years."

He added that during those days the Crimean residents "lived through turmoil."

"The outcome of the referendum was a reaction of the whole Crimean community to the events in Ukraine," he said.

"Ukraine was like a boiling pot and the people were frightened of the situation in Kiev. After the funerals of people killed in Kiev, a wave of spontaneous protests swept through Crimea…The task set before the parliament was not to let the protests grow into unconstrained actions. A civil war seemed to be the main threat those days."

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hillary's Sister Souljah Moment

Save Our Seas from Naval Destruction

 Maine Peace Walk – Militarization of the Seas
Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans
October 9-24
Ellsworth, Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on our Mother Earth.  Waging endless war consumes massive amounts of fossil fuels and lays waste to significant environmentally sensitive places on the planet – particularly the oceans.

The oceans are inhabited by a multitude of different life forms, from microorganisms to whales, many of whom are able to sense sound and use it to find food, navigate, communicate, and avoid predators. Navy sonar blasts wreak havoc on these creatures, disrupting their lives, leaving animals more susceptible to disease and lowered reproductive success, and sometimes injuring and killing them.

Because Navy sonars are extremely loud, depending on ocean conditions, that noise can travel at harmful levels for tens or even hundreds of miles, impacting huge numbers of animals. By the Navy’s own estimates, sonar noise can still be as high as 140 decibels 300 miles from the source, a level that is a hundred times more intense than the level known to result in behavioral changes in large whales.

Some of these exercises will even take place inside designated critical habitat for the already endangered right whale, frequenter of Maine waters. In fact, the Navy is now constructing a 500 square mile instrumented range off the coast of Georgia where it intends to conduct 470 sonar exercises annually - the Navy chose this site just offshore of the only known calving grounds of the right whale! In March 2015 Navy sonar testing near Guam led to the stranding of three beaked whales.

Shipyard Impacts in Maine

Pier-side testing of sonar occurs at Bath Iron Works (BIW) and at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery which results in significant fish kills. Navy off-shore weapons testing exercises puts toxic chemicals and hazardous materials and waste into Maine’s marine environment.

The Kennebec River that BIW fronts is often dredged in order to allow the deep hulled destroyers built there to get into the ocean.  Dredging takes a heavy toll on aquatic life.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has caused serious pollution of the local environment. The shipyard is on an island that the Pentagon considers as one of their facilities most vulnerable to climate change, particularly their dry-dock facilities. Rising sea levels could affect shipyard toxic waste sites which are now mostly right on the shoreline and would seriously impact water quality and sea life.

Ocean Acidification

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the early 1800s, fossil fuel-powered machines have driven an unprecedented burst of human industry and society. Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in ocean pH caused by human fossil fuel emissions. Oceans currently absorb approximately half of the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuel. An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide released by humans into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes.

Arctic Militarization Due to Climate Change

In early 2014 Maine’s Sen. Angus King went on a nuclear submarine ride under the Arctic Sea ice which is now melting due to climate change.  Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations was on the sub and said, “In our lifetime, what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming an ocean… We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain and get anywhere there.” 

When Sen. King returned from the trip he told his constituents that there has been "a 40% reduction in ice as a result of global warming."  He reported that "previously inaccessible" gas and oil reserves were now going to create "new opportunities".  King concluded, "I am convinced we need to increase our capacity in the region, something I intend to press upon my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee as we work on our military priorities for the coming years."

Rather than drill for more fossil fuels in the Arctic, and create a new arms race in that environmentally sensitive region, the US should be working to convert our military industries to build offshore wind turbines, rail, solar and tidal power.  According to studies done by the UMASS-Amherst Economics Department shipyards in Bath and Portsmouth could nearly double their number of jobs by building rail or wind turbines.  The Gulf of Maine has more wind power generating potential than any other place in the US.

Help Save Our Seas

If the seas die so do humans on Earth and much of the wildlife.  Now is the time to speak out for ending the massive military impacts on the world’s oceans and for conversion of our fossil fuel dependent military industrial complex to sustainable technologies. We will walk to bring attention to these crucial issues.  Please help us carry this message to the public by joining with us.

Maine Walk for Peace is sponsored by:  Maine Veterans for Peace; PeaceWorks; CodePink Maine; Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST); Peace Action Maine; Veterans for Peace Smedley Butler Brigade (Greater Boston); Seacoast Peace Response (Portsmouth); Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space; (List in formation)  

Our Sacred Connection

Sherri Mitchell, a Native American lawyer from the Penobscot Nation in eastern Maine, talks about the legal and social pressures on her people as they struggle to maintain their traditions as stewards of their ancestors' lands and waters.

