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January 24, 2013

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Anarchists Claim Responsibility For Athens Bomb At "The Mall"


Two Greek anarchist groups - Wild Freedom and Instigators of Social Explosion - apparently took responsibility for the explosion at "The Mall" last Sunday which injured two security guards. The two anarchist groups said they staged the bomb attack in protest to wealthy “capitalists” and the recent raids against anarchist squats (The squats that they are referring to include Villa Amalias, and the Villa Maria Calas, etc. which were illegally occupied by extreme leftist and anarchist groups and apparently used to house materials used for weapons such as Molotov bombs, clubs, slabs of cement, etc, and then used in protests against the riot police).

“For us, the mall and every mall is a cemetery for people and real values. That’s why we hit it,” the groups said in a joint statement on a Leftist website often used by groups to claim responsibility for attacks. “Those murdered by capitalism are buried in the foundations of malls,” it added.

The text also refers to a police state and occupations, and there is an indirect critique of SYRIZA and the Greek Communist Party (KKE) as well as the role of the Golden Dawn party.

At the same time, their statement expresses its solidarity to the imprisoned anarchists in Greece and abroad, to the members of the terrorist organization "the Cells of Fire", to the "unrepentant activists -and members of the notorious November 17 terrorist organization- Dimitris Koufodinas and Savvas Xiros". At the same time the anarchists also call on others to "exchange ideas and know-how", and (quite shockingly) to also arm each other with Kalashnikov guns and bullets and reclaim (or reconquer) the streets and neighborhoods. They also say that they have to commit robberies as well as seize buildings.

"We are anarchists, and enemies of democracy. And if our action is condemned by the political system we have long condemned the political system in its own disaster," noted the text, and then concludes by saying "long live anarchy!".

Article in Greek - SKAI channel
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Syria's Muslim Brotherhood Propped Up by US Since 2007 Under Bush

Logo Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood (credit: Wikipedia)
Tony Cartalucci
Land Destroyer

In 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled, "To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers." And even then, it was noted that the Brotherhood held close links with groups the US recognizes and lists as terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Al Qaeda. The report gives a disturbing foreshadowing of US support that would eventually see the Muslim Brotherhood rise as both a political and terroristic power across the Arab World, after decades of hard-fought attempts to crush the sectarian extremist organization everywhere from Tunisia to Syria, from Egypt to Libya, to Jordan, and beyond. In fact, the 2007 Wall Street Journal article specifically noted that the US partnership could "destabilize governments in Jordan and Egypt, two US allies where the Brotherhood is a growing opposition force."

Egypt is now run by a sectarian-extremist Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship, after the US incited unrest there in 2011, while Jordan is seeing increasing unrest led by the Jordanian arm of the Brotherhood.

What is also disturbing about the 2007 report, is that it shows how allegedly "Bush-era" policies transcended the 2000-2008 administration and continued in earnest under President Obama. The report, written by Jay Solomon, echoes similar foreshadowing of the coming violent sectarian bloodbath now engulfing Syria, found in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh's New Yorker piece titled, "The Redireciton: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?"

Solomon begins by stating:
    On a humid afternoon in late May, about 100 supporters of Syria's largest exile opposition group, the National Salvation Front, gathered outside Damascus's embassy here to protest Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule. The participants shouted anti-Assad slogans and raised banners proclaiming: "Change the Regime Now."
Later in the article, it would be revealed that the National Salvation Front (NSF) was in contact with the US State Department and that a Washington-based consulting firm in fact assisted the NSF in organizing the rally:
    In the weeks before the presidential election, the State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative, which promotes regional democracy, and NSF members met to talk about publicizing Syria's lack of democracy and low voter turnout, participants say. A Washington-based consulting firm, C&O Resources Inc., assisted the NSF in its planning for the May 26 anti-Assad rally at the Syrian embassy, providing media and political contacts. State Department officials stress they provided no financial or technical support to the protestors.
Just like the Arab Spring, what was in fact foreign-backed sedition, was peddled publicly by professional PR firms with the help of a bought-off, complicit corporate media, as a "pro-democracy" uprising.

And while the Wall Street Journal then, just as the US State Department and the Western media houses are now portraying the Syrian opposition as representing a wide range of interests across Syrian society, it was admitted then, just as it is plainly obvious now, that the sectarian extremist Muslim Brotherhood was in fact at the very center of the "uprising:"
    One of the NSF's most influential members is the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood -- the decades-old political movement active across the Middle East whose leaders have inspired the terrorist groups Hamas and al Qaeda. Its Syrian offshoot says it has renounced armed struggle in favor of democratic reform.
The article would describe a fractured, disorganized opposition, must like the 2011 "National Syrian Council" (NSC) and its more recent US-Qatari contrived reincarnation, the "National Coalition," whose only common denominator and prevailing ideology was and still is the sectarian extremism practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood. Similarly, the current "National Coalition" is headed by Moaz al-Khatib who, on Qatari state-owned Al Jazeera, openly admitted his aspirations of establishing an "Islamic State" in place of Syria's current secular society. Al-Khatib also vigorously protested the US' listing of Al Qaeda terrorist franchisee, Al Nusra, who is openly fighting as part of Al-Khatib's "National Coalition."

These are the "freedom fighters" then and now, that the US has been supporting, funding, and in fact arming. The most recent accusation of the US arming known-terrorists came from retired US Army General and former Special Forces Commander, William G. Boykin, who claimed the US is not only arming terrorists in Syria, but they are doing so by running guns through the terror emirate of Benghazi, Libya.

From the pan-Arab logistical networks NATO is using to flood Syria with weapons and terrorists, to the current leadership of the so-called opposition, and with documented evidence from 2007 of a US conspiracy to prop up the Muslim Brotherhood and other known, violent extremist groups in Syria to overthrow the government, it is clear that every aspect of the US', UK's, NATO's, and even the UN's narrative regarding the conflict in Syria is an intentional fabrication. Furthermore, it indicates a much wider deception - one involving the misconception that presidential elections bring in both new leadership, and new policies. The wars engineered under Bush, are being carried out under Obama, by the same policy makers from the very same corporate-funded think-tanks that handed Bush his agenda years ago.

With French, British, and now US troops becoming increasingly involved in Mali, allegedly fighting terrorists with direct connections to the fighters armed, funded, and given diplomatic recognition by the West in Libya, and with the conflict already spilling over the borders with Algeria, one must recognize that an agenda is being carried out contra to both the will of the people and their best interests. Identifying the corporate-financier interests involved in this agenda, and both boycotting and replacing them with local alternatives is our only recourse. Clearly - as illustrated in the case with the non-transition, continuity of agenda between "right-wing" Republican Bush and "left-wing" Democrat Obama - elections don't count. As proven with the "Arab Spring" and the US underwritten protests of the NSF - protests don't either.
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SPECIAL REPORT - Germany Rages War Against Greek Oligarchs



By supporting the Troika, and later the Memorandums, Greek oligarchs believed that they would continue to play a leading role in the country's developments, but they were sadly mistaken. In fact, Greek oligarchs are no longer useful to the Germans who rather consider them as "obstacles". This is why Greek oligarchs now consider the Germans a threat. In an article titled "The Monopoly Millionaires" the German Stern magazine maintains that some 2,000 very wealthy families in Greece are responsible for creating the existing system with the sole purpose of earning even more profits and of course POWER. This DIRECT attack on the Greek business "establishment" only confirms the scenarios that claim that the Germans have decided to "take on" the Greek elite. Good or bad, no one knows, the only thing that is certain is that the "commoners" will once again be the victims.

What the same reporters do not publish, even though many have visited Greece several times and have seen the situation first hand, is why the population riots and hates austerity measures and the Troika in general, and why the Greek Parliament imposes severe measures on the average Greek while the elite banks scathe free in Switzerland. The current situation and the disparity between the average Zorba and the elite is nothing new. It didn’t just happen overnight.

As the new Greek government struggles to convince Europe of its resolve to cut the country’s bloated public sector, it also has to decide whether to face down the real domestic threat to Greece’s stability: the network of oligarch families who control large parts of the Greek business, the financial sector, the media and, indeed, politicians. The oligarchs have responded in two ways. First, they have accelerated their habitual practice of exporting cash. In the last year, the London property market alone has reported a surge of Greek money. Second, they have mobilised hysterical media outlets which they own in order to denounce and undermine politicians at every opportunity.

Their aim is clear – they are waiting to pounce on the state assets which, under the various bail-out plans, the Greek government must privatise. With the domestic economy in free fall, the share price of these hugely valuable entities such as the electric grid and the national lottery has been collapsing steadily over the past few years. The oligarch conglomerates are waiting to scoop them up at anything up to less than a fifth of their real value – a poor financial return for the state but in ten years time a bonanza for the purchasers. Some even banked on Greece exiting the euro so that they can then use the billions of Euros squirrelled away outside the country to purchase the assets for knock-down drachma prices.

The oligarchs are capable of controlling high prices for fuel, transport and daily necessities while wages are under pressure due to implemented or pending austerity measures thereby creating an ever-widening gap between cost of living and income. The elite also benefits from every bailout and tranches thereof through Government channeled funds for production and supply since there is no national or international competition for goods and services. And in return, we suppose that the government itself (-and according to the examiner- Mr. Venizelos in particular) benefits largely from the existing oligarch structure and not even the proposed austerity measures can or will affect them in any way.

(*The following article is a combination of articles based on the article from Stern)

Powerful Families

 Look at the list below to get an idea of how far-reaching the tentacles of a few control the many.
  • Banking: Vardinogiannis (Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank), Latsis (EFG Bank, Euro Bank), Costopoulos (Government and international fund lobbyist).
  • Transport: Panagopoulos (Attica group), Vardinogiannis (Sea Star Capital, ANEK, Hellenic Seaways).
  • Food and beverage: Lerentis.
  • Energy: Vardinogiannis (Cyclos Hellas), Latsis (Hellenic Petroleum), Mytilineos (ENEL, ENDESA).

"All the efforts that were made to bring Greek oligarchs to the discussion table for the salvation of Greece, failed." These are people who not only have incredible wealth and power but they also control the media, and therefore shape public opinion on the issue of reforms, according to former prime minister George Papandreou.Quoting a high-ranking public servant, the magazine then says that some of these oligarchs once met with a large delegation of European Union shipowners in Athens. "We thought that they were actually going to help," adds the public servant, "but they only complained about being slapped with high taxes and excessive legal regulation." It is almost like they feel persecuted by the state, he added.


The Bobolas Family

Fotis Bobolas has four computer monitors installed on the opposite wall at his office, says the author, and you kind of get the feeling that this is a central headquarters. His secretary Lydia brings him a frappe coffee and Bobolas, who is 52, rolls a cigarette. (He smokes Old Holborn). He does not wear a watch. 'I prefer to keep a low profile,' he notes."

Bobolas is one of the richest men in Greece. The family empire owns the publishing giant Pegasus, the largest construction company in the country, he also owns recycling companies, mining -gold- companies as well as many properties. The total value of his wealth, reveals the article, is estimated at a few hundred million.

Bobolas never gives any interviews. Even with such power he still feels awkward when journalists approach him. "Can't you see, the country (Greece) is exploding". (yeah... wonder why...)

The article says that Bobolas' family "feels" the anger of society against all these austerity measures, but his multinational Ellaktor company is forcing drivers to pay hefty tolls on most of the country's motorways -which coincidentally are managed by him and even though the Greek state funded these works with taxpayer money!