She speaks movingly about our sacred connection to all life and our need to work together as we try to live in harmony with all living beings. The Earth is our source of survival.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Greece: We Can't Trust Anyone Any More

Demonstrators tell TRNN's Dimitri Lascaris why they oppose reforms demanded by Greece's creditors and why they support leaving the Eurozone.

The statement that "We can't trust anyone any more" is likely shared by most people around the world as they see their own governments under control of the corporate banksters.

What are we to do in this historic moment?  The media won't help us....the politicians won't help us.....many of our fellow citizens are trapped in consumerism and by meaningless entertainment as the ruling oligarchies keep them distracted from the real issues.  Armed right-wing thugs are increasingly encouraged to back up the status quo as the elites turn the people against one another. You see it happening in Greece, in Ukraine, and across America as the surging Donald Trump for president campaign targets Hispanics and the poor as reasons why our economy is a mess.

Yet as we see in the video above many people in Greece still hit the streets.  This is our saving grace..... building community in a public way to debate the issues that rarely get discussed on corporate run TV.  Our numbers will grow as we reject the official story from Wall Street dominated governments.  Democracy has been drowned but in Greece the people still gather and fight for their future and the future of their children.

We have no other choice.  We must continue to resist.

We must rebuild the sacred community and learn to rely on one another - and not be fooled and distracted by so-called leaders who ultimately carry water for Mr. Big.

'Democracy' in the New Ukraine

Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky funded far-right MP (member of parliament) is buying votes from desperate and impoverished citizens by giving them bits of free food.

This is the "freedom and democracy" that was celebrated by those 'jumping' at the maidan in Kiev in early 2014. That coup d'etat was funded and directed by the CIA, USAID, US National Endowment for Democracy, and $$$ from the George Soros outfit called the Open Society Foundations.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland helped direct the whole 'revolution' (operation) that in fact only brought civil war, enormous poverty and suffering, and the ransacking of the Ukraine nation.

The people lost.

Washington was busted this week when stashes of US Army weapons were found in eastern Ukraine that had been abandoned by the Kiev puppet government soldiers who have been pushed back from their attacks on the local populations.  Here is the video evidence.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Real Reason U.S. Hates Russia & China?

It is BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).  They are tired of Uncle Sam and his uni-polar (Washington is in charge of the whole world!) attitude.

BRICS wants to bring about a multi-polar world where many countries make decisions together about the global economy and other related policies.  No more USA Über Alles!

Once BRICS really gets rolling you are going to see countries jumping off the Washington bandwagon like rats off a sinking ship.  Already many countries (Argentina, Germany, Syria, Italy, France, Bangladesh and others) are begging to join BRICS.

With all this looming in the near future the USA ('master of the universe') knows its days are numbered.  Thus the reason for the Ukraine civil war on Russia's border and attempts for regime change in Moscow.  Thus Obama's announced 'pivot' of Pentagon forces into the Asia-Pacific to try to force regime change in Beijing.

The only hand the black hatted cowboy from Washington has to play is war.

The next step for BRICS is to move away from fossil fuels and into greater sustainable energy development.  China is already doing alot in this regard but much more must be done.  We don't have much time to waste.

On the Situation in Odessa, Ukraine

Below is a message that I will share on Friday night at the Ukraine Teach-In to be held in Bath, Maine.  It comes from a person in Odessa who I know. This person wishes to remain anonymous due to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) current round-up of thousands of peaceful activists in Odessa.  The SBU headquarters building in Kiev has an American flag hanging outside the doorway indicating which nation is really running things these days inside of Ukraine.

SBU headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine - we see who really runs Ukraine these days

Message from Odessa

Odessa region of Ukraine is extremely important for the Kiev authorities. Several lucrative ports with the flow of goods in transit, a strategically advantageous position in the area of ​​the Danube mouth, the economically active population, the infrastructure which is not fully destroyed during the years of independence - this is not a complete list of the region’s benefits.

Known to everybody Odessa tolerance and multiculturalism, that had always been its hallmark, became an obstacle to the total Ukrainization of the region. Odessa resisted the Maidan nationalism so strongly, that the so-called "patriots" have developed and implemented a bloody campaign of intimidation on May 2, 2014 [Odessa Trades Hall massacre where more than 50 were killed by neo-Nazis.]. Having survived the shock, the city and the region have moved to active resistance to the "new order", expressed in constant actions of resistance which has reached its climax in the period May 2-9, 2015. In these days tens of thousands of people came out into the streets of the city under the newly prohibited red flags, and Poroshenko showed the world a million of fake smiles on the Walk of Fame in Odessa under a thunderous cry "Fascism will not pass!".