Attiki Motorway costs 2.80 Euros, and is used by approximately 250,000 vehicles daily. Anyone who wants to travel to Thessaloniki (from Athens) by car needs (to pay at least) 25 Euros (in tolls). An initiative titled the "I won't pay the tolls' (movement) is apparently souring Bobolas' interests since they not only refuse to pay tolls, but reports have also claimed that they are sawing the bars at the booths. The culprits, according to Bobolas are nothing more than "anarchists".

Bobolas' family belongs to a handful of powerful Greek families, which, for decades now, have formed the existing (political, economic and social) system (in Greece) reaping in huge profits. But now that the country is standing on the edge of the cliff they are refusing to take any responsibility. Instead, businessmen such as Bobolas, are speculating on new state projects, while others lurk on opportunities arising from the privatization of state property. Already tycoons such as Spiros Latsis rented the most luxurious Shopping-Mall in Athens for the paltry sum of 50 cents per sq.m. and for 90 years!

When asked if the time has come for Greek oligarchs to show some solidarity, Bobolas gets annoyed: "What do you want? Our shares have hit rock bottom and our companies are suffering in the same way as the rest of the country is." How about taxing the rich asks the author in the article? "That is a naive thought. Big business always finds ways to evade taxes. This is the price of globalization." (!!!!) Bobolas officially runs the multinational (family) business along with his brother.

But the real patriarch is the father George, his photo is featured in a silver frame. It is said that George Bobolas managed to get the first public works project when his construction company did not even own a bulldozer.  
 George Bobolas has developed properties all over  the Balkan peninsula and the Near East for over 40 years. He is also a media magnate – owner fo the TV channel Mega, and several newspaper and magazines. His son Leonidas is the executive director of Greece's biggest construction group, Ellaktor, where he owns 15% of the stock. business insider
The great business opportunity (or when Bobolas began to skyrocket his fortune) was during the period before the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. At the time, adds the article in Stern, the Ellaktor company was involved in the construction of the Athens metro. The government at the time (Simitis-PASOK government) did not even hold an international tender for that particular project and Bobolas was already favored to take the project. In the same period -and thanks to his friends in PASOK- he was also awarded with the construction of four motorways. This too, adds the article in Stern was not held with a public notice.

Another hit, considered as being successful by Bobolas was his company's acquirement of the public gold mines in Halkidiki for a cheap 11 million Euros, Why we say CHEAP... Simple, the value of the gold reserves there are estimated to be worth more than 12 billion Euros. (Again under the PASOK government)


Gianna Angelopoulos

Some businessmen/women disappear by moving abroad such as the infamous Anna Angelopoulos did, and from afar keep a close eye on the developments in Greece planning to make their comeback one day. The former president of the organizing committee of the 2004 Olympic Games, who also goes by the name Lady G -a title that was given to her by the yellow (and tabloid) press- is certainly a woman to watch for, and someone who might one day even surprise us by forming a political party, or use her political leverage in Washington (she is very good friends with the Clintons) to vie for a seat on Greece's elite political system.

Gianna studied Law, was elected in the Greek Parliament with the Rightist New Democracy party, and married Theodore Angelopoulos, a multimillionaire scion of a wealthy Greek family. Theodore's father took part in the Resistance of 1941-44 against the Nazis by the Greek Left. After the liberation from the Nazis he built "Halyvourgiki" a steel producing company that grew to become one of the dominant corporations of the Greek industry. At that time the steel market grew immensely because of the need for steel in the steel-reinforced concrete. Concrete used in the construction of tens of thousands of mostly 6-story apartment buildings, first in Athens and later all over Greece.

Her husband Theodore's family developed the steel industry in Greece, and he evolved to become a shipping magnate, acquiring the Dutch shipbuilding company oceAnco and transforming it as a leading shipbuilder of custom-built luxury mega-yachts. Theodore's brother Konstantine filed a suit against the couple in 2004 accusing them of money laundering and fraud through the Olympics account Gianna was in charge of. Konstantine disapproved of Gianna's flamboyant lifestyle, and feuded with his Theodore over the inheritance their father left them after his death in 2001.

During Costas Karamanlis rule, she also owned the Eleftheros Typos newspaper and was very critical of the Karamanlis government because it is rumored that the former premier refused to nominate her for the presidency of Greece. Lady G -who some say only thirsts for more fame and more power- is apparently using her vast liquidity to buy up prized public property.

Indeed the Athens Olympic Games were grand but some believe that they were the most corrupted and expensive games in history! And the President of these Games, Lady G, a millionaire's taxfree shipowners wife, whose close aids were the most paid in Olympic history, are still showing and walking about carefree!

The Germans are convinced that she is closely linked to the SYRIZA party, who would like nothing more than to bring down the Eurozone so that people like Angelopoulou can quadruple the money they took out of Greece when they bring it back home.

She has a number of critics in Greece and is rather not liked by the majority of the Greek people, most because she is perceived as being too much of an opportunist, too aggressive and a self-promotion individual.



The "Lagarde List"

"Greece is not a poor country, the distribution of wealth is simply unequal. Some 80 percent of private capital lies in the hands of only 2,000 families. Around 200 billion Euros of this capital is found in foreign banks. Officially, only nine persons declare an annual income of over 700,000 Euros per year in Greece. The so-called 'Lagarde List', with the names of 2059 Greeks with accounts in Switzerland, was kept in secret for over two years." The article then says that a trusted associate of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is also found on the controversial list, or specifically Stavros Papastavrou (one of top ten executives of the New Democracy party), but the article does not say whether or not this man is a tax evader or if we should question how he accumulated his wealth. The article does however note that the controversial list has little, if no effect, on the very rich. The only person it actually hurt, was the journalist who published all the names on the list in the magazine Hot Doc (or Kostas Vaxevanis).


Lavrentis Lavrentiadis

"It's obvious that pressure by Europe is gradually forcing things to change. A Supreme Court prosecutor ordered for the arrest of businessman Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, who holds 31 percent of Pronton-Bank, which was rescued by the Greek state with the help of 900 million Euros (thanks to Ev. Venizelos). According to the article, this banker/businessman (whose bank was saved from Greek taxpayer money) apparently transferred a whopping 700 million Euros in some foreign bank account. (As**hole!)

Greek authorities arrested financial tycoon Lavrentis Lavrentiadis (above) on charges of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and being part of a criminal gang.  He could be sentenced to life. The arrest came as a shock to Greek society because it is not accustomed to seeing its oligarchs get away with murder (in some cases, literally).  However, others caution that the arrest may be symbolic.

Lavrentiadis had for several years tried to massage his wealth into acceptance by the several elite families that run Greece, to no avail. The arrest is seen as simply attempt to scapegoat Greek corruption onto his shoulders, letting others continue to operate in the shadows. It does, however, mark a small step towards attempts to get a tax-evading culture into something resembling compliance. The arrest, coming on the same day as the European Union released 34.3 billion Euros in funds it owed Greece, may also have the effect of throwing red meat to the hungry dogs of the EU who want more transparency and less tax evasion.

Lavrentiadis’s name also appeared on the infamous Lagarde list of potential tax cheats with secrete Swiss bank accounts. An investigation into his affairs has been going on for well over two years now. The man that once turned a small fortune into a huge financial empire now awaits the prosecutor.

Professor of political sciences at the Panteion University, Mr. Seraphim Seferiades compares the Athenian oligarchy with the Italian mafia. "They have their people everywhere. A brother on the left, one on the right, one in the town hall and one in the church. These filthy rich Greeks buy out politicians by financing their electoral races."

And he adds that with the help of Greece's main stream media, their power is almost too powerful to break. That kind of makes sense, since two of the richest families mentioned in the Stern article own MEGA channel, which has an enormous influence on public opinion.


Revelations via Wikileaks

The article also talks about a series of Wikileaks cables which featured startling revelations on Greek tycoons. "A cable that was sent to us from the US via Wikileaks states that a small group of business tycoons is connected to the political world through marriage and/or divorce. These relationships, notes the same article by Stern, are even more complex than those of the corresponding relationships between the Greek Gods."


Not All Politicians All Puppets

And here is where the article becomes extremely interesting (and a nice eye opener to some unbelievers on the Right... ) While analysing how the oligarchy influences all aspects of the State the author also refers to an incident involving the former premier Costas Karamanlis about a decade ago which made headlines.

Over wine and kebabs on a cool October evening in 2004,  Karamanlis declared war on powerful forces in Greek society. "We will not let five pimps and five vested interests manipulate our political life,” he told conservative lawmakers invited for dinner at Bairaktaris taverna in Athens, according to people present at the meeting. He did not specify who he was referring to.

* The same statement was also featured in a recent Reuters article which was also highly critical about the Greek elites.

Karamanlis’ subsequent efforts to restrict access to state contracts by media owners were met with full-frontal attacks from the press. But in the end, defeat came from the European Commission: in 2005, it said Karamanlis’ plans violated EU competition rules, forcing him to scrap them. Since then, no significant attempt has been made to tackle the interweaving of interests. Politicians who clash with media owners risk a bad press.


 Spiros Latsis

Spiros Latsis is undoubtedly the ring leader, according to the opinion of the magazine. Latsis empire consists of banks and refineries. It was founded by his father, Ioannis Latsis who was a close associate of the notorious and legendary Aristotle Onassis. Latsis Senior, who went by the nickname "Captain John" was very well respected in Greece because he always gave back to the people, not as much as Onassis did, but nonetheless he was a generous man and many still toast a glass of wine in his name. In fact he was so charismatic in his days that he had even appeared at a formal reception held by the Queen of England with his white navy hat on and she did not say a word.

When his son Spiros decided to go to London to study philosophy, Captain John laughed and thought it was a joke, because his son was sitting on a vast empire already but it looks like the joke was on the good old captain, because after Spiros returned he was able to multiply his father's wealth to more than 8 billion Euros. Unlike his father, Spiros is not that charismatic and popular with the people of Greece. In fact he is not really well liked in Greece. The article says that today Spiros lives in Switzerland and he rarely comes to Greece. Nonetheless, when he decides to bless Greeks with his presence he usually powers up his luxirious "Alexandros" yacht for cruises to the Greek islands.

The yacht, which is said to be one of the largest of its sort in the world, has hosted many "friends" of the Latsis family such as George Bush, Prince Charles and President of the European Commission M.Barroso. Incidentally, when the EU found out that Barosso spent his holidays on Latsis' yacht, they punished him with a vote of censure.

In the business world though, he is a tough player. Up until a short time ago the Eurobank -owned by his group- held the largest shares of Greek government bonds. Or a whopping 12 billion Euros!

But Latsis' activities go beyond the banking and fuel market, he has also successfully woven a tight spider's web on the domestic front, where, according to the same article, he is trying to loot Greece of everything she owns. He apparently already attempted this simply by placing his trusted colleagues in the right positions of power. For instance, the trust company, which is responsible for privatizations of Greek state assets, was manned by a former manager of his empire.

Apart from the shopping center in Maroussi -or the infamous "The Mall"- Latsis is also eyeing the state-owned Hellenic Petroleum company.