Under these conditions, Poroshenko recovered the move which is traditional to Ukrainian presidents – he appointed his godfather as the governor of the trouble-making Odessa region. But this time the choice was approved even by the international curators of the Maidan power, for it was Mikheil Saakashvili [former president of Georgia and a favorite US CIA operative who is now wanted for crimes in Georgia but Ukraine refuses to send him back to his country] who was appointed the governor, and who is one of the most rabid Russophobes of our days and in the same time doesn’t have the reputation of Bandera-nationalist and who is not directly related to the May 2 mayhem.

By all accounts, the Kiev government has assigned for Saakashvili two tasks - an obvious one and quite probable one. As to the first, everyone agrees, then Poroshenko demanded to capture and redirect the financial flows, and above all, the proceeds from the customs and trading port, as well as pave the way for the privatization of the region's largest asset - Portside Plant. As to the probable objective, many analysts mention an escalation of tensions on the border with Transnistria. With this Saakashvili should cause the greatest possible damage to Russia, and the rest we'll see.

The new governor immediately developed a rigorous activity, strengthening his already robust reputation of a populist and a windbag. An objective observer analyzing the situation cannot ignore the following facts.

Firstly, the active process of the property redistribution is at full speed in Odessa and its region. The press has already published numerous stories about the people in camouflage uniforms who appeared on various enterprises, captured them and did not let the owners in. Usually, these people represent themselves as "Pravi sector", "Automaydan" and other Bandera-nationalist brands. The great thing is that they really are those.

Creating and pumping the atmosphere of fear and terror, the nationalists literally beat political opponents with impunity and pay no attention to any laws of the country or to the statements of the liberal leaders of the region. Only recently the militants brutally beat unarmed protesters who were protesting against holding in prison Artyom Buzilov - Bessarabian progressive journalist. They have repeatedly destroyed the humble and touching makeshift memorial erected by Odessans on the Kulikovo Field in memory of those unarmed citizens who were killed on May 2. They also constantly terrorize the participants of weekly meeting-requiem on the Kulikovo field, many of whom are elderly people.

The peak of cynicism of nationalist gangs is the bullying of mothers who lost their children on May 2. On July 13, 2015, the hearing on the case of Sergei Hodiyaka in Odessa Primorsky court was appointed. This euromaidan activist is accused of the murder of Yevgeny Losinskogo (Article 115 of the Ukraine Criminal Code), as well as of the attempted murder of several other people. The relatives of the victims, their friends and Odessans who wanted to support the mothers whose sons were apparently killed by Hodiyak during the May tragedy last year came to the hearing.

What happened later in the hall cannot be named other than coven and lawlessness. Relatives of the victims were insulted, pushed out from the benches. Despite all their appeals to the judge and to the prosecutor, they were taken [photos] on mobile phones and cameras, and were threatened to be burned next time ...

No action on the part of judges and prosecutors to protect the relatives of the victims had been taken. After the abolition of the court session, as the judges again recused themselves, the "patriots" have built a "corridor of shame" through which all the mothers of the victims  and all those who came to support them had to go through. At the same time they were abused, pushed, beaten, kicked in the legs, they spitted at. The police, who could stop this abuse, were absent in the the court room. 

Looking at all these manifestations of painful social schizophrenia that is not suppressed by the authorities, Odessans cannot believe in the good intentions of the new governor Saakashvili. 

Changing the signs does not change anything in substance - that is the main conclusion of Odessa citizens. Moreover, a growing concern has the steps of the new governor, that can only be described as a rejection of sovereignty. How else can we assess the fact of the regional administration officials being paid their salaries by the US government? Or the upcoming transfer the control of the South (Odessa) customs office to an American corporation? [There has been at least one article speculating that the US wants to use Odessa to port its Navy warships deployed in the Black Sea.]

And only the nationalists and their henchmen do not get tired to extol all the steps of the new governor. This causes vague doubts among ordinary Odessa residents – the patriots of what state are those home-grown radical nationalists been taken. 

Welcome to Amerika: Suggesting Internment Camps

Please meet Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO commander who led the attack on Yugoslavia that bombed the Chinese embassy (oops, sorry that was a mistake the US said at the time).  Clark also ran for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2004 but withdrew early on when his campaign fell flat.

He might be looking for a new job now as Herr Commandant of the 'US Radical Internment Camp Agency'. 