The "Helliniko Project", or the area of the former airport -about 600 acres- is also fancied by Latsis. The property, which is located near the beach of Agios Kosmas, is considered to be one of the most valuable properties in all of Europe. The www.lifo.gr news site said in an article a short while ago that once developed it will become home to many luxury office buildings, modern homes, while a giant amusement park is also in the works -maybe even a "Mediterranean Disneyland."


S.Kokkalis

Alexander Moraitakis, President of the Athens Stock Exchange Members Association (SMEXA) says that "some investors buy up selected state property and appear as saviors of the state," when asked to speak about Kokkalis.

Socratis Kokkalis is the founder and executive director of the biggest telecommunications and security systems company, Intracom Holdings, and chairman of Intralot – the world's second largest company for distribution of lottery systems. Socratis owns a quarter of Intralot. He was also the owner and president of Greece's most successful soccer team – Olympiacos CFP.

The most profitable state-owned company OPAP (one of the largest multinational gaming corporations in Europe) is apparently being targeted by Kokkalis. 

Kokkalis, is certainly a controversial personality. The article actually reveals that he was a "collaborator" with the East German Stasi (equivelant to the former KGB) and usually went by the aliases "yolks or krokous" and "kaskante". (Question: Whose secrets was he selling, collecting and to whom?)

Kokkalis was raised in East Germany after his family fled Greece during the civil war in 1949. Today his wealth is estimated to be at about $ 2 billion.

The tales about him could probably become block buster hit movie. For instance, when it became publicly known that Siemens gave kickbacks of more than 100 million euros to Greek politicians and other senior officials, the German prosecutor investigating the company's archives, encountered a questionable code-name "Mr. K". It is thus assumed, adds the magazine, that this is Mr. Kokkalis.

If wealthy Greek families become more wealthy, the members of government get a piece of the action – if corruption escapes punishment, it’s because the government passes special laws to exempt the perpetrators. And trying to buy public assets at bargain basement prices isn’t a new thing – back in 2002, the only thing that prevented Kokkalis from buying the phone company was the revelation that he’d been a Stasi agent for 30 years, and even that only prompted a special law to protect him with a statute of limitations.


Greek Ship Owners

Greece-owned ships transport 20 percent of the world’s seaborne cargo, though the ships usually sail under the flags of other countries. As such, the world’s largest merchant fleet hardly contributes anything to Greece’s economic performance, and shipping revenues aren’t taxed. In fact, shipping companies don’t even have to pay taxes for divisions that have nothing to do with transporting cargo on the seas.
At the same time, though, a small elite of wealthy Greek ship owners is fighting to defend its tax-free status -- also, ironically enough, enshrined in the constitution. Meanwhile, other moneyed Greeks, including doctors, lawyers and engineers, continue to systematically avoid taxes. According to a recent study, seven out of 10 self employed Greeks significantly under report their earnings. Indeed, though the crisis has been raging for five years now, many wealthy Greeks are under no more pressure to pay taxes than they were before. Spiegel
Savas Robolis, who is a professor of finance social policy at the Department of Social Policy at the Panteion University claims that it is almost impossible to expose the illegal doings of the Greek oligarchy. "They not only have their people everywhere, for several generations now, even (state) laws have been written (exclusively) for them." He says that these families do not need to cheat Greece's IRS and be exempted from paying taxes, because they don't pay taxes of any sort to begin with! And what's more... The article claims that every time the State begins to pressure them about paying their share they immediately threaten to withdraw their fleets from Greece and operate under another flag. (Another group of wannabe patriots).

But shouldn’t the shipping industry be showing solidarity with the state instead of threatening to leave at the first sign of taxation? The state doesn’t offer any security, not to investors and/or businesspeople. In fact people in Greece think that capital is to blame for everything, and not the powerful unions that actually destroy jobs with their unrealistic demands rather than preserving them.

They are not formally linked with politicians and/or political parties and meetings are never held in fear of something being documented and/or even photographed. However, if one wanted to begin investigating whether or not there are some sort of ties -and with whom- then the Flisvos Marina in Paleo Faliro would probably be a good place to start since some of the largest -and most luxurious- yachts in Greece anchor there and according to the magazine many Greek politicians have been spotted there as well. The best time, says the article, is the weekends when these oligarchs hold lavish parties.

The extent and magnitude of their power is probably best expressed by John Dermitzakis, who owns an old recycling oil refinery in Thessaloniki. Dermitzakis is a very low-key businessman who was doing fairly well up until 2004, but then his company suddenly began to slide. One of the reasons for this was a new legislation that required all companies in his industry to acquire a license. So he went ahead and applied but the poor man waited in vain. "First they told me that my documents were forgotten by the Secretariat of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Following this they told me that the refinery should be re valuated, (and so on, and so on.) Finally I approached a close associate to the Minister who (indirectly) advised me that this was a 'shady' matter, and that it would be best to simply forget it."

Why?

Simple. The refinement of wasted oils is almost entirely controlled by the Vardinoyannis family, or some 35,000 tonnes worth annually.

The result: Today, Mr. Dermitzakis is on the verge of total bankruptcy, and probably many Greek families who work for him will lose their jobs.

What is striking about this particular story is that not even the multinational Shell company could compete in this market against Vardinoyannis. The Vardinoyiannis family bought out the multinational company for roughly 219 million Euros. Following this new legislation made Shell's share of the market unprofitable. At first they banned Shell from importing its own gasoline into Greece, and then they came under pressure from the EU. When this occurred a new law forced Shell depots to keep large quantities of petrol or "stock." As such, Shell pulled back and therefore Vardinoyiannis claimed the whole market.

Speaking about the Vardinoyannis Family, the head of the family is Vardis. He resides in a Mediterranean style villa in the exclusive Athenian suburb of Ekali. In describing the home, the author of the article says that in front of the gate stands a guard and when one asks if he (Vardis) is available for an interview, he immediately pulls out a gun and unlocks it. (Nice welcome).

Interestingly, Vardinoyannis maintained very close relations with the former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. In fact the family was on good terms with the Arab world in general. The family business "Avin Oil" paid the late Saddam Hussein huge amounts in order to have access to affordable and unrefined crude oil which Iraq sold during the "Oil for food" embargo. This was apparently exposed by UN inspectors when they discovered that bundles of US dollars were being transferred in the suitcases of diplomats. Of course this has no impact on Vardinoyiannis, nor to his reputation (or so some say). (In an obvious sign to show the public that they actually care about the poor, struggling middle class) the Vardinoyiannis Family recently praised a donation that they made to the Greek police. (Woopie... With so much wealth, why not build 10- jails!)


Conclusion

The article in Stern is indeed revealing, but it also raises many questions as to what really lies behind this sudden conflict with the Greek elite.

One guess is that the Germans want to show Greek society that they have what it takes to actually clash against the families which we all know -to the core of our bones- have profited off the backs of the middle and lower classes for decades. Another reason may be that this sudden "war" might possibly also minimize social reactions against the Germans and their intentions in Greece.

Greek oligarchs are indeed obstacles to their designs. First of all they control the media, so they can easily direct public opinion and that alone is a power that the Germans have no control over.

From what we gather, the Germans want Greek oligarchs alert, and we are certain that they are well aware that the oligarchs are using every trick in the book to eventually control strategic enterprises such as OPAP, PPC (DEH), EYDAP, the Greek and Hellenic Petroleum Company, etc. But Germany isn't any better because Berlin is doing the same thing!

Finally we believe the Germans started a war against these families to weaken them because they know that these oligarchs are capable of anything and everything. - Even the destabilization and collapse of the government, if they see that their interests are being threatened-. Of course, if that happened then it would be disastrous for Berlin and the Eurozone, and Germany only knows this too well.

For Greece, the big question is whether the country possesses the requisite political talent and vision both to introduce root-and-branch reforms in order to revive the cankerous institutions of state, and to halt the pillaging of the Greek economy by its wealthiest and most powerful citizens. This is something that the country’s international creditors might wish to ponder, too.

Indeed it would be ideal if State assets fell into Greek hands, but the nominal way... and not through the back door. But the Greek people must also share in the blame. The aspects of Greek character, fatalism and admiration for the trickster, have been lamented ever since Solon. You’d think we would have grown out of it in almost 3,000 years.

References
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Who is Cristine Lagarde really working for?

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, Internat...
C.Lagarde, Director, IMF (credit: Wikipedia)
Over many months during 2011-12, it was realized that the US wasn’t comfortable with Dominique Strauss-Kahn either as head of the IMF, or potential President of France. Reports, on The Slog for example, analyzed career progressions, in a bid to establish that Christine Lagarde was being groomed as the head of the IMF to replace DSK once he’d been framed … and that she herself was probably fully aware of this. She was the perfect choice for the US Fed and State because she looked and sounded French, but was emotionally wedded to America. She was and is (as Tim Geithner remarked in private) “Our gal”.

Unknown to many of those involved, while former lawyer Cristine Lagarde became the Foreign Trade Minister of the government of Dominique de Villepin, a few years previously she’d been defending the interests of US multinationals to the detriment of French companies. She was, in fact, a member of the CSIS – the think tank of the oil lobby in the United States … the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). She co-presided over the Action USA/UE/Poland commission of this think tank along with Zbigniew Brzezinski and was in charge of the USA-Poland Defense Industries working group (1995-2002).

In these various high-powered roles, she represented the US interests to the detriment of those of the EU: as a lawyer at Baker & McKenzie  Lagarde worked in favour of the interests of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin – to the detriment of Airbus and Dassault.

In 2003, Christine Lagarde became involved, as part of her CSIS position, of the Commission for the Expansion of the Euro-Atlantic Community along with her friend Brzezinski and others.

Thanks to the contacts established by Christine Lagarde, Bruce P. Jackson, founder of the US Committee to Expand NATO – who represented the interests of the aircraft manufacturing company Lockheed-Martin – signed the contract of the century: the sale, in April 2003, of 48 F-16 Lockheed-Martin jet fighters to Poland for $3.5 billion – completely blocking out EU contractors. (At the time, the European Union was heavily subsidising the Polish government’s agricultural sector).

Cristine Lagarde followed Nicolas Sarkozy into power in 2008 as Finance Minister. As such, she represented the candidate that both he and the White House wanted: Sarkozy is an outsider in French society, an Atlanticist with strong links to Jewish banking, and himself related to Jacqui Onassis-Bouvier. One of his last acts as President before last year’s abortive attempt at re-election was to have a three-hour private meeting with Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs.

Following the demise of Strauss-Kahn in a New York encounter with maid Nafissato Diallo, Lagarde waltzed effortlessly into the IMF post, a feat managed minutely by US influence in South America. Then earlier this week Lagarde stated that, as the head of the IMF, she wouldn’t participate in the Cypriot bailout – insisting that the ESM must bail out the Cypriot Banks directly. Her insistence is, of course, based on the certainty that Berlin will never agree to it. The geopolitics of this are simple: an EU stranglehold on Cyprus is a direct threat to American hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean.

So when she makes supportive statements about the EU (when speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos) two other guests there – David Cameron and George Osborne – should have the discernment to realise that Cristine Lagarde doesn’t have eurozone interests in her heart. Her ambition and wallet are connected to the US.

Let’s hope Cameldung and the Draper do know this, but there is plenty of room for doubt.

The Slog

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Striking Transport Workers To Face Consequences Of Their Fake Strike (VIDEO)


The government said on Thursday that it is going to issue civil mobilization orders to make Athens metro staff, who have been on strike for eight days, return to their jobs. Press reports said that Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced the decision after a four-hour emergency meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on the issue. He said that unionists have decided to take the path of blind confrontation and not to respect the decisions of Greece's courts and that the country could not be held ransom to vested interests.