I seriously doubt that Herr Gen. Clark is just by chance mentioning the need for internment camps.  My guess is that he long ago learned to follow orders and in this case he has been given the task of making the rounds of corporate media to begin the mind-washing process to get the American people jazzed up about the 'great idea of locking up radicals in camps so the rest of us will be safe.'

Welcome to Amerika.

See you in the camps!  Do they play tennis, golf and have a swimming pool?  Hope the food is good.

Achtung! Raise your hand if you are a radical.......

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Killing the Minsk-2 Ceasefire Agreement

The Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement required the Kiev puppet government to negotiate with the eastern Ukrainian self-defense forces over the issue of decentralization - allowing greater local autonomy for the Russian speaking citizens in Donbass.  So far the Poroshenko government has done nothing to implement the requirements of the ceasefire pact.

The US was never happy about Germany and France using their influence to help create the Minsk-2 ceasefire plan.  Since the signing of the agreement the US (which really controls the Kiev regime) has done everything possible to kill the ceasefire by increasing training, funding, arming and directing of Kiev's Army (and their Nazi battalions) which daily continue the assaults on the innocent people in eastern Ukraine (Donbass).

These actions by the US are a rebuke of Germany and France and a statement to the whole world that Washington will not share power with anyone else - Washington will make all the decisions and if necessary go it alone.  The word from Washington.... "It's my way or the highway."

Sadly Washington's plan is for war virtually everywhere.  The American people are having to pay for this by austerity cuts in social programs and NATO member countries are having their arms twisted to help put more money into the Pentagon's endless war pot.

Maybe some day the people across Europe will stand up to the Uncle Sam bully.  Until then they will continue to be pushed aside as the Pentagon plan for 'full spectrum dominance' brings the planet closer to WW III.

Maybe some day the American people will wake up from their long deep sleep and take back their country from the corporate oligarchy that uses the world's largest killing machine for their own greedy and evil ends.

Upcoming Event in Maine

The Real Reasons Behind the Iran Nuke Deal

Obama is being praised as a man of peace for the nuclear agreement with Iran. Some are asking if Obama will take the next step and repair US-Russian relations and bring the Ukrainian imbroglio to an end?

If so he hasn’t told Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland or his nominee as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Paul Selva, or his nominee as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, or his Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James.

The other day on Ukrainian TV Victoria Nuland declared that if Russia does not “fulfill its obligations,” by which she means to turn all of Ukraine over to Washington including Crimea, a historical Russian province, “we’re prepared to put more pressure on Russia.” During the past week both of Obama’s nominees to the top military positions told the US Senate that Russia was the main threat to the US, an “existential threat” even. With this level of war rhetoric in play, clearly Obama has no interest in reducing the tensions that Washington has created with Russia.

In my last column I wrote that the agreement with Iran does not mean much, because Washington can renew the sanctions at any time merely by making false charges against Iran. Obama knows this even if Lindsey Graham and John McCain pretend that they don’t know it.

The US and its proxies continue to murder people over a large area of the earth. Clearly Obama is not a man of peace, and neither are his European enablers and the United Nations. So what is the reason for the accommodation with Iran after many years of rabid demonization of a country for no other reason than the country insisted on its rights to nuclear energy granted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?

If you can free yourself from the brainwashing from the presstitute media, three BIG reasons jump out at you. One is that the neoconservatives’ perception of the threat has shifted from “Muslim terrorists” to Russia and China. Unlike Muslim terrorists, both Russia and China are constraints on Washington’s unilateralism. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington has grown accustomed to being the Uni-Power, able to exercise its will unchallenged in the world. The rise of Russian strength under Putin and Chinese strength under the new policy has destroyed Washington’s Uni-Power privilege. Washington wants the privilege back.

Washington is not in good shape, economically or militarily. According to Nobel Economist Joseph Stieglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes, Washington has wasted at least $6 trillion dollars in its 14-year old wars in the Middle East. Despite the extraordinary cost, Washington has been defeated, and is now faced with the Islamic State, a new entity arising out of Washington’s mistakes that is creating a new country partly out of Iraq and partly out of Syria.

Despite its gigantic hubris, Washington has figured out that the US cannot simultaneously take on Russia, China, Iran, and the Islamic State. This realization is one reason for the nuclear agreement with Iran. It removes Iran from the mix.

A second reason for the agreement is that Iran is opposed to the Islamic State and can be employed as an American proxy against the Islamic State, thus freeing Washington for conflict with Russia and China.

A third reason for Washington’s agreement with Iran is Washington’s concern with Europe’s energy dependence on Russia. This dependence is inconsistent with the EU going along with Washington’s sanctions against Russia and with NATO’s military moves against Russia. Washington wants to end this dependence and has hopes that money can bring Iran into becoming a supplier of natural gas and oil to Europe.

The explanation I have provided is realism, not cynicism. All that the agreement with Iran means is that Washington has belatedly realized that the concocted Iranian and Muslim threats are using up time, energy, and resources that Washington needs to apply to Russia and China. Moreover, there were too many threats for the American people to know which was paramount.

One of the reasons that Greece has to be destroyed is to block the entry of Russian natural gas into Europe from the Russian pipeline into Turkey.

Washington has US troops in Ukraine training the Ukrainian military how to subdue the break-away provinces, and the stooge Ukrainian government has taken no steps to comply with the Minsk Agreement. Clearly Washington intends that peace is not in the cards in Ukrainian-Russian relations.

At some point Russia will have to accept defeat or else stop contributing to its own defeat. On more than one occasion when the Russian break-away provinces had the Ukrainian military totally defeated, the Russian government intervened and prevented the collapse of the Ukrainian military.

For its consideration, Russia has been rewarded with more demonization and with US aid to the Ukrainian military. When hostilities resume, which they will, Russia and the break-away Russian provinces will find themselves in a worsened position.

The Russian government cannot pursue peace when Washington is pursuing War.

~ Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is How America Was Lost.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Kiev's Nazis Shell Hospital in Donetsk

Special report by Patrick Lancaster on Hospital 23 in Kuibyshevsky district of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.  Hit by "Ukraine" shelling on July 19, 2015.

In spite of the Minsk2 ceasefire agreement the US-NATO puppet government in Kiev still send their Washington trained, funded, and directed Nazi battalions to shell the innocent people in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.

When will the American people be allowed to see this sad story on mainstream media?  When will the long-ago sold out Congress do something to stop Obama and his out-of-control Pentagon from this systemic killing of civilians in eastern Ukraine whose only discernible crime is that they speak the Russian language?

I am sick of seeing these videos every day with more war crimes committed against unarmed and innocent citizens.  Where is the outrage in Washington?  Likely buried under the $$$ provided by the political action committees of the military industrial complex.

No to NATO!

A new survey conducted among eight countries in NATO reveals most citizens are not eager to fight in a US-NATO created war.  People are not stupid - they are figuring out how things are going but most feel powerless to do much about it.

The US (and Canada) are another story in this case.  It largely goes to show what near total corporate domination of media has done to the citizens in North America.  The majority are led by their nose into supporting US-NATO endless war.

We should be thankful for the alternative media that helps us to get around the mind manipulation by the corporate media.

Debating the Iran Deal

Iran and the global powers have a deal, but what is next? Can Israel’s allies on Capitol Hill derail the agreement? Can we expect the Israelis and the Saudis to respect the process hammered out in Vienna? And most importantly, how does this deal change the geopolitics of the Middle East?

Greece for Sale - Iceland Goes the Opposite Direction

This is how the global capitalists ruin a nation and destroy social progress.  Austerity cuts force the dissolution of social programs and the selling of the public sector like rail systems, post offices, and the like.  The greedy bankers want it all and they will turn the screws on any country (and their elected officials) to get what they want.

Every now and then though some little mouse stands up to the dreaded giant pirate. 

Common Dreams reported last month:

When the global economic crisis hit in 2008, Iceland suffered terribly—perhaps more than any other country. The savings of 50,000 people were wiped out, plunging Icelanders into debt and placing 25 percent of its homeowners in mortgage default.

Now, less than a decade later, the nation’s economy is booming. And this year it will become the first culturally European country that faced collapse to beat its pre-crisis peak of economic output.

That’s because it took a different approach. Instead of imposing devastating austerity measures and bailing out its banks, Iceland let its banks go bust and focused on social welfare policies. In March, the International Monetary Fund announced that the country had achieved economic recovery “without compromising its welfare model” of universal health care and education.

Iceland allowed those responsible for the crisis—its bankers—to be prosecuted as criminals. Again, a sharp contrast to the United States and elsewhere in Europe, where CEOs escaped punishment.
“Why should we have a part of our society that is not being policed or without responsibility?” asked special prosecutor Olafur Hauksson in the wake of the collapse. “It is dangerous that someone is too big to investigate—it gives a sense there is a safe haven.”

By refusing to allow its currency, the krona, to suffer ultra-low inflation to protect the assets of the rich—as in the rest of the West—Iceland let the krona tumble. The resulting inflation and higher prices have helped its export industries, unlike what happened in many European Union countries, which are contending with ongoing deflation.
See the whole story here

Take the Test

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Song