The measure of civil mobilization – used against seamen, truckers and street cleaners in 2010 and 2011 – means that employees are obligated to return to work or face the prospect of going directly to jail.

On their part, workers, who are protesting their inclusion in a new unified wage structure for civil servants that will see a reduction in their incomes, slammed the decision. “Over our dead bodies,” Antonis Stamatopoulos, head of the Athens metro workers union, told SKAI radio. Bus workers, as well as those at the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP), said the would extend their work stoppage after 5 p.m. in solidarity with the metro staff.

Earlier representatives said that they would suspend their action if the government committed to maintaining the collective labor agreement, which expires on April 30, before negotiating a new deal.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou warned that "if the instigators of the strike do not comply with the court's decisions by tomorrow (Thursday), they will have to face the legal consequences." Before his statement, and while responding to the possibility they might be ordered to return to work by the government, employees said that they are adamant in their position and will respond "with war to government's war". "A black-out will exist in public transport if the government orders us to return to work, and this is not a threat" said STASY president Christos Koukis.

A prosecutor is investigating the continuing strike ordered a preliminary investigation following reports that only a small percentage of staff is involved. First Instance Court chief prosecutor Panagiota Fakou will be verifying whether metro employees are still being paid normally for the days they have gone on strike, by using vacation time or calling in sick. She is also responsible for reviewing a court decision terming the strike illegal, to decide whether continuing the strike contravenes a court decision.

The board of rail transport organization STASY says it is determined to use its powers under the law to take action against transport employees, should they go ahead with their planned industrial action, in spite of such action being declared illegal by a fresh court ruling.

The STASY board said in an announcement that it "has exhausted all options for dialogue" with employees, and since the strike action has been judged illegal, it will take all legitimate action. It added the law stipulates conscription and even layoffs for staff continuing to strike.

In Greece the easiest thing in the world is to strike, taking part and organizing demonstrations and/or closing roads is simple because the land of democracy -unlike other areas in the world- still respects freedom of expression. But... When roudy unionists get involved your best bet is that it is politically motivated and doesn't really have a base for argument.

Political parties have educated these public sector unionists well.

The transport workers, for instance, who are now reacting negatively to a new wage payroll system should not really be complaining about getting the bitter end of the stick. For years, this sector enjoyed backdoor hirings, and most of the people that were employed here were totally unqualified.

Indeed those few were fired, but there are still many employees in this sector, as well as the wider public sector that were employed in the very same way thanks to the clientilism system that was set up by all of Greece's political parties with the PASOK party leading the pack. And in case HellasFrappe gets criticised for stigmatizing the socialists, we would just like to remind our readers that the majority of the unions have PASOK leadership. So if it quacks like a duck... bla bla bla its a duck!

All these people enjoyed unbelievable benefits all these years. Aside from their fixed salaries, who can forget the "sending a fax" benefit that some employees at the Public Power Corporation (DEH) used to receive, or how they used to calculate their time of work from the moment they left their house (in other words, if they were caught in traffic for two hours, or had a doctors appointment for three or four hours, this would be added to their payroll or counted as work time).

The transport workers were not an exception. They too enjoyed many benefits and the cutbacks that occurred over the last few years were not really on their direct salaries but rather on the benefits they received. This is the reason they are reacting strongly against the cutbacks today.

According to the General Accounting Office, the average monthly salary of a metro worker was 4,080 Euros, 3,080 Euros in the metro and tram workers were receiving 2,500 Euros. The workers on their part deny these figures and claim that their wages ranged between 1,800-2,500 Euros.

And what is more... they also want to "trick" the State into paying them for striking as well. Get a load of these figures as released by the government.

  • On the first day of their strike (Thursday 17/1) out of 1,300 employees only 33% or 430 employees declared that they were striking, while the remaining 790 suddenly fell ill. Obviously this was done so that they can get paid while striking, and believe us folks... there is no other place in the world where this could happen but Greece.
  • And it gets better. Only 20 or 3.94 percent of the tram workers who were striking on 18/1 out of a total 507 actually declared they were striking! About 467 phoned in sick, and the rest declared that they were taking time off.
  • On 19/1: Out of 1,300 metro strikers, 210 phoned in sick and 1,010 massively decided to take a day off!
  • On the fourth day, or on 20/1, 1,030 appeared sick again.
  • And all this of course because these public sector workers want to be paid while striking!
One of the unionists, Mr. Stamatopoulos (formerly part of the PASOK party and now a member of ANTARSYA) said earlier in the week that commuters might have some difficulties until this issue is solved, but in the long-term people will thank him and the other workers for this. That indeed is a laugh.

The truth is that commuters would be happy if these people realized that all of Greek society has been victim to wage and pension cuts and that the industry which he represents is not an exception from the rest of society. Similar rhetoric has been echoed by other unionists. For example - "we strike to reduce the ticket to 1 Euro." but at the same time they don't want the State to reduce their salaries to maintain that ticket at less than 1 Euro. Which kind of doesn't make sense.

Our opinion here at HellasFrappe is simple. We pay taxes to have health care, public sector services and reliable transportation, but are forced to go to private doctors and use taxi cabs in order to go about our daily business because of all these obviously politically driven strikes which are totally unnecessary. No one is saying that these pay cuts are pleasant, but no one can be excluded from doing his and her part in Greece's recovery.

And finally, if they are so unhappy with the conditions at their work, then why not quit and try their luck in the private sector? Do they actually have the b***lls to even try? Not on your life when they can have it so good!
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Papantoniou And Doukas To Face Justice on False Income Statements


Former PASOK party minister Giannos Papantoniou would have to appear before ordinary courts, indicted by deputies of the Parliamentary Committee on Party and MPs Finances, for untruthful statement of assets. Papantoniou is being probed on concealing - in his "origin of income" statement - his wife Stavroula Kourakou's Swiss deposits of 1.3 million euros, shown in the so-called "Lagarde list" containing details of just over 2,000 HSBC Swiss bank accounts held by Greek citizens. The committee was not convinced by the former minister's explanations that he was not informed about his wife's move. In addition, a finance public prosecutor has ordered that all of his bank accounts be investigated.

The committee says it also scrutinized New Democracy former minister Petros Dukas' "origin of income" (pothen esches) statement, as his 2010 bank deposits appear to have shrunk by one million euros without adequate clarification. Dukas insists that the amount has been re-deposited into an investment account, declared in his income statement. Although the committee appears to have been convinced by his explanation, his file will be sent to a public prosecutor for final judgment.  (AMNA)
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Tsipras Holds Talks With US State Department Officials On Greek EEZ


What kind of deals is the leader of Greece's main opposition party SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras making in Washington in regards to Greece's EEZ? No one knows, but the only thing one hopes is that these talks were aimed to benefit Greece, and not foreign interests (as some other progressive former leaders -mostly green socialists- have done in the past). Following his speech at the controversial (and Soros funded) Brookings Institute earlier this week, Alexis Tsipras also apparently held an extensive discussion on a series of issues concerning Greece and the wider region in a meeting at the State Department officials with officials such as the US Assistant Secretary of State, responsible for European affairs, Erik Rubin, the Deputy Finance Minister, responsible for Europe and Eurasia issues, Christopher Smart, as well as other American officials.

Athens reports quoting SYRIZA officials maintain that there were "points of agreement and disagreement", during the discussions and that a "substantive exchange" of views took place on matters relating to the Greek and European economy, Greek foreign policy and (Surprise Surprise) the Exclusive Economic Zone.

On his part, Tsipras outlined his positions on issues such as the spreading of violence in Greece, the ultra-right Golden Dawn party and anti-Semitism. Parallel to this he also presented his views on Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and Greece FYROM differences.

The only thing we don't know is what the "other side" outlined.

On Thursday Tsipras would meet with leading IMF officials in New York as well as leading officials in the Greek Omogeneia.

Please Also Read:

BUSTED - Tsipras' Side By Side With T.Miller & D. Speckhard - What The Greek Media Purposely Ignored
http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2013/02/busted-tsipras-side-by-side-with.html

SPECIAL REPORT - Analyzing Meeting Of Tsipras & Angelopoulou-Daskalaki & Upcoming Clinton Global Conference
http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2014/11/special-report-analyzing-meeting-of.html

Alexis Tsipras: What’s his Real Mask?
http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2013/01/alexis-tsipras-whats-his-real-mask.html

Kasidiaris Openly Accuses SYRIZA & Alexis Tsipras Of Supporting The Release Of Terrorists
http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2013/03/kasidiaris-openly-accuses-syriza-alexis.html

BUSTED - Soros Funded Tsipras' Trip To US Says German Mag.
http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2013/02/busted-soros-funded-tsipras-trip-to-us.html

US Tells Tsipras That Turkey Will Attack If Athens Proclaims EEZ
http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2013/02/us-tells-tsipras-that-turkey-will.html

BUSTED - SYRIZA Member Slammed For Attempting To Trigger Total Chaos In Sept.
http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.gr/2013/08/busted-syriza-member-slammed-for.html


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Police Continue Crackdown on Illegal Migrant Trafficking




Luckily for Greeks, the Greek police is continuing the Xenios Zeus operation which is aimed at curbing illegal immigration and human trafficking. Here are the latest developments:

In the area of Promahonas, in the prefecture of Serres, police authorities apparently arrested three illegal immigrant traffickers as they attempted to smuggle illegal immigrants from Greece into other countries. According to reports, the three suspects in custody are a 43-year-old Bulgarian man, a 28-year-old Bulgarian woman and a 49-year-old German woman. All three were carrying the two illegal migrants in their car and attempting to cross the border into another country. An inquiry has been launched by the Promahonas police station and the suspects are now going to be led before a Serres public prosecutor.

In Evros, a 16-year-old illegal immigrant lost his life when a boat he was using to illegally cross the Evros River capsized mid-stream, in the region of Mandra in Didimotiho. The teenager was apparently attempting to illegally enter Greece along with another eight immigrants.

In Patras, police officials temporarily detained about 100 illegal immigrants who did not possess proper residence papers. The illegal immigrants who were arrested at the old factories and along the city's coastline, are now expected to be taken to a detention center in the port of city of Corinth.

In Thessaloniki, authorities began cracking down on the case regarding "fake or virtual" marriages. Reports claim that authorities in the northern city is now focusing on a fake marriage ring operating in Thessalnoniki which apparently organizes marriages of convenience between illegal immigrants holding temporary residence permits and Greek nationals.

1,124 Arrested For Debts Of 1.5 billion To The State

English: Handcuffs Handcuffed Handcuff Hinge H...
credit: Wikipedia

Roughly Over 1,124 people have already been arrested for debts totalling 1.5 billion Euros, as well as unpaid taxes from January-September 2012 to the Greek State, according to Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias. The Greek police, which is now responsible for financial and electronic crime, especially if it has the features of organised crime, has also handled another 202 cases of debtors who apparently settled their debts to the State that amounted to more than 60 million Euros. Replying to a deputy's question in parliament recently Dendias also stated that the department of tax supervision has also been incorporated in the police. The inspecting body is responsible for tax or customs duties evasion, concealment or distortion of taxable material or data, and the non-issuing of receipts for services, sales and distribution of products.
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